Book Review

“Option A Is Not Available”

May 25, 2017
Option B-Sheryl Sandberg

A few weeks after her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly in Mexico two years ago, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was confronted with an upcoming father-child event at her young son’s school. She discussed her options with a good friend. “We came up with a plan for someone to fill in for Dave. I cried to Phil, ‘But I want Dave.’ He put his arm around …

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Memoirs Help Normalize Grief

May 5, 2016
On My Own

Grief experts agree that widows get too much advice—too many people telling them how to grieve, how long to grieve, when to make decisions, when to move on. What works for one person may not work for another. There is no single right or wrong way to mourn the loss of a spouse. Nevertheless, most books on grief are how-to books written in second-person. Self-help …

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Grief: Step by Step, Day by Day

April 28, 2016

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 This was my first blog, one year ago. It laid the foundation for the story I share with other widows, their families and friends. One hundred fifty-three blogs later, with many …

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Whatever Happened to Widow’s Weeds?

February 25, 2016
widow's weeds

A portrait of my great-great-grandmother Aurelia Smith Davis Ripley Smith Woodward hangs in the Cabildo at Jackson Square, New Orleans, part of the Louisiana State Museum collection. Neither Aurelia nor the artist was famous. The primitive painting hangs to illustrate a widow in lavender half-mourning attire in the mid-nineteenth century. Aurelia’s third husband and my great-great-grandfather, the father of her two children, was murdered in …

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Don’t Worry; Be Happy

December 6, 2015
Be anxious for nothing. Ph. 4:6

Key 8: Don’t be anxious; instead, be thankful when you pray. The lyrics of the 1988 song Don’t worry; be happy seem trite, but the song writer’s advice was about the same as the Apostle Paul’s 2000 years ago. I don’t know many chronic worriers who are happy, do you? Speaking from personal experience almost seven years into this role of widow, I will admit that saying my …

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Tips for Weekly Produce Shopping

July 18, 2015

Just the name of her blog is irresistible: chocolateandzucchini.com. And since I am a Francophile trying to eat six servings of vegetables a day, the cookbook title was pretty irresistible too: The French Market Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes From My Parisian Kitchen (New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2013). I was prepared to skip all the text and plunge straight into the recipes, but Clotilde Dusoulier is an …

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Resources for Those Who Grieve

July 9, 2015

In writing The Book Proposal for Reclaiming Joy, I must describe the (lack of) competition. I found no book that helped when Lev died six years ago, and when I ask other widows if they read any helpful books, they tend to laugh with a bit of a snort and say, “Oh, no….” You might like to read about my research. Perhaps there is something …

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A Memoir of Grief and Gratitude

June 29, 2015

The Light of the World, a memoir on love and death and grief by the prize-winning poet and Yale professor Elizabeth Alexander, was published April 21 and quickly made best-seller lists. I have been reading memoirs by widows lately, and I wanted to compare Alexander to two literary giants a generation older than she, my contemporaries Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking) and Joyce Carol Oates (A Widow’s Story). …

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Résumé Virtues vs. Eulogy Virtues

May 30, 2015

Brooks, David. The Road to Character. New York: Random House. 2015 New York Times columnist David Brooks wants  to have an important national conversation about moral character in his recently published book. He begins, “Recently I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to …

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