Self Care: riding the wave

I’ve been warned.

Somewhere in Sinai, Egypt. Taken from a photo album.  Photo: d. king

How after someone very close to you passes, where you’re first in mourning, then experiencing major grief, after a certain time period you suddenly begin to get a bit stronger, then you reach a low point.  Then you’re okay again, then you’re not. Kind of like riding a wave.  It’s happening. An ebb and a flow.  High tide and low tide. I suppose lack of sleep and sometimes not eating properly doesn’t help the situation.

I know what I’m supposed to do.  Just go with the flow and ride it out, hoping for the time when the memories will become pleasant instead of painful.  Actually they’re not really painful because most are joyful, but it’s in the joyfulness of remembering what was good that brings on sadness if that makes sense. For me it’s the physical loss of the person who’s no longer here for himself, not just for me. It’s his loss even more so than mine. What hurts most is the person having lost the fight and having lost hope. It seems in the end you never really know the truth. Whether they came to terms and finally let go with acceptance. As for the rest of us, we have to continue to live our lives.  That’s where I’m at.

Among the Bedouins in Sinai, Egypt

It may also have something to do with yesterday, sitting for hours finally clearing out a locker space filled to the brim with stuff I haven’t seen in many years.  In an over-heated room no less.  And sorting into 3 almost equal piles, suitcases and boxes filled with clothing, equipment, photos, etc. 1)keepers 2)salvation army 3)dumpster. And who keeps every single report card they ever had? It went into the “keeper” pile (just in case one day I want to remember how well (or not) I did in math in Grade 3). And re-discovering a photo album with amazing memories from Egypt & Israel then going home and turning on the news only to be shocked and saddened about the senseless killings in Egypt. Which puts everything into perspective.

On the terrace overlooking the river Nile

So after a restless night of a little doggy waking me up 3 times to go out (at least she woke me; smart girl – better than the alternative) I have not been able to get back to sleep.  And I couldn’t make up my mind what to eat for dinner and didn’t feel like cooking or even seeing anyone. So I ended up going to my favorite cheese shop and getting the grab-bag (they choose for you), then my favorite pastry shop and getting a fresh baked baguette (white bread, no less), and a little pumpkin pie and on the way home stopping at yet another local place for homemade cookies.  I chose 3 kinds – heart shaped jam filled, chocolate/marzipan + coconut macaroon.  I don’t feel too guilty cause due to no effort of my own I lost 6 lbs. without even trying.  Although for health reasons I don’t intend to make a habit out of this. So if I gain 3 back tonight so what.

On my way home, feeling like I could use a little therapy, I stopped by the local wine shop for a sampling of a wine called “therapy”.  After 4 sips (from 4 different bottles) I could already feel it. No more for me.

I realize this is a “self-care” post.  So I don’t know if my message is clear or if I even have a message.   If there is one, it’s just that sometimes you just have to give in to what is and not question why. Sometimes self-care is doing what feels right, right at the moment.

After all, tomorrow is another day, godammit.





Self Care – Good Grief!  

No; grief is not good. Not one bit!

So I signed on for six grief counselling sessions with a small group of people who’ve all recently lost someone near and dear.  As the saying goes; misery loves company.   But really, if we haven’t already been there, then we will be there at some point in our lives. Be it the loss of a parent, partner or pet; when it happens, it’s devastating. And it can make you question your own mortality.

 After losing my husband, the loss hit harder a few weeks later because I was so preoccupied taking care of arrangements, paperwork, banking and other stuff almost immediately after he passed.

When the floral arrangements that were strewn all over my house dried up and I took away the sympathy cards which were sitting on my mantle…I had a good cry.  And I’ve been crying ever since.  Not continuously mind you.  I find joy in little things every day.  But off and on, here and there I feel sadness and void.

There’s a photo I took of Don and his brother George (who surprised him with a very welcome visit in July) that was sitting above the fireplace mantle with other photos.  It was taken on the day George was leaving to fly back to Toronto and we were trying to coax Don out of his hospital bed to the outside courtyard for a few last photos of the two of them together.  Seemed like an easy task but he was pretty bed ridden at that point and it took a lot of effort for him to get up and get out the door even with our help.  But he managed, and I was able to take a few photos of the two on a nice summer day, both wearing blue shirts against a colorful backdrop.  But I could see the strain on Don’s face.  It was a very emotional time.

I ended up taking that photo and placing it in a less prominent spot because it’s such a bittersweet moment.  Even now whenever I look at it I can burst into tears…thinking about his decline and his good nature, how he never complained, didn’t like to put people out and still wanted to look after everything.  It’s painful actually.  More than a husband, Don greatly influenced my life and I will forever miss him.  Somebody said “You miss Don, but he won’t be missing you because he is still with you – you just don’t see him.”  Ahhh…nice sentiment.  And his energy is all around I know but still…

Therefore counselling is worth a try to hear other people’s stories and find out how to manage the pain which comes in waves and at unexpected moments.  A good friend sent me a book entitled “When Things Fall Apart” written by Pema Chodron.  She said it helped her get through a nasty divorce which although not a death, is a death of a partnership in life.  I’m reading it now.

Grief takes as long as it takes and no one knows how long that will be.  In the meantime here are a few books that may help in the process if you are experiencing a loss:

Great Books on Consciousness, Death, and the Afterlife

I haven’t read a so-called “self help” book in a long time.  Don provided for me all the “self help” I required because he was wise and pragmatic.  He made sense of everything and gave me confidence in my abilities.

Another month has just crept up on us…

Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing around on a windy day.