I grew up in Queens (in the Middle Ages). It was the fifties, but I say middle ages because it was a time when everything still rotated around the parish church and some ancient beliefs. The ideas were quite unexamined and frightening to me as a child, like thoughts of Purgatory and Mortal sins. The ten commandments were a threat and the fear of God was strong. The stained glass and candles filled me with awe and the messages filled me with terror.
My parents loved the beach and took me to the Hamptons every summer. My father was a drummer and had his own band, playing at many of the fancy clubs on Long Island. I loved the ocean beach and allthe good nature of the area.
I always wanted to be a writer. I kept a personal journal off and on since I was a teenager. “Dear Diary” kept me going in my adolescence and early twenties. Then in my thirties I started journaling every day and I found it to be growthful and transformative. It was the beginning of a more aware and more spiritual life. I still encourage everyone to keep a journal – it’s helpful on many levels.
I got married to my first husband when I was in graduate school at Fordham and he was training to be a doctor. We had two children, William and Christie, born in ’67 and ’69. I was ill prepared for motherhood, but loved them deeply.
I taught college courses at the University of San Francisco, then at Hunter College and Concordia in New York. Through teaching I became more interested in psychotherapy and started working in clinics when the children started school in the early seventies.
By 1979 my first marriage came apart and I moved to the East End of Long Island, where I started my private practice and began an intensive period of training in Gestalt psychotherapy with Ilana Rubenfeld. She used the Alexander and Feldenkrais methods and I became aware of the connection of emotion and the body and a profound mindfulness of the need for wholeness in my healing profession.
Although living in Southampton and later Sag Harbor, I have had a private practice in psychotherapy in New York City since 1981. That was when I began my lifestyle of going back and forth from the city for long weekends in the Hamptons. I love the combination of some city life, with the comfort and beauty of Nature and the local life on the East End of Long Island.
I married Bob in ’91. We had eleven years together. He was an actor who decided to become a clinical social worker in his mid fifties. He loved our city/country lifestyle and the practice of psychotherapy as much as I did. My daughter Chris had two children in her early twenties and we thoroughly enjoyed being grandparents together until he got ill and died in 2001. Chris died two and a half months later of a heroin addiction.
My whole life changed at that time and I began my journey of learning how to grieve and accept everything that had happened, discovering that I could be even more whole than before they both died. I’ve been writing Ruthless Grieving for the last fourteen years and feel very satisfied about its completion.
Today my life is more fulfilling than it ever was. I have been able to go beyond my losses to a new part of my journey. My granddaughters, especially Chris’ two daughters, Kaya and China, now 24 and 20 are still a big part of my life. My son, Bill, is thriving and lives nearby. My life as a widow has changed in the past year into a life with a new partner. We have fun together with lots of music and play. I love my practice and now my practice of writing. All is well.
Susan with her son Bill, and Chris' two daughters Kaya and China.
Susan, today, with her partner Bill at South Beach Florida.
My daughter Chris, from left: with her two daughters Kaya and China, Chris happy, Chris and Kaya's father Mike, Chris and Kaya on the beach in Montauk.
"The moon is my metaphor for my grieving heart."
A weeping cherry tree grows in my front yard, a gift from friends who wept with me when my daughter Chris died.