• Shawn Brimley and son make cake for birthday on blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    Missing Shawn

    Shawn’s Birthday, Year 5

    He would be 45 today. Wow, that seems so old. Maybe it’s because he only made it just over the hump, to his 40th birthday, and then so quickly left this earth. Shawn and I talked a lot about what it would mean to be forty (40!) and how it was this whole new step in our lives. And yet, he fell ill just a few months later, and died so quickly that we never really had the chance to think through what our forties would be like. I had to figure that out on my own. The first year without Shawn, I wrote two blog posts about his birthday.…

  • Wrapped gift for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    Things That Suck

    Things That Remain: Guilt (Part 1 of 4)

    In this four-part series, I discuss the things that remain for me (and for some of my readers) in the years after widowhood. “We didn’t get the Hallmark goodbye.” I hear this a lot from my widowed friends, and I get it. Sure, I suppose there are times when couples do get that moment, just before someone dies, when they are able to express all of the love between them. I mean, it must happen sometimes, right? That’s how it happens in the movies! So when you lose someone to an accident or suicide or heart attack – or any other relatively instantaneous loss – it can feel especially unfair.…

  • Outline of human head with pins for blog post by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    Things That Suck

    The Disorder of Prolonged Grief – Does It Make Sense?

    For those of you who are grieving, I’m sure you’ve heard about the newest update from the American Psychiatric Association (APA). It’s news that maybe made you feel relieved…or maybe made you furious. Grief, it seems, is now a disorder. Okay, fine, it’s not always identified as a disorder. But last week, as the New York Times reported, the APA added “prolonged grief” to its diagnostic manual. I decided to take a look at what this meant, so I went to the APA directly. Prolonged grief, as they define it, happens when a person experiences “intense longings for the deceased or preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased” a year after…

  • Microscope for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale on colon cancer awareness
    Holidays

    National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

    It’s only been a couple of decades since President Clinton declared that March would be National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. And it’s only been a couple of years since I’ve known about it. It’s strange, how unaware I was about colon cancer, an illness that is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death (in men and women combined) in the United States. Seriously, before Shawn got colon cancer, I’m not sure I knew anything about it. It was a disease old people got, right? That’s why you got a colonoscopy when you’re old, right? I guess it could seem surprising that even though…

  • Marjorie Brimley Hale with her late husband Shawn and three kids in a field
    New Perspectives

    Grief, Not Sadness

    Some people I know have beautifully decorated, color-coordinated Christmas trees currently displayed in their houses. I am not one of those people. My tree is plastic, to start. Claire’s allergic to trees, so we had to get a plastic one many years ago, but also it was just way easier than going out to cut down a tree with three little kids. It doesn’t smell like a tree and it doesn’t really look like a tree, so my solution is to cover it with all the ornaments we have and try and hide the plastic-ness of it. I have some of the ornaments my mom once put on our tree.…

  • Children of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley at cemetery
    Things That Suck

    Three Years

    It took Shawn an entire day to die. I laid next to him as he came in and out of this world, holding my hand and squeezing it when he could. Of course, it took him longer than a single day to die. He had been dying for weeks, and we knew for days that the end was very near. But he was always cognitively aware until the very last day of his life. That day, he was more out of this life than he was in it. I knew that he was going to die that day, or sometime very soon. The doctors told me. The nurses told me.…