April is a month that starts by celebrating fools. Sometimes it is fun to be tricked, like giving your kids ice cream cones filled with mashed potatoes instead of the expected vanilla ice cream. But sometimes, being tricked is not so funny. We grew up listening to bedtime stories that invariably ended with, “happily ever after”. Over the years, through frequent repetition, that fairy tale ending took on a stature of truth and reality. We grew up, and most of our brain knew the difference between fiction and reality. But still, it came as a surprise to us when our “happily ever after” came to an abrupt end, and we realized that we would have to carry on without our spouse.
We feel cheated out of a future that we had worked for. The deal that we thought we had has been broken. Were we foolish to love, and to believe that it would go on forever? There are so many pop songs from every generation that suggests that, “Only fools fall in love”. The popularity of these songs reassure us that we are not the first to ask these questions; many people before us have questioned their level of wisdom.
If you happen to connect with Deity, April is a month in most major faith traditions that recognizes a renewal in our relationship with God. These traditions have developed because human beings need to re-affirm their connection to the life force. I believe that it is a common human condition to experience stages of spiritual winters. The religious celebrations that occur during the spring help us to see a bigger picture, and to learn that our earthly possessions and relationships are all temporary, but very important experiences for our spiritual growth.
So here we are now, a little more humble for having been tricked. We are perhaps less confident now, which is really inconvenient because we have so many decisions to make. We somehow have to find the courage to face a new reality. But along with courage, I hope that we can all develop a new faith that the future can be promising. This sort of positive thinking will allow us to step up and try new things. This issue of Pathfinder: A Companion Guide for the Widow/er’s Journey offers some very practical insight into how to look at our new lives with a creative eye. There is nothing more creative and grounding than gardening. Our guest, Toni Leland, gives guidance on planting a memorial garden, an activity that can be shared with the whole family. We learn from Joan Allen, our featured widow, and we learn from Amy Barry, who discusses using the expressive arts to help our children grieve. Patricia Chaffee keeps us learning at night, by exploring dream analysis. We give the men a little extra attention this month, helping them discern when they are ready to try dating. Lisa Saunders recounts the story of George Burns, and how he managed after the loss of his beloved Gracie. We have several practical offerings, including cooking for one, and how to stock your medicine cabinet. Carol Scibelli keeps us smiling with her humorous look at gratitude. Many thanks to Robin Lensi, for her beautiful cover photograph.
Dr. Joanne Z. Moore,