Chanel No. 5. It is a perfume name that I know. I can’t recall what it smells likes, yet I was married to a woman who wore it.

I can recall the woman: her smile, her laugh, her facial expressions, and the way she looked at me.

I have a small bottle of Channel No. 5 that I have keep. In the early years of my widowhood, I would remove the top and bring the bottle just under my nose and inhale. Then a miracle happened. She was alive: the feel of her hand on my hand, the sound of her laughter, the sight of her sitting at the kitchen table, and the tangible love flowing between her and me.

Then as the fragrance fades, my real life returns: the longing for my wife, the comfort of the past, and the feeling of her love fade like a person walking down the beach.

I haven’t taken that bottle out for years, and I wonder where it is. It was important in the first years of my widowhood when I fought to remember her and the life we had because I didn’t want her death. I didn’t choose the new life that was to come because I didn’t know what that life would be like.

I could only image that new life being similar to who I had been before her. I had been a single man who had never known love. But now I was a single man, with children, who had known love. That feeling, that pleasure, that hope of love and loving drove me forward through the grief and pain to find that spot, that life, that feeling of love again.

Yet as the years passed, I grieved like a widower. I hurt as only a grieving person does. My life was shaped by the loss of my love and my wife. I feared, cowered, and put on a brave face as I lived the widow’s life. My wife, Lisa, may be gone, but what she let me see and feel will always be with me.

I only have this life and the seemingly rapidly shrinking years left to me. Grieving takes boldness. Stepping fully into a new life and embracing a new love takes boldness. A new love brings its fears, its new routine, and a new fragrance that I will embrace and breathe deeply into my lungs and into my brain knowing full well that I may grieve again, but that means that I have loved again.

Richard Ballo 2011

Richard Ballo

Richard Ballo is a national speaker and author in grief and healing and has been a professional writer since 1980 and has a B.S. degree in Journalism. Richard’s general interest articles have appeared in the Montachusett Review, Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, Neapolitan Families, Byline Magazine, Suffolk Evening Voice, Retrop Times, The Lynn Daily Item, The Waltham News Tribune, Florida Kiwanian, Resource Recycling magazine, and BMW ON Magazine. He is the author of the award winning book “Life without Lisa: a widowed father’s compelling journey through the rough seas of grief.” This book was awarded theFlorida Publishers Association's President’s Pick award. He has been a guest speaker to numerous groups about healing from grief including Hospice of Hilo, HI, Hospice of the Valley, San Juan, CA, Wings of Hope Hospice, Allegan, MI, and Charlotte Hospice, Charlotte, NC, and many churches and hospitals. He has been a guest on over 20 radio stations in the U.S including KKUP Cupertino, California, WXZO Kalamazoo, Michigan, WFLO Farmville, Virginia, WQQQ Lakeville, Connecticut, WOCA News Talk 1370 AM Ocala, Florida, KPQ 560 AM Greater Seattle, WNTN Boston, MA, and KLPW-AM St. Louis. He has also appeared on TV, including Fox News, and had book signings at bookstores across the country including Barnes and Nobles and Borders. Richard has experienced many sides of grief including the death of his wife early in their marriage, raising two sons as a single father, giving up a daughter he was going to adopt, the loss of his father and other loses. He is on the Board of Directors, and the Physicians’ Advisory Board, of Avow Hospice in Naples, Florida, and Avow bestowed on him recognition for all his work at Avow and in the community. He has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Northside Naples since 1995 where he has served as the newsletter editor, a distinguished Secretary, and Past President. Richard continues to speak on grief and healing around the country at hospices, churches, and libraries. For bulk-rate discounts on his book or to bring Richard to your organization as a guest speaker to help you heighten community awareness of your organization, call 1-877-513-0099 or email

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