Friday, August 29, 2008

Thoughts on Being Invisible

Have you ever had a moment or a day when you felt invisible? The world goes on around you, and yet, you feel of little consequence. Thoughts invade, what if I were to disappear, would anyone care -- would there be any impact on other lives? Yes, I know there would be, but in my five minutes of invisibility today, I wondered. How many others walk around this life feeling invisible and don't get through that feeling in five minutes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Taking Care of Business

Due to economics I've been busy thinking of ways to budget and cut costs before winter hits. I know, it's only August, but since it's all up to me, and with the rising prices of fuel, gas, and income changing, etc., I've come up with a few ways to go more carefully into winter. I've wrapped my hot water heater with insulation, and also the pipes. Today I put another 6 inches of insulation through my entire attic. I did it at night, but it was still about 95 degrees up there. There was a lot of satisfaction in taking care of this.

I've also bought a woodstove, they're more efficient than ever before, less emissions also into the atmosphere. I made a deal with my youngest son, who cuts wood and sells it, and I've been helping him split wood. So we're in good shape. There's still a few things that need to be taken care of around the property, specifically the barn roof needs to be nailed down better so it doesn't get lost this winter with the wind. I'm hoping to get away for a week, so we'll see what happens.

Review: Fatherloss, How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms with the Death of Their Dads by Neil Chethik

"This is an excellent resource if you have boys who have lost their dad. My three boys lost their dad when they were 11, 18 and 19 respectively. It's been difficult knowing what was going on with them at times, emotionally and mentally, since each child reacted differently. Neil's book really helped me shed some light on certain behaviors and reactions, even now more than four years later. He gives many examples based on age groups of what to expect due to father loss, and what may be helpful to ease some of the pain due to that loss, and what a dad can do now for their sons. I really found this book helpful and would recommend it to anyone who has sons. The bottom line is, let your kids know you love them before it's too late."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Comparing the Death of a Spouse and Divorce

Can We Compare Death of a Spouse with Divorce?
Elaine Williams ©2008

I’ve been asked if the pain of divorce is comparable to the death of a spouse. Having experienced both scenarios, I can say yes and no.

Is there a difference in the emotional quality of life or the emotional devastation that occurs? Both are equated with feelings of abandonment, pain and emptiness.

Some widows and widowers will argue there is no comparison. Death is not a choice. It is life interrupted. Death leaves us with no options in the final round as compared to divorce. Divorce is a choice not to love the person you were married to – but in my opinion, “not always.” In divorce, there is one leaving and one left behind. Whether divorce or death, both situations involve distressing circumstances, equally divergent set of emotions, running on parallel lines, sometimes intermingling or converging. Neither situation is easy or quick.

From my own experience with divorce, I married young, but after two years the relationship became suffocating. I sought counseling, but nothing seemed to lift me from my despair. I was torn by the traditional values that were ingrained in me; that marriage is a commitment and sacred trust. The union I’d entered so hopefully and willingly two years before was slowly killing me emotionally and mentally. It came down to survival. I chose to save myself, and after six months of painful indecision, I left.

Even though I chose to leave, I suffered at hurting the person I had once loved, and no doubt I left devastation in my wake. It wasn’t until some 20 plus years later that I actually made contact with my ex-husband. I felt sympathy laced with sadness to learn he was dying. In our small town I had avoided him in the intervening years, and in the last months of his life, I acknowledged his presence, our past, by sending him a get well card that I truly meant. This minor contact let him know I forgave him for the past, and I forgave myself for closing all thoughts of him from my heart and mind. Did it change the decision I made to end our marriage years before, or open the way for any regrets? No.

A few months before he died I dreamed of him. We were both in water, but he was drowning. I pulled him out, got help and resumed what I was doing. He came back a short time later and thanked me for helping him. When I awoke, I realized that all our relationships leave a residue in our lives, imprinting us with their memories. Whether we end a relationship or someone walks away from us, there is pain, a sense of loss, a questioning of ourselves. Could we have been better, smarter, more loving?

We could avoid pain by not loving anyone, close down life and become angry and bitter. We might as well lock ourselves in a dark room and never emerge to experience life’s joy.

Life is filled with incredible loss and devastation after the death of a spouse, but there is an equally big hole when a divorce takes place, on both sides, whether we consciously choose to acknowledge it or not.

Is the pain of divorce and the loss of a spouse on equal footing? They each carry incredible pain and repercussions, abandonment issues that blast a hole in the heart. Why do we even need to compare? Both scenarios involve a death of someone we loved, a loss that is irrevocably seared on our hearts.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Book Contest Winners!

Kay and Candice have each won a copy of "A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss." I will be offering a new contest for 2 individual copies of "A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss" in September. If you'd like to enter, please send an email to with ENTER ME in the subject line.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Book Review: Surviving Ben's Suicide by C.Comfort Shields

Recently, I was asked to review a book entitled "Surviving Ben's Suicide, A Woman's Journey of Self-Discovery" by C. Comfort Shields. My review follows:

"Surviving loss. Comfort Shields' story about surviving and living again after the suicide of her boyfriend is deeply personal and poignantly honest. Suicide is devastating, leaving loved ones bereft and with unanswered questions. Human life is frail, but as Comfort comes to understand, we are only responsible for our own actions and decisions. As much as we love another, we can only do so much to help them on their life journey, and the final decisions are up to each individual. Her story will reach out and touch many suffering along the same path."

Comfort's writing draws you into the story of her life as a young woman. And her love for Ben, a troubled young man. I am posting an excerpt with permission.

"...And then it hit me that I had been feeling lousy at work because I thought that I deserved it. I thought so because I believed that I was responsible for Ben’s death. But I wasn’t responsible for the choices that Ben made...
This revelation freed something inside of me, and I was able to go to work the following Monday and see myself through the eyes of the people around me. I knew I had made a mistake or two that week and that I would make another the next. I also knew, though, that most of the work I did was pretty good. And I knew that sometimes my boss might feel a little annoyed with me but wouldn’t have asked me to stay in my job if she had not wanted me there. Not only did I like and respect my boss, but she had become my good friend—even though I had not allowed myself to believe that she was my friend. . . .
I began to think about how Ben came to me—how he may have tried Sarah Lawrence as a last resort and how others had turned away from him. I started to feel proud that I had been there to reach out to him. And then I saw clearly that I had taken on a huge responsibility and that I had expected to win. The stakes were high. Life and death. Although Ben had not survived, at least I could say that I tried."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Living Fully

Life is certainly different after loss, and it's true we don't have a clue how it will turn out. I've changed in so many ways, grown stronger as new experiences have reshaped my life today. I try to remain open to living, and I am at a different place than I ever might have imagined. My life and interests have branched off on a totally different course than if my husband had lived. And at this time, 4 years later, I know life, despite everything, is good for me.

It has become vitally important for me to do the things I enjoy, even start new interests that I've always wanted to try. I've reshaped my life socially, because relationship dynamics change when you're no longer part of a couple. But all in all, I have grown and become empowered through this process. And grief is an ongoing process. It's so important not to shut down or get stuck in anger or bitterness. We can't allow ourselves to spin in place very long and remain stuck looking back at what we had and what might have been. Life is for living and I intend to live my share and perhaps a bit more.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Infant Bereavement and Remembrance Photography

Recently I came across the website of photographer Cherly Mauldin. Her photography services cover a wide range of subjects, but what I found very interesting were the services she offers regarding infant bereavement and remembrance photography. Cheryl belongs to a nationwide network of affiliated photographers who offer this service to families, called "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" at>.
You can see all the services available as well as contact information for families to get in touch with infant bereavement photographers in their area.

Cheryl's website blog with information and pictures is here.>