It has been over seven months since the death of my boyfriend, criminal attorney Richard Sharpstein. While in many ways I have made progress, at other times I feel as sad and lonely as the day he passed away. Yes, the pain is a bit duller; but the reality of his loss is always with me, especially late at night.
As the months have unfolded and more information has become available, I have come to believe, without a doubt, that Richard’s death was an accident. This has helped me to cope with his death.
I have continued to seek help and support — doctors, spiritual guidance, a bereavement group, exercise, socializing with friends. I took a trip to Asheville, N.C., recently with two longtime Miami Beach girlfriends ( Mati Deutsch and Abby Rubin) — my first getaway since Richard died.
Richard had a home in Brevard, N.C., not far from where we stayed. He loved everything about the area – mountains, fresh air, cool clear lakes, and majestic trees. He reveled in hiking, swimming, making fires in the wood-burning fireplace, country music, feeding the deer and birds, as well as the low-key atmosphere and friendly folks.
I enjoyed spending time with my friends in North Carolina. We shopped a bit, cooked a lot, played tennis, mahjong, Scrabble and laughed. I ate more than I have in ages. At times, though, I felt overwhelmed by memories — recalling moments Richard and I had spent together just miles away.
One afternoon, my girlfriends and I took a river rafting trip. The rapids were relatively calm and it was fun. At one point, we exited the raft to swim. We had the opportunity to climb some boulders and jump into the river. Most of the kids on the trip opted for the jump — and so did I. I had to fight back fears to do so – but took the plunge nevertheless. It was relevant to the steps I’ve had to take in my life these past few years — through divorce, illness, grief— to continue to move up and on.
After I jumped, Mati said, “Good for you! Good way to make new memories.” And I guess that’s how one begins to piece back together a new life — by making new memories.
After living in the same Miami Beach home for 25 years (if and when the condo association approves me), I will relocate to a South Beach apartment. While it’s in the same zip code, it’s one-third the size and requires that I let go of many physical and emotional things I’ve acquired over the decades. It’s about creating room for new memories.
According to Susan King, Intuitive Counselor at Metropolitan Miami by Como Hotels ( www.susankingintuitive.com), whom I met with this week, moving will be good for me. She suggests I will bring “positive energy and peace to my new home.” She also reminded me to keep writing my book (in the works) to “care for and nurture myself,” allow releases for my anger and to know that Richard’s spirit is always with me as a guiding light.
I continue to attend bereavement group meetings. Run by the Children’s Bereavement Center in cooperation with Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, the meetings are held the first and third Wednesdays of each month.
Recently, the center’s program director Kathy Kramer asked me if I found the group helpful. I told her the truth: Yes, it is comforting to be able to share certain thoughts and emotions with people who can truly relate (despite our differing ages or backgrounds) – sometimes better than close friends or family members. But I also admitted that this level of bereavement is the toughest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Kathy’s reply: “I think it [grief] is the biggest adjustment a person can go through … and, although groups, counseling, friends, exercise, etc. may all be helpful, it is something we go through alone. And, the road is long and winding.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Miami photographer Henry Perez has a new exhibit, “La Femme … en Noir et Blanc” at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. It kicked off with a free reception July 25 featuring 128 images focusing women’s natural beauty. A portion of the exhibit (18 photos) will remain on display at the Garden through Aug. 8.
“The exhibit is a study about women of all ages, their inner and outer beauty,” explained Perez, 59.
The photos were staged over the past year at locales throughout South Florida. One shot captures 25 women – all dressed in white – in North Beach.
Other photos feature locals, including Miami Beach Botanical Garden Executive Director Cindy Brown, health activist Sabrina Cohen, gospel singer Maryel Epps and Laurie Allen, who runs the South Florida Circus Arts School and Rainbow Circus.