About The Book

A Grief Journey…and a Love Story

This Website is to introduce our book, Flowers From Andrea, and to make it accessible to a wider audience. Flowers From Andrea is a book about my grief journey and things I learned and experienced within it. It is a place to share some history on who we are and it is a place to share the music we’ve written that is referenced in the book.

From Flowers From Andrea :

This book is about love. It’s not necessarily about loss. It is about a journey of grief and discovery and vision. It’s about learning and growing and filling empty spaces. It’s about spirit and living and rising out of the ashes of a shattered life into the light of hope, healing and wellness.

I want to share my grief journey here in the hopes that some of it will resonate for who ever finds it and reads it and that it may help them on their own journeys.

I know everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time but I have seen that there are also commonalities and they seem to transcend our differences and allow us to help each other along the road.

It is also written in honor of my wife Andrea Adaire (Andi) and all we shared in our 32 year marriage and during the years of my grief journey that we have shared as well. It is also written in part by her, sharing her words and thoughts with me across the veil. 

My personal experience with bereavement is mostly from what happened to me after Andi’s eight-year battle with stage-four Breast Cancer came to an end in 2016. Most of what I have based the book on is what I’ve learned and experienced during the years since Andi’s passing. I’ve attended over 3 years of grief support-group meetings, facilitated grief support meetings for almost 4 years, and listened and talked to other grief survivors through all of the time of my own grief journey.

Late in April of 2016 was when the change happened. It marks the transition of Andi’s self to entirely spirit and the beginning of my bereavement. Although Andi and I had talked about so very many things during her illness and especially during the time when we knew that the end of this part of her existence was drawing near, one thing we never really talked about, mainly because we didn’t know about it, was grief. 

I had no idea of what was coming and wasn’t ready in any way. When it crashed down upon me, I was totally unprepared for what it was going to be like. And I suppose, from talking to many others during their own grieving, that it is true for almost everyone the first time they experience the grief that accompanies the passing of a spouse or partner with whom they have shared a life and a love.

So what I’ve written about in the book is my grief journey. About the things I experienced and the things I learned along the way. In many ways, my grief was a life altering experience. The world as I knew it ended that day and it was like an unwilling rebirth, a starting over, a phoenix moment in my life because all that I had lived for was changed forever at that point.

I am also a scientist, I was a Geology Professor. And so in addition to grieving, I also was driven by my nature to observe and even to document what I was experiencing. I have kept a number of journals throughout my life and I began a new one that day. I started writing every night before I went to sleep, recounting and remembering all I had experienced and learned that day. I ended up finding this to be not only a documentation, but also a very healing and helpful part of my grief journey so I kept at it and except for a day or two here and there, I wrote every night along the way.

The book is our journey as I remember it, as I wrote about it and as I experienced it and what I learned from it. It contains many things and places that were very outside the normal way I experienced the world before the change. Over the years, I have come to “suspend my disbelief,” to put my scientist-brain on hold and realize that the universe is much larger, stranger and much more complex and interesting than I ever knew or realized. 

I’ve experienced things I intellectually knew about, had read about or had heard about but didn’t really believe deep inside. I’ve had to change my world view to accommodate the new things I’ve seen and heard and experienced, things that don’t fit nicely into the world as I knew it but that could not and cannot be denied in their reality.

The journey also contains many things I had to learn and relearn about myself and about living in the everyday world, about reordering my thinking and learning to make new relationships and finding new ways of spending my time. I had to learn to fill the empty spaces in my days and nights and learning to live with the loneliness and sadness and then finding ways to overcome them is a big part of what I did and what I want to share. 

It turned out to have a hidden gift within it. Because I had so much time, it also became a journey of re-evaluating everything in my life and a time to (reluctantly) recreate myself as I found my way through the grieving. I had to learn to slowly live again and “turn my grief into gold” so I could remember our life and our love outside the grief and sadness of having that part of who and what we were come to an end. 

Here’s some more detail about how I came to be able to write the book :

During the first three years or so of my grief journey, I attended a support group for widows and widowers called On Our Own at a local, hospice affiliated facility, Pathways for Grief and Loss in Fort Collins, Colorado. Many of the things I learned in that group have helped me not only in my own healing but in what I wrote about in the book.

In addition to attending those support group meetings, at the start of 2020 I began facilitating a support group at the Community Grief Center in Greeley Colorado. I have also been the facilitator for social groups for bereaved spouses and partners in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, Colorado. Most recently, I’ve begun support and discussion groups for bereaved spouses and partners in Fort Collins and Loveland as well.

Amongst the people I’ve met, there has been a wide range of backgrounds. The groups included women and men, people of different races, different cultures, different preferences, different levels of education, different economic backgrounds and circumstances; a pretty diverse group of people with seemingly not much in common. 

But, the commonality that bound them all together was that in the end, they all grieved in much the same way. They all grieved because they loved. And grief didn’t select who it effected or how it made them feel based on any of their differences or circumstances. Grief just hurt and they just grieved and when they were grieving, they really weren’t very different at all.

The book is not a manual for grieving, it’s mostly just a story of how it was for me and what I learned along the way. Since we all grieve in our own way and our own time, there will no doubt be things in it that you agree with, that you need to know at that moment and also things you don’t agree with and don’t necessarily want or need to know. 

It’s all ok. If you find things to take away from what we’ve written, that help you in your own grief journey, that is why it’s here and why you found it. It’s my goal to promote hope and healing in our community of bereaved spouses and partners and share my journey in the hope that it will make your journey a little easier.

In some ways this journey is fairly different than what most people experience or at least what they are willing to talk about. In other ways, it’s a fairly common, and in parts universal, story of grief. See what you think!

In Hope and Healing,

Howard (and Andi) January, 2023