The Widow or Widower Next Door

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Watch Mary Lee's TV Interview About "Set an Extra Plate", Grief Diaries Books, and "Project Little Elf"



Watch Mary Lee's interview on TV at HTC's River Talk, as she explains "Set an Extra Plate", "Project Little Elf" and the concept behind Grief Diaries. Click on the link below to view.




"Project Little Elf" or How to Make a Sad Person's Christmas a Joyful Christmas, in 12 Easy Steps!


Want to make someone sad be glad for Christmas? Know someone who has recently lost a loved one? Project Little Elf shows you how in 12 easy steps. Become a Secret Santa and teach your kids compassion. 


INSTRUCTIONS : Project Little Elf is a fun family experience that teaches kids to be givers of kindness by pairing them with the perfect recipient: the newly bereaved. Leaving a small gift every night for 12 nights on the porch of someone with a heavy heart offers a delightful lesson in compassion, and leaves both giver and receiver with memories they’ll treasure for life.



To learn more, and get free printables, click on this link:



Listen to the "Set an Extra Plate" Initiative Described in Detail on the Radio on WRNN Hot Talk Radio


Listen to Mary Lee Robinson talk about the "Set an Extra Plate" Initiative to reach out to grieving spouses and families during difficult holidays.  The interview lasts about 7 1/2 minutes. To listen, just click on this link, then click on the "play" arrow.…/MARY%20LEE%20NOV%2014%20(4).mp3…





"My Interview With Oprah" by my friend and publisher, Lynda Cheldelin Fell. Why is Grief More Taboo Than Sex?

My Conversation with Oprah
Publishing a book series isn't for the faint of heart, especially for a woman editor-in-chief tackling sensitive subjects. Sometimes when I fall into bed at the end of a long day, I’m utterly exhausted. But full of unfinished tasks, my mind refuses to shut down. Before I know it, the overactive and overtired voice in my head is having imaginary conversations with notable figures. Last night’s conversation went something like this.
OPRAH: I understand you’ve written over 18 books about life-changing experiences including grief. Why in the world would you write about such a topic?
ME: No child ever says they want to grow up to write about grief. But I've always been fascinated with true stories. They're just so no-holds-barred. Some of them, well, you just can't make this stuff up. They're actually very inspiring and I knew that if I didn’t put them into a book series, the stories would be left unwritten. And that is a tragedy.
OPRAH: So you wrote a book series about tragedies to prevent a tragedy?
ME: Yeah, something like that. But why should it not be okay to tell our tales? Everyone has a story about grief. Everyone. Even you.
OPRAH: Because the world is full of sad stories. Why make the world sadder?
ME: Sharing our stories actually does the opposite, and also challenges the paradigm about how we view taboo topics. By sharing stories, we heal people. We validate their pain. When we validate their pain, they can begin to heal. When they begin to heal, they’re less sad. So talking about grief and other stigmatized subjects in this generation will help future generations. So you see, storytelling is actually an ancient healing modality.
OPRAH: I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Exactly how does storytelling help?
ME: If you go out for a jog and suddenly break an ankle, you become sidelined with pain. Every little step is agony. In order to heal your broken foot, you must nurse it back to health. If you ignore the pain and continue to jog, you only make your injury worse, not better. Doctors prescribe rest, ice, cast and elevation for a minimum of six to eight weeks for good reason. A broken heart is ten times worse, so you need sixty weeks, or the equivalent of five years before you can go jogging again.
PASTOR JOEL OSTEEN: If you still feel sorry for yourself after six months, you clearly thrive on your own self pity, or relish the attention it brings.
ME: With all due respect, Pastor Osteen, helping someone nurse a broken heart is all about compassion, and listening. Ahem . . . without judgment.
PASTOR JOEL OSTEEN: Writing books about grief only perpetuates one’s sorrow.
ME: Incorrect. Sharing our stories is about finding hope. For without grief, there would be no need for hope.
BILL O’REILLY: Today’s headlines are filled with tragedies. Why add to that?
ME: Today’s headlines are filled with scandal, shame and embarrassment, none of which have to do with compassion.
BILL O’REILLY: So you’re saying Grief Diaries isn’t about grief?
ME: It’s true stories about real people finding healing and hope in the face of grief.
PASTOR JOEL OSTEEN: Grief has been around since the beginning of mankind. It is too heavy to deal with, and deserves to stay under the rug.
ME: If we don’t work together to remove the stigma of taboo experiences, then future generations will be no better off. If we don’t make a difference, who will?
BILL O’REILLY: Politics are far more interesting. Grief is boring. Nobody will read your books.
ME: Grief Diaries isn’t for everyone. It’s written for those who share our path but feel alone because they weren’t allowed to talk about their experience in the first place. Validating their own grief by reading our stories gives them the voice they were robbed of. And that is the first step toward healing.
OPRAH: How does Grief Diaries give them a voice?
ME: When readers who share our path find commonality in the stories, they feel less alone. And it also gives them hope that such a challenging experience is survivable. The crux is that Grief Diaries represents: a village of over 450 writers who light a candle of hope for those who share the same path, and raise awareness at the same time. It’s about removing the stigma from these experiences. It’s about making it okay to take care of those who are hurt, not leaving them with a broken ankle on the side of the road, left to their own devices because we couldn’t handle their agony. If a person suffered third-degree burns over their entire body, should they be left to their own devices, to heal alone on their own? Of course not. Our generation is challenging the paradigm about how we view experiences involving grief. We're making it okay to talk about it. That is the very first step toward healing, not sweeping it under the rug because others are afraid the sorrow is contagious. Burns aren’t contagious. Broken ankles aren’t contagious. And neither is grief. If we don’t make a difference in this generation, the next generation will inherit the same lack of compassion.
BILL O’REILLY: I still don’t get it.
PASTOR JOEL OSTEEN: You’re all just wallowing in your own self pity. Get over it.
OPRAH: I get it. Thank you for challenging the paradigm about grief. That takes a lot of guts.
ME: Thank you, but the writers are the true heroes. It takes tremendous courage to share life’s intimate experiences with the world. But they’re doing so to help others who share the path, and help change how society views grief in the first place. If we don’t challenge the stigmas, future generations inherit the same mess.
OPRAH: That’s an amazing way to look at it. I will add Grief Diaries to my book club immediately. [Big hug].
ME: Thank you. Our writers will appreciate that very much. Now, where’s your nearest Starbucks? I have 20 more books to publish before morning.
Lynda Cheldelin Fell is the award-winning publisher of Grief Diaries, a 5-star book series featuring the heartfelt stories of 500 writers from 11 countries. Learn more at


THE WIDOW OR WIDOWER NEXT DOOR is a powerful, yet easy read!

If you are new to this page, or Pinterest board, you may not know about how this whole thing started.

Not long after my husband died, I formed a club for widows and widowers. It grew quickly, and I was enlightened about how few resources are available for grieving spouses.  That lead to gathering widowed folk I knew to write what turned out to be the first of several books for those of us who walk the widowed path.


I invite you to read what others are saying. Here are just a few of the reviews:



"If you, or anyone that you know has lost their Heart! PLEASE buy this book for them! Mary Lee Robinson and all of the wonderful people who shared their pain deserve awards for teaching others how to deal with the earth shattering pain that is the loss of your loved one! No one teaches you in your life how to prepare for the eventuality we will all endure in our lifetime. This book should be a MUST READ for everyone! From Middle school age, every year! People are terrified to talk about death, then when it is thrust upon them.........they disintegrate into microscopic pieces. Sometimes, we are able, slowly, oh so very slowly, to attempt to put those pieces back together again. We are never the same! This amazing book, by Mary Lee Robinson, helps to understand that you really aren't alone!"


"The Widow or Widower Next Door is a gentle, yet stark collection of stories shared by twenty-five men and women who have lost a spouse to death. The collection is equally raw and intimate and is compiled in such a way as to offer the newly bereaved opportunity to experience that she is not alone in small, digestible bites while at the same time affording those who have sat with grief a while to absorb growth and healing."

"Mary Lee Robinson has given the world an excellent resource to view the experience and consequences of the loss of a spouse. She unabashedly tackles a social stigma, grief, in our disconnected, postmodern society. The personal revelations of the widows and widowers opens more avenues of thought than many academic works on the subject of death and dying. In my decades of ministry and teaching college sociology, I did not have a text that could convey with clarity the personal process of grief. This book accomplishes that task. Easy to read, yet thought provoking, this book is a "must read" for clergy, counselors, academicians, doctors, nurses and anyone who loves another in marriage, family and life."


"LOVE IT! I cannot believe that a book like this wasn't previously available. I found the book to be for just about everyone, and I love the Q&A format. It's a great resource for a widow, widower, family member or friend. It's a short, honest, easy read about a very serious subject - sometimes funny, sometimes sad. I read it straight through cover to cover in one sitting with my Kleenex box by my side. Thank You!!"


I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself, a friend, or maybe a family member. One of the biggest helps a griever can have is to learn they are not alone, they are not the only one. The book is available for purchase right here in the store on this website.


True Love Happens to a Fortunate Few

I received a gift of grateful awareness recently.  I had deeply intimate soul sharing conversations, the kind that only best friends can have. One woman is a very good friend, the other a relafriend, a relative I’d have chosen in a heartbeat to be a sister, although that isn’t our family connection. Both ladies are in my age group, mid-sixties to seventyish. Both have been married more than once, or at least in a second serious relationship.


I was a little startled to learn that both women regret their current relationships. One is married, the other was engaged. One is sorry she married after being widowed. The other has broken off her engagement and prefers to go-it-alone again.


Each of them confided that they wonder what it would be like to be in love. Neither of them ever has been in love before. I was reminded of something my grandmother once said to me when I said to her that it was so unfair that she was twice widowed. She replied “Honey, most people never find true love even once. I am lucky, I’ve known it twice”.


I realized she was so right. I am truly blessed. I was in love with my husband and he with me. We had, even if only for a few short years, what most people never have.




For that I am truly grateful.




Clearance Sale! Limited Time, Limited Supply ! Buy Now Through 10/31/16


20% off!

Limited time, Limited Supply


Choose from 5 styles, marked down

Through 10/31/16

off everyday low prices


Get yours while supplies last.


Sale styles include:

Antique mourning style ring

Tear signet ring

Eternal tears ring

Weeping heart ring


Trailing tears ring



Do the Next Thing



Random Ruth, my occasional assistant, marvels at my ability to shift gears quickly and rearrange my priorities and my schedule. Comes from years in construction management, where the landscape (materials availability, access, surprises not on the blueprints) was constantly changing. Just like a battle make one and then promptly throw it out.

Lately, however, it's been challenging even for me! Had a conversation with dear friend Ray who is in the midst of his own ever changing landscape lately. It's been all we can do to grab the reins and hold on tight, with moves, hurricanes, very welcome guests, trips out of town.

I'm reminded of those days, standing in the wreckage of a demolished space, pager blowing up with messages, memos coming at me like a postal worker. I'd occasionally feel overwhelmed. I made a rule for myself for times when I didn't know where to start. "Do the next thing". Whatever that was....I'd do the next thing. And then the haze would begin to clear and I could, once again, prioritize with the best of them.

Today? I did about 5 next things...completed the refrigerator inventory for the insurance claim, received some quotes for same, pinned some marketing pins to Pinterest, updated a press release, worked on a proposal to solicit corporate sponsors and reserved my ticket for one of my first sponsor's special event. That's just for starters...I did more "next things".


The haze is starting to clear...and on a clear day? I can see forever. ;)


Set an Extra Plate Initiative

Find out more about my "Set an Extra Plate Initiative". Watch my interview here, just click on the link.






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