Monday, January 31, 2005

Life is difficult revisited

“Life is difficult”. This is the often-quoted opening to M. Scott Peck’s book The Road Less Traveled, which I would recommend to anyone struggling with adversity. His book goes on to discuss pain and how it is natural to want to avoid pain in our lives.

I know this couple who are my friends. Their life became difficult when they lost their only daughter, Stephanie. I feel their pain.

But they tell me of the legacy left by their daughter.They have this to say:

"Because that is part of the legacy of her death. She has finally been able to communicate the pain she felt. And we are so saddened that we could not fully share this with her when she was alive and we wonder: could we have prevented her death if we truly knew how she felt?

This is a question all survivors ask – could we have changed anything?

Can we please, somehow, just go back and start all over? "

Don’t you find yourself doing just that – just daydreaming about a memory you shared with your loved one and wishing you could turn back the clock to that point in time?

I do it sometimes.

They also say this: "Life is difficult. We feel the pain and long to release it. But how do we do that? At we floundered, not really knowing where to turn or necessarily even wanting to make the effort to turn outward.

We knew support groups were available but were almost overwhelmed to the point that we didn’t want to share our grief or hear another’s grief. We didn’t attend a support group until over seven months after Steph’s death. And when we finally did attend, we learned so much from the group – that it’s normal to feel like all you want to do is sleep, normal to be forgetful or lose interest in activities, normal to feel anger and anxiety, desperation, and guilt.

Most of all, we learned from each other and that each person has to deal with the death of his or her loved one in his own way and his own time. These unique ways of dealing with grief are as numerous as the people in our support group, whose names I have changed in the examples I’m going to give. See if you recognize yourself in any, or many, of these people:

Marie – Expresses anger from the beginning to the end of her time to talk. Her son’s death was triggered by meddling in-laws and now she is being prevented from seeing her only grandchild by the surviving spouse. She is dealing not only with her son’s death, but terrible continuing circumstances and she freely admits that her anger keeps her going.

Michael – Has profound sadness and a total lack of interest in his business or personal life. He says he is carrying on for the sake of his family and friends. He lost a friend whom he viewed as a son.

Jim – Cannot contain his grief, as his words tumble out in a panicked rush. He has no clues as to why his son took his life – no note, no warning, and is at a complete loss. He is busy traveling to the coroner’s office, to the police station and funeral home, trying to collect all his son’s possessions and make some sense of this tragedy.

Ellen – Is so new to our group that she is unable to talk or contain her grief and freely cries as the others speak. Although she’s not able to share her grief, she gains strength and hope from others.

Val – Withdrew, and read everything she could find on life after death, staying up late at night to watch John Edward. She admits she has such a longing to see and contact our daughter that she finds comfort from seeing others who feel they have contacted their loved ones who have “crossed over”.

And, finally, Jane – Jane is the one who smiles as she talks, and the first thing she talks about is not her son’s death, but her involvement with the children she teaches at school. She says she looks forward to each day and that her kids bring so much joy to her life. And of all the people in our group, Jane has had the most terrible loss – her father and her husband from illness, and then her son from another illness, all within 7 months time.

I think we have all learned the most from Jane. That it is possible to take our pain and, in reaching out to others, turn it into joy.

Our daughter was a ballet dancer and all her life, loved to dance. Shortly after our Stephanie died, a song appeared on the radio that wel felt was sent from Steph to us.

The words are very much like a prayer, or a benediction, and, if I may read them, go like this:

'I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
Get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance….
Dance; I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances but they’re worth taking
Loving might be a mistake but it’s worth making
Don’t let some helping heart leave you bitter

If you come close to selling out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance, I hope you dance

Time is a wheel in constant motion always moving us along
Tell me, who wants to look back on their years and wonder where
those years have gone?
Dance, I hope you dance' "

Life is indeed difficult. We all have pain. We hope you may take your pain and, in reaching out to others, turn it into joy.

Will you dance?


At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Quality of Life Improvement said...

Hello -> prodigal <- I just wanted to let you know that this post was an interesting read and well presented. Just my two cents.

Emotional and Mental Self Improvement

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Self Improvement said...

Hello -> prodigal <- I just wanted to let you know that this post was an interesting read and well presented. Just my two cents.

Quality of Life Improvement


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