An astonishingly large number of letters that I receive begin with the words:
** "Is it OK if I...?"
** "What will people think or say if I...?"
** "Is there something wrong with me if I ...?"
** "When is it appropriate for me to...?"
I quickly learned that questions such as these are generally code for "I really want to do this-and-so but someone (or several someones) says..." The blank is then inevitably filled in with a contradictory and unsolicited opinion, usually from someone who has not lived the loss experience that you have.
In a continuing quest to keep the rightful ownership of your healing journey with you and realizing that sometimes all we need is for just one person who has walked the same path to quietly and gently say, "It really is OK...", the following is a partial list of what it is absolutely, positively OK for you to do after becoming widowed:
It is OK to smile.
It is OK to laugh.
It is OK to laugh really hard.
It is OK to cry.
It is OK for your children see you cry.
It is OK to feel weak.
It is OK to feel angry.
It is OK to say, "I need help."
It is OK to feel peace.
It is OK to travel places, be they new and exciting or comfortably familiar.
It is OK to be content at home.
It is OK to pay attention to yourself and your needs without feeling guilty.
It is OK to socialize.
It is OK to say, "Perhaps another time."
It is OK to try new things.
It is OK to rest securely in the comfort of daily routine.
It is OK to remain in the home where you shared a life and created memories.
It is OK to move into a new home and create new memories.
It is OK to continue wearing your engagement and / or wedding rings.
It is OK to wear your rings on your right hand.
It is OK to take your rings off.
It is OK to create a new piece of jewelry from your rings and wear it proudly.
It is OK to say, "Yes."
It is OK to say, "No."
It is OK to honor traditions in memory of your beloved.
It is OK to mix it up a bit, whatever your "it" may be.
It is OK to display selected mementos of your previous life.
It is OK to store mementos as heirlooms for loved ones or future generations.
It is OK to seek companionship again.
It is OK to fall in love again.
It is OK to fall out of love, yet continue seeking it.
It is OK to choose to be on your own and loving it.
It is OK to forever love your past life and the person with whom you shared it.
It is OK to find "forever" with another, to whom you will refer as the love of your new life.
It is OK to move happily forward into that life and the new experiences and memories that it will bring you.
It will always and forever be OK...to LIVE.
Carole's latest book, Happily Even After... has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com.
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