Sunday, February 14, 2016

Changed



When you are going through something, it can be challenging to talk and write about, especially when you can’t put words to it.

I’ve been trying to think of why the blog has been silent for so long. 

What has been going on?  I’ve changed.  Of course I have.  I went through a major loss.  I had to adapt to this new world.

There was a lot of uncertainty.

There was a lot of fear.  I could feel myself changing, but I couldn’t describe how.  And I worried that I wouldn’t like who I was at the end of this.

And there were no words to describe it.

And looking at today, I don’t know that the words are there yet.

It’s ok to change.  It’s a good thing.  We can’t go through life without changing who we are, what are interests are, what our goals are.  This change was forced.  And scary.

There has been some sadness letting go of the person I used to be.  I look back on that person from two years ago with jealousy, at times.  That person was so hopeful about the future.  And not that despair has taken its place (well, for a while it did), I learned such hard lessons about life that sometimes I am afraid to hope like that.

So many times, I would think about sitting down to write a post and simply get overwhelmed with nothing to write.

Lately, I’m leaning into the change.  I’m giving myself permission to be this new person, instead of feeling guilty or sad that I’m not the old person.

I’m giving myself permission to explore new interests, new goals.

I’m giving myself permission to change, instead of resisting every moment of it, which is very exhausting.

One of my goals for 2016 is to practice gratitude.  Now that Lent is here, I’m trying to make that a daily practice. 

I’m finding that it’s ok to give gratitude to the person I used to be and the experiences I had, instead of feeling jealous and sad.

And I’m giving gratitude for those constants in my life-family, friendships, this quiet place that I call home.

And I’m giving gratitude to this new person that I am. 


I feel something stirring.  It’s nameless.  It’s part of this change.  I could fear it.  I could resist every moment of it.  Instead, I’m going to try leaning in a bit and see where I’m headed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kindred Spirits


Almost two years ago, I bought Anne of Green Gables for Lucy.  I never read the book and heard great things about it.  I thought she would enjoy it.  I think she read one chapter. 

A couple of weeks ago, I ran out of my library reading material, so I decided I would read it.

And it left me with one question….

Why haven’t I read this book before???

I love it.

I absolutely love it.  

I’m not done with it though, because I restocked at the library and worked through some new books.  Sometimes I like to take a break in the middle of a story.

This book is really beautiful and has some lovely reflections about life.

There have been moments where I have gotten teary, and this quote absolutely made me cry. 

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.

And then I rubbed my eyes, after I had been touching red pepper earlier, and I was really crying.

As an introvert, it can be hard connecting with people.  I like to be alone or with my people.  The people who know me best.

This past year has stretched me, being in a new space with a grieving heart.

What I have found is that there are some really lovely people around me.  Brand new people.  People from before that I have gotten to know.  And my old faves. 

These kindred spirits make me laugh.

They listen.

We are silly together. 

We can be still together.

They keep me connected to who I am and who I want to be.

So that quote, I was so touched by it.  I was so grateful that my reality includes kindred spirts…that I cried.

I hope you live in a world with kindred spirits too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Year of Firsts



Here we are folks, over a year out from losing my mom.  What a long journey.

Billy’s mom referred to this as the year of firsts.  Seems appropriate.

It was indeed a year of firsts without Mom.

I read through some old posts tonight, starting from last August through the 31 days in October.  You know, I went through the 31 days last October without a theme.  Looking at it now, the theme probably could have been 31 Days of Surviving Grief.  I read those entries and felt gratitude and relief.  That wasn’t my life anymore.  My life isn’t defined by crushing grief.  While there are still hard days, and I still feel stuck at times, it does not compare to the intensity of last year.

Last week, I thought about what I’ve learned this past year.  So I made a list.  And then I had to edit the list to make some of the language a bit more blog friendly.

· You can’t grow out of needing your parents.

· Some people are real jerks to those who are grieving.  But those people are probably jerks at other times as well.

· The grief never goes away.

· The grief can appear in the most random moments.

·It can be really hard to be a helper when you are dealing with your own crisis.

· When the grief feels consuming, it is time to ask for help.  Even the helpers need helpers.

· Holidays can suck.  Mother’s Day was the absolute worst.

· Support can come in the most unexpected places.  And from the expected ones, of course.

· Routine is healing.

And what I’ve learned from reading through those old posts…hope remains.


There are so many of you who have helped me through this past year.  Some of you have shared some of my darker grief moments.  I want all of you to know how much your thoughts, prayers, actions and words  of encouragement have meant to me.  There is no way I would have made it through this past year without all of your support.  Thank you.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Late July


This feels like the end of summer.

The kids have two weeks left of summer break.  And for those of you who are thinking, that’s a short break, I will reply…my kids need school.  Bad.  And they get a week off in October, so let’s not feel too sorry for them.  For those of who wishing that you were on the same school schedule, your day will come-hang in there.
In a weird turn of events ALL of my siblings are visiting this summer.  I have mentioned that I’m the youngest of six, right?  I haven’t seen most of them since the events of last August, and I have to say, it’s nice visiting when we are not in emotional crisis. 

My writing has pretty much become nonexistent.  Actually, my running has been as well.  But I feel like the source of that has been identified.  I have issues being alone in my head.  Stemming from last August, of course.  You will be happy to note that I am working on that.  Turns out the helper needs a helper. 
In related news, I am also working on my mindfulness to stop running away from being alone in my head.  As an introvert, I actually really like being alone in my head. It is generally peaceful.  I am looking forward to getting back in there.

Also, I keep getting stuck.  I will feel really good and then go back to that dark place with the silent companion of grief.  I realized something today.  I do things that really make me feel good-I sew, I do yoga, I journal.  And then I think, oh, I feel really good.  And then I stop doing those things.  And then the grief rises back up to the surface.  I think the lesson here is that even if I feel good, I still need to do those important things to take care of myself.  The irony here is that as a helper, I have told others to do that…while sabotaging myself.  Let’s not judge here.  Perfection doesn’t exist, remember?
So here I am, in all of this messy grief, with the hardest weeks in front of me.  At least, that’s what I imagine.  I don’t want to be blindsided again.  Remember Mother’s Day?  When I thought, I’m totally fine, and then I ended up avoiding facebook for two days because I simply couldn’t be reminded of this holiday?  Yeah…I’m just going to assume the next few weeks will be difficult.  If I’m handling it better than I thought, well, that will be a pleasant surprise.  Like realizing that you still have beer in the fridge.

Obviously, I need to head into these next few weeks with some planning.  No matter how good I feel, I need to actively do those things that center me, that help me feel connected to the world, that help remind me that I am not in that dark place of last August.
On another note, many friends seem to be going through a similar journey.  Your situation might be a bit different, you may be at a different place in your story, but I see that heartbreak, I see that struggle.  I want you all to know, I’m thinking of you, I’m praying for you, and I hope that you find peace in your heart.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Images



A couple of weeks ago, the cattle returned to the pasture near our house.
Everything felt right with the world.

Yesterday, the cattle were grazing along with the gentle deer.
It was just too much.

I can’t explain why these images are so soothing.
Maybe it’s the demands of being a helper.  I enjoy the peace of this place.

Maybe it’s this journey with the silent companion.  Seeing familiar images, knowing that the world still carries on, is healing.
I suppose the why doesn’t matter.

The truth is that is brings comfort.
Just like seeing a little girl curled up on the couch with a book.  Or hearing a bigger girl sing in the shower.

Some days, I hold onto these moments tightly.
The simplicity of life is found in these moments.

At times, life is full of complications and heartache.
It’s nice to find this quiet joy.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Feeling the Feelings

Mother’s Day turned out to be the low point that I hoped it wouldn’t be.

This grief still sneaks up.
 
I’m sure that the weather we have been having had some impact on all of this.  A week of rain, which eventually turned into snow.  So it snowed on Mother’s Day for the second year in a row.

I don’t know how I ever survived a Midwest winter with all of the cold gray days.
A week without the Colorado sunshine and I’m close to the fetal position, having vitamin D withdrawals.

During these low points, I try to do everything I can to take care of myself.  Sewing, exercise, reading.  Avoiding eating a bunch of cookies.  Avoiding facebook for a couple of days.  All of those good self-care things that my social worker self knows how to do.
Still with all of that, it doesn’t make the sadness go away.  And frankly, it shouldn’t.

Some days just feel crummy.  And that’s ok. 
Because I know that if I pretend to be happy and ok, the sadness just lingers on.  And it seeps through anyway.  So I go through all of this trouble pretending and still feel like crap.

It’s ok to have low times.  Because I know that tomorrow (or maybe in a couple days), I’m going to feel a lot better.
Sadness is real. 

But wow, does it make other people uncomfortable.  Some people want to cheer you up out of the sadness or talk through the sadness until you aren’t sad anymore.  I will admit, that as a professional helper, this is so challenging.  To simply be with someone in pain.  To accept that you are not there to fix them, you are simply part of their story.
I don’t expect anyone to fix this.  It is nice to have folks that I can talk to, who can lend an ear, who can validate that this is real for me and that it is ok to feel like crap.

Maybe that’s the self-care that we don’t always talk about as helpers, feeling the feelings.  It’s ok to have a low day.  And while I’m having that day, I’m taking care of myself with all those great things, but those great things don’t need to erase the pain.  It makes it tolerable.  It gives me hope that it won’t last forever.
Because I know by now in this journey with the silent companion that there will be an upswing.  If there wasn’t by now, I would see a professional helper.  Maybe I should see one anyway.  I go back and forth about that one.

For now, I’m not going to pretend.  It’s exhausting.  And grief is already exhausting. 
I’m going to give myself permission to feel whatever it is in the moment.

And take care of myself.
And finally watch the sun rise.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Being a Mom after Losing Your Mom



I didn’t realize that being a mom after losing your mom could be so hard.  Although, I suppose I never thought about it until I was there.
A couple of months ago, the girls and I were in the car when this story came on the radio.  They interviewed this woman who was working on the other side of the world.  I think the story was about whatever job she had.  The reporter asked her how she ended up so far from home, and she reflected that after her mom died, she felt that she needed to run away.

When I heard her say that, I thought, I want to run away too.  And I don’t know where that thought came from, but the idea of running away from this silent companion of grief…well…there was a certain freedom to it.
Then I felt this hand on my shoulder.  It was Katy.  She had been listening to the story and put her hand on my shoulder to comfort me.  We were both quiet.

It’s obvious that the girls are more aware of things than maybe I would like for them to be.  I guess part of me wants to shield them from this grief.  From this sadness and heartache. 
But they’ve seen me at some bad moments.  And I know, deep inside, that it’s ok for them to know that we can be sad when we lose someone that we love.

The girls give me these looks sometimes, it’s almost like a head tilt, where they are wondering if I’m sad.  And sometimes I smile at them.  Even when I want to run in the other room and cry.  And sometimes I don’t smile because I can’t.
I have these lapses.  I’m ok, and then I’m good and then suddenly I’m not ok.  My guess is that my parenting during these past months reflects that.
I wanted to rush through the holidays.  The day after Christmas, Billy asked if I wanted him to take the Christmas tree down and I probably said, YES!, a little too urgently.  He thought it was sad that I was so excited for the holidays to be over.

I suppose it was sad, but anyone who has ever been grieving knows how much the holidays can suck.  Yes, suck.  There is no other word.  And I was delighted to have them over with. 
And then I felt a little guilty that I probably wasn’t the best holiday mom this year.  It’s not that I had a bad attitude.  I just didn’t want to think about the holidays.  Because thinking brought the sadness.  And I was in survival mode.  You can’t take time for personal reflection when you are surviving.  You are just getting through.

So right now, I’m having one of those good times and am finally able to sit down to write again.  At least for today.
My upswing has arrived just in time for a holiday about moms.  After I lost my mom. 

That deep sadness isn’t there like it has been with the other holidays.  There is sadness, and I miss my mom.  But there isn’t that crippling grief.  At least not today.  And I hope not tomorrow either.
Because during these upswings I would like to think that I am able to be the mom I want to be.  The mom who listens to her kids.  The mom who knits with her oldest gal.  The mom who reads poetry with her littlest lady.

The mom who isn’t thinking about running away.
I’m thankful that the lapses are improving.  And I seem to recover faster from the not ok times than before.

I also know that grief is a journey.  It is always with you.  It shapes who you are.
Kind of like being a mom.