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My supervisor recognized that her friendships with these men might get in the way of her clinical treatment of them and asked me to work with each of them one-on-one. I found during that internship what would be a clinical strength of mine; working with the dying and their families. Due to loneliness and vulnerability I stumbled into a new long distance relationship that would ultimately lead to an unhappy union and marriage. Writing about this period now, I had to admit to myself that my downfall was allowing my fear of remaining alone to overcome my certainty that the marriage would be a mistake.

Pearlin and Skaff wrote a seminal article in which he examined the intersection of stress research and the life-course perspective. The life-course perspective, he noted, was more focused on positive aging and new opportunities for growth across time. The stress literature, he stated, was more focused on negative outcomes and mental health difficulties. Perlin noted that stress is a process that interacts across time with other stressors and with the life course. It would require another developmental transition—a normal one in the life-course perspective—to lead to my real first steps in positive coping and mastery.

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In considering widowhood as a specific stress, Gamino and Sewell analyzed narratives of widows and widowers in order to better understand what factors led to more complicated grieving. Gamino and Sewell concluded that more difficult grief experiences occurred with unexpected deaths, widowhood at a younger age, and when losses were viewed as preventable.

The narratives of these widowed individuals were more pessimistic, self-deprecating, and filled with less gratitude. I now had a direction and a future. Jeff was the Acting Director of Psychology at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia, where they had an opening for a director of geriatric psychology. Within the first 10min of my interview, I knew that I wanted to work with him and benefit from his wisdom and experience.

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So I did: I moved to Virginia, and I threw myself into work. Jeff mentored me, and, by his example and dedication to his craft, he showed me what it took to become a professional and advance in the field. When I first came to work for him, Jeff believed in me much more than I did in myself. My first research effort was on grief in spouses who were caregivers. This work was published in the Clinical Gerontologist Lichtenberg and Barth, and received almost no attention, but it helped me understand better the power of loneliness and the role of grief in family members when their loved one entered long-term care.

As a clinician, I created several education and peer-mentoring programs over the years to help family members become integrated in caring for their loved one in long-term care Lichtenberg, My experience of grief and coping set the stage for my work with vulnerable older adults and my ability to see how I could communicate openly and honestly with older adults but never take away hope and never give up on helping them pursue their own goals.

Young Widow: Surviving the first year of loss von Nora Lavin (Paperback) – Lulu DE

My experience of grief sensitized me as an administrator as well and heightened my awareness of how easily people can feel underappreciated or even invisible. In January, , I left small-town Virginia for the gritty city of Detroit, which was a perfect fit; it felt a lot like my hometown of Philadelphia. My career took off in my new job, and my ambitions soared. My marriage, in contrast, floundered.

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  3. Before you continue....
  4. This Golden Land.
  5. One part was a success: We had a daughter, Emily, whose arrival brought me great joy. I also had the good fortune of living close to my lifetime friend John, who was in graduate school in nearby Ann Arbor. Between my times with him and my love for Emily, I began to want more than just a career; I began to want a full life. I did not know what that would look like, but I was becoming more distant from my wife as I focused on myself and on Emily.

    I decided that I might need a new job, but instead of taking any of the out-of-town offers—none of which suited me—I decided to stay put and focus on my own personal growth. I also decided to separate from my wife. When I moved out in April , Becky had been dead for a little more than 12 years—and yet I knew that I was, in a large part, moving out so that I could finish the healing process and finally get on with my life and my dream.

    I was working with Susan MacNeill, a Clinical Neuropsychologist, and our relationship grew from friendship to love. Susan and I began hiking together regularly after I separated, and after a few of those hikes we began to date. My pictures of Becky were still in their places on my roll-top desk and remained for a few months after Susan and I had been dating regularly.

    When I Became a Widow at 27, I Used Sex to Survive My Heartbreak

    I told her that I was finishing the healing process, and she smiled and said that that was fine with her. When I finally felt that it was time to remove the pictures, Susan asked me why. I was finished, I told her, with that part of healing. I was also ready for her pictures and our pictures to adorn my desk. I was astonished by how much Susan understood my healing—and how easy it would have been for her to feel threatened or assume that I was not ready to date her. Instead, as she told me later, she knew that I was totally in our relationship—totally present, loving, and never veering away from her.

    I felt as if Becky had handed me to Susan and given her blessing to our life together. My dream had truly resumed, with a life and home full of love and friendship. My mother particularly loved Susan and supported my new relationship the way she had supported my relationship with Becky. Susan and I played tennis, went running, watched movies, shared novels, and reveled in the companionship and love that fulfilled our every sense. We also worked together, which drew us even closer.

    We were a great team: We published many articles, and our research yielded findings about and approaches to the assessment and treatment of older adults in medical rehabilitation settings. We married on a sunny day in late September I was exposed to so much through Susan—the opera, old and new movies, and her favorite musicians.

    She was a loving stepmother. A decade passed, and in addition to Emily, we had a son and daughter together. In middle age, men often reexamine the dream; giving up on their idealism of youth especially in their careers. Men also become more psychologically minded, searching for meaning and take on more responsibility. In addition to forming and modifying the dream, there are changes related to family relationships and to occupation.

    Good grief! What I learned from loss - Elaine Mansfield - TEDxChemungRiver

    Finding Susan and developing our relationship was the resumption of my dream; the dream of a partner who was my best friend and most cherished individual, and the one I would turn to first in a crisis and vice versa. Instead of reappraising and contenting myself with more limited career goals, I found myself achieving goals and having professional opportunities I never dreamed of. I also found the joy in parenting with a beloved partner. My joy as a father was so heavily affected by the joy Susan took in parenting. Thus cancer, in the form of metastatic breast cancer, came into our lives suddenly, with a 5-cm tumor in one breast and a 3-cm tumor in the other—and almost no symptoms.

    Despite having tumors in both breasts, as well as her bones and liver, it took an ultrasound to find it. I could share many things about living your life while stage IV cancer takes its toll on a loved one. I am amazed at how much living we did during those 44 months. How we kept getting closer mentally, physically, and spiritually, and how little it mattered whether Susan had hair, or breasts.

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    How did I anticipate grief? Susan and I talked about her dying; and we felt that we had to live in two worlds; the living and the dying. We wanted to live as much as we could in the living world but that required us to do grief work. Susan told me how she wanted to die and what she was most frightened of. I also took part in a cancer support group in which each of us was a spouse of a Stage IV cancer patient. At times, the support group provided useful information and perspectives, and at times, it was a little too rosy and optimistic.

    Staying involved in the support group through the months led to forming important bonds with others who knew all too well the future we were facing. I was always trying to decide when the right time would be for a leave of absence but Susan encouraged me to work, and she stayed so physically well despite the treatments that I never did have a leave. But after a moment they receded. We hiked regularly—6, 8, 10 miles at a time. She volunteered at school, and spoiled us at home.

    She was inspiring to so many. She was inspiring to me. At 55, I had the experience and confidence to create the type of memorial service I wanted, not just for me but for my children. At 55, I was able to directly ask for and mobilize the support of others that I needed. The biggest change at 55 was the change in my mentoring relationships. After her death, my grief was so strong that my closest mentee from over 15 years before was one of the people I was most open with and turned to for support. I became more aware of the power of my needs for support and affection from mentees, and our conversations became less about strategic issues at work or the management of ambitions.

    My Developmental Psychology colleagues impressed upon me over the years that you can only understand development through longitudinal study.

    Bereavement: Reactions, Consequences, and Care.

    My grief at 25 and 55 were not only the discrete experiences of a young man and a middle-aged man. Rather, the grief I experienced at 55 was shaped in part by the grief I experienced at My grief was certainly present, but it followed a more normative path see Neimeyer and Holland, I focused more on integrating my relationship with Susan into my current life instead of trying to let go two-track theory. In this theory, there is a move away from letting go of the deceased and a move toward the ongoing relationship with the deceased as important and changing during the grief process.

    Another theory, the dual process model Stroebe and Schut, distinguishes between activities that are loss oriented and those that are restoration oriented. In my case, I spent time attending to my grief and to current activities such as parenting, work, friendships dual process theory , and I hired a writing coach and wrote for a year before deciding to pen my own narrative meaning through narrative theory.

    While You’re Here . . .

    I did not suffer any relapse of depression and functioned extremely well. I turned to literature in three subfields of gerontology as they apply to clinical geropsychology to try to understand how the field understands loss and grief. McFadden highlighted the following in examining spirituality and religion:. Vulnerability, limitation, and loss can shake the foundations of meaning and produce considerable suffering. Emotions signal whether the spiritual drive for meaning has been satisfied through a sense of connectedness with others and within the self.

    Certainly then, we can see grief and loss through the spirituality and religious lens as in part ways to understand and cope with loss. Hill examined positive aging in relation to clinical issues.