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Guilt, Grief, and a Good Day

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Some people may picture those of us who mourn as constantly sad, breaking out in unexpected crying jags, but will "get over it" in a few days. Not hardly! People who have joined this exclusive terrible club know that we are forever changed, but sadness and tears become less frequent and are not so easily triggered. Each experience is unique. We may grieve one way for someone, but a completely different way for another. When the grief fog hit me, it had characteristics similar to shock. I was just existing. The idea of having a good day was unthinkable — but it happened. Charlene near shadow of Little Sauble Lighthouse on Lake Michigan, 2005 I am writing this on the nine-month anniversary of her journey to Jesus. While I think of her many times each day and even have some special memories, I am not always saddened by them. On the other hand, there are things I have done where I felt good (such as walking a trail in the woods), they were tempered by my
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Bright Boy Goofs on Laundry Day

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  This is a lighter subject, but first, some background is needed. A spell back, I wrote an article that should be practical for bereaved people as well as those who are not going through grief. It involved having routines. I lost my wife, and she was also my best friend for about twenty-four years. The grief fog (kind of like being in shock) was heavy in me, and caused much confusion. Be kind to those who mourn, they are often not thinking clearly. And very tired. My laundry needs are simple because I am alone: Everything in one machine, wash in cold water. (Detergents have improved over the years, and clothes come out well.) But I detest shrinking shirts, so those don't go in the dryer. I live near Laundroland (my name for it, not theirs), so I bring home the shirts and put them on hangers and on the shower curtain bar to dry. Cooler becomes laundry tote The hamper gets carted back and forth, and my rule is to empty out the damp clothes, then put it in fro

Tears Triggered by a Barge

That is a title I never thought I would use, and I came up with it during a discussion with a therapist. While the grief fog and confusion are not as oppressive seven months after I lost my beloved Charlene, there are still things that bring on the tears. Triggered  often means people who have little self-control and try to manipulate others to change their words and ways. The word is still useful, though. In fact, that therapist has used it about the process in coming to terms with, and integrating, grief in our lives. I was triggered by a barge on the Hudson River. Barge on the Hudson River near Malden, NY, Unsplash / Cowboy Bob Sorensen My mother passed away several years ago, and a friend gave me words of wisdom. He told me sorrow can come out of the blue; things will remind me of my mother unexpectedly. That was true. Years have passed, and I can be reminded of my mother, father, oldest brother, and others without crying. Something inaccurately cited by many is the "stages of

Springtime Reminders of Life During Sorrow

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Waking up just before 5 the AM alarm, I try to be quiet and do not stomp around — unlike some folks. The sun has not shown itself in these parts yet. Early spring, but so far, it has been cold and rainy more often than not. Mostly silent outside...and then, "Chirpity derp, chirpity derp." The robin wants to get things going with the morning song. It worked. The northern cardinal selects one of many songs, one I say is, "Birdie birdie birdie tweet tweet tweet tweet ." Robin and bluebird, Birds of New York , Louis Agassiz Fuertes , 1912 The robin is the state bird of Michigan, where I spent my first forty years. (During the day and especially the evening, they are so fussy , clucking and scolding...) After my first marriage failed, I moved to New York to be with Charlene — in almost the same map latitude. When she died seven months ago, a part of me died with her and I did not want to go on. But she would want me to do just that. Charlene loved

Routines for Survival in Difficult Times

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Although my focus these days is on bereavement, this article will be useful to many people, grieving now or not. My hope is that people will see my experiences and adapt them as needed for their own unique situations. We all grieve differently from each other, and for people in our lives; the reactions I had for each of my parents and my oldest brother were varied. Their passing was not unexpected — unlike my beloved wife Charlene. (It has been almost seven months, and I cried writing these words.) Grief is not depression, but my lifelong struggle with it complicates matters. Part of me died with her. The Grief Fog When a loved one passes on, it is common to have a grief fog  hit us: We go into a kind of shock. Thinking is impaired, and bereavement counselors as well as booklets advise us to avoid making major decisions whenever possible unless a trusted advisor is available. (Sleeplessness often accompanies grief, making things worse.) This fog can linger, stro

The Resurrection Brings Hope in Several Ways

It is Easter again , the time when many professing Christians observe the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, God the Son, from the dead. On such an important time, we should be seriously examining Good Friday as well as Resurrection Sunday. Unfortunately, many of us make several mistakes. The most obvious is that we take it lightly and go through our routines and rituals. Those are functional and even fun. We need to also consider things we do wrong, and also how Easter gives us hope in several ways. Resurrection wooden art, Pixabay / CP This post was written in 2023, partly with the idea that it would appear even if I had died before the scheduled date. I edited in this paragraph. Something worse for me happened. I lost my beloved wife Charlene, who was also my best friend, in September of 2023. She and Jesus are waiting for me, along with others who have gone before. Although some professing Christians join with atheists in denying it, the Resurrection is a historical fact . The obvious

We Grieve, but we Must Eat

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  The human mind is sensitive to dates, anniversaries, and so on. I believe that is one of the reasons that events in the Year of Firsts (first Christmas, her birthday, my birthday, our wedding anniversary, etc.) hits us so hard. I have been having "good" days with less tears, but today is the six month anniversary of Charlene's passing. I stop to sob a bit while writing these sentences the day before. When I think back to meeting with the funeral director, he echoed something that others have told me: Don't forget to eat. A hamburger-macaroni casserole thing I made; kitchen is small and it's hard to get shadow-free pictures The church I had just started attending plugged me into a food ministry where people brought meals to my apartment; they know the bereaved may not eat. Also, a couple of Charlene's relatives bring me food on occasion. Indeed, one reader told me that when his wife died, he did forget to eat and drink. He ended up bein