Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Special Guest -- Laurie-Ann Weis

Laurie-Ann Weis and I have been emailing for quite some time. She lost her husband in 1999 as well, the same year I lost Jeff. Here is her story:

"In 1999, I lost my husband to cancer. I was 47 at the time, and it took awhile to sort through my emotions and gather the strength to face daily living again. I stopped teaching and felt utterly drained of spirit. Then I woke one morning with a new calling; I sat down at the computer and six chapters of my life spilled out of me. This memoir, titled The Water Dance, chronicles my life leading up to the death of my husband and how I managed to endure it. By the time it was published I was back in business teaching, writing, and reaching out to other grievers. My second book, The After Journey, sprang from the connections I made with fellow grievers and shares a collection of insights about the practical everyday things we do daily. In the wake of extreme loss, we’ve learned to get back on track and embrace a new definition of joy. My hope is that my books become useful tools in time of need so each day becomes a smoother ride. There are so many ups and downs during widowhood that I felt like I was on an E-ride at Disneyland and needed to buckle my seatbelt.

Following are two excerpts from each book:

*The books can be purchased on Laurie-Ann’s website or Amazon or call 1-888-232-4444 (Trafford Publishing).

“The Statement” from the book, The Water Dance:

Sometimes I cannot believe that I am still here in this world, that I am still living, breathing and watching the sun curl around the sky and set over the ocean every day. I know that I am not alone in mourning, for people die every day and leave loved ones behind. Death is one of those sure things in life. But coping with death is a very personal experience—something no other person can share in exactly the same way. Pain and grief become you. Pain takes on a force so ferocious as to take hold of you, shake you and never let you go. Until you accept pain as an emotion to manage, as you would anger, frustration and anxiety, it remains a sword.

…Despite all that I had learned and mastered in my years as a teacher and in my struggle to deal with heartbreaking physical limitations since the car wreck, nothing down that path prepared me for planning my ultimate lesson: How to watch a beloved die and then go on to find joy and to laugh again. That path led me to acknowledge Life’s dirty little secrets—the things we all experience with reluctance but don’t dare speak about them often. Pain, setbacks, heartbreaks, misfortunes, disappointments, and loss are among these dirty secrets that life has for us. The personal journeys we take to get from one point to another are filled with Life’s dirty little secrets, and how we choose to handle them allows us the opportunity to find laughter, joy and happiness in the future even when it seems impossible. They are what make the journey human and unique. Along the way, we love, we breathe, we meet new people, we grieve for what we have lost and we move forward. Always in pursuit of new joy.

This book is for the living.

This book is for all that brings us joy and inspiration.

This book is for all of us who need laughter. . .and a reason to keep on going.

“Wedding Rings” from the book, The After Journey

A few months after my husband died, more pain of singledome hit me in the face. I believed if I moved my rings off my left hand, I was progressing through grief, which was so physically and emotionally consuming that it drowned me. I fought my grief by playing this game with my fingers, hoping that by controlling where I put my ring I’d be able to control the grief. I moved my engagement ring and wedding band to my right hand for a few minutes, then an hour, then weekdays. Every weekend, I moved them back to the wedding finger. Weekends were the loneliest. My friends were all with their spouses and children. I faced suicidal Sundays alone. But if I wore my rings, I felt safer and I belonged again.

Secure in my new living routine, I had the rings resized to fit on the middle finger of my left hand. I put them on proudly and left the jewelry store only to come home, cry hysterically, go back the next day and have the jeweler resize them for my wedding finger.

… What we do with our wedding rings is a very personal issue for each of us. We didn’t ask to be single. We are not divorced. I believe whatever we do in our timeline is right.



I didn’t remove my rings. I can’t imagine why I would want to.

~Joyce S.

I am 27 going on 28 next month. About one year and five months after my husband’s accident, I took off my wedding band and the engagement ring. I kept it in my drawer because I decided to release my husband to the Lord and close this chapter in my life. Closure doesn’t mean to forget him. As for his ring, I actually got it back from the hospital when they gave me his belongings. I decided to wear it for him when he was embalmed and dressed up. I wore it and said to him, “We’ll meet again in heaven” because I still very much wanted him to be my lifetime soul mate. Then I took the ring off and put it on his finger. He was cremated with his ring. After the cremation, I was told the diamond didn’t melt but I never searched through the ashes to find it because my relatives suspected the cremators would have taken it and kept it for themselves. I could have used the diamond and made a pendant for my daughter in memory of her daddy. In hindsight, I have no regrets because I wasn’t myself right after his death.

~Abby S.

Last week I sat in the car and cleaned the cookie dough from my rings. When I finished, I went inside to play cards and my diamond ring was gone. I was devastated. Several people helped me look and look. We tore the car and my purse apart. We looked on all of the steps I had taken getting into the building. I had had that ring for 50 years. I couldn’t be without it now. Then I saw it! I had put it on my other hand! I can’t imagine taking my rings off.

~Lana S.


tourismgirl said...


I read with compassion and understanding your comments about how to and whether to remove your wedding rings... that is until I got to the line.. "We didn't ask to be single. We are not divorced." Well I am divorced, but not by choice. In a world of no-fault divorce, if a spouse abandons another, there is absolutely nothing one can do about it. You cannot make someone live with or love you. If a spouse falls into addiction, behaves criminally, is diagnosed with severe mental illness, or beats you, your life or financial security may depend on your leaving the marriage, even if it breaks your heart to do so. Perhaps it wasn't your choice to leave, but you knew that you needed to do so for the sake of the children.. to protect them. I wore my wedding rings for years after my husband left our marriage and only took them off after much soul searching and a need to move on from that awful place that is the void of living alone and lonely. Your presumption that widow grief is more honorable than the grief experiencd by victims of divorce is hurtful, arrogant, erroneous and added absolutely nothing to your commentary. Your words were yet another assault on the already damaged souls of the people who tried to love and make a life together, but for one reason or another, didn't quite make it "until death do you part." From someone who clearly hopes to elicit empathy for her situation, I would have expected you to demonstrate some of your own.

lisa iannucci said...

Tourism girl -- i appreciate your comment and I'm sorry for the pain you're going through and I understand that YOU didn't ask to be divorced, but this IS a site for widows. You said that laurie's "presumption" that widow grief is more honorable than the grief experienced by victims of divorce...etc., is really interesting. I don't think laurie said that at all. She's basing her comments on HER experiences, which are as a widow. Being a widow is a completely different experience than being divorced. I'm not going to sit here and say I know anything about fighting with an ex, creating visitation schedules, dealing with alimony, or dealing with the hurt that someone CHOSE to end the marriage, but it IS a totally different situation. My suggestion would be if you're looking for some support, to seek out a blog or site for women of divorce, who totally understand your situation and can empathize and offer support and advice. While I understand what you're going through, we're not divorced and these words pertain to widows, not divorcees. Good luck to you.