• Tulip for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    Ask A Widow

    Ask a Widow: What to Say to a New Widow

    Right after Shawn died, a colleague of his contacted me. He wanted to express his condolences, but also let me know that his wife was available to talk to me, if I wanted. She had been widowed before they met, and though it had been years, she might be able to help me. He was right. Though we only spoke once – maybe two weeks after Shawn died – she helped me see that people can recover from loss. She didn’t tell me how to grieve or how to heal, but she showed me a path forward, even though I don’t think she knew that she was doing that. So…

  • moving boxes for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    New Perspectives

    Sh*t People Said That Just Wasn’t True*

    *at least not for me People say all sorts of crazy things to new widows. Some of it is platitudes (I’m thinking of you in this terrible time”), some of it is comforting (“remember that hilarious story your husband used to tell?”), and some of it is tough-love truth (“yes, your husband is gone, so let’s make sure your health insurance covers the kids”). I think it’s really hard to know what to say – I know I have screwed up when talking to new widows, even though I am a widow myself! So I try not to judge when people say things that are mildly insensitive or off-key. For…

  • File cabinet for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    Missing Shawn

    A New Life Insurance Plan! (An Annotated Reading of the Latest Letter to Our House)

    Dear Shawn, As I understand it, you have a birthday coming up soon….Happy Birthday! Well, yes, technically Shawn’s birthday is in June. He’d be 44, which seems really old, even though I am 42! But he’s frozen at 40, of course. Not LITERALLY frozen, because the ground has thawed out at this point in the year. But I digress. Back to that letter. This might be a great time to buy a new life insurance policy. Really? Tell me MORE. Have you been hearing about changes in Shawn’s life lately? DO TELL. Here’s why: Life insurance rates have just dropped to all-time lows and many companies will charge more for…

  • Book in library for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say

    A Review of “A Widow’s Guide to Healing” (Part 2)

    Almost three years ago, in the depths of grief, I decided to go online and order every book I could on grief. I figured that maybe I’d find the answer to my question: “how am I supposed to survive this?” I found a number of great books, and I’ve reviewed them periodically on my blog. But there were a lot of terrible ones, too. Anything with a photo of the ocean on the front was usually pretty bad, and I really didn’t get much out of books written by people who’d lost a parent or a sibling. I was hopeful for the book entitled, “A Widow’s Guide to Healing” not…

  • Tommy in yard of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    New Perspectives

    The View From Across the Street

    Our house is on a funny corner in DC. The way that it’s situated, we have a lot more interactions with the people behind us than we do with the people in front of us. I have almost daily exchanges with the neighbors behind us – we have kids with similar ages, and throughout the years (and especially this pandemic) our children have played together in the alley. That alley behind our house is where Tommy learned to ride his bike as the neighbors cheered him on; it’s the place Austin went every day after school to play and eat dinner with his friend Grant’s family; it’s the alley where…

  • Desk with books for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say

    It’s Not Too Late to Say “I’m Sorry”

    About six months after Shawn died, I stood up at a staff meeting. It was the end of school, and we were gathered for staff week, trying to encourage each other as we ended the school year. It was a school year that I had mostly missed, both because I was out on leave and because once I returned, I was emotionally not always there even when I had been physically present. I was limping towards the finish line. “I want to say thank you,” I said. “When I came back after Shawn died, so many of you supported me. So many of you came up to me in the…