Friday, August 31, 2012

Processing Grief

Today I am reminded that grief is universal. My friend Beth Graf lost her husband back in December of last year. We have shared so many similar feelings and frights in our lives. As she says, "We have history." We have known each other for a long time, but even if we had not had so many years of common experiences, I think Beth is the kind of person one just naturally trusts with one's heart. I wish everyone could have such a friend.

Tomorrow our daughter will attend the funeral of a young man who just dropped dead at 36 years old. He leaves a wife and children. Our youngest son will attend the funeral of the grandmother of his best friend. The grandmother was also the mother of his dear friend and "other mother" Vicki. While they are attending those services, I will be sharing a meal and some fellowship with a large group of women and a man from a local church--all widows and one widower who have come together to find some solace in learning to grieve. It is not easy to grieve, but it helps if someone is willing to listen and to share the tears.

I have been reading books about how to deal--and NOT deal--with death. Of course, drugs and alcohol are supposed to be no-nos for those of us who are trying to make it from one day to the next. Yet last night I could not sleep again. It would have been nice to just take a pill of some kind to get my mind to shut up and let me stop thinking and sleep. Instead, I got up and did a little work and eventually got to sleep sometime after 2 a.m. I can understand why someone would think a beer would do it or something like that. I don't think it would work for me. But I also know that sleeping pills were created for some of these situations. In fact, the lady from Hospice called today and talked to me about taking something made by one of those over the counter drug companies. The name of it alludes me at the moment, but I am sure the pharmacist would know what it is. Maybe I will pick some up tomorrow. Not sleeping cannot be a good thing.

I went to see my parents in the nursing home on Tuesday afternoon after I had visited our family doctor about my allergy symptoms. When I took them out on the porch to smoke, my dad wanted to know how Lewis was doing. I tried to ignore his question and finally had to make him look at me while I said the words very clearly, "He is dead. He died in May." And yes, I just broke out in tears all over again. Later when I took them to their room, he asked how Lewis had died for the fourth time. I told him again. Seeing my parents like this is its own form of torture, but adding these questions just pours salt on the wounds. I guess at least the salt won't cause infections.

It doesn't seem to me that I ever had much trouble making decisions when Lewis was around, but then, he was always there to listen or suggest things to think about. Now I have the full responsibility for all decisions and choices. I try not to ask the kids to help me too much in decision making. They have their own lives to live and their own decisions to make. And I want to retain my independence as long as I can tell that I am making decent choices. If my life extends out to the same number of years as my parents or grandparents, maybe the decision processes won't totally go downhill as fast as the muscles in my arms. But that process depends on the determination to KEEP making my own decisions.

Probably one of the best things I can do is to get up every morning and do something--as Granny Lucy would say, even if I do it wrong! So I go to the mall and walk, or I get up early on Sunday morning and make the 8 o'clock service, or I sit on the front porch on our favorite bench and just remember how much I was loved once upon a time. Grief allows that. I can just keep on loving him, even if he is not here to hug me.

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