What is Your Mission?

Today’s blog prompt is “What is your mission?” For a long time, my mission was to simply to deal with my grief after Jeff’s death. Anyone who has dealt with grief knows that it is a massive mission — at first, getting through the days, then learning to live with a big hole in your life, then eventually becoming the person who can perhaps thrive despite the loss. Because the horrendous pain was an experience I’d never encountered before in books or movies or other people, my mission expanded to telling the truth about this sort of all-encompassing grief, to let other grievers know they weren’t alone, that grief was normal. When my grief became more manageable, my mission changed to telling those who were still grieving long after others think they should have “moved on,” that they are doing exactly the right thing, and that someday they will get to where they need to be.

My grief mission has come to an end. I no longer have an interest in resurrecting my pain to talk about it, to explain it, to lay myself bare. In fact, I’m to the point where I can’t handle any sort of grief, even the second-hand kind. Compassion overload apparently is a real thing.

A few days ago, I wrote about being — or not being — a contender (I Coulda Been a Contender). It seems the gist of the blog is that I am missing a sense of mission. Since I don’t really know what a mission is (though I do know when one thrusts itself upon me), I had to look up the word.

A mission is “the ultimate goal or purpose toward which one strives; one’s reason or motivation to continue existing, operating, or working.” At the moment I have no goal, no motivation to continue existing except the most basic — to survive the day as best as I can, to glean whatever good I can find and to try to gracefully glide past anything that’s not so good.

Now that I think of it, that’s not a bad mission!

What’s your mission?

***

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.

Pizza For One

I came across a commenter somewhere who claimed that pizza for one is the loneliest meal, and I had to laugh. For that person, I’m sure the claim was true, otherwise they wouldn’t have thought it, let alone said it (unless they said it for effect), but it certainly isn’t true for me.

The loneliest meal I ever had was the Thanksgiving after Jeff died. I was at my dad’s house, hosting my brothers and their wives. My dad was at the head of the table, and I was at the foot, closest to the kitchen, so I could easily get up and fetch whatever people needed. It felt in so many ways that I wasn’t even there — I was still feeling removed from life because of grief, and I had been more or less forced into my deceased mother’s place. Perhaps my family thought they were being kind by having me sit at the foot of the table, but I felt more as if I were a stand-in for her than as if I — as myself — were present.

After dinner, my brothers and their wives left, two-by-two, and I stood there with my dad, watching them leave. My dad went to watch television, and I continued to stand there, completely immobile in my loneliness.

The second loneliest meal I ever ate was a Christmas dinner shortly after I moved to this town. I’d joined a women’s club, but that particular meal was for the husbands, too. I sat across from the woman who had invited me to join, but then someone came and said they needed to sit in my seat since it was easily accessible. So I moved down one space. Then the husband came, and they asked me to move down another space. Then another couple came and said they needed to sit by that couple. By the time everyone was seated, I was at the far side of the table, one husband next to me, with his back to me so he could talk to his wife, and one husband across from me, also turned away from me.

I didn’t really know any of those people, and up to that point, no one had said anything to me except to move down a space. I desperately wanted to leave, and I might have except that I had caught a ride, and it was too far for me to walk home in the dark. I tried to get involved in the discussions, but they were talking about people and things I had never heard of. So I sat there, totally ignored. (I quit that club. I figured if they weren’t interested in me, I certainly wasn’t interested in them. Luckily, this was the only truly bad social experience I’ve had since moving here.)

Next to these experiences, pizza for one is a treat. Actually, I eat pizza so seldom, perhaps once a year, that pizza really is a special treat. And anyway, I generally prefer eating by myself, accompanied only by a book, though I do occasionally have a meal with someone else. Yesterday, for example. Another widow and I have been getting together for Thanksgiving, not so much that she really wants a Thanksgiving dinner, but more for her (and me) to have an excuse to turn down invitations to other families’ meals (no matter how well-meaning and kind the people are, being a third wheel at a family feast is a very lonely experience).

Whatever the reason for us to get together, it was nice sharing a meal and the cooking. (I contributed the turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, she brought corn muffins, cranberry sauce, seasoned corn, roasted brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes with ginger, and desert. We both contributed a bottle of sparking apple juice.)

She goes away for Christmas, otherwise we’d probably get together then, too, but I’m just as happy spending the day by myself. I didn’t do anything last year that I remember, though this year I might treat myself to a special meal.

Pizza for one, perhaps.

***

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.

A Burden I Didn’t Know I Was Carrying

A few days ago, I wrote about rethinking this whole blogging thing. Since I had nothing else to write about, I’d been writing about the one thing I know — me — and I’d come to the conclusion it wasn’t healthy or smart to put so much of myself out there.

I thought it would be difficult to break the daily blogging habit of almost three years, but in the end, it was simple. I did what I felt like doing, which was keep my thoughts to myself. Actually, it wasn’t that I wanted to keep my thoughts to myself, but that I didn’t want to have any thoughts in the first place. It’s hard, of course, not to think, but it’s one thing to let one’s thoughts slide into the mind and then slide right out again, and another thing to try to sift through all those fleeting thoughts, capture one, and then expand on it for a blog topic.

What a relief to just let the thoughts go.

And I was right — the world did not come to an end when I stopped blogging every day.

What I found interesting is how this new non-daily blog habit has made itself felt. It gives me two or three extra hours every day. I imagine my breezy writing style makes it seem as if I jot a few words and then simply publish what I write, but it takes a lot of work to make something seem light and easy — writing, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing, adding tags to the blog so it will show up in search results, preparing a photo, publishing the blog, republishing to another blog, posting the reblogged link on Facebook. Even better, because I’m not blogging, I have no need to check Facebook and the blogsite and my email because there are no comments to respond to. So yes, a lot of free time!

Without having to think about what I am thinking, and without having to examine my days for a topic, I have a lot of free mental time, too. And I know that Socrates is wrong: the unexamined life is worth living. In fact, it might even be worth more than an examined life.

And then there’s the whole compassion fatigue situation. Because I am not a therapist or a grief counselor, I never would have thought such a state would apply to me, but over the past twelve and a half years I have mentored (for lack of a better word) hundreds of people through the worst of their grief, and I am truly fatigued. I have always felt powerless in the face of other people’s grief, but knowing at least to an extent what they are going through, I tried my best to listen and be kind, but now I am having a hard time summoning up any compassion or patience. I understand that to them, grief is new and ever-present, but to me . . . not so much. My life with Jeff is now far in the past and so is my grief for him. In fact, I barely remember what I went through unless I am reminded by people who want to talk about their grief. So, without having to deal with other people’s grief, I have a lot of free emotional time, too.

I don’t regret my work on behalf of grievers, in fact, I’m glad I could help, but now it’s time for me to let that part of my life go. So for those of you who need help with your grief or who simply want to talk about what you are going through, please check out the various grief forums and online grief support groups. I know a lot of people who found them helpful and comforting, and I am sure you will, too. (I will, of course, continue to respond to comments left on my blog.)

So, what am I doing with all this free time? Not thinking, that’s for sure. Not feeling much, either, except lightness at having shrugged off a burden I didn’t know I was carrying.

***

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.

That Notorious Villain Mr. Death

I received an email with sad news today: a dear friend is coming to the end of her days. A year and a half ago, the doctors said she had only two months to live, but she managed to survive happily and with grace all this time. But now, the cancer is too advanced, and chances of her surviving much longer are slim.

One of the saddest things about living to a certain age is that death seems to have become a constant presence. So many people I’ve been close to for years are gone, and those I’ve met more recently, are also going. I’ve only known this woman about three years, but despite a bit of a language problem (she spoke English with an accent I had a hard time understanding), we became instant sisters. And now I’m about to lose one more person to that notorious villain, Mr. Death.

I seem to be beset by death today. I spoke to another friend, a woman who lost her husband to The Bob, and she mentioned she’d checked a couple of my books out of the library. She had tears in her eyes when she said that my books on grief were the best books she’d ever read on the subject. It’s good to hear that, of course, and I am glad I was able to help in any way, but I would have been even gladder if none of us were in the position of knowing so much about grief in the first place.

Interestingly, she’d recommended my books to another recent widow, and that woman went to the library, but instead of checking out my grief books, she got one of my fiction books. That would have been my choice! It’s hard enough being steeped in one’s own grief without adding another person’s grief on top of yours.

I was glad to know they got the books from the library. I’d donated the books, and I worried that if the books sat on the shelf too long the librarians would get rid of them. (In other places, I’ve seen new books donated by their authors that ended up on a sale rack for 10 or 25 cents, and I didn’t want my donation to go to waste. Luckily, so far, the library has kept them.)

I’ve been gradually shifting away from the original topic — the sad news about my friend — but truly, what else is there to say except that I was honored she considered me a sister and how sad I am that she’s nearing the end. My heart (and a few tears) goes out to her husband who has so devotedly taken care of her the past couple of years.

***

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.

Playing the Hand I’ve Been Dealt

I do really well most of the time playing the hand I’ve been dealt in life.

Did I really use a game metaphor? Apparently, it’s not just gardening I see as a game, but life itself. This isn’t my conscious view of life — life has thrown too many tragedies and tragic consequences my way for it to classified with amusements such as card games or ball games or even gardening — but it does seem at times as if fate is willy-nilly dealing out experiences. Wealth to this person, beauty to that one, grief to another. Admittedly, at some point most people deal with grief, as if it’s a wild card that can fill out any hand, but still, I don’t think life is a game with distinct winners and losers. Nor is life playful or amusing as games should be — it’s generally too serious. (Though people who do manage to deal with life’s vicissitudes in a playful manner — people who believing the underlying energy of the universe is that of a child at play — find that things go their way more often than not.)

But all that is by way of an aside. I really came here to write about a moment I experienced last night. As I said, I do really well most of the time playing the hand that life and death (not my death, obviously, but the death of various loved ones) has dealt me. In fact, the cards I am holding at the moment are great ones — a comfortable home, a yard to get creative with, someone to call when I have a house emergency, a job that pays for such trivialities as groceries, good friends.

And yet, there are those moments . . .

Last night I went into my bedroom to turn down the covers in preparation for sleep, when suddenly I was hit with a vast wave of loneliness. I have no idea where it came from or why it chose that particular moment to engulf me, but there it was, stopping me in my tracks.

I let that devastating moment pass through me, though a faint sense of being alone lingered as I finished my task.

That’s all there was to it — just that moment. It wasn’t enough to send me spiraling into grief, but it was enough to temporarily overwhelm me.

And it was enough to make me take stock and realize that after all I’ve been through the last decade or so, I really am lucky to be doing as well as I am.

***

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.

Telling a Tarot Story

I don’t often deal out tarot readings for myself that make a lot of sense. The cards seldom tell me anything I don’t know, mostly because all I can do is read what I know into the cards. Even leaving me out of the reading, the cards still don’t make sense since they don’t seem to relate to one another. Today’s reading, however, delighted me because the cards all fit together to tell a story.

The deck I’ve been using this month is the Renaissance Tarot Deck, a deck that reflects interests of that period, using deities of Olympus and other mythological gods and goddesses. The ordinary folk, such as the court cards (ordinary in comparison with the classical deities, that is) are dressed in garments from the era.

I’ve never used this deck before because I wasn’t sure I liked the anatomically correct nakedness, but I’ve come to appreciate this deck. It helps knowing that the naked people aren’t people at all but various mythological beings. Still, in the photo accompanying this post, I castrated the poor fellows, lest I offend anyone with such “pornography.” (I have a hard enough time with how people perceive this blog without adding fuel to the fire.)

The first card, representing the past, was the eight of swords. The picture is Achilles grieving for his friend Patrocius, who was killed by the spear of Hector of Troy. The meaning of the card is emotional disaster, loss of a beloved person or a valued situation, a sadness that creates new strength and resolve.

The second card, representing the present, is the ten of cups. The picture is Psyche and Eros in perfect happiness, reunited in a marriage feast on Olympus. The meaning, of course, is happiness in love, balance in friendship, and joyful equanimity in oneself.

The third card, representing the future, is the two of cups. The picture is of Eros falling in love with Psyche. The meaning is love at first sight, the invisible and formidable bond between two people.

So, the story of the cards is loss, finding eventual joy and a new balance and, if this were a romance novel, finding a new love. But since this isn’t a romance novel, since the reading is only good until the next reading (tomorrow morning), and since the chances of me meeting and falling in love with someone this afternoon are nil, the future card has to mean that the bond between Jeff and me is still strong, in my own mind if not in fact.

Or something like that.

Whatever the cards actually mean (as opposed to what I say they mean), it does seem as if these particular cards tell a very linear and distinct story.

***

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.

Homefull

I often write about (or at least refer to) the changes in my life since Jeff died twelve-and-a-half years ago, but I don’t write that much about the changes since my older brother died. Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of his death, and it surprised me that it wasn’t that long ago (or perhaps it surprised me that it was so long ago — with death and grief, it’s sometimes hard to tell). His death set into play a long string of happenstance that ended up with me, in a house, in this sweltering corner of Colorado.

Mostly, his death changed me in some fundamental way so I was ready when my other brother suggested I take my small savings and buy a house. He’d come to help me clear out our deceased brother’s things and deal with any legal issues, and I have a hunch he wanted to make sure I was settled so he wouldn’t have to worry about yet another sibling. Whatever his reasoning, the idea he broached made sense to me, especially when he told me about this area that actually had houses I could afford.

The time was ripe, apparently, for buying houses in and around this area, because every one I liked (and could afford) disappeared from the market even before my real estate agent could look at it.

Luckily, I only needed one house, and that house came looking for me.

It seems as if I’d been looking for a very long time before I became aware of this house, but considering that my brother has been gone only four years and that I’ve been here a couple of months shy of three and a half years, the whole upheaval to my life — ambitions, geographical location, as well as the mental change from life-long renter to homeowner — happened in a matter of months.

It’s ironic that because of the death of my homeless brother, I am homefull. (That’s not a word, though it should be.) At any rate, whatever the proper word, because of him, here I am, with a home of my own.

***

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.

Balancing on the Fulcrum

This heat sure is zapping any energy I might otherwise have had. I still do my early morning yard chores, but the effort required to slog my way through the heat leaves me without any resources for the rest of the day. Even when I’m finished and am inside with the air conditioner going, I can still feel that lack of interest in doing anything. Except for reading, of course. That I can do anywhere or at any time, though I have to admit, few books can hold my interest enough to keep me awake for very long. Naps anyone?

It’s times like this when I can feel the pendulum swing of life. Here we are, stuck in a slough of over 100-degree temperatures, but it wasn’t that long ago when the temperatures were dipping below 0 on the Fahrenheit scale. On a day-to-day basis, the pendulum of the seasons might not seem as if it is moving, but it is. In another six months, we’ll be back to those frigid temperatures.

Another pendulum I could feel today is the one that regulates how I feel about my yard and the work I’m putting into it. A few months ago, I was enchanted with the way everything looked and how everything was going. Now I am definitely unenchanted (meaning the enchantment is at an end) though the pendulum hasn’t yet swung all the way to disenchanted (meaning disillusionment and disappointment). And perhaps the pendulum might not swing that far. My love affair with my garden was a shallow one, based entirely on its looks. As the old flowers and plants die off and late-bloomers blossom, and as (perhaps) the rather bleak look of midsummer desiccation gives way to a more robust autumn look when cooler temperatures favor cool-temperature plants, such as New England asters, chrysanthemums, and my grass, then I might become enchanted again. If not, there’s always next spring and the inevitable pendulum swing.

I try not to be too influenced by wild pendulum swings because life is so much more comfortable on the fulcrum. I do, as much as possible, try to remain emotionally centered without going to extremes of moods. (Grief was an aberration, an insane one-sided, one-way swing of the pendulum of life, though even then, I tried to find whatever balance I could.) Still, even centered as much as possible on the fulcrum, small daily mood changes can seem immense when influenced by the out-of-my-control swings of nature.

And especially when the heat wipes me out, leaving me without the energy to balance on the fulcrum.

***

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.

Grief and Loss of Friendship

A recent widow wrote to Dear Abby because her best friend is blowing her off, cancelling plans, and not calling or texting. The widow is understandably upset because not only is she mourning the loss her husband, she’s mourning the loss of a friendship as well as being hurt and confused because she doesn’t understand her friend’s behavior.

Neither does Abby. (Understand the friend’s behavior, that is.) As she so often does, the advice columnist doesn’t bother to go into depth with her answer, just suggests that the widow join a grief support group and to keep busy so she doesn’t “brood.” After that, according to Abby, the widow can confront her friend if she decides it’s in her best interest.

Normally, that weak answer would make me think the columnist was ignorant of grief, but she herself is a widow. (She’s also 80 years old, which means she should be a lot wiser than she tends to be.)

A woman who recently lost her husband and whose best friend wants nothing to do with her is grieving, not “brooding.” She’s also doubly alone, and loneliness tends to exacerbate grief. So many of us who have also been left alone (with the obvious exception of the columnist) know the truth of grief — that it takes you in its grip and doesn’t let go until it’s ready to let you go.

As for the friend, it probably wouldn’t do any good to confront her. Chances are she has no idea why she’s ignoring her widowed friend. I’m sure the friend feels uncomfortable and hesitant to be around the widow, but if she’s like most people who are still married (I’m making an assumption here), she can’t handle the other woman’s grief because if she gives it any credence, then she also has to accept the possibility that she herself will one day be in the same unimaginable situation.

Death is shrouded with an element of blank. It is the great unknown and unknowable, and our brains are not equipped to handle the immensity. We who are left alone have no choice but to grapple with all the conundrums death brings, but others can and do choose to ignore the whole situation. And they choose to ignore us, because — to them —we are the situation.

While we are in the grip of our grief, the survival mechanisms of those around us are triggered. To avoid facing the unfaceable, people close to us will indulge in self-protective behaviors that shut us out. Some also sense that our needs are so great and so complicated that they would be best not to get too involved. And perhaps they sense their own inadequacy at dealing with the very topic of death.

Even though I’m sure they know deep down they are being unfair, people blame the grievers, as if the grief-stricken had done something to bring on their fate. (That in this case the husband died of The Bob would make it even easier to blame the victim, because either the widow or her husband should have been smart enough to avoid getting sick.) We humans simply cannot handle the idea that life is capricious, that we are living at the whim of fate. (I think learning to handle that concept is part of why grief takes so long. The biggest part, of course, is that someone intrinsic to our lives is gone, leaving us with a huge hole in us and in our life.)

It’s possible that one day the friend will resume the friendship when the raw grief the widow is feeling has been tempered by time and work (grief work, that is). It’s possible the friend will excuse her behavior the way people always do, professing that she thought the widow would be uncomfortable with couples or with people who are still coupled. It’s possible the friend will assume they can get back on the same easy footing they once had, but that easy footing won’t ever happen. Even if the widow comes to understand the friend’s behavior, it’s hard for me to believe that she’d ever be able to let down her guard around someone who so willfully let her down. But more than that, grief changes people. It’s as if a line was drawn, and those on the loss side see things differently from those on the “no loss yet” side.

A fellow griever once told me she had a friend who treated her as if her grief was a small thing, telling her to get over it, to move on, all the usual platitudes. Later, when the friend’s husband died, she called to apologize because she hadn’t known the truth of how hard it is to lose someone to death. As she discovered, you can’t know until you’ve been there, which is why I sometimes give people the benefit of the doubt when they offer paltry advice and scant comfort to people who are hurting. But it’s hard to give the benefit of the doubt to someone who has been there, yet still offers little help or understanding.

The letter writer should have come to me instead of writing Dear Abby. I do offer grievers both help and understanding, as well as a few stray tears of empathy.

At least I do now. Before Jeff died, however, I was as impatient and as uncomfortable as everyone else on the clueless side of the line.

***

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.

Seeing the Bright Side

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows I am not a glass-half-full sort of person. Nor, to be honest, am I a glass-half-empty person. I’m more prosaic than either type, more realistic. The nature of a glass is to not remain at a halfway point. If the glass contains a drinkable beverage, you drink it and then refill the glass with the same or a different beverage, or you wash the glass and put it away. If the glass doesn’t contain a drinkable beverage, you toss out the contents and wash the glass or you toss out the whole thing — glass and contents. If you don’t drink the beverage, the glass still doesn’t remain half empty/half full. There is a thing called evaporation, which means that no matter what, the glass will empty itself.

Life, like the level of the contents in the glass, is in motion. A situation can seem bleak with no bright side at all, such as the death of a loved one, and while that situation never changes, you do. When Jeff died, I tried to tell myself that at least he wasn’t suffering anymore and though I suppose that is a realistic bright side, it didn’t help me at all in dealing with my grief. However, there does come a time — years later, perhaps — when a griever has to stop seeing only the bleakness of life and to try to find a brighter side.

In my case, it was the dance classes I started taking three-and-a-half years after Jeff died. Although I was still grieving for him, my grief wasn’t the only “side” in my life anymore. There was a brighter side, too, which helped light my way through the dark times.

I’ve never trusted people who only look at the bright side of things. It seems to me they are either delusional or indulging in dreams instead of reality. Besides, without dark, there is no light. There was an artist who found fame as a painter of light, but if you were to study his paintings piece by piece (as in a jigsaw puzzle) you will see that most of the painting is dark; the darkness is what makes the light so bright.

I do think it’s possible, because of one’s situation, one’s temperament, or one’s mental frame of mind, that it becomes habit to only look on the dark side. (Which means, I suppose, that for some people, looking only on the bright side is also possible.) If only the dark is apparent, it’s a good idea to try to see the bright side of things. In the case of grief, it’s more than okay to indulge in the bleakness because that’s how we learn to cope with life without our loved one. However, as the years pass, it’s okay to start seeing the bright side of other things.

Although I am still aware of the bleakness of Jeff’s being gone, I have looked for a bright side and in fact, looking for any brightness in my life was how I found myself in a new way of being. It wasn’t that I tried to find a bright side to his being gone — there simply is no bright side. It’s that I tried to find a bright side to my still being here. And there is much brightness in my life now — a house, a home, a garden, flowers, a lawn, friends, neighbors, a compatible town, a nearby library — so much so that I no longer need to find the brightness. It finds me.

***

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.