... for those who mourn the loss of a soul mate
"He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began." - Leo Tolstoy

Friday, September 13, 2019

Grief by a thousand cuts

Death by a thousand cuts refers to an old form of Chinese torture whereby a person would slowly die as he bled to death from a thousand little cuts.
Grief is like that.
Yes, death gives you an initial gut punch that brings you to your knees.
But after a while, the shock wears off and you assimilate the loss and continue to live.
But the grief, the pain of losing that person you love so much stays with you and day after day, month after month, year after year, you bleed.
You bleed when you turn over in bed at night and caress the empty pillow next to your head.
You bleed when you make coffee for one in the morning.
When you heat up that frozen dinner at night instead of making a delicious meal for two.
When you watch the sun rise in the morning and there is no one to share it with and you see another day before you without that person to talk to, share with, make love with.
Grief robs you day by day, cut by cut, tear by tear, loss by loss.
I don't want to sound morbid or pessimistic.
Life does become "routine" again, if you will.
Gradually we incorporate the loss into our new life and we learn to band aid the cuts and soon they scab over.
But they never really heal.
Anything can pull that scab off.
Sometimes we are surprised by the renewed hurt.
Sometimes we understand what did it.
A song.
A smell.
A noise.
I was taken aback by the sound of the the pool man one day as he dove under the water to fix a pop up head. For a split second, it sounded like John was back in our backyard. John who loved our pool and dove into it every day after work to cool off. For a split second my soul felt whole again.
And then...
And then it bled all over again.
There is no rhyme or reason to what can make a grief cut bleed again.
So be kind to yourself when that happens. Don't berate yourself for being weak.
You're not.
Today is the anniversary of when John and I moved into this house we have now in Arizona.
After driving for 5 days with 1 dog, 3 cats, and 1 parakeet, we entered our new home.
Now I am here alone. Different dog. Different cats. No bird.
And no John.
Tomorrow the bleeding will stop. Again.
But today I am cut all over again.
Such is grief.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Brush with Fate

I thought I understood. At least a little bit. I thought I understood how losing the love of your life must feel. I even wrote a book about it. I’ve not been there, but I honestly thought I had an idea. I realize now that I really don’t.

This last week, my love, Norm, spent just two nights and two days in the hospital. This has happened before over the years, but for some reason, this time it felt different. I suppose that could be because we are both much older now. Or perhaps it is because the condition that put him there, while ultimately treatable and brief, could have been life-threatening. That scared the pants off me. It felt like a much too close brush with fate.

He is home now and doing very well, but those two days gave me a much-diluted feeling for what my friends have been experiencing for years since their husbands died.

The nights were the worst.

The house was way too quiet. The bed much too empty. The hours far too long. I found myself wondering how my friends have been able to adapt. And I admire them for how they have built new lives alone.

And I have developed a new appreciation for the life I have, for the husband who is still the center of my world. I know the day could come, anytime, when he would be gone. I thank God he is still with me today.


Monday, September 9, 2019

Live It or Lose It

“I'm not afraid of death because I don't believe in it. It's just getting out of one car, and into another.” – John Lennon

Are you participating in your life or merely gliding through, letting each day escape from your grasp? Are you in charge of your life or just giving it away an hour at a time? When we lose the person our life revolved around, we can get stuck in a morass of doubt, indecision, and apathy.

When someone close to you dies, your social status often changes. This affects your sense of self-worth. Losing a life partner often results in a reduction of income and can mean having to move out of a shared home or having to reach out to others for financial help, which can further increase emotional stress and worry. The stress of losing a loved one to death and the resulting grief can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to catching colds or the flu. Poor eating habits and disrupted sleep patterns can lead to queasiness, low-energy levels, fatigue, and weakness in overall muscle strength. Stress can also worsen an existing chronic health condition, causing it to flare up repeatedly.

It is so easy when you lose your anchor to allow yourself to just drift. The danger is, you don’t always drift into calm waters. Chances are a storm will come along and throw you up against the rocks or try to submerge you. Draw on your memories that reflect the love you shared in your relationship. Use them to form a life vest when waves of despair and doubt threaten to overwhelm you. And when friends reach out, grab their hands, and allow them to pull you in.

I don’t find the term “closure” helpful. Bank accounts are closed, closet doors are closed, shutters are closed, but the love we carry for those closest to us never closes. You can never go back to being your “old self” after a traumatic loss. Grief changes you, and you are never the same. However, you do get to decide how to put yourself back together. Be strong. Be creative. Live your life as a journey not as a race. I believe our Creator put us here to do a job, to learn lessons, and to enhance the lives of others. 
Peace and love.
If you know someone this blog could help, please share.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Say Yes! to life

Mr. G. H. Owl
Mrs. G. H. Owl

You might have seen my Facebook postings elsewhere that lately I have had some significant visiting from a beautiful great horned owl and his mate. I often hear them hooting to each other in the early morning hours as they return from a night of hunting and in the early evening they have been hanging out on the deck of the house next door and even on the wall separating my yard from that yard.
They are gorgeous animals and I am so blessed to be having this experience.
But my spiritual team [in this case, John and my spirit Guide] took it a step further this past week.
In a meditation, I was given the messages to enjoy my life here on Earth.  Now.
To take my life to the next step and work on my purpose. Lessen anxiety and live in the present. Don't miss what's in front of me.
I didn't ask for a sign but part of me wondered if those messages were just my imagination or was I really being given those insights.
Then, within the hour of completing the meditation, I went out into my backyard and found a beautiful owl feather. I have NEVER seen one in real life before. Certainly never had one close up like this.
But there it was, on the ground, right in front of me.
A friend took it a step further when I told her about this and suggested maybe all this owl sighting was a sign that the owl is my spirit totem.
So, I looked it up.
More head smacking.

Symbolic meanings for the owl as spirit totem are:
  • Intuition, ability to see what others do not see
  • The presence of the owl announces change
  • Capacity to see beyond deceit and masks
  • Wisdom
  • The traditional meaning of the owl spirit animal is the announcer of death, most likely symbolic like a life transition, change
As it turns out, I had the opportunity to sign up for two major trips for next year that ordinarily I would have let pass by. But I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and signed up for both. Both of these trips include some serious spiritual work besides sightseeing.Years ago, I had a past life regression. One life stands out for me. It wasn't a bad life but it was an unfulfilling life because I took no chances. Instead, I refused to grow emotionally and in the life review, that lifetime did not meet its mark.
Not this time.
Maybe one of my goals this time around is to fly, spread my wings - like my owl friends. Seek the purpose for the rest of my life.
When I lost John, my grief went through stages. First, I wanted to die and join him. Then when that seemed unlikely, I lost my interest in my own life. Then as that eased, I felt guilty enjoying life without him.
Now, I see that's wrong. John is still with me,. We can enjoy my adventures together. And it's a waste of this precious life I still have to just sit around and wait for it to end.
I framed that beautiful feather and it will hang in my meditation room to remind me of the important messages I received.

Fly high!
Love life!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

From Why to Embracing a Destiny

It’s a tradition we started the year my dear friend Anita transitioned. Still grieving deeply that first year, those of us who I suppose were closest to her and who may have been suffering the most from her loss decided we needed to celebrate her on her birthday. And so, we came together, Elaine, Becky, Tonia, Beverly and me. We met for lunch at Macaroni Grill, the place she and I had planned to meet for lunch the week she died.

That first year, the tears were so very close to the surface that many of them were shed that day. The grief was still raw and all we could talk about was why. Why did she have to die so young? Why did it have to happen so suddenly? Why Anita? Why did we have to lose her at all? Why could more not have been done to save her? Why? Why? WHY!?

The second year was a little easier. We found ourselves able to recall some of the happier memories. And the whys had, by and large, been put behind us. We realized there were no easy answers to them and continuing to ask why was akin to poking a sore tooth. Nothing would change. The grief would still be there. The regrets over losing her far too soon would not go away and asking why with no answers could not put them to rest. Instead, we found ourselves focusing on reconnecting with each other, Anita our most common bond. She was still very much a presence at that table, though. We again ordered a glass of wine for her and passed it around the table, each of us toasting her in our own way. We had begun to accept her absence. We had begun to heal.

By this year, the third, meeting for lunch to celebrate Anita’s birthday had become a tradition. We still meet at the same Macaroni Grill. We still share one glass of Pinot Grigio and each toast our beloved friend. And this year, we shared even happier memories, but we also found ourselves talking of the destiny that was hers, the indelible mark she left on this world. We agreed that she had chosen to come into this life to follow a path she determined before coming. And we agreed she left when she was ready, when she knew her role here was complete. In this life, she always seemed to be seeking something, to grow spiritually. And she did. Always. Somehow, she always found herself in the role of supporting others in their growth too. I think that unconditional support she offered the rest of the world was her way of fulfilling her own soul’s purpose in being here, her chosen destiny if you will. We were all better for having known her and when she left, it was because she had fulfilled that destiny and was ready for her next thrilling adventure of the soul.

Surprisingly, since she passed, two of us have experienced strangely similar readings with mediums. In those readings, Anita was clearly present. She is, we were told, happy on that new plane and very, very busy. And what is she doing? She is helping newly transitioned souls find their way in their new existence, helping ease the all too natural confusion over leaving one world and entering another. How perfect that is for her! I believe she was preparing for that role over all the years I knew and loved her. Some would say that makes her an angel. Perhaps they are right.

Monday, September 2, 2019

If I Could Save Time

I saw a story in the news recently where a dog tracked its owner, a dementia sufferer who had apparently wandered off, by a bottled scent. The bottle had been prepared two years previously and contained a gauze pad swabbed from the underarm of the dog’s owner. It had been labeled and set aside for just this type of emergency. Hearing about this almost miracle made me think of the scents we associate with the people we love. Scents I miss and wish I could replicate. 

 I will always associate the scent of Canoe, an inexpensive cologne readily available at drugstores throughout the land, with Jerry. When I leaned my head into the crook of his neck and inhaled his essence, he smelled spicy, masculine, comforting, and a little bit sexy. Months after he transitioned, I would sprinkle drops of this elixir on a cloth and tuck it in my pillowcase to soothe me as I fell asleep.
Every couple of years, our oak furniture required the application of several coats of Formby’s tung oil to protect its gleaming finish. The astringent odor would linger in the house for days. Anytime I encounter it now, I immediately envision Jerry industriously applying it with a cloth to our treasured wood pieces.
The rich aroma of a bouquet of freshly cut and artfully arranged roses interspersed with delicate sweet peas often greeted me when I arrived home from work. And the recollection of us sitting on a white-painted bench in the backyard gorging ourselves on tree-ripened sweet juicy peaches or just-picked-off-the-vine Big Boy tomatoes raises waves of remembered smells of summer and hours of life-shaping conversations that lasted until twilight and mosquitoes drove us indoors.
I miss walking into the house in the evening and being greeted by a proffered tablespoon of sliced mushrooms sautéed in butter with fresh dill backed up by the heady smell of steak au poivre and roasted potatoes. Some people eat to live, and some of us live to eat. The fresh pungent smell of segmented oranges will always remind me of our final days together. It was the only food my husband would eat his last few days, when food no longer held any appeal. If I could save time in a bottle, it would be bottles of scents that I could open and have instant whiffs of our life together.

by Betts McCalla