Tag Archives: grieving

Self Care & Wild Animal Nights

16 Jun
shallow focus photo of three white brown and black ceramic floral mugs on saucers

Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

One thing I’ve learned through the grieving process is that taking care of yourself is critical during this time. While it is really important throughout life, during the progression of the various stages of grief you need focused time to take care of you.

This has taken on many forms for me over the past 49 days. Everything from allowing myself a little unhealthy comfort food or a glass of wine to spending an entire day reading a good book. It has meant saying “no” to picking up an extra shift at work without feeling guilty, or picking up a shift in order to keep my mind busy and give my heart someone to care for and love. Extra cups of coffee and sleeping in (assuming you don’t have to deal with crazy cat – more on that in a minute), scheduling time to do the things you love doing but rarely take time for, all of this and more add up to self nurturing of me. It might sound terrible to some, but there are times when I could go an entire weekend without seeing or talking to another human being and not mind one bit.

I’ve also found that keeping a running, written to-do list and scheduling those tasks needing my attention helps me to focus and actually accomplish things. This all sounds an awful lot like ‘adulting’, and it is, but it is adulting on a seriously centered level for the sake of sanity. The alternative is letting everything go completely to pieces, running wild and carefree, a road to self destruction.

The most beneficial routine has been my morning quiet time. I get showered and ready for work, then grab my prayer veil (it is both humbling and helps me focus), getting on my knees and praying. Then spending time in God’s Word and a good devotional. Life makes much more sense and I know I’m heard and loved when I spend time with the Lord. I recommend it above and before all other things.

34504465_1837501269668722_1206293684509736960_nNow about the crazy cat shenanigans that went on over the past few nights. Seems my cat likes to imagine she is a panther, deep in the jungle, hunting her prey, spying it and running after it at top speed to close the distance from the fleeing victim before pouncing with an attack. Throughout the apartment, across the bed and my was-asleep-self and out of the room again. Maybe it is just that time we refer to as “the rips” with previous felines. Or perhaps my fur baby is just bat sh*t crazy. I don’t want to rule out any real possible reasons for this behavior. I do want it to stop. Closing my bedroom door is not an option as the litter box is in my half bath off my room, and if you close the door she will knock in rapid fire succession with her paws and that is equally annoying at 2:00am.

This is my world, welcome to my marvelous life!

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Coffee Musings On Sunday Afternoon

10 Jun
aroma beverage black coffee blur

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I sit down a lot of days intending to write a post and while I have a lot on my mind, lately I struggle to put it into words. I’m going to just randomly go with it today and see where it takes me.

I’m still going through the grief stages over the loss of my mom. She was an amazing woman, a super great mom, and my best friend. The past 8 years were some of the best years of my life. My kids became adults with families of their own to be enjoyed, and my life took a major new direction. Talk about God taking a bad situation (my very unwanted divorce) and turning it into something very good, these last 8 years of her life were spent with me, my sister and nieces under one very large roof making so many memories. I didn’t have to come home from work and try to squeeze in time to visit or call her, mom lived there with me every day. When I got home from work we sat and chatted about our days over coffee, and once she retired two years ago, she would enjoy my sharing about my residents and my experiences. Often I asked her for advice or she shared her years of wisdom with me when a resident or situation was a true challenge. My heart for this job was there but mom helped to fine tune it by example. She learned the hard way, I learned from her sharing what she learned over her career.

43 days ago my sister and I headed out the door to the grocery store. I said “I’ll be back” and mom said “I’ll be right here!”. But she wouldn’t be here when we returned some 15 minutes or so later. We entered the store and while in the first few aisles heard the sirens of EMS and police responding, unbeknownst to us, to our apartment building. While my brother was reading the dispatch on his phone (he is a fire fighter in our township but was off that day) and calling me to confirm our address and apartment number, my niece was on her knees over mom’s body in the hallway and bathroom doorway of my apartment doing CPR and talking to the 911 operator who kept her focused on the task at hand until medics arrived to take over.  He knew. Even denying it out loud and trying to calm my sister as we ran out of the store, I knew. She knew. She tried to call mom and got no answer. She tried to call her daughter and got no answer. In less than 5 minutes we pulled into the parking lot of our complex to many flashing lights. We ran in and my niece was sitting on the floor outside of my door sobbing in the arms of a neighbor as we tried to shove through the door. I could see mom on the living room floor, a medic doing CPR, and I could see her eyes partially opened and no life in them anymore. From the doorway I could see that she was gone. Then the cop pushed us back out of the door. My sister and I were yelling to stop the CPR she was a DNR and hospice patient. They let my sister in to search for the paperwork in the back bedroom. I sat on the landing and called my kids. I knew there wasn’t going to be a sudden intake of breath, her heart wouldn’t start beating again. She was not here anymore. After searching the bedroom that would have been mom’s my sister called hospice and they sent a scan of the DNR to her phone so she could show the medics, the doc on the phone and coroner could make the call to cease trying to bring her back (she wasn’t coming back and we all knew this). They covered her with a sheet, packed up, and each one hugged us on the way out and expressed their condolences. Then they let us in to my apartment.

I sat down next to her body, turned back the sheet and held her hand. There was no life in that hand, no life in her beautiful blue eyes. I brushed her hair back gently with my free hand, talked to her, but she did not answer. She really was gone and everything seemed so surreal. I felt as if I was watching someone else’s life, this had to be a bad dream. In many ways it still hasn’t sunk in firmly that she is not here anymore. Maybe that is because her spirit still lingers, I don’t know. What I do know is every day I think of something I want to say to her, or share with her, and then I remember she isn’t here. I don’t like going back to the house for any reason because that was her home, our home, but this apartment never was home for her. She died after we all made one real memory, and less than 24 hours after we moved in. Just a temporary visitor in my place, she was simply passing through.

As the next few hours would pass my siblings and their spouses and kids would arrive, and my kids. My sister would make coffee, because that is what mom always did in a crisis, started a pot of coffee and then we got down to figuring things out. This was no different. Someone went and bought beer and wine, and we cried and laughed through shared memories and gathered information about what had led up to this sudden but not unexpected event. Eventually the nieces and nephews moved the ‘party’ to my daughter’s house, my siblings went home, and I wrapped mom’s prayer shawl around me and went to bed. Exhaustion helped me sleep.

This past Friday I went to the grocery store, something that I try to avoid these days. Mostly because of that day. The store brings up negative feelings. But I have to eat.  I grabbed my cart inside the main entrance/lobby, and started through the doors when I heard sirens coming and the squad and fire truck went flying by. It caused my heart to skip a beat and all those feelings came rushing back. UGH! Deep breath in, exhale, and I talked myself off of that ledge and into the produce section. A few aisles in and I spot my younger brother, shopping with the fire guys for their food for the day. Big hug, and it was like a healing balm to my soul. I needed to run into him right there while I was struggling with those emotions. The rest of the shopping trip had a completely different “feel” to it.

Grief is a funny thing, the stages aren’t in any particular order. I’ve learned you go through some many times over, and just when you think you’ve settled into acceptance something triggers memories and fresh pain. Not sure we ever really do truly accept it. We acknowledge the reality that our loved one is gone, but I don’t think it ever really stops hurting. We simply learn to live with the loss. And coffee. I drink a lot of coffee these days because that is how we deal with life here, one cup at a time.

34690208_10210065401065397_1409789462627483648_n.jpgI’ve always been an introvert. People laugh when I say this because they associate being shy with being introverted. No, introverts aren’t necessarily shy. Once I get to know someone the last word they’d use to describe me would be ‘shy’.  But introverts do find social situations can be draining of their energy. The more people and activity in a situation the more it taxes us. We tend to be home bodies because we need the silence and solitude to recharge our minds, hearts and souls. Many close to me have expressed concern about how well I’ll handle living alone. No need to be worried, I relish the quiet, the peace, and the solitude. I can spend hours in a good book, working on a crochet project, writing on a draft for a novel, or a blog post. I dive into my Bible and a good devotional or Bible study and fill my soul with good stuff. My apartment is my nest, my haven, and the time alone is wonderful for me to recharge, process and learn. I’ll be just fine.

 

 

What Does Grief Look Like?

25 May

My daughter posted this on her Facebook yesterday:

Grief looks like… not wanting to change your Facebook profile picture, because you feel guilty for wanting to put up something different. Grief looks like… being sad every time your toddler asks to see GiGi, but dreading the day he no longer does because it will mean he forgot her.

It spawned a few comments and got me thinking about what grief looks like is very individual and unique for each of us. We also may have some ways in which it looks the same.

So this is what grief has looked like so far for me:

  • Like my daughter, guilt for changing my Facebook profile photo from one of me and mom to one of just me.
  • Anxiety when going to the mailbox because seeing things in it for her is painful, but knowing one day all those things will stop and it will be sad because that will mean the rest of the world has forgotten her.
  • Guilt for removing her from your phone including the last texts because they are just too hard to see and weren’t sentimental or anything, just caused pain.
  • Asking my niece to remove her from the Diva Dens Life360 because when we would pull it up it says Mom is at home. But of course she is not 😦
  • In the beginning going for days without any desire to eat, in fact completely forgetting too. No appetite and no hunger but having to force yourself to eat something so you don’t drop over.
  • Guilt for packing up her things to be donated to charity, or stored if it was photos or other sentimental items rather than leaving her closet, dresser and desk just as it was before she died because that is not a benefit to anyone to leave it like a shrine. She wouldn’t want that either.
  • Sadness over the cards and notes that come at first, then sadness when they stop because others have moved on and you are still trying to figure out life without her.
  • Having something happen and wanting to share it with mom only to remember she isn’t there anymore and you have no one to share the thought with now because only she’d really appreciate the value.
  • The first time you are able to walk into the bathroom past the spot she died…and you realize later you didn’t think “this is where mom died” like you have every other time, so you feel guilty that you forgot to have that thought.
  • Avoiding the grocery store because that was where you were when you learned EMS was in route to your apartment because she collapsed and wasn’t breathing and you knew in your soul she was gone and wouldn’t “be right here” when you got back as she had said she would.
  • Finding yourself eating when you aren’t hungry now just for the comfort of chewing something because it means you are alive.
  • Freaking out because for a moment you cannot remember the sound of her voice.
  • Realizing you just drove through a red light or stop sign because you are on auto pilot in a numb funk where your heart is protected and you don’t think much so that you don’t go down memory lane.
  • Requesting and listening to the 911 call your niece made when she found mom, because you needed to know every detail available in order to start healing.
  • Reading the same page in a book 10 times and not getting a single thing to process in your brain.
  • Staring at the rug or wall for a solid hour and not even realizing it.

These are just a few of the ways grief has been visible in my life the past 4 weeks.

Getting Through The First Of The Firsts

18 May

As nature was bursting forth with new beauty and adventure, mom left us for her new adventure in Heaven. We too were busting into a new adventure in our new apartments. And normal would be entirely new now for me, as I no longer have her here to care for each day. I miss so much having to get her things because she didn’t have the energy or strength to walk to the kitchen and twist open something to drink.

Tomorrow marks 3 weeks since mom died. As the initial shock wore off and life resumed we started piecing together time to go through her things, discard what no one would want, donate what someone might use, and figuring out which things we’d all keep to treasure her memory. Oh the finds!

The first two weeks I struggled to do required things like eat. It didn’t help that I was not at all hungry. Struggles with guilt for starting new routines that did not include her needs when I’d have given anything to have her need me! I just want normal to return but even now, 3 weeks out, normal hasn’t really settled in just yet. Still going through things, getting “her” room changed out into my room brought more guilt because it felt like erasing her from my life. I knew she was here one night, barely a guest status, before she left us, but it was hard. But on my birthday I woke up knowing this was something I needed to do, make that space mine and sprinkle mom in the form of things I kept of hers throughout. At the end of that project I felt good about it and had changed it completely from what looked like mom’s room that never really was at all. As I was carting things across the parking lot to the dumpster and back, I was circled over and over by a very beautiful butterfly like nothing I’d seen around before. It continued for a while before it landed and showed off its gorgeous wings then flew away. Call my crazy but I believe it was mom letting me know she was pleased with my moving forward.

Mom had been purging things since July when she was told she had 2 to 4 weeks to live, so there really wasn’t a lot of that we had left to do. I’m not going to lie that was awesome. She kept so much in the way of documents (birth certificates etc) and photos (all the way back to my great grandmother as a child). WOW! Going through them has been so much fun and brought back memories for all of us. And her bell collection…she loved to collect bells from places and events. Those have had an initial go-through by me and my siblings and a few of the grandchildren. There was only one that I wanted, a gorgeous crystal bell that she and I had decided she’d ring if she needed me in the night after the collapse before her death. I had feared I would not hear her if she yelled for me, and couldn’t figure out if the do not disturb feature of my phone was going to work. Fearing the worst if she fell in the night or needed me, we decided her ringing that bell would indeed pull me from my sleep with it’s beautiful, unique sound. It is now a cherished piece in my apartment.

bearI’ve known there would be firsts we’d face without her but didn’t realize just how fast the first two of those events was coming up. Mother’s Day was only 2 weeks after she left us and the idea of going through that without even a place to go ‘visit’ (we won’t have her ashes back for a long while, she donated her body) was difficult to say the least. My daughter and niece were thinking ahead and had snagged some of mom’s pajamas while we were cleaning out her room at the house. On Mother’s Day morning they arrived with breakfast from Panara Bread and memory bears made from those pajamas. Yes, tears were shed! But good ones. My sister and I were so touched by their sweet, thoughtful gifts. My niece found the poem online and printed/framed it to go with the bears. It holds a place of honor in my room and once in a while I hug it close for comfort. I miss my mom so very much, she was my best friend!

Four days after that was my birthday. My mom was there for the first 54 of them, but this would be the first I’d have to celebrate without her. We never really made a big deal of them, cake and/or ice cream and a card, but she would walk down memory lane and share about the day you were born. We’ve since discovered our crib cards and hospital bracelets among her things, just more wonderful nuggets of gold from the past she had kept safely hidden away.

Some days it is hard to just string together a complete thought or words to make a sentence. I go through the motions of life but get to the end of the day and feel like I just watched someone else doing it all. Other days I buzz through with energy and life, then feel guilty that the sun rose, I smiled and laughed and enjoyed the day that didn’t include the one person I felt most important on this planet.

Once the house sells and things settle into a new routine, I know that I will then start to feel ‘normal’, whatever that new normal will be. For now, I just push to put one foot in front of the other and not unpack my pain and live in that spot. It isn’t what she’d want and it is not good for one’s mental health.

 

 

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