Grief-Upturn and Acceptance

Today is the last segment on grief. It is the upturn and acceptance.  Acceptance is the ultimate goal in your recovery process. I will say this and I'll say it again. There is no cure for grief. It is forever, just not as painful given time. With time it will not feel like someone stabbing you with a knife and twisting it, but a sting like a mosquito. Painful, but not as painful as before.

I want to make something clear to my readers also. I write this as counseling to make you aware what is going on with you and that it's normal. While I use me as an example, I've moved forward and onward. Yes, I have relapses from time to time as do most folks recovering from a death or a stroke. Each relapse is shorter in time than the last time. That is to be expected. Read the above paragraph. It's a case of preacher heal thy self with God's help and pass the knowledge on.

Yes, I still revisit all the phases as time passes, but in acceptance you realize that there are some things that are. It is reality and facing your given situation. Yes, horrific things happen and it happened to you. Things that you may contemplate for your worse enemy but in actually never honestly wish it on another soul. There are consequences to every action you take in this life and acceptance for your circumstances is the key to recovery. Acceptance depends on your willingness to move on. This is what cards you have been dealt in this life. So what are you going to do about it? That is the one thing God does not control and He left for us to will. It is our choice how to live our lives.

How would you like to live your life? The choice is yours. Your present is what you make it. Would you rather lives in the stinking quagmire of guilt, denial, anger, and depression of memories of the past you and longing to have it back? The past is past and baring some time machine, we can't go back and change it. Or would you rather look to a brighter tomorrow where you strive to get better? The choice is ultimately yours.

For me, I end my usual stroke survival posts with "nothing is impossible with determination." I mean it. It's my way of looking to a brighter future and I hope to impart that message on to you. I always look to the light or brightness. Yes, there are a lot of dark times in my past and my future, but I will always walk towards the light. There is always a glimmer there in our souls just waiting for us to see it. You have to want to see it and walk towards it to reach acceptance.

Another thing I usually say on this blog is, "for right now." It's a quantifying statement of acceptance. Everything in this life is temporal. It's perception of what we are experiencing. The thing about perception is that it is constantly changing with circumstances and knowledge. My perception of life as a child is nothing like my perception as an adult, or an elder person.It does not mean I will not try to make it better. I am a mother and grandmother who will always try to kiss it and make it better.

Another reason for my quantifying statement is while I accept the way I am this minute, I refuse to give up hope for a better tomorrow. A tomorrow where I've learned new adaptable helps or recover some of what I've lost. Life is an ever evolving process. What is paramount today may not be tomorrow. When you reach a level of complacency, events will always step forward to disrupt it if you let it. When you've had the worse thing that you can imagine happen to you, be aware there may be even worse things in the future. But does that stop you from trying to live your life? No. So long as you are breathing, there is hope for a better tomorrow.

My prayers are heart felt for all of you that you reach a level of acceptance. Reach beyond it. Never be complacent with life as you know it. Be aware of changes that happen in your life have a purpose as a growth experience. And no, I want no one to have to go through these trials for a growth experience, but here we are. The question is, "What do you want your tomorrow to be?

Sometimes, all we can do is believe there is a better tomorrow. May your belief bring a better tomorrow.


Welcome to stage three of my series on grief counseling. Today's topic is depression. Everyone gets depressed once in a while. If someone tells you they've never been depressed and they are over the age of ten...THEY ARE LYING.

That's like the couple that say they never argue. Someone is stuffing their feelings and they are not communicating to each other. They are in big trouble.

You've had a significant loss in your life and it has changed forever. If there is any more greater reason to be depressed, I can't think of one. Everyone gets blue when thinking of what they've lost.

Honestly, I still get in a blue mood on August 2nd and November 19th, the anniversaries of my mother's death and my son's. It's been 30 years for one and 27 for the other. These were traumatic losses for me and those dates will live forever in my brain until I die, maybe even after that. Like I've said, there is no cure for grief only coping mechanics.

You feel a lack of energy. You cry a lot. You get angered easily and inappropriately. Your blue. You may even think your life is over. You may even think of suicide to end this pain and you lack the will to go on. After all, everyone else would be better off without you putting yourself and them through this. Did I hit a raw nerve or strike a chord of truth with these statements?

First, realize that this is depression. It's a disease process. It's also a normal process when faced with a loss. It's part of the cycle of grief. What I mentioned earlier about getting blue is different than what I'm talking about here. That's old healing, but a remembrance honoring a past hurt and family in my life who have passed on. It doesn't fully impact my daily life to the exception of all else. That is the huge difference.
With the current loss, everything is fresh and in your face constantly. Every time you turn around you are repeatably confronted by the loss. Yes, I'm still there after a year since my stroke, but there is a new purpose in my life...moving past the loss. It went from constant to intermittent and I will always have bouts with it. There's not a day that goes by that I wished I had use of my arm and hand back (especially for typing), or could walk again, or speak normally, or return to my own, semi normal, old life. But it no longer consumes every waking minute or thought. I am stringing words that make sense and sentences. I am typing. Those are major milestones and should be looked at as such. They are proving to me that I am moving on with my life.

By moving on and getting on with your life depression lessens. At first you are going through the motions but with time, you are no longer an automaton. You find yourself taking an interest in the things that you are are healing. You are awaking after a deep slumber. You may do this with drug therapy and professional counseling or you may do it all on your own. Don't be ashamed of seeking help. You are taking steps to get better. Admitting you need help is a big step in the healing process. I, myself, am on an antidepressant. I originally, it was prescribed to deal with my fibromyalgia, but it has also helped with my depressive state after my stroke. No it doesn't account for my mostly cheery disposition that's natural.
  • Get together with friends and family for an outing. You may have to force yourself. You may be surprised that you enjoyed yourself. Don't feel guilty about this.
  • Go to church if this was your usual practice.
  • Find a new interest or hobby that you didn't do before. Even stop and notice how the trees move in the wind.
  • Fill your hours with busy work. Anything you can do without thinking. You are not suppressing your grief only sidelining it for a period of time. Be sure to set a time limit or you will be stuffing it.
  • What a comedy and laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine. I remember when my mother died. All of were heart broken because we held hope so tightly until the end. My sister brought up the memory of Mom where she held out a finger shaking it when you were young saying, "You no cry." It became a symbol that carried us through the tough days ahead. It caused us all to chuckle at the memory. It still does.
  • Baby steps. You won't heal over night. You will not heal tomorrow, but maybe in the months to come it will be there and take hold without you even noticing it.
Remember everything in life is about baby steps. You have to know how to balance the good and the bad. My children, now adults, say when I threaten them, "Yeah, but I can outrun you now." And I usually retort one of two things, "Yeah, but I can throw this cane like my old police baton and trip you." Or but when I do catch you, I'll be busier than a one legged woman in a butt kicking contest." I am a one functional leg woman after all.

I'll start you off. I dare you not to laugh or at least crack a smile at least one of these.

I saw that smile. Felt good didn't it? Right after my stroke I watched AFV for weeks on end to learn how to laugh again through my depression. Sometimes laughter is the only way to stop from crying.

Remember even your momma told you, "It's only a phase"? Depression is too. It's part of the grief cycle. If it gets too bad don't hesitate to get help. If you don't recognize it in yourself, listen to others around you. They see it. In the grand scheme of things this is a pit stop and it will get better although it might not seem like it.

Grief and Anger

For today it's part two of the grief series that deals with anger. You know that emotion where there's this devil on your shoulder poking you until it overrides the angel whispering in your ear.

After a death of a loved one, your emotions are raw and exposed for all to see.

Besides this with the grief of loss, you become angry at everything. The dog barks. The cat meows too loud. The kids drop a cotton ball on the floor. Someone whispers "boo." Or nothing at all. It can turn you into a screaming meme. It's all part of your grieving process. It's also one that will revisit you periodically in years to come. Grief doesn't end, but it does lessen over time. You learn to cope better the farther you get from the incident. You won't stop missing what was lost ever, but adapting to your new reality.

You are walking down the hall and the toe of your shoes hits the floor wrong. The cat runs
between your legs and causes you to stumble or fall. You end up hitting your arm or leg for not catching you. "Stupid! Useless things! Why did this happen to me." You lash out at the first available thing. You aren't really angry at that person or thing, it's just handily available. In the short term this can be tolerated with open communication lines, but the long term is a different story.

What you are actually angry at is the loss. The fact that your comfortable circumstances are forever changed and changed drastically. There's the crux of the matter and if you are honest with yourself.  You will see the truth in the matter. It hurts your ego. Your life is changed from comfort to uncertain. Your future is changed irrevocably. What you thought about yourself has changed.

People do not like change. People don't like adapting.  For both of these statements I'll add ...unless they have to. That is exactly what happened to you. You had to make a change not by choice of want to or need, but had to. It's easy to blame someone or something as the cause for this change. But ultimately it is only your resistance to change that causes anger.

So how do you break this cycle? What do you do with a child in the middle of a temper tantrum? Well, you examine the cause. Can you change what causes these outbursts? Absolutely! Granted you can't physically bring back what you lost. No one can. No matter how much we beg and plead our case. It happened. It's real.

Now some coping skills to deal with your anger issues during grief.
  • Take a minute to breathe and think before you act or in this case act out.
  • Examine to root of your anger and the real cause. Are you angry at yourself or something else.
  • Does the person you are directing your anger towards really deserve it. Part of your mind will say yes but to the extreme you want in to take it?
  • Realize that the anger you feel may be justified but gauge an appropriate response.
The fact is you are not a two-year old who can't express what they need.Understand that anger is self feeding and self perpetuating. Refuse to play.

If your first impression is anger don't give in to the emotion. If you need to absolutely vent your rage, do so in a pillow. Those around you will greatly appreciate it. It also saves money for all the things you didn't break. A mad at the world attitude gains you nothing but is self-feeding and perpetuating.  Make all around you aware that it's not them but you before you vent to broach any misunderstandings.

Again face the root for your anger. It's how you are adjusting to change with all the frustrations it brings. Deal with the anger and vent if you really need to. Be cautious though of lapsing back into the guilt trip discussed last week. If you have lapses be the first to apologize to those around you. Even a dog will wag its tail in response. It's time to put your big boy panties and move on.

Don't expect knowledge to be an instance cure. There is none. Yes, you will relapse into this stage many times during the coming months and years to come. Accept it. Be forewarned that this might happen again and be on your guard. You know the warning signs better than anyone else.

So what are you really angry about? Isn't it all about you? Isn't it resisting or adapting to changes?

Got Faith? Have none? Follow me.