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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Palliative Life

I received a helpful handout from the MGH Palliative Care Center. It’s a list, an intro of sorts to Grief World.
A. For many people it can take 18-24 months to re-stabilize one's life and daily routines after the death of a family member. It can take much longer when the death was a violent one. Recognize the length of the mourning process. Beware of developing unrealistic expectations of yourself.
A friend's mother related that, after her husband of 70 years (!!!) died, the first year was hard. Another friend, who lost her beloved husband, told me that it was a couple years before she got her groove back. I need to be patient with myself – this is a long road and there ain't no shortcuts.
As for daily routines, with The Amazing Bob’s death, there were/are giant gaping holes in each and every day. In the weeks after he vamoosed I came to understand how much time was spent caring for him. Does that sound resentful or petulant? Boyhowdy, that is SO NOT how I meant it. All I’m saying is that, to a large degree, I’ve had to, not just resurrect daily routines, but create whole new ones in this shipwrecked TAB-less life.

I’m 105 days into this new universe. I’m back to taking daily trike rides or long walks. I make sure that Coco and Rocco each have regular one-on-one periods with the Cat Doormat (moi!) and plenty of play and cosset time. Work helps – a LOT. I’ve made a couple new friends. I’m gonna try that silent writer MeetUp group. I make a point to be as social as feels possible given the leviathan of heartache that’s riding me.

I’m getting there but this is Baby Step City.
B. Your worst times may not occur the moment a tragic event takes place. At that time, many are in a state of shock or numbness. Often you slide "into the pits" 4-7 months after the event. Strangely, when you're in the pits and tempted to despair, this may be the time when most people expect you to be over your loss.
Yup. I’m so there.

C. When people ask you how you're doing, don't always say, "Fine." Let some people know how terrible you feel.

Easier said/thought then done.
D. Talking with a true friend or with others who have been there and survived can be very helpful. Those who have been there speak your language. They can likely be believed when they say, "I know, I understand." You are not alone.
E. Often depression is a cover for anger. Learn to "uncork your bottle" and find appropriate ways to release your bottled-up anger. What you are going through seems so unfair and unjust.
I’m not sure that I’ve a hard time with expressing anger. Appropriately? I’m usually, though not always, good with that too. Maybe there’s another way to “uncork the bottle” beside screaming and raging fluorescently to poor Jen and Oni? Any ideas?
F. Take time to lament, to experience being a victim. It may be necessary to spend some time feeling sorry for yourself. "Pity parties" sometimes are necessary and can be therapeutic.
G. It's all right to cry, to question, to be weak. Beware of allowing yourself to be "put on a pedestal" by others who tell you what an inspiration you are because of your strength and your ability to cope well. If they only knew!

H. Remember, you may be a rookie at the grief experience you are going through. This may be the first death of someone close. You are new at this, and you don't know what to do or how to act. You can ask for help.

I. Reach out and try to help others, at least in some small way. This little step forward may help prevent you from dwelling too much on yourself.
I’ll check with the local animal shelter again – see if they’ve got any volunteer openings in the cat department.

Yesterday, Janice urged me to give myself permission and space to mourn. Sometimes I just want to be alone – on my own with a cat and knitting in my lap. I have to accept that this is AOK.
Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.
~ Megan Devine

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