5 tips for overcoming heartbreak

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – May 20, 2022

by Tom Blake – Columnist

A New You – 5 Tips for overcoming heartbreak (Love will find a way)

Growing old has many rewards: retirement, playing lots of golf, exercising at will, children are grown and usually married and grandchildren for you to enjoy. No more 9-to-5 working pressures. The list is endless.

However, as we age, we also experience loss. We lose loved ones through divorce, breakups, misunderstandings, and death. It’s not just losing a partner. We lose parents, siblings, and dear friends. We are dealt personal hardships. Perhaps we’ve been diagnosed and are dealing with a serious illness.

It’s life, it’s inevitable and it’s hard. When these things happen, we face a new challenge: overcoming our heartbreak and finding a new direction.

How do we do that? How do we become “The new you?”

In writing about senior dating and relationships for 28 years, here are five tips I’ve learned from readers on how to overcome heartbreak. One of the main themes of songs is heartbreak, and how to overcome it. Today, I’m including three songs that I feel can be helpful to get people through tough times and give them hope.

5 tips for overcoming heartbreak

1. It’s understandable and ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to be alone (for a time, but not for too long). One of my favorite songs from the 1970s was REM’s “Everybody Hurts.” In a nutshell, that song’s message is: “Everybody hurts sometimes. Hold on.” It’s a powerful song of hope and overcoming adversity. Link at end.

2. Remind yourself that healing takes time. It will sting for a while. In an interview April 21, 2022, on Good Morning America, Robin Roberts asked Magic Johnson (the photo above is of Magic Johnson with Greta Cohn and Tom Blake at Tom’s deli, Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point, California, in 2009) how he overcame the news in 1991 that he had HIV. Magic said, “You realize you aren’t alone.” Being aware of this helped him become “A new you.”

The Bee Gees, the 1970s popular singing group was made up of three close-knit brothers. They had many hits, including, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” I saw an interview on TV recently with Barry Gibb, about that song and how he dealt with the loss of his three younger brothers, who died years apart. Maurice and Robin were members of the Bee Gees and Andy was much younger but not in the group.

Gibb was devastated. He said, “I moped around for months, there were highs and lows.”

My sisters and I lost my brother Bill a year ago January, it’s taken that long to not think about him every day. I’ve healed, I guess because I no longer daily reach for my phone to call him as I did for months after he passed. Again, healing takes time. And we will never forget.

3. Don’t try to go it alone. Have a support group, if only one or two people. Confide in them and talk to friends; be out socially, if possible. Try not to isolate yourself. Be around people by attending church, volunteering, and going to senior centers. Don’t be afraid to admit your pain.

4. Remind yourself that everything is going to be all right in due time. It may not seem like it when adversity happens. Be as positive as you can. In 1976, Neil Diamond co-wrote and sang live one time the song “Dry Your Eyes,” in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King because so many people were mourning. The song was on the “Beautiful Noise” album. He did not sing it live again until 2017, after the terrorist bombing at an Aria Grande concert in Manchester, England.

Greta and I attended one of his last concerts at the Forum in L.A. in 2018. At least, he unexpectedly (to me) sang “Dry Your Eyes.” I filmed a video of it, which is linked below.

5. Look for a seed of opportunity that often sprouts from adversity. When I was dealt an unexpected divorce in 1994, I started a journal just to gather and organize my thoughts. Six months later, using the words from that journal, I became a newspaper columnist. A seed of opportunity came along, and I grabbed it. I’m still writing 28 years later.

Another song about overcoming heartbreak is by the singing group Pablo Cruise who had a 1978 hit titled “Love Will Find A Way.” Words from that song include:

“Oh, but it’s all right (all right)
Once you get past the pain
(Past the pain)
You’ll learn to find your love again
So keep your heart open
‘Cause love will find a way”

Remember Magic’s words, “You aren’t alone.”

The music:

Here are links to the four songs mentioned.

REM’s Everybody Hurts:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfggUztyO00

The Bee Gee’s How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?

Neil Diamond Dry Your Eyes (note the trumpet player beginning at the 1:34 mark; he’s incredible

Pablo Cruise’s Love Will Find A Way

Five Songs

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  October 30, 2020

By Columnist Tom Blake

                                                 Five Songs

One of the offshoots of the pandemic is that Champs are tapping into their personal reservoirs of creativity.

Several Champs have mentioned they are working on creative projects. Perhaps it’s because they have more free time than usual. Or, they are reflecting on their lives and what’s really important to them. It’s interesting that several men are working on writing projects such as autobiographies, blogs, or books. Women are painting, gardening, and exercising more.

Patrick Hynes, a native of Australia, is writing a postcard blog that he emails to his friends. It’s titled, “Patrick’s Brief Encounters…Snippets of my life in America.” Working as the Public Relations Director for the Anaheim Hilton Hotel years ago, he met many famous people. Each weekly postcard contains a photo and about 150 concise words. Patrick’s first postcard was about meeting Muhammad Ali. Here’s the photo of him and Ali:


Patrick’s first postcard (July 20, 2020) photo (courtesy of Patrick Hynes)

Other postcards have featured President Reagan, Madonna, Buzz Aldrin, Joe Dimaggio, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, Sean Connery (James Bond), and Kobe Bryant.

Champ Pam Peters, San Diego, has created more than 100 paintings during the pandemic. She has created boxes of gift cards that feature her paintings. (By the way, Pam happens to be my sister; she’s the creative one in the family). Here’s one of the 100 she’s created during this pandemic.


                  Come for dinner – Shrimp Provencal

Champ Sandy,
 Sonoma County, California, also paints, “I have been painting more and creating cards from it…just a lot of fun. I’ve been dormant on writing but have started writing in my head again..and I can feel it about to jump out.”

Champ Rick O. is writing about his career as a former professional baseball player. His writing project is temporarily on hold while dealing with several serious family-health issues, which, understandably, take a higher priority than the writing.

Champ Teresa has been creative in a different way, one that has taken time and patience but is changing her life. In the August 21 eNewsletter, I wrote about refinancing my home. Teresa capitalized on the information. How so?

This week, she emailed, ‘Wanted to thank you for the referral to your broker Vanessa Schwartz. My refinance/loan closes Tuesday, a day after my 64th birthday. Yea! I am really jazzed as my monthly payment will be about $300 less than before, allowing me to stay in my home for a few more years after I retire at 70, probably (Italics by Tom). My neighbor refinanced with Vanessa as well. We are both grateful for this opportunity to lower our interest rate and payment. 

“I’m doing a little ‘happy dance’ right now, in honor of your willingness to help a stranger.”

In a coincidence, Teresa and I (and Patrick Hynes) worked for the Victoria Station restaurant chain, eons ago, but we didn’t know each other.

I’ve been friends with Rick Lenz for merely 65 years—we were classmates at Jackson High School, in Jackson, Michigan in the 1950s. Rick is a retired successful actor (played opposite Ingrid Bergman, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Walter Matthau, and Peter Sellers among others). He has written several books, including his latest novel, which will be published early next year.

Here is my favorite piece of art that Rick has created. This painting hangs on my wall.


                  Old Friend by Rick Lenz

   Check out this creative man at http://www.ricklenz.com (Lots of wonderful art like this)

Another high school classmate is Carmen (Carm to me), who lives in Barra de Navidad, Mexico. Carm was featured in our May 29 eNewsletter which is posted on the FindingLoveAfter50.com website. Carm is writing an autobiography. He and Patrick Hynes often send me rough drafts of their work for my comments.

Last Friday, Carm sent a draft of Chapter 10, titled, “My Life with Karen.” Carm was a friend of Karen and her husband Charlie, and when Charlie died, Carm spent time ensuring she was doing okay. The relationship grew and they had five special years together before she passed away on August 1, 2019.

As I was perusing Carm’s Chapter 10, I noticed he included a cluster of four pictures of Karen and him. The caption under the photos reads:

Loving her was easier than anything I’ll ever do again.  –-Kris Kristofferson 

That caption blew me away. You’ll see why in a minute.

During Greta’s and my 23 years together, I’ve occasionally mentioned to her that when I pass away, I don’t want a funeral. An upbeat, fun, small, positive, memory-celebration is ok, but only if five songs that express how I’ve felt about her, are played on a video for the people attending. I wrote down the titles of the five songs on an old, tattered, envelope for her to keep in her files.

Three weeks ago, Greta left that envelope on my desk with a written request to put those songs into a word document, so she could access them on her computer desktop (I don’t know why she made that request, perhaps Greta knows something I don’t know!). 

Here are Tom’s five songs (and the links to each)

1) Loving her was easier than anything I will ever do again (written and sung by Kris Kristofferson)

Note from Tom: That’s the same song Carm used in the caption under Karen’s pictures. That’s why I was blown away. I found it hard to believe that a guy I’ve known for 65 years and I picked the same song to honor our partners.

                         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCgnbRWVvU8

2) If Tomorrow Never Comes (written by Garth Brooks and Kent Blazy, sung by Garth Brooks)

3) Sunday Morning Coming Down (written by Kris K, sung by Johnny Cash) 

4) Dreaming My Dreams (written by Allen Reynolds, sung by Waylon Jennings)

5) Dry Your Eyes (co-written and sung by Neil Diamond)  

Note from Tom: This Neil Diamond video I took on my phone at one of Neil Diamond’s last concerts, August 2017, at the Forum in Los Angeles. It’s not a perfect video as I didn’t zoom in until later in the video. But the sound is terrific. Note the trumpet player solo near the end. He is spectacular. It’s nearly impossible to find videos of Diamond performing this song–he rarely played it in concerts. It was originally written honoring Martin Luther King after he was assassinated. 

Do you have a song that has special meaning to you or to a loved one? Are you working on a creative project?  If so, please share it with us and tell us why it’s special.

Dry Your Eyes – McStay Family 9-year ordeal coming to an end

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – June 14, 2019 

by Columnist Tom Blake

“Dry Your Eyes,” a nine-year ordeal coming to an end

This January, I wrote a column titled, “The McStay Family Deserves Closure.” In one way, it was easy for me to write, as I was closely acquainted with the people affected. In another way, it was difficult to write, as it was deeply personal to me.

That January article described an ordeal that the McStay Family—my ex-wife Susan and former stepson Mikey—have been through over the past nine years.

Background: While on a business trip to Dallas, Texas, in the mid-1980s, I met Susan McStay. In 1987, Susan and one of her sons, Mikey, moved to live with me in San Rafael, California. A few months later, her other son, Joey, joined us.

Six months after that, the four of us relocated to Dana Point in southern Orange County. She and I married later that year; we divorced in 1994.

On February 4, 2010, Joey, his second wife Summer, and their sons Gianni, 4, and Joseph Jr., 3, went missing from their Fallbrook, California home.

Five days later, their Isuzu Trooper was found abandoned in a strip mall parking lot near the Mexican border, giving the impression that their disappearance may have been voluntary, that perhaps they had decided to travel or move to Mexico without telling anybody.

But, that didn’t add up. Food was left on the dinner table, their beloved dogs had no food or water, and there was $80,000 in a bank account. And Joey would never have left without telling his mom.

The mystery of the family’s whereabouts lasted nearly four years. On November 13, 2013, an off-road motorcyclist noticed parts of a human skull in the Mojave Desert near Interstate 15 in Victorville, CA., and reported it to law enforcement. The four McStay bodies were found buried in two shallow graves. A sledgehammer was in one of the graves.

A year later, Nov. 5, 2014, Chase Merritt, a business partner of Joey’s, was arrested on suspicion of bludgeoning to death all four family members.

Another four years passed, until, January 7, 2019, when the trial finally began, which is when I wrote the “McStay Family Deserves Closure” article.

                         Keeping in touch with Mikey

Mikey, and his new wife, Gaylan, live in the North Beach area of San Clemente, near the McStay Memorial Bench, which is on a bluff overlooking the ocean at 1407 Buena Vista.


 McStay Family names on Memorial Bench in San Clemente, California                       (photo by Tom Blake)

Mikey and I have touched base a few times during the last several months. Mikey phoned me in early June, saying the trial would end soon. He was upbeat.

The verdict was reached on Friday, June 7. However, it wasn’t revealed until 10 a.m., June 10. I wanted to hear the outcome the moment it was announced. I couldn’t get it on live TV, or online, so I turned on my car radio to KNX and sat outside our Dana Point home in the car until I heard the news. It’s the same home where Joey, Mikey, and Susan lived with me for six years.

After a nine-year ordeal and a five-month trial, a verdict was reached: Merritt was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder. There remain many unanswered questions about the case, and now the sentencing phase is underway.

Did the verdict bring closure to the McStays? In a way, perhaps. But how will they ever forget what happened? Closure wasn’t the correct word to use in that article. According to a June 11 Los Angeles Times article, by Alene Tchekmedyian, as Susan left the court room, she mentioned to a woman, “It’s over.” So, maybe “over” would be a better word choice than closure.

After hearing the verdict Monday morning, I was in a fog most of the day. Although I hadn’t seen the McStays much in the years following the divorce, they had been a part of my life for six years. And I am the reason they moved to California, although years ago, shortly after the family disappeared, Susan told me emphatically not to think that way.

The lyrics, “…To those distant fallen angels, who descended much too soon,” from the song, “Dry Your Eyes,” co-written by Neil Diamond and Jaime Robertson in 1976, kept going through my mind on Monday. It’s a start-healing song, that was written after the 1960s assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy.

At a Hot August Night Neil Diamond concert at the Los Angeles Forum in 2017, one of Diamond’s last concerts, I videoed three minutes of him singing “Dry Your Eyes.” Greta and I were sitting in the balcony and I didn’t have my zoom on, but it’s still the best video of Diamond singing that song–and his band playing it–that I could find on YouTube. The band member playing the trumpet is outstanding. The link to the video is below.

You will notice in the upper right corner of the video, beginning about 35 seconds into it–there is a close-up screen of Diamond, and then at the 1:30 point of the video, the trumpet player appears and plays his solo also on that screen.

Now that the verdict is in, somewhat ending the nine-year ordeal that the McStay Family and Summer’s family have gone through, perhaps those family members will be able to start drying their eyes.

Link to my Dry Your Eyes video on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/riPIMKjYFWA

A reminder: the next Senior Meet and Greet will be Thursday, June 27, at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, Dana Point, 5 to 7 p.m. I always enjoy meeting and getting to know our Champs who are able to attend.