Death of a Love One

The Chaos of Grief

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In grief, we create distractions — working harder, drinking, writing, drugs, traveling, volunteering, gambling. Whether or not they serve the highest good for us, the distractions wrap us up like a warm blanket, creating a white noise around our screaming hearts.

I have several distractions shared between work, classes, my meditation and Reiki practice, writing my book, Sunday drives, volunteering and meeting up with numerous friends. For the last two years, just about every day/night has been filled with an activity. But there have been moments, when a pocket of free time finds its way to me.

And that is when I feel the “chaos.”

The physics meaning of “chaos” is “behavior so unpredictable as to appear random owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.” But the chaos of grief is that it was the result of a MASSIVE change in our lives. And the “unpredictable behavior” is a response to quelling the pain so that we do not fully lose ourselves. For myself I quell the noise by going to the casino.

When Derek was alive, we used to go to the casino only when my hand “itched” or when Derek had a dream of our number 123. And just as sure as we were of our intuition, we would head to AC to Empire and win a handsome amount. We would then treat ourselves to a celebratory dinner or brunch (if we stayed up all night) and would tuck the rest away for safe-keeping. Sometimes we would go to AC just to walk the boardwalk just enjoying the lights, music and energy of the place.

After he passed, when I hand would itch I would go to the casino and hear Derek direct me to the slots — I would play and stop just when telepathically he would say that the machines were done. While I was winning money, being at the casino felt empty  and yet I also felt anchored to a memory that had implanted memories of me and Derek deeply into myself. For me, the money did not matter as long as I was able to pretend for a moment that Derek was alive and with me. And so my “chaos” became driving to Empire Casino regardless of if my hand itched or not. Sometimes I would just sit and not play listening to the ringing of the Slot machines around me watching people win and lose. And sometimes I would play and lose big. Last night was one of those nights.  But as I drove the solitary road back over the Tappan Zee bridge, I heard my voice tell me that I was trading one pain for another.

I woke up with those words still ringing in my ears along with the song “Breathe Me” by Sia.

Just as portrayed in the video below, grief pulls all the “sides” of us out that are hurting and depressed — the child, the playful joker, the mother, the friend, or the lover. And in those moments when we feel like we’re falling we find support in outlets that do not serve our highest good. However, it is also important to embrace and celebrate those moments because in them we find our greatest strength. And we also realize that the work that we do for ourselves is not just for us but for all others who feel like falling.

So in the realization of being aware of my “crutch” I do not judge myself but lovingly know that every day is a new day to listen to our inner experience and reassure myself that whatever I have experienced in “that past moment” will not become my “NOW moment.” There will be many times when I will fall but I am now aware that each one makes me wiser and more graceful in navigating my choices. There are no mistakes in life as each event brings us into an opportunity to unconditionally love and accept ourselves and others.

 

Sia – Breathe me from PK on Vimeo.

Lyrics: “Breathe Me” – Sia

Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And the worst part is there’s no one else to blame
Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Ouch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I’ve lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Reflections: how you can help me…

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Morning view of the Hudson

I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and in perfect timing.

I arrived home this evening with a feeling of wanting to “meditate into my blog.” As I situated myself at the keyboard and started to open up the user interface to write, I received an email alert that one of my (now) dear friends had published a posting. The posting was based on a letter that a friend of her’s had written in her online widow’s group. The letter was about how others can help us — this tribe of widows and widowers who are bond together in our loss — as we navigate through our new life…This letter couldn’t have come at a perfect time as this is a subject I’ve thought upon for a while.

As I sat there reading the letter, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was reminded of all of the moments when someone would tell me that I was going to meet someone else in life or that death was a part of life and I needed to live life to its fullest. While I understand that friends and acquaintances were trying to be helpful, I know that they were frightened, too in trying to handle my grief — it was too close for comfort. This letter from a widow’s perspective is perfect for anyone in my life who has been unsure of how to approach me or what to do. This letter is a compilation from the anonymous widow, my dear friend Sarah Treanor with my own insertions:

Please talk about my loved one, even though he is gone. If it makes me cry, its fine. It is comforting to cry. It is excruciating to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk about him, and I need to do it over and over.

Be patient with my agitation and mood swings. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in great waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand.

Don’t abandon me with the excuse that you don’t want to upset me. You can’t catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don’t know what to say, just gently say “I’m sorry”. You can even say “I just don’t know what to say, but I care, and I want you to know that.”

Just because I look or sound good, doesn’t mean I feel good. I may be a strong person however ask me how I feel, only if you really want to find out and have the time to listen.

Please do not ask me if I am going to start dating again. I know you just are trying to make things better for me in finding love again. However I just lost my life partner and my mind is on him and preserving his memories and our traditions together. I can’t see a life with anyone else yet.

Days may get better but I will never recover. This is not a cold or flu. I’m not sick. I’m grieving and that’s different. My grieving may not even fully begin until 6 months after my loved one’s death. Don’t think that I’ll be over it in a year. I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was with him, the life that we shared, the family we will never have and all the other plans we had for our future together. I became a different person because of him and am now a different person after him.

I will not always be grieving this intently, but I will never forget my loved one. And rather than recover, I want to incorporate his life and love into the rest of my life. He is a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember him with joy or through my creativity and other times with a tear. These are okay.

I don’t have to accept his death. Yes, I understand that it’s happened, and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just not acceptable. I am not angry with him for passing away, I am angry that I am a part of a club that I did not ask to join.

Please don’t tell me what I “should” be doing, it makes me feel even more lost and alone. I feel bad enough that my loved one is dead, so please don’t make it worse by telling me I’m not doing this right. There is no right or wrong — there’s only “is.” And right now I am trying to do the best that I can.

Please don’t tell me to get on with my life. My life is going on, and I am thankful for that life but this will take a long time, and I will never be my old self again. A new person walks in these shoes, one with a hole in their heart a galaxy-wide.

I need to know that you care about me, I need to feel your touch and hugs. I need you just to be with me and I need to be with you. I need to know that you believe in me and my ability to get through my grief in my own way, and in my own time.

Please don’t assume that I am too busy or that I have too many other people’s support and that you’ll be bothering me. If everyone does this, then no one calls, and no one checks on me, and I feel even more alone.

Please don’t say “Call me if you need anything.” I’ll never call you because I have no idea what I need. Trying to figure out what you could do for me takes more energy than I have. Also please do not make ‘conversation only’ offers. “Let’s get together” — and then not follow up. I am sensitive in my grieving, but I’d rather hear you say, “I’ve been thinking of you,” than make a offer if you don’t mean it. So, in advance, let me give you some ideas…

a) Send me a card on special holidays, his birthday, and the anniversary of his death, and be sure to mention his name. You can’t make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for giving me the opportunity to shed them because someone cared enough about me to reach out on the difficult day.

b) Give me a call (or even a heartfelt message on Facebook) just to see how I’m doing. I may not always answer, but leave me a message to let me know you were thinking of me. Please don’t give up on me because somewhere down the line, I will answer, or call back, when I am ready to share.

c) Mail me a very small, heartfelt, cheer up gift. I’ve had a few people do this and it has just made my heart glow and – some days – has been the shining jewel that turned my whole day around.

Please don’t judge me now or think that I’m behaving strangely. Remember I’m grieving and I’m still in shock. I am afraid. I am angry. I’m experiencing a pain unlike any I’ve ever felt before and one that can’t be imagined by anyone who has not walked in my shoes. Weddings, baby showers and other celebratory events are hard or me. Not because I begrudge anyone’s happiness for these are beautiful events that celebrate our humanity and the power of love. I am doing the best I can to be supportive. However above all I hurt and sometimes its hard to keep a happy face on. Therefore, sometimes it’s better for me to offer support in other ways.

Please keep inviting me out for coffee or for a walk. I may decline but will always appreciate being asked.

Don’t worry if you think I’m getting better, and then suddenly I seem to slip backwards. Grief makes me behave this way at times. Please don’t tell me you know how I feel. Words cannot begin to describe what I am going through. Sympathize with me, but don’t take away my right to my pain. I know that we all have our own life’s challenges; I’ve suffered loss and different challenges as well. I’ve lost my mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles and host of relatives. I will tell you now, while it really hurt to lose them I can’t begin to express the pain I feel now.

Remember in the days or years ahead, after your loss, when you need me as I have needed you – I will understand and come and be with you.

Thank you for your patience, for caring, for helping and for understanding.

What I’m Listening To: Stateless ~ “Bloodstream”

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I’ve been finding that I usually let my soul indicate to me when it has a desire to write — therefore I have not been online in a couple of weeks. However upon returning home after a beautiful day with

To view Stateless – Bloodstream Official Music Video click the image above.

friends, it felt like the right time to come on and write. I turned on the Sia Station on Pandora to play in the background while I started forming my thoughts. Now, since my last few postings, I’ve been transitioning solely between Zero 7 and Goyte as they have been soothing to the mind. While I let the chill out tracks play not necessarily paying deep attention to them, I found my thoughts drifting out of my writing and into the soulful melody of Stateless’ track – Bloodstream.

Presumably, the song is about loving someone deeply even when they hurt you. However like poetry, I think it is best to let your emotions convey its own definition and meaning. The soul and emotion behind the words and instruments, lulled me into a memory of the first time I saw Derek on our first date. I told him, with such a knowing that I’ve never experienced before, that he was the man who I would marry. A statement that should have scared most other men away was received with an expression of long knowing and relief for he replied that he felt the same as soon as he looked in my eyes. Since the night we’ve met, I think we’ve always been “inhaling” each other. The pain of physically losing someone I deeply love, sometimes feels like little razor cuts into my heart. However as I transition into this new relationship with him, I can feel him around me, sometimes so strongly that it feels like he is “floating” within me. This song reminded me of the searching, longing and finding love so deep that it permeates into your “bloodstream”.

Whatever meaning you find (or not) it’s a great song with honesty and soul.

Stateless – Bloodstream Lyrics 

Wake up
Look me in the eyes again
I need to feel your hand upon my face

Words can relay nice
They can cut you open
And then the silence surrounds you and haunts you

I think I might’ve inhaled you
I could feel you behind my eyes
You’ve gotten into my bloodstream
I could feel you floating in me

Words can relay nice
They can cut you open
And then the silence surrounds you and haunts you

I think I might’ve inhaled you
I could feel you behind my eyes
You’ve gotten into my bloodstream
I could feel you floating in me

The spaces in between
Two minds and all the places they have been
The spaces in between
I tried to put my finger on it
I tried to put my finger on it
I think I might’ve inhaled you

I could feel you behind my eyes
You’ve gotten into my bloodstream
I could feel you floating in me

I think I might’ve inhaled you
I could feel you behind my eyes
You’ve gotten into my bloodstream
I could feel you floating in me

What I’m Listening To: Bronte ~ Goyte

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Bronte – Goyte
Artwork and Film By Ari and Jason for Goyte

The first time I heard this song, it was while I was waiting for the NY Waterway ferry, I cried. From Wiki and other online sources, Goyte created this song for a family friend to help their child cope with the death of their dog. I think this song helps us all learn how to cope…thank you. To watch this beautifully-crafted music video, click on the image to the left.

Bronte Lyrics by Goyte

Now your bowl is empty
And your feet are cold
And your body cannot stop rocking
I know it hurts to let go
Since the day we found you
You have been a friend
And your voice still echoes
In the hallways of this house
But now it’s the end
We will be with you
When you’re leaving
We will be with you
When you go
We will be with you
And hold you till you’re quiet
It hurts to let you go
We will be with you
(No)
We will be with you
(Oh)
We will be with you
(Oh, no)
You will stay with us

What I’m Reading Now: Forever With You ~ Patrick Mathews

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Inspiring Messages of Healing and Wisdom from Your Loved Ones in the AfterlifeQuick but insightful read on medium, Patrick Mathews, as he shares his stories of past readings and how they teach lessons of our loved ones assisting us in navigating grief and understanding what the meaning of our physical presence on Earth is about.

What I’m Reading Now: Where You Left Me ~ Jennifer Gardner Trulson

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 One of my close friends passed this book along to me right after Derek passed away.

Jennifer Gardner became a widow at the age of 35 when her husband, Doug was one of beautiful souls killed during the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Having experienced true  love in its strongest forms, Jennifer was ready to strengthen her foundation to raise her children as a single parent. A chance meeting with a stranger shows that love always finds a way back into our hearts.

I initially found it hard reading this book because of the immediate connection of the pet names Doug called Jennifer just as Derek called me “Bunny.” Also, Jennifer’s stranger’s name was Derek. It was a beautiful and moving memoir which just strengthened my belief in the power of love.

What I’m Reading Now: Chicken Soup for the Soul ~ Jack Canfield, Victor Hansen, Amy Newmark

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A soulful collection of true stories of people receiving messages of love and hope from loved ones beyond the veil.

What I’m Reading Now: Love Beyond Life ~ Joel Martin and Patricia Romanowski

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The Healing Power of After-Life CommunicationsA comforting book which offers personal and scientific testimonies of people who have connected with their loved ones who have passed away. While the experience of a loved ones death is personal for all of us — we all share the common need to try to make sense of our experiences and loss — this book is a good resource.

Love Never Fails

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“Love Never Fails…”

That was the inscription etched onto the tiny wooden cross carefully wrapped within an eBay purchase which I was not supposed to receive for another four weeks and delivered by a gentleman whom I never saw before. I had thought the inscription was a “cosmic response” to stressful events taking place within my life. Little did I know as I left the office to go home, it would be a message of faith and love from my new guardian angel.

My best friend and soul mate, passed away unexpectedly that day. And life has felt like a chaotic storm in the short month he has been gone. Every moment, conversation and image associated with my life, our relationship plays like a film reel as it wraps itself tightly around my mind as if afraid to be lost forever. I replay the events of that day every morning and live through the pain of his absence every evening. I feel all of it.

He had always wanted me to share the Story of My Life with others. In my short life, I have already lost my parents, grandparents and host of other family members. He was amazed how someone who lost so much and experienced tragedy so often could still smile and look to inspire others.  However this event is different and is preparing me for a new journey which promises to test my faith and spirit. I never imagined he would be a part of this story…

However I know that cross did not come to me randomly; so here I sit starting the first of many posts which I hope will help me through the healing process and spiritual journey with my guardian angel guiding me along the path.

What I’m Reading Now: this i know – notes on unraveling the heart ~ Susannah Conway

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This is one of the first books I purchased after Derek passed. And while I believe this book is suitable for anyone experiencing loss, this is a particularly helpful book for the tribe of women who have lost their husband, spouse or partner.

Susannah Conway’s book is soulful and heartwarming, as she shares her story of transitioning into her new life after the lost of her partner, through creative writing and photography. In sharing her story, Susannah invites us to delve into our own relationships with our loved ones and with ourselves through journal writing and photography. You will see some of my exercises posted in the Reflections section of this blog.

Addititionally, Conway teaches an online photojournalism course which offers a great opportunity to meet other women and make friends. http://www.susannahconway.com/