Process: Grieving and Writing

Writing and grieving have intermingled so fully, I can no longer disentangle them.

In these past weeks, I have felt as though I entered into stage 742 of grieving. Who knew – despite reading all about it – that this would be such an ongoing and many-sided experience? You read it and hear it – grief changes you … always. But to live it is to know something in a way you cannot know through others even as their words ease and confirm your own experience. In many ways, those words have been like a hand held out in the darkest time of my life. In other ways, I continue to learn grief in real time, in real emotion and body. Continue reading “Process: Grieving and Writing”

Denial and Hope

I read this:
“I did not yet know how many ways there are of denying what it is too frightening to admit.”
-Iris Origo

The memory of Philip lying unconscious and collapsed in his hospital bed is burned into the picture gallery of my mind. Officially a hospice patient as of that Saturday afternoon, I was told he’d be moved to the hospice wing on Monday. So, late that night, I went back to the hospital to sit with him again and kiss him goodnight. He was still alive and with me, while death remained somewhere abstractly down the road.  However, when I got to the ICU, the night nurse said he would die by morning. Shocked and disbelieving – denying what was too frightening to admit – I changed my plan. I wasn’t going anywhere that night. Continue reading “Denial and Hope”

A chapter from Life with an Impossible Person: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Transformation

An Unceremonious Ceremony

“This pain will not end
‘Cause lovin’ you is what I was made for.” – Mary Black


There are kindnesses that go beyond kindness, offerings from strangers that bring a deepening apprehension of gratitude.  In this past two years, there have been people who have given with no expectation of return — sometimes perfect strangers.  Has Philip’s death offered me an opportunity to begin trusting in a more generous world?  This was clearly in evidence just minutes after Philip died in the hospital in Coronado. Continue reading “A chapter from Life with an Impossible Person: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Transformation”

Writing as Medicine

“You are so beautiful to me. You’re everything I hope for. You’re everything I need. You are so beautiful to me.”

– Billy Preston & Bruce Fisher

In the shocking and incomprehensible first months following Philip’s too early death in March of 2015, I dragged and stumbled through emotional mudslides, quicksand, and desert inscapes. I found myself, as first-time grievers do, in totally unfamiliar territory.

But I’m a reader, a listener to audiobooks, and a journal keeper, so my instinct was to search for voices that might lead me through the wilderness. Continue reading “Writing as Medicine”

Every Jewish Mother’s Dread

When the ladies at her retirement home asked my 94-year-old mother, “What was your son-in-law like?” she answered, “Every Jewish mother’s dread.” I grew up in 1950s middle class Long Island suburbia. My parents defined themselves as progressive liberal Democrats and Jewish atheists. They were pragmatic people — worked hard, saved, put their children first. In 1979, I brought Philip into their world – immediately, a square peg in a round hole. Philip spoke of spiritual longings; my parents looked puzzled. He spoke of finding his calling as a poet and astrologer; my parents probed for a career with an income and retirement plan. Philip described his father’s fall from bank president to felon after embezzling funds; my parents grew quiet. Philip insisted love was more important than financial security; my parents blanched. I was married for 37 years to a man who meant no harm, who loved life and exuded joy while being committedly idealistic and infuriatingly opinionated. He worked off his own set of rules, thereby setting many people’s teeth on edge. Continue reading “Every Jewish Mother’s Dread”