Saturday, June 27, 2009

Taking a break!

It's summer! It's vacation! I won't be writing for a week or so! Happy Independence Day!

Thanks for reading along with me.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chapter 10

This chapter talks about the new feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and isolation.

Hmmm, not so much, for me. Friends and family have been very good at looking after me. In quite the opposite of being suprised by isolation I have craved alone time. More I think is a reaction to the wild and crazy school year I had but some because I just didn't want to answer "How are you?" with any honesty. It was easier to go places and attend church when I didn't need to engage but in lighter conversation.

I think the point of the chapter is that while I might be lonely I am not alone. I not only have my friends but I have the Triune God who knows loss and grief and not only stands with me in my loss but is my primary source of comfort and peace.

Even without these being a difficulty the writing can still make me weep both for those moments when I recognize my grief and for those when I see it in others.

There is a reason that Psalm 23 is one of the best known scripture passages. I've hummed my way through several hymn and choir anthem versions on the way to deciding that sometimes it's best to quote from the source and because I can't think of the composer of the one I love the best. ;*P

Psalm 32, NIV

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love (mercy) will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chapter 9: Tears

My constant companion sometimes. They are never far away, easily accessed, easily poured out. Sometimes I know why I'm crying other times I don't. Sometimes I think it's "Hallmark Syndrome"-crying at sappy commercials. Usually though, if it's not about my feelings, it's about my being sympathetic or empathetic toward someone else's situation. News story, tv show, novel, it doesn't matter.

So, from Experiencing Grief: Tears are a fitting response to sorrow. I've become ok with this. The next advice is to pour out your grief to a trusted friend or pour out your grief to God. I'm not so ok with the talking to a friend business-in person at any rate. That's why I'm here "talking" about this on a blog, aware that some are reading but in the beginning, middle, and end it's for me to pour out my grief, my thinking, my steps forward. I can't imagine all of these thoughts and conversations in person. I wonder if that's a part of how society has changed. Did we have these conversations when mourning was more visible, more allowed?

Tears are a part of our created self. That's how God made us. That's why we can so easily find comfort in the scriptures and in prayer. Yes, this makes sense to me as does the statement of if you follow your tears you will find your heart. A teacher at church pointed this out in a class about finding your place in the church that suits your talents and your passion. He would find that when someone became teary they were often near their passion and the place of service.

The author continues with, "If you find your heart, you will find what is dear to God." This is more of a loaded statement to me. It works if I am constant in prayer and in scripture, if I am living with a repentant heart. If I am not I find myself running down a path that doesn't lead to anything dear to God at all. The author finishes with, "And if you find what is dear to God you will find the answer to how you should live your life."

This last kind of sentence always bothers me. No, no I don't think I will find that answer that way. I think it makes it too hard for some of us. It seems as if how I feel and how God feels is more important than the sum of the journey we walk with Him. It becomes somehow mystical. It almost negates belief, the first gift of the Holy Spirit. Those who "get it" often appear to have a superior attitude as if I'm not doing something right. I think it's an odd statement to find in this book and I'm hoping it's either dropped or more context is developed later. So, go touch on a pet peeve of mine about "doing church": Some of us are thinkers first and feelers second. Please don't put me in that box of "feeling close to God".

Back to tears, there is other good stuff in this chapter. Here is one of the, to me, normalizing statements in the book, "Give yourself permission for them to exist, for in time they'll diminish. This process of ruminating is part of your healing and recovery. You feel especially needy at this time, almost impoverished.

Well, yes, see yesterday's post. I'm finding myself bothered by the "recovery" concept but I haven't been bothered by it long enough to think through why. I'm not sure it applies to grief and maybe that train of though will become more clear one of these days. As far as the exhaustion of yesterday I'm hoping that will pass eventually but it's not today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What is that all about?

After whack-a-doodle comes what? I'm so wrung out today. Is there such a thing as anticipatory exhaustion? I have back to back trips in the next two weeks. I'm looking forward to each, the first more than the second. And, I neeeeeeeed to clean my house. Overwhelmaustion? I don't know what to think but that I'm going to bed early tonight. Hopefully I'll get hurricane type cleaning energy tomorrow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Maybe I spoke too soon on the sleep problems or not. I have had some whack-a-doodle dreams lately. Usually in the early morning. I wake up from them with plenty of time to get back to sleep and then either can't sleep or go back to the odd dreams.

I believe I'll take up the suggestion to do some praying next I wake up after goofy dreams.

This is my dreamiest Santolina photo so I thought I'd include it. I can't remember if I've posted it before and am too lazy to go look.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chapters 6, 7, and 8

of Experiencing Grief by H. Norman Wright have not been easy to get through. I read, put it down, go back to it, read some more, put it down, go back to it and re-read what I've read. It's not the big concepts that are difficult or that make me weepy but the little bits and pieces.

Chapter 6 What Grief Does talks about disruption and changes. Some resonates and some doesn't. I'm not and haven't been having trouble sleeping. I went through a phase where I slept all the time. I'm positive it was grief and work stress related. I'm wanting to sleep in this summer but my internal clock seems set to 6:30 a.m. This chapter briefly touches on changes in your life when you lose a loved one. I'm more going back to how it was before Mom came to live with me and it's familiar and comfortable. But, now that I've lived, felt, and experienced caregiving and being responsible for a family I'm once again exploring the idea of adoption. I'm less than thrilled with the idea of taking hours of classes but am very much leaning toward the option.

Chapter 7 is titled Holes in Your Life. As I said above losing Mom didn't come with losing my usual life. What resonates in this chapter is the revisiting the idea of what I call "sneak attack grief". Crying while reading the book I expect. Sadness as Mom's birthday passed was not entirely unexpected. But those little sneaky moments when my mind wanders and a memory surfaces .... I think it's the unexpectedness that is harder than the feelings the memory provokes.

Chapter 8, The Question of Grief focuses on the time after the initial shock and numbness wears off. I was so here for much of Feb-June. I think I mentioned in a previous post having lost my sense of time passing and how hard forward planning was at work. Hmmm, that might explain another loved one who seems to have trouble with this. I'll have to think on that.

My experience of Mom dying was not one of "why, why?" I had some questioning of "Ok, God, what's taking you so long?" but it didn't and doesn't eat at me. Mom's time here was her time. She influenced people with her love, her words, and later with her sweet spirit to look to Jesus. She provided work for her caregivers and someone to love for so many people at church. She delighted in those who greeted her, spoke to her, and cared for her and it was clear to them that she did so in gratefulness.

1986 in my Sister and Brother-in-Law's back yard.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mom's Birthday Anniversary

I got her pink roses and chocolate cake. Well, ok, I put pink fake roses at her grave at the cemetery and the chocolate cake is for me. But, the cake is how birthday's are done between me and mom. We start having birthday on her birthday and we stop having birthday on my birthday.

Yes, I'm a bit weepy again but it's ok. It's ok to miss her. It's ok to be sad. It's ok to move forward.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Too much like work

I'm in a workshop this week regarding mathmatics textbook training. I begrudge the time a bit but the workshop is mostly interesting. But, I feel like I'm at work! This is my off time. I should not have homework and lesson planning. sigh. One more day.

This purple plant and flower are just outside the backdoor to the building:

I think this plant is probably Setcresea pallida
(Purple Heart Wandering Jew)

Synonyms: Setcreasea purpurea, tradescantia pallida

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Surprises around the yard

The first was that birds got to 4 of those last dozen apricots on the tree. Hope they're fat and singing!

Early this morning I found a late calla lily. I forgot to turn off the flash for the first photo but it came out nicer than the next four I took.

Then, in procrastination over homework (Can you imagine?) I took photos of a few late Santolinas.

More of the same task but with the roses.

And lastly, the surprise that I'm weepy a bit about Mom's birthday anniversary coming up. I don't want to be but there you go. Adding to my drama for the week is the workshop inservice I'm taking. Everything seems to remind me of the children I used to have in the program that is gone. I miss the me of that era, the speech therapy, the littleness of the children, and the other schools and staff where I was. I can reframe that loss in terms of grief and mourning and find that I'm no where near over the loss. It's somewhat worse than Mom's death in that the loss of that class and program was and is senseless.

As I posted on a forum of dear friends, "It's been a cussin' kind of day".

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not Quite Over

There are still more Apricots on the tree! I was hoping that while I was gone my friends would pick all of them. No such luck. I'm trying to decide if I should pick this evening or wait until morning. Both, probably. The last hold outs:

It's hard not to succumb to peer pressure:

In a sweet sort of way the apricots make me miss Mom. She, like the rest of the family, loved them. I took several dozen to Dad and younger brother and family this last week. It's fun to see them enjoying the harvest. With the apricot harvest over I feel like I need to get back to the harder work and read a few more chapters of H. Norman Wright's Experiencing Grief. It was good to take a break but there's so much more to read, to know, to learn, to work through. Onward.

Here is a photo of my stack of baby hats. I decided that June was baby hat month and have been knitting any chance I get. Fourteen so far, almost 1/day!

And what would an entry be without a flower photo? Rose of the Day:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Desert Flower

These are in my Dad's backyard.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I'm off for a few days to visit with my Dad. Yay!

If anyone is counting with me I'm up to 42 dozen apricots.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Comfort or Peace

Blackberry blossoms at Sis' house.

I'm feeling somewhat disconnected from the grief book this week. I've read chapters 6 and 7 and they seem to be a restating of concepts from previous chapters. I'll keep at it and come back to them. I have a long weekend away so maybe some thinking time. I do find the message of the presence of God within my grief resonates. Many of the quotes come from the Psalms. The psalmist openly pours out his heart and receives comfort. And, there are the well known passages about sorrow lasting for the night and comfort coming in the morning.

Lately it's not so much about comfort as much as it's beginning to resonate. That moment in church on Sunday was like an open window letting in a breeze of peace. Perhaps the comfort and peace are closely tied together. And, my brain just started with "...tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy....." Nothing like having words and phrases deeply connected to melodies. Now I'll have to read all the verses to that Christmas classic and see if it ties in more than just the word comfort.

Later: Indeed it does tie in on a level I didn't really know I was aware of. But when I read this article I understood why my brain stayed stuck on the carol.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Chapter 5

H. Norman Wright's Experiencing Grief: Why grief?

Through grief you express your feelings about your loss.
Through grief you express your protest about your loss.
Through grief you express the effects you have experienced from the impact of the loss.

Then he goes on to talk about grief spasms. Hoo, yes, have experienced those. And, have been on the right track-let them happen and keep moving. (my words not HNW) The chapter continues with much about grief being necessary and a constant companion.

I'm not getting the impact of this chapter, if I should be. Maybe it's because the previous chapters talked about all three of those purposes but now they're under a new umbrella. Maybe I'm ready to read more than a chapter at a time.


There was a season in the church some years ago when abundance was celebrated and even coveted. I remember thinking celebrating was good but some of this craving for abundance is missing the point.

I didn't do anything to get another monstrous harvest of apricots. The tree was planted by someone else. God designed it and ordains it's form and function. I get the benefit-well my friends and family do. I take great delight in it's abundance but I don't like fresh apricots. But, oh how my family, friends, and neighbors love these fruits. The joy of this abundance is in the sharing and giving. Tada! Lesson for the day. No preaching needed.

Ok, but then there's the grousing. I didn't really grouse this morning about the apricots but I did get to a point of frustration while spending 90 minutes picking. "God, must you bless me so hard?" LOL! I immediately laughed and got back to picking and enjoying.

Today's tally 19 dozen with maybe about that many still on the tree. I took about 13 dozen to family this weekend. Days like today I wish I'd kept a running total for the past five years. I do know this has been a small harvest.

This photo is from last year. It's one of four showing every counter surface, the dining room table, and a card table covered in apricots.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A breath of fresh air

During church this morning, at sis's church, I had a moment where I not only knew in my mind and spirit but also in my heart that I will be able to celebrate Mom. Can't for the life of me think what about the service sent me in that direction but glad it happened.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Gross of Apricots

That's actually a little more than a gross but who's counting! They ARE on the underripe side. I've picked quite a few early so there would be enough to go around when I visit family. They do ripen off the tree if you don't pick them completely green.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Who needs a vase?

Chapter 4

Experiencing Grief: The Nature of Grief At first this chapter didn't resonate with me. I read it with "fine, fine, fine" in the back of my head. Then I read it again. Then I put it down. Apparently my brain was really working hard somewhere in there. I had quite a reaction close to bedtime.

Grief is slow, let it be slow. "Fine, fine, fine, I got that."
Don't compare your loss with others. "Fine, fine, fine, I don't think I do that." I worry a bit about others I know and love going through this process but I do know my grief is my grief and their griefs are their griefs-even though we may be mourning the same loss. I think my sister worries, too. We're not much talkers on touchy subjects but I know we find comfort in being together. We need to work on that, I think.

The worst loss is your own. Well, from in here, yes. But I don't think losing a parent, as an adult, can compare to losing a spouse or a child or losing your parent as a child. Yes, it's my grief and my worst loss but I can imagine it being worse. Ok, don't compare. I think maybe this means own your own grief. I'm not sure I've got the "aha" with this one.

And so on. So, somehow this got my brain onto the other losses that surround this loss. The one that hit hard late in the evening was the loss of trust. I am hurt and sad that a couple people I thought I could count on weren't, couldn't, wouldn't be supportive. They were supportive in ways that I didn't expect and that I am grateful for. Somehow my emotions can't find a balance in what was given and what I felt I needed. I feel that I won't be able to count on them in the future. I don't know if that's fair. I do know that this too is a loss. It's unexpected and a new grief attached to mourning Mom's death. I don't know where to park it. Where's the category for collateral loss?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Peace Rose

That was Tuesday. Here's Thursday.

Chapter 3

Experiencing Grief: Grief Is So Disruptive. Fourteen pages into this little book and I have had many moments of not wanting to read because it brings my feelings too close, again. And, as in this chapter moments of, "yep, yep, yep." I marvel at the quantity of statements that ring true.

Grief will take the shape of a spiral. Indeed, I do revisit the grief and the refreshing times of not living in the grief. I do wonder about grief tempered by the joy of knowing Mom rests with Jesus but suspect it will come up in the text at some point. I wonder how those who do not have the hope of our futures lives in Christ cope with their grief.

"Grief disrupts your mind and thinking ability. Confusion moves in and memory takes a vacation." I can't say much confusion has moved in but I have certainly experienced being more distracted than my usual self, my sense of time being distorted, not remembering names, tasks, plans. It is disconcerting. I know I told several people at work that my sense of time seems to be out of whack. Days until a task is due was a concept that nearly eluded me for much of the past year even before Mom died. I also wonder if somewhere along the way anticipatory grief is covered. Maybe it's all one and the same.

This chapter also talks about the loss of friends as people don't know how to "be" with someone experiencing grief. I have not experienced that. That is the upside of continuing at work, choir, bells. I did need to drop my two Bible Study/Covenant groups but I'm feeling fine with that. I can resume both or either when I'm ready. My friends are still my friends regardless of my regular participation. I think I've written before about not wanting the emotional intensity of others right now. That's covered in this chapter too-my attention is not on others but on myself.

Normal, normal, normal.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Seasons within Seasons

My little Santolinas are almost all browning. Hopefully the seeds will be easy to harvest. I haven't taken notice the last two years.

Here come Apricots! These are first harvested. I expect a half dozen or so every day for the first few days. Then the ripening takes off and I'll have table full. This year I plan to give them away left and right unless Sis wants some for canning. Otherwise no blanch and peel operation this year.

The next chapter of Eperiencing Grief just like the others is going to take several readings. This one seems to be more affirming and comforting as it illuminates as normal (whew) much of what I've experienced the last few months. I haven't been worried about things not being normal but more curious.