Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Grief: When Did It Actually Start? When Does It End?

Mornings come earlier and earlier. Is it my age or is it where I've been and where I'm going? This life process, going through loss and change, has come and gone before but not as closely, as deeply.

We've all gone to funerals. We've all lost someone. Sitting at a wake I've moved from the very back row to right up front. At a festive, joyous, happy occasion this would be the seat of honor. Not where I would chose to be or go through what must be done for this most singular event of life, death.

Endings are sometimes welcome; sometimes good and herald a new beginning. Will this also bring about "newness".  Yes, newness will come because life does go on. Witness the birth of another grandchild a couple of weeks ago. A boy. Will you sometime take your Grandfather's place, little one?  Yes, you will. We all take the place of someone, somewhere. 

Flashback.  Our wedding day. Dated for four years. Went through separation as he graduated earlier than I did and moved hundreds of miles away. He told me to date others for my last year at school. We weren't engaged. He wasn't talking marriage. When I did get an invitation to a college event, my "boyfriend" of many years tune changed considerably. A combination of anger and hurt; not bad anger, more like a betrayal feeling. 

Trying to remember if I went out with that other guy.  Too many years ago, I guess, and not near as important as all I go through every day now. Yes, I did. he was only a "friend" anyway; and my "boyfriend" of so many years even knew him. Maybe that was even more upsetting????

As I move through the years in life I realize how transforming living is. When grief separates so much changes, many things end and some things will never be the same again.

That's what brings me to write today. Turning another corner. Having a garage sale. Have done a few since husband's passing and flea markets and other attempts to "cleanse" and to eliminate clutter. So much!  Husband couldn't bear to go through his parents things and now I have what he was given, his things and Mom's things plus what we accumulated along life's busy highway.

It's different this time. In the very beginning I could part with a few things here and there as memories/mementos for the boys; they live so far away; they weren't able to come and see him very often or their Grandmother.

Mom didn't have a great deal of "things". And, I chuckle now because she always "saved" things for a "special occasion". She went through the depression and having things set aside, keeping them in the best of shape, repairing more than replacing or if you did, saving the "best" for "another time".

Cleaning, straightening, I still find things I cannot throw out, give away or put in the garage sale but I'm also seeing things through different eyes and those broken, lost pieces, whatever they were for originally is unknown to me, these and other items are going.  It's time. It's the only way to move forward -- letting go a little more while holding fast a little longer.

I've told my daughter I don't want her to have the same challenges I had when her father and grandmother passed -- going through so much and not knowing when, why, where, how and what in the world to do with . . . .

Ours was an age of "collecting" and "putting away" "collectibles". We followed in husband's mother and father's footsteps with items I look at today and ask myself why I thought someday "this" or "that" would have real value.  Some do, though; the value is in the memories they bring when brought into the light, opened, held, admired or just knowing they're there. Very much like the people who come to mind who are now only there in the memories today from what we chose to do in all the yesterdays.

When Mom turned 62 and applied for Social Security I told her I wanted her to take every penny of her money and travel wherever she wanted to go. I wanted to put on her tombstone (now deciding it will be in a footer (so appropriate) on her grave) "She travelled the world and now is on her greatest journey."  Mom did and we were always there to provide whatever she needed to ensure she had those special trips even when they cost more than she got in Social Security. Oh, how I remember her face, her eyes, her words -- the joy she received and shared from those adventures.

And as for my husband . . . I was saying to my daughter earlier today how glad I was that I could say he went on that trip to Africa; took some flying lessons; started the business he wanted to start and so much more.

Yes, today is difficult financially for us. Any time there's a catastrophic medical condition and so much hospitalization and care giving the money goes from all resources and in all ways to try to give comfort, try another procedure, give a little extra to hope to bring a small piece of pleasure back into a life filled with pain. I would not have all the money we spent over the years to provide a life we wanted and cared about and for those in our family and friends who needed our help along the way in my pocket today if it changed the past before he and Mom started their life ending journeys.

I am thankful. I am grateful. I will go on with this life's journey knowing I and we have done the best we could with what we had and what we knew.

So, tomorrow I start again to dig through more "collections" and more "memories" finding those that perhaps someone else, like I've done, comes to my garage sale and sees something they value, a memory or a piece of life they want in their life. It's time to pass on to others parts of our life. There will remain, if we are fortunate, other memories and mementos to pass along.

When does grief start?  Before it's recognized. During all the days of life spent making memories to last a lifetime for all the right reasons. When does it end? It passes along, through and around to friends and family for at least a couple of generations and then the memories are so faded the new ones made become the start of joy and someday of the process of letting go for the moment and looking forward to the full circle when ends become beginnings.

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