I’ve always been a loner and have had the ability to keep myself occupied and happy without much.
As a young child we lived in National Parks where I spent a lot of time in nature. Nature teaches you that you don’t need much to find the beauty because its right in front of you like a gift. I spent many lazy days in fields of wildflowers as a kid without a care in the world. I always felt looked after and safe. It was an innocent time.
Then as I grew and we moved to cities and life took other turns, I lost much of that magic I’d found in simple things. Life became complex and busy and “tomorrow,” would be when the good times would arrive. Today was always filled with rushing here and there. I suppose I took for granted that tomorrow would always be there.
Then my husband died suddenly and I learned the hard way that tomorrow is not guaranteed.
My late husband knew that time was not guaranteed for anyone and spent each and every day as if it were his last. He would often wake up and say, “Today will be a good day, I woke up!” He wasn’t sick or depressed. He’d just say it with a smile and bounce out of bed to greet the day. I would watch him in awe.
Although I too have always been a positive person, I was not as evolved as he was. So, when he died suddenly, I was thrown into an emotional roller coaster of grief and guilt. How could such an evolved and loving person with so much to give to the world be taken away so abruptly and little old me be left?
This pushed me to push myself to be a better person. I told myself early on in widowhood that I would spend the rest of my life trying to be the good person that Glenn always strived to be. This was not easy to do. Especially when grief hits you like a tsunami. There were some early days in grief that just getting out of bed was an accomplishment.
I’ve probably spent more time alone over the past seven years than all alone time combined in my life up until I was suddenly widowed. At first it was out of necessity. Being around others was impossible for me to do for more than an hour or two before I’d break down in tears and retreat home where I felt safe.
I continued this alone time and started adding positive activities that brought me comfort. At first it was out of sheer torture. I had to get away from my feelings and sadness so I started taking hikes on the fire roads that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. The trails were mostly hidden and not popular so many times my dog, Hannah and I would be there alone. We’d see beautiful wildflowers, birds of prey (Hawks, eagles and falcons), and other types of birds and animals. One day we stumbled upon a giant egret on the path. That guy had to have been at least 4’ tall, sunning himself right in front of us without a care in the world.
At around the same time I fell in love with my back yard and began to understand why my late husband cherished it so. I spent many evenings sitting outside in my late husband’s chair listening to beautiful music, sipping herbal tea or a glass of wine. My dog Hannah by my side and just being. It wasn’t unusual for hummingbirds, blue birds or hawks to fly by. Once an owl showed up. We stared at each other for what seemed eternity and then poof it was gone. I just accepted these moments as they came, not thinking about the past or what comes next, just sitting in the moment.
These experiences brought me comfort (and still do!) and took me back to similar times from my childhood when I’d spend hours alone in nature. At the same time, I began to feel more comfortable in my own skin. With the two combined I’ve found that alone time is a gift. It helps us focus on the here and now because that is where we can find some joy and peace.
So, if you are grieving the loss of a loved one just know that being alone is not always bad. And, nature is always there for you, no matter what. Spring will always arrive after winter where that little flower grows out of the crack in the sidewalk. This is the circle of life. It’s always been and always will be. It’s so simple yet so complex and beautiful like a gift for anyone who just “notices.”