Sunday, March 3, 2013

Grief: I Get To Define My Own Healing

Healing is a slippery word.  Some people define healing as not feeling.  When I am healed from grief I will be happy and not talk about my dead husband and and and.  Nope.  If you are reading this you are healing.  To me healing means that there is a possibility of change.  Healing is feeling Why Bother? and doing it anyway.

I don't define healing as more loss.  I have had loss enough already, thank you very much.  Healing is having more happy moments and more productive moments while still leaving time for sad or angry ones.  It's like memories.  Some memories of Artie made me sad.  I'd walk past a store where I used to buy him something and feel so sorry for myself.  I trained my brain.  I started thinking about how happy I felt when I bought this picky man something that he liked. Recently, after three and half years without him, I find myself going into stores and LOOKING for things he would like.  I hear him say, "No body!".  It makes me laugh every time.  Someone might say I'm not healing because I look for things to buy  for a dead guy.  I think I am healing because doing that makes me laugh instead of cry.  At the beginning it was a process.  I had to consciously stop my thoughts and change them.  Now most of the time it happens automatically.

My biggest problem is the morning.  I wake up disappointed that I am on earth without my husband.  I would like that to go away.  It hasn't yet.  I can say I'm not healing and beat myself up for feeling sad and wasting time. Or, I can say I am healing because I do get up eventually and get things done.  Healing can be doing one thing this year that you didn't do last year. Healing can be washing your hair even though there is no one there to notice that it is clean.

I know people that say they don't feel pain any more about the person that has died; that they have turned a corner or started a new chapter. Bless them if they have really done that.  Sometimes they say that in a public space and then tell me something else in a private moment.  For example, I know widows who are dating, or even quite happily engaged or remarried.  That's fine for them.  I'm not there yet.  That's fine for me.

What ask myself is - "How can I make my life look more how I want it to?"  When I succeed I am proud of myself.  When I fail I am told I am too hard on myself.  I am.  Some people write grief blogs for a while and then stop. One person said they were going back to the real world.  I'm living in the real world. Grieving and living and having fun and giving are all part of my real world.  Some people read grief blogs for a while and then stop.  In both cases they feel they don't need them anymore.  I feel that way about bereavement groups.  I'd rather talk to my friends who understand.  Is that healing?  I don't know.

I know that my ability to laugh and be present is a lot stronger than it was when Artie first died.  I know I show up more often for more things.  That co-exists with the still struggling parts.  Sometimes I make plans and then I don't show up. That's okay.  The pressure from some people to feel happy all the time seems strange to me. To me being present is the ability to feel what is appropriate to the situation.  I saw a picture of a little Israeli baby whose face was bleeding after being stoned.  I thought of my granddaughter and I was heartbroken.  I always ask people to give up their group story and at least keep children safe.  I'm glad I was affected by that picture.  I would have been affected the same way if it was a Palestinian child or any child.

We shouldn't be scared of healing. The fear comes from the idea that healing means letting go of the love we have for someone who died and the loneliness we feel because however they may be with us in spirit they are not with us on earth anymore.  We can be fully alive and not let go of that love.  I met a lovely young man.  A personal trainer who is kind and handsome and charming.  He is engaged to be married.  His grandmother died and because I talked about Artie he told me that he talks to his grandmother every day.  That's how he starts his morning.  He misses her.  That's what I want (not to be a young handsome personal trainer LOL) but to keep shifting the balance.  I want to spend more time enjoying my time here on earth and less time wishing I could hurry up and join Artie. 

I don't care how people define healing.  I like to see people who are locked in sadness open the door and step out; even if for a little while.  However, I don't define healing for you and I don't want you to define it for me.

I do want people to know the good news which is that they are probably already healing in more ways than they are aware of.  If someone says you need healing maybe you can say, "I am healing."  It's a process.  It's your own private process.  My little granddaughter Gwendy blue eyes at 14 months old and without much language is full of personality and opinions.  She's her way of being - not anyone else's.  We forget that.  It's okay to be our way of being in the world.  If we want to change it...we can learn how.  If we get stuck...we get unstuck...when we are ready.  So...think of all the ways you are already healing for a while and forget the ways in which you are not.  That, my friends, will be healing in itself.  xo

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