List the Issues–Every Single One, and LIVE

Anyone who has had a death in the family probably goes through similar cycles, moods, ups, downs, and questioning if they did enough to help. Emotions are jumbled, things hit you from left field, you find yourself crying during a soup ad on TV, or laughing hysterically at something that wasn’t remotely funny. You are up, down and sideways. I have often wanted to distance myself from my own head and walk around for a few days without it. It would be a relief, but these whirling thoughts are–you guessed it–all part of the process of grieving a life, rejoicing over that life, then letting the pain of that loss go.

Writing gives structure to my thoughts, and just as I list my “to dos” each day, I made a list of what exactly has been bugging me. I did this because I recently got so down, so negative, so lost in my own head that I wanted to just disappear. I wanted to round up all these painful and scary thoughts, push them into a burlap sack and bury them so deep that they would never bother me again.

But that isn’t possible, and it isn’t smart even if it were possible. So I made myself a list of all those whirling thoughts just so I could finally confront them. I didn’t leave a thing out, and guess what? The list wasn’t anywhere near as long as I thought it would be. We can’t expect that going through an experience like this is easy, but it is part of life, and moreover, part of what we need to learn as human beings.

I would far rather live and love fully, joyously, gladly, happily, and at some point face the loss of people I love with all my heart. That pain we feel is not permanent, nor is it meant to be. We have the comfort of knowing and remembering all those wonderful seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of basking in all that love. And it’s worth it; so much so that we find that we can live through that pain and survive.

My amazing 91-year old dad said something the other day that was exquisitely profound and truthful. He said, “you know, if it had been me who died first, your mother would have mourned, but she would have gone on doing the things she loved. She would go to her book club, have coffee at the bookstore with her friends, play endless rounds of Scrabble, attend her PEO meetings, go out for lunch, go on trips and laugh and enjoy life. In short, she would LIVE. And that’s what I’m going to do; I’m going to LIVE.”

And that’s what I’m going to do as well.

3 thoughts on “List the Issues–Every Single One, and LIVE

  1. D.B. Moone says:

    Jane, I often wonder if my grief will dissipate, or at least not be a daily reminder of my aloneness that resulted from the loss of my aunt. She was so much more than my aunt – in many ways she stepped in to be the mother that my mother never was (I am not referring to my adopted mother of choice that was lost to us this past March.). In my grief, I decided to reach out to my aunt’s sister, the woman that brought me into this world… my mother this past December. I sent her a Christmas card that came back to me marked, “Return to Sender,” which she the placed in another envelope and mailed the unopened Christmas card to me. Her actions, intended to hurt me, hurled me further into my grief of losing my aunt. I am going to do as you have done, and write a list to see if I can find healing, and grieve less. Thank you for sharing your grief with your readers; I do believe it helps. One day at a time… it’s all I can do.

  2. lulujbf7 says:

    Donna, I am there with you! I do believe that grief will soften as time goes on, and that memories will come to bring laughter and not tears. I also believe that sharing the grief process with others brings us all closer together.

    The meanness or pettiness of others when they do something hurtful, like send a letter back unopened, just shows the pain that person is carrying. Although these things sadly happen to us, it’s really not about us at all, but them.

    I’m finding that the list process really shows me what’s going on inside, and for once, I didn’t try to edit it or make it prettier or more acceptable. In the list I owned my tendency to be passive-aggressive (funny how we point fingers at people who do just what WE do!), to be petty, stingy, and mean-spirited. It’s all out there in the list, and as they say, what is seen cannot be unseen. 🙂

    I believe with all my heart that those we love who’ve passed on to the next transition are still around to help us. I believe that they have their arms around us and are teaching us 24/7.

    Thank you as always for your comments and your posts, which are excellent.

    Keep in touch, and remember you are not alone.


  3. Phyllis Ring says:

    I’m behind on reading, this week, but oh, what joy to savor this today, Jane.

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