Grief support groups, condolence advice, funeral etiquette and more
A continutaion of the "When a Spouse or Partner Dies" thread.
Latest Conversations: 20 hours ago
This might be a rough time for many of you. Do what you feel you need to do to get through it. Remember, someone is here almost all the time to talk to you.
Started by Chris Sky. Last reply by Mary. Jane on Sunday.
Started by Andrew Berenyi Jr.. Last reply by Steve Jul 14.
Started by Sandfly. Last reply by Marsha H Jun 6.
Steve and Chuck,
What a beautiful story. I am so glad you both were drawn to this site and to each other. Who will ever know why we were drawn to this wonderful website. But, I will never forget how I was drowning in sorrow when I logged in and read some of the messages and decided to jump in and see what would happen. And here I am almost 5 years later still reading and commenting. I think this site is so successful because of the extreme love we have for our spouses/partners. I think that is what drew us all here and has kept us here. As we are so fond of saying, we are family.
Love to you both!!!
In the following weeks and many walks with Bella, we found feathers of various sorts in our path and each one was just as interesting and startling as the first one I found so long ago and had tucked away in the depths of my memory. The trail of feathers was now in motion and as Bella and I found our treats, Chuck and I found a lot more to talk about as we were both now committed to following this path no matter where it may lead. This trail eventually leads me to plan a trip to visit Chuck so that we could see each other face to face, this seemed to be the next logical step in our developing relationship. The trip happened on the 4th of July weekend and much to our surprise, together we discovered that each one was exactly as we thought the other was. No surprises about who we are and no surprises about what was happening in our life. The real surprise arrived the following morning after I arrived, I was looking out the kitchen window watching Chuck walking toward the bird feeder to leave goodies for his adoring herd. My attention was drawn to the wooden table on the patio not far from where Chuck was pouring seed into the bird feeder, underneath were four feathers. If that wasn’t interesting enough, they were all the same size and color and looked identical. I stepped out and pointed them out to Chuck, scooped them up and brought them inside. We were both in tears, we now had four feathers, all found in one place and all laying on the ground separate from one another and yet, we both grasped the true meaning of this find, one for Mark, one for Larry, one for Chuck and one for me. It was very sobering and chilling at the same moment, something bigger than either one of us was busy at work in both our lives and to what end?
The trail does not end here, there are more profound findings and each one has a story to tell as do Chuck and I, for now I will close out this chapter and start a new one as the trail of feathers continues to lead us into the future.
That evening after I got home from work, I was wondering what I would say to Chuck besides the usual thank you for all the gifts, and then I hear my phone ping alerting me to another email arrival from guess who. I sat down and started reading his email, in it he out right stated that he hoped I was enjoying the cookies and that I did not misread his selection of the songs on my CD. That kind of thru me off balance, and as I sat there and thought about everything about my day and week before, how should I approach this? My first thought was to ignore everything and hope it would all go away, knowing I could not do that. I had to send him an email and answer him, plus I needed to be there for him, he was struggling with what was going to happen over the next few days and how he would get thru his first anniversary of his loss. I sent off a short email, stating I completely got it, everything he was telling me and that I would call him tomorrow evening. The next morning, I woke up tired as usual and earlier than normal feeling unsettled, so I found my laptop and started searching for a greeting card type saying to send along with my email to Chuck. I found a poem instead, a lot of poems that would say what I was feeling in my heart, then one jumped out at me and I knew I had to send it. That evening we both had a lot to talk about and over the next few days I felt closer to my friend and understood what was happening and what he needed now. Later, we could discuss everything else going on, but for now he needed someone to hear him, to be there no matter what and so I was.
Now the week turned into my birthday week and Chuck’s first anniversary of losing Larry, it is now the 19th day of April and a package arrived from Chuck, he had let on that he was sending me a little something for my birthday and to please not open it until the 20th and to absolutely follow the instructions included inside. So, I did just that and on the morning of my birthday I sat sitting on the side of my bed dressed and ready for work. Each package inside the box was wrapped and each one in different colors, so I followed the instructions and started opening each one in order. The amount of time and thought that went into each gift was astonishing and so typical of someone who is an Artist. I was stunned and overwhelmed all at once. The best gift for me was a CD full of music, I had let on that I refused to listen to music since Marks passing, now what do I do? I had to play them, and what a collection of music it was, up to this point we had been flirting with the notion that our friendship was moving in a different direction, one that I feared and not sure about. I placed the CD into my lap top and began to listen to each song, I was a blubbering idiot by the time I got to the one by Eta James’ rendition of “At Last”. Oh no, my fears were now true, he felt for me exactly what I was feeling for him, good grief what do I do now. Panic took over and I was already late for work by two hours, then I looked at the back of the CD case, inside and stuck to the face of the paper with the printed songs list was a feather. Not just your run of the mill type, but an exact match to the one I found the week before and no I still had not told anyone of my find. I was now in shock, disbelief that this was happening and I was scared to death to even think that something or someone else was in control of my life and gently pushing me forward into an unknown future. I had to be dreaming, when was I going to wake up? There were still two more gifts, one small one and one large one that made a noise when shook. I still followed the instructions, the small one was a miniature Paddington Bear sitting in a small rocking chair all of 4 inches in height. He even had his little red hat and stuffed inside was his secret sandwich, Chuck had found the bear and hand sewn the little hat into existence and to scale, the last gift was a container full of mine and Bella’s favorited cookies, Snickerdoodles! Instructions were clear, half for me the other half for Bella (rats, I had to share). Yes, I did share half, after all how could I hid them from her standing there with those big beautiful eyes and her waging tail thumping the side of the bed in much anticipation of the cookies…
Later that week, on one of our phone calls, he started asking me questions about different music venues and other odd questions about different things that I liked and didn’t like. What he didn’t know was that the day I found my second feather, when I got home I went looking for a movie to watch on Net-Flix (had not done this for some time, it just popped into my head from nowhere). “Paddington Bear” was in my recommendation bucket list with a reminder that it was still available for purchase, I had forgotten that I had placed a pre-order for this movie before Mark had passed on, he had seen it advertised as being released to DVD soon and wanted it, so back in October of 2014 I had placed the pre-order. Up until I found the second feather I had not even opened my Net Flix account, the feather must have had a positive effect, so Bella and I settled down to watch it remembering how excited Mark had been about getting it on order for him. I loved it and I felt as if Mark was right there watching it with us. I remember asking Chuck if he had seen this movie, in our emails and phone conversations, I had found out that he and Larry had an extensive movie collection. He said no, but that it sounded like something he might like, he admitted that he had not heard of Paddington Bear, so I gave him the Readers Digest version. Of course, the next day I went to Target and found the DVD, it was in the mail to him the same day. He sent me an email the day he got it, and said he loved it, and was so moved by my thoughtfulness for sending it to him, of course it brought him to tears.
Dear friends, I have completed the next chapter of "A Trail of Feathers" and post it as I did the first one, so here goes:
Following everyone on Legacy became my life line for clarity and a day to day must do, without something to look forward to it would have allowed me to continue my spiral down to the place I did not want to be.
Chuck surprised me one day by asking me for my personal email address, I posted it in the usual format for all to see since he had done the same thing. As time went by, we started emailing each other privately and occasionally only to became more frequent. It was quite apparent to us both that as we began to write to each other, I kept thinking, I know this person and yet we were strangers without even a clue as to whom we really were. Always lurking in the back of my mind was a warning sign, be careful, take is slow, do not run this person away with too much information, you do not want to cause him any harm or discomfort. We had also progressed to the point where we exchanged address and phone number, which, in of itself was an accident and another story.
So, the emails began, it was now March of 2016 and we were referring to each other as best friends. April 22nd was looming on the horizon, for Chuck, his first anniversary of Larry’s passing and for me April 20th, my birthday, something Chuck had insisted on knowing. About a week before my birthday I was out walking Bella early in the morning and on our path, was an unassuming little feather, sort of a brownish grey and yet still striking in how it was standing straight up in the grass as if placed there with some importance. So, there it was, my second feather, I felt such joy in finding it and yes, I was immediately thinking of Mark and of the other feather I had found long before his passing. I raced back to the apartment and quickly grabbed Surgeon General (the little brown bear with his medal) and placed the feather next to the first feather and headed off to work. I was so elated and overcome with joy (something I had not felt since Mark was alive) and then the tears started flowing. By the time I got to work, Lord knows how I did because I have no memory of the 25-minute trip, I do remember looking in the mirror and saw red, puffy eyes and then feeling the massive headache I had acquired. How was I going to disguise this and still go in to work, should I just go home? Oops, too late, someone from across the parking lot was waving at me, so I gave up and headed inside. My dear friend (Ms. Pete), took one look at me and didn’t even ask me how I was doing, she just hugged me and said rough night? You know I am just a phone call away. I teared up again and assured her I was Ok as I ran off to the men’s room. Later that day, about an hour or so, there she was standing at my station looking down at me with her sweet smile full of understanding and compassion and gently said, why don’t you go home for the day, Eric said it was OK (my boss Erick). I said no, I was better, she said sure you are, ok, then we are going to lunch and it wasn’t a question. After lunch and back at my work station I heard a ping from my phone, an email type ping, guess who? Chuck’s email was a God send, he was having one of those days we all have and needed to vent. I read it and immediately went outside to send my reply, without letting him know anything about what had happened earlier in my day.
Your feather story brought tears to my eyes, as the eternal love you and Ernie share shines through every word.
I do so hope today is less painful for you, and even though we may not be skipping down the walk together, you need only close your eyes and click your heels three times...I will be by your side in spirit with all the love and laughter this brother can bring -
Dear friend, as time grows longer from the loss of your beloved Joseph, we all know the grief and loss still remain throughout our days and years. That you can write that you have found a calmer spot in your grieving warms my heart, as you are so loving and compassionate to all the family always. The many times your words helped me through the darkness are not forgotten, nor will they ever be.
Post whenever and as often as is right for you...you still remain daily in my thoughts and prayers, as does everyone her in this uncommonly compassionate family.
Dear Mary Jane,
The link to the song is so appreciated - I have heard it before, and the message is so positive and hopeful that your sharing it with us all is truly a blessing. Hoping today is a good one for you, without pain or sadness, but filled with a sense of peace...
I always smile when I know you are doing alright - as busy as you are you seem to always find time to jump in with support and encouragement whenever you see someone hurting or just going through an emotional time. God bless you for that dear friend.
Love and peace right back to you today, and always -
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