Categories
Grief/Dispair Loneliness Uncategorized

I Miss Us

LArry Ahrens

It’s another Wednesday night in the summer. I’m just bored. Too hot to be outside here in the desert Southwest. I’m not hungry for dinner. TV isn’t interesting, and I’m pacing the floor.
I can pretty much assume that most of you still talk to your late wife. I do every day. So tonight, I went over to her photo and took out a little of my boredom on her. Not that I’m blaming her for my doldrums. Not at all. But I just verbally expressed to her that if she were here, I wouldn’t be bored. I don’t ever remember feeling the slightest bit lost or bored when we were together.
Then I blurted out in a raised voice, “I miss us!”
At once, it occurred to me that the phrase “I miss us” probably has a lot written and expressed about it. Sure enough, a quick
Google search takes me into a whole world of “I miss us” memes, affirmations, poems, and the like.
There’s also a heartfelt song by Kenny Loggins called “I Miss Us,” and I suggest you listen to it. Just have a few Kleenex at hand. I found one graphic that reads:
Someone asked me if I missed you.
I didn’t answer.
I just closed my eyes and walked away.
And I whisper: So much.
I wish I had written that. It’s so raw, deep, and emotional in just four simple lines.
Just saying the words “I miss us” out loud has already relieved my lonely evening. It feels good to declare it and express it. It feels good to see that many words have been devoted to what I’m feeling tonight. Suddenly I don’t feel as alone, which leads me to make this point; If you’re still talking with your wife – congratulations. You’re quite normal. Dare I say you’re quite perfect in the way you express your grief for her. Poets and songwriters can undoubtedly help us find the words that show what we’re going through. But the simple words “I miss us,” said by you and me, convey just as much meaning and purpose as anything else.
I feel much better now. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go talk with Susan and tell her that she inspired me again – just like she always did when she was here with me


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 appears every other Thursday, right here, on WSN-MO. You can send private messages to him on Facebook.
To hear Kenny Loggins song, “I Miss Us,” go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSEuH281kZE

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.

__________________________________________

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.

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair Widower Awareness

Just Show Up!

Jim Winner

I have had an interesting two weeks. Last Saturday, one of my best friend’s wife died from Glioblastoma. If you know this beast, you know it is a terrible diagnosis with a brutal prognosis. Over the past several months, we have spent a lot of time on his porch, talking, drinking wine, and sharing experiences as caregivers as well as survivors.

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting with two young widowers for lunch and coffee. Both men are raising young children, have important jobs and have lost their wives in their 30’s and 40’s. I appreciated listening to their stories of loss and discovering their new normal. We had the opportunity to talk about reinvention, renewal, rebirth, and restoration. These are young men with a lifetime of children to raise, dreams to fulfill and hopes to achieve.

Last night, I received news that my longtime friends’ wife, who has been doing well battling lymphoma, just learned that a recent PET scan shows recurring and new cancer growth. I will be on the phone with him later this morning. He was a pillar for me during my journey. His presence did and does show up daily. He even traveled from Seattle to Indianapolis for Joyce’s celebration of life service.

I have shared before about how grateful I am for people who have showed up for me during my journey. I appreciate the occasional card that just says

“hey…thinking of you “ or a phone call from a friend who wants to come over, sit on the porch and eat donuts. Recently, I have been most thankful for a friend who reached out several months ago on Facebook. This person, who I have known since 1993, has become a real ray of sunshine to me. These people showed up and continue to show up.

I believe, at the end of the day, we are called to show up. We are called to just be there for each other. If there is any group of people that should be sensitive to the unspoken needs of others, it is us. We know that no one walks in our shoes but us. We also know that there are a lot of people out there who are fighting their own battles, especially in these crazy times of corona virus, politics, natural disasters, and 2020 in general.

I am going to start to try to look for places where I can show up. I want to look for opportunities to simply connect with people who need it. I want to be there to hear what my friends are going through. Thankfully, we do not have to know all the answers. That is for a professional. All we must do is encourage, support and listen.

I have learned that my load is considerably lighter when I help someone else lift theirs. It’s a tender and fulfilling part of life. I hope you look for opportunities to be there for people who just need a sounding board or listening post. It is good stuff.

Be well, brothers. Choose Joy Today.

________________________________________________

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

Categories
Dating/Relationships Forgiveness Guilt/Shame Loneliness Mental/Emotional Health Moving Forward

Am I Cheating?

Chris Brandt

There is a feeling of fall in the air. Depending on where you live, you may have noticed the nights are feeling a little cooler, and the morning air is feeling a little brisker. Where I live, I have also seen the leaves on the trees are starting to lose their spring/summer green color. One thing is for sure, the last of the “Summer” holidays is upon us. That means different things to different people.

With fall approaching I have to do something I have been dreading, I have to take my son back to his apartment so he can continue college. I am ashamed to admit that a small part of me wanted his classes to be online rather than in person. I tried convincing myself that this hope stemmed solely from a concern for his safety. The truth is, I was only kidding myself. I wanted him home with me longer. I wanted someone home when I get back from work, I wanted someone home to eat with, and I wanted someone home to have conversations.

Recently, I accepted the fact that I will soon be alone. This made me think about a co-worker that I have been talking with at work. This friend has alluded to the fact that she is open to having dinner together sometime. I did not think about that as an option at the time because I had my son at home, and we had each other for company. Besides, I wanted to spend every minute I could live with him. Now, I face eating alone, which is why those passive hints from my co-worker resurfaced. It sounds like it would work out perfectly. She is alone after a break up in her relationship, I will be alone, and it is worth considering. Or is it?

After my thoughts started to get more serious about asking my friend to dinner, I became overwhelmed with emotion. What is the passion that is pouring over me? After concentrating on this feeling, I discovered its origin. What I am feeling is guilt. What I did not understand is why I was feeling this.

You may have experienced this feeling too. In my situation, I am just at the beginning of sorting out these feelings. The reason I wanted to mention this is that if you have felt this emotion, do not feel alone. It comes with the territory. I felt as though I would be cheating if I did ask this person to dinner. It is my opinion that after years of marriage, you will feel like you are cheating on your late spouse. In reality, I know it would not be cheating. I know she would want me to have company and companionship.

When the time is right, we all have to decide between being open to finding a new friend that may lead to a relationship. What we do need to remember is that there is not a set time for this scenario. It may even be that we decide we don’t want that type of companionship, and only you know if that’s your case. However, one thing we do know is that you need to be open to this, and it isn’t cheating. The only cheating that happens by hiding from others is you cheating yourself out of a possible friendship. Be strong, my brothers.

_______________________________________________

You can reach Chris at brandt5@hotmail.com

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair

Till Death us do Part

Nyle Kardatzke

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46

All marriages end in death or divorce. My wife and I talked about our deaths a few times, back when we were both healthy. We sometimes joked about being each other’s “first husband” or “first wife,” never imagining that there might ever be a second spouse for either of us, or that one of us might live alone for many years. We assumed we would both die in old age within a year or two of each other, as our parents had. But now it has happened, and she is gone. Her cancer reappeared, and she died at age 64.

Death always seems sudden, even if it was expected, because it’s so different from all other changes: it is so total, and it’s irreversible.

I learned that I am “widowed” when I offered to give blood in my wife’s honor soon after my wife’s funeral. When I tried to register as a blood donor, the young man asked, “Marital status?” I was confused. I looked down at my wedding ring and stammered, “My wife just died.”

“Widowed,” the young man said and checked that box on his chart. I felt a little dizzy at that moment and I thought about my new marital status for a long time. Before this, I had been either “single” or “married.” I never expected to be a widowed man.

Your wife’s funeral may have seemed like a blur at the time, and you may remember only a few details now. You had to make some decisions in a hurry when your wife died, especially if she died unexpectedly and suddenly. You may be unnerved now by some of the decisions you made then while you were in a state of shock. But be kind to yourself. Remember that you were in an unnatural condition: you had lost your “better half” or maybe your better three-fourths. “Better half” is a good expression, especially now. It says something important about marriage and about losing your wife. You really were two parts of one living thing: your marriage.

C.S. Lewis said that losing your wife isn’t like having your appendix out or being hospitalized with pneumonia: you get over those and they are forgotten. Losing your wife is like having a leg amputated: you don’t get over that. It is such a huge change that it tends to define who you are for a long time, possibly for the rest of your life.

What do you need to learn about being single again? In what ways is this different from being single when you were younger? What challenges do you see ahead? How is your world different from that of a widow woman?

When I became a widowed man, I wondered what to call myself. “Widow” is usually applied only to women, but why can’t a man be a widow? Why accept the implied accusation when you are called a “widower?” You didn’t cause your wife’s death. “Widowed” is a better term, but of course she didn’t do this to you; it wasn’t her choice. I like to call myself simply a widow or widowed, or maybe better, a “widow-man.”

More has been written about widows than about widowed men, so recovering from loss of a spouse might seem like “women’s work.” But you are now doing some of the hardest work of your life, recovering from her death. This is not for the faint-hearted.

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Look for Dr. Kardatzke’s insights to appear in his column named after his book, “WIDOW-MAN,” every other Wednesday. You can write Dr. Kardatzke at thewidowman@gmail.com

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing

Grieving Men Returning to Work

Ron Kelly

No matter what personal devastation may come in life, the world continues to turn. For so many of us that means returning to work after the loss of a loved one. As men, we also have an inherent trait for control of our environment, and the loss of a loved one was something we could not control.

The workplace, however, can represent a place where we might still establish our influence on responsibilities.

“When you come to work, leave your home life at the door.” We hear that all the time. Yet, nothing could be farther from the truth. Even before your loss, you went to work each day carrying all the motivations and demotivations taking place in your life. Now, however, you have the burden of painful emotions. Some of these you’ve never felt before and others you’ve never experienced at such intense levels.

The most important thing you must always do is be easy on yourself. You have a lot going on in your mind and in your heart. Expect to be more distracted and less productive for some time to come. If you’re feeling fatigued, overwhelmed, or unfocused, let your boss or teammates know that you need a little time before completing the task at hand. Don’t resume anything until you’re sure you can do it safely and with total competency in your own abilities.

As for well-wishers, be understanding with those at work. Many will be unsure how to interact on your return and may act awkward or uncomfortable. Those co-workers absolutely want to be supportive, yet are uncertain how to approach you. And, if they do, unsure of what to say. If they do say the wrong thing, just remember the words are not spoken in malice.

Some co-workers may say nothing at all. On top of general concerns about feeling awkward, they’re not comfortable with mortality in general. When they consider your loss, it mentally puts them right in your shoes and brings thoughts of what it would be like to lose someone of their own. If a co-worker had lost a loved one in the past, he or she might have some unresolved grief issues, and facing your loss may bring back incredible pains they’re not willing or prepared to deal with.

As you move forward through your grief, know that many at work will quickly get over your loss. In just a short period, it will seem that your loss is all but forgotten. It’s not your co-worker’s fault. They don’t go home with you at the end of the day. On another hand, it may well come from you putting on an act that you are doing well, right? You’re wearing a Grief Mask that disguises your pain.

It is well worth repeating that when returning to work after your loss of a loved one, you must be easy on yourself. Take your time and feel your pains no matter where they hit. Try to remember that, as men, we have many inherent instincts and traits residing within our very DNA that may unconsciously drive us to take certain actions. Sometimes we’re ready. Sometimes we’re not.

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Look for Ron’s column every other Wednesday here on WSN-MO. R. Glenn Kelly can be reached at rglennkelly@rglennkelly.com

Categories
Giving Support Grief/Dispair

Grieving is like a Roller Coaster in the Fog

Christine-14

WSN-MO: The Perfect Catch 


It’s Thursday.  That means its time for WSN-MO Dating and Relationship Coach, Christine Baumgartner.  This week, Christine writes WSN-MO members an open letter. 

Grieving Feels like a Roller Coaster in the Fog

I’m grateful to be writing to widowers with my thoughts on grieving and on dating after loss. My experience is personal (I was widowed six years ago) and professional (my coaching practice includes widows and widowers).

I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for the pain, confusion, and hopelessness that came with being a widow. I was already an experienced dating and relationship coach when Tony died. I knew lots about how to help others (and myself) with questions about dating, long-term relationships, and spouses. But in 2012, I found out I knew very little about widowhood.

Since then, I’ve met many fellow travelers on my journey. And I’ve learned a lot. Personally (through a variety of widow groups) and professionally through my coaching practice.

From that terrible moment when I found Tony dead on the floor, my life started feeling like I was on a roller coaster in the fog.

This roller coaster had many unexpected ups and downs. And because of the “fog” I couldn’t see the ups and downs until they were right on top of me. And then, of course, I’d never be prepared for them (I imagine many of you can relate to this whether your loss was sudden or after a long illness).

At 18 months, I started to see more clearly (like watching a movie) the ways I’d maneuvered through that first year on the roller coaster.

I could see how, on that first day, part of my brain had clamped shut with strong and large padlocks. But even then, I “knew” that someday I would need to unlock those locks. I trusted that I would know when to do this (and it wouldn’t be soon).

What I now know is – I locked down the part of the brain that wasn’t ready yet to process the horrible trauma around Tony’s death. 

Because of the lock-down, I was able to slog through the necessary papers, taxes, legal stuff, and other things. The lock-down gave me more access to the part of my brain that needed to stay very conscious of how much I could actually do every day and how much I couldn’t.   

However, the lock-down also blocked the good things, like the sound and sight of my husband. Not that I didn’t realize he was dead. And I didn’t actually expect to see or hear him in person. What I was missing (and this truly surprised me) was I couldn’t replay any of our conversations in my head. 

I couldn’t even imagine the scene I experienced so many times of him walking in the door after he came home from work. My memories of his voice and his face were locked up in that same place.  

I just had no idea how exhausting grieving could be. To me, it felt like running a marathon with a huge, wet, wool blanket on while carrying bags of bricks. Therapy, family, and friends (yes, it’s taken a village of support) have been a tremendous help. I’ve come a long way in my six years of widowhood. And I’m looking forward to being a support person through your journey.  

Christine Baumgartner

Dating and Relationship Coach

The Perfect Catch

http://www.theperfectcatch.com

WSN-MO: A FEW IMPORTANT POINTS.

1. The services offered by Christine, herself a widow, does not include “dating or matchmaking services.”

2. Christine will NEVER have direct access to WSN-MO’s Facebook page. All postings will be facilitated through WSN-MO.

3. WSN-MO members can ask questions of Christine (even anonymously via private message to me) on our Facebook page which I will forward to her. You can also send questions to me at herb@WidowersSupportNetwork.com. Following, I will then post her responses.

4. WSN-MO members who wish to contact Christine directly are always free to do so c/o her website http://theperfectcatch.com.


Look for Christine’s advice every Thursday. 

Categories
Grief/Dispair Healing Uncategorized

Love, Roses and Marilyn Monroe

LArry Ahrens

One of my wife’s favorite books near the end of her life was “Joe and Marilyn” by C. David Heymann. Susan was fascinated by the tumultuous love story between Marilyn Monroe and baseball star Joe DiMaggio. We would often sit out on our patio sipping wine while Susan read several sections of the book to me.

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were only married for nine months. Joe was very obsessive about her and was by all accounts a very jealous man. The story goes that when Marilyn was filming the movie “The Seven Year Itch,” he was opposed to her shooting that iconic scene where her white dress billowed up over her head while she stood on the subway grate.

Yet through it, all Joe became the one steady influence in her very crazy life. Soon after the divorce, when she got sick once, he was the one next to her at the hospital. They had gotten close again towards the end of her life, and he was the stableman by her side. He wanted to marry her again, but she died an untimely death.

But the one thing my wife Susan loved was the true romantic story behind roses and Marilyn’s life and death. Marilyn was found dead in her house, and there was no family to call their own but him. Joe flew from New York to LA, identified her body, and had a small, private funeral for her. He even designed the headstone. He was inconsolable at the funeral.

Joe was never going to see her again, but he fulfilled a promise. Many years ago, Marilyn had told him that she wanted roses sent to her every week. Joe did so when he honored that promise. From Marilyn’s death in 1962 until he died in 1999, he would send fresh roses to her grave a few times a week. She had said, “Six fresh long-stemmed red roses, three times a week … forever.”

To which my wife said, “Go ahead and send me roses now while I’m alive!” Then she would break into a huge smile, and we would laugh and have more wine.

Through the remaining two years of her life, I did bring her roses many times. I just brought six red roses to her grave yesterday.

For Joe, Marilyn was the love of his life, and till his dying breath, he kept her preserved in his heart. People can only hope that they find a love like that at least once in their life. I am so lucky that I found that kind of love as well.

Joe and Marilyn. Larry and Susan. Our love transcends life and death.

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Larry articles can be found every other Thursday here on WSN-MO. You can send private messages him on Facebook.