Grief A Year Later … What Helped & What Didn’t

Grief A Year Later … What Helped & What Didn’t

I write in a journal to Lou (my husband) since he has been gone and it has been very therapeutic. When he was alive we talked all the time about everything. I’ve found that writing to him has helped appease that need for conversation, so I write.

When you experience a death of someone very close, your whole life changes. So much in the day-to-day was incredibly painful. Slowly, I found ways of dealing with challenges that started to help. I think many people experience the changes I faced …

Here are some things I allowed to get me down at first, and a few things I found helpful:

6 Things That Got Me Down:

1. Being alone too much: To suddenly be alone at 67 years old took time to adapt. At first I hated it and went around in a fog. Now after a year, it is getting better, more enjoyable and allows me to accomplish things.


2. Meals alone: My friend insisted I come for dinner several nights a week for the first few months. What a blessing! I helped with groceries and did dishes and it was great.

3. What to do with weekends?: Working the week with all my emotions stuffed often made the weekend not much more than a time of tears. I was kind to myself and accepted the pain, and it has gradually diminished.

4. Making all the decisions: The cars broke down, the computer crashed, the printer died, the wiring to the electronics went bad, the roof in Michigan leaked, I forgot to pay bills, one of the dogs died, and on and on. How to handle it all???

5. Not enough sleep: I dreaded going to bed, then couldn’t sleep. Too little sleep made my emotions worse.

6. Too much to do and only me to do it: At first I did not accomplish much. Now I make lists and do at least one thing a day.

10 Things That Have Helped:

1. Journaling: Writing out my concerns to Lou and then sleeping on it helped me come to the answers I needed often right when I woke up.

2. Prayer: I look to God to heal my heart and to give me purpose. Things that are too much for me, I give to Him in prayer.

3. Walking: Making myself go for a walk with the dogs clears my brain. Often it seemed to be a safe place to cry and talk to Lou while I walked and came back refreshed.

4. Accepting all invitations at first. I took every opportunity to socialize and be with others. Even if I didn’t feel much like talking, I absorbed the liveliness around me and it lifted my spirits.

5. Remembering to eat: When I forgot to eat or ate poorly I felt worse. When I ate more nutritiously: salads, vegetables, meat and fruit, I coped better.

6. Music or Television. Background noise comforts. Unless I am reading, praying or meditating, I usually have music going.

7. Spending time with family: My daughter is very thoughtful to plan family time that includes me. This grounds me and helps me realize I still have a family.

8. Have a goal: I decided to attack the lofty goal of paying off the mortgage. It is daunting, but I put every extra dollar towards it and it gives me purpose and direction and keeps me from overspending.

9. Hugs, human touch: When I needed a hug, I gave a hug. When I needed to hear “I love you”, I said it to a family member or someone I was close to.

10. Remember: I have allowed myself to remember. I have embraced the pain. I stood out in the dark beneath every “Annie’s Moon” for the past year and probably always will. I watch the videos Lou left me. His chair is still on the sidewalk. I still go to Dana Point when I can and sit on our bench with our dog Bella. We even celebrated his birthday last month with a party.

I’ve decided that grief over losing your spouse is like trying to recover from something you don’t totally want to get over.

You want to feel better, but not if it means losing any of the memory. You have to do positive things, mindful, productive things to move into a healthier place. You have to want to become useful again to yourself and others.

And yet, since Lou’s “Babe” is who I was for 73% of my life, it will never be something I can forget or lose. So I try things, see what does and what doesn’t work. I mostly try to be kind to myself. The one thing Lou said repeatedly in the short videos he left was: “Be Happy! Do it for me, Babe”

So, that is what I am trying to do.

|| what do you think?

Can you relate to any of these good or bad?

Has your journey differed from mine? What has it looked like for you?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Joe Lavoie says:

    What I appreciate the most about your blogs is that you are never at a loss for very meaningful words and thoughts to help others, you are truly an inspiration for everyone to get through tough times in their lives. There is a lot to relate to and the sharing of your journey has helped me on numerous occasions as I have told everyone you have always been there too listen to me when I have needed guidance and prayer and I can never say enough what a special person you truly are , thank you for taking time to help me in my own journey.
    Sincerely Joe Lavoie

    • Anne Anderson Collins says:

      If what I say inspires you, then what I wrote was worth it. We are more than team mates, we are friends. I love to see you grow and do well. I hope you know I always want to be “here” for you when the need arises. You too, are further along and you have your present wife and the new babies, but that doesn’t mean old pain won’t rear its head now and then.

  2. Fitz says:

    Hi Anne,
    What a great blog with really helpful walkaways for dealing with loss. They are such simple items yet so important and can be applied in all facets of life when things get tough. Lou is looking down on you with a smile knowing you are making great strides in your journey without his physical presence. He will always be in your heart and your mind.
    Thank you for being so open and honest.

    • Anne Anderson Collins says:

      Just came in from standing beneath my Annie’s moon for this month. What a treasure to have something in nature to look forward to on a regular basis. Just like you said: It put Lou right up there, front and center for a few minutes in the dark, in my heart and mind.


  3. Shayna Mallik says:

    Wow, what an amazing blog!!! Thank you for sharing your life and grief with us. This was so touching and helpful on how you grieved and also what worked and didn’t work. You are such an amazing person and so open to telling your entire story, which I thank you for! I am so lucky to have you in my life and if you ever need a hug please feel free to come to me!!!
    Love you!

    • Anne Anderson Collins says:

      Thanks, Shayna,
      I will definitely come by for hugs. At least until you move to Alaska!
      Love you back!

  4. Chuck Ricciardi says:


    “I’ve decided that grief over losing your spouse is like trying to recover from something you don’t totally want to get over.”

    This statement really resonated with me. Of course you never want to forget or “Get over” your loved one, we want those precious memories to live on, and they will! But we almost feel guilty when we feel healing and the grief journey getting just a bit easier as time marches on and our actions help us heal. One of my most profound moments when I grieved my son Matthew’s death came around two years after he died. I looked back on my day and almost felt ashamed, I had not thought about him today! I was mortified, how could I go a day without thinking of my precious boy? Then I began to realize that this is also part of my healing experience. 19 years later I think of him often but not daily, but not one memory of his short live has diminished at all! We miss Lou and know you have been doing all you can to help yourself on this journey. God Bless!

    • Anne Anderson Collins says:

      I guess what it really comes down to is a sort of guilt…afraid I will forget. Not wanting to lose any of the memory. That you are 18 years ahead of me and assure me I will not, means a lot. Thank you for that. It is something I needed to hear.

  5. Jeff Turner says:

    This is so touching and helpful. Opening a window into your grieving path is a very kind and vulnerable thing to do. I know Lou is proud of you. We all are. As we have been witness to your “work life”, I am amazed at how you have continued to give your very best even in the personal struggles that we don’t see.

    I love you dearly and will be more diligent to pray for you each day.

    Blessings and comfort be yours,


    • Anne says:

      Thank you so much. Prayers and hugs. That helps a lot. As far as the work ethic, that’s just old fashioned mid-west mentality. The structure and routine are actually important to my mental health, what there is of it… haha.
      I love you, too

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