“Please Bring Soup To Comfort Me While I Grieve,” by Linda Andrews, 126 pages, self-published in 2016, $14.95.
Reeling from the recent death of her father, Linda Andrews’ life shattered two weeks later, when her husband of 31 years, Jim, died from a heart attack in September 2011.
All their plans for spending more time together, taking trips, doing things as a couple now that they weren’t tied up in family medical issues suddenly poofed into thin air, and Andrews found herself alone with her grief.
“I am angry to this day that we missed out on that,” she said during a recent phone interview.
The person she’d always turned to in times of trouble was not there to share her burden of grief, but she was able to seek out her grown twin sons, other family and friends. As much as they loved her and supported her, they still could not understand what she was going through.
Andrews, a registered nurse who lives in Central Maine, said she’s always used writing as a means of expressing her feelings. So during the worst crisis of her life, she kept a journal. From those raw and honest emotions sprang the inspiration for her new book on grieving, “Please Bring Soup To Comfort Me While I Grieve.”
While Andrews’ motivation for keeping a journal was to help herself, creating the book based on her journal was a way to help others through their own grieving processes.
“One of the most important things I wanted to say through my book is that spouse loss is not the same as any other, but [loss] connects people even though it is different,” she said. “It was very scary to put my book out there, but my need to help other people is overwhelming.”
She pointed out that loss is more than death. It can be related to jobs, divorce, health and other areas. Any loss involves some form of grief, but Andrews’ book ultimately is for someone who is grieving a loved one. She said she tried to make it clear there’s no right way or wrong way to grieve — only your way.
Besides pearls of wisdom sprinkled throughout Andrews’ book, she offers a “Grieving Toolkit,” which lists suggestions and resources to help people cope with their grief.
Having passed the four-year mark since her husband’s death, Andrews said she is starting to involve herself more in life. She had a glimpse of hope about life when she finished her book and now has more hope. She is getting more comfortable with social situations, but still is trying to figure out who she is.
“I’m OK. I’m definitely not the same person — just different. I can talk about things I couldn’t two years ago. I can use the word ‘widow.’ I don’t like it, but can use it. … I’m better but still a work in progress,” she said.
Andrews has become a self-described “ambassador of grief.” Besides publishing her book and having one-on-one discussions with people, she has established a Facebook page “Please Bring Soup” for the sharing of grief tips and stories and a website, lindalandrews.com, that contains grief support information.
Andrews’ last piece of advice? “You don’t have to do crazy things to help someone. It can be something simple — like a bowl of soup.”