To-Do List

There’s so much to do after your spouse dies: making funeral arrangements, receiving guests, writing thank-you cards, executing the will, managing finances, sorting through clothes and possessions. Add to that your everyday responsibilities and the list can be stressful and exhausting.

It’s not only the length of the list, it’s also the anxiety connected with the tasks that can overwhelm you. Were there things your spouse did that you now have to learn to do? Do you have challenging financial decisions to make? Do you need to arrange care for family members or for yourself? Are there tasks that seem too painful to undertake because they bring back difficult memories or cause friction among family members? Whatever your situation, certain things on your to-do list can cause anxiety, perhaps even panic.

While it wasn’t easy for me, my anxiety told me that I had to ask for help. Some of the tasks were just too difficult to do myself. It was a great relief to have assistance in making important decisions and to have someone by my side as I undertook stressful tasks. It also helped to make an actual to-do list and rank the tasks by time priority. Some items are still on the list two years later.

Give yourself a break from the list in your head. Envision yourself first putting it down and then opening your heart cavity. Listen for the sound of silence. Ask God what you need to do. When you are ready, you may conclude with:

Forever God, you know that I can get tired and worried. I don’t think I can do all that is expected of me. Help me, Lord. Help me reach out to others who have offered to help. Help me make choices that honour (my spouse) while feeling right for my situation here and now. Help me turn to you before I feel panic rising. Help me, Lord. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Lord is with me; I am not afraid. – Psalm 118: 6