My Grieving Toolbox

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Peter and Laurie together

When I first became a widow, I was stuck in the wilderness of grief. All the old pathways were destroyed, the signposts were gone, the bridges to happiness had collapsed, and all the roads were dead-ends to nowhere. I had to re-draw the maps and recalibrate my guide to restoration.

Recalibration is not an easy task. You need to find the tools to move forward. My grief toolbox was an odd assortment of useful devices and people that kept me going on my path towards restoration.


· Be supplied with as many boxes of aloe-laced tissues as possible. Costco was a great source for this item. Besides, Costco is a welcome diversion and great source of rack of lamb and good vino!

· Walking and exercise are great outlets for stress. Walking with a pal is preferable. Walking with a group, even better. If you don’t have bad knees, running is pretty great too.

· Writing. I like to use my computer. I have a favorite font, Calibri, and write down my thoughts which comfort me immensely.

· A journal is an awesome tool to have if you don’t like to write on a computer. Also, I enjoy going to Staples or Office Depot and trying out new types of pens and paper. I think this harks back to fond memories of the first day of school and new notebooks. Too weird? I think not.

· Friends are a key tool in my arsenal. To quote Bette Midler, “But you got to have friends. The feeling’s oh so strong. You got to have friends. To make that day last long.” My friends have been loyal, steadfast, brave, truthful and yes, all the other boy scout motto stuff.

· Family support is key. I rest my case.

· It is important to see a grief therapist in the month right after your loss. I could not have forged ahead without the wonderful therapist I found at a local grief center. She sat, listened, and comforted in a way that friends could not.

· Joining a group is essential. Three months after Peter died, I joined a group and it was the safest place for me to grieve with like-minded, similarly-wounded grievers trying to find new pathways to forge ahead.

· Teach people to stop saying “pass” and tell it like it is. Euphemisms are no good in grief. He or she died. To quote Monty Python in The Dead Parrot sketch, the parrot is: “deceased, demised, has passed on, ceased to be, expired, gone to meet its maker, is late, bereft of life, rests in peace, is pushing up daisies, rung down the curtain, and joined the choir invisible. It is an ex-parrot!”

· Instruct others who want to comfort you to avoid clichés: “He’s in a better place,” “everything happens for a reason,” and “time heals all wounds” should be dead and buried! Tell others to just sit and listen and give you a much-needed hug.

· Meditation is a great tool that I tend to avoid. I recommend it to all but I just can’t seem to get into it. My form of meditation is writing. That is the way I release my breath and relax my spirit with words.

· Grief books were my salvation. I devoured book after book on the subject of loss looking for answers that I knew wouldn’t come. The process of reading the books, and looking for the answers, became an invaluable part of my journey in grief. I gleaned knowledge from experts and those who had gone before me. The wisdom I gained became an incalculable form of comfort.

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