The first three months of this year have been in many ways heartbreaking for my family.
In the beginning of the year, we put our dear dog Ginger to sleep at the vet. She was getting worse and worse, and it felt like the right thing to do, for her and for us. I believe it was sometime in February, that my mom found out that one of her dearest friends, Yvonne was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given three to six months to live. So, we planned that we might visit Yvonne in Seattle.
Around this time, I went to the hospital because I felt dizzy and had numbness in my face. I was tested for both heart attack and stroke and numerous other things. And fortunately, I was fine, a bit IV fluid, and I felt much better. Sadly, I missed being able to attend the wake and funeral of Alex Concha, the father of a friend of my son Alex. After that, I caught a bad cold. (Maybe from being in the hospital). I healed myself with some elderflower tea. 🙂
Thought things couldn’t get any worse.
On March 8th, about a week and a half ago, my mother had a stroke and heart attack, while my brother was on vacation in the Dominican Republic. I flew down to be with my mom, and stayed with her night and day, and caught my cold back in the ICU. I’m back to drinking elderflower tea again.
My mom was so lucky where the stroke hit in her cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. It was a big stroke. The neurologist showed it to me on the MRI done of her brain. The area of her cerebellum that was affected was about 3 by 4 cm. If this hit somewhere else, she would probably have been incapacitated. The heart attack might have been good in a way, because it showed a constriction of an artery around my mom’s heart. Now, she has a stent, and medications to improve blood flow. Unfortunately, travel to visit Yvonne is now fairly unlikely.
My mom and Yvonne were going to take a river cruise together this year, and instead both of them have been dealing with life and death concerns. Yvonne is in Maui with five of her daughters right now, and knowing her, finding a way to enjoy what is probably her last travel adventure. My mother is returning home today from the rehab hospital.
All of this would have been enough, it seems to me.
The biggest shock to my family came the day that my mother was moved out of the ICU. My son Alex called me that night to say, “Seth is dead. He was killed in a car crash.” I couldn’t believe it. Seth was only 16 years old and one of my son’s best friends. Seth was one of those people who had a larger than life personality. His wake and funeral earlier this week were heartbreaking.
I recently heard several friends that have also lost people they love very dearly suddenly in the last few weeks.
I have been sick, exhausted and in a certain state of shock this week. And from what I can tell, I’m not alone in encountering abrupt changes.
Today, March 20, 2015 is an unusual day, with the vernal equinox, a solar eclipse and a new moon all happening today. This combination doesn’t happen often. I have been reading from astrologers and energy workers, who say today is a day to wipe the slates clean and start fresh. I actually had written some intentions, which I may talk about tomorrow.
It seems to me that so many of us are facing abrupt changes that do not allow us to go on as before. Whether we like it or not, our life is changed permanently. We have to make a fresh start.
These are some of the things that have helped me cope with abrupt or heartbreaking change:
- Accept that the pain is going to be there for a while, sometimes forever, but find ways to love the people that are still in your life.
- When in doubt, ask yourself, what would the person (or sometimes animal companion) want me to do now. I believe in all cases, the being who has passed would want us to live, and live well. They wouldn’t want us to remain in mourning for the rest of our life.
- Listen to messages from the divine. I believe during our most difficult times, the divine is always speaking to us, but we have to quiet our thoughts and emotions to receive that comfort.
- Realize that you are not alone in your grief. It certainly, helped me to see the hundreds of mourners at Seth’s wake and funeral, and realize that all of us cared so much for this bright light in the world. I also believe that the spirit of the departed comes to us, when we need it, even when we can’t feel it.
- For other kinds of abrupt changes, like loss of job, home, etc, I remember that all of those things can be replaced but our connections with those we love matter so much more.
I suppose that I’m writing this list of coping mechanisms, mostly for myself as I deal with the reality that none of us are guaranteed another day of living. We don’t like to think about death, and we certainly don’t want to experience the loss of those we love.
It also reminds me that we really do have to shine our light in the world, and make sure that we are around people who appreciate our light. It is a gift to be in this world, despite all its dangers, disappointments and tragedies.
Many people and animals who have made my life enchanting are no longer with me in this physical world, but I believe that I will see them all again one day. By the time I meet them again, I hope that I will have lived well and have some good stories to tell about what I did with whatever days I have left on this beautiful earth.
There are more pictures on my facebook page. It’s been easier for me to post there recently, and I would be glad to add any of you as my friend, if you wish.