Friday, February 29, 2008

Incredibly Motivating Video, Dying Professor

The journey of grief and loss

I just read another grief blog about a grief book that sounds like a wonderful resource. As a widow I experienced many of the emotions posted in the blog. I applaud anyone who endeavors to make others aware of the true nature of the grieving process. It is not easy or fast, pre-set or a formula. It is often heartrending, messy and uncontrolled, but it hopefully gets us where we need to go, on to a new, more aware life. Here is the blog post,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Grieving Process

I just read another wonderful article at regarding about reducing stress at times of grieving. Some of us take longer than others to figure out the grief process. As we know, it's an individual journey, fraught with uncertainty and unknown paths and opportunities. We can fall down and keep feeling sorry for ourselves, or pick ourselves up and try to drag ourselves forward. It's never easy, no matter how you travel or finally get there...there is no end to it, we just learn to adjust, to live, to love again. I've found for myself going deeply into the despair and pain, feeling it, looking at it, letting it have its way for a short time, then letting it go, does me the best good. Again, it's all individual.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Friend's Diagnosis and Ovarian Cancer

A good friend of mine of about 17 years just found out two weeks ago she has endometrial cancer. It's stage three. It really makes me crazy inside, and I want to cry at the same time, recalling what my husband went through with cancer. I'm doing the best I can to help her -physically and emotionally, but it really makes me appreciate all the more what I have in my life. It makes you realize it can all be over in a second, just like that.

I am very aware of the fact that many people who have not experienced loss, have no clue as to the time, thoughts, feelings, fears involved in losing a loved one. I hope they never do. There's a big misconception in a lot of society about the grief and grieving process. It is a personal journey, it is nothing by any book, and it is heartwrenching and yet at times enlightening. And strangely, it brings out the best in many of us, many times. How strange but how true. Perhaps we learn to love better, appreciate what you have more, and hold close and dear those we love. It's really simple, and yet complicated.

Sungold/kittywampus has a wonderful post on new strides in detecting ovarian cancer. Her blog is here:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Life Support, Who is in Charge?

As a widow of four years it's difficult to lose anyone, but to have someone else tell you when life support should be discontinued -- it's not up to a court or a judge. When you love someone you just want the minutes to last, however long that is. It's such a touch decision to make and have to deal with. As one article recently stated, "are you prolonging life or prolonging death?"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What to Do and Say When Someone Dies

Many times people just don't have a clue as to how to react or what to say to the family when someone they know passes away. First and foremost, tell them you're sorry for their loss. Second, it means a lot when someone drops you a note about what the deceased person meant to them. Third, don't think that after a short time they've moved on or gotten over their loss. It takes time and healing to get through our individual journey. Let the family know you're still thinking of them. Sometimes people think mourning is a year -- and things should be pretty normal. Not so.

In many, many cases, a year is nothing on the radar blip of grief and in this brief timeframe a lot of us are just getting started. We've figured out our loved one isn't coming back, hopefully we've settled into some semblance of our life as it is now, and we're just discovering what it really means to be alone. Trust me, a year in the life of the grieving, is nothing.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Journey Book Review by Laurie Weiss, Ph.D

"Elaine Williams gives her reader the gift of herself with her simple and profound sharing of the experience every happily married woman dreads, nursing her life partner through his final illness and coming to terms with life alone. It isn’t neat and it isn’t pretty, but it is so real it leaves us with hope that even the unthinkable can be assimilated and integrated into an evolving life. Thank you, Elaine, this is a beautiful book. "

Laurie Weiss, Ph.D
Author, Being Happy Together: How to Create a Fabulous Relationship With Your Life Partner in Less Than an Hour a Week and Recovery from CoDependency: It's Never Too Late to Reclaim Your Childhood (with Jonathan B. Weiss, Ph.D.)

Loss Can Pave the Way to a New Life

I have always considered myself a caring person, but when my husband got ill and then died, I really was forced to go inside myself and figure out who and what I was and who and what I wanted to be, at almost 50 years of age.

There was a lot of soul searching, introspection, meditation...and ultimately a new person emerged on the other side. Perhaps new in small ways, but overall, I felt reborn, as strange as that may sound. It doesn't diminish my loss in any way, in fact it made it all the more important and empowering, because I became more than I ever expected. I grew into the me I was always supposed to be. I continue to grow because I am determined to keep my heart and life open to all possibilities.

Could this have happened if I hadn't experienced the loss of a spouse and ensuring devastation? Possibly, but I don't think the effects would have been as far reaching or so embedded in who I am today.

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Book Review Pamela D. Blair

"Elaine Williams has written a deeply personal, yet universally appealing and boldly honest account of the loss of a loved one that will inspire and motivate the reader to grieve and go on -- to not only survive in the face of loss, but ultimately to thrive. I am pleased to highly recommend it."

Pamela D. Blair, co-author I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Loss of a Loved One, and
The Next Fifty Years: A Guide for Women at Midlife and Beyond.

Keeping Memories Safe

I recently visited another blog on grief, by widower Bong. What a nice memorial he has created about Mariel. Here is the link.

Loved ones who have passed on will never be forgotten as long as there is a memory in our thoughts and hearts. Others get on with the daily living, but they have not forgotten. I find that unless someone has experienced this excruciating loss, (and be glad they have not) it is sometimes difficult for anyone to fully grasp the gaping emptiness, the fears inside, not only that others may forget but that we may forget something special about our loved one. I think journaling puts us ahead of the game as we share the person we loved and lost with the world in our writings. For myself, I have found this writing to many times be a painful, but ultimately enriching experience.

I have been told me how brave it is to write the words I write about my grief experience, but what I do know is as you write, you move forward through your grief a little at a time. Sometimes we fall backward, but in the end, we have really learned just how precious is life and learn to treasure those who have come into our lives.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Moving Past Grief and Loss

After the loss of a spouse or a child, you’re going to be stuck in neutral for awhile -- trust me, there's no quick solutions on the healing journey. There are different transitions along the way, and some people get through them quicker than others, but ultimately it's all up to us. We learn along the way and we can discover more about ourselves, but moving on, I have found, is based on each individual's attitude, background, stress levels and available support.

And even saying "moving on" doesn't correctly describe the life transition. You eventually learn to live again. You know joy again, as hard as that might be for someone to believe when the loss is so fresh. Be assured you never forget, but you hurt a little less. The love is never wiped away, but you can hold it close without sharp pain. There is no conforming to anyone else's idea of what your grief should be, it is yours alone. To keep ourselves healthy, we must remain open to life's wonders. If we shut ourselves off from living I truly believe a part of us dies inside. To me, that would be the ultimate second tragedy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tomorrow is a Gift

Elaine Williams ©2008

My husband chose to be cremated, and to that end I had arranged a time for friends and family to gather for a memorial service in remembrance. I gathered pictures of our twenty plus years together, creating a wonderful collage in pictures for the service.

On this evening, the hospice doctor who visited regularly spoke of my husband as he had come to know him during his illness. Friends and family were invited to add their remembrances, and I silently appreciated each of them. My sister-in-law read a short eulogy I had written in respect and love for our life together, because for once, I felt frail instead of strong. I knew I would not be able to read it myself. Overall, the day became a moving and inspiring tribute to a man who had cared about many.

My husband, being an avid sportsman, had wished to have his ashes put into a black powder rifle and shot up into our grassy back pasture. One overcast day in November, about six months after his passing, we fulfilled this final wish. With close family and a few friends, a buddy of my husband’s loaded the rifle four times, once for myself and then once for each of our boys. We shot the ashes up into the overcast sky and across the field. The remainder of the ashes I divided and we then scattered them as our final goodbye.

Even though my husband was cremated, I decided to purchase a headstone in his memory. I felt it was important for my kids to know there was a tangible testament to their father. I had it inscribed with his nickname, and a rearing stag, which I knew my husband and kids would appreciate. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t buried in the ground beneath that stone. The stone told the world, and his children, he had been alive and meant something to all of us.

I prepared the grave site myself for the stone placement. I brought my shovel and buckets of crushed stone, dug up a small area, placed the crushed stone in the hole, then carefully placed a smooth piece of two-inch thick bluestone for the base. It had taken me a week to chisel across the bottom of the stone: “Tomorrow is a gift.” When I carved the first letter “T”, being relatively unfamiliar with using stone chisels, the “T” ended up looking a little odd.

The day the company delivered the head stone was overcast, and as I drove toward the cemetery, the skies grew threateningly darker by the moment. The two men used a hoist to lower the headstone into place, but as they were almost finished, the skies suddenly opened and rain pelted down with unbelievable force. I watched as they quickly lowered the stone, and it dropped the last inch or so. I fearfully checked the base, afraid it might have cracked, but luckily it had not. The men left, and I stood in the rain looking at the crooked headstone. As the rain poured around me, I carefully straightened it and then satisfied, I ran to my car for shelter. I just sat there staring at the headstone, my body chilled and my mind blank. As I drove home, the sun appeared and steam rose from the wet summer pavement.

At the time, my youngest son was ten and still in Sunday school. He would take his snack in the quaint little cemetery each Sunday after class and eat it on the stone wall next to his father’s headstone.

In the early days, feeling lost or at a particularly low moment, I would visit the cemetery and sit by the stone. Even though I knew he wasn’t there, I would talk to my husband about the fears or problems I currently faced.

My two older boys never mentioned visiting the small, tree-shaded cemetery. If they had, they kept it to themselves. Perhaps they will share this with me at some time in the future. There’s also the possibility they may never mention it. We’ve all learned to deal with different points of pain in our grief process.

For myself, I still occasionally go to the cemetery, especially in the Fall. I carefully brush away any debris from the stone’s base, so I can see the carved inscription.

“Tomorrow is a Gift” is a reminder that today and each day is a gift not to be taken lightly.

Can You Talk about Grief too Much?

Elaine Williams ©2008

When does talking about the loss of someone get to be too much? Is it still grief or is it descending into depression?

Talking and writing about grief for me has been a catharsis, a way to heal my thoughts, emotions and fears. It is a slow, sometimes excruciating process. Not linear, and sometimes unexpected.

At times there seems to be a fine line that can be crossed. I met a woman who had been widowed after six years of marriage. Nine years later, she still does not sleep in the bedroom she shared with her husband, nor can she bring herself to open a birthday gift she found after he passed away. She feels stuck in place but sees no way out.

We all have to be gentle and considerate of ourselves or others who are traveling through grief. But I have seen in my own grieving, that sometimes we run the risk of being stuck in place. I met another widow who spoke incessantly about her husband. She refused to even consider the idea of going through his clothes or personal items, even after five years. She was adamant she would never date again, even though she also admitted her marriage had not been a happy one. Again, it is all about our personal choices. Our lives have formed how we handle stressful situations and circumstances.

The way we handle our grief and emotional outcomes is of course a personal choice, but I feel that some people allow their grief process to make them bitter. I know sometimes I’ve fallen into this myself. I consider it a trap to allow the hurts in my life to weigh me down. Well on my way to healing, I refuse to be consumed by anger and regret.

Grief is never easy or quick. It can be hard, painful and unpredictable. If we stay rooted emotionally in the same place over many years, we’re doing ourselves an injustice. Why not answer the door when opportunity for growth knocks?

There were many days in my grief process where I felt at a really low point, and sometimes, in my mind, I made my marriage out to be something more than what it was. I had a good marriage, but like any other relationship, it had its problems, too. After twenty years, not everything is rosy, and yet many times in the early days I viewed my marriage through rose-colored glasses. I glorified the good times and glossed over the days I wanted to pull my hair out with frustration. My husband and I were two people who had grown through the years. I learned for my own benefit I had to remain honest about my memories. Nothing is perfect. No one deserves or wants to be on a pedestal. By staying grounded in reality, I decided I would not be stuck in place. I firmly believe this thought process made my grief journey a little easier. I also knew my husband would never want me to stay perpetually unhappy. I have grown enough to know I deserve a full life once again, in whatever way I manifest. But I choose happiness over living in a past that cannot be changed.

What is Thanatology?

Thanatology is the study of death and dying as in psychiatry. Especially the ways to lessen the suffering and address the needs of the terminally ill and their survivors.

Another Book Review

The new book reviews/testimonials are trickling in. I feel fortunate to receive the following from Ligia Houben, Life Coach, Grief Counselor/Thanatologist.

"I just finished reading your story. I was so touched by the sensitivity of your words and how you share your feelings of sadness, despair and at the same time bravery and hope. Your story is a testimony of love, strength and hope. In your lines you have described a painful experience but at the same time the evolution of a wonderful woman who does not stop searching…

Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece with me…as a thantalogist and grief counselor I can see you went through the different stages and tasks bereaved persons go through and you transformed your loss into an opportunity to grow personally and spiritually. It is a pity I didn’t have your story when I wrote my book in Spanish “Transforma tu perdida. Una antologia de Fortaleza y esperanza.” (Transform your loss. An anthology of strength and hope). It would have been an inspiration as well…."

Ligia M. Houben, MA, CT,CG-C,CAS,CH
Life Transitions Coaching and Consulting
Certified Grief Counselor-Thanatologist
Professional Speaker-Author
My Meaningful Life

Finding Meaning in Life Transitions

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sometimes You Need to Cry

Elaine Williams copyright 2008

I recall a period in time, at about 18 months after my husband passed away, that I felt pretty good about myself. I had handled what life had thrown me and come out battered, but mostly okay on the other side. After caretaking my husband for almost a year, I was battling some minor health problems of my own, related mostly to stress, but most days I was certain my life was on track. Steady and focused, my three boys were also adjusting and it seemed we all had a grip on reality.

On this day, I was on my way to an appointment with my holistic doctor when the radio began playing a song I had never heard before. The singer’s words stirred something inside me. The song spoke of loving someone through the years, and even with that person gone, the threads of memory remained.

The words reverberated through me, and I experienced almost a kind of shock as their meaning sank in. Out of nowhere, I began to cry so hard I had to pull off the road. I had no control over the rush of anguished emotion. All my hard won calm fled, chopped off at the knees as I hugged the steering wheel of my car.

I cried as if a great well had opened inside and pulled my guts out. When I finally began to calm and the tears subsided, I had to wonder where this emotional outburst had come from. How could a song open a wound of such profound loss?

I arrived at my doctor’s office, and as usual with holistic doctors, they not only want to know about you physically, but they dig deeper into the emotional aspects of your life. I hesitated only briefly before telling him what had occurred on the way to his office. I felt embarrassed by my earlier semi-breakdown. I tried to explain that I’d been feeling good, and then to suddenly have this upheaval had thrown me for a loop.

He explained it was to be expected there would be days where emotion could still catch me by surprise. With the loss still relatively fresh in my life, how could I expect to be 100%? I admitted to him that I’d been feeling excruciatingly lonely, but I thought I was handling it. Some days my idea of “handling” it meant ignoring or burying my feelings. Always a very private person, I hadn’t shared much of my thoughts with anyone. When friends asked how I was doing, I would usually say I was okay. Inside, I kept thinking, who wants to hear that I just want to get through another day?

I felt much better after speaking with him. Not only was he a sympathetic ear, it felt good to open up and share my worries about being alone, my concern for the kids’ welfare and fears that I wasn’t handling my finances to my best advantage.

We talked extensively about the triggers that stirred my own private misery. Something as straightforward as a song, or as complex as past memories, seemed to have the power to entrench me in great emotion. He made me realize there would be times I merely needed to cry as part of grief’s healing process. There was nothing complicated about it.

Each time we are brave enough to reach down and allow our true emotions out, it brings a little more healing into our lives. As time passes, and we remain true to ourselves, a new sense of empowerment emerges.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What if?

What if?
Elaine Williams copyright 2008

What if as a new widow or widower you began dating again after not dating for many years? What if you had high hopes of bringing love once again into your life? What if you met a scammer online but thought they were a real person, with feelings and hopes and dreams, just like you held deep in your heart? What if you held a secret hope they may be the one for you? What if you believed someone was telling you the truth, because you always told the truth? What if you just wanted to connect with another being so you could once again know you were desired by someone? What if your biggest fear was being alone the rest of your life?

What if you corresponded with this person for many months and they said all the right things and made you feel special? What if they promised to travel to come and see you? What if they couldn’t wait to meet you and sent you little gifts and trinkets as symbols of their caring for you?

What if you thought you fell in love with someone through their emails over the internet? What if they expressed joy at the thought of meeting you for the first time? What if you knew the dream had come true that this truly wonderful person had fallen in love with you also and couldn’t wait to meet you? What if this was you? Would you fall into love based on email correspondence? Would you hope that the hole in your heart was finally starting to be occupied by another? What if you felt this was your one and only chance at love? Would you pass it by?

What if you didn’t hear from them for a week and you become frantic, wondering if something happened to them? What if they finally email to say they were mugged, hurt and lying ill in an overseas hospital? What if you expressed doubt when they asked you for money to help them come home? What if you told them to go to the US consulate? What if they said never mind about the money, if you didn’t trust them, they just wanted to die anyway?

What if they emailed you sporadically because they were too ill to do otherwise? What if they said they were finally coming home, gave you their airplane itinerary and it all checked out? What if you went to the airport to meet them? What if you waited plane after plane and they never showed up? What if you went home crying in your car? What if you decided never to trust anyone again? What if you vowed life sucks and that’s it? What if you shut yourself down from all future opportunities out of fear and bitterness? What if you contacted the dating service where you met and they did nothing about this scammer?
What if you just gave up?
What if you used this as a life lesson and tried to warn others of similar scams?
What if you chalked it up to one more experience?
What if you learned it’s better to meet someone in person and get to know them before getting too involved?

What if sharing your experience kept someone else from being hurt? Would you still regret the experience?


Ask, interview or interact with any family caretaker and check out their stress level. It's only common sense that the caretaker is the one carrying the burden. I recall the time when my husband was ill, 98% of my entire focus was solely on him. I didn't dare relax that vigilance for fear of doing something wrong. Missing a doctor appointment, juggling medicines and narcotic prescriptions. The onus is on the caretaker to follow through with doctor's orders and even daily life, which may end up meaning daily survival for the ill person.

This should be (and perhaps is) common knowledge among nurses, hospice works, medical professionals such as doctors and their staff. My husband's holistic doctor inquired as to my health a few months before my husband passed away because I had laryngitis for almost two months.

In all honesty, I stated I was fine, even thoguht I wasn't, and pretty much brushed aside his concern. But for an older caretaker, I would be very worried for their health. Many times while you're in the thick of caregiving, you just keep going. You give no thought usually to how you're eating, what sleep you're losing. You just know there is another pill that has to be administered, one more feeding to take see too, another test result to look over. It's your full time job that you volunteered for. There was no sign up sheet. It's just the way it happened.

More Book Marketing and Publicity

Today I read a blog by publicity expert Don McCauley. The blog is here
The headline for the blog is "Create A Massive Publicity And Advertising Campaign For Little Or No Money". He's offered a lot of solid advice on creating your own campaign. In my ongoing marketing and publicity campaign for "A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss," it was time well spent reading the entire blog.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

How Long is Grief?

Anyone who's been through the grief process, especially losing a spouse or child, is not coddling themselves or loving being a victim if it takes them longer than a year or 4 years to get their life back into focus. I am four years into my journey of losing my husband of 20 years. I am proactive, I am 99% healed, I am a visionary and yet I haven't quite got the other 1% yet. I know I will, but I consider myself fortunate to be ahead of the pack in grieving. I choose to forge ahead, but for some the process is slower than others. My 2 cents based on personal experience and speaking with other widows.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Steps One at a Time in No Particular Hurry

Spiritually and emotionally, I've worked on my own balance for many years, but more so in the last four years since I lost my husband. Many times my life felt like a tenuous balancing act. I've learned at times to put this whole life experience we have in a wonderful perspective. I've found that when I try to rush things, they go askew. When I look around and really see what's there, it goes easier. One step at a time, one stroke at a time, as I recently read by another blogger, Judy Wasserman, is such blessed, wonderful advice. Some of us figure this out later rather than sooner in our lives, but it is something I have learned and taken truly to heart.

Healing and Time for Loss and Grief

I am a widow of four years and when I lost my husband, after eleven months, some people thought since he’d been ill and not expected to recover, I should be “over it” faster. That’s not how grief and loss works. You can’t turn emotion on and off at will. Time is a big healer, and getting support from friends, loved ones and sometimes therapists is the best remedy to help anyone more through our individual grief journey. Society as a whole seems pretty uneducated as far as the grief process goes. It’s not a year, it’s not two years, it’s what is inside each of us and our capacity to heal through life’s losses.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

How, When and Why to Send Press Releases

I just read an interesting article by Esther Schindler entitled "The Care and Feeding of the Press." It offers invaluable advice on how to approach the press in the most professional and effective manner possible with your press releases, etc.. It's definitely worth a read for not only PR people but anyone doing book marketing. URL follows:

Monday, February 4, 2008

Pre Pub Reviews...A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss

Direct link to my website and reviews: or:

Testimonials ~ What Others Are Saying About "A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss"

You had me with the first few pages. Very Powerful. Thank you for sharing it with me. If you have ever lost someone you loved, read this book. It will touch your heart and soul as it did mine. --

Jon Gordon, author of the international best seller The Energy Bus.

I took some time to look it over and was inspired to see how much your journey parallels those of other widows who determined to grow through their experiences, and not cling to the past.

I am sure that other widows will benefit from reading your story and be inspired to write their own. You are a wonderful example for them and I can imagine that you have many rich conversations ahead of you. As someone once said to me, in the first year after I was widowed: "You can't hang onto your experiences; you just have to give them away. That's what they are for; to give to others."

I wish you many blessings,

Rondi Lightmark, M.A.
Writer and Registered Counselor

"I read your book with interest over the weekend. It is a moving piece and I cried more than once while reading it. It is compelling and well done. I did not want to put it down."

Joel Cansler
Institute of Infinite Increase

"I enjoyed reading your story. I understand your feelings of loneliness at times and wanting to find that special "someone" that possibly doesn't exist. As a mother of 3 children I understand fully about letting go. It is their responsibility to create their own paths with our guidance. It can be very overwhelming at times, dealing with major business issues, children and 2 homes all on my own. I agree 100% with you about the online dating.

By the end of your story you seem much more at peace with yourself than in the beginning. I feel the same way with my life now after almost 3 years. I think we are both on a parallel journey and time is helping to make me more comfortable being alone. I don't love it but like you, I am not willing to settle for just anyone. I am looking forward to new experiences and leading a fulfilling life with or without a significant other. Thanks for sharing your story with me."

Widowed three years

New Radio Interview and a Special Woman

A month or so ago I was invited to do a radio interview with Janet Elaine Smith of Internet Voice Radio regarding "A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss." Tonight, just before we began the interview we chatted a bit, and Janet told me her husband had passed away only last Tuesday. Her story is on her blog and it is pretty phenomenal, the last moments and day she had with her husband before he passed away.

The radio interview is located at
Go to February 4, Marketing for Fun and Profit and click on the blue AudioAcrobat button to listen. The interview is about 25 minutes.