Emotional & Mental Health for Widows

Seek Clarity in a Time of Turmoil

by Surapsari Megumi Fujimaru

Your world turned upside down when your spouse passed away. You lost not just your partner but also the life you have known. Now leaping into the unknown, you need to chart your way to build a new life. Many questions arise in your mind: Do I want to continue living here or move somewhere? Should I add a new job to supplement my income? How can I get help to take care of my child? It is overwhelming to make sound decisions in a time of uncertainty. How can you gain clarity when it feels like everything is in disarray?

Here are five tips you can use right away to live with more clarity.

Accept the Unknown and Chaos

Gaining clarity begins with accepting the lack of it. The force beyond your control changed the course of your life, and it is not your fault to be confused and uncertain. Please be kind to yourself when you can’t think clearly or reach a decision. It is just a temporary state. You will regain clarity little by little with practice (read on to learn about it). Remember the natural cycle of turbulence, after-effect, and calmness. Trust you will emerge from the chaotic time stronger and wiser.

Access the Inner Wisdom

We all possess the inner wisdom that can guide us in challenging times. It gives us the power to see through the veil of confusion and make the best decisions in the time and place. Unfortunately, many of us are unaware of this power or forget to tap into it when stressed. You need to create a daily practice of connecting to your inner wisdom if you want it to be your guide. 

Your inner wisdom lies deep within yourself. The only way to access it is through silence. Create a time to sit quietly without any distractions. Mute your phone, close your laptop, and keep your family away from your practice space if you live with them. The best time to do this practice is in the early morning before starting activities of the day. Allocating 15 minutes for this practice is ideal, but even 5-10 minutes would be good in the beginning. 

If you are a busy person, you may feel like you don’t have time for practice. Here is the truth: the busier you are, the more you need to take time to do nothing and be in silence. Otherwise, your life will become too chaotic to stay healthy in your body and mind. When people say, “I don’t have time for it,” it is not that they really don’t have time for it, but taking time for it is not their priority. You can always create time for the activity if it is important to you.  

Create a Daily Practice

  • Sit on the chair or firm sofa. Make sure that the entire soles of your feet touch the floor and your knees are at the same level as your hips. If you choose to sit on the floor, cross your legs in front of your torso and place a cushion under your buttocks to keep your hips higher than your knees. Place your hands on your thighs and lengthen your spine upward. Sit like a tall mountain between the earth and sky. Gently close your eyes.
  • Pay attention to your breath. You don’t need to change your breathing pattern. Just notice the quality of your breath. Is it fast or slow, steady or choppy, shallow or deep? Once your breath receives your attention, it will naturally slow down as a crying baby calms down after receiving her mother’s attention and care.
  • When a thought arises in your mind, acknowledge it without judgment and bring your attention back to your breath.
  • Repeat the process of 1) focusing on your breath, 2) noticing and dropping any rising thought, and 3) bringing your attention back to your breath.
  • To come out of your practice, take a couple of deep breaths and open your eyes slowly.

Optional: Create a positive affirmation and recite it at the end of your practice. 

Examples of Affirmations

“My mind is clear and focused.”

“My inner wisdom gives me clarity.”

“My inner wisdom guides me to make sound decisions.”

Phrase your affirmation in the present tense using positive words as if it is happening right now. Short affirmations are more effective than long ones.

By repeating the above practice every day, you will discover a quiet space within that is not affected by any turbulence inside or outside of you. You will eventually learn to return there when confused or overwhelmed. Your inner wisdom will rise from the quiet space and walk you through a maze.

Keep a Journal

Another way to access your inner wisdom is to write out whatever is in your mind. By giving your mental clatter an outlet, you will clear the space in your mind to allow your inner wisdom to rise.

Grab a journal or notebook and write down the words and phrases as they come to your mind. No worries about misspelling, grammatical errors, or incomplete sentences — no one will read your writing! Handwriting is better than typing on a laptop for this exercise. Your sloppy handwriting has the power to express your hidden emotions that may have been blocking your clarity.

Journaling is like pulling a vine from the ground. As the leaves appear one after another, thoughts and emotions will keep coming out until the words of clarity emerge.

Have a Witness for Your Process

Here is the interpersonal version of the journal exercise. Ask your trusted friend to witness you release your mental clatter. Request this person to listen to you with full attention, as you freely give voice to whatever is in your mind. The witness should not give feedback, comment on your talk, or offer advice.

I suggest you not assign the witness role to your family members. It is often hard for them to refrain from sharing their opinions or giving suggestions. 

Take Time for Rest and Relaxation

A tired body and a stressed mind are not for cultivating clarity. You need to rest and relax if you are exhausted or overwhelmed. Take a warm bath with essential oil. Sip aromatic herbal tea. Listen to soothing music. Do whatever brings you peace and calm. Go to bed early and get up with fresh energy and clarity.

Widowhood, especially in the beginning,  is full of uncertainty. Maintaining clarity is a challenge during rough times. Trust your ability to connect your inner wisdom. It will give you clarity as a torchlight in the dark.

Surapsari Megumi Fujimaru is a Board Certified Coach and mindfulness teacher. She helps widows overcome the most challenging phase of their widowhood and create a new life they love using mindfulness practices, a holistic health approach, and deep inquiry. She works with her clients via Zoom and at her private retreat facility in the Texas Hill Country. Visit her websites, lifetransitionguidance.com and surapsari.com, to learn more about her services.

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Knowing there are women who have not only survived what I was going through, but were also thriving and moving forward in their lives.
— MSC Wister® (Widow + Sister)