Voices of Experience: You Know You’re Getting Better When…

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.  ~ Confucius

Laurie Burrows Grad is a food writer, television chef, and food journalist who transitioned to writing about grief when her husband Peter suddenly died on August 1, 2015. She has written over 65 blogs about being a widow on Huffington Post. The post below originally appeared on Thrive Global, the new site for Arianna Huffington, and is reprinted here with Laurie's permission. She is also the Editor-in-Chief for www.epicurus.com, one of the top food sites, and writes monthly blogs about cookware and cookbooks. In her personal life, Laurie is a philanthropist, who with her late husband Peter raised over $30 million for the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of her father, the late playwright Abe Burrows.

I have processed my grief on The Huffington Post through about 65 blogs, taking baby steps towards my restoration with occasional fall backs along the way. When you are in grief work, it is difficult to see the signs of improvement so I decided to chronicle my improvements in a game I call:

I KNOW I’M GETTING BETTER WHEN…

· I can look at Peter’s picture and not weep.

· I can spend time alone and be content just puttering around at home.

· I can watch a suspenseful show like The Americans without reaching for Peter’s comforting hand.

· I can go on a plane and not shake in fear, as the turbulence hits, without missing Peter’s hand in mine.

· I don’t pounce on someone who says “I know how you feel.”

· I can live in the now. The long view sucks.

· I can anticipate Thanksgiving without tearing up at the thought of Peter’s plate full of sweet potatoes and marshmallows.

· I can hear Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and not melt into a puddle.

· I can tame the “chattering monkeys” in my mind through mindfulness. (Still working on the meditation issue).

· I can sleep through the night without pharmaceuticals.

· I can take a walk on a crisp day and feel good, all by myself.

· I notice that time doesn’t drag as much, and the weekends aren’t as long.

· I can reconcile the bank statements by myself. I lie. This will never happen, and Peter would have been laughing at the concept.

· I can say no to toxic friendships without guilt. Saying no can be so empowering!

· I can laugh out loud at a joke and actually enjoy it.

· I can use the widow card wisely, especially when dealing with the telephone company.

· I have fewer grief bursts in the car or the shower.

· I am actually really hungry. Cacio al pepe. Yum!

· I realize that the word denial doesn’t stand for: “don’t even notice I am lying.”

· I can watch the Oakland Raiders win and don’t miss seeing Peter’s big grin.

· I don’t miss his five-daily check in calls.

· I can phone a friend to fill that void.

· I can stop to smell the flowers and actually enjoy them.

· I can take a walk on the beach without tearing up.

· I can concentrate and focus enough to read a book.

· I can watch John Oliver alone without sharing our mutual hatred of bigotry.

· I can order a burger and fries without thinking of his smile. Yes, a turkey burger, but I can still smile.

· I can comfort others in the same vortex of grief.

· I can watch The Way We Were and not curl into a ball of pain.

· I can watch Young Frankenstein and laugh out loud without tearing up at Peter not saying “put the candle back!”

· I can truly look forward to getting up in the morning.

· I can recover the “me” that went with him.

· I can find growth from my loss. (This one will take a lot more work!)

· I am well enough to stop blogging about my pain.

· I can tell grief, who has moved in as a tenant, to vacate the premises, or at least take a shorter lease.

· I can bounce forward!

© 2017 by Laurie Burrows Grad. To read more of Laurie’s blogs, you're welcome to subscribe to her newsletter here. You'll find her on Twitter @lauriegrad.

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