From sadness to joy and more joy

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Jonah and Addison birdwatching in my backyard.

It’s been three weeks since I lost my beloved Stu, and baby step by baby step life continues.

For months we had been planning for my daughter Elizabeth and her darling four-year-old Jonah and almost two-year-old Addison to move in with us from Dallas where they have lived for a few years.

It has now become a way to heal.

Last week they arrived with bags overflowing into Josh’s SUV and they tumbled into my arms with my tears of joy hidden behind kisses galore. Since we have a second floor with three bedrooms and a full bath they would have their own little world in my world.

But change is hard. I keep thinking that Stu will walk through the door and say “good morning, doll” Thankfully now I have little feet running to me in the morning as my grandchildren, grinning broadly, greet me with cried of “Grandma! Grandma!”

Once a month I do a TV show on Brooklyn cable (BRIC) and the topic this time was “Coping with Loss.” I felt a need to reach out to my viewers and share what I had written. So on the panel I chose Barbara McGuire, social worker with the Comprehensive Community Hospice at Parker Jewish Institute, who helped me through the final hours of Stu’s life, and Dr. Ahmad Jaber, president, Arab American Association of New York, who shared how people from his community handle their loss.

During the program I shared one of my coping methods. It’s what I call a “pity party,” and I got the idea from one of my friends. She had had a brain tumor and survived but was left deaf in one ear. When she finally went back to work she boldly shared with me that each day at 3 p.m. she shuts her office door and screams and yells and cries “Why did this have to happen to me?” The tears would stream down her face. But in 15 minutes she took out her lipstick, fixed her makeup and opened her office door, ready to get back to business.

It taught me that feeling pain, sadness and pity are all okay. It’s just how much time you spend doing it that matters!

This past weekend I suffered a big “pity party.” My daughter’s possessions had arrived in the biggest moving truck I ever saw. It felt like 100 boxes had landed at my doorstep and it overwhelmed me. Although many were destined for the rented self-storage unit, it just seemed too much to cope with. But I got through it, took action and called in help to get the unpacking done, and by Sunday night life was back to “normal.” My “pity party” was over. Ready for the next challenge.