Living with Loss: Filling the Emptiness

The void after loss is indescribable. Don’t even try to explain what it feels like to someone who hasn’t lived with and experienced it. The sad truth is that nothing fills that void, not food, not money, not drugs, not vacations, and not another person. This fact can take years to realize. It did for me.

One of the most impactful books I read that provided me with one of those V-8 moments was Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever You Go There You Are and I highly recommend getting yourself a copy. It seems we frequently want to be somewhere other than where we are at this moment. You may want to be in the past or may wish it were years in the future where you assume your loss will be less painful. I did both. I wished for the life I had with Joe and then I wished five years could just pass and I would be over the worst part of loss. Wishful thinking does nothing but waste precious time.

Did I learn a way to fill that emptiness? No, there isn’t any. We move forward in our lives not to fill the void but to make space to bring new things into our lives. This is not an easy task and often we have no idea what we want other than what we had. So here what I would suggest:

1. Write down all the possibilities of what you might bring to your life. (Think out of the box; think the most ridiculous, absurd possibilities. Dream and use your imagination).

2. For each possibility, write down the steps it would take to make it happen. (Do you need more education or to learn a new skill, do you need more money, more contacts; do you need to travel or live somewhere else)?

3. Make a timeline starting with today’s date and end the timeline with the date when you want to actualize the possibility.

4. Mark your path with specific dates on the timeline when you will complete the steps you need to take.

5. Post the timeline where you can see it every single day.

Yes, it’s a plan, a process and you’re creating the map.

Audrey Pellicano R.N., M.S. is a Health Counselor to widowed women, working with them to help them the courage to create a new role for themselves and face the world again without pain. She has been in the health care industry for 37 years as a Registered Nurse and Case Manager with a Masters degree in Health Science. Through her 20 years of widowhood, Audrey has experienced the lack of attention and knowledge given to widows. Her unique approach encompasses utilizing the dynamic tools that she knows work, including visualization and meditation. Please visit You can contact Audrey at

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