Transitions Through Life

Surviving every stage of life.

It Never Rains, But It Pours

Losing your spouse and losing your ability simultaneously.

I love blogging for Psychology Today. However, I have been unable to think of a new topic for my next blog. I began to analyze why I was blocked. I realized it was because I was in the midst of multiple transitions and could not focus on anything else. Although I have tried to stay away from personal stories, I think there are some lessons to be learned.

My husband of 48 years died in early December. He had been ill for some time and though there was an expectation that he would die, it was still was and is a blow, a shock, a kick. During the summer, I began experiencing a great deal of back pain and by the fall I was having great difficulty walking. I finally had an MRI and the neurosurgeon said I needed immediate surgery. I had the surgery and Steve died while I was in the hospital. The icing on the cake was that after the surgery, I still could not walk and discovered that I needed a hip replacement.

The transition from being part of a couple to widow, the transition from being someone in excellent health to someone who was temporarily unable to walk, seemed impossible to deal with. How could I even begin to think of a blog about coping? And then it hit me, why not look at the ways one might cope with multiple transitions? Is there something to be learned from my experience that could help others?

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We can probably all think of a time when life was overwhelming. The critical question is what can you do? How can you cope with multiple transitions?

• Take a moratorium from reading and TV. Sometimes when you can't deal with the reality of what is going on, you should step back and take a breather (if you can) from thinking. I spent hours just resting and listening to music.

• Delegate—the most immediate issue was to have a proper end of life experience for my husband. My adult children filled in for me during the time I was in the hospital. They were with Steve every minute and after the surgery brought me home from the rehab facility for a few hours at a time to be with him.

• Separate the issues—focus on what you can control. I could not control death but I could control my reaction to my physical problems and do as much physical therapy as possible so that I could get better. I consulted with a number of doctors to find out the best course of action for me to follow.

• Be Patient—grieve for what has been lost and know that there will be time to start regrouping and finding a life without Steve. Don't rush it. Just believe that it will happen.

Nancy K. Schlossberg
Author, Overwhelmed: Coping with Life's Ups and Downs
Copyright, 2012

Nancy Schlossberg, Ed.D., is a Professor Emerita at University of Maryland, College Park. She is the author of nine books.

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