Monday, May 31, 2010

It's All A Crap Shoot

This weekend at the nursing home, a lot of wives were in visiting with their husbands. For the first time, I felt some anger and resentment simmering underneath my kind and composed exterior. I was reminded of the role I played as loving/devoted wife caring for my sick husband the years he was hospitalized and in rehab. These are older couples - one of the men is 93. My poor husband died at age 54 and I was 44. I definitely felt some unfairness with the fact that these couples ended up having more time together than my husband and I had. Their children are grown, there are grandchildren, the mortgage has been paid off. They were fortunate to have traveled and played golf together in retirement. It astounds me when I think about my husband maybe having lived to age 93 - how short his life really ended up being.

In the natural order of things, my husband and I should have had that regular and predictable life these couples were fortunate enough to have had. But we didn't and I know there are other younger couples out there dealing with sick spouses and young kids too. It's all a crap shoot in the end. Bitching out about the unfairness playing out in front of my eyes doesn't get me anywhere.

I saw myself in these wives and I put aside my anger for the extra time they've had and brought out the compassion because I know what lies ahead for them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Strength in Numbers

I ended up taking the boys and I out to eat at Steak and Shake for a Mother's Day meal out. I had some coupons and the boys got a burger, fries, salad and shake for $5.99 a meal. How can you beat that? After going, I realized how necessary it sometimes is for us to get out and do something even if it stretches the budget. The boys and I hadn't been out to eat in months and doing so was such a treat. It was so nice to sit at the booth and talk to the boys. Really have some conversations instead of quick and hurried snatches of comments and words during school pick-up and drop-offs.

My youngest brought up the information that one of his friends has parents getting divorced. He said that the mom is looking at our apartment complex as a potential place to move since they will be selling the house. Just knowing and hearing this was like receiving a gift! My son went on to say that his friend and her siblings were cleaning out the home of their father's possessions as their Mother's Day gift to their mom. Now I found that funny but also sad.

Anyway, the point to my bringing all of this up since it happened some weeks back is to to relate how just knowing another mom is in my shoes does a great deal to make me feel less isolated and alone in all of this. As I have mentioned in other posts, there aren't many families headed by single parents in this community, which happens to be one of the top 100 wealthiest towns and counties in the country. So it is a double-edged sword living here because of the high incomes of the intact families.

I felt very sorry for this woman that I know from my old PTA days and her children. It is not entirely the same set of circumstances since it is a divorce. But this family did live in the same neighborhood as we did and it will be an adjustment for all of them to move from a home into an apartment. Sometimes just knowing I am not the only one serves to give me a new lease on life. It often seems as though I am the only one since the widowhood gig is so isolating and the community I live in increase that sense of isolation. Hearing of another mom facing similar issues takes some of the sting out of the stigma and shame I carry around with me everyday. There can be strength in numbers, even very small ones.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

More Being Real

This is a continuation of my previous post on being real and the view of society to get over our grief asap. Life coach Dr. John H. Shlare gave the advice that to get out of heartache we stop focusing on what we don't have and focus on what we do. Easier said than done. I get irritated at all the self-help suggestions that fail to give suggestions at the end. What should the grief-stricken focus on when their worlds have collapsed and their grief is centered on what has been lost and the missing loved one?

Case in point - yesterday I had to venture into our quaint and adorable little suburban enclave to drop items off at the resale shop. The local farmer's market was going on, the fountains were flowing, the pots of flowers blooming. Lovely and pretty as a picture to be sure. Now just insert all the cute young families going out to a leisurely breakfasts after Junior's little league game. Notice all the middle-aged couples shopping for fresh vegetables and wine at the market so they can prepare a special Saturday night dinner together which will be shared on the patio. Everywhere I looked were families and couples and no single, tired looking middle-aged moms like myself. It was depressing and disheartening.

We live in such a couple's dominated society. On Thursday nights I watch the new comedy "The Marriage Ref," which pokes fun at married people's squabbles. All the commercials are geared to couples. The gossip magazines follow the latest couplings of the stars. The message I've been receiving is that something is wrong with me because I'm not part of a twosome. I feel embarrassed in addition to the great loneliness. Often I tell people I'm a widow because it makes me feel less of a loser.

I'm supposed to feel happy and excited about being able to date and the freedom of singlehood. But I tell you, middle-aged dating is exhausting. I'm too tired to make much of an effort now. I've already put myself out there since my husband's death and I'm not sure I can do it again. Maybe if I were younger. I'm missing the drive and energy. All that being upbeat and smiling, putting on the happy face! Getting to know someone is kind of like a job and I already had put my time in with my marriage. I look at the matronly middle-aged women with their men at the farmer's market and wonder how they would handle being newly single and "out there." I am bitter and weary.

So with all that said, now lets turn it around and focus on what I do have! A life with two sometimes ornery and difficult teen boys, the youngest who can take his anger and frustrations over his Dad's death on me. I'm struggling financially doing the best to make ends meet just barely. I can focus on my health (although I think it is rapidly declining as the result of always feeling depressed, lonely and stressed). I do have a roof over my head. But quite honestly, those things don't come to the forefront of my mind when I'm in the swarm of suburban families and couples, all smiling and looking as though they should be on the cover of postcards with the heading: "This is happiness!"

It's all well and good to be advised to stop focusing on what I don't have. But a little challenging when what you don't have was taken from you without just cause. And all you can see around you is evidence of what you once had, what you once loved and valued.

I don't want to hear advice from people who aren't in my situation. Dr. Phil, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Dr. John Shlare should consult with a panel made up of people who have actually been widowed, as well as divorced. Get the advice straight from the horse's mouth. And please throw in some practical suggestions besides just telling me what to do. Those of us fighting grief sometimes don't know which direction to turn and we could use a push.

Can We Please Be Real!

I am coming to more realizations about love and grief. Yesterday, I read one of my daily newsletters from "" This question was posed to the resident life coach on 5/18: "My husband left me. It's so hard and I'm in so much pain. Can you please tell me how to get over a broken heart?"

This question struck me in a number of ways. First of all, having lost two husbands, one to death and the second to divorce, I could really sense and feel this woman's pain. Of course she is really hurting. All of us grieving our losses are. You can't get around that awful, gut-wrenching pain. It comes with the territory when we suffer the loss of a relationship whether from death or divorce.

What concerns me most is this woman's apparent need to stop feeling her pain and to quickly move on. I want to tell her that it has been two years since my divorce was initiated and I still feel the pain. Less intensely for sure, but it's still with me. And I'm not even sure that I want it to be gone.

Our grief symbolizes the deep extent of our feelings for our loved ones. Why would I want those to disappear? Yes, they are painful and hurt a whole lot, but I'd rather have them than not, if you know what I mean. To displace them so quickly would somehow be dishonoring the real and true love I had and felt for both my husbands. It was genuine and there is honor in that. My relationships with my husbands may be over but I believe the love I had for both can continue to exist and even still remain a powerful force in the world. Sometimes I send my love out to my second husband and hope that it somehow touches him along with others along the way.

We live in this rather unrealistic society that believes people can and should dismiss their feelings and get on with things. But love can't be replaced. I fell in love with Sam during my divorce and it didn't magically negate the love I still felt for either of my husbands, nor did it take away the pain of my grief.

Our society needs to own up to the painful feelings and embrace them rather than focus on how to hide and run from them. I want to tell this woman that there is no quick and easy cure that she is searching for that will take away her pain. The key is that we all eventually learn how to manage our pain and keep on living. And as we go on, we learn how to add more joy into our lives and even more love. Different love - but love. And love really is what it's all about.

Here is the answer offered by Dr. John H. Shlare: "The more you focus on what you've lost and what you DON'T have, the longer it will take you to recover. In general, getting over any kind of loss is best accomplished by focusing on what you DO have, making positive plans for the future and keeping yourself busy. Don't let the overwhelming emotions of the moment blind you from your greatest advantage: opportunity. Taking positive action now toward a better future is the way out of this heartache. ...the end of one thing is ALWAYS the beginning of something else."

If only it were all so simple and a three plan solution is what it would take. In the six and a half years I've been battling grief I've embraced positive plans for the future (getting remarried, going to school, entering into a new relationship). I've done my best to focus on what I have vs. what I've been lacking. And as an only parent I can attest to the fact that my life is crazy busy. But guess what? The grief remained. And I suspect it still will for this woman grieving the end of her marriage. The solutions presented here are ways to help us keep on with the process of living but they are not ways to "Get over" a loss.

Can our society stop with the "Get over it" attitude? I have resigned myself to the fact that I won't ever get over either my husband's death or my divorce. The grief surrounding those events will continue to live within me until I die. The funny thing is, that once I accepted this and stopped fighting my need to 'get over it," the claws of grief lessened a bit and the pain subsided - or I should say became easier to accept and live with.

And that is the advice I would offer this woman. Embrace your grief. Accept it for what it is. Know that its intensity will stick around for a while. Try to focus more on the love and all the good stuff you experienced vs. negative and vengeful thoughts, although those will come and keep you company on some days. Send the power of your love into the Universe and be proud of the fact that you loved your husband so deeply. The hurt signifies that depth. Be active and strong not as a way to get over your love, but as a way to continue focusing on the here and now as no one grants us a pass to tune out out of life for even a few weeks. We're stuck having to continue with the daily grind of living. Recognize that it is okay to grieve and feel the pain of your loss for the time it takes. I'm not ashamed that I still struggle with the grief of my divorce two years out. Be as gentle and as kind to yourself as possible because you'll be challenged from all fronts to "move on and get over it" as soon as possible. Don't pretend you're strong and over it just to placate others. Recognize that you're in for a battle because what people don't want to tell you is that the pain can feel like it will almost kill you. It will get that bad. It will hurt that much.

That is what I resent about the answer of this life coach. He doesn't tell it like it honestly is. His answer is that glossy belief that we all somehow have the power to quickly and easily move on. "Here are the three steps and if you follow them it'll be all better and you won't feel anymore pain." An illusion to match the totally misguided belief we have in our society that if we just take a pill, everything will be better. Well, all of us out here in the blogosphere of grief and loss know what's really what. And I do believe that we all would be in better shape (emotionally at least) if our society had prepared us how to face our grief and losses instead of offering us empty promises that we'll be cured by following these three easy steps. Lets not pretend anymore. Lets tell it like it is. "It's going to hurt like hell but it's okay to feel and even embrace that pain!" As Dan from "Dan, in Real Time" once astutely observed, it is okay to walk beside the grief instead of running in front of it or behind it because it is going to be around for awhile and you might as well make friends with it and even share a joke or two!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Spilled Cup of Coffee

I accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee on my hand at work earlier this week. It wasn't super hot so there was no burning but the initial shock startled me and I had tears in my eyes. The tears were partly for the first sting of pain but what followed were feelings of self-pity. The thought crossed my mind that here I was at a nursing home where my job for eight hours is to care for people in need - providing them a bit of comfort when I can, as well as helping them with physical tasks they are helpless to do on their own.

I then thought about the three years I spent as a caregiver to my husband during his illness and the care I provided for my dearly beloved Mom. Then the only parenting all these years...

This widowhood gig sure has demanded a lot of care giving to others with not much back. To a great extent I am a natural caregiver which is why I'm working as a nursing assistant in the first place. But still. The incident with the spilled coffee made me realize how lacking the widowed can be from small daily doses of comfort and support that are generally taken for granted. I just wanted to be able to come home and hold out my hand and have it tenderly held and looked at by someone clucking in sympathy. Just a little TLC to refill the care giving bank that's already over-drafted.

It just keeps adding up over time. The emotional and physical isolation of living without a partner, the loneliness and the lack of daily support. It doesn't go away - it's a constant, dull ache. Every time I come home to an empty residence (still have trouble saying apartment). Every time I fall and skin my knee or am having a tough day and long for a hug. Life isn't meant to be lived this way - we all need comfort, love and support. The sad reality is that there are those of us out here living on our own without those necessary hugs and pats (verbal and physical) on the back. There is no solution. And that makes it even tougher. An empty home is an empty home. There is no one's shoulder to sniffle into to garner some sympathy. What else can I say?

Well, I guess there is something I will say. From my perspective of being six and a half years out, the absolutely worst part of widowhood is the loneliness and being on my own. Handling and climbing through the hell of my husband's death was a piece of cake compared to the ongoing struggle of having to continue to trudge through life on my lonesome.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Purguing Out the Old

This afternoon I got rid of some heavy pieces of furniture in one of two of the storage sheds. Tomorrow the smaller shed will be cleared out and I'll be saving almost $200.00 monthly that can go toward clothing and items for the boys.

I'm feeling bittersweet about the clean-out. I called a local resale shop to inquire if they'd come to the shed to pick up the items and they did. I am grateful because without a strong guy/husband around it is hard for me to lift and move big, bulky objects. And there is just no room in the apartment for all the furniture I used to have in my home.

They took the large pine chest of drawers with mirror that used to be in my master bedroom. Then the headboard for the bed I spent months choosing when I first got married. It was between an all-white cottage bedroom or a more rustic, cabin-lodge feel room. I ended up choosing the later and the headboard was made out of actual logs. The woman from the resale shop really liked it. But it pulled at my heartstrings a little to let it go. A memory of the life I once shared with my husband when my family and I were intact in our nice, spacious, five-bedroom cabin-like home. When I got remarried I purchased a new bed, in fact, an inexpensive bedroom set to celebrate my new life and new beginnings. I'd hoped to use the log headboard at a second home if we got a little cabin on a lake in our retirement...

Also going - the boys' youth firetruck beds. Adorable beds in the shape of firetrucks and actually pretty realistic. I asked the boys if they wanted to keep them for the future but they weren't interested. They're awfully cute and I hope some lucky little boys will enjoy them in the future.

The nice lady from the resale shop walked around my shed and picked at the remaining items. She said she'd take anything there and got some birdhouses and seasonal wreaths. I told her I'd bring over my old Halloween and Christmas outdoor decorations over the summer. It was good to know that I did have some nice furniture and decorations. I'm trying to psyche myself up that it is better to pass these things on where they'll be put to use now and enjoyed vs. being hidden away in a mice-infested storage shed.

I regret giving away my nice green glass-fronted kitchen cabinet - it was so cute. But again, there is no room for it in the apartment and I can't just keep storing everything away for the future, whenever and wherever that may be.

I'm telling myself that releasing these items allows new items (maybe even better) to enter my life. It will be best to purchase a new bed when I start living at a new place and hopefully when I start sleeping on a regular basis with a partner again! I can always get a new curio cabinet to display my pretties and it will be fun to search for a different style that may fit better in a new home. As for the firetruck beds, maybe my sons will end up only having daughters who'll only want princess theme bedrooms!

Part of what I reflected on this afternoon was how hard it has been to lose my home (and possessions) after the death of my husband. His death involved the huge loss of my emotional and financial stability. The home then represented the very foundation of my life - all the safety and security from the ground up. Losing both has rocked my world literally from top to bottom, inside and out.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Time Doesn't Heal All Things

Thursday was the Senior Farewell band concert - a teary, emotional evening. There was some stress leading up to the night. My oldest had a detention after school for chewing gum in band class no less, along with a volleyball game - at least it was a home game. That meant I was in charge of making sure he had his band tux and volleyball uniform, along with a sack dinner since he wouldn't have time to come home. Turns out he forgot his dress-up shoes and I had to get them to him before the concert.

As usual, sitting in the auditorium before the concert I was struck by the loneliness I feel. It is a constant and dull ache that magnifies when I attend events like this one because in doing so, I can visualize my being alone as well. In this case, the school theater was packed with couples, families and grandparents who'd also come. Having arrived early to drop off the shoes, I could see the people come in and noted that there were only a handful of us sitting alone.

Then it seemed as though the theater lighting was somehow centering on and illuminating all the wedding rings and bands worn on the left hands of the audience members. Anytime I looked around, I saw a ring glinting in the light or I'd spy the arm of a husband casually resting around his wife's shoulder.

I felt the rage I feel as a victim (if my husband hadn't died I wouldn't be alone), along with the envy for all these fortunate married folks. Then there is some self-pity and even embarrassment at having to sit alone. I always feel a huge sense of sadness for the losses my sons have endured - seeing all the dads brings that on.

It takes such darn emotional energy to keep attending these events, over and over always alone. People have stopped making the effort to seek me out for a word or two and I have stopped pasting a smile on my face and pretending that I'm having a grand old time. I love supporting my sons in their activities and always feel a huge source of pride but it does come with a price.

I'm surprised that instead of getting easier, it just all seems to get harder and more painful. You'd think with the passing of time that I'd be more accepting of my situation and more used to attending events on my own. Funny how that is not turning out to be the case.

Also, what I felt for the first time on Thursday night was quite distressing to me. As I looked around the packed auditorium, the thought went through my mind that I have so little in common anymore with all the married, upper-middle class suburban parents living in my community. It was a very scary realization. The longer I go as a widowed mom here on my own, the greater the divide is growing. Too much has happened to me over the past seven to eight years. It has gone beyond the death of my husband now to include a failed marriage, the loss of a home and severe financial difficulties.

A man came in late and sat in front of me. I observed his large, well-fed body, his expensive business suit and the gleam of his gold wedding band. I tried to imagine going on a date with him if he was single and I couldn't. I'm beginning to doubt that I'll be able to interact with "normal" people or even go on a date with someone in the future. Too much has changed inside me in too short a time period. I'm not saying I'm better than others, just that I no longer live, relate, think, dream, talk, laugh, smile or even sleep like the woman I once was.

I only want to be with others who have experienced some pain and loss because they have some familiarity with what I have experienced. I worry about the dating pool being overflowing with divorced folks. Divorce is different than death and I don't feel on the same playing field with the dating middle-aged people out there. I'm not sure I believe there is a man out there willing to take the time to get to really know and accept me for the woman I have become. Heck, I even have doubts that I have the verbal capability to get through a two-hour date with someone and engage in a normal conversation! Any questions from "Where did you go on your last vacation?" to "What is your family like?" would all involve some aspect of loss.

What I felt on Thursday night was that I fear I am facing a future of loneliness and solitude without a life partner. And that realization on top of everything else - the daily grind of just living and having to parent on my own is a harsh dose of reality I don't want.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Nursing My Wounds

I am reading a book that is having a very positive influence on where I am right now in my grief process - "How to Mend a Broken Heart - Letting Go and Moving On - Coping with Breakup - Separation, Divorce, Custody Disputes - Understanding the Stages of Loss - Stabilizing Your Life," by Aleta Koman, M.Ed., published in 1997.

This author writes in a very clear, concise, matter-of-fact, non-judgmental style that is soothing. Her observations make sense to me. I feel validated and as though everything I have been doing the past few years in regard to my grieving has been right - I haven't done anything wrong, and in the end, I have intuitively moved along the path of healing that is right for me.

For one, Koman believes that the grieving process can take from a minimum of a year to several years for some. In our society there are still many that think a couple months to a year at the most is all the time we'll need. She also encourages that we process and feel all of our emotions, which is pretty standard grief advice. But she adds that we owe no explanations to anyone as to how or what we are feeling. She says that people are quick to want us to get on with our lives and move past our grief because of the discomfort it brings them and their unresolved "stuff." Reading that gives me the courage to keep facing the ugly emotions that still crop up. I also feel less guilty for the feelings of depression I was experiencing a few months after having had to sell and move from my home (that dark and dismal period in January). For heaven's sakes! If ever there was a reason for me to feel down and out it was warranted - the loss of my home following a pretty horrific divorce (but I guess most divorces are horrific)! I was entitled to grieve that loss because it was a major life change for me.

One of Koman's observations about the grief process is that we can go for months in a seemingly calm state, only to plunge back into despair. That provided great comfort for me because I think that many of us are criticized when we regress big time. Koman also talks a lot about how a loss can trigger feelings about prior losses, especially related to our childhoods. So many of us are actually grieving multiple losses, although others may only be able to see the recent event and not understand the depth of our pain.

Most interesting to me are Koman's suggestion for healing in her Step Two, "Focusing on the Self." Koman reasons that many of us grieving are suffering from severe low self-esteem. Again, issues from childhood may impact this. Low self-esteem includes feelings of victimization, deprivation and physical malaise. She claims it is very difficult to "get on with our lives," and "move past our grief," etc. when we are lacking sufficient self-esteem to motivate ourselves.

I can totally relate to this. For me, the image I held of myself plummeted when my second husband divorced me and then I lost the house. And my self-esteem was further damaged by the financial stress and then my relationship conflicts with Sam. The entire concept of self- esteem being wrapped up with grief makes sense to me but I haven't heard of it before. Koman's solution for restoring/rebuilding self-esteem is to focus on the self. And that is exactly where I have been headed in wanting to take a break from all this grief processing.

I've been planning to try and focus as much as I can on me for a short while - to be selfish and to have a little fun. To try and laugh more and concentrate on activities that bring me joy. It was very empowering to come across this strategy in a book on grief and to recognize that I am headed in the right direction! And there is nothing wrong with me going off for a while (even if only mentally) to a quiet place where I can nurse my wounds.

I was so relieved to read Koman's words about forcing our recovery. She says that we can't make ourselves recover though we might try to do so by hurrying the pace. I think I have been trying to force myself to become more positive in an effort to get on with things, move my life along. But there isn't a magical solution. I am breathing a sigh of relief because I have struggled to be more positive and have gotten upset with myself for falling short. I am trusting myself that by focusing on my needs and taking a breather from all this emphasis on grief, that in the end, hope will be restored. Being positive isn't going to bring me back to a more hopeful state. Rather, it will be the process of focusing on my needs and making an effort to bring more joy into my life. It will be the culmination of those little steps that will lead me further down this path!

I will close with these inspiring words of Koman's:

"Whatever else, stabilizing your life means realizing that life as you knew it will never be the same. The relationship you had, the person you loved, or the job your enjoyed are now gone. Those relationships, people, and activities organized your life in certain ways. Now that organization has changed. To live in a new reality-based life, you must create a new vision based on how your loss has transformed you - how the experience of loss has changed you as a person, as a partner, as a worker, and so on. Only by accepting the loss and its consequences can you reach understanding, insight, and the potential to move on to the rest of your life. And as you stabilize your life, you will once again experience the pleasures of living in ways that may have diminished during the grieving process."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Grief Combined With Life Stress

I had a light bulb moment, which has resulted in giving me a great deal of peace of mind. It was prompted by my reading an editorial about Sandra Bullock's current situation. The author, praised Sandra's strength and resolve and added that most other people would have collapsed under the pressure. Collapsed under the pressure? What does that mean? I wish I could collapse, tune out, take a break from all of this. Remember when it was fashionable to have a nervous breakdown? Does anyone know how you go about having one because I'd like to have a rest at a sanitarium. Do those places even exist anymore? Now I'm kind of kidding here and kind of not. I have through the years thought about this. If indeed, it all becomes too much to bear what do people do who can't cope anymore? I'm not sure if I walked into the hospital and said, "I can't take it anymore" that it would amount to anything. Other than trying to kill myself, I don't know of any real way to collapse. I mean, really what would come down if I just refused to get up in the morning and started to stay in bed all day? The boys could probably manage to get by on their own and there would be a small amount of money with our monthly pension. They'd continue to go to school and no one would be the wiser.

I just can't envision collapsing and I take offense with comments by this author, throwing it out there when there really isn't anyway for people like me to escape from our hardships, even briefly. I've had no choice but to be strong and keep plodding forward. So part of me has been upset with comments by those who've said, "Keep standing strong, put your big girl pants on and face it," and so on. I did what I had to do because there was no other option! I don't deserve any reward for doing what I've had to do.

Well, the "Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory" was mentioned in this article so I decided to take it. Being in the social services field, I'm aware of the test that lists the most stressful event a person can face as the death of a spouse - 100 points. And of course I am well aware that the past six years since my husband's death have been very trying and difficult. What I found surprised me a little.

For the first two years, (2003-2005) I scored a 305 which indicates "a major life crisis and is highly predictive (80%) of serious physical illness within the next two years." Anything over a 300 is dangerous. I had a score of 363 for the years of 2005-2007. Instead of going down, the score went up. Not a good thing! But it really shot up during the period of my divorce from 2007-2009, with a total of 503! Again, instead of my score lowering or stabilizing, it was sky high, off the charts!

Now, this scale is not perfect and there have been criticisms of it. But I think as a baseline it is a picture of the stress existing in our lives. So far this year, I'm at a score of 237 which is within the moderate range of life crisis and contributes to us getting ill, suffering from high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, chest and back pain.

My eyes were opened after taking the test and seeing the results. It has been challenging enough to have been widowed and then try to grieve in an effective manner that allows me to move on with life. But when you add major life stressors on top of it all, it tips the scale over. To have to deal with grief and stress at the same time and to keep on going in some manner of functioning. I am surprised I'm not dead. It was a lot of grief and stress packed into a very condensed period of time. That has been my reality. Flip flopping between grief and stress, life stress and grief.

What I want to put out there on the table is that for widows/widowers, it is not usually just the grief. Many of us will be forced to move, or we'll remarry or face other major life stressors. That combination of grief and stress is significant (all those secondary grief losses again!). But I don't think this is really brought into the equation. The focus is always just on the actual grief from the death. But as you can see in my pitiful example, my life stress and life conditions greatly worsened after my husband's passing. This needs to be accounted for and added into the total picture.

For me at least, the stress hindered my ability to grieve effectively. I had to put the grief on hold - hang it up each time I had to address a new calamity. A year after my husband's death, my youngest was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome and that sucked my little family into a new tailspin. I felt that the first year following my husband's death had been a whirlwind and I was at the point where I was ready to tackle the real nitty-gritty grief work I needed. But that all went to heck when I had to devote my entire attention and energy into my son's health crisis. And it was further delayed when I attended to my parents and their serious health issues. I was forced to pass over my grief work and as a result, it came out tenfold when I was going through my divorce. All the pain from the deaths of my husband and Mom was added to the pain of losing my second husband.

I have come to intimately know what most people out there can't even remotely fathom. Grief on its own is horrendous. Grief combined with life stress can be lethal. Based on these test scores, I'm surprised I'm still standing as tall as I am and that I haven't gotten more seriously sick. I do worry about the long-term effects of all of this stress showing up in the future. My focus right now is on what can I do to counter the effects of the past few years.

Now this is hysterical and I will end this post with it. The main suggestion for what to do with a high score is: Drum Roll please - TO AVOID LIFE STRESS IN THE FUTURE! Oh really? Can we really control much of that? The example was given to avoid moving if you're newly retired (or putting it off). But you can't delay moving if you're in foreclosure!

Here is my two cents. A week to the day of my Mom's death and two days after her memorial service and one day after my sons started back to school, an F-10 level tornado hit our town and was tracked at having originated a block from my home. I am convinced it flew over our house because we had the most severe yard damage that I saw in our community. I had been looking forward to having some private time to myself to grieve my Mom AND my husband. But of course, I had to switch gears and deal with the huge job of the yard cleanup which took weeks. Then, immediately following that there was a mix-up with my parents' closing date on the sale of their home and there was the life stress of having to clear out their large home within two weeks. How in the world does a poor person deal with that? There is no way to prevent natural disasters or crummy screw-ups with real estate agents. So the grief got shoved under the table again. And I think it is worth noting that carrying around unresolved grief has its own complications and problems with it besides.

I have gotten to the point of almost laughing about the tornado, if you can laugh about a thing like that. The pure ridiculousness of it! For awhile I even wondered if I had somehow caused the tornado - that it happened to bring more stress and strain to my life. I couldn't believe that so much "bad luck" or misfortune could happen to one person. And then I've wondered what I did in a past life to deserve such suffering. I have a hard time with the Buddhist belief of Karma because of this. If I was such a horrible person before, deserving of such hardship now, I should never have been reincarnated in the first place. No one is deserving of the stress, grief and hardships I've lived through the past six years.

But all that personal reflection aside, I don't know much about Sandra Bullock. She seems like a very nice and generous person. She is beautiful and a good actress and I'm happy she has been recognized for her artistic talents. But I think there are a lot of Sandras out here - ordinary men and women walking the widow road and dealing with life-changing events without falling apart. Continuing to raise children as only parents, go to work and seek a little bit of happiness in a sometimes less than sympathetic world. And these are the true heroes in my eyes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Think of the Children

I feel compelled to finish this blog with a few more posts that relate to multiple losses and secondary grief losses. I am taking a break from blogging and am not sure where that will lead me. Perhaps I'll return or start a new widowhood blog. But I feel I have to have address these topics one final time in the event that I don't resume posting. These were issues that I wanted to emphasize in this blog and I have had trouble finding much out there about them specifically. I really believe that they are aspects of grief that get short changed or overlooked.

For me, the secondary grief losses, all those losses that came after my husband's death, were far more difficult for me to endure than his actual death. Maybe there needs to be some greater recognition of this in the literature and with grief counseling because I really struggled with the loss of my identity as a wife, the huge financial problems that came afterward, having to parent on my own, managing a household, having to go back to work, etc. I could go on and on with examples but you get the idea. The secondary losses can include loss of your social network, financial security, your home and so on.

I really lacked the skills and ability to some extent to navigate life as a middle-aged, widowed mom. Then there was the terrible loss of expectations/dreams. As parents in mid-life, my husband and I were reaching the point where we saw more opportunities to strengthen our personal relationship. My husband was 10 years older than I and we were contemplating his retirement to coincide with the boys going off to college. The thought and reality of me now having to get these boys through college on my own is so daunting and overwhelming, I sometimes feel like collapsing under the heavy weight that reality brings me.

I suppose it is all relative. Some are fortunate to have families providing moral, emotional and even financial support. For me, the absolute most difficult loss to endure through all of this, has been the realization that I really don't have a family to rely on. My husband was an only child and his out-of-state family has been invisible - not one gift or card for the boys since their father's death from their paternal grandmother or any paternal family member.

The lack of gifts doesn't matter to me. It has been the lack of any kind of familial emotional support. That has what I have really wanted - that is what helps restore and rebuild me. It is what helps prop me up when the going really gets tough.

My mother was my rock. Throughout my husband's illness and death she provided me with restoring words that were such a comfort and motivator. She wasn't perfect - she said a few insensitive things but overall, she was there listening, trying to understand and coming back with compassionate feedback. Just her acknowledgment that there were times it was hard for me, gave me strength. Once she observed, "You have it all resting on your shoulders." That is all she said. She didn't pity me or try to make it all better. She just honestly observed what was and that was very helpful to me. She didn't judge me. Her death in 2007 was a huge and painful loss for me. I greatly miss her and am thankful she was there for me as long as she was.

Other than my mom, I can't think of too many people who've ever said much to me on a positive note. I can think of two examples. A PTA mom who just shook her head after my youngest was going through his medical diagnosis of Long QT Syndrome (heart arrhythmia). She commented that I had had to endure more than anyone should have to experience. Then there was a dad from school who made a point of seeking me out and saying that I had done right by my boys. But there were so many more criticisms and negative comments - they kind of negated the good that resulted when somebody said something nice or encouraging.

I think that people suspect that widows/widowers want some kind of pity party when they talk or bring up their grief. But I know that all I want is some recognition for my life as it is and a little bit of encouragement for my trying to hang in there as best I can. Let me tell you, a little goes a long, long way!

My divorce absolutely devastated me. The best way I can describe it is as though you are getting hit in the knees with a club just as you're trying to stand back up again from a horrendous fall. The loss of my home and moving has been another tough load to bear. They say that experiencing loss makes you stronger and better able to deal with future adversity. But for me having to go through the divorce so soon after my husband's and mom's death was not strengthening. I was already depleted and worn out with grief. I hadn't rebuilt my energy or capability to deal with adversity. So when the divorce came, I was in little and poor shape to face it or cope with it.

Same with the house. I just endured the divorce battle and then had to jump right into selling and moving from my home to an apartment. It was physically and emotionally damaging and almost unbearable to face and get through. Again, a lot of criticism, virtually no support. The feeling of having no one to fall back on or rely on even a little has been the most devastating aspect of my grief. In the end, that is what it has come down to. It must relate to those primal feelings of being an infant and having to totally trust our caregivers. There is terror in the fear of not being card for and not surviving. Personally, for me, having to face the death of my husband, then a divorce and the loss of my home while parenting on my own has been its own terror because I have felt so alone. Sometimes it feels to me that that is how it might feel to die alone. To know that there isn't really anyone out there rooting for you, caring for you or wishing you well.

That has been my biggest cross to bear.

What I hope to convey here is that it is not just the actual loss of a loved one. It can be so much more and there can be numerous additional losses following a death that impact a widow/widower and families that are far reaching and very complicated. It is not a cut and dry situation. With that said, I think it is important that I add that I have come to believe that it really does take a village to raise children. For those of us without significant support networks, it is a challenging job on our own. I just hope these words get transmitted out there into the Universe to do some good here. I just want people to know and remember that withholding support, or being negative and critical to the poor widow/widower ends up filtering down to the kids. In the end, it is the poor father or motherless children that bear the brunt of all of this.

Please think of and remember the kids here. Through no fault of their own they've been dealt a blow and now their main support is an overworked, grieving parent doing their best to navigate an often hostile and less than sympathetic world. Give them a break. And give the parents a break. As I said earlier, a little kindness goes a long way.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Grief Overload

In this blog I've tried to describe how it is to live in The Land of the Untouched (those whose lives have not been touched by much loss or grief) and The Land of the Married. In a nut shell, these past almost seven years, I've felt constantly judged and compared to those who live "normal" lives, married and with a spouse. I have struggled to keep up with all of this - continuing to volunteer at school events and to be a part of car pools. But I have reached the conclusion after my futile efforts that I can't keep up and I am so miserable trying to do so, it is just better to say "No" and not care if I'm judged negatively or not.

I'm always going to come in second place or fall short because the criteria used to rate me hasn't been adjusted. And that has been a big source of my frustration over the years. It would simply be easier and more fair for everyone involved to simply cut me some slack or give me a break. To acknowledge that my load is unfortunately different from that of intact families. But there has always seemed to be such a force to keep me at that same level of evaluation. Wouldn't it have been a kind and decent gesture on the middle school to have pardoned the boys' Saturday morning detentions for being late when it was their poor overburdened mom that was the real reason they had been dropped off a few minutes past the final bell?

Why has there been such a lack of sympathy and compassion expressed? Such forceful, mean-spirited adherence to the "laws" and "rules" without even consideration of their being slightly adjusted (even once as a favor?).

When my husband was in his final weeks of life, my boss, a master's level clinician in counseling, refused to give me time off to go to the hospital. I was so disgusted I pretty much told her I was quitting because I knew it was the end and I knew that I had to be with him. It was eye-opening to me that a woman of her intelligence and education, working in a humanitarian field besides was giving me such a hard time. Did she really believe that I would ask for precious time off to go off and spend my days at a hospital? Wouldn't it make sense that I'd only be doing so if it were an emergency?

Two years after my husband's death, my oldest son needed surgery to remove some cysts. The doctor tried to assure us that they were almost certainly not cancerous but there was that remote chance. My son was scared out of his mind because his father had died of an aggressive tumor. He pleaded with me, crying, "Mama, just get them out..." The kid had reached the point where all he was doing was digging into the cysts on his leg. He was not eating or concentrating at school. Then there was a snag with scheduling the surgery because it was around spring break. the doctor was leaving on vacation and wanted to do the surgery the Friday before break. But that meant I'd need to take a day off from my job.

I was working as a teacher's aide for children with autism at the time. And when I made my request for a personal day off, they refused it. I met with the school's principal and the head of administration to explain the situation - I'm a recently widowed mom, there isn't anyone who can be there with my son, because of his dad's death from a cancerous tumor my 12-year-old is becoming frantic, the doctor is going out of town for two weeks and I don't think I can delay the surgery...

None of this made any impact. I was told that I had to make a decision on the spot and if I chose to take the day off, I'd be demoted to a substitute aide. I should add, that they were being hard-nosed because I had taken days off throughout the year when my sons were home sick or to care for my father. I was not aware that there had been a problem or that they'd been tracking my days off. I pleaded with them that now that I knew, I would not take days off in the future but could they please grant me the one day off.

They wouldn't budge. The principal suggested I try and find someone to be there with my son. I replied that I felt I needed to be present in case of an emergency. She had also suggested that I just drop my son off for the surgery and leave him there on his own. To that I responded that I felt it could qualify as child abuse since my son was so young. She just shrugged her shoulders.

Well, you know the decision I made. I took my son to the surgery and I never returned to that job again. I started taking more care of my parents with my time off and shortly thereafter, met my second husband. Life went on.

But this same type of obstacle just keeps repeating itself over and over again. Thankfully, not to the extent of this example. But recently, when I started the new job and was so horribly sick and really taken to task for having to take three days off.

I've disclosed a lot about how disheartening it always is to live among the married, among their rules and guidelines. There has been such little regard, compassion or understanding for my role as an only parent. If I had I husband, we'd probably be able to double-up and come up with alternate workable solutions. Just no comprehension of the dilemma an only parent has to face.

It has been tiring to try and have to explain myself again and again to people who just don't get it and will never get it. It is like being stuck in a car in a snowbank, unable to get out. The wheels turn over and over endlessly but you stay in the same spot, not even moving an inch. You're stuck!

I've come to the conclusion that this is the way it is going to be for me until I am hopefully in the position of being remarried. Endlessly spinning my wheels. In the end, it doesn't matter. All my qualified and reasonable explanations go unheeded. Are they even heard?

I am growing weary and so despondent of this chronicle of my life. I think that when I started this blog I really believed that I would in some way be a catalyst for change. That my posting about my widowhood would provide me greater clarity and I'd be able to somehow transmit that out into the world. But that doesn't seem to be happening. I have the clarity and the introspection but the rest of the world hasn't made any progress.

I am finding that the more I blog about widowhood, hardship, grief and loss, the more I feel all the crappy stuff surrounding my circumstances. It is like I become enmeshed in the pain - it permeates me. Sometimes I reflect on the topics I want to post about for considerable time. In writing this blog, it is as though I think about my widowhood all the time. And I've reached the point where I have to take a break from it all.

Again, I reiterate that I don't see the world or its people doing much to change around me. Is it unreasonable to even request they do so? No, I don't think it is too much to ask for people to consider the circumstances surrounding your life - to have a bit of compassion and understanding. But I haven't seen much shift in that direction by the untouched and the married. So I am resigned to this now. Not happy about it but resigned. The issue has become that I don't want to continue to endure the level of pain that putting out this blog has resulted in. I already live with a bunch of pain on a daily basis. Does it make sense that blogging about it results in me feeling and experiencing it 10-fold? I hope I am explaining it so it somewhat makes sense.

I guess the bottom line is that I want to take a vacation from my grief/loss for awhile. It won't mean it will all go away. My scrambled egg life will continue with the hurdles of financial pressure, only parenting and the relentless efforts of trying to fit into a world ruled by couples and intact families. But I do think I've spent a considerable effort trying to get through the muddle of grief/loss that I've been saddled with. People take vacations to rest and recover after long periods of work. They return refreshed, revitalized with renewed energy and insight. I am hoping taking a break from blogging will accomplish that for me. I just want to stop thinking about it so intensely and processing so much. I've reached grief overload if there is such a thing.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

I am feeling down about Mother's Day. Like I am being excluded from this big party I should be going to but have been denied admission to. I won't get anything and we can't afford to go out for a meal - or to even get takeout someplace.

I think about those fortunate moms who'll be treated to brunch wearing cute new summer outfits. I'd even be grateful for a husband who'd run into the grocery store for a bunch of flowers and box of candy for a duty gift. Anything is better than nothing!

It's hard to be an only parent. I know I sound like a broken record because I talk about this a lot. But to have to shoulder everything day after day and then endure a day celebrating motherhood and you get passed by when you're actually functioning in SUPERMOM capacity. Well, there just seems totally unfair and almost cruel about that.

As Time Goes By

A brief perusal of online personal ads shows me a glimpse of what single people out there want. It looks like in 95% of cases, people want to be happy, optimistic and to have fun. And they want their future partners to be happy, optimistic and having fun too with the addition of no baggage! I can't relate to that. Having fun? For me, having fun would be going to the grocery store and filling up my cart without adding up every purchase in my head beforehand - to actually even be able to afford $50.00 of groceries at one time. Having fun? To watch a DVD at home. Right now, our DVD player is broken and I don't even have a spare $30.00 to replace it. It would be nice to go anywhere for a glass of wine and some good conversation - to have someone actually listen to me and care about my views and outlook. Or to maybe ask me my opinion on something. Having fun? I just want to feel safe, secure, comforted and with the knowledge that I have someone to lean on every once in awhile when the going gets tough.

Having fun? What does that mean? Excitement? Sex? Adventure? Trying new things? Laughing? Joking? Only having a good time? Forget all that. Give me safety and security. Dullness, the known, predictability, sameness. I want the same old, same old.

There is a t.v. show I try to watch every Sat. night when it airs on my PBS station (we don't get cable). It is a British comedy called "As Time Goes By," starring Dame Judy Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. It ran for a good many years and is about an older couple who fell in love during the Korean War. There was a mishap with their communication and they ended up apart. The story picks up 40 years later when they are reunited, fall in love again (although they had never really stopped loving each other) and then getting married.

The episodes are about their new life together. He is an author and she is newly retired. She has a daughter and there is an assortment of quirky friends and family members that round out the cast. There is nothing hot and heavy going on under the sheets. No one is jumping out of airplanes. One episode centers on their activity of cleaning out the house and giving items away to the charity shop. Or how the family bands together when the daughter suffers a breakup.

Now this is what is exciting to me. Families supporting one another through thick and thin. A happily married couple, comfortable and content to create a stew together on a cold winter Saturday. The ordinary, every day little occurrences. Many shows end with Jean and Lionel going to bed at the end of the day. They often read a bit before turning off the light and it is that scene that causes my heart to pound. That is what I miss in my own life and what I hope to someday have again. The ability to read together in bed with my loved one. Maybe 95% of the singles out there would find that boring and mundane. It is a treasured dream and fantasy for me.

I'm not sure what the likelihood of me finding a suitable partner out there is. I am honest when I say I can't relate to those out there seeking fun, excitement and happiness. My therapist told me she did not think I'd be able to have a successful relationship with a man who hadn't experienced some hardship in his life. She said it would be difficult for someone who'd lived a relatively "happy" life to relate with me. Boy, just another hurdle to have to jump over. It is hard enough finding a decent guy out there, now I have to find one who has suffered hardship.

Not that I have any interest in going out there and hitting the pavement anyway right now. Now is not the time. I am terribly disillusioned and depressed. Definitely not the happy, optimistic, fun seeking person single men are looking for. Of course they also want a nice looking woman, and I feel careworn and as though I've aged overnight. I think I wear my inner sorrow on the outside now and it is not that attractive, I'll admit. The loss of the house, the move, going back to work, parenting on my own, handling the apartment and all the financial stuff alone has just caught up with me. It has taken a toll the past months.

I would have to be with someone who could share a deep conversation and someone looking for more than just a good time. Everything that has happened the past few years has impacted me to a level where I'm not the same person I once was. I can't just laugh for the sake of laughing anymore. I am jaded, no question about it. How do you find someone compatible with that? I don't think it is easy. I would also want a man who could understand and appreciate the decisions I've made for my sons. Someone who'd see the choices I've made without putting me down, as my second husband did.

Plus, I've put my heart out there a couple times now and have had less than favorable endings. I used to think that I could always find a partner with whom to have a relationship. I've reached the point where I have a much sobered reality. I actually think it is possible that I could die alone. That there isn't a match for me out there. Anyway, I don't have the time or energy right now to even look. Let this magical, miracle guy come to me for a change. I'm tired of putting myself out there and really taking a chance, especially after having faced the loss of a husband due to death.

Tonight I watched an hour (two episodes) of "As Time Goes By" and as usual was charmed by the gentle and peaceful love portrayed by Jean and Lionel. And I was wistful for their unexciting but filling and happy life. Forget the excitement and having fun. When I think of love and a couple I admire, I see these two.

Personal Ad

Wanted: Ordinary, predictable, comfortable life with a loving partner who is willing to work out conflicts and life's little snags with conversation and devotion. Having fun is defined by cooking, reading and antiquing together. Nothing fancy. And it is perfectly okay to sometimes feel less than optimistic and a little down. That is what a good hot cup of tea is for and a comforting embrace. Support, kindness, compassion and understanding are the mutually agreed upon values of the relationship with along a touch of laughter and humor. Materialism is at the bottom of the list and a life seeking internal knowledge and growth is aspired to.

Do you know that I've actually seen some ads where the guys have said the women they are seeking must have decent jobs, fancy cars and want to have a lot of sex? My goodness! I don't think these guys are watching "As Time Goes By" or that they'd understand, much less appreciate the values that show portrays.

For a little while every week, I get to be whisked away into a life that melts my heart and gets my tummy all fuzzy. All that from a scene of an older, married, settled couple chopping carrots together at the kitchen table. NOW THAT IS EXCITING!

Tonight I briefly spoke to Sam and he mentioned that he hasn't filled his bed yet. Maybe I'd still want to consider moving to be with him? I'm just too worn and depleted to go into all of that right now. Our relationship has been on the back burner the past few months and we haven't seen one another since mid-February. It is like I have been living this separate life from him on my own and handling all of these hardships alone. I feel disconnected from him. And then I have the boys, always the boys to think about. I don't want to go into all of that right now. I just want a few more moments to smile as I think back on my show - it does give me a bit of pleasure that I can count on.

A Scrambled Egg Life

A glimpse of my scrambled eggs life, NOT the sugar-coated cereal life!

Last Saturday, the van wouldn't start for my son. The timing couldn't have been better. He was at his girlfriend's post-prom party and it was 3:00 a.m. So, I drove over across town but by the time I arrived, his girlfriend's dad had given a jump that enabled my son to get home. The van didn't start the next day but did a few days later. I told my son he couldn't drive it as I didn't want to worry about him being stranded somewhere and then have to pay a towing charge as well. The past week has been a bit of a challenge with me having to take the boys everywhere. They got a ride to school one morning. I didn't realize how helpful it is to have my son drive himself to school, sports meets and to his baseball games for umping. Not to mention his helping me out with picking up his brother. A little bit has gone a long way in easing the load off my back.

It was with great heaviness that I had him drive the van to our local car repair place on Thursday, my day off. Already this month I'd had the extra expenses of having to pay for my youngest's driver education fee ($200.00) and the car insurance for two vehicles (a half payment of $200.00). I was so hoping to be able to take the boys and I out for a Mother's Day meal, which would be such a treat for us.

Bad news - an $800.00 repair (fuel pump and filter) which got reduced to $500.00 because a used pump was found at a salvage yard. I was concerned about even paying the $500.00 out so the owner of the place was kind enough to work out payment arrangements with me. They'd fix the pump portion for $400.00 and I'd pay $200.00 now and $200.00 in two weeks, then have the filter replaced in June.

Making those arrangements took up a good portion of the day. Then, I had to work out payment arrangements with the electric company because now there wasn't enough money to cover that payment. To add to the merrriment, the maintenance staff was in fixing a leaking problem with our two showers, so my day off wasn't much of one.

Okay, so stuff like car breakdowns and broken water pipes happen all the time to everybody. But I think that those of us facing this kind of thing time and time on our own just get so weary of it all. There is the stess of rescuing the stranded kid, getting the van in for an inspection and then working out some kind of payment/repair arrangement. It is that mix again of the emotional and physical stress. Figuring it all out alone is the double whammy!

That's what I mean about my life being like a plate of scrambled eggs. Widowhood is not easy and with raising kids as an only parent, it is even more challenging and messy - like a plate of scramble eggs. Yet all of us are supposed to forge on with our heads up and smiles pasted on our faces. I flatly refuse anymore to pretend that everything is peachy keen. My life is not like a box of sugared Honey Combs or Capt'n Crunch cereal.

The biggest joke of all came on Friday morning. The van wasn't finished yet so the boys had planned to walk to school in the morning since I had to work, starting at 6:00 a.m. When I got up around 4:00, it was storming with heavy rain, wind, thunder and lightening. I figured it was probably too late for the boys to arrange for a ride so I called in to work saying I'd be an hour and a half late. Then I just laughed at it all. What a nutty situation!

I don't have as many options available to me to help out when life throws me a curve. What choice could I make other than take my sons to school? It wasn't safe for them to walk and they would have been soaked by the time they got to school. Whenever, something like this happens, I have had less than sympathetic responses from employers but I just don't care much about that either. I can only work with the resources I have and mine are pretty limited. As a widowed parent, my reality is that there are simply going to be days when I'm late or absent. No hubby to fall back on, or family close by or even a boyfriend around.

I don't feel uplifted and proud of myself when I successfully meet these challenges. I end up feeling drained and morose because I start wishing for that absent husband who used to take care of these things.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Touching, Hugging, Holding and Feeling

There is such a huge void from the lack of physical contact with a partner. Sex is a part of that, but only a part. It is more missing the actual presence of someone in the same space, be it the home, the car or the bed.

I'm a very touchy/feely person and miss the opportunities to reach out and take my partner's hand or give a hug. At work, I often hold the residents hands or give them a caress of the shoulder. I take care when washing the residents hair - one man told me how nice it felt to have his scalp massaged and he was grateful.

I bring this up because it is yet another loss and one that seems to be overlooked. It is not only the emotional loneliness but the physical loneliness and lack of personal contact.

I'm not sure there is much anyone can do about this but endure it. My sons are tolerant of my hugs and pats but they are the result of my reaching out to them. If I didn't hug them, I wouldn't be getting any physical contact. I suppose this may be a reason people eventually get back out there and start dating again. I know for me, I've about reached my limit on the lonely life.

I don't know who will ever read this post or when. I do know I have a need to put these words out there in the belief that they may reach someone who will need to see them. I mainly want to increase the perception of what widowhood is like for those who don't know it. Imagine going home night after night to an empty house and sleeping in a bed alone for years! I am surprised I haven't jumped off a bridge yet in frustration! It is another aspect of a challenging life.

Sex is a great way to release tension. It is also a way to connect with others and to feel loved, desired, cared for and wanted. And it can be an energizer. Funny, how those of us most in need of these things are the most lacking.

I hope more than anything that these posts have reached or will reach people with the message that losing a spouse is so much more than what meets the eye. There are so many layers to the loss - so many intricacies to the widowhood life. I hope people will look beyond what they see to the insides of the grieving - their emotions, hearts and souls.

Right before I started dating my second husband, I started checking out the few single men I knew of, including the kind of creepy middle-aged guy who bagged my purchases at the grocery store! I can look back on that and laugh - but it isn't really all that funny either!

When One Door Closes...

When I was going through my divorce, I bought a lovely little necklace from the Signals catalog of a door. The door opened up to display the wording, "When one door closes, another one opens." These words were a powerful motivation for me during that cruelly trying time.

I reflect on those words now and this current topic. During the period of my divorce, I corresponded by email with a wonderful father of four living downstate, three hours away. He had total custody of his children and our relationship progressed to the point of interacting daily by email. We did talk occasionally on the phone and even met once. I considered him more of a good friend and he is the one person I can say really understood what my life of widowhood was like and being an only parent. We often commiserated and compared parenting notes. We had planned to meet again when he came to my area for a work seminar, but those plans fell through when his mother died.

I am sure our relationship would have deepened if we lived closer to one another. As it was, last summer when I was up to my eyeballs in trying to prepare my house to be sold and all of that, I decided to end our interaction, solely due to the distance between us. Sam was fully aware of my friendship and wasn't threatened. But for all involved, I felt it was time to let it go.

Early this year, I decided to check and see how my friend was doing. He got back to me with the news that he had remarried right around Valentine's Day. Wonderful news and lucky for him to have met a nice woman within that six month time period between when I'd last communicated with him (July). I will admit feeling a little envious and even some regret. The man I'd chosen to continue with in a relationship hadn't wanted the commitment of marriage. I questioned whether I'd picked the wrong guy. But no, I can't think like that - there was the distance factor and my resolve to have the boys finish high school where they are.

I have to console myself with the knowledge that there are men out there who want to get married. I was talking with my oldest today about dating and I mentioned that I don't feel I've been very lucky in/with love since the death of my spouse. My son said it is not so much that I haven't been lucky, just that I haven't had a relationship where the man lives in the same area.

Anyway, what really has given me solace are the words on that door necklace. I want to believe that perhaps I had something to do with my friend meeting his new wife. My letting go caused him to reach out, or get out there or do something different that resulted in his meeting her! Now that is pretty darn amazing. One door closed for my friend, but boy did it open! What a happy ending considering he had recently lost his home due to foreclosure. He told me that he and his new wife are buying an old five-bedroom farmhouse through a contract arrangement. I wonder if it is the farmhouse I saw for sale when I checked out real estate listings in his town, just for fun. I remember looking at that listing and thinking it would have been a good fit.

My friend is proof that you can survive foreclosure and divorce and move on to a new, hopeful and happy life. I want to believe that his story can be experienced by all of us and that someday I too may be able to joyfully speak of an opportunity for another chance at marriage and living in a home again.

The latest piece of motivational jewelery that I am interested in is from Jane Seymour's line at Kay Jewelers. They feature two open, intertwined hearts. Her inspiration for creating the line came from a saying of her mother's - that as long as you keep your heart open, love will find its way to you. I hope it finds a way back to my heart too.

Don't Minimize My Grief

If any readers have experienced similar interactions to the ones I am going to ponder within this post, please respond. I am trying to come to terms with and understand what I have encountered for many years now and what I'll describe as the minimization of my grief. It seems that people want to minimize my circumstances. Over the years I have heard the following:

- A mere week after my husband died I was talking to a relative about the sadness and loss I felt that my sons no longer would have their father with them as they grew up (they were 9 and 10 and it was Halloween). My relative snapped back with "There are lots of single parents out there dealing with this - I don't know what your problem is." Trouble with this is that at the time, I don't think I even knew anyone raising kids on their own. I couldn't relate to this.

- Even my beloved Mom, the person who provided me with tremendous emotional support once said, "Think of the war widows" when I was trying to describe the amount of loss and pain I felt. I remember being confused and questioning which war widows she was referring to - the World War Two ones it turns out. But her statement flew over my head because again, I didn't have a point of reference to compare myself to a war widow from 50 years ago, no less.

- A couple months after my husband's death, I went to my dentist, whom I've been going to for 25+ years. I let everyone in the office know my sad news and my dentist's response was that one of his other patients had recently lost her husband too - but she had five children to now raise on her own in comparison to my two. I should feel grateful that I only had two children. This comment and reasoning really knocked the wind out of me. I recall feeling as though someone had punched me. Of course I felt bad about this other woman and her situation. But at the same time knowing she has what can be considered a more challenging situation did nothing to negate or lessen my own feelings of loss. In fact, it just made my own feelings worse because now I felt even guilty for not feeling more grateful and guilt because in some ways I didn't really care about this other person I didn't know. I was scrambling to make sense of my own life and was pretty self-focused. So there was more guilt about that too. I questioned that maybe I was grieving too much, etc.

- I attended a grief support group sponsored by a local church for about five months - it started two months after my husband's death. The group wasn't a good fit because with the exception of one other widow, it was made up of divorced or divorcing moms. Once there was a huge debate where the divorcees kind of turned on the two of us, claiming that they had it worse because they had to still interact with their deadbeat husbands. And that had to be more painful than having to deal with the onetime loss of a spouse due to a death. I was pretty flabbergasted with this reasoning and had enough sense to not get into an ongoing argument that would never have been resolved.

I do remember that it served as a light bulb moment when I realized that grief is grief. It shouldn't be measured or lessened for anyone. I knew then that I would never compare my own grief as a widow against that of another widow's. Meaning, if her children were raised and grown, I wouldn't say her life was easier than mine, having to go on as an only parent.

- Then there is the debate over whether the widows who've been caring for sick husbands have less grief than those whose husbands died unexpectedly. When this came up, I remembered my conclusion that grief is grief and I didn't get into the comparison of who has it worse.

- Here is a good one. My grief was supposedly less painful than a woman whose husband had died of old age. This was because they'd shared more time together than the 12 years of marriage I'd had with my husband. Again, I wisely avoided any argument.

- The divorce mediation attorney told me in what was supposed to be kindness that I shouldn't have any trouble getting over my divorce because I was an old pro at grief/loss. A divorce was so much less painful than the death of a spouse, you see. And living through that had made me stronger. This attitude/belief distressed me so much, some weeks later I made a call to my own attorney to voice my upset. I knew she often lunched with the other attorney and I requested that perhaps she could inform him that just because a person has experienced prior grief, it doesn't make them immune to hurting when loss pops up again in the future!

- But my all time favorite is the living in Africa argument. I've been told that I don't really have much to complain about in my life because I'm fortunate enough to live in the United States instead of Africa!

So, basically if I add all this up together, I shouldn't have felt as much grief or less of it because there are others out there in the same boat, there have been war widows or others before me with the same or worse experiences, I only have two children, I wasn't divorced, my husband died after an extended illness (so I guess I had time to emotionally prepare), I was a middle-aged widow instead of a senior, I was an old pro at grief and therefore, stronger and I don't live in Africa.

Might I add that all of these comments and others like them, always came from people who had not experienced the death of a spouse or for some, even a relative for that matter.

But I guess the point I am making here is that grief is grief and it is relative to each person's life and experiences. There is no way to measure it because it is so individualized. I never felt better after hearing stories of other people's hardships, some worse than mine. I can't relate to them because they are not mine. But because someone else suffered longer or more, doesn't mean that I don't feel the pain and intensity of loss. Nor does it mean that I shouldn't have the right to grieve what I've lost.

So often, I've felt guilty for grieving too long or too hard - as though I didn't even have the right to grieve. Or if I grieved openly I was taken to task for it. I used to say, "Don't take away my grief - I've lost my life as I knew it - don't take away my mourning for that too. I'm at least entitled to that."

Is a wealthier person's grief less than mine? No. So, please can we stop the comparisons to Africa and other horrific hardships. I already know that my situation is not comparable to that of a genocide victim or one that has lost a child. I already know that I don't live in Africa. Knowing that others out there have suffered more severely does nothing to diminish my pain and just intensifies it because of the added burden of feeling guilty for having the audacity to grieve in the first place. Add that guilt to what I already feel for not being able to keep up - Beth in NC referred to that as feeling as though she has failed at widowhood. There are so many burdens we're already shouldering. Don't add to the pile.

Say nothing. Don't offer advice, especially if you haven't lost a spouse. The best feedback I've ever received has been from my stepson, age 28, who has just responded in conversations we've had with, "I can't even imagine what it is like or has been like." I don't believe most of the widowed are out there trying to get a pity party going for them. We're describing the pain we're feeling and what we're experiencing. It is our life at the moment. And yet we're usually criticized for not being stronger.

In fact, I don't believe suffering actually makes people stronger. In my opinion, it can make us weaker because we end up being more vulnerable in the future. So I have come to hate that saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I don't agree.

The question I have is why are people so quick to dismiss and minimize our grief? Is it a way of thinking on the national level? You know, Americans are supposed to stand up and face hardship while marching strongly forward? Is it that as a culture, most of us are so quick to speak, yet rarely listen. Is the first response one of trying to come up with a solution so advice is quickly offered? Sometimes, there aren't answers and silence (listening) is the key. As a nation, we haven't been taught much about grief/loss - I think that has really changed in recent years. And maybe even intensify as more baby boomers face loss with illness, death and disability.

I remain perplexed about all of this but in the end, it just kind of convinces me that it is very difficult (maybe even impossible) to try and explain what the journey of widowhood has meant for me to those who haven't been there. That is why I keep coming back to the point of not wanting to talk about it anymore. I've said what I want to say. I end up sounding like a broken record, no one seems to get it and I find all of that very demoralizing as well as tiring. I can understand why some people don't want to make a big deal about their widowed status. It could be easier sometimes, to just pretend everything is okay.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Continued Cluelessness

One of the initial intentions I had when I started this blog was to garner some sympathy and understanding for those traveling the widow road. Specifically, to convey what I termed "The Fatigue and Drain of Widowhood." It is difficult to describe to others who are not in this position, just how draining and fatiguing this life is on so many levels.

Grief in and of itself is exhausting physically and mentally - it is relentless work - a job. To add to that comes tiredness from not sleeping or sleeping poorly, as well as loss of energy and strength due to lack of exercise and not eating well or consistently.

But I have found the worst to be all that has come from the emotional and mental side. Having to learn new skills and take over tasks that were unfamiliar; always thinking ahead and coming up with contingency plans for "what if" circumstances; being put on the spot and having to scramble in 10 different directions when a monkey wrench altered a situation; just figuring out and planning the details of daily living so life runs somewhat according to plan and smoothly.

It is physically draining to be the only one always taking out the garbage, cleaning up the house, doing chores inside and out, running to the store, filling the cars with gas. But even more so, the emotional void that occurs because there is no one to brainstorm with, no partner to call on the way home from work with the request to put the casserole into the oven to save 30 minutes of cooking time. It is the big things (car emergencies, money issues, etc.) but even more, the daily, little things that build up with time - not having someone telling you that your outfit or hair look nice, not having that special someone give you a hug when you leave or return for the day.

Not having someone to lean on both physically and emotionally.

You get depleted, tapped out, the tank is always running on empty.

Putting one foot in front of the dragging other, day after day because there is not much choice otherwise.

Just cut us a little slack - give us a break. Understand where we are coming from. But no, we're judged and held accountable as though hubby were still taking out the garbage and getting the cars tuned up. In fact, there have been plenty out there who've been critical of not only what I've done or decisions I've made. Then there is the criticism for not being able to keep up and falling short. And then to feel guilty and upset with myself because of other people's ignorance and lack of compassion! Looking back, those who were most critical were those unwilling to offer a helping hand or emotional support.

I had really hoped to change things not only out there in the world but within my own little life too. I don't think that has happened. I don't believe that people can or will get this. It's futile for me to try and explain my perspective. Unless you live this, you don't know - you'll never know.

Case in point - even those who have known me the most closely fail to get this - the complications and stress of this life. I continue to be compared and judged along with all of those with more "traditional" lifestyles.

Back in September, just after I'd made a major move on my own from a five bedroom home to a two bedroom apartment, I mentioned needing a computer desk to Sam, the man I was involved with. Now this was a point where I was so physically worn out from the packing and moving, etc. I could barely stand. I won't even go into the emotional pain in regard to all that was going on in regard to my having had to sell the home at virtually no profit and to move the boys and I. I continued working at the big box store and was involved in unpacking and trying to organize a new place for the boys and I. And with no help - very little physical or emotional support at all.

And during this period, which Sam was fully aware of, his response to me in regard to my needing a computer stand was to go around town hitting garage sales - to obtain one that way. Here is this poor woman, stretched to the limit with no free time and doing her best to handle an extremely difficult situation on her own while keeping it together for her kids, and she was expected on top of all that to search at garage sales.

That's what I mean about people's unrealistic expectations of us. Sure, fine, I could scope out garage sales in my other life before widowhood when I had a husband at home lending a helping hand with parenting and the house. But not in this situation. And I find that total disregard and lack of understanding for my life almost insulting.

When I told Sam that his idea was unrealistic and that I'd have to check out inexpensive options at either Target, Walmart of Pier 1, I heard back that I wouldn't be getting a deal and the other option was better. So, I couldn't win - I wouldn't be able to do the garage sale hopping. And when I admitted that I had to do something else and adapt, there was criticism for that as well.

I don't mean to pick on Sam totally here because this has happened numerous times in the course of my widowhood. This example was recent enough that I could recall it with some detail.

I have just come to find that it doesn't much matter what I do because whatever it is, it will be met with criticism and perceived as falling short. I don't know what the deal is here - are people totally clueless? It seems as though it is quite easy for people to lay on criticism for me as a widow that I don't hear other people receiving. Why is it is so easy for someone to discount my grief when I have really gone through some trying times with a phrase such as "Your life is better than if you were living in Africa." I have heard countless women over the years complain about trivial matters such as their husband's being gone on a week-long business trip leaving them alone with the kids and house. Or, complaints about slow-moving workmen involved in their house remodeling project. Or the fact that they've had to go an extra week without a manicure because the girl who does it has been out on vacation. And yet I have never heard anyone tell THESE women that their lives could be worse if they were living in Africa and they should be grateful!

I'm perplexed. And I'm sad and disappointed with the overall and general lack of understanding for those of us in this position (not by choice and by unfortunate circumstances). All I've wanted was a little compassion, maybe a nod of the head instead of a stern finger wagging at me in disapproval. Widowhood is a no win situation to begin with - and continues to be as a widow.

Big Brother and "Oh, Brother!"

I receive monthly email newsletters and sale/coupon notices from Barnes and Noble and Borders. It always kind of freaks me out when I get one that says, "Since you previously purchased a book by this author, we want to inform you of the one that is currently being released..." That these chains have maintained a record of my purchases that is then matched to new releases makes me feel a bit like someone is watching me over my shoulder - a "Big Brother" kind of thing.

The latest message I got like this had to do with the new release by Debbie Macomber, "Hannah's List." I started reading this author a few years ago because she had a series about a knitting shop. She writes what could be termed "romantic fiction for women," not my usual style. But I love reading any kind of fiction that involves my knitting hobby. So I read and enjoy her when I need a beach read kind of fix.

The plot of "Hannah's List" evidently involves a dying wife's list to her husband of three choices of women she has chosen for him to pursue after her death. Debbie Macomber frequently portrays widows in her books, which is a very good thing. But I think she has pushed the envelope here.

For one thing, men and women think, act and process differently. Women, as caregivers and nurturers are constantly putting the needs of others before them. I can see a poor, dying woman worried about her husband's future fate much more likely than a man doing so. My husband was totally wrapped up in himself and his illness - trying to garner whatever strength he had left to survive. I can assure you that he was not thinking much of me in the present or future. But I wouldn't have expected him to. All I wanted him was alive for however long he could manage to stay alive. And if that took retreating into himself to shore up strength, he could do so without any resentment from me.

What bothers me about this plot, which I probably shouldn't even be commenting on until I read it if I do, is that it implies that people are replaceable. And all of us who have had to face loss know the error in that belief. I also suspect that years don't go by before this guy is supposed to start going through the list - that the duration of the grieving period is portrayed within a year's time frame or less. This might mislead people into believing that grief is quickly surmounted and it is off to the next conquest and new life. For many of us, the length of recovery time is far longer - and sadly, I have come to the conclusion that most of us out there in grief land will have pieces of our hearts missing until the day we die - those missing pieces don't grow back. We just learn how to live with the pain and loss that does lessen in its sharp intensity but never completely disappears.

I will save anymore commentary until I know more about this book firsthand. So I'll reserve additional criticism. I suspect Debbie Macomber's main intent was to provide encouragement and hope to the grieving - that life does go on and can go on productively. So that is not a bad thing - I just wish authors were more realistic in how they portray grief and loss. Since romantic fiction is usually unrealistic in general, I wish this book was about a husband who'd come up with a list of eligible men his surviving wife could pursue with his blessing after his death! Now that would be a good read!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Those Damned Flowers Again!

I have a short list of topics I want to write about before stopping this blog. Getting my final two cents in about widowhood in general. But then something like this happens today and I want to post about it and now I'm another day behind in my intention to stop posting about widowhood.

After work, I stopped at one of the local grocery stores (a big-named one in our area) which has been selling meat and dairy products near the expiration code date at a substantial discount. I try to stop in everyday to check out these deals and have come across some great ones - all the meat is sold at either 99 cents or $1.99. Today, I picked up a package of breakfast sausage that I can make with eggs. Packages of cinnamon rolls were just 99 cents so I got some of those. Also, a package of six breakfast burritos.

Basically, I plan what I serve for meals around these specials. If ground turkey or chicken is there, I use that for a skillet dish. Chicken breasts I make into a casserole and so on. Other recent deals: a gallon of skim milk, which is our preference for 99 cents, a dozen eggs for 75 cents, cereal for 50 cents a box and bread for 50 cents a loaf.

As I walked around the store I noticed a nice grandmotherly woman shopping with her daughter-in-law. As they passed me, grandmother said to daughter-in-law, "What kind of sweets can I pick up for the kids? I want to get them something." I felt that little pang of regret tinged with envy pass through me.

Then they turned up behind me in the check out lane and I noticed a gorgeous bunch of white roses coming down the conveyor belt. I admired them and asked what occasion they represented. Grandmother replied, "No occasion. I am just getting them for my beloved daughter-in-law to show her my appreciation. She is the mother of my beloved grandchildren and I am so thankful she is in my life." I smiled and said, "You both are very fortunate." Then as I left the store with my cart filled with marked-down specials the tears started to flow.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Taking a Break from Grief, Growth & Healing

This Law of Attraction theory is freaking me out. Here is the text of an email I recently received from inspirational author Lissa Coffey's daily message on ""

"What you focus on, you will experience.

When you talk about "what is" or "what was," even if you're just explaining to a friendly ear, you project more of the same into the future. If you ask more than you give thanks, you'll believe less in your own power. And if you insist that it's hard and that you're lonely, you'll find that it is, and you are.

Yet, ALWAYS, you can choose to focus on what's good."

So here I am complaining about my widowhood life and the crap going on at work. I seem surrounded by discontent and hardship. And I'm having so much difficulty trying to ignite some spark of hope. I'm just plain tired physically and mentally and I am convinced that that is playing a huge part. When you're fatigued, it is even harder to harness the energy needed to go forward more optimistically. I am noticing that it is easier to continue to complain than shore up my resources and take some action - in part because I am too drained on all cylinders.

I worry about The Law of Attraction and grief in general. Some of the material I have read promotes the bettering of our depressed/hopeless feelings asap. In other words, when we start feeling down and out, even if relates to the death of a loved one, we're supposed to try and convert that energy toward less negative feelings and continue doing so as though we're climbing up a ladder. There was an exercise on this involving a daughter whose father had died. And the entire process took place in a matter of moments!

I think about the grieving process for me which lasted a good year after the death of my husband and then for more than a year after my divorce. I couldn't just wipe my grief and depression away. And I needed the times that I spent in that horrible, dark, dank, smelly, wet cave when there was no possible way I'd even be able to see a lit match directly in front of my face!

All the acknowledgment about the need for having to walk through our grief into the pain. How can that occur if we're just bypassing our feelings in an effort to be less negative?

But the real question I have for the experts on this theory is this: what happens to all of us actively grieving on whatever level we're at? We're continuously thinking and acting on depressed and negative emotions. If the theory says that we get back what we're thinking of, what happens during the intense periods of grief? Does more come our way or are we given a pass because of our circumstances? Do we all prolong the time and intensity we are grieving because of this law?

I'm sick of grieving. I'm sick of my efforts to grow, heal and come to some answers about all the shit that has happened in my life. I need a break from reading books about The Law of Attraction. I continue to come back to the idea that concentrating on me for a few weeks or months would do me a great deal of good. Doing small and simple things for my benefit and pleasure and perhaps saying "no" more to my sons. Going to a movie or two. Drinking some more wine. Maybe reading nothing in the self-help section at all for a change! Being lazy, taking some nature walks. If I can find them in the storage shed, using the roller blades I bought myself after my husband died and then never used. You get the idea. Taking a break from not only grief but also healing.

I will not be able to take a break from the job search though. Today at work someone told me that over the summer there were nine CNAs working on the second floor and now there are only seven. I have come to the realization that there is no way I can get all the work done that needs to get done - it is unattainable. And for that reason I'll have to pack my bags and go elsewhere. I can't in good conscience work in such a poorly managed environment that ultimately ends up hurting those it is most supposed to help - the residents. I can quit tomorrow if I have to - the poor people at this facility are stuck there.

I'm praying that some "me time" will end up inspiring me and providing me with some energy so I can go out there and job hunt again. And that in the process some of my hope and optimism will also be restored.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Running Around in Circles

It is disconcerting to realize how much my work situation mirrors that of my widowhood. And even more to be living a life where I feel trapped and unable to escape my circumstances.

The problem with the job is pure and simple - there is just not enough staff. I have anywhere between 12 and 17 residents to care for depending on the floor. The actual caring of the residents isn't the issue - it is the logistics surrounding that care. On Friday, eight of my 12 residents required that I have assistance in getting them up out of bed into their wheel chairs. However, I spent countless wasted time running around hallways and entering rooms in an effort to locate another CNA to provide that assistance. Along the way I'd get nabbed by a nurse from another unit to take a resident to the bathroom or assist in some way. Then I'd be away from my residents longer than necessary. The deal is that I will be fired if I lift a person on my own and they fall or get hurt. I would also lose my CNA certification. In order to save time, most CNAs take that risk and transport residents requiring a two-person assist by themselves.

Bottom line is, while at work I feel as ineffective as I do at home parenting as an only parent or as a lover or with my finances. Running around in circles and falling woefully short.

God, is this going to be the story of the rest of my life? I worry that if it is so, I'm going to lose my mind! I can't keep at this where every corner of my life seems to be a miserable failure.

I leave work depressed and upset over everything I didn't get done - I'm worried I'll be fired for this. Then I get home to more running around in circles. This past week I've tried to solve a problem with one of my oldest son's acne prescriptions. There was a snafu between Walmart, the doctor, the drug company, which regulates the drug and then the insurance. I will spare you the details because it is a comedy of errors. But at the end, I threw up my hands and gave up. I can't solve this mess, nor should it be my responsibility to do so. There are people on the clock who should be figuring this out, not the poor mom without the time or energy.

This is the first time that I've given up on something since my husband's death. I've always worked it out in the past and figured it out. But I have reached a point where I am admitting defeat. It's like the seven year marriage itch they talk about. After all this time on my own, six and a half years, I've reached some point where I'm losing the resolve and strength I've possessed in the past. Admitting defeat and giving up.

I think there has to be balance in life. And when successes are missing, one's life becomes lopsided and hopeless. You feel like you just keep digging a hole to the center of the earth or like you're running around in circles endlessly.

I will give myself a few points of credit for at least not killing or physically harming anyone at work. That is a risk I will never take. Unfortunately, it resulted in one poor lady with only one leg never getting up out of bed on my shift because I could never locate a sling which is used for one of the equipment lifts. It is sad that she isn't coherent. If she was, I think the nursing home would be hearing about it and having some hell to pay.Show all