grief and loss

Phantom Embraces – New Blog Post on Hope for Widows Foundation site

… But some nights, I lie down on my side, pull the covers around me, and put out the light, and I sense him there. It’s not a conscious decision; it just happens. I feel him scooch over next to me from behind and pull me to him, and snuggle up against me. I feel the cocoon of his love, as if he’s really there. It occured to me last night that it’s probably much like a person who’s lost a limb and the phantom pains that come throughout the years, despite its absence. In my case, it’s a phantom embrace, an embrace that was a nightly part of my life, something I enjoyed for two decades, yet now it’s gone.

Unlike the phantom pains, which I can only imagine are actual pain, these embraces are bittersweet – pain mixed with a bit of pleasure. For a few minutes, I close my eyes and pretend it’s real, and I feel the comfort again: the love, the intimacy, the peace that I was engulfed in with each of Rick’s embraces. But then reality strikes, and I miss him – and the love he bestowed upon me with those giant comforting hugs – all the more…

Read my latest blog post 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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