Carrying Carts &
Lightening Loads

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I belong to a faith community that highly reveres its pioneer heritage. To illustrate, as youth we occasionally re-enact a 3-day pioneer trek across whatever land around us takes 3 days to trek…pulling all our stuff in makeshift handcarts…in pioneer clothes.

During one part of this whack-a-doo exercise, the young women pull those heavy handcarts by themselves without the young men. It’s really hard work and often there are tears, frustration, and sometimes full-on quitting. After several hours of that (and it’s usually up a mountain trail in the heat or trudging through mud during a deluge from summer storms), the girls finally make it to the end of that part of the trail. In the end, it’s very empowering knowing you can do really hard things with your sisters around you helping. Of course, you still have to keep going, but your “brothers” join back in (As an aside, my understanding is that some treks are also having the young men pull by themselves. It’s important for both genders to see that it’s empowering, but still hard without the other and that both genders are frustrated when they can’t get in there and help, they just have to watch the struggle). What’s interesting is when you start back up with everyone, it feels like you’re flying – that same cart filled with everyone’s same crap is suddenly so light!

All the scary stuff that comes with loss is definitely a “cart full of crap” as it were. There’s no getting around it, you just have to haul your heart up that mountain and traverse those jagged, uneven trails. In all of our research, the #1 fear of having a partner die is having to “do everything on my own”.

Here’s a secret. You DON’T have to do everything on your own. You can if you want, but most people really are amazing in a crisis and truly want to help somehow. Like the young women pulling that cart together– neighbors, friends, even perfect strangers will often want to ease those burdens with you. But, oh, the healing that can take place when you have even more join in. The secret is letting them do it.
Here’s another little secret. In order for all that healing and helping to take place, when you’re in the first shock of crisis, you kind of need a trusted team lead to field and organize those willing “trek troopers”. Reach out to that trusted person and ask them to make assignments, so you don’t have to. Like, who will take and censor calls to rehearse “what happened”, so you don’t have to? Who will answer your door and tell well-wishers that you need time before you have visits? Who will ask folks for meals/cleaning/driving kids around, and then who will organize it? Those first responders will help you feel empowered as you climb out of the ravine and up that hill of new normal.

Support groups are another resource that can and should be utilized to lighten your load. I know, they can seem daunting and awkward, not to mention embarrassingly weird to just show up and lay bare vulnerable soul stuff to strangers – I get it. Go anyway. Embrace the weird and discover the wonderful. By having those difficult thoughts and feelings spoken out loud, truly heard and totally understood, you can find a clan, an extremely personal, meaningful community in very short order. If you choose to be open to it, your hurt heart, your dashed dreams, can be IMMEDIATELY enriched, nourished, and nurtured. Healing begins. You’re still carting the crap, but with more people holding on with you, that heaviness becomes miraculously lighter, bearable even.

Here’s the last secret. Start looking for ways you can be a “trek trooper” for someone else. Practice helping others heal so you know what to ask for when it’s your turn. Even if you are not requested to do something specific, there’s always something you can do.

For instance, I had a friend pay for my haircut before Dave’s funeral. I had another friend go shopping with me so I also had something nice to wear. Another asked what Dave’s favorite teams were and made cookies in those colors for the luncheon afterwards. Even a text saying “You’re on my mind. Here’s a memory I have of your husband.” was seriously the best. A widower friend of mine had someone take him to a ball game.

Suffice it to say, the more trek troops you are on for others, the more folks you can call on to help haul with you on your eventual trek. People can be amazing in a crisis. People you’ve helped during their crisis, will generally be the first ones to show it. If you are needed to be in a trek troop, and you’re not sure what to do, whatever it is that you love to do, just do that. If you need a troop, do your best to reach out and allow people use their gifts and talents to serve and comfort you. Before you know it, no matter what part of this whack-a-do trek exercise you’re experiencing, everyone’s burdens will be lightened and you’ll all be flying.

Prepare Your Affairs Founders

ABOUT OUR FOUNDERS

Corey and Katie entered widowhood in 2016 after losing spouses to cancer.  They met and connected in a widow/widower support group and later married.  One of the principles they learned from their own experiences and those of other surviving spouses is that the more prepared a surviving spouse is on a financial, legal, emotional, and practical level, the better they will adjust to widowhood.  They will maintain their independence and control of their assets and be freer to properly grieve and move forward in life.  Conversely, those who are not prepared are more likely to have their lives flipped upside down.  They may need to move and uproot kids because they can't afford the mortgage, rely on family or other charities to financially support them, and/or change jobs to allow them to better serve as a single parent.  We hope to share what we've learned and help other families properly get their affairs in order and be prepared with confidence, peace of mind, and in control of their assets.