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My neighbor, who has been my grief partner for the past 18 months, finished moving out of her house. It was a sad day for me, as I know I will not see her as frequently. I am experiencing the void of her proximity. She found a new house, smaller, close to her son.

It was a devastating day for her. The next day was the anniversary of the death of her husband of 55 years. The house was too big for her to live in alone. She wasn’t much into maintenance, which is a reality of home ownership, so she had to sell.

She was outside crying when my next-door neighbor saw her. She, my next-door neighbor, came over to my house. She was upset. All of a sudden, she didn’t feel she could comfort my grief partner. We are older. Many of us are dying. She couldn’t imagine being without her husband after so many years, therefore she couldn’t imagine the emotions my grief partner and I are experiencing as we make the journey to re-enter life.

My next-door neighbor's husband is about five years older than she is. Statistically, it’s likely he will die first, being older and male. She confided that her thoughts regarding how she will survive following his death are overwhelming to her. Where will she live? How can she maintain a house, let alone two, which is the current arrangement for those who migrate?

My grief partner and I know from experience:

  • There is no preparation for the loss, even though our spouses were ill for many years prior to their deaths. 

  • How we both thought we would cope has had no basis in reality. 

  • There has been no comfort that we are freed from caregiving duties. 

  • There is no comfort that we can go out of the house without finding someone to sit with our spouses. 

  • There is no comfort that we can sit down to a meal without fear of our spouses choking on food. 

  • There is no comfort and no relief in the freedom from the illnesses our spouses experienced. 

  • There is no comfort in the sympathy of friends, relatives or neighbors. 

There is only emptiness.

We miss our spouses every day, sometimes every hour, sometimes every minute. How can anyone prepare for that?

My grief partner came over while my neighbor was with me. We talked about her moving, the anniversary of her husband‘s death, plans for the immediate future and the friends and relatives who had helped her. We also talked about how exhausted and devastated she was, how she wished she could just escape. 

Finally, we talked about some of the ridiculous things that had happened during the moving process and were able to laugh. We all felt better.

We are herd animals. We have to be close and share. We must have friends and others.

Contemplation: How important is it to seek out comfort when we are hurting? And where can we find it?

Let me know how you are doing. I care.

This will be my last post. I have attempted to share my journey of loss and grief, with the hope it would resonate with you. Know you are not alone. If it has been a benefit, I am humbled. It is a measure of my work and beliefs, as well as a measure of the love I have for my lost love, my spouse, the love of my life. 

My grieving is not over. My loss will forever be a part of me, of the love I have for my spouse who has passed before me.

I have a story in mind, and hope to expand it into a book. I won't know the outcome until I get involved in it.

I would like to leave you with some of the lessons and considerations (in no particular order) I have discovered and learned from writing the posts, from writing about grief 

Some of the points of contemplation are:

  • Do you understand that we are precious, that we are vulnerable?

  • Do hopes and dreams materialize?

  • Are you sharing your caring with someone who is alone?

  • Are your rules sound and intact?

  • What external stimulants can interrupt the pain of grieving and promote recovery without being self-defeating? 

  • What are the long-term effects of abuse on our pets?

  • Are decorations, for holidays such as Christmas, an indication of our emotional state or just social pressure for the particular time of year?

  • What is the “Eureka” moment when domestic abuse is no longer tolerated?

  • Do projects seem to come with more unexpected problems?

  • Have you grieved and shared about an alternate family member?

  • Does your journey feel static?

  • Are you paying attention to developmental tasks?

  • What messages are we sending?

  • Do some trees and people need more water to flourish than others?

  • What adjustments can make life easier and safer?

  • What is so important in life it has to be done in a “New York minute?”

  • What adjustments can be made to counter the effects of winter?

  • How crucial is it to ensure building codes?

  • How much invasion is acceptable to intercede on our friend’s behalf, not only with depression, suicide and domestic abuse, but other dangerous behaviors, as well?

  • How beneficial is it to have all new stuff?

  • What do we cling to that is outdated and useless? What can we salvage that we need?

  • How important is it to remember that directions are two dimensional, to the giver and the receiver?

  • How important is patience?

  • Is a bargain really a bargain?

  • Do you believe you are worthy of receiving?

A few of the lessons learned from the posts include:

  • Small things set guidelines for the future.

  • Keep our eyes open.

  • One person has tremendous power in the entire process of obtaining positive outcomes. 

  • Fun times help us get through the hard times. 

  • Financial realities must be faced. Take care of the pennies.

  • Not all problems can be immediately solved.

  • Develop healthy routines. 

  • Too quiet is too much. 

  • Starting over is all new.

  • There is no predicting what will turn out for the best.

  • All shared journeys are not fun ones.

  • There are positive and negative consequences to pain intervention.

  • Consider discarding yesterday's useless news.

  • Be aware of household hazards.

  • Keeping busy keeps grieving at bay.

  • Demons will try to take over our lives. We are the ones to cast them out.

  • Use daily energy allotment judiciously.

  • Life is always evolving.

  • Be safe.

  • Be prepared when any change is made. There will be unexpected consequences.

  • Hug with caution.

  • The unknown road is the hardest to travel.

  • Generational lessons may be helpful or inhibiting.

  • The “country” way of doing things is to help your neighbor, if you can.

  • Pay attention.

  • We are not mind readers.

  • Experience the pain to be healed.

  • Choices are ours, yet outcomes are not always predictable.

  • Embrace change, whether in small increments or large.

  • We will experience a loss and grief at times in our lives, prepare as best as you can.

  • To prevent a torrential river of voice, open the floodgates more frequently.

  • Take a chance. Capitalize on herding and other possible positive instincts.

  • Some friendships can take you down, along with their sinking.

  • Re-entering life is a hard journey, be prepared for ups and downs.

  • Grief is universal, it precipitates comfort to share.

  • Grief has to be experienced to be resolved.

  • Grieving has its own timeline.

  • Our grief river makes its own path.

  • Healing occurs in uneven stages.

  • Watch out for grief thieves.

  • When making decisions, you know yourself better than anyone. 

  • We are not where we were before.


Lynn Brooke © 2023, 2024

© 2024 Our New Chances

Photo Credit: © 2024 Rachel Gareau


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