mourning

The Winters of Our Lives

August 24, 2017
winter

What a surprise! What a blessing! And what a learning experience for me. Last month on Nantucket, I led a conversation on moving from discouragement and loss to joy during four Tuesday afternoons of Porchtime at the Parsonage. Our small group turned to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians for inspiration and practical advice as we admitted our own struggles and shared our efforts …

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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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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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How Do You Show You Care?

June 8, 2015

Recently, Janet Daniel posted a link from the Los Angeles Times: “How Not to Say the Wrong Thing.” While the roughly drawn concentric circles of relationships that surround the person(s) undergoing difficulties is difficult for me to understand, I have thought a lot about the text that accompanies it. It makes so much sense. The Ring Theory  “Draw a circle. This is the center ring. …

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What Do You Say When There Are No Words?

May 28, 2015

Before Lev died, when I didn’t know what to say or do, I stayed away. I went to the service. I sent flowers or a donation. I wrote a note. But I learned the hard way that the ministry of presence is the greatest gift that one can give someone who is grieving. Just be there. Give a hug. Lend a hand. Share a meal. …

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Bereavement: “I’ve Been Robbed!”

May 22, 2015

Dallas, May 16, 2015. Today I will attend graduation ceremonies for two of the grands. The younger will receive a BA in psychology from SMU at 3 p.m. Three hours later his older brother will receive his law degree from SMU law school. Lev is supposed to be here!  He died six years ago, right before the oldest grand graduated from high school. He was …

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