... 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, August 26, 2016

Happy Anniversary

My partners and I have made it our life's work to change the face of grief - to help understand it, to help others travel its rocky and painful road.
And the most important thing we have learned - and that we try every day to pass on - is that the only rule about grief and mourning is that there is no rule.
Grief is.
And the nature of your relationship with your loved one who has passed on will determine what the nature of your grief is.
And that sounds pretty sad and dismal and final, doesn't it?
But it doesn't have to be.
My personal mission as part of our stalwart troupe is to explore the metaphysical and spiritual side of grief.
And what I have found - at least for me - is that death is a transition, not an end. For me, the relationship goes on, albeit very changed.
Let me bring that down to a more personal level.
This coming Sunday August 28 is my 35th wedding anniversary.
Notice I didn't say it "would have been...". It still is the 35th anniversary of when John and I were married. Call me crazy [and some do!] but I still feel married to John. We still share a love for each other. He shows me almost every day that he is still with me.
So, this week I have been celebrating.
John brought me flowers to celebrate many occasions - my birthday, Valentine's Day, our anniversaries [such as first date, wedding, etc.], job promotions, even the publications of my books. John told me through a medium once that he still wants me to have flowers on our special days. So I ordered myself a beautiful arrangement to be delivered on Saturday.
And I bought myself an attachment for my camera that I have been wanting and a teddy bear [John gave me many stuffed bears] and these will be anniversary presents from him.
And I invited some friends to be with me at a celebration dinner this Sunday at a wonderful restaurant in Phoenix. We will toast the day and laugh and yes, maybe a tear will be shed but the point is I will celebrate the day.
It is our wedding anniversary.
John will smile and celebrate with me. I know that.
And so I encourage you who miss your soul mate to do the same. Celebrate the important days the same way you would if they were still here physically with you, if that is what you want to do.
Anniversaries [wedding anniversaries, birthdays, anniversary of passing, etc.] are hard for those who mourn. They bring back surges of grief even years after our loved ones have passed. Part of mourning is not only grieving what we have lost in the person who is no longer here but the loss in the present - the fact that they are not here to enjoy life with us now.
So, don't be ashamed to do that celebrating in whatever way helps you.
Their birthday is still their birthday.
Your wedding anniversary is still your wedding anniversary.
The anniversary of your first date is still that.
Death will not rob you of marking those days with joy and celebration.
No, it's not the same. I will never insult you by saying that it is. But neither is it nothing. Our loved ones lived. We had a life on this earth with them.
And we have every right to continue to honor that life.

Happy Anniversary, John. I love you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Make 'Em Laugh by Betts McCalla

Do you laugh hard every day?

I mean the bent over gut-busting right from the belly laugh. The laugh that brings tears to your eyes and just when you think it’s finished, you are racked by another spasm of hilarity and it starts all over. I was trying to remember the last time I experienced that cathartic sort of a laugh. I mean, I laugh. But on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the biggest laugh, my laugh world is usually on a scale of 2 to 4. Sort of between a chuckle and a He-He-He. I’m mildly amused, and often slightly bemused by my peers and pets. They’re entertaining but the scale doesn’t seem to move past 4.

Some scenes from Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein will bring me to a 6 which is a laugh out loud but how often can you watch those classics? Especially, alone. I’m not sure laughing out loud alone even counts when you know where the “Excuse me while I whip this out.” line or the “Oh, sweet mystery of life at last I've found you!” lyric starts in the scripts. And I will admit to encouraging a friend to name her dog Abby Normal. We just called her Abby so as not to hurt her feelings.

Lately, I’ve tried binge watching comedies on Netflix. Will and Grace were funny but I hated the endless games of charades. Friends was just too sleepy even though most scenes took place in a coffee bar. I love coffee but they weren’t really drinking enough of it. And it took me forever to get the “Smelly Cat” song out of my head. Both of those series earned a highest laugh score of 5.

Jerry made me laugh every day. Every single day, he said or did something that made me laugh and it was usually somewhere between 6 and 10 on the laugh scale. Sometimes, it was just some witty repartee where he had the best comeback. Another day it might be a physical act like showing how slowly you need to move to trick a motion sensor light. Or doing a Mr. Magoo imitation of my dad. Or re-enacting a dance he had performed in high school to “Some Enchanted Evening” complete with hand gestures. Or "moon walking" across the kitchen floor with the dinner plates in his hands. Today, if you asked me what I miss the most about time spent with my husband, I would have to say the laughter we shared.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Signs of encouragement

I was at the group reading that Betts attended last Friday [please see her post below]. In fact, I was privileged to introduce Susanne to the audience. And one of the things that Susanne talked about before she started doing the readings was how our loved ones who have passed are so happy to show us how they are still very much with us. Susanne encouraged us to continue talking with them, even to go so far as to talk out loud to them.
I talk to John all the time, sometimes out loud. Since I now live alone [except for my four-legged children] I don't worry about strange looks. For some reason [maybe it's the increased solitude], one of the times I feel closest to John is when I am driving. Then I allow my thoughts to drift. Memories pop up. And sadness too. Sometimes tears are shed. But I carry on lovely conversations as well.
And I have found that John must like this time as well because he often gets my attention during drive time. His favorite way is with license plates. I can't tell you how many times I have been thinking about - or conversing with - John and all of a sudden a license plate with an obvious message will pull in front of me. His favorite is variations of his name.
So this past week I was driving to make an appointment and thinking about From Grief To Peace and how the three of us want to make an impact. I was also a little upset because I had just read the blog post of an online friend who was widowed just a few weeks before me. This woman was experiencing what many of us have - that some of her "friends" thought it was time that she "got over" this mourning business and "moved on" with her life. Apparently, some people believe there is a shelf life for grief and she had exceeded it.
"Get Over It" only works in a wonderful Eagles song. It has nothing to do with grief and mourning, as anyone who has truly lost their soul mate can tell you. So, as I already mentioned, I was driving along, thinking about all these things and how I wanted our business to help people like her.
And that is when it happened.
A small SUV pulled up in front of me. It's license plate?
Pretty strong message that was not lost on me. I took it two ways. Maybe John was trying to "encourage" us to keep on doing what we are doing. Or/and the Universe was also saying it was our job to keep encouraging others who are mourning.
Just as I was thinking about all this, the SUV crossed in front of me and sped on its way. Its job was done.
Message received. Thank you.