I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a day with 40 of you at our Healing after Loss Retreat at the beautiful seaside Mercy Center in Madison, CT. It was our first sponsored retreat, and our writers, Patricia Chaffee and Amy Barry, worked hard and fussed over each detail. Our speakers were compassionate and experienced. They led us in small group round table discussion, in therapeutic writing, yoga, tai chi, dream analysis, and in discussions based on closing one door and opening another. Humorist Carol Scibelli was our keynote speaker, and her stories provided the medicine of laughter. Deb Alt provided musical interludes. I was so impressed by the honest and compassionate conversations between the attendees. Though there were some tears, there was also a comfortable feeling of fellowship and community. I am so grateful for this time of rest and reflection.
At this time of harvest, it is our custom to count our blessings. I believe that an “attitude of gratitude” is the foundation of a soul at peace. Sometimes that’s hard when we are feeling sad, lonely, or angry. It’s hard to feel grateful when we are feeling fatigued and overwhelmed. But if we are feeling some of those emotions, it must be because we lost someone good. So the one thing that we can be grateful for is the time that we did have with our spouse or partner. Let’s just start with that. Take some time to remember and appreciate those years that you had together. Try to remember the joy that you felt when you first met, and when you experienced life’s milestones like the birth of a child. Go back through your photo album. Maybe even try to write a caption for the photos and create a scrapbook for your coffee table. During this time of memory, try to feel what you were feeling at the time of the photo. I listened to Vice President Joe Biden address a group of families who had lost a family member in Iraq/Afghanistan. He shared his experience of loss, and reassured these families that there would come a time when they would smile instead of cry when they spoke his/her name. There would come a time when the positive memories would overpower today’s grief. So start by solidifying the memories.
At this Thanksgiving, I wish for you an acute awareness of the good that has been. Those memories are precious. There will come a time to build on them, to continue the themes that are meaningful. But for now, just savor the good feelings that the memories provide.
This is an exciting issue of Pathfinder: A Companion Guide for the Widow/er’s Journey. Patricia Chaffee introduces us to Faith Vicinanza. Judith Clinton introduces us to Edith Windsor and her difficulties after the loss of her partner. We learn the stories behind Julia Child how she managed after the loss of her very special husband. Rosemary Collins stays with the theme with her French food recipes. Then we address the holiday season, with Jane Milardo’s take on how to deal with difficult people, and with Amy Barry’s look at COVE, a program that supports children who have lost a parent. We tend to our spirituality with mandalas. Our health and wellness addresses dental care. (Dental care? – yes, so easy to neglect, and yet so easy to prevent expensive procedures).
This is our first digital-only edition. I hope you find it easy to read, and easy to share with your friends. We are providing free subscriptions for 3 months in an effort to reach more readers. So please share generously!
Peace and Blessings,
Dr. Joanne Z. Moore,