According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, the death of a spouse can be the most stressful event that a person can experience. Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How a person grieves depends on many factors like life experience, faith, personality and coping style, and the nature of the loss. According to the National Institute on Aging, many people feel guilty for being the one to survive.
When Boye lost his dear wife in year 2007, he described it as similar to being left alone in the middle of a long, endless road. He lost his excitement and eagerness to find out what was the end of the road because he would no longer be taking the journey with his wife. Travelling the path of life, alone by himself, seemed meaningless and impossible.
Boye and Erla were married in year 1975. They were blessed with 2 sons and had lived a simple, happy and peaceful life. Erla used to be a volunteer health worker and loved organizing feeding programs for poor children. Sadly, she had suffered from a heart problem, and later had suffered from a stroke that lasted for several years. The incident had weakened Erla’s arms and legs. She initially had difficulty in speaking. Boye stood by his wife and they faced all the hardships together. It was a complication of the heart and lungs that took Erla’s life away.
It had become extremely difficult for Boye to put the pieces of his life back together. He went through five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Boye’s family and friends never left his side during his bereavement. Dealing with the pain was the hardest stage that he had to go through.The following were just some of the ways that Boye found to be good and effective in dealing with his grief.
1. Cry it all out
The memories of his late wife had kept on popping into his head in so many ways. He would usually find himself bursting into tears while eating his breakfast, or while watching his favorite midnight show. Boye didn’t try to run and hide from his grief. He accepted and embraced the pain as part of the healing process. He would cry, scream, and yell if he needed to. He would just let it out, no matter how silly he might seem in front of other people. He also tried to express his feelings through music. Expressing his feelings was an effective way to honor his grief and begin to work through it.
2. Eat right
Boye lost his appetite for several weeks. It made a huge effect on his productivity at work and at home. The dishes were piled up, his dog hadn’t been fed regularly, the quality of his work messed up, and more. It basically made things more miserable. Boye later realized that he needed a good health not only for the sake of doing his responsibilities, but also to help him think and act right. Feeling good physically made him feel better emotionally.
3. Speak and surround yourself with the people who care
Boye visited his relatives in the province. Seeing the faces that he hadn’t seen for quite some time made him feel the warmth and security that he had lost since his wife passed away. His relatives made him feel that he wasn’t and would never be alone most especially during the times that he felt weak and defeated.
Boye spoke about his deceased wife openly. Boye had seen no reason to avoid talking about his late wife. He emotionally shared their exciting and sweet experiences together. He enjoyed reminiscing those good, old times with his dear wife. Voicing out his thoughts and emotions helped him feel better.
He was determined to leave no time for thinking about being alone. Boye decided that he would do something challenging, interesting or different. He decided to visit the places that he’d never been to before. The breath of fresh air, the beautiful sceneries, the sound of the chirping birds and the calmness of the nature would somehow relieve his grieving heart. Travelling helped him to redefine who he was.
4. Make new friends
Learning how to use Facebook had been quite a challenge for Boye. It was introduced to him by his son. At the age of 59, he found it very unnecessary to spend time on it. He recently learned to like Facebook when he figured out the things that he could do on it such as posting photos, subscribing to his favorite artists, playing games, chatting with his friends and more. The thing that he most liked about it was gaining new cyber friends.
5. Appreciate, laugh and be happy
Filipinos, in general, love to laugh even in worst conditions or circumstances of their life. Boye believed in the saying that “Laughter is the best medicine”. He would genuinely laugh whenever there was a chance to. He also realized that he should not focus on what was lost, but rather on the blessings that was being showered to him including his loving sons, adorable grandchildren, loyal dog, stable job, peaceful surroundings and more.
6. Pray and Keep the Faith.
Boye strongly held on the biblical passage that says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...”
Boye knew that time would heal his wounded heart, in God’s grace and perfect time.
7. Love again
Is it possible for someone to be romantically in love after a loss? In Boye’s case, it was. He found his new love 3 years after his wife passed away. He didn’t wished or prayed for it, yet faith still brought them together. It wasn’t easy as it might seem. Some people were there to judge him and his new found love. Boye didn’t find it necessary to explain himself as to why or how it all happened. He, himself, could never explain how the genuine love felt.
People must remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. The grieving process takes time and it can never be forced or hurried. Everyone’s grief is their own, and no one else can tell somebody when it’s time to get over it or move on. Boye’s ways to cope up with the pain may not work for someone else, but it can serve as a guide for those people who seek direction.
What Boye learned from this experience was he should not only go through life, but grow through life. Changes in life are inevitable, and one must learn how to keep up with the pace and move on.