Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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The Time is Drawing Near

Taffy

Back in September, we thought we were losing our beloved Taffy. She is still here and it is almost February. It has been one of the most emotional and difficult endings I have had to make decisions about.

Obviously, you can’t talk to an animal which is the hardest part for me to deal with. I can’t ask her the questions I ask humans. What gives your life meaning? How long do you want to stay? I’ve never been in a place where Medically Assisted Death is an option for people, but euthanasia has always been an option for animals

Taffy

Our house is divided and it has been since September. I am afraid of waiting too long. The rest of the house is afraid of her death too soon. I took some of my family in December to the vet with me. He was surprised Taffy was still here. After examining her, he understood why our house was in conflict. Her symptoms are confusing and true to the Thiel trait, they are also unusual. He said he has no problem offering his opinion when asked but in our case, he is stumped.

“If you decide today is the day, I totally support you. If you decide this is not the time, I totally support you.”

It actually helped me to know I wasn’t missing something. I’ve never had such a hard time knowing when. People love to say, “You will know when it’s time” but I simply don’t think that applies in this case.

I went to see the vet again last week. He noticed a definite decline from six weeks earlier. She now has something wrong in her colon. We could do dozens of tests, spend a ton of money, but he is 98% sure it would only be information. He is almost certain we wouldn’t discover something that could actually be fixed. I decided not to pursue tests, mostly because why would I put her through all that?

Taffy

He did articulate things that made sense to me. She doesn’t seem to be suffering. However, she doesn’t feel well. And she never does. She struggles with her breathing and basically feels crummy. This is where the inability to talk is tough. Some would say as long as they weren’t suffering, they would want to stay alive. (And by the way, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that at all.) But others would say if they are going to feel crummy for the rest of their lives and only get worse, they would prefer to be done. I think that describes my dad. It would also describe me.

I still lean towards soon because I can barely stand to look at her when she is having a hard time. I can’t wrap around waiting until she is actually suffering. I’m not even sure what the difference is. My family continues to feel like she would want to be here. Are they in denial? Or are they right?

I hate this.

I had a friend who is a huge dog person and knows quite a bit come and spend some time here when she offered to do so. At first, she said that if she is still willing to take walks (even if slow) that should be the benchmark. After spending more time watching her, she changed her mind. She said if Taffy was hers, it would be time. One of her questions is, would we be stealing something good from her down the road if she wasn’t here? It is doubtful. We would however, spare her from feeling worse.

I think it will be soon, but the decision isn’t quite made yet. Say some prayers for all of us. She’s been my shadow for 11 years so this is hard. My family has bonded with her just as long. And all of us have had more loss in our lives than we thoughts we could endure.

Dave, Taffy


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Varsity Hockey

Frankie is in his tenth year of playing hockey. Nine of those years we were anticipating finally being able to play at school. It has arrived and it is the first year that I dread going to the games and have been disgusted with the process.

A few games ago, we were at an away game and boo’d the ref a couple of times. Next thing we know, the “supervisor” for our section told us that she was instructed to tell us to tone it down. Who knew a section even had a supervisor? The real surprise was when a few minutes later a police officer was pacing behind the bleachers. I was shocked. Were they kidding?

Now that I’m paying attention, I’ve noticed that all the varsity games have police there. And I’m starting to understand why.

Image result for image of a hockey fight

Last night, we were approaching the end of the last period. We were losing by several goals so we knew we weren’t going to catch up. Once again, a fight broke out near our goalie. I would guess a high percentage of fights are around the goalie. Goalies are considered absolutely off limits. After the fight started, the circle around the players just got bigger. I saw the other team push our players from behind, another no-no. Then our players enlarged the circle again and pushed the other side from behind. On and on it goes. Frankie wasn’t in the mix, but I still felt sick watching it.

The punches started flying behind the net. It seemed to go on forever. I had a moment of panic when it occurred to me the refs actually might not be able to contain it. Literally, a riot could start before you know it. The refs eventually got it under control and six kids were in the penalty box, three from each team.

And that’s not the bad part.

At one point, I turned around to say something to our friends. There was a mother in the back row from the other team, kinda short, a little chubby. She says to me, “Did you just say something to me?” It was a bit pissy, but I really didn’t catch on at first. I just answered no and then we exchanged a couple more phrases. I realized she was antsy to start a fight with me. Hell, she would have kicked my ass. I’ve never been in a fight in my life.

Soon another parent from her team came walking by and summoned her. She was like, “Hell yes, I’ll come.” Off they went. Eventually, you hear all the stories from around the rink.

One parent from our team was standing behind the glass behind our goalie. He was trying to tell the refs a player was repeatedly elbowing our goalie in the head. He got kicked out. I’m not sure if the referee or the rink kicked him out, but you can’t yell to the referees, no matter what you are saying.

Secondly, the crazy woman from the bleachers by me was fighting at the other end of the rink with our goalie’s mother. It was something like, “Your kid was elbowing my kid in the head. I will press charges.” The other mom was like, “Bring it on, bitch” or something like that.

After a big scene on the ice, the refs and team captains take forever to sort things out. While that was happening, crazy lady came back to the bleachers. She apparently got tired of fighting with the goalie’s mom. It was time for the next victim. Next to us was the bleacher of high school kids.

I feel old when I say this, but they are obnoxious as hell. They are loud. They boo every time the other team scores. They yell every time our players check the other team. They give me a headache. But they are teenagers. It’s what they do. They aren’t doing anything bad, they are just loud and annoying.

Crazy mom starts yelling at them to stop taunting the players. The kids are yelling back but she starts threatening them. I see one of our kids say, “Are you really going to beat up a little girl?” By this time, my friend and I ran to get the cop. He saunters over which made me mad but he eventually got there. By this time, the mom was trying to climb over the bleachers and saying things like, “Come on you little bitches, I will kick your asses.”

The cop promptly kicked all the teenagers out without even asking questions. Two adults then got up and told the cop that it was the mother who was instigating. He kicked her out too.

At the end of the game, the other team’s parents were walking out laughing about their parent getting kicked out. I finally said, “It really isn’t funny for a parent to threaten a minor like that.” They just looked at me and that was the end of that.

Later, the player from the other team was laughing and asked the cop, “So where did you take my mom this time?” Yea, really funny.

I asked Frankie when he get home if he knew any of that happened. He said he doesn’t pay attention because most of those parents get drunk in the parking lot before the game.

The only thing I have to say is this:

WHAT THE FUCK?


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Empaths

Are you hoping for a better 2020 than 2019? I can’t prove it, but I feel like every January I say something similar. Last year was tough, here’s to hoping for a better new year.

I’ve heard it described that sympathy is feeling bad for someone’s pain. Empathy is feeling someone’s pain with them. One isn’t bad and one good, one isn’t healthy and the other unhealthy. They are just two things that are distinct but closely related.

I’m definitely an empath. That is probably the single most important thing that makes me an effective counselor. I call it being fully present. When you are in my office, you have my full attention and I am empathic. But if an empath doesn’t want to sink into the abyss, they have to also know how to detach when they exit the other’s presence.

Even when you can detach in a healthy way, there is still residue. I wouldn’t be human if there wasn’t. I am aware of the good things in life. I’m not oblivious to them and I’m grateful for the good things in my own life. But I’m also painfully aware of the crazy stuff too. Not only does it make me incredibly angry, but it also breaks my heart. There is so much suffering, and there is also so much injustice. Virtually every system in our country is broken. Some have minor issues, others are profoundly broken.

It is a privilege to witness suffering, an honor when someone lets you see. It also blows my mind sometimes. Sometimes I can’t even wrap my head around it.

For example, the legal system that claims to protect children, but repeatedly favors giving parents an endless amount of chances to get their kids back. I wonder if they have any idea the havoc it wreaks on the foster or biological families that pick up the broken children month after month, year after year. The case where the parent overdoses on drugs, sometimes in front of their child, sometimes not. They can repeatedly get arrested and have literally dozens of court cases in front of them and it doesn’t matter. The kids can show every sign of regression from seeing their parent and it doesn’t matter. How do you comfort that family?

The 17-year-old son who lost his mother to cancer and then his father takes his own life? I lost my father at age 51 and I was devastated. How do I even wrap around the thought of being completely parentless, facing the rest of my life trying to figure out how to be an adult without them at age 17?

The mom who finds herself riddled with alcoholism and in relationships with men who beat her. She keeps trying to break the pattern but finds herself back in it, even when she kicks the drinking.

A step-parent who spends decades helping his adult children become more responsible humans but all he gets in return is to be berated, ignored, accused, and have his grandchildren kept from him. How do you comfort him?

The family that loses their pregnant daughter in a tragic car accident?

The parent who has a child who tries to hang himself. Another child that douses himself with gasoline and lights himself on fire. The parent finds themselves crying repeatedly and can’t figure out why because these events happened years ago.

The stories go on and on. I want so badly to help. I want to make the kind of difference where patterns actually change. Where I can make systems do what they are supposed to do. Where I can make people behave the way they should.

But of course, I can’t. Not even close. So I stay present, try to detach. And every once in awhile I just have to scream out loud because the unfairness is so maddening I literally want to rip my hair out. (I would punch things but I’m a baby and don’t tolerate physical pain so well.)

I’m NOT talking about not holding people accountable for their choices. I’m NOT talking about creating a victim mentality. But please offer sympathy to others when you can. Please offer empathy when you can. And for God’s sake, pray for these people, and pray for those of us that are empaths on the front line. I wouldn’t trade it for the world but I need to keep my oxygen mask on.