Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Progress

I have been enjoying working with my lady and the organizing we have been attempting to. Here is one of the before and after photos I have:

I’m not sure what you think about that. Is it like, wow! What a huge difference!  Or is it like, big deal! It’s just one small wall.

I guess both statements are true. This job has gotten me thinking more about the dynamics around hoarding vs. disorganization. Usually when I go to a typical home where things have gotten a little out of hand, folks are just overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Once we get going, they pick up momentum and catch on to my method. Next time I go there, I find they have been working on their own and making great progress.  Most people love feeling more free and less encumbered.

With hoarding, or on your way to being one, it seems to be a different dynamic. It usually develops over many, many years. I think people become completely unaware of how their environment has affected them. This lovely lady I work with sits quietly when I get excited about the finished section. I will tell her how great it looks and she will say calmly, “Whatever you say. I thought it was fine before.”  And I believe she really feels that way.

I am hoping with time she will develop some intrinsic motivation. If she doesn’t, I know what will happen. Things will just return to the way they were, which will put her at risk with the building managers. Keep your fingers crossed and say your prayers for her.


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More Rules

Upon discussing some of the things that went sideways where my dad was living, the corporate folks pointed out that sometimes people get so fixated on obeying rules, they stop using common sense. I’ve been aware of that dynamic for a while and spot it in so many settings. Last week someone on the phone just spoke to me like a robot because she couldn’t stray from the script long enough to answer simple questions from me.

Today was another incident that had me seeing red. Dave was supposed to have his first ever indoor track meet today. It was at Buff State, about 25 minutes away. I was supposed to wake him at 5 am so he could catch the bus at 630 am. I didn’t notice that I set the alarm for weekdays, so it didn’t go off as it is Saturday. Oh no!

I woke up at 630. We told his peers we would have to drive there and off we rushed to get there. We weren’t going to be late, but it turns out there is a rule that students need to ride the bus or they can’t participate in the sport.

I called and pleaded with every source I could, all to no avail. They wouldn’t let him race. I had to drive back and pick him up. I even spoke with our counselor who is also on staff at the school. I understand why they have such rules, but you should still be able to use common sense. In other words, no parent (single or partnered) can ever, ever make a mistake or an error without their child being punished. There will never ever be a circumstance where exceptions should be made to the general rule. That’s ridiculous.

We also talked about how I have always been hard on myself for being less than perfect, and things like this trigger me like crazy. This is why you have to be perfect. The system doesn’t allow for being human. And it’s a million times worse when your kid suffers instead of you.

Follow the rules for the sake of following rules. Turn your blinders on. 

I know that David didn’t die because he couldn’t race today. Worse things can happen in life, I know. But it was still a very stressful, exhausting and disappointing morning with an already difficult season upon us.

Please feel free to share any thoughts you have and/or repost this on your page. Wish me luck as I continue on my Mary Poppins goal… Practically perfect in every way. 🙂


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Paying Forward

We got a new carpet this week. A crew of three came to rip up the old and put in the new. One was a female. The guys told me they love working with her because she works harder than 95% of the men on their crew. (No offense men, but that really isn’t surprising!)

She complimented the house and we ended up chatting. Found out she was struggling a bit. She lives in an apartment and is raising her granddaughter. Unfortunately, that usually means her child is either a drug addict or has a serious mental illness. I didn’t pry.

Turns out she could use some of the excess small tables I had that I was going to post and attempt to sell. I told her I would be happy to give her them which saves me the hassle of selling. She was very grateful but didn’t drive. Her boss picks her up every morning and takes her home and she didn’t want to put him out any further.

I went out to talk to “the boss.” I told him I was going to “bat my eyes” at him and he asked what it was I wanted. He had no problem taking the items for her. She was so thrilled. I mentioned that one of them had belonged to my dad. She saw a picture of him on the wall and said he looked kind. She also said she would say some prayers in his honor. It was a lovely and seemingly sincere moment.

She was hesitant to take it at first because of it belonging to him. I told her that keeping it would not bring him back, but it would make me happy to know that someone so kind and appreciative was using it.

It was a lovely day in spite of all the stress that house remodeling brings. For those of you that haven’t been here in a while, you should stop in and see the new bathroom and bedroom. Tim and I have made a great team and things are looking spiffy!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, especially those experiencing the loss of someone they care about. Holidays always seem to multiply the grief. 

And please share my post if you are able. Always trying to boost interest in these topics and hopefully expose my business. Love to all of you!


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Blue Thanksgiving?

This week I was cleaning out my closet to continue my efforts to purge and minimize where possible. It brought me to my two memory boxes of Tim. Every once in a while as I go through them, time passes and I notice that some things that seemed important to keep at first, don’t seem that important later. I think that is a natural part of the passing of time.

This time, I found myself looking with the perspective of having tried to become as paper-free as possible over the last year. This led to a boatload of scanning. I had over 80 scans by the time I was done, the largest one being 25 pages. (Thanks Stef for showing me how to top-load documents!)

Overall, as the days passed, I knew I was melancholy and sober. It wasn’t just reliving my husband’s death, it was reliving the loss of my church family as well. But the deepest wound by far, was finding one of Tim’s treasures he had saved. He had a couple of Christmas tags in Mom’s handwriting that said, “To Tim, From Mom and Dad.” A wave came over me as I said in a whisper, “My God, all three of them are gone, completely gone.”

Today I had to go to the Hospice campus for something. They have done lots of remodeling. Their already nice facility is even more beautiful and more convenience-friendly. But I didn’t even make it back to my car without calling Michelle back and dumping a whole bunch of tears on her.

She asked how I am overall. Lost. I feel lost and orphaned. Both parents gone, a spouse gone. Geeze, I know lots of people are in the same boat, but I’m super in touch with my own grief right now. It’s mine, and it’s intense. Why does this stuff always happen around the holidays? That familiar stomach ache. That familiar hollow feeling I know so well. Only it is carved even deeper now. That feeling like this death aged me another ten years ahead of my time. 

I laugh when I job hunt and I hear dumb things like I don’t have experience with some of this stuff. The hell I don’t. I have gobs of it. Not as much as some, but more than a lot of people. I’m not feeling a pity-party at the moment. Just letting folks out there know that if you are in grief, don’t let anyone tell you there is a time limit to it. You’re allowed the rest of your life. It’s okay if the holidays are bittersweet at best. That about sums up life in general anyhow. Let yourself show the courage to taste both ends of the spectrum.

It can still be a Happy Thanksgiving, even when you’re shedding some tears.


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The Christmas Queen

This time of year, I’m known as the Christmas Queen. I hate the thought of Christmas presents, but I love the media stuff. Thanks to my OCD, I am also known more as the Christmas Nazi. That is because I HAVE to do the following every year:

Read every Christmas book I have
Listen to every Christmas record I have
Watch every Christmas movie I own
Listen to every Christmas CD I have
Play every piece of Christmas piano music I have

My friend Darren knows this about me so last year he sent me an external drive with his Christmas collection. This year I got it open and let me tell you, he makes me look like a Christmas Scrooge. He sent audio books, dozens of movies, and about 4,000 Christmas songs!

You can see why I had to start at the beginning of November. There are several things that I enjoy, but wouldn’t particularly want to visit again every year. And I’m learning lots of things, probably only interesting to me.

1- When it comes to audio books, I prefer actual readings vs. additional voices and sounds to dress it up. Patrick Stewart’s reading of A Christmas Carol is awesome, which is of course followed up by watching the movie with him as Scrooge. The exception is The Grinch. Having those fun songs throughout the reading is a definite bonus.

2- When it comes to movies, I was surprised by a few. Curious George and The Smurfs actually have repetitive worthy specials that I thought for sure were going to be on the one-time only list. Tim was particularly unhappy when he came home last week to my announcement that we needed to talk. I told him I still loved him dearly, but my heart has expanded and I am also in love with another man as well. ANDY WILLIAMS! My, what a heart-throb. He is so dang handsome and has the most beautiful eyes. (Well, so does Tim for that matter!) Tim pointed out that he is old as dirt and I pointed out he is still pretty damn handsome with his salt and pepper hair.

3- As for music, I found I am not quite as eclectic as I thought. Darren has brought my attention to all types of genres that I didn’t even know were out there. I found the B.B. King file and figured I would love him but discovered I didn’t care for his style at all. The big surprise was Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, who I had never even heard of and would have thought would have been a big no. Turns out I loved them. Lou Rawls voice is as hot as they come. And my favorite find so far, is Julie London, who I also didn’t recognize. She does a song called, “I’d Like You for Christmas” that is so sexy and sweet, I almost woke Tim up at 2 a.m. to dance with me. He said he appreciated my wisdom on not following through.

While you might think this a monumental waste of my time, I have found a way to make this useful. If Darren can put movies on a disk, then I can too. I can add to the drive and dispense of my DVDs which is consistent with my desire to keep getting rid of “stuff” in any way possible. Plus, any books on audio, I can get rid of those as well. See? It’s such a good use of my time 🙂

This was an indulgent blog about my own quirks, but a non-depressing theme is ok once in a while, isn’t it?


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Agony of De-Feet

I have been told throughout my life that I have very pretty feet. It’s a consolation for having a stomach that makes everyone and their sister ask me if I’m pregnant. At least my feet are nice. I have to say though, they definitely have taken a beating.

Remember this from 2012?

Darcy's foot xray

That picture was worth re-posting. That was David’s 10th birthday when I stepped on a nail when doing yard work. (No, I obviously didn’t have shoes on. Did you have to ask?)

Two weeks ago I had a second foot surgery. My doctor asked me if my surgeon knew how I was. You know, never stopping or sitting down. I told her of course he did because he did my other surgery. Besides, I’ve slowed down a lot over the years.

Today I went in to get my stitches out. I knew it was going to be ugly because I know what a baby I am. What I didn’t expect was how awful it looked. I had Tim take a picture because I knew you would want to see it too.

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First of all, it makes my foot look ginormous. They are actually not very big. The marker is from the doc when he did the surgery. All the purple though, is bruising. No, it usually isn’t that bad for most patients.

I don’t mean to be a bad patient. I really don’t. I’m not trying to be a hero. I don’t want any more damage to be done. I was pretty proud of myself for being as still as I have been the last two weeks. But the more we talked, the doc just kept shaking his head at me. He wondered why I didn’t actually follow the written instructions he gave me.

The second week, I just assumed things were “as needed” (even though it wasn’t written that way) so no, I hadn’t been taking the anti-inflammatory medicine three times a day. No, I haven’t been icing twice a day. I wonder why the foot is swollen and inflamed?

Yes, I did go to Dave’s cross-country meet by myself, on crutches, in the rain where it was so muddy and slippery people were falling. But I couldn’t miss it, right? And yes, Tim and I painted the bathroom last night and Tim doesn’t do trim so yes I had to be on the ladder.  Oops. Ok, I guess I didn’t do as well as I thought.

By the way, I was only using one crutch for the last week because it was easier. Turns out I was using it under the wrong arm. Duh. I honestly had no idea. That one wasn’t my fault. And it’s just unfortunate that I was using it under the shoulder where I am already in Physical Therapy three times a week for it. But hey, I stopped going to therapy so I could take it easier these last couple of weeks.

Sigh.

I admit it. I’m not the model patient. But if they only knew how good I thought I was being because of all the things I DIDN’T do!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Tired Out

I had surgery on my feet last week so I’ve been on crutches. Mostly, there isn’t much pain. The thing that has surprised me is how much I am sleeping. I can sleep for hours. As I slowly increase my activity, I find after an hour or two I need another nap. Someone pointed out that once I stopped, the last few months may have just caught up with me. I’ve been crashing hard.

My first time driving again, I went to a building complex for folks 62 and over. I have two jobs there I will be starting where I am helping the resident clean the built-up clutter in their homes. Both apartments are going to be quite a challenge. The conversations with the two women in their mid to late 70’s were amazingly similar.

“I’m tired.” Both ladies repeated that again and again. Tired with a capital T. Tired of taking care of themselves. Tired of taking care of other people, which is definitely what most women do for most of their lives. Tired of all of it.

One woman made it clear that she was not referring to “giving up” because there’s a big difference. It brought back floods of feelings and memories of Dad. I spent the last year or so trying to explain to others that exact sentiment. Dad was tired. He was done. But I saw that as completely courageous. There was no giving up, it was an acceptance. Done here. Ready for the next.

I don’t think the women I saw today were necessarily referencing the end of their lives. They are just ready for a change. Needing to simplify. Needing to stop and slow down. Wanting to be taken care of a bit which is the biggest change of all. “I’m tired.”

Later I spoke with one of the managers who asked if I had an initial assessment. I said it was too early to know for sure, but my gut feeling is that neither of them had a mental health issue of concern. They are both just tired. Tired with a capital T.

I’m aware that this week held one of those realizations that once again, God, the universe has brought my life experiences to dovetail beautifully with my work. I was able to understand and relate to them in a much deeper way more quickly than I would have a few months ago. Thanks Dad. It felt really soul-satisfying to hug one of them at the end and hear her say, “You are the only one that is listening. I could kiss you right now.”

My approach to these organizing jobs will have a slightly different slant. I will be emphasizing that peace is coming their way. They can sit in their chairs and direct me and I will do my best to give them rest. The soul kind of rest they desperately need.

My sleep has been more physical, just recovering from surgery and lots of stress. That kind of fatigue is important to respond to, but these women are tired in a much deeper, wide-reaching way. Send prayers for us as we begin our work together that the outcome will be much more significant than a clean apartment. This feels more like a ministry. I’m so glad for the opportunity!