Learning To Take Care of Yourself

For me, one of the scariest parts of widowhood is having to take care of myself in the event of an illness or injury, and it’s happening this week with a shoulder surgery. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can take of ourselves when life throws us a curveball and I believe, when possible, it’s all about organizing the care and keeping of YOU.

The following is a list of areas I’ve organized in preparation for my need to take care of myself, starting with…

  1. Ask for HELP when you need it! Hard right? Necessary? Also correct. There are times when we need to reach out into our community of family, friends, and other widowed people to ask for help. The amazing men and women I’ve met through my MeetUp Widowed People’s Group are my new tribe, and we show up for each other.
  2. Make sure your medications are ready. I asked my doctor to fill my pain meds early. I’ve stocked up on bandages and Hibaclense. I’m preparing the war chest because running to town isn’t really an option.
  3. Prepare meals ahead of time. Find those meals you can freeze. If you’re in a situation where you can’t preplan, then find your goto easy meal that you can repeat. For me? I’ve got protein drinks, graham crackers, milk and fruit.
  4. Check your bills. You won’t want to pay bills right after your surgery/illness, so if it’s possible, pay them right before.
  5. Alter your environment to make it friendly to future you who will be mildly or majorly incapacitated. If you need a walker, make sure it’s close at hand. If you need lots of pillows to prop and sleep, get them ready.
  6. Go to the grocery store. Piggy backing on 2 and 3, go to the store and get your staples including toilet paper, laundry detergent, animal food, and other things you might not think about. It will be a lot easier to get them before than after your event.
  7. Get functional as soon as you are able. I’ve told my daughters that I need to work on being functional because I know they have to leave. We’re going to practice getting dressed, making coffee, and preparing simple food. If a situation arises where that isn’t going to happen, then arrange a caregiving schedule.
  8. Rest! You need to sleep to heal. You need to rest to heal. You need to do your physical therapy exercises to heal. It can be hard to rest when you’re always worried about everything that needs to get done, but it is the most important thing for your recovery.
  9. Arrange animal care. If you have animals, you may want to arrange care for them. It may not seem like a big deal if you have cats and dogs, but wait till it’s time to feed them and they’re jumping on you in excitement! The bigger the animal, the more you should consider an animal care plan.
  10. Visualize future you doing all of the amazing things you want to do. It will help you make better decisions today when you have a vision of yourself tomorrow. Do those exercises, eat your protein, follow the protocol because your future self is waiting for you at the finish line!

I am having a shoulder repair surgery as a result of falling in my barn. I tried for a year to fix it, but it didn’t work. My vision to help me have a good attitude and perspective is the desire to go to Camp Widow in the fall, and to travel in the spring. Now, they may be a little too ambitious and I may not make it, but that’s ok.

For me the goal is good, but the journey to get to the goal is golden. Goals create a path to a desired future. They force you to focus, to gain clarity, and to drive yourself towards something intangible. They provide a framework in which you can overcome your doubts and fears.

Julie Martella

This surgery involves my dominant hand, so communicating with you will involve an entirely different set of adaptations! If I’m silent for a bit, you know why, and I look forward to chatting with you again soon!

Much love,


Julie Martella Avatar

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