In Grieving, A Trusted Friend Who Won’t “Fix” You is a Blessing

Grieving is never easy, it helped to have a trusted friend who didn’t want to “fix” me. I use the first letter of her name, M, in Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. M didn’t cuddle me or hold back when I needed “tough love.” She perfectly mixed tough love and compassion into a healing mix. Here is an excerpt of an exchange between M and me in the early stages of my grieving:

“I sat across from M and said, “Thanks for the coffee, M.” My words came without emotion.

“Talk to me.” That’s all she said.

I inhaled a deep breath. I remained silent for a moment. I wanted to tell M how I really felt. I wanted to swear, but held it in. I can swear as easily as I breathe. Babe would have told you that I don’t swear in public or at people. I reserve my swear words for situations in which no other words could be used as descriptions. I wanted to let go with my best swears, honed over time. I knew they would flow as smoothly as a Mozart concerto. They were the only words to describe how I felt.

Instead, I held back and said, “I hurt like hell, M. Honestly, I can’t concentrate. Normally, I can juggle seven or eight things at a time. It’s now difficult juggling even one.”

“You’re normal,” she said.

“This is normal? I feel like …” I caught myself before finishing.

“No, it is not normal in the way most people you know experience normal.” M replied. “It’s normal when grief strikes. It strikes like a rattlesnake: quick, painful, and intense, releasing its poisonous venom into you. Life is different, Ray. Whatever way you experienced life as before, that’s over. You can’t have it back.”

Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found here.

Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright

Excerpt From

Dancing Alone

Raymond Calabrese

This material may be protected by copyright.


Author: Ray Calabrese

I am an optimistic, can do, and never quit guy. The spirit of hope indelibly marks my DNA. My research at The Ohio State University helped people discover the best in themselves and change their personal lives, public organizations, and whole communities. I bring the same spirit and enthusiasm to my blog to help those who grieve who find themselves suddenly alone, navigate their grieving. Join my more than 24,300Twitter (@alwaysgoodstuff). I promise my tweets are always good stuff. Please feel free to email me at

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