To Risk Love

Image result for intertwined calla lilies

When I first met my husband, the guy I didn’t  know would end up being my husband, I knew he was the one.He had practically every quality I would have wanted in a mate at that time. He was a gentleman, handsome, kind, brilliant, generous, and successful. He knew things I didn’t and we had many interests in common. Years later I would realize that we were actually rather different in a lot of ways, but in the beginning it appeared as if we could have been twins, fraternal of course.

After six weeks of dating, Chuck told me I was the “one” and he was in love. I was rather stunned, it seemed so fast, but we decided to take our time and see. Back then in the late 80’s we had time…. it was on our side. I welcomed and cherished his love and I loved him back, with all my heart. But there was a part of me that was a little frightened. I was aware of the direction in which our relationship could go and the thought of being with him forever was scary. I also wondered all sorts of things like: what would happen if it didn’t work out, what if we fell out of love, what if we couldn’t get along after a while, what if this, what if that. As time went on, we decided that we were going to get married and, by then, I was sure it was right and was willing to take the risk and marry my beloved.

Love always involves risk. The most well-intentioned, compatible couples, never really know what the future will bring to a relationship. You can never know how time and unforeseen circumstances will impact your union. Because of this uncertainty, many people are afraid to take that risk. Past relationships, personal family histories can impact how one feels about coupling, so some remain solo, not willing to take that step and risk love. Individuals get used to their lives being neat and tidy and after years of being alone, they become unwilling to complicate their lives with the messiness and complexities of loving another, and that’s just fine for them.

For some, after losing a spouse and the veil of grief has fallen away, one of the greatest dilemmas that one faces is whether one should take the risk to love again. Early on, in my bereavement group, we discussed the possibility of finding love again. For me, during that period, my grief was so raw that that idea was far from anything I could’ve ever imagined doing ever again. Some of the people in the group felt they’d had their “one”. Still, for others, whose grief was still fresh, that thought seemed kind of creepy. We also discussed the fact that if we were to consider falling in love again, there was always the possibility of losing another spouse or partner. We had all been through so much watching our spouses deteriorate as they battled various forms of cancer, so we were not so sure if we were willing to take another risk of losing a loved one again. For myself, personally, I felt that I could not ever survive another death of a spouse. The pain from losing Chuck was so intense, that I dismissed the possibility of love in my future, at least at that point in time.

Image result for Thank you note pic and pen

Recently, I received a lovely note, in response to a note I had written, from someone I hadn’t heard from in a while. I had written her to thank her for a book she had given me at Chuck’s funeral, which was the only book that really addressed what I would soon be experiencing. The woman had given it to me because it was a book she had used when she was grieving the loss of her second husband. In this note she went on to explain that after a few years she met a wonderful guy, married again, but after nearly 8 years she would have to return to that book for comfort again as she buried her third spouse, who succumbed to the same illness that her second husband had. She questioned why God would have had her repeat that experience. I know that my friend was really afraid to risk loving again, but in time she met a new gentleman and they are now happily married. She had decided, after a time, to take another leap of faith.

With love comes many risks. We never really know how things will turn out, but we have the highest hopes for the best. People rarely go into a marriage thinking that their partner will leave them, that love will turn sour, that their spouse will get ill or die. We are hopeful that our unions will be fruitful, full of love and last forever. The fact that one day it will end never enters our minds as we begin a new journey with a husband or wife.

We must make every attempt to live life to the fullest and to avoid playing it safe. Living has to do with jumping in there, taking a leap of faith, putting aside fears and taking a risk. When you do, life has texture, and color, and meaning and is full of surprises and wonder. When we play it safe our hearts may never get broken, but we will never know the wonderfulness of connecting with someone intimately, loving them and opening our hearts, and allowing someone else to care for it. That’s when one must have trust, have faith and be willing to be brave.

Image result for leap of faith picture

The folks in my bereavement group have become an extended family. Since that time in 2009, many have made big changes in their lives. A few have decided to take a risk and are now happily ensconced in new relationships. It is what our lost spouses would want for all of us, to carry on, be unafraid and, maybe, risk love again. Just like my friend, who risked love a second time, and a third, and a fourth which added to the beautiful mystery of what we call life, her life. After all, she took a risk when she married my husband, he was her first, and I took a risk when I married him too, as I was his third wife. For me it was a risk well taken as I opened my heart up and entrusted him with it.

Now, after all that I’ve been through, having lost Chuck, I may be willing to do it all over again. It was an experience that has enriched my life, increased the depth of the scope of my vision as to what life has to hold, and it has allowed me to know that it is “better to have loved than never to have loved at all.” A big risk, as I forge my new beginning but, in the scheme of things, what is life without risk?

Image result for couple walking off in silhouette

Read more about how I rose from the depths of grief in Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse available on Amazon

On Being Alone

Black Women Are Exhausted - The Riveter

After my husband passed away in 2009, I would face many challenges, one of which was being alone. When I was a teenager, I yearned to be free of the responsibility of caring for my younger brothers and sisters. They were wonderful, but sometimes devilish and a handful. Many years later, I would have that desired time to myself which would last at least four or five years. After that period in my life, I would never live alone again until my husband passed away.

I got used to the rhythm of my life with my husband and son: academic life, social activities, work life, family time. Chuck and I rarely spent time away from each other and we seldom went away without one another. Once he went on a weekend Marine Biology retreat and another time when his beloved dad died, he spent the weekend at his parents’ brownstone in Brooklyn. I went on several girls’ trips to the spa, the beach, but I always, always missed my husband Chuck and couldn’t wait to get home to see him again. He was my lifelong partner, my compadre, my everything. When I cared for him when he was ill I was the devoted caretaker fulfilling my vow “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”. I have often thought that he would have taken much better care of me as that was his nature, to take care undauntingly, willingly, lovingly, steadfastly, but I gave it my best.

I recall once when I had gone out with girlfriends and became suddenly ill, later attributed to something I had eaten, I had to leave the restaurant unexpectedly. A dear friend of mine hopped in a cab with me and rode with me home. When I arrived, there was my Chuck ready to greet me. He wasn’t repelled by my disheveled appearance, he just took my hand and led me upstairs, helped me undress and saw to it that I got cleaned up and put into bed straight away. He washed my clothes, and fed me crackers, he even called our doctor, and talked to me till I fell asleep. I didn’t have to ask him if he could take care of me, he just did and knew the right thing to do. It comes with the territory you know- love, commitment, caring for the one you love.

black-couple-hugging | BARONEZA

Years later and a short time after Chuck had passed away, when I was living all alone, I came down with a virus. As I lay in my bed writhing with pain , I had that moment where I came to the realization that I was truly alone. The one person I could rely on to be there for me emotionally and physically was gone. That stark reality at that time led me to weep in my pain, tears of enormous sorrow. But that incident was also the beginning of my slow awareness that I would have to be there for myself from then on. No more consolation, no more words of comfort, no more kisses, no more hugs. It took awhile to acclimate myself to my new way of living. Alone, alone, all alone, just me, myself and me again. Soon I would come to appreciate my time spent with me.

This brings me to the time we’re living in now. We’ve been asked to stay home during this pandemic, and as the outside world begins to open up people are understandably anxious to get out and get on the move. Still others remain cautious. Most people I speak to have recreated their lives in ways that prevent them from getting cabin fever or going stir crazy. A daily walk, masked, and then back home again. Sitting out in the yard in a controlled space, and terraces and balconies in urban settings, are very essential at this time.

For me, this time, reminds me of that period of my life when I had lost my husband forever, and had to figure out how to navigate my aloneness and see what that would be like; it was a process. Like then, after we were shut in, on lockdown, I felt untethered to my known world anxious to hear my friends’ voices, but soon after I’d retreat to my space, choosing to become re-acquainted with myself, my work, my home, my life, my soul.

This moment in time, I believe, is meant for us all to get re-acquainted with ourselves. Putting down cell phones, giving social media a break, re-evaluating our material possessions, reconnecting with books, thinking, doing and knowing, and experiencing the unbearable lightness of being. It’s time to face regrets and fears and demons and it’s a good place to renovate ourselves so that we come out of this better. This is the time when we must think about the unthinkable, but the inevitable, our own mortality, and how we make our time left, whether 10, 30 or 50 years more meaningful.

Why are so many people afraid of getting to know themselves more fully, more intimately? Probably because they’re afraid of what they may encounter hidden within the crevices of their subconscious. The rush, rush of the daily no longer exists in this time, so what excuse do we have for not connecting with the one person we are closest to, ourselves? There’s only so much ZOOM, FaceTime, Go To Meetngs, etc., keeping one connected to others, still outer directed, that we can do until it becomes another distraction from being one with ourselves. We should be able to find contentment within, once we take the time to excavate our souls. This takes undivided attention which this unanticipated fortuitous time provides. No need to be anxious even as loneliness sets in. You are meant to care for yourself as no other person can. You will slowly begin to be with others again overtime, but who will you be, what will you have learned, who do you have to forgive, what do you have to forget? How will you fulfill your purpose, the reason that you are here?

Setting Self-Care Intentions: The Guide Women of Color Need

We must seize the moment to step into our inner sanctum, amidst the quiet and solitude. Some have probably never visited that place before because it’s too scary to deal with the parts of us that lie dormant waiting to be awakened, given attention, looked at closely and made peace with. The human touch, your human touch, is there for you at this time as you practice self care, since no one else is available to care for you, but you. Our normal lives are full of distractions, so in this unusual time that is not what we need. One day someone may be put in your stead who can be there for you in that way but don’t count on it. In the meantime you will have to care for yourself, and you can do it, no matter how much of a people person you say you are. You can vibe on your alone time and cherish it when you’re done. Do not focus on the loneliness but on the happiness and the joy that you will find as you enter your inner sanctum and turn your loneliness into wholeness. You may have to step on prickly thorns along the way, but that is what this life is meant to be,uncomfortability leads to growth if we push through. Then when this incredible time in history comes to a close you will feel as if you can step into the next chapter, knowing that time was not wasted, as you walk into the new normal that awaits YOU and Us.


Read more about rebuilding a life after loss in my book  Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse  available on Amazon or you can order at Barnes and Noble.

Signs of Love II -Mother’s Day

Anyone who knows me well or who has at least read my book, they’re familiar with the fact that I do believe that the dead can communicate with the living and vice versa. My belief is based on my own unexpected experiences immediately after my husband had passed away. There were actually, once I became aware of what was occurring around me, several cluster events in the very first two years. They were unexpected, sometimes frightening, reassuring and/or comforting.

I also believe that through these events we can develop a new relationship with a spouse and even get answers to lingering questions that remain with a widow or widower. Once you realize that you’re experiencing what I call something supernatural, after the initial shock, you can begin to talk to their spirit as if they were still alive. You’ll find that this practice might actually assist with your grieving process as it becomes a tangible outlet for you anxiety and sorrow. You’re not just holding in your feelings but you’re giving them a voice. You may soon hear, find or see answers to many questions coming to you as a sudden thought or in a dream. You might even stumble across a tangible item or piece of information that resolves a gnawing question or brings closure to issues that may have been causing you anger, angst, or regret.

As the years have passed since my Chuck has been gone, I no longer have these experiences on a regular basis. I do believe that for myself whatever signs Chuck sent me in the early days after his death, the purpose was to bring me comfort as his spirit made it’s way onto it’s new world and I forged a new path on my own. Once I recognized these unusual occurrences as something more than routine, I was very reluctant to share what I was experiencing with others, except with a close chosen few. Actually, the first time I revealed my experiences was in a chapter in my book, Brave in a New World , called The Supernatural.

This new reality in my new world did not only mean I had to adapt to a new way of being but I also had to navigate another realm, one that seemed on the precipice of life, while I made sure I wouldn’t be engulfed in it.

I have found that in recent years, particularly as people begin to lose loved ones, folks are more open to the possibility of communing or receiving messages from the dead. Once, I had a doctor, after I had completed a visit, turn to me and ask,”So, have you had any apparitions from your husband?” I’m asked, on occasion, if I’ve received signs from my husband. I even recall aunts and my grandmother discussing how they’d been visited by brothers, sisters and parents. I was young and just thought this was “crazy talk”, but now I find that people do not summarily dismiss this possibility and are even eager to share their own experiences with me. So I conclude that when it comes to signs  from those who have passed onto the afterlife, anything is possible as long as one is open to that possibility. Some are not and that is fine.

This all brings me to this Mother’s Day 2020. When my son was born he was the beautiful boy with the deep dark pools for eyes. So many people saw him as an old soul who might have even been here before. At the time of his birth a couple of people said to me,“We know you wanted a girl but God sent you a son. He was sent here to help you, you’ll see.” I’ve never forgotten those words and my son has proven them to be true. He is the reason that I am a mother and a proud one at that. As I continue to live each day during this odd, surreal year with this Corona Virus Pandemic, I’m managing to feel pretty okay with an occasional bout of anxiety.

I’m pretty transparent about my feelings,as I don’t see the need to be the stalwart, the strong one with the the stiff upper lip. This is a scary time and although I have a strong faith, I still can feel vulnerable and admit it. I meditate, work on writing projects and I have a myriad of house projects to keep me distracted. One of my projects that I have going, is to weed out some books from my library. This past week , as I pulled out a few from a shelf, out fell a card, a Mother’s Day card, with a beautiful pop up flower in the center bearing Chuck’s signature. I have no idea how it got there or where it came from. It seemed familiar, but to have it appear now, when the world we live in is going through the worst of times, where everything seems so tentative and fragile, was a comfort amidst the chaos. At this time when life seems interrupted and the future uncertain, it is what my soul needed, craved really, a sign of reassurance and Chuck did not disappoint. If he were alive, he would have been the protective loving reassuring person I’d married and whom I miss, not always,but at this moment in time. Thus, this sign, allowed me to know that he was still near.He’d been quiet for years, but sent a sign when I needed it most. It assured me that I am not alone and that no matter the outcome all will be well.

In the sacred busy-ness of your day, whether, purging ,organizing,reading,exercising, you may find yourself feeling anxious or uncertain about what the future may hold. There’s this stark reality that your partner is no longer here to accompany you on this journey.I suggest you get quiet, reach out, and see what the universe gives you back.  It will always give you back what you need even if you don’t know in what form that will be. For me it was this beautiful Mother’s Day card five days before Mother’s Day in this uncertain time. The reassurance that someone is looking out for me, practicing Divine Social Distancing, along with my son, let me know that whatever the future holds all will be fine with me.


To find out more about how you can heal after loss read Brave in a New World:A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse available on Amazon


I’ve Lost My Spouse….And Now This

When my husband passed away in 2009, I was so sad and devastated I could barely breathe. As I tried to adjust to my new life without him it was touch and go for me everyday. The  chaotic emotional aftermath of his loss became my new world, my new normal, and consumed my life at that time. I could feel myself experiencing severe anxiety and sometimes felt off balanced. Thus, the day to day struggle to breathe and remain present took every bit of strength I had in me.

A few months after he died I went for an eye exam and it was discovered that I had cataracts. The shock that I got from hearing that news made me feel even more alone, vulnerable and hopeless. “How could I have cataracts? That was what old people got”, I mused. Then a brutal reality set in that I was no longer young and that I actually qualified for many senior citizen benefits. Who knew?In the world that Chuck and I lived in together we seemed immune to the signs of aging. “I wondered,”Like, what is that?

“Also, to top it off, my right knee, which had been a problem for me over the years, really began to give me a lot of pain. After a visit to my MD and after a slew of X-rays I was told that I would eventually need a knee replacement. This operation would eventually take place two years later. When that time arrived, I was fortunate to have had great friends and family around to support me. Someone, out of the blue, even offered to accompany me to the surgery as they understood I would be missing the presence and assurance of my husband. This person offered to be a stand in of sorts so that I wouldn’t feel afraid or alone. At that moment in time that meant everything to me.

I say  all of this to say that each new disconcerting health issue that popped up, filled me with anxiety and also drew my attention to the fact that Chuck was no longer present. Hence, I began to miss him more and on another level  felt myself begin to slip away, as I confronted the fact that I was falling apart and facing my own mortality. Death, at that time, seemed a welcome respite from all the bad news I’d been receiving health wise in those early years. Death would at least allow me to be with my husband again, I theorized, back then.

How do I overcome my fears and not let worries overwhelm me and ...

At some point,however, I did decide that I wanted to live and not die and that I had to face each ensuing bad news head on, bravely and resolutely. As I did, and as I realized that neither diagnosis was going to lead me to certain death, I gained the courage to face each and every new challenge as best as I could, sensing Chuck’s spirit was with me, placing the right people in my path to assist and comfort me, even if for a brief moment in time. I was never disappointed and always grateful as my life continued to change.

Several people would contact me to let me know of folks who’d had replacements, and they all assured me that I’d be better off than before. When it came time for the surgery I was fortified and ready to get it done, and I never regretted that decision, as I was able to walk better than ever. Five years after I’d been diagnosed with a cataract and it was time for that surgery, little did I know that this girl, who has worn glasses since she was five years old, would be able to see clearer than ever before.

Which brings me to today, the NOW, the very moment we’re in. One day it’ll be known as in the Time of Coronavirus, but now, for many of us, it’s a state of being locked down & shut in for an indeterminate amount of time. We’re washing our hands, spraying everything we touch with antibacterial solutions, wearing masks and pondering our futures a lot.

Why Black People Are Getting Coronavirus More: Reasons For Spike ...

How long will our world be this way? Who can tell? It’s like Groundhog Day, everyday. We have to adhere to guidelines and wait it out. We can look at countries that have gone through what we’re going through a little before us here in the US, and as we watch their experiences, trial and error, trying to recover, moving forward into their “new normal”, we are also learning  that new symptoms and challenges of this virus arise daily. It’s all so much to take in, and can affect all of us in ways that are unsettling. However, for those  who have lost a spouse, maybe two years ago, four years ago, last year, last month, 10 years ago,  10 days ago, this  must be the very last thing you could ever imagine being a part of. The added loss of freedom of mobility and independence, close contact with loved ones, and the fear of contracting an invisible disease is compounded by the fact that you’re experiencing all of this without your husband or wife by your side. There’s also the fact that you might feel more anxious, nervous, frightened and unsteady. Plus you’re social distancing at a time when you really could use a hug. When a spouse dies one is often becomes confused and out of sorts. The events of today, with the disease spreading around the globe, afflicting thousands upon thousands of people, makes those who are grieving feel more insecure and unsteady, shaking one’s very foundation. Please remember that although we’re going through the worst, having lost our spouses, compounded by this unprecedented event, history shows that if we follow guidelines and use common sense we will survive these uncertain times.

What Should We be Doing During this Forced Confinement ?

I believe it’s an opportunity for us to focus on our lives without our partner and think about how we’re going to lead and create a new life going forward. We must remember that this life never promised that we would be exempt from adversity. We must continue to focus on grieving, but plan for the future as this pandemic will usher us into a new normal.Those who have been grieving for a while are already used to this new normal. As we live our life on pause we can take this opportunity, one which we will probably never have again, to reassess our lives.We can focus on adjusting to life without our spouse, and we can have conversations with ourselves, as well as with our departed loved ones, creating a new relationship with them and with ourselves. We should assess every aspect of our lives and  move in a direction that feeds our souls and helps us to feel for others as well as ourselves. This practice will bring forth answers from our spirit that will guide us into our next chapter. This next phase of our lives should be more fulfilling, authentic and full of empathy for others. You may also find your grief compounded by new losses from this disease. Take this time to grieve those lost souls, and try to get a handle on the fear and anxiety, which is normal, because this is a scary time. To say that it is not would be disingenuous.


The familiar rotation of the stars and planets continue and the sun and the moon remain in their familiar place in the heavens. Know also the seasons are still changing and all of the familiar yearly seasonal signs are still occurring, which assures us that all is not lost. The earth hasn’t exploded, and as we care for it going forward, it should continue to be a reliable source of comfort as we wrestle with and make peace with our new normal, post pandemic. Although this has proven to be overwhelming and challenging, we will learn from both of these events, the loss of our spouse and this pandemic. We will learn great lessons which will inform our lives as we step into our new normal along with the whole wide world. With each passing day we will see that we have survived, that we have gained a new strength and awareness, that our hope to be able to pull through is continuing to unfold.We will feel a new confidence with the knowledge that we are brave and will survive it all.

Be present with your feelings, don’t judge them or hold them in contempt, but let them come and go as they are a part of who you are, a part of how you feel life. You must now know that anything you do in your daily life has a ripple effect across the world. We are all connected and maybe this knowledge will help us to do better, be better, live better. Rest assured in the knowledge that you will not die, but live stronger than before having come through these anxious times walking by faith and by sight.

Change is Coming | Athlete Movement







Widows and Widowers: Walking a Different Path

 Related image

How Does One Rebuild A Life When it’s Been Smashed into Smithereens?

After my husband Chuck died, I was left standing in the middle of my interrupted life, not knowing which way to turn. I remember myself in those days as feeling trapped in my body, desperate to get out. Everyday was like Groundhog Day, the same excruciating pain, the same numbness, anxiety and depression. I was going through the motions each and every day, waking up, starting a new day over again, searching for my husband, falling asleep and awakening to the same routine again.
I had developed routines, but these felt shallow and not rooted in reality, my new reality, that was taking shape as I continued to live and breathe. I became desperate with a desire to distract myself from my ever-present thoughts and to stay healthy so as not to lose my fragile mind. This was a very, very tough time, and as I entered what I like to call my “new normal” I was sure it would last indefinitely.
As the months dragged on swiftly – normal time ceased to exist for me – it was some time in the following year that I began to feel a bit more hope. I would come to realize that I was starting over, a clean canvas, but now all alone. I had an opportunity to reconstruct my life anyway I chose. I was, after all, now ONE, and all my future choices were my call. I no longer had to ask for anybody else’s opinion, or have my husband weigh in on the decisions I would make. This realization helped to drive my life forward. I began to assess everything in my life: my home, my work, my faith, my friends, my lifestyle, myself, and my purpose.

Image result for all alone

Who was I Before and Who Do I Want to be Now?

Everyone who experiences the loss of a spouse should do a self-assessment at some point, when they’re ready and able. It’s a good thing.
You might ask yourself, “How do I want to live my life now?”
This question will help to highlight the fact that your life has transitioned from two to one (hard to swallow), and although you are alone, you do not have to spend your life in loneliness.

A New Opportunity

Although it’s understandably difficult for many widows and widowers to look at their loss as a moment in time when positive changes are just beyond the horizon, in time many will come to know that they have new options for their lives.
When you reach that point where you’re ready to create something new in your life you might want to ask yourself a few more questions. Jot down the questions and the answers in a little journal that you can refer to as you go, it will serve as a template for your new life. Here are some samples of what you might ask yourself:

1. Who am I now?
2. How has the effect of this loss changed me?
3. Where do I go from here?                                                                                                                4. Who do I want to be in my new reality.

Be truthful with yourself, as this is not about optics, but an opportunity for you to really decide in what direction you want to take your life. These questions will help to give you an idea of what you want and how you want to live. Your new life is certainly not one you’ve lived before, as you are now a widow or a widower. How small or how large do you want your future to be? How do you plan to get there? It’s all up to you.
You should also ask yourself one very practical question: What can I do to change my living space to suit my new life and needs?
I would suggest that you do not do anything drastic particularly in the beginning, but think about how you can personalize where you live so that it suits your needs now. You can actually consider moving, or making changes in your current home that you would never have thought about doing before. A fresh look at one’s surroundings can inspire you to look at making changes in other areas of your life.
I have a friend who lost his wife and is now in a relationship with someone who is different from his former spouse. Although this friend grieved the loss of his wife so sorely, after having cared for her for years, he would one day begin to yearn for female companionship again. He met someone who now complements who he is now, and they are having a great time together. He did this after nine months which brings me to this salient point: there is no discretionary time frame after the loss of a spouse to pursue one’s own desire to seek companionship again. Old rules like waiting a year after are no longer viable and whenever you’re ready to move on it’s fine. If you’re never ready, that’s fine too. Your life is yours.
We as human beings are always in transition, because the world is ever-changing, situations change, death changes those who are affected, as it should, as we become cognizant of our own mortality and the time we have left. We must not get stuck in the past and we must continue to live and thrive and be hopeful about our future. Death then, can become the catalyst for new opportunities to come to fruition in one’s life. After a time, we may or we may not come to this realization, but if we do, we must seize the time. Staying stuck in the past does not stretch us, and may do more harm than good.

Image result for heart at end of road pictures

Trying a different route home, making new friends, developing new interests will unlock doors allowing new experiences to take hold. There will be bouts of loneliness, waves of grief, but the time between these episodes will increase as one rebuilds a life bit by bit.
Many people are so laden with grief that to become free of it can be unsettling, and may seem uncomfortable at first. But as one begins to feel a sense of optimism and hope as they turn their attention to living again  and move away from the constant pain of loss, they will begin to rebuild their lives in ways that suit their new normal. One may even open the door to love again if they choose.
Ask yourself some of the questions that I have posed. You will probably not be able to do this in the beginning of your loss, but at some point you will want to figure out your next move.The answers to these questions will become the blueprint that you will use as you recreate your life.
Should you choose to stumble down a new path like a newborn, you will be led in a direction beyond your loss toward a life with no labels, only to discover who you are becoming next in this new chapter, on your own terms.

Image result for New opportunity pic

Read more about rebuilding life after loss my in book  Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse  at Amazon or  you can order at Barnes and Noble.

   My Shadow Grief

Related image

When I was a little girl, I used to love to try to outwit my shadow and for that reason I really enjoyed going out with my father in the early evenings before the sun went down. Sometimes the moon would shine bright in the sky casting shadows, with the help of the streetlamps, on the cobblestone streets of South Brooklyn where I lived until I was seven.

I would chase my shadow, try to jump on it, run away from it, but I was never able to escape it as it followed me wherever I went. And when I couldn’t see it, my dad would say, “You can’t see it now, but it’s there. It’ll appear again, you’ll see!” He even taught me Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, My Shadow, which I would recite often, because I was so intrigued by my own.

I remember when I first discovered my shadow, it was one of the most exciting things to me. It was like discovering that the perception of water on the road on a sunny day, while riding in a little green Fiat convertible on the way to Long Beach Island, my scarf aflutter in the wind, with a very handsome young man whom my parents loved (sadly I did not) like Isadora Duncan, was actually an optical illusion. Oh, but then, I do digress.

Grief and loss are also experiences that are both startling and unbelievable. One can’t imagine a person you’ve loved for what seems like forever, is just not alive anymore. Here one day and then poof gone.

When my father died, the initial shock was so great I literally let out a scream. I had been out and when I arrived home there was a note from my husband left on the dining table, it said I should call him. Deep down I knew something wasn’t right and when I called, my husband relayed the news that my father had passed away.

My son and one of my brothers were on active duty in the military at that time so I called the special number I’d been given in case of an emergency to let them know. After I hung up the phone I stood in the middle of my bedroom and let out a scream. Then, I met my husband’s sister, who is like a sister to me, and we drove up the West Side Highway in Manhattan in silence, to the Allen pavilion where my father had died just a few hours earlier. Thank goodness for my husband who was my moral support at that time. But some time after that, I didn’t want my grief to interfere with my day to day relationship with him, so I hid it. It would soon become my shadow grief.

I would cry in secret and mourn my dad terribly right up until the day, two years later, when my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.I then needed both of my hands on deck to care for him. When Chuck died in 2009, I was so stricken with grief I could barely see.

Time would pass and as the pain of my second major loss in 2 years began to ease a bit, and as I began to rebuild my life trying to figure out what I was going to do next,  something interesting occurred. Although I was no longer in the deep throes of grief, for my father or my husband, I still knew I would never be the same again. I began to have flashbacks of childhood moments with my dad and memories with my husband Chuck that have, since that time, become a backdrop to my day-to-day life.

When I look at the towers of the Eldorado, a tall majestic residential building in New York City which is on the same Manhattan block as my parents’ home, I recalled my dad’s advice to me. When we first moved to Manhattan from Brooklyn almost fifty years ago, I told him that I got lost in Central Park and he advised me to look up and search for the towers of the Eldorado “follow them and they will always lead you home .”

That I should marry a man who gave my son and his nephews many adventures on their numerous expeditions through Central Park, the beautiful park designed by Olmstead & Vaux that Chuck knew like the back of his hand, I can feel the special link to my dad and the Manhattan life which we all held so dear. That Chuck’s last visit with me to that park would be when he laid on a bench opposite the tennis courts, and he looked up at the sky, weak from chemotherapy, while I secretly wept, is a memory that I will always have as part of my shadow grief.

I’ve become accustomed to hearing, seeing and smelling sights and sounds that harken back to special moments with both my dad and my husband Chuck. Today, I’m no longer overwhelmed or greatly saddened by these random occurrences, thoughts, sensations. I’ve gotten used to the momentary sadness, melancholia or joy that awashes me out of the blue.They’re the memories of two people I loved so, that will remain with me until I leave this earth. These unexpected experiences no longer depress me or detract from my day to day life. They’re just the memories that pop up now and then and they have enriched the landscape of my existence here on this planet. I am able to weep, smile, feel the feelings and move on. What a gift, my shadow grief , the proof of lives shared with me. It is the evidence that they were here, that will remain with me as long as I am, always leading me HOME.



To find out more about how you can heal after loss read Brave in a New World:A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse available on Amazon



When the Light Goes Out Look Within

Related image


I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. During my early years, I lived in South Brooklyn, in an area that is now known as Boerum Hill. I loved taking walks with my father and I’m sure my mother was relieved when I did, as I was a very precocious child, always talking, very curious, very sensitive. Life for me never was about the big picture, it was always about the details.

My father took me all over the city the.We rode on  the Staten Island Ferry, roamed through Prospect Park and the Zoo, the museums, Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, and all the iconic New York City sites of that time. I loved going out with my dad. It was a special time between me and him. I could talk all I want, and ask a zillion questions, and he never seemed to mind, in fact he encouraged my inquisitive nature and curious mind.

On Sundays we would go out to get the papers, the Sunday New York Times and the New York Post, which was actually a liberal paper at that time, the voice of the worker,oh but then I do digress.

We never got the Sunday Daily News and, believe me, this was much to my chagrin, as I always wanted to look at the funnies. This small custom set me apart from my peers because my little school friends would chat about Dick Tracy and all the other other comic strips, and I had no clue as to what they were talking about.When I told them my parents didn’t get the Daily News, as according to their politics, they didn’t consider it a paper worth reading, my friends looked at me as if I had five heads. My mother and father, both with very strong political views , felt that this paper was an extreme example of yellow journalism stoking the fears of some at the expense of others, but, oh yes, again I do digress.

One Sunday, as my father and I walked along the cobblestone streets of South Brooklyn, we passed a church, St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, located on Sackett Street. I asked my dad, “What is that building?” He explained to me that it was a church where one went to pray to God. Now I did pray to God at night when my parents said my prayers with me but I was always intrigued by the notion of God. This beautiful, archetypal old church, where I assumed God lived, indicated by the triumphant tolling of the bells, usually as we were passing by, was a place that I was very curious about. My father said we could go “sometime”. Well, don’t tell me sometime, as I figured that meant soon which meant it would be happening imminently. I was a rather impatient little girl, a trait that has carried over into adulthood.

One day my father announced that we were going to go to Mass at St. Agnes. I was so excited, and I imagined that this meant we would be wearing masks. Hey, I was four or five….what did I know. We entered the beautiful church and found a seat in one of the back pews. The priest was so far away and was speaking in a foreign tongue; I found the whole experience to be amazing and intimidating. Anyway, I recited familiar prayers, as I smelled the incense, watched the procession of priests and altar boys and considered the sacred rituals to be somewhat of a mystery, but grand. When it was time for Holy Communion, this meant that my dad had to leave me in the pew while he made his way down the long, long aisle to receive the sacrament. Now if this were the present, I would’ve been able to go up with him, but back in those days there were many things that occurred in churches, deemed inappropriate then, but permissible today.When I looked like I was about to cry, my father asked a woman in the pew to keep an eye on me. She was very nice and pointed her finger to show me that my father wasn’t going to disappear, as it seemed to me. She motioned her finger to create an invisible trail that my eye could follow which reassured me that my dad was indeed in sight. You see, my father was my was my guiding light. I knew that everything was okay as long as he and my mother were near. I felt confident and safe.

Related image

My husband Chuck was also a beacon of light for me. I didn’t have to see him, but as long as he was in my life I felt a sense of reassurance, calm, and security. This is what his presence in my life gave to me; he was my source of light and strength. Chuck was my my cheerleader, my backup guy. My father was like that for me too, as he felt that I could do anything and he was always cheering me on.When I lost my dad eleven years ago I mourned him woefully until the day my husband’s doctor called and said,” We think we see something on your husband’s pancreas.” I immediately tucked away my grief for the loss of my father so I could give full attention to my husband and the long hard road that awaited us both. I wished my father could have been there at that time for me, but again, he loved Chuck dearly, like a son, and I know he would have been sorely pained by news of Chuck’s illness.
I always knew that I could count on both of them and I felt  that when something went  left in my life, I had an added assurance that dad or Chuck  had my back. They were both like lighthouses in the distance representing a beacon of light which guided my steps. I always expected them to be there so you can only imagine that my life came to a halt when they were both gone within a four year span. Soon after I discovered that all I had was myself to guide and cheer me on. It was kind of like rediscovering my ruby red slippers and hearing Glinda the Good Witch utter the words, “Yvonne you’ve always had the power.”After all my anchors were washed away, I had to go deep and find my own beacon of light to help me as I adjusted  my sail and traveled in a new direction.

After I’d  left my first Mass with my dad, I complained to him that I was tired after that long service. I also told him that I didn’t like the fact that he had to leave me to go to Communion as I was afraid he’d disappear. I told him too, that I felt my first church experience had been very overwhelming and that I’d be fine not going again for a long, long time. I added that I was so surprised that we didn’t have to wear masks at Mass. Later that day I heard my father say to my mother, “Well, I don’t think she’ll be wanting to go to church again for a long time.” My mother said, “Well that’s good.” I heard them chuckle to each other, and I just thought they were so right. I didn’t want to risk losing my father in a sea of sacred pomp and ceremony and smelly smoke.

After a spouse or loved one dies, we sometimes feel as though a light in us has gone out. The energy, personality of the one we’ve lost meant so much to us, and we suddenly find ourselves in a long tunnel leading down a lonely, bleak road to points unknown. Our beacons of light have disappeared and one feels abandoned and alone. However, when we’re ready, we can reach out to a myriad of grief and recovery resources and search until we find the right one to suit our needs. That connection with others will help us to begin to feel less alone as we begin to repair our broken hearts and create a new life and our new normal.

We might also discover that the light we miss has now become a part of us. Our loved ones are a part of us still and our own inner light and strength will soon overshadow our grief as we become stronger. In time,we will come to know that we are being guided and strengthened from within. I like to call this the spiritual legacy left us by those who have gone on. So after awhile, look within, and you will feel a familiar presence no longer in the form of the lost spouse, or loved one, but now a part of the fabric of who you are and who you are becoming which is brave in a new world.

Image result for Finding light within




Want to know how you can discover your light within ? Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse   available on :



Many, many years ago I dated a guy who did not celebrate American holidays. It was just not his thing. He would celebrate birthdays because he didn’t see that attached to some cultural dogma imposed on others by Western Culture. Thus,when a holiday rolled around that was always the elephant in the room. Needless to say me,the Christmas Baby, was always silently disappointed that he would not celebrate with me, and let’s not even talk about Valentine’s Day. But I continued to celebrate my favorite time of the year on my own terms. My friends thought he was not really my type, but he did have other attributes that I enjoyed. In the end I had to travel my own path to enlightenment and in the process I learned that I shouldn’t have to compromise my own beliefs and values to be in a relationship. That lesson would become a part of who I was and who I was becoming as I realized that each new experience that gave me an aha moment was like being born again, as long as I integrated my new lessons learned into the ever-changing landscape of my life, that is.

This past decade has truly brought many changes into my life, all which a decade before would have been unforeseen. But I’ve learned to look at my life as a series of clustered events occurring every few years, all transitioning my life in ways that have ended up launching me to the next level of my life’s experience. As I look back, each new level has brought challenges but also growth, some of which I had to overcome or at least learn from.

At the end of each of these “learning clusters”, I’ve had the realization that whatever I was to learn, I hoped I did and eventually I would move on to the next experience that would ultimately enrich my life and give me the clarity that I needed as I continued to move forward.

I call each of these “cluster experiences” my being re-born. The death of my husband (as well as my father 4 years before) was probably the worst and most difficult of these learning experiences, and because of the loss, I was forced to decide whether to die or to live again (stand frozen in time or move forward). Fortunately for me, I chose life and spent the next decade crawling out of an abysmal pit into the light of my new beginning. In retrospect, I can now see that I was born again. I took the time to learn what I was being taught along the way, so I wouldn’t wallow in my grief or remain stuck somewhere in time having to repeat lessons which I know would have become tougher as time went on. I learned to live consciously so as not to remain on a merry-go-round going round and round, almost catching the ring, missing it and then repeating the ride until I could securely grasp the ring and move on.

We are always being given an opportunity to be born again and again, but sometimes our rebirth can never materialize because we aren’t able to make the necessary changes needed in order for new opportunities to manifest themselves.

In the next decade let’s all try to take those next steps that will help us to change our lives in ways that make us accountable to ourselves, wiser, happier and put us on the path to reaching our personal goals. Sometimes we must discard old habits, ways of thinking, ways of doing and we must really ask ourselves if doing things in the same way and reaping the same results is benefiting us. It’s good to remember that it’s not how the world is treating you but more how you’re navigating yourselves in it. Discarding “old think” and old ways of doing things as well as people who aren’t serving you well or not giving you what you really want out of your life, can be painful in the short run, but in the long run we will be able to live authentic lives knowing that we’re getting rid of blockages to our happiness and opening the door to new opportunities.

Oh, once I had my epiphany about that relationship and left it, I would go on to meet my  husband Chuck and eventually we would walk off together into our shared destiny…both reborn.


To find out more about how you can heal after loss read my book, Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse available on Amazon

Forgiving the Dead & Others

Image result for forgiveness pics

After we lose a spouse there is a tendency to canonize her or him. Many remember only the good traits of the person who was once a part of life here on earth. To be fair, for many their spouse was their angel, loving, kind, generous, compassionate, a comfort and support. But for many others their experience with their spouse may not have been as wonderful. After years of suffering with a not so great husband or wife, their death may have those spouses who remain breathing a secret sigh of relief.

Grief and loss are complicated. Friends and family who may have been aware that someone’s deceased partner was rather insufferable, might be confused by the depth of grief the remaining partner exhibits. I’ve heard people say, “I don’t know why she (he) is so sad. Everyone knows that _______ was a tyrant, abusive, controlling etc. It should be a relief that they are now gone.”

But the sorrow that one feels after losing a spouse is mired in complex emotional attachments, patterns and feelings that others cannot know. Our friends and family have no right to judge as they could never know the true dynamic of a marriage, even one that may have been tumultuous, abusive, hard, and burdensome.

I knew of a woman who was in such a difficult marriage. Outward appearances seemed as if everything was just fine. This woman was so unhappy that she would secretly wish that her husband would die. One snowy afternoon there was a huge plane crash, and although her husband was not on the plane, he became an on ground casualty as the business that he ran was hit by the plane when it careened into the building that he worked in. My friend was in a state of shock, and I can assure you that her initial feelings were not feelings of joy. On the contrary she was distraught, sad,and had feelings of guilt because of the death wish she had secretly harbored for her husband. This instant widow now had to act like the bereaved wife, which she was, but also had to grapple with feelings of guilt (which reminds one to be careful what you wish for).

Image result for person forgiving a dead spouse

Only after years of therapy, was she able to deal with the grief, shame, relief, and huge guilt that the untimely death of her spouse had burdened her with. Eventually, she, now the single parent, raised a hugely successful son and learned that many tragic circumstances are not caused by God, but are random events that occur as a part of life. She wisely chose to seek help to assist her in unpacking and examining her mixed emotional response to her loss, and would one day create a new life while unburdening herself from a shroud of guilt.

I also knew of another woman whose life with her husband was less than great. When he became ill, she was his primary caretaker and angrily cared for him until he died. When he finally passed away she was furious with him. She felt abandoned, betrayed, alone and cheated out of whatever miserable life she had planned to live with him forever. She felt that he had left her purposefully. This woman, to this day is still filled with hate and anger toward her long gone spouse. She has not sought professional help and remains consumed with bitterness, which has prevented her from constructing a new life and taking herself in a new direction.

Bearing the burden of unforgiveness can keep widows /widowers stuck on their grief journey. Although the spouse is no longer on earth, they’ve literally moved on, the remaining spouse finds it difficult to do the same.There are so many unanswered questions and sometimes it’s easier for people to deny the truth of who their spouse really was so instead, they choose to remember only the good attributes, constructing a false memory that they’re able to live with, while still secretly harboring feelings of hurt and pain.

It would be a good exercise to write down all the hurts and acts of unkindness that one endured at the hands of a deceased spouse. After seeing all the unkind acts on paper, the first step would be to think about each, feel the pain and then forgive the individual. Feel the anger, rail, scream then let those feelings go. It will take awhile to come to a place of forgiveness, but remember the hurt and the bitterness that you’re feeling, your spouse is no longer here to witness. Thus, you’re doing this exercise for yourself because it is about you having the opportunity to open your life up to new possibilities without having to lug the baggage of your old and now forever gone relationship into your new beginning, your new life.

Related image

I would also suggest this exercise for those who generally are having a hard time moving one’s life forward, and this goes for anyone who has long standing hurts from a former husband who may still be alive, or for a child who felt emotionally abandoned by a parent for example. Counseling can assist one to move through these life determining issues. I know of people who were in bad first marriages who went on to remarry but still carry great anger toward the original spouse. These feelings will manifest as mistrust, anger, bitterness, brittleness, intimacy issues and on and on. Let it go, because I promise you, those longstanding leftover feelings will seep into all the relationships that you have going forward. Trained counselors and therapists can help people identify the triggers of their anger and turn those bitter emotions into the fuel that will help folks to live constructive lives.

Forgiving the dead will create a pathway, by which you can lay down your anger, grief, sorrow, and heal in order to begin a new chapter without dragging that emotional baggage into the new life you’re about to rebuild.

Some say they  forgive but don’t forget but I believe that once a partner has departed this life, it is up to us to move on without dragging former chapters of an old book with us. Remembering the thoughtlessness, abuse, indiscretions of departed partners keeps them alive in ways that do more harm than good. We want our memory of our lost spouse to be one that is true to who they truly were, which will help to free us of the negative control that they may have had over us for many, many years, thus allowing one to live a new life unburdened of negative feelings and memories from the past.

Related image



To find out more about how you can heal after loss read Brave in a New World:A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse available on Amazon


The Maze and the Shift

Image result for Grief maze

I often write about the aftermath of grief. It is my own personal experience with this that inspired me to write Brave in A New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse. It’s been ten years since my husband passed, and I’ve found myself thinking about those early days right after his death. I just knew that the grief state I was in was where I would remain forever. Shared stories of loss and recent personal experiences with losing friends and family, which seems to be occurring more frequently these days, conjure up old memories as well as my own feelings from that time. Recently, I thought back to those cold, gray, hollow days following the death of my husband Chuck, and I remembered feeling desperate and full of despair.The fact that it was winter amplified my emotional state as the gray days seemed to grieve with me as I walked around in circles not knowing what to do next.

It was like being in a maze as I would awake, sometimes in the middle of the night, seeking Chuck, seeking comfort, seeking answers, searching for a way out of the nightmare that I was experiencing. I would wander aimlessly around my home, sitting in Chuck’s favorite leather recliner, hoping for and fearing a hint of his presence. I would exhaust myself before returning to sleep which was the only escape from this new, crazy, wretched world I found myself in, and this became a ritual that I would perform nightly and daily.

Image result for woman exhausted in grief

I could no longer see color, or beauty. I could no longer laugh, me the happy one, the funny girl, as I was immersed in my tears and sadness. The site of flowers pained me so, as they reminded me of losing Chuck and how my husband could no longer share in the beauty of Mother Nature’s bounty. My husband brought me flowers all the time, just because and to look at the many, many arrangements now displayed on my mantle with cards of sympathy made me sad.

In the beginning, my son would come once a week on Wednesdays to stay with me. I so welcomed his visits, more than he would know, as his presence gave me respite from my new grief ridden and solitary life. Knowing that I could count on someone being there with me helped to provide a little bit of distraction even if my son didn’t fully grasp the depths of my sorrow. Everyday was the same, the tears, the rage at God, the aimlessness, the anxiety, I just knew that this was my new life. I was caught up in a maze without any escape.

Image result for beautiful flowers on a mantel

I know that during that time people phoned and came by but time has blurred many of those recollections, as all I can recall was the incredible loneliness, the nagging questions that lingered and the anger that I felt at the very fact that my husband had been snatched from this life, unceremoniously and unapologetically. My life continued like this everyday, day in and day out.

Many months passed and then one day I had a realization that my life was beginning to change. I suddenly noticed that I had no one else to consider except myself. Nothing was as before. My son was working and in school and really needed his time so we agreed that he could stop coming to mommy-sit. This shift actually helped me to become more acclimated to being fully on my own as I began experiencing a rebirth of myself. I was at the precipice of a new beginning and it was this epiphany that helped me to slowly close the door on my old life and tip-toe into the new one that had landed in front of me.

As I began to settle into my aloneness I soon realized that I no longer had to hang two sets of towels in the bathroom, our monogram in full view; I no longer needed to set two places at the dinner table anymore. And, in time I came to know that I no longer had the need to hold on to every item of my husband’s, because the truth was, he was gone forever and was never coming back to this plane. Each new realization caused me pain and brought down the tears, but I was also getting used to my new normal.

I began to make changes in my home that suited my tastes and my needs. I no longer had anyone else’s opinion to consider. This was a little hard at first, as I was used to getting feedback from Chuck, having conversations before big decisions were made, sharing ideas. But what I was learning, as my new reality set in, was that I could now do whatever I wanted. I was writing a new chapter, this was my new beginning. There was no joy in this realization, only a need to move on, live life, my new life, to do good and most importantly, to survive.

Image result for woman walking back and forth in grief

When you lose a spouse your world as you know it comes to a screeching halt. You look around and there’s dead silence with only faint whispers of your life with another, that has suddenly vanished. You are full of despair and sorrow, and may even feel nervous, anxious, agoraphobic, and other unidentifiable feelings that make it seem as if you will never be the same.

But here’s the good news-you won’t be the same and are not meant to be. The shift taking place in your life was what this loss was meant to bring. The challenge for you is to get through your grief journey, wallow in it, feel the pain, walk through the grief maze repeating it over and over and over again until you’re done.

It’s all a process and having been through this experience I can assure you that once you endure it, a new life awaits you. I can’t guarantee that it will be better, as in my case, but I can assure you that your new life will be all about you and you will be the author of the 1st chapter in your new beginning. You will have choices and you will be able to make decisions that will carry you into your future. Eventually, you will see that the remaining essence of your lost spouse becomes a part of a new foundation that will fortify you, inspire you and motivate you out of the maze as your life shifts and you start over again stepping into your New Beginning.

Image result for black woman arms open to the sky


To find out more about how you can heal after loss read Brave in a New World:A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse available on Amazon