I was singing the song, YESTERDAY, by the Beatles the other day.
Â “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. Â (not literally yesterday, but about 53 months ago)”
Â A newly bereaved mom
(two months “out” Â 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…”
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 Â 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. Â 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 ATTITUDESÂ (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. Â
I can not react to challenging emotions Â I can think positive, uplifting thoughts through challenges. Â I can smile and Act like it is the brightest day of my life, even if I feel sad or have difficulties. Â And, eventually, how I feel may come around to how I am acting. Â 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. Â And it WORKS.
I applied that very little, but POWERFUL, concept to dealing with my years of sexual abuse, Â through a bad and abusive first marriage, through bankruptcy, through my physical and psychological care giving to, and followed by the deaths of Â Jim’s parents, his aunt and uncle, my parents, andÂ two best friends; through Jim’s five heart attacks.Â 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 Â 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 Â and it worked for them, too,
Â ” 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,Â 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”? Â 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 emotionallyÂ 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 hadÂ word processors and computers that have allowed me to take “it”,
and if I don’t like”it”,
then I can easily get rid of it,
delete it into a garbage can,
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 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 thatÂ it makes them feel…
they don’t like being sad….
they don’t like Tears, Crying, Sadness…
…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 ifÂ everÂ feeling differently isÂ impossible…
…and we do live in a “Get Over It”Â World….that lacks empathy and understanding for deep grief…
We live in a short cut
“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
Â and, in my own respect for myself, so do I.
Now, that isÂ NotÂ to sayÂ 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 Â eat after the meeting.
We sat in the diner until 12:30 in the morning, chatting, laughing, liking being together!
Oh! Â Did we ever laugh!
Three bereaved moms and two bereaved dads,
and we Â 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 Â now,
I never would have believed that fun would ever be possible again…..
and now I know that it is……
(still working onÂ FUN, butÂ fun,Â and even Fun, is OK for now
Enjoyment, now….THAT is something else, indeed)
I speak and teach a lot about
TheÂ 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 ~Â Certain things in being a Bereaved ParentÂ Can “Be Expected”…)
…. and I also know,
I amÂ living THROUGH IT
thatÂ 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 Â 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,Â ExpectÂ To Become)
a happy and lighthearted person again someday;
just not today. Â â™¥