The rant first. I just read a post from someone who was relieved they didn't have to "wallow" in grief but could sort of merrily we roll along after the death of her husband. If she can do that - bless her. However, to assume that carrying one's grief in one's heart and soul and mind is wallowing is a misconception. Yes, there are always people who wear only one color. They are angry all the time or sad all the time. However, grieving the death of my best love, my best friend, my best sparring partner will always be one of the colors of my rainbow. That is not wallowing. It is simply acknowledging that when I open my eyes in the morning and he is not there it is a sad and lonely thing. Even if there was someone else in my bed (there isn't - can't go there yet - maybe not at all) it will still be a sad and lonely thing that my unique and special Artie cannot share my life in the same way. I am not wallowing or stuck - merely acknowledging a fact. When Artie died I lost someone who can never be replaced.
I had a friend stay over last night. She is a poet and a lovely young woman. She is pregnant and her partner is finishing his degree in another city and won't be with her during the pregnancy except for one week and then for the last month. She cries every night and is so lonely for him. They skype and she sends him pictures of her belly every day. However, not having him with her hurts. Yet, they will have a homecoming. They will have a time when they rush into each others arms and I think the love they have for each other and their baby will make for a beautiful and loving family. My loneliness for Artie doesn't have a homecoming during my life. His spirit is with me but it is not always easy to lean on a spirit. My homecoming to Artie is my death. Hopefully a transition, hopefully a reunion. However isn't what all of us want who have a beloved person die the impossible thing - a homecoming here on earth?
We can hold more than one emotion at a time. I can hold my sadness and loneliness for Artie and my happiness and feeling part of a community with others at the same time. How many faces do I see in NYC every day? Doesn't matter. Artie's face only exists in photographs and memory. I love him. I miss him. So what? Emotional pain isn't always a bad thing. It's what you do with it.
I went last weekend to my first NLP training. Neuro Linguistic Programming. Doesn't change the story but changes the structure of it. It's too complicated to explain here. However there was an exercise I wanted to share with you that was very helpful. At the end of your day sit in a chair and say out loud two or three things you are proud of, that you accomplished and also anything you feel you might have done better. Then go to another chair and talk to yourself as yourself, Jan, I would say, and tell myself things I did well that day and things I might have done better. Then stand up and step into someone you think of as a mentor. I picked Artie but you could pick anyone - the Dalai Lama - Jesus - Sherlock Holmes - Hillary Clinton - Maya Angelou (I don't mean to be disrespectful by including such varied examples - but it could be anyone you admire - real or fictional.) Have them talk to you and say what they feel you did well and what you might do better. You have to actually move and you have to actually use your imagination. If you do, chances are you will hear different things from each position. One thing that I said when I was being Artie talking to me was, "I'm so proud of you for all the things you do. I'm proud that you keep trying." Then I said (being him) , "Clean up the apartment, you know I don't like things messy" !!! Try it. The trainer says he does this about 6 days out of every two weeks and amazing things happen. I did clean up a lot. :) I hate cleaning. I would never have said that as me. I like clutter.
One thing we do during the training - and would be lovely to do in a bereavement group or any group setting: We are given small pieces of paper with a simple picture on one side, blank on the other. We write on the blank side something we like about anyone in the group. Fold in half and give it to them at any time. I, of course, immediately turned into a little kid - scared I wouldn't get any. I did. People wrote lovely things about me. I keep my little pieces of paper in a pretty box to look at when I need a reminder that life is worth living to its fullest. We are all like pebbles thrown into still water. We never know how far and wide the ripples we create will grow and who we will touch.
You all touch me when you read what I write. I have said this many days. Today I will start my book. I hope today is the real day. Wishing you all a full rainbow of emotions - including ones that make you smile. Wishing you all many words that tell you how special you are and how brave to do whatever you do while being a grief warrior. xo
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