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Widow Goggles

By Zahra Khakoo

On my dresser sits 2 pairs of goggles.  The rose colored goggles I’ve worn my entire life and my new widow goggles.

Each morning,  since the last 2 years, I have to make a decision on which goggles to put on.  I want to wear my rose colored goggles, these have been good to me.  They have helped me live my life with a untrue optimism, cheerful, happy, and only seeing life in a positive light.  Living my life like I and my family are immortal and nothing bad is going to happen.

My rose colored goggles have showed me things like Happily Ever After, Till Death Do Us Part, Growing Old Together, Retiring Somewhere Hot,  Walking Our Daughter Down The Isle … All great things … All Lies.

My rose colored goggles showed me that I was invincible and even more so that my husband was invincible.  With my rose colored goggles on there was no Cancer, there was no Death and there was no Widow.

My rose colored goggles and I are not friends anymore.  They are that friend that always lies to you.  Gives you a hook for you to bite on and believe and once you have latched on and believe, they make you sink.  There is no such thing as Happily Ever After.  There is no such thing as Death Do Us Part.  There is no such thing as Growing Old Together.  We are definitely not invincible.  My rose colored goggles have been smashed and thrown out. I don’t need them anymore.

I now wear my Widow Goggles everyday.  With these on I can see clearly.  When I wear my Widow Goggles, I live each day to the fullest.  Like its gonna be my last day, because lets be honest we never really know when our last day is.  I know longer live life with the fear of death, but embracing death, and using it as a reminder to enjoy life.

With my Widow Goggles on I live for experiences.  I live to make memories.  Time is free, but its priceless.  You can’t own it, but you can use it.  You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.  And once you have lost it you can never get it back.  This is my new mantra.  This is how I live and I urge all of you to live.

My Widow Goggles have shown me that we have one life to live.  That life is not infinite.  Live each day to the fullest.  Live with gratitude and grace.  And remember that each day you wake up and have opened your eyes, it means that someone else didn’t open their eyes.  Someone else died and left behind a wife and a 5 year old little girl.  Someone else didn’t get to finish their wishes.  Someone else would give everything to be where you are and have just one more day.  Someone elses’ Rose Colored Goggles got smashed.

 

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Crystal Sound Healing For Grief

By Jill Hochman

Crystal Sound Healing

By Jill Hochman

Board Member, Hope for Widows Foundation

 

Have you ever heard about crystal singing bowls or crystal sound healing?  If you ever have the chance to listen to crystal bowls, you may find it so relaxing that you will never want it to stop,  I found it really helpful in dealing with my grief.

 

This is because our bodies are affected by vibrations.  Think about hearing a loud train whistle or the scream of a child.  Or, maybe the calming sound of the ocean or the purring of a cat.  We react to sounds because the human body is a network of vibrational fields and energy currents.  Like we learned in science classes, the vibrations can change the way something moves.  Vibrations can therefore change how we feel.

 

According to Elevia Melody in her blog about why crystal sound healing works, “Each individual resonates at his or her own vibration. Sound is an acoustical wave while color is an electromagnetic wave. The colors of the rainbow correspond to a specific musical note in the same way that each chakra (or energy center) of the body correlates with a specific tone and color. Although there is a tone and color that corresponds to each of the chakra centers, each part affects the totality. This is important to know since each crystal bowl will affect the whole body. You may feel the effects in one section of your body more deeply, but the vibrational sound will also travel throughout your entire energy field. The human body and the entire earth are made up of energy, vibrating at different frequencies. When out of rhythm, disease and disharmony result. Vibrational sound healing addresses these imbalances or blockages of the energy channels.”

 

 

Crystal singing bowls are made from different crystals.  They are different colors as you can see in the picture above.  The bowls are played by rubbing a type of wand around the top edge.  The notes of the crystal bowls are tuned to specific vibrational frequencies (notes) found within the human body.  Kind of like hearing relaxing music.  When the sound moves through the atmosphere and touches us, our cells to move with the sound wave. Depending on the notes, we can be put in harmony with the sound

wave or in disharmony.

 

The music from the bowls doesn’t really sound like music.  To me, it is more like notes moving with the wind.  When I go to a crystal sound bath, I lay comfortably in a room with other people while the bowls are played.  I also find crystal singing bowl music on YouTube.  Sometimes when it’s hard to sleep, I find a YouTube with the bowls and can fall asleep onto the sounds.  When my tears are falling during a grief wave, the sound from the bowls calms me.  If you want to hear them, try listening to Ashana who is a well known singing bowl musician at https://youtu.be/7JMm65BPEH4.

 

There are also several websites and bodies that discuss the benefits of music and sound.  The key to these benefits is with the vibrations.  An interesting video you can watch is on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/magneticsoundart/videos/633824320155750/.  It even discusses the growing use of crystal sound baths to help us heal from physical as well as emotional issues.  I love a sound bath and hope you can have an opportunity to try one sometime.

 

 

 

Two Weeks After My Husband’s Suicide, I was Ready to Date

By Michelle Miller

I once read that dust is mostly made up of human skin cells. I wondered if his skin cells were on me then as I watched the brown mist settle on my arms. It had been two weeks since the gunshot that simultaneously oppressed and liberated me. I was sorting through the things my husband left behind in the garage. The garage we built years ago for utilitarian purposes that had somehow morphed into a metaphor for my husband’s declining mental health.

This detached, filthy rectangle had slowly become John’s retreat when, three years ago, he stopped staying in the house after dinner.

Then it became his lover when, two years ago, he stopped sleeping in our bed and preferred the night time company of his ever-growing used car collection and other women.

Then it became his asylum when, six months ago, he stopped sleeping altogether and changed the locks on both doors that lead into his fortress.

In his absence, it was not a retreat, or a lover, or an asylum. It was a dust filled, physical oxymoron. Cluttered but hallow, ancient but modern.  Laden with sunbeams, but darkened with shadows. The first time I went in there after his suicide, I sat amongst the things he once touched and I knew with certainty that the phrase “time heals” was bullshit.

Time, makes things real.

Time removes the merciful veil of shock.

Time is the guilt getting heavier.

Time is discovering yet another question that will never be answered.

My eleven-year-old daughter was just outside the back door of the garage that day looking down at her feet while balancing on a large metal beam. It was her first time there too. The long brown waves cascading from her head made it impossible for me to distinguish the look on her face. Not that her face was so easy to read during those early days anyways, but I still wondered what is looked like beneath her hair. She hasn’t spoken of her dad since his funeral.  She hasn’t spoken much at all.

What must this be like for her? I thought. What did I need from my mother when I was eleven and mute?

Cake.

Every eleven-year-old girl needs her mother to bring her cake.  I grabbed the leftover cake pops from the lunch I’d packed us and asked her to join me. She nodded her head no. So the cake pop and I went to her, out in the desert heat with its unrelenting rays of sun that seem so disrespectful to the cloud that had settled over our lives.

She was softly crying.

“Did you remind Daddy about me when he told you he was going to kill himself on the phone?” she said while still focusing on her feet.

It was in that moment that I decided I was ready to date. Yes, two weeks after my husband’s suicide I was ready to date. Not because I wanted to get remarried, not because I was healthy and so full of love that I couldn’t wait to share it with someone. No. I decided I was ready to date because

fuck  

him.

That afternoon I had the conversation with her, my first born, about how nothing anyone said could have talked the gun out of his hand. About how that wasn’t even daddy’s voice on the phone when he died because his brain was so very sick. About how his sick brain thought she’d be better off if he was dead. About how his suicide was no one’s fault. As I said these things to her I knew that I didn’t completely believe them myself, but I said them anyways.

A few days later, I left the kids in the care of my parents, went out of town and met with the man who would become Chapter Four in my memoir, Boys, Booze, and Bathroom Floors. And then every weekend after that I dated a different man. And sometimes the same man. And sometimes four men in a day. I used them and they used me and I am a better person today because of it.

Dating gave me an outlet for my rage, respite from the guilt, and introduced me to my new self. No, I did not meet the next great love of my life out there in the modern social-media infused dating world. No, I did not meet a man that helped piece back together the broken fragments of my once optimistic soul. But I did meet a widowed woman named Michelle who raged until she could finally find the courage to be sad, who withheld the guilt until she was strong enough to absorb it, and who put her own damn soul back together, jaded though it might still be.

Dating can be used for all kinds of purposes, not just an eventual marriage. For me, it has been healing and I get so much criticism for it, but I’m too busy being wined and dined to care. Not everyone’s path to self-discovery and healing after loss is the same, but everyone has one, and they are obligated to their future, healthier self to find it.

Fathers Day: Widow Style

By Michelle Miller

 

 

In 2013, my husband John truly believed we were on the verge of an actual zombie apocalypse. When I am drunk, I laugh until I cry about this. The hype surrounding the immensely popular show, The Walking Dead, and my husband’s deteriorating mental state made for some interesting conversations with him in the final years of his life before he succumbed to suicide.

“What exactly do you think Zomies are?!” He hissed at me one night when I attempted to reassure him that Zombies were not going to come after us in the middle of the night.

“You know, they are like human bodies without souls that walk around eating brains in horror movies.” I said casually, trying to diffuse the situation

“No. Zombies are normal humans that got injected with toxins from the government and their brains got eaten alive and they are so sick from their brains that they try to eat other people. Michelle, this is something that could really happen, its not just in TV shows!”

The irony of my brain-sick husband trying to educate me on a species of humans with brain-sickness did not occur to me until I sat down to write this blog. Ugh. I’m so over epiphanies.

John would spend the next year and a half building a “Zombie-Rig” from an old suburban in our garage while stock-piling survival gear, and mapping out places in the desert we would be living once the apocalypse happened.

I would spend the next year and half building a fortress of denial around myself. He was just really into the Walking Dead, I would tell myself. End-of-the-world-prepping is just a trend right now, I would say as I flipped through TV stations watching reality shows on the subject.

After his suicide, I would spend hours and hours going through stacks of yellow legal pads with my mouth hanging open and gasps unwillingly surfacing from my throat. I had no idea how thoroughly he had planned for the zombie apocalypse.

It took me years to tell anyone about this. I didn’t need to admit to yet another sign that I missed.

John’s last Father’s Day on earth was in 2013. I asked him what he wanted and he gave me a list of survival gear. I asked if I could just make him his favorite dinner instead. He rolled his eyes at me. And so, I bought $200 worth of survival gear, put it in a large box with tissue paper, and had the kids help me wrap it; all the while trying to convince myself (and the kids) that we were buying all of this so that we could start taking camping trips.

I could tell instantly that he disapproved of the survival gear on Father’s Day morning. It wasn’t the right size, or brand, or color, or whatever. Nothing in John’s life was ever the right size, or brand, or color, or whatever. Nothing was ever enough. Nothing was ever good. Still, he politely smiled and thanked the kids and I, while I politely accepted, and pretended I gave those gifts to him from my heart.

Insincerity; the foundation of our marriage.

Insincerity; the twin sister of denial

So what have I done on Father’s Day with the kids since their father’s death? I have been asked this question a lot in the weeks leading up to this holiday. For all of the post-mortem holidays, I have decided only sincerity will do for the kids and I. The only obligation we now have in this new life is to be honest with what we are feeling and decide for ourselves what we want to do with those feelings, especially within the context of holidays.

So two weeks before a holiday or mile-stone, I will very casually say “_________ is coming up in a few weeks, let me know if you guys would like to do anything for that, we can do whatever you want as long as it costs less and a billion dollars.”

Then I remind them a few days before.

Then the morning of, I acknowledge it and say, “Lets go do _________ unless you’re just not feelin’ it today, then we can make other plans, or do nothing at all.” So far, this has worked for our family.

On Father’s Day in 2014, I woke up to a vase of flowers that the kids had picked from our garden. for me. We climbed a hill and spread John’s ashes.

In 2015, we went to his grave and took pictures.

In 2016, we did nothing because they sincerely didn’t want to.

In 2017, they wanted to stay with my parents and have a normal day. I wanted to surround myself with widows, Tito’s vodka, deep fried tofu, and music. And so we each did what we wanted to do. My mother sent me pictures of the kids swimming and lounging, and I found myself at 11pm looking around a very crowded table at a very stuffy bar with a group of widow’s I had, up until that moment, only known through facebbok. I took notice of each one of these bold women, and loved them all so dearly that I wanted to sit on a carpet and look up at each and every one of them as they explained to me in detail, the stories of their scars, and freckles, and tattoos. Maybe, that’s what Vodka and I will do for the next holiday.

Sincerity, I thought to myself when I ordered my third cocktail, the twin sister of healing.

©Copyright 2017 Michelle Miller

The Three Things Every Widow/er Needs You to Say

By Michelle Miller

“Well he never believed in God so now that he’s dead, I guess he knows the truth,” said the religious man. And so began the litany of awkward, insensitive, and of course ‘well-meaning’ condolence comments in reference to my husband’s suicide, that I would have to endure in addition to the constant vomiting and perpetual shaking of my hands for the next year.

Four days later it would be, “Well I can always take you out to dinner next weekend; I clean up nice” as another religious man rubbed my back a little too long for my comfort level during the obligatory, ‘hug-the-widow’ show that took place at the buffet table near the entrance of the reception.

My husband shot himself. Casseroles and hugs for everyone!

“You’ll remarry. You’re so pretty and young!”

Because if I were ugly and old I wouldn’t get that luxury?

“I just want you to know that I don’t blame you at all. It was his choice to shoot that gun.”

Thanks for reminding me that everyone else does indeed blame me.

“How are you?”

Fucking fabulous, thanks.

“I’m here for you”

Except for you won’t be about three seconds after the funeral reception when you return to your own life and decided that ‘here for you’ means occasionally liking my social media posts.

“He’s in a better place”

No he’s not. He was an atheist that denied the existence of God up until his final breath. I heard his final breath on the phone as he shot himself; trust me, he’s not in your version of a ‘better place’.

“His death happened for a reason”

Yes. The reason is, that when a bullet enters the body at point blank range, it kills you.

“I know exactly how you feel, when my great Aunt Agnes died…..”

Yep. That’s the same thing.

“Why did he kill himself?!”

While I appreciate your nosiness I’m gonna decline that question for now and ask that you please do not speak to me again until you have adequately researched suicide and mental illness. Idiot.

“I’m praying for you”

Great! While you’re at it, please make sure to tell God I no longer believe in him. Thanks.

What do all of these questions and statements have in common? None of them brought me comfort, and about half of them aggravated my already indescribable pain.

These people were not insensitive assholes (well except maybe the first two men I mentioned), they were just uneducated in the true needs of those who are in mourning. Years and years ago when I was normal, I too was guilty of using some of these cute little grief catch phrases. I am guilty in my past life of asking things I should never have asked and making promises to mourners that I never intended on keeping (Call me anytime of the day or night and I will be there for you!). I have said these phrases to children who have lost grandparents, and I have said them to Grandparents that have lost siblings. Most regretful of all though, I have said these things to widows. And then, I became one at the age of thirty-one.

Now that I’m living this experience I know better, and so, I do better; and doing better to me means spreading awareness of how to help those in mourning so they are not further injured on top of their life-long grief. I have talked to hundreds of widows in the last few years through social media and in person and we all mostly agree that the three things every widow/er needs you to say to them are:

  1. Nothing…followed by a statement about how you are not going to be saying anything. At all costs avoid words. Never underestimate the power of shutting the hell up, especially early-on. The only exception is if you want to acknowledge your commitment to silence by saying, “There really are no words for what has happened to you.” Or “I don’t know what to say” or, “If there were word in existence to comfort you, I would say them.”
  2. Nothing….followed by validation. If you are ever lucky enough to be the person a widow comes to, to vent, you have one job and one job only: to validate them. You can validate them through listening and nodding in silence with lots of eye contact and attentive body language, or you can validate them by saying things like, “Absolutely! This is not fair and you have every right to be angry” Do not offer unsolicited advice. Ever. More often than not, when people come to talk to you, they are not seeking answers, they simply want to be heard and understood. Let them know that every feeling they have is being heard and that they are not crazy.
  3. Nothing….followed by action. Yes, food and money in those early weeks are helpful. Do that. But also, be aware that grief is a life-long process and helping someone who is grieving should also be. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Two years after the funeral deliver (or have delivered) a meal on a school night. Find out when their wedding anniversary is and take them out for a margarita. Show up to their child’s baseball game. Five years (or ten or twenty) later randomly call on a Sunday and see if they need anything picked up from the store. Action.

Early on in my widowhood I could not identify my needs. I could barely identify which shoes were mine and which shoes belonged to my then, seven year old son. I am forever grateful for the ones who knew my needs and still fulfill those needs for me now, almost three years later. I try my best to pay it forward with all of you who come to me and share your horrible stories of loss on facebbok and instagram, but I wish I could do more. I wish I could respond to every message and read every facebook comment, but I can’t. I will keep writing though, and hopefully this is enough to help you see that you are not alone. You are understood. Your feelings are valid and important. Widowhood sucks.

Love to you all,

Michelle

© Copyright 2017 Michelle Miller

Grief @ Work: Coping With The Loss Of A Spouse

By Sabra Robinson

If you are reading this, chances are you are grieving the loss of your spouse. If so, please accept my deepest condolences.

I know it must be hard to get back into the swing of things and your emotions may be on a roller coaster of not knowing what to expect. Guess what? You’re not the only one. There are thousands of us (yes, me too) out there deliberating if we are doing the right thing wanting to go back to work (versus needing). But the bills need to be paid and food needs to be put on the table so we must make that essential decision, especially if there is absolutely no income being generated.

I was given three weeks notice on my job due to budgetary reasons. My last day of work was one week before his death. I was relieved, yet, saddened. I didn’t inform my husband until about a week after I was notified because he was in enough pain. But during that final week with him it was a worry-free week for me because I could care for him full-time; searching for a job was not a priority.

Then he passed away.

I’ve learned a lot since that fateful day and I want to share a few things I’ve learned while coping with my loss, in hopes that you could use this as a foundation before, during and after the death of your spouse prior to returning to work.

  • If your spouse is currently sick and you are still working, do not feel guilty that you have to work. Think of it this way, you must work in order to continue your health insurance (if applicable) so that your husband can continue attending his/her appointments, provide food on the table, gas, prescription, etc. Get the point?
  • If your spouse passes away, don’t expect condolences from everyone in the workplace whether through in-person visits, the sending of cards or flowers. Some offer their condolences in other ways, such as relaying their condolences to other teammates to pass along (I know, not cool, but it happens). I’m sure the intention is there. If you continue to feel abandoned by your peers, don’t be afraid to check out the Employee Assistance Resources program that may be available.
  • If you can afford it, don’t be in a hurry to get back to work.Ask for additional time, see if there are programs where your peers can donate their accumulated vacation or sick time towards your time-off.
  • If you can afford it, take your time when searching for employment. If you feel that your current employer is insensitive to your situation, it’s time to find a company that is more “employee friendly.” It may take some time but it will be worth it in the long run. Consider this quote by Tyler Perry, “Sometimes you have to go deeper to get what you are after, no matter the cost.” This quote comes after he was tired of high water bills so he had a company dig wells in his back yard. There were several holes made until he made a decision to stick to one hole. He had the company to dig deeper than normal (beyond 1,200 feet). Then, voila, they hit a river of water!
  • Seek guidance. You are not alone so don’t challenge it (grief) alone! Contact grief counselors, spiritual leaders or others who have been through the ordeal.
  • Pray. Praying was an absolute must for me and it channeled me away from some of the worst emotions I’ve ever felt (and people!)

My friend, mulling over other people’s actions (or in-actions) will get you nowhere. Think about your health.

I wish you well on your return to work, I truly do. It’s a tough decision and it’s tough enough being a widow or widower.

Sounds familiar? Talk to me…

 

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Welcome, Penny Craig to the Hope for Widows Advisory Board!

By Chasity Williams

 

We are honored to share that our Hope Sister, Penny Craig will be a wonderful addition to our Hope for Widows Advisory Board. Her loving serving heart will be a huge asset to the Foundation. Penny’s heart is helping widows children through initiatives and programs, also wherever she can volunteer to help enhance the Foundation as a whole. We look forward to seeing her ideas and suggestions come to light!

Penelope ‘Penny’ Craig has lived and worked in Florida for twenty years. Her husband Alec and she moved from Maine in 1996 after realizing they wanted to live where it was warm and near the beaches that they loved so much. She worked as a middle school teacher for ten years before retiring and then began her dream job working for a local college as a Professor in the College of Education. Her husband was a minister and she was the church musician/pianist. They were “Team Craig.”

The picture is of her husband Alec and her standing at the entrance to the ferry to Ellis Island in the summer of 2012. This was their final road trip. Alec died on July 22, 2014. She believes her story is no different from that of another widow. Penny shares: “We all share the love we received and gave. We all share the most intimate of stories. We all share in the loss and the grief of our loved one. We all share the journey of widowhood. Thus begins another chapter.”

Penny’s family all live in New England and New York. She has one son, one daughter and two granddaughters. She loves to work, knit, swim, read, go to the beach, and spend time with friends. Her purpose and passion is to serve a need to other widows who are on their personal widow journey, and to provide loving support to children who are also on their own grief journey.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” C.S. Lewis

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” Queen Elizabeth II

Go in Peace! Blessed Be!

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