... a voice 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

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Would You Want to Know? Sudden Death vs. Lingering Illness.


It is a question we have often discussed among ourselves. Is it easier to deal with the sudden death of your soul mate or to have warning and deal with a lingering illness? There are no easy answers.

But what about a combination of the two alternatives? How would you feel if you discovered in their last hours that your soul mate had a terminal illness and had chosen not to tell you they were dying?

Last night I was watching a television program where one main storyline revolved around this issue. Thinking he was protecting his wife, the man who was dying tried his best to keep it from her. Of course, as inevitably happens with such illnesses, his condition worsened to a point where he had to be hospitalized and he could no longer hide it. Typical of television stories, they quickly reconciled his deception and spent his remaining time in a form of bliss. It felt incredibly false to me. But then it was television.

I found myself angry with the character for denying his wife the time she may have needed to come to grips with losing him and to say goodbye properly. Was I wrong to feel that way? Not having personally been through that depth of loss, I don’t know. But I think that I would have felt a whole gamut of emotions – betrayed, heartbroken and angry most of all – but reluctant to tell him how I truly felt in his final hours. That in itself, I think, would be a form of dishonesty that has no place in a relationship between soul mates. What a sad legacy to have to carry beyond that ultimate separation. And then once he was gone, I would have still been left to sort through all the feelings. I suspect healing would take forever.


Dying is the one thing we are guaranteed we will have to do alone. No one can do it for us. But I have to ask what possible benefit could come from choosing to reach that point alone as well. So I would like to know your feelings on this. Which is easier for the one left behind? Knowing or not knowing what was coming? Sudden departure or lingering illness? And if in fact there is a lingering illness with no hope of recovery, would you want to know so you could make the most together of the time your loved one has left on this plane? Or would you prefer to have your last time together untainted by the specter of death approaching the door?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Remembering


I have seen many posts this week, on various Facebook pages that I belong to, reference talking about our loved ones who have passed.
But it seems to be mentioned almost in a defensive manner, reminding us how we are not "stuck", that we have the right and need to keep our loved one's memory alive by talking about them.
And that's true.
But what if we turn that around?
What if, instead of being reactive, we lead the way?
What if we show others that it's not only all right to bring up stories about our loved ones but that it is a way to help us - and them - heal and find peace?
I think sometimes people are reluctant to bring up even our soul mate's name because they are afraid to hurt us. They may think that bringing up the memories will make us sad and tearful and because they don't want to be the reason for our sadness [after all, sadness makes people uncomfortable], they pull away, they refrain from mentioning anything that will bring back our precious memories.
It's not like that is going to make us forget.
We are acutely aware - every day - that our soul mates have passed.

So we must be the teachers. We must show them that we are happy when we can talk about our Loves. We rejoice in our memories of them.
John had a wonderful sense of humor. He wasn't a jokester. But he was a happy person and he found humor in situations that made life with him wonderful.
I love repeating those stories. And I love hearing people laugh again when I tell them.
So, from now on, I am going to initiate the stories. And I am going to encourage my friends who have lost their soul mates to do the same.
Remembering is good.
Remembering is healthy.
Remembering is Love.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Do you believe in coincidence?



A couple of days ago, I was admiring a pair of quail in our front yard and I mentioned to Mom that I hadn’t seen any baby quail this year. Neither had she. This morning she looked out the breakfast room window and there were ten baby quail in our yard accompanied by their proud, though slightly frazzled parents and possibly their aunt and uncle. They hung around for several minutes imbibing some liquid refreshment from the planter saucers and then proceeded to cross the street. Four adult birds along with ten 2” tall hopping, running, squeaking offspring equaled a major cuteness attack!

Jerry and I adored spotting quail and often stopped to watch them, sometimes even stalling traffic while waiting for them to cross the street in front of our vehicle. There’s just something about those wiggly little bobbing man buns on top of their heads that make me grin.

When I started my publishing company, I named it Running Quail Press after the little bird that I think of as my totem. According to American Indian lore: quail live close to the earth; have the ability to use their background as camouflage; find peaceful solutions to dangers; gather courage to face hardships and are symbolized in mated pairs. So, yes, I do believe these darling little birds I saw today were sent to me from my heart in heaven as a hello and a reminder.

“There is no death. Only a change of worlds."    - Chief Seattle

Sunday, May 22, 2016

How Do You Grieve?


Once upon a time, there were three of us. Now, there are only two. We were best friends, soul sisters I think, and even though one of us lived miles and miles away, we still felt the connection. Once or twice a year, usually at least for Christmas and maybe a birthday, we would meet and it always felt as though no time had passed. We easily picked up where we had left off but we took the time in between for granted. I took it for granted, anyway.

When Anita died, I discovered some things very important about myself. It took a while and it took Elaine, my remaining soul sister from our triad, to make me look at how I handle grief.

At first, I immersed myself in the short term tasks, busy work if you will. I offered to host a Celebration of Life. I made a music playlist. I wrote lists and shopped for food. All that activity made for a very nice excuse to distance myself from concerned friends and family, from life itself. I was very busy on a most important task, after all. I did not realize that distancing was becoming a comfortable habit. I did not realize how deeply I was burying my grief in frenetic doing rather than allowing myself to feel or ask for help.

For some reason I still don’t completely understand, I distanced myself from Elaine more than anyone else. Despite my best intentions, I didn’t call or email. I even managed to conveniently ignore texts, the ultimate form of immediate communication. And I stopped really talking about Anita. I wasn’t denying the fact of her death. I think I just did not want to face the emotions it brought up in me. And perhaps I stepped away from Elaine because the reminder of what we had both lost was just too painful.  Numbness was easier but only in the immediate moment.

I realized how much I was hurting not only Elaine but myself when she told me that in not hearing from me, she felt like she had lost two friends. Comfort can lie in others if we allow them in but I was not doing that. Instead, I was retreating into isolation. That had never worked before, nor has it this time. The sadness is still there and it will be always.

I learned that I handle my grief alone and in silence. I may appear strong and in control but inside my heart is screaming. I never fall apart in front of anyone. Rather, I may come across as a stoic rock. It may not be the healthiest way to deal with the feelings, but it is me. I’m not sure I can change, but for one baby step at a time I plan to give it a try. I have also learned four things about grief that perhaps can help others, people like you.

·      ·       When you are grieving, sometimes your body keeps moving because it has to, but your mind and heart are far away, disconnected from what is going on around you. There is nothing wrong with this, it just is.

·       Withdrawing may feel like it will help, and maybe it does for a while, but sometimes opening to outside help from someone who cares, even if only for whatever moment you can handle, may be a healthier choice.

·       Your grief may be all you can see but hopefully, you will one day look up and see those around you who are also grieving. Mourning and remembering together may help make it easier for you both.

·       Reaching out to help someone else who is grieving deeply can be healing for you. There can be comfort in clinging to one another. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

A bad day ended with a wonderful Hello

I love my dog. I really do. She can be the sweetest thing some days but she takes her job very seriously - too seriously, sometimes. And her job - in her doggie brain - is to protect me from everyone who is trying to kill me. And goodness knows, those people can be anywhere.
Take last week, for instance.
I was picking Bella up from daycare last Saturday at 4 in the afternoon. We had a short walk from the daycare front door to my SUV in the parking lot. The parking lot was empty except for one gentleman who pulled up just as we were exiting the daycare. I tried to be calm. I didn't want to telegraph to Bella that she needed to do anything but walk past him and on to our car.
But I was not so lucky. Just as we passed the young man, she started barking. I'm not sure exactly what happened. It's all a blur but Bella barked and then growled and then lunged. I didn't want her to get loose so I held on with all my might. Bella is no small dog. She weighs 65 pounds and is very strong. And keep in mind, she had her job to do.
Before I knew it, I was on the ground and Bella was still pulling and I was still holding on. By this time, the young man was upset too, thinking he had caused the accident. So he leaned toward me to see if I was all right and started to apologize. 
That made Bella more upset. "Don't talk to my mother!"
I must have been a sight. I had hit the ground with full force on my left knee which was now killing me. Then, because Bella was still pulling, I fell further and hit my right hip and shoulder. So, there I was, sunglasses askew, holding my knee and desperately holding on to a barking and now growling dog.
I managed to settle her down, decided my knee probably wasn't broken, and hobbled to my car and got her in.
By this time, I was in severe pain and worried if maybe I had broken something after all. I was so upset I was actually feeling physically ill. All I knew was I needed to get home.
Home was about 5 minutes away but I wasn't sure how I was going to make it.
I prayed. I took deep breaths.
And that's when it happened.
About two blocks away from daycare, I looked over at the digital clock on my dashboard. It read 4:43.
I smiled. That's one of the ways John reaches out to me. So often, it seems, I will have the urge to look at that clock and it will read 4:43. John was born in April 1943. 
4:43.
It was his way of saying hello to me. He was also saying he was with me. I was going to be okay. I wasn't alone. I said thank you out loud to him and asked him to please stay with me until I got home.
He did. I felt it.
I wasn't alone.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

5 Stupid Things People Said to Me After I Checked the Widow box.


1.  At least you know where he is.
Excuse me, I always knew where he was. He checked in with me throughout the day.

2.  You’ll just need one car now.
Hmmm. Do you want to buy the other one? Make me an offer.


3.  It’ll be easier to cook for one person.
That might be true, if you were the one doing the cooking. I lost my cook, too, in addition to my best friend, companion, cheerleader and lover. Dinner quickly became a large cup of coffee and a really big cookie, or a bag of popcorn. An ice cream cone made a well-balanced meal. It covered all the food groups when you got it with fruit and nuts


4.  Your expenses will be less now.
But not half, like my income. This is a scary something no one talks to you about.

And my favorite… drum roll, please.


5.  We need a new death certificate. What happened to the one I gave you?
It expired. They expire after 3 months. Oh, my gosh, is he coming back? No one told me that happens. I’m so excited. Click- that was the sound of the mortgage banker representative hanging up on me.

Share some of the stupid comments well meaning people managed to say to you after you checked the widow box.