Sunday, August 6, 2017

Lessons in Grief-Doing Something

I am amazed at how many times a simple kind act has completely turned my day around.  I had a friend who consistently sent baked goods which her husband usually dropped by once a week for months.  What I didn't have the courage to tell her was that was the only contact I had with adults for days. I know people worry about saying or doing something that may cause pain but there is much more pain in hearing, "I was thinking about you all week," and knowing they did nothing and knowing those were incredibly difficult days.  When someone comes into your mind there is a reason.  What I have learned to do when this happens is to say a prayer for the person when they enter into my mind and sometimes I send a text saying, "just wanted you to know I love you and am thinking of you today." This message doesn't require a response but leaves the door open if they want or need to talk. 

I learned something interesting last May.  In studying the brain through imaging they have learned that when we exclude others the pain centers of the brain activate.  When we shy away from talking to someone afraid we will say the wrong thing or avoid talking about a loved one who has passed we cause pain when our goal is to alleviate pain or at least avoid causing further pain.

We are all mortal and as such we are FLAWED.  I have made mistakes in my grieving that have hurt others and damaged relationships, others have avoided me, and sometimes said things that are hurtful because they are human.  What I have come to learn is that when we act from a place of love THAT is the message that comes through.  One of the most helpful things anyone ever said to me was, "I know that nothing I can say will make this any better but I want you to know that I love you." Honest, open words.  I have come to appreciate the power of simple words.  It is not our job to fix or even understand it is our job to love others. And those who have touched me the most are the ones who keep coming back even after not being invited in some days, keep texting and calling even though I don't always respond, and keep showing up and inviting me to be part of their lives because there are days when I need people and I will respond.  

I mourn the life I have lost and I don't know that there will ever be a time when that goes away entirely.  Thank you for your love, prayers, and your continued patience as I continue walking these unknown roads.  I will make mistakes but I will keep moving forward and I need all the help I can get.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lessons In Grief-Part 2

I called a widow friend to check in the day after Father's Day. Knowing how difficult the day had been for myself and my children as it was the first Father's Day since their dad passed. I'm not sure what I expected by asking this question but the honesty in her response was both shocking and refreshing. "I cried for four hours." 

That's what people who have experienced catastrophic loss do, they cry, they take long walks and long baths, they search for that outlet that helps their body and mind work through the pain. They put together jigsaw puzzle and scrapbook and read old journal entries while constantly composing new ones in their heads. They cry themselves to sleep while listening to the same two sad songs over and over again. Well, maybe that's not what everyone does but that's what I do.

Something I have learned about our society is that when it comes to tragedy we suck at dealing with it. The only consistent things we teach are that saying nothing is the only thing worse than saying/doing nothing and to hand someone a Kleenex when they cry.

I've learned over the past year that Kleenex have their place but there is that tears have power. Tears cleanse, tears have consistently been healing for me and they work better when I allow myself to feel them deeply and allow them to slowly make their way down my cheeks before dripping onto my body. The weight of my grief releases as they fall and after I have allowed time for them to flow freely there will be time to clean myself up, brush myself off and go again.

I often find myself wishing there was a Band-Aid type solution to my grief and in a society full of fast food and instant gratification there are things that offer temporary relief but the reality is we work through the big stuff a little at a time, day after day, allowing ourselves to feel day after day. We must choose a path of healing and while that choice may seem difficult, the other option is to bury it, avoid it and let it slowly take away our ability to feel.

When we choose to feel we put ourselves on a path to find healing and though it's a slow and painful process it is least that's what I have been told. It's been 11 months now and I have progressed from a feeling of drowning to feeling waves that occasionally knock me over. They are getting farther in-between and less intense as time goes on.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

When We Call God Answers

When some people think about God they envision a being far removed looking over the earth as some great thing that he's proud of yet far removed from. Others may see him as the Greeks did, a master at a chess board and we are merely pawns.  When I think of God I think of Him as a gentle, strong, kind father; someone who is interested in our individual welfare but leaves us to make the final decision as to where our life will go. He sees our strengths and our weaknesses and has in mind a plan that will play to our strengths and help us overcome our weaknesses but we choose to seek this plan or to go our own way.

There is power in seeking God's will for our lives. The first experience I had with this was in choosing where to go to college. I had decided I wanted to attend a college in a big city, a business college that had a two year program. I started the application process but couldn't shake the feeling it just wasn't quite right. I looked into other options until I found another junior college that felt right. At first I was a little upset that I wasn't getting what I wanted but felt strongly that was what God wanted for me. After a difficult first semester I had a better second semester and it was announced the college was transitioning to a four year university. I was able to complete a four year degree without relocating.

I find it fascinating that God wants to speak to us. With the understanding that He is first and foremost a loving Father it should not come as a surprise that He would desire to counsel with us but I am consistently amazed at the ways He reaches out to me. They are ever present but it is only when I am watchful that I recognize they are there. A favorite scripture of mine states, "all things denote thee is a God." When I look at the marvel of the human body, at the intricacy of how we are formed from two cells and those cells contain all the information to form an entire body forming into muscles, bone, connective tissues, organs each made to perform a specific function and that our bodies are capable of healing and growing and learning I am in awe. I think of the solar system how planets rotate around the sun arranged in majestic order and our earth being positioned just right to make conditions perfect for us to survive, I marvel. Beyond the functionality of this planet we call home I see the flowers, the ocean waves, the tall trees and the beauty of the sunrise and feel the care with which  this beauty was created for us. Why wouldn't a father want a beautiful place for His children to live, it just makes sense to me.

I know some find this concept far fetched and I can understand with the suffering many face on this earth why the concept of an all-powerful being having created all this is hard to believe but I feel it in my heart so strongly that I know it to be true.  I have faced suffering and I have felt strength beyond my own, I have felt the power of prayers said in my behalf and I have seen miracles happen within me as I have done things I know were beyond my capacity to do on my own. Some of the most amazing experiences I have had were going I to a situation not knowing what to do or say and having just the right thing come out when I open my mouth and many times being given words that teach me.  I have seen so much evidence of God's existence and His love.

What I have come to understand is that God is there through the good, the bad and the downright difficult in our lives. He is aware of us and wants to help us if we will genuinely and consistently seek His guidance and help. He is invested in our success but is limited in His ability to help us by eternal laws which give us our freedom to choose and also require us to follow the light inside us that helps us feel the difference between good and bad. When we seek good things we increase our ability to receive guidance from God and when do not we impede our ability to receive inspiration and blessings.

One of the beautiful things about the being a God is that He sent us to earth for a reason. It is this feeling that pushes me forward through tough times, that encourages me to reach out to just one more person and to fall to my knees and plead to Him when I no longer have the strength to stand. When we call, He ALWAYS answers. That is crazy amazing.