How Calculations Help Me Through Grief

It boggles my mind that my husband Peter died over four years ago.  On one hand it seems like it happened just yesterday.  On the other hand, it seems like it was a lifetime ago.  My grief calculations are important to me.  I need to identify dates.  I need to see my life in computations of moments.  I need to have marker dates to check off the passage of time.  It is key that I remember anniversaries and birthdays since I am the sole keeper of the calendar now. 

When Peter first died, I was obsessed with time.  It was one month, two months, six months, one year, two years, and now over four years since I last smiled when he walked in the door. But as I gently move through my grief, I have relaxed my inner clock.  I have stopped counting the days and I have begun to look forward not backward.  Time has been a healer in this regard.  Time has helped me to move forward easing the intensity of my loss and allowing me to find more joy in the present.

Learning that sorrow is temporary is part of the process.  Even though I spent many hours testing out my grief arithmetic skills, hoping that these parameters would keep me rational, the computations were a crutch that allowed me to be in the present with a peek into the past.  I knew that the future was too scary to put in my line of vision.  I had to put on blinders to keep me in the present, hoping that I would be strong enough to face the future while taking itty bitty steps.

Trusting in the fact that I wouldn’t always feel as bad as I did right after Peter died, kept me on the straight path towards restoring my soul.  I am recovering hope.  It is a long step-by-step process but slowly, bit by bit, I am rediscovering hope and joy again.  I really believe that you can endure this treacherous path by knowing, somewhere in your grief-fogged brain, that there is hope.  Knowing that others had gone before me and emerged with sanity, smoothed my rugged path. 

I know I will never, ever get over the loss of my dear husband. When he died, my heart was ripped open and needed serious bypass repair work. I know that I will always feel that part of me has been taken away but in order to heal, I must be reborn like the phoenix rising from the ashes.   Yes, I will be reborn, but with part of Peter tucked into my heart.  I will move forward knowing I can get accustomed to a life without him.   I know by doing a few calculations in my brain, I can face a new but acceptably different existence. 

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October 15, 2019, Los Angeles, CA – Cookbook author and television chef Laurie Burrows Grad, 75, sits down to a roasted chicken dinner in her Los Angeles home. Grad’s husband of 47 years, Peter Grad, died four years ago. To cope with her grief, Grad has written extensively about grief and grieving, and her new book, “The Joke’s Over, You Can Come Back Now,” navigates her first years of widowhood, and includes nine recipes with advice about cooking for one. (Sally Ryan for The New York Times)
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