This one is a bit long so sit back, read what you can, take a break, come back and read a little more, or just read the highlights…
Since being back from Russia (2 1/2 weeks ago), I’ve been feeling emotions that are part of grieving. In some ways, my grieving has resumed after taking a pause due to my trip to Russia. The trip required a lot from us all and I needed to give it my full attention.
Now that I’m back, the grieving has resumed. It’s nothing major, just normal stuff. And it’s not like I tried to start things back up, as if it’s something you can turn on and off, your body and mind just tell you it’s time. Usually it means that when memories of gramma come, or Rachelle or the children remember something abuelita said or did, I go there and I allow my emotions to come. They don’t always come, but I guess what I do is I open my heart to the emotions, to the sadness, the joy, the tears, the loss, the temporary feeling of desperation, as in “I can’t handle this” or “what’s wrong with me?” and then the moment passes and I am filled with my grandmother’s life and God’s hope and strength.
For example, this just happened a few minutes ago therefore the post. We were having dinner, all of us at the table, my wife, our children and I. As we often do, we got talking about David Dennis (2) and his eating antics. You know the kind, throwing food around, making ‘ojitos’ (funny faces) at his sisters, hitting his plate with the spoon, etc. So I said in Spanish (oh yes, we only use Spanish during our dinner times), “este David es pura muecas…” Muecas is a word we use in Nicaragua to mean “funny faces”.
And then it happened. Rachelle recalled how abuelita would often say that David did lots of “muecas” and how she enjoyed using that word. Then Canela (6) recalled how abuelita would feed David Dennis and would use the ol’ here comes the plane/spoon trick to get little David eating. You know the trick right? Then Rachelle said “yo extraño a abuelita…” I miss grandma. That’s exactly what we were all feeling, she just said it (which was good for her own grieving process).
At that my tears began to flow. They just kept coming, slowly down one cheek, then the other as if looking for a place to land. One eye, two eyes, warm tears, thick tears, the kind that are filled with life, love, loss and sadness. Then I said, “abuelita se sentaba en esta silla”…grandma used to sit on this chair, as I pointed to the chair on my right (abuelita lived with us and ate with us almost every night). Isabela (4), who was sitting to my right then said, “y yo donde me voy a sentar?”….and where will I sit? So Canela asked the same thing and Rachelle said “Isabela would sit where I’m sitting and I would sit on the extra chair next to everyone.” We have a small dinner table for four.
So all that to say that I’m grieving, and that’s okay. That’s what it looks like. And now that I’m off on vacation for 2 weeks from the job, and I’m back from Russia, and our family is having dinner together again, my body and mind are letting down.
I just may call Sue my grief counselor from 5 years ago ((New Hope Grief Support Community) when my father died at age 57. I was in Sue’s grief support group and she was awesome and met with me a few times after. It would be great to see her.
Just as a resource for you or someone who may be in a similar place of loss and grief, below is the material Sue uses as part of her training and support. Right now, 8 months into this, I’d say I’m between Task II and Task III, barely. Most times I feel like I’m right in the middle of Task II. This is slow stuff.
4 Tasks of Mourning
Task I To Accept the Reality of a Loss
Task II To Experience the Pain of Grief
Task III To Adjust to an Environment in which the Deceased is Missing
Task IV To Withdraw Emotional Energy and Reinvest it in Another Relationship
1.) Worden J. William, Grief Counselor and Grief Therapy, 1980, 7-17
What is Grief? What is Mourning?
“Grief is the response brought about by loss or change. It is not just the loss of a loved one, but also from the changes, in our lives such as divorce, moving, changing a job or career as well as situational changes. The difficulty in overcoming the effects of grief depends on the nature and depth of the loss. To feel and experience grief after the loss of someone we love and care for is normal, natural, and expected. It is a normal human reaction to loss or change. Grieving is done in a wide variety of ways involving the 4 dimensions of our lives: mental, social, spiritual and physical areas.”
Picture: A typical dinner at home with abuelita (right).
Into the future,