Tag Archives: loss

Good Grief!

20 Jun

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It’s been about seven weeks since my Dad passed away and my moments of grief have come unexpectedly.  For example, a few weeks ago I walked into a store and saw the men’s department and the first thing I thought was “what does Dad need” and immediately remembered, “he doesn’t need anything.”  I was both relieved and deeply saddened by the realization that I will not be caring for my Dad anymore

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Baking pies for friends has helped with my grief… it’s something I can do on autopilot.

Another day I ran into a friend who’d always asked how Dad was doing.  She looked at me and began her question, “How is he… ” and my eyes grew moist as I gently shook my head. We talked and cried and finally hugged.  Later, my friend said that she felt bad for asking but I was grateful to have had the chance to release the tears.

On several occasions I’ve found that when I mention the news about Dad’s passing that it seems like I’ve given permission for others to share their pain.  I’ve found myself in the aisle of a store with a friend laughing and crying as we listened to each other’s stories. Clearly we both needed to share, and in doing so, were given the opportunity to heal just a little bit.

Then just a week ago I was asked to take in a dog that is going through a loss of her own. Emile’s Mom had to move into a place where dogs are not permitted.  Now her dog, Lily, and I are both experiencing loss and somehow we have to figure out how to live in the new world we now find ourselves in.  I hope that I can help Lily as much as she is helping me.

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Perhaps what I am most grateful for at this time is that my Dad took care of legal matters years ago and that has made things much easier than they might otherwise have been. Truly, these last months I’ve felt like I was walking around in a fog and if I’d had to be making difficult decisions I don’t know how I’d have done so.  I encourage everyone to start thinking about taking care of those details for your loved ones.  This site is a great place to start:  www.gyst.com.  The initials stand for “get your shit together.” Think about it –  the death of a loved one is hard enough to handle without having to locate a will or figure out passwords.  Please take action soon – I know your family will thank you.

“Tears are the silent language of grief.”  Voltaire

A future without him

9 May
me with Dad

The last photo I took with my father in April, 2016

One week ago today, my world changed forever. A nurse from the rehab where my Dad was staying called with news. The woman had an accent and at first I was confused… so I asked her to repeat what she’d said. “I’m so sorry but your father has passed away.” This time her words were clear and all at once it felt like the floor was falling away beneath me. Even though I’ve known that this day would come, those words were still so very hard to hear.

The last week has been filled with a “busyness” I’d never have chosen to go through. Thankfully, I’ve been able to weather it with the help of my husband, Emile. He has been the rock I needed and has held me as I sobbed, made me eat when I didn’t even know I was hungry, and helped me to be patient when all  I wanted to do was scream (think Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment). I’m so grateful that he was with me to help me navigate this life transition in as graceful a way as possible .

When I try to make sense of my sadness, I think it’s because for many years I’d wanted for my Dad to be happy and yet, try as I might, I always felt like I’d failed. I wonder how I thought I could have ever have made up for the life situations he faced? As a child he saw much hardship—and then before he was 25 he lost his Dad, two brothers, and a child. In later years, he lost my Mom to cancer and my sister, Nancy, to Cystic Fibrosis. His world wasn’t just half-full, at times it seemed damn near empty!

Throughout the years, Dad and I rarely found a way to talk about the pain in his life.  That wasn’t something we knew how to do.  The last time I was able to take him out to dinner, however, he sipped a glass of wine and told me a few stories that were new to me. As I listened to him, I wondered who he might have become under different circumstances.  When I took him back to his assisted living facility, he joked with his nurse and then they both laughed out loud.  That laugh brought a smile to my face, and Dad said, “You don’t even know why we’re laughing” and I replied, “It’s not important… I’m just so glad to see you happy.”

Dad was never one to offer words of praise… I guess because he’d never heard them himself.  That’s probably why I’ve been amazed to find so many pictures, emails, newspaper articles, and other mementos of my sisters and our families stuffed throughout his condo. Clearly, even though he didn’t know how to say it, his family meant the world to him.  That knowledge will help me face a future without him.

This journey of loss has just begun. I ask that you please be patient with me as I travel it.

“One should never be ashamed to cry.  Tears are rain on the dust of earth.” Charles Dickens

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A quiche I baked for my father’s neighbor in Florida

What happened to November???

2 Dec

So much has happened in the last month!  I’m chagrined that I did not write once in November but hope to explain that I was not off on vacation.  It’s been a time of loss for several of my dear friends and as they are traveling their road I have tried to help in the ways that I know how. For me that means bringing soup, being there to listen, and of course, by offering pies.  Pies, in and of themselves, are not going to do much to assuage the pain of loss.  However, if my friends feel a little more loved for a while, then my efforts have been well worth it.

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Another reason I did not have time to write this past month was due to a different kind of loss.  In early November I helped my Dad move back to Florida.  He had lived there for almost twenty years before he had a stroke in March of 2013. After three trips to Florida that Spring I decided that he needed to come back to Oregon with me.  My goal was to be able to take care of him AND (try to) live my life.  To my great dismay, that plan did not work out.  My Dad did not like being in Oregon and longed to be back in Florida near his girlfriend.  After much deliberation, and with the blessing of his doctor and his social worker, I arranged for my Dad to move to the same facility where his girlfriend lives.  Friends ask, “Is your Dad happy now?” and I answer, “I think so” but what I know for certain was that he was not happy here with me.  Knowing that makes me a little sad but I have to honor his choice.  It is, after all, his life.

Before I left Florida, I made sure to bring a Pumpkin Pie to the woman in charge of the kitchen in my Dad’s building.  It was a way to thank her in advance for her care and attention.  Then I made some Pecan Shortbread cookies for the director of Nursing.  It is my hope that they will help her to think fondly of my Dad.

Pie and Cookies for Brookdale

The rest of the month is a bit of a blur.  A few days after I came back from Florida was the first night of the season for our church’s homeless shelter which I am helping to coordinate.  It’s my first time in this role and I am humbled to be able to help those in need in a tangible way and honored to work together with all the caring people who make this shelter possible.

Then last week, I helped Ashland High School Nordic Team bake 42 pies to raise funds for ski equipment.  It was a long day but it was fun to work together with friends helping our student athletes.  As you can imagine, the church kitchen smelled absolutely delicious afterwards!  I could not imagine leaving that wonderful aroma in the room without also leaving some food, so I took some of the leftover apples and put together a quick cobbler for our shelter guests.  I found this note when I came the next day

thank you napkin

That simple note made my day!  I believe that kindness is something we can all give to one another.  Often the cost to us is minimal, but the difference it can make in the lives of those around us is immeasurable.  I’d love to hear your stories of how an act of kindness made your day… either as the giver or the receiver.  Your story might inspire someone to do something they might not otherwise have done…. at least that is my hope!

Blessings!

“My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”  The Dalai Lama

parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme

Lastly I wanted to share a photo taken on Thanksgiving as my husband was cooking.  My son called this our family’s idea of “being funny.”

Day 355: Winter/Spring Center for Transforming Grief

26 Mar

Black-Bottom Chocolate Pie

The name “Winter/Spring” symbolizes the seasons of life and death, particularly the transition from the darkness of winter to the reawakening, lightness, and hopefulness of spring (taken from their website).   The mission of Winter/Spring is to support grieving children, teens, and adults.  If know about the not-for-profit, Winter/Spring, chances are that you have experienced a significant loss in your life.

It was almost twenty years ago that I found myself in need of a place like Winter/Spring.  I was the mother of two small children and in a ten week period, I lost my sister, my uncle, and my brother-in-law.  It was an incredibly difficult time and I found myself crying continuously.  I knew I had to do something to get help because my children were always asking me, “What’s wrong?” and I couldn’t even explain it.

My husband discovered that the local hospital had a grief group starting up and encouraged me to attend.  At first I thought it would be hard to do, but I soon found out that it was exactly what I needed.  The meeting was lead by a married couple who had lost their daughter in a biking accident.  When I heard their story, and saw that they had survived that loss, I knew that I would also survive.

Each week, one by one, the members of the group would tell their stories of loss.  I found myself crying at each and every one and found that at the end of the meeting, I was exhausted and all cried out. I wouldn’t even feel like crying again until the next meeting.

One of the interesting things that happened during that time involved an older woman whose husband had died.  As she told her story she did not cry… and when she saw me crying, she looked at me with a look that I thought translated as, “Buckle up kid, get a hold of yourself.”  At our last meeting, she approached me.  I thought she was going to chastise me, and instead she said, “I am so envious of how easily you cry.  I am still so angry at my husband for dying, that I haven’t shed a single tear.”  What I had seen as judgement, was instead a longing to express her pain.

Today I wanted to make a special pie for the people at Winter/Spring and so I researched and found this recipe for Black-Bottom Pie on Epicurious.   I want to recognize all of the people who work at Winter Spring for the valuable work that they do. The services that they offer are very important and very much appreciated.  And if you are living with grief, I urge you to give them a call.  There is help waiting.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ~Kahlil Gibran

While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil. ~John Taylor

Day 150: With Sympathy

3 Sep


Spinach and Chicken Sausage Frittata

Recently friends of mine experienced a very great loss and tonight I find myself searching for the right words to say. The very best that I can offer them is “I’m so very sorry.” However, what I really want to do is to make things better and yet I am powerless to do so.

Though I know that nothing can “fix” things I had to do something for them and so early this morning, I brought these friends a gift of food. It was a simple frittata, baked with love. I want them to know that they are in my thoughts and that I share in their sadness.

Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality. ~Emily Dickinson

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ~From a headstone in Ireland

Day 135: Losing a friend

19 Aug

A few weeks ago I gave a pie to my neighbor Shirley. We sat and talked about a number of things, and I asked her about a young man that I’d seen visiting her. She told me that he was her grandson Chris – and that he’d just lost his dog and was taking it hard.

I don’t know much about Chris at all. But what I do know is that he and that dog seemed to be inseparable. Chris would drive around in his black car with the windows rolled down and the dog would be seated next to him feeling the air on his face.

More recently, Chris would just walk his dog slowly because the dog had become ill. It was sad to see his dog struggle, but still so nice to see them together. And I know just how much he misses his dog now.

He said some folks have said, “Get another dog!” But I don’t think they understand that it’s not “just a dog” that’s missing – it’s his best friend. And when you lose your best friend, you need time to grieve.

I brought Chris an Apple Blueberry Pie tonight in memory of his best friend. It is a small gesture but sent with love and understanding.

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