Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What I've Learned

It has been a learning week for me for sure! Lots to report.

1. There is priceless value in being on the same page as your husband when it comes to disciplining your children. There is unlimited depth of frustration when you are not!

2. Snapper has apparently figured out that Mommy and Daddy have not been entirely on the same page when it comes to discipline, and has figured out how to "work the system" to her advantage. A very heated discussion--complete with tears and upset stomach for me--occurred behind locked doors in the master bedroom at my house on Sunday night. We got a lot of the kinks in the discipline system worked out, and I have hope that it will improve from here. It has to. There's no other option.

3. The phrase "Time Heals" is only partly true.
Saturday marked the 6th anniversary of my mom's death. In case you're just tuning in, my mom lost her battle with ovarian cancer on May 16th, 2003. During the last week, starting on Mother's Day, really, I began having little bursts of emotion. I did fine on Saturday because I was scrapbooking with my friends. Sunday, however, was a different story. After my battle with Matt, I expressed my frustration with myself for being so cranky and emotional. I began suggesting ideas as to why--fatigue from the scrapbook retreat, PMS, missing a few days of my medication, etc. All were possible explanations. But then Matt said, "It's the middle of May." And I dissolved. That was quite obviously the explanation! For the next half an hour I cuddled in his arms and bawled like a baby.

Time does heal. It heals in regard to many of the everyday things of life. I can go through my day and think of my mom without crying. In fact, I savor and cherish my memories of her. I can visit my dad and step-mom (they still live in the same house), and not think a thing of it. I talk about my mom with my kids, and look at pictures with joy.

But time also does not heal. When a grief wave hits me, it slams me. The waves have gotten fewer and farther between over the last 6 years. But when they hit, they're magnified in amplitude. Sunday night was a wave of tsunami proportions. As I cried, my whole body hurt, every single joint. My throat ached and tightened until I could hardly breathe. And my stomach? Ugh. The pain of this kind of grief has gotten worse over time, not better.

4. When processing grief, don't try to stuff those emotions or avoid memories of the one you have lost. When I'm hurting like that, I take it to God. I pray through my tears and pain, and ask God for peace and comfort. Since my mom died, I've asked Him for that many, many times. And there is not a single time where God has not come through and answered that prayer. That gives me another blog idea for another day.

5. Look for creative ways to process grief, and to remember the one you have lost. This summer I will be starting a new scrapbook project. In fact, my other ongoing projects will be going on hold while I work on my new project. I'm going to try my hand at digital scrapbooking for this one. My plan is to go on a solo scrapbook/grief-processing retreat. I have enough frequent flyer miles on Frontier Airlines to go to California. I'll drive to Dallas (since Frontier no longer flies into Little Rock) and fly out to California for 5 days in June or August. I'll go through the photo albums at my dad's house, and the photo albums at my auntie's house, and scan pictures. The plan is to scrapbook my mom's life and my growing up years. It's going to be a big undertaking--likely will take me 2-3 years to complete--but I need to do it. I think recording those precious memories will heal my heart in a deeper way than ever before. The anticipation of this trip is like balm to my soul right now.

6. When trying to speak words of comfort and encouragement to a grieving person, don't tell them that times heals. The best thing you can do is give them a hug, and tell them you wish there was something you could do. Then, if you really want to be a help, find a way to serve them and meet physical needs. For someone whose grief is very fresh, bring them a meal. Babysit their kids. Mow their lawn. Come over and vacuum and dust for them. For someone like me, just be available to talk. On a big anniversary of the loss, invite them out for coffee, or have them over for dinner. Be ready to share memories. And just hug them. Above all, though, guard your words. The most well-meaning words can cause the deepest pain.

*For those of you who have spoken words of comfort to me in the last few weeks, thank you. Your words have done just that. You have not caused me pain.*

Wow...I hadn't intended this post to be a deep one. In fact, I hadn't even planned to talk about grief at all. I was going to post on what I learned in my battle with Snapper. Maybe another time. Apparently, God had bigger plans for this post, and I hope it helps someone.

For more What I've Learned, check out Musings of A Housewife.


Amy Platon said...

so true about time not always healing. It's one of those quotes that got more use than it is useful. Time just puts space in memory which sometimes irons out the anger but then there is the core feelings that never really push away. Good luck with that. Wish I could say you just need a little more time.....
Hugs to you.

Hofwoman said...

Wow -
I love how beautifully you put down your grief process. Many try to shut out emotion and forget that we are supposed to cry out to God. I am thankful that you are encouraging it.

Your scrapbooking journey will be an incredible keepsake for many generations.

God bless and keep you :)

Stef said...


The Trendy Couple said...

Thanks so much for putting this out there! My mom passed away 2 years ago on thurs. It is good to hear someone else's words of loss and grief!

Tara said...

Thank you for posting. I bet you have helped so many people and may not have even realized it. I had a post a few weeks ago (maybe) talking about how time doesn't heal everything completely. The
7th anniversary of my G'pa Troy's death is coming up May 27 and I miss him as much now as only a year afterward. I have that wave you discussed. I will be thinking of you!

Hairline Fracture said...

You have shared some very important points here. It sounds like the scrapbooking project will be a wonderful tribute to your mother and your love for her.

JanMary said...

Hugs and prayers.

I hope your digi-scrap retreat helps, and I think this will be a beautiful way to remember you mum, and honor her memories.

(I love to digi-scrap, so on a practical note - do you plan to use the same kit/theme/style throughout, or mix it up?)

Emily said...

Wow, that scrapbook retreat sounds amazing. I would love to hear more about it!

Melissa said...

Emily, you are exactly right about time healing. My Dad passed in early Feb in 2001, for the longest time I couldn't figure out why every part in my life seem to fall to pieces in early feb. I have noticed that it does get better, and since I got married and have different focuses in my life it isn't as hard, however, those rushes of memories that are triggered by the smallest of thing can very quickly bring back that pain. I still turn the radio off anytime "Go rest high on that mountain" comes on. Hang in there! I'll be praying for you.