Author Talk with Author Rosanne Liesveld

Senses and Sensitivity Conversations with Authors

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Rosanne Liesveld is the author of The Collision of Grief and Gratitude. After the unexpected death of her husband, she felt a desperate need to communicate gratitude to those who helped her through the shock his death left in its wake. A few days after Curt’s funeral, Rosanne wrote a Facebook post expressing how, in the midst of profound grief, she found a space in heart for gratitude. The next day she wrote another post, and then another.

Rosanne’s daily posts throughout her first year of widowhood inspired not only those who were grieving in some way, but those who wanted to build stronger relationships and life live with more intention and gratitude. It was messy. It was raw. It was healing.

Today she shares her thoughts about senses and the role they played in grieving.

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 On Day 124 in my book, The Collision of Grief and Gratitude, I wrote about “The Scent.”  You see, I’ve always been enthralled with the idea of the five senses and how they enrich life.  Years ago, I read a book called, A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman and it heightened my understanding and amazement of touch, sight, smell, hearing, and taste. Little did I know how those five senses would play out in my grief that followed the sudden death of my husband.

You can choose to not experience a touch. You can close your eyes and not look at something. You can refuse to eat something that you don’t want to taste. But avoiding smells is hard. Sounds kind of funny, right?  But it wasn’t so funny when they were smells that brought me tears and an ache I couldn’t manage.

Scents seemed to explode in memories and emotions for which I was not prepared. For several weeks, when I opened the door to my husband’s closet, I held my breath so I wouldn’t smell the scent of his body. The distinctive odor brought floods of memories and made it seem like he was right around the corner. That felt like a terrible trick during those first few days and weeks.

Days wore into weeks, and weeks wore into months.  One day I decided I was going to walk into that closet and take a deep breath. I decided to take the scent that was bringing me heartache and make it into a scent of love. The conscious decision to drink in the smell and determine that it would bring me joy was one of the things that seemed to change my trajectory of healing.

What is it today that causes your senses to come alive?  Are you willing to redirect your thinking at times so that your senses can be engaged and pointed toward real fulfillment?  Perhaps you can take a risk—a risk like walking into your deceased husband’s closet, taking a deep breath, and bathing in the scent of the person you love.

Today, I challenge you to breathe deeply and find life.

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Rosanne is available to chat with groups or book clubs either in person or via Zoom. Contact her at roseliesveld@gmail.com.

She is also the author of Teach with Strengths: How Great Teachers Inspire Students, a book she wrote in a more conventional way with JoAnn Miller and Jennifer Robinson for Gallup Press.