When I left the editor job I’d had for 18 years, my departure was voluntary. I no longer found any pleasure in the work and I knew it was more than time to move on. Fortunately, finances were not an anxiety since my husband made a good salary. All positive, right?

So why did retirement bring a daily case of the blues – dark blue, at best? Why did I feel for months as if there was no solid ground beneath my feet? I had a pervasive sense of loss similar to grief.
I was hardly unique. Many retirees find themselves floundering when their days are no longer defined by a job. Felice, an Ohio school counselor, voluntarily retired after 43 years. Then she discovered that more than work was missing from her life. “I had lost schedule, purpose, and a sense of community,” she says. That trio of losses doesn’t match the idealized images of having time for ourselves to lie in the sun, go on a cruise, be with the grandchildren. Yet the grandkids are busy with their own lives and cruises eventually dock. So many of us ponder, what’s next?
That next step depends on accepting what kind of person you are. “I’m not good at doing nothing,” Felice admits. After months of soul–searching, she found her way back to a school setting – but in a very different format. Every morning she’s a volunteer aide in a preschool center. But these mornings aren’t enough for this energetic woman. Afternoons and even many evenings she’s a volunteer for numerous academic organizations. “My kids tell me I’ve flunked retirement,” she laughs..

My brother-in=law, Norman, was the editor of an esteemed science publication. When he was forced to take retirement he realized he wouldn’t be happy unless he was doing something purposeful. He began teaching English to groups of immigrants, led workshops about anger management in prisons, and became instrumental in setting up an organization to foster Jewish-Muslim cooperation in his home town of Columbus.

This doesn’t mean that retirement should be all work and no play. Even workaholic Felice has enrolled in exercise and yoga classes. You might also develop new skills. Norman joined a glass-making group and created exquisite glass objects that his family and friends were delighted to have as gifts. He also discovered he had the talent – and patience – to do intricate crewel embroidery. The Noah’s Ark tapestry he made for the newest baby is now a family heirloom. I, myself, while starting a new career as a freelance writer, made time to bring a longtime dream to life: learning to play the piano. (I hadn’t even known why the keys were two colors!)

Whatever path we decide to venture on, Felice advises asking yourself how that project would help you move forward. Settling for time-killer activities just makes us feel worse. “And don’t lock yourself into any long-term commitment,” she warns.

We could all take heart from the words of author Anne Tyler: “Sometimes you get to what you thought was the end and find it’s a whole new beginning.”


Has any punctuation ever been debated as often as the apostrophe in Mother’s Day? That small mark indicates that the day is for one mother, not all mothers. As a devout grammarian I would move that apostrophe. Mothers’ Day. Yet it points to an inescapable truth: the holiday doesn’t have the same resonance for everyone.
On one side there are women who have a joyous celebration, complete with corsage, candy, card and/or dining out. The popular image is of a beaming woman surrounded by her loving children. (How the offspring feel about the compulsory show of affection is another story!)
The reality is that many women would like to tear the annual date off the calendar. For this “Hallmark Holiday,” as the cynical among us call it, can have painful weight. There are women missing a parent, or mourning the loss of a child through death or estrangement (which is another kind of death). Women mourning a child who never made it to birth, and women unable to conceive.
So it’s fitting that Mother’s Day began as a tribute from a daughter. A West Virginia woman, Anna Reeves Jarvis, was mourning her mother, Anne Jarvis, a well-known activist in women’s causes, who died in May 1905. Beyond her personal sorrow, Anna wanted a day that would be everyone’s private tribute to their mother. In 1908, she led the first Mother’s Day observance in a local church. Alas for her naive hope, the simple memorial idea took fire and spread rapidly and loudly across the nation. In 1914 President Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day a national holiday. To the delight of merchants it exploded into the gifts and hoopla so familiar today. Ironically, Anna Jarvis was horrified at what her idea had turned into and fought it – in vain. The genie wasn’t going back into the bottle.
We can add meaning to our own celebrating by reaching out to someone who is suffering some form of loss, and visit (if visits are welcome) or by a phone call. Just four simple words – “I’m thinking of you” – can help bridge the chasm of loneliness.
We should also be careful what we say to anyone we might not know well. A friend told me she’d bought a box of cookies from a new neighbor as a donation to a charity. But she confesses she threw the cookies into the garbage when the woman chirped ,”Your little ones will enjoy these.” The brutal truth was that my friend was coping with the failure of her final fertility effort. “Some people are so insensitive they don’t try to recognize how someone else might be feeling,” she said.
Those of us who are on the deprived side of the holiday don’t have to settle for a solo pity party. We can plan ahead of time to see a play or movie, or attend a concert , either alone or with a friend who’s in the same rocky boat.. My sister used to have an annual date with a childless friend. They’d meet in an elegant restaurant for what they jauntily called their “unMother’s Day lunch.”
The best possible day to all!


“Some of my losses are still walking around.” That wry remark was uttered by a woman mourning the “death” of several friendships. It’s the kind of loss many of us become familiar with, but it seldom nets any sympathy cards .
I discovered this at the ripe age of ten.. My best friend and I had been inseparable since first grade. Then her family moved away and our only contact was by phone. No FaceTime or Zoom in those days, but they wouldn’t have helped anyway. Betsy’s phone chatter was increasingly about her new friends, with zero interest in me. What I felt was – in a word – abandoned.
I was too young to understand that the end of a friendship is a kind of bereavement, and the adults in my world failed to recognize that. I was admonished to “stop sulking.” Or told, ,”You’ll find new friends.” (That meaningless compensation is thrown at the widowed, too, in terms of finding new love.)
Friendships rupture for more reasons that geographical distance, of course. The more benign way is when your interests gradually diverge. But sometimes it’s one person’s spouse who creates a distance.  One of my friendships expired soon after it began, with promised dinner dates for the three of us routinely forgotten .It turned out that the husband preferred to be alone with his wife, without a third person joining in.
A major issue that puts a relationship on life support is lack of respect for each other’s needs. When I began writing my first book I told everyone I had to be “off the planet” each day until 3:00. It was the only way I could submerge myself in my book. All my friends were cooperative except one (a therapist!)\. For years she insisted on calling while I was writing because that was easier for her busy schedule. I was too afraid of losing the laughs we used to have together to speak up for myself. But my resentment and her scorn of what I was doing threw a dark shadow over us. The crisis came when I told her she didn’t have to understand my need, but she had to respect it if we were to remain friends. She couldn’t – and we didn’t.
However, if we’re asking to be respected, we also need to do the respecting. This extends to empathizing with someone’s pain, even if you secretly think she’s better off without the other person. Instead of tuning out we can in tune in, and jettison words like ,“It isn’t as if someone died.” Something did die – a closeness that’s still missed, memories no one else shares.
The hopeful side is that, some broken friendships can be salvaged IF at least one of ypu is willing to risk reaching out. Last year a long-time friend and I stopped speaking due to a miscellany of misunderstanding. After some months of cooling down, I realized how much I missed her and what a good friend she had always been. But how to swallow my pride and risk making an overture? Sometimes a birthday or a holiday is an opportunity. I sent a text to say “Thinking of you on your birthday.” I was afraid she might ignore the message or send an impersonal one-word reply like, “Thanks.” Period. Her answer arrived the next day. “Thinking of you, too.” We were on our way. We’ve met several times since then and have wisely refrained from rehashing reasons for the rift, but with more appreciation of one another.
True reaching out makes us vulnerable, but so do all relationships. The choice is ours.




Since March is Women’s History Month, I looked up some famous heroines and was surprised by how many found new roles after they were widowed. Too often we see the death of our spouse or companion as the end of our own story, too. “Life will never be the same,” is a common refrain. Yet a different life may have its own rewards.

Even the hit show “Hamilton” could use a sequel. After Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel, his widow went on to have a historic career. In an era when women retreated to the background dressed in mourning weeds, Eliza Hamilton cofounded the Orphan Asylum Society, the first private orphanage in New York. As the Director, she worked ceaselessly for almost 30 years raising funds to maintain the asylum, while also overseeing the education of more than 700 children.

I also get inspired by women who refuse to be defeated by age. The American artist Grandma Moses was a farmer’s wife and a mother for decades. After her husband’s death, she went back to her long abandoned enthusiasm for painting and became recognized as an artist in her seventies. Her highest-paid work sold for $1.2 million! Painting was easier for her arthritic hands than baking, she told an interviewer. When her right hand could no longer function well, she taught herself to paint with her left hand – and continued her career until two days before her 101st birthday.

Women who add new chapters to their lives don’t just exist in the arts and politics. Sometimes they’re quietly nearby. I have a neighbor who was widowed about five years ago. All I knew about her was that she had taught “English As A Second Language.”. Actually after her husband died she didn’t seem very visible. I now know she was making solo trips to places she’d never had an opportunity to visit -such as the Galagagos. But this unassuming woman wanted to lead a more purposeful life. She accepted a friend’s invitation to help organize a program for a university in Cambodia. “I’d never been to a third-world country,” she says, “ but I didn’t think I should refuse the invitation.” She was there for two months. “It was challenging,” she admits.

A new chapter doesn’t have to be that adventurous, which brings me to a personal heroine. My mother worked as a legal secretary until she was eighty, despite being handicapped by severe hearing loss. (For years she refused to wear hearing aids, because she thought they would make her look old.). Widowed and retired, she found that life in her Florida residential hotel was lonely. So she invited the other solitary women to a series of Sunday afternoon “concerts” in her room. At these popular meetings guests listened to opera recordings of her idols, mainly Pavorotti, and my hospitable mother offered cookies – and whiskey..

No one chooses to be widowed and loss is never easy. But we should revise what “the end” means. I confess that I saw my husband’s death as the end of anything good in my own life- unaware that I would go on to write books that help other widowed people.

“Action is the antidote for despair,” Joan Baez said. The choice varies because there’s no one size fits all. But the other side of grief is the opportunity to create a new chapter for ourselves.
Books: “Widow’s Walk” – available through; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-–; “Come and Go” – ∫; “Ten Women of Valor” and “Role Playy” – Amazon and Amazon Kindle.


The first Valentine’s Day without my husband I told my counselor, “I feel as if I’lll never have anyone’s arms around me again.”
His response? “Put your arms around yourself.”
Cold comfort, I thought, and what does that mean anyway? Doesn’t he understand how alone I feel?

It took a while to see the wisdom beneath his words,. Along the way I discovered three things. The first was that a “two by two” world doesn’t have to depend on a spouse or partner. What about friends, like one who told me,”You need a hug” – and then hugged me with affection and understanding.

Yet sharing doesn’t always come automatically. The second thing I discovered was that if I wanted to be with a friend – rather than have a solo pity party – I better learn to reach out. It’s easy to assume that if no one’s invited you for a holiday or a Saturday night, it means they don’t want to be with you. The reality is that people are busy with their own lives, and it’s not a reflection of us. So with trepidation I began to use my fingers to dial the phone and ask, “Would you like to get together this weekend?” Or even “For Valentine; s Day?” It helps to come up with a specific idea. “Like to try out that new pizza place?” Or, “ I hear that new movie is good.” She might refuse, in which case you’re no worse  off than before you called. You might hear, “That’s a great idea.” Or, if she’s busy, “How about the following weekend?” That doesn’t fill the holiday, but it gives you something to look forward to. Either way you know you have the courage to reach out and can again.

Note: I’m not recommending asking your adult child to be available.  We might scare the kid off if we seem to be leaning!

The  major thing I learned is the “hug” I give myself. This year instead of gazing plaintively through a store window at heart-shaped boxes  of  candy, I’m shamelessly devouring the Godiva chocolates I bought for myself. Other years I’ve  bought recordings of favorite musicals or listened to my old records of comedians.  You can’t feel too sad when hearing Nichols and May, remember them?

Often I enact what I once thought was strange advice. Literally putting my arms around myself I assure the woman within, “You’re not alone.”

Website:   :

BOOKS:: “Widow’s Walk” – available through; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-–; “Come and Go” –; “Ten Women of Valor” and “Role Play” – Amazon and Amazon Kindle.




she can’t – with or without an excuse – but she might not. You might hear, “That’s a great idea.” Or, if she’s busy, “How about the following weekend?” True, that doesn’t fill the holiday, but it gives you something to look forward to.
If you end up with just rejection, you’re no worse off than before you called. You also know you had the courage to reach out and can again.
Note: I’m not recommending asking your adult child to be available. We might scare the kid off if we seem to be leaning!
The major thing I learned is the “hug” I give myself. This year instead of gazing plaintively through a store window at heart-shaped boxes of candy, I’m shamelessly devouring the Godiva chocolates I bought for myself. Other years I’ve bought recordings of favorite musicals or listened to DVD’s of comedians. You can’t feel too sad when hearing Nickols and May, remember them?
Often I enact what I once thought was strange advice. Literally putting my arms around myself I assure the woman within, “You’re not alone.”
Website: :
BOOKS:: “Widow’s Walk” – available through; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-–; “Come and Go” –; “Ten Women of Valor” and “Role Play” – Amazon and Amazon Kindle.


Amid all the gossip about the royal siblings there’s a repeated comment that should be off limits.  It’s the claim by people with no  personal knowledge of the brothers that Princess Diana’s death was harder on Harry than on William.

Really?  How do they know? By what standard did  they measure the brothers’ grief at the loss  of their mother?

Yes, Harry is the younger one and was, perhaps, more vulnerable.  Yes, William had a king’s crown to look forward to. But such comparisons are odious and usuallybased  on ignorance.. It reminds me of the question thrown at me when my partner died many ears after I’d lost my husband. I was  often asked, “Which death was harder for you?” Should I have measured  by the number of tears I shed for each one?

The fact is, there’s no measuring tape or ruler that can record the depth of someone’s feelings.

When my friend’s husband died after  a devoted marriage of 50 years, she apologized for not being able to cry.  Was she in some category  labelled “unfeeling” by observers? Or was  there too vast a reservoir of feelings for her to give into the release of  tears,  even privately? I only know that this dry-eyed woman lasted less than two years without the man who had been her whole life.

Judgments about what other people should or shouldn’t do ( wear,say, feel) should be off  limits, too. When I interviewed  bereaved people for my book, “Turning Toward Tomorrow,” I spoke with a widow who had found new  love with her husband’s  best friend. Was she one of those woman who “has to have a man in her life,” as neighbors cattily remarked? Couldn’t it be that the strength she gained from this relationship enabled her to go on living?

This isn’t a ”true or false” quiz. The only truth is  locked within each person. Does Prince William’s regal silence  mean he’s  less traumatized  than his  spill-all brother?  Or is William’s wound simply  buried deeper? Or perhaps he’s just learned to live with it?

We need to stop thinking we’re mind readers – or heart readers –  and respect a grieving person’s inner struggle, especially since we may be on the receiving end one day! We should also avoid judging how much grief anyone has the right to. My grandmother has been gone for decades, but I still remember what a hospital aide said to her when my grandfather  was dying: “You’re lucky you had him for so many years.” Perhaps it was the aide’s version of sympathy or maybe she was speaking from a hidden  wound of her own.  Whatever, mygrandmother’s blunt reply was: “What the hell difference does that make now?”

Grandm­a  was absolutely on target. Losing someone we love, someone who may have been the most important person in our world for many years – or one year  – can be anguish. Grief may be mixed with a secret sense of relief that the ordeal is over (which brings its own guilt), or mixed with unresolved issues, but that should be solely between  the two people involved.   It’s not for us to judge what  we can’t really know.

As the  great author Willa Cather wrote, “The heart of another is a dark forest.”   It  deserves the respect of “No Trespassing,”  unless we’re invited in.

Books: “Widow’s Walk” – available through; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-–; “Come and Go” – ∫; “Ten Women of fValor” and “Role Play” – Amazon and Amazon Kindle.







“It isn’t as if you were married!”  Those callous words were thrown at a woman who was grieving the breakup of a relationship.. But it doesn’t require a wedding ring to make this kind of loss painful. Even if it’s not a legal divorce it’s an emotional one, and brings the same challenge of putting yourself back together.

I spoke with someone who fought his way through this ordeal. Ben Kassoy, a 33-year-old poet living in Los Angeles, shared the frank story of his “first mature relationship.”
He was still in his twenties when a friend introduced him to a statuesque young beauty. The immediate effect was “electric,” Ben says. “Sparks flew!” Apparently S (initial to protect her privacy) felt the same way. They became involved in a passionate affair that Ben hoped would be permanent.. After two years, S paid an overdue visit to her family for July 4th weekend. When she returned she called Ben and said they needed to talk. He hurried over, never imagining the devastating words he was greeted with: “It’s over.”

“She didn’t seem able to articulate a reason,” he says, “maybe she didn’t know why.. She just kept saying that she’d become less and less happy.” Was he shocked? “That’s an understatement. Tectonic plates shifted under my feet.”

He also felt humiliated at not having seen this coming. “I had thought I was on solid ground with her .”Although no ne blamed him for the breakup an avalanche of criticism came from his “internal monologue., “ he says. “I even made a list of all the things I hated about myself.”
Lost and confused, he made a common mistake: plunging into another affair. As many of us discover, rebounds don’t usually work. “Everything was in the shadow of my relationship with S . The affair was brief because I wasn’t ready, but this woman got hurt, which made me feel even lousier. My sense of myself was completely damaged.”

At that point he could have slid dangerously downhill into clinical depression or worse. “I had a lot of feelings I shoved down.” Courageously Ben faced a piviitol challenge. “Before I could have a good relationship with anyone, I needed to feel whole again. “
Recognizing that he couldn’t do it alone,  he began seeing a therapist. He also “processed ” his feelings with his supportive family and a few close friends. “It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick, but I began to see mself with more clarity. I even gained a different perspective, that the breakup with S had a rightness about. It. Although our relationship was fantastic for that time in our lives, it wasn’t what either of us needed in the long run. We had completely different styles when it came to sharing our feelings. Of course, partners cas work on improving this, but we were worlds apart.”

It’s a dramatic contrast to the relationship he’s in now. For some three years later, he met Kristen, an attractive young actor. They’re together in what Ben describes as a “more communicative” relationship, helped by the work he did on himself. “I’m 100% stronger than I was with S,” he admits. It’s also affected his poetry. “She’s my inspiration and a big part of my support system,. You need a partner who understands the stresses of your work, the ups and downs you go through.”

What additional advice would he offer anyone looking for a new relationship? “Find someone who allows you to be the person you want to be!”

Ben Kassoy’s poems have been published in over a dozen literary magazines .He’s currently completing a full-length poetry collection..


The enforced gaiety known as New Year’s Eve demands hailing midnight with champagne and light-heartedness. The alcohol’s easy enough to get, but a light heart may be beyond our reach. So I find myself remembering some savvy advice from a few people who learned how to manage that challenging night.

One of the more unlikely is George, a shy Colorado widower who usually didn’t say much at all.His wife had been their “social director,” as is true of many couples. So their friends had been mainly his wife’s. After she died everyone sort of forgot about George, since he was so quiet he easy to overlook. However, a few years after his wife’s death his sister insisted he accept an invitation he’d been sent by a former colleague. He grudgingly went to the party, but it was as if he was barely there. He just sat silently in a corner devouring the hors d’oeuvres. (Like the majority of us, he finds food a comfort!)

But when midnight came George  saw all the couples embracing. “A tidal wave of loneliness hit me,” he admits. “I suddenly realized how alone I was.” Without thinking he blurted out what was on his mind: ‘I sure could use one of those hugs.”

“I shocked myself,” he says, remembering the sudden silence. Then there was a burst of laughter, and he was engulfed in hugs .

”Ever since that night I’ve practiced asking for what I want,” he told me. “As my wife used to say, ‘Don’t expect people to be mind- readers.’”

Tess, a staunch Vermont widow, wasn’t even interested in hugs. “After my husband died I refused to go to any parties,” she days.“ But my next door neighbor made such a fuss inviting me I decided I’d go to be polite and if it was too hard I’d just leave. I was okay until it got near midnight and I saw couples signaling each other. I realized they were getting ready for that midnight kiss.” When 12:00 struck, Tess was nowhere in sight. “I hid in the bathroom,” she confesses.
“What a terrible experience,” I said.
“Difficult, but not terrible,’ she snapped. “I reserve ‘terrible’ for real catastrophes like earthquakes.”

Tess then created her own New Year’s routine. “I get copies of three favorite movies, blow my budget on an expensive dish like lobster, drink a glass – or two – of wine and have a perfectly decent time.”

This type of solo celebrating is followed by many people who are alone, especially with socializing limited by Covid. A divorced friend of mine who’s usually strict about nutritious eating, has a “wicked feast” as she calls it. “I splurge on the most fattening foods I can think of and open a bottle of French champagne.”
“Just for yourself?” I asked.
“ I don’t allow any ‘just me’ thinking. I’ve discovered I’m good company for myself.”

A hopeful New Year to all!
Books: “Widow’s Walk” – available through; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-–; “Come and Go” –; “Ten Women of Valor” and “Role Play” – Amazon and Amazon Kindle.

A CHANUKAH MEMORY Surviving Loss Series

Delete December! That was my bitter mood when I faced my first holiday season as a widow. It was a week before Chanukah, the Jewish “Festival of Lights.” It’s traditional to light a candle for eight nights in memory of the miracle that happened in ancient times. When the Israelites reclaimed their temple in Jerusalem they wanted to rededicate it, but there was only enough oil for one night. Miraculously the lamp burned for eight nights!

My family had always celebrated the joyous holiday together, with my children helping me light the candles. But this year I would be alone. Not even the children were coming. I think they couldn’t cope with their father’s absence

““I’m going to ignore Chanukah,” I told my bereavement counselor.
“How are you going to ignore your feelings about it?” he asked. Clever, these counselors.

Then I got a surprising phone call. A nun at the hospice where my husband had passed away was inviting me to a memorial service for everyone who had died there during the year. I told her I wasn’t up to a service for my husband. “It’s for you, too,” she said. “His pain is over, but yours is continuing.”

It was so rare to find anyone who understood my feelings that I agreed to come.

But when I saw that gray stone building again, I almost turned back. Walking into the familiar lounge I saw a small gathering, I guess most people couldn’t bear to come. There were more women than men, which was understandable since widows far outnumber widowers. They were mostly middle-aged and older, but even, shockingly, there were a few children. A four-year -old girl stared at me, her somber expression too old for so young a child.

Before I could escape a nun began the service with a prayer of St. Francis: ”May I never seek so much to be consoled as to console.” The words stopped me. I thought, maybe when talking to my children, I should focus more on their loss than my own, and give them the full unselfish consolation they needed. It might be better for all of us if I relied on my peers. Or myself? But I was still a long way from that.

I still have the handmade program we were each handed that night, created by one of the nuns. She said she wanted to illustrate what she knew we were feeling. The childish drawing was both a Christmas tree and a menorah (the candleabra for the Chanukah candles). But she had drawn only half of each. “Half,” the nun explained, ”because of what’s missing for you.” She pointed to the yellow color crayoned around the symbols. “That’s for the glow that comes from remembering.”

Then, in that Catholic hospital, a young man with a guitar sang  a Chanukah song! The lyrics were written by Peter Yarrow, of Peter,Paul and Mary fame. I heard a few people singing, “Light one candle for the strength we need to never become our own foe.” More voices were joining in, faces brighter. Suddenly I heard myself singing.”What is the memory we value so highly that we keep it alive in that flame?”

A week later I lit the first Chanukah candle.
.   .   .   .
I wish each of you who celebrate Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanza, the miracle of hope.

[Adapted from “Widow’s Walk”]



Thanksgiving – traditionally celebrated with family and friends – is challenging for those of us whose spouse or parent or sibling is missing. The lonely feeling that might ordinarily be softened by visits isn’t always possible these Covid days if it involves travel. Friends who may live nearby have their own families to turn to. If we dccide to host a celebration ourselves , or are fortunate enough to be invited to invited to a holiday dinner, seeing the togetherness of couples can make us even more aware of that proverbial “empty chair.”

Yet we can find ways to include that missing person. I make time for private talks with my husband and my sister, telling them how I miss them. It’s what Longfellow called “the private anniversaries of the heart.”

Hosting the dinner by yourself can be exhausting without the familiar helping hands. I always made an apple pie from scratch, but the energy-saver was my husband’s peeling and slicing the apples. The first time I was the host it was a matter of (misplaced) pride to serve everything by myself. But several of my guests said ,”We would feel better if you’d let us help.” So I did – and everyone was more relaxed

Children who may previously have gone to Thanksgiving parades with their father have an especially hard time. You can ask some willing substitute if he’ll fill in. If not, you can tell the children, “Let’s watch the parade together on TV.” More important, I reassure them – and myself – it’s all right to laugh, to enjoy.

Still, the reality is that nothing completely fills the gap, Sometimes whatever we do feels like a pretending game we’re not up to, and reality takes over. But to some extent reality can be what we make it. If I looked in the rearview mirror,  I’d cry all over the turkey. Instead I lighten the day by asking each person to say what she or he is grateful for. We had a a laugh from the guest who admitted, ”I’m grateful I didn’t have to cook the meal.”

Thanks don’t have to be limited to a November day. About two years ago I began saying a gratitude prayer each night before going to sleep. I start with thanks for things that happened during the day, even if sometimes it’s hard to find anything. Actually, thinking through the day I find moments that were gifts without my recognition. A friend said all she could think to be grateful for was that she’d had a good breakfast. In some areas of the world that wouldn’t be a trivial blessing!

When the great English poet Tennyson lost his most beloved friend, he composed a lengthy poem to express his grief. I find inspiration in its brave line: “Although much has been taken much remains.”

Let us find the strength to be grateful for what – and who – remain.

Website: www.
Relevant books: “Widow’s Walk” – available through; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-; “Come and Go” – Also Amazon and Amazon kindle.