Saturday, April 30, 2011

Back to the Future ...

There are so many things and events that take me back into the past where I am reminded of Bill and what I have lost by his death.  The last couple of days have been filled with reminders. 

For the past 20 years, I have had the privilege of preparing couples for the birth of their child and supporting them through labour and delivery.  Bill took a sincere interest in the work that I do, loved to listen to my stories and then beamed with pride as he finally met each couple and they would share how they so appreciated having me support them.  He was my #1 fan.

He was always there for our boys while I was out doing prenatal visits, he was there as I prepared to meet the couple at the hospital, having my bag ready with everything I needed.  I would be at the hospital, sometimes for days, and he would make sure I had something to eat or was always there when I needed an ear because things were tough and I needed support.  After everything was done, mom back in her own room nursing, I would call and say I was on my way home.  Did not matter what time of day or night.  The outside lights were on if it was at night, and he would wait to see me come in where he had prepared fruit, cheese and a huge glass of wine.  If I happen to come home when he was at work, I would soak in my tub, climb into fresh linen and wake up to a tray of fruit, cheese and wine - and his beautiful smile.  He would sit and listen to the whole story.

Last night ... or was it early this morning ... 12:30 a.m. ... I came home and was reminded of what I have lost. 

Nine months ago, we lost our Bill.  Nine months later, we have gained a beautiful baby girl - 8lbs 2ozs and a full 19" long.  What a blessing - my great niece!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A New Life!

After a very long and productive day at work, I change hats! The long awaited day has arrived! A mom in labour and we are waiting for the arrival! Nine months later and we meet our new little one. Keep you posted and will take all of your prayers for a safe landing! I will be with my niece and her husband through the night and tomorrow. Look forward to my next post.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Air Head!

Shared stories are a gift to the teller and to the one who hears!  Because life is over doesn't mean that that life does not continue to enrich and bless the living.

On that note ...

Bill's infinite kindness and patience with his wife!

On October 12, 1997, I was driving Bill to work (only one vehicle back then) and was talking a mile a minute filling Bill in on all the plans for the day.  It was an important day, and I was sure I was going to be late!  I was coordinating the preparations for a large Ministry meeting with dignitaries from across the north in attendance.  This was the day - three weeks in the planning!  There were binders to set out, luncheon plans to confirm for the fourth time - need to remind the caterers to be quiet while the meeting is in session, set up of the AV equipment - score one for me, I remembered to bring the extra extensions and tape, pens and pads - remembered to bring highlighter pens, fresh cold water on the tables, the presenter's notes were all up on PowerPoint - neat,  ... oh dang ....  I have to go back to the office!  I know I am forgetting something and I don't know what it is - I don't have my binder of reminder lists! 

Bill sat quietly listening to my ramblings and had that funny twitching moustache thing going on.  I noticed but did not pay attention to it - man, I should have known!  That twitching always meant he had something up his sleeve or I had put my foot in my mouth and he was going to let me have it!

I pull up to his office and slowed down my motor mouth!  I was going to be late because I had forgotten my binder of reminder lists!  Groan!  So I lean quickly to kiss him and wish him a great day.   His eyes were twinkling ... he slowly kissed me, opened the door and stepped out of the van and just before closing the door he said ... "By the way sweetie ... happy anniversary!"


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Birth to a new destination ...

Nine months today.  Is it time to give birth to my new destination?  I have not happen upon this path easily and feel that somehow I have lost my way.  Nine months ago, my world was plunged into darkness and I would love nothing more than to see a tiny glimmer of sunlight.  Today, I remain in the moment for looking beyond this makes me feel like I will surely drown.

My last couple of entries speak of subtle changes in me.  Is my darkness making way for light?  At times, I gently encourage my mind to move forward despite the fact that I am faced with today.  I encourage myself to think of tomorrow, of  next month and sometimes dare to question - next year?  What next?  These are the moments when the past tempts me more than usual.  I return to the morning, nine short months ago, when my beautiful husband was quietly rustling about, trying to let me sleep.  I long to hear that rustling.

This morning, as painful as it is, I remind myself that I have a new path waiting.  It is now "my" path.  A path that will move me forward into the future and offer me this glimmer of sunlight.  It is mine alone to find and to follow.  As much as I would wish it different, the past is as it was and as it always will stay.

I have trusted my grief, made room for it, walked with it.  I have also grown impatient with it and sometimes even tried to ignore it.  It has been patient with me, and waited for me to walk with it again.  It is in no hurry and there is no timeframe.  I am convinced that it will also know, when I am no longer holding onto it tightly, how to gently release itself from my heart.

I think that maybe, all along, by putting one foot in front of the other these past nine months, that I have already planted my foot and started walking towards the light.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I think I can ... I think I can ...

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. ~ William James

I struggle with this these days - it is along the lines of "fake it until you make it".  This takes double the energy; energy that is running low. It is as a dear widower recently shared with me, "it’s been a good day, but also hard having to wear the happy mask while there are still moments when inside I am so sad and weepy".   Indeed, I share this feeling.  I find that lately I am required to wear this "mask" or "fake it" to exist in a world with those who have yet to experience a life without.  I am thankful for my wonderful family and circle of friends who often offer me refuge.  I am equally thankful to have found a new circle of people who are in the know; my new Family of Widows and Widowers.

In the early days of this journey, I was so overwhelmed by the loss of Bill that I was powerless to do anything more than to respond to my sorrow and distress.   I didn't even try making sense of anything more than responding to my emotions.  It was all that I could do.

Things are changing.  I am discovering that there is a whole other world outside these emotions.  A world that has moved on, a world where there is no room for my sadness and weepiness.  A world where I need to find out just where I now fit in then take my place. 

There are moments I long for the early days where it was easier to drift, and people were so sympathetic to my situation when I was always sad.  It was comforting and less demanding  to immerse myself in their sympathy.  But life moves on and I am standing still and I don't want to be here forever.  It sucks!

I recognize that I have the choice to either go with my emotions unchecked and be upset by a world that no longer factors in my sadness,  or I can take the risk of assuming my place in this new existence where my widowhood does not define me, armed of course with the knowledge that I have wonderful supports that offer me refuge when I need them.   

A choice to find balance between ~ acknowledging my sadness, and walking with my grief ~ and having to live in a life worth living in honour of my wonderful Bill, and to be all that I can be for myself and my sons.  This is a hard discovery! 

Cowardly Lion: All right, I'll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I'll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I'm going in there. There's only one thing I want you fellows to do.
Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow: What's that?
Cowardly Lion: Talk me out of it!
Widow Ginette:  Just kidding!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Life's little pleasures ...

And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
~ A.C. Swinburne

The day began like any other, coffee in hand, journal tucked under my arm and I made my way to my famous garage.  I sat on my familiar chair, plopped my coffee cup on the table and looked at the empty stool by the workbench.  An image of myself sitting at this same closed-in workbench only a few short months ago came to mind.  It was the image of me, writing frantically in my journal, shoulders slumped from the weight of my grief, looking downwards focused on my journal but really not wanting to look up into the empty future without Bill.  In my journal, I remained desperately connected.  My heart went out to this person in grief.  Today I am able to sit at the open table.  I am able to look up at the Bill's mammoth-sized picture and I am able to remember the day of that picture with a smile and no longer with a cry of pain.  This is not to say that I no longer have those moments, but they no longer consume my days and nights.  Bill remains in my every thoughts.  However, it is different now.  I continue to miss him dearly and there remains an unspoken primal cry at the back of my brain and in my heart.  I would love nothing more than to have one more day with him, but it is different now.

Easter morning!  I remember the first Easter we spent in this house.  There was only our oldest son and Bill wanted to make it special - as he always did.  Thank goodness our children had Bill - he had the gift of bringing the magic in all holidays!  So the night before, Bill walked through the snow to the back of the house being careful that his footprints were not seen from our son's favourite window.  He then carefully placed this huge white stuffed bunny rabbit facing the window.  I still see Bill, flashlight in hand fussing with the rabbit's ears and paws so to make this silly stuffed animal look as animated as possible.  He was quite pleased with himself when he got back and looked through the window and noticed that the rabbit did indeed look like it had just suddenly appeared out of nowhere and that it seemed to be waiting to be discovered. I loved watching the excitement of anticipation on my husband's face!

Memory by memory my Spring begins.

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Be a good little girl ....

Wikipedia:  Faith is the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing.  Since faith implies a trusting reliance upon future events or outcomes, it is often taken by some people as inevitably synonymous with a belief "not resting on logical proof or material evidence. Thus, faith disqualifies reasoning in favour of "transcendent reality".

"Don't touch that putty knife Ginette, you will cut yourself", says my mother to a much younger me.  Yup, Ginette grabs the putty knife when no one is looking and, you guessed it, she cuts herself!  Too embarrassed to admit to her action, she wraps her finger in a tissue and fights back the tears.  Dad was doing the fall routine of taking off the summer screens and putting up the storm windows which often needed the cleaning of the old putty and replacing it with new fresh soft putty.  My father looked over and saw the pain in my eyes and gently checked out the source of my distress.  With a knowing smile, he quietly cleans the wound and places a band-aid.  With a wink, he says ... "You should really trust in what your mother says!"

Mother said, "There is a God and He does promise us a place in Heaven if we are good." 

Bill was a good man.  He was a man of principle, values and strong morals.  These were grounded in his belief in God.  I have Faith that he is in Heaven watching over his family from above.  I have Faith that one day, I will "Bforever" with him.   I have Faith that Bill now knows the depth of my love because his vision is no longer confined by the human need to rationalize what we are feeling.  Every day, from the day I first declared my love,  the words "I love you" have crossed my lips ... even today.  I rest in God's promise and say with great Faith .. "Until We Meet Again!"

I have read somewhere that a man well schooled in theology and life says that his answer to the questions of afterlife is that whatever wonderful scenario we can imagine for life after death, God's gifts will be infinitely greater, and surprising!

So for now, I amuse myself by painting wonderful scenarios in my mind of lush gardens and cooling streams walking hand in hand with Bill-forever. 

Now if I can only get the "being good" part perfected!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Brothers and sisters ...

Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow, too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief?
~ William Blake

Shortly after Bill died, I gravitated towards others who had been grieving the loss of a spouse before me.  My grief was so great, so consuming, I needed to find a place to grieve with others who understood.  I am the first in my circle of friends to have lost a spouse therefore, I went hunting on cyberspace.  This suited me fine because no one really needed to see my crumpled up face - my crying face is not a pretty sight!  Nothing like you see in the movies where their makeup doesn't even run - this is all out red grimacing face!  After all, it hurts like hell!

With time, as I became more comfortable in my grief, when only a pretty tear rolled gently down my cheek, I did not have the overwhelming need to find others to witness my pain.

More recently, upon hearing of a tragic accident which brought another into the Sisterhood of Widowhood, my heart went out to her.  I remember thinking that I would never want to go back to those first moments, days and weeks.  I wanted to reach out to her, but did not know how nor did I know if I was on solid enough ground myself to offer support.  I know.  I know!  I chickened out!  However, I do know that if circumstances throw us together and we have a chance to talk, we will be strangers no more.

Last night, I came across a new blog - John's blog.  There, staring at me was the warm picture of a couple.  His wife passed away in November of 2010 and my heart went out to him.  Although I am not that much older than he is, somehow I needed to reach out.  Let me qualify "older", as in, at this business of grieving!  John writes beautiful poems from the heart.  I will add him to my list of links shortly. 

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I sense that this is my time to be a student of Grieving 101.  Sadly, it will also be my time one day, to be available to these tender hearts.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April winds ...

What a perfect way to describe my grief!

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.
~ Robert Frost

In one moment I'm feeling good and getting things done - even if it is finally looking in the mirror and plucking away at my chin hairs - and then some little thing brings me back to a moment of "fresh" grief. 

Leaving the house for work yesterday, I happen to notice that my tulips are coming up.  I became excited as I always do and my first thought was, "Call Bill when you get ................". 

I picked up my thoughts gently, treaded lightly to the car and reassured myself that I was going to be okay. Breathe!  How I miss not sharing these beautiful Spring moments with Bill.

I must say that these sudden flashes back to intense grief are growing further apart and I was quite proud of myself on how I could change from wanting to drop down and cry to refocusing on the simple beauty of a budding tulip.  I simply need to appreciate it for two.  I hope that I will never want to be free of my wanting to share these moments with Bill for it somehow keeps me connected to him. 

I will learn to recondition my first reaction to ... "Look Bill - our tulips are sprouting!" - with a grin of course!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

From my journal of blessings ...

In my attempt to clean out my room - again - I came across this note I had written to Bill in March of 2010.  It is now in my blessing journal. 

Every morning it is a blessing to wake up and see you  lying next to me.  I often write little notes and whisper in your ear hoping I can remind you just how much I love and cherish you.  The blessing is that I have someone so worth loving.

Every evening it is a blessing to sit next to you and accept your invitation to lay my head on your chest and feel your arms wrapped around me.  I love the sound of your heartbeat and how it makes me feel safe.

Every night it is a blessing to lay next to you my loving husband and take a mental inventory of the day knowing that I have loved you more today than I did yesterday and it is a blessing knowing that I get to love you even more tomorrow!

I have been blessed with having loved him for 26 years.

PS ~ Needless to say, my room remains messy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Sum of My Experiences ...

We cannot afford to forget any experience, not even the most painful. ~ Dag Hammarskjold

I have always said, it was where I've been and who I've been with in my past that has shaped who I am today.  I like what the sum of my experiences, good and bad, has created.

So why is it that in these last few weeks I have sought to forget?  I have busied my life so much - most from external obligations - that to even have an extra moment in my waking day seems impossible!  At first this suited me fine because I did not have to pay attention to the ache in my heart nor did I have time to stop and think about when Bill and I used to drive by that gas station commenting on the price of gas.  As I've said before, it is all in the little things that gets you; come to think of it, there is nothing little about the price of gas!  But in the last few days, I have become impatient with these distractions.  I miss having time to grieve. 

Indeed, you can avoid your taxes but at some point the tax man will come to collect, with interest - as did my grief!  I may have avoided my grief by being busy but when it came to tap me on the shoulder, I was totally unprepared for the assault! 

There is a folktale about a group of people, each of whom was given the chance to throw one trouble into a central heap in the middle of the room.  Then they were invited to choose one from the pile.  They each ended up taking back their own.

My grief sat in that pile for a little while.  I suppose it was only right to take it back because I believe in being the sum of my experiences and to negate this most painful experience is to deny myself the opportunity to discover something new about me and more importantly, to deny my very self.

Although I cannot do very much about the external obligations that keep me busy, I will continue to embrace this life of mine, all of it.  I will continue to change for the better what I can change and accept what I cannot.  I will not forget this pain and now I choose to continue honouring it for it is part of who I am.  That same person Bill loved so much!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dear Bill,

I miss the classy, gorgeous you.  YUM ... and *Sigh*  I don't believe that I could ever be so fortunate to be blessed again with such a wonderful man; you were everything, inside and out.  *Groan* - I miss your beautiful face - your beautiful tall person!  My writings have not altered these memories; I know that I even came to love the imperfections in you and in our relationship.  We were by far perfect, but your love of my imperfections made me love you that much more.  I also suspect that it was the same for you.  After all, who would see through the action of a crazy lady cleaning a fridge at 2:20 a.m. and realize that she was in pain?  You did.  All through our relationship, you understood my "manic" moments such as burning old journals.  You knew how to bring peace.  You knew how to not add to my grief by chastising me for my actions, or trying to "explain" them away.  You quietly watched and waited until I needed to talk.

I remember you saying more than once, that we were good together because we understood each other.  We knew how to laugh! How can I ever hope that this will be possible for me here on earth again? 

So for now, keep an eye on me - because there is still more fridge cleaning, carpet ripping and de-cluttering to do!  Let me know that I will be okay!

I love you and miss you more!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My little black book ...

Why do I blog? 

I have always enjoyed putting my thoughts on paper.  At a very young age, journaling offered privacy in the middle of a large family.  A space and a place I could call my own, where I did not have to share my thoughts, where I did not have to be part of "the collective".  As a young woman, writing offered release from the solitude I often felt before meeting Bill. 

I collected my journals and kept them private.  Then one day, in our first little home, I sat in front of the woodstove and began burning.  Bill came home from work to find me in tears - ripping pages out of my little books and tossing them into the fire and  watching the fire melt each page.   Patient man.  He simply poured us some wine, and quietly sat next to me.   When the fire consumed the last little page, he asked.  I told him that these pages represented a life I no longer felt any connection to and my tears were not of sorrow but of happiness for I no longer felt lonely.

So it seemed only natural to start giving birth to the invisible grief inside me in a journal which just happened to be a leftover "black" book. 

In my search for the "perfect poem" that could help process my tumultuous emotions, I came across Wordsworth's preface to "Lyrical Ballads".  He defines poetry as ... "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings:  it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility."  Although poetry in this family is better left to my middle child, this statement quantifies and qualifies the contents of my journals "Grief / Memories / Hope".   It also describes, for the most part, when I write for without tranquility, there is no reflection.

My three journals are private.  These are not intended for an audience for now.  They are the cornerstones of my blog which in turn may one day leave the digital world and return to paper.  For now, I continue to offer my blog, trusting that most will take away something relevant.  In Wordsworth's preface he also states ... "I had formed no very inaccurate estimate of the probable effect of those Poems: I flattered myself that they who should be pleased with them would read them with more than common pleasure: and, on the other hand, I was well aware, that by those who should dislike them, they would be read with more than common dislike. The result has differed from my expectation in this only, that a greater number have been pleased than I ventured to hope I should please."  

Your private comments support ... that a greater number have been pleased than I ventured to hope I should please!

Friday, April 15, 2011

One Martini .. two martini's ...

Happy Friday Everyone!

It has certainly been a long week and an even longer day.  I left work late to drag my butt home around 9:00 p.m. to a dark house - no music, no laughter, not even a grumble!  Even the dog is quiet. 

Fridays are just not what they used to be.  I remember the excitement of celebrating a good week of work with a Martini and Bill ... or was that a Martini with Bill?  Of course, he would have his "other girlfriend" Sarah on the screen - as in Sarah Brightman in concert DVD style.  How simple a pleasure was that?

Interestingly enough, only a few short months ago, these memories would have had me crumble ... maybe, just maybe ... in a few more months maybe I will be able to watch the DVD with a Martini.

Oh well ... back to work tomorrow!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My clump of worry ....

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today's trouble is enough for today. ~ Matthew 6:34

Easier said than done!  My life has been shaken by Bill's death.  As much as I knew in my head that this would not be forever here on earth, my heart was not prepared for a future without him.  How am I going to live the rest of my life without him?  Memories are good but a poor substitute for the actual classy sound of his soothing voice, the comfort of knowing that I can come home and spin off the day in a safe environment and my memories certainly do not keep me warm at night.  My home was not in these four walls of gypsum and wood, my home was in his strong arms, soothed by the sound of his heartbeat and the reassurance of his breath playing with my hair.

I follow the "progress" or the "lack of", of other widow/ers and I can't help but worry - where will I fit in?  Will I be of those who work through every moment, every day, every melt-down and come out of the experience full of grace?  Or will I be like those who, after so many years, continue to struggle; maybe not with every moment but certainly at some point every day?  I have watched my own mother slowly let go of life after my father died.  There was definitely the BD and AD Mom!  Where will I fit in?  I worry about my sons.  Too soon, they have lost their father - are they loosing me too?

Every morning, I get up and promise myself that I will accept the day as it comes, and every night I try to drop my clump of worries outside my bedroom door. I know I can make a "funny" with this visual, but it simply is not in me right now.  It is easier said than done!  Some days it works and some days, not so much.

Lately, I find myself short with people, easily hurt by their comments (or lack of comments) and want nothing more than to hide in my room.  Most of my meagre energy is spent remaining in the "here" and "now".  This is my journey and I do not want to hurt others with my impatience, nor do I wish to be hurt by their actions and comments.  Why are my emotions so raw?  I have read that "the anniversary" can affect some months before.  It is described as this deep, lasting grief that takes hold close to this important date.  It sometimes lasts weeks, sometimes months, sometimes more.  Most widow/ers cannot explain it or offer any advice on how to fight it - simply live through it.

I have had enough okay days now to know that I will one day be okay, but for the time being, I acknowledge that this melancholy seems to be taking a foothold and no matter how much I promise myself an okay day every morning and try to cheer myself up, and promise that I will not be impatient with people, I can't seem to shake it.

It is almost time to put on my brave face and step out into the world, with a promise to myself to be kind to others for they are not living my grief and to be patient with myself because I miss Bill.  Here I go, deep breath - dive into a new day with new possibilities.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dear Bill

Dear Bill - it's me, your loving wife and best friend.

Eight and a half months now since you were taken.  I say taken because I now know in my heart, that because you loved me so much, you would not have wanted this pain for me.  As I have said to you before, I loved you as much and I would not have wanted you to feel even a moment of this pain.  Are you listening?

Every morning, I make the choice to get up and grieve you in the sunlight.  Every morning, I look into our boys' rooms to make sure that they are doing okay.  Every morning I put one foot in front of the other and keep my heart open for a blessing.  Are you watching?

Everything still feels so very strange.  The sound of my laughter, my cry and sometimes even my breathing.  Are you listening?

There are more okay days sprinkled with melancholy than there are days covered by the shroud of my grief; those days I can't even breathe!  But you are always in my thoughts and in my heart.  I still talk about you to those who would listen - and even to those who have stopped listening.  You are still so very real to me!  Are you watching?

How can this be?  How can I not have you here with me?  I was angry with you yesterday.  I watched an older couple getting out of their vehicle smiling at each other and I cursed you for not being there as you promised you would be.  Are you listening?

Can you see me? Can you hear me?

I miss you my love!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Widows Love Post-Its

Almost nine months into the journey.  Is this not the same amount of time for something else?  It is like I have been holding my breath for a long time and I am ready to push! 

These last nine months have had me go through so many emotions, proverbial "first year" events and opportunities to grow.  I often commented on the fact that Widowhood does not come with an instruction manual, however, I did find a Grieving for Dummies! 

All in all, no one can prepare for this new normal and you are totally unprepared to becoming so ... what is the word .... clueless!  I always prided myself on my ability to multi-task, my attention to detail and most of all, on how I could remember things!  Now everything seems like an afterthought - aye,  I forgot to pick up milk on the way home, or oh man, I forgot to mail that or worst yet, "where's the toilet paper"!  These are all things I had thought of doing - five minutes ago.

I am happy to share that it is getting better.  My attention span is growing longer and I am now able to retain information - for 10 minutes!  Thank goodness I can still write.  Lists have become very important; trick is remembering where I put them.

In the spirit of sharing, here is my very own Widowhood 101.

Month 1 - Don't even try.  I have to remember something?  Something's bugging me and I think I have to do something; oh yes BREATHE.  Learn how to breathe.

Month 2 - Find a nice compact notepad.  Not so small that you can't find it, but small enough to carry around in a pocket.  Then put a post-it on the fridge door reminding you that you have a notepad.  Heck, put a post-it on the front door reminding you to bring the notepad with you when you leave the house.  Don't forget a pen.  Don't forget to breathe.

Month 3 - Remember to bring out the paperwork and set aside plenty of time to read, re-read and re-read again.  It will be a different version of what you read every time.  With each new sitting, you will begin to focus in on what the words are saying (or worst asking you to do).  Heck, take your ample supply of post-its and make notes in the margin on what you think everything means with each sitting.  At some point, it will all come together.  Oh and don't forget to include on your notepad to pick up more post it notes and that it is time to increase your frequency in bathing.  That smell has to be coming from somewhere!  Now that breathing is easier, try blinking!

Month 4 - There is a world out there?  When did that happen?  Now that you have increased your frequency in bathing and actually have started to remember, on your own, that you need to bring in the toilet paper with you, it is time to remember how fortunate you are.  To make a mental note of doing something special for friends and family to let them know just how grateful you are, is setting yourself up for a big *groan*.  No post-it on this one; be in the moment and tell them on the spot.  You are not wasting energy trying to remember if you said it or not.  Breathe and blink the tears out!

Month 5 - Remember who you are, even if it is a stranger staring back in the mirror.  Read that post-it on the mirror that says, "This is Me!"  Remember that you are a capable individual and that your life experiences have prepared you in some way or other for this season of your life.  You will certainly not feel very capable - clueless even - but you are capable.  After all, you are reading this and hopefully smiling!  Breathe, blink and now try to swallow.

Month 6 - Forget everything!  Back to searching for your notepad and starting up with a new colour of post-its because they will stand out better.  Your mind has given up on the other colour.  Back to remembering how to breathe!  Expect this back and forth - and if it doesn't happen, BONUS!  Breathe!

Month 7 - Remember who is in that picture with you.  Remember why you are feeling crappy because by now, life around you is moving on and you can't seem to put the finger on why you are feeling alone.  Take up a new set of lists - list your blessings, list your favourite memories, and certainly list your hopes for the next moments - hmmm, starting to sound like journaling.  If you have not yet started, it is a good time to include on your "pick-up" shopping list, a nice journal and a few pens.  Placing your thoughts on paper is a great way to get it out.  No one sees these journals so an entry for a day can be as simple as ... today I feel like s@*#!  There, you have said it; you have named it and claimed it as your emotion in the moment.  Oh, and while you are scheduling your day on your post-it, don't forget to set aside time to journal.  Breathe and try blinking again.

Month 8 - Remember that this is a journey and not a race!  No matter how much you can be tempted to rip off the band-aid, healing comes from within.  Remember that it is your journey and it is unique because of the relationship you had.  Remember to listen with your mind and not your heart when those around are giving advice; for your heart will certainly be hurt with all the well-intentioned statements.  Who knows, your mind may be able to sift through the words and polish a gem.  Remember that you are an intelligent individual, despite the fact that you once again forgot to bring the roll of toilet paper.  Remember to take an inventory of what you have accomplished so far - even if that is simply getting out of bed every morning for a trip to the bathroom and back.  Breathe easier, blink often and swallow.

Month 9 - Remember that your journey will bring you many seasons.  Mine just happens to be Spring!  Breathe my tender hearts.

PS - Remember above all to be kind to yourself.  There are no right or wrong ways to doing this - as long as you stay safe!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Loosie Goosie!

Was he still hovering about the house at home, the essence of himself, and were I there would I perceive his present?  I fought off the mighty yearning to go in search of him, where he was.  For surely he was looking for me, too.  We were ill at ease, always, when apart.  But where are the pathways? ~ Pearl Buck

Friday morning, I was in the garage for my daily ritual of ... I'm not quite sure what this ritual is all about anymore.  It is my time to sit with my cup of java and my first cigarette to either journal, meditate or simply stare at Bill's oversize pictures!  Remember people, this is MY sandbox!  I get to have all of his things in there despite what the "do's and don'ts" of grieving books have to say.

I digress - oh yes, I was in the garage on Friday morning and was intent on staring Bill down.  I sometimes find myself doing this and I stare with all my mind, heart and soul wishing that somehow by being attentive to his staring back, he will come through the door or will at the very least drop something on my head to tell me that he is still with me, that I am somehow not "seeing" him.  After all, you read about experiences of lost ones somehow getting a message to those they left behind - so why not me?  I know I have sensed his presence a couple of times since his death but these experiences have been associated mostly with his mother's care and her death.  So why not for me?  Yup, I was pouting!

Just as I finally broke my stare - oh my, a staring contest with a picture - I started losing hope of having a good day when I heard it!  The morning was quiet, more quiet than usual and I heard the cry of a lone goose flying over.  Not a flock, but a lone goose.  No sweeter music have I ever heard.  My heart filled with joy and excitement because this always brought renewed happiness to Bill - Spring!

By late morning, I began to doubt what I had felt in that earlier moment for my enthusiasm about this "sign" was met with guarded "that's nice" or other such comments.  By the time I was leaving the building to come home for lunch, I was pretty much back to my morning pouting!  Dang Bill!  Why could you not have sent me a burning bush so that I knew for sure?  Well, he did not disappoint me, for as I opened that door and stepped into the warm sunlight, I was greeted by the chorus of a whole flock of geese!

I was giddy as a school girl!  It no longer mattered to me that people might think that it was my own projection.  Somehow for me, this was an assurance of continuing life.  It was comforting and I was grateful for this "sign".  My grief was somehow eased by my imagination - this same imagination God gave me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Bill of Rights!

For my fellow widows/ers - Not sure if you have seen this but it struck a chord.  Given my experiences of late, with those who are now "glazing" over when I want to share or others wanting to "explain" things away for me, it is timely.  Life truly does move on and so must the seasons of friendships.

The "Mourner's Bill of Rights" from grief expert Dr Alan Wolfelt

The following list is intended both to empower you to heal and to decide how others can and cannot help. This is not to discourage you from reaching out to others for help, but rather to assist you in distinguishing useful responses from hurtful ones.

1.     You have the right to experience your own unique grief.  No one else will grieve in exactly the same way you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don't allow them to tell you what you should or should not be feeling.

2.     You have the right to talk about your grief. Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk as much as you want, as often as you want, about your grief. If at times you don't feel like talking, you also have the right to be silent.

3.     You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions. Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt and relief are just a few of the emotions you might feel as part of your grief journey.  Others may try to tell you that feeling angry, for example, is wrong. Don't take these judgmental responses to heart. Instead, find listeners who will accept your feelings without condition.

4.     You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.  Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you feeling fatigued. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. And don't allow others to push you into doing things you don't feel ready to do.

5.     You have the right to experience "grief bursts".  Sometimes, out of nowhere, a powerful surge of grief may overcome you. This can be frightening, but it is normal and natural. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.

6.     You have the right to make use of ritual. The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. More importantly, the funeral is a way for you to mourn. If others tell you the funeral or other healing rituals such as these are silly or unnecessary, don't listen.

7.     You have the right to embrace your spirituality. If faith is a part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you feel angry at God, find someone to talk with who won't be critical of your feelings of hurt and abandonment.

8.     You have the right to search for meaning. You may find yourself asking "Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now?" Some of your questions may have answers, but some may not. And watch out for the clich├ęd responses some people may give you.  Comments like "It was God's will" or "Think of what you have to be thankful for" are not helpful and you do not have to accept them.

9.     You have the right to treasure your memories. Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share them.

10.            You have the right to move toward your grief and heal. Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself and avoid people who are impatient and intolerant with you. Neither you nor those around you must forget that the death of someone loved changes life forever.

Breathe my tender hearts!