Posted in death

Is This Normal?

“How on earth would a non-writer work their way through grief?” Mary understood the horror in my voice when I said it. She, too, is a writer. She wrote her way through cancer treatment. I have no doubt she will write her way through grief when the time comes, whether it is a parent, a sibling, or her husband. Loss will come to all of us.

Yes, writing about David, grief, and loss is helping me, but so is reading. Today it is H. Norman Wright’s Reflections of a Grieving Spouse.  When his wife of 48 years passed away, Mr. Wright was not prepared for the sudden emptiness in his life, despite his own training as a grief and trauma counselor. Through these short chapters that include entries from his own journal, he walks the reader through the journey to healing and a new chapter in their life. I have been picking up this book and reading it in short bursts for the last two days.

I was alarmed when one of my children expressed some dismay at my continual mention of my widowhood.  Were they correct, and was it not quite sane of me to offer a $5 men’s razor coupon to a total stranger in the store, then murmur, “It’s okay, take it. I won’t need it. I lost my husband a month ago,” when the young man demurred, saying he couldn’t take such a valuable coupon.  “Why do you insist on telling everyone?” another daughter asked, making me doubt myself even more.  Where was the Handbook of Grief I’d asked for at the funeral home?  Is it a normal response for me to want to speak of David, and my loss, at every opportunity?  Yes, I want to talk about it. To everyone.  A lot. Is that normal?

It turns out it is perfectly normal.  For me.  In fact, according to Mr. Wright’s Chapter 4, we each have our own way of grieving, and all of these are included as symptoms of “normal” grief (page 20);

  • Distorted thinking patterns
  • “crazy” or irrational thoughts
  • Fearful thoughts
  • Feelings of despair and hopelessness
  • Out of control or numbed emotions
  • Memory lags and mental short circuits (my forgetting or losing things?)
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Losing track of time
  • Shattered beliefs about life, the world and God
  • Want to talk a lot or not at all (emphasis mine)

He then assures the reader that these responses are perfectly normal and grief takes longer than we think and tends to intensify at three months, on special dates, and at the one-year anniversary of the partner’s death.  At the end of each chapter are questions for the reader, to help guide them through their own steps in accepting God’s grace and adjusting to life without their spouse.

This is a beautiful book, and one that I will be sharing with others who are grieving.


Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Certified grief counselor and Senior Service librarian for the James Kennedy Public library. Popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, couponing, utilizing your creativity in everyday life, and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015. Grief journal to be released in 2018.

2 thoughts on “Is This Normal?

  1. I am so glad you are reading that book. We lost my mom to cancer two years ago at the age of 62 (much too young, like your David!), and my Dad received SO much comfort and wisdom from that specific book more than any of the many others he read. I read it, too, just to see things from his perspective, and it is very good. I’m so sorry you and your family have to travel this journey of grief. It is long, difficult, and unpredictable. You will feel happy some days down the road and then the most random thing will send you spiraling emotionally. But two years into the process, I can say that each day, each week, each month the pain starts to lessen a little bit and you start to MOSTLY feel happy/wistful when you are reminded of your loved one, rather than devastated. Blessings to you and your family.

  2. I think you are very normal! I think it is beautiful that you are wanting to talk about David. I love the fact that you loved your husband so much and still do. I see your talking of him as a sign of how wonderful your husband was. Kudos to you for grieving the way you need to, not the way others think you should.

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