Moving Forward


Terry rempel

WSN: Guest Column by Terry Rempel

My previous job was as a pedigreed seed inspection manager for a company in Winnipeg. Based in Winnipeg, I had about 35 seed inspectors under my direction from Manitoba through to northern Alberta. Part of my duties was to train the inspectors both with updated information in a classroom setting as well as observe and assist new inspectors in the field. So, a couple of times a year, I got to drive across western Canada, crisscrossing each province. I had an app on my cell phone to locate the field where I was to meet the inspector. I would load in the LLD (legal land description) of the said field on to the app and it would then load the correct coordinates (most of the time) into Google Maps. Press “Directions”, and it would then produce a map of how you should get to that field. A lovely voice would come on to help you with the directions. Ever wonder why they have a feminine voice giving those directions? Think about that. Must have been a room full of programmers thinking “Yeah, lets make it a woman’s voice giving the directions” and all the women in the room would go “Let me do it”. What woman wouldn’t want to tell millions of men where to go? It would also get many men taking wrong turns because they think they know better and they kind of weren’t paying attention to the woman’s voice anyway. This app and GPS map system brought me to many a field in nowhere Saskatchewan (it’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there). There were a few times, though, you’d be driving along, go over a ridge and on the other side, and….no signal. The route would disappear from sight. I’d stop….look around (no clue where I was)…drive a little farther….still no signal. Turn around, go back to where there was a signal, save the map, then figure it out from there.

Last week I was in southern Ontario meeting with customers. Using GPS, I found their locations usually without a problem. The problem would come when I’d load the new address on the phone and it would say “Head North for 5 kilometers.” It had been cloudy since I got there, not even a hint as to where the sun was. Now, I’m usually pretty good with which way is north, south, etc., but, in a strange area, with no land marks that you are familiar with and no sun to give you a shadow of where north is, I was lost. (Yes, there is a compass somewhere on the dash of this car, but I didn’t think of that). So I start off going one way…..”Re-routing”. You can almost hear an irritated sigh coming from Ms. Google Maps (like I haven’t heard that in real life before). Most of the time I could make a U-turn and get going the right way, and as long as I listened to her (yes ma’am), I’d get to my destination. The real aggravation came when I was in Toronto to return the car to the airport. I got to the airport (so I knew where I was supposed to be), then I needed to fill the rental car with gas. Look for the closest gas station on Google Maps and away we go. When you hear “Re-routing” in Toronto and it’s leading you to the freeway, you know you took a wrong turn. I was getting further and further away from the airport, following these prompts, and I was getting quite ticked. Why are you taking me this far away from the airport!!! Surely there is a gas station closer! (Again you can hear the irritated sigh from Ms. Google). But I kept following her prompts and eventually ended up right back where I started. Now I’m really ticked because it’s telling me to turn right again and that’s what got me in trouble in the first place! Then, right across the street on the corner, was the gas station I missed the first time around. “Turn right….your destination is on the right (you idiot…I’m sure she meant)”.

April 5th of this year, I was re-routed. While the end destination has always been the same for both Lorna and me, the route to get there went blank. Lorna was there….at home. My route had further to go. GPS shows you the way it knows to get to your destination, but sometimes that road doesn’t exist any more, or becomes a very narrow, bumpy path. It’s been washed out, under construction, or the map needs to be updated because that road has been changed. The route Lorna and I were on together vanished in my arms that morning. I know I’m supposed to keep going….I’m just not getting the signal yet. I’m down in a valley, waiting to come through the other side so I can regain the GPS (God’s Positioning System). It’s not that the signal isn’t there, that hasn’t changed, I’m just having a hard time finding it. His system knew I’d have to go this way, even though He didn’t put the roadblocks in. It’s a slow, winding, bumpy trail for the time being….one I never wanted to go on or thought I’d be on. The bumps and rocks I’m hitting on this road will be marks on me for the rest of my journey and I know the scratches will fade in time but will never go away….and I don’t want them to. I know that when I don’t know which way to turn, just look for the Son and it will get me started in the right direction. The destination hasn’t changed… route has.

“Your destination is straight ahead.”


You can write Terry via Messenger

Giving Support Grief/Dispair


David knapp

WSN: Grief Relief with David Knapp (A Guest Column)

“Till death do us part…” I repeated. Those words seemed to echo throughout the vast college chapel following my promise and then my bride’s commitment. The witnesses, family, and friends of our wedding stood by smiling. Our parents sat with proud looks on their faces. In all honestly, however, I only viewed those words as a symbol of commitment. I did not think I would experience that part of those important words, let alone do it twice.

Ruth and I had never been happier than we were that delightful day in July.

Our wedding crowned three years of getting acquainted through writing letters and occasional long-distance phone calls. Looking back, this strengthened our relationship because it forced both of us to express our hearts, feelings, and beliefs on paper without the distraction of the physical. That was great for my growth both emotionally with my wife and spiritually with the Lord.

The proof of the depth of our relationship revealed itself in the ensuing years of life. We were not only committed to each other, but we understood each other. We did, indeed, marry our best friend. To keep our relationship growth on a “roll,” we spent every one of our wedding anniversaries—alone—discussing the “state of our union.”

But the day would come when I dreaded our tradition. It occurred the summer following Ruth’s cancer diagnosis, surgeries, chemotherapy, and our loss of “normal.” Those events proved to be the biggest challenge to our relationship to date. Up to this point, our love had been a mutual give and receive. Ruth was so drained both physically and emotionally that she had nothing left to give—either to our four young children or me. Thirty-three is a young age to be facing a life-threatening disease.

Finally, for the first time, I sensed our relationship changing, and it hurt me in that realization. Ruth was no longer able to contribute to our relationship as before. And, in brutal honesty, I found myself questioning my love for her simply because things seemed to be one-sided for the first time.

Soon after, my dreaded “state of our union” meeting came. Sure enough, Ruth asked how I had been during the throes of the most challenging days that winter. I hesitantly yet openly shared with her how I had struggled and how God met me. She simply said, “I thought so. It’s okay.”

The following six years were days and weeks filled with hope and disappointment. We faced treatments and then recurrences, over and over.

The most memorable time happened again during the “state of our union” talk that next July. Following an unforgettable day on the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan, we sat talking. During a warm embrace, Ruth softly said, “I have never felt so at one with you.”

Three short months later, I watched her take her last breath. I did not know a human could hurt so much. Within days I became aware of this hole in my soul that seemed permanent.

Losing a spouse has many aspects to it that are not always understood by many. Indeed, there is the death and physical loss of that person leaving a void in your life. Theirs is also a loss of intimacy in communication. I had no one to tell even small things that Ruth would appreciate hearing. My most significant loss, however, was the loss of the relationship. It seemed that in addition to grief due to the death of a friend, I had lost the close relationship we had. Love songs were next to impossible for me to enjoy.

A year later, God brought along a godly widow lady to the school where I work, who swept me off my feet. What a beautiful lady!

The next year Judith and I found ourselves in a large church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with six sons on one side and two daughters and Judith’s sister on the other. Again, the room echoed our vows, “Till death do us part.”

These words had a much deeper meaning to both of us. We had both experienced this hard truth to the fullest. However, even with that, we idealistically viewed the reality of it happening again as being a lifetime away.

Now, the process of blending eight teenagers became twice the task either of us had imagined. Yes, the volume was an issue. When you bring two families together, they bring their baggage along. That meant twice as many problems. The growth and mistakes of our kids only drove us to the Lord and each other. We learned early on to talk about everything, no matter how hard the subject. We reviewed the development of each of our kids every three to

six months.

The joys and challenges we experienced in our successful blending of families from two different countries and cultures will have to be addressed later. I need to fast forward sixteen years from our wedding day.

Judith’s health began to be of concern. We spent five years chasing symptoms from doctor to doctor. We intentionally worked hard on her health, even though we did not know what we were fighting. Once again, we faced this issue together.

She had to have emergency surgery. During which the doctor called me in the waiting room. He said, “Mr. Knapp, I am sorry. I am seldom surprised but I found a very mean looking cancer tumor in Judith.” I immediately knew she was going to die. I sat down and sobbed uncontrollably for nearly an hour. My crying continued daily from that day in August ‘till Christmas day.

The next day a full-body scan exposed cancerous spots on her lungs and a large, stage-four tumor on her pancreas. With that news, Judith asked, “Does that mean I am going to die?” I teared up and nodded “yes” as I leaned over for a long sobbing embrace.

Judith and I talked about everything. This time was no different. The next four days in the hospital were full of time we spent mourning her impending death together.

Gradually we communicated with our eight children and their families that they needed to do whatever it took to come to see Mom/Grandma soon before pain medication made it hard for her to be alert. I watched, monitored, and participated in each one’s mourning. Some of our grandchildren wept in my arms.

A week before she left for heaven, Judith and I were talking quietly at her bedside when a tear trickled down the side of her face. Through her medicated fog, she whispered, “I’m sorry I have to die.” Now the tears were running down my cheeks. I assured her it was okay and that I would be fine. I gave her permission to go on without me and that I would be along soon.

Early Sunday morning late in October, Judith leaped into the arms of Jesus.

I was alone again. The loneliness was deafening.


Dr David Knapp is a certified grief coach and founder of Grief Relief Ministries. His professional career has been with a religious non-profit organization that includes traveling abroad, conference speaker and administrator and professor at the collegiate level. He has had the unfortunate experience of losing two wives to cancer. David is the author of the book: I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY: Being a Better Friend to Those Who Experience Loss which is available on Amazon. You can reach him through his webpage; or the email,

Grief/Dispair Moving Forward

Losing My And

Terry rempel

WSN: Guest Golumn by Terry Rempel

The other Sunday at church, a friend gave me an envelope with their Christmas picture card and synopsis of this past year for their family. She told me, tearfully, how hard it was to just write my name on the envelope, instead of Terry & Lorna, it was just Terry Rempel. Reminded me of what I thought about shortly after Lorna passed away in April. I’ve lost my “and.”

Words paint pictures; they reveal stories. You can have boring photos and boring stories, but you add certain words, and the stories get more life, more impact. “AND” is a term that makes you think there is more coming, more to this story. If the teller of a story says “AND” and empathizes it, the listener leans forward to hear what’s coming next, or, like Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.”

When we’re little kids, we were part of the “and” for our family. For me, it was Henry & Anne AND family. I was an and with Henry, Anne, and my sister Debbie. Sometimes, we are part of the comma; sometimes, we are an and. We get a bit older, and we get our own mail with our own name on it. There is no and at that time, but we are pleased to get the recognition we are growing up. The invite to a relative’s wedding is another good example. Then we get a bit older, and it moves to Terry AND escort! WOW! We are so grown up; we get to have an AND to bring along! It didn’t take too long to become Terry AND Lorna, and I loved it. There was more to my story than just me. I loved to get invitations for us! We were a couple. I was grown up. The AND was someone who loved me, wanted to be part of my life as much as I wanted to be part of hers. She was my AND, and I was her AND. We got to send out invitations to the wedding of Lorna AND Terry. There was much more to our story—even napkins with Lorna and Terry on them.

Then our story grew with the addition of “And Family.” The family grew up, moved on to have their own “AND.” They would always be a part of our AND, but they were starting their own as well. Then it was back down to Lorna AND Terry. For forty years. I lost my, AND on April 5, 2018, at 5:12 am. Many of the sympathy cards I received were addressed to Terry Rempel AND family. The AND that had been with me for forty years was now gone. That part of our story ended as far as everyone else was concerned.

It’s been eight months now, 36 weeks, that I have been missing my AND Lorna. In the mail, in conversations, in life. I look at pictures of her smiling back at me; I have many, always on my computer and cell phone. When I get those envelopes with just my name on them, it just doesn’t seem right. And I get to the place I live, walk in the door, and it’s just…..empty. I sometimes still call out, “Hi Babe,” hoping to hear her voice, but knowing it won’t come in this lifetime. I still call it “home,” but it hasn’t felt like home in a long time…..8 months to be exact. It’s a place I exist and some days barely.

My AND is gone.


Terry Rempel can be contacted using MESSENGER.

Family Grief/Dispair Pets

Who Rescued Whom?

Who Rescued Whom?

WSN-MO: Guest Columnist, Tom Peyton

I have been on the Widowers Journey for over four months, and although I struggle at times, I never stop moving forward. Even though the journey is challenging, I wake up each day and push forward determined to pay tribute to my wife by following the mantra of Herb Knoll: “Celebrate your wife’s life by living yours.”

Two weeks ago, I decided to begin my search online for a prospective dog to adopt. I asked my local shelter about a three-legged pet whom I thought would be a great companion. Unfortunately, he was adopted and is currently living with a beautiful family.

I started my search again and found a beautiful lab mix; part Great Dane, part St. Bernard, possibly Dalmatian-Once. Will not know for certain until I get the DNA test back.

Since he piqued my curiosity, I decided to arrange a meet and greet. Petey, as he is known, was playful, affectionate, and curious; I thought he might be my new furry companion.

We went for a long walk, and he kept looking back at me; I think he needed some reassurance we would be a good match.

I learned from his foster mom he was abandoned in Tennessee and has been in Upstate New York for about a week. She told me he is good with other dogs, likes children, and enjoys being an 80-pound lap dog. I went home to think about it, and within hours I knew he was the one. Three days later, I was picking up my new friend: Petey.

He was so excited when I met him again at the shelter. With his head bobbing and tail spinning faster than the final spin cycle on the washing machine, my new friend had chosen me. I brought my granddaughter for the trip home, and she stayed with him at the rear of my truck. He felt very much at home after sniffing and smelling every part of the truck. When he arrived at my home, my other grandchildren welcomed him with inexplicable joy. I do not know what I enjoyed more, watching him chase them through the house or watching them cuddle and caress him while showing him tons of love.

Indeed, my wife played a role in Petey, now being part of my life. A few months before she died, she made me promise to save a few animals. I told her I would start with one.

Dogs are remarkable creatures; they learn to trust again after being hurt and abandoned by someone they thought would give them a forever home. They provide unconditional love that transcends time and space. They teach us how to start over on a new path in life and how we can heal from a tragedy.

As I move forward in my journey accompanied by a new furry friend, I realize I did not rescue him; instead, he saved me. He is giving me a purpose, a meaning, and a desire to move forward each day.

I think my wife knew that when she asked me to save an animal.

Strength and support to all our brothers.


Known as Tom Peytom, (pay the property man) for over 25 years, Tom has owned and managed SG Property Management of Saratoga Inc. He and his late wife manage over 40 properties, and they service over 125 tenants throughout the Capital Region of New York State. Tom became a member of the WSN-MO on May 17th. 2020. You can write Tom c/o Facebook messenger.

Writers Wanted:

If you like to write or have something you would like to share in the written word that would help our members, take pen to paper. Keep it under 500 words and send it along with your photo (Headshot). Your words could be gracing WSN-MO for men and our public page, WSN.

Giving Support Grief/Dispair

Simple Grief


Want to help someone in grief? Put these 10 things into practice and I guarantee that you will be a comfort and blessing in supporting anyone who is grieving.

1. Be present, now and in the future

2. Let them know you are there to hurt with them

3. Don’t try to “fix” the griever

4. Say very little (there are no magic words) … Listen and validate their pain

5. Avoid unsolicited intellectualizing, rationalizing, scripturalizing or spiritualizing of their loss

6. Grant grace and tolerance to allow them to grieve in their own way

7. Ask what you can do right now that might help them

8. Place no expectations or timetables on their grief

9. Keep saying the name and share stories with them of their loved one who they will always actively continue to love.

10. Don’t try to help them get over it, continue following these steps long term in support of helping them get through it

WSN – WSN – Words from my Alan Pedersen, Inspirational Speaker on Grief/Award-winning songwriter at Angels Across the USA.

Faith/Religion Healing

Help from a Higher Power


An Excerpt from The Widower’s Journey – Chapter 5

(Aside: While Chapter 5 may be one of the shortest chapters in my book, The Widower’s Journey, it is, in my view, the most powerful. It also receives the greatest number of favorable comments from readers. I pray it serves you well.)

This chapter was written for those who seek to help their healing through spirituality. I’ll share views and stories from our team of contributing widowers on the role their religious and spiritual beliefs had in their journeys, and how it eased their grief. Readers will also be introduced to our team of religious experts, including two Christian ministers, one Rabbi, and a Roman Catholic priest. Though I found comfort in my faith and will encourage widowers to renew and deepen their faith to help their recoveries, this is an honest look at religion. Some widowers will openly express their anger toward God and their reasons for discontinuing the practice of their faith.

Just as we said in Chapter 2, there isn’t one path to working through grief, there is no one path for healing through faith. As Rabbi Alexis Pearce tells us, “spirituality is a very delicate, personal and intimate thing.” So if you’re reading this book to help a widower you know, and you feel religion might do him some good, suggest it gingerly. Maybe invite him to play a round of golf in your church golf league, or ask him to help you with a church volunteer project.

The Bible speaks plainly on the help God gives those who grieve. Pastor Doug Fultz believes God is especially close to people who are heartbroken. He quoted Psalm 3:19 to me: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” which comforted me. And the Bible calls upon the religious community to help those who have lost someone dear. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). And we of faith

are comforted that the Bible assures us that someday we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven.

I cannot put into words the role of faith in healing our spiritual wounds better than Pastor Ken Hagin. Pastor Hagin says that at its most powerful, faith helps us establish a personal relationship with God. “It is within personal relationships that we experience loss, and consequently, it is within personal relationships where we find comfort and, more importantly, personal peace. God wants to be the provider of the peace that is being sought; so as we continue on our journey through the most difficult times in our lives, we need to remember it is not in the inanimate rules of religion where one finds comfort but through a personal relationship with God.”

I learned how widowers found many different ways for their faith to help them. Widower Quentin Strode, a man of religious strength, says: “Through the tough times, based on my religious beliefs, I know I will see my beloved Shanda again.


The Widower’s Journey is available on in paperback and all digital formats.

Children Family Giving Support Grief/Dispair

A Widower’s Letter


Widower Ed Hersh (Texas) shares a powerful letter he wrote following the passing of his beautiful bride, Shellie.  Ed’s letter speaks volumes about the plight of the 2.7 million widowers in America.  He has authorized me to share it with you below.

“Hi Bernie,

“It was very nice of you to call me yesterday afternoon. You sounded perplexed when I told you that I am still on a roller coaster.  I thought that writing might be easier for me to attempt to share what I am going through and how my life has been permanently impacted.

“Loosing Dad and Shellie a month apart of each other has been more than most people can handle, myself included.  You know that Dad and I were very close.  Shellie and I were married just months short of 25 years—an accomplishment by all standards of today.

“In May, Jonathan graduated college, an event that Shellie had been looking forward to for the last three years.  It was one of two goals she set to live for when she was diagnosed in April, 2008.  Watching Jonathan march in procession and receive his diploma was both joyful and tearful.  The dinner Shellie and I planned in Dallas went on as planned, but not without tears.  No way could I have had a party at the house to honor Jonathan having just lost Shellie.

“Life as a single parent is not easy as I’m sure you have heard from Belinda.  Being a single parent of children who have lost their mother is even more difficult.  We will go through life celebrating more graduations, engagements, weddings, births and bar mitzvahs—all joyous but without their mother who died at a young age.

“After being together for 25 years, I am now without my partner and lost.  Marriage is the joining of two halves to make a whole and I am now half again.  Who am I and what do I want?  I don’t know. 

“I am alone, don’t want to burden my sons and am lonely, yet not ready for large social gatherings.  I go to shul weekly for Kaddish for Dad and Shellie, yet I leave with an empty and unfilled inner self.  I have seen counselors and rabbis.  Yet I am unable to truly communicate and receive the words of solace that I seek.  Had I only lost one I would have had the other to truly comfort me.  Now, there is no one.  I am told that it takes time and I’m sure that that is true.  My world has turned inside out and I am searching–for what I don’t know, but am told that I will know when I find it.  Friends and acquaintances can not understand, not that I expect them to, but they have abandoned me for many reasons: not knowing what to say or my regressing inward or not wanting a single person in the mix or whatever, I don’t know. 

“Anyhow, I did appreciate your call and thanks for listening.


THANK YOU Ed for sharing your words with those who turn to the Widower’s Support Network for understanding and comfort.

Giving Support

Why Widowers Grieve Differently, and Some Resources To Help

By: Herb Knoll

Author: The Widower’s Journey

Widowers are vulnerable. Very vulnerable! In fact, according to research performed by Dr. Justin Denney of Washington State University, widowed men have a 1.6 to 2.0 times the risk of death by suicide, compared to otherwise similar married men, and they’ll do so within two years of their wife’s death. Still, other research suggests the rate may be even higher. And that’s just the beginning. Widowers have an increased rate of diabetes, hypertension and more.

Widowers are at risk of being diagnosed with depression, which can negatively impact virtually every aspect of their lives. From raising children to maintaining their career, handling personal finances to ongoing relationships with others, and yes, dating, the challenges are many. Sadly, few men are equipped to handle any of these.

“If we’re all going to die, why is it that we are so ill-prepared to deal with it?” said John Von Der Haar (68) who lost his wife Mary Jane in 2013. Good question.

While there is no cut and dry answer, there are clues we can point to which have contributed to the problems widowers face.

Social Norms About Men and Grieving

From the time little boys are learning to walk, they are repeatedly told how “boys don’t cry” or “Be a man!” Much like our fathers and grandfathers who came back from wars, and rarely spoke of their days in uniform, many widowed men don’t believe they are allowed to cry or grieve outside of the shadows of our society. It is as though they are seeking permission to grieve. Until they feel they can, they hold their feelings mostly to themselves, offering common phrases such as “I’m OK, just leave me alone with my thoughts.”

When family, friends, and colleagues leave a widower alone, they are contributing to the creation of an environment that is likely to make the widower’s grief more challenging to navigate. Frankly, it is the worst thing that can happen.

Widowers and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Master Sergeant Chris Sweet – USAF (ret) has worked with military personnel who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event. When asked if he thought widowers are at risk of a PTSD diagnosis following the loss of their spouse, Sweet said, “Absolutely.

Sweet should know, he lost his wife Danielle (30) who contracted Leukemia in 2009, after the U.S. Air Force deployed her to Afghanistan.

According to Sweet, “All of the symptoms PTSD sufferers experience are exactly what I went through following the passing of Danielle. It’s no different.”

Men need a purpose. To provide, protect and love their mate. When a wife dies, many men seem to lose their reason for living, providing the basis from which other problems can grow.

Limited Support and Resources for Widowers

With so many problems facing widowers, you would think there would be a host of self-help materials available for them. I felt so too when in 2008, I visited a large box bookstore retailer following the death of my wife, Michelle to pancreatic cancer. “Mister, we don’t have a damn thing for you.” These were the words spoken to me by the clerk after he had searched his store’s database for available titles.

The fact is, the publishing industry has abandoned men by their refusal to publish books which address the needs of men. Men don’t buy books,” multiple publishers have told me. My response: “Men certainly can’t buy what isn’t on the shelf.”

The Widower’s Journey – A Book For Widowers

For all of the reasons cited and more, I elected to leave my 38-year career in banking and dedicated my life to the comfort and support of widowers. After nine years of research and writing, I published The Widower’s Journey in 2017.

The Widower’s Journey is a self-help book for widowers and those who love them, featuring the candid advice and best practices as expressed by over forty contributing widowers. The book’s contributors hail from across America and represent a cross-section of social, economic and geographic backgrounds, as well as a variety of circumstances surrounding the passing of their wives. Supporting the contributing widowers is a team of experts from the fields of law, psychology, sociology, financial planning, religion and more.

If you are a widower, or should you know a widower that you want to comfort or assist, The Widower’s Journey is the perfect guide to give them. Available on in paperback and in all digital formats.

Widowers Support Network (WSN)

You will also find additional support available at Widowers Support Network, (WSN). There are four ways to access the resources WSN makes available, all of which are free.

  1. “Register” on the WSN website at Loaded with helpful information, and a BLOG on its homepage where you are invited to present your personal questions or share one or more of your best practices with our community of widowers and their supporters.
  • “Like” Widowers Support Network on Facebook. Registered members on our website (#1 above) are invited to have their deceased spouse “Remembered” during the anniversary month of their passing on this Facebook page complete with your spouse’s photograph.
  • “Follow” us on Twitter @WidowersJourney – An excellent source for more healing resources.

By completing all four steps, you will receive numerous comforting suggestions, time-sensitive grief recovery tips and best practices from widowed men and various experts.

You are encouraged to write me at or by contacting my office at 615.579.8136.

Addiction Health

WSN: Talking About Your Health

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Think On This. If it sounds familiar, seek help.

My Opioid Addiction

Posted by jdiakiw @jdiakiw

My body is my major negative asset. I am riddled with pain. At a 5, 6 or 7 out of 10 on my pain scale, I still function normally, just living through it. At a 10, I suffer in bed. As a youth I had occasional, classic aural/nausea migraines. They became more frequent and less severe, till they morphed into chronic daily headaches. Knee pain resulted in a knee replacement. But arthritis continues to attack my lower back and neck. My piriformis muscles too, add to the relentless pain.I probably saw a hundred medical practitioners from both traditional medicine,-pain or neurology specialists, to alternative treatment, from acupuncture to cupping. Nothing worked except drugs… especially when Oxycodone was introduced to the medical market.My doctor was very enthusiastic. There was a medical mantra they all bought into that was clearly promoted by the drug company.They believed that there was a difference between those who used Oxycodone for recreational use who could be addicted, but if used for pain and no high was experienced, you could not become addicted, you were only ‘dependent’. I never experienced any high on opioids. Somehow it was assumed that ‘dependent’ was a mild issue that could be easily rectified if necessary. You could just quit anytime. I started with Percocets a few times a day. It soon was not enough. My doc prescribed Oxycontin. It was soon not enough. A friend had a Fentanyl patch. My doc said he only prescribed a patch for terminal cancer patients. He upped the Oxycontin dose… again… and again. I continued to complain of pain. Finally he added a Fentanyl patch. I began taking 160 mg of combined Oxycontin and Percocets, plus the patch.I was a drug addict. I remember driving up the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto, in bumper to bumper, stop and go, rush hour traffic, in a drug stupor. I fell asleep at a pause and was only awakened by car horns urging me to move on. It was time to stop.A pain specialist advised moving into a residential rehab facility. I opted for the do-it-yourself option. I researched the process and decided to do it on my own. It took me 6 months to get off the opioids. I asked my wife what it was like when I was getting off the drug. “You lost your mind. You kept saying to everyone you saw the Buddha on the road. You wandered up and down the beach at the cottage buttonholing people and talking nonsense and breaking down crying.”My cottage neighbor, a doctor, who observed me in this state, called it ‘ebullient emotion’, typical when patients have strokes or when in shock. I burst into bouts of convulsive weeping without any reason. I did that frequently during my detox.I reduced my dose by 5 mg a week. It was agony. After a couple of months the detox twisted my mind. I was nearly mad. Even when I was down to 5 mg per day it was excruciating. I wanted to give up and get a strong dose, but I persisted.I remember talking to Laurie, a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart in Penetanguishene and asked her if there was anything I could take to get me over the agony on my last 5mg. She asked how much I had reduced from. “160 mg and a Fentanyl patch,” I replied.“On your own?’ she asked, incredulously.“Yes,” I said.“That’s unheard of,” she said. Her face signaled shock.Every time I hear one of many current statistical opioid stories on TV, I am reminded of my addiction and detox. For example: * There were 2,833 opioid related deaths in Ontario last year. * In the USA, there were more than 70,200 overdose deaths in just 2017. More than 130 people died every day from opioid- related drug overdoses.On TV as I wrote this, someone declared, “One hundred people die from gun violence in the USA every day”. 130 from opioids! 100 from gun violence! Are these not preventable?I have been free of opioids for a few years now. The pain persists but I am better off than where I was. My wife had nightmares about my drugged period. “I thought we were going to lose you.” I am still here.By the way, I really did see the Buddha on the road.

Moving Forward

Widower: It Will Never Be the Same Again!


One of the hardest intellectual and emotional tipping points to achieve in a widower’s healing grief journey is when you turn your thought away from the past toward the future. 

Five years ago, I began my grief journey. For several months I was buried in stomach wrenching physical and mental pain which included my constantly looking backwards. During this time, I first reluctantly, and then willingly experienced pain I had never had before.

I did everything I could to hold on to my wife and her memories. This included talking to her, listening to old taped messages, burying myself in our old photos, and engaging in memorial projects for her such as reorganizing her craft room… as if I expected her to return and use it again.

During this time, I could not accept her death. In my mind, she was still with me despite all the evidence to the contrary. At every turn I wondered what she would advise me to do, I wondered if she could still hear or see me, and I wondered if she was somehow still by my side.

I sleep-walked through the motions of settling all our legal, accounting, and personal affairs such as:

  • changing the names on all our accounts, titles, and wills,
  • notifying everyone of her passing,
  • selling her car, and
  • clearing out her closets, drawers, and knick knacks.

But eventually I came to a point where I realized that I had to change my focus from the past (where I was repeatedly revisiting the pain) to the future when I might start to live and enjoy life again. 

As I was in the middle of starting up a Men’s Grief Group at Pathways Hospice, I met with Joe Maio who started a similar group in Colorado Springs. The first thing he told me was to hold on to one fact, “It will never be the same again.” He told me that once you accept this fact you can begin the healing process. I took this to heart and made it a mantra repeated at every meeting of our Men’s Grief Group.

This acceptance of your new reality, this acceptance that she will never return, and this acceptance of your loss allows you to shift your focus from the pain to the healing. You are not suddenly well because of this realization, but you are able to begin the work of becoming more whole again.

Does that mean that she is no longer a part of your life? No! As I say in my book (Widower to Widower), “My belief is that, for us to move forward, we need to know that we do not have to leave anyone behind.”

You can hold on to her memory, you can still love her, and you can still honor her. But that does not mean constantly dwelling on the past as you did during the early deep grieving phase. It does mean that you will make room for new activities, new people in your life, and new ways to celebrate life going forward.

© Copyright 2020 Fred Colby

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