Perfect For A While

Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.
Well although I’ve made pretty good strides thus far, the holidays are bringing me down I’m afraid.  Thanksgiving wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  And friendship helped me along that day.  It’s Christmas that has me tangled in knots.  It has always been a celebratory two day event: my birthday on Christmas eve and of course Christmas.  I guess since Martin and I were kids at heart, we happily enjoyed those days being kids all over again – kids in love. 
Yesterday although I had things I wanted and needed to do, I never left the house.  In fact, I never got out of my PJs.  Saturday I went to Michael’s and picked out more frames and matting.  Sunday I matted and framed a few more of Martin’s watercolors … they look really good if I do say so myself.  But I didn’t leave the house and also was in PJs all day Sunday too.  today, I made myself shower and get dressed but that was at 2:00 pm.  Went outdoors to clean the pool filter etc.  Came back in realizing I hadn’t eaten anything today yet and that was likely the reason I felt a bit dizzy. 
Sam Baldwin in Sleepless in Seattle : Well, I’m gonna get out of bed every morning… breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breath in and out… and, then after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.
 I’m trying to breathe in and out, and remember that I “did have it perfect for a while” but there’s something about the Christmas holiday isn’t there.  So much hope and happinesst exists.  The anticipation usually heightens those feelings.  Unfortunately at the moment, it appears to be heightening the wrong feelings in me.  I tell you these things NOT to make you sad for me, but rather to keep me in your prayers and thoughts.  I believe in the power of prayer and I struggle more these days than I have for a while. 
Something Kareen told me stays with me:  Martin and I are joined eternally.  However, should I succumb to a disastrous conclusion (a/k/a suicide) we would never ever be able to be together.  Something in that statement shocked me enough to realize that I could not bear to never be with him again.  So don’t worry about that. 
Albert Pine said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us.  What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”   Martin did so much selflessly for the people he loved.  It is his legacy, his love, and his life that I cherish. 
I think this all came to a head because Mr. Cotton, my neighbor in his 80s, finally succumbed and died after a major stroke.  The family, while expecting this outcome, still grieves naturally.  It is always those left behind who are saddened and devastated at the loss of their loved ones. 
As I walked in the garden today, before pool cleaning, I saw the dying or dead flowers and plants and oh how it saddened me.  That too brought me to realize that in the midst of a beautiful life, death is ever apparent.  Although this sounds gloomy it is a realization of what life is about.  Do we anticipate it?  Not usually unless old age is upon is, or we are in the midst of a life-threatening ailment.  Should we anticipate it?  Perhaps not.  However, we should live our lives as if each day is important to us, because in many ways it truly is.  We never get this time back … these days will become our memories in the future.  How we live these days will create our remembrances.  Knowing this, perhaps we should paint these pictures of our lifetime the way we wish to see them and remember them in the future …
Don’t ever get so busy and tied up with the strongholds of life that we forget about what life is about:  people, not things! 
I love you all my friends.

How To Help a Friend in Grief

As much as we would like to avoid unpleasantness in our lives, sometimes it is inescapable.  Instead, we must learn how to grieve in healthy ways and work through our difficulties.  If you are wondering what you can do to help a friend who is in intense mourning, here are some suggestions:

  Recognize that everyone grieves at their own pace. Some progress quickly, some move very slowly. We never move at the speed others think we should.  Help us take one day at a time.


  Keep us company and be there for us. You don’t need to say anything profound or do anything earthshaking. Often, your greatest help is your quiet presence and simplest deeds.


  Make suggestions and initiate contact and activities. It is important for you to respect our privacy and give us some time alone, but we also may not have the energy to structure our lives right after a traumatic loss. We may have to rely on others to think of things that we don’t know to ask for.


  Provide a safe environment for us to show strong emotions.  It may be very painful, but it can be of enormous help.


  Help us remember good things. Tell us your memories of our loved one as you listen to us tell you ours. If we begin to show our emotions outwardly, you have not upset us, you have simply enabled us to be a bit more open in your presence.


  Be there after the first wave is over.  Make the effort to call, to come by, to help us out six months and even a year down the road.  Crowds may be difficult for us.  Shopping and holidays will be absolutely overwhelming. Offer your help.  If we’re not up to a visit we’ll let you know, but let us know you remember and are there for us.


  Listen to us. We need to tell our story over and over in order to process our grief. We may even say outrageous things. Don’t judge us by what we say or how we feel. We have a lot to work through, and in time, we will come to the answers that are right for us.


  Be careful of clichés, religious platitudes, or easy answers. You may not be able to help us with certain issues right now, so don’t be too quick to share your opinions if we say something you don’t agree with. We need time to work things out on our own.


  Be sensitive to our needs, be patient, have confidence and believe in us. We will get better, we will experience healing; but it will take time, and it can be rough going for much of the way.


  Be on the look-out for destructive behaviors. Traumatic loss can lead some people into depression, alcohol or drug abuse. We may need you to keep an eye on us while things are especially tough.


  Help us find humorous diversion. Laughter is very good medicine.


  Be willing to do difficult things with us. We may need a safe place to rage; we may need help with the funeral or afterwards. There may be some hard times ahead and facing them alone will be terrifying.


  Find out about grief.  Read some books that are available.  The more you know, the better able you will be to help us.


  Help us to find support and inspiration.  Often, a poem or song will speak to us in ways that no one else can.  Also talking to someone who has survived a similar loss can help us realize that we are not alone in our grief.


We have to go through this valley in order to get to the other side.  Dealing with grief cannot be avoided or it will show itself months or even years down the road.  Help us get through this as well as we are able.  Your true friendship and companionship, your kindness and patience can help us get our lives back together.

We will experience some level of grief over our loved one’s loss for the rest of our lives.  Some days will simply be better than others.  One day, we hope to reach a point where our good days outnumber the bad.  That will be a major milestone for us.

Thank you for being here for us.  As the Beatles sang, we get by with a little help from our friends (and family). 

Breathing Lessons


I really like Whole Living magazine.  In this month’s issue, Amy Gross has a nice article — “Breathing Lessons” — on the why and how of practicing mindfulness meditation.  An excerpt:

The disasters we imagine in our future torture us more than reality ever can.  As Eckhart Tolle teaches, “Right now I’m OK.”  The more fully you inhabit now, the more OK you are.  Now is home base, the best spa, the best medicine.  Meditation is training in getting to now.

What makes it powerful is what makes it hard: you’re dismantling two of the oldest reflexes in the world.  The first is: Running away from pain. We spend our lives clamping off negative reactions.  Meditation invites these reactions to the surface, where they  can get the attention they’ve wanted from you all these years, and ultimately dissolve.  You see you’re not destroyed.  ”Acceptance is the key,”  Joseph [Goldstein] says.  ”Resistance locks in the feeling.”

The second reflex is: Clinging to the pleasant. We want what we want when we want it; when we get it, we hold on tight.  That’s as futile as trying to hold on to a rushing river.  Meditation offers infinite opportunities to open our grip.  We see that we don’t lose anything by letting go — we’ve just quit an exercise in futility.  Peace, according to the Buddha, is the greatest happiness.  And isn’t that what you said you wanted?