I saw her necklace from across the room; the silver, heart-shaped pendant had a large picture on it–much bigger than you’d see in a locket. I walked closer so that I could make out the picture. It was worn by a frail, elderly woman, considerably thin, neatly dressed although her clothes looked too big for her frame. I introduced myself and told her I had admired her necklace from across the room. She brought her hand up to it and held it out.
“It’s a picture of me and my husband,” she said. “I lost him earlier this year. Wearing this makes me feel close to him.”
When I asked her how long she and her husband had been married, she told me they’d been married 71 years.
“I was 15 and he was 21 and about to leave for the service,” she said.
“We can see a thousand miracles around us every day. What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” This quote by S. Parkes Cadman, American clergyman and newspaper writer, reminds me of how when my children were little they saw the world, full of surprises and abundant with miracles.
I would crack open eggs week after week and only think of how I needed to get breakfast made and the kids out the door to school on time. They say mystery, the hand of God, and often reminded me to stop and look at the stars or to notice how the full moon lit up the yard, or they could get me to laugh when I had been in a bad mood all day –now that was really a miracle. Continue reading
Go get your coffee cup and settle in. We need to talk. Or actually I need to talk. I’ve been thinking about how to start this conversation with you for a while, but my head has been in a fog, trying to figure out, “What now?”
Maybe you can listen. Maybe it will help me.
My husband committed suicide almost two years ago; my heart is broken and sometimes it feels as if all of my words are stuck in my throat. My fingers on most days just hover over the keyboard; not sure what to write–an added injury to a writer. The few pages I have written in my journal look like Rorschach tests from all the tears swirled in with ink. I know the importance of staying emotionally up-to-date with myself and with others. I know to talk out the pain and be real with people about how I’m doing. I’m so grateful for the people who sit and listen without trying to prompt me to see the silver lining (and I’m a person who perpetually, and obnoxiously, so I’ve been told, looks for the silver lining). I’m grateful for people who refrain from telling me that my husband is no longer suffering from debilitating depression and that he is in a better place. His place was here. With us. With me. We were his place.
Last April I stepped into a SNL photo booth at a work fundraising gala, and when the photographer said “Show me your fun side,” I let go. For one of the few times in the nine months since my husband had died, I let go of sadness. I let go of overthinking; I let go of panic and anxiety. I actually felt joy and fun. I breathed deeply. But when the photo was developed and I saw the picture of myself looking so free and happy, I was hamstrung by guilt and shame that someone who had experienced such a recent loss looked so happy and carefree. What kind of person was I anyway?
So I tucked the picture away. Continue reading
People who need help sometimes look like people who don’t need help.
Author Glennon Doyle Melton
My day job is working with family caregivers in support groups, a place where they have the freedom to share what’s on their mind and visit with and learn from others who are walking the same path they are on.
I often meet caregivers who are trying to wear so many hats in their families while caring for a loved one with a chronic or terminal illness. They put on a brave face and grip tightly to the ship’s wheel while weighted down by duty, tired and already in the midst of the grieving process that comes early to caregivers as they let go of what they dreamed life would look like for them and their spouse. Often, they can’t see to navigate the ship for their loved one let alone take care of their own health and well-being. Sometimes the simple question: “Is there someone who can help you?” leaves them dumbfounded. Many don’t realize they have the right to ask for help from friends or family members. They often believe they are in it all alone. Continue reading
One thing we can be sure of in life is that if you haven’t experienced circumstances that knock you off balance, hold on, it’s only a matter of time.
My husband’s death changed my family’s life as quickly as flipping a light switch. On many days since, I’ve wanted to bury my head under the covers and never come out. But I learned something through counseling and my graduate work that has piqued my interest in people’s approaches to stress and crisis. How a family or individual perceives a stressor can have an effect on the impact of the stress. Continue reading