Happy Monday! I have about 20 minutes to write a piece for you all before I get back to writing deadlines. This will be a personal blog & only written due to the overwhelming requests to share.
In July of this year, I received a call from my best male friend of 25+ years that he had cancer which was shocking to him, his family & all of us, his friends. What was more shocking then the diagnosis itself was that the cancer was Stage Four and the outlook was ultimately terminal. We began the process of supporting him and showing up at his bedside weekly without fail. This continued through the summer, fall & winter until his last breath was taken on November 30th, 2014. While this was happening, I was also sitting at Northwestern Hospital with my dad who was very ill most of this year and loving him through extreme sickness. My dad passed away this August. And here I sit to deal with the aftermath of the two most important men ever in my life.....and it's called 'grief'.
I have a lot of thoughts about the grieving process and ultimately, that is what this blog is going to be about. My prayer is that this article makes you stop and 'think'. If I challenge any of your mentality on grief, then it was my pleasure to go out on a limb and share my experience.
I have a serious problem with how our society approaches grief which is frankly, 'business as usual', directly after a death. I am shaking my head because we all really need to take a step back and examine why there is so much illness in the United States. We don't even have the time to examine that because we are so over-scheduled. Be confident of this.....a lot of autoimmune conditions and even cancers stem from chronic stress. There is no debating this fact as thousands of medical journals, clinical studies and all spectrum's of academia agree that stress can and will kill you. And what I find utterly bewildering & maddening is that no one is connecting the dots between illness and lifestyle. So let me connect them for you.....
Here I am. It's Monday. Last weekend, I held my best friend's hand, kissed his head repeatedly, laid on his chest, exchanged repeated 'I love you's' and sat by his side for hours as he struggled to breath. Days later, I then stood in a church praising God along w/ everyone who loved him. And then I stood at his grave and prayed with his family and friends the day after that. Today, I am supposed to be back to work and showing some semblance of normalcy - life goes on.
Let me reassure you, grief doesn't flow in the direction of 'business as usual' nor do our bodies or minds. It's not realistic nor does it even make any logical sense.
Everyone, we have absolutely got to slow down. We need a new approach to grief because let me assure you, people are flailing - drowning - and lost after tragedies such as what I have gone through. People are then not making healthy decisions and they are just reaching for anything to make the immediate pain go away. And I am not going to allow that to happen to me nor am I going to allow that to happen to the people that I love. It just won't happen. It's a topic that I will be speaking out about in a capacity that I have yet to decide but it will happen. I will protect myself and those that I love from falling too far and ultimately, it's through my faith in the Lord. He will not allow that because I am going to be holding onto every instruction from Him.
Take in what I wrote above. People go right back to work and their emotions & physical bodies aren't even in a position to function properly. And what begins to happen is that because they do not feel 'well' in the weeks to follow, they eventually head to their doctors for relief and then come the medications, diagnosis(s), etc. It's alarming!!! And it's so damn obvious what is happening in our country. There HAS to be a shift. We can't shift communities but we can shift within ourselves which is where we are to start.
What do I recommend? I am in the thick of grieving and recovering physically & emotionally. It's all very new. I am going to learn as I go here. First & foremost, it's clear we need to build in much needed rest. Yes, people need to return to their jobs but potentially talk to their employers to see if they can carve out a game plan to get their health back on track. Maybe an employer won't provide this but hey, maybe they will. You will never know until you ask. We need to bring back the 'it takes a village' approach to being of service to one another. I have to say that most people aren't too interested in being inconvenienced these days and in my situation, we all have inconvenienced ourselves to help one another through this. Who wants to go sit with someone who is grieving when you can be having cocktails with your significant other? Me - I do. Why? Because God calls us to do this for one another and we-must-do-this. I am certainly blessed and so is my inner circle of loved ones because we are not going to sink. It's not 'us' I am worried about, it's others who don't have the support that we all have. It's you I am worried about if you are home grieving a loss and don't know who to call. Call me. I mean it. I will listen to you - you have my email or you can contact me through my contact page via this site.
The only way through grief is 1). Faith in the Lord - without Him, you won't make it through healthy - I promise you. And why are so many people not believing Him? We have faith but don't live like we actually believe Him - that's another blog, another time 2). Accepting love - Do you know how to accept love? Accept every ounce of love being offered - all of it 4). Providing every inch of love you have to others & 5). Rest & Nutrition. And finally, the old adage, time (so I am told).
I believe one can rise up through grief even healthier & stronger then before but, it will take an enormous amount of love, courage & commitment to nurturing not only yourself but those that you love. You do this by practicing kindness, patience, non-judgement, adoration & love. It's so simple - just SIMPLE - to be kind. I talk about kindness all of the time with so many people. Pick up the phone, check in on someone who is hurting - say a prayer for them - send a card - hug them way too long - kiss their forehead - tell them that it WILL be OK b/c it actually will be - make them laugh - bring a meal over - do something! Share love in a way that you are capable of but don't ever be 'too busy' to share your heart with someone's who might be in need of repair. I am in love with love because we are all filled with it. What are you doing with all of that love? I think it's a great question.
Thank you all for the enormous amount of love that you have given me. I feel enveloped in the best hug I have ever received. I will be OK so, don't worry about me. It's going to take a couple of months of navigation but, I am confident that I will heal because of my faith.
Please just slow down and take care of yourselves. We are all moving at such lightening speed that it's so easy to not even really be in tune with ourselves or feel what we are feeling. And when the grief is uncomfortable, breathe - just breathe. And as my dad would say, just keep swimming. Think of how you can 'shift' in your own life and when you make that shift, you will eventually rise UP. Promise.
Created and curated by Kelly, Snapshots of Wellness encourages all of you to cultivate your 'joie de vivre': Compassion for Animals via food, style & lifestyle.