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The Dips In The Roller Coaster Ride


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Fellow travelers,

I said to a friend last Friday, I feel as if I tripped over the threshold to October and fell into a deep hole. Yesterday I started a painting of me in that hole...so far the sketch is done. In it I sit at the bottom surrounded by a layer of rocks. Above, way above, are symbolic signs of life..and light. But I am not looking up there, of course. After several days in this dark place, last Friday and Saturday, I did what is always a challenge to me...I called/contacted and was honest with three friends. I cried (that is putting it mildly) with two of them one on the phone and one over breakfast. And of course, they reached back to me and actually felt our time together was, as one even said, "wonderful" and that I was an inspiration to her. They did not try to fix me. They just heard and supported me. I guess I will be 100 years old before I reach out sooner...but then, honestly, I truly believe, I reach out at exactly the right time. I needed those days at the bottom of the hole to feel/process my feelings. Today, I made an addition to my drawing (prep to painting). I added a person kneeling on the ground above, hand outstretched to me...all I had to do was look up and reach back...these friends were always there. How blessed I am. They also know I am there for them. As I think of it, it is pain that brought us together, in one case 40+ years ago.

For those of you so very new to this challenging and yes, growth producing, journey...I am about 2 1/2 years out from Bill's death. He and I were very close...two bodies one soul close. I have not had a serious dip like this for a fairly long time. I actually can't recall so I know it has been a while. I often have bad moments, bad days and sadness is always there. But it is not crippling. It does get better. The safe people in my life know that my tears flow quite easily and they do not run away. I am wise enough to know when these dips happen...and they will happen, I just need to go with them. Be in my pain. It is my teacher. I am now on my way out of the hole having grabbed onto a few hands and having felt ready to climb out. Today I had coffee with a local Lutheran Pastor who is also a psychotherapist/psychoanalyst...we meet at the General Store about every 5-6 weeks for coffee. We both enjoy the time and today, in addition to sharing as we do, I helped him plan the annual grief service for our community. He stated that he sensed calm in me even as some tears welled up. I told him that when I get in those dark places, if I reach out to safe people, the agitation and anxiety that accompanies the dark times seems to dissipate. We can not travel this road alone. And if we are blessed to have even one person we can share with face to face...we need to do so. The sadness and feeling of being lost might not go away but the fear does when and if I share with soul-connected friends. Just passing on what I am learning...learning for the umteenth time.

The maple tree in my yard is all but bare, the leaves have been mulched and hauled away (thanks to a local man who does that for me). The oaks (purple, yellow, browns of all shades) are still brilliant as winter knocks at our doors here in Wisconsin. I actually welcome its silence and beauty. But not the ice.

Peace

Mary

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Thank you, Marty. I am happy to share my journey. This group is and has been a support to me for two years now. I know this is the best grief support group on the web.

Tomorrow I start a 5 week Mindfulness class at the UW-Madison Center for Integrative Medicine...it will also help me settle down that part of me that gets agitated and impatient with this process. I recommend Mindfulness and meditation to every one. There are many websites that teach both and also have audio files to lead learners through the process. I will search around for some and post them.

Peace

Mary

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I hear you, Mary. Many hands I'm sure are extended to you. My hand is as yours has been to me. Thank you for your post. We are fortunate to have this grief web site as we take the walk (stumble, crawl) through our grief journeys. No one said 'learning' was easy.

I suppose we will all have those minutes, hours, days . . . when we're just not feeling ourselves. Motivation and enthusiasm wean. We sort of stand on the edge of a precipice – sometimes wondering just how many roller coaster rides we can stomach. How fortunate that you have people you know who know how to listen, who are there for you and for what you need at this time. We who are in the throws of our grief cycles I'm sure wonder what in the world is going to happen to us if we are not as strong as those who continue to pull themselves out of the darkness. For some of us a rope that we are holding on to is no more than a piece of thread. Everything has exploded and the ability to be open and positive just isn't there or if it is it is so transparent that it's almost impossible to see it through the tears.

I know how much Bill meant/means to you. It is good to know that when someone who is as caring and sensitive as you are knows how to go with the pain and tears. I don't know if I'll be able to accept those things as my teacher! And I hope that when I travel in some of those places I have a hand or two to grab.

Thank you for your post. Thank you for sharing what you are 'learning'. They say that painters are often more introspective – it will be good to see your finished painting – hoping that there will be much more 'light and life' in it when completed. If not, then it is what it is. I miss the fall season. I think I'll take a ride up to Sedona and loose myself in the colors.

I also want to tell you that I really loved your Labyrinth of Grief poem. I liked the metaphor – the labyrinth - you used to describe the walk through your journey of grief. Twists and turns are definitely going to be in our grief journeys aren't they!

Anne

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Dear Anne, This has been a learning process for me. I started this journey believing, really believing, I would never ever feel even half way decent again. I did not know how i would go on and frankly, I did not want to. I still have days when I do not want to go on but I also know I will. I am a pretty introspective person...always have been. So was Bill. Put two shrinks in the same house and it can get pretty thick.

I do agree that the seasons are important to us. When Bill and I started our two year RV journey we were trying to decide where we wanted to live for the rest of our lives. We ended up where we began. Part of the reason for that was the change of seasons. I hope you get to Sedona and check out the oak trees up there. The red rocks are special to Bill and me. We did a labyrinth walk way out in the middle of nowhere and a sweat lodge also. As for the Labyrinth of Grief, my poem,...I am pretty big on labyrinths. Next week the stumps of the two trees I lost will be removed and I will be planting one of Bill's favorite trees and a White Pine. The black maple will become the center of a labyrinth along with a bench we have dragged all over with us...the circle will be about 50 feet in diameter...also gets rid of a lot of grass...I will still have space for Bentley to romp. Lauren Artress wrote a book on Labyrinths and basically revived its use here in the USA. Bill and I led many labyrinth walks. In November I will be staying at Sinsinawa WI at motherhouse for the Dominicans (with whom I taught) for about 3 days. I will be attending a conference and taking full advantage of their outdoor and indoor labyrinths. I walk them differently now. If you wish, here is a site to go to in order to locate a labyrinth http://labyrinthloca...ate-a-labyrinth There are at least 2 in Sedona and 3 in Phoenix. Yes, our journeys are filled with twists and turns and what feels like retracing or even going backwards but on a Chartres style labyrinth...when it feels like one is going backwards...one is really still making our way to the center. I still struggle with that, of course. Most days it feels like a long trek to the center for me and for you and all of us. I hope to work on the painting this weekend and will post it when it is done. It is pretty detailed so not sure how long it will take. I will prepare the palette tomorrow and that will take a while...because I do not know what I am doing as I mix and create to get the values I need for this one. :)

Going to bed. The debate exhausted me. I watch with knots in my stomach. :)

Peace

Mary

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I gotcha on the debates, Mary. This is tough, I don't like most of what Romney wants to do and am not thrilled with Obama's health care. Oh well, we'll be living with one or the other, scary as that may be.

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Fellow travelers,

Weekends remain difficult for me...especially as I attempt a return from the dark side. Today was tough...just because...plus it is Saturday. I took Bentley to be groomed. Arnette has groomed Bentley since he was just months old. He is now 9. She adores him and he adores her. She is gentle. So is he. She has her shop on her farm and the drive takes me through the hills alive with sun lit golds and browns (the reds are gone), green fields and of course, cows grazing. It IS Wisconsin. Half way down I just started sobbing uncontrollably as I remembered all the drives Bill and I took through these hills (and the last one we took the October before he died) mostly by car but in younger days on our motorcycles...before we got smart and sold them and got computers. (1988) By the time I walked into the grooming shop, I was a mess. Arnette took one look at me and wrapped her arms around me...tears flowed. No words. She knew and loved Bill. She knows what I miss as much as she is able to. When he died, she called me a couple of days later knowing relatives and friends were on route for the funeral, and said, "I do not do casseroles, I do dogs and I will pick Bentley up in two hours." When he returned he looked like the prince he was, all ready for Westminster (or Halloween in his new jack o' lantern scarf). So good to have a friend like this. post-14525-13507762551796_thumb.jpg

Then there is the flip side. I went to get groceries while I waited for Bentley and a woman came out as I was entered the store I smiled at the woman coming out and she said, "I know you" and said my name and then hers. It was a former neighbor (who has aged to the point where I did not know her) from when Bill and I lived on land in the country on Middle Earth Rd (Yes, Tolkien territory). I have not seen her in 16 years. She then said, "I read the Voice." (Voice of the River Valley-the publication I just sold) I said to her, "How nice. Then you know Bill died." Her response: "Yes. ...and went right on to tell me where they live now and all about her life. End of conversation about Bill. Bill was in their house often fixing things for them just to be neighborly. I "expected" (bad word) a bit of a response. Then I left. It felt good to get back to Arnette's shop and hear Bentley whine because he wanted off the grooming table so he could lean against me :) Arnette and I chatted for a while, hugged, and home we came. Weekend half done...whew!

Kay, yesterday I visited several artists' studios on our Fall Art Tour. At one studio, the artist (someone I barely know) asked me how I was doing since Bill died and then introduced me to her friend telling me her friend lost her husband 7 years ago when he was in early 50s. The friend and I talked for a while..so nice to talk to someone who gets it. She said to me, "It has been 7 years and I am just now feeling like I want to smile..." I thought of you, Kay.

Peace

Mary

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Thank you for sharing, Mary. Your Bentley is so beautiful, no wonder you love him so much! My Arlie is sick today, no idea why, so I have him on starvation today and then made a concoction for him to start tomorrow along with Probiotics to aid his system in recovery (ckn. breast, rice, potato, yogurt). When the dog is a moose like Arlie, it's a lot of cooking!

I feel mixed feelings this time of year. You were talking about the beautiful drive...George and I always went for drives in the Fall, we'd gather leaves for a bouquet for the table. I enjoy the colors this time of year but can'[t help but think of the times we did it together.

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It scares me when Bentley has health stuff going on. He is healthy so far but when Bill died and Bentley regressed and started destruction behavior including the razor he ate...major surgery. I am sorry Arlie is sick. I have done the chicken, rice, etc program. When Bentley went to the kennel early on it made him so stressed that he had to be on boiled beef and rice or chicken and rice for several days. He is used to it now but I do not go away often anymore.

yes, autumn is a bittersweet time. It is beautiful and yet it is the end of the life (so to speak) on earth...trees drops leaves, winter comes...holidays etc. And then there are those rides and hikes in the colors...makes for tough moments/hours/days.

Mary

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Dear Mary

What a gorgeous dog you have. I so know what you mean about worry about them getting sick. Kelbi ad cystitis when I too was ill and I managed to get her to the vent who put her on antibiotics and anti inflammatories - the symptoms actually ceased after one day so it ant have been the meds. Two days ago she started weeing a lot again the day after I brought her back from kennels so I thought this time I'd wait and now she seem ok I think. And I had that behaviour problem with her, but now she is really good. But she is so important to me. She is company and she makes me go out, which for sure I wouldn't do.

I'm also noticing how infrequent is the chance for me to talk about my Pete when it's all I want to do really. People move on and adjust to the fact that we are without them. I can't even talk to our son about him. Actually he has our early photos because when we moved into a smaller property we decided we should leave them with him, and he intends over the winter to transfer our slides to the computer. This might be a chance to reminisce once he has done it, though in some ways I don't wish to go so far back with memories. I want to bring Pete to mind as he was just before he had the stroke.

I dreamed about Pete last night (first time for ages) and reached for my iPhone to record it. I haven't listened yet and think it will be very disjointed as I couldn't remember much when I woke.

I am reading Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven. It's rather amazing. His experience of 'heaven' is kind of conventional in some ways which to me raises issues of confusion as it sounds too conventional (I am struggling to convey what I mean here). But I think it's his human interpretation of something outside our present understanding. I think it fits into modern theories of multi universes and quantum worlds in some ways. As we know that most of our bodies and made up of empty space there seems to be plenty of scope for other worlds which co exist alongside our own and I am coming to beleive that if a spiritual zone exists (call it heaven) it is just a breath away. Heck I'm sure I am making no sense at all here and that is because I don't have a clue about all this. All I know is that the world/universe/ reality is far far more complex than we can understand.

I've strayed away from my original topic here. Please excuse that, but I thought you might be interested. I know Mary has ordered Eben's book.

It's almost 8 am here so you in the USA should be asleep. I'm still sleeping really badly despite trying meditation tapes when I wake.

Jan

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Dear Jan,

Thank you...Bentley is a loving, gentle dog who is also easily startled...we are making slow headway on that. And yes he is gorgeous...he stops people on the street and then he is so friendly. I am glad Kelbi is ok now. Our dogs play a huge role in our healing...I will never be without one for long.

I am sorry you can't talk to your son about Pete. Have you told him that you want to reminisce with him? Maybe he is afraid to bring Pete up.

Not sure why Proof of Heaven has not come yet. I checked and it should arrive soon. I have so many books going that it is fine. I have a huge manual to read for the weekend workshop I am taking in November also. And some prep work to do with that. Now that I have one foot out of this hole, I hope to get something accomplished this week. :)

I agree with you...the universes are way beyond out 3D mentality. How many dimensions? At least a dozen, maybe more as I read. How many universes? Endless? Quantum physics attempts to unveil the mysteries but until we cross over, I don't think we can ever understand it. No time, no space...how do we even think like that? Pure consciousness and energy...I suspect that is what it is but that is beyond my mind's abilities. I do read about it though. Whatever is out there...I think it will be incredible and surprising. I think our mental abilities will be shocking. Bottom line for me, right now, is that I believe our consciousness goes on and that Bill is someone right here with me as are so many loved ones I have lost. I look forward to reading his book. This guy has a great resume and I believe he is a neurosurgeon so he seems to have some credibility. I loved the Newsweek piece and somehow I believe that when those who die want us to see them, they manifest what appears to be a body...maybe a hologram.

I am going to visit one's friends studio today (Fall Art Tour) as I promised her I would buzz by and then Bentley has CGC class.

Peace. Enjoy being home. Do not push yourself too hard. All in good time.

Mary

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Bentley did very well at Canine Good Citizen class today. Next Sunday he MAY pass the final...November is his Therapy Dog test....It was a fun class and I had a good time. Newly groomed Bentley was the hit of the class. He is truly irresistible.

I then got in my car to drive home. Turned the key and voila...I knew in 5 measures I was listening to Mahler. Do I turn it off? Do I try to listen? I could do neither. I tried to listen once before and ended up in tears and turned it off. Today I kept it on and within minutes the laughter from class became tears and a lot more. ,As it turns out it was Mahler's 8th, the Symphony of a thousand and it was the final movement, the Redemption. It is extremely powerful as is everything Mahler wrote but this one is huge and one of our favorites. So I sobbed, I mean sobbed, all the way home. I could not listen and I could not turn it off....with each note memories flooded in. Dozens of them. I guess the good news is that I listened and did not end up driving off the road.

I just want to listen to Mahler with Bill one more time...of course. The roller coaster ride continues. Quasi recovery is faster. Gratitude flows in along with pain. If anything can tear off the membrane protecting my agony, Mahler can do it.

Peace

Mary

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I listen to the radio in the car all the time, but its BBC Radion Four which is a speech programme so music rarely takes me by surprise. As you know Mary Pete and I loved Mahler and in some ways I long to listen to music. I know that Anne (Enna) gets some help from listening to music. I set aside some time every day when at home to read poetry aloud to connect to Pete and although it brings tears I find it sort of helpful. I wonder of I should just try some music? Did it help you Mary, or was it too painful. I am beginning no understand that tears are good.

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I would urge you to try music if you are pulled in that direction. Do not go by me music has always made me cry...now it does even more so.

Love, mary

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