21 October 2012

On Death and Dying

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a brilliant Swiss American Psychiatrist became well known in 1969 when her book 'Death and Dying' was published. This book soon became famous for her well known description of the five stages of grief. Unfortunately we can all relate. Grief is universal. It visits everyone. Death. Loss. Change. Life. 

First we go into denial. Shock. Whatever has happened is too terrible. We can't bring ourselves to say it is true. We can't believe it's true. We won't believe it's true.

Second, we become angry. We become angry with others. We become angry with ourselves. We become angry with the guilty. We become angry with the innocent. 

We bargain. We vow to do anything if only things will return to the way they were. One more day. One more word. One 'do-over'.

The worst of the five stages? Depression. Despair. Sadness. Regret.

And finally, the long awaited stage - we come to accept it. We accept life is the way it is. We accept what happened, did happen. We accept the heartbreak. We accept that it is time to move on.

The worst part about the five stages of grief? It's uncontrollable. When we think it's getting better? It doesn't. When we feel we are making progress? We take ten steps backwards. When I wake up, will this still be happening? When I wake up, will this still be true? The best we can do is be patient with ourselves. The very best thing we can do is allow ourselves to grieve. Allow ourselves to hurt. Allow ourselves to believe there is something better. Allow ourselves, when it's time, and when we can, to let it all go. 

20 October 2012

Stop Waiting, Start Living

Oh the Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss:
The waiting place…for people just waiting
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow, or waiting around for a yes or no,
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite,
or waiting for wind to fly a kite,
or waiting around for Friday night,
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake,
or a pot to boil, or a better break,
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants, 
or a wig with curls, or another chance. 
Everyone is just waiting.

Going through any difficult situation - it is impossible not to live for the future. You are hanging on by the skin of your teeth because of the future. You are living because the future holds greater promises. You are holding on, because you know that somewhere, way out there, there is something better than what we are feeling right now. We are focused on the total recovery. We are focused on the peace we will feel after we have hurt as much as we needed to hurt. We rely on the moment where we can look back, and this will be behind us. We wait for the time when the present finally becomes our past. Some heal more quickly. Some find relief sooner than others. For others it might be months or years later, when you wake up one morning and realize that you don't hurt anymore. So, the challenge is to be patient. The challenge is to make it past those first weeks, and months, and years. The challenge is to try to live right now, the best way you can, even if that means barely making it. The challenge is to accept that the future will come. One day at a time.

05 October 2012

A Loss Of Love

Three months ago, on July 5th of 2012, I woke up, went to work, and repeated most of my morning rituals. The night before, my husband and I had a barbecue with my family. We lit fireworks, and we celebrated the fourth of July. But this morning, this morning on July 5th I got a text message from my husband, saying that he was leaving me, telling me he wanted a divorce. Shocked, hysterical, and in complete dismay, I called my husband and begged him to come home and talk to me. He told me he was too busy, but that he would discuss it later that night. Six hours later, he walked in the door.

The way to describe this night can only be described in one way: dark. Something wasn't right. Something was going on. My husband sat on the floor and started picking his toenails... SERIOUSLY? I sat there, crying, begging, asking him why he was doing this. I told him a divorce wasn't justified. I told him we made temple covenants. I told him this wasn't just an overnight decision - it was something you earnestly prayed about and fasted about... and even then!! Divorce isn't just something that you do!! Shattering an eternal marriage has its implications. He looked at me, he started to laugh, and he said, "this is obviously going to be a lot harder for you than it is for me." He stood there completely stoic, completely unaffected, and completely firm in his decision. He told me to get out of the apartment and give him the keys to the car, (I was paying rent for the apartment, and oh yeah, the car was mine.) A family member came and picked me up, and I tried, unsuccessfully, to sleep through the worst night of my life.

The next day I thought it was a dream - a total nightmare. I called him. I texted him. Nothing. Sick as a dog, my body was reacting to what was going on. I was taken to the hospital, my throat on fire because there was nothing left in my body to exit, but the throwing up continued, every few seconds. My body shaking, my mind reeling, my heart - completely and utterly and entirely broken.

A few days later my husband had the courtesy to call me back - only to tell me he had been on a camping trip that weekend, which was why he couldn't talk. Who was this person? Who was I married to? And what in the freaking world was going on?

I told him I was praying for him as much as I was praying for himself. I told him this marriage was between him, myself, and the Lord. I told him I was so worried. Eerily casually, he said he had made up his mind, and was going to start the divorce papers.

And that was that.

Recalling that night, rehashing that story... it feels foreign, it feels wrong. It feels like a dream. It feels like a lifetime ago and it feels like yesterday. Was it yesterday? What is happening? How is this my life? There are questions - millions of them. There are feelings - too many of them. There are promises - promises I thought so sacred - that were broken in a few seconds. There is betrayal - betrayal I never thought I would have to feel. There is anger. There is resentment. There is confusion. There is bitterness. There is breaking - there is broken...

Everything is broken.