Monday, February 02, 2009

Six Months after Robert's Death

I've written about losing Robert to multiple myeloma last August and taken you with me on many of my steps forward. I return today, six months after Robert's death, to check in with you again. You have been marvelous, posting comments here and emailing me privately with your warm messages and your stories.

If you're a new blog reader, I'll update you briefly. Yes, this blog is -- almost all of the time -- about sex and aging. The reason I wrote Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty and started this blog was because I found great love in later life -- I was 57 and Robert was 64 when we met. My work changed from writing about health & fitness to writing and speaking about sex after 60. I decided to face full-on and speak out loud against our society's stereotype of older-age sex/love/dating as unseemly and icky.

Robert and I had seven years together from first kiss to last and I still feel him with me, especially when I teach my line dance class, where we met and where we continued to dance.

I'm dedicating whatever it takes to the process of grieving and moving through grief. Here are some of the tools and helpers I've found since I last wrote Discoveries Helping Me Move Through Grief three months ago. In case this helps you or lets you help someone else, I share them with you:

I've learned plenty from the counselors from both Hospice (Rick Hobbs) and Kaiser (Connie Kellogg) and although sometimes I entered their quiet rooms thinking I'd never stop crying, they accepted me with compassion and skillfully taught me ways to cope.

I took an amazing full-day workshop from Joe Hanson, author of Soaring Into Acceptance (available from the author). Among many gifts of that day, I was able to change my one-sentence "story" from "I lost the love of my life, and my life is and will be empty without him," to "I found the love of my life and learned how to experience love fully, and I take this with me on my path." (Joe will be repeating this valuable workshop, "The Power of Acceptance," on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009, in Larkspur, CA, near San Francisco. I heartily recommend it.)

I'm in a Hospice spousal bereavement group. The best part is getting to know other people who experienced the same kind of loss at roughly the same time. Because of the confidentiality of the group, I can't disclose much about it, except that it's helping me move forward. I recommend taking advantage of everything Hospice has to offer.

I've continued to reach out to loved ones and to new friends and welcome them into my heart. Being close to people who understand me balances my need for a lot of solitude. Extending help to others who need it balances the help I need to accept from others.


Each month gets a little easier.

Yes, I'll write that next book. Writing still brings me joy, and I'm no less committed to the mission I've established here. For now, I'll continue to indulge in short spurts of writing and when I'm ready, I'll take on the book I've been planning for more than a year.

Thank you for your compassion and confidences. Keep those comments and emails coming, even if I'm not as quick to answer as you came to expect.

Warmly,
Joan

5 comments:

  1. Best of luck as you continue on your path, which thankfully includes helping people shed their stereotypes about coupling--not only about sex after sixty, but about great love after 60 too, which as you know we do *not* see portrayed enough in the popular media (yes, sometimes we see loving older couples, but they've always known each other since they were like twelve). As a result of this gap in our culture, people (especially women) are panicking if they haven't found their Great Love by the (arbitrary) age of 30, and are either dedicating their lives to finding that someone, or worse, settling.
    --CC at Onely

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  2. This is such an important point, CC, and I thank you for making it. It's true that we almost never see older couples in love unless, as you say so well and ironically, "they've always known each other since they were like twelve."

    That's probably so that the media can portray us as comfortably settled into our love, rather than discovering it in our later years with the giddiness and passion of adolescence coupled with the wisdom, self-knowledge, and relationship experience of more than half a century. That's an electric combination.

    Readers, take a look at CC's www.onely.org, a blog about being "onely" -- solo and self-reliant -- in a couples-oriented world.


    -- Joan

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  3. I too found the "love of my life" four years ago at the age of 65. We are more open, honest and communicate better than we ever did in our past marriages. We do almost everything together. Strangers see us holding hands as we walk and think we're "cute"--no, just in love--madly in love.

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  4. Joan, I just read through your many blog postings, from "gray hair" back to this one ("Six months after"). I'm mentally storing away the inspirational steps you've taken to re-connect with all that life still offers you, while still holding close to memories of Robert.

    All of us face loss in our future (and/or have faced it before). Thanks for your help, in advance. I see you as a pre-need "loss mentor." Everyone should have one!
    --Toni

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  5. Joan, I just found your blog today and have read from gray hair to six months after Robert's death. Please accept my deepest condolences on your loss. I met my darling Tom and we married at 48 and 60 - Tom died November 14, 2004 at age 69. I have written about my own grief journey in my blog. This is an incredible journey of loss and transformation. I will return to read the whole of your blog - blessings and golden light to you. Be gentle with yourself. I will be thinking of you. Suzann

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