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Among the Shuswaps of British Columbia widows and widowers in mourning are secluded and forbidden to touch their own head or body; the cups and cooking vessels which they use may be used by no one else. [...] No hunter would come near such mourners, for their presence is unlucky. If their shadow were to fall on anyone, he would be taken ill at once. They employ thorn-bushes for bed and pillow, in order to keep away the ghost of the deceased; and thorn bushes are also laid all around their beds.[1]

Among the Agutainos, who inhabit Palawan, the Philippines, a widow may not leave her hut for seven or eight days after the death; and even then she may only go out at an hour when is not likely to meet anybody, for whoever looks upon her dies a sudden death. To prevent this fatal catastrophe, the widow knocks with a wooden peg on the trees as she goes along, thus warning people of her dangerous proximity; and the very trees on which she knocks soon die."[2]

I read a lot of Native American mysteries.  I have to thank God we do not meet these people in Walmart.  (Of course this came from Wikipedia, or I would not be writing, I would have thrown myself on Billy's burning pirogue as it was pushed into Dorcheat Bayou.

Our maintenance man's son passed away last week.  (another story I hope I'm not repeating).  He was in his 30's.  We most all had incidences with hospitals, ER's, physicians, that if things had been different, we know our loved one would still be here.  Our insurance/health system is so messed up that I got saved when by all rights, I should have died, and Billy died when he should/could have been saved.  This young man, because of lack of money, I am almost sure, let a regular old cut turn into an infection that killed him.  With just a tiny bit of proper care he would be alive.  I worked for two "not for profit" hospitals though, and people do not think they can afford care.  In all actuality, they cannot.  You have your "proud" people that will not ask, so they die.  I'm getting a little political here, so I will quit.  But, in a real equal society, that boy would have received medical care.  I do not know Canadian medical care, and I am sure there are instances even in free care for everyone that mistakes happen.  

What I am getting at, what I am saying is this, and I think Ana repeated something I had said a long time ago.  Your friends, your psychologists, your psychiatrists, your counselors, and your neighbors, if their own feet have not touched the flames of death/grief, they do not know what to say, so forgive them.  No book teaches you what life/death teaches you.  I am speaking from experience of something I said to a friend/cousin, after her husband died suddenly in his sleep.  I can still remember what I said to her, but she is one of my best friends these 20 years later.  She forgave my bad choice of words, seems to have forgotten, but I have not forgotten and will not bring it up. I had lost aunts, cousins, grandparents, my father, but I did not know true grief until I lost Billy, and for the people on here who have lost children also, my feet have only felt the flames, I have not walked on the burning coals, but you have.  You can only hold out your arms and hold these friends and say "I'm sorry" because no words from any book on grief etiquette will tell you what to say that will help.  It takes time to see the changes of the seasons even.  I still will not watch a movie from 2015, will not read a book published in 2015, and a lot more taboo's I impose upon myself.

I did my DNA and had no Native American blood.  But, my ancestors were the Vikings, so I will have to remember I do not live in either of those civilizations and will just say "I'm sorry."  

(And to those who have been here awhile,  I still know how to write those word salads).  And to those that are new, I learned what a word salad was after 15 years of psychotherapy.  And this was a long time before I knew what grief really was. 

(Written at 1:49 a.m. Sunday).  My little ole fellow was sitting at his wife's grave today in his lawn chair.  I didn't stop this time.  I was married 54 years, and I consider myself lucky.  He was married 61 years, she passed away three years ago and he is there often.  We all walk above those flames but we still feel the pain.  I did not inquire, but  he may have walked on the coals also.  I will not interrupt his visit again.  It is his time with his wife.  

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You're a rare one, Marg, a lot of insight.  I can forgive some things said and done, but grief has definitely rewritten my address book.  Yeah, I can continue to be "friends" with my ex-best-friends that skipped going to George's funeral and were not there for me at all, but why?  Why would I want to?  I've found out they are not the people I thought them to be.  I've since made new friends and they're more to my liking!

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Kay, I was hurt by two couples that had been mine and Billy's friends in the early years, then we all moved on and lived our own lives.  We may have seen each other sometimes or the other in all those years but they are not remembered.  Yet they were very cold to me when I returned "home."  In fact, my hugger, Billy's friend who should have been a politician, he did not even act like he remembered me, certainly did not acknowledge I was even there.  What did I want from them?  Maybe just to validate that we had lived and been friends for over 50 years.  Later on I figured out my "hugger" friend has dementia.  I doubt he remembered me.  The other husband had one stroke, then had another.  I went to see them both, he and his wife, in the nursing home across town.  I saw her at the grocery store and asked how he was.  She was rather flippant, but we all take things different.  Her flippancy only hid the sorrow inside she had for well over 50 years of marriage and "he will never leave the nursing home alive." She suffers the loss of him every day, over and over. I have sorrow for my friends.  One cousin posts things on FB that show she is a prisoner in her own home, sometimes I hear resentment, she is now a caretaker to the man she married over 50 years ago.  We are in grief, she is imprisoned in grief and in actuality all we can do is tell them we care.  This is their path.  Your friends that ignored the funeral, death will touch them too.  They will not notice that you  do not come to the funeral.  I've never believed in funerals, but  that is just me.  Now, the way the Irish do it with drinks and partying at a pub to "honor" the life that is now gone, but we will remember with a drink and a laugh about the happy times, that sounds more like what I would want, but like the story of the bug who lived in the water, the ones who noticed other bugs were leaving to never return, when he left he developed wings that would not allow him to return to the world below, so he flew off care free.  A child's story but my hope and faith.  

And finally, a childhood friend that is dying, he returns an answer to my letter to him.  I do not tell him about losing my husband to cancer, as he has it also.  They were all told when I lost Billy, so all my friends knew.  When he signed it "I love you, Billy" I knew it was from my friend, but I held it to my heart as if it was a secret message from my Billy.  But this Billy, married many years, his wife will suffer the grief we all suffer.  I do not know her, but I hope she finds the help of friends and people we have never met, the people who understand, our friends on this forum who know "what to say."  

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I often find I was quick to judge until my life drastically changed.  I see things differently now about how we can know so little of what another is going thru.  There are wives and husbands that come to the nursing home watching their loved ones die day after day.  I Know how they feel walking out the door to go home to a house that will always be empty of that life they had.   One man told me he skipped a day coming because he was too tired, but I saw guilt on his face he didn’t need to feel.  It’s draining and so hard.  I wanted to skip days too.but thought this could be the day.   One woman there is deliberately staying away at times to not burn out.  I think she is doing the right thing.  She’s a realist and trying to prepare and protect herself for the inevitable.  Steve was better at not judging.  I wish I could show him now I have changed.  The compassion or at least lack of need to criticize has left me a better person.  Something I always admired in him even when I thought he was wrong.

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My mother was never in the nursing home.  No one in my family has been, but my daughter was the head nurse/main nurse/whatever you call it at two and one assisted living.  We took my mom, when she was only in her 60's probably to visit a patient that Kelli was checking on in the NH that she worked.  One of the patients walked up to Mama and she turned around and ran to the car.  She was that afraid of them.  Now, I never have been afraid of them.  I know there are Angels like you that visit and keep people company.  But, with your experience, this friend has had a stroke, he is not on life support, he is just "not with us" somehow.  My friend and her friend walk a couple of miles for exercise (we are all the same age) and then she goes and sits with him till 5:00 pm and then she goes home.  This has been going on for months.  When I was there he was not hooked to any machines.  So, not only do you volunteer at the nursing home, you also had to experience the worse part, having your loved one a patient, at the nursing home.  My friend, another classmate, was a secret night  wine drinker.  She kept falling, went to a walker, and this had been an active person.  I knew about the drinking but did not realize finally  her sons would put her in the nursing home.  I deluded myself into thinking just a little wine was not bad.  My sister just got her six month chip (I think they are called) and I had no idea this had been going on, again, since 2003.  No blame from me.  My friend was just staring at the wall when I went to see her last, in bed, blank wall.  I am not a good friend or I would visit her often.  She has grandchildren that she loved so much, they are grown and have families of their own, she has two sons, they are involved with the grandkids.  But, I don't have to tell you this, you are the Angel who substitutes for bad family and friends.  Thank you for being that person Gwen.  You remember the forgotten.  💟

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5 minutes ago, Marg M said:

 But, I don't have to tell you this, you are the Angel who substitutes for bad family and friends.  Thank you for being that person Gwen.  You remember the forgotten.  💟

Yes  Gwen, Marg profoundly said exactly what you do by sharing your time with the nursing home residents.  You are the Angel who remembers the forgotten.  God bless you for doing so much good.  Dee

 

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3 hours ago, Gwenivere said:

Steve was better at not judging.  I wish I could show him now I have changed.

Oh sweet Gwen, Steve knows.  He really does know....  

~Shirley

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10 hours ago, Marg M said:

They will not notice that you  do not come to the funeral. 

No because our friendship is long gone and neither of them live here anymore anyway.  One casually made plans to go to the coast the day of his funeral, like it was nothing to skip it!  The other said she didn't come because she was afraid my next door neighbor would be there (she wasn't, but anyhow, how grade school!).  These are two people I had really been there for throughout their divorces and beyond.

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Thanks everyone.  I have come to love many of the residents over the decades.  When they pass they take a part of me but leave me the joy of having known them.  It’s pretty much a given you will lose them.  It never gets easier.  Death, obviously, affects me harder now.   But I wouldn’t have given up the times I had with some very special people.  To be loved back was priceless.

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I lost another friend Friday morning.  And yet another one was diagnosed with a spot on his lungs, doesn't sound good and he's a smoker.  Scary!

Gwen, I love your attitude, you're so right, they do leave us the joy of having known them.  Most of my friends are in their 80s, some even in their 90s, it's kind of like with my pets, it's a matter of time, but you take each moment with them so gratefully, it is about the joy of having them in our lives, regardless of how long it gets to last.

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Two years ago today, I had never really heard of sepsis and what it can do to a person.  Two years ago today, he collapsed from what turned out to be septic shock, but not caught early enough.  He rapidly deteriorated and became so deathly ill that he had to be put on a respirator, and his body artificially cooled down to combat the high fever as the infection took over, and given antibiotics to stop it.  And that was just the beginning.  It just went on and on and on and on...  I look back at myself and all the hours and days and evenings spent in that intensive care unit, and I wonder what resilience and strength kept me upright, all the while going to work when I could.  It's surreal.  Like a bad dream that's burned into your memory.

Someone on his Facebook posted about how her and her partner's lives have changed as a result of her advanced ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) taking her muscle control away, and it just brought the grief all right back up in my face again.  Is there no end to it?  Is it a bottomless well that just keeps disgorging itself?

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It can sure feel that way.  I can’t believe how many things trigger the grief besides obvious big ones.  Seeing another store we went to close was the latest.  It was just a mini market 7/11, but we stopped there often for stuff.  Now boarded up and empty parking lot looks so odd and memories flood me of happy times.  Maybe I’m over sensitive, but since my guy left, anything relating to our times shared just pushes that knife in deeper.  Definitely anything medical.  Doesn’t matter what.  Then there are the times we divided household tasks that now fall on me.  So we grieve and keep finding more voids that will never be filled.  I knew getting older would bring these, just thought we would face them together.

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Yesterday someone in my Bible Study said what a basket case I was when George died.  Really?  I thought I did the best I could.  I remember singing "It is well" at his funeral.  It was my statement that I'm going to be okay, even though I was in shock and reeling from the hit.

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I'm into 3 and a half years and still avoid certain locations and Venues.....and I have relocated about 750 miles. ..........On that note, relocation is working out well except for the temperatures. Lots of in- door "bike" exercising ...... but will be building a new storage shed next couple of weeks in the sub freezing temperatures......A challenge to say the least....Started decorating to add some" Life" to the digs and fit in with the new Neighborhood......Going to movies with #3 son tomorrow(city driving and parking rates unbelievable) and then taking Lady friend to Blues club Sunday afternoon.........everyone have good weekend...kevin

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Kevin, you give new meaning (in a good way) to the "moving on" words.  Think you must be closer to grown kids, but sounds like you are almost in the tundra.  Can you see Siberia anywhere close?  Stay warm.  Good luck.  My granddaughter (19) and I go to the movies in the "big city" often.  I'm really into the old Marvel and D/C characters, though the comic books were so tame..  She was so impressed I knew who "Shazam" was.  Used to  trade comic books with neighborhood kids back before TV.  

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Marg, Stan Lee...one of the founders of Marvel died this month...95....I said to my youngest son, a part of my childhood past, he said,," mine too".......Edmonton is the Big City(700,000+) and I'm on the outskirts...20 minute drive.....I try to limit my visits to the City but lately its about every second day......Will clamp down next week....I remember Shazam....Comics were "true Fantasy").....

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21 hours ago, Marg M said:

She was so impressed I knew who "Shazam" was. 

And I thought shazam was something Gomer Pyle always said!

 

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