12/23/21

reflections: quotes on facing the challenges of a new year



1) Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are.
- Bernice Johnson Reagon

2) You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

3) Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


4) Mountains cannot be surmounted except by winding paths.
- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


5) It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again.
- Vince Lombardi


12/16/21

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.

Ruth

12/13/21

reflections by deb edwards: what i know for sure about being a widow

Back in 2009, we were contacted by Deb Edwards, a visitor to our lostmypartner.com website.

She emailed: "I lost my husband last year, and have done some writing about it. I would like to share my experiences with other people who have had similar losses, in hopes that I could reach out to them and touch them in some way that would help them through their journey." 

Thanks, Deb, for sharing the following timeless reflections :

What I Know for Sure About Being a Widow
I hate the sound of the word "widow" so much I can barely say it out loud
When I think I can't cry anymore...I do
Grief is something you can't get around...you have to go through it
That "hole" will never be completely filled
You find consolation in very unexpected ways
The car and the shower are good crying places
No one gets to tell you how to feel...whatever you feel is OK
You never know what could trigger the grief...it could be something as obvious as the holidays or as random as the cereal aisle
You get to feel the way you feel until you don't feel that way anymore
Anyone who says "I know how you feel"...doesn't
You do find laughter amidst the tears
People say it gets easier - don't know - I'm not there yet
Having "no regrets" will help you find peace in your heart
They are always with us...but never in the same way
Life does go on...but never the same way.
Take care of yourself...and remember to breathe. Deb Edwards

12/2/21

best ways to get through the holidays during covid 19


With Christmas and New Year’s arriving during the current pandemic, we thought you might appreciate some additional support right now.


Best Ways to Get Through the Holidays During Covid 19:

Dreading the upcoming holidays? Especially with Covid restrictions making everyone feel more isolated?If you’ve recently lost your spouse, the  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 virtual family gatherings, don’t remain alone all day. Spend some time chatting with a friend by phone using Facetime, if possible.

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

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 online family holiday activities, feel free to limit how long you remain online or become involved in the conversation.



11/29/21

get comfortable going solo


Now that quarantine restrictions have eased, 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.












11/25/21

widowhood way back when: how pilgrims progressed through loss





If you’re facing a Thanksgiving dinner that might be hindered by a bad case of heartburn or having to cope with troublesome relatives, consider what the original Pilgrims had to cope with. Especially the widowed survivors.

For a look back, we discovered the informative article, Pilgrim Burials on the site http://www.lovetoknow.com/.

According to this excerpt from authors J.C. Redmond and MaryBeth Adomaitis, “Pilgrim burials were relatively simple affairs. The occupants of the Mayflower were buried in unmarked graves because it is thought that they didn't want the Native Americans living in the area to know how small of a population they were.”

The authors go on to describe later Pilgrim burials, “When Pilgrims died, headstones were not erected at the burial site. No artisans skilled in carving stone had come over with the first group of settlers. In addition, there was no stone available in the area where the Pilgrims settled from which to fashion a monument to the dead. Their first priority was to concentrate on the tasks necessary for survival; even if the stone carvers had come on the trip, there wasn't any time to carve headstones.

A family wanting to erect a headstone in memory of a loved one would have to go to the expense of having one brought over from England.”

Redmond and Adomaitis describe burial rituals, “In the early years after the arrival of the Pilgrims in North America, funerals were a very simple matter. No funeral ceremony was conducted and no special sermon was given. The grieving family did not wear mourning clothes for a certain time after the death.

Embalming of the body of the deceased was not done. On occasion, graves were opened and reused. The bodies of a family or a small community may share the same grave.”

So enjoy the food and be grateful that as difficult as some relatives can be, at least you aren’t stuck with them for all eternity.

11/11/21

reluctant to visit the gravesite?


Have you found yourself reluctant to visit your late spouse/partner’s grave since the funeral?

If so, do you find you just can’t bring yourself to go? Even when family and friends offer to accompany you?

Is there guilt because this ritual is one a widowed partner is "supposed to observe"?

Actually, there are no rules about this. Although some faiths mark the end of the first year of mourning by observing a memorial for the deceased, visiting the gravesite is otherwise a very personal choice.

While some people find regular visits comforting, others find it too upsetting and choose not to visit. Some visit only on special occasions or holidays.

As with all other aspects of mourning, you should trust your own sense of what feels right for you.

What are your thoughts about this?

11/4/21

haunting symptoms; part 2: feeling your deceased partner’s presence


(Excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition)

“Last night I suddenly woke up and was sure I could feel my husband lying there next to me, just like always. It was so reassuring that I was afraid to turn and look, in case it was all in my imagination.”

Many people report finding solace in having “conversations” with their deceased spouse/partner.

When you’ve lived with another person for a long time, their presence becomes a part of your physical landscape. Each room holds associations and memories of that person.

It’s not uncommon then, to experience a sense of your spouse/partner’s presence from time to time.

It can give you a comforting sense of connection to your partner in the early period after his or her death. 

It usually goes away with time.

11/1/21

haunting symptoms; part 1: hallucinations




We’re not talking about the paranormal here.

We’re talking about the normal symptoms of hallucinations and/or a sense of your late partner’s presence that are a common reaction to losing a loved one.

Excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition, Parts 1 and 2 explain more about these sometimes comforting, sometimes worrying symptoms of the mourning process.

Hallucinations

“I was in the kitchen one day shortly after my wife died, when suddenly, I thought I smelled her perfume. There wasn’t a perfume bottle anywhere nearby, but the fragrance came to me very distinctly.”
Because bereavement is such an intense emotional experience, it’s normal for your senses to occasionally play tricks on you.

Many people report hearing, smelling, or even seeing their deceased spouse/partner. For most of you, this experience can be very comforting.

Sometimes, however, hallucinations continue to occur long after a loss or reflect images not related to your partner. Overmedication or drug interaction could be a possible cause. It’s important to check with your physician or mental health professional if hallucinations continue.

In Part 2, we’ll talk about experiencing your partner’s presence.

10/28/21

reflections: quotes to help you cope with fear

1) Listen to what you know instead of what you fear. 
- Richard Bach

2) Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
- Marie Curie

3) Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are your own fears. 
- Rudyard Kipling

4) I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do... 
- Eleanor Roosevelt

5) You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.
- Eric Hoffer

10/7/21

now that i'm sick, where are you? part 2


In our previous post, we looked at how feelings of abandonment, anger, depression and anxiety can arise when you find yourself struggling through an illness without your spouse/partner being there for you.

The best ways to cope with these situations include:

a) Recognizing what is actually triggering these emotions.

b) Calling on family, friends or neighbors to stop by (just having someone in the house can be comforting), or run errands for you.

c) Reminding yourself, if you’re uncomfortable asking for help, that you would help others if they were in a similar situation.

d) Contacting the medical social services department at your local hospital for assistance in finding resources, such as support groups, home health aides, or other services.
Remember: you’ve developed coping skills during and after your spouse’s death and can now draw on them to make it through this period.

NOTE: Because your spouse’s death has left you more physically vulnerable, it’s important to let your doctor know about your loss. Some pre-existing medical conditions may be affected by the stress of recent circumstances.

10/4/21

now that i'm sick, where are you? part 1


The first couple of years following the death of your spouse/partner are, statistically speaking, likely to leave you more vulnerable to illness.

When illness does strike, whether it’s a common cold or something more serious, it can stir up an emotional reaction as well. Whatever comfort and support your partner once offered is no longer available to you.

You may find yourself saying:

“Why aren’t you here when I need you?” or “I took care of you but you’re not here to take care of me!”
It’s normal to feel abandoned, angry, depressed and/or anxious under the circumstances.

In our next post, we’ll give you the best ways to cope with these situations.

9/30/21

reflections by sandra pesmen: moving to the middle of the bed





Sleeping in the bed you shared with your late partner can be a very difficult step. In this post from opentohope.com, journalist Sandra Pesmen, shares her personal struggle.




Moving to the Middle of the Bed
Last night, I slept in the middle of our king-size bed. It took me two years to do that. For 55 years, I shared that bed with my husband.

He never walked on water. Sometimes we broke that cardinal rule and went to sleep angry. But far more often, we embraced that bed, and each other, with tremendous joy, grateful we found mates that showed love, kindness, consideration, and selflessness on an almost daily basis. How unusual is that?

So often people reach out their hand when they hear I’m a widow and say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” “Thank you,” I answer, “but I only had two years of loss. I had 55 years of gain.”

I know that not everyone has my resiliency. I lead The Widows List.com Web site (http://www.widowslist.com/) as well as several widows clubs at local senior centers, and I give motivational talks to help people learn to “Strive and thrive alone.”

Too often, these people are so grief stricken they find it hard to concentrate on anything except their sorrow. Their sadness has become the focus of their lives, and everything and everyone else is on the periphery.

I try and help them understand that life is not a dress rehearsal. We don’t get to have a “do-over.”

Whatever time we do have left is meant to be spent enjoying, loving, helping and caring for ourselves as well as others.

No one can hurry your grief or mine. No one can tell anyone else when it’s time to pick up living and begin placing those loved ones who died into a beloved memory space. All day every day, I think about my husband, silently telling him funny incidents, and asking myself what he would decide when a problem arises. His photos are on his desk in the den, on our dresser in the bedroom, and in the living room. When I talk to our grown children and grandchildren, one of them usually says, “Oh, that’s just what Dad (or Papa) wouid say.”

He is with me always and last night, after two years spent sleeping on my side of the bed, my husband’s memory finally joined me in the middle.

(Sandra Pesmen, host of www.widowslist.com, also writes the weekly DR.JOB column syndicated by Career News Service.)





9/27/21

widowhood way back when: the card carrying widowed





In part 1 and part 2 of our posts, "When the Visits Stop", we talked about ways to let others know when you need more support and attention once the visiting stops.

For a lighter take on the issue, let's look at how the widowed reached out before the advent of computers and telephones.

According to an article titled “Mourning and Funeral Usages” in an 1886 edition of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, “When persons who have been in mourning wish to reenter society, they should leave cards on all their friends and acquaintances, as an intimation that they are equal to the paying and receiving of calls. Until this intimation is given, society will not venture to intrude upon the mourner's privacy."

The article goes on to say, "In cases where cards of inquiry have been left, with the words "To inquire" written on the top of the card, these cards should be replied to by cards with "Thanks for kind inquiries" written upon them; but if cards for inquiry had not been left, this form can be omitted."


And you thought you had a lot of paperwork!

9/23/21

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.

9/20/21

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.

9/16/21

i hate the word "widow"!


As if going through the death of a spouse/partner wasn’t difficult enough, you’re suddenly labeled by everyone as a “widow” as soon as the death occurs.

Unfortunately, there have always been negative stereotypes about what it means to be widowed.

Take these examples from literature:

In order to save face in society, a widow was compelled to announce her loss to the world by her apparel. From Middlemarch by George Eliot: "My dear Celia," said Lady Chettam, "a widow must wear her mourning at least a year.”

Here’s an example of the stereotype of a widowed woman as vulnerable sexual prey from Fantastic-Fables by Ambrose Bierce: ‘A widow weeping on her husband's grave was approached by an Engaging Gentleman who, in a respectful manner, assured her that he had long entertained for her the most tender feelings.’

Until recently (in some cases, it’s still a reality), a widow was left financially destitute by her husband’s death. From the novel, Robin Hood by Walker J. McSpadden: ‘Toward the close of the same day, Rob paused hungry and weary at the cottage of a poor widow who dwelt upon the outskirts of the forest.’

Keep in mind that many of these old stereotypes probably continue to influence how you and others see your changed status. Like all aspects of a new identity, it takes time and baby steps to increase your sense of who you now are and how you want to define yourself.













8/30/21

10 quotes for getting through the days

Here are some of our favorite quotes for support through the mourning process.

Have any special quotes that have inspired you? Please share them with us by clicking on "comments" following this post.

1) Always remember that the future comes one day at a time.
---Dean Acheson

2)What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
---Helen Keller

3) If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living.
---Gail Sheehy

4) I will love the light for it shows me the way. Yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.
---Og Mandino

5) Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.
---Shakti Gawain

6) Never run away from anything. Never!
---Sir Winston Churchill

7) Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.
---Arnold Bennett

8) Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.
---Arthur Schopenhauer

9) If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
---Frederick Douglass

10) To weep is to make less the depth of grief.
---William Shakespeare

8/23/21

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.

8/2/21

getting through get-togethers; part 3: breaking the ice



In Part 2 we covered various strategies for gaining a sense of control in party situations.

Part 3 continues in this excerpt from Lost My Partner:

At family gatherings, everyone will be aware of your loss. They may feel awkward about making any mention of it out of fear of "upsetting" you.

In truth, you may actually feel more hurt and upset if everyone is avoiding the subject.

In addition, not talking about the person everyone is thinking about only creates more tension at a gathering.

Others will take their cue from you. It’s helpful, therefore, at a point most comfortable for you, to mention your spouse in whatever way you wish.

You might, for example, bring up the name as part of a toast or prayer at dinner. Even casual comments such as: “Gee, Jack always loved Aunt Rose’s apple pie,” or “Remember how Connie couldn’t wait to start decorating for the holidays?” are effective ice breakers.


Please share any of your own strategies for coping with these situations.

how to travel without your partner

One of the most difficult steps after losing your spouse/partner is planning your first vacation without him or her. You probably aren’t feeling like your usual self, so it can be hard to summon the happy anticipation that “getting away” used to bring. Visiting familiar places can bring back the pain of the loss.

Before you start making reservations, consider the following:

a. Team up with a family member or friend who is compatible. If you’re uncertain how you’ll get along, try going away for a weekend together before committing to a longer trip.

b. New places can offer new experiences and a chance to create new memories.

c. Keep in mind that feelings of loss may come up unexpectedly. Give yourself permission to grieve even though you’re supposed to be “getting away” from things.

d. If you find yourself traveling constantly the first year after the death, it may be a way of avoiding the mourning process. Grief has a way of catching up when not attended to.

e. Don’t be surprised if, when you return home, there’s a moment when you expect to be greeted by your spouse/partner.

Despite some discomforts, taking a vacation on your own can also be filled with pleasurable new discoveries and opportunities for gaining self-confidence.

One of the most difficult steps after losing your spouse/partner is planning your first vacation without him or her. You probably aren’t feeling like your usual self, so it can be hard to summon the happy anticipation that “getting away” used to bring. Visiting familiar places can bring back the pain of the loss.

Before you start making reservations, consider the following:

a. Team up with a family member or friend who is compatible. If you’re uncertain how you’ll get along, try going away for a weekend together before committing to a longer trip.

b. New places can offer new experiences and a chance to create new memories.

c. Keep in mind that feelings of loss may come up unexpectedly. Give yourself permission to grieve even though you’re supposed to be “getting away” from things.

d. If you find yourself traveling constantly the first year after the death, it may be a way of avoiding the mourning process. Grief has a way of catching up when not attended to.

e. Don’t be surprised if, when you return home, there’s a moment when you expect to be greeted by your spouse/partner.

Despite some discomforts, taking a vacation on your own can also be filled with pleasurable new discoveries and opportunities for gaining self-confidence.

7/29/21

getting through get-togethers; part 2: tips for feeling in control


In Part 1, we talked about taking some steps to be emotionally prepared before you attend a get-together.

Our excerpt from Lost My Partner continues:

 You can gain a greater sense of control in these situations by:

1) Giving yourself the first 30 minutes after you arrive to adjust to the circumstances. Remember that without your spouse/partner, this is a new situation. Expect some brief uneasiness. Many discover that once they’ve made it past the first half hour, they’re more relaxed.

2) Contacting the host or hostess ahead of time to explain that you aren’t your usual self and may wish to leave early.

3) Taking your own car or alerting a friend who’s driving you about the possibility of making an early exit.

4) Giving yourself a ‘time-out’ in the event of feeling overwhelmed, so you can retreat to the privacy of a bathroom or bedroom, or take a walk, and have a brief cry. Most people will understand.

In Part 3, we’ll cover how to break the ice about your loved one when others are uncertain about mentioning the loss.

7/26/21

getting through get-togethers; part 1: first things first







Now that we're able to get together again with friends and family, the emotional challenges of those situations can be tougher than ever for the recently widowed.

Excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition, here are some proven strategies for making it through festive gatherings, even when you aren’t feeling in the holiday spirit.

In our post, Best Ways to Get Through the Holidays (Part 1), we suggest “To lessen the chance of emotional ‘sneak attacks’, make some time to grieve, either on the holiday or just before it.”

In Lost My Partner, we add, “Even when you’ve prepared yourself by making time to grieve beforehand, you may feel anxious about becoming uncomfortable in a festive gathering. There’s often a sense of being “out of it”, as you watch others having a good time.

However, just going, even if you need to leave early, is a sign of progress.”

In Part 2, learn the best ways to gain a greater sense of control in these situations.

7/15/21

you and your adult child: emotional guidance


Have your adult children begun to look to you for some of the emotional support or guidance that your late spouse/partner used to provide?

It’s understandable to feel uncomfortable in a new role with your family. You may feel some resentment that you are the sole parent taking on all the responsibilities.

Try thinking back to what your partner used to say in similar circumstances. After years with him or her, you can probably imagine what would be said. Let this guide you and trust your own judgment as a parent.

Rather than providing a “solution” to your child’s concerns, he or she may just need the reassurance that one parent is still around for support.

7/8/21

when grief affects your eating and sleeping; part 2



Sleeping

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)

7/5/21

when grief affects your eating and sleeping; part 1



Eating

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. 
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.

6/28/21

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.

How have you handled these situations?

Ruth


6/3/21

making it through father's day


Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can be difficult, especially during the first year after your loss.

But Father’s Day can stir up the pain of your loss even once you’ve made it through that first year. In addition to the memories of your late spouse/partner, the occasion may also remind you of your own deceased parent(s). Children and grandchildren may also ask about your spouse/partner and have difficulty understanding why he’s not here to celebrate.

Rather than ignore the occasion and/or brushing off children’s questions, consider:

a) Acknowledging your loss by talking about your spouse with other family members. This gives others, especially children, the cue that it’s okay to remember and share feelings of sadness about a loved one.

b) Helping younger children create “remembering” cards, with photos or drawings of special memories about their parent or grandparent.

c) Visiting the cemetery or other places of remembrance on or close to Father’s Day.

d) If there is a family gathering, make some time to share fond or funny memories of your spouse/partner.

The feelings this holiday stirs up won’t just go away. It’s best to acknowledge the occasion, even briefly, especially with children. Otherwise, the emotions you try to push down and avoid will just come up another time. Probably when you least expect them.

5/31/21

another great website for the military widowed



While we continue to recommend T.A.P.S. ( Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; taps.org) , we also want to tell you about another site that offers support to the military widowed and their families.

American Widow Project (http://www.americanwidowproject.org/), was started by Taryn Davis, a young military widow, following her husband’s death.

According to the site, “The American Widow Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter...Military Widow to Military Widow.”

In addition to a subscription newsletter, the site offers a hotline staffed by other military widows as well as various scheduled “get-aways” and events.

There are also a blog and a resources page.

Check the site out and let us know what you think.

5/27/21

reflections by e. raymond rock: now that she's gone


Excerpted from thegriefblog.com, here’s a man’s perspective on losing his wife.

Now That She's Gone

You’ve been with her for many years. You have shared the ups and downs, the tragedies and the triumphs. You became used to each other and shared your dreams, the dreams you both had, with bright eyes and wondrous anticipation when you were young. . . . And then one day, she was gone.

Just that fast, she was gone. You didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, or tell her what she meant to you, or ask her what you will do without her. She was just . . . gone.

You walk through the house and find her here and there, the lamp you both argued about, but she let you win; her favorite, cracked cup that she glued back together so carefully; little things, a million memories, and you wonder how you will go on.

It’s too quiet now. No one there to say, “Hi Babe; how was your day?” Just the mocking silence. Why is the pain so unbearable? What is it with life anyway? Does it all come down to this; this crushing loneliness? Will there ever be another? No, there couldn’t be, not like that one. You could never let yourself fall so deeply in love again, it’s too painful.

The days go by, and the memories fade, and you find that you are changing. You will never be what you once were. The youthful exuberance and the never ending optimism has been replaced by a deep sadness, a melancholy wisdom, and you find yourself slowing down a little; nowhere important to go now, now that the one you lived for is gone. You find yourself going through the motions.

And one day you think about her less often, but when you do, you still wonder if you could have made her happier, if you could have sacrificed a little more or paid more attention to her little dreams, instead of just what you wanted. But then you remember -she never asked for that much, just to be with you.

You’re moving on now; you can’t live in the past. The world does not stop spinning. You know that she is okay, wherever she is; she always had a way of making the best of things. But you’re not okay, not really — maybe someday, but not today.

And you sit with the loneliness, and the pain; and you don’t escape from it this time. You don’t escape into a therapy of some kind, or a self-help book. No, you sit with it, and it takes every bit or courage that you have, and you feel defeated.

There is no more hatred toward others, no more criticism. There is no energy for that. They will feel this same pain someday, and therefore how could you not feel connected to them? There is no longer any self-righteousness, because you no longer know anything about life for certain, all of your certainties died with her. Now you are experiencing life, raw life, just as it is, without hiding from it, or theorizing about it, and somewhere deep inside, mixed in with all the pain and the hurt, there is a murmur, just a whisper of something else.

And you sit at night, alone in your meditation; your breath going in and going out, your memories and the pain going in and going out. The moonlight drifts through your window, your only friend now, and after awhile, it’s okay. It’s quiet now. If you listen carefully you can almost hear her breathing next to you, and you continue sitting in your meditation. And you hold your broken heart in your hands . . . and you ask why.

No answers come, just the in breath, and the out breath, and the cycles of life where everything changes, and where we suffer so much.

And that is enough for now. And you sit with it. And you wait . . .

E. Raymond Rock

4/29/21

grieving for an ex: part 2

In Part 1 of these modified excerpts from Lost My Partner, we pointed out ways that a normal mourning process can become prolonged or complicated if your former spouse/partner has died.

Here are some suggestions for coping with this difficult and isolating situation:

Are any of your partner’s family or friends more accepting of you? It can be a comfort to share your pain with those who were close to your partner. Reach out to approachable family members or friends.

If you’ve been barred from attending the funeral, consider creating your own memorial gathering.

Let those close to you know what you’re going through. Check for community support groups or online resources.

Consult an attorney or contact your local bar association and the Social Security Administration about your legal rights and survivor benefits. Even once divorced, if your marriage lasted 10 years or more, you may be entitled to your ex-spouse’s social security benefits. Don’t assume you have no rights – investigate!


Remember: it’s not important how others judge your relationship or your grief. What matters most is what your attachment meant to you and your partner. Recall what was special and cherish the bonds that brought you together. Respect your own needs and treat yourself kindly.

4/26/21

grieving for an ex: part 1


In this modified excerpt from our book, Lost My Partner-What’ll I Do? we offer some tips for coping if you are estranged or divorced from your deceased partner.

Despite whatever conflicts occurred, the death of a spouse/partner can be painful.

There are different issues that can affect your mourning process and may not be publicly acknowledged or supported such as:

• How family members reacted to the circumstances of your situation.

• Whether you had access to your partner during the final illness or the circumstances of the death and/or inclusion in funeral/memorial arrangements.

• Legal and financial complications involving property ownership, child custody or survivor benefits.

• Emotional unfinished business, especially any conflict as an aftermath of estrangement/divorce or lack of access to your partner around the time of the death.

• Lack of usual support from former family and/or friends.


In Part 2, we’ll give you ways to cope.

4/19/21

reflections from lost my partner: 5 words of wisdom



Here are some of the collected ‘words of wisdom’ excerpted from our book, Lost My Partner – What’ll I Do? Revised and Expanded Edition.

Print out and carry with these with you for those moments when you need a little boost of support.


1) It does get better. The pain will soften with time.


2) Every tear helps. The best way to get through mourning is to do the grieving.


3) You will mourn in your own way and in your own time.


4) For now, not normal is normal.


5) Most of your whole world has been turned upside down. Be gentle with yourself.

2/25/21

too much too soon; part 2

In Part 1, we talked about the period following your spouse/partner’s funeral, when all the attention from well-meaning friends and family can start to feel overwhelming.

When that occurs, try to remember the following tips:

Pace yourself. People will understand that under the circumstances, you need to gage your capabilities on a day-to-day basis.

If you feel the need for quiet or solitude, it’s okay to say so. Let others know you appreciate their company but recent events have left you depleted and you need to take time to retreat.

If others invite you out for a meal or other social occasion, you may be reluctant to decline due to fear of losing more connections in your life. People will understand if you explain that you aren’t sure from one day to the next how you’ll be feeling and will have to let them know closer to the event.

Keep in mind that during this difficult period, your needs and comfort are important! For now, it’s okay to make them your top priority.

Also remember it’s important to have others in your life and not to isolate yourself.

2/22/21

too much too soon; part 1




In the initial weeks following your spouse/partner’s death, you may find yourself swamped by well-meaning family, friends and others anxious to show their caring and support. Phone calls, e-mails and visits can provide a welcome cushion from the shock and pain of your loss.

There may be times however, when all the attention becomes overwhelming.

Keep in mind that others tend to feel helpless when a death occurs. The calls, visits and invitations help them feel less so. You might suggest they help with small chores such as marketing or helping sort paperwork.

Your comfort level, however, is what’s most important, however, so help others to really “be there” for you by gently setting some limits.

Look for tips on how to set limits with others in our next post.

1/28/21

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)
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1/4/21

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.