"Suddenly Single" moves the reader from utter confusion to clarity and provides a clear path to renewal after loss.
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Lost and Found
Death is the great equalizer. Be you rich or poor; savvy or naive; any religion; or any race, there is not a family that goes untouched by death or some other type of loss and the subsequent grief that follows.
After the death of a loved one, or the loss of a partner from divorce, a person is usually vulnerable and, consequently, open to considering new thoughts and ideas, as well as connecting with those he/she would not have previously come in contact. It is upon this great cross-section of new ideas, people and opportunities that a foundation for a new life may be built. I call it the "Do-Over."
"Suddenly Single" moves the reader from utter confusion to clarity and provides a clear path to renewal after loss. The book covers the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of moving through loss and provides alternative ways to look at difficult issues.
Gerst asks the reader to consider that if every event in life is neutral, it is the individual who gives the event an emotional connotation. Consequently, a loss may be looked upon as both a burden and a blessing. After reading and digesting the information provided in "Suddenly Single", the reader should be able to see both sides of the coin, which will enable him/her to use his/her loss as a springboard into renewal.
For those ready to move into a new relationship after properly grieving for their past one, Gerst has written a sequel to "Suddenly Single" – "Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story," which is a blueprint on how to redesign your life in order to be able to welcome new love and life.
If you are reading this book because you are of Baby Boomer age and are Suddenly Single through either divorce or death – and you don’t have a clue how to be single – take heart: you’re not alone! Many who first married in their twenties are now confronted with issues they thought were far behind them, such as being on their own, finding it necessary to go back to work and dating.
The first thing to recognize about your situation is that no matter how it occurred, you have experienced a loss that must be mourned in a healthy manner in order to move forward in life. In the case of divorce, even if you are the one who wanted to separate, it is still a loss and you must grieve for it before moving on. You may only be grieving for the years wasted in an unhealthy relationship, but the reasons why you stayed must also be addressed in order for you to not repeat your past mistakes. In the case of death, sometimes spousal grief is complicated by guilt and a lack of ‘closure’ because the marriage was not without acrimony, and it may have ended in divorce if death didn’t occur first. In truth, it’s important to understand the similarities and differences between losing a partner from death vs. divorce, for this will allow you to understand the life circumstances of a prospective partner.
Although hard emotional work does not sound like a fun game plan, it is exactly this journey that will afford you many growth experiences by forcing you to examine your very existence. It is as if a part of you has been ripped away and kind and well-meaning words, thoughts and deeds will not help to lessen its intensity. In fact, you may even shun them for you want to feel the searing pain in your heart – just so you know you can still feel something. It is healthy to feel, rather than deny, your pain. It is only when you recognize your base emotions that you can begin to address how to harness them properly.
What it is hard to realize at the inception of a loss is that it can be a defining moment in your life. You will either decide to just survive by going through the motions of life without the emotions, or you will decide to thrive. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” The decision is yours to make to either move through your circumstances with grace or to wallow in sadness forever.
Do not misinterpret my words. You should allow yourself to grieve for all that you have lost, including future joys that could have been shared had you stayed together with your partner. However, over time you must learn to put your negative thoughts in perspective and let them work for you rather than be their slave.
You have learned a very important lesson; life is precious, and you must make every moment count. The first step to take in order to accomplish this feat is to look inside and reflect on where you now find yourself. If this is a place you don’t wish to be, a change in your attitude and perspective is imperative. Although the thought of more change can be intimidating, it is exactly what is needed to move you to a better vantage point. By presenting a different perspective on how to look at your loss, this guide will provide you with the tools and support needed to implement change. In turn, this will allow you to fully embrace your life after loss so you may create a new life filled with joy and love.
I was fast approaching my fortieth birthday, but little did I know that I would be celebrating it without my husband of twenty years.
I had been married my entire life. My husband and I were childhood sweethearts, meeting at sleep-away camp when I was fifteen and he was seventeen. He was my one and only boyfriend, and we married two weeks after our college graduations. We moved from New York to California on our wedding night, starting our new life away from the influence of both sets of families. We grew up together, and I thought I would spend my whole life with him. He was the man who had seen me grow from a teenager to a woman to a mother. I never imagined that I would have to go through life without him holding my hand.
When he died without any warning, I also died – maybe not physically but, certainly, emotionally and mentally. I found myself coping with a wide range of feelings, including many that I had never experienced before. Since teenagehood, I had never been alone. I didn’t know what it felt like to not have a partner to whom to turn in times of both happiness and turbulence. I was sad, angry and scared; I just wanted to put my head under the blankets and hide so I wouldn’t have to deal with the world. My world, as I knew it, had crashed and burned, and, as the supposed survivor, I had no desire to go on.
Of course, I had two children to raise, and I had no choice but to pick myself up and deal with the matters at hand. It didn’t matter how much I disliked my circumstances; they were the ones I had to address. If I didn’t like them, then it was my job to move through them and ultimately change them to my liking, which was a task much easier said than done. Through much hard work, I came to believe that the loss of my husband was clearly the worst thing and the best thing that ever happened to me.
If you are in a similar situation – Suddenly Single – please do not expect that revelation to dawn on you right away. It takes time and hard work to get to a place where you are at peace with yourself and your circumstances. It has been a wondrous journey for me. I may have lost my first husband, but I found myself along the way. With my newfound knowledge of self in hand, I was able to construct a different life and eventually find love once again.
I ask you to grab hold of my hand and read about what I have discovered and the tools I used to rebuild my life. Allow me to lead you through the maze of confusion that confronts one when devastated by any type of loss. And, although many of the examples are personal and thereby point to the aftermath of the death of a partner, a divorce represents a death too; it is the death of a relationship. Consequently, the same advice and tools may be utilized by those who find themselves without a partner because of this life circumstance.
As we wind our way through a myriad of circumstances you may encounter, always keep in mind that it is your attitude that will determine your success. Hopefully when we reach the end of this guide, you will be ready to take control of your life and shape your new destiny to find personal fulfillment and a renewal of your spirit.