Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Your fellow man

The men's group I attend wrapped up a year of studying the book of Romans this week.

My small group represented a typical cross section of men-both white and blue collar workers.

We got to know each other over the year.

One fellow lost a son who was in his 20's a few years ago.

Another had a son who had struggled for years with substance use and abuse.

Another had a daughter in her 30's who had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

One, who had always been so quiet, opened up one night and told us about the atrocities he had witnessed as a corpsman during three tours in Vietnam.

Another had a very ill brother move in with he and his wife so that they could help care for him.

Two missed a few nights due to dealing with very serious health problems of their own.

Another was in the midst of a very difficult divorce.

I let them know about T's sudden death in 2015.

It always hits home that, once again, most everyone you meet is fighting a battle of which you may know nothing about...until you get to know them.

Working through grief is a long process but it makes you so much more aware, it makes you a better listener and it encourages you to get to know others in a way that you had never considered prior.

Life on earth is short. Get to know your fellow man and your fellow woman.

Listen. Love. Support. Encourage. Let those with a recent event know there is a light at the end of the tunnel in which they may find themselves in at this time.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A deeper understanding

Kindred Spirits: when two people share a bond due to an experience that has drawn them together or to a higher level of consciousness.

Grief makes us so much more aware of the grief of others, eventually.

Initially we are too consumed by our own sadness to think much about the sorrows of others.

But when we are finally able to get back out in the world again, we frequently cross paths with others who are just beginning to deal,  or have already been dealing, with a significant loss.

We now more deeply understand the depth of their suffering.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The right time, the right place and for the right reasons

"Grief dares us to love once more."-Terry Tempest Williams

"It takes courage to risk loving again. It's the courage that affirms the love we shared with the one we have lost."-Martha Whitmore Hickman

I've always felt that if it's meant to happen it will happen at "the right time, the right place and for the right reasons."

T and I first spent a long time connecting at a social gathering that I wasn't planning on attending, but ultimately decided to go. I have always been so thankful I went to that Halloween party in October, 1988.

A year ago I really didn't want to go to a Saturday morning medical conference but ultimately decided to attend.

About 1/2 way through the morning, while walking to the bathroom, I ran directly into J. We knew each other but hadn't crossed paths for many years.

She didn't know T had died and I didn't know she had been through a difficult divorce many years ago. We met for coffee the next Saturday.

I'm really thankful I went to that conference on April 22nd, 2017.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Till death do us part

"In good times as well as in bad, in sickness as well as in health, for richer or for poorer...until death do us part."

Most of us said the same vows-or a variation of the same-when we got married.

However, when we were young, all the potential bad things were imaginary-especially the thought of losing your partner to death.

"The death of a beloved in amputation. But when two people marry, each one has to accept that one of them will die before the other."-Madeleine L'Engle

Obviously, true.

It just doesn't make the loss any easier to accept when it's your reality.

When you're the one navigating through life after the loss.

But please know...you will navigate through it.

And your partner would have expected/wanted nothing less.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Canine advice

10 Things We Can Learn From Our Dogs That Will Make Us Happier and Healthier Humans-By Lisa Zawistowski

1. Live in the moment
2. Forgive
3. Reward yourself with treats once in a while
4. Take good care of yourself
5. Attitude is everything
6. Walk in nature
7. Hugs matter
8. Know your real needs
9. Take time for the simple things
10. Love is the only thing that really matters

"Express gratitude for the good things in your life, savor life's joys, learn to forgive and avoid overthinking things."

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Normal grief?

Grieving or depressed?

It's a good question, especially when in the midst of trying to regain your footing in the world.

The medical community often considers anyone who grieves beyond two weeks as being depressed.

Allen Frances MD has noted "medicalizing normal grief stigmatizes and reduces the normalcy and dignity of the pain, short circuits the expected existential processing of the loss, reduces reliance on the many well established cultural rituals for consoling grief, and would subject many people to unnecessary and potentially harmful medication."

Grief is an inescapable part of the human experience.

Grief will effect all of us in our lifetime and there is really no one right way to grieve.

The symptoms of grief and depression do overlap.

Allan Schwartz, PhD notes:

"It has been said that an important difference between grief and major depression is that in grief the feelings of loss of the loved one is compensated for by the warm memories that are carried with the one who suffered the loss. One the other hand, major depression is characterized by feelings of loss resulting in internal feelings of emptiness. Nothing, not memories or anything, compensates for or balances the feelings of loss."

Good memories can compensate somewhat for a loss. It also encourages you to want to create more good memories. Working through grief takes time.

"Ultimately, mourning runs its own course and resolves it's self."-Allan Schwartz PhD

"People don't get over grief. Reconciliation is a more appropriate term-when the mourner moves forward in life without the physical presence of the person who died. The person who died will never be forgotten but you can and you will move forward in your life."Alan Wolfelt PhD

Monday, February 26, 2018

Don't worry, it shall pass

"Bereavement is a darkness unknown to the imagination of the unbereaved."-Iris Murdoch

"When I'm feeling good I know that things can change quickly and I will probably feel low again.  When I'm feeling low I know that things can change quickly and I will probably feel happy again.
However I'm feeling at the moment, I know that this too shall pass."

I came across a quote that was really helpful: "as time goes by, there will be longer periods of relief and longer periods between the extremes of emotions but, you will continue to be emotionally ambushed at unexpected times."

The term "emotionally ambushed" made so much sense.

It's exactly how I felt and helped to explain what was happening to me-how I could be doing fine one moment and then in tears the next.

Working through grief is hard.

"The experience of sudden loss of love and the recovery process that follows can provide a basis for growing and expanding us as human beings in ways we never thought were possible."

One of my favorite notes in a sympathy card from a friend, who had lost his wife years ago, was: "please know that eventually you will find the light at the end of the tunnel in which you find yourself in at this time."

So will you.