I always used to get upset when I lost something.

Other people could misplace a key, lose a glove, or forget where they set down their wallet without going nuts. But whenever that happened to me, I went into a panic. I actually felt my blood pressure rise–and who needed that?

Fortunately, I was married to a “finder” for 56 years. (Obviously, he also was a “keeper.”)  A patient, careful man who always secretly yearned to be a detective, my husband would start at the top of our home and search every corner until he exclaimed with great satisfaction “I’ve got it!”

The most amazing find I remember was the set of car keys that I had tossed into the car trunk while taking out groceries. Now who else on God’s green earth would have thought to look into the locked trunk the next day when I realized with unnecessary alarm that the keys were gone?

I never connected this neurosis to a reoccurring dream I had over the years about losing my purse with my wallet and all my important cards inside.  I usually awoke before something terrible happened, but the unease remained.

Are you surprised to learn that after my husband died, I went through a period of losing more things than usual, suffering much stronger anxiety, and really feeling somewhat frantic until the items turned up? (And most of those losses weren’t even in the stock market–although that didn’t help).

I’d fuss around the house a whole day until I found some letter that was supposed to have been filed but wasn’t. If I couldn’t find a certain scarf, I’d rush around searching until I found it in the wrong drawer.

Talking with my friend, psychologist Judy Berg, who also serves as “in house therapist” for Widowslist.com, I learned there’s nothing crazy about all this. In fact, it’s fairly common among those who have lost a loved one.

Since both my parents died while I was very young, it was natural for me to equate all later losses to those events. Even if the loss was only a glove, I would relive that earlier sadness, anxiety and fear.

So can you imagine how those feelings intensify when we lose a beloved mate of many years?

If it happens to you, understanding that connection may be some comfort.  For example, I rarely dream of losing my purse and wallet now. And when I do, I always find them before I wake up.

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Sandra Pesmen

Sandra Pesmen

Sandra Pesmen, host of www.widowslist.com, also writes the weekly DR.JOB column syndicated by Career News Service. A member of The Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and The University of Illinois Media Alumni Hall of Fame, Ms. Pesmen is author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide,“ and “Writing for the Media: Public Relations and the Press.” A reporter, features writer and editor, this business journalist was features editor of Crain’s Chicago Business from its inception in 1978 to 1990, when she became corporate features editor for its parent, Crain Communications Inc. She also wrote the monthly Executive Woman column in North Shore magazine in suburban Chicago for many years. Previously, she was a reporter and features writer for the Chicago Daily News.

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