Within a few months of my husband’s death, I was sitting in counseling, reviewing my life, rethinking my future, and rebelling about the future prospects.

My counselor suggested that my social circle would no longer be “corporate” entertaining nor logistics with teenage daughters and their networking.  What then?   She commented that my circle would be women.   I cried, I cursed, I cringed.   Hadn’t the rug already been pulled out from under me and now another one shoved underneath without the welcome mat?

I was willing to try.

A friend  of mine was turning 50 years old.  She, like I, had friends who had never met each other.   Friends who were gardeners.  Friends who were dog people and animal recusers. Friends who shared in her jewelry making  and church friends.

I invited them all for a “sleep over” as I lived deep in the woods at that time.   My friend, Judy, was the common bond.  We had heard about each other but seldom crossed each other’s paths.   We shared a meal, shared stories, shared some dancing and laughing.  We shared our lives and slept under the same roof that night.  The next morning, another woman joined us for breakfast and the circle widened.

A tradition was started that evening as well.  I had a fireplace surfaced with river rocks.  I had written in chalk on the rocks, ” Happy Birthday, Judy!”  Others suggested what else could be written up there and the tradition bloomed.   Whenever someone spent the night, she was honored with a piece of chalk to write what she wanted on the river rocks. It stayed for others to enjoy and ponder.

The quotes spread on the wall and everyone who spent the night left a bit of themselves behind with me.

So my counselor was right.  My social networking started with a birthday party for a good friend and ended by making more great friends.

In loss, there is always a gain.   In darkness, light filters through.  In your opening your home to others, your heart gets a chance to open again, even if in a small way.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you willing to open your heart and home again and again.

Susan Reynolds 2011


Susan Reynolds

Susan W. Reynolds developed her innovative system by combining interior redesign principles with grief recovery methods. Susan is a member of the Association of Design Education and a Certified Physical Therapist. Her training in wellness and ergonomics has given her sensitive insights into the needs of people in grief. She is a consultant to hospices on how interior design can help clients feel comfortable and safe. She speaks at bereavement groups to teach her methods to people who have suffered loss. She helps those in grief visualize how small changes in their surroundings can result in big changes in attitude. After her husband died of cancer after a difficult two-year battle, Susan participated in traditional grief groups. She found that a practical approach worked best for her. She uses her blog, "Room for Change", to present her ideas about the role of ergonomics in grief recovery. The book version of her system reflects input from bereavement coordinators and other specialists in the field of death and dying. Her company, Revival Redesign helps people refresh and enliven their personal space using items they already own and love.

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