Getting through Grief with Humor, Honesty and Time

Painting to recover from grief

My painting from a writing and painting workshop I went to

I’m taking an online blogging class.  My assignment: a post on why I blog. This is who I am.  I just updated it because in the three and a half years since George died, I’m not nearly as lost, although I’m more curmudgeonly.  Ever have a lawyer who’s supposed to be helping you with probate text you after hours to ask if you want to talk dirty?  Or date some idiot who comments that keeping your husband’s awesome stereo system shows that you have a problem letting go?

And that’s why I write.  Because life without George is so darkly funny.  And absurd.  And it used to make me so mad.  So much writing about loss implies a gravitas:  We lose our loved ones and settle into serenity, content to live with our memories, quietly grateful for our years together,  perhaps now directing our efforts to knitting scarves for impoverished arctic seals.

My late husband and I in the 90's at a party

George and I at a firm party in the 90’s

But that’s not reality.  We’re angry.  (I still haven’t replaced all the wine glasses I broke).   Or we’re unbearably lonely.  Or self-destructive.  I suffered from lasting caregiver guilt over George’s final months.  I was unable to care for him properly and he was in denial, making it impossible to reach our for help.  I started blogging because of the disparity between what grief looks like in books and what it really feels like.  I read On Grief and Grieving…some of it made sense, but  some of it was so removed from reality.   (Don’t drink!  Don’t have sex! Just sit there!)

The worst is the unbearable loneliness.  And the shame that comes from being so lonely or unable to snap out of grieving.  People told me “Just get out there!” when I told them I was a widow with few connections. Offer to listen, extend a simple invitation…but don’t be sickeningly glib.  So, I started writing to say, please don’t ashamed that you’re lonely or you can’t get out of bed today or that the azaleas your husband planted that started blooming today made you cry in the grocery store.

Recovering from grief is so personal.  I don’t know that all of us recover to be as  “happy” as before our loved ones died.  But feeling ashamed about our grief and resulting loneliness or immobility just makes it worse.   So that’s why I’m writing to say:  It’s okay if you feel terrible.  Things are hilarious at times.  Sometimes, you need the cheesecake and Woody Allen movies,

I’ve had some recovery.  I can enjoy travel or reading or even my crazy boyfriend, sometimes.  A dear friend who is a recent widow said that she finds hearing about progress encouraging.  And  better, I can embrace gratitude and letting go of old resentments (probably my next post).

Let’s go through this journey together.

Love, Debbie



  • Claire says:

    Love your words and thinking. Thank for again putting it out there for us.

  • Kerry says:

    My yoga meditation quote from this morning was: “My teachers suggested that we stick with offering loving-kindness to ourselves until we felt ready to move on.” (from “Meditations on Intention and Being” by Rolf Gates) I am reminded to be compassionate to myself when I’m in beat myself up mode about not being able to move on from my own grief and loss and sadness.

    • Debbie says:

      That is such a good point my friend. I’m doing this blog course and trying not beat myself up that I’m nothing better with this, that I’m confused about my book. I think my next post should be about “Beginner’s Mind” and being open to our weaknesses as beginners.

  • jacqui says:

    This is so real Debbie. I’m going through a bad patch at the moment, 5 years since Paul died. In the last 2 weeks my bank account got hacked and therefore closed down leaving me at the supermarket with no way to pay and not enough petrol to get home. Now I have to go into branch to get cash every time i need it and no clue from the bank how long this will go on for – tried to open a new account but until the investigation is over it’s impacted on my credit rating. My car, washing machine, dishwasher and oven all broke down – the repair man was rude. and my Smartphone suddenly got 15500 emails overnight that took an hour to delete. There’s more, but the detail is tedious. I’m just so tired, and I’m trying to do a job. So I’m handling all this alone, and I’m down. My family seem irritated by my low mood. Mum says, “Cheer up! You’re fine, you’re independent. You could be very ill like Mrs So-and-So! She’s all alone and struggles to cope, her daughters have to come and help her.” Mrs So-and-So is over 80 and I point out that maybe I will be like her when I’m 80, without the daughters as Paul and I couldn’t have children. Then my stepfather says “Lighten up” I just want to cry – or hit him!

    • Debbie says:

      And I don’t blame you. The hardest thing for me has been dealing with things that go wrong all on my own. The second hardest is when someone does’t get how hard that is. I am so sorry that things are going wrong. I’ like to advise you to complain to your bank supervisor and escalate or if you have a lawyer friend, have them write an intimidating letter to the right person. bUt at least your family could be sympathetic!!! Sending love from California.