I ran away from home at the age of 62. I ran away because my emotions were too sharp and too real to manage among very kind caring people. Kind caring people who kept asking me, ” How are you?” I could not answer truthfully and did not know how to avoid thinking about how I was really feeling. All of that was too public for me to talk about or discuss at the grocery store.
I had too much emotional distress to be out in the open with other people. I did not want to stuff my feelings away. I did not want to cry every day at the grocery store. I did not want to be the person comforting others when they first learned about Lee’s death.
I ran away from my home in Colorado and back to my family roots in New Jersey.
Here for the first time, I was grateful that my family does not talk about or dwell on feelings and emotions. It was enough that I was present and could be included in a family gathering. Food is always involved and lots of it. My family were raised on farms, used to accepting what nature intends to happen and the normal cycle of birth and death.
I ran away from home to reframe my thoughts and give me the space to process grief on my terms in a different yet comforting familiar place. I found a return to the roots of living with the land comfortable. I found there are kind and caring people where ever you go. I just needed to feel free to interact with people at my own pace. I am a natural introvert and do not share feelings easily. My first need was to understand and accept my own feelings of grief.
I am now feeling able to return to a blog. I have changed my focus from cancer care giver to love, death and grief: Now What? I appreciate the ability to share my thoughts and feelings with this blog as my journey continues into this next cycle of life transition.
lovedeathgrief.wordpress.com moving to new blog site
I have figured out that sad is more then just a feeling. When I dig a little and write a little about sad, there are many layers to sad. Sad can mean: despair, sorrow, calm acceptance, lack of energy to move, depression, fear, or just not happy.
In peeling off the layers of words, it has been helpful to me to better define how I feel.
Just saying I feel sad or OK tells very little about me. It is safer to say I am doing OK.
It is expected that I might be sad following the death of a loved one.
The details or layers may not be what I want to share with just anyone. It can be safe for me to just respond, I am doing OK. OK can mean I got dressed today or I went to the gym or I laughed with friends today. OK can mean I only cried once today and I remembered to eat at least once today.
Peeling back the layers is how I gauge my emotional progress. What I decide to share depends on my own needs, not what others need or want from me. Writing these things down has been helpful to tame the emotions and let them flow through me instead of my emotions stopping me in my tracks.
Part of the grief process includes accepting other people as they express grief to you.
Simple words. I am sorry. I didn’t know he was sick. What can I do for you?
Is there anything I can help you with? What do you need?
On my best days I can hear their sorrow and share a story or remember what events we shared over the years. That being open to hearing other people’s words adds value and energy to the whole process of holding memories and space open for that loved person who has died. This process of sharing reminds us that death and dying are universal human experiences and no one goes through this alone.
The most meaningful exchange I had was just a shared glance with a hug, no words needed.
For my community of a small town, grief is communal. It is expected to comment, share your thoughts and express sympathy with a card or words or by deed. On most days that is a gift of shared human experience.
Other days, grief feels very personal to me. I find it very difficult to share those thoughts or hear those expressions of grief from others. I avoid public areas where I will run into someone who knows me and wants to express themselves.
Personal self care comes first, I will burrow in when I need to and go out with a smile when I can.
Thanks to Etta below – some mornings the right message shows up as you need to set your intentions for the day.
via Today’s Inspiration
How do people handle grief? What process do they go through thinking about death and loss? How do they express feelings? There is no set process for anyone.
There are friends who have a need to tell you their own personal grief, cancer, loss story immediately and in great detail. Detach and remove yourself immediately from this outpouring of information that is not helpful or compassionate.
I have other friends who gush their own feelings at you. Keep those friends outside of your personal space, let them process some where else.
I have learned the friends who are most helpful, just listen, hug you or sit with you.
Keep those friends close by let their quiet energy support and sustain you.
I have my dearest friends help me set boundaries so that the drama is pushed away and my inner circle is filled with calm souls who are able to sit in quiet with Lee or myself.
When you start to tell people that Lee is in a rapid decline and they ask do you want me to come? The answer is yes, I need my tribe close at hand. So the sisters got on a plane and a best friend packs her bag before you ask her. Your people gather to provide a physical circle of love and support. A nurse gave me the best possible advice. Delegate or give away all of the tasks you have so you can focus on matters of the heart. When this is all said and done, what really matters? Matters of the heart, holding space for love and connections are the only thing that make sense. The Quakers have a saying that I love to hear, I am holding you in the light. Which is the strongest connection you can share , my inner light and spiritual connection goes out to you the core of my being.
Comfort care means you are done with treatment, cures, invasive tests and all things that might attempt to prolong your life
Emotionally comfort care is another step along the journey of life which ends in death, now that path is a little bit clearer and easier to see. This walk with cancer has been such a struggle that I am finding mixed feelings about a definite endpoint.
The train of grief is starting to pick up steam and occupy too much space in my head.
The whisper of failure swirls around the unspoken questions, is this really all that can be done.
Calmness shows up with the certainty of being done with this overwhelming struggle of 20 months.
Peace finds a home with me when I hear Lee talk about what he wants now. Now he wants the pain to end, he wants to be done with this battle within is weary body, and to end life while his brain can make choices .
Comfort care is the time to pay attention to your basic inner needs and allow your weary body to rest.
I have been reading and exploring my own ideas and thoughts on death and dying in an attempt to find a peaceful path for accepting death. There is the intellectual concept of life as a journey with death as a natural ending. It is harder for me to accept or consider the death of a loved one on an emotional level. I find this article by Mark Ptistick, MA, DC helpful. The following is taken from his work- credit link given below if you want to read more.
“Do not believe that you are a helpless victim of a cruel fate
Good evidence exists that you, as a soul, volunteered to experience this scenario, to be there for your loved one as he or she transitioned from this world. Think about it . . . of the seven billion or so people on this planet, what are the chances that you and your loved one ended up together by chance? God is not asleep at the wheel even though it may seem like it sometimes. You have everything you need to get through this tough time and demonstrate what enlightened grieving looks like.” Mark Pitstick
To love and to be loved is a deeply satisfying experience. No one promised that it would be all fun with no tough times. I am grounded by that thought. To be all in for love to me means that you are there for the whole experience.
My goal is to allow my emotions to be felt: feel them as waves, but not get knocked down and out by them. I want to be present for all the time we have together.
Getting better at not expecting how much time we have, just staying with how to enjoy today.
Just stop doing the complicated things.
Ask for help
Make a phone call
Give up on getting things perfect or even right some days.
Give away responsibility to others
All of this is good advice, I give it to others. Yet it seems everything has more than one step. I have not been good at accepting that one step counts and if that is all you can do today, so be it. I like to see things completed. When I get frustrated with small tasks, I know that I need to simplify. I am clearing off my obligations so I have fewer decision to make on a daily basis.
Living with cancer in the house has helped me pay attention to how I want to spend my time. I am taking big steps to simplify how I need to spend my time this summer. What I really want is just to have a summer with Lee, no doctors, no hospitals, no treatments.
Live, pay attention to love, life and happiness.