Grief and Finding “Home”

Because of my writings on grief, I have met people from all over the world. One woman who contacted me after reading Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One, was from Holland. We became pen pals for a while, and in fact, she was the first to send me a card wishing me happiness in my new home.

Now she’s the one in a new home.

Like many who have lost their mates, she needed a new life, and to that end, she felt she needed to find a new place to live. Apparently, Holland is too crowded and too expensive for her now that she’s living on a single income, so the last I heard, she was looking for a place in the south of France. Today I got a postcard from her, from Aveyron in France.

It’s good to know she’s finally realized her dream — that new dream born from grief and loss.

I’d never heard of Aveyron in southwestern France, but that “department” looks fabulous! (From what I can tell, a department is a division of a region.) According to a guidebook, it is home to ten of the most beautiful villages in France, as well as gorges, castles, and gastronomic delights. Sounds like a wonderful place to live. I hope she’ll find herself at home in her new home.

That’s one of the hardest things to find for us who are left behind after our mates die — a feeling of home. For many of us, our “homes” resided not in a place but in a being with that special person. And when they are gone, every place seems alien for way too many years. The lucky ones — relatively speaking — are those of us who finally find a place to call home. In my case, the area I settled on isn’t especially spectacular, certainly nothing like Ayeyron, though it does have its moments. Nor is the town picaresque, though that too has its moments. (It’s this lack of monumental scenery and mountain views that has prompted me to try to turn my yard into a vista worth looking at.) But it has given me a sense, first of coming home, and now of being home.

Back in my first days of grief, I felt as if I were totally unanchored, as if I were being blown willy-nilly by the winds of fate. It’s not until we find home in ourselves that we can find home in a place (or perhaps it’s the other way around), but it does seem as if we can’t stop feeling unreal and untethered until there is once again a sense of home, a sense of belonging somewhere. (For a long time, I took comfort from the idea that I belonged to and on the earth, but it helps even more to have anchored myself to a specific place on that earth.)

I wish my Holland friend — and all who have been left adrift by the death of the person intrinsic to their life — peace in her new home.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

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