Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Being Present with Grief

I have been seeing a family that I have written about before (with their permission) who have been dealing with intense grief for almost two years now. It is so hard for them to even focus on healing because the situation around the loss has been a relentless avalanche of tough circumstances. It keeps the anger burning strong and it exhausts their energy.

Recently, one of the adult daughters came to session. Because of all the information we had to cover, there wasn’t time to focus on her like we had all planned on. As they were leaving, the dad mentioned the “mandatory hugs” that are usually exchanged before exiting.

After the parents went through the door, I hugged the daughter. I had one of those sixth sense moments and lingered with her. It started a flow of tears from her. I didn’t say much and my mind was racing to not say something dumb. Mostly I didn’t say anything except, “take your time” and “let it go.”

Eventually, the tears turned to more intense sobbing. Both parents came over and we all held each other in a circle. After several more moments, the hug ended. All told, it was about ten minutes. If that doesn’t sound long to you, let me tell you it’s a great amount of time to be crying.

I reminded them all that grief is horrifically painful. They did not need to say anything to each other or try to stop the tears. People who grieve just need someone to be on the journey. They need folks who aren’t afraid of the intensity of their sadness. They can all just be present with each other as they navigate the terrible path they have been forced to walk down.

After they left, I went to Tim and asked for a hug. It was a difficult ending to session, but one I wouldn’t trade for anything. I was reminded that even though talking is good, that wasn’t what was needed today. It was caring touch and presence. Her tears were much more healing than any amount of verbal processing would have done.

Again, my hat is off to you, my clients. You are so resilient and brave!


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Eleventh Hour

Back in November, my siblings and I started a conversation with my dad about the possibility of downsizing into a smaller place. We were meeting with him once a month and cleaning things out a little at a time. Things kept progressively increasing in effort until the last two months which have been in full-court press.

Now it’s time. He is moving tomorrow. All these months of preparation and there is less than 24 hours to go. The weird thing is, it has been an especially long, long week. If you have ever quit a job and had a hard time finishing out those last few days of work, you know what I mean.

No matter how much I sleep or nap, I don’t feel refreshed. Tuesday was the last real packing day I was going to spend with him, and on Monday afternoon my feet started feeling like lead. I swear it hurt to lift them and walk. Yesterday I got weepy. We went to a neurologist appointment for Dad in the morning which led to a couple of follow-up phone calls I had to make and that did it. I started crying on the way home. There was no way I could make two phone calls that required my brain to be sharp. So I napped. That didn’t help, but I did manage to get the phone calls done. Of course I did. It’s me. But I was in desperate need of cheerleaders to tell me to just keep going. I had five sessions that night as well.

Today is the last day before the big move. Cry number one was at 8:30 am. I had to call Dad and tell him that I broke his favorite fireman statue. I had loaded my car on Tuesday (which didn’t make sense to him to begin with) and I couldn’t pack it full because Frankie has hockey camp all week and he has a very large equipment bag. Things shifted and a box fell on the statue and broke off both of the poor guy’s arms. Now Dad can sometimes be a typical dad of his generation and not great when it comes to emotions. But he was stellar today. He told me not to cry. It was an accident and he knew I didn’t do it on purpose. He just didn’t want me to cry anymore.

I went home and started on some neglected yard work. I know most people think my yard is always fine, but I can’t help seeing what I see. I know what it is SUPPOSED to look like in order to maintain it properly. I also know it wasn’t important in comparison which is why I was behind. I started to prioritize it this morning and started to feel good about the potential progress I could make.

That is until I realized I had forgotten my psychiatrist’s appointment. I mean, I just don’t do things like that. And of all docs, you never stand up a psychiatrist. Only God knows how much that fine will be. I called and left a message and got there as fast as I could but I was 24 minutes late. She said nope. Can’t get in now until September. Sob session number two with the receptionist. Now I know there is no one to blame but myself but I was pissed off anyway. I’m scattered and not on my game because I am helping a thousand other people, not because I’m sunbathing at the beach. The appointments are only five to ten minutes. She COULD have fit me in, she CHOSE not to. Yep, my fault but I allowed myself to be angry with them anyway.

At any rate, I just had some ice cream with a friend and I’m feeling like all is right with the world again. If I can manage not to have any more crying jags, I may be able to finish my list for today. I may even be able to write up the list for tomorrow of all the things I don’t want to forget to do while I am directing the movers. Empty the fridge, disconnect the TV and all the parts, pack up the DISH for return, remember the little rocking chair that Dad has decided is REALLY important to him so we’re going to try to fit it, finish marking the items for sale over the weekend, blah, blah, blah.

It’s the eleventh hour. Overall, I have to say we have all done a pretty fine job. This might just be the most organized move in history. Most importantly, I feel closer to Dad than I have in years. He comforted me today. I felt his compassion for me. I will savor that for a long time.

If you are bored this weekend, come check out the moving sale. The more you guys buy, the less that has to be dragged into boxes. By this time next week, maybe we will be signing the papers to sell the house. Wish us luck!