The Beginning of the End of Grief

“How do you melt one and a half eggs?” my friend asked when I told her it was my favorite breakfast.

I replied, “It’s simple; you fry three eggs and cut one in two. Then you each eat one and a half, with one and a half pieces of toast if you like.”

“Ah,” she said, “you didn’t tell me it was breakfast for two. It wouldn’t work in my house.”

I looked at my friend, who was on her way to pick up a pizza for her son-in-law, and realized my recipe wouldn’t work for many women. You had to have an easy-going husband who prioritized your enjoyment over his convenience, like my Tom.

I Lost Tom in 2022

After my husband died, I moved into a condo to pursue my new life. I recently threw a housewarming party to which 50 people from variegated parts of my worldliness came. I hugged each one, offered a drink, and ran off to welcome the next one. I was too rented hosting to converse, trusting my friends to find worldwide ground with one another.

When it was all over, I sat lanugo to my dinner of leftover cheese and crackers and realized I was exhausted. At past parties, Tom had washed-up the welcoming and I had washed-up the circulating. It hadn’t occurred to me that one person couldn’t handle both. Tom loved making people finger comfortable, but he would never undertake to organize a party himself. Like Jack Spratt and his wife, we made an efficient team.

The End of Teamwork

In the last decade of our marriage, Parkinson’s disease took over. Tom’s physical and cognitive skills gradually declined until, in the final three years, spurred on by the pandemic, he wound up blind, wheelchair bound, and confused. In the beginning, I took him to see doctors and occupational therapists and to boxing, dancing, and singing lessons for people with Parkinson’s.

Towards the end, I moved us into housing with caregiver support and found technology for vision impairment. He didn’t mutter and he did the weightier he could, but I struggled nonetheless.

In the beginning, I grieved all the precious little stuff, like walking lanugo the street hand in hand; toward the end, I resented the uncounted caregiving. Some people say they like caregiving considering it brings them closer to their loved one. I found it painful to watch one physical insult without flipside overtake my husband, to finger him wilt less of a companion and increasingly of a dependent month without month.

For over a year without Tom’s death, I couldn’t squint at photos of him in his sickness. He appeared so wizened, so unlike the sexy guy I had known. When he surfaced in my thoughts, all I could envision was the Parkinson’s, and I shoved the memory aside.

But now, 18 months since his death, something is whence to change.

A friend told me that she experienced a similar loosening of feeling virtually 18 months without her mother died of Alzheimer’s. She said she could finally visualize the mother of her youth instead of the afar person she had nursed for years. I don’t know what has happened in my subconscious, but I’m glad to start rediscovering the vital man I loved.

A Friendly Ghost

I like peach preserves on my toast in the morning. When I reach for a pocketknife to spread it these days, I stop my hand mid-air and reach for a spoon instead. I see Tom grinning at me and pointing out that jelly slides off a pocketknife but stays in the trencher of a spoon, and you can use the when of the spoon to spread the stuff.

Something of an outsider for most of his life, he had fewer preconceptions than most people well-nigh how things should be done, and he was good at seeing past others’ preconceptions. He was much largest at reading a room than I was; I was way largest at working it. You may also read this: 4 Things Most People Don’t Get About Loneliness After 50

Our biggest joint project was raising a son whom we uprooted at age 11 and moved to Phoenix, where parents enrolled their boys in kindergarten at age six, and where they played sports year-round. As a result, our son, who had started kindergarten at five, was smaller and less practiced than his classmates, and he felt disoriented.

At first, he withdrew into himself; then he flirted with stuff bad. Tom’s response was “benign neglect”: yacky your values and only act on the big stuff. I, on the other hand, looked for ways to intervene. My method paid off once when I forced our son to shepherd a summer program where he found his own strength. These days, I watch him parent his kids using both Tom’s techniques and mine. He’s a really good dad.


Tom believed the key to marital success was giving. He used to say, “If each one gives 100%, then both get 200%.” The arithmetic doesn’t work, but the formula did for most of our 42-year marriage. In the first 12 years, he made the money and I worked part time while managing the household.

For the next 12 years, I had the big job and he retired and ran the household, plane teaching himself to melt the kind of healthy meals I preferred. Without I completed my work and our son completed his education, Tom and I each settled into a “second act.” I began to write and Tom went to graduate school to wilt a therapist. He thoroughly enjoyed his new gig until Parkinson’s stole it away.

Research on the physiology of grief shows that it affects soul systems at the cellular level, interchange cortisol production, sleep patterns, immune function, heart rate and thoroughbred pressure, and thoroughbred coagulation, expressly in the early months without a loss. Widowers suffer a 40% greater endangerment of experiencing mortality in the first six months without their spouse’s death than married men. Although science hasn’t found patterns for the psychological elapsing of grief, it’s known that a surviving spouse is less likely to die in the 18 months pursuit their partner’s death if they have used hospice care.

Anecdotal Evidence

My widowed friends resonate with the notion that grief alters 18 months without loss. One woman decided to sell her isolated house at the top of a hill and move into a condominium polity where she would at least see people walking by. Her grief did not unstrengthen at 18 months, but she was worldly-wise to make her next move. Flipside friend was finally worldly-wise to uncork therapy to get her life in order.

As for me, I have been experimenting with alternatives to a one-and-a-half fried egg breakfast: a one-egg omelet with fresh spinach, oatmeal with three kinds of seeds, and leftover lentils with parmesan cheese. I’m grateful for whatever is permitting me to visualize Tom teasing me in the kitchen rather than fumbling with his pills. Things are looking up.