Monthly Archives: May 2010

Death, loss, grief.

My best friend from high school lost her father last week, she and her four sisters. He had not been the best dad, as they all stated, but he was their dad, nonetheless. Death took him from them, at 66 years of age, sooner than any one should have to lose a person that they love.

The loss of him, as far as the impact on her and her family, has not left me. Maybe because we are the same age, and I still have both of my parents living. Maybe because I think about losing my own parents on a fairly regular basis. Maybe because as my daughter grows, and me and my beloved age, it seems that death gets closer and closer to our lives.

Whatever the reason, I am thinking about death, and loss, and losing those that we love the most. And, the grief that comes to reside after such a loss has occurred.

I remember when my beloved paternal grandmother died. I absolutely adored her. I looked forward to my visits with her, I loved to sit with her, I loved to hold her secrets of eating chips and tuna loaded with mayo for lunch, even when she was forbidden to do so because of her terrible diabetes. I kept those secrets close.

When she was dying of cancer, a cancer that she seemed cured of a couple of times, a cancer that wracked her body and stole her spirit, I was visiting her shortly after Christmas. I was home from college on break, and we were at her home. She was sitting in her recliner in the front window, with an afghan over her. I was kneeling beside her on the floor, just looking into her eyes. They were SO BLUE; I had never noticed before. And, she said to me, “I am ready to die”.

I was nineteen. I couldn’t respond; I couldn’t bear to hear the words. I knew her death was imminent, yet I felt burdened to have to be the one to hear those words. My nana, leaving me?

Grief. For a year, I thought that I would never stop acutely missing her; never stop shedding tears; never stop dreaming about her. Eventually, I did. I miss those dreams now. I guess it was my psyche’s way of letting go, accepting the loss of the body of her, but not the memory or the spirit.

And, today it hit me. When I thought about my friends’ father, when I now think about the loss of my grandmother, my other grandmother, my brother, I realize what grief really is.

Grief is directly proportional to the love that we feel for that person that has died. Maybe, even put to the nth power. Grief compounds that love, builds on it with interest. Indeed, there is that initial, hero worship type of grief, in which we view that person as having been all powerful, with no humanness, all godlikeness.

Then, we start to heal, just the tiniest bit, and we realize that each person that we lose to death, in that very humanness that we resist in the beginning, in that humanness is all the love that our hearts can hold. When we remember them with humor, with frustration, with joy, with anger, that is when the love flows.

Because isn’t that how love is anyway?

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Introducing my daughter, the writer.

This is my daughter, Hannah. Good student. Dancer. Delightful daughter. Singer.

And, writer.

She is an exceptional writer, if I do say so myself. She is writing books, she has written stories and poetry, and she also, like her moms before her, has a blog.

I am giving her a shout out here, so she can grow her blog hits a bit, and expand her readership. She is a HUGE Twilight series fan, and writes a great deal about that.

You can get to Hannah’s blog here.

She is also a photographer, and this photo won a contest two years ago in one of the communities local to us:

So go, read, ENJOY!!!!!!!

My tears……….

During much of my life so far, I have come to understand that I have loved drama. I respond to it, and I would often seek it out and perform in it. The dramatic aspects of life have energized me, helped me to feel vital and important, and also kept me quite acutely in tune with my emotions.

The most common way that those emotions have been expressed throughout the majority of my life is through my tears. Now, my tears and I have gone through many transitions over time. Initially, tears were a way for me to express my hurt, whether physically or emotionally. I would feel a physiological prompt, the lump in my throat, and then, the tears would come. I would cry, healing would begin, and then I would stop.

I then, over the course of my lifetime, found tears to fall easily when I would be moved emotionally by something. A song, a movie, a book, the words of someone that I love. Something that struck a chord within, be it a stranger or close relationship that brought it to me, could easily bring me to tears. These types of tears were most always tears that would stand in my eyes, maybe one or two would fall down my cheek. I would enjoy that feeling, the feeling of them standing in my eyes, right before the fall. I would look at myself in the mirror as they would fall. I was seeking validation I think in that mirror, wishing that instead of me looking back, there was someone sharing those tears with me.

I embraced my ability to express my feelings and let them be released. I didn’t feel ashamed or self conscious about my tears, and even felt like it was helpful to others to see a person who would openly express their emotions.

I then would produce tears that would most frequently come as a result of feeling anger. Instead of speaking my anger, truthfully and gracefully, I would cry, talking through my tears, feeling justified in feeling how I did, because after all, I am angry, and the other person’s actions were so awful that they brought me to tears. Feel a bit of self-absorbedness in these tears? Feel the transition from genuine expression to manipulation for attention?

I do.

After awhile, in the last few years of my life, tears became the expected response of mine to most everything. Happiness. Sorrow. Elation. Hurt. Anger. Those that I love would anticipate the tears, and wait for them to begin to fall.

It became a distraction from what was really going on. So, at times I would cry all alone, and feel that I was the only one who could TRULY understand. I had come to believe that through my tears, those around should be able to understand what is going on with me. I was using my tears, not my words, to connect with and communicate with others. HIGHLY ineffective, if I do say so.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that tears aren’t a beautiful expression of emotion. I am not even dismissing their importance in my life, nor beating myself up for using them so frequently. I just need more from myself than this at my point in the journey.

I want to be more in tune with my emotions than just feeling moved by something to tears. I want to know what is really going on for me in those moments, and talk about it. I have come to understand and to realize that when I feel the urge to cry, it is a signal to me that I need to address something within. I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror; I don’t have to hope that someone around me notices tears standing in my eyes, and rushes in to comfort me.

I am learning to speak more, and to listen to myself more.

So, up to present day, 2010. I noticed this week that I feel the urge to cry less often, yet feel more engaged in my life than ever before. I also noticed that I feel the need to cry by myself hardly at all. And, when I do cry, I am directly working through what it is that needs to be addressed: a lack of connection with someone; a fear; a loss. And, I make a plan to right that by as much as that is in my control.

I no longer cry which becomes an end in itself, but my tears are now my gateway to broader knowledge about myself, and greater connection with others.

It feels marvelous.