Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Grief: Another Mountain Top, Another Valley

Oh my blog.  I don't write you often enough any more.  I think of you, but I don't write enough.  I'm sorry to those of you who don't do Facebook where most of my writing is now.  www.Facebook.com/GriefSpeaksOut.

I have almost survived my time where the climb from the valley to the mountain top is difficult - and where I slide down into the valley much too quickly.  My husband's birthday is Dec. 11th.  That is when it starts.  Then all the holidays.  Then my birthday/wedding anniversary (for those of you who don't know - my birthday present was getting married) and then Valentine's Day.  Can you believe Friday the 13th is the day before Valentine's Day?  If I were superstitious....

I read a quote somewhere that you shouldn't compare yourself to another person because you know your whole life and you only know their highlight reel.  That's kind of how I've been.  I just seem to be back at why bother?  I've been spending a lot of time in bed watching crap TV.  This week I have a bad cold or the flu or something which I rather like because it gives me permission to do this without guilt.  I had given myself permission anyway.  To not really accomplish anything until after Valentine's Day.  People who don't experience this don't understand how sometimes emotional paralysis sets in and the smallest thing seems impossible or not worth trying.  So that is my valley.

My mountain tops are there too.  So many times we (I) look at what I am not doing instead of what I am doing.  I did still follow the rule that I can only stay indoors one day in a row.  My parents became reclusive when they got older and it made them nasty and sad.  I don't want to be them.  I did go out with friends when I was in NYC and I did have a good time.  I did plan less than I usually do.  I did do things like take showers and keep breathing.  Then - the main thing - the important thing - is that i truly did celebrate with my daughter and granddaughter.  It didn't matter how much I wanted to snuggle into the valley - I left and chose to spend many days including these dates with my daughter and granddaughter.  On those days I managed some times to actually be celebrating.  I love playing with my granddaughter.

Gwendy is 3 so 64 is very old to her.  So old she ask me if I was going to die.  We talk about death in our family.  I said - yes, some day - but hopefully not for a while.  I told her that when I was dead I wouldn't be able to come back any more on the train - because I wouldn't have a body - but that I would come back with love - and would always be in her heart like she would be in mine.  She is trying to figure out what her Mom calls the Great Unknown.  She has had some fish go there and knows that her Mom and I have pets and people there.  She asked me if my husband was imaginary!  Which was interesting - people we love and talk about and can't see - are they imaginary like the pink dragon?  No - because once they were alive and now they are still real - at least to me.

Gwendy said the most extraordinary thing.  She asked me, "Do you miss sleeping with your Mommy?"  I said, "No - I haven't slept with my Mommy for a long time - but I miss sleeping with my husband - with Grandpa Artie - a lot.  I really liked sleeping with him."   She said, lovingly, "You can use your imagination and pretend he is with you."  I told her that is exactly what I do.

So it has been a strange time since I have last written you.  Full of dead moments that I wish I no longer have - but I still do.  It comforts me to know from so many people that even after 20 or 30 or more years these moments - these deep valleys - these dark places come.  I miss my husband so much  every day that sometimes all the energy is sapped right out of me.  Especially this time of year.  But I also made new memories.  Went stomping through snow up over my knees with Gwendy at night with our flashlights to put out food for squirrels and birds.  I want to have adventures with her. Gwendy managed to stay up until midnight on New Years Eve and the three of us made lots of noise and wore funny hats and had a group hug.  We did a new thing this year - we lit candles and put out pictures of the people and pets we have loved on a table in the middle of the room on New Year's Eve so they could be with us.

I had my unhappy birthday cake.  I ate the part that said unhappy.  I still don't deal with my anniversary very well - but I posted about it on FB.  I appreciated the people who acknowledged it.

In NYC I saw some great plays; ate some delicious dinners; had wonderful moments with friends.

People now often ask me if something they are doing or feeling is normal.  It is.  I remember going to a bereavement group in my first year of grieving.  I hadn't changed the sheets on our bed for three months and thought that was very strange.  I met someone who hadn't changed them for a year.  I met someone else who never changed them - just sleeps in another room.  We all do whatever we have to do to survive something that is so difficult, so challenging.  Some people seem to move through grief with more ease than others - but when you see someone who does that - you do not know what is in their hearts.  A lot of people go silent because it is easier.  Someone called me a radical griever.  I liked that.  I know many people who pretend to be fine and then they tell me about their grief and their sadness.

Although it is comforting to know I am not the only one doing something - I don't ask myself if what I am doing is normal.  I ask myself if it is serving me.  I have a life to live.  Each day.  A life that I want to live fully to honor and respect my husband.  Sometimes - like now - I give myself permission to collapse and wallow.  I love wallowing.  I'm not ashamed of it.  But I also don't want the rest of my life to look like this.  I haven't missed a day of posting on the Facebook page Grief Speaks Out.  That's good.  But if I can get my motivation back into place I have a lot I want to do.  I found myself saying that I want to live for a while.  Usually all I feel deep down is that I want to be with my husband.  That's a big change.  I don't always feel that way - but that's the challenge every day - to say - oops - I guess I'm still alive - how will I be alive?

Maybe I should build a lodge halfway down the mountain so I don't go so deep and don't have such a steep climb back up.  Maybe my husband will be in the lodge and when I start to fall he will catch me and give me a boost back up.  Or maybe even the middle isn't such a bad place to be.

I always tell you to take tender care of yourself.  I need to learn to do the same.

Sending you much love and wishing you the courage you need every minute of ever day. xo