I remember late last year, after morning church, when I spoke with a beautiful lady whose husband died a couple of years ago. I have been a family friend of theirs for several years and had the honour of officiating the memorial service.
From someone looking in at Mary’s journey over the past couple of years, I would say that all in all she is in a very healthy place. She has adjusted incredibly well and is participating in life with purpose. But that morning as I greeted Mary, she said with such depth of conviction; “Steve, I miss him so much.”
I walked into the house of a teenager who had taken his own life. Everyone was asking WHY? His mum and dad totally shattered and smashed to pieces, the elderly grandparents, his brothers, aunties and uncles, all in a daze. How could this boisterous animated teenager do this? Why seemed to be the most common word spoken throughout that day – Shaking their heads in disbelief – Why?
I’m going on a cruise in December, so naturally in my bone-weary state today I found myself wondering how boats stay afloat. I’m sure it’s all very complicated really, because when I did try and Google it I found I was bored pretty quickly. But one word stuck out to me when I was thinking about staying afloat and that is the word, Ballast.
Have you ever felt like you are a square peg trying to fit into a round hole? I seem to be having more and more of those experiences as time goes on.Just recently I was ‘challenged’, no, make that ‘judged harshly’, for being me. I gave my all, just as I was asked, and yet it was not acceptable, not ‘right’, not what was expected. As I have pondered what I would call “a very confronting experience which challenged my belief system and gifting” I realised that I was indeed feeling like a ‘square peg trying to fit into a round hole’.
Life is full of endings. There’s the ending of one job for another, ending your single life to marry, ending your life in one home or neighbourhood to relocate to another, the end of a relationship, or the end of a cherished life with the passing of a loved one.
I've always said I like change as long as I'm in control of it, but realistically that doesn't always happen! In fact, things change constantly and sometimes it's hard to stop and catch a breath. Loved ones die; jobs end, as do relationships. People get promoted, couples get married, and babies are born. Guess what? The positive changes can be as hard to adapt to as the negative ones. So what can we do in order to soften the blow?
Last week a friend called. We hadn’t spoken in months. We have been friends for over 20 years and always chat openly. She wasn’t after a favour or needing something from me. Just a call to refresh our connection. As we spoke I was sharing parts of my past 18 months, and as she listened, she made the comment that what I was talking about is really what psychologists call "transactional relationships'.
As part of the process to obtain my recognition as a 'Fellow of Thanatology' in the USA, I had to discuss at length the issue surrounding End OF Life decisions and challenges. Such areas as the ethical and legal impacts, social, cultural and religious implications, life span and assisted death debates and so much more. This theory is essential for us in the Thanatology world, but what happens when the learning goes from a text book to a family meeting room in a hospital?
We live in a world that is so vastly different to the one even I grew up in. When I had finished high school (year 12) the internet didn't exist. Nowadays however, my 9 year old frequently says "I could never live without the internet".When a friend of mine died recently, his Facebook page was transformed. What had been a page of personal memories and reflection became the memorial site for those who knew and loved him; a place where they could share their memories and leave personal messages both to him (the deceased) and his family.
Grief can be all-consuming, particularly if you ever venture into complicated grief where time does not lessen symptoms but rather continually flares up and deepens. Having been stuck in complicated grief once myself, I know how difficult it is to see anything outside the lens of grief, I know how difficult it is to experience joy, I know how difficult it is to step back into life. My complicated grief spiralled me down a road of pain, one I experienced fully in both mind and body. I was like Humpty Dumpty, where all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could not put me back together again. It was a very complicated grief.
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