When the News Makes You Feel More Widowed
Thank God for streaming services. I feel like these days I'm dodging my local news like landmines.
The other day, my mom was telling me something about the coronavirus and ended the discussion with, "I'm just telling you this because I know you don't watch the news."
"I watch the news," I said. "I just don't watch it all day."
This was a lesson I learned at the beginning of widowhood that's served me well since.
When Brad died, I wasn't just worried about dealing with the everyday stuff; I was worried about what I would do should catastrophe strike. Brad had mad survival skills (he would have been an ideal Survivor contestant) and I knew that should something happen, I could count on him to take care of us. I honestly never worried.
But when he died, I was terrified. Every news story felt like the world was out to get me. I could feel myself sinking into depression and looking helplessly at my three small children. What was I going to do when we had an earthquake, the plague came back, and all of our investments were wiped out all at once?
At that point, I made the conscious decision to put my head in the sand. The only news I would watch were morning shows where they would temper the bad news with what Britney Spears was wearing that week. Beyond that, my TV watching consisted of HGTV, the Food Network, and whatever cartoons the kids were watching.
The news will make you feel more alone than you ever knew possible. Every story is designed for sensation and views and nothing gets more attention than a looming apocalypse. What I find so ridiculous is that now the evening news will fill your head with more tragedy than you ever thought possible within 25 minutes...and then use the last 5 minutes to tell you a cute story about someone who made a half-court shot and won $10,000 at a basketball game. Do they think they're doing us a favor? The damage has been done.
If you're one of the many widows who watches the news on her own or with your children around...it might be time to hit the "off" button. Whether you know it or not, it does a number on your mental health. It might also be time to unfollow (not unfriend - unfollow) people on your social media newsfeed who have a habit of always posting the most depressing news (you know who they are).
This is the time to surround yourself with the right balance of quiet and a social circle that is made up of rational thinkers - and that might really only be a handful of people. Identify people who you know you could call when you feel worried who will inject some common sense to level you out. Limit your time talking to those you know "ramp you up" and only add to your worries. Stay informed, then change the channel.
Most of all, know that you are fully capable of taking care of yourself and the people around you if you need to. After over 12 years of widowhood (that also included a recession), I'm still a somewhat functioning adult and my kids are fine. We all have the power to do what needs to be done and the smarts to find the resources we need if we can't handle something. We're never as alone as we feel - there is always an answer to find.
If you're hoping to find some things to balance out what's going on, here are some great podcasts and books that have been life-changing for me lately:
Oprah's Super Soul Sunday
The Ten Percent Happier Podcast