Today I have been sad. For the 20+ years that I worked for a church I have seldom been sad. Now it seems to be a recurrent state for me. I am still grieving over the losses of the last few years. I suspect that it is really ok to feel sad from time to time. We are entitled to grieve over things. Many people do not understand grief and think that it follows the same pattern as the stages of accepting dying. This is not the case. Grief is an entirely different thing and doesn’t follow a precise pattern. For that reason it can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Going to church now is sometimes painful. I do miss the life I had. It is just another thing that I have to face. Change is inevitable and sometimes difficult to go through. That knowledge is part of the journey I am on. As I have said before waiting is not my strong suit.
Nevertheless waiting is what I am doing. I need to remember Life is what is happening while waiting for life to happen (a familiar saying). I will continue to work to embrace where I am and live in the now. If you read any of the mystics such as Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen (sp) or the desert fathers you learn that they lived in the moment. I suspect that God is telling me that I am not waiting but living each day. I will learn much during this time if I just see what is directly in front of me. The journey continues and yes at times we are entitled to be sad!
This week has been sort of up and down. For me it wasn’t a normal week. This week we celebrated Thanksgiving. I used to love this time of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I find myself with mixed feeling.
As we grow older things are not the same as when small children were around and there was a sense of excitement building. My children and even their children are grown and flown. Don’t get me wrong. This is what parents want. My children are gainfully employed and some of their children are beginning careers. However, it is an adjustment. The Christmases from those younger days are past. Family doesn’t all live near and other priorities prevail. I am blessed to have loving children but they have priorities of their own. My husband and I encouraged them to form their own traditions. We do see the nearest ones during the holidays but one daughter and her family are far away and can’t always be here. We do go there when we can.
I guess the bottom line of all of this is that time moves on and our lives change. Change is the only constant. Even though the changes can make me sad at times I am still grateful for what I have. So many people really suffer through the holidays. Grief crops up in a big way for those who have lost a loved one or if life has had some bad turns during the year. There are so many pictures of happy families and perfect Christmases that hit you in the face and remind you of your losses. The ads begin earlier and earlier each year.
I am not sure there is such a thing as a perfect Christmas. At least not like the ones in the ads. The problem is that the perfect Christmas happened 2000 years ago and the conditions would never be shown in an ad. What we are longing for is right in front of us. It is the birth of Christ. It was not in a beautiful home but in a stable. If we can spend our time with that in focus it changes everything. Celebrate that Christ was born to show us the way to God.
Yesterday emotions rose up and got me. Since not being a parish nurse I have felt the loss of being there for people in times of crisis. I think that part of my person is connected to being a support for others. In a way I have lost some of my identity. At the moment all I am doing is cleaning house, cooking, working in the yard and trying to continue on this journey. It is hard to feel as if you have lost part of yourself. Tears come when I think of this. It is very difficult when you have found your perfect place and then lost it.
I have plans to begin mediation training in January and I am hoping that helping people resolve their differences instead of going to court will fill some of the void.
I do love working in the yard and cooking but really who wants to build a life around cleaning? There are only two of us to cook for and that limits us.I enjoy the garden (I use this term loosely) but it is large and overwhelming. I do spend time with friends but nothing seem to replace what I had. I need to get used to the fact that nothing ever will.
I know that God has some other way to use the skills that I have acquired over a lifetime. I just wish God would hurry and tell me what that is! I will keep plugging along and wait on God’s timing. I know that grief comes and goes and I am just in a wave of it and it will pull out to sea again. Life will continue.
Yesterday I did something I have not done in a very long time. ….I visited my mother’s grave. Most of my close relatives are in a mausoleum type place in a local cemetery. I seldom visit because for me they are not there. Only the shell they inhabited is there. Nevertheless I do feel guilty for not going there to see that all is as is should be.
My mother was a loving, caring person and reached out to those around her. She was a tremendous blessing in my life and brought me up to love God and others.
Almost two years ago I lost my longtime friend. She was the last person who knew me as a child. Life feels different when that person is gone. You can’t call them and say “remember when.” I miss her very much and was blessed to be given some pieces of costume jewelry that were precious to her. Every time I wear one of those pieces I can feel her with me.
She was an amazing person whose deep faith was an inspiration. She had a strong sense of social justice and was always helping where she could. Lots of people loved her and she has been missed.
Her youngest child, a daughter, was born with multiple heart defects and struggled through her life. It was my joy to be there for her following the death of Deirdre (my friend), Sadly, I think the loss of her mother was just too much and she died six months later. I was with her. She also had a deep faith and I loved the fact that she asked to be buried with a tree. Her ashes were scattered in the hole and the tree planted with her. She will nourish that tree as it grows. What a wonderful understanding of God’s creation and the cycle of life.
Though these three (my mother, my friend, her daughter) are all gone their love and faith sustained me through the loss and reminds me still that God is loving and caring.
Grief is a funny thing. Just when you think it is behind you it shows up and completely surprises you with its strength. My mother died in 2002 and a few nights ago I dreamed that I had just watched her die. The dream is haunting me. I can’t seem to shake it.
Grief has showed up again. Logically I know that this can happen. I ran a grief support group for a few years and understand how suddenly it can overpower you when you least expect it. It still ambushed me.
When someone we love dies we ask ourselves all sorts of questions. We feel guilt for anything that we did or didn’t do…..real or not. Grief is hard and makes us look back over our relationships with others. It can shine a light on everything we think we have done wrong. We can end up feeling lost.
However, there is an up side to grief. At least we were not guilty of missing love. Unless we are willing to love we will never feel grief. Missing out on love would make life seem colorless. Love can give us ups and downs but it is worth the downs. Love requires openness and being willing to be hurt. When we have been hurt we are not sure we want to feel that again but it is worth the pain. Love can hold us up when we are down. It can fill our lives with meaning. We have to choose love and we have to go on choosing it day after day otherwise it can slip away.
Don’t be afraid to love. Don’t be afraid to open up and give of yourself. Love is worth it.
A friend of mine told me today that she is moving to be near her daughter. She feels that since she is aging it would be best to be near her daughter. She is moving to an independent living place. We talked about this major change in her life.
As we age there are many changes that come to us. We don’t think about this until we are at least in our sixties. We begin to realize that there may come a time when we can’t stay where we are. In the past when families lived near each other this was not such a major change. Now it seems that our children grow up and move away and we not longer have family where we are. I don’t look forward to having to leave my home but know it is a possibility. We all hope that we will age gracefully and maintain our independence but it doesn’t always happen.
Most of our lives are spent acquiring. We acquire spouses, children, homes, furniture and lots of other stuff. As we age we begin to divest ourselves. The next home may have to be much smaller and things will have to go. Children have moved away and have different lives although they are faithful.
The thing about divesting yourself is it’s the little things that get you. My friend has saved cards sent to her that are special and she is deciding let them go or not? It’s these kinds of choices that break us. The mementos of life….they carry so much meaning and to part with them is painful.
Sometimes when I think about this it’s as if most of life we have been on the way up and suddenly we are going downhill way too quickly. It is a difficult time. Maybe losing health, sight, hearing, and friends is too much. We are lucky if we are able to keep active until God takes us home.
I have often thought about the difference between “feeling sorry for” and “feeling compassion for.” We can feel sorry for someone but it puts us in an us and them mode. We are outside the situation and see it from a distance. We are not really involved.
Compassion is a totally different things. When we are feeling compassion we can feel the pain of the other person. We are involved. We are connected.
When we have been through a similar experience, such as losing a loved one, we know how that is. We have had some of the same feelings and hopefully have come out the other side. This is not a time, however, to offer advice. When people need our compassion they just need someone to be in the same place. Listening, touching (if appropriate), being present in the moment are the most important things.
God uses our stressful experiences by given us the compassion to help others. Compassion is healing for us and others.