Monday, November 11, 2019


Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

Mike continued to spend his lunchtime at the peaceful forest retreat.  He would watch the clouds and sometimes close his eyes for a short nap. 

It was on a sunny but cool day that he noticed a patch of golden fur.  At first, he thought he had been imagining this bit of gold, but as he started to pick up his lunch containers, he saw that patch of golden fur near a distant tree.  He had an extra roast beef sandwich that he had not eaten, so he decided to see if he could lure this animal with the food.  He laid a roast beef trail from his lunch area to the dirt road.  He then hid behind some shrubbery and watched to see what would happen. 

Goldie saw the food trail, and when Mike got out of sight, she was too hungry to be cautious.  Goldie gobbled all the food on the trail to the road and bolted back to the seclusion of the forest.

The next day, Millie had reluctantly agreed to take a break and have a cup of coffee with Mike.  “Millie,” Mike said, “I am so glad you were willing to join me this morning!” 

Millie was about to take a sip of her coffee but set it down instead.  “What’s up, Mike?” she asked. 

Mike continued, “You know that I’ve been taking my lunch to a peaceful forest location.”  Millie nodded yes, and Mike continued, “I’ve discovered an adult dog that looks like a Golden Retriever is living near that area.  She reminds me of a dog I used to have as a child.  I believe she is a young adult.  She may be two or three years old.  If I can get her to trust me, I would like to give her a home.  She is thin, and I am afraid she might not be able to survive the upcoming winter.  Can you help me?”

Millie was interested and decided it would not hurt for her to go with Mike and see what she could do to help this dog.  She asked another waitress to cover the rest of her shift and then joined Mike.  As they left the diner, Mike asked, “do you have any ideas?’ 

“I do have a number of tricks that may be helpful.” Millie replied.  They continued to talk about the golden-haired dog as they drove to Mike’s forest lunch spot.

When they got to the forest, Millie and Mike decided to lay another roast beef trail.  Mike showed Millie the hiding place he had used the day before, and together they watched for Goldie.  It was only a short time before Millie whispered, “I think that is her!  She is so beautiful.”  Then Millie added, “You were right about her being thin.  I can see her ribs.”  

They waited as they watched Goldie’s movements.  She was trying to hide behind a tree but slowly began to move to the roast beef trail.  She gobbled the treats and then bolted back to her hide-a-way. 

Millie recognized Goldie’s need for food.  They decided to move slowly from their hiding place and drop more roast beef as they moved to Mike’s lunch spot.  They continued to toss the food away from where they were sitting.  “Don’t look in her direction,” Millie warned Mike.  “She is hungry but will not come to the food if she thinks we are watching her.”  

Goldie would bolt from her tree and grab a piece of food.  However, she came to realize that Millie and Mike were not a danger but a source of the good food. She gradually began to trust Mike and Millie.  The food was satisfying her hunger and they gave her a lot of it.  She came closer and closer.  Neither Mike nor Millie made any attempt to touch her.  Soon Goldie did become brave enough to take a piece of the food from their hands.  They still made no move to pet her. 

The next time they came to Mike’s lunch spot, Goldie came to them and not only took food from their hands but nudged them as well.  That was when they decided that it was time to reach for her slowly. 

Mike was so excited when Goldie began to run to Mike whenever he came to his lunch spot.  That’s when Mike knew it was time to bring Goldie home.

Millie began to enjoy spending the evenings with Mike and Goldie.  Millie especially liked to bring new toys for Goldie.  Mike laughed at how Goldie seemed to look for a toy every time Millie would arrive at the house.  Mike kept saying, “You’re spoiling her,”

Millie’s response was always, “I enjoy watching Goldie play with her toys.” 

On this occasion, Millie had brought a long unstuffed fuzzy creature.  Millie was trying to get Goldie to pull on it.  Goldie gave a Play Bow and pounced on the creature.  Then Goldie tossed the toy into the air.  When she caught it, she shook it. Mike laughed and asked Millie, “What was that all about?”

Millie explained the Play Bow and the other actions.  Mike looked at Millie and said, “Wow, that college behavior you are learning is interesting!”  Millie smiled at Mike and only answered, “Dogs understand more than you realize.”


With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, near-final material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through

GOOD GRIEF. My Wishes for You

Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting TransformationMay you find PEACE in your heart – remembering
it’s more than a pump,
And feel compassion for YOURSELF and others.
May you experience JOY every day;
It gives you something to live for and gladdens the heart.
May you continue to share your CARING with others,
And let others COMFORT you when you are feeling down,
sad, or alone.
May you hang on during tough times – sometimes
that’s all you can do;
But remember to let HOPE float up and do its magic healing.
May you remember to BREATHE when faced with fear, stress or loss;
It relaxes the body and refocuses the mind.
May you make time for YOURSELF each and every day
Practicing self-care and becoming your best.
May you recognize you are worthy and loved by GOD and others,
So you can share this LOVE with others too.
May you LIVE every day as if it were your last,
So you have no regrets.
May you have the courage to be AWESOME,
And hold tightly to the wonderful person you are.

Thank you from my HEART
                                    Cheryl A. Barrett, 11/25/2014

Allow for Time
to Heal Your Wounded Spirit

You don’t know how strong you are until being strong
is the only option you have.
Bob Marley, Songwriter, Musician

Yes, it takes time to work through grief and loss.
There is no specified time limit for this journey. It is unique to each person. There is no one path for all, but a path exists for each of us to walk. These five actions helped me on my journey:

·       Be patient. There will be ups and downs, progress and setbacks, on this healing journey.
·       Be strong. Use your resources and reach out to family and friends to support you.
·       Have faith. Move confidently toward the future filled with endless possibilities.
·       Look back. Express joy and gratitude for what you shared.
·       Look forward. Live with joy and gratitude in anticipation of your future.

While finishing this book, I reviewed the textbooks that I used in a Stress Management Instructor course I had taken some years ago. I found a section on stress and human spirituality, addressing the issues and impact of loss.

Some view this spiritual loss as a heart-sick feeling devastating to the soul. Yes, it does feel this way and goes on for some time. Your mind, your heart, and your soul are at war with the healing process at first. As time moves on, your mind shows you the logic of the situation, leading the way to healing as you set positive intentions. Your heart and soul continue to ache and recovery lags woefully behind, creating extended sorrow and grief.

The war within me went on for some time before I could take small steps toward healing. Yes, this war within is often said to be a trip to hell. I agree!

According to holistic stress management speaker B. L. Seaward, Ph.D: “There are two ways to emerge from a proverbial trip to hell. The first is as a victim, where one carries a sense of remorse or resentment for a very long time — sometimes forever. The second is as a victor, an individual who emerges gracefully with neither animosity nor resentment.”

Dr. Seaward mentions that the journey of healing requires “exercising your muscles of the soul.” Using his list of topics, I explain next how I exercised “the muscles of the soul” to heal my own wounded spirit from the loss of my dear husband, Fred.

     Compassion: I accepted comfort and compassion from friends and family who listened to me and shared in my grieving. I asked for help, hugs, or companionship when I felt the need. I read and reread the condolence cards and emails, finding comfort in the loving words. I am truly grateful for such caring sent my way. I also was compassionate toward myself, accepting my weaknesses. I allowed myself to cry. I even bravely chose events that brought on the tears, so I could purge myself of the pain of loss. Watching movies that involved loss and healing were very helpful, and I felt much better.

     Courage: I protected myself from triggers that would cause me to cry at times. I wore sunglasses to camouflage my eyes and hide the ravages of a tearful face. I carried tissues everywhere to mop up the waterfall of tears. I wanted people to see a survivor, not a victim of a tragedy…and someone with a brave heart who could stand tall and move forward. Writing this book took courage I did not think I had.

     Creativity: I found things that brought joy and laughter back into my life and put a smile on my face. I saw a “how to” video on making baskets out of recycled paper rolled into long tubes and made a few of these. The finished project was satisfying. In another creative adventure, three of us went to a “wine and paint night” at a local restaurant and painted a big sunflower with acrylics. We adopted artists’ personas: I am now known as (Cherylbrant) and my accomplices were my friend, Peg (Pegasso), and my daughter, Bonnie (Boninchi): each imitating her favorite artist with her painting. We had fun.

     Curiosity: I sought out options and answers to so many questions about finances, funeral details, insurance, IRAs, 401Ks, death benefits, who needs death certificates, applying for social security, retirement, name change and beneficiary change. And so much more. I made lists upon lists and checked off items as they were done — eventually.

     Faith: I had faith from the start, although it was battered down by the nearly overwhelming grief, anger and regrets. Although my faith was wounded, I still watched the Sunday service with Joel Osteen. I still read my daily devotions on The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer. I still prayed. I kept searching for understanding until I reread the story of Job in the Bible. Job experienced numerous losses and kept his faith. I found that you might never get the answers as to why this tragedy happened, but in faith, you walk forward, confident that there is a light waiting for you ahead.

     Forgiveness: This was hard, but I did forgive my husband for leaving me. I forgave God for taking him. I forgave myself for all the perceived regrets I had of not doing as much as I could have and should have done. I chose to give up the overpowering unforgiveness that kept eroding my spirit. It was such a relief.

     Humbleness: I worked to get outside of myself, helping others not as fortunate as I am. Looking at the big picture, my loss was insignificant compared to what some others have had to deal with in their life. I put together a care package for a friend, Anne, who always gives to others…so she would take time for herself, for a change. I mentored a young woman, June, in her pursuit of higher education in nursing. I gave my ticket to the amusement park to someone else to go. I volunteered to work on a quilt that was to be raffled off to raise money for the church. I cooked a meal and packed up a goodie bag for a friend whose husband underwent surgery. These actions helped me stop being focused on “poor me,” and I am thankful for the opportunity to do these. I look forward to doing more in the future.

     Humor: I am blessed to live with a daughter who makes me laugh hard and often. We laugh about memories with my husband, her father. We laugh about almost anything. She often breaks into a song and dance that is hysterical. She still hides sometimes and tries to scare me like her father used to do to both of us. I watched movies alone that were funny, as well as watching ones with my daughter or with a friend and laughed a lot. My daughter was, and is, the greatest gift in keeping me smiling and stimulating laughter. I think she was a comedian in her past life. I knew that laughter heals, and I employed my creativity to make opportunities for it to happen. Laughter was a great tension reducer for me.

     Integrity: I fell short in “honesty” at first, as I needed to insulate myself from the pain and loss. Certainly, it was evident to many how devastating to me Fred’s death was, but to others who were not close, things looked “OK.” I told people I was fine when I was not, that I was eating when I was not, that I was sleeping when I was not — and more. As the impact of my grief lessened somewhat and time moved forward, I was able to find a way to trust others and share how I really felt. It was hard to keep up the “good lie” and such a relief to be able to share how I truly felt. I discovered that once I faced and became my truth again, I could become empowered and exercise other muscles of the soul more effectively.

     Intuition: Sensing, insights, inspiration, and enlightenment are part of intuition. I have had experience with intuition in the past. For example, my intuition told me that the first person (male) I met in Home Depot was the one to help me with my car issue in the parking lot, but I dismissed it. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to return to him, and he was the one who came and helped start my car. Often, we get a feeling about something and dismiss it, moving forward at a too-fast mental pace. Slowing down and taking a pause to reflect allows for opportunities to become more evident. I am thankful that when I was walking up the stairs the night my husband died, I acted on the feeling that I had and turned to look at him and say, “Good night, Fred” — the last time I spoke to him. I am now more sensitive to my intuition for self-care and for caring for others’ needs.

     Optimism: Being positive was a challenge, as I had lost someone who was a constant source of support — my personal cheerleader of positivity. Suddenly, I had to create my own positivity. I found it is much easier to be negative and find fault than to be positive. So, I discovered a way to start. I faked being positive at first, and then little-by-little I began to feel positive about something in my day. I woke up and expressed thankfulness for the day. I set an intention to allow hope to bloom in my heart and open my eyes to a new future. I saw people struggling with much worse situations than mine, leading me to get out of my own way. I embraced a spirit of optimism.

     Patience: I grieved hard…with tears, anger, frustration, and more. I questioned God: Why did you do this to me? I questioned my dead husband: Why did you do this to me? I asked: Why did I deserve to be alone? I looked around at other older couples and envied them their togetherness and asked again: Why not me? Guess what? There were no answers, only acceptance that one time is over and another time is beginning. With patience and the passing of time, I came to terms with this. I felt peace.

     Persistence: To deal with all the details on my journey required persistence, because there were always loose ends. Nothing got done in a one-time action. There were always follow-ups, often too many to keep track of them all. I just made new lists and kept going.

     Resiliency: There were many times that I regressed in the healing process, but I did not give up. I bounced back stronger after every new wave of grief, anger, regret or self-pity that hit me, threatening to take me under. Each time, I chose to be strong and go forward; I bounced back quicker and was able to move forward again…and again…and again.

     Unconditional love: I worked for only four and a half months after my loss. I quit, to get out of the rat race and to be able to take better care of myself. I still mourned, even as I opened a new door to my future. I learned to love myself. The most amazing thing happened: I have become filled with more joy, peace, happiness, and expectation for sharing with others.

You can use the form on the next page with these same topics to write how you have exercised the muscles of your soul as you journey through your own grief and loss. It took time for me to do this, and it was sporadic, but thoughts and experiences along the way produced what I have shared about the muscles of the soul to me.
Yes, this journey is hard and it may be a long one. Be strong, and walk forward step-by-step, breath-by-breath. You, too, will emerge the victor. You have learned much and have much to share now with others.


·       I step forward in faith and am stronger each day.
·       I use the muscles of the soul to heal my wounded spirit.
·       I am optimistic that I can experience joy and love.


With her permission, I am serializing here a near-final version of nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link: 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

WHAT EVER HAPPENED...? Book Talk Schedule


What Ever Happened to My White Picket Fence?
My Brain Injury from My Massive Brain Tumor

BOOK TALKS AND SIGNINGS                             Where Janet’s been in 2018:

Janet Johnson Schliff spoke at the Oblong Books Bookstore in Rhinebeck, NY, on Tuesday, February 6 at 6 p.m.

Janet was on WKNY Radio 1490 in Kingston, NY, on Thursday, March 1 at 9:10 a.m. 

Janet spoke at Barnes & Noble in Kingston, NY, on Saturday, March 3 at 1 p.m. 

Janet spoke at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY, on March 6 at 7 p.m. 

Janet was interviewed by John DeSanto for the Middletown, NY, Times Herald-Record 845 LIFE Feature,, which appeared on March 11.

Janet spoke at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, NY, on March 17 at 2 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Morton Library in Rhinecliff, NY, on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. 

Janet spoke at RCAL in Kingston, NY, on April 3 at 4 p.m. [They gave her an impromptu book-launch party.]

Janet spoke at the Parkinson's Support Group at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY, on April 4 at 2:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Stone Ridge Library in Stone Ridge, NY, on April 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Hurley Library in Hurley, NY, on May 4 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Kingston Library in Kingston, NY, on May 9 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Staatsburg Library in Staatsburg, NY, on May 14 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Clinton Community Library in Rhinebeck, NY, on May 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Mountain Top Library in Tannersville, NY, on June 9 at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Gardiner Library in Gardiner, NY, on June 11 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Marbletown Community Center in Stone Ridge, NY, on June 20 at 6 p.m.

Janet was interviewed on radio station WTBQ-FM (93.5) on June 29 at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Esopus Library in Port Ewen, NY, on July 13 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Pine Plains Library in Pine Plains, NY, on July 20 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Ulster Library in Kingston, NY, on July 23 at 5:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Northern Dutchess Bible Church in Red Hook, NY, on August 11 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at a writers' group in Rosendale, NY, on August 30 at 2 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore in New Paltz, NY, on September 6 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Adriance Library in Poughkeepsie, NY, on September 15 at 2:30 p.m.

Janet was interviewed on radio station WRIP-FM (97.9) on September 21 at 8 a.m.

Janet again spoke at the Mountain Top Library in Tannersville, NY, on September 22 at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Enchanted Cafe in Red Hook, NY, on September 28 at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Hyde Park Library in Hyde Park, NY, on October 4 at 7 p.m.

Janet participated in an Author Weekend at the Barnes & Noble in Poughkeepsie, NY, on October 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Tivoli Library in Tivoli, NY, on October 22 at 5:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Germantown Library in Germantown, NY, on November 7 at 6 p.m.

Janet’s interview for the TV program Wake Up with Marci on the You Too America Channel aired on Monday, November 5, and Friday, November 9. It is now available on the Internet.

Janet participated in the Red Hook Middle School’s College and Career Cafe in Red Hook, NY,  on December 19 at 10:30 a.m.

What Ever Happened to My White Picket Fence?
My Brain Injury from My Massive Brain Tumor
BOOK TALKS AND SIGNINGS                             Where Janet’s headed in 2019…

Janet will speak at the Northern Dutchess Hospital Acute Rehabilitation Unit in Rhinebeck, NY, on Friday, November 8, at 12 p.m.

Janet will speak at the Journey Support Services in Poughkeepsie, NY, on Monday, November 18, at 12:30 p.m.

Janet will speak at the Woodland Pond Health Center in New Paltz, NY, on Wednesday, December 11 at 2:30 p.m.

Janet has been invited to speak at more high school health classes, hospitals, and senior centers, dates to be determined.

Where Janet’s been in 2019

Janet spoke at the Poughkeepsie Brain Injury Support Group at the Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall in Poughkeepsie, NY, Saturday, February 23 at 12 p.m. 

Janet spoke at the Stanford Library in Stanfordville, NY, Saturday, March 9 at 10 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Howland Library in Beacon, NY, Wednesday, March 20 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the W. Hurley Library in West Hurley, NY, Saturday, March 23 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the East Fishkill Library in Hopewell Junction, NY, Monday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Grinnell Library in Wappingers Falls, NY, Saturday, March 30 at 10:30 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Dover Plains Library in Wingdale, NY, Friday, April 5 at 6 p.m.

Janet participated in an Author Talk at the Saugerties Library in Saugerties, NY, Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Red Hook Community Center in Red Hook, NY, Wednesday, April 24 at 5 p.m.

Janet participated in the Authors’ Event at the New Creations Gift Shop in Fishkill, NY, Saturday, May 4 at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at St. Timothy's Church in Hyde Park, NY, Sunday, May 5 at 11 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Moffat Library in Washingtonville, NY, Saturday, May 11 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Beekman Library in Hopewell Junction, NY, Saturday, May 18 at 10:30 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Pleasant Valley Library in Pleasant Valley, NY, Tuesday, May 28 at 6 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Blodgett Library in Fishkill, NY, on Saturday, June 8 at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Westchester Medical Center's "Lunch and Learn" in Valhalla, NY, on Friday, June 14 at 12 p.m. (She has been invited to speak at two more hospitals.)

Janet spoke at the Fishkill Ability Center in Fishkill, NY, on Thursday, July 11, at 11 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Marlboro Library in Marlboro, NY, on Tuesday, July 16, at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Plattekill Library in Modena, NY, on Saturday, July 20, at 1 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Rosendale Senior Center in Rosendale, NY, on Wednesday, July 24, at 2 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Newburgh Library in Newburgh, NY, on Monday, July 29, at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the LaGrange Association Library in LaGrange, NY, on Wednesday, September 11, at 6 p.m.

Janet participated in the New Creations Gift Shop Authors’ Event in Fishkill, NY, on Saturday, September 21, at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Sport and Physical Medicine Center’s “Lunch and Learn” in Kingston, NY, on Tuesday, September 24, at 12 p.m. [Continuing Education Units (CEUs) were earned by attendees.]

Janet spoke to the Red Hook High School health classes in Red Hook, NY, on Friday, October 4, throughout the day.

Janet spoke at the Pawling Rec Center for Seniors in Pawling, NY, on Wednesday, October 9, at 12 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Chestertown Library in Chestertown, NY, on Saturday, October 12, at 11 a.m.

Janet spoke at the Bolton Free Library in Bolton Landing , NY, on Tuesday, October 15, at 7 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Office for the Aging in Kingston, NY, on Wednesday, October 23, at 1:30 p.m.

Janet spoke at the Sarah Hull Hallock / Milton Library’s Tea and Talk in Milton, NY, on Friday, November 1, at 3:30 p.m.

More talks are being planned for 2019… contact her at 845.336.7506 (h) or 845.399.1500 (c).                                                   

5 November 2019

Monday, November 4, 2019

GOOD GRIEF, Blessings

Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation

Be Aware of Blessings
and Express Gratitude

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. . . it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
                                         — Melody Beattie

     As you read this this section, you may be shaking your head and thinking that I must be deranged to tell you to be aware of blessings and express gratitude.

And you would be right — at least in the beginning. Gratitude was not my first response to the tragedy of loss, I can assure you. I was angry at God, felt sorry for myself, and was surrounded by such darkness and despair.

This did not last long however. Moments of acceptance, clarity and peace peeked through to illuminate my heart. If you are asking how long is “long,” I cannot say. You will move forward at your own pace and in your own time. As you accept the loss, you will receive new clarity of purpose and feel peace in your heart.

     I remember my husband saying “thank you” often for taking him for a ride, going out to dinner, cutting his toenails or giving him a shiatsu treatment. He would say thanks so often that at times I would get annoyed. I never asked him why he needed to say it so much, but I wish that I had. Reflecting on this, I now think that I was being taught gratitude by him for even the little things.

He was such a blessing to me. These memories helped me increase my awareness, allowing me to become more open and receptive during the grieving process — to not only recognize blessings that came my way, but to embrace them and feel comforted through them.

In previous sections, you have already read some of the blessings I am grateful for: my daughter’s presence and caring, the support and caring of my friends, the funeral manager’s help making the process uncomplicated and anticipating my needs, the man at Home Depot who helped me with my car, the person at Chick-fil-A who gave me a gift card, all the comfort and caring I received from others and more. These were true blessings. I continue to receive many more. I am grateful for each experience.

      Over the past couple of years, I have been growing in my spiritual life, learning to love more, give more, receive more, be in tune with nature, connected to the vibrations of serendipitous events surrounding me. I have looked at people I’ve met, even strangers, as an opportunity to help with some need they may have. Maybe they were lonely and needed someone to talk with. Maybe they needed help in the grocery aisle to reach an item on the shelf…and so on.

     One day my daughter and I were out to dinner. We chose to sit at the bar. Soon, an older gentleman sat on the seat next to me. We had a few minutes of silence, then I could no longer keep quiet. I sensed that maybe he was seated next to me for a reason.

As I chatted with him, I found out that he had lost his wife about two and a half years prior to cancer. We talked about her and his family briefly. He revealed that days like this were especially hard…when he was off from work and had nowhere to go — I saw a hint of tears in his eyes as he said he gets lonely.

He told us, “They don’t know what it’s like for me to have lost her. They think I should have been over it by now and moved on.”

He meant his family and friends. I knew how he felt. We continued to chat. I was grateful to be next to him and to bear witness to his story of grief and loss.

Each time an event like this has happened, I became more aware of the greater plan of life, a universal oneness and how we are all connected. Life and death are part of the journey. We each have a path to walk — together for a time…and alone for a time.

     I absorbed this lesson of life and death when my husband, the other half of my heart, completed his life’s journey and left me behind to continue my own life’s journey. I had not really considered living without him by my side, where he had been for so long. Strange, I thought, how we spend so much time with little thought to our inevitable mortality.

I learned, after much struggling and the passage of time, how to be grateful for what we had together. I became able to identify many blessings experienced during that time. I thought of how different my life would have been without him. I am grateful that I loved and was loved by this special man — a blessing to remember forever.

     I felt truly blessed to received so many cards, emails, and phone calls offering prayers, support and encouragement during this difficult time. It was hard to keep them in order. I did not want to miss thanking anyone for their thoughts and caring. So, being a bit compulsive about being organized, I created a message from the heart that I sent to everyone.

My message of gratitude is included on the next page. There are many ways to perform the ritual of tracking and responding to condolences to express your gratitude. You choose one that best meets your needs.


·       I am thankful for each day.
·       I thankfully receive all the goodness that life brings my way.
·       I am grateful for supportive friends and a loving family.


With her permission, I am serializing here a near-final version of nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise. 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link: