Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Secret To Processing Your Grief

by Linda Della Donna

It happens fast. You're a happily married couple, a regular George Burns and Gracie Allen, merrily rolling along like two chips in a cookie. You think life as you know it will never end.


In an instant you find yourself standing over a hole in the ground staring at a rose-covered casket, and inside that sealed box is your life's partner, your mentor, your husband, the best friend you ever had. Your feelings of loss and loneliness defy description. You wish to wake up and find it all a bad dream. But you can't, because it's not.

Tag. You're a widow. Now!

Welcome to my world. Please know you're not crazy. Your life is just a horse of a different color now. Think The Wizard of Oz. Think I'll be okay. And you will. I promise. Because here is a secret to guide you as you process your grief.

Drum roll, please.

Repeat after me, "We're not alone."

Sound simple? It is. And it will help get you through one horrible ugly miserable lonely desperate day one moment at a time. It's important to look to the widows who have gone before us, and to the widows who exist around us, for inspiration and guidance. Do not think misery likes company; think strength in numbers, instead.

Next, call a meeting, an imaginary bereavement meeting, of celebrity women who have been left behind when their husbands died.

Imagine Jackie Kennedy, Mary Baker Eddy, Dolly Madison, Eleanor Roosevelt, Joan Didion, and any other famous widow whose name comes to mind, sitting around your kitchen table, sharing their stories. With you! Imagine what memories they'd conjure up?

Then remind yourself - if they can deal with this pain, so can I.

I know it's painful to bury your man. On life's long list of ugly, losing a beloved husband rockets to the top, nothing anyone can do or say, including this writer, can change that. But, thinking, we, not I, is the key to living life without Him, again. And if you follow my secret advice outlined above, before you know it, that upside smile you're wearing will have turned right side up. And who knows, after listening to Jackie, Mary, Dolly, Eleanor, and Joan, spout their sorrows, you may find yourself on the Yellow Brick Road meeting Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Mr. Lion. Wow! Think flying monkeys, fields of snow-covered poppies, witch on a broom! Imagine the stories!

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