371 Productions | WPT | Center on Age and Community | Peck School of the Arts 
Practical tools and tips for family members and caretakers
Changing Long-term Care
Discussion guides
National Partners

How do I deal with grief?

An interview with Ralph Nelson, Saint John’s resident

What helped you deal with your grief after your wife died?
In the first place I knew she was going to go. It was an easy death for her. She didn’t suffer. I don’t know what I would have done if it had been an unexpected kind of thing. When she did die, I knew that I had to keep busy. That I knew. I knew that I had to get out and do things. To sit in a room or an apartment and look at the wall with just you and God … that I couldn’t do. So I tried to do things, go out to eat for instance. I walk a lot, go to the theater, the opera, the symphony. And I have my sons, my grandkids and my great-grandkids and so I do things with them. Like yesterday my son called up and said, “Let’s go out to lunch.” I’ve taken up picking up trash around Saint John’s just to be sure I get out. Then I’m a stock boy every Monday at the store here at Saint John’s. I’m enjoying myself.

Did the grieving process get easier for you?
I don’t know what grieving actually means. I have memories. Pleasant, pleasant memories. The worst part of the whole thing is that we used to walk a lot together, and we use to travel. Now, traveling is tough when you don’t have somebody to share it with. So, next week my friend Bob and I are going to take a trip up on the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers.

How do you help your friends get through the grieving process?
Well, my friend Bob lost his wife recently and so I go out to dinner with him. We’re going to go on this trip together because I think it’s important not to sit around. I couldn’t do that. Bob shouldn’t do that either. He is a very outgoing guy. It’s been our experience when we had friends who lost husbands or wives early on that we would include them. You get used to going to dinner together as a couple and doing things as a couple … then suddenly you’re not a couple, that’s tough. So we always make a point to include people.

Do you think about your wife everyday?
Well, Teal taught me so much. And I talk to her. When I need her I just say ‘How ‘bout it, Teal?’

How do I
deal with
end of life?

Lyn and Joan discuss their mother's condition.

Watch RealVideo clip (2:19)
featuring Lyn Slater, Joan Spector and Betty Nagel

Download free player from real.comWatch clip with RealPlayer, a free media player available at real.com.


Essay by Carol Ott

Essay by Chris Kovach

»Interview with Ralph Nelson


Additional resources

Learn about different forms of grief and how to give support

The Healing Journey: Help for the Bereaved (PDF)

Home | About the Film | Outreach Tools | Site Map | Search

Understanding Aging | Changing Long-Term CareGlossary
Discussion GuidesNational Partners