Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Work of Grieving

My meditation for today was about patience. 

"I become painfully aware that no one is paying me for all the hours I need to stare into space after a loss." ---Mary Hayes-Grieco

"We become anxious at all the time wasted grieving, curled up on the couch with a balled-up handkerchief, staring off into space, reliving the details of his death over and over again.

There are so many other things we should be doing! Yet in truth this is exactly what we must do right now in order to heal and get on with the business of life.  The laundry may pile up and social and work appointments may be put on hold until we are in a position to be productive.

This is the "work" of mourning, and while there is no tangible compensation, the actual payment is considerable.  If we give ourselves all the time we need, we come out on the other side, rested and ready to resume our worldly responsibilities.  Until then we need to keep pressure to an absolute minimum and remember to be easy on ourselves."
                                                             excerpt from "Living with Loss" by Ellen Sue Stern

At the beginning, after Tom died, there was little I could do but stare into space.  I couldn't keep a cogent thought in my head for more than 3 seconds.  It has progressively gotten better over the months.  And then last week I felt like I was going backwards.  I was crying every day.  It seems that in the car, on my way to a meeting, a song would hit the radio which was one of several on RuMoRs playlist.  One day, the song "Color My World" by Chicago came on.  That was the only song that Tom actually sang with the band and he would always dedicate it to me.  Suddenly the white lines on the road became very blurry.  A week before I decided that I would mix it up a bit and listen to a country station (and I NEVER listen to country).  The third song in was by Phil Vasser, the last lines of the chorus "An' I'm gonna wrap my arms around you,  An' rock you all through the night, An' I'm gonna love you, Like it's the last day of my life".  It a miracle that I actually get to where I am going in one piece.

This past week-end I decided it was time to deal with Tom's drums, selling his vintage Ludwig kit.  In order to do that I needed to photograph it.  So out into the garage I went.  I was doing OK until I open his gear bag.  The smell of gear is very distinctive.  The moment I opened it the memories came out of my eyes and ran down my cheeks.  For a loooong time.  Oh those memories--hauling gear, setting up gear, tearing down gear, watching Tom play, remembering how much he LOVED to play. 

And then yesterday.  What happened to yesterday?  It was the nine month anniversary of his death.  I had been warned that people tend to take a little dip around the nine month mark.  I was not prepared.  I woke up feeling ill--cold and achey.  I couldn't focus on anything.  And I struggled all morning trying to convince myself to work.  I finally realized that it was a useless struggle and gave in to what my body, mind and spirit really needed.  Respite.  So I put on one of Tom's sweatshirts, climbed into bed and cuddled with the dog.  I quickly fell into a lovely nap and felt slightly better when I woke up.  By the time this morning rolled around I felt better and ready to get back to this new life.  Quite frankly I was shocked that it hit as hard as it did.  I've had other days when I hit the wall and could barely get out of the chair.  But I had been doing so much better in recent months.  I just didn't expect it.

Here is the reality, as each week goes by, I realize just a little bit more what I have lost.  Its like peeling an onion.  More is exposed, more tears flow.  What I may have known in my head, I am now learning in my heart.  This is the work of mourning.  Feeling it, living it, coming to terms with it.  I am doing the best that I can.  But there will be days.   They are fewer and further between.  But there will be more.  I want this to all be better, but it will take what it takes.  It takes patience.  Not my strong suit, now, or ever.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Its all about choice.  Damn!  You mean I can't just sit back and wait for the magic to happen?

The journey of grief and sorrow is not a straight line.  It is not controllable.  There is a lot of "going with the flow".  In fact, I wouldn't have it any other way.  The only control is how I react to it.  I know how to deny pain, stuff pain, ignore pain, pretend pain doesn't exist.  But only for a little while.  It will ALWAYS come back to bite me in the behind. 

I would like to believe that the worst days of grieving the loss of my love are behind me.  I am not foolish enough to buy into that.  There will be moments, or perhaps days, where the feelings overwhelm me, bring me to my knees, where I snot all over everything, wail about the unfairness of it all, curse the universe for the agony I may feel.  And that's OK.  Because those are just moments.  Those are feelings that I must feel, must express, to aid in my healing.  They come up for a reason, they are a part of the process.  They suck.  But I cannot live there.  I choose not to live there.

It is easy to play the victim.  It is easy to be helpless.  But I am neither a victim nor helpless.  Yes, at times I feel like a victim because Tom is gone way too soon and our very happy marriage on this plane is no longer there.  Yes, there were/are times when I feel helpless.  But come on, really?  Me?  Helpless?  I have tons of help available to me just for the asking (or whining, as the case may be).  I have family who love me.  I have friends who love me.  I have people who will gladly help me.  So helpless, I am not.  Sometimes I just have to open my mouth because those friends and family are not psychic (but how I wish they were!)

There is that word again, "choice".  I know all about misery.  I am not as comfortable with it as I once was.  I don't like it.  In fact, I refuse to live in it.  It is all 100% refundable if I would like it back.  But I don't want it back.  I have another 30 years or so to continue living.  I am NOT going to live it in misery.  I am NOT!!!!! 

I believe in an orderly universe.  It may not be an order that I understand, but there are reasons to everything.  I do not believe in coincidence.  I believe in synchronicity.  There is a reason that Tom is no longer here.  He had done the work he came to do.  I wish it were different.  I still hold his medical team accountable for his early demise.  That is a battle yet to be fought.  And there is a reason I am still here.  I don't know what that reason is, more will be revealed, perhaps more will be required. 

So I have a choice.  I can choose to marinate in pain, or ignore pain, or embrace pain.  In embracing it, I feel it and set it free so it does not control my future.  I can choose to be happy or deny happiness.  I can choose joy. Or I can choose to ignore it, be blind to it.

Yes, there will be times that I will have a pity party for myself.  It is only a place I visit, not a place I live.  I hope that you will kindly understand and allow me those moments.  But slap me out of it I unpack and set up housekeeping. 

Today I choose to do the best for me, to choose gratitude, to choose joy, to choose happiness.  I may not feel it all the time.  I will fake it until I make it.  But I choose to move forward.  And in moving forward I am not leaving the past behind.  I am bringing the very best of it with me, for without it, for without the years with Tom, I would not be the person I am today.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Baby Steps

My life for the past year and a half has had big momentous stuff in it.  BIG!  The defining thing over these last months has been my husband's illness and subsequent death.  It has changed me forever.  It has been a soul journey.  I miss him more than ever.  It has been just over 8 months since he left this earthly plane and my soul still feels like it is missing a part of itself.  I've just passed one of the most difficult months--the anniversary of the deaths of my mother-in-law, my mother, our parrot and two friends as well as our wedding anniversary and my mom and husband's birthday.  I think I held my breath through the month because the last few days I've been extremely sad--a delayed reaction perhaps?  Of course, I also just gave up sugar and all things white this week so that will also impact my mental health.  Sugar and white stuff are no longer there to fill that hole and I must deal with it.

While I am extremely sad, I've never been more driven since Tom died. If you know me, do not mistake "driven" to be anything like I was before.  Since Tom died I have lived only in the  moment.  I've just begun to think about the future but have no idea what my future will be.  And therefore have been unable to take any action.  I have had yet another aha moment today.  Let me explain . . .

About six weeks ago, we received an assignment in my spousal bereavement support group, The topic was to share about our "emerging" self.  What do we see as our future.  To be honest, it wasn't until about May that the thought even occurred to me that I must create a new life, one without Tom.  And really, I don't want to do it.  I want my old life back.  But I don't have a choice in the matter and I am one to take on most challenges head on.  So I did a fair amount of cogitating on the matter and from the two weeks of contemplation, three "pillars" emerged for me.

1.  to lead a spirit-filled and spirit-led life
2.  to be lean, fit and healthy
3.  to have love in my life

I have had no idea how to get from here to there.  And I didn't feel the need to have a grand plan.  There are lots of different ways to get there, and I've not yet formalized those things.  I've started the process of creating a vision board, but to date all I've done is go through magazines and pull out images.  I've not gone beyond that for a variety of reasons, mostly time, and work priorities.  (I really should be working right now but am feeling really drawn to do this).

This morning I realized that action is required to achieve those things I want in my life, and I am the only one responsible for that action.  And it may be baby steps.  I may not know everything that I want or how to get there, but more will be revealed.

So for today I am taking a baby step toward item number two.  I've gained weight which has made my knee pain much worse, to the point it is interfering with my daily life.  I can be the only one to change that at this point (I plan on putting surgery off for as long as possible and I am no where near in a place to undertake such a big surgery).  This week I've quit sugar and white.  I've had a headache for a few days.  I am determined to make small changes, small commitments, one at a time, to change this part of my life.

Just for today I will feed my body healthy nourishing foods.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Zora is growing into such a good dog.

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When we brought Zora home almost two years ago we crate trained her. Over the last few months we have been letting her stay out when we leave for a few hours. She usually just sleeps. She is not a mischeiveous dog like Kona was. This week we went out to dinner with friends and left her out. When we got home I walked in and found the living room floor covered with stuff. And then I realized the stuff was only her toys (and the stuffing from one of her toys). We keep her toys in a basket on top of her crate. The only way to get to them is for her to climb up on my chair. She ONLY touched her toys. Nothing else in the house was touched – no shoes, no counter surfing, no garbage. Nothing! What a great dog! Kona was always getting into stuff. We had to put a baby lock on the cupboard that held his food since he would get in there and pull out the bird seed and whatever else was in there. I am very proud of our little girl. If she could just get past her shyness with new people it would be great.

Sunday, December 23, 2012