I am a day late in writing my post, that I usually get out on Tuesdays. Not sure what to write about, nor even if I want to write about anything.
Had originally thought about French holiday fare, easy enough I guess for someone like me, but I think I will put that off till next week.
There is always tomorrow, or not in this fragile world where there aren’t any guarantees to anything.
You can choose to live with constant worry, fear, anxiety or chose to resolve not to because in the end, we have little control over life.
Reflecting on grief though is normal as it is staring at you 24 hours a day. It is not something you can escape.
Navigating through grief is tough enough, but in the holidays it is intensified. Death of a love one is already a bottomless pit of pain that can’t be changed, just has to be accepted as a new reality.
I am sharing my feelings not for sympathy, but only in hope that others going through the holidays with their own grief may identify and perhaps be helped by my own coping, however crippled that might be.
I am not alone in my grief as millions others are grieving in the world as I breath for so many losses they have endured also. Death, sickness, loneliness, homelessness, lost income, relationships and I could keep going.
Grieving the death of a loved one is a lifelong ordeal. That grief does not disappear, nor evaporate.
Everyone grieves in different manners and deals with their grief is various ways too. There is no such manual to show you the ropes, no maps to really guide you along.
Human beings are not tinker toys or legos that one can rebuild anew. Rebuilding your life after the death of a love one is not about removing the painful scars left behind, but building around them.
Scar tissue is actually a very tough tissue. On human skin they do not disappeared in totality, only shrink and fade, eventually blending in with the surrounding tissue.
Emotional scars don’t go anywhere either. They are encoded in the memory traces in our hippocampal area of the brain.
The immediate acute pain may fade with the accrual of time. Acute pain can be numbed somewhat by our psyche or buried as is.
Whereas you can not yank off human skin scar tissue, you can emotional scars. Even those long buried can under certain circumstances reopen and gush out with as much conscious pain as the original injury inflicted.
As a therapist I have witnessed it in patients and also myself. All it takes is a mere trigger to rip open an emotional scar and grief.
It could be words, heard or read, sounds, smells, sights, and tactile reminders. Emotional states can be triggers too, facilitating breaking the dam open.
These emotional “ripping offs” generally come totally unexpected, at the most inappropriate times.
I remember well it happened to me many years ago, when a patient sharing her own intense grief ripped open a long buried grief over losing my beloved cousin when I was a mere 11 years old.
Of course in the months following a death, we are all open to easily being caught flooded with tears at unexpected times.
It happened while shopping at my neighborhood marché on Christmas Eve. The sight of all those mounds of lobsters, shellfish and various gastronomic treasures of the sea suddenly flooded me with tears.
I was immediately overtaken with grief and sadness, knowing how much my son Andre loved shopping in Paris at the huge and vast array of sea foods.
He would often tease me about my immense reticence in buying lobsters and crawfish and the anguish of preparing them for the pot, having to “anesthetize” them before.
Chefs have to deal with live crustaceans all the time. Louisiana born, I have enjoyed huge spreads of boiled crawfish, usually cooked by someone else.
So there I was with tears running down my cheek in front of blue lobsters. My friendly fish man was too busing shucking scallops I hope to notice, but did he?
Happened again in lighting my candle for my son, in front of the icon of Holy Mary Theotokos, as I have done for several years after every mass.
She has heard so many of my prayers for him, seen many a tear and has helped in so many ways. I feel blessed to have my faith that I was gifted with since childhood and sustains me.
My faith is my haven, and an immense comfort. It does not have to provide all answers, because the nature of God is not fully comprehensible, nor is it meant to be.
However mysterious the Divine is, it is my Light and Love to drape around me anytime, anywhere and for whatever reason.
This whole holiday period I have chosen to float on my faith, blessings and gratitude. First and foremost focusing on the immense gratitude I have for my beautiful daughter, grandchildren, some extended family members and friends.
I have been focused also on seeking pleasures and joy from what I do have tangible in my life and counting my blessings. That includes the sacred gift of being able to help suffering others too.
The feast of beauty that surrounds me living here. The magnificent art, the fabulous food, the immense living history throughout the city, the beautiful architectural treasures and some breathtaking views.
Yesterday instead of writing, I played out my perpetual tourist pursuits. Riding any bus in any direction here is a great way is to take in beauty in any direction.
This time I wanted to head out on some ones to go to the part of Paris no one seeks. They have history of course, but no spectacular beauty per sae.
Some areas look pretty drab and impoverished in the northeastern periphery of the city. Real estate costs and high rents have pushed many outsides to the suburbs, even pinching the so called less endowed quartiers.
Maybe I was looking for them to mirror back my own grey drabby clouds of grief, a reminder that life isn’t already pretty to look at, nor live in.
It turned out to evoke more gratitude for where I am, my pretty view and the physical comforts I do have.
Fortunately I still enjoy my wonderful foods and wines and meals I prepare. I did not spare fixing any of my traditional holiday dishes.
Maybe I was more on auto pilot, more detached than usual, less on schedule with less care about outcomes.
Grief does that, it prunes away superficial branches that create clutter and pares you down to the core.
Priorities change, cares diminish, and life becomes more of something that you observe rather than try to control and direct.
You are reduced to focusing on the essentials of life, love, faith and friends.
I love the slogan one hears often in 12 step recovery programs; living life on life’s terms. After awhile it becomes very apparent that living our reality despite our hurts, worries and grief is the most peaceful way to go.
We have choices on our perspective and focus. I may be somewhat crippled by my grief, but not my faith, nor my belief in goodness and love, nor any less gratitude I have for my blessings.
For each and every kind word and gesture extended to me, I offer my gratitude to you. Some of you are close friends, some of you I haven’t seen in years, some of you are my wonderful patients, and some of you I have never have the pleasure of meeting.
In my eyes you are all beautiful and I thank you with all my heart. My faith and your kindness are part of my bandages that bind my wounds. Hugs and blessings to all