• Hospital hallway for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley Hale
    Ask A Widow

    Acts of God?

    A few weeks ago, my friend Kumar asked me to speak to a group of ministers training to do a special type of work in hospitals and prisons. Kumar is a pastor who I met years ago, and someone with whom I’ve done a variety of events. We talk a lot about grief. But we also talk a lot about life, since grief is a part of it. He wanted me to talk about what I needed when Shawn was hospitalized, and then what I needed after he died. Initially, I thought about all of the logistics – the carpool rides for the kids and the grocery runs and the…

  • Grocery bag for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley
    What Not to Say

    It’s Not Too Late to Say “Thank You”

    A year ago, I was really scared. Not scared like I was when Shawn was sick, or scared like I was after he died. Not like that. But not unlike that, either. My dad had left DC at the beginning of the pandemic and I was in lockdown with my kids. In those early days, I had no idea what the future held, but I knew one thing: I was alone. I wasn’t truly alone, of course, because I had friends and family who checked in on us, and modern technology that allowed me to continue teaching during the day and see my dad via FaceTime every night as I…

  • Groceries like that delivered to DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley
    Family & Friends

    A Genuine Offer, Freely Given, With Gladness

    Okay, here’s a little secret about widowed parenting (or at least my version of widowed parenting): sometimes I leave my kids home alone. I try not to. Claire is old enough to watch her brothers, yes, but Tommy is still little and I don’t want to put such a burden on her. That first summer after Shawn died, I actually looked up what the rules were about leaving kids home alone. My dad was gone and I wanted to be able to run around the block or pop out to get some milk without taking all three of them every single time. I was dismayed to learn that they needed…

  • Family of DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley in black and white

    Musings on Heaven at Dinner

    Every night at dinner, we discuss the good things that happened in our day. Austin usually tells us about something that happened at with his friends at recess. Claire often shares about the musical (it is a very big deal in fifth grade.) Tommy sometimes can’t think of what to say, so we all try and ask him about the things we imagine are happening in kindergarten. The other night we were all sharing, and everyone had talked besides Tommy. He sat there, clearly thinking about what to say. Then, out of the blue, he said, “I wonder who will die next in our family? Probably Grandpa Tom!” “Tommy!” Claire…

  • Family of DC widow blog writer in front yard before husband's death

    Excerpt from Marjorie’s Speech, “Remembering Those We Love”

    On December 1st, 2017 my husband Shawn was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.  He never left the hospital for more than a short stint at home.  Less than six weeks later, on January 9th, 2018 he died in my arms. So to say that the holidays are fraught for me….well, that’s an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. What are you supposed to do when you’re faced with a cancer diagnosis but can see the twinkling Christmas lights from your hospital room? What are you supposed to do when you are watching all the kids walk down the street dressed up for Halloween, and your own child is gone…

  • DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley smiles in black and white photo with friends Becky and Michelle
    Family & Friends

    Ministry of Presence

    My friend Kumar is a pastor.  As part of his work, he runs a bereavement group, and we meet up sometimes to talk about loss and how to help people make meaning of their lives.  One day, I was telling him about some of the things that people had done for me after Shawn died, and he said, “we call that the ministry of presence.” I liked that phrase, so I asked him to tell me more.  He said the following, The basic idea is this – as a pastor, you can preach a good sermon, but in the end, did you go on the journey with your parishioners?  You…