What to do when losses stack up?


Just when I felt I could take a breath, it happened again. After a string of losses last fall that included the deaths of my brother and seven weeks later his wife, our family has suffered another death.

Rob’s mom, our beloved MOTUS as she was affectionately called because she lived close to the White House, died April 22.

We are in grief again. Or, rather, we are in grief still.

What do you do when you have one loss after another? I wish I could tell you. Even though intellectually I understand and can even explain what happens when grief accumulates, it’s another thing to live it.

This week’s Pinspiration

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Inspiration on grief from Women on Fire- Womenonfire.com

So, I’m wandering around in a fog, noticing it takes me about four times longer to accomplish anything.  Noticing I can sleep way past my wake-up time. Noticing that I’d rather sit and watch the otters play outside our bedroom window than do anything else.
Simple joys — Rob captured these wonders of nature today rolling around in the sand outside our window in Florida.Otters serving as Women on Fire inspiration

Right now, creative thought is gone. Memory is out the door. Concentration hardly exists. Everything from eating and cleaning to reading and writing feels effortful.

It took me nearly an hour to write the paragraphs above.

What I do know is that the paralyzing feelings from this accumulation of grief are real — and temporary.

They are nature’s way of slowing me down to heal. It is as though I’ve been in an internal car accident. Outside, I may look normal (well, that’s debateable 😉 Inside, I need time, patience, love, support and self-care to heal from the wreckage that is my sad and broken heart.

I want to imagine it all fixed. All OK. All right with the world.

And, it will be.  Eventually.

In the meantime, I take great comfort in every kind word, every hug, every sweet gesture of love and care that comes my way.  Women (and Men!) on Fire are particularly good at “being with” during times like this.

From Wanda Dillard sending me a CD that helped her through her grief to Maria Cannone delivering a big basket of Mrs. Field’s goodies with a note that said “sweets really do help” to Debby Edwards’ offering of prayers and Father Edward Beck dedicating a Mass to MOTUS.

This is what gets me through.  The tremendous love and support of our community. If you’ve been part of us for a while, I know you feel it too.

Over the years, ungrieved losses can stack up.  If unnoticed and ignored, losses from moves, divorces, serious illnesses, children leaving home, and deaths can add up to inertia, depression, illness.

The only way around grief is through it …slowly, lovingly, carefully. Unwrapping each loss in its own time, honoring and remembering, until we can breathe again.

So for now I will:

  • · Listen to my body — and give myself permission to rest as much as I need to, ignoring any past programming that shames me for resting and napping
  • · Listen to my heart — and lean into the grief and express my heart’s deep pain no matter what form that takes — crying, screaming, sobbing, whimpering
  • · Listen to my head — and if I find that I am stuck in my grief or making little progress through it after a period of time, I will not hesitate to seek professional counseling or reach out for help from experts in our community such as Rev. Andrea Raynor or Hospice nurse Mary Landberg
  • · Listen to my soul — and be very gentle and tender with myself; understanding that the nature of suffering develops us into more compassionate human beings; and that I am stronger and better for having known, loved and cared about so many dear people who have now passed.

Even though I know this bittersweet time is part of the flow of my life, I want to express my eternal gratitude to you for the love and support that surrounds us here and makes it possible for me to share my heart — and for you to share yours.

As always, the love and care of our Women on Fire community is extended to you — in your triumphs and in your losses too.

Wishing you all good things in the week ahead ~