“Wednesday, December 29, 2021” stares at me from the laptop monitor. What have I accomplished in the past year? Truth is that I squandered precious time, trying to cope with impending loss. Two fine men in my extended family, ages 51 and 54, lost their battles to cancer, one at Thanksgiving and one at Christmas. The most recent deaths were from my children’s generation. Both left grieving parents, who questioned why they had not been chosen to go.
Writing, my daily therapy, was left untouched for months. I turned to wine, food and TV for solace. I had no focus to read and could not concentrate on a television program for more than twenty minutes. All I wanted to do was seek the security of my bed and crawl under the covers. To others, I appeared in control, but deep down, I knew that I was on the brink of depression and had to dig into my grounding toolbox, to avoid falling into the dark hole.
My husband transitioned to the other side seven years ago from leukemia. I am proud that I had the strength to work, write, move to another state, volunteer and redefine myself. I still have difficult moments, but I ride them out, confident that they will pass.
I am back on track from the latest heartbreaks, practicing what I preached in previous postings.
- Limit alcohol. It is a depressant
- Eat nutritious food
- Exercise- I walk at least three miles a day, plus golf, dance or take exercise classes via zoom
- Learn something new. I took golf lessons
- Volunteer. Helping others keeps your mind off yourself.
- Write a gratitude list.
- If you are grieving, talk to your loved one and watch for signs. They will appear when you least expect them. Coins, feathers, songs, numbers, misbehaving electronics, memories and scents are a few ways to let you know that he/she is closer than you think.
Mind, body and spirit are connected. Keep moving. They require daily attention. Be good to yourself, find quiet time and connect with nature. There is no magic bullet. It takes effort to hit the curve balls life throws.
Death is inevitable, the looming reality, that the journey on Earth is temporary. Although we observe the life cycles of all living things, we are devastated by loss and fear our own mortality.
Grief is an emotion that cannot be avoided. The pain is excruciating when loved ones, including pets, transition to the other side. A piece of us dies with them. Functioning like robots, we tend to daily tasks, but our hearts are non-participants.
Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed a theory that we go through five distinct stages of grief after the loss of a loved one: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. I experienced all of these, but some during the five years that my husband fought leukemia. Denial came when he was diagnosed and relapsed from a bone marrow transplant. Bargaining was in the form of prayer during his treatment. Because he was suffering without hope of recovery, I felt acceptance and relief at his transition. Two years later, when time had dulled the illness and treatment nightmares, I was angry because he had left me to navigate life’s challenges alone. The last item is depression. Over the last seven years, I monitored my mood. Was I clinically depressed? No, but I felt a dark cloud overshadowing everything. Nothing felt the same. It was as if a nerve had been snipped from my body. I felt and enjoyed with all my senses, but the intensity was missing.
There is no time limit on grief, but we can take charge to avoid being devoured. Our loved ones are in a place of unconditional love and light. We remain here because there is more learning, growing and loving to do. Regardless of your beliefs concerning perpetual life, while here, you must survive. Reality bites when the loved one’s death puts you into financial hardship. You may have a family to feed, mortgage and other debts. Nobody is going to rush in on a white charger to save you. After the initial shock, there is no time for pity parties or for sitting in the corner to suck your thumb. Moving forward is the only way to survive. The progress may be slow. You may feel like you are slogging knee deep in molasses, with tears gushing from your eyes. The path may seem dark as pitch. Keep going, if only by baby steps.
With time, the journey becomes easier. Set realistic expectations. Become friends with grief. Know that dates, songs, pictures and places may trigger waves of sorrow. Feel and deal with the emotion when it arises. Have a good cry. When the intensity recedes, continue your healing journey.
Love and pamper yourself. Work on mind, body and spirit health. Stay open for signs from your loved ones. I experienced electronic irregularities, coins, feathers, scents, songs on the radio, random memories, a chill, tummy blips, butterflies, dragonflies, birds and bells ringing. Repeating numbers may be messages from the angels. Multiple fours appear to me throughout the day, every day. They are on the clock, computer, license plates, receipts and car odometer. Other repeating numbers include my birthday and 1111. Your loved ones are reaching across the veil to give you comfort and support. Be open to their love. Their vibration is higher than ours. Raise yours to meet them. Deep in sorrow, you will miss the messages.
Grief hurts and is merciless. Struggle through the void. Find joy and be grateful. Beauty surrounds. Open your heart and look around.
What are your priorities? Make a list. Do the ego driven rungs on your ladder to success rank above better relationships, your loved ones, community service, exercise and well-being? If so, you may want to rethink it. What will be important when you face death? Will you ask to see your bank account or the special people in your life?
Goals keep you growing and moving forward, but happiness requires balance. Life is like a wheel. Every spoke represents an area of your life. When too much energy is spent on one section, the wheel is no longer round and cannot turn.
Be aware! Time is an asset. Spend it wisely.
Gentle spirits hover close
Feathers, pennies, butterflies
Signs from loved ones
Catch the meaning?
Foggy, fuzzy, message be
Gifted wonder, medium
Souls who crossed behind the veil
Love eternal, never dies
Living life with clarity
Thank you, helpers
Struggle through the birth canal
The baby fights for life
Tiny lungs that gasp for air
A slap across the butt
Pattern set for human life
It’s cruel and cold sometimes
Fraught with tests and challenges
To teach life’s lessons best
Question not when things are good
Enjoy the respite time
Love will keep your spirit whole
Resilient, strong, inspired
Time to leave will come with death
For most another fight
Struggle through the veil to light
Cross over, job well done!
Another one has left this place
Never to return
As parent, friend and confidant
Strong until the end
It takes belief and open heart
Know that she lives on
Her home is peace, love, harmony
Painful body shed
Five senses do not see her soul
There behind the veil
Be still to view her messages
Love sent from afar
Rejoice she’s found her way back home
Angels there to guide
Another soul has left this place
Resting in the Lord.
Final act of letting go
Cast to ocean currents
All that’s left of life well lived
Flesh to dust and ashes
Gentle spirit living on
Freed from Earthly trappings
Soaring as the circling hawk
Time and space forgotten
Loss, disappointment are not the end
But a reason to push past comfort
Open a chapter to destiny
Path to fulfill your divinity
I set the star upon the tree
A special place on top
Reminder of past Christmases
I spent with my life’s love
Did I appreciate those days
While running to and fro
Or did I miss the best of times
Wrapped up in Christmas rush?
The baking, cooking, trim the tree,
Will all of it be done
Before the family arrives
For dinner Christmas eve
We’d stay up late to build the toys
Exhausted, went to bed
Excited boys would wake by five
To see what Santa left
I cannot travel back in time
To capture what was lost
My photos of past holidays
Forever warm my heart
That special star upon the tree
Burns brighter from above
His spirit lives forever more
In everlasting love