Saturday, October 27, 2012


     There are many stages of grief, and some recur.  For example, you might have just begun to compose yourself when someone’s sympathy brings the tears again.  We mourn the loss of our loved one not only because they are gone, but because we are alone to face the world without them.  Sometimes after a death we become angry at our loved one for leaving us alone, even though it isn’t their fault.  We are hurt, devastated and finally angry.  We often discover that we are angry with ourselves for not saying what was in our hearts before it was too late.  So often we hold back our thoughts.  We hesitate to say what is in our hearts.  We need to say, “I love you” when they can hear us, not after they are gone.
     For some there are too many unresolved feelings that can lead to depression and illness, even self-abuse.  The us of alcohol or drugs will simply prolong the agony.  Sometimes counseling is needed to help us through.
     Grief counseling is available through your clergyman or counselors, or through grief seminars.  These seminars bring together groups of people who share their feelings of loss, frustration, anger and resentment, with the goal of finding peace and contentment in their lives.  It is helpful to be with people who are grieving for their loves ones, the same as you.  It is an emotional time, but the ultimate release of these emotions brings a calm contentment that lets you get on with your life.  Most people who come to the group angry or depressed leave calm and ready to resume their life again.  They come to accept dying as a part of living.
     If you believe in the hereafter, it makes death easier to accept, knowing that it is the beginning of a different life, filled with happiness and free of pain.  Sometimes this makes it easier to bear.
     My mother grieved by staying busy.  Se redecorated the whole house, bought new furniture and bedspreads, and stayed active with her projects.  Of course, she didn’t like being alone.  That is a problem for some people, the fear of being alone in a big house.  You usually have family around for a while, but when they leave you are alone with your thoughts. 
     I found that the best way to forget about your fears and your problems is to do something for others.  You can’t think about yourself when you are helping others.  For me it works, but everyone is different.  We all grieve in our own way.  What is good for me may not be good for you.  Find your way.
     Some people have a hard time accepting the loss of a loved one.  They go into denial and won’t talk about it at all.  They prefer to think of their loved one as away, with the thought that they will come through the door someday.
     Closure, that is what is needed.  When there is no funeral it may be easier on the family at the time, but sometimes they fail to receive closure.  The funeral makes it final.  At least conduct a graveside memorial service with the family around.
     Your love one will always be alive through memories, pictures, and maybe videos.  There will always be a corner of your heart reserved for your lost loved one.

More things are brought by prayer than this world realizes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


     Coping with the death of a loved one is never easy and often feels like an emotional roller coaster.  You may agonize over the unresolved questions, the things you wish you had said, but didn’t.   The feelings of guilt that you could have done more haunt you and your mind is in constant turmoil.  Your emotions take you to places you don’t want to go, deep into your heart and mind where your true feelings are stored.  Some of those feelings say it was time for your loved one to go, but that makes you feel guilty.  Another feeling is that of relief that the heavy burden of responsibility has been lifted from your shoulders.  Those feelings are normal.
      When the final moments come and you are watching your loved one slip away, you can almost see their spirit leave their body as they become lifeless.  The loss is overwhelming, tears flow and the emotional release is uncontrollable.  There is a sudden void in your heart.  The close companionship that you shared as your loved one slowly drifting away is something you will cherish for years to come  Sharing those intimate moments makes losing the a little easier to bear, but in another way it makes it more difficult.  You were so close, sometimes for the the first time, then they are snatched away and you still have so much you wanted to say  It is the most heart wrenching experience you can have in this life.  And yet, yo get through it and life goes on.
     The grieving process begins.  It is important to let those emotions go, to cleanse your body with the tears of sorrow.  Without this release, the emotions fester and create problems for the mind and body.  Death is a tie to let go, to give back to God what he loaned us for a short time.
     The grief you feel will pass in time, but it takes a while to come to teams with death.  For some it is a month or two, for others it takes a year or two more.
     Talking about your feelings helps.  After the funeral friends and relatives gather together to talk about the good times they shared with their loved one.  This experience is so important.  Emotional sharing helps to heal the loss.  While funeral gives closure, the opportunity to grieve with family and friends gives you the chance to share emotions and memories of happier times.
     Talking with your family and friends about the departed is necessary to overcome the grief and regain your composure, so that you can eventually resume your normal life.  And amazingly, life goes on...whether you want it to or not.  Sometimes you feel you would like to freeze time so you won’t have to return to your routine or cope with people, especially those who don’t know of your loss.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


     There are so  many outlets for your emotions.  For some it is working in a garden for a little while that can relieve stress.  Digging in the dirt and planting beautiful flowers brings peace to your soul.  Watching things grow seems to give you a better perspective on life.
     For others it is music, either playing an instrument or just enjoying a beautiful song.  Music helps you relax, like a good massage.  They say that music soothes the savage breast.  I really believe this to be true.  Listening to a good opera or the velvet voice of Frank Sinatra can take you to another place, another time, and give you a peaceful feeling.  It also brings back beautiful memories.
     For some, exercise relieves stressful emotions.  Working off the frustrations of life can work up a sweat.  Then have a sauna to cleanse your pores, relax with a gentle message, and see how the world looks to you.  This does wonders for your overall feeling at well-being.
      Lose yourself in a good book, while you curl up on the sofa with a hot cup of tea or coffee.  It will transport you to another dimension at least for awhile.
      If time is in short supply, even a hot bubble bath will soothe your stress and relax your muscles and your mind.  It doesn’t matter what you do, just find whatever fits your needs. 
     When the pressure builds it is time to find a release.  Whatever that release is...use it.

              THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no
                 might he increaseth strength.                            
                                                       ---Isiah 40:29

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


     With all those thoughts cluttering my mind, no wonder I would get depressed at times.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I tried to find the good in all of the pain.  I know that’s not easy, but it beats feeling negative.  I wanted someone to help me, to tell me I was doing the right thing and that these feelings were normal.  Sometimes I felt like I was going mad and all I wanted to do was scream or break something...anything to relieve the tension I felt inside.
     I cleaned, moved around our few belongings in the apartment.  I wanted to change my situation in life.  Cleaning helped, and so did baking.  I think the key word was change...I wanted something to change.  Somehow it was a small satisfaction to know that I still had control over some aspect of my life.
     Control...maybe that’s why I got so frustrated!  I didn’t have control over my life anymore, they did...Mom and Wayne and the ever-present doctors.
     I like things organized and everything was unorganized.  Instead, I had to organize my life around the needs of others.  It was like having two babies that both needed your attention at the same time.  I couldn’t get away for even a few minutes, just to be by myself.  So I cherished every stolen moment.  I wanted easy, but whoever said that life was easy?     
     They say that God never gives you more than you can handle...but He was pushing it!
     It was had to fall asleep on those nights when Wayne slept very little.  My mind would wrestle with all those thoughts until I would really fall asleep exhausted. 
      Does this pain ever go away?  Sure, it passes just like other emotions.  And it helps to channel those emotion.  If you have a hobby retreat to it for a while.  I found an outlet for all the frustration I was feeing...writing saved me.
     Writing was like having my own private therapist, only I didn’t have to bare my soul to a stranger.  I know that if I had all those feelings bottled up inside me, I would have cracked eventually.  No one can take that much stress and stay sane.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


     It is difficult to control your emotions at moments like this, but you must find the strength.  You can’t let your loved one know how frightened you are; instead remain upbeat and positive, even when your loved one tells you they don’t think they will ever see home again.  It’s rough when they think they are going to must convince them otherwise.  Your loved one needs hope, something to hold onto, just as you do.
     How do you do it?  You reach deep down inside yourself and find that determination that will help you cope.  Then hang on to it for dear life; never waver or you will sink into he depths of despair, from which you may not return.  Grim determination and a positive attitude somehow go hand in hand.  Learn to hang on tight, keep your sense of humor and you’ll make it.
     At first our routine was a back was telling the tale.  I asked the physical therapist for help and she taught me ow to transfer a patient from a bed to a wheelchair without hurting my back.  The nurses taught how to feed and medicate my husband through a G tube.
     It was all worth it!  We found a routine that worked for us.  The main problem was that Wayne slept all day and would be awake all night.  This required some adjusting on my part.  I have always been a night person, but I had to be awake all day too, or at least most of the day to take care of my mother, who was also staying with us in the apartment, since Pamela brought her to Portland and had gone back to London.
     I would try to sleep when Wayne slept, or at least part of the time.  I usually got about five to six hours in small spurts and I stayed awake from midnight until six in the morning.  We adjusted, as usual...what more could we do?
     When he was in dialysis for four hours, I did all the shopping and treated myself and Mom to a lunch out once in awhile.  This wasn’t the easiest time for me, Mother, or my husband, but we managed with the help of all our friends.
     It is certainly a time when you need your friends and family.  It isn’t easy when you are living two hundred miles away.  Your mind is cluttered with thoughts during a time like this.  You miss your home and the little luxuries that you enjoyed.  I kept thinking about our dock and how it needed to be refinished.  I sure missed sitting out there, with a gentle breeze blowing and a tall iced tea in my hand, watching the sky divers float down in their colorful parachutes.  We always loved our deck.  We had breakfast there often during the spring and summer.  Now, it was summer and I missed those wonderful times with my husband.  I knew that it would never be the same again, but I could always hold on to those memories.  I just hoped and prayed that someday soon we could be home leading a normal life again.  But I knew that dream meant a lot of hard work and dedication to making a little progress each day.


Thursday, October 4, 2012


     I knew that I had to look at the problems at hand, and concentrate on Wayne.  He would be released from the hospital soon and I wondered if I could handle his care myself.  I fought the idea of a nursing home with all my heart.  I was disillusioned with nursing homes after dealing with them with his father and then his mother.  I never dreamed that we would be in the same boat so soon.  You never think that a crisis will happen to least you pray for deliverance.  But problems arise, so you have to face them and get on with your life, however it has changed.  The real test of your endurance is to find a balance between what has to be done and what you can handle yourself.
     In my case, I read all the information I could get my hands on about my husband’s condition.  I asked questions of the nurses.  Why was his procedure being done? Why were these medications being given, and what were the side effects of each drug?  I bought a book on medications so that I could understand their benefits and side effects.  Sometimes this works, but other times it can confuse you completely.  It is still better to discuss any questions with your doctor when you can corner him long enough.  When Wayne’s doctor tried to leave the room, I would ask them to sit down and discuss my husband’s situation and give me a tentative prognosis.  I say tentative, because most doctors ten to give you the worst case scenario and I believe in thinking positively.  I knew that I was facing a bad situation, but I refused to give up just  a doctor believed a condition would not get any better.  I believe in the power of positive thinking and I work with it all the time.  I believe that if you continually think and work toward the positive end, it will help.  I’m afraid that I am know as an eternal optimist.  But, I must say, in my defense, that things go my way more often than not.  I have always been a very lucky person.  My advice is to look for something good to happen it most likely will.  If you look on the dark side, that instead is what you will probably find.
     So, thinking positively, I worked out a plan for caring for my husband, with a long-range plan for his recovery that would take him back home and out on the golf course.  I worked with him in his physical therapy sessions and at home, make sure that he had the best care I could give, and encouraged him to exercise his mind.
     It is hard to see the person you love unable to walk or remember an incident or a conversation.  I believe the worst pain in when they don’t even know who you are.  They look at you with empty eyes, sometimes frightened because they don’t know what is happening..  That empty look is the first hurdle you have to overcome---at least it was for me.


Monday, October 1, 2012


    When Wayne lost his kidney function we adjusted to having him on dialysis, but when he had a stroke, then a perforated bowel and peritonitis on top of it, I cried loud and long...then I prayed until I couldn’t find any more words.  When I came to terms with the problems that I was forced to face, a calm took over and I was able to look at the situation with a new perspective.  It is hard to detach yourself when your beloved husband is lying on a sterile bed, looking so vulnerable, but if you must make plans for the future and the care of this person, you must know how to become detached.
     When Wayne recovered a little bit from the stroke and the perforated bowel, I noted that his condition left him with memory loss and difficulty summoning the proper words when he was talking.  He was confused at times, but it wasn’t too extreme and we could have dealt with that problem, but with the peritonitis complicating his condition we almost lost him.
     At first when I realized the seriousness of his illness, it was hard to control my emotions.  I started tearing up for no apparent reason.  In fact, my emotions were often near the surface and I couldn’t push them down anymore.  Of course, I was always full of questions and worry about Wayne’s condition.  What am I going to do?  When will I get to take him home, or to the apartment?  What is his prognosis?  Is he going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life?  I knew that I would rather see him die than vegetate.  But then I didn’t want to be without him either.  It seemed like I was going crazy with all these questions.
     I mourned the loss of our future.  What happened to our dreams of traveling?  We’d planned on living in Arizona in the winter with all our friends and spending the summers in Hermiston with our family.  Our parents stole our dream when we had to care for them instead of being free to travel.  Then Wane began to fail and his health problems ended all our plans, for the moment anyway.  Sometimes I felt cursed---it had been one problem after another.  It makes you ask why?  Why are we the only ones who would care for our parents?  Why couldn’t the other siblings take their turn?  That’s an easy one to answer.  With my mother, she refused to travel to Los Angeles to visit our family.  She was afraid of flying and Southern California is so far away that if she wanted to come home, it would take too long.  Mother has always been fearful.  She was afraid of flying, driving too far from home, traveling with a group, and all the things she could do to enjoy life, she wouldn’t even consider.  With Wayne’s mom and dad, we were close.  His brother lived in Tucson, Arizona and visited very little with his parents.