Finding New Passions

Something I struggled with for a long time was finding new hobbies. For the first few months after my husband passed, I had a strict routine and I was struggling to get through even the day-to-day stuff.

I knew that I needed time to heal, but I also couldn’t sacrifice too much time to grieve 24/7— I still had bills to pay, kids to raise, and co-workers that relied on me, so I just kept-on-keeping-on. I was just going through the motions of life, because I needed to keep working and taking care of all of my responsibilities.

I’ll admit, my life was dull for a few months. My day would go like this: Wake up. Press the snooze button on my alarm 3 times. Finally get out of bed and get dressed. Wake up the kids, get them dressed, and pour them both a bowl of cereal (or heat up some frozen waffles, whatever meal was easiest). Go to work, come home, feed the kids, help them with homework, get them to bed. Attempt to go to bed, but instead lay there for hours being unable to fall asleep. Finally drift back to sleep at 3am. Repeat. Over and over, every day. I wish I could say I showered everyday and brushed my teeth every night, but that would be a lie. This workload felt like so much, and I felt like I was buckling under pressure and dissociated myself to avoid feeling anything. I planned out my schedule to make sure I had as few responsibilities as possible.

My life was monotonous and anything that messed up my routine, messed me up. I was avoiding grief, quite honestly, by busying myself and going through the motions of life without thinking. When something would switch-up my schedule (like early-release schooldays), I actually had to think about what I was doing. My precious schedule and routine were suddenly different for the day, so I could no longer go through the motions without thinking. Honestly, whenever I had to consciously think about things, I would begin to think about my husband. Grief would flood my head, and I liked to be “numb and dumb” instead, so I would try to avoid conscious actions.

After a couple of months, I realized that my life wasn’t bringing me joy. I needed something to be passionate about, but I was so tired and I didn’t even know how to find new passions. I didn’t even know who I was anymore without my husband, and I no longer knew what I enjoyed doing. I felt like an entirely different person (and I still do. The pain from losing a spouse changes you permanently.) In the past, I enjoyed going on hikes… but I only began hiking when I met my husband, so was that really my passion, or was that his, which I learned to enjoy?

Could I find other passions in life, like jazz music or dancing or knitting or painting? Where do I go to try these activities? Do I try out these hobbies alone and meet people there, or do I try to find a friend to go with? If I do go with a friend, will that prevent me from meeting new people or create a bias in my opinion of the activity? These thoughts swirled my head, and finally, I decided to just go for it— I wanted to find a passion.

I decided to reach out to a local widowed meet-up group, because they were attending a live performance which intrigued me. My husband hated live theatre so we would never attend any of the theaters by our house, even though I had always been interested in live performances.

After RSVPing, a new anxiety began to arise. Was I betraying the memory of my husband somehow? Was this a sign that I was moving on from the grief? I was consciously planning on attending an event and hoping to enjoy it, despite my husbands hatred of the theatre. Should I be hiking instead, as a way of memorializing him? I even started to make excuses, like “I don’t know if my kids are ready to be alone with a babysitter. They’re still grieving, what if they need their mother? How can a stranger even understand what it’s like for them to lose their father, let alone console them if needed.”

I pushed those thoughts to the back of my head, because they made zero sense. My husband would want me to do things that I enjoyed, and my kids would be fine with a babysitter. The hard truth is that they were dealing with the loss of their father much better than I was dealing with the loss of my husband. I decided to allow myself to attend & enjoy the performance. It was the first thing since my husbands death that I was really looking forward to, so why wouldn’t I go?

I ended up having a great time, even better than I could’ve imagined. I met up with other local widows, each at their own stages in the process of grieving. We talked about our own journeys, and it was unbelievable how similar some of their experiences were. Pretty much immediately after meeting these women, I found it easy to open up, even though I had previously had a difficult time speaking about my grief to other friends and family. I think that their familiarity with the situation made it easier to talk to them.

I didn’t have to be careful about what I said, as to not worry them. My family always worried about my mental health (rightfully so, seeing as many widows become depressed). However, this led me to be cautious when talking about my grief because I didn’t want to worry them. It was easier to open up to someone who understood, and wouldn’t judge or worry.

The performance was outstanding, and even more, it brought a new-found feeling of belonging. I found that I didn’t have to avoid thinking of my husband, and in the moment, I was actually enjoying thinking about him. This gave me an enormous sense of relief. I was making new friends, and doing things that I actually wanted to be doing. I left and came home feeling victorious. Sure, it seems like I didn’t do much except for go to a play, but in reality I set a goal and overcame my anxieties.

I started attending these events more often. It became a monthly activity, then a weekly thing, and now I see some of the women a few days each week! In the past few months, we’ve tried sculpting classes, karaoke nights, and even goat yoga (which was very….interesting). From one widow to another widow (or widower), I would greatly recommend finding a group to try new activities with! You never know what could happen. One day you’ll join just so you can attend live theatre performances, the next day you might have goats standing ontop of you while doing a sun salutation (ha!)

For information about Widow Care social meet-ups, support events or fundraisers, click here! We hope you find a new passion by joining us and trying new activities!

Marissa Martin