best ways to get through the holidays; part 2

In Part 1, we suggested the best ways to cope with the upcoming holiday season.

Here are more proven strategies:

1) Contact the host or hostess before the get-together and let them know that you aren’t feeling like your usual self and may need to leave early.

2) Give yourself the first 30 minutes after you arrive to adjust to a gathering where your spouse is no longer with you.

3) Take your own car or alert a friend who is driving that you may want to leave early.

4) If you start to feel overwhelmed, you can retreat to the bathroom or take a short walk for some private time.

5) If you choose to avoid the usual gatherings, consider volunteering to serve meals at shelters, visiting shut-ins, or spending the day at a movie or health spa.

Remember: You will get through this time. We’ve found that the anticipation is usually much worse than the actual events. Be sure to plan ahead and do only what is most comfortable for you.


best ways to get through the holidays; part 1

Here again are our best tips for surviving the holidays.

Dreading the upcoming holidays? If you’ve recently lost your spouse, the coming festivities can feel as unwelcome as Marley’s Ghost.

Here are some tried and true strategies for facing the holiday season:

1) Think ahead and try to anticipate how you’ll feel on each holiday.

2) Even if you don’t join in the festivities, don’t remain alone all day. Spend some time with a friend.

3) Considering your loss, don’t expect yourself to be as upbeat as usual. Expect some sadness as you take part in the festivities.

4) To lessen the chance of emotional “sneak attacks”, make some time to grieve, either on the holiday or just before it.

5) If you do choose to join in holiday activities, make some changes as to how much you do or become involved in.

Look for more tips in our next post.


veterans' survivor benefits from different government agencies

With Veteran's Day here, we were checking out the Veteran's Benefits website, when we came across a helpful page titled Federal Benefits Provided by Other Federal Agencies. If you or your dependent children are surviviors of a veteran, it's worth checking out some potential benefits you may not be aware of.

According to this page, you or your children may be entitled to:

Earned income credit from the I.R.S.

Loans for your home or farm from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

Housing assistance from HUDVET.

Small business and/or job planning help from the Small Business Administration.

Continued commissary and exchange priviledges.

Funding assistance for heating and energy costs from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

There's more, so be sure to check this out!


lost my partner has gone digital!

We're launching our latest edition of Lost My Partner as an e-book!

We've been working to make it faster and easier to access all the professional advice and support in our revised and updated version of LMP by giving you the option of using your e-reader or other devices.

And for only $8.99 a copy.

So you’ve got a Kindle, iPhone, iPad or Android device, the entire book is just moments away.

 If you own a Kindle: Go to the Amazon Kindle Store here.

If you have an iPhone, iPad or Android devices:  You can get the FREE Kindle

app available in the iTunes store and Google Play.

Let us know what you think.


finding the best support group for you; part 2

In our last post, we suggested you shop around and then sit in on a support group before you commit to joining.

It’s also a good idea to interview the leader or facilitator of any group and ask the following:

1) What are the qualifications of the leader? Is this a “peer” group, with the leader being someone who is only in charge because he or she has experienced a loss? Or is the leader a mental health professional?

2) How many people are in the group? Ideally, there are between 6 – 10 members. More than that could mean very limited time for each member to share their concerns.

3) What, if any, are the rules regarding confidentiality? This means members agree not to talk about what is said in the group to outsiders or to discuss group issues between themselves when outside the group setting.

4) Is feedback between members kept supportive? It’s the responsibility of the leader to ensure that members comments remain helpful, not critical.

5) Is there a clear policy about dating? Although most widowed groups encourage members to form new friendships with each other, dating between members is usually not a good idea because it interferes with the necessary mourning process. Dating should wait until you’ve left the group.

Feel free to communicate to the leader any concerns you have about your own ability to participate. His or her response should give you some idea of that person’s sensitivity to members’ feelings and group management skills.

When is the right time to leave a group? If you’ve found a group you’re remained in comfortably, you should consider leaving once you no longer feel the need for this type of support. Discuss your decision to leave with the leader, who can ease this transition for you and the others in the group.

Keep in mind that some important benefits of being in a support group are the bonds you create with other widowed people. These often result in supportive, lasting friendships.


widowhood way back when: all that jazz

New Orleans Jazz Funerals

(Excerpted from funeralwise.com)

Historically, the New Orleans jazz funeral could last up to a week and sometimes even included a parade.
A typical funeral began with a slow march from the home of the deceased to the church or funeral home. During the march, the coffin may have been carried by a horse-drawn hearse and was accompanied by a brass band playing somber dirges and hymns. After the memorial service, the march would proceed to the cemetery and the tone would remain somber until the coffin had been placed in the ground or until the group was out of sight of the church.

People on the streets where the march passed were welcome to join in and go along with the mourners to the cemetery. This group was referred to as the “second line.“ The brass band would play a couple more hymns, though these were played with a swing beat, to alert mourners that the mood was about to change, then would launch into wilder music with tambourines and drums.

The music and dancing were both a cathartic release for mourners and a celebration of a life well lived. In this state of jubilation, the group would then march back to the location of their reception.

Carrying vestiges of African funeral rituals and originally intended to celebrate the new-found freedom of a departed slave, the jazz funerals of New Orleans evolved throughout the 20th century to come to be recognized as one of the most respected ways to exalt the life of a loved one. Musicians, police officers and African-Americans in particular have been remembered by this style of funeral and finally, those many victims of Hurricane Katrina were paid high tribute as well, New Orleans style.

A symbol of life, a symbol of death and a symbol of re-birth, the New Orleans jazz funeral salutes a life well lived and the passage of a departed soul into a better world.


when grief affects your eating and sleeping; part 2


In our last post, we looked at ways to cope with the appetite loss that’s a common symptom of grief.

Here we revisit our best advice on getting through those nights when sleep is a problem.

Sleeping Solo

Some people find it difficult adjusting to sleeping alone after his or her partner has died.

It’s often uncomfortable to change your position in the bed after having shared it with a partner. For some, moving into a bedmate’s “space” may feel comforting while for others it’s a painful acknowledgment that a loved one is no longer there.

Whether you feel most comfortable sleeping on your usual side of the bed or moving to your late partner’s side, here are some tips for helping you adjust to sleeping alone:

1) Try hugging a pillow to help you doze off.

2) You may want to sleep with an article of clothing that carries your partner’s familiar scent.

3) If you’re uncomfortable moving from your customary position, “try out” shifting yourself gradually toward the center of the bed.

4) If you initially find it comforting to have your young child/children sleep with you, try to ease them back into their own beds as soon as possible. While it may be reassuring to you and your child in the short term, you don’t want to burden children with the responsibility of “taking care” of you.

5) Sharing the bed with your pets, however, is a better way to feel less alone.

Adjusting to sleeping by yourself is a very personal process. There is no right or wrong about this, so take your time and move (or sleep) at your own pace.

How to Ease Into Those ZZZs; Part 1

Since your spouse/partner’s death, do you feel exhausted during the day because when you try sleep at night, you:

a) Toss and turn all night, unable shut down your thoughts?

b) Fall asleep, only to wake up a few hours later, unable to get back to sleep?

With all the mental and physical overload caused by your spouse/partner’s death, it’s no wonder your normal sleep habits have been affected.

If so, keep in mind that some disturbances in your normal sleep pattern should be expected. With all the changes and stresses you’re dealing with, it’s no wonder you can’t rest.

With time, these typical symptoms of grief will subside.

In the meantime, remind yourself that everything seems worse at night. Once morning arrives, the problem or memory that kept you tossing will probably seem more manageable.

How to Ease Into Those ZZZs; Part 2

Now for the 7 most useful tips on dealing with that long stretch before your alarm goes off.

1) Use your bed for sleep only. If you have get up, go into another room to read or watch something boring on TV. Avoid the mental stimulation of using a computer.

2) Don’t look at the clock. Noticing how long it’s taking you to fall asleep can become another pressure.

3) If you’re too tense to fall asleep, get up and perform some repetitive housework, like vacuuming...(read more)


when grief affects your eating and sleeping; part 1


Research has shown that you’re more vulnerable to physical problems following the death of a spouse/partner. This doesn’t mean that you will get sick, only that it’s important to take care of your health during this stressful period.

The following posts offer some practical suggestions for coping with the diminished appetite that can accompany grief and mourning.

Losing Your Appetite

Feel like nothing will ever taste good again?

Wish people would stop nagging you to eat when you just don’t feel hungry?

If your spouse/partner has recently died, you probably haven’t felt much like eating. It’s not uncommon to feel a loss of appetite in the first month or so after a death, when your body as well as your mind is in a state of shock. Keep in mind that your appetite should slowly return with time. In any case…(read more).

Online Help

We came across a site for adult children who have lost a parent. In a useful post they recommend offering support by arranging to have prepared meals delivered to a widowed parent.

There are online sites that provide special diets, vegetarian and/or gourmet cooking.

While this is a great way for others to “do something”, it can also be a good way to take care of yourself. Especially at those times when you don’t feel up to shopping and/or fixing something to eat.

Or depending on family or neighbors to do it for you. In any case, always make sure your doctor knows about your recent loss and any prolonged problems you have with your appetite.

There are also some regional supermarket chains that offer online selections and home delivery. Check out Netgrocer.com, which has an extensive directory of online food, grocery, and pharmacy products. Another option is groceriesexpress.com.

Although it can get costly, occasionally ordering meals or groceries online can provide a healthy alternative on days when you’d just rather not bother yourself or others.

In our next post, we’ll revisit some useful posts that deal with sleep disturbances affected by your loss.


reflections: irish words of wisdom II

- It is a long road that has no turning.

- May the strength of three be in your journey.

- May the frost never afflict your spuds. May the outside leaves of your cabbage always be free from worms. May the crow never pick your haystack, and may your donkey always be in foal.

- May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty.

- When a twig grows hard it is difficult to twist it. Every beginning is weak.

- May good luck be your friend
  In whatever you do.
  And may trouble be always
  A stranger to you.


knowing your "moment"

One of our most popular posts discusses the decision about when to remove your wedding ring.

Earlier this month, we read a posting about how the late actor Patrick Swayze’s widow, struggled with this painful decision.

Two years after Patrick’s death, on the set of “New York Live”, Lisa Niemi Swayze discussed her 34 year marriage and her decision to finally remove her wedding ring:

“About a year or eight months ago, all of a sudden I had this bizarre thought and it didn’t really make sense to me, but I had a moment when I went, ‘You know what this ring says? I’m married to his physical form.’” She goes on to add, “And actually my connection to him, since he has been gone, has been much deeper than that.”  (Read more)

As we’ve said in When Should I Stop Wearing My Wedding Ring? removing your ring is always a very personal choice. There is no right or wrong time.

In Lisa’s case, she “had a moment” when taking this important step felt right for her.

Whether it’s taking off your ring, disposing of your partner’s belonging or making other difficult personal decisions, knowing your own “moment” is about trusting yourself to reach this point, however long it seems to take.

Please share with us your own “moments” about removing your ring or other conflicted decisions!