Posted tagged ‘grieving’

Navigating Grief

May 24, 2022

griefMany people think grief means deep sadness, particularly due to the death of a loved one.   But grief is more than that, it is a process we as humans must go through to come to acceptance with any loss, from the death of a loved one to the end of a relationship or the end of a dream or a life phase.  According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss American psychiatrist, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  What makes this path hard to navigate is the fact that after working though each of the first four stages, all of which are painful, all you get is acceptance.   Not happiness.  Not peace.   The sadness continues to echo in your life as one of those things you cannot change mentioned in the Serenity Prayer, but at least you accept it. (more…)

On Sadness

May 8, 2021

poemsI try to read one poem from Garrison Keillor’s poetry collection, Good Poems, every morning.  I open at random to a page and start reading.  I admit, at least half, I don’t get, nor do I know why they are good poems.    But this morning I opened to John Updike’s poem, Dogs Death and found myself crying.  It is an incredibly sad piece about a rescued dog that has an undetected illness.  Beyond the sadness of the poem, it reminded me of losing my beloved Tuxedo cat, Claude, to cancer 2 years ago.  But when I was still crying 5 minutes later, I knew I was about to relearn a lesson that I’ve relearned many times before:  If I continually stuff feelings of sadness, they will come out as anger or disinterest in life or in isolation.  And eventually find their way out as sorrow, triggered by some totally unrelated (and probably minor) sad something.  An old friend and psychologist once told me that the reason we like sad songs is that they allow us to indirectly process sadness we can’t (or won’t) deal with directly.  Obviously, sad poems work, too. (more…)


September 16, 2019


A few evenings ago, I was getting my steps in at the park, listening to The Best of James Taylor on my bluetooth ear buds. Twilight is my favorite time of day and I found myself in the best mood I’d been in for weeks … until I sat down to rest and found myself crying. For some months now, that’s how it’s been. Life has been Bittersweet, that odd mix of joy and sorrow that manages to feel good and bad at the same time. Now I have some friends that tell me nothing is innately good or bad, that it’s my thinking that makes them positive or negative. Sorry friends … I don’t buy it. If something feels bad, it’s bad.


Older … Sadder … Wiser

September 4, 2017

SWI am aboard a Southwest flight from Cleveland OH to Orange County, returning from funeral services for my sister-in-law, GeorgeAnn, who passed suddenly from a massive heart attack last Monday.  There was a viewing on Friday night and on Saturday, a brief memorial service at the funeral home and grave side, then a luncheon back at the funeral home.  Everything was beautiful and in keeping with GeorgeAnn’s personality, upbeat, a celebration of her life rather than an occasion for grieving.   Personally, I am a crier.  When I lose someone, I need to cry and I’d rather do it with loved ones than alone at night or in my car at the park.  I didn’t know GeorgeAnn as well as most of the people attending so I went with their lead and only teared up a few times.


Tell Them … Again

August 31, 2017

This week, my brother’s wife, GeorgeAnn, passed away from a heart attack.   Just over eight years ago,  my sister-in-law, Sandy, passed away after weeks of fighting to recover from cancer surgery.   One passing sudden, taking your breath away, the other slow, agonizing … but the shock is the same, a loved one taken too soon, at least from our perspective here on earth.  And in the case of GeorgeAnn and Sandy, two truly good people who brought love, light and care to the lives of family and friends.   Back in 2009, I wrote a short post titled Tell Them, wondering if Sandy knew how much we loved her, how special she was. The message of that post was this: Tell them. Tell the people you love just how much they mean to you and tell them how you think they’re special. Don’t wait. Don’t be wondering someday if they knew.

So, here I sit in mentor OH, waiting to attend GeorgeAnn’s viewing tonight, wondering if I’ve gotten any better at this business of letting those I love know how much I care.  George Ann was funny, quirky, outspoken and compassionate.  She was a natural caregiver who cared for friends and family during difficult times, including my sister, Pat, and she was the light of my brother’s life.  She literally saved both my sibling’s lives in the past few years.  Did I thank her enough?  Did she know how much I loved her?  Perhaps.  But I’ll pass on the same message: Tell them … again.  Tell the people you love just how much they mean to you and tell them how you think they’re special. Don’t wait. Don’t be wondering someday if they knew.


September 7, 2016

cardLast week, I was working in the park, as I often do when I want to especially enjoy the benefits of being self-employed.   There is a picnic bench right next to the lake under the shade of a spruce tree that makes a delightful office.   I was getting my laptop out of its travel bag when a card fell out of the side compartment onto the table.   As soon as I noticed the two kittens climbing a Christmas tree on the front, I knew what it was … it was a Christmas card from my friend, Stan, from the winter before he passed away from pneumonia.  I opened it and read: (more…)

One Step from the Light

October 12, 2013

tunnelYesterday, while I was catching up on the reading side of blogging, I read a post by Terri of These Are Days regarding her aging parents.  In it she expressed frustration that in a world where the media is fond of reporting on elders who are leading happy, fulfilling lives into their later years hers are struggling with illness.  While there is no doubt that seniors generally are more active than even the last generation, idiotic catch-phrases like Sixty is the New Forty can give the impression that aging isn’t hard any more. I’m here to tell you that even in the best of cases … and I think that my life is one of those … it’s not always a pretty picture. But enough about that.

Terri expressed surprise that she was angry about something that is at its essence, sad. Now, with that, I have some experience … very current experience.   I’ve only recently emerged from a period of anger over a very sad situation in my family.   Now, I’m fighting depression. Thinking about what Terri’s going through, I realized I was in the midst of grieving.   Too often, I forget that we need to grieve loss of dreams and hopes as much as we need to grieve death of loved ones.  And grieving goes through specific stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.     When I look at my situation that way, my anger is a normal part of the process.   And my depression may mean that I’m only one step from acceptance.

That’s not to say that depression should be lightly regarded … clinical depression is serious business. But conditional depression is part of the human emotional process. And I may not be home free. The grieving process is notoriously non-linear and jumping back and forth between stages is common.  But I’m hoping that I’m One Step Away from the Light at the end of the tunnel.  Sure hope it’s not a train.

Monday Smiles – 7/25/2010

July 26, 2010

It’s Sunday night.   My wife and I are alone in our Little House in the Desert with the air-conditioning turned way down.   We’ve both already had a long nap. Tomorrow morning there will be no little dog … or little kids … to wake us at six am.   We’ll sleep in and have a quiet breakfast with no one negotiating for another pop tart or a bite of our bagels.  We’ll get on the road sometime after noon headed from Queen Creek AZ … where the high temperature is predicted to be 102 degrees … to Socal, where it’s supposed to be 84.   We’ll make the trip a little date,  stopping at an Italian restaurant we know in La Quinta and we’ll be home by early evening.  We’re ready to get back to our own routines and sleep in our own beds.   Tomorrow morning I’ll be in my park and tomorrow night, in my Tuesday Men’s group.    Hopefully within the next few days, Ill have lunch with my good friends, Truck and Ron.   These are things that make me tick.  Smiles, right? (more…)


November 13, 2009

Well, it’s Thursday, and we’re headed back to California after a fun week in Arizona.   On our departure day, we used to stop to see my daughter and the kids for an hour or so on the way out but after a while we realized that didn’t work so well.    Everyone handles goodbyes differently and that didn’t make for GOOD goodbyes.   (more…)

Tell Them …

August 10, 2009

Saturday, my sister-in-law, Sandy, passed away after weeks of fighting to recover from cancer surgery.   My wife has been reading a book on Jewish values and commented how Sandy lived by them with no show or pretense.    We knew it all along, of course, but probably never took the time to tell her how special she was.   She’s been more than a sister-in-law, she’s been a dear friend and very much a part of the fabric of our lives.   We know that she knew we loved her but we’ve been wondering if she knew how much.   Knowing Sandy, she probably did.   But I want to pass this along:  Tell them.  Tell the people you love just how much they mean to you and tell them how you think they’re special.    Don’t wait.   Don’t be wondering someday if they knew.