Patch-ing Up After Loss

Patch-ing Up After Loss

I woke up today, looked in the mirror and found my estrogen patch had migrated from my ass to my elbow. Sometime in the night my helping hormone swatch decided to relocate.

Seriously you guys, my estrogen patch is so well meaning; I’ve been scattered and angsty and I think it’s trying to help me manage my emotions. For those of you who haven’t been following along with my life lately—and honestly, why would you—I lost both of my parents in six months, ended my long-term relationship, my nest emptied out, my book has been in revision for ages and lastly, I bought a house before selling my old house, one day before my mom died.

I thought I was doing fine, JUST FINE, I tell you! But yesterday I realized I double-booked two big speaking commitments. AND the (miraculous!) buyers for my house backed out. AND the weather in Wisconsin got really cold, then wet, then hot, then cold again and now all I want to do is cuddle with my dog and watch Hamilton YouTube videos.

Then, I called my friend and got to talking about the national news, my moving misadventures and how I want her to kill me—but in a good way—if I end up in the nursing home. I think that’s when I think that’s when my estrogen patch decided to get involved and worked its way up north. I’m sorry to say I thwarted her efforts because, you know, I am single and I think potential romantic interests might be put off by a patch, of any kind, on my face.

My friend said, “You’re still grieving Ann. Everything in your life has changed in the last year and you aren’t paying attention. You think you can just white-knuckle it with the same can-do attitude as always. The universe and your body is like, “Naw dude. Not this time.”

I blinked. Thought about this. Then I rejected her advice entirely and sold everything in my garage on Facebook Marketplace, repainted my wainscoting and wondered if I could chop down the big dead oak in my back yard with my Christmas tree saw. Now I have $120 and an overwhelming desire to watch more Hamilton videos.

Grief, man. Grief is a mo-fo.

[Tweet “Grief, man. Grief is a mo-fo”]

I think if I want my estrogen patch to stay put I have to just shut up and pay attention to what I’ve learned about handling change:

  1. First, I’m really sorry to all the people who lost someone important to them and I didn’t do enough. Seriously. I am sorry I wasn’t there for you.
  2. Next, if you (meaning me) don’t take a break and feel all the feels you will have to feel those feels a lot longer.
  3. Take a break. The world doesn’t need you quite as much as you think it does. And, it would rather have you fully than have you partially, and limping along in grief.
  4. Talk to everyone and tell them you lost your people, or stuff, or regular life, or whatever it is you lost. Somehow it feels pretty good to do this.
  5. [Tweet “Take a good look at your life and get rid of stuff you are not sure you want. I don’t mean all those t-shirts that are a little tight on your belly, I mean the stuff that doesn’t give you joy, pay the bills or nourish what is important to you.”]
  6. Read books. Go on a journey in your head, one that doesn’t include your own quagmire—your ghetto of worry and angst.


You can do what I did and then estrogen will have to get involved. But, maybe it’s not a patch that butts into your life. Maybe it’s your family doing an intervention, or your dog picks up on your angst and starts eating the insides of your slippers, or you lose your turkey (read where it went here).  Not sure what exactly will come your way but if you don’t do something when you’re sad, it will come for you.

[Tweet “Not sure what exactly will come your way but if you don’t do something when you’re sad, it will come for you.”]

**This has been a public service announcement from Ann Garvin’s estrogen patch. If you’d like to buy her book I would sleep better at night.

See more cheerful grief advice here:


Photo cred:  Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash



  1. Gaye on October 17, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Ann—I’m so glad to see you here-honestly I don’t know how you’ve stayed afloat amidst this Tsunami in your life-but thankful you have-looking forward to hugging you in New York amidst my wanting to shred the WIP every other hour

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      I’m so glad we were introduced in such a unique way…you are one of my people.

      • Gaye on October 17, 2018 at 10:18 pm

        And you mine!

  2. Geraldine Ann Marshall on October 17, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Keep going, Ann. You will get through this–I know because I have!

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      Thank you my friend. It helps to know.

  3. Sadira Stone on October 17, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    I wonder what cryptic message your estrogen patch was trying to send–something about elbow room, perhaps?
    Wishing you peace and strength. I’d wish you humor too, but you’ve clearly got that handles.

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Haha, it was a really mobile message whatever it was.
      Thank you so much. I need that peace and strength.

  4. Lisa Romeo on October 17, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Oh boy, so much wisdom here (and love that it’s wrapped in wit). Please do follow your own advice and take care, take the time to feel it all, remember, be mad/sad, and maybe DO NOTHING if you can for a while, or sometimes at least. Hugs.

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Nodding to the girl that knows from me to you.
      I will take your advice. Thank you. 🙂

  5. Michele Montgomery on October 17, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    You’re my hero for even being able to find your butt to put a patch on after that much upheaval in your life. Take care of yourself. We’ll always be here when you’re ready for us.

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 7:20 pm

      Why hasn’t the internet figured out how to do a real hug.
      Thank you dear friend.
      Thank you.

      • Michele Montgomery on October 18, 2018 at 3:38 pm

        I’m taking a rain check on that real hug. I know we’ll meet IRL eventually. xo

        • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 5:18 pm

          I’ll take that rain check.

  6. Carolyn Aspenson on October 17, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my parents 10 months apart. My mother was expected. Cancer is a bitch. My father, though, as he said, was older than dirt, was a surprise. Both hurt like hell. I was prepared to lose my mother. I was not prepared for her to be dead. There is a difference. No one told me that. I also didn’t know about that secret orphan club because no one tells you about it until you join. You’re right though, grief is a strange, evil creature that sneaks up on you and no matter how much you avoid it, it will find a way to present itself, most likely when you least expect it. It is fresh and familiar and easy to get lost in, but one day I woke up and hours later I realized my first thought wasn’t of loss. I miss my parents every single day, and I’m still learning life lessons from them at almost 52. But I’m happy and I think of them and laugh and smile. And if I can give you any advice, it would be simple, try OfferUp next time. You’ll get more than the Marketplace. ❤️ Your heart will never be the same, but it will heal. And duct tape will keep that patch where it belongs.

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 7:19 pm

      Oh I will look up OfferUp right now.
      What a wonderful letter you’ve written to me. What a gift. Thank you I’m coming through to the other side recently.
      I feel the same as you regarding losing your parents.
      Thank you so much,

  7. Betty on October 17, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Hugs, love, and, more hugs your way, Ann. I am so sorry that you’ve gone through so much. I am glad that you are realizing that you can’t muscle through everything on your own. Come sit with me and let it all out anytime. I am a facebook message or email away.

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 7:17 pm

      Betty you are the kindest, warmest person on the internet. I swear to it.

      • Betty on October 18, 2018 at 12:35 pm

        Ann, thank you, but I am just me.

        • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 1:09 pm

          I like the you that you are.

  8. Cathy on October 17, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Ann, I’m a new empty nester and also dealing with a family member’s serious illness. As my mother used to say, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” The subject line in your email with this post said “Come sit by me.” I was thinking you were inviting us to an event–which I would be on board for. I’ve got an empty seat next to me as well.

    Here’s wishing you the best and thanks for sharing the feelings I’m doing my best to to deny and bury. 🙂

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 7:17 pm

      Well if you bury them, they will come back to you (she says with false wisdom).
      Thank you.
      I love that phrase of your mothers. That is a killer phrase. “If you don’t weaken.” Man.

  9. Diane on October 17, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    Condolences and Consolations to you on the recent losses. Ouch! about the house problems, too.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts about grief. Your spirit and comments were just what I needed this morning. My eyes widened as I read the newsletter because I had been sitting with my 4th cup of coffee and crying into the empty cup. Even though I am ‘older’ I am missing my sweet Mother on this rainy day. Three weeks is not long enough to become adjusted to not hearing her voice.
    Best of luck on your house selling SOON!

  10. Amy Elliott on October 17, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Ann, first I want to say, yes we’re virtually strangers, but…
    Your words are a balm to my heart & soul. You are such a phenomenal person, and I feel better, smarter, wiser, and more compassionate just from drinking in your words! Thank you for being so open and sharing! Strangers we may be– technically, but YOU are never truly alone.

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 12:03 am

      Ohhhhh I’m so glad. There is not enough LOVE in the world. I’m so glad you see me.
      What a doll to send me this. Thank you so much.

  11. Pam Gardner on October 17, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Love you girl- my grief seems never ending right now and luck not so good! But I think things gotta get better. At least you have an estrogen patch( I am too old for that). I don’t know if that’s good or bad!

    • Ann Garvin on October 17, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      awww Pam. Come sit by me. We can cry and take a nap, have some coffee, walk the dog, and do it again.
      Big hug to you.

  12. Paula on October 17, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Dear Estrogen Patch, Nice job finding Ann’s funny bone! Seems when she raised her elbow to discover you out of place she found you smack dab between head and heart. Then you brilliantly found your way through her finger tips giving voice to angst and sharing the tickling sensation of wisdom and honesty that draws people in. Stick with her!! I’ll do the same.

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 1:18 am

      Oh Paula,
      Wow, that was perfectly written. My Estrogen Patch says, she’s glad you noticed her. She tried so hard.

  13. Deidrah Shutt on October 17, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    Ann, I am truly sorry for your loss(es). You are having my 2006 it sounds like. That year I lost my aunt, the love of my life, my step dad, my mom, and a dream I had been pursuing. It was a rough year. I still miss my mom. A lot. But it gets better. One bit of wisdom I learned the hard way was that if you don’t make room for your grief, let it have its way with you, and accept it then it will ambush you and bring you to your knees at inopportune moments. Like when you’re at work and realize you don’t have to call your mom to let her know the new book you both love just arrived. That isn’t to say it won’t still ambush you occasionally, but you’ll have accepted it as a fact of life as it now is and you can cope better.
    I hope the merry go round slows down soon and you can find a new equilibrium in your life. And if you’re ever in the area I’ve got coffee, tea or wine and there’s always room for one more.

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 1:17 am

      Oh Deidrah,
      God, 2006 was terrible for you. How did you do it. My gosh, that is all too much.
      I know it get’s better and then yes, grief gets you, it ambushes you. Thank you 100 times for your words.

  14. Bill on October 17, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Even with a patch on your face you would still be beautiful.

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 1:13 am

      What an absolutely lovely thing to say.

  15. denise on October 17, 2018 at 8:58 pm


    One. Day. At. A. Time.

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 1:15 am

      Preach it sister. That is the truth.

  16. Beverly Turner on October 17, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Ann: After reading this post, I don’t know how you are still in one piece. The loss of one parent is enough to leave you adrift. When I lost my mother, I had two weeks to ease into the truth that her heart was too sick to make it. But as I drove home in the dark wee hours of the morning after she passed, I wasn’t prepared for the sensation that I was an orphan. Yes, my father was still alive. But my mother was the glue who held our dysfunctional family in one unit. As an orphan, I was doubly thankful for my family (my husband and son) and now years later, I remember all the humor that my mother and I shared and I laugh.
    Be kind to yourself as you deal with your triple scoop of grief. And if you feel the need to go running down the street at midnight in nothing but your birthday suit, I would not blame you at all.

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 1:15 am

      Oh Beverly,
      Back at you…how are any of us in one piece.
      I think it’s through friends and acquaintances and the love and support we share.
      Thank you for understanding. I see you.

  17. Cindy Struzyk on October 17, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    Oh my this sounds so much like my life, grief has a way of hanging on. I lost my (best friend) my mom, 10 years ago, I was 45 at the the time and wondered what will I do without her. Even though we knew she was leaving this world (pancreatic cancer) I still didn’t have enough time, I still have so much to say her. We were extremely close and spent so much time together, from traveling to late night drives when we couldn’t sleep, to late night phone calls just to chit chat. After 10 years I still feel as if it were yesterday. I was never close to my father as I was with her but after her passing we spent more time together and it helped to share our grief, but then he unexpectedly passed, we believe of a broken heart. Life as they say goes on, but it’s never easy, some days are worse than others. I share in your grief and hope you find happiness and love and most of all peace within your soul.

  18. Whitney Wells on October 18, 2018 at 12:06 am

    Thinking of you, Ann! I’m so sorry for the events grief you’ve been experiencing. Thank you for your openness, and sharing your thoughts.

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 1:07 am

      Hi Whit Whit
      Is that from your twitter. Why am I remembering that?
      So good to see your name in my mail.
      I think of you so often.
      Much love to you,

  19. Franella on October 18, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Oh, Ann,

    I’m so sorry to hear of all you’ve been through lately!! Take care of yourself, girlfriend!!!! I’m in the process of doing the same i.e buying one house before selling the other. Worth it in the end if you get what makes you happy. 🙂
    Sending love and prayers.

  20. C on October 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Ann, I am so sorry for everything that has come full frontal at you – I send hugs from afar and have you in my thoughts often.

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      Oh thank you my far-away friend. I”m so lucky to be held in your thoughts. You are in mine as well.

  21. deb cleveland on October 18, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Ann, I’m so glad I found you! It was a round-about way, but thankful. I’m sorry for your losses. I get it. All that stuff with older parents, I knew was coming, because, you know, I read, but when it happens, whoa! nothing can prepare you for it. My dad died two years ago. My husband of 42-years died five years ago, now, and I’ve walked my mom through three different cancers and recently, at the age of 91, I moved her into Independent living and sold her car. She hates me now, but in that special way that mothers do. When the Hubs died I used my then blog, The LuLu Chronicles, to expose my grief, to examine it, and to get out of it everything of value. I mean, why go through it if you only come out the other side and have learned nothing? So I embraced it, wallowed in it, showed it all, the warts, the uglies, and the pain. What I discovered on this journey is that lamenting has a purpose, it leads the charge when it comes to healing, true healing… if you let it. Your soul has been attacked and wounded. No shame in that. The shame would be if it is allowed to defeat you. But, with your spirit of laughter and honesty, it will never defeat you. You’ve got all the skills to plough through this thing. I guess that what drew me to you. If you are so incline, you can find The LuLu Chronicles at and my latest blog, the Traveling Writing Room. I’d love to hear from you. I’m cheering for ya!

    • Ann Garvin on October 18, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      My God Deb.
      I’m so glad you found me too. But, i don’t know how you live through all that loss.
      It’s just too much for one person.
      The people (read you) that I have met in my journeys and with my writing have been the greatest gift.
      IT makes me love the world so much.
      I am definitely going to read your Chronicles.
      Thank you so much for writing.
      I’m cheering for you as well.

  22. Adela on October 19, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    OMGosh! That is a humongous amount of grief, Ann. One at a time, please, one at a time. When I lost my dad, it hit me so much harder than I expected. I scolded myself for my lack of empathy toward others who had lost a parent. And now you’ve lost two and your babe is out of the nest.

    I don’t know about the long-term relationship. If it wasn’t good, it wouldn’t be anything but a body to lean on now.

    Hang in there with the pup. Non-Judgmental and nearly always good at the hugging. They’re called pets for a reason.

    • Ann Garvin on October 20, 2018 at 1:27 pm

      Thank you Adela,
      What a nice reach out! It’s so hard, isn’t it. Losing loved ones. But, my friends here really do let me lean in.

  23. Sherrey on October 24, 2018 at 5:37 am

    I’m a little late reading this, and I extend my condolences on the loss of your parents in such a short span of time. A very difficult transition indeed. Grief is a strange animal, and it pushes its way into our lives at the most unusual of times.

    Our 47-year-old son dropped by unexpectedly today. He is changing jobs after 17 years at the same one and is noticeably anxious about how he’ll perform at the new job. Part of his anxiety is steeped in grief–losing familiarity with the workplace, the procedures, the policies, etc.

    For almost three years, I have been struggling to heal from a fall and now I’ve learned I face another surgery. This will likely come around Christmas or New Year’s. But what’s another holiday to miss, right? It’s my grief over days, nights, outings, trips, walks in spring, walks in fall, just walks lost because of my situation.

    So since one of the things I do best right now is sit or recline, I offer and promise to come and sit by you. We’ll share stories and laugh or cry together. What d’ya say???

  24. Heather Kapp on December 16, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Ann, thank you for this. I read it and immediately thought I need to respond. But there it remained unanswered. Maybe because there is nothing to say to make your pain go away, maybe because getting close to your pain brings up my own. I told myself I’d go to your dream bank session. What can I say?
    Our society is not good with even admitting we die. Instead, we cover up the actual death by saying weird things like “lost” and “a better place” instead of died and dead. Society tells us all families have holidays like that stupid Folgers commercial where the kid comes home and wakes everyone by making coffee. In reality, the holidays can be really hard and send painful reminders like for me the Croft and Barrel catalog in the mail. Reminding me that my cousin loved shopping there. The pain of our last conversation rings in my ear and then anger at TMobile for promising not to then deleting a message with her southern drawl. Ovarian cancer. Damn thief. It is hard to trust the grief process-it’s messy, non-linear, up/down and all around. You are welcome to come sit next to me any day and twice on Sundays. Find me on FB or email me! Beloved Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron, gently reminds me that there is more room in a broken heart because “when you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it is bottomless.” Yours sure is!

    • Ann Garvin on December 17, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      Our society is not good at admitting we die. This is so true. I am not good at admitting we die. I think I’m going to get a fair shake at this living but that is such a crazy thought.

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Just yesterday I heard a song that, for some reason had me thinking and tearing up about my parents. It wasn’t even a song I associate with them but somewhere in my brain I must.

      Grief changes you. I’m a better person for it but, good lord it is hard.

      I’ve found you on facebook. Thank you for reaching out. Let’s sit by each other soon.

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