Monday, May 5, 2014

Three Deaths; Three Restarts; A Family Unit Survives Outside Challenges

When my husband passed, I felt like I was living in a form of gelatin. The world around me seemed to be there but it seemed to be varying in consistency and moving ever so slightly in varying directions over which I had no control.

I felt like I was functioning at the time. I moved forward but I always felt like I was leaning backwards in time and space or at least living on a slant. To all appearances, I was "moving on"; making decisions, taking actions and even showing some "progress" into a new life forever changed through circumstances beyond all of our controls.

Grief, I believe, isn't definable by someone's deciding there are stages or types and everyone goes through them. For me, grief has been a constant battle as it was so many times in my life to survive, thrive and manage odds and situations beyond my control. Times on my journey I would not choose and did not want but also could not avoid.

Personally, I didn't want to join or attend a group dedicated to grief understanding and/or recovery. Not for me. Also not interested in a group for survivors of anything including the death of a spouse.

Possibly because I had support and gave support living each day with a family member who walked the same path, lived the same journey and understood enough to be both supportive and needing support. We reached out but not to join others in the same circumstances.

Instead, we reached out to find out, to be there for those who remained and those who needed us and who we also needed.

Right or wrong, we've travelled the distance. Surviving outside influences and actions that could have destroyed who we were, believed we could be and wanted to be.

Looking back -- always easier than looking forward -- what we chose to do, what I chose to do, may not have been agreeable to others and they might have seen our choices as unrealistic and even pushing us farther down in life.

Not so. We chose to keep our home despite it taking every penny we could find through making choices to sell items we felt would provide for that need. Oldest son isn't speaking to me and has withdrawn all contact with his family including his children. That's his choice. He's always had challenges and in my opinion finds faults, real and adjusted viewpoints, to mask his challenge of dealing with his own life decisions and actions.

Our home gives me solace. Even with its mounting challenges in making mortgage payments and holding life together. I've been able to get jobs and so has my daughter. We've taken whatever we could to hold our life together. And, that is the focus for the two of us -- our life together. We make the decisions, together.

Many cannot understand this choice. Many her age are torn apart by the media who call them "boomerang kids" -- those who return "to the nest" to live with their parents.

We just never stopped living together in our family unit that once included her grandmother, her father, her mother and her.

I had a conversation recently with a young man where I work who's chosen to return to live with his parents for another personal family reason. He has a job; he could make it on his own; instead, he chose to provide support when it was needed by his presence and abilities greatly needed by his family.

In my mind, that's a sign of personal courage and integrity not to turn away and go on with your life but to see the need in others lives; a definition of family in the past and for the future.

That was what my Mom did all her life and even though she never really talked about all she did for family members well before I was born, I saw through her actions and heard in her words during our trying life times how important our family unit and her family remained to her.

A legacy my mother gave me: 
                 Look outside yourself and live and give to others.

Death chose how to redefine our living arrangements; it was not a choice we would have made. A family of four (plus one amazing family pet, our cat) now down to simply two. I have faith, though, this change will continue and as time moves forward we will regrow through a new addition of a like minded person who will add greatly to daughter's life and my own.

Decades of making choices including others best interests while allowing them to come and go, leave or stay and always freedom within the unit of the family others seem to have difficulty understanding. That's the basis of many "Gen X'ers" lives we seem not to want to see. These are the nonselfcentered, nonselfserving young men and women of a new generation.

Get real, media!  See the positive effects of a society that has an inner strength in supporting the family unit in ways those who travelled life's difficult roads have done. Families come in all shapes, sizes and types as we're told.

Start accepting the differences in lifestyles chosen by those who "return to the nest" and give them the support and positive recognition they deserve!

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