Categories
Family Finding Purpose Giving Support Grief/Dispair

Husband – Warrior – Brother

Terrell Whitener

WSN-MO: A Few Minutes with Terrell Whitener

During a recent reflection period, my thoughts turned to just how I have ended up where I am at in life. As a very grateful and appreciative man of my station in life, these reflection times usually end up as an exercise in gratitude and not a time for regret.

Many times, these sessions end up being a catalyst for a future article, and this my brother is one such article. At the conclusion of this exercise, I came away with three defining roles that have contributed significantly to my status as a widowed man. I started as a husband, moved to a period of being a warrior, and now reside proudly as a member of this brotherhood.

Let me begin with my role as a husband. In my life, I have had the pleasure of achieving many things. I say this not to be boastful but from a place of gratitude. Professionally I have benefited from the guidance of wonderful mentors, talented staff, the providence of the right timing, and a small modicum of talent mixed in. But one of the greatest benefits that I had was the counsel and support of my wife, Robyn. I have said many times on these pages that no one ever believed in me more than Robyn did. I am sure that my seeming hire wire act of risk-taking drove her crazy at times, but she wore it well.

The warrior aspect of my life manifested itself when Robyn’s health challenges occurred. Over what was nine years of concern with the last 18 months serving as her primary caretaker, we waged what I felt was a winnable war on her health, both physically and emotionally. I was dogmatic about her care and equally dogmatic about her happiness. I felt this was the least I could do for the woman I loved. While I relish the trips we took and the comfortable life we built, I would burn it to the ground if it got in the way of taking care of my Robyn. Like most marriages, we had our moments. But I have come to realize we had a “mature marriage,” one that was not without flaw, but one that always found its way to do the right thing for each other. Sometimes you must let the person have their way even though you disagree but support them and be there for them despite the outcome. That was the bedrock that forged the strength that held us together the last 18 months of our marriage. But alas, I was not victorious in winning the war to keep Robyn alive. Despite my best intentions and my best efforts, I did not have the final say. But boy, did I try. That my brothers, I can accept.

Last but certainly not least is the brotherhood aspect of my life. I spend a lot of time sharing my experiences with creating a life after loss. Sharing that story has found a comfortable place in my life. Like many, I am often lonely. Unlike many, I have not found true love again. But I have a great and comfortable place in the brotherhood. I have biological brothers and my kindred spirit brothers that I am sharing this article with today. I am so grateful for both sets of my brothers. They give me a soft-landing place from time to time. They provide me an outlet to share my grief and loss as well as my hope for the future.

So, there you have it. Husband, Warrior, Brother. All roles in which I comfort. Like many who will honor me by reading this article, we all will find a way of defining our existence, or at least I hope so. As always, I welcome your thoughts and responses. And as always, I want to let you know that I appreciate and want nothing but peace for each of you. Until next time.

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Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. You can reach Terrell at his newly redesigned website thedebriefgroup365.com. There you will find all my social media contacts or through the Widow Support Network.

Categories
Family Giving Support Grief/Dispair

THE REAL DEFINITION OF WINNING

LArry Ahrens

WSN: Coffee and Conversation with Larry Ahrens

One unsavory reality of losing your wife is dealing with the estate details, relatives, and lawyers. What this process does is smack you in your grieving face one more time with cold reality. Your wife is gone, and now we’re taking inventory and putting a value on things.

Here’s the disclaimer with my column today. My situation is unique. It probably doesn’t reflect your situation. But the purpose of this story is to help you find the “win” when you may have lost by any other standard.

Let me set the stage. When I met my wife over 25 years ago, she lived in a beautiful home nestled in the foothills of our city. When our relationship got serious, I sold my house and moved in with her. The house was always hers. I knew that from the beginning. The house was left to her one and only son. I knew that from the start.

When she passed, I moved out of the house. Number one, I didn’t want to live there anymore. The house WAS her. Everything in the house was about her and our life together. I didn’t want to stay there anymore. My wonderful friends helped me take care of her clothing and personal possessions. We arranged an estate sale for the rest of the household items, followed by the home being sold.

Fast forward now to the probate process. This is where it gets very cold and calculating. Lawyers are now involved. Values are assigned to the property. Dollar signs are attached to things. What’s that sofa worth? Who did it belong to? What was her property, your property, and what was your joint property? You’re forced to participate in this exercise even if you don’t want to.

Her son, whom I have admired and loved, turned very hostile towards me in this process. Hostile as in ugly hostile. We’re wrapping up the probate negotiations now. And on paper and in a financial sense, I lost, and he won. Sure, I’m getting some dollars out of this. He’s getting far more, so he believes he won.

At the same time, did I really lose? I was lucky enough to be married to a spectacular woman that loved me as much as I loved her. We got to live in a lovely home where we entertained our friends, welcomed our family, and spent magical holiday times together. The house was very much our sanctuary and our blessed abode. As I look back, it was a marvelous 25 years with her in a warm, loving home. It was a chapter in my life that I’ll never forget.

To me, her son may have gained financially. But he really lost on the most important things – family, memories and just being a decent person. By any measure, that’s a big loss when you get right down to it.

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Larry Ahrens is a radio (KDAZ 96.9 FM) and television (KCHF-TV) personality in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his show, “Coffee and Conversation,” is broadcast-ed. Larry’s articles appear every other Thursday, right here, on WSN-MO. You can send private messages to him on Facebook.

Categories
Giving Support Receiving Support

Asking for Help

Jeff

WSN: Widower, Wounded, Warrior, Waking and Walking

by Jeff Ziegler

Ever see a movie when the family is driving in the car, and they’re lost? The dad is at the wheel, the wife in the passenger seat, and the kids are in the back? Stress is rising; kids are hungry and bored; the wife asks the husband to stop and ask for directions.

But he won’t. He does not stop. Dad just keeps driving—maybe even in circles—because he is too proud, too “stuck” in his own ego, to stop and ask for help.

The thing is, I asked a lot of people what they would tell themselves if they could go back to those early days of widowhood. Guess what…? It wasn’t only the men who said they would “ask for help.”

Why can’t we ask for help?

Why are we—the collective we, men, and women, widowed and non-widowed—so reticent to ask for help when we need it? I’m not talking about merely asking directions, either.

As humans, we are truly capable of doing anything; except for flying, although I’ve seen videos of people jumping off mountains wearing those cool flight suits, so even that may be possible. We can pretty much do anything we set our minds to do. But we “can’t” ask for help.

Henry Ford infamously said, “whether you can or whether you can’t, you’re right.” But this isn’t always a helpful way to live (no pun intended).

Just get on with it!

We can do anything. We can feel our emotions, and we can think about what we want and how we want to do it. But we often overthink. We procrastinate about what to do and when to do it.

We wallow in thoughts based on fear and uncertainty—thinking and overthinking about the possibilities of something not going right.

When we were first widowed, some of us immediately knew we would eventually be okay. We knew that the grief would be all-consuming for a while, then the waves would slow and be less frequent.

Some of us never allowed for grief in the first place. We invented stories in our heads, “I have to be strong for the kids,” “I have to work to pay the bills,” “I don’t have the (insert words here) to deal with the grief, and I don’t want to think about it.”

Some of us dived right into numbing and distracting behaviors—binge-watching TV, drinking, dating, work, dealing with the kids, eating, running, exercise, drugs, etc. Others sat with their pain—some wallowed in it while others simply felt it.

Please ask!

But we are not built to ask for help. So, we don’t. Maybe we could just ask ourselves, “What kind of help do I need?” We might even have a reasonable answer.

As someone recently wrote, “I didn’t need a 10th casserole; I needed someone to sit and listen to me.” But why didn’t you ask? The answer: Fear.

It’s a much broader issue than it seems. It seems there are two key reasons why we are afraid to ask for help. First, we fear rejection, that your plea for assistance went unanswered or not heard by anyone. And second, we fear judgment; and that judgment can be unkind—being seen as needy by others or one’s self-judgment of feeling weak for asking for help, etc.

Note that nearly every widow and widower I asked said they would tell their “newly widowed self” to ask for help.

So here is a request I have of you and a promise I’m making to all my fellow widows and widowers: be honest. With yourself and with others. If you can, offer help to each other when someone asks. And if you have the strength, be vulnerable and honest enough to ask for help when you need it. Be courageous.

We all have a great deal to offer this world. Each of us has gifts to offer and being widows doesn’t mean we have to horde those gifts or hide them (and our true self) from the world.

Being Honest

Being honest and sharing is being caring and empathetic to the needs of others who—believe it or not—are exactly like us. We all know that we need help sometimes. Do not be afraid to simply ask, be vulnerable, courageous, and don’t suffer. Ask for help if you need it. Sometimes by asking for support, we end up helping others by opening them to the possibilities of using their gifts.

If you ever need help, ask. I’m here. So are many others. I may not be able to help with everything, but I will listen. I will hear you. Know that just asking is a step forward.

Lots of love and hugs to you all.

Namaste.

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Jeff Ziegler’s column can be found every other Wednesday here on WSN-MO. You can write Jeff at jeff.ziegler@ymail.com.

Categories
Giving Support Moving Forward

What’s really important. (hint…it’s not the election)

Jim Winner

WSN: Some Winning Thoughts by Jim Winner

Well, the months of hate-filled rhetoric, vitriolic media ads, and all that went with it came to a head yesterday. I have no idea when we will learn who won the presidential election. I, for one, am glad it is over.

I love America. I love our freedoms. I cherish the privileges and blessings that come with being an American citizen. To my international brothers and friends, we Americans are not all as crazy as you see on TV!

Over the past few months, I sat back and watched many friendships become tested and strained on social media. Political differences have created a lot of tension this season. I have been very mindful to keep my political opinions to myself. The right to vote is a wonderful privilege given to Americans. The act of voting is how we control our voice as citizens. Once we cast our ballot, we lose a lot of our control. There isn’t much we can do to prevent what our friends will think or how they will choose to cast their votes.

There’s that word again…..control. I find myself once again reminded that there’s very little in life we can control. In previous columns, I’ve talked at length about not being able to control what happens to us in life. What we can control is how we respond to the things that happen to us in life. I use the word respond because, to me, a response is an action that’s thought out and measured. A reaction, on the other hand, is often more emotional than thought through. This season is an excellent example of that. When the election is all said and done, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people, and they are going to be a lot of happy people. COVID-19 will still be here. The divisiveness in the country will still be here. The pandemic induced grief that our whole world feels will still be here.

I think this is a good time for us all to focus on what we can control. To me, right now, the number one thing we can control is our attitude. Regardless of your political beliefs and preferences, we still live in a wonderful country. If your candidate wins the election, I offer you my congratulations and promise to support him as my president. If your candidate doesn’t win the election, I hope you will likewise support him as your president.

We’ve all got a lot of healing to do in this country. By controlling how we treat others in their time of political grief, we can each do our part in restoring an America first attitude. We always talk about grief, and grief is how we process loss. It’s no different in this case. Respect those who are grieving because their candidate lost. Remember, we’re Americans first.

Wishing you all a wonderful day today. Remember to choose joy.

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Jim Winner’s thoughts appear every other Thursday. You can write to him by Private Messenger.

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair

WHEN DEATH DOES US PART

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.

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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; http://www.griefreliefministries.com or the email, dkworld@yahoo.com

Categories
Giving Support Healing Moving Forward

Trust your instincts.

Jim Winner

WSN-MO: Some Winning Thoughts by Jim Winner

Good morning, brothers! You may recall my last article. It was about changing residences in Florida. It spoke of hard but necessary decisions, the need to face those decisions head-on, and make them. Since that last article, I have officially become the owner of a condo on Turtle Beach in Sarasota. I am excited at the prospect of this opportunity, but I am also mindful and aware of the changes this decision represents. I know there will be many adjustments to the newness of the area, situation, environment, etc.

I picked up the keys to the condo exactly a week ago. The first time I opened the door and walked in as an owner, I experienced a welcome sense of calm, a spirit of freshness, and a feeling of peace.

I walked out on the lanai, sat down, and looked out on the beautiful Sarasota Bay. I listened to the sounds of the water and wind. It was at that moment I knew beyond a doubt that I had made the right decision. I felt at HOME. It just felt right—every day since it feels more and more right. I am content with my decision.

As each of our collective journeys unfolds, we will ultimately face many individual decisions. Those decisions will impact people, places, and things in our lives. Most of all, those decisions will affect you. Some of the best advice I’ve seen from members of this group has been not to make any major decisions during the first year of the journey. I believe that to be wise and sage counsel. Let yourself grow slowly into this new season of life—approach significant changes in your time. As we’ve all heard time and time again, everyone has a unique timetable. When change is right, you will know. Don’t second guess your instincts. If you’re not sure, talk to someone you trust. Allow yourself to embrace and accept your new reality and new normal.

As you start to gain confidence in your new normality, look for areas where you can make changes. Make small, subtle changes at first; try new things. Start new routines. Learn to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Invest in self-care. As you feel more comfortable with yourself and your thought processes, be mindful of things you can do to create a new path for yourself. It’s brutally hard. Life’s important decisions are hard. The easiest decision to make is no decision. More often than not, however, that decision does more harm than good.

Let me encourage those you who are facing decisions and choices to trust your instincts. No one who cares about you wants you to stop living. People who love and care for you want you to continue to live. They want you to regain the ability to live a healthy and happy life.

We have all survived one of life’s most dreaded events. There’s a lot of wisdom gained through that experience. Trust that wisdom; trust your instincts. Wishing you all a happy and healthy day.

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Jim Winner’s thoughts appear every other Thursday. You can write to him by Private Messenger.

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Moving Forward

Hard choices? Make them.

Jim Winner

WSN: Some winning thoughts by Jim Winner

Last winter, I wrote an article about spending an extended time at the condominium Joyce, and I bought in Naples, Florida. You might recall it spoke a lot of loneliness, fear, adjustment, and trying to survive the first winter.

Fast forward to today. Life is good. I am in a healthy place. I consider myself blessed in that I get to spend my winters in Florida. I am a completely different person than I was a year ago. I’m no fan of dreary Indiana winters and am already looking forward to the sunshine, ocean, and all that comes with a Florida winter.

I’m looking forward to some experiences I’ve never had before. I knew I wanted to go back to Florida. I also knew I wasn’t looking forward to returning to Naples.

I have family further up the Gulf coast in Bradenton. I also have several old and new friends around Sarasota. After looking at several areas, I decided to sell the Naples condo and buy in the Sarasota area. Joyce loved Naples. She liked the dining and shopping, the beautiful neighborhoods, and the proximity to everything. I like a more laid back, “old Florida” lifestyle. I’ve always dreamed of a place close to the water. I spent several days last week looking at properties nearer to family and friends. I’m happy to report that I found a place I liked. It’s a condominium on the extreme south end of Siesta Key, at Turtle Beach. It’s cheery, and it’s light. It fronts on the Little Sarasota Bay and is 1/4 mile from the Gulf of Mexico. I made an offer which was accepted the next day. I am soon to become its owner.

Could I have kept the condo in Naples and try just to figure things out? I suppose so. Was that what I wanted to do? No. I made a very intentional decision several months ago that this is now my life to live. I am accepting my role as captain of this journey. I say that with the ultimate respect for the life Joyce and I shared. The truth is that life is over. The life that I live now is mine to embrace, savor, and enjoy.

Each of us traveling this road needs to make choices. The choices facing each of us are different. Yours may relate to keeping your home, whether you move to be closer to family, where your children go to school, what you will do with certain things, etc. My point is that we need to be sure of the choices we make are the choices that best serve us. Don’t try to live your life based on what you feel others would want you to do. This is your time. This is not the time to be worried about how the choices you make will cause others to feel. Of course, we must act responsibly and do things that are morally, fiscally, and socially acceptable. The truth is, we are all in a new season of life. A season meant to be cherished. A season meant to be lived to its fullest.

Brothers, the only direction is forward. Stay the course. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

I hope you choose joy today.

Jim Winner’s thoughts appear every other Thursday. You can write to him by Private Messenger

Categories
Finding Purpose Giving Support Grief/Dispair Loneliness

THE ALONE MOMENT

LArry Ahrens

It first hit me in the grocery store.

After Susan’s many months of illness, I was consumed with the day-to-day of the situation. Then she passed.

A few weeks after the dust settled, I’m pushing the shopping cart in the supermarket, and it finally struck me that I’m shopping for me and me alone. That’s what I’ve started calling the “alone moment” when you realize it’s just you now.

The “alone moment” can occur often, and I’ve come to expect those moments as part of the grieving process. They are constant little jabs to remind you that the life you had is over.

What we’re all left with is fighting through the “alone moments” and confronting the new life we now lead. I see in this forum that many are uncomfortable with the feeling of loneliness. Here are some things I’m doing to push back on this emotion.

Your Family and Friends Are Rooting For You

You may not realize it, but everybody that loves you is outwardly or secretly rooting for you to find happiness and fulfillment. The people that love you are watching you. Not in a judgmental way, but they are hoping to see you come through it all at some point. People who genuinely care about you also know that this will take time.

I’ve learned that you can’t underestimate this kind of love and support.

Put Something On The Calendar

My late wife was a travel agent. One of the many things she always said was, “Let’s always have a trip on our calendar.” It’s SO true! Once you’ve planned some kind of trip or scheduled an event, it lifts you. Half the fun of planning a vacation is in the planning.

Looking At All Your Options

Being alone is not the option we wanted. But it’s now the option that we have.

In Fred Colby’s book “Widower To Widower” he writes, “My belief is that, for us to move forward, we need to know that we do not have to leave anyone behind.” That’s excellent advice. I’m always going to carry my wife’s love and memory with me as I go forward doing things that I want to do.

Having said that, what I’m about to share sounds counter-intuitive. One of the things I enjoyed doing when I met Susan was aviation. I had picked up my pilot’s license a couple of years before I met her. But I gave it up for love. She was genuinely concerned about me flying and one day looked at me with those big green eyes and asked me to give it up for her.

Without going into all the details, there are several things now that I would like to do and experience. Breaking 90 on the golf course is one. You probably have deep down inside a few things you want to try.

Once you find yourself considering all of your options in this new life, then I promise you will feel less lonely and more like seeing the real you again.

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Look for Larry’s column every other Thursday. You can write Larry at larry@gostudio34.com.

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair

Simple Grief

herb-16-1

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.

Categories
Children Family Giving Support Grief/Dispair

A Widower’s Letter

herb-16-1

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.

“Ed” 

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