Well I have managed to get through my first Thanksgiving without Anna. I can’t say it was an absolutely great day but I can say it was  easier than I thought it was going to be.  It was extremely laid back, Fred picked us up each a meal from my parish food kitchen and we  had that before he went to his other family for a family holiday dinner and brought me back a plate of food that I has for dinner. I spent much of the day just resting and sleeping, tried to call family in other state to wish them happy holidays but guess they were all gone other places, good for them. Did talk to Anna’s son Jared and that was nice but short as he had a houseful of people coming for the holiday.

I am glad it has passed and it was nice that a good friend from California called me in the morning to check on mem and checked in on me later in the day. Fred checked a million times before going to his families if I was going to be ok and I reassured him I was. I did that because I just had a feeling I really was going to be ok. I won’t say I didn’t cry cause I did but I had expected that to happen.

I am learning quickly that the holidays are not the same and don’t have the same meaning , at least for me. when there is no family around to share it with, This excludes Fred because I would be at a total loss without him in my life today. He makes Anna’s being gone tolerable and fir that I am grateful and love him like a son, For all practical purposes he is the only family, along with some of his family, that I have here.

I miss being home in New Hampshire where most of my family is and many friends, but, I have a few awesome friends here and Fred and his family. In reality I will probably never get back to New Hampshire before I die but my ashes will return home with Anna’s and we will be together again for eternity. That will be nice.

The next big step for me will be getting through the memories of Christmas and deciding about decorating. Anna loved the lights on the Christmas tree especially at night. We would shut off everything and just watch the Christmas tree lights twinkle in the darkness. I may put up at least a tree I her memory and leave it up till after January 4th, the anniversary of her death or leave it up till we usually did which was March 7tht the feast of the Epiphany.

I also want to plan a memorial mass for her at our parish church so will have to do that in next week or so. Can’t believe it is almost a year now since she moved on to her next stage of life…going home,

So many changes in such a short time,

God Bless and have a great day




It has been a really good week. I have awoken  each day and felt better than I have for quite a while.  I was even able to talk with a friend this past week who lost a son several months ago about some of the feelings I am having and have experienced and was able to do that without totally breaking down. There were a few times I teared up but it passed  and I was able to continue to talk.

It is interesting to look at how different people handle their grief.

Some people put it right out here and grieve for the rest of their lives. I think those folks have not really dealt with their grief but rather got stuck in  it and have not been able to move on to recovery and on with their lives. They can only focus on the loss and not the joy of the relationship.

I believe all of us go through that stage but somehow most are able to move on eventually. I know that for me, when my mom died and I was places in, and bought into, the role of having to be strong for others and not show my grief put me in that position. It was many years before I grieved her death and was able to move on with my life.

There are also those who do not seem affected at all by the loss and are sometimes described as “cold and unfeeling”, especially  when the person they lost was a close family member. I have heard those words used to describe someone very close to me and I knew that was not the situation. In fact, I believe they were still in shock and disbelief about what happened. They need support and sometimes outside help to deal with their grief because it may be so intense that they feel if they let themselves feel that they will totally fall apart and never stop crying and even describe themselves as “afraid to lose it totally and never stop”. I have seen this in at least one of my grand daughters who lost her mom. She is just now beginning to talk about it and needs the support that it is ok to talk about.

Then there are those who seem to go through their grief in classic textbook style and move smoothly through the stages of loss and never look back. Well, personally, there is no such thing as perfect with way to get through grief and loss. Those folks having the perfect grief and recovery and also sometimes not letting themselves do anything else. It’s that OK I did that what’s next. Like the alcoholic or addict involved in 12-step recovery, who “does all the 12 steps in a year and is better now> , watch out for the major fall cause it is coming, because like recovery from addiction, and I have been there, is not a destination we arrive at but rather a process we go through in all areas of our life and it is normal to have physical and emotional setbacks.

I have learned through experience and reading that grief and recovery is a process. Even Elizabeth Kubler-Ross discussed that in her ground-breaking work on dealing with grief and loss. We don’t go through a stage in the process and then never return to it. As we progress through the process of grief and recovery  we have a very natural, necessary process that occurs and that is Denial. Denial is the psychological process of protecting us from things that may be too painful to face at some point in the process.

So that may mean that today we accept the loss of our loved one and tomorrow we are angry at god, the DRs, and even our loved one for leaving us. That does not mean we are not getting better it just means we are normal and having normal feelings. Where this becomes a problem is when we stay stuck there for the rest of our lives….




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One of the difficult things when your loved one is at home is that it is easy to have hope that maybe things will change and that the might have more time than we thought. This is especially true when they are still alert and taking nourishment and able to talk with you and have days when they really seem like they are getting better. There were days when even she would say that she was going to be around for a long time yet.

This was of course  our denial system in full speed ahead. We always want to have that hope that our loved one will be with us longer than we think and we look for signs that thy are either getting better or at least not getting worse. Anna had a really good spell when one of her grand daughters, that she was close with, decided to make the trip down because it had been suggested  to us by hospice that if people wanted to see her that it was better to do sooner than later, because her process of dying was progressing,

Anna wanted to have some time with Eryn to talk and let her know how she really felt about her and to enjoy what she knew would be their last visit. Her youngest son had planned to come also, but  ended up in the hospital with a medical emergency.

Anna had a great weekend, she was even able to get out of the house in her wheelchair to go to the community room where we lived to celebrate Fred’s 30th birthday. However that outing  did take a lot  out of her and when she got back was really exhausted and took a long nap.  However, when she awoke she was able to spend some real quality time with Eryn as well as give her some things she wanted to be sure she got. They spent much of the second day Eryn was here together and I could see how happy it made both of them.  I was so glad she had made the trip here because I knew it would be the last time she saw Anna alive and her last memories of her grandmother would be pleasant. Later on when she returned for the funeral mass, she shared how glad she was that she had had that time with her grandmother and I was able to honestly share that it was also special to her grandmother. So if there is someone thinking about making that trip to see a seriously ill or terminal relative, do it, don’t put it off and regret it later.

There are no do overs with terminally ill people. You have to forge ahead and do what you want to do or say because if you wait, you may never get a chance to do it, and will be telling yourself “I wish I had ….”. That is a hard thing to live with, Trust me , been there.

That was the last really good weekend I believe Anna had and I am so grateful she had it an that I was here to see it.  I really wanted to believe that we had much more time than I was being told we probably had,  No one knows for sure when the end is actually gonna happen, even when they are on life support and you make the decision to turn the machines off.

What I am saying is live each minute to it’s fullest and be sure to say all the things you want to say or do.  If they are not conscious, you can still tell them whatever you want them to know because they say they are sometimes able to hear you even though they may not be able to respond to you.


After having interviewed a number of hospice agencies, before Anna came home from the hospital, in September, and I decided on AGAPE because they  were able to give Anna the services she  needed and I liked their approach and felt that they would be a good fit for us.  She also had had some experience with another  of their services when she was in rehab, after having fallen out of her wheelchair and broke her femur.

The night she came home, the aide came  to meet her and get her ready for bed and she was comforting and funny and I could see a connect between her and Anna. The nurse who came to admit her, Debbie, was  amazing and later became the nurse on Anna’s case and that worked well for us as she was compassionate, caring  and real and we had some things in common as I would later learn.

The folks we dealt with made  Anna feel safe and cared for and helped me feel better about our choice.   As the  holidays approached and Anna got sicker I knew that  there would soon be more decisions to make. Anna and I again talked about a DNR- Do Nor Resuscitate  Order. Anna only wanted to be resuscitated if she would be ok.  She also trusted my decision about that.  That is a huge burden to carry to decide whether or not to have someone you love and cherish resuscitated or allow them to just pass on. I can tell you it also comes with some guilt when you make a decision like that even when you know you have made the right choice.

Anna was having a harder and harder time to breath and it was also getting more difficult to get her to take nourishment and most of her meals were liquids and if she had solids she ate very little  and slept most of the day.  She would be awake  somewhat at night and that was usually when we would talk. We always did a lot of our talks at night laying in bed, before saying goodnight and I love you and going off to sleep. I think it was the stillness of the night that made that a good time for us to talk, no distractions, just us.

I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t miss those late night talks. I believe that it is a part of my not sleeping at night. I do however still say  goodnight to her and tell her I love her.

We knew that these were gonna be our last holidays together and decided we really wanted to spend it alone. We gave Fred the day  off after getting me ready for the day and the church delivered holiday meals to us.   Anna ate very little of her meal even though it had many of the things she loved and associated with Thanksgiving.

We watched movies holiday movies, talked, napped and just were with each other. I’m grateful for the time we had that day because I will always have those memories and I have to remember that as it is beginning to get harder for me instead of easier and that is because I am experiencing many first right now in terms of her not being here.

This is a part of the journey where I am trying to reach out to others but it is not easy, because I fell like if I do I am spoiling their holidays  or being  a cry baby. Maybe I am but you know it’s ok because I have to do what I have to do to go through my process and come out the other side and go on.

I have chosen to give Fred the day off to  be with his family and I’ll get a meal from the church, watch tv, take a nap, maybe write and most of all talk to Anna.

More Loss…More Memories

I got a phone all yesterday,  a friend since I was 18 died on Monday of lung cancer.  He sister, who called me, is also a good friend, I told her how  sorry I was for her loss and then cried.

Wen we got off the phone I cried more and more and then began to think about the things we had done together over the years and the “fun” we had back in the day.  We had lost contact over the years and I always wondered how she was doing.  A few years ago one of the old gang found me on classmates and  gave me Jane’s number, so I called her.

When she answered the phone I said “this is a blast from your past”, it took her only a few seconds to realize it was me and it was as if we had never lost contact.  So  we promised to keep in touch and not go years between phone calls,.  I am  glad to say we kept that promise and called each other every few months. So it was really easy for me to reach out to her when Anna died.

It was great to talk to her at that time because I didn’t have to filter what I said or how I said it.  We talked several times over the next few months and I knew I could always reach out to her.  Later in the spring I kept getting a feeling that something was wrong and I was not able to reach her by phone and got really worried.   I finally heard from her husband who told me what was going on and that she had lung cancer surgery and things did not look good.  He said she would be home from the hospital in a few days and would have her call me, She did , we talked honestly, and she and her sister nd daughter were planning a trip back home to where we both use to live,  I had tried contacting her after her trip but had not been able to reach her.  Last week I had a really strong need to contact her because I felt something was wrong. I tried but didn’t reach anyone and the phone message was different . I had the feeling something was really really wrong. I left her and her husband a message saying that I would love to hear from them as I was wanting to check on her and how she was doing and that I loved and missed her.

o when I got a call from Texas and her sister said it was her I immediately knew Jane had passed, I will for ever miss my dear friend, but I still have my memories of her and our times together. I physically can’t be there for her and her family, because I am bed bound, but, I can be there for them emotionally like she was for me when Anna died.

I also thought about how she would be with another of the gang who died an untimely death a number of years ago and she will also get to meet and see Anna because I know Jane will look for her.

It’s interesting how with Jane I can mourn her , cry and still be able to focus on the fun times we had and the stupid things we did when we drank.

Then there is Anna, always in my thoughts, and having such a pain in my heart. I know she will always be with me, in my heart and thoughts but I will be glad when like Jane it doesn’t hurt so much all the time.

I was suppose to speak at a hospice event this weekend but looks like I wont be there, because of transportation issues and my inability to afford the price of the rental van for the weekend. I really felt bad about that because I wanted to do that for me, for Anna and for AGAPE hospice. WHEN I told someone I felt bad about it, the said the words I have come to hate “you shouldn’t feel that way”. I was able to tell that person that those words were not helpful. My feelings are my feelings and I keep them in for many years because of those words and I promised myself I would never do that again.

If there is anything I have learned this year, it is that I cannot let myself  not feel my way through this or I will never move on with my grief process.  Feelings aren’t facts, they are based on our perceptions of a situation or event. But, they are real to us based on how we see things.

When you think about never seeing , touching, holding or talking to the love of your life again you feel pain, hurt and loss that is a normal reaction to that situation.

When my mom dies at the age of 44, I was the oldest of 7 children, I was 24 and a divorced single mom. Everyone around me said I had to be strong for everyone else. my brothers,  dad, grandmother and my kid sister who was 9. So I did it.  I remember my godmother coming to the house and trying to come give me a hug and my walking away because I knew if  she did I would fall apart and I wasn’t suppose to do that. So when they had all finished their grieving I was left with mine and no one to share it with because they all said, that’s passed now let it go.  It was years before someone  finally said to me I needed to grieve the loss of my mom and allowed me to do that.  I never want to feel that way again.

No one should have to hold that pain in and go through that alone. So now I am letting myself feel the pain, grieve the loss and miss Anna with all my heart.

I know that I can’t spent the rest of my life feeling the feelings as strongly as I do now and that in time it will get better, but I have to get through the first holidays without her and the memories of how ill she was at this time last year and knowing she was dying and then  her death on January 04, 2015.

I will begin to heal but, I know that means I have to  come through the  process so I can I go on.

Thanks for listening,


Who am I and Why am I doing this…

A friend and reader asked me to talk about who I am and why am I doing this. So here goes.

I am a 65 year old disabled woman who met the love of her life about 35 years ago, the next stage of our life was a long friendship. We were best friends for 2 years before we both acknowledged how we felt about each other and began to move toward a shared life.

We did well for the first few years , you know the honeymoon phase  of our changing relationship. However, there are times in any relationship that you hit rough patches and you either grow or go. Well we did a little of both, we were separated twice in the first 5 years of living with each other. We each had stuff from the past that was  getting in the way of the present. We sought outside help and kept finding our way back to each other because we both realized that we loved each other deeply and wanted to be together, NO MATTER WHAT.

So we worked through our individual blocks and made a commitment to work through our joint blocks together. It wasn’t easy at times and at times we didn’t like each other very much, but, we also made a vow to never go to bed mad at each other because we never knew what the next day would bring.

We broke that vow once about 3 years ago, and went to bed angry with each other, and the next morning the first thing we did was to say we were sorry and that we would never ever do that again, because going to bed angry was the worst feeling either of us had ever felt and never wanted to feel like that again. That feeling of being alone and this vast sense of loss and emptiness. Not unlike some of the feelings I experience today when I am really missing her and just want to hear her voice or hold her hand or see her smile.

That is why I started this blog. The loneliness of loss once the world has gone back to their lives and the visits stop, and phone calls stop asking how you are doing or to just say I was thinking of you. I am not saying that it is wrong by any means for others to go on with their lives, what I am saying is that sometimes we have a difficult time getting going again with ours.

Things like waking up in the middle of the night and reaching out to touch them, looking over to where they slept if they were in a different bed , like a hospital bed, or going into their room if they were a child or other loved one and having it be empty. There is a huge sense of loneliness and emptiness that comes from that and the only people who seem to really understand it are those who have experienced it.

I remember shortly after moving to where Anna and I lived and I still live, talking to a neighbor who had recently loss her husband. She talked to me about having a hard time to sleep at night and would start off in their bed and wake up in the middle of the night and have to do things to keep herself busy and then sleeping on the couch. This went on until she no longer slept in their bed but primarily on the couch, saying the bed was uncomfortable. It may have been, but it was more than just physically,  it was also emotionally. Only she never told anyone in her family about that part.

I could empathize with her because of my clinical training and having heard this from others before, but, I never knew the intensity of it till I also experienced it. Then I truly understood what she was talking about and how often it happens. So if you have lost someone close to you and you can’t sleep through the night, I now understand. That is not to say that I understand all about those who have lost a loved one because I don’t. I can’t begin to understand what it is like for a parent to lose a child, but I do understand the loss of a loved one.

That is why I started this blog. To help me talk about my process and hopefully if it helps one other person out there then it has done as much as I can hope for.

I may digress a lot over the next few months from the plan I had as we get closer to the first Anniversary of Anna’s passing from this worldly journey to her next adventure. Many here call it Going Home. I like that saying doesn’t seem so final. I call it Anna’s next adventure because as I shared in an earlier blog, she loved new adventures.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated and welcome.

May we all find some peace in this journey.




a perspective…

There are things that happen in our daily lives that give us a new perspective on things. Sometimes it’s the illness of a friend, the death of someone younger than us, like my daughter-in-law a year ago this past October or a visit from her children, my granddaughters and meeting one of my great grandchildren for the first time at the age of 2. I got to experience that this past week, when I got a totally unexpected phone call from one of my granddaughters, out of the blue, to say they were on their way through and wanted to see me and would be here in an hour. I was in total disbelief as I had not seen them since they were here, with their mom and some of her family some 6 years ago.

So much has changed since them. One of my grands has a 2 year old son who she had with her, her sister is the mother of 2 sons, who unfortunately didn’t make the trip, and the fact that it was just a few weeks since the anniversary of the loss of their mom to heart disease. Then the fact that it was just a feays till the 10 month anniversary of Anna’s passing. And suddenly a flood of memories came flying into my head.

We talked a little about their mom and missing her and showed them the pencil portrait that a friend of mine had done of Anna and we talked about how realistic it was. In the mist of all that I thought about how happy Anna would have been that they came by and how much she would have enjoyed our great grandson like I did.

This toddler is apparently normally shy, as most 2 year olds are, but he came to me and played on my bed with me and the dogs like we had been a part of each other’s life right along. He even called me gramma and I absolutely enjoyed every minute of their short visit. You see they live like 20 hours away.

It wasn.t until they left that I realized how lonely I was and how much I missed being able to share these things with Anna and laugh at his high energy level.

It is when things like that happen, or watching a movie we use to watch together, or talking to someone who she also knew and would want to know how they were, those things make the loneliness real all over again.

I am learning that the holidays sure don’t help as this will be my first set of holidays without her in 30 plus years and I am already feeling it because she died right after the holiday season. She basically began to go into her final stage of life the day after Christmas.

I know it will be hard as there will be lots of memories. I have talked to a few close friends and said I was having a hard time with the upcoming holiday reason and I know I will also be talking to my grief counselor from AGAPE about it and looking for ways to deal with it. Being so far from family sure doesn’t make it any easier as I am not ambulatory and can’t travel the 19-20 hours or so to be with them.

So I guess this will be a new adventure, not sure how I feel about it, but know I have to go through it if I am to go on with my life without her physically in it. So if you are where I am reach out to others and you can even email me here or post in comments and I will get back to you and maybe we can all get through it together. Or if you know someone else who is going through their first holidays without their loved one reach out to them, they may not say it but they sure will appreciate it in hindsight.

Thanks for listening.

Memories come flooding in sometimes

There are those days, even after the loss of a loved one, that sort of throw us back to the feelings we had when our loved one was so ill and dying. I had one of those this week. The person that I see as my best friend in the world who coincidentally has the same name as my deceased wife, was admitted to the hospital this week for severe dehydration as a result of the chemo she is having for another bout with cancer.

The 4 of us, my friend, her husband, my wife and I would occasionally go to dinner or we would go to their home on the lake on a weekend night and watch the fireworks from the amusement park together. They were so cheerful and inviting and our times together were some of the best we spent with friends.

When I got off the phone with her husband I cried like a baby. All I could think of was the description he gave me of how she looked and I immediately saw my own mother who looked that way the last time I saw her before she died. I also thought about the reality of losing another person who means a great deal to me in my life.

We have know each other for years both professionally and then personally. She has many times been the rock I leaned on when thing were rough and who I also shared the most joyous day of my life, the day Anna and I were married. We had 4 friends at our wedding not including the JP who was also a friend. The 4 people there were my friend Anna and her husband and my other best friend Jacqui and her husband. All 6 of us went to dinner after and has a great time.

However, less than 24 hours later I was in a coma with sepsis.. Anna was home alone when she got the call from the ER saying I was probably not going to make it through the night because my fever was so high and I was not responding to anything. She later told me how helpless she felt because she couldn’t even get to the hospital to be with me. She talked about feeling so alone and didn’t want to bother anyone in the middle of the night. She had no way to come see me while I was hospitalized.  5 days later I was home and well on my way to being healthy again

Unfortunately our transportation issue due to our disabilities and being in wheelchairs made transportation an ongoing issue. So much of the time that either of us were in the hospital much of our contact was by phone. That was a lot of the reason she, nor I wanted to our last days to be in a hospital, alone. We really wanted to be with each other when the time came for either one of us.

I have beat death more times in the past 10 years than I can count, but as they say, apparently God had another plan for me. I guess it was to be here for Anna as she use to say I could not go before her because she could not live without me.

I have a real understanding of how difficult that is having lived without her since January 04, 2015. Somehow each day I wake up and get through another day. Sometimes my heart hurts so much I am sure it is broken forever and then there are other days when I can laugh about some of the things we did and how lucky I was to have shared 30 plus years of my life with her.

If you believe in a higher power, please ask that higher power to watch over my friend and her family so that they can get through this life changing crisis and go on one day at a time and I know they will be with her to care for her and share their love for her and each other. Because that is what we do when we can do nothing else. They will get through it and they will go on because she has shown them how to do that one day at a time.

If you find any of this helpful for you or you have questions about this, please leave your comments on the blog or email me at

the discussion begins…


“I don’t want to die in a nursing home or alone in a hospital. I also want to be cremated and my ashes spread half in the ocean and half on top of Mt Lafayette, which she lovingly called Bellybutton Mountain.” She called it that because when there is snow on top of it from one angle to her it looked like a belly button. That’s the kind of things I remember most about her. Because of numerous mini strokes in her adult life her short term memory was affected especially when she was tired or stressed so she would make up her own words for something based on what it reminded her of.

The mountains and the ocean were our favorite places to go. She loved the maintains best in the fall, because they looked like they were on fire due to the vibrant reds, oranges and golds mixed in with the greens. Walks on the beach at sunrise was something that we both enjoyed and was usually a good time for us to talk about things that were important to us. We both missed it after our move to SC because we never got to do the mountains again, but did get one opportunity to go to Myrtle Beach for a few days and rode our wheelchairs along the beach boardwalk in the morning and later in the evening. These are some of the memories that help me get through a day now and sometimes brings tears because of how much I miss her now. Although we talked many times over the years about what we wanted it was also important to designate someone to carry those wishes out for us. When we tried to talk to my son, he responded,’ but where am I gonna go to visit you” and did not want to talk about it at all. So we then talked to Anna’s youngest son, who was the same age as my son, and told him what we wanted, trust me this was not an easy conversation to have with anyone. However, he listened and promised us he would do whatever we wanted. This may sound strange but there was a sense of relief and peace that came with his saying that because we knew he would do what we really wanted.

So the journey had truly begun, we knew what we wanted and had someone to follow through. We talked many times about some of our belongings and who they were to go too. We even asked the kids and grandchildren which of the things we had did they want when we were gone to heaven. The grandkids actually did ok with it especially when they knew it wasn’t happening right now. The adult children were a bit harder. I suspect it may have had more to do with facing the mortality of a parent. I’ll be talking more about that at a later time.

Even though we had had these discussions there was an important part that we talked about numerous times but never got to it and that was a will. It is funny how that happens, I think for me anyway, that not doing it was a part of my denial system around either of us dying. You can avoid the reality of the situation easier when it’s only in your head and not in front of you in black and white for all to see, especially ourselves, To this day I have not written down what happens to me and who gets what although I have again discussed it with Anna’s son and my live in aide, who I call my son and he calls me mom.

So now that I have said that out loud I now have to begin writing it down. It puts a knot in my stomach when I talk about it. Wow, another door opening to explore. Care to join me? Let me know what you find out in this part of your journey as you may hold the key that would also help me on my journey. I don’t know who said it but the saying “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today” seems to fit this situation from where I am sitting.

Well off to start my list and promise to have it done and ready to be notarized in a month.