There are times when I lose my smile.  It is as if it jumps off my lips, and chases down the street chuckling that I can’t quite catch it.  Other times, I am an easy laugh, grinning when I can to get through the day.

I would tell you of the careers I have had—consulting to executives, managing health programs—but these jobs matter not.  In the end, life matters.  I have lost two husbands.  The last, and the love of my life, passed in May of 2011 from leukemia.  I cared for a truly delightful mother battling Parkinson’s and dementia in my home.  She was put on hospice a month before my husband died, and lasted another 18 tough months.

Perhaps I had not realized I had been a caregiver for most of 22 years between my husbands and my mother.  It was an honor in so many ways, but once Bob and “Miss Elma” passed, I had to find a new purpose in life to pull me through the grief.  Writing became my passion.  Helping others experiencing grief was my hope.

I now speak at grief workshops and grief groups.  I facilitate one of the country’s Death Cafés, a discussion group that tackles the necessary topics surrounding the many issues of death and dying.  My writing is used by some hospice companies for staff training.  I have published in the AARP Bulletin, the L.A. Times, the Fullerton Observer, and the Jessup Sentinel.

Facilitating writing classes appeals to my creative side, and allows me to help others.  Yet, I also need fun, the type that plants a smile across my face.  When I’m not speaking about grief or helping people improve their writing, I lead a Senior Flash Mob with dancers between 56 and 84 years of age.  We show up in malls, on campuses, and even on television.

So, when my smile tries to jump off my face, I let it go.  I take the time to feel my grief.  I feel the loss.  And I honor my loved ones.  Afterwards, I get back to creative writing, helping writers, and supporting fellow grievers.  Then I dance.  Funny thing, once the music starts, that smile always comes back home.

9 Responses to About

  1. I thought you were incredible 25 years ago & I still think you’re incredible today.

  2. Eric Miller says:

    Glad you have an outlet (your writing) to help with this time in your life. I am also glad to see and learn of ways to handle the things going on now, that I have been lucky enough to escape having to deal with. Avoided for a while, but rushing in on me now. I am clueless about how to “handle things” (if that ever really works, or is just our emotional attempt at self protection when we are simply “overwhelmed” with the tough events in life). Recalling the best of times, does help lend a perspective and balance. I find myself “learning” again, not the enjoyable lessons, but the still neccessary ones. E.

  3. jeanette,you are one selfless woman.you have the kind of courage that only a natural leader has.it is a very big heart that lives inside you,and allows you to keep loving when it seems useless.you still are an angel!!!!.take care,your friend,gary.

  4. Clare Colson Westfall says:

    Jeanette, it has been a real privledge to have known such an incredible and talented writer. You make us Carpinterians PROUD! We may be in the winter of our years, but staying optimistic is the best source of rejuvination. Your memoirs are beautiful, just like you.

    • Jeanette says:

      Clare, thank you for the beautiful comment on my website. I am delighted that you like my writing, and you are so right about staying optimistic. We must talk more through the oncoming years – this will be the best winter of all. Warmly, Jeanette

  5. Karen Lehrer says:

    Jeanette, you are truly amazing. A mentor and inspiration to all that know you. You are also a wonderful insightful author. My great pleasure to know you.

  6. Roy Weightman says:

    Jeanette, Your writing tells me that you have reached a place where you see the light from your past. I to have lost a most precious being. At first I felt as though I was mired in a pool of muck. Struggling to find an answer to lesson the pain. With writings such as this and help for those who truly understand what it means to lose ones self I thank you. Because of people such as yourself I’ve come to a point where the love in my heart is now allowing me to overcome the pain and torment of losing the most important being in my life.

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