Rest assured…

Dear Oprah,
I can't believe you are leaving us. Yes I can. Now, moving on.
Rest. 7-8 hours a night, to feel replenished and restored.
Rest.
You can rest when you're dead.
Who said that?
Rest.
I can't really remember the last time I rested but that's not your problem.
I set my alarm the other day, like I always do.
I often get up before my alarm. Not because I feel rested, but out of routine.
I slept through said alarm...it was set but not turned on...
Slept through client number one and number two, only to wake up at 10:11AM,
to my internal alarm, that blasted panic.
I felt rested. But I slept through my responsibility.
I began to rush, make amends, calls, and apologies.
I began to add up, the money I lost, the rest I gained, and the guilt I felt.
I was forgiven, but felt awful and awesome at the same time.
Rest. I need more now then I ever needed before.
Time. I need more now then I ever needed before.
To mourn the loss of loved ones takes time. Everyone’s timetable is different.
I know.
I knew.
My sisters and mother had the worst part of it being around my dad when he was dying, day in and day out.
For me, it was hard, but I was only around it in spirit.
My sisters and mother, have the best part of it, mourning the loss of my dad and having each other, day in and day out to laugh and cry together.
For me, it is harder, I have no one.
I have friends. I love them, but they can't understand.
They try and I love them for it, but it's just impossible to understand. Not even if they've had a loss of a loved one. It's just too different and unique for each individual.
My family, they try, but I'm not around them, to feel them and to feel the necessary feelings to let go.
I know.
I knew...
That it was time to seek help.
So I did.
Thank goodness for the YMCA.
A bereavement workshop for mourning the loss of a loved one and getting through the holidays.
They had a similar workshop, a six-week one that I really wanted to join but the group was held right when I was teaching so I missed out.
And, I missed.
This time, I got a substitute for my class and attended the one-day.
The pastor, leader of the group had us go around the room to introduce ourselves, tell each other who we lost and a little bit about ourselves. Miriam (renamed for the blog) went first. She lost her husband on September 9th. As soon as she started speaking, I began to cry. It did not stop. Chandler lost her daughter several weeks ago to a brain aneurism. Her daughter was my age. Never sick, just died suddenly. Nancy lost her mom. Janice lost her dad. Kevin lost his wife. All within one year. My emotion was bottlenecked and within moments, I began to let out in a Kleenex brand cacophony, tears that I had felt well up on many occasions but kept in because I had my responsibilities and obligations. And there it was, support and understanding, by people I had never met. And I had no idea what they were going through. And they had no idea.
I was moved and stilled in 5 minutes. If I didn't get the Starbucks coffee in the holiday red mug an hour before, I would have been blowing my nose into my yoga mat, but alas, I had my napkins to blow snot and tears in, not latte lips.
It doesn't get easier. But, it gets easier...?
I was so alone. I wasn't alone.
After we went around the circle, a bright light in the corner of the room went off, then an alarm. It was a fire drill. We were ushered out of the room and down the stairs. We were then told it was just a drill and to go back up stairs.
We continued our group, but the flashing light and the alarm didn't stop. Ok, well it stopped for a bit, just enough for a story, or half, then it would start again. The leader of the group, a local Christian pastor just stopped until the alarm would pause, pausing the group. Control, it must be had, right?
Then the alarm would start again. Everyone was silent.
The alarm and flash was so annoying that I just spoke up, between my tears and said, this, this is how I feel, the flashing light and the alarm. This is how I feel in my head.... all the time. The grieving, by myself, the mourning, I don't get. It's been three months and I should be 'over' it or back to my normal life and all I feel is sad and confused...and alarmed!
What the fuck. Yes, what the fuck!!
This alarm that is causing us pause, causing a stir, making me agitated because I subbed out my class to be here and we're not getting anywhere, this is how I feel all the time.
We all agreed and laughed at the matter and the ice was broken. Tears were still shed, but we added some laughter. I felt good that even here, in this circumstance, among strangers, I could still bring a laugh.
I learned a lot. Mostly that those who are mourning, no matter what the time frame or who the person, the experience is so personal that it can not even in the slightest bit, be compared with another. Mourning is so personal.
No matter what is said to the mourner, it is never appropriate or good enough. That is why mourning and death is so hard for so many to understand or confront. When one is faced with a death, there is nothing that can be said or nothing that will make up for the feelings, that certain phrases like, I'm sorry for your loss or if there is anything I can do, is just enough to get you to the quiet you need when the voices outside of you become quiet and you are alone.
There is NOTHING anyone can say and that is ok.
There is nothing that will make you feel better, but what you know in your heart to be true.
You can only do what you need to get through. Only you
know.
Be around friends, be with no one, write, take meds, vent, the list goes on.
So, I sit here with my blog. I talk to my mom and hear a bunch about what her and my sisters are thinking and feeling and doing to 'get through'. I just want to be there, but I know my life is here and so 'I deal.'
I was told, by the pastor and by the other group members to come up with a blanket statement to make to friends and others to 'get out of' engagements or obligations.... I’m just not ready yet.
It seems like an escape and yet, I find myself using other excuses to get out of things, because they are more acceptable.
My car broke down. I have a cold. Maybe the swine flu? Funny, but not acceptable.
And lies are not acceptable either.
So I instill this new mantra as the holidays and obligations get thicker and I get weaker.
What's not acceptable or understood, is that months after my father's death, I still need time. I still need to retreat, say no, do nothing and lie in bed. Lie. And I'm clearly fucking up, sleeping through an alarm or searching for an excuse to get out of my responsibility or obligation to friends or loved ones gatherings because I am still in the need to be sad and deal with my mourning in the way that I need. And I feel guilt for that.
Is there an ap for that? Huh, iPhone? Is there an ap for dealing with loss, mourning?
Is there an ap to make you feel ok with being sad?
There are yoga classes geared for laughing.
There are classes to instill positive thinking.
What about feeling god awful sad, looking like shit, eating cookie dough in bed while watching Lifetime movies (my dream but not reality), just feeling like crap and being OK with feeling like crap. Proclaiming the crap so you can feel better after the proclamation? I would like to lead a class or workshop where it's ok to show up, not looking cute, not ready for a sweat or advanced yoga postures, not ready for anything other than a good old fashioned cry and maybe a scream fest into your favorite pillow, or no pillow, just a fucking scream fest of sadness and mourning and crap. A good old fashioned bitch, crap fest. How about that?

I would like to teach that class where you can just have a big old pity party for yourself, and then move on to the rest of your life.

For me, and it took me months to get, my mourning comprises of me shutting off my to do's and getting to this place, my blog, to be quiet and summon the words I can gather to flesh through the process of mourning.
And swear. And be sloppy and grammatically incorrect.
I am so sad so often.
I am so happy so often.
It is such a tremendous feeling...to feel both so fucking much.
I can't even explain in words how I can feel such bliss and happiness from teaching a class or running along the shore. Feeling so good that I can't imagine feeling any better in my life, then coming home to the quiet and dark of day turned to night to feel so sad and alone. To wanna cry and drink a bottle of wine (I don't, but c'mon).
I think of Miriam who still reaches her right foot out in her cold bed for her husband of 35 years to find it still cold, no foot or body to warm her body or soothe her mind as she searches for the answer to her loss, her life alone.

I don't search for that. I search for the connection, deep, sad and sporadic that I always had with my dad, on the freeway, behind the wheel and on the blue tooth. Such few words. Always few. But the words were always more than words. They were slight attempts at connecting our souls from miles and miles away, if we were inches apart and I was a passenger side of his car or his daughter with a three-hour time difference on a cell phone.
And we never got along like friends.
We never got along, like anything other than father and daughter and small exchanges of love between crossed lines and miss understood tries at communication, between my mother, my sisters and experiences that took us away from actually connecting one on one without distraction.
We were never anything other than what we were and what we were was surface to the core. A love that was...love...that is...love.... missed, connected, gotten, forgotten and so, little, so fucking great and so fucking gone.

Ahhh, to remember, amidst strangers, with only Starbucks napkins to block me from the feelings within that well up as I hear story after story and I just long for the pee in your pants funny escape that I know my mom and sisters experience as they connect in the laughter and sadness of it all.
I don't have the funny.
I don't have the laughter.
I hear the stories, but I don't have it.
So, I'm here, with the old biddies in blue hair, the Christian pastor, my Starbucks napkins and the fire alarm and I can't help but cry...and laugh...and say something...that makes the others laugh amidst there own personal tears.

Drink a box of wine to get through the holidays!
Take the rest of the Zoloft prescribed to your cancer struck loved one that is now gone.
Just tell 'em, my____'s dead!!! That'll shut'em up.
And I listen, to what they tell me because beyond the funny, I need help. Help to get through it myself, by myself.
And we all connect. In a way that's indescribable because we all know what each other is going through and we all have no idea.

We are all tuned in to the grief channel and are longing to tune into something a little lighter, a little Lifetime or Showtime or HBO, or something that will take us away from the 24 hour uninterrupted sadness we are feeling.

When the alarm finally stopped, when we were all cried out and talked out and the workshop was about to end, a woman entered the room and pulled up a chair.

She sat herself down and the pastor asked if anyone else had anything to add about going into the holidays without our loved ones.

The woman who just entered spoke up immediately and told us that her husband of 17 years had left her for another woman.

The idea of mourning took on a whole new definition and we all wrapped our words and thoughts around her in support of her loss and her teenage son that was now, without a dad.

I thought of Miriam with her foot astray to the right. I thought of my mom, her foot astray to the left. I thought of myself, my mind astray on the 405 without my dad to talk to, and myself again, my foot astray to the right, as I have also just mourned the death of an eight-year relationship.

And a whole gang load of tears resurfaced.

Mourning has so many meanings.

Loss has so many stories and so much judgment of how we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do.

If we had more groups like this, if we had more than just two hours...to chat about the loss and how to deal, I think we would be a better people.

Instead, we are expected to move on or get over the loss of someone who had died or someone who has left.
To be left.
How do you make it right?
What if we just were, with our feelings, like a scab, until it healed?

Instead of picking away to get...somewhere else.

Any loss of someone in our lives, that has meant something to us, that has been part of the fabric of our lives, must have a mourning process. It might last a month, a year or longer. Instead of filling the void, with business or distraction, we must work through the void and the pain to get to the good stuff, search through and be with ourselves till we are stronger, strong enough to be on our own and with each other, without being fragile to outside circumstances that can break us down, beyond pain and vulnerability to a space of peace and balance.
There is no way around mourning.
There is a no way around the process.
There is no way around feeling the hurt of loss, whether it’s from a death or other circumstances, loss is loss and it cannot be judged or negotiated with.
It must be felt, personally with as much feeling as one can muster.
And when it is worked through, there is something on the other side.
The hurt might never be over, but it will be replaced with something else.
And that something else will be so much greater.
It is a place reserved for those who have gone through and succeeded such deep trials.
Whether you are mourning the loss of a loved one or a breakup, there is a process that must be gone through and felt fully before you can go on to the rest.
You will know when you are through it and then you can rest.
Rest assured, it will be over.
Rest assured, you will be through it.
Rest assured, you must go through it, to get to all the good stuff beyond it.
Rest.
It is there for you to nurture you through the process.
Rest.
It is there for you.
Rest...for you Oprah, you will have to wait till 2011.
Rest,
Laurie

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