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.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Thought I'd try today to think about what I'm grateful for that is a direct result of losing my husband. This is a little thought experiment designed to see what happens when you take the worst thing that could happen to you and try to make it into something really lovely and grand and life-affirming. People always talk about the good, the growth, the spiritual awakenings that can arise from loss. Can I find good in the death of a good man? Of my good man? Can I find something good and special lurking here in the darkest room of my existential home? Is there a diamond or two to be found amidst the ashes of Ken's death? You undoubtedly know already, as I do, that the answer is indeed, yes.

Charles Dickens wrote in Great Expectations, "...suffering has been stronger than all other teaching...I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape." While I would give anything to return to the less improved, ignorant, but non-widowed version of myself, I take this moment to salute the sorrier, more broken, but slightly wiser me.

Today, I am more satisfied with the elements that make up my life. I no longer beat myself up about finding purpose or not somehow being "enough". Reading a good book under my warm covers. Replacing my furnace and installing new heating ducts...I mean, a warm home is really something that makes me happy. Volunteering my time to a good cause. Speaking my truth in the hope that it can help another. My yoga class. Dinner with my kids. Raking. Sitting at a swim meet all day long. Going to my college reunion. Walking around town and always bumping into someone I know. Feeling bad and getting over it. Trying hard. Contributing where I can. Laughing with friends. A phone call with my sister or brother. Dreaming. This is happiness. I get it. I'm lucky just to be here. So many people aren't anymore. My favorite person isn't here anymore.

Today, I worry so much less about the future. The apocalypse already came and went for me, and here I am. Bad things WILL happen, never fear, just brace yourself, and enjoy it all the more when there's nothing much to report. Peace and happiness lie in the everyday moments when crisis is either so far behind you that you can't really feel it anymore, or so far in front of you that you can't even imagine what it might be made of next time.

Today I know that even though I was tremendously unlucky to lose Ken so soon in our married life together, I was also incredibly lucky to have spent 15 years of my life with him. Incredibly lucky. Fifteen years is a long time. For 29 years I lived without him, and when we met, it was as though finally I had found the person who understood me and who I understood in a complete way that felt just right in all the most important aspects. I'm tough. I managed without him all those years, and here I am again without him, but this time, I have everything he gave me, including our two children and his family, where pieces of him reside. I'll never be as alone again as I was before he came along.

Today I am more compassionate. While I might not win any contest for being the kindest, sweetest, least confrontational woman you know, I do understand better now that we are all flawed, we are imperfect, we are bundles of impulses, chemicals, circuitry, conditioned responses. We try, we fail, we succeed, we screw up badly, our bodies or minds get sick, we are angels, we hurt and we rise again and again until we are silenced. We're all dying, but we all get to live for a time. It's short, even when it's long, it's just a moment, but somehow, against all odds, we're here.

Today I know beyond a doubt, and after watching my late husband suffer from cancer, good health is precious. If you feel good, don't just do it, revel in it, honor it, and do what you can to sustain it. Start small if that's all you can manage...drink more water, take a few more steps each day, keep on searching for your own path to better health.

So that's my short list of goodness arising from my loss. Greater general satisfaction. Less worry. A sense of being lucky. Greater compassion. Gratitude and great appreciation for good health.

"...suffering has been stronger than all other teaching...I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape."


What has suffering taught you? What have you gained from your most difficult experiences? Make a list. Write about it. Find your gratitude.


Lynne Jordan said...

Jill: This was beautiful and has put my own gripes into perspective. I just blogged on & on about how I am wasting my life and talent blah blah and then I read your post and... well... I'm gonna shut my mouth.

I am so sorry that you lost your beloved husband so early. I had NO idea. Wishing you all the best - keeping up with this blog. I've kept a journal since I was a young child...
My blog: http://lynnejordan.com/blog

Ann Bradlow said...

Jill, this one really really touched me. Happy happy thanksgiving to you and yours, Ann.

Jill Schacter said...

Lynne: I have also kept a journal since childhood. It's good for the soul. Thanks for all your kind words.

Unknown said...

Jill - reading your words gives me hope that one day, not right away, but maybe one day, I can do what you have done with the loss of my sweet girl. It's too close right now, but I'll file this away and get back to it when I can. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Sheila.

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