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"what Does Time Have To Do With Grief?"


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I just wanted to thank you, Marty, for the posting of this article under the Latest News forum. It's another good one for describing some of the many facets of grieving. I especially liked what Pat had to say about "Time's up" and "Wasting time".

However, I am getting rather tired of reading some of the glib advice in many articles/books, such as this, from this one:

"...and choosing some new best friends—friends who are willing and able to walk along side us on our personal journey of grief, and who will allow us to determine when our “time’s up”."

Whenever I read things like that, my first reaction is "Yah, exactly!...", but the accomplishing of such advice is never anywhere near as easy as the simple dispensing of same, and for an already-exhausted griever whose brain function is at an all-time low, I always get frustrated that there aren't more detailed instructions as to just how in the heck are we to actually DO these kinds of things?!? In this particular case, given the "Wasting time" aspects, it's often all we can accomplish just to get up in the morning and get dressed sometime during the day, much less figure out HOW and WHERE to find these mystical "new best friends" in this huge, impersonal world! So I end up feeling like I've just been handed yet another grief project to do....somehow, some unknown way...a HUGE, complicated and possibly-impossible project that I have little idea how to put into motion! Since I've been searching for a "new best friend" for over half my life now and still haven't found this elusive person, advice like this rings very hollowly in my ears and only adds to the hopelessness that I already feel.

So I'd love to know....have the authors of such pieces actually had their own successes with the advice they give out, and if so, how exactly did they achieve that success...and why aren't they spelling it out in more detail? Or do they all have already-wonderful support networks in place, making such a task pretty easy because of all their contacts, but leaving the rest of us regular folk at another loss?

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Maylissa, dear,

I guess it depends on what you're looking for in a friendship. I once heard a radio psychologist tell a caller (who was complaining about her friend’s lack of empathy for her particular situation) that she needed to remember that her best friend was not put on this earth to meet all her needs or to be her therapist. At the moment I heard it, I thought it was a pretty harsh response, but the more I thought about it, I realized that sometimes I do expect much more from my husband or my adult children or my closest friends than they are capable of giving. (That’s one of the benefits of being in counseling or therapy – rather than burdening your family or your friends with your problems, or being mad at them for failing to give you the attention you so desperately need and deserve, you can tell yourself that you can save whatever’s bothering you until your next appointment, and take it to your counselor or therapist.) :wub:

When we're particularly needy or hurting about something, the sad truth is that we can simply wear our good friends out. And rare is the friend (or spouse!) who can bear up under the weight of our sorrow and can outlast our need to talk about our grief. (Remember the comment about looking for milk in a hardware store?) Not everyone is comfortable sitting with and listening to another’s pain and sorrow. Maybe they’ve never lost a loved one, so they’ve had no experience with grief – or they’ve never loved an animal as intensely as you love your Sabin and Nissa.

The sad fact is that most people (especially men, in our culture at least) simply don’t know how to help – they feel helpless in the face of grief, and watching a dear friend or a loved one in pain and not being able to help is more than they can bear. They also grossly underestimate how long it takes to go through this mourning process, so their expectation is that we “should be feeling better by now” is way off, too. That’s why we look to support groups and online message boards like this one to find the compassion, support, patience and understanding that we need. We quickly learn that it is the people who have experienced grief first-hand who truly understand, who accept us exactly as we are, without judgment or reproach.

I can tell you that some of the most wonderful friendships I have are those I've found and developed via the Internet, because my computer puts me in touch with like-minded people who share many of my own interests. Many such people are authors whose works I admire. Whenever I read a book that I really like, for example, I make a point to send an e-mail message to the author (nowadays an e-mail address is included in a book's "About the Author" section, and if not, you can Google the author's name and / or contact him / her through the book's publisher. I’ve never had much trouble tracking down a particular author.) As an author myself, I know how much I appreciate it when a reader takes the time to let me know what he or she thinks of my writing, or to tell me how one of my articles may have helped in a specific situation. I also know and deeply appreciate how much work good writing really is, and I like to give credit where it is due. In almost every case, these authors have written back to me. Not all of them come to Phoenix, but if and when they do, I do my best to attend their programs so I can meet them in person. Even if we’ve never met, we’re still able to develop and maintain our close relationships via e-mail and land-mail.

One of the things I would suggest, Maylissa, given your passion for animals and holistic veterinary medicine, is to begin writing to some of the authors whose books you've recommended to me and others (Kim Sheridan comes to mind). This might be a way for you to begin to find and get to know people who share your interests – and you never know where it may lead.

I understand that you’re “exhausted with brain function at an all-time low,” and certainly reaching out to authors and writing to them takes time and energy and commitment – but so does composing the messages you post on this message board. So does fretting, arguing with a spouse, beating up on oneself and not sleeping at night. So does going to the doctor to deal with high blood pressure and ulcers. The issue isn’t how much time and energy something takes but rather, how we want to invest our time and energy. Sometimes the best thing we can do to make ourselves feel better is to force ourselves to do something that makes us feel good about ourselves.

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Hi Marty T,

I to wanted to thank you for sharing the information, I think in your previous reply you are so very right... I know myself that I am very guilty of making my friends feel that they should be sad for me... Instead of me treating them like I sure... Thanks again and take care Shelley

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Thanks, Marty, and I do know what you speak of is correct, for the most part. But that's the really strange thing about these friends. They were the ones who made such a point of telling me (long before Nissa's passing, but after my Mum's and brother's) that, through their own losses (and one of them has had MANY close ones...at least she claims they were major) they'd learned all the 'right' things firsthand, due to their own lousy experiences with others. They also made a point of thanking me for my help and understanding when they had other losses in the interim. This was one big reason I thought they'd be 'safe' bets for myself now. But there seems to be only one of them who 'gets' how long the process is, and funnily, her loss is the oldest one among them! :huh: I suspect that, despite their talk, the other ones end up burying their own pain because that's what's 'expected' today and are fooling themselves into thinking they've come to any real resolution about their losses....however, this intuition doesn't really help me in the long run.

As for contacting authors....I'd already done that! ^_^ (great minds think alike, no? :lol: ) Two or three times in the last few years, in fact. And yes, Kim S. was one of them. I hadn't even finished reading her book before I took that proactive step! While we really seemed to click, she's busy writing a second book, so advised me in advance that she may not be able to write me again anytime soon...so I've been 'on hold' for awhile. I also have to keep in mind that I'm in Canada, and so not very likely to physically meet any authors, who most commonly live in the U.S...unfortunate, but more realistic. And as others have said, there's really no substitution for being able to 'do lunch' or spend physical time with someone you like.

While it's true that we don't need to burden everyone with everything that's going on in our lives, when I see these people I usually try very hard not to, but even that hasn't done the trick. And I still think that TRUE friends, while rarities, ARE the ones who have been described as Pat did in her article....or like the ones on some boards.

So I hope you can see that I have been taking the bull by the horns (apologies to all the bulls of the world for this phrase ;) ) whenever I've found the energy, and I'm sure I'll continue to wrack my tired brain for even more ideas and efforts....but that's one of the reasons I am so tuckered-out, because it hasn't netted me as much as I'd hoped, and even prayed for.

But I DO thank you for wracking your own brain to try and help me out with this frustration! :wub: If I'm ever lucky enough to be in Phoenix.....

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Boy do I share your frustration and I do understand about the "friend" thing. I know Marty, you give us such help and good information, its just sometimes we are too tired and frustrated to take a step, and I know you understand that. My hospice counselor recently said to me (after listening to me for the last twelve months) that I needed to seek out new friends and form new relationships since my expectations of my friends was keeping me so upset. (I'm hurt) But where??? The grief groups around here have been so unresponsive. The local churches I've called don't currently have any grief support. I actually don't know where to begin. And I have to say, friends that I've had over 30 years, have turned and looked the other way. Yes, I know I can't expect them to be here as they have not experienced this loss, but gosh, can't I feel hurt that there is no compassion or common courtesy. I just will never understand. Deborah

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Deborah,

I think the majority of us have had the same experiences...our friends turned away from us. I have very few friends left. Two of them live in other parts of the country. One is actually someone I met on this board and I feel closer to him than any of my "old" friends. We have become very close and it is one of the many blessings I have received from this board! The ones that are in my town I don't see very often. It is a hard thing to go through in addition to your grief. You just think people will be there for you and...poof...they are gone! How to meet new friends who understand and have a heart? I wish I could tell you. I haven't figured that out either! I think a lot of us just aren't ready yet. Maybe when we are, it will come naturally somehow. Good luck.

Hugs,

Shell

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