3) The Loss of the Person We Used to Be Waiting for the school bus with my grandchildren recently, on the second day of school, I heard a young neighbor complain to his mother that he went to kindergartenyesterday! His mom patiently explained that he would now go five days a week to kindergarten—instead of his two-day-a-week preschool. The boy looked at her with disappointment, tears in his eyes. This changes everything!he complained. It does. Everything changes as you age. Some changes you take in stride, but others affect you deeply. Consider the birth of a child. You may have anticipated this event for years and be overjoyed. But you also know life will be different now; over the next couple of decades, your own freedom will be limited—and for a shorter period, so will your sleep.
Grief is the natural response to the physical loss of someone we love. ‘Pain is the agent of change, pain is what forces you to adjust to this new reality. And it is also through pain that you heal,’ explains Julia Samuel MBE, a psychotherapist and founder patron of the charity Child Bereavement UK, which helps children who have experienced a bereavement, as well as adults who have lost a child. When we do not allow our grief to surface, when we suppress it, there can be long-term implications for our mental health. ‘If you cut out pain, you also cut out your capacity to feel joy,’ says Julia.
Grieving Isn’t WallowingMARCH 27, 2016I’m chatting with a young woman who’s father has molested her. She’s understandably uncomfortable talking about it. Openly grieving her loss feels like it’s out of the question, because the memories terrify her. But when I ask what her greatest fear is, her answer is telling: “I just don’t want to look like I’m wallowing.”My response: “Why do you feel like you’re wallowing?”“Because people will think I’m weak. Like I’m playing a victim.”Ah, the victim card. We hear this one so often. The assumption that people who don’t immediately “overcome” their loss prior to some ridiculous, externally-imposed and arbitrary expiration date are whiny losers is extraordinarily prevalent in our culture, particularly in the US. Given our cultural predilections towards individualism and “fixing” everything, it’s no wonder that grieving people are terrified of being labeled as wallowers. In all the conversations I have with grieving people, the most common experience they communicate is that they feel alone. Parallel to that, most feel tremendous shame for having to grieve at all, and a significant amount feel as if their grief is driving them crazy. What usually binds many of these feelings together is a deeply rooted sense of unworthiness that is grounded in the haunting feeling that they’ll be “found out” as wallowers. The image of the wallower is deeply embedded in our culture.
In the seven months since you died, my life has gone into something of a fugoid. There is no real control. At its best it feels like a mere procession of days with all the colour washed out. At its worst, it’s a living nightmare in which I feel like I’m going a little bit mad without you and the knowledge that you’re never coming back is almost too much to cope with.
Days come when I am aware of the Instinct for Survival. Today was cool and wet after a heatwave yesterday. Clacker and I were both vomiting last night From the heat perhaps or maybe in my case a reaction to food. Its led me today back to the Instinct to Survive.
I have done more in this week than usual. Walked and played and eaten out. Today was in bed and quietly so.
I cancelled the cataract surgery. Stripped a whole lot off the coming week. Feels better to me. The Brierfields are likely to be moving in that week and its not long before Saf goes back to school. Leave the eye till then. Talk to Dr Fergusson before surgery because the eye causing me problems seems to be the other one. IN fact – don’t even think about that tonight. Likewise the Harvoni. Deal with each thing as it arises.
Tonight is cool enough to have the heater on and its damp outside.
I allow myself an hour’s CONSCIOUS AND PLANNED GRIEVING each day. Sometimes, like today it becomes a background theme that takes me unawares. Sometimes, it is sweet and sometimes bitter vetch.
But each day, I take my one hour and watch his videos, listen to his music, talk of him and look through some of the many photographs we took.
CONSCIOUS AND PLANNED GRIEVING. It is taking out the garbage and sorting the debris. It is placing beloved souvenirs on the shelves and polishing them up.
It is taking out the garbage before it goes rotten and breeds maggots in my psyche.
CONSCIOUS AND PLANNED GRIEVING shows me where the Floodwaters might find entree and helps me prepare Flood and Fire and other Emergency Plans.
It is re-defining me.
It is, in its own way. a staggeringly beautiful experience – the Purity of Mourning.
Mourning without drugs or alcohol.
I do believe that I am glad I became so grief stricken that a sepsis pneumonia developed and thence the Coma – than to have been sedated or anti-depressanted into minimising the Loss. I prefer to be DEAD than WALKING DEAD.
The message we get is that we cannot get by without chemical adjustment.
MY MESSAGE IS – JUST WATCH ME , BABY !
On August 13 1987, as I sat in a Drug and Alcohol Detox Unit in the well known Callan Park Mental Hospital in Sydney, I said to myself : MY GOD , ITS THEIR DRUGS TOO. All the medicines and mood alterers and miracle drugs to “fix” me, had done me in as much as any of the illegal ones. I have been free of them now for 28 years and I am glad to the very core of my being.
Walk In Dry Places
Never too late___Self expression
Many of us lament the fact that we wasted youthful years when we should have been earning college degrees or perfecting a skill. Many of us simply do not feel we can take up something new because we missed the opportunity to try it when we were younger.
We are now learning that age is mental, not really physical. Some people seem aged and beaten at twenty-five, while others act sprightly and young at sixty. Moreover, we can find wonderful examples of people who blossom out in new activities without any thought or concern about age barriers. It is never too late for a person to study, to take up a new trade or profession, to follow a new scientific or artistic interest, or to begin other lessons.
If we are using age as a reason for not following our heart’s desire, we should ask if we are really finding ways to avoid responsibility for our own performance in life. We may be seeking excuses to spare ourselves the struggle and effort that are always required when we do something new or challenging.
It is never too late to be the people God intended us to be.
I will give some thought today to the excuses I’ve been using for not making better use of my talents and opportunities.
Time takes a cigarette and puts it your mouth. Did that happen? I think it happened, as I reacquaint myself with the nausea of the first fag in a while. Grief is so physical, isn’t it? The discombobulation, that slightly floaty feeling in your legs, a gutful of dread. I know what grief feels like, thanks very much. And I grieve for David Bowie. It’s not a competition. It’s not just about “music”. Or my lost youth. My youth went the day I gave birth at 26 and I understood that everything was about the next generation. And Bowie was always about what could be. A rift has opened between those who know and those who don’t.