Watch Olivia, Beth & Amy on The Doctors, Wednesday, October 19! #LIV ON
Five Thoughts on Grieving the Death of a Spouse or Partner
Widowed people created Soaring Spirits because we discovered that connecting with other widowed people made the challenges of surviving a spouse or partner a little easier to manage. The “LIV ON” song “Forever Blue” helps to outline several things I try to share each and every day with our members.
Your love remains
There is no one in the world like your beloved. No matter what transformation you may experience through your widowhood, the uniqueness and value of your loved one will remain true, and lasting. The warmth of their love will radiate from within you, for all the rest of your days. The love you shared with your person will always be yours.
Live in the Moment
The death of a spouse or partner is a life-altering experience. Every part of your daily life is impacted by their physical absence. The future may seem very dark, and the pull to live life in the past extremely tempting. Try to focus on just the moment you are living. Take life one day, one hour, one minute at a time, as needed. You don’t need to work on your five year plan, do your best to just live for today. Tomorrow is always a new day.
Say Your Beloved’s Name
Life ends, but love remains. When your spouse or partner dies, you may feel that they are lost to you. Many friends and family may avoid saying their name perhaps thinking a reminder of your loved one will be painful for you. But the truth is your love is tattooed on your heart. Say your loved one’s name, often and proudly. Embrace the love you have for them in your heart, and remember that love never dies.
Honor Your Feelings
The death of a spouse or partner can feel like an amputation. Every part of your life has changed from your daily life to your future dreams. Acing for your beloved is a normal part of the grieving process. Your heart will ache; your arms may even literally ache to hold your person just one more time. Be as patient with yourself as possible, and allow yourself space to feel. Aching and longing are a part of loving, and you will love your person every single day for the rest of your life.
Allow Yourself to Mourn Your Dreams
The death of your life partner has not only changed your daily life, but also your future. The dreams you discussed, the trips you planned, the life experiences you expected to walk through together…these opportunities died with your loved one. Many times these secondary losses are invisible to others, and can cause unexpected pain as you move through your life post-loss. Find a peer community that will allow you to express, mourn, and honor these secondary losses. Healing begins by honoring the kaleidoscope of feelings caused by mourning your life partner.
The LIV ON project was conceived out of the desire to transform my grief into healing. My sister, Rona had just died of glioblastoma and I was suffering greatly from her sudden death. I’ve always turned to music to process my emotions and help heal my heart.
So to help me write and record a special song in memory of Rona, I asked longtime friend and extremely talented singer-songwriter Amy Sky, for support. Amy had already co-written and produced my “Grace and Gratitude” album, which was a recording that marked a previous tumultuous passage in my private life.
Ironically, Amy was also coping with loss. Her father had died of Parkinson’s disease and her mother had recently passed away from cancer. She helped me finish and record Rona’s song and I sent it to my family and friends as a way of sharing my feelings about her loss. I’ve always found it easier to do this through music.
Many friends asked for more music like that, but I was still raw from the loss of my older sibling and unable tofocus on anything much. Music, poetry, drawing and painting became an outlet for my emotional roller coaster. Creativity played an important role in helping me cope with my overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief.
I remember calling Amy one day and although she lives in Canada and we see each other rarely, we easily pick up the threads of each other’s lives and weave in the missing gaps. True friendship is like that.
We were discussing making an album of music to heal grief …a follow-up to “Grace and Gratitude,” when I thought of asking Beth Nielsen Chapman to join us. Beth is a longtime friend and a truly gifted singer-songwriter from Nashville who’s recently inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Amongst her enormous contributions to music and song writing, Beth has written a stunning song called “Sand and Water” penned after the passing of her husband to cancer.
I had performed Beth’s song, as had Elton John — in fact right after September 11, when the world’s grief waspalpable. I could barely get through it.
Shortly thereafter, Amy and I discussed how wonderful it would be if we could have Beth as part our project.
Little did I know that Beth was actually already partaking in and performing at grief conferences. Amy and I felt she was the perfect person to make up this trio, so we asked Beth and she agreed!
We wrote the songs for LIV ON over three opportunities where we could get together, no small feat considering our crazy schedules. The songs flowed out of us like water, easily and freely, as we worked our way through our own stories of loss… with many tears and much laughter.
We found that any time we shared a vulnerable part of us,
we felt such an overwhelming feeling of kinship
and relief that we wer not alone with our pain.
We hope these songs that came from the depths of us, will offer a place of comfort to others.
“Live On” was perhaps the hardest song to write, as it was intended to also be a fundraising and awareness theme song for my hospital: The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness Research Centre (http://www.onjcancercentre.org) in Melbourne, Australia.
The ONJ Centre has been my dream and passion for the last ten years. To be able to create a song to encourage people to share their Liv On journey of hope, thriving and remembering for the Liv On website is a dream come true.
Having survived breast cancer in 1992 and thriving ever since, this musical journey has been an amazing gift…one that I am so grateful for.