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Now more than ever we hear the word resilience. The definition of the word resilience is: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. “Resilience means knowing how to cope in spite of setbacks, or barriers or limited resources. It is a measure of how much you want something and how much you are willing and able to overcome obstacles to get it. It has to do with your emotional strength.” Posted in 2014 by speakersoffice.com

An additional definition is: “the ability of a substance to spring back into shape, elasticity”. When a woman becomes a widow the idea of springing back into shape is impossible. Becoming widowed or even in the unprecedented times we all are facing I think it is safe to say that while we may spring back it most likely will look very different from who and what we were before the loss of your life partner or the loss of life as we knew it. We are being challenged everyday with the questions of how to cope in spite of the ongoing pandemic that has altered our “normal” lives. I so often find myself saying, “when things get back to normal”. What is that? What will it look like? What do and will I have control over? I personally believe that resilience is an act of intentionality. While we may have great desire to act and feel like we did before, we also know that we are different therefore our lives will be different in some form or fashion.

I found this list of 7 Skills of Resilience in Psychology Today from March 31, 2020. I’ve taken the liberty of expounding on each of the principles

Seven Skills of Resilience

  • Principle 1: Cultivate a Belief in Your Ability to Cope.
    • We must believe in ourselves and our ability so we can rise above the circumstances. In this pandemic I have chosen to keep my mind focused on my purpose and passion. It might mean you have to find creative ways to do that in a virtual or socially distant way.
  • Principle 2: Stay Connected with Sources of Support.
    • Make it a habit to call, text or meet virtually with those people who are in your support system. Early on when the pandemic first hit and we were sequestered at home I made it a point to call one friend every day. Go thru your contacts and reach out to the ones you haven’t been in contact with and make a special effort to connect.
  • Principle 3: Talk About What You’re Going Through.
    • Pick your safe people that you can say how you are really feeling. Especially, in this unusual time of isolation it is important to talk about how you feel. I always encourage myself and the widows I have contact with to set aside time to talk about their grief, their frustration and their situation.  Cry into your pillow or scream but then purpose to get up, get dressed and set goals for the day.  The goals can be simple like accomplish one task or complete one thing that is weighing you down. You don’t have to take on ALL of your to do’s at once.

Finding Your Resilience in Challenging Times
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  • Principle 4: Be Helpful to Others.
    • When we are struggling, lonely or just defeated it always helps to find a way to help someone else. It takes the focus off of us and onto someone else who may need assistance. Perhaps you can volunteer at a local food back, your church or any organization that assists people. Maybe, make a plate of cookies for a neighbor who is alone. 
  • Principle 5: Activate Positive Emotion.
    • The old saying, “mind over matter” come to mind. There is scientific research that says our brain believes what we tell it. Our self-talk is important. Feeling all the feels and then allowing ourselves to activate the positive emotion we want.  Gratitude is a big component to this.
  • Principle 6: Cultivate an Attitude of Survivorship.
    • Be intentional about what it is you want and cultivate/create that attitude that you want to embody. “I will not let this take me down, I will take a stand and make the best of whatever my circumstances”
  • Principle 7: Seek Meaning.
    • We all want to have meaning and purpose in our lives. Seek that out. What are the things that bring you JOY? What are the things that fill up your tank? What are the skills you are blessed with that you can share?

This season as we all are trying to find our footing in an ever-changing environment, I hope these resilience principles will give you food for thought and help you with an action plan. I am grateful for where I am today and for the resilience I’ve found in my life. I only wish I had known to be more intentional earlier in life. “Gratefulness is the ROOT of JOY”. I am grateful and it gives me peace. 

Cindy Toledo

Cindy Toledo

Cindy Toledo
Regional West Director, Modern Widows Club


Cindy Toledo

 Cindy Toledo is currently the Regional West Director of Modern Widows Club, a national non-profit organization that serves to empower widows to lean into life, build resilience and make a positive difference in society. Cindy became a widow in July 2011 when her husband died from a sudden heart attack. She found Modern Widows Club three weeks later and found her passion and purpose while leading two chapters in the Seattle area. She is seeking to rebuild a chapter in our area and invites anyone interested to contact her at regionalwest@modernwidowsclub.org.


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