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Grief has invaded my life so many times. During the Christmas season, I often become teary-eyed thinking about friends and family I don't see any more and reminisce about wonderful times gone by. Of course, I have new things and wonderful times that delightfully get woven into my days.

So what do you do with grief? In the past, I cried, tried to laugh with friends, busied myself, slept, played cards, screamed into my pillow, and swam in the Y pool until I was spent. Oh, and I did art, of course. Each of these responses to grief has worked to channel emotions in certain instances on certain days.

I spoke with a friend today about it. We were talking about jig saw puzzles. She works them alone. I enjoy working them with people. I remembered a time when I got relief from my grief while working a big jigsaw puzzle with my friend, Joy. Joy has always been there for me. I wanted to be with her and she with me, but she didn't know what to say and I didn't really want to talk. We worked side by side on the puzzle in silence for a long time. It was so comforting and was a great focus for me....a quieting focus.

I remember 13 years ago, after my divorce, I would go and see my Uncle Frank. He lived alone in the country, and I, in my aloneness, would go and talk to him about my grief. He understood. I would lie down on the swing that was hanging under the tree to cry and sleep. I remember that there was comfort that felt like a warm blanket over me. And realistically, I did have a warm blanket covering me. Uncle Frank had covered me while I was sleeping. I get teary eyed now when I think about it. I got through that time because I had someone who understood, in a quiet, non-intrusive way. And he normally was a nonstop conversationalist.

I have been told that people just want "presence" when they are grieving. That is something we all can give, if a grieving friend will open up to it. Quiet presence.

I have lunch with my long time friend, Kathy, weekly. She is constantly and faithfully present with me. We can comfortably be quiet or talk nonstop. We are emotionally "in the moment" with one-another.

I am still learning to be quiet and present. I am doing better with it. Since I have been the recipient of this type of attention, it gives me the inspiration to allow that to characterize me.