Thursday, November 4, 2010

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

My all time favorite cartoon strip is Charlie Brown. It was mama's too... and Aunt Grace's (that's a whole nother post and love!)

One of our family-isms was "good GRIEF!!! Charlie Brown!!!". You see we were not allowed to cuss or use slang. I almost got a whipping (that is Southern for spanking or disciplined) for saying "DARN!" one day when my daddy happened to be home. So we resorted to non-slang outbursts.

One of my most vivid memories is my daddy waking up to receive a call and his response after a short listen was, "MY STARS, Jack!!!". It was the most upset I'd ever seen or heard him (at that time - years later I did my share of upsetting him, but I never got that response!).

I guess I'm especially thinking about grief lately and the process. It is so unpredictable. Is it GOOD or can it be?

I think so.

Over the past 4 years, I've dealt with the loss of my mama. She has been there physically, but not mentally. So, after our visits home I would sob and grieve for the mama I used to have. That was not a good grief. It was an unfinished grief. I was still holding on to the memory of mama and hoping that she would return to that. It was like an open wound that would not heal.

Life changes. Some are good, some are bad. This may sound harsh, but now I can move on and truly grieve the loss of my mama. That is good. The process is not fun. It is not easy. It is unbearable at times. But... we do heal.

I've been thinking of the process that I so glibly shared with people - you know... Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance.

Before, I could do all the steps except "Acceptance". Now, I can complete the cycle.

But, I'm also understanding more. The "Denial" is not denying that they are dead - it can be, but for me it was denying that life had changed and that it affected me. I DOES affect me in the deepest level and eternally. The good part of that is that now mama is in heaven and her prayers are still covering me - but she sees and knows more now how to pray for me and my family... the prayers will never stop.

The "Anger" is not necessarily at the person who died - it can be and often is. But, it is random, frustrated anger that just surfaces without rhyme or reason. It surfaces at odd times in odd ways. This is actually comforting to know if you are not the one grieving and someone has an unexplained outburst of anger.

I haven't experienced the "Bargaining" yet - at least I have not identified it. I don't know how it will manifest itself. I don't know if I'm going to try to bargain with God or a person or myself... or go shopping and try to get a great deal! (LOL)... I think that last would probably be considered "therapy"... as in retail therapy...

Now the depression I understand. The hopelessness and helplessness and just despair. I have been blessed in that I'm not a depressed person. I have experienced depression, but it does not hang around long. I think that now, I just experience a deep sense of loss and sadness. It is easiest to tell if someone is stuck in grief if the depression just hangs on. It is natural and normal to go through it - the key is "go through". It is not healthy or good to hang on to it.

It really is okay to be happy and joyful!

The final stage is acceptance. I expect to get there soon. It is more than accept the death. It is also accepting their life, who they were and what they meant to you. Accepting how they treated you and how they loved you and how they behaved and died.

Part of my acceptance has been to realize that long before we knew mama had alzheimers we did not understand her behavior and wondered why she was acting so strange. We simply discounted her statements and tried to talk her out of it. I wish now that I had been more sensitive and discerning. So, part of the acceptance for me is accepting MY actions and forgiving myself.

Moving on... I truly believe that it is "good grief" because I was blessed with a wonderful good mama and the going through process enables me to appreciate who she was and be thankful.

Thank you for "listening" as I process!

1 comment:

lailani said...

Wonderful post!

Here is another post about the process, actually how thinks can trigger that grief later, when you have gone through the process. It is beautiful but a tear jerker. So you may or may not wish to read it - but wanted to share: