Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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2011

I’ve heard that sometimes silence is deafening.

I have been working for several weeks now on a project that I proudly finished today. My 14,778 photographs are in a photo program that keeps them organized in a way most people would envy. However, my OCD has not let me rest for years because the way those photos are stored was not consistent.

Now who would even care about something like that? It finally got the best of me and I started the maze of trying to swap this for that. Eventually, I contacted my peep in CA from Adobe who told me a much, much, much easier way to accomplish what I wanted. Unfortunately, I had already completed about a third of the collections but at least the rest of the project went more quickly.

It was interesting to walk down nostalgia road. Back in the days of film, photos were much more difficult to date and record. You know how it was. You had a roll of film for a decade or so and then you finally got it developed. If you were lucky, you could remember what you photographed.

I couldn’t help but do that grief thing with dates. Before and after kinds of things. Oh, before Mom died. Oh, after Tim died. They become non-erasable markers in our heads that leave a scar.

Without even meaning to, I looked at those photos and wondered things like, “Wow. That was Mom’s last Christmas but we didn’t know it then.” And all the years that we were careful with Dad around holidays because we learned from Mom that you never knew when it could be your last.

The part that I wasn’t expecting, was when I would get to a collection and realize that suddenly, the photos would drop off. After about the third or fourth time it happened, I realized the pattern. It was 2011. There just were hardly any photographs at all that year. For anyone, it seemed.

In 2010, Tim got his diagnosis. There was our last Father’s Day together. There was his benefit. But in so many sections, 2011 was just gone.

It was a reminder that my entire family and support system grieved right along with Tim’s wife and children. Where did that year go? What happened to us? We must have been swallowed up in grief. Perhaps nothing felt important enough to want to remember. Yes, there were some pictures, but the difference in amounts of photographs between years was startling.

It makes sense. But it was yet another reminder that grief and loss change us in ways that we aren’t even aware of. The aware parts are tough enough, but sometimes the other insights can take years to see. I’m sure decades too, I just haven’t gotten that far yet.

I guess the take-away is this. If you are in acute grief right now and feel like there will never, ever be a smile in your life again, please know that it won’t stay like that forever. It hurts like hell, but the intensity does not stay the same. Thank God.


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Huh?

I had to give a presentation in Williamsville. Silly me, I was pretty nervous about it. Williamsville is a bit upscale and I was being hosted by these supposed power-house women who have been published and herald themselves as specializing in helping women in business. I wanted my presentation to be perfect.

What a joke.

The stories are limitless but I will highlight a few. They created an event on Facebook and then kept pressure on me to promote it daily (or more) for over two months. Along the way, they seemed to forget their promise to promote it as well. Two days before the event, my neighbor tried to buy a ticket and found the event closed for sales. I contacted them right away and they fixed it, but I was surprised at their error considering how pushy they were about Facebook.

I sent my power point to them well in advance and specifically asked to check a certain slide where I linked to a YouTube video. It is often tricky and I wanted it to go off without a hitch. They assured me they checked and it was fine. You can guess what I’m going to say next. When I arrived it’s the first thing I did and of course it was NOT working, which left me scrambling.

Well, the second thing. The first thing I had to do was bring up three loads of boxes to their second floor office. I showed up in an air-cast boot. Their elevator was broken. (Isn’t handicap accessibility a law-thing?) The partner that was there offered me no assistance. One of the participants who was also a friend ended up bringing up my boxes.

No refreshments there like they do for other workshops they host. What’s that about? Not even water for the speaker. That’s a given usually.

About two minutes before I began she asked me how long I was planning on talking. I said 60-90 minutes and she made it clear she had only planned on an hour. Nice thing to throw at a speaker last minute. I had a lot of material to cover. She made the event invitation. Last time I knew (no pun intended), 6-7:30 pm was 90 minutes, not 60.

Through my entire presentation, she played on her phone. She didn’t interact or participate. When it was over, I went through the same nonsense trying to get everything to the car. I asked her outright for help which she said she would do but then ignored me. The participants carried my things to the car.

She told me in front of the group she would email me the evaluations in the morning. Several days later, I had to ask for them. I also was in the uncomfortable position of having to ask for my check. There was no charge for the workshop per se, but we did charge $10 for materials. Each person left with a 3-ring binder with the information that was presented.

Another few days later, I received an email that said they would send half the amount. I was enraged. I put a call in and was told that the agreement was that we split the money 50/50. There was no such agreement.

But here is the real kicker of it all. Why would they even think they would get material money when they didn’t provide the materials? Not only did they provide nothing, I reminded them that I asked them no less than 3 times to make copies for me because I am a one-person operation and their answer was NO. They wouldn’t even copy one piece of paper for me. Yet they wanted half the material money. I was in shock.

Her final answer? If you provide me with receipts, I will be happy to give you your money. I could have peed myself.

My friend that referred me to them sent an email with her disgust and they agreed to give me the money that was mine. How nice of them. But they also went on to justify themselves by saying I was the one not prepared and didn’t know how to use PowerPoint. Completely not true.

What a joke that I was worried about impressing them. I have never been treated so rudely or unprofessionally. My evaluations were glowing, and I know the participants were disgusted with their behavior as well. I guess that is good enough, but man, I still really can’t believe it.

Why do I still get surprised at this stuff?


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Grief Nudges

I’m no stranger to grief, but I still get caught off guard when a wave hits me unexpectedly. I should expect the unexpected, but then that’s an oxymoron, isn’t it?

Just a couple of those moments this week. When they are wrapped in positive things, I am reminded of the bittersweet nature of life. Where you find the sweet, there is also bitter and vice versa.

I have been in meeting after meeting via the phone and computer this week. (It’s a good thing they are scheduled that way because I have been snowed in!) I am thrilled to part of a statewide group that is seeking to make medical changes for the better. It’s intimidating to be chatting with some of the state’s top dogs in the field, but I’m honored.

After one such meeting where I had to briefly describe what happened with Dad, I hung up and went to find Tim. Before I knew it, I was crying again about feeling like I let Dad down because I couldn’t get people to do what they were supposed to do. He was his usual awesome self. I do know deep down that other people’s behavior is not my fault, but I just hate how everything went down for him when he deserved the best ending a person could have.

A couple of days later, Tim and I were at his trailer packing things up and preparing it for going on the market. That’s a positive, exciting step for us. We got to the recliner in the living room which Tim inherited after Dad died. It took less than five seconds for me to start crying. Dad spent most of his time in that chair. It was his favorite spot. Again, Tim spoke up first. That chair isn’t getting sold or donated, it is going in the cabin we are hoping to build soon. I felt much better after that.

Bottom line, I miss my dad. A lot. So there are going to be reminders, everywhere. Expected and unexpected. It’s all part of the grief process.


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To Be Fair…

I’m not sure if I’ve ever blogged twice in one day, but I felt this warranted a P.S..

I was able to speak to the investigator that took my initial complaint. She started by saying, “I thought I would be hearing from you.”

She is a very ethical person and could not say a lot of things to me about the process of what happens. My intuition tells me she would have if she could have. The wording on the letter, while polite, makes it seem cut and dried. All I could think was that doc was having the last laugh.

She was able to verify that my understanding of what is supposed to occur is indeed accurate. There are many levels of investigation and their goal is to correct whatever errors there are. Hopefully, a doctor only needs one complaint in their career to get things in order.

She was also able to let me know that she spent hours and hours on this case like I did. She also assured me that the physician’s that make determinations did as well. I felt heard and that helps immensely.

While I couldn’t get anything specific out of this very ethical (and compassionate) woman, I would dare guess that this went further than a letter. I suspect that while it didn’t go to the very top, there may have been at least one conversation. That is a really big deal in the medical profession.

My goal was never to crucify the guy. I just want him to get what he did. I want him to understand that he was wrong and I don’t want him to do it to anyone else. I am hoping he will change his perspective on what his job is as a professional.

I will never know if that happens, but I feel some relief in my stomach. I feel like he was at least told and informed as he should have been. What happened to Dad was taken seriously. Very seriously.

And if she is just blowing smoke, I give her credit anyway. She did a great job making me feel better about the whole process without betraying any ethics. Thank you so much! I will rest much easier tonight than I did last night.


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Why Do I Bother?

I received a letter that was most disturbing. It literally took the wind out of my sails. I felt my energy drain out of me and within 15 minutes I found myself in bed at 730 pm, checked out for the night.

It was from the Department of Health. It read like this: “Upon completion of the investigation, based on all the information available to OPMC (Office of Professions, my parenthesis), there is insufficient evidence to bring a charge of professional misconduct…”

I couldn’t believe it. And it has thrown me into another existential career crisis. This was so obvious and blatant to me, my jaw (and heart) dropped.

Ignored my dad’s request for help with his pain for four business days.

Refused to order a catheter at dad’s request, in spite of Dad being a serious fall risk due to the Parkinson’s and the nature of his infection. He even went so far as to say, “If you aren’t willing to take an antibiotic, I’m not letting you have a catheter.”

Blatant bullying behavior toward my father with statements like, “You understand this infection could kill you and you still won’t take the antibiotic?” And the most unprofessional of all, “Well, if this is what you want for your life, peeing your bed, going to the bathroom every 30 minutes, you just keep right on refusing the antibiotic.”

Requiring a conversation with the Hospice CEO before agreeing to a catheter, but refusing to read the texts that came directly from that CEO.

All of that is disgusting, but could be stretched to say it’s a matter of opinion if you really want to go out of your way to defend him. But what is NOT debatable, is the professional, ethical and legal responsibility of a doctor to RESPECT A PATIENT’S WISHES AND RIGHTS. Dad had his ducks in a row. He had a legitimate, accurately completed MOLST form. It is without doubt a clear expectation of every medical professional to respect that. So many more details I won’t take the time to write.

This doesn’t get easier with time. If fact, the more times the ball is dropped and justice is not done, I get more and more angry.

Why do I bother? Yes, because it’s the “right” thing to do. Honestly though, I spent hours and hours documenting what happened, filling out the proper forms, and speaking with investigators at length. I was told that this case would most likely go very high up the chain because the behavior exhibited was of such a serious nature.

And now this.

Nothing. How do I not throw in the towel like most people do? Why should I be the exception and continue to fight and never give up? I am seriously questioning if the things I pursue are a good use of my time and energy. I would not apologize for being emotional about my loved one, but this was not about that. There were repeated unethical acts against Dad and something drastic needs to be changed.

But it’s obviously not going to happen. Not on a professional level, not on a state level. And even the facility has chosen to keep him employed in spite of the havoc that was caused by his behavior. And oh yeah, a man more than worthy of an honorable and peaceful death got nothing of the kind.

I’m pissed. I’m disgusted. I’m crying. I’m angry. Disheartened. Wondering if I should even bother anymore. I’m bitter – that grieving my father has been more painful than I could have imagined and now AGAIN, it’s clouded with this utter nonsense.


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It’s Not Me, Right?

Sometimes it feels like things are so ridiculous, I wonder if I’ve lost my mind. I feel like I live in a world where so many people are consumed and passionate about these crazy things and missing the whole point. Are they serious?

One example from the world outside my immediate setting. Let’s ban Rudolph because of the bullies in it. I happen to think it has an amazing and relevant message, especially for such an “old” movie. You bet there are bullies, even Santa himself. But the “victims” (Rudolph and Hermie) overcome the crap treatment and become heroes. The end of the movie? All the bullies apologize. His dad, Santa… they realize they had behaved wrongly. Amen! What the hell is wrong with that message? Bullying is worth our attention. Focusing on Rudolph? Um… I don’t get it.

Plus, he’s pretty cute!

Overall, I like Frankie’s school, but sometimes I scratch my head. The athletics department is supposed to keep an eye on grades. Big bad on their part this year. Mistake #1, they forgot to notify the parent. Mistake #2, they forgot to notify the teacher. Mistake #3, they forgot to check in DAILY to see if their athlete was staying after. Three huge oops. And they wonder why the warning papers get thrown in the bottom of the gym bag and ignored. Failing academics? I think that is a pretty important thing for them to worry about.

You know what they did focus on? Frankie’s track meets are 6-7 hours long on Saturdays. In between events, they are left to entertain themselves. Now teens have incredible opportunities these days to get into trouble. Frankie found himself doing the worst thing I could imagine. He put on his nerd glasses he got for Christmas, put on his baseball cap backward, tucked in his shorts, and found himself in a dance battle with kids from another school. Unfortunately, he didn’t get video. I was very disappointed because I would have loved to have seen that.

At practice, he got scolded for fooling around between events.

He and his buddy got in the car and he told me what a “rascal” he was. I told him that he better not try to sing either. I assured him and his friend that I would send them more appropriate things to keep themselves occupied. I would send a vape with cannabis oil so they can calm down, a flask with some liquor, and a couple of porn mags so they can sit quietly next time and stay busy. They appreciated the offer.

I don’t know, is it me? There are dozens of other examples, but it just seems to me people are hyped up about the wrong stuff. I wanna hit my head on the wall sometimes. I just hope my kid doesn’t lose his personality because I think he lights up a room when he wants to. Certainly that’s better than hiding in the dark.


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Failing, Failure

The last couple days have been tough. There is nothing monumentally wrong that most families and relationships don’t typically go through. But when I feel like everything around me (or 80%) is failing, I end up feeling like a failure.

My sister was her supportive self today when we talked. She gave me her opinion that I am one of the most capable people she knows and far from a failure. Thanks sissy! Deep down, I guess I know I’m not responsible for everyone else’s choices, but it’s hard when stress can feel unrelenting.

I got talking to a client today and it reminded me of research I read years ago. It said that females in particular tend to be prone to an “internal locus of control” which, like anything else, has its good and bad points.

When a woman is faced with a problem or hurt, she usually asks herself what she did wrong and looks for how she can fix it. An external locus of control would assume someone else screwed up. The good part of the internal focus is that it can lead to empowerment and change. The bad part is that it can lead to over-responsibility and unnecessary self-blame.

Generalizations almost always get you in trouble so please understand these thoughts don’t apply to every single person in every single situation. As an observer of human behavior and relationships, I have to say that it does seem to often be the case though. Women are often the “emotional thermometers” in relationships. It’s almost comical when a couple sits down for session and the man briefly declares things are ok. The woman wants to know who he has been living with because it apparently isn’t their home. As she recounts the week’s activity, the man will eventually nod in agreement. “Oh yea, I forgot about that,” or something similar.

Anyhow, when you intensely love and care for people around you, it can be heartbreaking when you are disappointed, worried, concerned when you see those around you making choices that hurt you, or worse hurt themselves. Probably the most intense pain is around the love and concern a parent has for their child. A child of any age, no matter how old he/she gets.

I’m doing ok tonight. I’m exhausted and feel like a wet dish rag. But talking to people who care and an unscheduled call to Scott (my trusted therapist) reminds me that these things too shall pass. They hurt like hell, but I don’t need to fall into the abyss or anything. Tomorrow will come and I will just do the best I can again. I’m usually the only one that asks more of me than that.

Hope all is well in your world, wherever you are. Take some time for self-care, but stay engaged in life and people. It’s worth it, even when you’d rather punch them all…LOL.