Category Archives: Death of a Loved One

“Bleach All the Colors” Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge, Aug 12, 2017


Bleach all the colors from the flowers. Cancel out the sun.
Stay the music. Still the dance. Tell laughter it is done.
She will not walk this way again so all must cease to walk.
Her conversation’s over. The whole world must not talk.
Earth upon its axis should still its constant motion.
The cook must quiet his cooking pots, the chemist trash his potion.
The universe must end itself now that my true love’s dead,
and I lay myself beside her on our wedding bed.

For Cee’s Black and White Challenge:



A hand releases mooring lines and I go floating free.
Unmoored and unamóred, I float upon the sea.
Each time I find a tether, it lets loose of me,
for nature seems to be at odds with propinquity.

Nothing lasts forever or even long enough.
Each time the tattered sleeve of time shakes me off its cuff,
I am again amazed that the rules won’t change for me.
Each time I am newly surprised by mortality.

So many friends and lovers, so many family members
who once were bonfires in my life, flicker down to embers
then fade to ashes in a jar sitting on a shelf.
and once again my tether becomes only my self.

It is a cruel truth of life, this ephemerality
that severs every hawser as ones we love go free.
No matter what allegiance, what solidarity
is promised, still the vow that lasts is mutability.


The prompt today is “unmoored.”

NaPoWriMo2017, Day 3: Reliquary

daily life color241

On Sunday morning under orange bougainvillea,
Your picture spills from an old album.
You were on a verandah under purple bougainvillea,
drinking the hot noon from your coffee cup
as I drank passion fruit and watched Lake Tana birth the Nile.

Later, kneeling by the river, I made my hand into a cup,

but you called out that slow death swam the blood
of those who touched the river,
while behind you on harsh branches,
black birds barked stark music.

Now, on Sunday morning under orange bougainvillea,
half a world and half a life away,
 I restore you to your proper place, remembering how,
when they laid you down to dream beneath the purple bougainvillea,
it was passionfruit’s sweet poison that flavored my life.


Please also see this elegy:

The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to write an elegy.

Loving Lee

Loving Lee

She was not the easiest one
to be around, but she was fun.
Her wit was sharp, also her tongue.
And yet, I counted her among
those dearest if not nearest to me.
It was she who chose to woo me
with books she thought me ready for
filled with strange and heady lore
of living by my intuition
through which I came to my fruition.
My whole life was changing then,
Buscaglia and Jung and zen.
I’d moved west and changed my thinking,
took up pot and gave up drinking,
decided that my thoughts on men
needed revising. Only then
did life straighten out for me—
and part of it was meeting Lee.
She read my poems, studied my art.
I dodged her tongue and won her heart.
As she won mine; yet other friends
rejected her sincere amends,
’til I was one of two or three
who chose to let our friendship be.
Yes. It was, I must confess,
because I saw her less and less.
When I moved off to Mexico,
our intercourse was rare and slow.
The one last trip I took her on,
quickly, truth began to dawn.
Her memory span had grown so thin
that barely did a thought begin
before it came around again
to the place where we’d just been.
Sometimes our world leaves bit by bit
until we are well rid of it
Not so the friends who leave us slow.
We still aren’t ready to let them go.
My world was better for loving Lee,
but with these lines, I set her free.

The WordPress prompt today was lovingly. I chose a slightly different approach to the word.


I have always found the below poem comforting and so, after quoting a line of it to Marilyn Armstrong just now, decided to share it with you all, as well. That said, I promise.  No more posts about death. For awhile



                  by: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As a fond mother, when the day is o’er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Look Up! (Eulogy for a Good, Good Girl)


Look Up!

She used to chase the shadows of birds across the ground
and dig where they disappeared
and never once thought to look up,
no matter how many times I tried to tell her to.

Chasing light across the pool, she’d pace
back and forth, along its further edge.


Her first playmates the cats,
she could not follow them up into the trees,
but stood instead, barking at the bark they clung to.
Thinking herself a cat, perhaps,
or all of them some new species in between,
she followed wherever it was possible to go.
Up the broad steps to the second floor,
across the terraza and just a small leap
to the ledge of the high sloping dome of the roof.
Up to its top to lie or stand and bark at all who trudged up our mountain
to intrude into her world.


She could see for blocks,
turning like a sundial with the sun
to change her focus, but usually starting at the point,
southward, that most invaders came from.
Neighbors led by unwelcome dogs on leashes
passed below her on their morning walks,
or farmers carrying hoes or machetes
up to the fields above.

Lines of burros plodding beneath her, facing uphill,
small herds of cattle
flooding down to the lake for water—
none escaped the attention of this reina,
who would bark directions to be on their way, fast,
and not to loiter.


No creature had greater staying power than she.
The cats, bored with the high view,
moved to the bushes and trees to hunt possums, squirrels and salamanders.
Only she stayed true to her original position
as she looked ever down from that high dome,
only deserting it a year ago,
when I locked the gate that blocked her progress up—
not because I judged it unsafe for a dog grown arthritic and less sure of her step,
but because of the new puppy,
untrained by cats and with feet less experienced than hers.


Feeling punished, perhaps, she traded her high domain
for a place beneath the terrace table

from which she watched the two upstarts
speed by to cavort in the lower garden
where she once chased bird shadows in the grass.

Version 2
She exercised her staying power one last time
as, looking down on a world reduced to only me,
never once blinking, she stared into my eyes
as I crouched beside the vet’s high table,
and looked straight back up into them,
the closest I’d ever been to her.

That table’s surface, straight and gleaming stainless steel,
was where she lay with her front legs spread-eagled
for the long hour it took to finally climb up that high dome again.
I wonder if she heard me as,
“Good girl,” I told her a hundred times that final hour, and meant it.
“Good, good girl. Look up now. And go on.
You were always such a good, good girl, watching out for us.
But now, look up. Go on.”


The prompt word today is “Original.”

Rebuilding Your Life after the Death of a Loved One

Since  the WordPress prompt is “Rebuild” and I have  written a book with that word  in the title, I guess this is an obvious time to link to it here:

1 Master embossed -front onlycream big & little spinecopy copy

Now available on Amazon, in print and Kindle versions and in Bookstores, including Diane Pearl Colecciones, La Bella Vida, Jose Melendrez and Mi Mexico in Ajijic, MX.

Lessons from a Grief Diary: Rebuilding Your Life
after the Death of a Loved One

Judy Dykstra-Brown and Anthony Moriarty, Ph.D.

 A widow’s grief diary chronicling the illness and death of her husband as well as the process of her recovery from grief over the next eight years is analyzed in alternating chapters by a psychologist. Includes methods of overcoming grief, suggested further reading and ending notes that summarize main points of the book.


When Judy let her husband Bob persuade her to buy a house in Mexico, little did she know that five months later, she would be moving into that house alone. Her diary takes us along through their initial adventures in Mexico, their return to California to sell off the contents of their home, her nursing Bob through his final illness and death and her move to Mexico. For eight years, she chronicles the triple challenge of dealing with the loss of her husband, learning to adjust to the culture of a foreign country where she knew no one and finding ways to find the positive in the most negative situations. Making use of his extensive research in the field of grief as well as experience gained through years of counseling others going through the grief process, Tony’s insightful comments on Judy’s thoughts and actions will serve as a guide for any reader suffering from the death of a family member or other loved one.

Readers’ Reviews and Comments

Having the courage to speak with unembellished honesty, Judy Dykstra-Brown begins by describing the move she and her husband Bob are planning to make to a more relaxed life in Mexico. As the van is being packed and plans finalized, Judy learns her husband is dying. In beautiful prose and poetry, she chronicles her grueling role of caretaker to Bob, their last days together and the death and rituals that follow. Knowing she will be leaving behind all of her support systems, Judy relocates to Mexico alone, sharing her intensely personal journey of grief, growth and finally the excitement of moving towards a different and full life. Uniquely, Anthony Moriarty follows each chapter with a psychological and/or mystical interpretation of the behaviors that accompany Bob’s processes of dying and Judy’s struggles with the loss of her husband. This is a must read for anyone who has experienced loss.Romaine Presnell, Clinical Social Worker, mental health therapist at John Hopkins and in private practice, Supervisor of Counseling Services as Associated Catholic Charities and group facilitator for The Wellness Community, providing free services for cancer patients and their families.

This book combines the personal account of a woman whose husband has unexpectedly become ill and died with the commentary of an experienced clinical psychologist. The story is compelling, the theme universal, and the dual viewpoints of the authors give us unique and valuable insight into the experience of loss, grief and life beyond.Amelia Stevens, M.D., Psychiatrist  

After suddenly losing my partner of 8 years, the combination of emotions that battered me day-to-day left me lost with no idea of how to find my way back to a relatively normal life. I ordered and read a number of the best-selling books on the subject of grief, but felt none of them applied to me until I discovered this brave and startling book. The combination of Judy’s honest personal journey and Tony’s objective observations make this a very important book with which I was able to easily identify. Had I read it earlier, I seriously think my journey would have been shorter and less debilitating.Linda Richards, Artist

With the hundreds of books available to help people navigate their way through the grief process, it is a rare find to discover one that approaches it from a whole new perspective. Lessons from a Grief Diary presents material from what I call Wise Mind, with an alternating blend of raw emotional disclosure combined with intellectual analysis and commentary. We get to travel along with Judy as she copes with the unexpected illness and untimely death of her husband and goes on to build a whole new kind of life on her own. Through her ‘real-time’ journal, she reveals nuances ofthoughts and emotions that are rarely spoken aloud. Tony’s intermingled commentary adds a perceptive depth of understanding, providing the reader valuable balance and insights into this complicated evolving process we call grief. Anyone seeking to better understand and explore their own experience of grief will find this book to be an optimistic and eminently relatable companion on their journey.Joy Birnbach Dunstan, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor

Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. I loved the way Judy dealt with the death of her husband as well as the way in which she expressed her feelings. So many things she did and felt were the same as my feelings and actions when I lost my husband. Her sense of humor, her sadness, her guts to push on will make you feel like you are her best friend. Getting Tony’s perspective also gives another window into Judy’s heart. If you have lost someone close to you, everything she says will make sense. If you have not yet lost someone close to you, it will prepare you for when it happens.Audrey Zikmund, Widow for Two Years

Bereavement is a solitary, uphill climb. I watched my mother make the journey and to my child’s eyes, it took forever. Lessons from a Grief Diary is a candid account of the grieving process. It’s as if author Judy Dykstra-Brown is leading the bereaved individual into Dr. Tony Moriarty’s office where the three explore this complex emotional transitional state. I recommend this book to those who have suffered a loss, their families and friends, and to any of the professionals they turn to for help. Reading this book would have helped my mother and me.Harriet Hart, Social Worker and Past Director of Rehabilitation, Manitoba Paraplegic Association

This book is a great trail guide for exploring the pathway through grief.  We get to move between the powerful, surprising ways grief grabs us and the insights and understandings that give us something to hold on to as we pick our way through the boulders.Georgia King, County Mental Health Counselor

Reading Lessons from a Grief Diary is the surest way to go from grief to joy.Gloria Palazzo, Writer, Artist and Widow

“The  reading of this  book  took me to a place  where no other book has  ever  taken me and gave me a new appreciation of lakeside as a magical healing place.  Thank  you  for  that.  It’s a  big revelation  for me—and a big step in accepting this place that I have always  before thought of as just a place I was passing  through.  I actually read it in two nights—pretty  fast for me.  It was a privilege to  experience this book.”––Candace Spence, Lake Chapala Resident



After earning her Masters in Creative Writing and Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wyoming, Judy Dykstra-Brown taught English and writing for ten years in Australia, Ethiopia and Wyoming before moving to California to study film production and to work for a television production company. She studied writing at UCLA and in the Jack Grapes workshop, where she met her husband Bob, a poet and sculptor. After marrying, they moved to Northern California and exhibited their individual and collaborative work at galleries and art and crafts shows nationwide for thirteen years. She was curator of the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center for three and a half years. After Bob’s death in 2001, she moved to Mexico, where she has continued to publish her work in English language print and online magazines, to read and speak for various lecture series and performance groups and to exhibit her retablos and mixed media sculptures at local galleries. This is her third book.

Tony Moriarty holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been a Licensed Clinical Psychologist since 1978, working both in private practice and community mental health, where his clinical specialties include grief management. As a police psychologist, he was involved in the post-incident counseling of officers whose use of force in the line of duty had resulted in a death or serious injury. He recently retired as the Principal of Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor, Illinois, where he developed a number of programs involving non-punitive methods of managing student behavior as well as two high school police resource officer programs. He has published more than thirty articles in the professional literature and is the author of three books prior to this one.

30 thoughts on “Books for Adults”

  1. Norma Jean Iverson HuhnMarch 27, 2013 at 2:44 AM
    I will definitely be purchasing this book. I cannot wait to read this. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by you

  2. Tony MoriartyMarch 28, 2013 at 11:10 AM
    We all need to remember there is no one best path to recovery from the loss of a loved one. My path is not yours; yours is not mine. We know we’re doing OK so long as we have a path, no matter where it leads us. The point is the path.


  3. Judy KingMarch 30, 2013 at 7:12 PM
    I sure wish I could have found a book like this when I was grieving the loss of my fiance. There wasn’t a hospice group in the area, we had moved there not long before he became ill, so we hadn’t made friends yet, and I was so alone, with no one to talk to about what I was feeling. A few months after he did I thought I’d gone into early onset dementia — I couldn’t remember anything. Then I found a grief group and learned that everyone there had the same problem. What a great service you are providing with this double-faced look at grief.

    Judy King


    1. grieflessonsPost authorMarch 30, 2013 at 11:43 PM
      Thanks, Judy. People have been going through the experience of grief for as long as there have been people–and I imagine it is just within our lifetimes that grief support groups and organizations have come to be. Good friends do a lot and perhaps are enough in some cases, but at other times–I think the most helpful and comforting support comes from someone who has been through what you are going through. We are lucky we’ve survived to live in an age when it is okay to talk about such things.


  4. audreyMarch 31, 2013 at 4:01 PM
    If you have lost someone this book will open up your mind and your heart to deal with things you did not at the time. I can stuff things back about as good as any one but while reading Judy and Tony’s book it brought out feelings I had not dealt with. There were several crying jags and could not finish reading but to be picked up again later. I , too lost my husband then within a month moved to Mexico, it was the best thing I ever did especially since one of the first people I met was Judy. I would say for about the first year I was In Mexico I could not talk about my husband with out crying and I am sure making every one around me uncomfortable. There were so many similarities in Judy’s story and mine it was like going to therapy, also made me realize feelings that I had not allowed myself to feel. Judy has a way with words that will make you laugh and cry. I loved her book and will purchase one so I can read it again. Thank You Judy for having the fortitude to write this book.
    Audrey Zikmund


  5. grieflessonsPost authorMarch 31, 2013 at 11:27 PM
    Audrey. You were so brave when you came down that no one would have guessed you had lost someone–even me, if I hadn’t been told about it by a mutual friend. It goes to show that we can’t always know what someone is feeling. I’m quite an observant person and I don’t think I ever saw you break down. You seemed determined to get the most out of life that you could and not to inflict your own pain on others. I guess the first time I knew what you were going through was in your response to my book. I am so glad to have struck a chord. I can’t guess what other people go through. I can just face up to how I felt and what I did and hope it can be of help to others–especially my friends. It’s a truth of life that we get closer through hard times and that once we reveal the things we fear most to reveal, that it usually brings people closer to us. oxoxoxo Judy


  6. grieflessonsPost authorApril 10, 2013 at 1:42 AM
    Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to study it. This is my 9th day of blogging and I have much to learn about navigating the blogs. So far I’m having trouble trying to find any way to comment on other people’s blogs…Something simple I’m missing, I’m sure. Glad I found this place to thank you!!! Hope to see your name again….


    1. grieflessonsPost authorApril 13, 2013 at 11:14 AM
      It is at the formatter’s. I’ll let you know. I’m in the process of choosing an illustrator for my “Sock Talk” book. Do you remember that I wrote that for you loooooong ago when I sent you that box of crazy socks? For years, people have been saying I should publish it as a children/adult picture book but I could never find an illustrator. Finally decided to bite the bullet. I’m negotiating with four different professional illustrators–all of whom have many books under their belt. It will be expensive, but I just want to get that goal accomplished. Three other rhymed children’s books–all completed but never published– will follow if I find the process is successful. This feels like the year to accomplish big goals.


      1. Cintra L. GodfreyApril 15, 2013 at 7:01 AM
        Okey dokey, I’ll check back! I’m delighted to hear that Sock talk is going to press. That was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. You gave me two pairs of shoes as well!


  7. Patti Dykstra ArnieriApril 13, 2013 at 1:19 PM
    I’ve spent this morning reading your poems and the comments on them (isn’t Ann remarkably insightful? She’s another woman who has a way with words). As always, I love your writing and love seeing how others respond to it. I’m so proud of you. xxoo Patti


    1. grieflessonsPost authorApril 13, 2013 at 3:12 PM
      Yes, as I’ve told her, she captures every nuance. Makes a writer feel so appreciated to have someone look so closely at their work, internalize and experience it. Are you ready to proof my next book? It is only 14 pages long, luckily–finally, the much-shelved “Sock Talk” will come to bookstores and Kindles near you!!!!


  8. mariaholmJanuary 22, 2015 at 3:50 AM
    I would like to get your books too. I have battled with grief also in different ways; nearly losing teenage children to the consequences of addiction and emotional disturbances, still having to manage full time work as if nothing was wrong.

    Liked by you

    1. lifelessonsPost authorJanuary 22, 2015 at 10:13 AM
      They are all available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, and I think there should be a link on my Books pages. I hope if you do read them that you’ll write to give your further thoughts on the themes…I love these comments almost as much as the writing…especially if they turn into dialogues. Thanks for reading and commenting, Maria. Judy

      Liked by 1 person

      1. mariaholmJanuary 22, 2015 at 3:47 PM
        I love to find people like you to exchange thoughts with. I will buy them via as there is a lot of tax if we in Europe buy from .com
        We can’t get Kindle here, but a regular book in your hand is very nice

        Liked by you

      2. lifelessonsPost authorJanuary 22, 2015 at 7:14 PM
        I’m surprised you can’t get Kindle. Do you know why? Would you believe I’ve never read a book on Kindle? I do listen to books on audible while I’m driving, in the studio or falling asleep..Best way to do two things at once. Doubt my books will ever be on Audible, but you never know…Judy


      3. mariaholmJanuary 23, 2015 at 12:06 AM
        In Denmark we have E-books, but I remember that I have tried to order some in the kindle form from Amazon, but could not. Ordinarily books are so good for me as I hear classical music nearly always


    2. lifelessonsPost authorFebruary 13, 2015 at 6:48 AM
      Maria. I hope by now that if you have read my books that you will comment on whether they have been a help to you. This blogsite quickly evolved from one dealing primarily with grief to one celebrating the joys of life, but it is all part of one process. I’d love to hear how you are doing now and what you have found to be of help in your life. Best, Judy


      1. mariaholmFebruary 13, 2015 at 6:52 AM
        You should only know that I lost track of you and had to write a few days ago on the common blog roll #blogging201 if any body could help me to find you. I got the answer very quickly from an English blogger and then found that I was already following you. I had looked through nearly a hundred bloggers that I follow. So I have not yet ordered the books. But so happy to know where you are.

        Liked by you

      2. lifelessonsPost authorFebruary 13, 2015 at 2:30 PM
        What synchronicity that I should contact you out of the blue just as you were searching. I’ll look forward to your comments after you read the books. Thanks for being so diligent in your search, Maria…Judy

        Liked by 1 person

  9. RonovanSeptember 22, 2015 at 8:07 PM
    If I were not so backed up on LitWorldInterviews with Book Reviews and Interviews I would want an interview with you. Still do. If you could email me at ronovanwrites (a) gmail (dot) com I would like to keep in touch and have another proposal as well.:)

Since I have written a book entitled Lessons from a Grief Diary: Rebuilding Your Life after the Death of A Loved One, I guess this is an obvious place to establish a link to it.