Why Comparing Grief Is Such A Useless Cause

As I go through the process of grief, I know that I have to recalibrate my reality. I have to find a new attitude to get me through this demanding journey. I have to take charge of my grief and become a survivor, not a victim.

After Peter died I wanted to rant at the world and yell: "why me?" Now that I am sharing my feelings in a group of widows and widowers, I realize it is more "why not me?" Everyone in the group has gone through the same traumatic loss. I feel liberated knowing that I am not the only one dumped into this bundle of pain. So I will choose to take charge of my grief and control the way I go through the process.

I know that my group has helped me immeasurably. The binding thread of grief that exists between us is palpable. I am forming friendships with strangers who "get it." We are instantly kindred spirits united in our losses. I actually crave being around others who are not awkward with sorrow. These are my companions in heartache, and I have complete trust that these new friends will be a source of comfort to me. We don't have to explain our pain. With my fellow group members I can hopefully learn to walk out of the muddle of loss. This is my safe space for grieving with like-minded souls who are working towards a goal of restoration.

In my group we don't compare our losses. Comparing grief is a totally useless cause. This is not a competition! The grief we feel has its own voice and should not be compromised by comparisons. In my group we don't recite clichés and platitudes. In my group no one demands that we "get over our grief." In my group, we are free to weep openly (tissue boxes are in every corner of the room). In my group, we live in the moment. We try not to go down the road of the future knowing that it is murky and unclear. We know we must stay in the present and address the pain together to find a path through the maze of grief.

Even with my fellow group members, I know that ultimately my healing comes down to me alone. I have family, I have friends, I have a group, but I have to find a new attitude towards healing. I have to take charge of my grief and make it follow my rules.

I have set up some new guidelines for my healing. I hope if I follow these tenets, I will be able to see a clearer light glimmering at the end of my journey.

1. I will make a choice to survive.
2. I will try to find a life without Peter that has some joy. More grandkids sleeping over is a great start.
3. I will face the feelings and emotions of grief head on even though it sucks!
4. I will take a time a time out to breathe when I am stressed and try to see life from all perspectives. Hmmm...could I be wrong? What a concept?
5. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I will not give them the finger. I will remind myself that I have done the same thing on many an occasion and start laughing.
6. I will do what kept my marriage of 47 years blissfully happy. I will say "my bad."
7. I will not wait for others to call me. I will reach out to make dates with friends and family.
8. I will exercise regularly to keep my stress levels down. Since I actually like exercise, this is not a hardship. For Peter, exercise was literally a pain!
9. I will indulge myself in retail therapy, without the help of my dear departed Loehmann's, although Gilt.com easily helps assuage this pain.
10. I will eat carbs when I am blue, and when I am not blue. There is nothing more healing than a bowl of my Pasta à la Risotto.

PASTA A LA RISOTTO
Serves: 4-6
Cookbook author Mark Bittman came up with a fantastic idea to cook pasta like risotto and turn it into a wonderful comfort food-like entrée. This lightened and enhanced version is amazingly delicious, easy to prepare, and can be varied according to what produce is fresh and in season. I use gemelli pasta, which comes from the Italian word for twins, referring to the two strands of spaghetti that are twisted together. If you can't find gemelli, penne or mostaccioli can be substituted.

6-7 cups homemade stock or low-sodium fat-free chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 ounces, chopped prosciutto
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 pound gemelli
1 pound asparagus, stems peeled (a MUST) and cut into 2-inch pieces, tips reserved separately
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced
1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat the stock in a saucepan.
2. In a large nonstick deep saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil and sauté the onion and prosciutto over medium-high heat, stirring often for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and stir for 30 seconds to just coat with the sauce. Add the pasta and continue to cook onions coating well with the, until the pasta is beginning to brown.
3. Ladle a few cups of the stock into the pan and continue to cook the pasta, adding more stock as it is absorbed for about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus stems and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tips and cook, stirring often and adding more stock until the pasta is tender about 3-5 minutes longer. There may still be a little liquid but it will be thickened enough to have a saucy consistency.
4. Stir in the butter and cheese and serve immediately in soup bowls or pasta plates.

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