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We're friends, not doctors, financial or legal professionals, and we're not "grief experts." But we are here, and we've been "there."

I realise I have been clinging to the past again. It seems to happen from time to time.  The past is a safe place to hide from the worries of the present. I think I have come to this conclusion because I go around with a person who is a great example of this and because of this she really has no joy in the present and no concept of a better future.  I didn't realise that clinging to the past made it difficult to live in the present and I need to do that.  I need to enjoy each day as it comes along.  We all know from bitter experience that one day will be our last.  This is so evident from what we have been through.  One day our special someone died, he or she finished their journey on earth, leaving us bereaved.  Yes, and one day we will do the same. We just don't know when.  And for this reason I need to live in the present not in the past.

Yesterday I spent with my ex-daughter-in-law and my younger son.  Both of them have been divorced and were the ones who had tried to keep the marriage together.  Both are somewhat bitter still about the breakdown of their marriages (she was married to my older son).  I listened to them regretting what had happened in the past and realised how much this is affecting how they feel about themselves now and how it is casting a shadow daily on how they react to everyday situations.  It is hard to get over past hurts I know but in the end it is what I need to do. I know I need to "get over it" because whether it is a death or a divorce we will miss out on the good things if we go too long mourning the past.  I need to keep making memories, enjoying the things that are happening in my life every day.

Spring really is a mixed blessing.  There is so much to do.  Today my younger son and I put up a trellis to replace an old one that the wind blew down some months ago.  I need to plant a flowering vine to grow up and mask it's ugliness.  I had one there but when that area got flooded it died and so I need to dig another trench.  I keep looking at all of the work that needs to be done and it seems as if it is an impossible task.  I lead a busy life and to that I have added going out with my new man friend once a week, doing too much with the church and other organisations I belong to as usual.  I have always crowded my life out, wanting to keep busy because it stops me from thinking but I know that that is really not the way to go now.  I need to finalize some of the tasks so I can move on .

Today I went out with a friend, we had lunch, a stroll about a small seaside village, a cup of coffee in a cafe, nothing really exciting and yet I had a lovely day.  I am a widow so any day in company is a good day whatever it contains.  I am learning to appreciate the small things again, a blue sky, snowdrops blooming in the garden, birds flying by, just the little everyday things.  In a way it is as if I have come out of a traumatic event and looked around and determined to make my life count for something.  I don't know why this is happening now, maybe with a new Spring I am going through a re-awakening. I am hoping this means new energy as I need to do a lot based around a future either in this house or if I sell it, somewhere new.

It is always hard for me to make decisions, and now is no exception.  I look around at all that needs doing and get a sinking feeling.  I have been fortunate to have my younger son here for a few days and he has been able to do a few minor repairs and that makes me happier but he did point out that there is a lot of rubbish for me to clean out, behind the shed, under the house, in the garage.  To be honest there is a lot of things left over from our family camping days and that is twenty years and more ago.  There is also a lot of "just junk " items that I have never got around to sorting. I have made a move to do some of it in the past but always given up too early in the piece and so there is always that feeling that it all somehow piled up on me.  I need to use the warmer days to start on this project.  If I leave it too long we will be in the middle of the pre-Christmas rush before I know where I am.

I guess as a single person there is no-one in my life to cheer me on, to help me sort out what is needed and what is not.  There is no-one to check up on me and ask me how much I have completed.  I was a member of a couple for 44 years, I know that is not a reason really but it seems as if on my own I don't get around to things.  It is easy to just fill my life with other forms of busyness. There are a lot of things i would rather do than sort through old boxes.  I know I am not self-motivating now, it is one of my weaknesses. So I choose to do gardening instead of cleaning out the shed, visiting instead of looking into the junk in the garage, cooking instead of decluttering.  I do wish sometimes that I had a friend I could call on to help me with this.  I guess I will have to do it all one day or someone else will have the task of sorting through my precious things.

So all this is symptomatic of my present state of mind, I am still not ready to let go of all the "stuff" that Ray and I between us accumulated.  I do know it is holding me back, stopping me from enjoying my present and future.  I see the birds out refurbishing their nests and think:  "I should be doing that too". It is a Spring thing. We don't have the long dark winter here but the brightening sun does show me the windows need washing, the back paths need weeding and a good sweeping and the garden I am slowly tidying but there needs to be time spent in untangling overcrowded areas with their overgrowing vines.   Seems the last month of showers has encouraged all the wrong plants to grow so I need to do a lot of pruning.  And while I am working on the outside the inside of the house gets neglected.  It really does take two people to properly maintain a free standing house and garden.

So Spring is a mixed blessing, longer days, stronger sunlight but a lot of tasks for me to do. I must make a list and follow it, crossing off each item as I go because there are some of the tasks that need doing urgently.  It is either that or put an advertisement in the paper "Handyman wanted". 

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Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on September 2, 2016 at 3:40pm

Hi Sue,

What I can say is grief lasts alot longer if the bond was strong. I'm sure you've heard "grief is a process"; there are mental heath & spiritual steps to be taken. Everyone is in a hurry to have grief over & done with, but the problem is your heart, grief & memories stay w/you no matter where you go or what you do. Issues (resentments, disappointments, hurts, etc) require resolution, otherwise they will keep nagging at you. Grief can be ignored or postponed, but it will not be denied. Grief teaches how to be happy, and to be happy is to have peace within. 

Back in 2007 when I became widowed it was easy to find a time table for grief on the internet. It suggested 5-10 years for a catheted relationship. I believe this to be true since my grief buddies from 2007 and myself have tiny trickles of grief -albeit much much different than you are experiencing. There's still thinking, yet it appears it requires finalizing every once in awhile. Reassessing the past is met with peace, if not, then there is still work to done. So far, I'm doing good, and whatever questionable memory arises I remind myself of how I resolved it. 

As for downsizing, material belongings do not hold a person back, 9 years later I still have most all of Bob's stuff -they don't bother me b/c I grieved out years ago the thought that I would be erasing him if I got rid of his belongings. Not true. I still keep all of it for our kids to choose what they want when they want it. As I mentioned earlier, your heart & memories stay w/you. Letting go of stuff does not propel anyone forward just as keeping it does not hold a person back. Moving on is living each day w/the purpose of grief.

Take care ...

Comment by Hornet (Cindy) on September 1, 2016 at 5:51pm

Dearest Sue...I am in the same place. Busyness, but the wrong kind. Not ready to let go of things...but really needing to. I know the 'cleansing' will be a good thing, I am just not ready to do it. But I seem to be getting there against my will...very slowly...inches at a time. I wish you well. I hope the spring continues to energize you, lift you, give you hope. We all need it.

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