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June 19, 2006

Grief

I said I would post some stuff for the sister of a friend of Danny's and I suppose I ought to get on with it.

Now mind you, these are just my random thoughts based on what I've been through since August. But, I have discussed these things with my widow group and haven't been told I'm off track, so there you go.

Here's my advice.

1. You don't have to take anybody's advice. (I guess that makes this list moot, huh?) You have to decide for yourself what is right and go with it. Most people haven't been through what you are going through so the next time one of them tells you that you need to be around people or away from people or on Mars, tell them to cram it.
Example: I had many people tell me that it would be good for me to be around others at work, church, etc. Some of the people that told me this were widows themselves. It would seem that they would know what to do, but that wasn't right for me. I squirreled myself away and did what I wanted and didn't do what I didn't want and it worked. For me.

2. Realize that you will make mistakes. People in their "right" mind make mistakes all the time. You're going to continue to be human in addition to being in a fog. Accept this. Don't beat yourself up over it.
Example: (Maybe a minor example.) Last fall, I measured my flower beds and called a local topsoil place for mulch. They delivered a whole truck of mulch to me. A WHOLE TRUCK! I still have a pile of mulch at the end of my driveway that is about three feet tall. Under normal conditions, I would have had the driver haul it away or at least called the company to complain. However, last fall I wasn't living under normal conditions. Hence, the ginormous pile of mulch. What are you gonna do? (Besides try to get your dog to sled down the pile of mulch when it snows, that is.)

3. Take your time. This will help prevent #2 from happening so often. Most decisions you have to make do not require an immediate answer, no matter what the salesperson/repairman/employer tells you.
Example: I took my car in to one of those national car chains for them to take a look-see at it. They gave me the list of estimates and said there were things I needed to take care of immediately. I told them I would let them know when I was ready. In the next few days, I found out that several people I work with take their cars to a guy nearby who is reasonable and honest. I showed him the paperwork from the other shop, he checked out my car and said nothing needed to be fixed right away. I drove my car through West Virginia home to Virginia, then to Harrisburg and back home before getting it fixed with no problems. When I did take it in to get it fixed, the second guy charged me $200 less than the other place was going to.

4. Take time to grieve. Sounds pretty obvious, huh? But I guaran-damn-tee you that a lot of people don't do this. They think (or are told) they just need to get over it or that their loved one wouldn't want them to be sad. Or they think they'll be "ready" to grieve later. For me, it was pretty easy to do this. I quit my job and didn't work for four months. I don't have any kids and had enough money to pay my bills. I realize that not everyone is this fortunate (i.e. blessed, but we can talk about that later.) However, the grief, just like the rhythm, is gonna get you. My therapist had me set aside 30 to 45 minutes every day for "grief work." I made myself a checklist and grieved my little heart out every night before bed. After a few months of this, I would occasionally forget my "grief work" for a day or two and realized later I was still doing OK. I didn't let it slide for too long, but I could tell I was doing better because of this measly 30 to 45 minutes a day.
Example: I took care of this early on so it wasn't a big problem for me. But I can tell you that a couple times before Danny died and a couple times after there were times that I felt physically ill because I was ignoring my grief.

5. Know that your life has changed and will continue to change. Sure, you're sad and grieving and blah, blah, blah. Any joker could tell you that would happen. However, what no one will tell you is that your whole life has changed. You now have to grocery shop, cook, take care of the kids, the pets, the cars, the house, do the laundry, pay the bills, etc. (By the way, I did very few of these before Danny died.) This also seems obvious, but it was kind of a shock to me to have to run my life all by myself. Nobody told me I'd have to do that.
Example: The door closer on my back door hadn't worked for a while, so I decided to get a new one. I got the old one off and could not put the new one on. (Under the old order, I would have tried to get it on for about five seconds, thrown everything on the floor, stormed in the house and demanded that Danny put it on immediately. He would have told me to calm down and would have gotten the darn thing installed in about three seconds.) I think this occasion was the first of many where I realized I really had to do things for myself without having a stroke or kicking the dog. I calmed myself down, pulled up a chair, and figured out how to put the door closer on. And it works like a charm. But Roxy will never forget that day.

That's all I can come up with right now. Maybe this'll help somebody out there. Or not (see #1).

Posted by Stephanie at June 19, 2006 11:28 PM

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Comments

Stephanie - those door closer things are hard. Congratulations on figuring out how to do it!

Posted by: chava [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 20, 2006 09:12 AM

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