lost your appetite since losing your spouse/partner?

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 begin to return with time. In any case, always make sure your doctor knows about your recent loss and any prolonged problems you have with your appetite.

We came across the following article (excerpted here) and a slideshow on WebMD. Though not specifically about bereavement, they offer helpful information about coping with appetite loss due to depression and general stress:

Dietary changes can bring about changes in your brain structure, both chemically and physiologically. Those changes can improve mood and mental outlook. Here are 10 tips for eating if you or a loved one is recovering from clinical depression.

1. Eat a diet high in nutrients
Nutrients in foods support the body's repair, growth, and wellness. Nutrients we all need include vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and even a small amount of fat. A deficiency in any of these nutrients lead to our bodies not working at full capacity – and can even cause illness.

2. Fill your plate with essential antioxidants
Damaging molecules called free radicals are produced in our bodies during normal body functions – and these free radicals contribute to aging and dysfunction. Antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E combat the effects of free radicals. Antioxidants have been shown to tie up these free radicals and take away their destructive power.

Studies show that the brain is particularly at risk for free radical damage. Although there’s no way to stop free radicals completely, we can reduce their destructive effect on the body by eating foods high in powerful antioxidants, including:

Sources of beta-carotene: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato.
Sources of vitamin C: blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomato.
Sources of vitamin E: margarine, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ.

3. Eat “smart” carbs for a calming effect
The connection between carbohydrates and mood is linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin. We know that eating foods high in carbohydrates (breads, cereal, pasta) raises the level of serotonin in the brain. When serotonin levels rise, we feel a calming effect with less anxiety.
So don’t shun carbs – just make smart choices. Limit sugary foods and opt for smart carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which all contribute healthy carbs as well as fiber.

4. Eat protein-rich foods to boost alertness
Foods rich in protein, like turkey, tuna, or chicken, are rich in an amino acid called tyrosine. Tyrosine boosts levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. This boost helps you feel alert and makes it easier to concentrate. Try to include a protein source in your diet several times a day, especially when you need to clear your mind and boost your energy.

Good sources of protein foods that boost alertness: beans and peas, lean beef, low-fat cheese, fish, milk, poultry, soy products, yogurt.

5. Eat a Mediterranean-type diet
The Mediterranean diet is a balanced, healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals, legumes, and fish. All of these are important sources of nutrients linked to preventing depression.

A recent Spanish study, using data from 4,211 men and 5,459 women, found that rates of depression tended to increase in men -- especially smokers -- as folate intake decreased. The same increase occurred for women -- especially those who smoked or were physically active -- but with a decreased intake of another B-vitamin: B12. This wasn't the first study to discover an association between these two vitamins and depression. Researchers wonder whether poor nutrient intake leads to depression or whether depression leads people to eat a poor diet.

Folate is found in Mediterranean diet staples like legumes, nuts, many fruits, and particularly dark green vegetables. B12 can be found in all lean and low-fat animal products, such as fish and low-fat dairy products.

6. Get plenty of vitamin D
Vitamin D increases levels of serotonin in the brain. Researchers, though, are unsure how much vitamin D is ideal. There are individual differences based on where you live, the time of year, your skin type, and your level of sun exposure. Researchers from the University of Toronto noticed that people who were suffering from depression, particularly those with seasonal affective disorder, tended to improve as their levels of vitamin D in the body increased over the normal course of a year. The recommendation is to try to get about 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day from food if possible.

7. Select selenium-rich foods
Selenium is a mineral that is essential to good health. In a small study from Texas Tech University, supplementation of 200 micrograms a day for seven weeks improved mild and moderate depression in 16 elderly participants. Other studies have also reported an association between low selenium intakes and poorer moods.

It is possible to take in too much selenium so that it becomes toxic. But this is unlikely if you're getting it from foods rather than supplements, and it can't hurt to make sure you're eating foods that help you meet the recommended intake for selenium, which is 55 micrograms a day. The good news is that foods rich in selenium are foods we should be eating anyway. They include:

Beans and legumes
Lean meat (lean pork and beef, skinless chicken and turkey)
Low-fat dairy products
Nuts and seeds (particularly brazil nuts)
Seafood (oysters, clams, sardines, crab, saltwater fish, and freshwater fish)
Whole grains (whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)

8. Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet
We know that omega-3 fatty acids have innumerable health benefits. Recently, scientists have revealed that a deficit of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with depression. In one study, researchers determined that societies that eat a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids have a higher prevalence of major depressive disorder than societies that get ample omega-3 fatty acids. Other epidemiological studies show that people who infrequently eat fish, which is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, are more likely to suffer from depression.

Sources of omega-3 fatty acids: fatty fish (anchovy, mackerel, salmon, sardines, shad, and tuna), flaxseed, and nuts. Sources alpha-linolenic acid (another type of omega-3 fatty acid): flaxseed, canola oil, soybean oil, walnuts, and dark green leafy vegetables.


reflections: irish words of wisdom

* May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, the foresight to know where you're going and the insight to know when you're going too far.

* May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.

* A friend's eye is a good mirror.

*Even a small thorn causes festering.

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

* As you slide down the banisters of life may the splinters never point the wrong way.

* May your troubles be as few and as far apart as my Grandmothers teeth.


widowhood way back when: wakeful irish; part 2

With a nod to St. Patrick’s Day, here is part 1 of an excerpt from the book, Of Irish Ways by Mary Murray Delany. We discovered this on http://www.funeralwise.com/:

Mourning and Merrymaking

Wakes lasted through two or three nights. Food, tobacco, snuff, and liquor were plentiful. Out in the countryside, the liquor served consisted of whiskey or poteen, which is a very potent and illegal Irish homemade brew.

Laughter and singing as well as crying filled the air as mourners shared humorous stories involving the deceased. In addition to this seeming merriment, games were played.

While this may appear to have been disrespectful of the dead, it was not the intention. It is thought that the merrymaking aspects of these wake customs were influenced by the Irish pagan heritage as well as the need to stay awake for such a long period of time. The church frowned upon these activities and tried hard to discourage the people from indulging in them, mostly to no avail.

No emotion was left out of the mourning process. Between the extremes of tears and laughter, heartfelt poetical lamentations and boisterous songs, there were debates. As the mourners gathered round the kitchen table, poteen or whiskey laden tea in hand, it was inevitable that discussions would begin. Often these debates turned heated as one might expect given that the most common topics concerned religion, politics or economics.

Mourners Pay Final Respects

One last opportunity for friends and neighbors to pay respects to the deceased came on the morning of the funeral. The body was placed in a coffin and brought outside the house. There, the open coffin was laid across some chairs, where it remained until time to carry it to the graveyard. Mourners kiss the deceased prior to the lid being placed on the coffin.

The journey to the church and then onto the graveyard was a long and arduous trip. Four of the closest relatives carried the coffin at a quick pace. They would be relieved by four more along the way and so it went until they reached the church. After the service, the procession would continue, again on foot, until reaching the graveside. The coffin was lowered into the grave and the clay, the common soil in Ireland, was shoveled over it. The spade and shovel were laid on top of the new grave in the form of a cross. Prayers were said, bringing the wake and funeral to a close.

Who says funerals have to be dull?


widowhood way back when: wakeful irish; part 1

With a nod to St. Patrick’s Day, here is Part 1 of an excerpt from the book, Of Irish Ways by Mary Murray Delany. We discovered this on http://www.funeralwise.com/:

Part 1
Irish Wakes and Funeral Customs of Old

Until modern times, Irish wake customs ran the gamut from profound grieving to what appeared to be rollicking good fun. This was especially true if the deceased was elderly. This curious mixture borne of a cultural blend of paganism and Christianity survives today in a severely toned-down fashion.

Wakes of times gone by began with neighbor women washing the body of the deceased and preparing it to be laid out on a bed or a table, often in the largest room of the house. The body was covered in white linen adorned with black or white ribbons, flowers for the body of a child. Lighted candles were placed around the body. Clay pipes, tobacco and snuff were also placed in the room. Every male caller was expected to take at least a puff. The smoke kept evil spirits from finding the deceased. Usually, a pipe and tobacco were placed on a table next to the body. Occasionally, a pipe was laid on the chest of the deceased male. Clocks were stopped at the time of death. Mirrors were turned around or covered.

Watching Over the Deceased and Keening

Once the body was prepared, it was never left alone until after burial. Someone, usually a woman, sat in the same room until it was taken away. According to custom, crying couldn’t begin until after the body was prepared lest it attract evil spirits that would take the soul of the departed. However, once the body was properly prepared, the keening began. The Caointhe, the lead keener, was first to lament the deceased. Keeners, especially the Caointhe, recited poetry lamenting the loss of the loved one in addition to crying and wailing. All the women in the house joined in, especially as each new caller arrived to pay his or her respects.

Find out more in Part 2.


7 tips for deciding what to do with your spouse/partner's belongings

How do you know when the time is right to clear out your spouse/partner's belongings?

This important decision has few clear guidelines. Well-meaning family and friends may pressure you to "get rid of" cherished possessions you don't feel ready to let go of. Or you yourself may feel anxious to "get rid of" painful reminders of your loss. But what's the rush? We urge you not to dispose of anything before you first consider these tips:

1. Trust your own instincts about the right time to tackle this difficult process. Take your time and don't rush. The hasty decision you make today may become tomorrow's regret.

2. Ask a trusted family member or friend for help in packing things up and/or making arrangements.

3. Set a realistic timetable for completing this process. Make allowances for how grief is affecting you. Assume there will be times when, despite your best intentions, you won't feel up to dealing with this.

4. Start by first getting rid of items you feel least attached to. Try to imagine what your spouse would want done with their possessions.

5. Don't kid yourself into believing that by getting rid of painful reminders, you can avoid the pain. Allowing yourself to feel the loss is an important part of getting through it and is actually emotionally beneficial in the long run.

6. Hold on to whatever possessions give you comfort right now.

7. Move items you're undecided about to another location, such as rented storage. This allows you some breathing space before making more permanent decisions.

Be sure to give yourself the time you need and trust your instincts about what's best for you.


when sudden death strikes

Whenever we hear of the recent, unexpected death of a celebrity it reminds us of the fragility of life and highlights the special challenges facing surviving spouses, family and friends.

If you’ve lost your spouse/partner to a sudden death or know someone who has, understanding the following tips from our book may help you cope:

1.) When death comes unexpectedly, it seems unreal, like a bad dream that will be over once you wake up. Expect this sense of unreality to persist for awhile.

2.) With any sudden death, there is almost always unfinished business: unresolved conflicts, words either spoken in anger or not at all, plans left unclear or incomplete. You’re cheated of the opportunity to put things in order before the finality of death.

3.) You may feel rage over the unfairness of what has happened.

4.) You have to struggle with a sense of helplessness as events following the death move you along with them. There is often a need to place blame somewhere.

With any sudden death, expect the mourning process to take somewhat longer than usual, as the shock of the loss is generally greater than with a death that was anticipated. Be gentle with yourself and take the time you need to grieve. Learn more in this excellent article by Barbara Paul, Ph.D., Reactions to Sudden or Traumatic Loss.

Please send us your thoughts and/or reactions.


am i ready for dating? part 3: easing into dating

In Part 2 of our excerpts from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? we looked at the changes in dating customs that may have occurred since you were last single.

Okay, now you’re ready to start easing your way into the social life of a single person. How exactly should you go about it?

Your attitude in approaching this step is important.

Try to think in terms of a shopping experience.

You’ll want to “try on” the different ways and places to meet someone until you find a good “fit”. In the process, you’ll get a chance to learn what doesn’t fit or appeal to you.

With that concept in mind:

- If you’re comfortable with it, let friends and family know you’re ready to meet new people.

- Find a friend who’s currently single. Ask this friend for advice about the latest rules and customs. But remember: no matter how well-intentioned advice can be, you always need to adapt it to what feels right for you.

- Check out social activities geared for singles at your place of worship.

- Check local papers or online for schedules of special-interest activities for singles. Many feel more relaxed when there’s an activity such as hiking, films, gourmet cooking, concerts, etc., to focus on rather than just “meeting someone”. If you’re over fifty-five, consider joining Elderhostel, an organization that combines travel with learning in a way that’s comfortable for people on their own.

- Bring a friend along the first time you try anything new. It’s a good idea to discuss before you go what each of you will do in the event one of you becomes uneasy, wants to leave early, or meets someone.

Taking the Plunge

Trust yourself to know when it’s time to start dating.

That doesn’t mean you won’t be anxious or uncertain. Some anxiety on any date is natural and, in your situation, expected. Don’t try to bluff it out. What often helps is to let the other person know that you’re new at this.

One of the most important things to remember in starting any new relationship is that a new person is a new learning experience. You probably had years to get to know your spouse/partner and adjust to the ways you reacted to each other. A new person can’t be expected to react in the same ways as your spouse/partner did. It takes time to know each other.

A WORD OF WARNING: Sometimes people jump into dating to erase the pain they’re feeling. They hope the excitement of a new relationship will make the pain go away. Dating for that reason can backfire. You aren’t being fair to a new relationship when you haven’t taken enough time to emotionally finish with the old one. Please take the necessary time to go through the mourning process before you start dating.

Please share your thoughts about these posts with us.


am i ready for dating? part 2: what's different now

In Part 1 of these 3 excerpts from Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? we discussed your emotional readiness to begin dating.

How old were you when you last dated?

What were the dating rules and customs at that time?

Many people report that when they first re-enter the singles’ world, they feel like Rip Van Winkle – on the inside it’s as though they were still the age they were when last single. On the outside, though, the world has changed.

Some of the biggest changes you’ll probably discover include:

a) Women making the first move. It’s not uncommon now for a woman to initiate a phone call or email to invite a man to a movie or a sports/cultural event.

b) Sexual conduct. Even in this time of increased caution, many people engage in sex sooner than they once did.

A WORD OF WARNING: Don’t believe that just because you’re a certain age, you’re safe from sexually transmitted diseases. For example, according to Centers for Disease Control, over 50% of newly reported case of AIDS in 2005 were in people (heterosexual as well as homosexual), over age 40. It’s wise to play it safe. Check with your doctor about safe sex practices.

c) Women paying for themselves. In some cases, a woman may view paying her own way as freeing her from any obligation to the man. Or it might just be a case of economics. If both people live on fixed incomes, it’s more thrifty to share the expense of a night out.

Regardless of what others are doing, you are the best judge of what is right for you. Keep in mind, however, that if you were a teenager when you last dated, you probably followed your parents’ guidelines about what was permissible. Now that you’re an adult, you’re able to make choices about what’s right for you.

In Part 3, we’ll move into strategies for easing into dating.


am i ready for dating? part1: ready or not?

The following 3 posts are excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition.

You may not want to even consider the idea of new relationships.

You may be ready to think about the possibility of new relationships.

You may be at a point where you are ready to try new relationships.

One of the final stages of the mourning process is where you begin to seriously consider the possibility of new attachments. This may mean creating friendships with members of the same sex or opposite sex. Or it might indicate a wish to explore a romantic and/or sexual relationship.

This doesn’t mean you want to forget your spouse/partner, but rather it reflects a growing readiness for the companionship and intimacy you once shared with someone.

Friends and family will often drop hints or make suggestions about “fixing you up” or going to singles’ activities. It’s important not to let others pressure you. Trust your own feelings and sense of when the time is right.

Even if you don’t feel ready to test the waters of the singles’ scene, don’t be surprised if at first you find yourself experiencing some of the following:

a) GUILT. It’s not uncommon to feel survivor guilt as you reach this stage. Because you want to begin enjoying life once again, it may feel as though you’re being disloyal and/or leaving behind your deceased spouse/partner. If feelings of guilt persist, they could be a sign that you have more grieving to do.

b) ANGER. You may find yourself angry at your spouse/partner: “If you hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have to go through this.”

c) ANXIETY. Of course you’re anxious! After all, when was the last time you were single?

In Part 2, we’ll look at how dating rules and customs have probably changed since you were last single.


widowhood way back when; victoria's other secret

Feeling comforted by keeping some of your late spouse/partner’s possessions for a time is a common reaction for many widowed people.

There are, however, limits.

Just consider Queen Victoria, that symbol of perpetual widowhood.

When her husband died suddenly in 1861, Queen Victoria officially decreed that “mourning for the Prince consort shall be ordered for the longest term in modern times.”

According to biographer Greg King in his book, Twilight of Splendor, “Windsor (Castle) was immediately draped in black crepe; so much was used that the entire country’s supply was depleted within a day.”

King goes on to say, “Victoria created a cult devoted to the memory of her husband. The Blue Room at Windsor was to be kept ‘in its present state,’ she ordered, ‘and not be made use of in the future,’ although she herself added memorial wreaths and a bust of Print Albert.”

“For forty years to the end of her reign,” King continues, “Albert’s rooms were the scene of an incredible ritual. Each morning, a servant delivered a fresh jug of hot water to the unused washstand, as if Albert’s ghost might appear and need a shave, and laid out a change of clothes amid the fresh flowers that covered the bed; even his unused chamber pot was scoured and replaced at night.”

Too bad the mental health profession wasn’t yet up to speed in 1861. Victoria could have benefited from a little supportive feedback.

Luckily, if you find yourself scouring your late spouse/partner’s chamber pot every day, professional help is now an option.

In any case, it's okay to give yourself a little time.

Hopefully, it won't be forty years.


valentine’s day quotes to send to family and friends

This Valentine's Day, embrace all the people in your life for whom you feel affection.  Send a card (like when you were a kid), and/or get together (even if it's just for coffee) to give a new meaning to the day.

Here are some sample quotes to add to emails or cards:

"I get by with a little help from my friends."
- John Lennon

"Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends."
- Czech Proverb

"My friends are my estate."
- Emily Dickinson

"It's the friends you can call up at 4am that matter."
- Marlene Dietrich

"A friend is a gift you give yourself."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

“In time of test, family is best.”
- Burmese Proverb

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.”
- Anthony Brandt

Have any quotes of your own to share? Let us know.


how to beat the valentine's blues if you're widowed

It’s all around you: painful reminders that you don’t have that “someone special” with whom to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Although your spouse/partner isn’t here to share the day, consider expanding your definition of what the word “love” really means.

This year, remind yourself that “love” isn’t just limited by the type of relationship you shared with your spouse/partner. By widening your scope a bit, you can embrace all the other relationships in your life where you give and receive affection. This can mean including relationships such as family members and good friends.

Use the Valentine’s holiday to show your appreciation of these other important personal relationships in some of the following ways:

  1. Schedule an outing or meal such as lunch or dinner to get together with a good friend or family member.
  2. Remember when you were a kid and gave valentines to friends and classmates? Revive this childhood custom with relatives and friends.
  3. Show yourself some appreciation. Think back and list on a valentine card at least two things you’ve achieved since your spouse’s death that you used to think weren’t possible. It’s important to give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made.
  4. Treat yourself to some pampering (a manicure or massage), or buy yourself a gift (hobby items or clothes or yes, a box of chocolates).
Remember that your marriage was just one of several caring relationships in your life. This year, begin a new tradition by celebrating all of them.


explore the new world of single friends: part 2

In Part 1, we looked at one of the unfortunate consequences of losing your spouse/partner: losing some couple friends.

The best way to counteract the pain of these losses is to reach out and create new friendships with others who are single.

Although you may be initially uneasy with the idea, try the following:

a) Contact single friends you already know and get together for coffee, a movie or other activity.

b) Consider joining a group that reflects your interests or hobbies. Check with your place of worship, local Chamber of Commerce or neighborhood hobby supply stores for groups or clubs in your area. In addition to offering opportunities for potential friendships, groups can help you feel less isolated.

c) Unlike couples, who are constrained by the needs and schedule of a partner, single friends are often available and eager to join you in activities.

d) Depending on your age, you’ll probably find you have more in common with others who have been widowed.

Give yourself time but keep in mind that finding new friends with similar interests can create lasting and supportive friendships.


explore the new world of single friends: part 1

While you and your late spouse/partner may have enjoyed friendships with other couples, the situation usually changes once you are widowed.

Making the shift from being part of a couple to being single can be difficult. While you may choose to continue with the comfort of couple friends, you’ll probably find some of these relationships fading away.

The loss of established friendships means yet more losses to deal with at a time when you’re already bereft. It’s normal to feel hurt, abandoned, rejected, angry or all of the above.

In Part 2, we’ll offer tips on how to cope with this situation.


reflections: quotes to get you through the the new year

1) In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
- Albert Camus

2) Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.
- Napoleon

3) We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.
- Martin Luther King

4) If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.- Milton Berle

5) The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective.
- Al Neuharth (founder of USA Today)


when the visits stop; part 2

In our last post, we covered what it felt like once the visits and activities following your late spouse/partner’s funeral begin to taper off.

But how do you cope with feelings (such as those of abandonment), that may arise as things quiet down?

Keep in mind that others usually take their cues from you about how much or how little interaction you want or need. Although you may find it a struggle just to get out of bed each day, please consider the following:

1. It’s okay to reach out to others. They will probably be pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call or e-mail from you.

2. Keep it simple. Suggest an activity like coffee, a meal or a movie that involves a minimal time commitment from you during this difficult period.

3. Look into widowed groups as a place to meet others who are going through similar experiences (discover many other opportunities for meeting people in our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do?)

4. Spend some time with children and/or grandchildren. Visits can be kept short if that’s more convenient for you.

5. Although your memory and concentration are probably impaired right now, others will understand. Remind yourself that these symptoms of grief will get better.

Remember to take one step at a time and try not to remain isolated from other people.


when the visits stop; part 1

In the period following your spouse/partner’s funeral, you were probably caught up in a flurry of visits and invitations from family and friends.

Not to mention the tasks of legal and financial paperwork.

These activities can provide both distraction and comfort from the pain of loss.

Once all the distraction has begun to taper off however, you may find yourself feeling:

· The pain of your loss more acutely as the initial shock wears off.

· A sense of abandonment, both by your spouse and others you depend on.

· A sense of being unsettled, as you ask yourself “Where do I go from here?”

· Overwhelmed by the challenge of how to put your life back together again.

There are several ways to deal with these reactions as they come up during this period.

We’ll have some helpful tips in our next post.


thanks for asking, but...

Whenever friends ask you out to dinner or other events, are you uncertain about accepting the invitation? Uncertain because due to grief, you’re not sure how you’ll be feeling when the time comes to actually get together?

Here are some suggestions for handling this common dilemma for anyone who is bereaved.

After thanking your friends for their interest, remind them that because of your loss, every day has it’s ups and downs.

Ask your friends if it’s okay to notify them a day or so ahead of the occasion, so you don’t feel pressured and have a better idea of what you’re up for.

Keep in mind that most people are very understanding.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about these situations.


can't stop crying

That might sound like title of a country western song, but it’s all too real an experience when your spouse/partner has died.

After my husband’s death, I felt like the tears would never stop.

I remember being at work, in social situations, or just driving and finding myself unexpectedly tearing up. Caught off-guard and often embarrassed, I’d head for the nearest private place (like a restroom or quiet street), to try to pull myself together.

I realize some people consider crying a form of self-pity.

But I’ve learned that tears are nature’s way of helping us release tension. The best way to do the mourning is to do the grieving. And that means every tear helps.

So trust yourself. Your mind does have a shut-off valve.

Look for tips about the best private places to grieve in our next post.



get comfortable going solo

Going alone to restaurants, movies or social occasions is a major shift after losing a spouse/partner. Like many people, you may feel self-conscious about being seen by others as “alone” and worry you’ll stand out in a crowd.

By avoiding these situations, you cheat yourself of the potential pleasure they offer. Instead, try these tips for easing yourself back into the swing of things:

A.) RESTAURANTS. Bring along a book, electronic device, crossword puzzles or anything else that will distract you from worrying thoughts. Think about how often you yourself pay attention to other people in restaurants before they “blend into the scenery”. Why should others be any different?

B.) PARTIES AND SOCIAL OCCASIONS. Contact the hostess ahead of time and ask if there will be anyone attending who you already know and could be seated next to.

C.) MOVIES. Attend matinees (when the price of tickets is generally cheaper, anyway), when you are less likely to be surrounded by couples.

Remember that you were your own person before you were part of a couple, and you still are. You bring unique gifts and qualities, which are enhanced by life experiences, to any situation.

Discovered strategies of you own for coping with these situations?


widowed is not the same as being divorced

Ever had a divorced person say to you, “I know just how you feel. When my marriage broke up, it felt just like a death had happened.”?

Although usually well-meaning, these sorts of remarks can really tick you off!

The assumption that surviving divorce and death present similar traumas is certainly understandable. The “death” of a marriage can bring about intense emotional pain and grief. Indeed, a mourning process usually occurs in many divorces in which each partner grieves for a multitude of losses, from emotional to financial.

However, what some people have trouble understanding is the fact that while divorce, however painful, is basically a choice, death is not.

In a divorce situation, you may wish your ex-spouse was no longer around, but he or she is, in reality, somewhere out there. Still alive.

Death, as we say, is final.


a new year; what's ahead for you?

The holidays are finally over.

Congratulate yourself on having survived.

As you look ahead to the coming year, what do you feel? Dread, anticipation or a combination of both?

Depending upon how recently your loss occurred, you may experience dread if:

1) This will be a year of firsts, i.e., first birthday, wedding anniversary, and/or other special occasions since the loss.

2) You are wondering where to turn for support.

3) You ask yourself, “How can I put my life back together now that my partner is gone?”

If some time has passed since the loss, you may be facing the future with anticipation as you:

- Think about ways to enlarge your circle of friends, (you may have lost some, especially couple friends, now that you are widowed).

- Re-define how you see yourself. What strengths have you gained and in what ways are you more confident?

- Consider trying new activities, which are good ways to gain both of the above.

Recognize that while so much in your life has changed due to your loss, you can trust yourself to learn how to weather the changes and challenges in the year ahead.

In our next post, we’ll suggest 5 easy and practical resolutions you can make for the coming year.


5 simple resolutions for a new year

Give yourself a big pat on the back!

You’ve just survived the holidays, one of the toughest times for anyone grieving a loss. Now you’re probably looking ahead and wondering how you’ll ever make it through the next twelve months.

In our last post we talked about common reactions to facing the new year. Here are five suggestions to help gently ease you along the bumpy road of bereavement:

1. Remember to keep any resolutions realistic. You’re not your usual self while you’re grieving, so be gentle with yourself.

2. Set at least one small, “bite-size” goal every day, such as tackling a couple of tasks. Be sure to reward yourself after each effort.

3. Think back to the person you were before you married. Can you remember any hobbies or interests that you might have set aside due to family responsibilities? Consider participating in those former activities once again. Local adult schools or community groups offer many opportunities to freshen up your skills.

4. Reach out to others more often. Make a new friend. While widowed groups offer the chance to meet others who can relate to what you’re going through, there are opportunities in your neighborhood such as clubs and organizations that can also be great sources for meeting people who may share other interests with you.

5. Consider all the self-imposed barriers you’ve put up over the years about what you can and can’t do. Now is the time to confront those old beliefs about yourself. Slowly begin to tackle a few of the things your spouse used to handle, such as minor household repairs or cooking.

If you can put even one of the above resolutions into action, you’ll be giving yourself the gift of greater self-confidence with which to face the new year.