ABTA

Finding a New Normal After Grief

Retired art teacher and coach, Rob Rummel, turned his grief and sorrow into finding a new normal, after the passing of his wife, Deb, following her fight against one of the most aggressive brain tumors, glioblastoma.

“We miss Deb every day. Sometimes I want to share thoughts, feelings, and even “dad jokes” with her, but I can’t do that,” explains Rummel. “As anyone who has lost a spouse knows, your world really has turned upside down. It’s taken nearly two years to get any feeling of normalcy back. I realize that this is a “new normal,” and I’m trying to make the best of it.”

Rummel and his wife, Deb, were in the process of selling their home of 27 years, when Deb was diagnosed with glioblastoma three years ago. The couple made her treatments a priority, which included surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, as well as countless medical appointments. The Rummels pulled together to support each other during this time. Rummel’s daughter spent two summers in a row helping out when she could make the six-hour drive to care for her mom. His son and daughter-in-law also came to help when they could.

“Deb was a wonderful spouse, friend, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, mentor, coach and teacher,” said Rummel. “I think we were all in shock as we saw Deb gradually go from a vibrant woman to needing a wheelchair to get around.”

Honoring and Remembering

Rummel and his family honor Deb by remembering all of her positive aspects.

“She was very positive about everything, and she had that special smile that was in every picture. Now we can tell stories about her and laugh, instead of cry, and she would love that.”

Rummel has also continued some the traditions and initiatives started by Deb.

She started a company which sold mittens made from recycled wool sweaters. Although Rummel decided to close the business after her passing, the popularity of the products convinced him and his family to continue selling the mittens.

“This all came together last year, and we are starting our second year in her memory,” said Rummel. “My family is content with the thought that Deb would love that the company she founded continues.”

In addition, participating in the ABTA Breakthrough for Brain Tumors 5K Run and Walk Twin Cities event is another great way to memorialize Deb. Rummel currently serves on the planning committee for the ABTA BT5K Twin Cities, and supports activities on the day of the event. This year, family members and numerous friends will participate on Team Runnin’ Rummels. Team Captain Rummel says this event helps him and his love ones feel like they’re doing something to help others survive brain tumors.

Creating a New Normal

The passing of his wife has brought Rummel closer to his family and create moments that heal.

“I like doing anything with my family, gardening, sporting events, fantasy football, and working with clay and pottery, which I started again after 14 months of being the major caregiver for my wife. I also enjoy getting away and spending time at my log cabin.”

Rummel also makes use of grief counseling or support groups. He has relied on his family and friends’ support as well as read several books on grief recovery. Rummel found support in his faith and reads his book of daily devotions each morning to get started as well.

“Realize that there’s no timetable for getting back to your life, but know that you’ll find a new normal eventually,” said Rummel. “This gives me hope that there is a tomorrow without Deb.”

What Can You Do?

There are many ways to create your new normal. Consider accessing some of these resources on the ABTA website:


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