Divorce and time change things, but not everything

Someday soon, you’re gonna have families of your own and if you’re lucky, you’ll remember the little moments like this, that were good.” — Tony Soprano

My niece was a new bat mitzvah on the afternoon of June 15, 2021. My daughter and I were excited to be there — we’d flown to Philadelphia (our first plane trip in almost two years), rented a car and braved the Garden State Parkway to join the celebration. In the later afternoon that Saturday, we breathed in the humid, marshy smell of the coastal, New Jersey air and waited as people bustled in…

Shifting out of the pandemic presents us with choices about redefining our relationships

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake
birds and snakes, and aeroplanes
And Lenny Bruce is not afraid.

It’s the End of the World As We Know It, R.E.M.

My maternal grandmother, Virginia, was born in 1908 in Granby, Missouri — the second youngest of 10 children. When she and my grandfather got engaged in the early 1930s, they postponed their wedding and remained engaged for three years, awaiting some hope for the end of the Great Depression, some return to stability and predictability.

My Gran died in 2004, when she was almost 95 and I was 31 years old…

How to find meaning in irreverence

There are no unsacred places. Only sacred places and desecrated places.
poet, Wendell Berry

In 2003, I was not yet 31 years old — a young, married woman and by June of that year, I was very pregnant. My husband and I spent this early summer Saturday morning in our basement, packing up for a move to a bigger house before our baby arrived.

As we organized, sorted, and trashed the detritus that accumulates in basements, I picked up the unity candle from our wedding, housed on a dusty shelf. I held it up toward him, “Do we really need…

And the best books to help you through it

The art of losing isn’t hard to master…
Elizabeth Bishop, One Art

As a grief therapist, I immerse myself in the atmosphere of loss every day. I don’t expect much to be permanent in life. It doesn’t mean I don’t hold the same lunatic hope for permanency that we humans hold and it doesn’t mean that change doesn’t stress me out. As far as the time of Covid unfolded (and still unfolds), and despite my “thorough” preparation, this fourteen months has taken an unexpected toll on me.

I want to confess the bad stuff about me first, because people often…

Lessons about Grief and Love

Depositphotos.com, used under license.

“…I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

February 2009

I held my three-year-old daughter in my arms in the elevator going up to Heather’s dad’s hospital room. He was about to be admitted to hospice care.

Heather and I were 36 years old — friends since 8th grade history class when something about Mr. Schoenberger’s beard and penchant for talking about rattlesnake bites in the Old West cracked us both up.

I tried to prepare my daughter for what to expect. I didn’t know if it was right or wrong to take her…

This Is Us

After my trust was abused in my marriage, I learned to trust myself

Photo: Dennis Harper/Flickr

Suspicion is the companion of mean souls and the bane of all good society. —Thomas Paine

The porn videos sitting on his bedside table were the first thing I made note of. The one on top was “Poke-ahantas.”

It wasn’t unusual for a paid caregiver to answer the door at a hospice patient’s home and usher me, a hospice social worker, into the bedroom. Mr. K wasn’t in his bed, however.

I’d never met him before; he’d just begun receiving home hospice care the day prior. The nurse’s opening notes said he was born in the former Soviet Union and…

This Is Us

Even when bad things happen, the past influences us for the better

A lone woman walks with confidence up stairs coming out from dark tunnel into bright light.
A lone woman walks with confidence up stairs coming out from dark tunnel into bright light.
Photo: Germán Vogel/Getty Images

Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing. —Miles Davis

Working around death and dying, I often feel different from other people—alone in a way. Very few people enjoy thinking about dying, disease, and the separation of this life from the “Let the Mystery Be,” as Iris DeMent describes it. Many people are intrigued but only in passing, as if I were a party trick. I understand the avoidance. It is a strange occupation to be with human beings for the express purpose of “helping” them die or, more often, helping their families help them die.

When I worked…

This Is Us

Parenting through the reality of Santa and divorce and Covid-19

Tent and fake campfire set up indoors with stuffed animals huddled around the fire and a telescope.
Tent and fake campfire set up indoors with stuffed animals huddled around the fire and a telescope.
Photo: RichVintage/E+/Getty Images

‘I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’
Albert Einstein

When I was a little girl, maybe four or five years old, my mother was a witch. Well… she wasn’t always a witch — she was only a witch when my friend from up the street, Leigh, came over to play. She was only a witch when we begged her to scare us. And if she agreed, we ran to hide in the same place every time — in her closet behind…

This Is Us

Instead of cheating, I decided to make myself into more of what I desired

Person’s hands holding a lit match.
Person’s hands holding a lit match.
Photo: Azahar Adnan/EyeEm/Getty Images

I’d been married eight years when Brian sat next to me at a writers’ workshop. I didn’t know his name was Brian then… I didn’t know him at all. Being new to the workshop, I’d taken my own seat in the circle of writers, and busied myself by reading through the stack of writing samples I’d been given when I walked in. With my eyes down, I saw his cowboy boots first. That caused me to look up slightly at this man who, staying true to form, also wore some kind of jacket that I guessed was called a duster…

This Is Us

The type of love I feel for my clients is something we can all practice

3 long-haired people sitting in a cafe looking at a phone. The middle one is being comforted by the others.
3 long-haired people sitting in a cafe looking at a phone. The middle one is being comforted by the others.
Photo: urbazon/E+/Getty Images

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. —Mahatma Gandhi

I am a therapist. More specifically, I am a grief therapist. This is not to say that I only work with clients who’ve lost loved ones — though that is often the case.

Not one person on this Earth will leave life without having lost something or someone — a job, a marriage, a friendship, an identity, a beloved pet, an era of good luck, health, a great love, and even the opportunity to repair a pained relationship. Though it’s said that Death is…

Katy Friedman Miller

I’m a grief therapist and former hospice social worker. Our stories don’t need to make us look good, just connect us. Check out my TEDx talk at www.ted.com

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