Sunday, March 30, 2008

grief, mourning & healing

this afternoon i went to a seminar entitled grief, mourning & healing. i had heard about it through an e-mailing network i still receive from our business. it was given by patrick dean, a man who has done grief counseling for over 20 years and is the head of the milwaukee grief education center. it was excellent. maybe it wasn't necessarily new material but the way it was presented, and maybe also the stage i am in my grief, i was more ready to hear it and it certainly made an impact on me.

i am going to summarize of few of his key points not only to share with my fellow bloggers who are in the grieving process but also to record it for me, so i can have something to look back on.

grief is an internal experience where as mourning is how we exhibit our grief externally. grief is the bridge between who we were (before the death) and who we are becoming (following the death). mourning is the path to healing, how we move towards the healing.

grief is normal, natural and necessary. it is also universal yet totally unique.

through mourning, and the path towards healing, we are learning new ways to live with our necessary sadness. we are forever changed by the lives of those we loved. we need time to redefine who we are. i know as caregivers we can all acknowledge and agree with that.

the mere passage of time does not heal - it's what we do with that time. don't believe the saying, times heals all wounds, it doesn't, yet time softens and changes how we look at the loss. there is also no time limit to grief and loss. some losses are forever.

patrick was able to meet and visit with dr. elizabeth kubler-ross near the end of her life. she was the forerunner and pioneer to describing the phases one goes through with death and dying. patrick asked her if there was one thing he could pass on to bereavers as he gave workshops from her, what would she like it to be? he said she thought for a good 3-5 minutes and then answered. tell them "do the best you can and leave the rest of it up to whomever you deem your god to be." a very wise statement!

we need to work on finding our "new normal" in life. for death changes us forever so we should not look for a recovery but rather a reconciliation - learning to live with our loses. when we experience that momentary "spark" of life, we should try to build on it, nurture it into our "new normal."

though grief is hard, hopefully over time (and that will vary for each individual) thoughts become soft again, and a gentleness awaits us.
will i open my heart to an eternal love? a love no longer of this earth?
eventually, the stormy days and ways of grief will soften into something sad...AND beautiful.

"no one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear."
C.S. Lewis : A Grief Observed

this tuesday night patrick dean will be giving another talk on delayed grief. i am hopeful to attend that. i know i am experiencing that with my mom. i look forward to gaining insight into that as well.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


(matt, mark and russ dying eggs 2 years ago in S.C.; my blogger egg; matt and mark dying eggs this year)

Easter has always been a time for being with family and friends. when i was little, i remember going to my grandparents. i can still remember getting a new dress with a bonnet. back then i didn't get dressed up a lot as i liked playing outside but when i did, i went all the way and dressed to the hilt. i remember my mom telling me how i not only wore the dress and bonnet on Easter, but also the lacy socks, patten leather shoes, a purse, and of course the little white gloves. i would walk around very carefully with my hands up (kinda like you see surgeons doing on tv) so as not to get my hands dirty. i can only imagine...

when my boys were little, i use to dress them up in matching outfits for Christmas, Easter and other special occasions. early on we use to go see russ & gene for Easter and when the boys were in late grade school we starting driving to S.C. (fripp island) for Easter with my sister's family and another family. we would rent a big house and spend spring break down there. 2 or 3 of the years russ and gene would join us. 2 years ago, we even took russ there with us. it was just the 5 of us. it was hard to hear him tell me what a beautiful area it was, and how glad he was to see it as this was someplace he had never visited before. i didn't have the heart to tell him differently. i am just so thankful that he enjoyed himself while in the moment.

last year, russ was unable to travel that far. or maybe the better explanation is that i didn't have the energy to try to take him there again and also didn't think the change in routine would be good for him.

this year, mark and matt have different spring breaks and with me just starting a job, it was also not meant to be. it will just be a quiet Easter. mark is still in arizona so we are down to 3; bob, matt and me.

like betsy posted, even though our kids are older, i still enjoy watching them dye Easter eggs and i think think they enjoy it as well. this year was no different. i had them dye them last weekend when they were both home. i asked them if i could do a few this year as well. the egg above is for all my blogger friends and their LO's who died this past year. i apologize for the poor handwriting but the thought is still there.

Easter is a time of rebirth and that is what i hope for myself and the rest of you. i pray that for all of us who have lost someone this past year we will continue to grow and figure out the purpose of our lives. for those of you still caregiving, please know you will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers too.

as i look out the window at the 14+" of snow that was dumped here yesterday, the sun is out and it is a beautiful day. i hope for many more beautiful days, hopefully a lot more of them without snow! we are officially into spring so i look forward to the melting and greening up around here.

a Blessed Easter to you all!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

6 months

today was 6 months since russ died. i can truthfully say that i had an ok time with it. i was ever conscious of the fact but i was not sad, i felt at peace. maybe i am finally starting to get over this heaviness of grief. even if it is short lived, i am grateful for today. today was the first anniversary of sorts i felt like smiling as i remembered. today was good. thank you God.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


i started my new job yesterday but it will be at least a week before i can start assessing what i really think of it. this whole week i will be in orientation meetings. a lot of it is boring but a necessary evil. i think over the years i have learned how to be a good listener as well as what HIPPA etc. means. actually tomorrow afternoon through friday i will have 1 on 1 training learning the computer system they use and things specific to my job. hopefully that will be more interesting, or at least more applicable. the highlight yesterday was they had a HUGE potluck to celebrate st. patty's day. i kidded a few of the staff saying they didn't have to go to such extremes to welcome me!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

having fun

this has been my final week before i start work on monday. as i kinda knew would happen, i did not get a whole lot accomplished around the house. but that's ok. it will always wait for me. LOL. i did manage to do some fun and productive things though. on tuesday bob and i went to the milwaukee public museum to see the Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS 1: The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies exhibit. we both found this extremely fascinating. this is a process where people have donated their bodies specifically to the Body Worlds. through the process of plastination, fluid and fat are removed from the body and replaced with a synthetic polymer, or plastic to preserve the body forever. the amount of nerves and blood vessels in one's body is mind boggling, especially when you realize how exact a surgeon has to be when performing surgery. my favorite exhibit had to be the 8 month pregnant woman who knew she was going to die and donated her body with the fetus intact to the exhibit. bob probably found all the blood vessels his favorite. my biggest disappointment was that they did not have a brain with Alzheimer's on display. i have seen pictures of one on the internet but would have liked to have seen the real thing. they did show a brain that had suffered a stroke. i don't know if any of the other 3 exhibits traveling around the country have one on display or not. if you have not seen this and have the opportunity to visit one in your area i highly recommend it.

wednesday i had lunch with russ' home hospice nurse, janine. it was great to see her and catch up with her and her family. i had not seen her in many months but still think of her often and the wonderful care she gave to russ and the great support she was to me.

thursday morning i treated myself to a pedicure. or i should say the boys did. they had given me a gift certificate for one for Christmas and i hadn't used it yet with all the bitter cold weather so took advantage of it since we reached almost 50 on thursday. later that morning i had a nice talk with lynne, one of the in-patient hospice nurses and the first one who came to my house and did continuous care for russ at the end. it is always good to talk to lynne.

in the afternoon my sister and i went for a grief thing put on by the hospice russ used. i purposely call it a grief "thing" as i had a whole different perception of what it would be. somehow i was under the impression from the mailing that is would be a workshop or support meeting. well, it actually was like a church service, held in a nursing home's chapel. it was very nice and i was able to see another of the in-patient nurses, marlene. the thing though, and i know it will sound stupid, is i felt like i was under dressed. growing up my mom had a thing about never going to church unless she had a dress or skirt on. she instilled it in me as well, and now i do it more so to honor her memory than for any other reason. even though i had a nice top on and my jeans were my nicer pair, i kept obsessing the entire time about what i had on. i know i missed out of the majority of the service because of it. during one part of the service we went up to the front to light a candle for our LO. when sue and i sat back down, our candle went out. we tried to re light it 3-4 times from the person sitting next to us but it kept going out. all i could think of was how my mom was just shaking her head at me and blowing the candle out over what i was wearing. LOL. there were many others there with jeans on who i know didn't give me a second thought but it is just a personal thing.

yesterday, bob and i drove to madison to pick mark up for his spring break. he will leave monday with a high school friend to fly to arizona to relax and enjoy the weather at his friend's grandparents house. i have about 1/2 of his laundry done already. i know i spoil both my boys but i don't mind. i think matt might drive home tomorrow to see mark before he leaves. i anticipate a very low keyed and relaxing rest of the weekend. just what the doctor ordered before i start work on monday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

a cold but relaxing weekend

last friday bob and i went up to door county for a long weekend get-a-way. we just got home a few hours ago. i figured a week from today i will be starting work so i wanted one last mini vacation. the winters in door county are so different than the summers yet just as beautiful. in the summer, especially july and august, the peninsula is filled with many tourists. you see the exact opposite in the winter. we read an editorial in the paper while we were up there about the winters. they stated there is no need to use your directionals while driving. a)no body is on the road and b)if you do come upon another car, they would recognize your car and know when you would be turning. that may be a slight stretch of the truth but not by much. as much as i love the beauty of the summer, i also love the peace and quiet of the winter.

we usually keep the house set at 50 degrees when we are not up there so when we arrived, i quickly pumped the thermostat up to 68 to warm up the place. by 9pm, it was only 53; not a good sign, but considering it was only in the teens outside, we (or should i say bob) was still hopeful. by 7am it was only up to 55, definitely not good. we quickly made a fire in the fireplace and placed a call to rick, the guy that does all the electrical/plumbing work for us. rick did not answer but we left a message stating the problem but also saying that we could manage over the weekend. well about 12 noon, rick showed up. it was not good. there was a cracked heat exchange in 2 of the 5 parts so the furnace was only functioning at between 55-60%. we can limp through the rest of the winter but we will need a new furnace. they no longer make that model so therefore they no longer make the replacement parts. just what i needed to hear!!! seems to me that with some of my blogger friends having problems with heating this winter it must be the winter for furnaces.

between the sun, fire and partial furnace we were able to get the temp up to 65 by the time we left today. i thought a lot of lori and unk, they would not have been happy campers but we were dressed warmly so we did fine. we took a couple of beach walks. with all the snow and ice on the beach i really had to look closer at the shoreline as it did not look familiar. it was like we were in a different place.

on another note, while up there i dreamed of my mom. this is the first dream i can remember in such a long time. it was a good one as well. already the memory of it is fading but i clearly remember her driving up (or somehow coming up) next to bob and i and calling our names. i think we were in a car as well. bob was in the front and i in the back. she was smiling and seemed happy, asking bob first and then me how we were doing, and if we were happy. even though it was somewhat hard as i then missed her, it was comforting to think that she appeared happy and wants that for me too.

we are actually suppose to have the next few days reach the 40's. we somehow managed to miss the last major snow storm that passed through so maybe we will start to melt some of this snow. i can only hope!

Friday, March 7, 2008

end of an era

this past tuesday, the city of green bay and the state of wisconson went into a tailspin. word was leaking out that brett favre was retiring. people were in disbelief. i admit i was in shock as well. as much as everyone knew this was a possibility and that it would indeed happen one day it was something most people hoped would never happen. the media was reporting that many companies in green bay were closing for the day so that employees could go home to follow the story. employers knew that tuesday would be an unproductive day. you never would have known that there was a primary being held that day, there was minimal news regarding the voting, maybe a scrolling byline at the bottom of the screen. that national news paled in comparison to wisconsin's hero. networks scrambled to put clips of brett on the tv. regularly scheduled programs were canceled. the only news in wisconsin on tuesday was that brett was retiring after 17 years in the NFL, 16 in green bay.

yesterday, the reality of this was cemented in stone. brett flew up to green bay and gave a press conference confirming it. again, all stations covered the live broadcast. brett was very emotional. i was disappointed as i heard the news on tuesday but found myself crying yesterday as i heard brett speak. how could one not when you saw brett break down. he gave a very heartfelt explanation of how after 17 years of giving it his all, he was emotionally exhausted. anyone hearing him speak could not have helped but been touched. he thanked God for what he had been given in life, and then he thanked everyone in the packers organization and the fans. he also stated that his wife Deanna told him it is now time to look out the front windshield instead of keep looking out the rear view mirror. i found that very appropriate to all people, not just brett.

green bay is loosing not only a legend in football but a humble and wonderful human being. he brought such joy, enthusiasm and unpredictability to the game of football and made it enjoyable to watch every week. his work ethic is beyond compare. he is so down to earth, what you see is the real brett favre. he made us all realize that he experiences the same things as everyone else; death, cancer, and life's hardships. many of today's youth have known no other quarterback for green bay; realistically neither have my own boys, and they are 20 and 22.

i will miss you next year in the fall, as the football season comes around. yet i am thankful for the wonderful memories that i have of you. and i can truly say, i saw you play in person on lambeau field. you will be missed brett, but go and enjoy the rest of your life, you deserve it!

Monday, March 3, 2008

i have a job

today i accepted a position. am i thrilled with it? to be honest no, but it's been 2 months since i started looking and i guess i'm just tired of this process and want to be done with it. i will start in 2 weeks at a major health company doing case management. every morning i will go into the office, have a meeting and get my to-do list for the day. then i will be off to the hospital(s) to review charts and possibly talk with patients and their families about whether or not services are covered under their plan. fortunately, i will not be the heavy to decide that, that decision will be made by the medical staff. the things that are appealing about this is once i am fully orientated (they say about 6 months) i have the option of going home after the hospital visits to input the data from home. once trained, i will also be working independently and have a lot of autonomy. this is important to me having owned our own business for the last 18 years. i think it will be very hard to adjust to not being the one to make major decisions about things like i have been doing. the benefits seem very good at this point as well. i start out with 23 PTO days (vacation and sick). that is a little over 4 weeks. for someone who typically is not sick very often, that is great. i will also not have to be on call or work weekends or holidays. so there are definitely some good pluses. i always said i would take something and if i didn't like it after bob found something i could look elsewhere. once i am fully trained this is definitely the type of position that would afford me to look and interview without them knowing it, thus jeopardizing my position. and who knows, after i really get used to it, i may love it for the flexibility if nothing else. that and i really think compared to other jobs this could be very low stress. always a plus!

i was really disappointed about the other job. last monday i had had my final interview for the oncology nursing position. the nurse over the whole program made a comment to me that after i had met with the staff the previous week, some of the staff were concerned about someone new coming in. maybe "my skills weren't as current as they wanted" and also "how i would fit in with all of them" (one nurse having been there 27yrs). i'm sure most of these comments were coming from the one nurse who i thought was brash. well, i had a gut feeling then that this was not going to work out and unfortunately i was right. i was disappointed and then angry. i know i could have done a good job for them, and i feel that with all their longevity, maybe what they need IS someone to come in from the outside but.....bob said things have a way of working out the way they are meant to be. he is probably right, if they have not found someone in the last year and a half and the interim person does not want to keep doing this job, that should be telling me something. yet, it always hurts to admit that someone doesn't want you. and actually, the people with the new position are taking a much bigger risk, i don't have near the experience in case management as i do in oncology. oh well....

so now as i look ahead to the fact that i will be working full time in 2 weeks, i suddenly start thinking about all the things that i had wanted to do since russ died, the cleaning of closets, the organizing of picture albums, etc. all that fun stuff right!?! well, most of that is going to have to wait until ?. i may get some of it done, but not a lot of it. oh well..... now i look at it as i have 2 weeks to plan lots of fun things to do instead! wish me luck!!!