The Part of Grief You Don't Know -- Until You Do

As a new widow (that word sounds strange and startling) I have had many new insights. In my work in end of life, the focus has been on approaching death. Grief has been an afterthought, not a primary issue. With Jack’s death, I know how powerful grief is.

Emotionally, now a month after Jack’s death, I am still kind of numb. I haven’t cried since his death. The tears are generally behind my eyes. I can feel them but can’t or won’t let them out.

I am not my gentle, understanding self. I am impatient. I am not necessarily being sociable or even being polite. I am sharp and edgy. That is not who I consider myself to be.

Little things I never thought of before have come to light. Who do you talk to when you get up in the morning? Baxter, my cat, gets my words. Who do you eat with, sit at the table with, watch TV with? No one other than Baxter.

How do you go to bed at night? Close the door to the bedroom? Lock the bedroom door? Leave a light on? 

For 65 years, Jack has been in my life. He was part of everything and I didn’t even realize it. Not only did he help shape who I have become, but more importantly, he filled my days and nights. He was part of my every day. And now he is not.

Now I am feeding the birds, squirrels and his fish. Now I am restocking the toilet paper, emptying the trash, and emptying the dishwasher – all his chores.

Now I have to learn how to be a widow. How to create a new life, a new way of being. I am truly alone. Yes, family and friends are amazing, comforting, and oh so necessary, but when everyone has gone home I am alone - except for Baxter cat.

I am sharing this walk in my shoes with you in a blog because, having known the intellectual side of grief from my decades of work, I now know the emotional side of grief. That part of grief no one can know until they personally lose someone close to them.

My hope in sharing these personal thoughts is that those of you who are grieving can find yourself in my experiences. I hope you see the normalness of your own thoughts and feelings. 

Something More… about The Part of Grief You Don't Know -- Until You Do

If you, or someone you know is grieving, I have a booklet that can provide some salve- My Friend, I Care: The Grief Experience. This booklet provides gentle guidance through the normal stages of grief and offers suggestions for moving forward into a meaningful life. It is part of the discounted End of Life Guideline Series of booklets.

Here's a review for My Friend, I Care: The Grief Experience-

Perfect resource for those in grief or helping the grieving
"Short, Simple, Applicable, Helpful, and Up-Lifting resource for the grieving, and for those who care about grieving person(s)."




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I am walking this journey with you. I was an ER/ICU/Hospice nurse for about 30 years. My husband also passed about 6 weeks ago very unexpectantly. I definitely had delayed grieving as I was such a professional in taking care of the “person in the bed” with care, expertise, and the right decisions. It took me quite some time to realize it was MY husband, MY soul mate. I went through the beginning process quite seamless and “strong”. Then, the realization hit. It was my day-to-day person, my other half. I can say that it is a road I didn’t see coming after educating so many people. A road I didn’t see coming after putting my grief aside for the sake of everyone else in the room. My job was to assure “they” were ok, not I. I put on the strong look every time someone comes to assure, I am ok. I put on the look because I know they are worried, but my job is to take care of them. That engrained nurse is going to step up to the plate and stop her own grieving process for them. When they leave, I cry now. I get relief, I get to start a grieving cycle just for me. I feel selfish for not wanting more people who care, to stay for days, after all, they just want to take care of me. It overwhelms me being a people pleaser and caregiver to be in this thought process. I put on my face, I smile, I laugh. When they leave, I am lonely, but it is then that I know, it was my husband that I don’t get to see again. It is then that I realize everything you said above. It is a path that people must let me go through. It cannot be numbed, but only delayed. I appreciate every caring person that has come to stay with me, and I appreciate the time that I have had alone to start the grieving process so that someday I may heal.
BK Books replied:
Hi Lyn, your words certainly hit home with me and I’m sure so many others. We caregivers need to learn to take care of ourselves also. Blessings to you and thank you very much for sharing. Barbara


Prayers for you Barbara I’m a new widow my husband passed away Nov 25th 2023 we were together 25yrs I’m going to buy your books I enjoy reading about your adventures
BK Books replied:
Hi Dawn, you and I are walking a new, similar path. I hope you got my booklet, My Friend, I Care to help guide you through this challenging time. Blessings! Barbara

Nikki Gouzopoulos

Sending you a big hug. Thank you for your honesty. It is a powerful gift you are sharing with us. xo
BK Books replied:
Hi Nikki, thanks for the hug and kind words. Blessings! Barbara


Oh Barbara…I am so sad to hear of your loss. 65 years with Jack is an unimaginable loss. My heart is with you.
My Mother and I saw your lecture twice, and my husband came with us once.
You were such a guide for us when my Father was going through his journey of Alzheimer’s. We lost our beloved Mom in August of 2020. Due to COVID, I had not seen her, only talked on the phone and facetime…but I did have the blessing of talking with her over the phone the morning of the day she passed unexpectedly.
I have lost 7 life long friends in the last ten years. Your words are the first I hear when someone I love cross over to the other side… No doubt you have comforted millions…Again, I am so very sorry for your loss. Sending you love, prayer and peace knowing you had the best years with Jack.
Most sincerely, Donna
BK Books replied:
Donna, thank you for reaching out and sharing. I am pleased my guidance has helped during your challenging times. Blessings to you! Barabara


My heart is so with you. I appreciate you sharing your heart and soul with us through these words. As a multiple loss survivor. I don’t know if the numbness and overwhelm ever completely goes away. But they have soften for me overtime. After losing my soulmate and best friend and then the next year my chosen sister. I am still learning how to fill those empty moments of being alone. I think I am starting to forget that this loneliness isn’t all I’ve ever know. I can only imagine for you how jarring this is. My only solace is one day we will meet again soon. Be thinking of you as we transition into a new year.
BK Books replied:
Novelette,Thank you for sharing and for your kind words. Blessings! Barbara

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