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Trust Your Compass
Grief Journey, Losing a Spouse or Partner, Tips from Survivors

Trust Your Compass

I am so sorry for the pain you are feeling. All of us have felt some version of it. I am a few weeks from the two-year mark of losing my wife of forty years. I’m doing ok. “ok” is in lower case but still “ok”. But I remember when even lowercase “ok” seemed impossible, when just surviving seemed like an impossible dream.

I spent 28 years in the Army, including a lot of small unit Infantry training with lots of cross-country land navigation with map and compass, often at night, way before GPS. Many, many soldiers would get lost because they just “felt” that the way their compass was pointing couldn’t be right and that some other direction was where they should be going. But a mantra that served me well was to “trust your compass.” Believe in the science, believe that the compass is actually pointing north, and that you can use it to point the correct way.

The compass here is the experience that others on this forum have lived before you. Alliance of Hope Forum Manager Hazel Gaddes, and Moderator Montanamom, have both pointed out a truth that has been validated over and over again by other forum members: it will get better if you let it. You must believe this, or there is no meaning to your days. It will get better.

You are dealing with so much now. I remember what it was like. But time did pass, and what I had to do is what you are doing: move through those times, realize what my new life was going to be like, and participate in that new life.

I have a couple of suggestions for you:

1. Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Let bedtime be your reward for getting through the day, but also let sleep be restorative and an escape. And it is essential that you not be sleep deprived as being tired makes everything dark and hopeless. Eat well and don’t skimp.

2. Establish a routine or two with a little discipline. My marker was being sure to make my bed properly every day, and I have done this. I found that having this easy-to-achieve milestone goal every day helped me to move through the day and was also the seed on which new layers of activity could be added.

3. Be open to moments of happiness when they come. They will. They will be small at first, and probably fleeting, but spot them when they do arrive. If you smile or even laugh at something, that is OK. It really is.

It will get better if you let it. You don’t have to force it, and you are dealing with so much. But we all have.

Trust your compass.

Trust us.

About the Author

Wisdom From Our Community

"Wisdom From Our Community" posts originally appeared on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and are reprinted with the permission of the authors. Our online forum transcends time and distance, offering a culture of kindness, hope, and understanding to people who have lost loved ones to suicide. Operating like a 24/7 support group, our forum is supervised by a mental health professional and moderated by a trained team of loss survivors. Members can read and comment, share their stories, and connect with other suicide loss survivors.Read More »