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ISO Relief for Mother-in-Law’s Grief over Loss of Husband of 65 Years

27 May


First off, thank you for your Successful Surgery series.  I downloaded the files and immediately started listening a week before surgery.  My prostate surgery was very successful (my progressive surgeon allowed my iPod in the operating room where I was able to listen and relax!) and my recovery is moving along very nicely. As far as I'm concerned, the guided imagery made all the difference!  

I’m writing because after 6 months, my 87 yr old mother-in-law is just coming to terms with the loss of her husband and best friend after almost 65 yrs of marriage.  She suffers with anxiety, nausea, and loss of appetite. 

Do you have a recommendation for which CD would be appropriate, to help her through this time of transition and realization of the profoundness of her loss?

Thank you and God bless you!


Dear Matt,

I’m glad the imagery stood you in good stead!  Surgeons and anesthesiologists have really changed – most will now allow MP3 players into surgery these days.  It’s been really great to see how this has changed over the past dozen years or so.  

I’m glad you had a good experience and that you’re on the other side of it now, mending.

[Side bar: Back in the day, when Deborah Schwab and Dana Davies first launched our guided imagery/surgery study with Blue Shield of California, most people thought patients would listen to our audios to help with pain; but it soon became apparent that the biggest motivator for using them was pre-surgical anxiety – and lots of it.)

As for your mother-in-law, it’s clear that you get that this is just an unspeakable loss (and she’s lucky to have an empathic son-in-law in her corner). When bereavement is this profound, it’s hard to be a caring friend or relative and just sit with it, because the ability to help is so limited. That’s a lot of helplessness to have to tolerate and most of us are pretty lousy at that.    

To be honest, I’m not sure there’s much you can do.  But precisely because this is an unspeakable loss, you might have some luck with some of the nonverbal interventions. She may respond well to - or at least get some relief from - Reiki or Healing Touch. You may want to find a local practitioner to work with her a couple times a week with this gentle but deeply relaxing and healing kind of energy work. Additionally, and for the same reasons, massage therapy may be just the ticket as well.  She may be able to take comfort in through her skin – sometimes healing hands will reach and soothe an aching heart way better than words can, even when carried on the kindest and gentlest voice.  

Getting some of her favorite music on an iPod for her and getting her a dock with good speakers may also give her a boost during the day.

And it’s possible that journaling could help her – getting her the gift of a beautiful notebook and pen for writing down her thoughts and feelings could be good, depending on her own predilection for and ease with writing.

Of the imagery we have, I’d suggest Ease Grief, but she’d need to be ready to let herself cry, because that one is designed to evoke emotion.  It’s all about her own personal timing.  She may be ready now.  It’s worth a try.  

But do keep in mind that this is not something you can fix.  But you could ease some of her pain.

Take care and my best wishes to you.


Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award