Monthly Archives: May 2007

Do’s and don’ts with grieving in-laws

1. If you must date within the first year or two of a partner’s death, please be thoughtful and respectful of other grieving family members. They will appreciate and love you for it.

2. Do not expect them to welcome or accept your new partner as a replacement of their son or daughter.

3. If you live in a small town, let your in-laws know that you are dating. Indicate that you want them to hear it from you, rather than someone else.

4. Do not go into details or introduce the new partner, unless the family asks questions or indicate that they’d like to meet your significant other.

5. Your need for acceptance and approval is NOT more important than a family’s need for time to grieve.

6. Do not bring your date or new spouse, to an in-law family gathering, unless 18 months have past since the death, or he/she has been invited.  If in doubt, ask the host.

More reading:  grieving in-laws

Grieving in-laws


I will be leaving soon to travel out of state to be with my mother for memorial day weekend. Monday is the first anniversary date of my sister’s death. My sister and I were the closest we had been in a long time, in the last year of her life. For most of our adult lives, she and I lived thousands of miles apart. During her last year, we had more opportunities to visit, reminisce and laugh a lot.

Except for the last year, I can’t say that I was really close to my 49 year old sister. However, when her husband announced six months after her death, that he was seriously dating someone, feelings of loyalty and anguish came gushing to the surface.

Feeling close to my mother, my former brother in law wanted my mother to meet this new woman that he was growing fond of. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, my mother agreed to let him bring her over. I am not sure if you can imagine how difficult this must have been for a grieving mother.

I can’t tell you the anger that I am still feeling when I heard he did this. He normally is a sensitive guy. He is hurt that I don’t want to meet his girlfriend during this upcoming visit. I told him that I am still grieving and it is too painful to see him with another woman.

I did not expect my brother in law to remain single forever. He is a thoughtful, loving person and deserves to be happy. If he couldn’t wait for a year, I wish he would simply have informed us that he was dating. It would have been hard to keep it from my mother and other sister anyway, as they live in a small town. I know there are no hard and fast rules about an appropriate length of time to grieve, but it is important to remember that all family members are in different stages of the grieving process. It seems that my brother in law thinks that because he has moved on, the rest of us have or should too.

Not realizing the potential…

My partner surprised me recently by giving me two extra wide monitors for my birthday.  Not realizing the potential, I was dumbfounded. What do I need (two) wide monitors for? (I didn’t say this out loud.) In her research, she read that video editing, working in Photoshop, is easier when you have more monitor space. We’ve talked about larger monitors for some time, but I really couldn’t imagine that it would be that big of a deal for the cost involved.

I told my sister, that J gave me two monitors for my birthday and she said, “what do you need two monitors for?” I said, “I am not sure, but J thinks I need them!”

We hooked up one monitor because this is going to require serious desk reorganization. A few days go by, my partner is wondering to herself if she made a big mistake with that big purchase. I open Photoshop several days later and whooooaaaaaa…. is this ever cool. I open up Microsoft Word and whooooaaaaa… is this ever convenient. I open up the video software…. and my lucky stars…. how did I get by with a 17 inch monitor before??

With an extra wide monitor, you can view two normal size pages at the same time, side by side. If you’re cutting and pasting, back and forth between two documents, or comparing information from two different windows, no opening or minimizing, or clicking to see what’s on the page behind. Extra wide means ample room to see numerous windows, which is a great blessing in video editing and Photoshop work.

My partner feels a LOT better that I love these new monitors and am anxious to get the second one hooked up. I told her it just took me a while to realize what a wonderful gift she had given.

This is so true in life isn’t it?  We don’t always recognize our blessings, the potential of our friends, our spouse and family members.  Hopefully, it doesn’t take a crisis to recognize the wonderful gift of those who love you.

A mother to others…

They laid Ms. Ginny in the ground today. Her body rests peacefully after months of illness. I’ll always remember her as the woman who was a “mother to others.”

I first met Ginny when visiting the church that we eventually put our roots down into. As my eleven year old son and I tried to make a hasty exit out of the sanctuary, I was approached by a friendly woman who proceeded to make comfortable conversation. As this interesting dialogue approached the 15 minute mark, I glanced around to see if my son was still waiting for me. He was engaged in conversation with Ms. Ginny and her sister. Of course I hadn’t met Ginny yet, but any adult who made the effort to make a young visitor feel welcome, began to rate very high on my list.

As we became active in that congregation, it became obvious that Ms Ginny was a special person. Her smooth, calm voice had a way of conveying assurance and acceptance. She lived her life in a way that offered unconditional love to those who had been rejected. When other mothers renounced their sons because of their sexual orientation, Ginny was there to offer friendship, love, and a shoulder to cry on.

There is one Mother’s Day I hope I never forget. Ginny had recently fallen and needed assistance to walk. When she arrived at church, a member of the choir named Barry, greeted her affectionately. It was obvious that Ms. Ginny meant a lot to Barry. He pinned on a corsage and proudly escorted her to a pew. It was a touching moment. Ms. Ginny wasn’t Barry’s natural mother, but yet a real mother. She offered Barry unconditional love during a difficult time in his life, and became like family to him and his partner.

Yes, that part of the sanctuary is a little darker where Ms. Ginny usually sat. However, her life reminds me and all who knew her, the importance of being a loving presence. That place in the sanctuary will become brighter as others fill in for her absence. This is one way the love of God is passed on from generation to generation, learning from and being inspired by the saints who have lived amongst us.

Goodbye Ms. Ginny, thank you for showing us how to be a “real mother” to others.  ©2007

#3 of 3 in series: five more issues to discuss online before meeting in person…


11) What kind of baggage does the other carry related to past relationships? What has been the length of time since the last serious relationship? What were the hurtful issues, have they been healed?

12) Are they married, are they still living together with their EX, what is their living arrangement? How attached are you to your location? Do you need to be near family and friends? How easily do you make new friends? If you were to live together, who would move?

13) What are their attitudes about sex, what kind of sex or stimulation do they most enjoy? Are you willing to try new techniques or expand your horizons?

(14) What place does faith or spirituality have in their life? What commonality or differences do you have in religious beliefs? How will you celebrate religious holidays and with whom?

15) Are they interested in a long term commitment or short term fling? Does this match your expectations? Is he or she the kind of person that you would logically choose or are compatible with if feelings and emotions weren’t involved?

By all means, this is not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start.  When you decide to meet in person, someone you’ve met online, hopefully their walk matches their talk.  If not, keep looking.  Truthfulness is an important foundation to a trusting relationship. Good luck and be careful out there!

See:  #1 of 3 in series:

#2 of 3 in series:

#2 in series: five more issues to discuss online before meeting in person

Discussing value issues before you meet, helps to determine how compatible you are with another.  Studies show that higher compatibility leads to happier relationships….especially if you are thinking long term.   It is easier to determine compatibility on many of the long term values before you become emotionally and physically involved.   After one’s hormones kick in, rational tends to get left in the dust.

Here are another five issues to discuss before meeting!

6) What physical limitations does the other have? How well do you do with caring for someone when they are sick? Do you mind changing plans and staying home when the other is not feeling well?

7) How do you feel about monogamy or open ended relationships? How do you feel about porn, about flirting online with others? Is it okay for your partner or spouse to go out with friends without you?

8) How “out” are you, to family, friends, work colleagues? Will the other be welcome at family gatherings?

9) Are you a homebody or a party animal? What kinds of activities do you picture the two of you doing together?

10) How do you feel about communication, contact with ex-lovers? Is it okay for ex lovers to meet alone or only in group situations? Why or why not?

#1 in series: five issues to discuss online before meeting in person!

As indicated in a previous post, my partner and I met in an online chat room. This past weekend we were discussing things that we knew and wished we known, prior to meeting. Assuming you are an adult and single, if you’re falling for someone you’ve met online,  or offline for that matter,  we recommend discussing these things for compatibility before getting emotionally involved.  They reflect some pretty big value issues.

1) Does the other have any children, how many, what are the ages. Are you interested in becoming a parent short term or long term?

2) Does the other have pets, how many, do they sleep in bed? How do you feel about pets, about taking them with you on vacations, getting up in the night to let them outside, peeing on your carpet, scratching your furniture?

3) How much debt does the other have, what financial goals does she/he have? Financially independent? Do you mind spending your money on the other’s debt? Which comes first: new entertainment items, household items or utility bills?

4) Does the other have a career or will any job do? Certain careers such as doctors, clergy, law enforcement, will present special challenges for a social and family life. Which comes first, your relationship or your job?

5) Does he/she have any interests or hobbies that they are very involved in and require participation in on weekends? Do you have hobbies, do you mind spending weekend time alone?

dr pers   ©2007


Why do people stay in abusive relationships?

Why do people stay in abusive relationships?

Kerry: Some people stay in abusive relationships because they are afraid of what will happen if they leave, and the changes that will follow.

dr pers: Some stay because they don’t think they have enough economical resources of their own, to “go it alone.”

Kerry: Some stay in abusive partnerships because they have become “comfortable with the uncomfortable.” In other words, “it is hard being in this relationship, but it’s all I know and I’m stuck with it”.

dr pers: Some stay because of religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds.

Kerry: Some try to cope, try to change their partners or hope that their partner will change on their own. All I can say about waiting for your partner to change is, “let me know how that goes”.

While this list is rather simple, we acknowledge the issues are more complex.

Making a good decision about breaking up or staying together…

Downright Personal asked an experienced counselor what people should consider in making a good decision about whether to break up or stay in their relationship.  This is her response.

I would ask myself these questions:

1) do I experience some kind of healthy pleasure on a daily basis in this relationship?

2) am I part of the decision making equation in our relationship?

3) do I give, and receive respect in this relationship?

4) are my physical and emotional needs being met most of the time?

5) is there love, nurturing and support in this relationship?

6) is there enough trust that each of us can grow in this relationship?

The counselor concluded with this:  If you answer no to all of these, or even one of them, consider evaluating the reasons you are in this relationship.   If you have a hard time evaluating, please consider asking for help from your support system or a counselor.  It’s hard to see your way out if you’re in the eye of the hurricane!