Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes – Latest Blog Posted on the Hope for Widows website

… We practically built this place together. It was a foreclosure that need a lot of TLC and we worked day and night to do it ourselves. We tore out kitchen cupboards, then reinstalled new ones, built an island, installed new countertops, and totally rearranged the kitchen. We opened walls, laid flooring throughout, installed all new doors, and lights, and put crown molding throughout the house. In the basement, we put in studs and insulated. Rick built huge, strong shelving all the way around our 2 ½ car garage. He built three decks and a fountain in the backyard, planted flowers and shrubs, and even assembled the gazebo on one deck right after his last chemo treatment.
So, the morning after he died, as I looked around at all we had done together, I thought, I will NEVER leave this place, our place.

And now, 18 months later, I am contemplating doing just that. What changed?

I’m not exactly sure. It seems many things have changed on many levels. In practical terms, I don’t need this much house. And the fact that some strange man was able to enter my home while I slept a few feet down the hall does factor a little into my new attitude. And, of course, living closer to my son would be more convenient and less wear and tear on my car. But I know there is more to it than those practical considerations.

I think over the past year and a half of grieving, the physical reminders have begun to matter less and less. When Rick first died, I didn’t want to part with anything, nothing he had touched, or owned, or created. I gathered all his things and put them in his office. I left as many of items untouched as I could: the mints on the livingroom table, the toothbrush in the bathroom cabinet, the things in his office, and on his desk, and on bedroom end table. I tried to keep him frozen in time. I tried to stay close to him by clinging to his possessions.

And as time has moved on, I’ve discovered that those “things” have meant less and less to me. His memory isn’t present in artifacts, and keeping any or all of his possessions won’t bring him back. Read the blog on the Hope for Widows 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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