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.