Life Beyond Mourning

Can you approach life with joy and enthusiasm
after the loss of a loved one?

Beutiful photo

After my friend Patty Paul lost her husband a few years ago, she forwarded an email that had given her comfort in her grief. At the time I first read it, I didn’t expect the advice would apply to me, since I had counted on my husband out-living me by quite a few years, since he was quite a bit healthier than I was.

As it turns out, it has now been a little more than a year since he died. Over-all, I think I have done quite well, partly because I live in a retirement community with very active people in their seventies, eighties, nineties and several over one hundred.

However, when I came across her email recently, I thought I would share it because it is excellent advice, as I have discovered in making new friends who approach life with joy and enthusiasm.

Beyond the Mourning Process

Many years ago, a friend of mine, Alice, was widowed in her mid-twenties and suddenly went into a very deep depression. Not talking to people, not answering her phone, etc. She told me that the worst part of it was that everyone was asking her how she was, and telling her “it” would get better! That comment so interrupted the mourning process that she was failing emotionally.

Finally, a friend of her mother’s, widowed for several years, came to her apartment and banged on the door until Alice let her in. The woman made tea, sat down, and explained to Alice that, no, it would not get better, but she would! She said that all my friend was feeling was the mourning process and, while her sense of loss might never leave her, life would continue.

She would be not be sad and pained all day every day, but would actually begin to laugh at something — and not feel guilty. She would feel the awful parts less constantly, would begin to be sad only now and then during the day. She would eventually grow to feel the sadness and loss on anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, etc., but finally the pain itself would fade and she would be left with only the wonderful memories of having loved and been loved! All of these things would come to her only if she admitted that she was still alive — and that she could go on living!

Alice listened to this woman’s voice of experience, took her advice and came out of her cocoon of pain. She went off to Europe for a few months to, as she said, “not be around people who were feeling sorry for her all the time — as it was contagious!”

Shortly after Bob died I was given a card with words that have been very true for me. I can see they were also true for the author of this piece.

Loss creates a hole that cannot be filled.
Memories give love that cannot be taken away.

A New Beginning Any Day of the Year

A simple (but important) piece of advice to help improve your relationships.

If enough of us can rise to the current challenge of the man-woman relationship, using them as opportunities to peel away illusions, tap our deepest powers, and expand our sense of who we are, we can begin to develop the wisdom our age is lacking.

— Abraham Maslow
[The advice also applies to same-sex relationships.]

I am glad that Judith Sherven, PhD, and James Sniechowski, PhD, have given me permission to reprint the first chapter of their book Opening To Love 365 Days A Year
because it contains 31 pieces of relationship advice for each day of the month.

The posts won’t be very long, but they will be packed with excellent ideas to help anyone build a relationship that is as successful as theirs (and that’s saying a lot). Since I will be sharing their wonderful advice once every month, it will allow me to spread their suggestions over more than two years.

Although the book on which this advice was written several years ago, they have also written another book I recommend, The New Intimacy: Discovering the Magic at the Heart Of Your Differences.

A New Beginning for Love

A new year is a clean slate, a chance to suck in your breath, decide all is not lost and give yourself another chance.

— Sarah Overstreet

The beginning of a new year [actually, any day you are ready to make a fresh start in a relationship] is always a good time to set new goals, change our ways, and make a deeper commitment to love. Whether in a relationship or single, each of us wants to be loved for all that we are and love someone in just the same way.

How can you do it better? How can you open yourself beyond what you already know?

First and foremost, remember that THE OTHER PERSON IS NOT YOU. While that may sound overly simplistic, most relationships fall apart over fights resulting from ignorance about this truth. When you unconsciously imagine that your lover is like you, then any disagreement is shocking. Every fight has to be won.

But when you can remember that your partner’s feelings, beliefs and behaviors are just as important and valid to him as yours are to you, then you start off with the possibility of building a passionate, successful love between equals. Go for it!

Reinforce today’s ideas by saying this to yourself:

I welcome new opportunities for love.

A Walk at Sunset Offers a New Perspective on Relationships

Ladder leading to pictureThis post is part of the “Step Into Pictures” series that offers you a new way to explore both difficult relationships and those you treasure. Visit the Step Into Pictures Archive to learn more about it.


02-23-15 - Fearman-Falkner-Sunset - large

               A Falkner Sunset by Lynne Fearman

Click on picture to see enlarged view

If you’ve had a bit more snow or cold where you live, you may want to pay particular attention to this picture by my friend Lynne Fearman.

It expressesfar more soft, comfortable temperatures than the eastern part of the country has been having this month. That’s putting it mildly.

In any case, I hope you can visualize walking down the road at the end of a day, with a stillness in the air and lengthening shadows. I hope you can imagine bringing along someone with whom you have had problems, and imagine discussing them in a place where you don’t have reminders of your conflicts. Perhaps here your positions will soften a bit.there is no evidence of conflict. You may discover your problems have softened a bit.

Perhaps you could also imagine walking companionably with a friend.

Who would you invite to join you in this picture?

Spectacular Images of Our Spectacular Sun

SDO 5 year mosaic
I’m in the process of putting together several months of future blogs to make time for a trip to Portugal in April. Then I plan to create imagery videos this spring and summer; they’ve been on my to-do list far too long to put them off again.

My assistant will upload the posts for the days they are scheduled. In that way I can be sure you will find something new here twice each week.

However, I’m postponing the post about Groucho Marx that was scheduled for today (it will appear in May) because I’ve just seen a video that is so absolutely stunning I want you to see it as soon as possible. It expresses the theme of both blog and website, namely, to “Enrich Your Life and Enrich Your Relationships.” I can’t imagine what could be more enriching than to see the sun in all its glory.

Click on the picture, sit back and relax in the glow of the sun that allows life to flourish on the earth. It was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory with an image taken more than once per second for five years! Enjoy!!

Need Some Help in Understanding the World?

Sometimes (okay, lots of times) I feel overwhelmed with all the facts and opinions that fly at me from television, the Internet, newspapers, and the radio.

Setting aside the complexity of troubles in the Middle East (which can make anyone’s head spin) it is hard for me to discern how all this information fits together, and what it has to do with my corner of the world.

If you have the same problem, I want to introduce you to a website that I discovered when someone sent me an article on VOX (a melding of journalism and technology that has been online for less than half a year) called 22 Maps and Charts That Will Surprise You.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these charts and graphs are worth far more than that. The way they present information will help you understand the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world in ways you may never have suspected.

I hope you take a look at number seven — “America is so big that its states are the size of countries” — because next week I am writing a post about the eleven “nations” of North America.