Sunday, July 17, 2011

Moving Forward, but Not Saying Goodbye

Celebrating Robert's 71st birthday
"The task of saying good-bye seems insurmountable," a friend wrote after losing her husband one month ago to the same cancer -- multiple myeloma -- that ripped my Robert's life from him. I wrote this to her yesterday:


On August 2, it will be 3 years since I lost Robert. But I haven't said goodbye to him yet, nor do I plan to. I talk to him still -- and sometimes he answers.

I find joy in my life (especially now that my new book has come out and I'm giving talks and interviews), and I'm still startled by the realization that I can't come home and tell him about what happened. Then I DO come home and tell him about what happened.

Is it magical thinking? Denial? It sustains me, whatever it is. You'll figure out how to sustain yourself through this loss eventually, but that can't be rushed. Meanwhile, just be real with your children, and take time for yourself, even if it's painful. You can't skip that part.

I really, really recommend counseling -- as much as you can get!

If you want to talk, or go for a walk and let any thoughts emerge that need to, I'm available. Even if you want to say, "I'm not ready yet, but I'll let you know when I am" (which is what I had to tell people who offered early in my grief journey), I'll welcome your message.

Love,
Joan

I know that some of my readers have also lost their beloved partners, and I extend my invitation to listen if you want to talk. I wasn't strong enough to do this at first, but one little step at a time, I got there. So many people helped me when I needed it most that it would give me joy to pass it forward and help others. Email me if you need to share.

I wrote the grief chapter in Naked at Our Age through tears. It was very important to include my own and reader stories of grief, because part of love and sex at our age is, sadly, that one of us will lose the other.

Last week, a woman at one of my talks bought my book, saying that she had just lost her husband. I held her hand and listened, and suggested that she read the grief chapter first. "I already did, while I was waiting. That's what made me decide to buy it."

I welcome your comments.

3 comments:

  1. So very beautiful and touching. I think it is so gracious and incredible of you to help others through the grieving process. You're like a midwife who has given birth and wants to usher others through the pain, except it's on the opposite end of the spectrum.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for making this the most popular post this week! I'm moved that so many of you are reading it.

    For more about my grief story, please click the label "grief" in the column on the right under "labels." You can also read much more about my love story with Robert by clicking the label "Joan's love story."

    Thank you for caring!

    Joan

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  3. I know just how you are feeling. My husband and I were married almost 52 years when he died. On Oct. 11, it will be 3 years since his death.

    A year and two months after his death, I met a very sweet, kind man on an airplane, traveling to Atlanta. We hit it off during the flight and he asked me for a date which was to occur when we got home from our respective trips. We started dating at that time and we are still dating. Now I am 72 and he is 66 years old. His wife had only been dead aboout 2 1/2 months when we met, so his children were not happy about our relationship in the beginning. If they are still unhappy, they now keep it to themselves.
    We are having a lot of mind-blowing sex and enjoying every minute of it. He is definetely a man with a "slow hand" who is delightfully playful and sexy. I can't remember how much fun sex could be. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks??

    Thanks for your latest book. I enjoyed reading every word of it.

    Virginia

    ReplyDelete

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