"Reading Gives Us Someplace to Go When We Have to Stay Where We Are." Marion Cooley


I don’t know about you, but in the immediate aftermath of the death of my husband, I found it very, very difficult to read. I just couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t focus.  This was new territory for me. I’ve always been a book lover, and more often than not, I used have 3, 4 or 5 books going at once.  I mean, I actually read a bit of each one every day. I get lost in books and come back refreshed.


So, when I couldn’t read, it was distressing for me. I started reaching for books on grief written by other widows. I consumed them, as though they were peanuts. One after another.  Each of them grounded me in some feeling that what I was experiencing was both real and normal.  Always a strong and independent woman, I felt neither strong nor independent any more.  Reading about the journey of other widows assured me that I was both normal and that I would learn to stand strong and independent again. It was just going to take a lot longer than I’d planned.


Still, after reading at tall stack of grief books, I found most of them wanting. They were sweet and soft and calming, but nobody talked about the anger I was confronting.  Angry at my loss, of course, but stunned and angry at the stupid and insensitive people around me were behaving and saying. People who should have known better.  And then there were the practical aspects that were left ignored.

Things like, how to find help getting to sleep. Was grief counseling of any use? How to cope with feeding myself in isolation? And I stumbled across something else.  I read quite a lot of books and many of them were in agreement, but wouldn’t make more sense? Wouldn’t the message have more credibility if it were brought to us by a group of widows and widowers?  I thought so!


I gathered a group of local widows and widowers and we set about writing our own book, our own stories.  Twenty five widows and widowers answered twenty five questions about our journey. We talked about how our families got weird, how neighbors shunned us, what to do with our rings and how strangers, miracle people, really, stepped in to fill the voids left by people we counted on that disappointed us. That book, my first book, is called The Widow or Widower Next Door and is available on Amazon.com, as well as on this site in the store at widsnextdoor.com.  It’s in both paperback and in Ebook version. It opens with my own story of saying my last goodbye to my own husband. The story of how he quite literally holds my heart in his hand.


The Widow or Widower Next Door: 25 Widows & Widowers Answer 25 Questions about Losing a Mate by [Robinson, Mary Lee]





Writing that book lead to meeting a wonderful woman who dazzles me daily with her energy. Lynda Cheldelin Fell is the person who organized the first ever, National Grief and Hope Conference in Indianapolis in the spring of 2015. Her energy sweeps up and gathers everyone in the room.

Lynda Cheldelin Fell asked me, after that meeting, if I would participate in an idea for a new book series, exploring all facets of grief. Like my little book, she wanted to bring together the perspectives of many voices, many grievers.  She called the series The Grief Diaries.  Of course, I said “count me in!”    And so it began.

As of this writing in fall of 2016, there are now 16 Grief Diariesbooks that have been published, and 11 more on the way.  Like I said, Lynda Cheldelin Fell is a whirlwind, and…moreover, some of the books have won awards! 






The first one I was honored to participate in was Grief Diaries; Loss of a Spouse.

Additionally, available right here on this site in the store, along with several Grief Diaries titles, at widsnextdoor.com.


I’ve also been lucky to join in on the one about parent loss, helping newly bereaved and heavenly signs. Soon to begin is one on “widow shunning” and those anger provoking behaviors.


One of the nicest features of each of these books, besides the perspectives of multiple folks who have walked in shoes the same style and shape as yours, is that they are structured so that you can easily pick them up and put them down, jump around the chapters and digest them, and not lose the message. Sort of like “group therapy in a book”, as co-writer Carol Scibelli says.



If you are struggling to find your way, if you’re new at this or it’s been quite a few years, I encourage you to get yourself one or two of these. You’ll find solace, validation, comfort and understanding within the pages. You’ll find yourself….and begin to find your new self.




The virtue of reading

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