Grief: Remembering the biggest lobster I ever ate
We all have our ways of managing grief and trying to feel better over the years.
One my favorite and useful techniques is to surround myself with family photos and favorite photos of my dear husband Baheej, ones of us together, and photos of my parents, my brother Nic, and other family members no longer here.
Actually we've always had lots of family photos hanging and displayed around the house, so I was in the habit of doing that. I even have a few photos displayed of my sweet kitties -- Sheba and Coffee Cat. (And of course they are still here, only 7 years old.)
Baheej was a very good photographer so he took many, many nice pictures over the years.
The positive effect of photos was brought home to me by some good practical advice given by a grief counselor who advised me after my father died over 20 years ago. I was in Brazil on a business trip when he died unexpectedly of complications from a surgery; he never came out anesthesia. It hit me very hard so I sought counseling for advice. She told me to get out some nice photos of my father and put them on my home desk. That they would be comforting -- and they were.
I lost my brother Nic a year and a half ago. We grew up together; he was only one year older than I am, and we were buddies. So in my TV room, I hung an old photo of the two of us playing in the snow as small children in northern Minnesota. All bundled in snow suits, warm from head to toe. Those were the days when children were encouraged to "go play outside" as entertainment and exercise -- before 24-hour TV, electronics and videos.
So obviously I have plenty of framed photos of Baheej around the house, and it's comforting. It's as if he is around the house with me. May sound silly, but it helps. One very fun photo was taken at the great Eastern seafood restaurant, Legal Seafoods, taken when Baheej and I were celebrating a pending promotion. It shows us with the chef, and we were about to eat the biggest lobster I have ever been served, before or since. It's not the most flattering photo of Baheej but it records a happy occasion we shared. We ordered two 2-pound lobsters but the server came out and said they only have the "chicken lobsters" which are delicious but only 1.25 pounds each. And he told us they had a big 7-pounder, and added it was the only big lobster they had. So we ordered it, it was gigantic; they split it for us, and we enjoyed every bite!
Of course, nowadays many people don't print their photos but take digital photos and keep them online. So that's another way to keep these wonderful images around you and easy to see. Most photo files online even automatically create special "albums" by year, by date or even by facial images. That's another way to keep these pictures near you and visible. I do this in addition to the framed photos in the house.
The point is: I keep that lobster photo in my upstairs office, now a guest bedroom, and it makes me smile whenever I go in that room. Pure enjoyment. So it's worth taking and keeping those special photos and not store them away in boxes but keep some in plain sight to remind you of better and happy times.
• 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 email@example.com or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan.