I’m writing this on Christmas, midway through a season to be “jolly.” But for many people “jolly” is a mockery, if they are coping with loss.

That’s how I felt my first holiday season after my husband died. I dragged myself to a friend’s dinner party, where I tried to act normal. A joke was told. Everyone at the table laughed. I said,”Mel [my husband] would have liked that one.”
I had thrown a damp rag over their merriment. Was it no longer permissible to mention my husband? These had been his friends, too.
“Let’s keep this happy,” my host whispered.

In the years since then I’ve interviewed scores of bereaved men and women who had a similar experience. Perhaps speaking of one who’s gone reminds people of their own mortality. But mentioning my husband at that dinner party was my way of including him.

Each of us have to find our own way to keep that person with us, especially on holidays shared in the past. Some write a letter to that loved one, saying ,“I miss you,” but also telling about the ways you’re getting on with your new life.

Many people keep a photograph of the missing person visible. Actually, this isn’t doesn’t have to be limited to holidays. It’s helpful on any important occasion – birthdays, graduations, whatever. At my grandson’s bar mitzvah, a framed photo of his grandfather was prominently displayed. His words were also there, when a poem written by him was read aloud. It was the family’s way of saying,”You are with us..”

During my first months of widowhood, I was invited to a 30th anniversary party for my brother-and-sister-in-law. A wedding anniversary was the last thing I felt like celebrating. But this was my husband’s brother, who had been so caring of us. I consulted a bereavement counselor about my dilemma. Knowing how prone I am to guilt, he advised me to go. But he advised: “Make space for yourself within the socializing.”
At the party, where everyone was talking and laughing, I fell into a pit of loneliness. “Make space,” I remembered, and escaped outside to the garden. It was bathed in moonlight, and far above the stars were clear. Looking up at them I had a feeling my husband was up there in that immensity.. “Are you there?” i asked – and felt he was, and that he was still with me. I rejoined the party, no longer totally alone.

Wherever – and however – each you is at this difficult year’s ending, I wish you a new year of unexpected blessings.

(Adapted from “WIdow’s Walk”.)


BOOKS:: Widow’s Walk–; Turning Toward Tomorrow –; Role Play and Ten Women of Valor – and Amazon Kindle.


You have a memorable experience  and yearn to capture the memory by writing about it. You then have a choice: hide within the safety of fiction or reveal the often difficult truth.

I ran into this challenge when I decided to write about my husband’s illness and death, and my struggle for independence as a single woman. Originally I planned to write a non-fiction book about what other people had gone through with the often bizarre medical world. During a walk with a friend who had spent many years in publishing, I asked if she thought my plan was marketable. Her answer turned it around for me: “I think you should write about your own experiences first.”

Those words lit the way for Widow’s Walk. I decided I would write it as a memoir. The truth, nothing but the truth, I swore. (Note: This doesn’t necessarily mean the whole truth! I had children to protect.)

I began writing the book some four months after my husband’s death, referring to fragmentary journal jottings, but primarily ransacking my memories. Fortunately ((or unfortunately) , I had total recall of every word and gesture between my husband and myself, as well as with the world, during the 21 months of his illness.

Like most writers I had frequent bouts of doubt about what I was doIng. Was I telling too much or not enough and – daily! – who would care about some couple named Anne and Mel Hosansky.?

Halfway through I heard that the wonderful Israeli author Amos Oz had written a new book based, apparently, on his experience as a widower struggling wth his new life! The same theme as mine. However, he had chosen to write his book as a novel. Masochistically I read it, knew I could never write as well as he did, and came perilously close to pressing the Delete key on my total book.

In a despairing moment I shared my plight with a neighbor who was a freelance editor. “I give up,” I announced in a tone that indicated jumping off a cliff. “I should have written my book as fiction.”

The next morning a note was slipped into my mail box. “It will help other women more if they know your story is true,” she wrote.

I pressed the Save key and went on with my memoir.

Yes, it was painful to write the book truthfully. Hard to reveal my love/hate for my husband for “abandoning” me. Even harder to confess to being attracted to a man in my bereavement group just months after my husband’s death. I skirted around some of my children’s behavior, and consulted a lawyer about a sister-in-law who had treated me cruelly but whose act made a dramatic scene in the book. (“Change her name,” he advised.)

Miraculously a publisher (Donald Fine) was enthusiastic about the manuscript. So Widow’s Walk and my naked feelings saw the light of day. When I mailed the first copies to my children, I fled from the post office as if I were being pursued. Their reaction was – shall I say? – polite. As for the sister in-law, I needn’t have worried. She wasn’t interested in even looking at the book.

On the other hand I did hear from numerous readers who sent variations of, “You made me believe my feelings are normal.” Of all the poignant letters I received, the one that still echoes in my mind came from a widow who wrote simply: “Thank you for giving my grief a voice.”

I’m not saying that every life experience needs to be revealed in a memoir. But in my case it was enormously rewarding, even freeing. As I answered readers, “It’s gratifying to know that what Mel and I went through is lighting the way for others.”

In telling my story as truthfully as I could, I gave my grief a ”voice” too.


BOOKS: WIDOW’S WALK (available through; TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW (( ; ROLE PLAY and TEN WOMEN OF VALOR  ( and Amazon Kindle); MAYA’s MAGICAL ADVENTURES( children’s book , available through