Acceptance

http://lauriesgarden.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/acceptance-testing.jpg

“What is acceptance?  Acceptance is surrendering to what is.  Before we can change anything in our life we have to recognize that this is the way it’s meant to be right now.  For me, acceptance has become what I call the long sigh of the soul. It ‘s the closed eyes in prayer, perhaps even the quiet tears.  It’s “all right,” as in “All right, You lead, I’ll follow”.  This is the simple part of the journey.

Over the years I have discovered that much of my struggle to be content despite outside circumstances has arisen when I stubbornly resisted what was actually happening in my life at the present moment.  But I have also learned that when I surrender to the reality of a particular situation–when I don’t continue to resist, but accept–a softening in my soul occurs.  Suddenly I am able to open up to receive all the goodness and abundance available to me because acceptance brings with it so much relief and release.  It’s as if the steam of struggle has been allowed to escape from life’s pressure cooker.

Acceptance also illuminates reality so that we’re better able to see the next step.”

Sarah Ban Breathnach

Advertisements

In the Night Watches

http://thereluctantdivorcee.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/insomnia.jpg

“…the work of mourning is, by its nature, something which takes place in the watches of the night and in the solitary recesses of the individual mind.  Friends and family can help us to confirm or disconfirm (our) initial evaluations, but it is we who make these first evaluations.  Therefore much of the work of Linking Past to Present must be done in solitude and quietness.”      Dr. Raphael Bowlby

I have found this to be most certainly true in my grief journey and the reason why I sleep a few hours and then wake up, sleep again and then wake up on and off during the entire night.  When my mind is really trying to process something, I can wake up as many as 6 or more times in one night.   I believe that when a person has complicated grief as I do with multiple losses of loved ones in a short time period, the longer they experience grief induced insomnia.  At least, this is what I have been experiencing these last 21 months.

Many other widows express that they have grief induced insomnia as well and from what I have observed even the ones who decide to take sleeping pills find that they work for a little while and then won’t work at all.  Grief is hard WORK, indeed.

Reminiscing

http://kymypossible.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/looking_back.jpg

“Sadly, I have heard people advise others who are grieving, ‘Quit thinking about the past.  The future is what you can do something about, so that’s where you now need to be looking.’  But this advice is wrong.  First, we must reminisce.  For reminiscing–recalling events, conversations, occurrences from the past–is one of the important ways that we mourn. (In fact, the word mourning in Sanskrit means ‘to remember’.)  And, paradoxically, reminiscing is a way of thinking that can result in our getting free from our sadness and even our depression if we are caught in that place of blackness.”

SEVEN CHOICES by Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PH.D.

4 Kinds of Suitors

http://www.valdosta.edu/~drcollins/fourseasonsnexticon8.jpg

“In my way of thinking , there are 4 kinds of suitors – one for each season.

A winter suitor is a man whose lonely for someone to warm his bed.  That’s the worst of them all.

A spring suitor courts you because he loves you deeply enough to see a whole new life ahead – one full of promise and hope.

A summer suitor is a man who has little or nothing to his name. but wants to marry you so he can harvest everything you’ve worked hard to earn or to keep.

An autumn suitor is pretty crafty and I personally think that he’s the craftiest one of them all.  He’s thinking he should settle down, but he’s the fickle one.  He’s got one eye on an unsuspecting woman in one town and the other eye on some poor woman in a different town.  He’s having trouble making up his mind so he just travels back and forth until winter gets close.  By then he’s either been found out or he’s forced to make a choice because he can’t travel back and forth because of all the snow we have.”

Refining Emma by Delia Parr

Grief Triggers

Nissan North America Plant in Smyrna, TN

My husband worked for 24 years in product quality control in the Emissions Lab at the Nissan manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.  It was his home away from home and the men that he worked with were his 2nd family.  Recently it was brought to my attention that as his widow I could take my car out there to the employee service department and have my oil changed and tires rotated and balanced.

Early yesterday morning I made my way out there for the first time since Bob went to heaven.  The closer I got to the plant, the more the memories began to flood my mind.  When I drove up to the security gate, I had to explain that I am the widow of a retired Nissan employee and had an appointment to have my car serviced.  Security asked for his name and his employee badge number – an immediate stab to my heart to have to briefly share yet again that he is no longer here and I am on my own.

I got through that and continued on to the employee service area where I parked my Murano and walked inside.  Weeks before when I had called to make my appointment, I had explained my situation and thought that there would be no further questions.  But, I found out that anything done for me has to be done in Bob’s name.  Even my appointment was in his name.  So, the guy at the service desk check in just assumed that Bob was still alive and asked me what pay period he was on so that he could deduct the cost from his paycheck.  THAT is when I totally lost it and began to cry as I explained that he had passed away.

To say that I made that man feel absolutely terrible is an understatement.  He apologized profusely as I showed him my husband’s early retirement ID badge with his photo and employee badge number.  I was quickly given a numbered placard to hang on the mirror of my car outside and told to come back inside to give him my keyless remote.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough and worked hard to get control of myself and stop the tears before I went back inside.  In a few minutes I re-entered the building and handed him my keyless remote as he told me that he had put me at the beginning of the line and I was to find a place to sit in one of the waiting rooms.  The poor man couldn’t get me out of there fast enough.

As I sat in the waiting room that faces out onto the plant struggling to keep myself under control and not to weep,  thoughts that my husband had given 24 years of his life to this company swirled around in my head.  He never told me how very stressful his job was until after he took his early retirement 2 years before he died because he knew that I would have worried about him.  He was in charge of 2 shifts of men and the responsibilities were tremendous.  This job provided for our family of six, yet this job also was part of the reason he became ill according to the doctors.  I have a love/hate relationship with Nissan now and cannot help but wonder what our lives would have been like had he never taken a job there.

Ironically enough, the cemetery where Bob’s body is buried is 3.5 miles from Nissan.

There are so many grief triggers in a widow’s life.  It can be just a thought that pops into your mind, a certain make/model of car or truck, a smell or scent, a picture, something someone says, the way your child looks or their mannerisms, all of the many 1sts that you have to do alone, and the list goes on and on.  Truly there is no getting away from grief no matter how hard you want to avoid it.  I’ve chosen to face it head on because I don’t want to have to go back through it later on down the road.  I want to deal with it now so that my heart can heal.

Loneliness or Garden of Solitude?

Loneliness is one of the most universal sources of human suffering today…By running away from our loneliness and by trying to distract ourselves with people and special experiences, we do not realistically deal with our human predicament.  We are in danger of becoming an unhappy people suffering from many unsatisfied cravings and tortured by desires and expectations that never can be fulfilled….To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into a garden of solitude.  This requires not only courage but also a strong faith.  As hard as it is to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty.

Henri Nouwen – Reaching Out

I’m Grieving As Fast As I Can

I'm Grieving as Fast as I Can: How Young Widows and Widowers Can Cope and Heal

How Young Widows and Widowers Can Cope and Heal

New Horizon Press/1994

Although Linda Feinberg is not a widow, she is not only a social worker but the founder and former director of an organization for young widowed people under the age of 50.  Her book is based on her own research and experience counseling young widows and widowers drawing from their real-life experiences.

“There are many ironies when somebody dies.  The person you need most to help you through this experience is the person who died.  Just at the time you need support the most, those around you think you should be all better.  You spend your whole adult life living for Fridays, but after somebody dies, you spend your whole life living for Mondays.”

Some of the topics Linda discusses include how grief is different for men, it matters how the person died, six kinds of guilt, fear and justifiable paranoia, suicidal feelings, returning to work, rings, difficult times/holidays, if you are pregnant, visits to the cemetery, etc.

She shares how most widowed people would like to skip life from November 23 through February 15 and even discusses how the changing of the seasons affect them.

“Let’s analyze a holiday in terms of what it means to a widowed person.  Valentine’s Day is the romantic holiday of the year.  Valentine’s Day for a widow means no one to buy that special card for; no one to buy that special card for you; there is no one to celebrate the day with, not even a reason to celebrate.  No special kiss, no one to make love with, no one to buy you candy, no perfume, and forget jewelry.  Who is going to say you look beautiful?  The observation that everyone else seems to be thrilled about Valentine’s Day may make you feel you are no longer a part of the human race.  No wonder one young widow said, ‘I wish I had a gun so I could shoot down all the Valentine cards on display in the stores.’ …….it becomes shockingly apparent that the loss of a spouse is infinite.”

Feinberg gives some advantages of joining a support group:

1. Gives you permission for intimacy in your conversation

2. Lessens the feelings of isolation

3.  Ability to make new friends to help fill the void in your life

4. Learn how to improve your communication skills

5. Forces you to set aside time to think and grieve with people who genuinely understand what you are going through

6.  Allows you to discuss your husband or wife openly serving as a mini-memorial service to your spouse

7.  Aids you in overcoming your denial of the death

8.  You will be applauded for your accomplishments

For someone who has not lost a spouse, Linda does a great job of saying what needs to be said.  I am thankful to her for her willingness to spend time with those widows and widowers who are grieving in order to not only get an understanding of what they are experiencing in their grief journey, but to help them through that time in their lives.

Listening

https://i0.wp.com/www.drrkg.com/wp-content/themes/thesis_16/custom/rotator/DSC00132.jpg

“Really listening is a very tender and generous gift.”  Jan Karon

One of the greatest gifts you can give a widow is simply to sit and listen and so precious few offer us that gift.  We have to talk.  We need to talk.  It’s the best way for us to process what has happened to us.  It’s a way for us to find a new identity.  It’s a way for us to close that last chapter in our lives with our husbands and begin a new book.  We have so much on our hearts that simply MUST come out or we will explode.

A widow finds that after a month or so passes, everyone’s life goes on but ours.  Others don’t understand why we cannot just move on.  They tire of hearing us share things about our husband and we sense that.  So, we clamp our mouths shut and suffer in silence because we don’t want to lose anyone else in our lives.

Please give us that gift of really listening as we share with you the most fragile things we have – our heart and our thoughts.