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Writing to Process Grief

Updated: May 31, 2022


Greetings friends, I hope you are healthy and safe at home. The weather is getting better here on Cape Cod. The sun certainly helps while experiencing the stay at home order and social distancing. I was reminded today about how therapeutic writing is for me and so many others. I had a call from a gentleman who is deeply grieving the loss of his life partner from COVID-19. After hearing his story and listening to him cry, I thought about how talking about it and writing about it helps you move through the grief.

I wrote this story below last year on the birthday of my beloved Aunt Rita. I thought I would share it with you. It wasn't until writing it that I truly made peace with her loss. I rarely let myself think or talk about her because it was just too painful. After losing her I lost my husband, my dog and went through a major surgery and cancer scare. It was a roller coaster ride from Hell. I'm going to do more writing like this to tell the story of the dear one's I've lost and honor their memory. For now, I hope this encourages you to talk about your loved ones who've transitioned to Heaven, or also write about them.

Till we meet again, -K

The Last Joy Ride

By Kristine Callahan

Have you ever been a passenger in a van with no brakes?

On one average visiting day at the nursing home where my Aunt Rita resided, two compassionate department directors (both named Pat), approached me for a chat. They asked me how they could help fulfill Rita’s last wish. I told them I thought it would be impossible; “she wants to have clam chowder at the beach”. At eight seven years old Rita was bed bound and at the end of her life.

Our first joy ride when I was ten was in Rita’s 1976 Plymouth Duster. Now we had been reduced to joy riding in Rita’s impossible to steer, clunky blue vinyl reclining chair.

Pat conspired to borrow the Rolls Royce of chairs from a napping patient. Away we went in the nursing home’s wheelchair van. Rita and I were tucked in the back with our other Pat who was Rita’s social worker. We were heading to her fiancés restaurant on the harbor for his famous chowder. It was a perfect plan until we heard Pat yell, “We have a problem ladies”!

Pat pumped the brake with no reaction. She grabbed the emergency brake to slow us to a stop. This was not one of her comic pranks. What do we do now? Abort the mission? Risk it? Oh yes, risk it we did. Pat rode that emergency brake across three towns and back again.

We hung on tightly, laughed, cried and sang our way to the beach. Chef Ralph greeted us with his famous chowder and personally spoon-fed it to Rita. Little did I know; in years to come, Pat’s friendship would help fill the void left by Rita’s passing. With a smile from ear to ear, eyes gleaming like a kid on Christmas morning, Rita got her wish. It was the joy in that ride that made it easier to say goodbye to my mentor, friend and favorite person in the world.

I was offered a job while riding in the back of that van. I had never worked in health care. Another adventure with no brakes was waiting for me. I stayed on at the nursing home well beyond Rita’s passing. I have been serving seniors professionally ever since. People often ask me how I got into my field, I always say,

A bumpy journey brought me here”.

Thank you to each Pat and of course Ralph, for being a part of this memory imprinted on my soul. Aunt Rita I am grateful for your unwavering support and all that you taught me. I love you.

Till we meet again, -your Kris.

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