February 2017

You are Grieving Perfectly: You are Choosing to Live


Me in Tahoe Two Years Ago

You are grieving perfectly, just as you are. Even if you’re sobbing and sloppy and inconsolable. You are choosing to live with your loss. You are surviving. And that can be very hard at times.

I wish someone had told me this when I was ten and my mom died. The psychological model then was that if a kid seemed okay after losing a loved one, you just let them be. So I wondered why I couldn’t concentrate on my math homework, and why everything had become so awful, but no one gave me a pass because my mom had died a few months ago.

When George died, I told myself I got to do whatever I wanted or needed to feel better.  It’s just that a lot of my choices were really dumb.  I thought if I looked great and dressed well and got out there and met people, I’d be okay because I was looking and acting okay. But inside I still felt awful, unbearably lonely and guilt-ridden. Somehow I’d drunk the societal Kool-Aid that grieving should look like a self-improvement project.

I’d had a second glass of that sugary maraschino red Kool-Aid  when I thought that dating was a remedy for widowhood. But there is no remedy.

There is only living with the pain and surviving it, day by day, minute by minute.

When you feel like this

Time helps. So do friends and family and meaningful activities (once we have the energy to tackle anything meaningful).  But there is no cure and we don’t have to act like there is.

Our loss is hard enough without anyone telling us how we should be grieving or for how long. When I told people I was a a widow, some seemed to think that meant I was open to advice. We don’t normally tell other grown ups how to live. And I despair to think that folks thought I needed advice because I had become a woman in her own. One of the reasons I stopped dating was because I couldn’t stand one more moron man telling me how I should change my life when he’d never been widowed.

When we suffer a devastating loss, the first question is “How do I keep living?”  For some of us it’s even, “Do I want to keep living?”  Please, say yes, that you do.  That’s my only advice.

And that is where time can help.  My first six months without George I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live, but now, years later, I know that I do.  And sometimes, I can even think that life is pretty good,.  Other times, it’s binge-watching and chocolate cheesecake with all the pillows piled on the bed.

So if you are getting through your loss without being self-destructive, you are grieving well. You are surviving. You are getting yourself through this. And you are honoring what you need to do that.  If you need long hikes in wooded areas (I wish this was me), fantastic.  If it’s checking out for awhile with piles of carrot cake and expensive throw pillows…oh wait, that’s me.

Once when I was talking about a trip I was planning, my yoga teacher  friend said she admired me. I asked what for? She said, “Deciding to live.” I thought my choices were pretty self-indulgent, a vacation I wanted to take to someplace I’d never been.

But I am living. And you are too. Despite the pain. Carry on my friend. And if you want, share what you did to survive your loss.  It may help another griever in pain.

Love, Debbie


You are Grieving Perfectly: You are Choosing to Live2017-04-03T03:01:18+00:00

December 2015

At 50, I Became a Widow and a Teenager (in Good Housekeeping)


Gary, My “High School” Beau, and I

Hello Lovelies,

I’m in Good Housekeeping Again.  And I am so grateful.  Here’s the start:


I was 50 going on 15, trying to figure out how to live without him. When my husband George died, I was plunged into a second adolescence. Whether I wanted to or not.

George and I were both introverts, content to socialize only with each other. When he became ill with cancer, I acted like an adult, taking care of him and everything else.When he died, I was alone and isolated. We didn’t have kids. I hadn’t worked in over 13 years. I had to do something.

Almost involuntarily, I turned back into an insecure teenager…


Now please read the rest here.  (Yeah, you’ve got time.  Have a beverage.  Put your feet up) :  I was a Teenager in Good Housekeeping

If you like this, please share.  If you don’t (Or you do), comment on why, I can take it.

Thanks for listening,










At 50, I Became a Widow and a Teenager (in Good Housekeeping)2015-12-18T16:01:50+00:00

Question Five: Should He Date When It Feels Like Cheating on His Former Girlfriend



Feeling Lonely

Feeling Lonely

A new friend lost his girlfriend in a car accident five years ago. He writes,”Sometimes I think I should go for dating again, but then I think it would be cheating on her. She passed away five years back. I think I feel lonely sometimes. I am 33 years old. I am confused if I should start dating or not.”

* * * * *
Dear Friend,

I am so sorry for the loss of your girlfriend.

I’ve written before that there is no set time after losing your partner when you should start dating again. There is no “should.” There is only how you feel. Whether you feel ready to meet new people. Whether you feel open to having a new relationship. Whether you want to explore the possibility of romance.

I’m sorry you feel that dating again would be cheating on your former girlfriend. She’s gone, even though she remains in your heart. You have your memories, but those memories shouldn’t stop you from moving on with your life.

I don’t know if the spirits of our loved ones are watching us, but if they are, I can’t believe that they want us to be lonely and unhappy. I like to think that if they’re watching over us, they want the best for us.  I think we owe it to ourselves to try to find happiness whether that includes being alone or dating for fun or seeking a serious commitment.

You are only thirty-three. You’re a young man with so much of your life ahead of you. You have time to find love and maybe have a family, if that ’s what you want. Please don’t condemn yourself to a life without love out of a sense of misplaced guilt. Dating again is not cheating on your girlfriend, it’s a healthy decision to move on with your life and to try to find happiness.

Please stop punishing yourself because your girlfriend died. You should take as long you need to feel ready to date again. If you don’t yet feel ready to date after five years, ask yourself what you need to move on. Maybe you simply need more time. But maybe you need a private ceremony or a talk with family to feel at peace with your prior relationship and ready to date again.

Or maybe you need to see a counselor. When I had deep feelings of guilt over the loss of my husband, I saw a grief therapist. She helped me to realize I should stop blaming myself for his death and that I needed to get on with my own life.  Deciding that you need outside help from counseling is a strength; it’s choice to invest in your future.  It is not a weakness.

You owe yourself a a good life. Please don’t let feelings of guilt stop you. You have your life ahead of you and you deserve to be happy and loved. Please write me back in a while and let me know how you’re doing.
Your new friend,

Question Five: Should He Date When It Feels Like Cheating on His Former Girlfriend2015-12-15T19:20:01+00:00
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