Grief & healing: A strange but special time of year

Early May is a complicated time of year for me. I think we all have them. I have at least two such periods of time on my annual calendar.

One is the first week in May. My dear husband, Baheej, was aware of my May turbulence and always helped me through it. My own birthday is May 1 and many difficult things seem to crop up around that time. But Baheej would always make it a happy birthday notwithstanding anything else going on.

Of course since Baheej died, I’m on my own. For instance this year, I had a biopsy on my cheek. And another unrelated biopsy is scheduled on May 20. Not exactly birthday gifts. Baheej is not here to assure me that everything will be all right. The good news is that modern medicine can fix just about anything.

But the second week in May is usually a good week. And this year, it’s the sixth anniversary of the start of this column, which I enjoy writing. My first column was May 14, 2018, thanks to longtime Executive Editor John Lampinen, now retired. He had the foresight to know readers would be interested in the topic of how to manage and cope with grief. The first column was about Baheej’s strokes and the first days and weeks and months after his death.

The other strange time of year for me is a long stretch from June 22 to Aug. 18. It encompasses the time from Baheej’s first stroke, through my brother Nic’s death, through the hospital ordeal with Baheej, his death, funeral, burial, theft of my family diamond and emerald rings, and our wedding anniversary two days after burial. Pretty heavy duty.

We need to figure out how to deal with these hard and strange times. The good times are easy. The bad times take a lot of effort to handle.

What I do is rely on memories. Especially imagining what would Baheej do or advise? That helps. And I rely on the support of family and friends. That helps. And we must rely in our inner strength, our spiritual essence.

So the point is: Turbulent and complicated periods of time are part of life, as we all know. We have the ups and downs. It’s how we handle them that matters. We must try to do our best.

And it’s spring, so that helps too. My geraniums are outside blooming, planted in the front flower box. Nature is also healing.

Onward to spring and summer.

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at

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