enna

Changes I'm Making

830 posts in this topic

Since I'm in that place where my journey is no longer new I thought I'd begin a new topic here and share how I'm trying to live with loss.

How to comfort ourselves: Do things you used to do with your spouse. Go out to eat (start with breakfast) ~ bring a book and read in place of the conversation you used to have. I go to Barnes and Noble ~ buy a coffee and cookie and find a place to read. I don’t feel so alone and at least I’m among other people instead of sitting in my home alone. I used to think people were looking at me but many are doing the same thing I’m doing. I also like going to a hardware store to buy something I need for the house ~ in the beginning I couldn’t do it and would have to leave. I go to the library and listen to tapes or music. It puts me out with other people rather than sitting at home.

About eight months after Jim died I decided to rescue a dog. I was struggling without companionship and I always loved dogs. My rescue dog was with me for only a very short year before he started having seizures and then a weak heart. This is still so hard for me to not have him with me. I do have a granddog near by and I have been asking to have him come and visit me more. I am okay with that for now.

I go out to lunch more often with friends. I listen to what others are saying but I do not talk too much about how I am doing. Most don’t want to hear about death anyway so the time is spent in small talk ~ which is okay with me because I don’t feel like sharing many things that are so personal anyway. I still get out.

I am not interested in another relationship at all. I don’t want a companion ~ I want companionship. I keep connected with my family ~ talk with my grandchildren and daughter often or call people who understand that living alone can be very difficult and sometimes it is just so good to talk to another human. Silence is still very hard for me.

I have found myself baking and delivering breads, cookies or fudge to the firehouse or to someone who lives alone (I always ask if they want company) this helps me as I hope it helps the person I’m visiting.

One of the most helpful things for me right now is to keep my connection with some of my online forum members. Those who come here do understand. I have found it comfortable to be with those who have been on this journey with me.

I also enjoy my solitude ~ I don’t mind being alone ~ it’s different than loneliness. I do things that I enjoy like read, listen to music, work on my colored pencil activities.

I like to cook. I try to have a dinner for a few friends at least twice a month. I have come to accept that most days I will be eating alone so I try to focus on healthy foods to fix. I’ll read menus or watch a cooking show for ideas on how to cook for one.

I do these things with a heart that is always missing Jim. My reality is that we all live and we all will die so I have made a choice to enjoy life one day at a time. Some of those days are so very hard but then there are days that are good, also.

Anne

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Thank you so much, dear Anne, for starting this topic in this particular forum ~ This is precisely how I envisioned it to be used ~ and I think you're the perfect one to lead the way. I say that not to put any pressure on you, but only to honor your dogged determination and the specific, intentional and deliberate ways you continue to move forward in your own personal grief journey. That you are so willing to share the details, including what you've learned along the way, is a blessing for all of us, and I am grateful. Truly you were born to be a teacher, and it shows. From my heart to yours, thank you!

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Thank you, Marty, your kind words are important to me. I hope others add their own ways of living with loss so we all can learn how to live this new life.

The things we do are small yet significant to our healing, I believe. Those who are here are living their losses day to day.

I have been asked to speak to a group of caregivers who are caring for their Alzheimer's family members. Two years ago I could not do this. Today, I feel that what I have to say will help them in some small way ~ after all, I had five years caring for Jim. I feel ready to share my experiences with this group.

Anne

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Good for you, Anne! You are an expert in caregiving, an expert in grief, and an excellent and experienced teacher. I know that your talk will be wonderful, and I am SO proud of you for doing this!

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Anne, that is wonderful! I know you were a help to me when I was going through the losing my mom to dementia.

I've found all of those same things to be helpful except I haven't tried entertaining...my house is old and needs painted and new flooring and I'm embarrassed about it. Plus I live way out. Going into winter isn't the time to start, but maybe come Spring I'll try have a few friends up. Probably no one else cares so much about the paint and flooring as I do, it's always clean at least.

Something I've done is visit those who are shut in or lonely, but I need to do it more. We all know how much it'd help to have a visit.

I wish I could have my granddoggies, but they're 2 1/2 hours away. I miss them and would love to be their "kennel" when the kids need to get away like I was for Skye in his lifetime.

It has helped me to do some of the things George used to do around here...some of the things I can't do, but others I can. It makes me feel more independent and a "survivor" when I stack/haul firewood and build my fires, also shoveling the snow in the winter.

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Dearest Anne

Thank you for starting this thread which I will hope to add to when I've thought carefully about what my life is like now. I will return! I like this idea. Jan

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It's almost two pm here in England and I want to contribute to Anne's thread. My own journey of loss began three years ago when Pete had the stroke. For six months I was totally preoccupied with visiting him daily and then caring for him at home until he had to go into respite care whilst I looked after our daughter and her new baby. And he died. For months I was in that fog which we all know. Even though I was frequently with our daughter and her littlies and helping her I have almost no memory of that time. It hurts me to even think about it. And then the real pain began as I realised that this was permanent. Now I have reached a plateau. I think this is the state I will remain in emotionally. And my life, like Anne's, is one of trying to make the best of what I can.

Anne said

how to comfort ourselves. Yes I do that in various ways. I live in the house we moved to in 2001, where we were so very happy. In the wardrobe (closet?) are still hung Pete's clothes. I don't open it often because that makes me too sad but I can't bear to let them go, especially his beloved leather motor cycle jacket. Most of his stuff is still where he left it. Now and again I do find something I can do with bits. Mostly it just stays here. Under his pillow on his side of the bed is a pullover and sweat shirt, unwashed since he last wore them. They don't smell of him any more really but it's a bit of him all the same. On the dressing table in a pewter urn are his ashes waiting until they can be mixed with mine and thrown into the North Sea. I keep everything in the house and garden as near as I can to what it was when Pete was here. He could walk in and would find everything pretty much the same. I am well aware that I sound like Queen Victoria who after Albert's death had his clothes put out every day. Ok I may sound unhinged to those who have lost a lifetime partner but I don't care. If it works for me so be it. I'm comforted by routine. In the warmer months I run Pete's moth trap. In the colder months I light the wood burner. Every night I have two modest glasses of red wine and then go to bed with a hot chocolate. I walk twice a day with our spaniel Kelbi, usually about five miles or more. I work on my research on the area. I read a lot of novels. Every three weeks or so I see my beloved daughter and grand daughters. Not so often do I see our son.

I meditate most days. I read a lot of spiritual sort of books. I don't pray because I'm not a conventional Christian. Pete and I were Pantheists but I need a more personal belief system which I'm still searching for. I don't believe Pete has left me. I've had a few experiences which have helped me think he is still somewhere with me. My memories are mainly very happy. When I think of Pete (all the time of course) I feel happy about the past. But I still don't go deep into my loss because I still can't take the pain. I still skate along the top of it. And strangely I still can't really beleive he is dead.

I think I'm all the time trying to comfort myself with taking care of myself as Pete would. I do dread the future. I now know that awful things happen. I seem to be surrounded these days with people suffering pain, grief and loss. I suppose that that is because I'm 73. But I'm fearful of illness and coping with it alone. Natural enough. And I know I have to try to stay well if only so that I can be there for my precious family. I do enjoy some things. The place I live, food sometimes, wine, hot chocolate, the love of my dog, the warmth of the fire. Most of all my memories.

And I love the comfort provided by this forum. I'm not sure where I would be without it. Since I've been here it's been a place where my feelings are acknowledged. I meet people who know exactly what I'm talking about when I talk about my feelings.

Like Anne I'm trying to just live one day at a time. I've always been a worrier and I know it's a waste of time worrying. I try to appreciate what I do still have. I never thought I could live without my Pete. I've proved that I can even though at a much more shallow level. I'd like to be like Harry and do more things for others, but I know I do a lot for our daughter and grand daughters. I don't feel strong enough to do much more. So this is where I am. Jan

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Jan, I want to let you know that I like how you are living with your loss ~ such great losses we have and it helps me to see that we are resilient and doing the best we can. I am sure many can relate to the things you wrote about. I love that we can be who we are during this transition and no one judges us. One thing I know that is important to us is that this forum has provided us a safe place to come. It is good to read about how others are managing. thank you for sharing, Jan.

I did it.

So many of us are doing what we need to do to carry on after our losses. I believe that we each find our own way to deal with the different losses we encounter during our life times. I should be an expert in loss since I’ve lost grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, siblings, friends, students, and close neighbors.

My life after my Jim’s death changed me. To act as one with your partner and then suddenly you are only one forces new actions.

The talk I gave to the Alzheimer’s caregivers group on Tuesday focused on caregiving in general since the people in attendance were dealing with either a parent or a spouse or a friend suffering with the disease.

I believe that there are similarities no matter who you are caring for whether it be a loved one in your home or a loved one already in a care facility.

Being tired is a way of life, knowing how to manage your time is crucial, recognizing that negotiating with doctors and insurance companies will wear you down, establishing trust with the person you are caring for will make your life easier, always remembering that whatever you do ~ do it with compassion. Having a sense of humor for me was icing on the cake. Flexibility is necessary when going about the daily routine ~ there were times when I felt like a rubber ball and after awhile I learned how to enjoy the bounce.

Knowledge is the best “tool” because you will be dealing with a variety of changes in your loved one from forgetfulness to anxiety to errors in judgment to irritability to managing even simple tasks, and later there will be caring for basic physical needs to managing more difficult behaviors.

I won’t go into the entire talk but for me the fact that I was able to share some of my personal experiences with others and without breaking down made me feel that I am taking small steps in living with my loss.

And Jan, you are doing so very much in living with your loss. Your daughter and grandchildren are so lucky to get the support and love you have to give. This is living with your loss. Caring for the moths that your Pete so loved to do has to be so rewarding for you. Being active in events in your hamlet are all ways that you are dealing with your new normal.

Kay, you continue to inspire me. Your unselfish love for your mom with the stories you shared brought tears to my eyes. Whether you are reaching out to your siblings or loving your animals or helping others or stacking/hauling the firewood you need for the winter are all such positive signs of living with your loss.

I know others have stories and it will be good to hear all of them. Death is a reality in our lives and it is good to recognize that there are so many ways ~ no matter how gut-wrenchingly hard it is ~ to live with our loss.

Anne

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Anne, the people to whom you gave that talk were lucky people. Congratulations on being able to do it because you must have had to dig deep in your heart to be able to share. Your path looking after Jim for years and seeing him deteriorate was such a very hard one. And since he died you have had to bear other very hard things. The loss of Benji, your health issues. I admire you tremendously. This is a good thread for those of us who have been treading this path for some time. I'm going to come here regularly. I won't always be upbeat but I know that is ok.

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Jan, your life doesn't sound too unlike mine except you have your daughter nearby whereas my son is 2 1/2 hours away. I can't even go visit him very easily because of my night blindness and not being able to be away overnight in the winter. With a grandbaby on the way, this makes me sad, I would love to be in his/her life, but I'm afraid the other grandmother will get to see him/her way more than I will. She's way closer, has a husband to help, and can still drive without problems, and can leave her house overnight. What a difference that makes! It's not handy that all the holidays seem to fall in the winter when it's hard to be away and the kids don't travel here any more.

I think continuing with the moth traps is a way of comforting yourself...any way we can continue to do what we feel they would want, or even any time we branch out into something new for ourselves.

I often imagine George with his arms around me, that brings me comfort, I used to just bask in his presence.

Anne, I so wish I could have heard your talk! I imagine it was a real help to those going through it. It is an experience unlike any other and one cannot know until they go through it. I am so glad I was there to see my mom through it unlike my sister who refused. She will never get that opportunity to know her in that way again. I wonder she doesn't feel a twinge of jealousy or regret. In looking back it seems it went so fast! Yet the everydayness of it all seemed at the moment to be eternal. It is a strange disease.

I have to applaud you, that was quite a feat!

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I did post an update, the doctor has had my information since Monday and did not call me to make an appt. I called them yesterday and the soonest they'll see me is next Monday and they won't let me know anything until then.

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I am deeply happy to have found this new thread. Thank you Anne and congratulations as well on your beautiful talk. What a shining inspiration you are to me!

Today, feeling very alone and afraid and weak, I decided I must DO something, even if only a very tiny gesture of my own life against the recent series of truly weird events. I put on my great Mongol print robe and tied the sash, stuck my slowly-deflating feet into my merrill shoes, and went out into the garage, started the car for the first time in 2 weeks, and drove out into the night, merely to turn around and this time, back into the garage so I am ready for a quick get-away if the Queen rings. (tee hee hee)

I find I have made and continue to make so many changes since Doug left, and yet in some ways, much is the same. Big changes in me have been learning a lot of patience with this loss of Doug, because it is pervasive, and yet subtle in some ways. I am learning to cook and eat healthy meals for one more routinely. I am learning to relax and not be on alert. I am finding solace in films, good books, and telephone visits with dear friends. I am learning to reach out and find more social space for myself, both at the Holter and at Meeting, as well as a bit of charity work and being able to reach out and hold the hearts of hurting friends sometimes when I am not too weak. I like feeling that I can give back a bit more these days.

Doug's things are still all around me. My eyes and heart still seek his photo from among the family photos. I think that is probably a permanent condition, or at least I do not see it changing in the next few years, for while I am lonely, I am not ready for more than myself to hold in such an intimate relationship as I had with Doug. I have come to accept that my new intimacies are probably all going to be in my art for a while. I keep waking up from naps with new images, new techniques, and new designs in my mind. I am amazing myself. :)

I have kept Doug's work cap, gloves, one work sweater, and a shirt in triple zip lock bags these past years, and I still, on special anniversaries, open the bags and inhale deeply of the essence of his last embodiment. I do not find this a strange custom, for my gramma (say gram'mow) did the same, including Poppy's hair. It was the custom then. She put it all into a pillow on which she rested her head every night. I have not yet made a pillow. I do not know if I will. But I like that I have bits of Doug still around me, as I stand smiling at his presence and energy here in our home.

A couple of days ago, a "friend" sent some photos of some woodworking he is doing, mentioning the criminals, one by name, and so I wrote to all of those copied, and said I shunned the criminals, and had no desire to hear or know of or socialize with them, and that all those copied were all free to exclude me from their social circles (I would not actually miss them, I must say), but please honor my request.

Seeing the printed name brought up a pretty severe six hours of shakiness, while I did tapping and saying "that was then and it was awful . This is now and it is over" and other mantras, and visualizing the distance in time between those days and today. I am happy to report that my PTSS therapist is doing a good job, and while slow, I think this is a deep and thorough healing that is taking place. My courage to go out and run the car is proof. :)

My spiritual beliefs are stronger, if anything. Thou Art G*d. I am G*d. We are all G*d together. I envision intentions more than I would call it prayer, but I do try to spend quite a bit of time listening, and find much wisdom and comfort in meditation. I probably talk more here, among us in this Tribe around this Fire, than I do anywhere else, about spiritual matters. I have lost the need to do any proselytizing or to fix anyone. I am regaining my good old boundaries that had a gate with a HUGE lock.

I find that a few friends who are rubies are so much more appreciated by my heart than a handful of pebbles. In fact, some of my most beautiful gemstones are among us gathered here. I am wonderfully amazed and profoundly grateful to have this place of solace, a place to sing our sad songs and tell our love stories, where, no matter what, we are greeted with open arms and helping hearts each time we arrive at our Fire.

Here, among you, I have grown in ways I did not know there were to grow, and learned things I did not know there were to learn, but those are subjects for other nattering. :)

namaste

*<twinkles>*

fae

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fae,

How far you have come, and I am proud of you for your step with the criminals. I found I was quite worried about you when you disappeared from us, especially since the hospital told me you were not there, I found myself worrying "what if...". I was so close to calling the police for a wellness check, had I not known how you would hate that, you would not like anyone intruding or anything that invasive, but I was worried...thank you, Anne, for calming me a bit and helping me to be patient (for me) and wait.

Last night I went out and started my car up too, for I hadn't driven it in eight days. I've been afraid to drive for fear of an attack and so I've just had to miss out on things. I never know when the pain will hit, how intense it will be, or how long it will last. I don't feel I could drive if it hit hard and don't want an accident or to be stranded.

I hear you on the proselytizing...I too have learned to respect others and their beliefs without feeling the need to change anyone. To do any less would render anything I might say invalid anyway!

You are right, so much better to have a couple of good friends than a lot of "pebbles". :)

I'm glad you are healing, slowly but surely.

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One thing I am learning on this grief journey is that it takes work ~ fae, you are working and you are strong and resilient. I love the steps to healing that so many of us are taking. And I believe that we are all receiving special help from those who are here allowing us to be in the place we are in ~ never judging ~ only sitting with us and reminding each other that we do not have to do this alone. Along my journey, I have found a few gems (special people) and I hold on to their wise words and comforting support.

There are good things happening in our lives ~ those of us who have been around are slowly beginning to see that. Our new members are deep in their raw grief but one day they will find themselves here on this thread and see that there is life after loss and they too will be able to add their own small steps to healing.

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Go With the Flow

It is interesting how all the twists and turns in life distract us from what we may have planned.

We are all dealing with so many things in our lives ~ I can’t help but wonder what it all has to do with grief. Grief triggers pop out from behind a tree and smack us right along side the head.

Take this week for example ~ I had to go for an MRI on my lower back because of results from x-rays I had due to some pain and numbing across my lower back and lower extremities.

I walked into the imaging place a little apprehensive wondering what this was going to mean for my over all health. I wasn’t expecting to burst out in tears overcome with the pain of Jim not being here with me. The young technician didn’t know what to do. I quickly told her that I was just concerned about what was going on and apologized for my outburst. For the next hour, I lay in that tube silently weeping praying that I wouldn’t be noticed. I made it home and burst into tears again but this time, I did not try and stop the tears. I cried and carried on like a mad woman, all the while, talking out loud knowing that no one was going to hear me. After a while I stopped and actually laughed at myself thinking how silly I must have looked. Going through medical procedures are very difficult to do alone when one has shared so many things with our spouses for so long.

The next morning I received a call from my doctor’s office informing me that the MRI showed serious lumbar stenosis and two bulging discs and I would have to see a surgeon for further diagnosis. Seeing a surgeon does not mean that I will agree to any kind of surgery on my back. I am sure that after talking with someone I will be able to be set up with a form of physical therapy or at the most limited invasive treatment.

My point in talking about this at all is to say I accept the fact that I will not be helping at St. Vincent de Paul’s tomorrow morning because I have been told to rest and stay off my feet until I see the spine doctor! I will still fix a light dinner and watch the parade and the dog show and some football will be on which I have no interest in at all. I will have one friend over for dinner. He is also alone. Family that is here are going to San Diego for a few days so my table will be set for two which is better than one.

fall-trees-2-1.jpg

teresa wagner.jpg

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Anne how I wish I could have been with you as you went through this. It would have been no compensation for Jim but better than nothing. I dread going through any medical procedures without Pete alongside. I've had a pain in my head lately. It comes and goes and of course I think brain tumour even though it's unlikely. But the thought of having any tests etc and having to travel many miles to a hospital alone terrifies me. I'd have been frightened even if Pete were there but the thought of doing it alone is too much. However I say that and know that we just have to do these things. And I've had recurrences of this pain from time to time and it's just gone away again. You brave brave soul. And Fae, and Kay, and Mary's SIL. Oh how I feel for everyone. I know that after a devastating loss we tend to be more likely to be ill ourselves. I'm with you in spirit. Jan

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My dear Anne, I'm so sorry to learn that you, too, are dealing with some sort of serious physical problem that may require surgery. Good heavens, when will this avalanche of bad news ever stop?! Please promise us that before you consent to any kind of surgery on your back, you get a second opinion. And seeing a physical therapist is a good idea, too. I know you will do whatever is best for you, but I worry about you ~ and about Kay, and fae, and QMary and her family, and Karen, and Harry, and all the rest. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that MRI all alone ~ but I hope you know that we're all with you in spirit, just as your precious Jim is right there watching over you too.

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I pray that we ALL recover from so many physical problems ~ but here's a tip from Soaring Spirits for after the holiday ~ even though those of us who think we are doing okay have relapses! It was 87 degrees here yesterday afternoon. I had two hummers having a fun time in the flowers that are popping out in the yard. The lemon and sweet orange trees are starting to change color. I see lemon bars in the future. My chore this weekend is to declutter ~ Veterans of America will have a pickup on the 1st and I have things that need to find a new home. The weekend will be long but that is OK with me. There are books to read and art projects to finish and did I say books to read. :P

Don't be surprised if you have a "grief hangover" the day after a holiday. Emotional days can take a toll physically. Get outside, do some good self-care, and give yourself a break the day after!

 

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You had 87 and we're going to be in the lower 20s...snow predicted for this weekend.

Anne,d I'm so sorry you had to go through that alone, I wish our kids were nearer and not so busy, I don't think they realize how hard it is. I'm glad you had a friend for Thanksgiving, it helps to not be alone for holidays.

Love your picture! It's how I'm feeling...I am in miserable pain with my "treatment side effects", I don't know how I'm going to take two weeks of this.

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Dear Anne,

I wish I could be there with you. I have resorted to calling friends and inviting/begging them to come visit me during this long hospital stay, but the days I am alone, and the times I am alone for these procedures leave me wrung out. Most nights, I cry myself to sleep from the fact of being so alone.

And I have not been here as much as I would wish, while Kay also prepares for gall bladder surgery, while you are preparing to meet another challenge --this time your spine -- and Q Mary is finding her way on this new path with her sister.

I think we reach a point where we get up in the morning, determined to find one beautiful thing each day to make us smile, to bring a loving memory, to let some beautiful bit of life touch our hearts. You do so well finding beautiful bits to share with us. Once I am home and out of this bed, I hope I can be more supportive in helping others face their challenges.

The good news here is that the "nick" has responded to the antibiotics, so the surgery can go ahead, probably Tuesday, I hope. Then a couple days post-op, then home. Meanwhile, I am walking as much as I am able each day and trying to stay off the pain meds which make me really groggy. Anne, we are going to figure out more and more each day how to live our lives in joy and the best health we can, and maybe plan to "meet" one morning a week via phone to share a cup of tea. As we are less able to get out and about, we must find alternatives to stay in touch. I am thinking about this.

For each of us these challenging days, I am sending *<fairy dust>* and

Much Love,

fae

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Oh, I so needed that fairy dust today, fae. I love our supportive family around this fire. I think that much of what is going on with a few of us is that our bodies are reacting to the stress we have all been under. I have gone through most of my life strong and healthy. And except for sore legs and body aches from dancing I was always healthy.

I know you are getting stronger and it is good to hear that they finally have the “nick” under control. It sounds like the anemia is gone and you are doing well to get out and about rather than staying in the bed ~ do they still have the bells on your bed at night so you don’t get up and down too often? :ph34r: They are watching you.

I am praying for both you and Kay that this gallbladder surgery goes well. I wish neither one of you had to go through it. Our Kay is not having a very good time with the medicine she is taking right now. I will have to remind her to remember to stay hydrated.

You, my dear, have one thing to think about and that is to gain your strength back and get back to your home. We here around this fire will keep the flame burning.

I miss our phone talks but I think that they will resume soon. I would much prefer coffee to tea though!

As for me, I have been referred to Barrow Neurological Center in downtown Phoenix for further evaluation of my spine issue. I will listen to their explanation and hope that any treatment will consist in physical therapy, massage, and anything else that screams “conservative treatment” only. I make that appointment tomorrow so we shall see how long it takes to get scheduled!

I send sunshine and warmth to any of you who are not basking in the sunshine and warmth as I am here in the valley. Temperatures have been in the high 70s and 80s here.

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Fae your determination to carry on makes me feel humble. Even in your situation you are thinking how to support others. And I know how genuine that is. I wish we could all be closer, go along for hospital appointments, visit each other when needed., but just think if this were even 2000 rather than 2014 we wouldn't even be in touch like this. I feel so close to you all even though thousands of miles separates us. Keep writing. Today I spent some time going through my beloved Pete's photos from 2004/6. Sometimes I thought, why keep these photos of flowers, scenes, etc. (obviously I keep the ones of people). But then I thought (and of course I thought it was put into my head by Pete), 'Either nothing matters or everything matters'. This is either very profound or totally meaningless! Possibly both at once! So I kept them, even though I have to admit that no one else may ever want them. But Pete took the photos. To me they are precious. So. I shall write this in my journal today. Either nothing matter or everything matters. If I'm to carry on I have to beleive that everything matters.

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“I Have a Dream” ~ ABBA ~ a video to follow

I have always felt it a good thing to “give back” and in my early days of grief I did small things to let people know that I appreciated all they did for Jim and me as we were on Jim’s final journey through Alzheimer’s disease.

The firemen who returned to the house repeatedly for “lift and assist” when Jim would fall ~ always smiling and saying, “that is what we are here for, call anytime.”

After Jim died, I found the courage to go to the firehouse with baked banana nut breads (Jim's favorite) and homemade fudge as a thank you to those who always entered my home with respect and understanding.

To our Hospice Team who watched over us like angels ~ never leaving anything undone ~ I was able to put together iMovies as a thank you for all they did. To this day I feel blessed for all they did. Their kindnesses are burned in my heart forever. I shall never forget the tender care they took of Jim and the loving kindness they showed to me. My grief counselor continued to care for me for a year after Jim died.

How do you thank people like that ~ you give back to others some of that kindness. I am now an HFA (Hospice Foundation of America) volunteer and am certified to assist those who are dealing with end-of-life.

To those friends who loved and respected Jim, because he was such a great person, I held a video memorial service and pointed out the kindnesses everyone showed us by doing things I did not have the energy to do: cook, go to the store, change filters or coach lights when they burned out, take turns visiting Jim so I could have a few hours of respite, friends who would sit for hours listening to his stories over and over again, and so many other little things that were so BIG to me.

Reading to a group of second-grade children of a young teacher that I had mentored while she was getting her Masters in Education.

It took a little over two years before I was able to reach out and volunteer my time to others as a thank you for the help I received from my Alzheimer’s Caregiver group. I prepared and was able to deliver a talk to a group of caregivers who are caring for other Alzheimer family members. I intend to support these brave people in whatever way I can. By telling my story and offering ideas, I feel that I can give back just a little of what I had received.

Volunteering after a death of a loved one doesn’t happen right away. You have to tend to your own grief first. You have to do the grief work that is required so you are ready to reach out.

I will always grieve and miss Jim and through my volunteering I believe I will keep his memory alive.

The video is about volunteering ~ it is on the link that Marty has on her grief healing blog ~ Healing Grief Through the Gift of Volunteering

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2010/11/healing-grief-through-gift-of.html

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