Husband & Wife Articles


 

Reinventing Yourself

God gives back more than we lose in life

By Rich Vosler

 

For almost 20 years I’ve been a student of personal development and spiritual growth. One of the hardest things I had to learn is that I need constantly to be reinventing myself – especially after a big challenge or devastating loss. I must go on and figure out how to move forward. After my wife’s death, I didn't know where to start. But the years of study certainly played a big part in giving me direction.

The first thing I did to move forward was to keep busy. With nine children to care for, that was an easy task. But we also moved into a new home less than 30 days after Joanne died so the whole buying process kept me occupied. The part that really helped me heal was the unpacking of boxes. We had hundreds of them it seemed. Every night after I put the kids to bed I’d spend time going through one to two boxes a night. Every little thing in those boxes was special. There was jewelry, clothes, notes, cards, recipes and on and on. While it was one of the hardest things to do it was very healing because it was like categorizing memories and the tears flowed often. I cried, listened to music, agonized over our situation and prayed.

I’ve studied a lot of books on fatherhood and leadership so I also tried to make myself available to the kids – to be there for them. They grieve very differently than adults. Their grief comes in spurts, not very often but intense when it does come. Often we’d cry together because I knew their pain from the loss perspective but not from the vantage point of losing a parent. Many times all we could do was just hold each other and be together. No words, just support.

Through the personal development process I learned the value of reading good books. When people would give me books on grief I ate them up. They helped tremendously. One book talked about the fact that God designed our bodies to only cry intensely in increments. When we cry so hard and we feel like we’re going to dry up and fall apart, our bodies just stop. It’s quite amazing. I remember one time crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe and felt like I couldn’t walk. Almost instantly I was done and totally fine. It was like a major workout and I was exhausted but in the flip of a switch, it seemed I was done. That gave me comfort to grieve more intensely and more often.

I wrote in my last column about relying on others for physical help. I also relied on them for support and for listening. I knew mostly what I said to them didn’t make much sense (to them) but I still talked because I needed them to listen. And as they did, I healed.

To reinvent means to remake something that has already been invented. I had to remake my life, every aspect of it. From what I did on a daily basis to how I thought. I had to remake my career life and my spiritual life. I had to remake my relationships. Often during the process of remaking, things get better. They are remade in a better way than before. And that’s what has happened to me. My life is better, not bitter. There are some definite things I miss but for the most part the personal and spiritual growth I’ve experienced over the last six years has been phenomenal.

I’ve also given my life to God. I’ll talk more about that in my next and final column but 2 Corinthians 17 is absolutely true: “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” And so, the biggest tragedy of our lives is also the biggest blessing in our lives because we were stripped of everything but still had the most important thing: Our relationship with our Savior.

Rich Vosler is a father, businessman, author, coach and speaker. He is a featured blogger for Catholic Digest.com and recently published his first book The Vosler's Nest: 45 Short Stories of Faith, Hope, and Encouragement. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 8733 of Tabernacle, N.J. His website is RichVosler.com.