It’s hard for widows, especially new widows, to go to places that hold many memories for us of visits, dinners, trips that we frequented with our now dearly departed spouses. We step through familiar doors and the emotions come rushing in, often followed by some tears. We can’t get out of there fast enough. Then we begin to avoid those places.
That can be problematic, as the places we went most often with our mates probably share several qualities. They are close by, they are convenient for our schedules, and we liked them. Do we really want to spend all our time driving across town to go out to lunch, to go to the store or the movies? Do we really want to stop going to concerts featuring our favorite music? Do we really want to be held captive by our grief forever more?
I didn’t. I don’t.
When my husband Pat died suddenly, we had only lived in our new home and our new home state just under a year. We were having a great time exploring the many excellent adventures our area has to offer. I live in a resort city and we have approximately 1,200 restaurants alone, not to mention topiary gardens, museums, historic attractions and, of course, the beach. We’d been here long enough together to find some favorites.
I knew I needed to find a way to be able to move around my community without being constantly upset, or worse yet, stay home alone all the time. Since like many widows, maybe even most of us, I was very isolated. The invitations stopped from the small group of new friends we had made together. I had to find my way in the world, even if it meant forging ahead all by myself.
Instinct, rather than a conscious plan took over. I realized that it would be painful each and every time I drove by a familiar place if I didn’t start going in. I’d also be racking up a lot of miles on my car, driving way out of my way avoiding places. I began to implement a system I made up and called Imprinting. The word is defined by Dictionary.com this way:
What I did was to simply force myself, sometimes through sheer will, to go to those favorite trigger places. When I could, I’d take a new friend, usually another widow with me, and make a point of focusing on getting to know that other person better. I’d make a new memory of an enjoyable time. If I couldn’t find a companion, I’d go and make a real effort to interact with the staff or perhaps other visitors or customers, and very often with the staff. I’d make a new memory of an enjoyable time. Find some articles and tips on eating out alone here https://www.pinterest.com/mhoct6462/eating-out-alone
After the first hurdle, the first time I returned, I would go again. I’d make another good memory. I imprinted or overlaid new memories to associate with that place. My memories of happy times in that place have never gone away, but now I had additional good memories of that place. I imprinted new sensations, new reflections, and each time I did it, I found it easier to go back again. Somewhat systematically, I made a point of going to those places in a rotation.
Now, I have only pleasant associations with the destinations around me, including the happy memories made with my husband. I succeeded in imprinting over ghosts of times past. It has been an important step in my healing. I do so hope you will give imprinting a try. I want you to live happily again. It will never be the same, but then no two visits to anywhere are, are they? Go out and do some imprinting. Once you get past the first step, it gets easier, I promise!
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