About Me

My wonderful husband died when I was 44 years old. Being widowed this young happens to less than 3% of married people. Writing through this loss one word at time helps me understand what I've lost and helps me continue to grow. It is how I have gradually recovered from such a severe loss. Research shows that you can benefit from taking just 15 minutes a day to write out your deepest feelings as a way of healing. On the right side of this blog, you'll see a tag for Exercises to Try. If you need some help knowing how to use writing to help heal yourself, I suggest you start there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You Don't Need Closure to Heal

A widow friend of mine recently mentioned a new book about grief (which I haven't yet read) called Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What it Costs Us by Nancy Berns. The author was speaking on NPR recently and her final words were: You Don't Need Closure to Heal.

How I love these words!  You Don't Need Closure to Heal. These words explain so much to me. They explain why I sometimes doubt my contentment when I can still shake my head in disbelief that Ken actually died. They explain why I can still become sad in the fall, the time when Ken began his decline to death, when hope and dread and stress swirled around me and all of our family.

You Don't Need Closure to Heal. These words help free me from guilty feelings of leaving Ken behind to live my own time-limited life. They help me understand why today I am a stronger, better person with a surer sense of right living -- even though I owe so much to the man who isn't here to reap the benefits of my improved self.

These six words give me permission to feel happy, to grow, to enjoy life and to honor and respect what I've lost with a gentle bow of reverence.

And for all the people who I imagine might think: your husband died in 2006 so get over it -- now I have six words for you: You Don't Need Closure to Heal.

I hope the rest of the book matches the wisdom of those six words. To hear the author, Nancy Berns, a sociology professor at Drake University, talk about the concept of closure, copy and paste this link to your browser: http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2011/10/17/closure-the-rush-to-end-grief-and-what-it-costs-us/

Take a few minutes to respond in writing to those six words: You Don't Need Closure To Heal. What do they mean to you, right now? And by the way, do you have a journal for writing down your thoughts about grief? If not, try it. It's just one tool for finding your way back to life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

When Grief Fades

When my husband died almost six years ago:

I could not imagine how I could possibly ever be happy again.
I felt like a loser.
I felt extremely unlucky.
I was scared, anxious, worried, sad, confused.
I felt out of place and out-of-sync with others.
I felt desperate to recapture my old life --and this, an impossible task.
I felt alone in the world. 

Six years later, I find that grief has FINALLY taken the back seat to living. Here's what it feels like at the beginning of this new phase of life after major loss:

I feel so much more aware of how lucky I am to be alive.
I am far less likely to get aggravated or stressed out about daily living.
I am more appreciative and less critical of my own performance and contributions.
Surprisingly, I have become a more hopeful and positive person, despite my incredible back luck!
I have more faith that I am living my truth -- liking what I like--doing what I am supposed to be doing.
I am more open to the unknown and less attached to control.
Sometimes I still feel alone in the world, but, as when I was a much younger woman, I enjoy my own company.

And, yes, if I am going to reveal all the feelings that surround the idea of "grief fading", there is also some guilt, some sadness, and some concern: guilt that I am still alive and he is not, sadness to move forward into a territory where the loss of my incredible husband no longer dominates my world, and concern for how I can continue to honor him and keep his memory alive.