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In the first few weeks following DJ's death, as I wandered along on this path of grief, this path filled with so much pain, the journey led me to often stumble blindly down the side roads of despair, confusion, and fear, among others. For me, all of those roads eventually rejoined the main one and the journey continues on that course towards what I want to be my destination, acceptance. During these travels, the emotional ruts and potholes have taken their toll, shaking loose some of my long held ideas about life and living. And Death. They have cause me to not only reexamine those things but also to have to deal with ideas concerning the future and look down those very same side roads once again. See, those roads are not restricted to those borders surrounding grief, I am finding (remembering?) that they are a natural part of everyday life and we have been down most of them before...only, until recently, not alone. In that early time, even before the shock had worn off, before the disbelief had started to fade, and well before the sheer, almost unimaginably deep pain, which consumed me for a while, had begun to ease, fear and bewilderment as to what I would do to carry on, held sway.
In those early weeks I sought out information where ever I could, one of the best pieces of advice I was given was that I had to actively grieve or be run over by the process itself...fortunately, I was able to believe this information, I joined GriefShare, found a local church group, spent time with a group of widows who meet weekly at a local public library ...I was willing to try and do anything which would help me from feeling so alone, and ease that damn pain, knowing the edge was ever welcoming, and lurking in the background. Slowly I have found that for me there is somewhat of a paradox at work here...in as much as a lot of the things that I need to do to go forward are not unlike things we had to do before...for me, they are at once, the same and totally different. Why now, that many of them seem so new and difficult, I can only attribute to DJ's absence, but for sure, I am starting to realize that I have seen them before. Before, we had problems with overcharges from the various utilities, they were annoying and could usually be resolved be a phone call...or two.....or three....but they would eventually be worked out; there were the instances where the hot water heater had decided that it had performed long enough and retirement was in order; and who among us has not had their refrigerator decide, right before major company was to arrive, that our notion to keep food cool was of no importance, and that ice chests and a friendly neighbor would be needed until a service person could make an appearance...no, these things and others like them occurred before we lost our mates, it was a bother, but they just didn't appear to have had the same effect they have on us today...I think we can thank grief for that.
Before, that minor incident at the job would be discussed, and vented about as our partners would listen, maybe offer comforting remarks, or make suggestions about such future situations, and it would be put away well before dinner; now that same incident can have us scrambling for the nearest exit to find refuge lest we turn in a pitiful puddle on the spot, and have us agonizing and resenting it for days. Not having that secure knowledge that our backs are not only covered, but covered without reservation is truly one of the most difficult things I have found. This, and things like the above mentioned, now can seem to beyond our ability to deal with them; it appears our encounter with grief has lulled us into forgetting phrases such as 'self reliance', or 'I can handle this'. Due in part to this practice of active grieving, and to the fog clearing, I have begun to recognize a lot of the ''got cha's'' that crop up, not only have been seen before, but dealt with, and dealt with effectively; this is not imply that any of this is any easier, merely to point out that we can call up the necessary skills to deal with just about any situation, after all, we did not come this far in life by accident. I am trying to challenge the ideas which grief almost insists we have, that because we have suffered a tremendous loss, and now, may have to make some of these decisions alone, we have become helpless to the extreme. Actually, I think we have become more empowered to deal with the obstacles that may be presented to us as we go forward; many us feel that the worse thing which could happen, has happened, and this can free us to apply new methods and attitudes to solving old problems as we can be daring enough with the only thing at risk is the possibility that we may just have to try another way, (it's always been that way, really) feeling only so bad that the outcome is not what we wanted the first time around. As the cloud lifts, we can recall ourselves, our very capable selves.
The point of all of this is to remind us that like many things in life, facing the challenges of our respective futures, possibly alone, tho fraught with the pitfalls of everyday life, should not make us forget the true power we possess; the power we always possessed. For sure, the stormy winds of grief which have tried to batter us to exhaustion, has help to make us doubt our own, hard won life experiences and put our sanity in question at times; but we will do well to remember that we are capable. So, we can turn our attention to those things which at first, seem so overwhelming, with a new vigor of spirit; as the pain eases, we are realizing that we have seen much of this before; we take to that misfit of a lawn mower which always used to start on the first pull and remember the crack about our being ''too sad'' made by our good friend...we pull...the mower starts...well, maybe not, but at least we don't have to take it as a sign to declare the world at an end...that stack of forms we have to complete, tho daunting, can remind us that yes, we can still read, think, and understand; tho the act may be tedious, it is not beyond us, especially as we recall reading the looks on all those faces which once dared to look at us with such pity or disdain...we have dealt with both before...we are now just having to do these things alone, but past lessons can be brought to bear.
For me, being able to examine these things in this light has helped to avoid many of the crashes some of us experience as we are presented with them...we are not amateurs at life, not one of us, age not being a factor; I think it's simply that the grief caused by the loss of that person we are so accustomed to having by our side, has attempted to blind us to our own strengths; but we can see again. We can remember that despite everything, we can function and not be stifled by indecision stemming from unknowing or the fact that we may have to make the decisions alone...we do know, we can remember, and an honest approach to our future demands that we recognize this. We may pause to consider, we may linger at the edge of what to do next, but we do these things knowing that we are prepared to move forward on all fronts; understanding that because of the grief, we may sometimes feel inadequate in certain areas of our lives was a major breakthrough for me; recognizing that much of what I need to do today, has always needed to be done, this allowed me to dismiss a lot of the doubts concerning just what would happen next; second guessing can continue, it was always there and still is, but I don't have to give it any more weight than necessary just because I'm making the first guess alone.
I am determined that grief only have so much of me; that it can only cause this unique disruption of my peace of mind, my hopes for the future, and my thoughts on my own self esteem and ability for so long. Accepting that some sadness will remain, that weepy days and heart wallops may be expected, there is still only so much we can surrender. Knowing that many of the challenges we face are truly difficult as we reset our lives...but that these things would be more than a handful in the best of situations...that with the lost of our mates, they can easily lead us to think that they are insurmountable, but our lives to this point can remind us they are not. In my efforts to understand that these things appeared more weighty now only because of DJ's absence, it is becoming more clearer to me that I have to give it it's necessary due; but debts always had to be met, paperwork has always come into play as we built our lives, the tales regarding the varying temperaments of dishwashers, washing machines, lawn mowers, automobiles, hot water heaters, toilets, computers, clothes dryers, cell phones, refrigerators, unruly children, all seeing neighbors, non-knowing relatives, automated phone menus, lazy office workers, misinformed agency reps, unreliable handy people, and.....back biting friends, are legend, but I'm hoping to keep my view of this chapter a bit clearer. Those things mentioned above are not new to us, the shared burden of them were a lot easier to carry, but they were always there. That I keep this in mind is important to me.
As there is no timeline for our grieving, how and when this will happen for each of us will be different. When we individually remember that the various things we face today are not new, not foreign to us, just that the prospect of facing them alone is new. That the seemingly impossibility of getting them resolved, is not really a fact of our life, but possibly the result of grief reminding us that we are facing them without benefit of that much desired input. Because of that fact, that we are alone, they may just seem to be impossible. I think we have to be aware that altho before, the problems were shared and may not have appeared so huge, they were still a part of our everyday lives and today we do not have to be overpowered by them now. For a while we can allow ourselves to think that we are helpless, that we need tending, that some of the things we are faced with, should beat us down...for a while...it may be a necessary part of the process, but we don't have to live in that place forever. It is a refreshing surprise for this to come to me in this way...being reminded that much of what needs to be done to go forward is not so much brand new as it is different because it is being faced without benefit of DJ. This provides me with hope that once again, time is doing for us what we may not be able to do for ourselves.
For me, I want DJ's death to be the last thing that overwhelms me for quite some time to come, and, that it might send me for a loop into un-sureness and bewilderment is just temporary. These everyday tho not necessarily pedestrian things of life will be handled with renewed gusto, being properly given their required attention, they are nowhere, that's Now and Here, but not to the point of worry or distress due to feelings of inadequacy. Listen, we am, dammit, and, we Can Do.