... a voice for those who mourn the loss of a soul mate
"He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began." - Leo Tolstoy

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Is that bird my beloved?

  I was working as Head Nurse on a local psych unit and needed to be available to my staff on off hours. So, I carried a beeper (this was before cell phones became routine). The idea was they would page me when they needed me and I would call the unit to see what I could do to help. This particular Saturday night I put the pager on vibrate and placed it on my dresser as John and I headed to bed. It was late and I didn’t anticipate any calls. John and I spent some time chatting and then lights out. Before either of us dozed off we heard a slight hum in the room.
“John, you hear that?”
“What do you think it is?”
“I don’t know.”
We had been talking a lot about spirits and communication that week.
“Do you think it could be – I don’t know – a spirit?”
By this time, we were both wide awake and I turned on the bedside light.
“Maybe if we talk to it, it will go away.”
"So, we both got up and started talking out loud to this spirit who was somehow trying to communicate to us. I even went outside to see if I could see anything. I have no idea what I thought I would find. But when I came back in John was laughing and holding my pager.
“I found the spirit. He wants you to call work.”
Sometimes a pager is just a pager. *

 When we lose someone to death, we desperately want a sign from them that they are all right, that they still love us, that they are still alive. And our loved ones do send us signs but we need to be careful how we interpret those signs and also try not to confuse the sign with the loved one.
What about that cardinal who appears outside your window while you sit at your desk thinking about your loved one? Is that your beloved?
Or the hummingbird who flies around you and hovers in front of your face?
Or the butterfly who lands on your outstretched hand?
All of those are definitely noteworthy and very unusual and could very well be a sign from your person on the other side. The point is if it resonates with you and is out of the ordinary enough to get your attention it is most likely a sign. But one caveat - don't confuse the sign with your person.
That cardinal, or butterfly, or ladybug, etc. is NOT your loved one. They are not inhabiting that creature. They did not turn into an insect. Life on the other side is in a different dimension and the language over there is thought. Instead of becoming that bug or bird, your loved one has learned to communicate in such a way that they are able to influence things on this side so that they can send us birds and butterflies and feathers and coins and any manner of objects to catch our attention. That is how they communicate with us.
I don't claim to know how this works. All I know is that I have heard it from many reputable sources that that is how it's done. Honestly, I don't care how they do it. I'm just grateful that they do.  It's the little things that keep us going when we are torn apart by grief.
So enjoy the signs. Know they are meant for you. Don't forget to say "thank you." Just be sure to discern the communications from something that may be just an ordinary feather, coin - or pager. 

* excerpted from I Will Never Leave You by Joy Collins

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sometimes the littlest things can mean so much

While cleaning out my husband's desk a while ago, I found a couple of old cassette tapes that his mother had recorded many years ago. They were of John playing the guitar and singing some old folk songs. The recording was from January 1969. The quality of the recording wasn't very good - it was a recording of a recording. John had been singing for a group of residents at a convalescent home so it was probably in their day room and the acoustics were not the best.

But still it was gold to me. It was my John and he was singing. John serenaded me often in our early years. And he had a very good voice. He had won awards in talent shows and had actually once been the opening act for Judy Collins back in the day when she had appeared back east at some venue.

I know the recording means absolutely nothing to anyone else but I am so glad I have this. I spent the morning making a digital copy of the tapes using my iPad and then transferring the files to my computer and then to Dropbox on my phone so I can carry them around with me and listen to them whenever I want.

At one point while I was making my copies, the tape unraveled in the machine but with the utmost care I was able to salvage it with no ill effects. I'm sure some people today have no idea what that even means.

The last couple of days have been rough with some family issues and I have been missing John a lot and having a grief surge. Hearing him sing again has been a blessing.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

We’ve Got Your Back … strength from the other side

“We’ve got your back.” The message was as clear as if someone had spoken the words aloud. The thought came with the first feather. My people on the other side know I connect feathers with signs from them and so that is what they send me most often. Sometimes the messages come with music.

Our son was in the hospital yet again. We were getting ready to visit him and hoping to see his doctor, hoping to see some relief in sight for him. As I started to step into the shower, I looked outside to the enclosed patio off our bathroom and there I spied one perfect gray feather lying dead center on the rug. I could feel a whole team behind that feather – Anita, our son’s grandmother Esther, and my guides. Who knows who else was there to send the message but it came through to me as loud and clear as if they were shouting. WE HAVE YOUR BACK.

And that feather was just the first sign they sent me. The rest of the day was filled with them. On the way home from the hospital, after what felt like encouraging news from Dale’s oncologist, the inspiring, supportive song, You Raise Me Up, came on the radio. It always lifts my spirits and gives me hope. This time was no different and I knew, just knew it was another sign. But then, as if the message wasn’t clear enough, a few minutes later I heard You Are My Special Angel.

Now, I have learned from my friend Joy Collins and SusanneWilson the Carefree Medium that if you want to keep signs from the other side coming, it is important to acknowledge them. So, “Thank you,” I thought, a little surprised to have received so many signs in one day. But I suppose that someone over there must have thought I would really need a lot of extra support through the coming days, because as we entered our favorite restaurant for dinner that evening, what did I see? One final feather right in the middle of the entry just inside the door where feathers do not belong. Again, I heard, “We’ve got your back” echoing in my mind.

Things have not gone as well as we had hoped since that day. The news is not encouraging and I suspect some very difficult days are ahead of us. But one thing I know for sure is that I have a circle of shining spirits around me to help get us through the next days and weeks. There is comfort in that. There is comfort in knowing that such a loving, powerful group of spirits is sending me strength. They do in fact have my back.

A loving message from John

Last Friday I was part of a group reading given by my friend who is a medium - Susanne Wilson, known as the Carefree Medium. I have known Susanne for years and she even wrote the Foreword to my book. She is a talented and compassionate woman.
Anyway, John came through and one of the messages he gave was that he was going to send me a special song, probably on my way home.
John often does that so I looked forward to it. As I drove home I turned on Pandora. In my heart, I just knew it was going to be the third song and it was.
It was "I'm Yours" a beautiful song by Jason Mraz [the Pandora version was sung by a different group but the message was the same. It was the song that mattered].

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A beautiful Hello

I call my signs from John "Hello's" because to me that is what they are - little every day ways that he checks in with me and tells me "Hello, I'm right here. I love you and we will be together again." It's what keeps me going.
Today was no exception.
This morning, as I was driving my Goldendoodle Bella to daycare here in town, a chipmunk ran across the street a little way in front of my car on my street. We have chipmunks in Arizona but they are not as common [at least from what I have seen] as they are in other parts of the country. I am more likely to see a lizard run across the street than I am a chipmunk.
But there he was. 
Immediately, it reminded me of camping with John. In our early years together, John and I camped often. John loved it and it was also a way for us to travel around the eastern part of the country inexpensively because we didn't have much money in those days. We always saw the little chippers, as we called them, running everywhere in the campgrounds. John always remarked how they looked like little race cars with their tails going straight behind them up like little flags. He thought they were so cute and he loved watching them.
So then this little particular chipper started my mind drifting to our camping days and all the fun we had had. And I was thinking how I hadn't done too badly for a city girl from Astoria Queens. Especially since I had never done anything like that before. I was strictly a motel/hotel girl up until then. And I could swear I heard John say I had been a “good sport”.
So, I thanked him for all the good memories and fun times. And I was grateful I had them.
Then, two blocks away I saw another chipmunk just idling in the middle of the street. 
Two in one day, mere minutes apart.
As I neared this little guy, he scampered across the street from my left to my right and crawled up on top of a big rock by the curb.
Then, just as my car started to pass him he turned and faced my car and put his little front paws together and I swear he looked straight at me. And then - then! - he flicked his little tail several times as if in greeting and he continued doing that while I drove past.
I know in my heart that was no coincidence.
I know John did that for me. He knew it would mean something to me.
And then - back to reality - a lizard ran across the street.
I smiled all the way to daycare.
Thank you, John. You made my day.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Here Lie Dragons … finding your way in uncharted territory

In ancient maps, the edge of the world, the place beyond which all was lost, was drawn as populated by dragons and other frightening beasts. The implication was clear. Beyond this is unknown. Here lie dragons. I suppose as a species we have always feared the unknown, the dark night, things that go bump, drastic life changes into uncharted territory. And what could be more uncharted than receiving a dire health diagnosis or the day you find yourself alone after a soul mate has transitioned?

As human beings, we generally crave stability. We want to know what is coming even though the future is pretty much unknowable. We want to know what lies beyond the dragons before we take that first step beyond known territory. Throw in something completely unexpected like a death or cancer and we can easily lose our way, turning in confused circles as we search for a familiar direction to go. Grief takes us down a road we never expected. The landscape is unfamiliar and here lie dragons.

Two of my children (both 50 plus) are facing their own dragons today. Both received cancer diagnoses within two weeks of one another. They have started chemotherapy and so are dealing with all the fallout of that. There are physical, financial and emotional issues that come with the treatment. There is worry about what the future holds, how they will go forward after (not if) they survive. But even more significantly, there is the unassailable fact that life as they knew it will never be the same. Just as someone who has lost a soul mate forever sees life as “before they died” and after, so too will my son and my daughter see life as before cancer and after.

I believe grief takes many forms. It does not just claim us after the loss of a beloved person or soul mate. To differing degrees, we mourn the loss of a precious pet, a way of life, sometimes even a habit. Learning to live with this illness is surely, for my children, a form of mourning. Mourning the loss of life as it has always been, of good health, of a sense of immortality that is ours from childhood, but mourning still. As such, I find myself trying to remember the principles we established with From Grief to Peace. I think they apply to grief in any form. I try to remember that what they are experiencing is theirs to experience. Much as I wish I could, I cannot take their treatments for them. I cannot heal for them, either. They must do that in their own way, their own time, just as one heals the grief that comes with death. And there are no rules. I cannot demand they fight. I cannot insist they do this the way I think they should. They must do all of that in ways that work for them. All I can offer is support, comfort and validation of their feelings and what they are experiencing.

As someone who loves them both, I am frightened for them. But theirs is a path into that uncharted territory that they must walk on their own. They are walking with dragons snapping at their heels and breathing fire into their faces. All I can do is enfold them in protective layers of love, then hold my arms out in welcome and pray they can see me waiting there for them at the end of their dark road.

Principles of From Grief to Peace

1. I will allow myself to grieve my soul mate, knowing that this will be hard.

2. I will understand that I have the right to mourn the loss of my soul mate in my own way.

3. I will acknowledge that my grief has no timeline.

4. I will admit that grief has no rules.

5. I will feel comfortable standing up for myself when others put their expectations on me.

6. When I am stronger, I will pay it forward to help others who are mourning the loss of their soul mate.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

And today is another milestone

Today marks the 7th anniversary of John's passing, his death, his transition, or however anyone wants to call it. For me, it is the day I will always remember that changed our lives as we knew it forever.
I went to sleep a happy wife and woke up to being a sad and forever changed widow.
And life has never been the same.
Seven years.
A long time by any count.
But those years have not been static.
I have mourned.
I still do.
I have cried.
I still do, although not always with the same intensity as I did at the beginning.
I have cared for my mother-in-law and watched as she too passed on.
I have said good-bye to precious pets.
And I have lost two close and dear family members - my father and my uncle.
I have watched my mother and my aunt slip into dementia.
But -
I have grown.
I have published a book.
I have learned new spiritual truths I would not have otherwise learned had John not gone on ahead of me.
I have remade John's office into a meditation space I can now enjoy and where I can share that new spirituality with him.
I have made many new friends, drawn as we were by a new understanding of grief.
Some of those friends have become like family to me and for that I am grateful.
I have started a new business with two of those precious friends.
I have reconciled with a brother whose love and friendship I treasure.
So, it hasn't all been sad.
Would I change it?
Of course.
To have John back would be Heaven here on Earth. But I know that isn't going to happen.
So, I continue forward.
We are here for Love and then we go Home.
That's my focus now.
But in the meantime, I honor John and what we had in the physical and what we have now in Spirit.
See you soon, Sweetheart. I love you.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


There is a myth that has been perpetuated for years that we replace all the cells in a human body every 7 years. It's not true. Or rather, to be more accurate, that is partially true
Cells are replaced in our body at various rates of turnover. And some cells - the neurons in our brains - are never replaced.
But it's a nice romantic thought that we can be born anew every few years. Which begs the question - why can I not lose these 10 pounds? But that's a story for another day.
Yet, this theory, flawed as it is, does add some romanticism to the number 7 and change.
And so I find myself coming up on the 7th anniversary of John's death and looking for the magical renewal. I can't say that it has happened although I do feel that I have come a long way from the person I was almost 7 years ago when I awoke on the saddest day of my life.
I've learned a lot - about grief and myself. Being a widow was not something I contemplated on May 23rd. But on May 24th that is what I was.
I have grown into this unwanted role and attempted to come to peace with it. It has not been easy.
One of the things I struggled with most was realizing and accepting that John was not coming home ever again. For a long time I didn't want to change anything - not one thing - in the house. It was as if my brain and my heart were afraid he would return and wonder where things were, where his stuff was. And truth be told, I needed to pretend that was the case. To do any less would have invited madness.
But time does heal. Slowly.
And so finally this past month I was able to take on the monumental task of transforming John's office into a space I could occupy.
John had turned the bonus room off our bedroom - a small room with no door, just an archway - into his own little room, complete with oak rolltop desk, bookcases, computer, etc. It wasn't pretty but it was functional and it was his own space to do with as he pleased.
After he died, I couldn't even bear to go into it. Just being in there for even a few minutes gave me physical symptoms and I would have to leave.
So the room became a catch-all place for stuff and gradually became really unsightly.
My solution was to put a screen across the doorway and not look.
But I knew someday I would be able to fix all that.
And as the magic 7 approached, I decided the time was now.
So for the past few weeks I have been sorting, and throwing away, and going through.
I made 15 boxes of paperwork to be shredded. I am having a company come to the house to shred all that for me this week.
I threw away a lot of junk. 
I took his desk chair for my own so now I can sit where he sat.
I cleaned.
And now it’s done.
It’s going to be a reading/meditation room.
This past weekend I smudged it. I bought some new pieces to put in there – a chair, a rug, a cabinet to house my crystals and singing bowls. I hung my Indian chime bells.
The cats and I are enjoying the space once again. I feel close to John in the room. His desk is still there - it's behind the screen. But I can read and meditate here and just be. 
I think John would approve.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Look for the Quick Hellos - Seeing Signs

I believe our loved ones send us signs from the other side. I am convinced that I get feathers and pennies from Anita, my parents and from my guardians. How do I know they are signs? They are the ones that appear in places they don’t belong or come when I am thinking of that person or when I need a little extra support. Those, I believe, are signs. The feather I found under a chair in the Barnes and Noble cafĂ© after one of our From Grief to Peace Meetings? Definitely. The feathers that show up below a bird’s nest or amid other indications of a cat’s guilty feast? Probably not.

There is a fine line between reality and delusion. Some people, in their grief, can become a little too carried away with the spiritual manifestations of their lost one.  An odd noise becomes a spirit.  A spirit becomes a ghost.  And suddenly you are haunted.

My friend Joy gets signs from her John all the time and they are very clearly signs, sometimes very powerful ones. She talks about many of them in her book, I Will Never Leave You as do I in my upcoming book Breathing Again. But what we think are signs may not always be signs. When John was still alive, they lived in a house they were pretty sure was haunted. One night, Joy kept hearing a rhythmical noise somewhere around her dresser.  The spirit, she was sure, was trying to communicate with them – until she realized the noise was only her beeper going off and vibrating on the wooden dresser.  Spirits are rarely that rhythmical. Sometimes the noise is just a beeper.  Sometimes it really is a sign. Listen for the beeper but be open to the times it is more. 

This last week at a wedding reception, I started talking with an acquaintance whose husband died almost a year ago. As we talked about him, she told me she often catches glimpses of him out of the corner of her eye but when she looks, nothing is there. How does she know it is him? She can feel his presence every time. Betts has had similar experiences with her Jerry, seeing him just on the edge of vision in Las Vegas, one of their favorite places, having a hibiscus flower twirl, untouched, five times in a bowl of water as she thought of him, having the lid fly off a trash can when Jerry came up in conversation. Those are signs.

So how do you know it is a sign and not delusion or wishful thinking? It may reflect a special song or date or animal that means something just to you or the two of you. Or, it may feel like a little internal hug. Or a little tickle in the brain that says, “Hey, look at this.” Somehow, you really feel that person at that moment, like a quick hello. And it is those quick hellos that keep you going.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Empty Offers

Call me if you need anything.
Call me if I can help.
Promise you will call and let me know how you’re doing.

How many times have you uttered these thoughtful and totally useless comments to friends or family members who stare at you with teary eyes looking a little shell shocked by a recent death?

Think about it. Has anyone ever responded to your comment? Have they mustered the humiliation and shame of admitting they had no one else to rely on so they called you hopeful that you really meant you were available to help?

When my husband passed, everyone made those well-meant and empty handed offers of help- the neighbors, the couples we considered best friends, my girlfriends who sat with me during his surgeries and spent hours with us at hospice.

Within a few days, everyone went back to their regular lives. My regular life was gone. It had burst, broken, shattered, and lay in shambles.

No one said I will call you tomorrow to see what you need. If they had called, I would have told them I needed someone to come over and sit and drink a cup of tea with me. I might have said I needed a couple of cans of soup and a loaf of bread from the grocery store or a bag of dog food because I couldn’t find the energy to get in the car and drive to the store. I could have mentioned that I needed someone to empty all the food out of the refrigerator that had been stored too long and then to pull the trash can out to the curb for tomorrow’s pickup. I needed a big tight hug. Not the wimpy "so sorry for your loss, dearie" half shoulder pats. How I longed for someone to take the time to just sit with me and hold my hand.

If your friend is suffering from sudden onset grief it helps to remember that she will feel tired, numb and often experience brain fog. And she might be a little snarly. Just accept that this is her norm for the moment and don’t make a big issue out of it. If you are in the neighborhood or can spare an hour to visit, call and say so. A short unscheduled visit can do wonders to lift morale. Don’t expect your grieving friend to want to go to a movie, check out the local sales or even go out to dinner anytime soon. Anything that involves more than a shower and letting her hair dry naturally is too much effort. If a regular cleaning service isn’t evident, ask if you can vacuum the floor. If there are dishes in the sink, you might offer to unload or load the dishwasher. Small household chores are insurmountable in the face of grief. It’s easy to lose track of time and what seems a whole day of possibilities dwindles away with little accomplished.

Bring over a small bouquet or even a single bloom. For the first year, my sister bought us a bouquet of roses each week from the grocery store. Roses were Jerry’s favorite flowers and it felt right and special to sit admiring them and enjoying the fragrance. Bring a box of tea or a packet of exotic coffee and stay long enough to brew it and share a pot. But most of all, bring your funny stories and touching memories and say our loved one’s name. Say it again and again lest we think he is forgotten.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

And so grief returns.....

My Uncle Al died last week and his funeral was this past Monday. And I am once again deep in grief and mourning.
To call this man my uncle doesn't do him justice. I have literally known him all my life. He met my aunt around the same time that I was born and he has been part of my life ever since. I was flower girl for their wedding. He taught me about the world with infinite patience (why is the sky blue? what makes it rain? why? why? why?).
He read my first attempts at writing plays and short stories and gave me honest criticism. We discussed politics. He taught me how to read the editorials in the newspaper. He took me out for my first grown up drink and meal in an adult restaurant.
My mother and his wife were sisters and we all grew up together in a two family home so that I really felt as if I had five siblings (counting my cousins) instead of just the two that were my sister and brother. We vacationed together. We ate Sunday meals together. We celebrated all the holidays and milestones together.
And truth be told, I preferred him and my aunt to my own parents for reasons I choose not to go into here. Let's just say I truly bonded with them and they kept me sane while I was growing up and made me what I am today.
So losing Uncle Al is more like losing my own father because in every sense he was.
And I have been grieving ever since I heard the news.

That doesn't surprise me.
What did surprise me is the return of all the waves of grief I experienced when John passed away almost 7 years ago.
The hours filled with the inability to do absolutely anything of meaning.
The tears and paralyzing sadness.
The overwhelming grief.
I know it will pass. I know I will survive. I have in the past. I will again.
But I honor my grief now because I have been on this merry-go-round before and I know its route.
I am also experiencing surges of the need to do something - anything - to make these feelings go away, even if only for a moment.
This time, I am trying to be productive.
So, I have swept the garage, cleaned out a bookcase, washed clothes, rearranged furniture.
I have a feeling I am not done yet so here's to a cleaner house.
In the meantime, I miss you, Uncle Al.
I thank you for sharing your life with me.
I thank you for your love and guidance.
I thank you for being you and for loving me.
Until we meet again.......

Saturday, April 1, 2017

What Gifts Have You Received From Grief?

Today, I am grateful for so very much. My daughter and son are battling cancer but the doctors tell them there is a very good chance they will beat it. I am grateful for that. And I am grateful that we are in a position to ease some of their many worries. I have my health and my mind as does my Norm. I am grateful for that too. And the more I learn about grieving, the more I find I have to be grateful for. When I started working with Joy and Betts in the early days of what was to become From Grief to Peace, I knew very little about how anyone grieves. Nor did I really understand how to be a friend to someone whose heart is aching from loss.

I have learned so much.

Like so many others, I was uncomfortable around grief. To a certain degree, I still am, but I have learned that any condolences I have to offer must come from the heart and be totally sincere. I need to think before I speak. And listen before that. And most importantly, I must be present and generous with both my heart and my time.

I think back to brushes I have had in the past with losses others have lived through and really wish I could have a do-over so I could be a better friend as they grieved …

My daughter when her husband passed, leaving her with a pre-teen son to raise. She needed far more compassion than I knew to give her. And still, she persisted and despite what must have been overwhelming grief at times, she triumphed, raising an admirable young man and building a solid life for herself. I marvel at what she has accomplished despite our inattention.

My husband’s uncle whose wife died after more than 60 years of marriage. Left alone, he did what so many in his position do. He spent all his money on things he did not really need. None eased the pain. He struck up casual relationships with strange women in bars but they were hollow connections. None were his sweet Marge. Thinking now of his desperation, I so wish we had been more supportive and able to bring him closer into our world. I think not being totally alone might have helped.

My own sister, whose husband died leaving her alone with their two young girls. Somehow, she kept moving forward, but I wonder how. We never spoke of her feelings after he died and I understand now how isolated she must have felt. Where was I? Living my life but not thinking of what she was going through. Yes, I was thousands of miles away, but telephones cut that distance to nothing. I know now that the best thing I could have offered her was someone to hear and encourage her through her grief.

I feel I was seriously lacking on so many levels for all of these – and more - people who I love. But with that knowledge and self-accusation comes a level of gratitude as well. In having my eyes opened to my own failings as I have learned much more about grief, I realize that I have learned the true importance and value of treasuring every moment I have with those who are still here in my life. That is a gift of grief for me.

And so, I ask you, what are the gifts you have received from grief? Perhaps you have learned, as my daughter and sister did, that you do have the strength to endure the unimaginable. Perhaps you have discovered, like our uncle, that things and strangers cannot fill the emptiness. Or perhaps you have learned that while sorrow never completely goes away, it eventually does soften and you are able to move ahead. Each new understanding is a gift of grief. So, I ask again, what are the gifts you have received from grief?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Are you a gift card or a promo certificate type?

A gift card is usually bought with money or maybe with earned reward points and it has unlimited purchase possibilities. A promo cert is usually a freebie, a sort of consolation prize, and its use is restricted to certain products.

As you move through your suddenly single life are you paying your way with legal tender or are you always looking for the promos, the freebies, the handouts, lunching on Costco samples? Are you engaging wholeheartedly in your daily life or are you miserly limiting yourself to the restricted activities from the freebie list. The things you feel you deserve. It’s sort of the difference between electing to pay to climb into the hot air balloon gondola and enjoy the vista spread out before you with the champagne toast or just waving up at a balloon as it passes overhead. Can you experience full heart racing exhilaration or do you question your right to even laugh out loud?

Do you remember the first time you laughed out loud after your loved one passed? I do. It was exactly a month later. Several friends I knew from my disbanded writer’s group invited me out for a special lunch. I really didn’t want to go but felt obligated because these were my peers and they cared about me. When still active, our writers’ group usually met once a month and a handful of us would get together before the meeting for a light lunch. Often JT would join us for the meal so he became sort of an honorary member. On the day I first laughed out loud, the lunch table bore a gift of beautiful and very fragrant  roses in a lovely glass vase. Roses were my husband’s favorite flowers. We used to have 86 rose bushes in our southern California backyard so in my mind the vase of flowers represented him. During lunch my friends took turns recalling conversations and telling funny anecdotes about my charming, intelligent, full-of-life man. I had been present during some of these conversations but others were new to me and I was delighted to hear them. These generous women also presented me with a blue memory box from Hallmark. I recall thinking it was way too small to hold my memories and wondering what I should put in it. I ended up using it for the notes and condolence cards I received. We had a lovely lunch and I laughed a little bit with my friends. I remember thanking them and telling them it was the first time I had laughed out loud since August 10th. When I got to the car, I drove around to the back of the shopping center, parked and sobbed. I wanted my husband back.

If you have lost your soul mate you probably have repeatedly experienced the fear and despair eloquently played out by Beethoven’s No.5 also known as Death Knocking at the Door. Initially, your existence is shattered and you feel shell shocked. But in a year, or maybe 5 years or even possibly longer, you will start to feel alive again. You will abandon the shotgun approach to hobbies- some grievers take on multiple craft projects, or sign up for a variety of classes, or buy real estate. You will eventually crave the company of your peers, albeit with possibly new faces and you will regain an appetite for food and camaraderie. You will start to seek out worthwhile activities that will enrich your soul, and give you a sense of purpose. You will stop restricting yourself to the promo certs and realize still being alive is not wrong. Maybe you won’t feel the happiness and sense of security your life held before your soul mate passed but you will feel good again. I promise. And you will laugh out loud. I promise that, too.