Posted by Arlene Lewis

After my husband, Leon, died, I had to sort out my life.

My first social event; my first family holiday; my first trip to Costco where I realized I did not need anything jumbo ever again; wanting to take a trip and not having Leon ready to go; making pasta in that pot that is so heavy; going to my hairdresser's house and hearing her two young daughters share how my husband helped them with science and math homework; the neighbor down the hall who told me my husband always carried her bundles for her; and my three-year-old great nephew who said every time I picked him up at daycare that I was driving Leon's car. My nephew missed Leon the most. It broke me up. But it also made me feel wonderful that the two favorite men in my life loved each other.

Then there was Thanksgiving, when, thank goodness, I had a sinus infection and could stay home. Then Chanukkah and New Year's and Valentine's Day and birthdays and Passover. Some of these big events were okay and some were just plain sad. I could not handle my mail, let alone being alone.

What kept me going during this year of firsts? My bereavement group, facilitated by Barbara Sternfield of JF&CS. She created a space for us to feel safe and understood and each of us thrived. We cried and laughed and shared our stories. There are no words to thank her. She taught us that some people do not know what to say about your loss so some say nothing. She encouraged us to talk about our spouses, enjoy the memories, and acknowledge the loneliness. I learned that grief is a process. I will never stop missing Leon. But with my group and my new friends, life seems like it will go on and may even be joyful again.

Arlene Lewis of Brookline has been a travel consultant for many years and is a motivational speaker for Weight Watchers. She has been facilitating Weight Watchers meetings in Greater Boston for many years and enjoys leading the meetings and the members in her groups. After her husband, Leon, died, Arlene joined JDate and met a wonderful man. They have been together for a year and love their new life.