I Did Not Know What To Say Blog

Archive for February, 2014

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Maryann Hartzell-Curran – Author of “From We to Me: My First Year of Being a Widow Shared in Letters to a Friend”

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on February 13, 2014

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we welcome Maryann Hartzell-Curran author of From We to Me: My First Year of Being a Widow Shared in Letters to a Friend.  Maryann’s interview offers many insights and practical suggestions on how to support a widow during the first year after the loss of their spouse.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences on how your friends and family have assisted you in restoring balance in your life after the loss of a loved one in the comment section below.

What inspired you to write the book From We to Me?

My inspiration for From We To Me came from my friend Eddie’s appreciation of the letters I sent to her weekly as she experienced frommetowesmher first year as a widow. As the months passed, she continued to share how helpful she found the stories of my experiences following my husband’s passing. We both decided that others might be comforted by them, too.

How do you feel losing a spouse differs from losing a parent, a sibling or another immediate family member?

This question is especially poignant because Eddie lost her son the year before Chuck died. When we talked about her grief, she made it clear that the difference was real. When her son died, she leaned on her husband. When he died, she no longer had the comfort of his special partnership and support, which is a key difference between the loss of a spouse and other losses. Knowing that children should not die before their parents, Eddie’s grief was aided by Chuck’s presence and love. When he passed, truly the reality of loss hit her.

How did celebrations and holidays change after your husband passed away?

The first year after my husband died, I just got through holidays and special celebrations. The sadness was real, and my family and I respected that in each other. Traditions were not as important, especially the first year. I learned not to have a lot of expectations and was comfortable in accepting the lonely feelings I experienced. As time passed, I implemented things we had done in the past, but placed less importance on them. I learned to accept the void left in my family.

Your book offers many suggestions to your friend on how to face and move forward in her grief. What are your top three suggestions to help a window/widower move forward in the grieving process after the loss of a spouse?

My first suggestion is to allow yourself to feel the loss and pain. I believe this is essential in order to move on. Let others comfort you, but remember their grief is theirs and yours is yours. The sharp pain in your heart does subside with time.

Second, keep active, exercise and eat right. You will know when the time is right for new experiences. I suggest that the best activities, invitations, etc., with which to start include close friends and family. Their support is important because the wave of grief can wash over you at any time. I also suggest you drive your own car to functions, especially in the beginning, so you can leave if you need to.

I also believe a healthy recovery from grief entails accepting that what was in the past is over. The future will offer new opportunities, and that is what they should be. New! You cannot have what you had before, but you will go on. I think you must remember this loss has made you a different person who is learning things about yourself. As scary as this sounds, it is important. Do not spend your life comparing the past and the present.

Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What would be your suggestions on how friends and family can support a loved one that has lost a spouse?

Number one: accept where the person is in his/her grief. There will be many emotions including anger, and the people around the grieving person must not personalize a lot of what happens. As long as everyone stays safe, just let the emotions flow. And provide lots of tissues!

Bring coffee, lunch or maybe a favorite dessert when you visit. Even when I was not hungry, these treats still made me feel loved and cared for. Appetites always return, and the memory of small kindnesses is lasting. My friend constantly brought me raisin biscotti hoping I would eventually like raisins.

Have few expectations of the grieving person. Perhaps rearrange appointments to relieve stress especially on the bad days. Driving to needed appointments, running an errand, or making an excuse on their behalf helps ease the pain of change.

Do discuss the deceased, and do not be afraid to mention events in conversation. I think it takes a long time to talk in the “past tense” so stories of the past will make the present time seem real. Talking about the person who has died helps them remain alive in memory.

Is there any one thing that your family or friends did for you that assisted you through the grieving process?

My family called and emailed me regularly, and sent wonderful cards. My friends did the same, and I felt blessed. Still do. One night my son and his wife just stopped by to kiss me on the cheek while I was watering my garden and sobbing over the hose. That moment still makes me smile. Several of my girlfriends dropped by that same week to take me out for dinner, complete with wine. Another special gift of caring that I appreciated.

What do you wish your family or friends had done differently after you lost your husband?

Nothing! I just want to be there when I can return the favor of their caring at their time of sadness. That is why the letters to Eddie said “thank you” in a special way. Her love and support at my time of loss was a great gift to me and my family.

What is one thing you would like readers to take away from your book?

The most important thing is to feel the feelings of grief. My first year alone was a rollercoaster of emotions. Feeling the feelings is of utmost importance if you want to be healthy. Keeping anger, sadness, or self-pity inside is not good. It’s okay to feel sorry  for yourself, even hopeless. That is normal! When someone says they tear up reading the letters in my book, I’m glad because feeling the loss, emptiness and loneliness is essential if you are going to be happy again.

What would you like our readers to know about you?

That the stories in my book truly are the window to my heart. It is very satisfying to me to help comfort others by sharing how the loss of my husband affected me and being open and honest about my feelings. Eddie said she felt less alone because I, too, had felt the same way she did, and that is my wish for others.

Have you written any other books? Do you plan to write any other books in the future?

At almost seventy, the clock is ticking, but I would like to write a sequel about moving on and stepping out into the singles’ social world. I think readers would enjoy my experiences and realize that going on is possible after a long-term marriage. I had many poignant—and humorous–moments. Presently, I am writing a blog on my webpage, www.maryanncurran.com.  I enjoy continuing to write and sharing my many experiences with readers. The new stories contribute to who I am today after my transition From We To Me.

As a retired educator and therapist, Maryann Hartzell-Curran has always worked in fields where she could best satisfy her desire to connect with and help others. When a close friend lost her husband, Maryann put pen to paper, relating her own experiences as a widow in weekly letters of support. These letters led to the publication of “From We to Me: My First Year of Being a Widow Shared in Letters to a Friend,” a book designed to help anyone who is grieving.  From We To Me is available at Amazon and Barnes And Noble. You can visit with Maryann at her website, www.MaryannCurran.com, and read more at her Overcoming Grief blog, http://maryanncurran.com/blog.

From We to Me: My First Year of Being a Widow Shared in Letters to a Friend is featured on our Helpful Books page – http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/helpfulbooks.html & Our Virtual Book Tour –

Grief Support Resources: http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/grief_support_groups.html

Posted in Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Grief Support & Holidays, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Holiday Grief Support, Loss of a Spouse, Share Your Story, Valentine's Day | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Grief Healing Telesummit – March 10 -18, 2014

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on February 11, 2014

Grief Healing Telesummit:
Enjoy free access to 17 amazing speakers who share their best information to help you transform grief into healing and living again!

Free Registration at www.griefhealingtelesummit.com 
March 10 -18, 2014
Please share with those with a grieving heart!


Look at this amazing line up of experts!
I Did Not Know What To Say
The Grief Toolbox Toolbox
What’s Your Grief
Peace & Wellness Centere
Embrace Your Inner Self
Simply Kerryy
Dorothy Fitzer
Global Association of Holistic Psychotherapy
With Sympathy Gifts & Keepsakes,
Tina Games, Michael Mapes, Margaret Paul, Maggie Chula, Uma Girish, Tabitha Jayne and
Transcending Loss: Understanding the lifelong impact of grief

Posted in Grief Resources, Grief Resources - Newsletter, Grief Support Discussion Topics, Grief Support Workshops, What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Valentine’s Grief Support Resources

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on February 9, 2014


Sooner or later we begin to understand that love is more than verses on valentines and romance in the movies. We begin to know that love is here and now, real and true, the most important thing in our lives. For love is the creator of our favorite memories and the foundation of our fondest dreams. Love is a promise that is always kept, a fortune that can never be spent, a seed that can flourish in even the most unlikely of places. And this radiance that never fades, this mysterious and magical joy, is the greatest treasure of all – one known only by those who love

How to Support a Grieving Loved one on Valentine’s Day

Articles – Valentine’s Day & the Loss of a Loved One

Grief Healing – Remembering Our Loved Ones on Valentine’s Day by Marty Tousley

Getting Through Valentine’s Day Alone by Open to Hope

Dealing with Holiday Grief by Beliefnet.com

Grief Healing: Remembering Our Loved Ones on Valentine’s Day by June Cook

The Heartbreak of Valentines Day by Maureen Hunter

Self Healing Expressions Grief Course Instructor Suggests 7 Grief Rituals for Valentine’s Day

Loss of a Spouse Virtual Book Tour

Interview with Jennifer Hawkins – The Gift Giver

Interview with Pat Nowak – ABC’s of Widowhood

Interview with Ellen Gerst – Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story

Interview with Michael Corrigan – A Year and a Day

Interview with Carole Brody Fleet – “Widows Wear Stilettos: A Practical and Emotional Guide for the Young Widow”

Interview with Lori A. Moore – Missing Andy

Interview with Marcy Kelly – From Sorrow to Dancing

ARTICLES – Loss of a Spouse

25 Things You Can Do For A Widow On Valentine’s Day Sheryl Kurland, The Relationship Insider

Operation: Heaven Writings & Tips for Those Who Know Someone Who Has Lost Their Hero in the Military
by Taryn Davis – Founder/President, The American Widow Project

Five Things You Can Do for a Grieving Widow
by Marcy Kelly, Author of From Sorrow to Dancing

by Carole Brody Fleet, Author of Widows Wear Stilettos

How to Date/Marry A Widow or Widower
by Ellen Gerst, Relationship Coach & Author of Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story

Valentine’s Day for Widows = No Valentine, Just Pain
by Marcy Kelly, Author From Sorrow to Dancing

Widowhood: A Time for Reinvention
by Ellen Gerst, Relationship Coach & Author of Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story

A Single Woman’s Adventures in Ballroom Dancing
by Marcy Kelly, Author From Sorrow to Dancing

Love After Loss – Writing the Rest of Your Story
by Ellen Gerst, Relationship Coach & Author of Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story

Valentine’s Day: The Best Way To Acknowledge It…Is To Acknowledge Others
by Widow Chick

Sh*t People Say to Widows (Video)
by Fresh Widow

I Did Not Know What To Say – Additional Resources

♥  Loss of a Spouse/Significant Other

♥  Helpful Books

♥  Additional Grief Support Resources 

For additional Valentine’s Day Grief Support Resources, visit http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/Valentines_Day_Grief_Support.html

Posted in Holiday Grief Support, Loss of a Sibling, Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts, Valentine's Day, Virtual Book Tour, What Not To Say, What Not to Say to a Grieving Loved One, What to do for someone that is grieving | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

3 Helpful Tips When Selecting a Memorial

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on February 4, 2014

Selecting a memorial such as headstones for a loved one that has just passed can be a challenging process. The initial process might seem difficult and at times daunting for families and loved ones who sometimes have to make these decisions without sufficient guidance or experience.

Monuments such as headstones can be a powerful tool to help cope with the loss of a loved one as they are long lasting memorials designed to honor and cherish the dearly departed.

To aid you during this difficult process, here are some things that you should consider when preparing a memorial.

Acquaint yourself with the burial location

Before even selecting a headstone, ensure that you study the cemetery’s list of rules and regulations for burialsAstral Stone Headstone and monuments. Most cemeteries have their own unique restrictions such as the type of memorial, size, building material as well as design specifications. It’s essential to be mindful of these rules when approaching a stonemason or ordering a headstone.

Selecting a stonemason

Choosing an experienced stonemason is essential to ensure that the entire process of commissioning a monument is as smooth and hassle free as possible during your time of grief. Stonemasons like Melbourne based Astral Stone can provide expert advice and carry out a wide range of memorial work such as headstones, plaques or even full monuments.

When selecting a stonemason, be sure to examine their previous work to and ensure that you are happy with their quality of work and processes. A good stonemason would be able to assist you through every stage of the process, advising you on the options available, preferred building materials and capture the design that you feel best honors your loved one.

Share as much information as possible

To help your stonemason arrive at the most appropriate design, you should try to share as much information as possible. Some things to take into consideration are their level of spirituality, hobbies, preferred literature and personality when it comes to designing a memorial. By providing your stonemason with as much information as possible, he will be better equipped to understand and produce a memorial befitting of your loved one.

A beautifully crafted memorial can be an essential tool in helping the grieving process. The loss of a loved one can be especially difficult for families and close friends who are grieving for the first time. There are many practical ways to support the bereaved during this trying period. A memorial to your loved one can be a source of strength and inspiration whenever you visit the cemetery as a monument and testament to the deceased’s memories.

This post was made in collaboration with Astral Stone.

Posted in Funeral Planning, Planning For A Future Without You | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »