Why I Allow Myself To Be Sad and Feel Pain After My Daughter’s Death

I was singing the song, YESTERDAY, by the Beatles the other day.
Feeling it.

 “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be,
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly…
Why she had to go I don’t know
She wouldn’t stay…
I said something wrong
Now I long for yesterday…”

and I posted it on Facebook, commenting,

“Yep. Yesterday.  (not literally yesterday, but about 53 months ago)”

 A newly bereaved mom
(two months “out”  or “old” as Mitch Carmody and Alan Pedersen, bereaved dads and grief specialists, phrase it – our new age)
responded on Facebook , saying

Ugh….53 months sounds like forever when I’m not even on 3. I don’t want to be 53 months and still so sad…”

Sadness.
Grief.
Complex.

It provided me the opportunity to look at my own emotions,
at my own Sadness…

I truly believe that
If you don’t Want to Be Sad, then  you won’t be.

I believe that You will be what you allow and what you choose.
You CAN fight off The Sadness.
You CAN choose
” I can’t help how I feel, but I CAN help how I think and act”.

You CAN push through The Pain and make a deliberate choice to Think and Act “Happy” and then, eventually, you will be so.

But I have not done that This Time.

This time I am allowing my emotions.

This time, for now, I am being true to my feelings
(most, not all, of the time -There ARE times that I mask for reasons of the moment.  But I REFUSE to pretend that my heart hasn’t been shredded just to make the “civilians” around me more comfortable).

Once upon A Time…I used to be a motivational speaker, by profession.
I used to teach people how to apply the concept of
“I can’t help how I feel but I CAN help how I think and act”
to nearly every crappy situation in their lives,
and, then discover when continually doing so,
that such a little thing can positively impact their lives.

I took a course when I was 17 called ADVENTURES IN ATTITUDES (google it) –
it was LIFE CHANGING!!!!
And that was when I was first introduced to
“I Can’t help how I FEEL,
(feelings exist- we don’t ask for them- we don’t look for them- we don’t go shopping for them- they JUST ARE….)
BUT I Can Help how I Think and Act….”
(I can change my circumstances by thinking and acting differently than how I feel.  
I can not react to challenging emotions  I can think positive, uplifting thoughts through challenges.  I can smile and Act like it is the brightest day of my life, even if I feel sad or have difficulties.  And, eventually, how I feel may come around to how I am acting.  If I believe and will myself to be a Happy, Contented Person, I can become a Happy, contented Person.)
It is, in essence, the Power of Positive Thinking.  And it WORKS.

I applied that very little, but POWERFUL, concept to dealing with my years of sexual abuse,  through a bad and abusive first marriage, through bankruptcy, through my physical and psychological care giving to, and followed by the deaths of  Jim’s parents, his aunt and uncle, my parents, and  two best friends; through Jim’s five heart attacks.  I applied it through the difficult and debilitating terminal illnesses of my parents who I was taking care of….and used it to survive grief after their deaths.

I applied it to every negative facet of my life and turned my attitude ,
and often,difficult  circumstances around.

I was one of The Most Lighthearted, Upbeat-In-The-Face-Of-Challenges, Happy Inside, Peace-Owning people I Knew…Because I had decided that I WANTED TO BE and so I was going to Be.

Robyn frequently, and lovingly, but with a hint of annoyance in her smile,
enjoyed calling me “The Perky B**** “!

So I know because I lived it,
and because I was a really good life coach for others who applied it and lived it  and it worked for them, too,
that
 ” I can’t help how I feel but I CAN help how I think and act”
can be Positive Life Changing.

I don’t know that anyone can truly understand this next part, unless, maybe, they have walked a mile in my shoes….
Unless maybe they had a child who grew into their best friend, their pal,  their business partner and then, violently and suddenly had her life ripped from their own….

For right now, until when and if OTHERWISE comes,

I AM JUST ALLOWING THE EXPERIENCE OF ROBYN’s DEATH.

I am NOT going to fight it

I am NOT going to try to talk myself out of the emotions

I am NOT going to take “a negative” and reshape it into the positive that will never be.

I am NOT going to try to climb over it.

I’m not going to bury under it.

I’m not going to go around it.

THIS TIME, for this most horrible of Life Experiences,
I am going to Walk Through The Pain.

It’s really hard to explain.

But THIS TIME I feel that both Robyn and I really deserve
(not as”punishment” but as Truth)
for me “TO ALLOW” to be fully immersed in The Experience,
the Ugly Reality of her death
and not try to take a short cut.

We live in a cut and paste world.
For most of our lives we’ve had a rewind button and the fast forward button.
We don’t like what we see? We skip ahead.
We need a “do over”?  We rewind to have the experience again,
or we cut and paste something new in.
Then came the delete key.
How EASY to get rid of something that we don’t like clogging up our lives.
Heck, we can even UNFRIEND people with the simple click of a button
and erase them from our lives as if they never existed.
This technological world has impacted how we emotionally  deal with things;
how we think of things,
and how we are SO ABLE to avoid things.

For a good chunk of my adult life,
I have had  word processors and computers that have allowed me to take “it”,
move “it”
and if I don’t like”it”,
then I can easily get rid of it,
delete it into a garbage can,
shred it,
make it just “go away” as if it were never there….
or, with new technology, I can now morph it into something else…..
(morphing is so cool!)

Every thing for past 30 plus years has been about short cuts
and changes
and morphing negatives into positives.

I’m NOT taking a shortcut with Robyn’s death.
I am allowing the Truth of The Emotions.
And THIS SUCKS more than Anything SUCKS.
This is more painful than ANYTHING that I ever thought could be lived through.

I am a The Compassionate Freinds Leader.
I facilitate several bereavement groups.
All of time I see people who try to Fight Grief
They are ‘afraid of it’…
they don’t like the way that  it makes them feel…
they don’t like being sad….
they don’t like Tears, Crying, Sadness…
…being BEREFT…
…Screaming into the pillow at night until they are too hoarse to speak.
They don’t like the feeling of Not Being In Control…
they hate weeping…
emotions all over the place…
or suddenly getting hit with a wave of grief that hurts so badly it feels as if ever feeling differently is impossible

…and we do live in a “Get Over It”  World….that lacks empathy and understanding for deep grief…
We live in a short cut
medicate
“deal with it”
“you can’t change it, so just move on”
Kind Of World…
and so they, who Try To Fight Grief, work to push it away;
they try to hide from it and try to keep busy so they won’t feel sad…..

THIS TIME, I am allowing Sad.

Maybe keeping busy to not feel pain is a way that some people can deal with their grief
(and other “bad” or challenging situations in their lives and I am not judging their need to deal with their situation in their own way)
But I know that, for me,
running away from it and trying to take a short cut,
isn’t a positive.

I need to Walk Through This Fire.

Not around it,
not fly above it,
not burrow under it.

I need to Walk Through the Pain.

I need to be True to This Ugly Experience.
I need to allow Robyn’s Death to take coal and create a diamond on the other side of the flames.

I feel that my daughter deserves better than a shortcut
 and, in my own respect for myself, so do I.

Now, that is Not  to say that at 53 months “out” or “old” in my new bereavement age,that I never feel happy.
I do genuinely laugh again.
I have experienced plenty of moments of Happiness since Robyn’s death,
and they are becoming more and more so.

Just this month after our regular TCF meeting,
a few of us went to  eat after the meeting.
We sat in the diner until 12:30 in the morning, chatting, laughing, liking being together!
Oh!  Did we ever laugh!
Three bereaved moms and two bereaved dads,
and we  were laughing so hard,
and being so silly
that we even remarked that no one would suspect that we are bereaved parents!
And it was Real!
We weren’t masking.
We weren’t Faking.
We, who all miss our children, were having fun….

….and back when I was sitting where my newly bereaved new friend is  now,
I never would have believed that fun would ever be possible again…..
and now I know that it is……
(still working on FUN, but fun, and even Fun, is OK for now
Enjoyment, now….THAT is something else, indeed)

I speak and teach a lot about
The Secondary Losses of Grief
to help people understand that there is something that is to “be expected” about all of this
(that is me, refusing to use the word “NORMAL”
~whatever can be “Normal” about my daughter dying before me?!
~whatever can be “normal” about my first born being crushed to death!?
So I phrase it that
Certain things in grief ~ Certain things in being a Bereaved Parent Can “Be Expected”…)

…. and I also know,
because
I am living THROUGH IT
that those Secondary Losses of Grief DO change again.

I am beginning to live in color again

And as it’s happening,
it is happening with a Natural Progression.
I didn’t short cut it.
I’m leaving it in the manner that is right for me.
I still have plenty of sadness and plenty of pain.
….and it can pop up without obvious triggers that I  understand….
but I am NOT Sad all of the time.

More and more and more each day,
I’m able to find ways to laugh about Robyn,
to smile about Robyn,
and to remember and celebrate her life,
rather than to just mourn her death.

I am becoming an Intentional Survivor of My Life
instead of a Collateral Victim of Her Death.

But without Shortcuts.
Without cut and paste.
By Living Through The Pain.
And I allow for the fact
that I may become,
(in fact, Expect To Become)
a happy and lighthearted person again someday;
just not today.  ♥

 

Attending The National TCF Conference is a Giant Hug

Schedule, Registration, Key Note Speakers, Entertainment and Workshop information

It hard to explain just how special the The Compassionate Friends Annual National Conference is.  What makes it So Hard To Explain is that words can’t adequately, can’t possibly convey all of the emotion, the fellowship, the shared hugs, the relationships made.  For three days, it is like being wrapped up in a Cocoon of Caring.  We proudly wear our child, our sibling, our grandchild’s name on our name badges.  We get to Talk About Them….To Share their Life Stories, as well as their Death Stories.  Others WANT TO HEAR about them; and feel honored when we share our stories, instead of running from them.

The first night of the very first conference that Jim and I attended, 18 months after Robyn’s death, I met a dad in the Facebook Friends Sharing Session.  He said how he, his wife and their surviving child attend the Conference every year because it is as if their were all a family, intact, vacationing together.  He described it as the one place that their deceased daughter could still travel with them, where they are all together.

That resonated with me and I realized that I needed a place where Robyn would still be accepted; where I could feel her and talk about her, and even talk to her.  Most of all, I wanted a place to take Robbie where she would be Welcomed.

The Compassionate Friends National Conference welcomes all bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.

There are 114 workshops, 6 keynote speakers, local entertainment and day trips, sharing sessions, hospitality rooms, memory boards, a book store, a boutique, optional banquets and, of course, The Walk To Remember- a two mile walk with upwards of 1,500 bereaved individuals carrying the names of over 15,000 of our loved ones gone too soon.

Anytime anyone is feeling emotionally overwhelmed or just needs to “get way” for a while, there is a Reflection Room, to soothe the spirit and just “be quiet” within your memories.

Chapter- Walk To Remember

The only “negative” I have experienced having to leave The Conference and reenter the civilian world.  For several days exchanging hugs is the norm.  For several days, no one looks at you uncomfortably when your deceased child’s name is spoken.  For several days you are totally surrounded by those who “get it”, who offer constant support, caring and understanding.  You’ve been surrounded by love and compassion and leaving that is Hard.

Truly, attending The Conference is a financial hardship for Jim and I.  (Though Boston is going to be much easier than the Conferences in California and Minnesota the past couple of years)  but it is worth every cent.  Being a part of The Conference has provided a Foundation for helping me To Continue….to continue living.  I have met people who have a very direct relationship in preparing me to, once again, become an intentional survivor, instead of a collateral victim of my daughter’s death.

I don’t believe that there is anything such thing as it being TOO SOON to attend The Conference after a death; just as I don’t believe that TOO MANY YEARS could pass where attending could be of great value.

What I do believe is that attending The Compassionate Friends National Conference is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself in your grief and in your mourning.  Among all of the hugs that you will receive from others, it is a hug that you can give yourself.

On June 1, the lower fee registration ends.

Register NOW.

The Format and Experience of a TCF National Conference

Link To The Compassionate Friend National Website 
Conference Information 

Registration Now Open for 2013 TCF National Conference!

Keynote Speakers Named for 2013 TCF National Conference

2013 Boston National Conference Butterfly Boutique Needs Your Support

Help Make TCF’s Conference Even Better by Participating in a
$19,000 Matching Grant