Saturday Morning Message: Grieving Multiple Losses
Author: Carol Lane
Hugs are important when we are grieving. This week, survivor comments about multiple losses varied from feelings after experiencing multiple losses to some of the things they have done to keep anxiety at a distance. I hope you will find their responses like a big hug across the miles.
One addition to this week’s message is an idea from Cheryl, mother of Jack. She responded to last week’s question about taking care of ourselves after reading last week’s replies. You never know how your words will touch another.
As we come upon the new year, it would be a good idea to share how you plan to take care of yourself in the next few messages. Feel free to send them to me, and we will include them in the messages right up to the new year and beyond.
From Cheryl, mother of Jack: I just finished reading the replies to the question about resolutions. Both of the replies inspired me to think of what goals I need for the coming year. I appreciate forward thinking and assessing; I am not good at just doing it without hearing or reading someone else's perspective. I always appreciate the Saturday Morning Messages and letters. You inspired me to go visit a florist shop or maybe go to our Myriad Garden here in Oklahoma on a gloomy day in January! I won't be buying a plant because my house is starting to look like a jungle. My plants are getting big!
Also, I am going to look into taking some kind of class in the new year, just not sure yet (don't think it will be scuba). Maybe yoga. Next year I want to take a trip to see part of the country I have not seen yet. Thanks again, TAPS.
Questions are the backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. In order to keep the Saturday Morning Message fresh, I am looking for more questions. If you have questions or topics you would like to see addressed in the Saturday Morning Message, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In addition to replies that are placed in the message, I also look for thoughts you have. You can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. Replies to the weekly question are best sent to me by Tuesday afternoon. You are an important part of this message, and I look forward to your questions or any ideas you may have.
If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who wrote this week, send it to me and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.
Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message
I was on the TAPS special chat for coping with the holidays and a topic came up that I thought would be interesting for the question of the week. People were talking about holiday traditions and they were sharing ones that they keep to honor their loved ones and new traditions they are starting, so the question this week is: What traditions are you keeping and/or what new traditions are you establishing for the upcoming holiday season?
♫ Song for the Week
This song of the week is just meant to be fun. Last Saturday, I was at a local chowder fest where one of my friends was playing the guitar and asked me to sing a song with her. The song was "The Last Thing on My Mind." The video is not of us, but I think you will enjoy it. I sang Porter Wagoner’s part.
Answers from Survivors
Merry, mother of Wesley: The question — additional grief. Five years after Wes died, additional grief was paralyzing. Grief and anxiety work is different for everyone. It could be that horrific kind of plane disappearance in the Indian Ocean or the horrific plane crash of the French airline that would necessitate a lot of internal work and "steady as she goes" kind of action in my daily life to keep me grounded. This season, I'm praying for my stepbrother who had major heart surgery Friday, Dec. 15, my sisters who have Parkinson's and dementia respectively, the fires in California that are devastating to so many people and close to my son and daughter-in-law, the horses that perished in Bonsall, California — there is a lot to think about and work through.
My body, spirit and mind seem to be able to take it all in and work at a more everyday pace now after years of very excellent and continued counseling for a marriage relationship that was breaking down. A couple of suggestions stand out to me. When dark, paralyzing circumstances rear their heads — choose a life-giving activity to counteract it. I buy fresh flowers to smell and look at, I think of good times with my dog, the most recent laughter shared at a table of good friends. Also, I was taught through biofeedback some breathing exercises while meditating on a favorite memory, color, friend, vacation, trail in the Rockies, etc. Redirecting, I guess. During biofeedback, I learned I was off the charts with stress levels. These techniques to counteract those levels were quite helpful.
From Leslie, mother of Eugene: I thought about this question deeply. This is my answer based on my personal experiences. Since my son passed, I lost my aunt and uncle. This summer I lost my dad's girlfriend of more than 25 years (she was like a stepmom) and, in September, lost my mother. Yet, it is the loss of my son I feel the most emotional about. All except my son were in their 90s. They got to experience life ... my son did not. I put that in perspective.
From Elsie, mother of Daniel: A person can only handle so much pain. My sister’s oldest son was on his motorcycle and killed by a drunk driver six weeks after my only son was on his motorcycle and killed by a distracted driver. I was numb. I could not take any more pain. It seemed my brain was flat lined. I went through the motions of doing what little I could, but to this day, almost 10 years later, it seems I say the words still in disbelief. Your body’s emotions seem to go into protective mode.
From Bonnie Jo, mother of Andy: (She addressed her comment to Cheryl, who asked this week’s question about grieving multiple losses.)
Hello Cheryl, I feel and hear you and think I am qualified to answer this question. The last time I saw or hugged my son, Andy, was at my mother’s funeral. Andy and his girlfriend came out to New Jersey along with my daughter and her fiance to attend Mom’s funeral, and Andy was not only in his beautiful Green Beret uniform but also was a pallbearer for his grandmother. We all had time to spend together before they all had to return to their busy lives. Hey, they got me a cake, pizza and presents for my birthday the next day. Sweet!
I never saw him again until his funeral a year later. So hard. Then two of my three brothers died suddenly within three months of each other the next year. Then my husband died suddenly two years later, followed by my father. I guess I am here for a reason unknown to me, but I try my best to honor our loved ones by deciding to embrace what I have and be thankful for the ability to give back in some way.
It is hard sometimes, but I try to view the thought of the half-full glass instead of the half empty. Some folks in other countries plagued by life’s challenges have hardly or no water. How can I appreciate the things I do have? By being a good listener and doing my best to appreciate the gifts of love we each have to give and try to remember the precious times you had with each of your loved ones. Have a meaningful and memorable holiday and do not be afraid to cry — tears are another gift that can relieve some stress often. Buy Kleenexes!