Surviving Hug Withdrawal – Latest post on the Hope for Widows website

I’m a hugger. A cuddler. A squeezer.

Touching and affection are powerfully important elements that keep me happy, sane, and functioning. I know I’m not alone in this. Quarantining is wreaking havoc with the psyches of many of us who are stuck in our homes by ourselves, with no outlet for our love and affection.

Missing Rick’s hugs – his giant, huge, loving, embrace – was one of the most difficult challenges to endure after he died. That man could hug! When he wrapped you in his 6’5” 300-pound powerful frame, you felt it. He often lifted me off the floor in the middle of the hug, and I’m no light weight.

Rick also patted my ass every time I walked by him. He randomly rubbed my shoulders when he came up behind me as I sat at my desk, stroked my hair back from my face when we lay in bed, and held my hand everywhere – sitting in the chair next to mine, walking into stores and restaurants, even across the console in the car as he drove. And – my favorite of all – he slow-danced with me at random times – in the kitchen when a romantic song came on the radio, or on our deck at the end of an evening of wine and dinner. Sometimes, there was no music. Slowly, gently swaying back and forth wrapped in his loving embrace was the epitome of our expression of love for each other.

So, yes, when Rick died, I lost all those warm, wonderful, comforting opportunities to express my love and feel it pouring back to me. But, over the past two and a half years, I’ve found substitutes. I hug just about every family member and friend upon greeting and departure. I’ve hugged many of my coworkers. Eventually, I even purchased a weighted blanket which feels a little bit like a hug. And of course, my grandchildren – ages 3-18 have kept me well-supplied in hugs. The youngest two seem to spend most evenings when I visit sitting on their Boba’s lap, or cuddled up under a blanket, nestled in on either side of me as we watch movies together every Wednesday and some Saturdays. Well, they used to, anyway…

Read the rest on the Hope for Widow website.

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at

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