After 27 years of marriage, Marla Polk found herself dealing with the sudden death of her husband. Losing her spouse created a hole in her life that she didn't know what to do with. She tried to turn to her friends, her work, books — but nothing seemed to help her. She then decided to start journaling through her grief. What started as a way to document stories of her beloved Randy for future grandchildren became a firsthand account of what it was like for her to walk through the grief process and discover herself with him.
Marla writes openly and honestly about how painfully long the process of grief can be. She describes herself as a normal, middle-aged woman with a career, friends, and an average life before everything changed with Randy's death. The aftermath left her feeling uncomfortable in every situation of her life. She was easily agitated, especially in the first year. So when she couldn't do anything else, she turned toward writing.
She encourages anyone going through grief to give themself grace, especially when unforeseen triggers can derail their emotions out of the blue. You can be in the middle of doing something completely unrelated to grief and all of a sudden you will start crying, and that’s OK.
During this interview, Marla also shares how surprised she was by how differently everyone experiences grief. She found herself judging others who were close to Randy for not missing him enough. Likewise, she found herself being judged for not meeting their expectations of grieving. She was also surprised by how many well-meaning people said uninformed things to try to bring comfort.
Marla continues to remember Randy in subtle ways. He enjoyed painting and photography, so she has a piece of his artwork in every room in the house. She commissioned someone to make a quilt from his neckties. She periodically visits his things in storage and decides which items she's ready to part with and which ones she wants to hold onto a little longer.
Marla's book Grief Survivor: A Love Story is available on Amazon.
About Marla Polk
Marla Polk is the author of Grief Survivor: A Love Story and a communications coach specializing in helping those in broken relationships heal through communication tools she developed as a mediator. She is Managing Partner for Resolution Solutions, a conflict resolution consulting company. She is the President of the Board of Directors for a nonprofit, the Abilene Palm House, that mentors at-risk individuals and works specifically with women who have been survivors of violent crimes. Her hobbies include writing authentic, raw, and funny commentaries about her grief journey.