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Posted November 6, 2011

Book: Alone: For All Those Who Grieve
Author: W.F. (Bill) Cento
Tasora Books, Minneapolis, MN. 2011. Pp. 90

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Bill Cento lost his wife, Vera, twice. First, he watched as her memories and personality were claimed by dementia. Then, upon her death, he coped once more with loss. A newspaper reporter by trade, Cento started “reporting on” his loss, but as his grief experience broadened — through grief counseling groups and prayer — he started writing poetry. In the poems, Cento finds the beauty in language and the imagery to convey his raw emotions experienced by his loss. He compiled the poems into a booklet called Alone, which he has distributed across the U.S. finding a wide audience. Hundreds of letters of appreciation poured in with similar themes: “Your feeling and sentiments were so powerful I found tears I thought had died long ago.”

For the grieving and also for caregivers, it is a poetic journey from paralyzing loss to the tender and optimistic steps toward a new life.

An Excerpt from the Book:

One day, about two months after Vera’s death, I confronted the grief that was engulfing me and snatched control — however briefly — from its powerful grasp. For that precious period of time, my life was mine again. You can do it, too. Remember this journey of ours is taken one step at a time, and this could be one stride you can take today. Try it.

Healing Grief

I am new to grieving,
Vera, my wife of 42 years, suffered
from a slowly advancing dementia
that in her last five years
stole her memory
and finally
drained the soul from her body
only two months ago.

I am new to grieving
and I am quickly finding
that it’s going to be
a longer and tougher journey
than I expected

I am new to grieving,
Instead of confronting loneliness
I run away from it
to distract myself
from the reality of being alone
at home
at night.
Ask anyone who has lost a spouse —
the nights are the worst.

when I feel loneliness coming on
as the evening meal approaches
and I dread being by myself,
I go to The Cherokee restaurant,
order a martini and another,
and perhaps another —
and finally a meal — and maybe
a Scotch and soda or two for the road.

I am new to grieving
and I am wondering whether
I’m downing all these drinks
because I know I’ll soon be home
alone again
with empty chairs that cannot speak,
a piano gone silent because
there’s no one to play it,
and only the mattress on an empty bed
to enfold me?

Tonight is different.
Instead of running away,
I decide to confront the loneliness,
boil pasta, simmer sauce,
open a bottle of red wine
and eat alone listening to
Ella Fitzgerald sing a little Gershwin.

It hurts a lot — this first evening meal
at home alone,
but it is progress in facing grief.
However small, I have taken a step
on a long healing journey
that only can be made
one stride at a time,
even though the pain of each step
at times is as searing
as walking on hot coals.

I am new to grieving,
but I feel good about facing loneness
and not running away from it,
because as the sun sets on this day
I am again in charge of my life —
even if it is just for a short time
before grief takes hold anew.

Table of Contents:

1. Caregiving

2. Loss

3. Memories

4. Recovery

5. Healing