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, May 22, 2012

Do It Everyday...If You Dare.

Yesterday I decided to commit to writing in my journal every single day for at least 20 minutes every morning. I practice Kundalini yoga and yesterday in class my teacher challenged us to establish a Sadhana which is a discipline you undertake every day to connect with your authentic self, a spiritual practice which could be anything: praying, painting, doing yoga, walking, biking, running, meditating, playing music. You must do it alone without disturbance or distraction. Ideally, you do your Sadhana in the morning in preparation for your day. Regular daily practice, it is said, helps us face challenges as it purifies and refines our consciousness. (Read about Sadhana here.)

Ok. Whoa. I know I'm getting a little out there. But, I believe that a regularly practiced solo discipline can make a real difference in your life by crystallizing your intentions and making it easier to leave life's unimportant noise and distractions behind you.

The main purpose of The Heartbreak Diary, when I first began writing it, was to share what I've learned about the healing power of writing (which has been proven by research), give exercises for those in grief who need a jump start for writing, and to share some of my own writing about loss.  I am really amazed at how much writing this blog has helped me to recover from the loss of my husband at a relatively young age.

Perhaps from the outside it might look as though someone who has been writing about loss for years might be stuck in the past or still in pain. But I find the opposite to be true. By writing out my feelings, their hold on me lessens. While I might spend 20 minutes exploring the pain of loss in a blog post, I find that the hours that follow those 20 minutes feel pretty free and unencumbered.

I encourage you to think about Sadhana. If that word doesn't appeal to you, just think about something you can do for yourself every day, consistently without fail. It might take you a while to figure out what that practice might be. Or perhaps you know instinctively what you can do.

If it might be writing, you can start with this and see where it takes you for the next 10 minutes:

Today I will write about what it means to me to have a daily, disciplined practice:

Monday, May 07, 2012

Death of Husband is Not Recommended

I'm going to write a gloomy post for a change. Normally I try to be upbeat about the havoc death brought upon me and mine. Generally, I aim to be filled with perspective and humor: after all, everyone dies. Death isn't special; it's expected. You can learn lessons from it! It can make you appreciate simple things, like waking up in the morning with your heart still pumping and your brain synapses still firing!

Today I want to tell you that I hate that more than six years have gone by since Ken died. Some days now I can go all day without thinking about him. Is that a relief? I don't know. I think it's sad. Not thinking about Ken makes me feel as though he's lost to oblivion.

I've met so many people in these last six years who will never have known me as the married woman I once was, as a mother with a husband who was my partner in a life we chose to make together. I am meeting people, more and more of them,  who will never know who Ken was. Maybe people who meet me think I'm divorced or that I decided to have children without ever having a spouse. Maybe nobody really cares why I'm a single mother at all.

Last night I attended a benefit for Willow House, a wonderful, big-hearted organization that offers free grief support services for families. If you've lost a spouse or a child, or if you're a child who has lost a parent or a sibling, you can participate in a support group with others who have had someone in their nuclear family die. These are people who understand that losing a spouse, or a child, or a father or mother or a sibling when you're young, is a loss that shapes your whole world and colors it a shade darker than the life you had before the loss.

The main speakers at the benefit were a husband and wife whose seven month old daughter died six years ago. The woman talked about how before you have a loss like that you walk on the surface of life and then after the loss, you enter a world below the surface and you come up once and a while to breath. I didn't lose a child, so I don't know what that feels like. I don't ever want to know what that feels like. But I will say something that our death-denying culture makes me feel a little ashamed to say:

Even though I can now go for a day, perhaps, without thinking about Ken, I don't know if I will ever make it through a day without thinking about the future I lost when he died. I know I will always feel bad that my son and daughter don't have Ken here with them to be their father.  What they are missing by not having him here cannot be counted or measured; it is a vast emptiness where years and years of his amazing love, wisdom and patience could have been.

I am not the person I used to be and I don't believe there's any way to get her back, no matter how many years go by. Like the bereaved mother whose baby died,  I live in a darker world, even when all the lights are on, even when I am loved, even when I am happy and grateful for the life I get to live. That's what the death of my husband did to me.