self-help

Time Doesn’t Heal Wounds

They say time heals all wounds, but what if it doesn’t.

What if time allows for the wounds to fester and spread?

If a wound doesn’t heal what happens? Savage wounds kill, some kill quickly because of the lack of blood, other more minor wounds can fester. Medically speaking when a wound festers it can spread to other parts of the body, like a broken? bone leading to an amputation or eventually death. This innate knowledge leads most of us to treat our physical wounds with tender care. However, even with tender care some wounds rip savagely through the body leaving unrepairable damage.

Fortunately we have medication, treatments, and educated doctors who can help heal these wounds- in most cases. But my wounds aren’t medical. They are emotional and mental.

I often tell myself I am fine, happy and healthy. In most schemes, I am. Yet I am highly dysfunctional when it comes to relationships. Relationships… Yuck. Even the word repels me. People announce their happily-ever-afters and I look at them with pity. I think in my mind, you poor souls, you have no idea what you are about to do. Is this out of bitterness? I don’t think so. I don’t feel bitter. I don’t feel angry, just weary.

As a widow, the trauma of “loved and lost” comes into effect. I have opened up my heart to have it ripped from my own chest. My mind shattered, every belief and thought down to my identity destroyed. How do you heal a gaping wound that doesn’t present itself like a cut to be bandaged? Because like a physical wound, mental and emotional wounds will fester and spread if they aren’t addressed.  

I suppose like physical wounds, the first step is to find the cut and acknowledge it. Then slowly start to sew it together.  Ironically each person is different which makes grief hard. There is no one fix fits all. We are unique in that we are human, and each human is different. Each hurt and emotion is exclusive to its owner. To carry on and find our own wounds is a challenge and some we don’t even know we have. The first trick is to know it is there. Then allow ourselves the vulnerability to accept it as a part of us to be attended to. As we attend the emotion and mental wounds by whatever means we can, therapy, counseling, working out, education, art we address the burden of what has happened. As we continue to work on our wound it the bleeding slows and eventually stops.

Sometimes we think we have sealed the wound shut and venture back into the world to find out we were wrong and weren’t really healed. This happens a lot. I think I’m over my husband and am prepared to date. Then my first date goes horrible and I come home and cry. The wound is reopened with memories, shame, hurt, guilt  and every vulnerable insecurity I have comes to the surface. This is part of healing. Just like physical wounds don’t always fully heal immediately, neither do emotional and mental ones. Just as it takes painstaking physical therapy to get the injured limbs back to full movement, it also takes exposure to vulnerable emotional and mental states to get ourselves back. We make mistakes and we keep trying.
Dressing our wounds overtime allows us to heal. Maybe not completely, but slowly and surely the bleeding with stop and leave us with scars. The mistake of our first night back won’t be the same as the second night back. Each night we come back stronger after readdressing the vulnerable state we were in and what made us feel the way we did. Dressing our wounds overtime heals.

Words Left Unsaid

  
Premature death causes a roller coaster of emotions; pain, hurt, frustration, guilt, things left unsaid and undone. Survivors find themselves reminiscing about moments and promises no longer possible. Combined ideas and dreams, now empty. Survivors often wish they could communicate every thought and take back each cruel comment. However, normal text messages sent come back with no reply. Conversations and behaviors become one-sided. Option one is now gone, what is option two?Communication with the dead varies from seances, psychics, prayers, dreams and other rituals. I am not going to discourage any of these as I am not familiar with all of them, I only want to caution you. Not everyone is good and some will take advantage of you. Please research and know who you are engaging with. While seances and psychics might ease the pain, they are not always available or reliable. Expressing words unsaid can be therapeutic and necessary for healing. Thus, my goal is to give you suggestions available to you, without the need for others to be around. 

Suggestion number one: Write them a handwritten letter. Handwritten letters are intimate and have a level of irreplicable sincerity. Holding a pencil to a clean piece of paper allows for words, drawings, diagrams. When words can’t express a feeling, a drawing might. Paper filled with emotions becomes beautiful art. Art gives you power. If you have a friend you can trust, I would also encourage you to put it in an envelope and send it. Physically sending the letter can give a feeling of fulfillment. If you don’t have someone to send it to, you may always send it to me. Private message me for my address.

Suggestion number two: Write them an email. Today is full of technology. Emails, text messages, phone calls, skype, the list continues to grow. Writing an email and sending it can be satisfying. Rarely are we anywhere without a smartphone, allowing us a place to collect our thoughts at any moment. Whenever you have something you want to say put it in your phone. Later write an email and send it to their email account if it is still active. If it isn’t and you have a friend you trust, send it to them. If you don’t you are always welcome to send it to me.

Suggestion number three: Keep a Journal. Writing down expressions and feelings can help you process your own thoughts. Journals allow organization and creativity. Journals allow us to be honest with ourselves. Secrets we might not want to even admit to ourselves are safe to ponder and explore within a journal.

Suggestion number four: Find a creative outlet. If you are an artist, create a painting expressing what you wish you could tell them. If you are a dancer, create a dance expressing your words unsaid. If you write, create a poem or essay, photographer, make a photo series. Whatever you do find a way to express yourself through it. If you don’t “do creative,” now is the time to try.

Find a way to communicate what you didn’t, couldn’t, forgot to say. Try multiple avenues. If option two doesn’t work, try option three, then four and five. Express yourself and your feelings. 

Personal Thought


Sometimes I’m simply too exhausted to write. My body responds to certain dates and events. Recently, I picked up the gun my late-husband shot himself with. When a gun is used in a “crime” the police department has to keep it for at minimum a year and a half. The maximum amount of time is five years. After five years, the police department is able to sell or utilize the gun if it remains unclaimed. Acquiring the gun was a tedious task- not because it was difficult, but because I put it off for so long.

On top of the task to pick up the Glock, this is the month that my late-husband shot himself, I found out about his death, and then proceeded to bury him. Quite simply – this month sucks… every year. For approximately three weeks in a row I am reminded of him. I am forced to subconsciously and consciously respond to the hurt and pain of the past. Even when I feel I am doing well my body screams I am not. I stop eating correctly, I stop sleeping, I lose weight, I constantly feel anxious and stressed. I am aware why, but I can’t stop it.

My ability to function suffers, I struggle to have energy to share and express thoughts. I have been to mentally zapped to write. Instead of being therapeutic it becomes a chore. An exhausting chore, to guide or give opinions and thoughts. Yet, after awhile my head begins to clear and I start to function again. Slowly my world comes back and I become my true self. once again.

Reminders

This page is an ongoing expression of art and expression that reminds me of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Quotes which resonate, songs who fill, art that presents meaning in life. This is a tribute to lost love.

Please add the tributes that took your breath away and reminded you.

“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.”      – Judy Garland

 

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
By E. E. Cummings

     i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear

     no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

     here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

     i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 Pinterest: What I liked, and My Bucket List that is ever changing, thus I have a Completed Bucket List.

What You Should Know About Grief

Grief is perhaps an unknown territory for you. You might feel both helpless and hopeless without a sense of a ‘map’ for the journey. Confusion is the hallmark of a transition. To rebuild both your inner and outer world is a major project. – Anne Grant

Book after book has been written about grief. You can google “types of grief” and millions of results will instantly appear. Researchers spend entire careers trying to analyze and dissect it.This makes it a little difficult to summarize what you need to know. Thus, I will give you a small slice of what I think is important and, if something stands out, encourage you to research what others have also said about it or make a comment and I will try to provide you with more information.

What is grief?

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss. In most cases it is applied to the period of mourning after the death of a loved one. This can also be labelled as bereavement. Grief is a completely natural process. There are many types of grief to include: normal or common grief, complicated grief, anticipatory grief, chronic grief and more.

How long will I feel like this?

Everyone grieves differently. Because of this there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Grief is an emotional roller coaster. It is full of ups and downs, highs and lows. However, most people who have been through the loss of a loved one will tell you the beginning tends to be the roughest, then over time (even years) the experience of grief will lessen allowing us to live with the pain of loss. This is completely unique to the individual. Therefore, focus on how you feel. If you are happy, sad, angry or content, that is ok.

Is it normal to randomly start crying?

Yes, you are running through a strong range of emotions. Later down the road, something seemingly small or benign might trigger you to tears. Triggers can be common reminders of the person you love. Triggers are ideas, thoughts, moments, objects or anything that reminds you of your loss.  If something triggers you, such as a fleeting thought, and you instantly breakdown, note what it was a try to understand why it made you break down.

Is it normal not to cry?

Yes. While crying is the common response to sadness, it is not the only one. Not crying does not exclude people from the pain of loss.

How should I cope with grief?

The highest factor in healing from loss is having support. Support suggestions are:

  1. friends and family members
  2. Religious and Spiritual comfort
  3. Join a support Group
  4. Talk to a therapist or grief counselor

Do whatever you need to take care of yourself. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Face your feelings
  2. Express those feeling in a tangible way.
  3. Eat, Sleep, and Exercise
  4. Plan ahead for how you want to handle significant anniversaries, holidays, and dates.
  5. Try to avoid self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.

***Personally, I spent a lot of time writing simple words in a journal because my brain couldn’t string coherent sentences together. After a time, I started photographing myself as I felt different emotions. Eventually I wrote poetry and combined the poems with the photographs. I lived across the Pacific Ocean from my family, but called and talked to my parents whenever I was really hurting. I went to a therapist. I created a bucket list of the things I wanted to do and started checking them off the next day. I also self-medicated with alcohol when things became too much. Now, five years later I am creating a blog to pass on my experiences as well as, trying to get into grad school for clinical psychology focused on complicated grief. Figure out what works for you.

How do I deal with other people?

Other people will have no idea what you are going through. Try to be kind. Some people will want to help you. Let them. Others will take advantage of you. It happens and is unfortunate. Hold on to the people who care about you. Keep in mind they may not know what to say or do. Let them know, how you are feeling and try to guide them. You don’t have to talk about how you are feeling or what happened with everyone. If someone is trying to talk about what happen with you and you don’t want to, try saying “I understand that you are concerned and are simply trying to help, but I don’t want to think about this right now. Can we talk about something else or _______?” If that doesn’t work just walk away. Most will wait for you to determine their interaction. In short, set boundaries and guide them.

What is normal?

Kübler-Ross model(1969) determined that there are fives stages of grief. They are

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

While these are well known and considered normal stages, they are simply a theory. The theory states that they are not linear stages and not everyone goes through every stage. Another well-supported theory created by George Bonanno’s research points to four trajectories of grief instead:

  1. Resilience
  2. Recovery
  3. Chronic dysfunction
  4. Delayed grief or trauma

***Overall, anything you feel or do is normal.

Will I recover?

Yes, you will.

If there is something you have learned about grief please share it in the comments below. 

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I’m a Widow, Now What?

If I had to pinpoint one of the most impact filled moments after becoming a widow, it would be hearing my mother tell me a story of another widow. Through everything, this story has held with me ever since. I am going to share this widow’s story with you, in hopes that it may help you as well.

Sara was married to her husband for a long time. They loved each other dearly. They raised three children together with the last finally moving out about a year ago. They were happy. However, as fate would have it, the happiness ended in a tragic car wreck. As her husband was driving home from work. His car was hit by a semi. He was rushed to the hospital, but pronounced dead upon arrival.

Sara was devastated. Her soulmate was gone and in an instant her life changed. As with any death, there was a funeral to plan and a life to close out. The funeral was lovely and Sara cried through its entirety. She was greatly pained by her loss. Fortunately, they were both well loved in the small community and there was tremendous support from neighbors and friends.

Three weeks passed and one of the caring neighbors ran into Sara at the grocery store. Sara kindly smiled and asked her how she was. The neighbor was caught so off guard she couldn’t contain herself, she asked, “how do you do it? If I had just lost my spouse I would be bedridden and unable to leave my home.”

Sara, with great sadness in her eyes, looked at her and said, “What other choice do I have? I could lay in bed in my grief, but sooner or later I have to get up and face the world. It might as well be today”

Sara’s question has wedge itself deep into my mind. “What other choice do I have”  I ask myself the question often. Yes, I can hide from the world and sometimes I do. However, eventually I have to face it. Now that you are a widow, face the world. What other choice do you have?

Face the world