From surviving to thriving – my tips for navigating sudden loss

In my opinion, the word “widow” comes with a lot of stereotypes – ones I was determined to break. Instead, I’ve tried to look at the situation I found myself in – losing my husband Tony suddenly in 2017 – as an opportunity to restart and reclaim my own identity. It’s a chance to reshape my future and rewrite my book – and yes, it’s a book that Tony and I hadn’t considered or chartered together,  but suddenly finding myself at a crossroads has let me review my life with fresh eyes and work out what’s important to me.

Of course, grief will always leave you with the “why me” thoughts – life can feel so very unfair sometimes. But I quickly realised there was no point wasting all that energy on things you can’t change – because however much you try, you can’t change the outcome. Instead, I focussed on the things that brought me happiness –  my children, and our relationships into their adulthood and beyond; travel and trying new things; attempting not to sweat the small things; talking less and listening more; become impulsive; being a great, fun and loving mum; and being the very best version of myself.

Instead of looking back, my advice is to focus on who you can be, rather than who you were. Things may change and you may even move on from some friends and find others – this is the ebb and flow of life, and as you lose some people you’ll gain others along the way.

Overall, after the sudden loss of a partner it’s really important to find your own identity and learn to be comfortable in your own skin. After years of living with someone (24 years in the case of Tony and I) you can naturally morph into another person – taking on elements of your partner’s personality, ideas and beliefs. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when you suddenly find yourself on your own again, it takes time for you to feel truly comfortable being alone. Be gentle with yourself, and take your time to make decisions. Eventually, you’ll feel empowered by what you can achieve on your own.