The last time I went to visit my family was just after Kathy died. I had the money and decided I needed a break. I spent a week with my daughter in 2014. It was an awful time in my life and the whole trip is kind of a blur.
This Christmas I am going to spend with my daughter’s family again. But this time everything is better. I am happy, and not burdened by grief. I have money so it is not a financial burden. And I am looking forward to taking a real vacation for the first time since Kathy died in 2014.
I bought my plane tickets today. the rest is just small details. But I am so looking forward to this trip. To Texas, since you asked.
This subject is not as morbid as you may think. I read an article in the Washington Post about this. The article, written by Jura Kancius, was about a new book by Margareta Magnusson titled The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. It is out in Sweden but not yet in the US.
The simple idea of Death Cleaning is to not wait until you die so your friends and family have to go through your stuff and agonize over whether to get rid of your junk or to keep it in honor of you. Margareta suggests that we need to take responsibility for our own stuff while we are alive and not leave it as a burden for your friends and family. “If your family doesn’t want your stuff when you’re alive, they sure won’t want it when you’re dead.”
This doesn’t mean you can’t keep anything. Or that you have to give everything away tomorrow. It is going through the clutter of your life and sorting out what is important to you, what may be important to some specific family member, and stuff that you really like but is to be thrown away without question upon your death.
This is a fascinating idea that I will be looking into more deeply. One thing though; being proactive is a relief, not a burden.It is something to be done alone, not with your children’s help. And this is the realm of the widowed, not for couples.
“Then I said: Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.” Ecclesiastes 9:16
“His rich kids think that they’re better ’cause they”re better off” Sawyer Brown, Wantin and Havin it All
In the Bible and in the world there is this idea that if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?
Often when I write something or say something I have family or church friends who never ask me why, but are quick to criticise or condemn me. Despising my wisdom is basically giving it little weight or looking at it with contempt.
I say and do very little that I do not have a logical and sound reason for. If you were to ask me why I could tell you. I may be wrong, and I have had to change my mind many times. But despising my wisdom because I’m poor does not make you better or richer.
Earlier this week I had a nice chat with Tami. She is a lady I work with. She has been married and divorced twice. She has children. She is currently single.
Later in the week I had a nice visit with a young man named Nathan. He is 40 something, nice looking, personable, and kind of a failure in love. He is currently married, I think, but has no natural born children of his own.
These two people from different parts of the country and with very different stories have one thing in common. They both hate their former spouses. During our conversations they both did 99% of the talking. And 90% of their talk was about what a bad person their exes were. Remember the person you said you loved and couldn’t live without? The person you promised till death did you part? These two, like many others, hate the ones they used to love. Of course it is all the other person’s fault. They sound like jail birds who are the victims and never guilty.
My point though is not to criticise Tami or Nathan too much. But it showed me something. The list of potential women who I might want to be interested in some day has gotten much shorter. I don’t want anything to do with a bitter divorcee with a boat load of baggage and enough drama to launch a new soap opera. There may be a nice lady out there who is not bitter and who can carry on a real conversation and who can move on from the troubles of her past. But until I find that rare individual I will confine my interest in the opposite sex to widows who loved their husbands unto the end.
Today I am enjoying one of what I hope will be many Retirement days off. I still work full-time, but since I am able to take some time off I took this day off as a Mental Health Day.
I have no big plans today. I am getting my gear together to go for a hike. I made breakfast and started to do the dishes but stopped. No need to work hard on chores on this day.
It turns out that a friend of ours died and his memorial service will be tomorrow. So it is good that I had this day off so that my one regular day off wasn’t lost to the memorial service.
I’m not going to write a lot now. Just a note to say that I am still learning to stop and smell the roses in my way through life. It’s not so important that I get where I’m going, but that I make myself relax and slow down and enjoy the trip. This is hard for me to do.
So off I go.
Yesterday the Griefshare Daily email was on this topic. How grief changes us. I wanted to share some of their thoughts, with my emphasis, with you.
You are not the same person you were before your loved one died. You will never be that person again. Too much has changed in you, both inside and outside. You do not act or think or feel the same. That is why it is so frustrating when you try to say or act or be like the person you used to be. You struggle to fit into your old patterns and activities. But that is a lifestyle for someone who no longer exists.
One thing that is vital to anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one is you must move forward in life. Their life ended, but yours did not. You must either learn how to do the things that seem impossible and strange to you, or you must discover new things and new ways and new direction for your life.
Growth is inevitable and essential to any living being. When you stop growing you start dying. In grief you must grow and move on. You will never be who you used to be any more than that dead person will walk through the door one day and say, Surprise! You must grow into someone who you have never been before. This is hard, this is scary, but this is critical for you to do.
One day the sun will shine again and if you have come to grips with the reality of your new situation you will be pleased and proud of what you have become.
There are two restaurants in our town. Both well known. Both have their fans.
Restaurant A is a nice place. Not too big, but cozy inside. It has good food, good service, and a good location, according to the critics. Only the best kind of people eat at restaurant A. It’s too bad that the wait staff are angry at the cheap tippers who they serve.
Restaurant B is a bad place with bad food and bad service in a bad location, according to the experts. But restaurant B is 3 times the size of restaurant A. Restaurant B is full every night of the week with a long waiting line to get in on the weekends. The customers love the place, the wait staff make great tips, and no one ever thinks to see what kind of people are eating there.
Which is the better restaurant? It depends on who you ask. Which restaurant would you want to eat at, or to work at? I guess it depends on the kind of personality you have. The people who eat at and work at restaurant A think the people at restaurant B are low class rednecks or unsophisticated losers. The folks at restaurant B don’t think much about their neighbors at restaurant A.
Just because you judge something or someone to be inferior doesn’t make it so. You cannot argue with success. And being a snob or better off doesn’t make you a better person.
So when you are sipping your drinks in the quiet solitude of your favorite restaurant, the folks you despise will be expanding and growing and making more money than you could in 100 years.
You may think nothing of it when people throw things away. We all throw away things we no longer want or need. But it is different when you see people throwing away things that you wish you had.
Have you ever been hungry and seen food being thrown away? It may only be your pride that keeps you from being a scavenger of other people’s waste. This could be applied to any commodity in life. Talent you wish you had being wasted. Time you wish you had being wasted. Relationships you wish you had being wasted.
I just found out that a couple that I have known for a long time are splitting up. And here I am, alone since my wife died. How many times have I wished for and prayed for someone to share what’s left of my life with me. And then people who have a companion throw it all away. Why is unimportant.
I am content being single at 62 years old. But it still hurts me to see people who throw away something that I wish I had.
This week is done. Supper is over. Not much left to do tonight. I wish I was with my family in Texas at their high school football game, but I’m here in Arizona. Too far to commute.Tomorrow is hiking day, weather permitting. I am looking forward to that. One thing I have discovered is that where I live has hundreds of hiking trails in the Prescott National Forest.
I wanted to write specifically about the aftermath of grief. It has been a long time since I struggled through the day feeling sad or depressed. It has been a long time since thinking or talking about my dead wife was hard, if not impossible. It has been a long time since I felt the awful pangs of grief inspired mixed emotions. And it has been a long time now that I have felt normal.
There are still unanswered questions in my mind as to who I am and what I want to do. But I am slowly working through those issues. Thankfully they do not seem so life and death as they once did.
My point in writing this is to let you know that no matter the cause of your grief, there is hope that you will not feel the way that you feel right now forever. You can feel better. You will feel normal again.