06/03/2014 05:58 pm ET Updated Aug 03, 2014

Widowhood With a Message

A close girlfriend of mine lives in the past. Unfortunately, "living in the past" seems to be her mantra. She phoned this morning to discuss (for a change) a disappointment that happened 15 years ago! I validated her feelings to a point, but then had to jump in.

"Please start living in the present," I told her, "It is your gift."

Her reply?

"I know I should be practicing mindfulness."

Going back in time15 years with my girlfriend's situation moved me into my past. We all tend to do that when a situation or an occasion prompts us back in time.

And so, while thinking of her situation, memories of my own life surfaced from some 20 years ago. To be exact, it was January 12, 1990. On that morning, I learned I was a widow. I was in my early forties. My young husband collapsed and died instantly from a massive heart attack. I lost my husband. =My children lost their father. In a split second, it all happened. I was told over the phone. I was alone.

I decided to share my story with those of you who are recent widows and those of you widows who cannot seem to move into "the now."

The tool I used to help me through the rain and transition me into the NOW was a small handbook titled, How to Survive the Loss of a Love. I lived by this book. This little book saved me. You can purchase a second edition on Amazon. It explains the four steps of grieving that you must go through in order to reach Acceptance -- the fourth step. It has wonderful poetry that makes you cry. Crying is healing. The book's message is beyond the beyond.

Be alone and exercise. In spent the year after my husband's death alone with my children and my dog -- by choice. I lived in Honolulu, Hawaii, and was able to walk everyday. I walked four miles in the morning and four miles before sunset with my dog, Mahalo. I took my time to think about my life, cry, and grieve... alone. This is very important in the healing process. You must mourn and grieve your loss. You should keep your body moving to rid yourself of stress.

Live with peace surrounding you. Keep your treasures within eye distance. Arrange a "room of your own." I wanted peace around me. I was very stressed coupled with numbness, so I intentionally moved from our home of love and family memories into a charming apartment with palm trees coming up to my fourth floor balcony. I was on the ocean and could smell the salt air and listen to the sounds of the ever-changing sea. I furnished my apartment with orchids and sat on my balcony looking at the koi fish swimming below; their bodies gently moving through the pond. Living in my apartment and near the sea was very healing and very peaceful. I took advantage of my time alone. I was so sad. I could not concentrate. I was devastated. I was flooded with memories of Michael.

What to do with the rest of my life was eventually on my mind. I was so afraid of the unknown. It is important to realize that you will be in limbo for a long time. I was worried about my daughters facing the rest of their lives without a father. I spent my time letting my thoughts internalize. Little by little over the months, I began to make a plan for my family. This took almost one year. Please don't rush your healing period. At this point, I knew I was reaching the fourth step... acceptance.

Thank goodness our minds have a memory system. I have happy memories. I will love Michael forever. One day, I woke up to acceptance. It was time to move into the now; not letting my past go but realizing my future and the "gift." The gift is today, the ever-present.

Before I leave I must tell you what I do with my grandchildren who revert to the past. When I hear a grandchild constantly going backward in thought, I gently move them forward in message.

Do Something Good Today: Life is too short... Appreciate the present.