Confidence Lost

Of the many things I could not have known about grief following the death of my husband, Matt, was how worthless and inept I would feel. It made no sense. I had been through the excruciating experience of losing him. Why did I lose my own self-confidence?

I was no longer able to function professionally for a long time, a huge blow for me, a management consultant. Thus, I found myself also grieving the loss of my professional credibility. It didn’t help that I couldn’t drive at first—I was literally afraid to get behind the wheel at first because I was so disoriented. I was Mr. Magoo.

I have learned that grieving people commonly find their self-confidence and self-esteem destroyed by grief. But why is it so common to feel bad about ourselves, insufficient, even worthless after experiencing our loss?

Confidence Undermined

These personal doubts are directly related to how much the person meant to us. We had joined our life to theirs. Although we were separate, we were one. That “one” was cut in half, leaving us “eviscerated,” as one man described it.

We are grieving so many things at the same time—not just the loss of that precious person, but the loss of the future life we imagined, the loss of the daily life we had together, possibly the loss of friends, and often the loss of status and financial security. We know our life won’t ever be the same. And we are undone by it all.

When we recognize this, we can see we have a new challenge in front of us—to create a life that works for us in our new reality. Even, as a grieving friend suggested, to reinvent ourselves.

Reinvention is not so easy, but it is achieved in small steps. Staying connected with our lost love in comforting ways, accepting how bad we feel, asking for help when we need it, doing things we have always wanted to do, trying new things when we have the energy, reaching out to friends, taking care of ourselves, and celebrating the ways in which we are strong and moving forward. All these things together can help us rebuild ourselves and reclaim our self-confidence.             


·       What strengths and abilities did your beloved admire and appreciate in you?

·       In what ways do you feel less confident than you did before?

·       In what ways might you feel more confident now?



Easy, Healthy Recipe for One

Fork-Tender Pork Chops (Slow Cooker)

Tangy and tender and cooks while you nap.

Ingredients Directions
2 boneless pork chops, trimmed

8 oz. tomato sauce

2 T. brown sugar

1 T. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. salt

1½ T. olive oil

½ medium onion, sliced

1 medium green bell pepper, sliced


1. Whisk tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and salt in a bowl.


2. Heat olive oil on “browning” setting in slow cooker (or place in a skillet over medium heat).


3. Brown pork chops in hot oil about 5 minutes per side.


4. Place onion and green pepper on top of pork chops in slow cooker.


5. Pour tomato sauce mixture into slow cooker, gently stirring.


6. Cook on Low until tender, 6-8 hours.




·       Serve with couscous, quinoa, rice, or mashed potatoes.


 Excerpted from Gentle Comforts: For Women Grieving the Loss of a Beloved Life Companion (ACTA, 2024) features 52 reflections, journaling pages and easy, healthy recipes for one person. Nutrition deficits and resulting health problems are common among people who have lost a spouse or partner.

Order from ACTA Publications or call 800-397-2282. Also available on Amazon.

Kathleen A. Paris Kathleen

As an author and management consultant, Kathleen A. Paris, Ph.D., has assisted organizations over the past thirty years to plan for new realities and improve their systems and organizational climate. She currently holds the title of Distinguished Consultant Emeritus from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Paris has consulted in the United States and internationally in Canada, Cyprus, France, Guam, Switzerland, Virgin Islands, and the UK. She is an editor and one of the co-authors of Bending Granite—30+ True Stories of Leading Change (ACTA, 2022). Among many other books and articles, Paris has written "Gentle Comforts: For Women Grieving the Loss of a Beloved Life Companion" (ACTA Publishing, 2024). She lives in Madison, Wisconsin and shares five treasured children with her late husband, Matt Cullen, and 13 grandchildren.

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