I was inspired to write my book, Brave in a New World: A Guide to Grieving the Loss of a Spouse, by events that took place in my life.
In 2008 my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He subsequently passed away in January 2009. I felt as if a part of me died with him. I experienced anxiety, nervousness, claustrophobia, and agoraphobia. I felt as if I was losing my mind. Every new day I was greeted with the same empty feeling and I felt myself plunging deeper into the depths of despair and depression.
Eventually, I decided to seek help and after a long while I would begin to feel as if I was regaining my footing as I faced a new life in a new world without my husband. As time wore on, I began to wonder if I was the only grieving spouse who was having a difficult time coping with the bizarre feelings and sensations that I was having. In time I would discover that many others who had lost a husband or wife also had some variation, if not the same experiences as myself.
So my question was “Why don’t people share their experiences with grief, loss and mourning?” Thus, I decided to share the story of my excruciatingly painful grief journey. I also created a grief guide to allow those who are suffering the loss of a loved one a chance to understand and see what they are feeling. They can see the various stages that they are going through from the beginning stage of numbness to the desired end result: a light at the end of the tunnel and reawakening. I also offer suggestions on how someone can navigate successfully through the grief process. I wish there had been a book like this for me when I was in the first stages of grief. I wrote this book so that others will have an opportunity to have a handbook that will bring them comfort, assurance and hope as they grieve the loss of a loved one.
When I was in the beginning stages of grief and experiencing deep depression, I didn’t know who to turn to. Most of my girlfriends were either single or married and I knew they could not possibly understand the pain and suffering I was going through. There were a few exceptions, friends whom I knew, both male and female, who would allow me to talk and would even sometimes weep with me. I needed that, no words, no criticisms or opinions, just the comfort of a good listening ear and sometimes a really big hug.
During this time I also felt as though I wasn’t sure where my husband had gone. Yes, he really did die, but I just wasn’t sure where he was. It seemed as though he’d just vanished, disappeared, gone away…… but where was he? Later as I talked to others who had lost a spouse, I would find that this was a common thread, not with everyone, but with some. There’s this odd sense that the deceased spouse isn’t completely gone…. that they still linger somewhere in the ether. There are many odd sensations in the early days of grief and no one really talks about them. It is also during the early days that we find the bereaved numb, fragile and in a state of shock. To the outside world they appear to be “handling everything well”. In reality, however, they are not able to describe what they’re going through, because they’ve never had such an experience before. They are grappling with the past, present and an uncertain future while quietly trying to keep their wits about them.
I would suggest that those who attempt to comfort try to be the compassionate listening ear. Have patience with your friend or relative. Don’t admonish the bereaved for being slow to make decisions, forgetful, and confused. And please, please don’t point out things you perceived to have been “wrong” in the marriage. Don’t bring up the deceased person’s negative qualities or how you truly felt about him or her. Don’t compare your losses (by divorce, separation etc.) to their fresh loss “by death”. Remember, it is about them not you, and in their initial time of need, those who are grieving will want you to be there with patience, sympathy, a listening ear, and most of all love.
Yvonne Broady was raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received a BA in Art Education from C.C.N.Y and an MA in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. After graduation she taught elementary school, was an arts liaison, produced and directed children’s musicals and simultaneously designed jewelry that was sold in various boutiques and department stores across the Northeast. Yvonne also wrote freelance reviews for local papers on fashion, style and New York City restaurants. Her love of people and style led her to produce several cable TV shows. New York Highlights, which aired from 1984 to 1991 was a talk show covering a variety of topics including financial management, male-female relationships, mother daughter relationships, entrepreneurs, spirituality and other themes from a mostly African-American perspective. The second show was The Way We Live. On this show she explored the interior design and lifestyles of people in and around the Tri State Metropolitan area.
After having lost her husband to pancreatic cancer in 2009, and finding herself faced with trying to rebuild her life as she dealt with excruciating pain and grief, Yvonne decided to write a book sharing her experience. Brave in a New World is a story of love lost, grief and recovery. This book offers a guide to those who are experiencing grief and pain after loss. It also explains the variety and complexity of feelings one has when they are mourning. Yvonne Broady shares her journey through the grief experience and how she gradually learned to recreate a new life of her own.
Yvonne Broady has one adult son and resides in New York City.