Posted by: Norm | October 29, 2009

Grief Support Group Ends

The last meeting of the Bobbitt Memorial Chapel Grief Support Group met Wednesday, October 28, 2009.

This effective group met for over five years and helped hundreds of people in their grief journey.

I want to thank all of you for being a part of this endeavor.  It has been a wonderful experience being your facilitator and friend.

Norm Kidd

Posted by: Norm | September 14, 2009

Watching A Mother Grieve

If dad was sixty-six when he died, then mom was sixty-four.  The doctor told her dad was dead before he slumped to the floor.  So began my mother’s grief of dad’s death.

For a long while Mom couldn’t believe dad was gone.  She had no idea how she would survive without him.  She felt so little other than loss and separation.  She knew he was gone, but she wanted to avoid admitting it as long as possible.  I listened to her hopeless words and I prayed for her to want to find a way through the grief.

I knew she was getting better when she was able confront her loss.  She could finally admit he was not going to walk through the door at 5:30 p.m. and supper did not have to be ready at 6 on the dot.  She could say “It’s like I buried my left arm with him.”  Something is missing and nothing means anything anymore.  This is the period when the person left behind is wrestling with the emotional and physical demands of grief.  During this period you discover why it’s called “Grief Work” and not “Grief Play.”

Mom returned to laughter, but she said it felt different.  She discovered dad could still be loved, but his loss did not have to totally disable her.  She found she had more good days than bad and when “triggers” reminded her of dad, they brought the pleasure of a memory more often than a downward spiral of sadness.  She saw she was living a different life; one that could accomdate the death and find meaning still.

Dr. Therese Rando spelled out those three phases of grief (avoiding, confronting and accommodating) in her book, How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies.

I’ve seen hundreds of people feel those same things and move toward the acceptance of their life after the death of a loved one.  I believe everyone needs permission to hope . . . to believe in a day when the ache will not be so harsh, when the loneliness will fall by the way and when you actually want to get up and face a brand new day.

Posted by: Norm | August 12, 2009

Finding a “New” Normal

Most of us live, what might be called, normal lives.  We work for a living.  We raise families and delight in grandchildren.  We have hobbies that are meaningful to us.  We have friends.  We find ways to contribute to society in general.

 So much of that we take for granted.  We come to a point where we believe such things are our right to have.  

 Then, in a moment or in a long drawn-out process, death comes to our home and everything changes.  Everything changed.  Thus begins our search for a new normal.

Finding our way after the death of someone we love is the hardest work we will ever do.  It’s difficult to accept the reality and finality of that death.  When we can, we begin to rebuild what we must, knowing it won’t be the same.  And we begin to add things to our lives we might not have considered before.

I’ve talked with many people who lost homes to “The Old Fire” in 2003.  Some suffered no less grief than those who have lost loved ones.  Many had their homes rebuilt according to the original plans; every room in place, just like it had been.  And they have said, “It’s the same, but it’s not the same.  Nothing will ever be like it was.”

Others built new homes, reminiscent of what they had.  One fellow said to me, “The house is totally different and it’s like we moved a million miles away until I look out the window into the back yard and get my bearings.”

I think those folks pretty well describe the grief experience and finding a new normal.  We’ve not turned our backs on the past, it’s in our memories and those memories will accompany us.  But we are learning a life without our loved one.  It can be done in time as we search for a new normal.

By Linda Della Donna

We want our husbands back.

We want our lives back.

We want what we can’t have; can never have again.

We hated losing everything.

We want the pain to go away.

We don’t want to kill ourselves. Though we may say, I wish I were dead.

We don’t want pity. Yours or anyone else’s.

We hate it when conversations turn to whispers when we step one high-heeled toe into the party. We don’t want that.

We want an ear; a shoulder. Someone to listen to our terrible horrible ugly day. Think King Kong with Faye Raye.

We don’t want to hear, “If there is anything I can do, call.” Be specific.

We want, “Can I drop off a chicken and potato dinner Tuesday night at six?”

We don’t want to tell anyone we are afraid, though we are scared to our core. We are afraid to reach out, we are afraid to ask favors. We are afraid we can’t pay back.

We want others to know that we are concerned about the future — Ours.

We don’t want to be alone. We do want to be alone.

We don’t want to answer the door, the telephone, or the sea of sympathy cards mountain-piled on the kitchen table. They act as reminders of death. Even emails can be overwhelming to us. When someone is dead, they do not return. It takes time to process that.

We want space. We don’t want space.

We know you are there for us. We don’t know you are there for us.

We will reach out when we are able. We want others to do the same.

We want others to know we know you care. Be patient. We want others to know, we don’t know you care. Be persistent.

We want to measure time the way we once did. Not BD (Before His Death), or AD (After His Death).

We want others to know that for widows, time has changed. And we must process that.

We don’t want to hear, “I know how you feel.” You don’t. We pray you never will.

We don’t want to hear, “I know what you need.” Even if you are an authority, it’s not up to you.

We don’t want to hear, “You’ll be okay.” Especially when we feel nothing will ever, ever be okay, ever again.

We don’t want to be judged for something we did, something we said; something we didn’t do, something we didn’t say. We are human beings and now we are alone and we are vulnerable.

Under the circumstances, we want others to know we are doing the best we can.

We want to know that someone in the world is mending, healing, getting better, and soon, very very soon, will be leaving the hospital on his own two feet.

We don’t want to know about a stranger’s funeral. Chances are, we already know. We just don’t care. At this time.

We want never to forget Him.He was everything. He loved us back.We want to cherish His memory. Please don’t feel uncomfortable if we mention His name.

We want others to know, though life has kicked us where it hurts, we still find joy.

We want to go on living, plan to meet someone new, to laugh out loud, to live and love and be loved back.

We want the world to know, we dare to dream. Again!

Linda Della Donna is a freelance writer and a widow. She supports widows as they work through the grief process. Della Donna wants every widow to know we’re not alone. You can learn more about Della Donna at her blog created especially for widows at — http://griefcase.blogspot.com Perhaps you have a writing assignment for Della Donna. Feel free to contact her at littleredmailbox@aol.com

 Keep a journal: Writing down your thoughts allows you to face them and consider them. It gives you a window through which you can see your progress. In time, the journal affirms your journey.

Create a place of meaning: We’re not talking of making a shrine, but rather a place in our minds where we can revisit the great memories of our loved one. Allow yourself all the memories you wish. Embrace them.

Talk with the person: Perhaps you do already . . . well, I’m giving you permission to do so. In almost any given situation, you pretty much know what they’re going to say in response. It’s almost a dialogue.

Plant something: My mother always loved passion flowers. In her memory we planted passion vines in our back yard. To see those delicate flowers is to remember mom once again.

Visualize yourself as healthy and vibrant: Just about every religion or self-help guru reminds us we become who we think we are. Why not think the best and lean toward health and wholeness? We must do something, anything to get fresh air rushing into our lungs. Our muscles need stretching and our joints need cajoling. As a person thinks, so they become.

Help other people: The happiest people on earth don’t necessarily work at Disneyland. Rather, they invest themselves in others and see the fruit of their care and assistance.

Help your faith live: Pray often to have peace, read the scriptures for inspiration and allow God to meet you wherever you are.

Practice forgiveness: New research is showing that forgiveness is a therapeutic gesture toward yourself and others. If you practice it wisely and often, you’ll be much happier.

Posted by: Norm | June 17, 2009

Embracing the Pain of Grief

ins005529Every ounce, every fiber of our being fights the pain of grief.  Many will deny the sorrow.  Some will wrestle the agony with anger.  Others will try to bargain with it to go away.  A few will allow the suffering to take them into the darkness of depression.

 The wise will embrace the loss and anguish.  It is here, in this most difficult of venues, healing begins.  All the grief literature points to owning up to the raw reality of grief, embracing it and finding the resolve to accept it.

 Put simply, the agony of our grief is the chief building block on which we grow through the pain.  Eternal Wisdom reminds us we are not immobile, but either moving forward or backward in our time spent on Earth.  We either bloom or wither, it’s our choice to use the pain or fear it.

 It’s amazing how we are put together.  We’re given emotion and tear ducts to lessen the stress.  We’re given the gift of memory to allow us to embrace our loved one anytime we choose.  We’re given laughter as a sign of hope we will not forever sorrow.  We are given other people who grieve with us so we don’t have to walk this journey alone.  And, we are given the pain to encourage us toward a new way of seeing and living.

 There’s a lot to think about here.  I hope you will.

Posted by: Norm | June 16, 2009

A Love Letter From Beyond

(I dedicate this letter to every man or woman who has ever lost a spouse.)

 

June 16, 2009

Sweetheart,

It’s wonderful to be able to write you and let you know how I feel.  To begin with, I’m fine.  the pain is gone, the suffering is over and so many things that seemed important are no longer so.

I must tell you immediately, once again, how much I love you.  That was true then, now and forever.

It’s good to see you making steps toward discovering who you are and how you feel about the live you now have.  You always had inside you what you are discovering now.  How happy I am that you are seeing the “you” that I have known for a long time.  You are also finding many strengths I did not see in you, but were there nonetheless.

I know things changed dramatically when I died.  But you have been remarkable in making progress in your grief.  I am so proud of you.  No one could be prouder or love you more.

I’ll never forget our lives together, just as you won’t.  Know that I am pulling for you and loving you all the more from this side.  I love you.

Your Love, forever

 

(I wrote this letter for my grief support group several years ago trying to help them realize the one who is gone is their greatest cheerleader.  That person still loves them deeply and wants them to succeed in their grief journey.  As Jack Lemon said, “A person died, not a relationship.”)

Posted by: Norm | May 7, 2009

Memories of Mother’s Days Past

mothers-day-bkfstMaybe it began with dad and four little pre-school hands making pancakes, sizzling bacon and pouring orange juice.  After all the unknown sounds and plenteous giggling beyond a closed bedroom door, everything grew still.  Shhh’s could be heard in the hallway, chefs and breakfast were about explode into the room.  Your kids, bright with aanticipatory smiles surround your bed and your husband places a lap-table across your thighs.  They they all sit and watch you eat and tell you of every minute’s preparation of the monumental Mother’s Day breakfast in bed.

Usually on the Friday before the second Sunday of May, little children make their way home from school with secrets in their backpacks.  They sneak into the house with giggles and grins.  Offering the smallest of conversation, they make their way to bedrooms where they will find secure hiding places for the artistically-generated, personally hand-made Mother’s Day cards for this year.  Few make it all the way to Sunday to pass on their treasures, but some do.

Did you get a “really surprising gift” any Mother’s Day.  Perhaps a toy slot car, or a half-bottle of perfume or a doily or handkerchief from your own linen drawer.  Little minds and grown daddies don’t always remember as well as they could, perhaps, and the recognizable gift is still loved and appreciated.

I’ve always wanted to write something to my wife at Mother’s Day.  An anthem, perhaps, or more likely a hymn of thanksgiving.  I’ve been trying to do this for several decades now and time always seemed to slip away or I never did quite put the “perfect” words together.  I still haven’t found the perfect words, but I’ve written my memories and perceptions anyway, realizing, neither of us have as much time as we used to.  I’m not sure what it is I wrote, but you can find it at http://remarkablycalm.wordpress.com.

Please, if you’ve lost your mother in the last year, i invite you to embrace your grief.  Let the tears flow, if you choose.  Laugh if it feels right.  But more than anything, find reasons to be thankful for the woman who loves you still, even though she’s gone.

Perhaps you’ve lost a son or daughter recently.  I hope you’ll let the memories of Mother’s Days past flood your heart.  Let them run around your head and may your thanksiving for them be a blessing to you.

Posted by: Norm | May 5, 2009

Pleasure and Sorrow

 

shelf-clouds1

 

       I Walked A Mile With Pleasure

     I Walked A Mile With Pleasure;

          She chatted all the way,

     But left me none the wiser

          For all she had to say.

     I walked a mile with Sorrow,

          And ne’er a word said she;

     But, oh! The things I learned from her

           When sorrow walked with me.

                                                                                  Robert Browning Hamilton

Posted by: Norm | April 23, 2009

Making Some Sense Of It All by Charles Cowling

I conscripted this post from an internet friend of mine in Great Britain, Charles Cowling.  You may visit his blog at http://goodfuneralguide.com/blog.html.  You simply must read the poetry written by the mother to her daughter in the post below, but, please, take a few extra minutes and listen to the lyrics put to music at the end of the blog.  You’ll be thankful you did.  Thanks, Charles for allowing me to place this on my blog.  Norm
 

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Making some sort of sense of it all

Your life experience is unique to you. What you’ve done in your life, what’s happened to you and the sense you’ve made of it all amount to a precious and extraordinary story. Even if you don’t feel the need to write a whole book about it, you almost certainly have a strong desire to pass on to others something of what you have learned and come to understand about the world you live in.

You could tell your story in words, written or spoken. Or you could use paint. Or photography or video. You can communicate your life story in all sorts of ways, but it can be a difficult thing to give shape and meaning to experiences which blend events with emotions. You know you’ve got it in you – you can feel it there. But how do you get it out?

I was musing on all this as I tidied up my chapter on planning your own death and funeral, which my brilliant man at Carronmedia will be posting any day. Having said which, let’s take some time out for a plug. As a copywriter I’ve worked with some massively self-overrated technotossers through the years. There’s one around every corner. Harry at Carronmedia is different. He listens, he intuits, he keeps it simple, he doesn’t show off. He’s different and he’s rare. He’s the best and I love him.

Where were we? Oh, yes, life stories. There’s a charity, Rosetta Life, which funds artists to work with the dying and help them to express, in all media, what it is that they want to say. It’s worth your while spending some time at their website, looking at the work in their gallery and also in their online exhibition, which you can get to from the Rosetta Life tab. Here you can see work by people who, before they go, want to try to make some sort of sense of their life experience and communicate it.

It’s the sort of thing anyone making preparations for their death might want to do. If that’s you, there’s inspiration here. It will also give you an insight into what dying feels like and what still seems important when night is falling fast.

Especially inspiring, I think, is the work that Billy Bragg, funded by Rosetta, did with his ‘Friday girls’ at the Trimar Hospice in Weymouth, Dorset. Read about it here.


One of these ‘Friday girls’ was Maxine Edgington (above). This is what she said on the Jeremy Vine Show about how she felt when she was told her cancer was terminal:

I just realised that dying was not actually about me, it was about those around me; it was about their feelings, it was about their comfort, it was about their coping, their knowing that I loved them, and it was leaving nothing unsaid.

That’s what her lyric, dedicated to her daughter Jessica (below with her Mum), is all about. Here are the words:

We Laughed

Remember swimming with the dolphin off Portland Bill
You when Buster was a puppy – I can see it still
We laughed, we laughed

We went girl racing in my brand new car
Watched soppy girly movies at the cinema
We laughed, we laughed
And we laughed
Though the hardest part of living
Is giving up what has been given
And you know no-one could love you more
Whatever the future has in store
I want you to remember that we laughed

When I dance to modern music you split your sides
Your ballet dancing medal filled me with pride
We laughed, we laughed
We were happier together than with our friends
We never believed that these days would end
We laughed, we laughed
We laughed
Though the hardest part of living
Is giving up what has been given
We laughed
And you know no-one could love you more
Whatever the future has in store
I want you to remember that we laughed

You always want to borrow my shoes
You nicked my make-up – it looked so good on you
We laughed, we laughed
And when I see how beautiful you are
I’m thrilled you turned out such a star
We laughed, we laughed
And we laughed
Though the hardest part of living
Is giving up what has been given
And you know no-one could love you more
Whatever the future has in store
I want you to remember that we laughed

Some things don’t turn out as planned
I give you to our father’s hand
I want you to remember that we laughed

And here’s the song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j17g7osjZXg

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