Tuesday, April 28, 2015

10 Things That Have Helped Me With Grief (Part 1)

This picture has nothing to do with this post, but isn't she cute?
This is a list that has been swirling around my brain for awhile now. I want to have suggestions for anyone who happens upon my blog looking for some tips for dealing with grief. I, of course, only know what has helped me. I also know that everyone grieves differently, so who knows if this list will even help someone else, but I'll make the list anyway. (I started out making this one long post, but it got to be too wordy, so I've broken it up into two posts.)

So here we go, in no particular order:

1. Rest: I have told several people that grief to me has physically reminded me of recovering from a C-section. I felt like the level of exhaustion was similar, especially in the beginning. I noticed early on that I could deal with all of the emotions more productively when I had enough sleep at night. And there were definitely days when I was overwhelmed and needed a nap in the middle of the day. (Side note: I never, ever nap under normal circumstances, so this was pretty weird for me). It was also good for me to realize that my constant exhaustion was due to grief, because some days I thought I was just lazy or losing my mind, or both.

2. Meditation: This kind of goes along with rest, but it is different to me. Meditation I think of more as a mental rest. At the suggestion of my grief counselor, I went to my iTunes account and found a grief meditation and downloaded it. I started off listening to it a few times a week. At this point I only listen to it maybe once a month, but I love that it is available whenever I need it.  I also consider other kinds of mental rest to be in this category.  For instance, I like to play free cell solitaire on my phone.  When I get overwhelmed, it can help a lot to just give myself a mental break by playing it for awhile.

3. Exercise: I didn't really start using this one until about 10 months into my grief.  I wasn't ready before that, but when I was ready, it helped a lot. I was amazed at how much getting regular cardio workouts helped my mindset. It felt like I could just handle everything better on the days when I had done my run, or gotten on an elliptical machine.  And more recently I started doing yoga, which has also helped a ton. I would highly recommend a regular exercise routine to grieving people.

Here is someone who often makes me laugh
4. Reading books about people who have suffered major loss/trauma: I technically started doing this before Sue passed away, during the really stressful parts of her illness. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about people who had lived through major loss. I had to figure out how people make it through horrible circumstances and I needed the perspective that they could still find happiness in life after major trauma. To the outside observer I probably seemed obsessed with death, but I literally could not stop myself. Everything from a woman in New Jersey who lost her three children in a car accident, to a very detailed account of the Donner party was fair game. But each book gave me a lesson in the idea that people can live thorough horrible, awful circumstances and come out okay.

5. Laughing: Without really planning it, I stopped watching anything on TV that wasn't a comedy. I stopped watching any movies that weren't comedies. If it wasn't going to make me laugh, I would rather watch nothing. During hard days, I would watch old sit-coms or funny youtube videos. I also purposely sought out people who I knew would make me laugh. It honestly felt pretty unnatural at first, laughing at anything, but I forced myself to keep doing it until it felt natural again.

(To Be Continued...)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I am famous!

Well, not really. But I was excited to see that one of my favorite blogs, Rage Against The Minivan, featured a post that I submitted last Summer. I wrote a piece for her "what I want you to know " series, and yesterday it was posted!

You can read it here

Sorry I haven't been posting much, I have a lot to say, but have been finding it a challenge to carve out the time for writing. I need to work on that!

I have been working on a post about 10 things that have helped me with grief, it's just taking awhile. So stay tuned, I'll be back soon.

Have a great weekend, I'll leave you with some kid pictures:

Joe got his hair cut but it's still crazy!

The other three on Easter.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Even though they are gone, they are still here

I hit a milestone on Easter that I never imagined I would hit, even a few months ago.  I woke up on Easter morning with a day of family celebration ahead of me and I didn't cry. I felt sad. I would much rather have been looking forward to spending the day with my dad and Sue, but that isn't our reality around here. I gave myself some pep talks leading up to the big holiday. I told myself that it was okay not to look forward to it.  It's okay to even dread it. Once I gave myself permission to be upset, I felt better. I didn't think I would have a holiday without crying, but I did.

I see Sue everywhere I look, it seems. On Friday night her boys came over to hang out and spend the night. I see her in them, and we have a lot of fun together.  Today her girls are here, and even though they are so busy with their playing, they pause for a moment to tell me something and I hear her coming through them. I see her in the fluffy robin that came to sit on the tree outside my window and just sat and stared at me. Sue loved birds more than anyone I know, so they remind me of her.

My Dad is around too.  I see him all the time in my youngest son. I feel him as I cook his recipes and hear his instructions in my head.  Make sure to season this well! It will be bland if you don't! I laugh when my boys and nephews do things that I know would make him laugh.  He was always so proud of his grandkids, and I know he still is.

I still have good days and extra tough days. I still have moments when something happens and my first instinct is to call Sue. I still feel like the rest of my life seems like an awfully long time to go without talking with her again. But I'm also getting used to all these feelings.

Lately I look forward to the future with greater optimism. Instead of feeling guilty that I will watch her oldest son graduate from high school next year, I feel fortunate.

I really should do more blogging, somehow I always seem to end up feeling like the luckiest person on earth when I step back and evaluate my life. How is it that life is so painful and beautiful all at once?

Much love to you all this Spring Break!