“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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Mothers and Daughters

August 4, 2016
Mirror, mirror on the wall

After my husband died, I worried about my future. I had been robbed of the most significant person in my life. And every holiday, every major life event where Lev was absent was a new robbery, new bereavement. The losses kept coming, and our family was not prepared. Nobody warned us that death was only the first loss. When I did not fall apart immediately …

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Learning from Sheryl Sandberg

May 19, 2016

Who would guess that I have anything in common with Sheryl Sandberg, the brilliant, young, Jewish COO of Facebook? or with the 94-year-old Alzheimer victim in the London suburbs? We are all widows, sharing the universal language and experience of grief. In her recent speech to the University of California–Berkeley graduating class, Sandberg—widowed one year 13 days previously—described being “swallowed in the deep fog of …

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Coping With the Empty Chair

November 5, 2015
empty chair

Lev’s empty chair illustrated the family’s differences as we worked our way through grief. When friends came to call after they learned of his death, my children clenched their fists as other people unknowingly sat in their dad’s chair. When our family of nine was alone in the library, they squeezed as two family groups into the pair of flanking couches, leaving Lev’s chair empty. …

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Dear Mr. Vice-President:

September 5, 2015

“In Mr. Biden’s first detailed public remarks on his 2016 plans, delivered Thursday night, he said the ‘most relevant factor’ in his consideration is his emotional health and that of his family, following the death of his son Beau, who succumbed to brain cancer in May at age 46.” WSJ, Sept. 5 Dear Mr. Vice-President: All but the most insensitive of your political opponents sympathize …

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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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The Very Public Face of Mourning

May 29, 2015

Today is President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s 98th birthday, but he is forever fixed in memory as the handsome young President of Camelot–with the elegant wife and beautiful children–shot dead in Dallas at the age of 46. Some days are markers forever. We remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on 9/11, when John Glenn orbited the earth, when we first heard of …

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Mastering the Storms of Grief

May 23, 2015

I rode out a typhoon off the coast of New Zealand in 2014. When we sailed out of Auckland on January 9 with calm sea and sunny sky, we had no hint of what awaited our small cruise ship at the south end of that island nation. Six days later, we discovered why sailors call this area around 40th and 50th Latitude South the Roaring …

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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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