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Ask Ellie: Stories of grief can offer glimmer of hope for future

Readers offer strategies for getting through the worst, and, to their own surprise, reported acceptance, peace of mind, even hope.

Dear Readers: I’m publishing periodic responses to how readers have dealt with grief. Many have sent me their deeply moving stories.

Some also offered strategies for getting through the worst, and, to their own surprise, reported acceptance, peace of mind, even hope.

Reader: “My father lost my mother after 50 years of marriage and her lengthy illness. She was 70, he was 73, overcome with grief.

“He blamed himself, wondered if he was responsible for her death… concerned that we’d somehow withheld treatment that could’ve prolonged her life, though the doctors said she was at end of life.

“He visited the cemetery daily for two years and had minimal contact with most other family members except my sister and me.

“I thought he’d never get over his grief, but, with time, he did.

“The best thing he did was relocate to a seniors’ residence where he can interact with people from his own cultural/ethnic background. He has independent living in his own apartment, is surrounded by like-minded seniors and has made many new friends. My sister and I think he even has, unadmitted, a special lady friend. He’s now 85.

“I hope our story provides some hope that there is a way to get past this type of grief, but it can take a long time.”

Reader’s commentary regarding people indicating interest in a relationship, yet turning out to be heartless users (Feb. 3):

“It happens to everyone — male, female, gay, straight, bi, trans, etc.

“The guide I try to use (not always 100% successful) is to gauge when key topics get raised (love, sex, money, commitment, etc.). It’s one thing to say on early dates, “I love your dress,” as opposed to “I love you” too soon.

“Plus, the old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Especially if things seem to be moving way too fast. Always try to listen to your inner self. (Ellie: Your logical and experienced inner self, not the one filled with dream scenarios).

“Relationships take time to develop and some more personal topics need to evolve. Even if they’re raised, back down due to the other person not being ready or comfortable. It also shows respect.

“People aren’t perfect, so react appropriately when a mistake is made.

“All this is extremely hard when you’re emotionally low.

“I met a “nice” lady who seemed “genuinely” interested in me. The first two dates were ordinary. On the third date, she offered sex in exchange for an overly expensive dinner.

“Yes, I fell, but after the “light went on” in my head, that was my last contact with her.

“People need to realize that there are people willing to exploit the vulnerable, lonely, elderly, etc.”

Feedback regarding the man requested by his wife to go to bed early like her (Jan. 29):

“I’m a woman, 85, who’s a night-hawk. My wonderful husband was a morning person. He went to bed at 10 p.m., while I watched TV (with headphones) or read. I’d go to bed between midnight and 3am, staying very quiet to not wake him.

“And he did the same thing in the morning when he got up at 6 a.m. We were very considerate of each other’s needs. We also had a great sex life.

“This couple could teach their daughters the positive side of separate bedrooms.”

Feddback regarding the woman who says she’s “stuck in place” (Feb. 4):

Reader: “Some warning bells: “Finally, I said I couldn’t keep living like that. The truth reached his wife.”

“Was that because the writer arranged for that? (i.e., tired of her role)? Also, “I couldn’t possibly repay him for all the help he’s given me, but his favours are attached with self-serving strings.”

“Favours? Or he thinks they were “loans?”

“While no one’s innocent here (except the wife), this letter-writer could have easily been a “gold-digger” who used sex for her benefit hoping to become the new wife.

“When that didn’t work out, did she perhaps arrange for the affair to be discovered by the wife?

“In his new situation — likely impending separation/divorce — his financial status has become unstable. Is there less gold to dig?

“Does he need some money to be paid back?

“Something felt ‘off’ about that letter.

Ellie: I consider most letter-writers as genuine. But anything’s possible.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Stories of grief can provide insights toward reaching acceptance, and even hope for the future.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.