Dealing with death
Heartbreak isn’t hopelessness
Last year I dated a 60-year-old man, we had an OK relationship, but he died this year from cancer. I’m not sure what to do next. Why date someone only to lose him, whether by death or a breakup, and have to start from scratch again?
You may not realize it but your question is born of grief. The man you cared for, with whom you shared a portion of yourself and your life, has died. Now, heartbreak clouds your perspective. That’s why you cannot imagine a future in which love will prevail. The overwhelming hopelessness you feel about dating is not a sign that you should give it up. Your emotions are shielding you, giving you time to heal.
Feelings can be so strong that we imagine they are accurate and should be obeyed. But feelings are often strong to grab our attention. Your sadness indicates that self-care must be a priority. It’s a good time to schedule a massage, to walk along the Sacramento or American river, to eat healthy meals that respect your body’s nutritional needs, to transform your bedroom into a haven for a good night’s rest.
Forget advice such as: “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” A hookup under current circumstances is simply using someone without compassion for their emotional needs. It’s kinder to tend to yourself until your grief dissipates, or you make a conscious choice to release grief and follow that decision with aligned actions. At that point, you will be starting from scratch, creating a new relationship with the you who rises from the ashes of the past.
Can you see? We’re always creating relationships from scratch if we are growing toward becoming more fully ourselves. As you find more room to express what is in your heart and begin to live it, your relationships will go from “just OK” to something beautiful. Yes, that also applies to the relationship you have with yourself.
My wife complains that I don’t listen to her. It pisses me off when she says it but I’ll admit I’ve heard this before. How can I become a better listener?
Quiet your internal monologue. It’s difficult to listen if your self-talk occupies too much head space. So develop a daily practice of bringing your awareness to the conversations you have with yourself. This can be as simple as sitting in your car while the engine warms, closing your eyes and breathing deeply for three minutes. As you do, pay attention to reoccurring thoughts, particularly critical ones. Decide which to embrace and which to let go.
Ask yourself: What happens in my mind when my wife is talking? Perhaps you’re constructing an argument. Not in response to her, but rather something you wish you had said to someone else that day. Your mind drifts because you feel safe in your wife’s presence in a way you did not feel safe earlier when you kept silent. When your mind wanders during a conversation with your wife, tell her. Speak up before she catches you distancing. Doing so will prove you are making an effort to change.