grief journey

Jenny and Her Ghosts

I’m a Game of Thrones fan and I’m also a lover of medieval-sounding music, so I really enjoyed the new song, “Jenny of Oldstones,” by Florence + the Machine on last night’s episode. I downloaded it today from Amazon music and was listening to it sitting out under the gazebo in the hour I have between getting off work and going to play trivia at the bar tonight.

So there I sat enjoying the beautiful sunny day and listening to the soothing mystical words of the ballad, lyrics about Jenny and her ghosts….

High in the halls of the kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts
The ones she had lost and the ones she had found
And the ones who had loved her the most.

The ones who’d been gone for so very long
She couldn’t remember their names
They spun her around on the damp cold stone
Spun away all her sorrow and pain

And she never wanted to leave
Never wanted to leave.
Never wanted to leave.

In the background as the music played, the windchimes overhead also rang melodiously, and the memorial chimes that hold some of Rick’s ashes became a haunting backdrop to the poignant lyrics.

The lyrics and the softly playing chimes took me back to the time when all I longed to do was dance with my ghost. Nothing in the real world after Rick died held as much joy as our remembered times together. I gathered all his material possessions into one place.  I hugged his worn old favorite shirts close to me, trying to detect just a glimpse of his smell. I searched for every last photo so I could relive the memories they elicited. I listened constantly to our favorite shared songs, and daydreamed about him any time I could.

For months and months, I wrapped my head around anything that kept his spirit near, languishing in our memories. I created a special place in my mind where we could be together, where we could continue our dance… and I never wanted to leave.

I never wanted to leave.

Then one day, finally, I made the choice that everyone who grieves must make: live in the past, dancing with the ghosts – or accept reality, embrace life once again, make new plans, seek the living.

And as I sat there under the gazebo, soaking up the sun, I felt contentment, because I believe there will come a day when I will dance with Rick again, but for now, I know I have more living to do.


See the music video 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *