BLOG JANUARY 2016 - PRESENT

This blog is chronological order. Click on the links or orange bars to read more.

Also see Blog for: June-July 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November - February 2011 | March - June 2011 | July - October 2011 | November 2011 - June 2012 | July - December 2012 | January 2013 - June 2013 | June 21 2013 - December 2015 | January 2016 - Present

Continued from previous blog (June 2013 - December 2015)

  • January 3, 2016: "Distraction can be just as good as peace - when you don't have it [peace.]." Cory Scott Whittier said this when referring to the loss of her son in the HBO documentary Semi-Serious. I don't think this is quite true - it is not "as good." But it does help. Read more.
  • January 4, 2016: The smell of loss. Click to open.
    In a NYT essay The Smell of Loss, by Julie Myerson writes about the loss of her beloved mother-in-law, Helen. About a year after Helen died, Myerson smells the definite and overpowering scent of her Helen's perfume. No one else can smell it. It ends suddenly. She has the same experience on a number of occasions, even five years after the death.

    The author says she does not believe in ghosts, but is fascinated by "the gulf between what humans are capable of imagining and what may actually be there." In her quest to understand this weird experience, she contacts several experts.

    The academic Sylvia Hart Wright tells her that "when you smell your mother-in-law’s perfume, her spirit is visiting you in some fashion, trying to communicate to you her continuing closeness and support."

    A neuroscientist Jay Gottfriend explains that what she is describing "is known in his business as “phantosmia” or “phantom smells.” The sense of smell, he says, is our most ancient, primal sense and has “intimate and direct control over emotional and behavioral states. This is especially true for personal, meaningful memories that tend to get stamped into our brains very robustly,” he explains. “Thus it is possible that a seemingly random trigger or thought — perhaps even outside your conscious awareness — has triggered some aspect of your mother-in-law memory.” In some ways, he says, “it is true that your mother-in-law is ‘visiting’ you, to the extent that your memory of her is strong, and that the vividness of her perfume makes it seem like she is there.”

    A psychiatrist Florian Ruths says :“A sensory experience without an appropriate stimulus,” he explains, “is called a hallucination,” and these are “not unusual in grief reactions.” He says that she has I“been given a wonderful sensory memory cue that brings back your beloved mother-in-law in such an immediate and emotionally charged manner.” Maybe, he writes, “it is a very wise trick of your brain of maintaining such a fond memory of her, and an emotional connection to her.”

    I've never had this experience, but Patrick did. I talk more about this phenomenon on a couple of other pages - see Signs | Stages
  • January 26, 2016: Good quote on a greeting card:
    " We do not grieve without first loving. We do not love without gaining more than we could ever lose."
  • "At some point in the future, hopefully long into the future, you will say good-bye to [your family.] You will leave them, or they will leave you. You may be able to influence how or when this happens, but you cannot change the fact that it will happen. You also cannot change the fact that whoever remains will feel great pain, will ask difficult questions, and most likely will not receive satisfactory answers." (From an article by Jason Tanz about a videogame, That Dragon, Cancer at http://www.wired.com/2016/01/that-dragon-cancer/
  • August 1, 2016: Response to "everything happens for a reason"
    I have never felt everything happens for a reason - I don't think reason or fairness have anything to do with what happens. A fellow widow who remarried shared this: http://www.hellogrief.org/a-widow-answers-the-questions-youre-too-polite-to-ask/

       "Do you now feel like everything happens for a reason?
       No, and this is probably my least favorite question. It actually makes
       my skin crawl whenever somebody asks this one. It’s as though they are
       saying, maybe your husband died so that you could meet this new man and
       live happily ever after. Here’s the thing. And let me say this as
       carefully as possible. I was living happily ever after before. I loved
       Craig. We were going to spend the rest of our lives together, have
       babies, and eventually sit on our rockers on the front porch, muttering
       about the kids these days. Then he died. In a horrible, tragic, unlucky
       collision. Wrong place at just the wrong moment. I don’t believe it was
       for a reason or his time to go or any of those things. Then, in a
       terrible and miserable time of my life, I was lucky enough to find a
       wonderful man who made me laugh and listened patiently to all my crazy
       ranting. From this I have surmised that sometimes bad things just
       happen. For no reason. And there is nothing you can do about it. Just
       because something good eventually follows does not mean that one leads
       to the other. The line of thought that my first husband’s death was
       simply for the sake of my new relationship is a very dangerous line of
       thought – one that diminishes my first husband’s life and our
       relationship. Something I’d never be down with."

  • November 28, 2016: I was reading a short piece in the NYTabout a trail runner who was almost attacked by a bear. This line struck a chord: "It opened something inside of me that can never be closed." Loss creates a hole that you can't fill. But you can reinvest in life again.
  • January 1, 2017: I used to think these lyrics were true. I got lucky, and did find someone else who helped me wade through grief. I wish that for anyone who wants it....
    "After you, who would supply my sky of blue? After you, who dould I love? After you, why should I take the time to try, for who else could qualify, after you, who? ...., For without you there what could I do? I could search years, but who else could change my tears into laughter after you?"
    ~ After You, Who? by Cole Porter
  • August 14, 2017: This poem was read at a friend's Celebration of Life service, and his wife found it very comforting.

I Am Learning How to Live
By Jamey Wysocki

I am learning how to live
In a new way
Since that day
You were taken away.

I am learning how to live
With the things left unsaid
Knowing I got to say them
With every tear that I shed.

I am learning how to live
By embracing the pain
Knowing that you live on
Through the memories that remain.

I am learning how to live
Knowing I will never again see your face
And I have peace knowing
You’re in a better place.

I am learning how to live
Knowing you’re in God’s care
It gives me the strength to move on
And makes the pain much easier to bear.

A book that changed my life - literally.

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Also see Blog for: June-July 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November - February 2011 | March - June 2011 | July - October 2011 | November 2011 - June 2012 | July - December 2012 | January 2013 - June 2013 | June 21 2013 - December 2015 | January 2016 - Present

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