Grades of Grief

1CC51986-2CC6-456F-BCB2-98B5AF2690B2     I have had my share of grief in life and no doubt, you also.  It, of course, can come from a physical death of a loved one or friend but grief is shared among other losses and the pain is there.
     Growing up and probably until my own mother passed away, I dealt with deaths and the visitations, funerals and family gatherings afterward never wanting to lose touch with cousins and extended family members, but you do.
     It was when my mother passed that it all became real, the grieving of what was and what will never be.  While we were not the mother-daughter connection as pictures show and memories are made of, still she was my mother.  Sitting at traffic lights looking up at the beautiful sky and seeing the clouds, the tears would flow were my usual bouts of grief.
     Just a few years later, while trying to maintain my own home but also my father’s home and all of his financial and medical affairs, my marriage was dying.  I could feel it, I knew things were not right. I blamed myself as I was being pulled in many directions and apparently neglecting him.  While that was all true of caring and doing for many, I am not to accept all the blame and I will not.  Still, grieving the marriage of what was and what will never be.
F36661FC-75AE-4792-88F7-1F4EFB5ACE0E     Through the years, I have lost friendships for whatever reason by job change, moving, etc. no doubt, you have also.  Realizing their friendship was just for a season, whether it be their season or mine, it still hurts to lose the closeness. Depending how close we were, the grief can become intense, not just uncomfortable for a bit.
     With that I found myself to be distant with some because of the hurt, the grief of losing them. They are still alive but not there. Just recently, I went through this with someone very special to me. Every level of grief was there still and I knew it. Even today, I now teeter between the depression stage and acceptance.  This can last for a bit.  When sadness hits, I cry and then I get back up accept what is. Thankfully the anger has lost its power but it was there and normal.
     Whether it is a person, a pet or whatever to cause your heart to ache, it is normal.  It just shows you are normal and have a heart and love within that you shared.
Looking at the chart of the many levels of grief, I recognize each one and understand when it hits.  One of those, ‘been there, done that’ quotes.  No matter what your situation, grief is hard and exhausting.
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     Understanding the levels of grief in whatever you are facing, it will help you through it.  Normal.  Cry if you need to and then carry on the best you can. Some days you will need to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.  Normal.  Will life be the same?  No.  A new normal will form and you will adjust.  One day, your experience will be encouragement to another; you made it and they will also.
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Thrown Out to the Wolves

2C082FB0-2E80-42E6-BB9B-CD20F2D371D6Due to many weeks of building construction and using a side door to get to my counseling session, now many months ago, it was exciting to watch the progress and new facelift of the building be revealed.   I enjoy renovations.

It was during this construction and after my counseling sessions, my counselor would walk me to the side door, which was nice of her to do although uncomfortable. Knowing that she had to unlock the door to let me out and re-lock once out, I got that.  Plus, I liked that she was secure in a now empty building.

For whatever reason though, each time we walked through the hallway to the exit and usually I am tagging behind her a couple of steps, I felt a sense of dread.

Our session was over, so just random everyday talk while walking was awkward.  I could talk to her about my life, what my weekend plans were, etc., but hers could muddy the water as her personal life is off limits unless she opened up, which was rare and I understand that, too.  Once when on the walk to the door, passing the main office, she said the office secretary was a friend.  I get that, I do, but just another part of me not accepted to be in her life as a friend, because I am a client, rejection hit my heart.

I would love to be friends with her but I need her expertise in counseling.  Still the walk to the exit of dread, knowing she is her friend, I am not, my emotions of sadness and even jealousy smacked me around for a bit.

Oh the dreaded walk.  After the second time, I knew I could not do that again.  To have a few extra minutes with her was nice but not either.  It is like a kick of her foot on my backside of saying get out when at the door.  Odds are a childhood feeling and my adult life of not being wanted and triggered.  Imagine that!

The one good thing was the last words I heard her say to 6B450AC9-995C-471D-AD57-2804572B05B5me at our last session.  As we were ending our session, at the door to once again do the walk, I stopped and asked her to not walk me out.  Give me a couple of minutes and then lock the door.  My explanation to her was that I felt like she was throwing me out to the wolves.  That is how I felt and I could not take that again.  Her reply was, hesitating but then with a smile and feeling pleased I feel was, ‘you are taking care of you.’  We parted ways never to see each other again.

As much as I miss her and our sessions, that was a good parting of ways.  I am glad that the moment was etched in my brain of this ending.  I am taking care of me and will continue.  I feel the Lord is healing broken places within me, and I want. 534CC35E-E7FB-4D02-9504-0C4DE6425A32

Even though situations in life can throw us through some memories to trigger the feelings within us and make us feel unwanted, rejected, bring sadness, and whatever else, it is then that we must know that the Lord will never throw us out to the wolves.  He loves us.

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Do Not Cry!

A6F81475-ECE3-4F9F-AE52-53929BA045B9Is every family dysfunctional?  I just do not understand sometimes.  A lady I work with said once to me and we laughed as it hit home, too, but said, ‘If you look up the word dysfunction in the dictionary, a picture of my family is there.’

Each of us are unique and each family. We all have hang ups and quirks.  Life.

I have been recognizing and understanding my own life and family dynamics moreso the last several years while in counseling, has been eye opening.

Just over a month ago now, my older sister and I were on our way to see a movie, just to have some fun hanging out.  On the way, something happened that would change things in my life.  Disappointment and sadness gripped my soul.

77DA73C3-6C9A-4601-B3DD-C663390E84A7I normally contain my emotions with her, as that is one of the shameful things within our family. We must be able to be strong and controlled.  No crying or sign of weakness.  I could not.  I could not continue the outing so I took her back home so I could just fall apart of which I did.

Still to this day, no contact from her calling to check on me.  I find that interesting and even hurtful but then again understanding that concept of being strong and controlled, which she maintains and that I must, too.  Just the get over it mentality.  I cannot do that.  Plus, I don’t want that.  There is a time and place to be strong and controlled  in our emotions, such as work, but she could clearly see I was at a real breaking point emotionally in my life.

That situation, which was major to me, but nothing to her.  No empathy.   What devastated me so much, that situation was to disappear and no longer affect me.  It goes under the rug, never to be remembered or spoken.  That’s been my life.  To marry a man with the same concept of emotions, too.  I have hid my tears way too long.  Interesting, after writing this, I ran into her at the grocery store today.  Strangers as sisters.

I am not the same person I was walking into my counselor’s door many years ago and drawing closer to the Lord in my relationship with Him.  Thank God.

It’s okay to have emotions and to not feel shameful for having them.  It is okay to cry, sometimes cry like a baby.    What is not okay is to dismiss the emotions whether in yourself or others.

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Just a few Bible verses on crying.  Most importantly, even Jesus wept:

“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”  (Ecclesiastes 3:4). 

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).  

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry” (Psalm 34:15).

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled … Jesus wept” (John 11:33, 35).

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

“Put my tears in Your bottle” (Psalm 56:8).

Nothing!

0518437e-e078-4127-b784-db8ae8dcfe70-4006-000002db793c0401Here I am alone in my office and no desire to finish my work that can really wait until tomorrow, so I write for a bit.  The quietness in the office space far from everyone in the building, hearing the HVAC motors on the roof above me makes me feel as I am on an airplane ready for take off.  Anytime now, the flight attendant will be at my door offering up those yummy cookies.  Hey, I can dream.  Dream to take off in flight to somewhere exciting and yes those cookies. cb2b0a80-d041-46e4-877a-cb3a7c4cf0a9-4006-000002dbad019654 Tick tock tick tock, as I have two hours left to maintain this status until I can leave.

Even then, the boredom of life exists.  I joined classes and get regular exercise but my energy level and joy is depleated, as I just fall into bed.4b4d5133-5fef-4f5b-925d-25af21d5693f-4006-000002e1177629f6

Depression, perhaps.  Exhaustion, perhaps, Grief, perhaps.  Loneliness, perhaps.  Put those things and probably a few more it becomes overwhelming.

I know to keep moving and doing and not be isolated, but that comes so easy.  Vacation time is nearing so hopefully that will help, to get away.  A change of scenry, shopping and laughing with a dear friend although tears will fall, too.  Just to get away from nothing here and probably nothing there to really gain but a brief change and there’s nothing to lose.

a4f22023-0749-45cb-bf53-147ea2129562-4006-000002dc8f2ccc3aOh Lord, I need you.  I need your loving arms to hold me.  Only You know me like no other.  Give me strength to keep moving forward and be kind to others and to share your love and your mercy and grace. My focus needs to be on you, as you know my name and where I am when I do not even know myself.

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Another Dead Box?

7A0A61F6-70A2-4336-B5CD-7C83579C9A26While I am not a hoarder, I do keep things; each matter in their own box, somewhat organized and stored in the eaves of my attic.

Through the years of dealing with the estates of my parents and brother, they each have their own box of what I wanted and needed to keep after their passing.  Sadly, this is all that is left of their life, a dead box of memories, keepsakes and possessions.  There is guilt that comes of that but you cannot keep everything, you have to let go.  I had to.

I tend to keep my notes, journals, calendars, etc., and have since a child, never knowing why I held onto them. They have proved to come in handy and really do not take up much room, just a few storage boxes, of my own life.

With mine, I had to dig deep within them this last bout with my counselor, back to my childhood.  With that, I learned a lot of what I had lacked as a child and how it has and is affecting me today.  Sometimes, I thought it would be easier to keep my head in the sand just knowing something was not right than poking at it, which we did, but deep down I wanted to understand me.

Putting names with areas of emotional distress (attachment, abandonment, trauma, shame, childhood emotional neglect, just to name a few) opens up areas I never knew before.  They are all real and felt.

As my counseling ended recently, there is an overwhelming feeling of many of those emotions being triggered.  To the point of wanting to run and put my head in the sand.  Perhaps like a test.

B2A81AF4-884E-42BC-AC09-C84360FA0F85Realizing before, I felt this way or that way but to now understand, have a name for what I am experiencing or feeling, I am thinking it has been harder.  I am aware and the intensity of the pain has been quite disturbing at times.  As I was exhibiting this or that and to my dismay, I recognized what was happening.  It’s a new way for me, to recognize, express, name and grasp to hopefully heal in these areas.

So through the pain, just the feeling of the abandonment being more intense, I could grasp that is what it was.  It was safe for me to cry and to give myself time to grieve and I will for awhile.  I can say, too, that I am angry with the way it ended, as I feel it could have been handled differently, basically more respectful, especially her knowing me.  That’s rough to say but truth.  Now leaving me with several questions that may never have answers.  Feeling all of these emotions, naming them is good but not easy.  It’s normal to grieve a relationship lost.

As much as this situation hurt, I feel I am coming through it easier just knowing and realizing what is happening, how it is affecting me and what I am doing.  Being mindful.  Tears come and they are also normal.

536CF7B6-D31E-4899-8895-5AAB8B9390F1While I have a storage box full from our years of counseling of notes, etc., it sits untouched right now but still in my sight, not stored.  There was too much invested in my life through her.  Some but not all healing in me is complete to put this box aside and ignore.  I know in time, I will and can still go through the many notes, copies of research done, open up and remember our sessions and still grasp many golden nuggets to continue for growth and healing.

F5B28577-7295-4887-B8A9-1575BBD83E09Maybe I need to name this box a Treasure Chest instead of another dead box because of the time spent in the many hours of counseling over four years. Even through the pain now, I’m thankful and feel blessed to have had her in my life. Everything within that box has brought me to where I am today and I believe it was orchestrated by God.

Change on a Dime

Funny how things can change on a dime, as they say.  This day was going so well.  The sun was shining, my list of things to do being crossed off and everything was lining up and running like clockwork.  I was happy and ready to have some fun with a few days off work.

In a few short hours, it was the day I dreaded.  Driving over the back roads with my sister to go to dinner and a movie, I pass my counselor’s office who has been on medical leave.  Her signage has been removed and my heart just drops.

63B8434B-7309-49F6-913D-9DEEB59C1111I knew one day that this was a possibility but never hoping it would.  I had to pick up a prescription on our way and in just that short distance, the emotions within me could not be contained. Basically, a death has occurred in my life.  Flip flop from sadness to anger and back again.

Grief is such a pain, whether for the dead or the living, it sucks.  No movie, no dinner, no interest anymore. Done.

So many questions, so many loose ends but…177F9360-1487-40FC-A06B-EC6F46CC93A8

Different Wavelengths

Sometimes, through the years I just want to throw my hands up.   Even today, the thought of going and doing something at a moments notice, becomes deadend.

Over the past thirty-three years together, unless I plan and make plans aware and down to the minute, things will not happen in this relationship.  No matter what it is.  Yes, sex, too.5A5CABA9-2B4C-47F8-A06A-26138023EB11

I do the planning, make financial decisions and no matter what, which is a lot of pressure on a wife.    Perhaps realizing just four years ago I have dealt with Aspergers, I get it now but still it does not ease the frustration of the past, present or future.

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Just today, the thought of going to a park I am unfamiliar with but he knows, I thought it would be a nice time to walk and enjoy the cool, crisp air with sun on my face.  Of course, he is walking the dog and the daylight hours were nearing and that would be mentioned when I brought up this brilliant idea and time wasted on details of such fact.  This is how it happens.  Never ending.  So, I usually go on my own and keep moving forward with, or most times, without him.

Is this typical with other Asperger couples?  Never on the same wavelength and it becomes lonely and sad.  I want more in life and fun.  Just no connection.

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