grief journey

Still Picking Up the Pieces – Latest blog on the Hope for Widows website

Five years ago today, I held Rick’s hand in a death grip. A literal death grip, for hour upon hour. By noon of that day, I realized he was going to die, and he did, at 8pm that night.

The night before, alone in my bed, I had an odd feeling. A scary feeling. A feeling like my life was going to change drastically. A feeling that the love of my life may be leaving me forever. The odd thing is, there was no medical reason for me to think that the night before he died. He’d broken his hip the day before, and, sure, there were unexpected breathing issues, but the doctors said he’d just need to be on a ventilator for a couple days until his lungs were clear, then they’d do the surgery to repair his hip. After a few weeks of rest, he’d be like new.

Well, as new as a man in remission from lung cancer could be.

But, that’s the thing… he was in remission. The cancer wasn’t the issue. The effects of the chemo and radiation had weakened him and he’d fallen before he could regain his strength. So, this was just a setback, right? Not life threatening? Except, deep inside, my mind was telling me this wasn’t routine, or a setback, or any of those things. This was it.

I couldn’t sleep that night. Finally, I texted him….


Read the rest of the blog here.

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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