Be good to yourself with occasional treats
Treat yourself -- I got this idea from friend Pat.
One day she wrote to me that out of the blue she had stopped and enjoyed a hot fudge sundae -- something she loves. She was running errands and just thought of it, and had not enjoyed one for a long time.
My husband Baheej loved ice cream. On our first date he took me to a "Baskin Robbins 31" ice cream shop. I decided I would keep Pat's advice in mind.
So one day after running many errands, I, too, decided it was time for me to have a treat. I went to a local restaurant and had king crab legs. That's it, just two small orders of king crab legs. They were very tasty indeed.
I kept thinking about the humongous crab legs Baheej and I had in 2011 in Bergen, Norway, on our last big international trip together, less than a year before his stroke. Those were the biggest crab legs you have ever seen, segments the size of 1.25 lb lobster tails.
We ate them sitting in the outside harbor cafe in Bergen, fresh from the North Atlantic where they were caught. They are literally the biggest king crabs in the world. Wow.
This reminds me of my dear grandmother Anderson who would sit at my mother's sumptuous Sunday dinners and talk about what she ate in Hong Kong, Nepal, Germany, etc. (My mother handled it with grace, but was annoyed. It's really better, and more considerate, to enjoy the here and now. )
But I've noticed good food does that -- makes one remember other good meals that were a treat. Just noticed this at a recent exercise group lunch -- people were talking about all the restaurants and delicious food they had while traveling to Italy, Germany, etc. It's "association."
Anyway, I liked my smaller crab legs notwithstanding memories of better treats.
"Treat yourself" comes in many ways.
My friend Jane and I had a treat recently -- walleyed pike (fish) cooked perfectly at a pretty outdoor restaurant in Northern Minnesota.
Estate sales are another one of my "treats." The most interesting thing about estate sales is to see the inside of houses and a glimpse into how people lived.
A month ago, I went to the estate sale of an elderly woman who had a huge hot tub right in the center of her living room!
My friend Mary went there on the first day of the sale. She was amused and surprised to find a hot tub in the center of the living room. She said, you must go see!
Once in Ohio, on the way driving from Boston to Chicago when we were moving in 1992, we stayed in a perfectly normal looking hotel -- and there was a hot tub in the middle of the bedroom. We didn't use it, but perhaps should have tried it. Oh well …
But in my own neighborhood! In the middle of the living room? This is not California, but maybe that's why it was inside.
So the point is to indulge yourself once in awhile -- whether with ice cream, crab legs, a special meal, a hot tub, or anything special for you. This is good for easing the sad feelings that linger with long-term grief. It helps, if only for a short time.
• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a Ph.D. in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College, and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com.