When The Time To Mourn Is At Hand

Captain and JoyI’m writing this post for my Aunt Joy, who is struggling with the grief of caring for my terminally ill Uncle Captain. Captain has been fighting cancer for quite some time now, and it is now becoming clear that, though thousands of prayers are bombarding heaven on his behalf, his time is drawing near. Our Father in heaven doesn’t always say yes to our prayers. The grief of living here on earth without him is heavy on us all, but for Joy, it is so much worse. She is feeling the loosening of a decades old bond between them, and it is easy to see, it is crushing her.

One of the things about my father’s side of the family that I find so incredibly different than my mother’s, is our strength in some harsh areas of life, like surviving un-survivable experiences, fighting with such veracity among ourselves, and going right hand in hand with that last one, our amazing ability to forgive each other unforgivable things. For better or for worse, we are tied by a bond that only fighters in this world would understand, and sometimes, we turn that necessary quality towards one another. It never stands though; we also know how to say we are sorry, and we each also know how to forgive. We are all coping with this in our own flawed ways; but know this. We are all here for you when you need us.

Uncle Captain’s impending departure from this life has worn on all of us, in varying degrees, but out of concern for Aunt 24772Joy, I wanted to take a minute and try to help her cope with something she feels will be too much for her to survive. I love you, Joy, and I promise you, if one person has made the cut to get a mansion in the sky, it is Captain.

Here are some things I hope you will take to heart, that you might be comforted once this horrible experience finally happens. And please remember, despite what any of this rocky, sturdy, fighting family might say or do because of our inability to cope with these bad moments, we all love both of you, and none of us will enjoy seeing either of you hurt in any way.

Here are some things I hope you will take to heart:

  1. Be sure you tell Captain how much you appreciate every minute you spent with him on this earth. We all want to hope someone will miss us terribly.
  2. It is okay to be honest that you know the end is nearing; but fight the urge to distance yourself from him emotionally just to protect your heart. We humans do this naturally, but if Captain deserves this one thing, it is our vulnerability.
  3. Follow Captain’s lead. If he wants to talk about God, or heaven, or the past, let him do the talking. If he doesn’t, then don’t push it. This is a painful journey for all of us, but in the end, it is his journey.
  4. Truth is a powerful and wonderful thing; but don’t go confessing old misdeeds just to get them off your conscience and make yourself feel better. No one can look at the two of you together and not feel; the other-worldly love that you both feel towards each other. I doubt there were things along the way you wished you hadn’t done, but if there are, let them die unspoken. They never mattered anyways.
  5. Stay in the present. Don’t worry about what you’re going to do when the end happens. We don’t know the time or day of this grievous experience, nor do we ever really know just how it will all go down. Don’t borrow more stress. Take each minute one at a time.
  6. Sometimes, words are unnecessary. Hug him. Kiss his forehead. Make him his favorite meal. Buy him a present. Show him you love him as well as tell him.

Inspirational_Grief_Quote1My heart is really heavy for you and for Captain, but I urge you to grieve the way the Lord told us to; with the assurance that this good-bye is only temporary. We will see him again on the other side.

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
John 11:25-27

I love you, Joy. With my whole heart. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you or for Captain.

~ Bird

Closure: Searching for A Sign This Painful Event Is Almost Over

sad girlA Wife’s Painful Question:

“What is/are the sign(s) of closure?

How is one supposed to know that there is closure in a past relationship?

I’m at a very confusing period of my life, I don’t know if there’s absolutely no chance of rekindling a relationship, or if there is?

I just need help/advice really. ~ Heartbroken Wife”

This question about broke my heart. I remember fishing for hope, grasping on any little proof that I might be on the road to recovery, secretly afraid the misery might never end.

For Heartbroken, and so many other wives who have traveled this cruel path, here is my take on how I finally emerged from the crippling pain and began to enjoy my life again.

bird2

Dear Heartbroken Wife, 

In my mind’s eye, I see my life as a book, with various chapters and a whole crowd of people coming and going. I’m the central character in the story of my life. My husband of 20 something years was a major character, and his importance to my story was immense. So when he developed a drug addiction, cheated on me, made me feel old and no longer worth anything anymore, I found myself in an ocean of pain, being slammed against by every fear a wife could have. But love dies slowly, and I found myself torn about what my story would be without him. I wanted him in it, and somewhere in my mind, a tally had begun. The weight of the value of a marriage that I loved versus the weight of each terrible thing said or done, and the wounds that they left behind in my heart and soul. 

For a solid year I begged, cried, yelled, wrote texts, emails, letters, reasoned with him, provokedbroken windows him….I did everything in my power to save a marriage that I cherished.  The lies, disappointments, betrayals were stacking up, and the value of the marriage was diminishing. Not quickly, but steadily all the same.

At some point, though, I started to get used to my new life, and instead of feeling alone, broken heart birdsbetrayed, abandoned, discarded, feelings of pleasure started leaking in. My ex has always been fundamentally selfish, a major extrovert who needs an audience at all times. I’m exactly the opposite, and most of marriage I found myself the  unwilling audience for him while he watched movies that I hated (horror, bloody and disgusting) reality shows (Cops, Kennedy Documentaries) which I hated, and a whole bunch of other activities I felt I had no real choice in the matter. Not if I wanted some peace. 

Tcropped-broken-heart-pieces.jpghat was the area of my life where I started to notice that some of this new path wasn’t all bad. I liked having the whole bed to myself, or taking a bath without someone shouting unimportant questions through the door, oblivious to anyone’s needs and desires save his own. I liked cooking the kinds of stuff I like to eat, and my days off work were completely mine to do as I pleased. Mostly, though, I liked the quiet of my new life. I had not realized how thirsty I had been all this time for peace and quiet. Everything about our marriage just always felt so …loud. 

 As I found more enjoyment in things I chose for myself, the less I cared what he was doing, or saying, or sleeping with. The scales had finally tipped against the marriage, and before I knew it, there was no comparison between what I made me happy now and what made me happy when we were married.

I stopped answering every phone call or text. It no longer seemed so important that hesadness understand the agony he had caused for me. A knock on my apartment door, once the highlight of my miserable existence, now brought an opposite reaction. Instead of trying to force my shattered soul into some semblance of forgiveness, I found myself actually feeling it instead. Where anger and rage had ruled for a year of my life, indifference had taken up residence.

When my ex faded into the background of my life, that is when I knew I had achieved something I honestly felt I could never do — I closed the chapter of my life that told the story of my marriage. From the day I met him, how he became my greatest love, all the way to how is fell apart so tragically, and the grief that tore me to shreds. A story about how neither of us will ever be the same again because of each other. 

For me, the signs of closure were these:

  • When you no longer feel a powerful emotion about the person or event that hurt you so much – love, hate, bitterness, etc. The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference.
  • When you look back and upon the mental comparison, you find that you’d rather stay in the life you’re in now than to go back to the life that you once mourned. 
  • When you find yourself able to revisit the memories of the good times without the pain boomeranging into your stomach the very next minute. 
  • When you find yourself looking forward to the rest of your life, with a little more curiosity, a little more confidence, and a little more wisdom. 
  • When fear no longer paralyzes you, for you have learned the hard way, fears have more power hiding in our minds than when we are actually face to face with them. 
  • And lastly, when I realized one day that my opinion of myself was more valuable to me than his opinion of me, was. 

If I made it through, anyone can. I pray for peace and comfort for you, Heartbroken. It does eventually stop hurting so much. Just take things minute to minute, step to step. You’re stronger than you think you are. We all are. 

~ Bird

bird