The Journey from Grief to Gratitude

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hi Everyone,

To honor the memory of my husband, Andy Trattner, who died five years ago this week, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned on my Journey from Grief to Gratitude. This is a very long post, and I hope it will bring comfort to those of you who are grieving and insight to those of you who are supporting a friend or family member who has lost a loved one.

Everyone’s grief journey is different… and the ability to emerge with your soul intact is dependent upon your willingness to do the excruciatingly difficult work that grieving requires. It is a long and lonely process, and no-one can accept the reality of YOUR loss for YOU… it is something that you must do for yourself. If you actively work at grieving it usually takes three years to move through the pain and sadness and be able to fully embrace life again.

One of the things I’ve learned on my journey is that love is a force so powerful that it transcends death.

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Andy and I met at the end of my freshman year in college. I was immediately attracted to his keen intelligence, wickedly ‘punny’ sense of humor, and his deep, sonorous ‘radio-announcer’s’ voice. Our skill sets were complementary; I am a big-picture person while Andy was detail-oriented. He was inherently introverted and innately technical, while I am creative by nature. We shared a love of literature, musical theater and a dedication to making a difference in the world.

The card below is one of many that I wrote for him through the years.

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Andy and I were blessed to celebrate twenty-nine wedding anniversaries together. Here is our wedding photo– we were so young– the inset photo was taken at his cousin’s wedding in April, 2011.

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In August, 2011, two days before our son’s twelfth birthday, nine days before our daughter turned seventeen, Andy had a heart attack and died in his sleep. In a very real sense my life ended when he died, because without him I couldn’t return to the life we shared. In the blink of an eye I lost my husband, best friend, business partner, IT and finance director and most devastatingly, my children’s father. Although I spent the entire first week thanking God that Andy didn’t suffer, and that he didn’t die on our son’s birthday, I was too shell-shocked to really understand the magnitude of what had happened. Despite being blessed and bolstered by family and community, I spent most of that first year functioning solely in ‘survival’ mode.

Profound loss– by which I mean the loss of a spouse, child or custodial parent–changes you: I call it ‘crossing the great divide.’ Once you have crossed, and have been forged in the fire of grief, your life is permanently changed in inexplicable ways. If you have ever lost someone, I know you ‘get it.’ If your loss is recent, please know that eventually the good days will outnumber the bad ones.

Grieving is like embarking upon a journey to an unknown destination, against your will, without any idea of how long it will take or what you will find once you get there. In the beginning it is a full time job, and can take every ounce of determination you can muster just to get through the day. At first you may just keep putting one foot in front of the other because you don’t know what else to do. After a while, as you start to regain your equilibrium and work through your grief, you discover an inner strength and resiliency that surprises you.

My journey from grief to gratitude began in the fall of 2011, when I picked up a pen for the first time since Andy died, and started to journal. For many months thereafter I would awaken each day, write the same words in my journal “When you lose someone you love…” and then finish the sentence. As regular Zenspirations® blog readers know, these journals ultimately became what I refer to as “my little grief book,” When You Lose Someone You Love. I made 100 copies to give to friends and family on the first anniversary of Andy’s death… and so many people kept asking me for extra copies that I decided to self-publish the book. Over the next two years I reworked most of the pages to create a cohesive gift of comfort, and did a Kickstarter to raise the money to print it. I published the book on October 21, 2015, which would have been Andy’s 58th birthday.

Below are a couple of photos showing the original pages from my journal (a Moleskin reporter’s notebook) in front of the pages from the finished book.

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As the months passed and I became more grounded, my heart– and my journal pages– became more hopeful. When You Lose Someone You Love ends about a year into my grief journey, and as a sign of the hope I felt while writing it I decided to incorporate some pale color into the last section of the book when I printed it. I’ve been amazed at how many people have mentioned that the added color helps them make a visual connection to my changing feelings. Here are three spreads from the last section of the book.

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Grief does not follow a linear timeframe… nor will it consent to be neatly folded up in a suitcase and gotten out when you feel like it. Especially early on in what I call ‘the grief journey,’ grief has a mind of its own, and can sneak up on you with incredible ferocity when you are least expecting it. My journey from grief to gratitude is ongoing. Even after five years there remain days when I am profoundly dysfunctional; the days that I feel overwhelmed by life’s events are when I most miss Andy. I savor the sweet memory of our life together, and am deeply grateful for the years we had, and how they impact and influence my life today.

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Advice for those who are grieving:

  1. Feel your feelings… grief is excruciatingly painful, and there aren’t any shortcuts. The only way to manage the grief is to grow through it.
  2. Take time to remember… and to celebrate your loved one’s legacy.
  3. Listen to your heart… and be gentle with yourself.
  4. Look for ways to help others; it is a great way to heal.
  5. You are NOT alone! Don’t be afraid to ask for help– or a hug– when needed.

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Advice for those who are are supporting someone who is grieving:

  1. Don’t worry about finding ‘the right words’. Simply saying “I’m so sorry for your loss” and giving a hug can bring great comfort.
  2. Reach out and continue to reach out. The grieving process takes a LOT longer than you can possibly imagine if you haven’t gone through it. Don’t expect someone to ‘get over it’ in a few weeks or months.
  3. Listen. Part of the grieving process involves telling the story of how your loved one died… and then telling the story of how they lived.
  4. Don’t be afraid to mention the name of the person who died. Creating a safe space to talk about their loved one won’t upset someone who is bereaved. Sharing stories and photographs can help them keep the legacy of their loved one alive.
  5. Provide practical assistance. Don’t say ‘call me if you need anything’… people who are grieving are often disoriented and have trouble remembering things. They may not even remember that you offered to help, and even if they do remember, they probably won’t want to impose on you. Instead, call and say “I’m on my way to the supermarket and am bringing you bread, eggs and milk– what else do you need?”
  6. Firsts are REALLY hard! Doing something for the first time without your loved one is incredibly difficult. Whether its going back to work, going on a trip or going to a party, it can help to have someone recognize and acknowledge these firsts. If you are making a holiday dinner, invite the person who is grieving. They may leave early, or choose not to come, but knowing someone cares enough to reach out to you means a lot.
  7. Remember special dates: Birthdays (both of the person who died and the person you are supporting) and anniversaries are milestones on your grief journey. Put these dates– and the date of death– in your calendar so you can call, text, or send a card. It will make more of a difference than you can possibly imagine.
  8. Understand that you can’t fix this. There isn’t anything you can say or do to bring the person who died back. All you can do is accompany your loved one on their grief journey.

Andy is still a very big part of my life; not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, and feel blessed. I remember the things I admired about him; his quick wit, the contributions he made to our community and his devotion to our family. He loved Israel, scuba diving, programming, and making puns. His favorite pastime was reading, and he never left the house without a book in his pocket. I have found it very healing to express my grief– and my ongoing connection to the love of my life– through my art. I often incorporate a winged heart, which symbolizes my realization that love is eternal, into pieces I create when thinking about Andy.

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More than anything Andy delighted in being a Dad; he was a wonderful, caring, involved father, and I miss him as co-parent more than in any other capacity. Although it isn’t easy, I try to think about what he would recommend in any given situation, and to take that into account when making parental decisions. Both of our children have grown into hard-working, compassionate individuals, and I know he would be incredibly proud of them. They are his living legacy.

When your world is shattered by loss you wonder how you can pick up the broken pieces and glue them back together… part of the journey from grief to gratitude is the gradual, heartbreaking realization that you can’t. As you continue your journey, you can learn to build a new life founded on the love and cherished memories you hold in your heart.

Lessons from my journey:

  1. Life is a privilege, not a promise. Live your life with intention.
  2. Hope matters. Greet each day with a hopeful heart.
  3. Look for the blessing in every situation, especially the most difficult ones. It’s the best way to stay grounded in gratitude.
  4. Kindness counts! Reach out to others in love and kindness; a single loving act can (and does!) change the world.
  5. Remember that you are not in control of ANYTHING except your attitude.
  6. Tell people you love them as often as possible… you may never get another chance.
  7. Look for ways to make a difference; live by inspiring others to fly.

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In Andy’s memory I am giving away 5 signed copies of When You Lose Someone You Love. For a chance to win one of the books please leave a comment on this week’s blog saying why you want a copy of the book and who you plan to give it to. Only one entry per person. I will pick five names at random from those who leave a comment by August 12th.

After reading the heartfelt comments, I wanted to share some grief support resources with you in hopes that you will share them with those in need:  you’ll find them in the free resource section of my other website, www.WhenYouLoseSomeone.com

For those who are dealing with loss during the pandemic, there are helpful resources at GriefSPACE.

Stay Zenspired,

Joanne

156 thoughts on “The Journey from Grief to Gratitude”

    1. Joanne, What a beautiful passage to write for those who have lost a loved one–which includes everyone–some sooner than later. Most of your blogs are printed by me for further reading and thoughts, and the one today needs to be highlighted!!
      I am also learning, though not overwhelming, is the grief we encounter as we grow older (73 years) and realize the unfulfilled dreams we have had that can no longer be part of our journey. I was amazed when someone pointed that fact out to me. And it was truly comforting to realize that that part of me that is sad is a part of my journey given to me by the Father to draw me closer to Himself! You are right–it is not easy nor does it happen overnight. But what joy we can find when we think with gratitude where we have been and where we are going!!

  1. I am coming up to the one yr anniversary of losing my mom. I got your book and it is beautiful. Grief comes to me in waves now, I will be fine and then a memory goes or I see something and I feel like I can’t breath. I miss my Mom and dad so much. I feel alone, even tho I am not.

    1. Sara, my dad died in 1980, mom in 1990. I was 26 and 36 years old when they died… just a kid! I needed them, yet they were gone. I still miss them and often wish I could just “run something by them”. I’ve had to develop close friendships with others, and one older couple (also now both gone!) even let me call them Mom and Dad! What a blessing… Over tme, it does get easier, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re orphans!

  2. Your book is wonderful. I was an early contributor to your Go Fund Me campaign and gave away the books I received through that. I bought a couple more for friends when they had a loss, and everyone has found comfort in them. I’m on disability now and can no longer purchase them for friends. Would love extra copies, so that I can continue to spread your light in the world. Thank you JoAnne!

  3. Your post expresses so many of the thoughts I have felt. My husband died seven years ago and sometimes it feels like yesterday. I would give your book to myself first. The combination of art and thoughts are inexplicable. Then, inwouldnshare it with others.

  4. I had a copy from when my Dad died last year. I carried it in my purse for many months. Then a dear friend lost her brother at a young age of 35. I knew she needed it more than I so I gave it to her. I now have a friend who is losing her daughter to Cystic Fibrosis and would love a copy to give her after we lose Kate.

  5. I would love a copy of this book. My mom has found some peace and joy in coloring since she lost my dad in 2014. I would gladly give my copy to her. I believe your book would be another stepping stone in her healing. Thank you for offering this opportunity,

  6. Recently, my uncle passed away. His passing was expected. He had cancer for a while and we all knew it was coming. His death really hit us hard. Even though we knew it was coming, it does not make it any more acceptable. Our lives are forever changed. I miss him and my family misses him. If I win a copy of your book, I will give it to his wife, my aunt. My hope is that it might help with her grief and let her know that it is OK to grieve and that there is no time limit.

  7. Such a positive and uplifting example of ‘It’s not what happens that matters as much as how we deal with what happens’. I have just read Danny Gregory’s book, ‘Every Day Matters’ and as a result bought a moleskin watercolour sketchbook, which I am planning on filling with the everyday matters of life day by day and giving it my daughter when full as an encouragement to her, as we were both badly affected by the death of my father in January this year, and my own health is very fragile at times so I want a positive legacy for her look thorugh and see the sad times but also how many happy incidents there are everyday as well. If I won a copy of your book, I would get my 5 year old grandson to help me fill it all in and then gift it to him, as he misses my dad as well. Mnay thanks for the inspiration Joanne!

  8. My dear friend,
    As Leni has said, you ARE such a wonderful inspiration to many! You speak from your heart, and say so beautifully, what some cannot express. I can tell from the things you have said, that Andy was truly a gem. It is a blessing that you can look back and celebrate the time that you had with him. But you are so right, that the really intense grief never completely goes away. I think the grief we continue to feel, is a reflection of how much we loved (and still love) that person. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

    If I were to win a book, I would give it to my mom. I think she is at a point in her grief, where she could actually read it and benefit from it.

    Love and blessings, always!
    Mary Anne

  9. You are a true inspiration…… I would love another of your little books to give to a dear friend who died from a brain tumour…. she was just 40. Her husband is doing it tough and has two little girls, Harper and Bella who are 6 and 3. At the funeral the two little girls just stared at the screen of their mommy…. it was so sad but beautiful. They would love your book – because I love it so much… I wish I had one for every persons family who passes away. You wrote it with such care and love – thank you – you are amazing. God Bless. kind regards Marg Kubisch, Australia.

  10. Joanne, this is beautiful! Thank you. If I win, I plan to give the book to my mother, who still grieves my grandmother 43 years after her death.

  11. Joanne, you articulate the journey so clearly. I have a friend that lost her husband a few years ago and is having a difficult time. I think your book would be a real treasure for her!

  12. Joanne, How. Inspiring, what a beautifully moving post & book.
    We lost our16year old daughter, Beth, just under 19 years ago and still miss her every day. Also I lost my Father 21/2 years ago, since that day we have been living with the grieving of losing my Mum little by little through dementia. I think this book would be a comfort & encouragement to. Our entire family.

  13. Hi JOANNE

    May our sweet Lord and Saviour give you strength. May you know that your Andy is with Jesus waiting for you to join him. What fun you will have together. We can look up because we have a hope and future.Keep up the good work,you are truly a lovely person. God bless Andy.a

    God bless you.Your gift is amazing, I hope the Lord develops mine. Creation is of God and does bless us physically and spiritually.

  14. Joanne,
    I have a dear friend whose son was married for 10 years to a lovely woman. But, their world was limited by not being able to have children…and then with the aid of modern medical technology, she was finally able to get pregnant. However, in June of this year, their world as they knew it imploded when the wife passed away during childbirth. It is a great blessing that the beautiful baby boy survived and is thriving. He is a bright light and great blessing to this wonderful family during such a dark time. I would love to have a copy of your book, “When You Lose Someone You Love” to offer hope and comfort to this family and to help them work their way through their journey of grieving. Do you offer this book for sale on your website?
    Thank you,
    Peg

  15. This is a very poignant post. I have a friend in Hawaii who lost her husband a year ago. I know she is still grieving and i would very much like for her to have a copy of your book.

    Thanks

  16. This is a beautiful story. Is 18 years since my son died and I understand what you say no one day goes by without remembering him. I love your illustrations that express what I feel. Thank you.

  17. Thank you so much for this blog post! I appreciate your willingness to share your journey with so many. I hope to receive your book to give to my mother-in-law who just lost her husband after 58 years of marriage. His death has greatly impacted our family. Thank you again for your words of wisdom and inspiration!

  18. Joanne, I was very moved reading your blog today. A close friend of mine lost her husband just under a year ago. It was his birthday on Monday, these “firsts” are always hard. Reading your blog helped me have a greater understanding of what she is going through. I would love one your books for her. Bless you Jonne xx

  19. I would give the copy to my 91 year old mom who is still grieving the loss of my dad, five years ago this month. Mom married at age 16 and had never lived alone. In some ways, she has found strengths in herself, she didn’t know she had. Dad was always in the spotlight and in-charge. She says that she especially misses holding his hand at night, rolling over and patting him, and that quiet end of day time when they fall asleep. I think your book will bring mom reassurance that many of her feelings are felt by others and that she is not alone in her thoughts and feelings of loss. Thank you, Joanne, for giving us this format to bless our loved ones.

  20. Joanne, thank you for sharing your story and your art. You have no idea how many people you are touching with these gifts. I’d like to win a copy of your book so I can give it to a dear friend of mine who lost his wife to cancer last November. Like so many men I’ve encountered through the years, he is having a very difficult time processing his loss and the accompanying emotions. Being a two-time widow I understand the process and have felt blessed to have my faith and friends to support my journeys through grief. Your willingness to share your own story and your gift for art is appreciated by any more people than you will ever know! You are an inspiration to all of us!

  21. Wow, this is such a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to your husband. In April and May of 2007, my parents died just one month apart from each other, and I still experience the “sting” of their passing just from reading a post like this. At the same time, there is much comfort and wisdom from this same post. So, first I say thank you for sharing your heart. Second, If I won this book I would read it myself, first, and then give it to my cousin who lost his wife about a year ago, and he is having a very difficult time coping without his wife. My relationship with God and prayer has significantly helped in getting me through, but, sometimes, it just takes that little extra something like a book like yours that just sort of “jogs” the emotions and brings a person to another step of healing. I’m very thankful for you, Joanne, and how you share your beautiful work and beautiful heart with us. I will be praying for you, especially through this week, and I look forward to seeing your posts when you return……..Linda E.

  22. Dear Joanne, Although I lost my mother in October I am still having dreams and thoughts of her. I was not my mothers favorite. To be honest I really never felt any love from her only tolerance thinly veiled tolerance. I don’t know how to mourn her. Be glad she’s gone and can’t hurt me anymore? Or grieve for the love and acceptance I never got? I’m stuck. Immobilized with pain. You are amazing I love what you’ve done. I don’t have your talent or drive. I’m trying to work through with your generous new class. Thank you with all my heart for it.

  23. Thank you for sharing this. It’s been a rough 6 years for our family. I lost all 4 of my grandparents within a two year time frame, my mother in law passed away a year ago and my brother in law passed in January. I would love to win this book. I would share it with my sister who lost her husband in January.

  24. Many, many years ago I lost a child. I was young and I pretended to go on with life as if nothing had happened. As a result i kept my feeling buried deep on my soul. It was a heavy burden to carry it with me for more than twenty years. As i grew older i came to understand the need to grieve. When i finally embrace my emotions it was a relief. The love is still there and I keep him very close to my heart and feel grateful for the time he was alive.
    Thank you for your words. They have bring me peace.

  25. This was what I needed to read today on many levels. First for myself, still dealing with several losses over the past few years has left me shell shocked at best. I keep waiting for it to get better-to hurt less-someday it will be okay-until then I go about life almost as an observer. The second reason -my dear friend lost her husband in a tragic accident 3 months ago-she’s 45 -so was he and she’s having a very difficult time. So if I were to receive this book I would pass it to Melisa-her journey is fresh and I know she would benefit.i love the talk of hugs–we exchange them often in place of words.
    Thank you for sharing your journey in such a beautiful way!

  26. Thank you for your special inspiration. Grief is such a lonely journey. You have made it more bearable. I have a neighbor who lost her husband this summer to the suicide of depression. It has been heartbreaking. I know this would be a healing help in her recovery.

  27. I want a copy of this book to prepare me for the future. My husband has had pancreatic cancer and is a survivor of 14 years. He is a heart patient and diabetic, he has parkenson disease and has had a stroke which has taken his speech. I am his caregiver and love him each day he is with me.. With all of his health issues I know he cannot continue to live this life with me but I cherish each day that he does and try not to dwell on the future too much. Thank you for this opportunity to receive this book as a gift.

    Thanks Marie

  28. I read and re read these words. Joanne – if you only knew how these words help. I think I will print this and tuck it in my pocket and read daily. It is most needed. Thank you my friend.

  29. You are so inspiring to me…and your art too. I am so glad I found your books and site. I would love to get this book for my friend Sue who lost her 9 yr old son.

  30. What an inspiration!! None of us escape grief, but you have beautifully created a path for all to follow. Thank you.

  31. Oh Joanne, your blog is a beautiful tribute to your dear husband and it touched me and brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing your journey and opening your heart to us. You are a blessing to those who have had the great fortune to meet you and I am so very blessed to call you my friend.
    I hope this week of remembrance is full of happy memories, laughs and love.

    All my love to you my dear friend! Lots of hugs!

    Terri

  32. My dad passed away at age 90, leaving my mom heartbroken beyond words. They were together for 68 years. Your book would bring her great comfort.

  33. Joanne, thank you for sharing this journey with us. If I receive one of these beautiful books, I would either give it to my mom who lost her husband nearly three years ago, or I would give it to my brother-in-law because my sister was killed in a car accident 4 years ago.

    May God continue to give you comfort and peace.

  34. Joanne, thank you for these wise and comforting words, my Mother in Law has been grieving the loss of her husband and true love for 18 months. I think this book would certainly help her and anyone facing such a loss.
    I am so grateful for the joy you share so generously.

  35. What truly touching words. I would love to give a copy of your book to my cousin. She lost her husband of 10 months in July. She is attempting to grieve but the in-laws are not being the nicest of folks. I pray for her every day as, like you, her world was turned upside overnight.

  36. Thank you, Joanne, for your heart-felt, inspiring blog today. My husband’s brother & SIL lost their only son quite unexpectedly a year ago. My SIL especially is still struggling through each day just trying to take each step. I think your book, When You Lose Someone You Love, will be a great help to her. thank you for your blog & and your encouragements.

  37. Joanne, what a timely post for me to read. My wife passed away in mid-June, after a five year battle with breast cancer. I was lucky, I suppose, in that I knew the end would come and it wasn’t a surprise. But it is still a shock to suddenly have to learn live without someone with whom you have spent decades alongside. For me, I find I’m most taken aback by the contrast between being supremely functional (so many details to attend to!) and then being stabbed in the heart with the raw pain of loss. There is that feeling of, how am I managing to take care of all of these things when my heart is so broken?

    I would love a signed copy of your book!

  38. In an increasingly darkening world, Joanne, your light is dispelling that darkness, flooding the world with hope. You have turned ashes into beauty as you have opened your heart and soul to lead others toward greater joy and peace. Thank you for the blessing you have been to me and my family. We pray God’s choicest blessings will be yours as you continue changing the world for the better. – I would love to have a book sent to my friend in Michigan who celebrates her wedding anniversary without her husband, tomorrow, after losing him in a tragic car accident 2 years ago. He was 46 at the time. She has been fighting the good fight, and I have sent her excerpts of your blog to strengthen her in hard times.

  39. Thank you for sharing your journey with us! I am not looking forward to loosing my parents, being an only child, so I will be reading your book often.

  40. Thank you for this selfless and gracious act of kindness.
    My husbands business partner took his life just over a month ago and his wife is struggling to deal with the loss. Her only son lives in another country. I will give this book to her if you choose me.

  41. Joanne, My son passed away 3 years ago this December. Have become involved in a grief group for Mothers who have had a child to pass away. . We are just waiting on the time we can be together again. My group is called Heartstrings and we are a faith based group who use so much of the feelings your book has shared. I would love to be able to have When you lose someone you love to share with our group . When we get a new Mother we try to shower her with all the love and support we can give. I feel your book would be a greatly appreciated contribution to our effort. Much love to you on your husbands rebirth day tomorrow. Jane King

  42. Joanne , I am moved to tears. This Zenspirations in memory of your beloved Martin is truly something that more people should read and learn from. Yes your life is different but the memories are very real. Always in your heart says it all. You are a survivor and I am sure that some days are harder than others. I believe in guardian angels and your Martin must be one of yours. He is always with you. When you are unsure of something and you suddenly know what to do…that’s Martin. G-d willing you will live a long and wonderful life, enjoy many simchasand spared of any further tragedies. Your work brings you an inner and outer peace so you are truly blessed.
    In your own way you have made thousands of people through their darkest hour, without knowing it. That is a very special thing and a true “mitzvah”.
    Take your long deserved blog vacation. Stay well.

  43. Thinking of you always, but especially today (8/3)!
    OH Joanne this blog touched my heart so much to get to know you even more as an individual and to show me more of how much you loved Andy and the kind of person he was. He must have been a treasure because he chose you as his wife too. <3 Because you are a strong, loving and caring individual, God helped you push through this difficult situation to now help others with their grieving and loss of their loved ones.
    As for the book, "When You Lose Someone You Love" , I would want to give a copy to my cousin and his wife who lost their son in a tragic automobile accident in May (The one who you made the memorial for). I thought this might help them with their grieving process. She is more vocal about his loss, but my cousin is more quiet and keeps things inside. Realistically, I worry more about him because he doesn't share anything.
    Sending love and hugs. XOXO
    Gail
    PS Enjoy your blog-cation! YOU DESERVE it!! 🙂

    .

  44. My cousin’s husband was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and he is not going to be with us much longer I’m afraid. After 30 years of being single, my cousin met and married her now husband which pretty much shocked us all. He is a great guy with a good sense of humor. He fit right into our family and we all love him.
    Over the last 5 years my cousin has lost her aunt, father, mother and long time best friend. I don’t know how she will take the loss of her husband. She is a strong woman but there is just so much a girl can take. I saw your book and immediately thought of her. I’m thinking this would be something that can help her through her grief.
    I too lost my husband and can relate to your blog.. it really touched my heart. Thank you!

  45. Sending blessings to comfort and uplift your grieving heart, Joanne. I am a greeting card artist and calligrapher but when I am in pain, I express through singing and songwriting. There is definitely something healing about getting all that emotion out of the dark places and into the light. Sharing my songs has given voice to other people’s grief and that has helped my healing, also.

    I have a friend who lost her husband this last year after close to 70 years of marriage. She just turned 90 and is very tough on herself for not handling her loss better-oh, that pains me. I think your book would comfort her and I know she would delight in your art.

    You are so compassionate and generous in giving of yourself and your process. I’ll keep you in my prayers in the weeks ahead.

    Love and blessings, Sandy

  46. Dear Joanne,
    Your work, thoughts, and enduring love for your husband Andy are so inspirational. My mom died of PLS on April 21,2015. She struggled valiantly with courage and hope for 16 years. She fought with a smile, kindness, and appreciation for her family who provided her care until the end. Despite being confined to a wheelchair and difficulty swallowing and speaking, she believed everyday was a gift. Her family and friends miss her greatly, and she is never far from our thoughts. I would love to give this book to Nish, as I know she would treasure it. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Joanne,
    My good friend Lauren lost her son to a drug overdose in 2007. She has not grieved, but instead has managed to kick everyone(including me) out of her life and has become a hermit. I think your book would help her in many ways. Thank you for sharing with all of us.
    Sand I. sankel58@gmail. Com

  48. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and your heart. I have a dear friend who lost the love of her life the same year you did, and who is constantly being told by family members that she should be over the grieving process, and be able to “move on”. As you said, each person grieves in their own way.
    She also is a very creative person, and I think she would benefit from the way that you have used your art to help you find the path through your grief. Bless you for your openness, and may your journey be blessed also…

  49. I found your comments truly remarkable. I have known a few people who lost a partner in this way. Very difficult! I would like to give this book to my sister-in-law who lost her parents and sister with Downs in a horrific car accident; her brother, the driver was the only survivor. The incoming driver passed a snow plow with no visibility. This past Saturday my sister-in-law’s daughter got married and it was evident that certain people were missing. While the day was extremely beautiful, I could see the occasional sadness in my sister-in-law’s eyes. She is in a good place now, but your book would help to lift her spirits that much more.
    Thanks Joanne

  50. Thank you for sharing your passion of love for you husband, I can related and your words are so gentle and warm. It bring me Comfort into my soul. Thank you for sharing… Adelaide

  51. I appreciate you sharing this journey you’re on. I’m petrified at the thought of having to go through life without my husband. Three years ago, I became paralyzed. I didn’t take my first steps for 3 months. I was away from home for 146 days. My husband came to see me every day. Our lives have changed dramatically. But through this we have grown even closer. We’ll celebrate our 40th anniversary in March. We’ve learned to not take anything for granted. Each night I thank God for the blessings he has given us.
    If I am one of the winners, I think I would donate the book to my church library. That way many people would be able to benefit from your inspirational journey and enjoy your beautiful artwork.
    Sending you hugs.

  52. Joann, I have been looking for a way to help by best friend through her grieving journey. She lost her son one year ago today!

  53. I read this through tears…thank you for sharing. I would love one of your books to give to my Mom who has had to deal with so much grief through the loss of her Mom (Alzheimer’s), the loss of her only sibling, a younger brother (Cancer), and the loss of her grandmother who helped raise her. My Mom is a ROCK, but she struggles with a disease called Spasmatic Torticollis…she still smiles, gives thanks, and takes one day at a time.

  54. This book is both lovely and helpful in a very special way. I would love to give a copy to my daughter-in-law who lost her father very suddenly a few months ago. She is very sad and it would be most helpful to hear someone else’s grief and hopefully gain some peace.

  55. It’s hard being a survivor. I have walked the path you have written about…every word helps. Your book will go to my friend.

  56. Thank you, Joanne, for sharing your precious personal journey with us. Beautifully written and illustrated. Your words struck deeply in my from my losses. I’m a retired art teacher and always encouraged my students to journal, especially through tough times. Art is an amazing healer. I recently lost my next door neighbor and his wife would certainly benefit from your beautiful book. Sending you light and love this week and always!

  57. Dear Joanne, thank you for sharing your journey. I went through much of what you did when I lost my first husband after 17 years of marriage, not to death, but to another woman with whom he started another family. My world as I knew it came to an end. But I am so thankful to say after much hurt, fear and depression, a new life began. The husband I have now is perfect for me, so loving, caring and faithful. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t always see it at first but we must be patient and pray for God’s guidance. He will see us through the dark times.

  58. Dear Joanne,
    Thank you for sharing this very personal time in your life. I lost my Dad many years ago, at the very young age of 58, then my brother at 38, my Mom three years ago and my sister last year, leaving me the only surviving member of the family. I so feel your hurt but I would love a copy of your book to give to a dear friend whose husband passed away a few months ago. I do believe it will help her to deal with her grief, especially after reading of the struggles you went through that I see her dealing with now.
    May God continue to bless you and thank you again for all your beautiful work.

  59. I lost a part of myself as a young girl, and have struggled for 40+ years to make sense of this loss. Counseling was a life-saver, but a physical expression of a “tune-up” would be most appreciated! You were correct saying that grief and loss has no linear timeline. I thank my Lord for his tender patience and mercy.
    Joyce

  60. Thanks, Joann for expressing exactly the thoughts that so well describe the feelings one has in losing a dear one. I lost my husband from a massive heart attack forty three years ago and a daughter two years ago from cancer. My faith in God is what sustained me through the hard days as well as encouragement from family and friends.

  61. Thank you for sharing those details of your story and such heartfelt advice. Your words and designs offer comfort and hope to those dealing with this unimaginable difficulty. I would like to give a book to my best friend of thirty-four years who tragically lost her husband one and a half years ago.

  62. Joanne, thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story.

    My youngest daughter passed away on May 2 of this year from stage IV ovarian cancer. She fought so hard for 18 months, but nothing worked. She was truly an incredible person, a social worker for the profoundly disabled and did animal rescue. My older daughter and I, along with my grandsons have been struggling with this terrible loss. I have lost loved ones in the past…mother, father and 2 brothers…but losing my daughter has been the most traumatic and painful experience of my life. My surviving daughter is just lost without her sister…they were very close. I would love a copy of your book to give to her. I think your journey from grief to gratitude could be very helpful to her. Thank you for sharing your very personal journey!

  63. In would give this book to my parents, who are broken hearted and grieving over their 19 year old grandson who they loved so much every day of his life. He died suddenly of an overdose. As the situation has snowballed, my brother, their son….is destroying himself slowly the same way. My parents are totally broken and I can’t comfort them.

    Your above words are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  64. Joanne, thanks for posting your story again. I knew your husband had passed, but did not know the particulars. Starting at the age of 4, I began losing people very close to me about every 4 years, starting with my parents. For a long time I thought I had a curse. I would love to have a copy of your book, I have so many of your books. If I could part with it, I would give it to the next friend that suffers a loss. Thanks you for sharing your talents with us.

  65. The one word to describe your thoughts on this subject is Beautiful. I have lost 2 brothers and both parents. Nothing feels the same without your childhood into adulthood best friends – your family. I haven’t gone through the entire journey yet, but I know your book would help me, as the above has. Thank you so much.

    1. Joanne, What a beautiful inspiration, and Andy would be so proud of you and the kids..
      Your book will helps so many, and is so needed.
      Thank you for sharing your journey with us..
      with Gratitude…
      Michal

  66. Losing a loved one is truly a Journey. Ups and downs, paths you retrace to remember, new paths you must take on your own (as you did when the time was right, but your loved one is there, in your thoughts). Memories hurt so much you wish you could turn them off but slowly they become blessings. It’s all so hard but as Ecclesiastes 3 in the Bible points out..”There is a season for everything” and everyone has to go through this on their own. God, family and friends will be there to cushion the blow and what a blessing that is! My friend is quickly losing her mother and what a wonder gift this would be when that time comes. I am so often lost for words when someone loses a loved one but this they could take and read over and over, maybe pass it on to someone else when they need it. You’re such a blessing to many.

  67. Thank you so much for this post, Joanne. In the past year I lost my younger brother suddenly and unexpectedly. He took his wife’s car to a car dealer for an inspection and collapsed. He died just a few moments later. It was a shock to his wife ad our whole family. I have been working through this death as well as the death of my mother. Art journaling has been a way for me to work through the sadness and loss.Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us.. Grief is a process and I am still working through it. Your article brought comfort to me. I love your art, too.

  68. My journey with grief started in my late twenties when I lost my folks just 14 months apart from each other. I was a new wife and mother and my world imploded. I have had much loss in my life, as most of us have, 4 years ago I watched a very dear friend who had just turned 51 take his last breath after batteling pancreatic cancer for only a few months. It helped to be there at the very end to be able to say how much I would miss him and how much I loved him. My Mom and Dad died before I could say anything. The part about your life never being the same is so 1000% true! I didn’t sign up this pain, but it is mine and I deal with it rather than run from it….now. If I were to get one of your books I would keep it for my heart….battered but beating…..

  69. Dear Joanne,
    I have tearfully read your blog several time today as well as shared it with many others including my new Rabbi who were very touched by it. I have “When You Lose Someone You Love” signed by you which I treasure and which I re-read often since losing my Dad to stage 4 cancer last Nov followed by a good friend in Dec.
    I had lunch today with a friend (also named Toni) and also a TBI survivor who lost her Mother about 6 weeks ago. I showed her your book and today’s blog. I’d love to be able to gift a copy to her.
    I pray that tomorrow you and your son and daughter feel the love coming from so many people whose lives you have touched as you remember, honor and celebrate Andy. ❤️

    1. Joanne, I’m adding to my comment. I just got off the phone with my aunt – my dad’s sister who was crying how much she misses my Dad. If I order a copy of “When You Lose Someone You Love” would you write in it to her?
      Thinking of you’ll today with love. ❤️

  70. Hello Joanne, thank you for all the wonderful things you create including this book on grief I’m so sorry you had to go through that if it helps at all know that you are surrounded by people who love and adore you from all over the world! I love watching your videos and by having your books is like having a little piece of you! I have had many people die during my lifetime but never a child or spouse from what I’ve heard this is the worst kind of grief. I would give the book to my best friend from high school her son died the day after Christmas last year he was only 17 years old! I have three children And my husband and I shared our 28th wedding anniversary on July 30, 2016! I just cannot imagine going through life without One of them! About eight years ago when I was 38 years old I became terminally ill and have been wheelchair-bound ever since I hate to think about the end and when it might happen but I suppose I will need to read the book and purchase a copy to have on hand for my family after I’m gone! Again thank you so much for all you do and the joy and happiness you spread around the world!

  71. My 85-year- old aunt recently lost two of her five children unexpectedly just two months apart. She is a dear Christian lady and looks to God for comfort. I know she would enjoy this book. Thank you for sharing your story so sweetly. You give hope with each word.

  72. I would love a copy of your book for myself. My husband passed away five months ago from brain cancer at 46 years old. I love the preview of your book in this post. Your words speak to me. Blessings to you!

  73. Oh Joanne – you just amaze me! You are such an open and loving person. How brave and generous of you to share all of this with your followers. You’ve given us an incredible gift. I love the lessons from your journey. I plan to make them a poster for our house. Words to live by and remember daily. I am so deeply sorry for your family’s loss and also so grateful that you spent 29 incredible years with your soul mate. God is so good – even it the most difficult times. His LOVE endures forever and thankfully lifts us through the hardest times. I would love a copy of your book. I would share it with Aliyah. She lost her great Aunt Caroline last year and still talks about her regularly. She was a very special gift from God, who had a very positive impact on all of us. Once again, thank you for sharing. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family this week.

  74. Joanne, that was an incredibly beautiful and moving post…and a wonderful tribute to Andy! I am honored to call you my friend.

    My neighbor and friend was murdered this past May…right before Mother’s Day. I would love to give this book to her loving husband and sweet, gender aged children.

    Your friend always…

  75. I think it would first go to my grandmother and then to my mother. There’s not a day that goes by that we do not think of my grandfather Raymond. He passed away on March 18th, 2015 in the early morning. We were sent to a different hospital than my grandfather was and he passed before we got to the right one. There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think of him and miss him like crazy but we know he is better where he is.

    One of you post picture about grieving has no time limit spoke to me. My husband thought that I should have been done with my grieving within a six month period, like he was for the ones he lost (he lost 3 while we were married and I stood by his side through them all). This was the first time for me at 34 (now 35) losing a close family member. There’s days I still cry and want to hear him call me his beautiful .granddaughter one more time.

    I think it would also be an excellent tool to help several other people in my life that have had recent losses as a way of saying, you are still in our thoughts even if we can not see you.

  76. Joanne, I plan on giving copies to so many people. I lost my sister 10 years ago after caring for her for the last 8 years of her life and she still inspires me daily. I have watched many friends travel through there grief and wished I had more than a card, your words and art express it so well, I can’t wait to share your booklet and have one for myself. Your words are so true. I thank God for giving people like you to share their talents with so many.

  77. I would love this beautiful book . My husband died three mths ago after suffering with MS for thirty yrs . He was the kindest bravest man I know . I was his carer in the last 20 yrs of his life . It was a hard journey but God gave us the strength and grace to carry on . I would love to but this book for my daughters as well as they are both missing their dad so much

  78. tomorrow will be one year since my son paul, my youngest child, died unexpectedly from an undiagnosed brain tumor. I would like to give this book to my daughter who is struggling and I don’t always know how to help her ( or myself)) As a fellow artist I am in awe of your beautiful drawings as well as your ability to use your gifts to work thru this journey. I bet Andy is clapping and smiling right now. Hugs to you.

  79. I received my own copy of When You Lose Someone You Love yesterday (August 2nd) on what would have been Mike’s 38th birthday. Like you, Joanne, I lost my husband to a sudden heart attack in 2011. I would love to gift a copy of your lovely book to my mother-in-law.

  80. This is one of the best things I’ve read on grief and I’ve read many. It was affirming and calming. Beautifully written. Thank you!

  81. I am truly sorry for your loss and please extend my sympathy to your loved ones. You are so generous to share your story. I would give this to my aunt who lost her daughter in accident two months ago. My aunt and her family are also creative and my inspiration. I know this would be a comfort to her. With love and hugs!

  82. Thank you for this post. Your words moved me deeply. My husband died suddenly almost 2 years ago. My love for him is deep and I miss him fiercely. Those who haven’t lost a spouse or a partner don’t get it. I would love to give a copy of your book to a friend whose husband died in November. She is struggling with her grief and friends and family are telling her to get over, move on and forget about her husband. I think your book would bring a great deal of comfort and ease to her heart.

  83. I gave my beloved husband that same card…You Are The Home My Heart Has Found! We were together for 30 years. He passed away 2 years ago. I struggle to find my purpose now. God bless you! Would love the book! I miss my husband every day.

  84. My husband has been gone for close to 8 months. In his short 44 years, the capacity of care he showed to friends and family was never evadent until people shared their stories witth me. Our oldest daughter recently referred to him as a pillar on a bridge, supporting our immediate and extended families. Our family bridge has been shaky without that supporting pillar. Your book maybe the foundation to rebuild that new pillar.

  85. Thank you for this post. I lost my husband last November and have spent the months since in a fog. His birthday is this weekend and I want so much to hug him one more time. We met when I was 16 and we’re together five years before we got married and then married for over 30 years. I really don’t know who I am without him but your words give me some hope.

  86. Both your post and the comments that follow are deeply moving and your book is truly beautiful. I count myself very fortunate that I do not need a copy for myself or anyone close to me at the moment (although I have experienced great grief when my husband of 20 years decided he no longer wished to be part of our family, leaving myself and two children without explanation or warning, something my children and I have not only survived but hopefully have grown from)
    However I am a nurse, working with the elderly, and the grief of others is part of my everyday life – there are so many true words in what you have said and I hope I can pass on some of this wisdom to the grieving families and friends I look after. The loss of someone you love is painful, no matter what age they are or whether it is expected, but with help, support, love and time it is possible to learn to live with that loss and eventually to appreciate the joys of life again.

  87. Thank you for you beautiful heart and gift of creativity, Joanne, that you can help others out of your own loss and pain. Love and light to you! I would give this beautiful book you have created to my daughter. My mum died 11 years ago today, when Kaili was 8, and she still misses her so very much. This is what she posted this morning – “On this date 11 years ago you became an angel and I miss you more than I could ever put into words. Your beautiful smile , your wise thoughts and your kind heart were some of your best attributes. I hope you’re proud of me and I wish heaven was closer.. I miss you so much we only part to meet again.”

  88. I would love this book my husband passed 5 months ago he was the love of my life . We would have been married 49 years and I am so lost . I miss him so much I can barley function. I don’t know how to do this without him. I just go thru everyday not knowing what the next minute will bring. ❤️❤️

  89. I lost my husband of 34 years just over a year ago. I continue to function, to breathe, to eat, to do things with my family–but I feel so different on the inside. I alternate between being numb and being in pain. Sometimes I wonder how I will get through the next 30 years without him. I would love a copy of your book. It really speaks to my heart. Thank you for sharing and God bless you in your journey of life after loss.

  90. I had twin brothers for 53 years. One took his life in November and the other passed away 5 weeks and 12 hours later. I don’t know how to do this. Maybe your beautiful book can help.

  91. Beautiful blog post. I will be sharing with some special friends. One friend lost her husbamd unexpectedly this past November and has two young children. The other friend lost her 17 year old son to suicide 4 years ago and is stuck in her grief journey. My heart breaks for her pain and loss and isolation.

  92. What an amazing tribute to your beloved husband Andy! I have had a lot of loss in my life…both parents, my sister, and my infant daughter Joy. My friend Rebecca lost her infant daughter Sarah last year. I would give your beautiful book to Rebecca. It would help me with my ongoing healing to give her this book. Thank you for this tribute to your husband. He must have been a wonderful man.

  93. Thank you for your blog post and sharing your beautiful book and heart. Yesterday (8/2) was 1 year since the death of my husband (my Andy) and I’m still trying to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and life as a 32 year old widow and single mother to our 2-year-old daughter. I miss him every single day, but am thankful for our daughter who brings so much joy and gives me hope! I would keep the book for myself as I work through this process and pass it on in the future to someone in need.

  94. You articulate your grief so well. Writing and vocabulary are not my strong points. I struggle to get my feelings out in words other than “I feel sad”, “I miss you” etc. You have described how I feel about losing my Mum. She passed suddenly in October 2010. One day she was at work and the next day she passed away. We were very close. My Aunt Irene passed away in May this year. I would like to give the book to her husband- my Uncle Derek.
    Many thanks and thank you for sharing a little about your husband Andy. You have done him proud..
    Maxine

  95. Beautiful! You articulate what I am feeling so very well.,….My husband, Jerry, passed away almost 3yrs ago now and I am still grieving…….people don’t understand and I keep being told it is time to get over it and move on…….I tell them I am moving on but I will never “get over it”………thank you for you words….it truly touched me………..God Bless!

    1. Lorinda, whether married for two or twenty years (husband and I were just eight months shy of 20 years) no one “gets over it!” How cruel to suggest so! Anyway, it does get better, and we find ways to remember our loved one, trust me.

  96. I have just come across your blog via MWC, you write such poignant words that resonate with me and the journey I am on. I lost my husband suddenly and have found great comfort in the blogs posted by MWC and 1FW. I would love to receive a copy of your book, I would pass it on to a friend who has recently lost her husband.

  97. Thank you for sharing your journey. 4 years after loosing my 49yo husband who I was lucky to be married to for 23 years – I get your each & every word. I would love a copy of your signed book for 2 reasons – for myself to gain more clarity on what happened the past 4 years and how I’ve gotten to where I am today after some of the hardest work I’ve known plus I’d like to share it with new widows I reach out to starting this ugly solo
    Journey. Best wishes to you and your family in the days ahead.

  98. Joanne, you have been so caring and loving since I lost my wife of 26 years this past Nov. Mary Ann lived with gratitude everyday. While she had many accomplishments, it is our daughter Carly that she was most proud of. Mary Ann died a few months before Carly’s 18th and did not see her walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma. My child is grieving her Eema on her own terms and very inwardly. And as you know, I can only be by her side, helping her live herself through the grief. She has been doing a lot of coloring as therapy. Your book would be the greatest gift for her to use as a Healing tool while benefitting from the beautiful insight into the grieving process. Thank you for taking the most vulnerable part of your soul and using it to help heal your family and many others through your insight, pain and loving kindness.

  99. What a beautiful article! A friend shared it on Facebook and I found it to be very helpful and enlightened! I work for a church and grief is a constant factor in a ministry. It is always so eyeopening for me to witness the different ways that people grieve, but there are always stages they must work through. Tried to find the book – it looks beautiful, and this article alone says so much of what I believe grieving people need to hear. My sister, who is widowed, lost her son a recently and for her the journey seems never ending. Also have a close friend that lost her husband this year who is working through so much as she figures out her new life role and how to grieve her way through. I think I would like for them both to read it, and then use it often in the ministry.

  100. In eleven days it will be the first anniversary of my husband’s death. My emotions are all over the place. I would love to receive your book.
    I started a widows group at my church and would appreciate information on purchasing your book.
    Thank you for your beautiful tribute.

  101. I don’t know you personally, Joanne, but you continue to touch my heart and many others. As I type this with drippy eyes, I just want to say thank you for all of your loving kindness you share with all.

    I “met you” through your beautiful calligraphy work several years ago and feel as though you are my friend.

    I will gladly purchase your book; the lucky receivers of it will be blessed beyond your words.

  102. I make a mess of my bed every night, trying to pull all the covers in tight. I’m trying to make it feel like you’re near, missing the warmth and touch of you dear. I miss the spooning, the cuddling, the kisses. I miss you being Mister and me being Mrs. After two and a half years I still struggle every day. Writing it down makes it real, sometimes helping, sometimes not.

  103. Dear Joanne, I went thru similar grief over my divorce; cried every day for years. Now I truly know the meaning of, “He restores my soul.” I have a friend, Danny Majors, whose youngest daughter died in an auto accident on August 2, 2011. He misses her so much and still grieves over her death a lot. She had divorced and left two young sons, who Danny and his wife are raising. He often sees something of her in them and that is bittersweet for him. What he tells me sounds so much like this post. I know your book would help him heal, and I want to help him get there. Thank you for your great kindness in this offer. I am going to write your things you learned in my journal and work to live those out every day; that is wonderful advice. love, Sandy

  104. Your words are so impactful. Written with love, logic, and care. Your art is absolutely wonderful and your love for your husband and family is moving. One of my “sisters” husband is facing terminal brain cancer. I’m sure your book would bring comfort to my friend. Yes, I’d love to win a copy but if I don’t, I hope to buy a copy for her. Blessings as you continue on your journey!

  105. I lost my husband of almost 32 years 4 1/2 years ago. I still struggle and think I always will. When your love is great, your loss is great. I feel lucky to have had the time I did with him and I’m lucky enough to have an amazing support group of family and friends. If I win, I will keep the book for myself for a while, and sadly, when someone I know needs it, I will pass it on to them.

  106. The morning showers we have together before going to work the 10am coffees the sundays we spend snorkling exploring or just watching tv or sitting at the beach. Every day is excruciating three months you have been gone I have no idea what the future brings without you its very scary. Joanne you have inspired me to be creative with my grief with pictures, words, photos and drawings

  107. I lost my husband of 55 years this April. I have lost my parents and my sister and brother so I am an orphan. So grief is not new to me. I was just a stone really and was afraid to think and just hid out for a couple of months. I went to a grief group but I didn’t get too much help there. I talk to my husband all the time and also my family that are gone.Its hard to realize that I won’t see them again in this world but I do believe I will see them again and think of that. I still have my husbands things here with me and that is a comfort to me now and pictures of my family are on my wall so my children so they can remember them as well. Someday I know I will see them again.I thank the Lord that I have wonderful children and granddaughters.They show me that life is good and there are many things still to look forward to.
    Thanks for listening.

  108. I would keep the book for myself. I lost my husband in January 2011, and I’m still trying to find my way. It’s been a long journey and I still have a long way to go!

  109. Joanne,
    I felt like we were walking in the same shoes. I lost my husband June 28th, 2011. He went to bed and never awakened. My girls were 19 and 16. I would share your book to the women in my community who recently lost there husbands. Unfortunately, there are have been too many this year already. Thank you for sharing your gift with us!

  110. Dear Joanne
    I am so sorry for your loss and gain strength from your journey. I lost my husband of 40 years in January of 2014–then 5 weeks later my 41-year old son died. My journey sounds much like yours and your journal that grew into a book is heartwarming. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my husband and son but the pain is less razor sharp these days. I told a friend the other day that I don’t think I’ll ever stop grieving them–the grief will just be different. I live a happy life now punctuated with some sadness but still a life worth living. I too wrote a book and that helped. My husband and I sound a lot like you and your husband only switched–I was the detail person–he the creative right-brained dreamer. I do miss them both. Thank you so much for the work you do. If I win a signed copy of your book I will give it to a friend who just lost her son (one of my son’s best friends).

  111. It will be one year on the 22 of august that I lost my husband of 38 years of marriage. we were childhood sweethearts from 15 years old … My heart is soo broken since he passed, even though we shared 4 children, and 3 grandchildren , there is such a void ! your memo of your book brought me some peace in knowing how others who have lost a loved one can feel my pain and emptiness . I am encouraged to try to move forward reading your book !

  112. Hi Joanne I have been sent this link by good friend My husband has been ill for long time especially bad since March when we came home given weeks to live from our main cancer hospital here I am a nurse have worked in palliative care so was able to check everything and knew importance of sorting things and talking with him He very sadly died on 29th July last Friday We had organised everything funeral will even signal he will give me to let me know he ok I feel like we have been greiving together for 5 months but also for 13 years we found out a week after we met 13 years ago he had CLL a form of leukaemia so I knew we had to grab life and do everything and that’s what we have done right to the end The funeral is delayed till 12th of August as the humanist minister is on holiday we knew and Phil wanted to wait It gives me time to organise a fantastic celebration of his life He was a very proud well respected man who will be so missed by many I will continue to look at your site for support xxx

  113. So grateful to discover your blog today ! Needed to know I’m not alone in this now three year journey of grieving for my husband of 34 years who was killed in Uganda one day before he was to return home ; his fifth humanitarian trip there in ten years. My world too changed in an instant . Journaling and beginning to draw again are helping me take steps toward a new life and accept what IS. Your book is beautiful and I’d love a copy ❤️ Bless you for sharing your life and heart with us…

  114. A friend send me a link to your blog. Bless you for doing this. I would love to have a copy of this book for myself. I lost my husband of 42 years on June 5th (2 months ago) and am struggling with my grief. There is so much to do, and days where I don’t want to do anything! I feel like a ship lost at sea. I recently started grief counseling, however I think having something like this to hold in my hands, near my heart, while I think of him, would be wonderful. Thank you.

  115. Thank you for this beautiful reminder that grief takes it’s own time. I am saving this to read again on those days when I need to remember to be kinder/gentler with myself.

  116. Joanne, I just wanted to comment and say that this post really touched my heart. I could barely get through reading it because I couldn’t stop crying. My husband recently lost his mother (last February 2015) and his father (June 2016). I have struggled with trying to find the “right way” to bring comfort, but your advice has helped a lot. Thank you so much for the light you bring to the world in so many ways.

    1. Hi Sephra,

      Thank you for letting me know that this week’s blog touched your heart… it was the most heart wrenching one I’ve ever written. I am so sorry for your family’s back-to-back losses… everyone grieves in their own way, and I think there are many ways to bring comfort… I’d recommend helping your husband create some Remembrance Rituals that would honor his parents’ values and keep the flame of their memory burning brightly. Let me know if you need some suggestions.

      Sending love,
      Joanne

  117. Thank you for this beautiful read Joanne. I lost my partner of 41 years 1 year ago, and as you say not a day goes by without remembering. I have your book & it has been a great help in the grieving process. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Shirley; I’m glad my book has been of some comfort. I’m so sorry for your loss… When was your partner’s angelversary?

      Sending you love,
      Joanne

  118. Wow! You definitely got it. It will be 2 years on August 25th that my son passed in my arms from cancer. And yes, it is such hard work to move from tears to gratitude. To remember with softness instead of panic. I’m a little apprehensive as the day draws near but I have learned about surrender & to see all with compassion. For we never know what a stranger’s story is. What they have or are going through. We are all passing through this human experience and will all suffer loss sooner or later

    1. Oh Scotty,

      I am so very sorry for your loss. What was your son’s name, and how old was he when he died? Have you done any remembrance rituals? I’ve found that they can be very comforting when your heart is heavy, as it often is on these milestones.

      I’ll be keeping you in my prayers, especially this month.

      Sending love,
      Joanne

  119. I enjoyed your blog post. Our family is grieving the loss of my 12 year old granddaughter, Grace, in a terrible car accident. We fully understand that it was Grace’s time to go, but it is so hard living without her. I would give the book to my daughter with the understanding that she let me read it! We are seeing many miracles surrounding Grace’s death and know that God is still good and that many good things will come out of this.

  120. Dear Joanne,
    What a beautiful tribute and sharing. You gave me your book when one of my brothers died. I then gave it to a friend who lost her son. There are so many people out there who can and will be comforted by your heartfelt talent and sharing.
    Thank you for opening your heart to all of us.
    With love and admiration,
    Randa Marder
    Randa Marder

  121. Joanne, your eloquent words were so inspiring and helpful. I am terribly sorry for your profound loss. No one escapes heartache in their lifetime. I lost so many people that were a huge part of my life and pieces of my heart went with them. No matter how long you have someone on this earth, it’s never long enough. At this point in my own journey, I know what I had with them was a beautiful gift and that someday we will be together. Thank you so much for your inspiration and I hope your days ahead will be filled with peace.

  122. This is a beautiful tribute to Andy and an inspiration to all of us. thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and words.

  123. This is a beautiful post. I lost my boyfriend, the love of my life, just 5 months ago. I would love to own a copy of your book for myself. The days have been so very hard to get through, but I’m slowly learning to replace certain moments of sadness with gratefulness.

  124. I would love to give your book to a friend and coworker of mine who is grieving the loss of her 17 year old son. She actually found him in his bed at home, his death due to complications of an illness initially thought to be mono; a totally unexpected fluke. He would have graduated high school, gone to prom, shared his younger brother’s first year of high school. The anniversary of his death was just a week ago today and she’s having a very difficult time. I would love to share your words of hope and healing with her. Thank you for your healing words.

  125. I am a therapist and I love walking the grief journey with others, especially kids. It is such an honor. I would love a copy of this book to use with my clients–of all ages!

  126. My Joe left me after 9 short years of marriage. My brother followed less than 2 months later. We live in a small town where everyone knew my brother but few knew Joe so I feel like I have grieved for Joe alone. None of his family lives here & my family is dealing with the same loss I was so with a few exceptions I have had to deal with Joe’s loss on my own & my brother’s loss in public. I was born the third of three children and my parents were married to each other for over 50 years but my sister died 32 years ago, Dad died in 2004 and my husband and my brother both died in 2008. My mother is healthy (praise the Lord) but our family is very small, I have one son from my first marriage, my brother had no children & my sister had one daughter. Her daughter has two children, my son is still single and childless. Most days are ok now, but I still have a way to go to be grateful. One thing I’d add to anyone who is trying to support a recent widow or widower is to give them a notebook & attached pen that’s small enough to fit in a purse or pocket. That notebook will be their memory if they will use it. I don’t know who I would give one of Joanne’s books to, I think I’d find comfort in it & I’m always meeting others who have lost a spouse, so perhaps the Lord has someone in mind for me to meet & share it with?

    Thank you for the references, they will be helpful as I continue this journey and as I meet others who are just starting on it.

  127. Joanne, how thoughtful of you to share your talents with the world and help us deal with grief. I have lost significant people in my life. I also am a social worker and work daily with kids who lose parents at a young age. I would gratefullu accept your book for my own benefit, then to share and discuss with others, including the children that I work with. Thank you for your generosity of talent and spirit.

  128. You don’t have to have lost someone to appreciate the beautiful tribute to your husband. I think the helpful hints you have for us to help a survivors is something that everyone could benefit from. So often we are at a lose for words and actions and to have someone point out the simplicity of a hug or to simply say so sorry for your loss is so helpful. I belong to a book club and I think this book would make the rounds and I’m sure that everyone would want their own copies.

  129. What a beautiful
    Journey of your grief and gratitude
    Blessing us thru your grief to be able to bless others

  130. I would like to have a copy of your book for my daughter who lost her ex-husband last year and a very close boyfriend very suddenly just recently. She is grieving over them so bad and is inconsolable. My husband and I lost our oldest son 30 years ago at the age of 22, and some days it seems like yesterday; and I would like to find a place to purchase one for myself. I am new to your work and find it very inspirational.

  131. Dear Joanne,
    Thank you for sharing your heart and grief. I lost my husband, Lew, the love of my life for 34+ years last year, and am struggling with who I am without him. He was my best friend, my laughter, my joy, and my partner in everything. He died in his sleep on the day before our anniversary, despite being the healthiest man his age I knew. No warning, no goodbyes. Most of all, he was a loving, smart, devoted man, passionate about sustainability. who let me know how much he loved me daily.
    I would love to have your book for myself, and to eventually share with another grieving friend. I read and reread your post, in tears, and will read it again for the hope it gives me, that life won’t always be so painful without him. You offered help with honoring rituals to another widow, and I would appreciate it if you would share some ideas with me as well. Thank you. I wish you peace in your continued journey.

  132. Thank you for the opportunity to receive your inspiration…my grief is fresh. My 33 yr old son passed away on June 28th. I’m still raw around some of my edges, but thankful that a few are beginning to cure. I miss him every single day. But I’m even more thankful he’s no longer existing as he was. Again, todah raba and shalom. I, too, love Israel with all my heart and soul.

  133. Your words are comforting and I truly enjoyed reading about The Journey from Grief to Gratitude. The art work is beautifully simplistic and touches my soul. I just discovered your blog yesterday which is beyond the deadline to receive your generous offering of the book. I lost my beloved husband, sweet, mother, and a dear brother all within 4 years of each other, beginning on November 2, 2010. You are a shining light and will be an inspiration to follow.

  134. Hi Joanne.
    I just lost my brother a few days before Christmas. Two weeks before that my Uncle passed away. Three weeks ago I found out my dear friend has cancer. To say I feel overwhelm is an understatement. What has hurt me the most is the loss of my brother and my friend with cancer. My brother and I shared a very special kind of relationship. He was my protector and my knight in shining armor. I could always count on him. Now my rock is now. My best friend and confidant . I don’t know what to do anymore. At his memorial 2 of his son’s stole his ashes and help them for a ransom. Who does that??? We got them back, but at such a high price. The price was trust and the desire to see them again or have anything to do with them again. His other daughter and son are wonderful and have stood by through this. Sadly they are in Louisiana and I’m in Oregon. I can only pray that the pain will one day cease and I can pick the pieces of my broken heart up off the floor of my soul and hopefully begin to live again…..

  135. This is a thoughtful, compassionate approach to grief. Have been a widow now for four years, three months, twenty days (yes, I’m counting!) and have in mind a project to finish before I leave this life that relates to his life story. The book, however, could be shared among my husband’s five children (sort of an interlibrary loan thing!) but I may try to purchase a copy for them individually, one at a time. His children, too, seem to still suffer from the loss. THANK YOU! – for sharing these thoughts.

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