mysteries of grief (troibun)

Grief can be quite mysterious. One day it can feel like you are wrapped in a prickly shawl that makes you uncomfortable only now and then, when the prickles pinch you. Other times it can weigh you down like an iron wrap and slow you down for no reason at all. It snakes around and hides a spell and you may think that all must be fine, until it crawls out at the most inopportune time.

It is a slow process and not one person experiences it exactly the same way but the roller coaster of emotions can make you nauseous sometimes and other times angry, sad, guilty and salty tears return again cleansing your heart.

Sometimes I find grief is a bit like a leaky faucet. You know when, all you really need to do is change those worn out washers, but you don’t get around to it.   The water may start leaking when you least expect it.

Aw but laughter is cathartic and it can be a nice way to reminisce of past times, long ago and maybe an image will make you smile…a nice reprieve.

©Clr’16  First snowfall – November 21,2016

(troiku)

like the first snowfall
tender sorrows veiled
autumn leaves rest

like the first snowfall
slipping back in time
childhood memories

tender sorrows veiled
taking up too much energy
holiday seasons

autumn leaves rest
under fluffy white duvet
warmed by loving hearts

©Tournesol’16

Daily Moments – November 22,2016  Mysteries of grief

Death of a loving man

Seberg / Belmondo. À Bout de Souffle. ‘60.

Photo credits:  Seberg / Belmondo. À Bout de Souffle. ‘60.

I chose the death of Fred, my step-father to share my first experience with the darkness of grief, feeling a huge loss that left me empty for almost 8 years.  There were 2 deaths that marked my life the most…as a child my grandfather and as an adult at 31 when my step-father died.

We live in a culture that is uncomfortable with death. We don’t even say the D word, now do we…much?  In the 70’s we heard of Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross talk about the stages of grief and initially at that time, she was observing people who were diagnosed with a terminal illness.  The stages at that time were in relation to a process when faced with dying and death as in her book On Death and Dying: the Five Stages of Grief, first published in 1969: The Shock, denial, anger,  bargaining, depression…then acceptance; but negotiating/bargaining,   for example  would make more sense when we put in perspective someone who is negotiating with their creator, “Oh, G-d, are you sure it’s really my time? Maybe there is one more procedure…one last try…test…”  Kubler-Ross theory  was followed by so many people including professionals, throughout time up to about the mid or late nineties.   

I remember when this book came out.  It was  like THE gospel, the apostles’ creed of sorts; and although helpful the order of stages, at that time, confined many to feel they were not grieving “adequately” if they skipped a stage or if it lasted too long.  How can one measure one’s grief compared to another? 

Thank goodness in 2002 I joined a bereavement support agency (Bereaved Families of Toronto)  as a professional advisor helping youths grieve the loss of a sibling or parent. In my training, I felt so relieved when the grief counselor and professor at York University said, “Remember all those stages you learned in the 70’s and 80’s?”  We all bobbed our heads like good students. “Well, you can throw that out the window now.”  And a sense of relief came over me. What he meant was I was not tied to a set order of stages…the burden was finally removed.  No ONE was set to fit into a see through jar so everyone could evaluate if they were grieving right.

I remember when my step-father died in the summer of 1982.    My mother had not really accepted her loss until about a year or so later.

It was quite simple. Mom always said she felt his presence even when she went to bed at night. “He is right next to me each night. I am not lonely because he has never left me in spirit.”

I believe this is, on some level to be true. A year later, it was as if she suddenly woke up…her grief turned into a violent rage.  She had a difficult time dealing with this time…angry that he left her, angry that she was really alone. It was difficult on so many levels. Being a woman of that generation, born in 1926, strict Catholic upbringing…good girls do not get angry…must comply…accept.  Good thing they added “guilt” as another stage or emotion one feels with grieving. A good Catholic female knows how to feel guilt real well!

In a way, this stage of her grief was unleashing a very angry lioness.  Before it became liberating, it was quite frightening for her.  Many professionals and family to her she was experiencing a delay or complicated grief.   It was not delayed …she was simply grieving in her own unique way and in her own time. 

Thereafter, she felt much sadness, guilt and fell into depression. It was in spurts…not all in one shot since my children were young and she was often with us. I think the children eased the pain…made it more palpable. I hope so.

I had been exposed to death as a young child but children under 7 do have the same concept on death, developmentally they just cannot understand abstract thinking, only concrete. (Children and Grief by C.L. Roberts)

My step father was my first loss that I truly grieved a long long time…many years thereafter.  Perhaps the process was longer as I could not grieve all at once…I mean, I did not have the freedom to feel my sadness and emotions when I was with the children…they were so young both one and 4.  So it was only when I would go for a bike ride, a drive somewhere or long walk that I could be alone with my grief.

I loved him as my father…more than my father…he was good to me and loved my mother with so much affection and admiration that I loved him more for that.  His love took Mom out of her depression, I think for the 13 years they were together.  She made him fill with wonder, his eyes smiled at her always.  They both came from dark places, having suffered broken hearts, undeserving anguish.

You  know that GaGa look you get when you first fall in love?  My mother had that look for him …always!  Of course when I was 17, it made me sick…thought she was so silly and making a fool of herself sashaying around, flirting and all.  But as a teen we knew very little about love, sexuality and sensuality.  We think it is reserved for the young and firm bodies only.  Well, of course I learned differently as I matured but back then, my mother and my step-father were such an enigma.   I still was in awe at their love…that current of love waves…I say this because it was not electric…they did not have a hot, sizzling love affair but a warm, loving relationship…like warm, soft mellow waves wrapping them together, soothing, nice, sweet, calm and safe. 

She always loved him even into her dark illness of dementia…she would often still call out to her third husband, Fred.  Perhaps in her dementia, she is comforted with spiritual visits from her love, Fred.

Death of a loving man

(Tanka)

A true Love Story.

Two anguished souls mend their hearts.

Affectionate love.

One day his body failed him.

A part of her died with him.

 

**************

 

I asked a favour of the Lord

to have his life extend

until my daughter walked.

She still was only 8 months old.

 

****************

 

He was given three

months to live

when he left the hospital

so he could die at home

but, he stopped at the court house

to marry my mother officially

and ensure she would be secure

with his military pension as his widow.

What an act of love!

He sent her off to a ten week course

Assertiveness and building self-confidence.

He wanted her to be strong,

be able to stand on her own

and stand up for her rights

when he no longer would be here

to stand up for her.

What an act of love!

My daughter and I were visiting one day

Fred was lying in a hospital bed in the living room

resting and admiring my youngest child.

She crawled on her knees joyfully,

then up she stood so suddenly

and walked towards her grandfather.

Eleven months she was, and walking now.

my feelings were so bittersweet

I shed my tears of fear,

because her walking meant

his death would soon be near.

 

One night I felt I had to see

him one more time

And on my drive a bird hit…smack

the windshield of my car

I knew then, his time was near.

 

I told him for the very first time

I whispered softly in his ear,

“Don’t worry, Fred, I’ll be hear

and watch for Mom. I love you.”

He died that night in mother’s arms

I’m sad I did not tell him more

how much he meant to me.

 

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/21

Dungeon Prompts – Season 2, Week 8: When did Death Become Real for You
 
 
Related article:  Youth and Grief (Ntouch-Alecoute)

Le `tit vieux du Manoir Merveilleux

Source: Pinterest

#FWF Free Write Friday: Image Prompt

Season 2, Week 6, Dungeon Prompts this week, Purpose and the Art of Holding Back 

Le `tit vieux du Château Merveilleux
Le `Tit vieux était si mal compris et sérieux
allons voir ce qui se passe dans son milieux
Ah! vous ne saviez pas qu’il était si généreux.
Écoutez! voici une histoire d’un homme merveilleux
Je vais vous présenter monsieur Elphège Vielleux.

*************

Maître  Elphège Veilleux died suddenly. He was a recently retired corporate lawyer. The village were mourning such a generous and wise man. He was only sixty-two.  They say he had an aneurism. That is supposed to be quick death…not too much suffering except, of course, for the survivors. What a shock! Such sadness and harrowing grief due to this unexpected ending!

A few days following the funeral,  Notaire Bergeron requested the presence of Iréné Veilleux,  the only son of Elphège. He was 33 years old and still never worked a day in his life. He had been kicked out of 5 private schools, 2 universities and had been in and out of 8 detox centres.  He was currently trying to fight the battle with his heroin addiction.  He thought to himself, if he can settle his father`s estate soon enough, he had good intentions to get into a private clinic in Magog, La Façon d’être.  He had spoken to his father about this last month. “If only he were still alive to see him succeed…IF only he could this time.”

The appointment of the reading of his father`s will was two o`clock and Iréné arrived just a few minutes early.  The receptionist offered him a cup of coffee and led him to the board room. Iréné was confused. “Why must the meeting be in such a big room when he was the only beneficiary?”

He took a place near the head of the long oval cherry wood table. He heard people arriving at the front of the office and looked towards the mahogany doors curiously.  The double doors opened and he was surprised to see so many people in the waiting room.

Madame Champagne, the village librarian, monsieur Desrosier, the accountant, mademoiselle  Gagnon, the head nurse at La Maison Renaud and monsieur Pierre Antoine Colbert but everyone called him PaCo, the former groundskeeper of Elphège Veilleux`s estate. He lived in the cottage behind le manoir.  Iréné was a bit surprised to see PaCo arrive.  He was in his late fifties but he had not aged well; arthritis had ravaged his body.  He had been with Elphège since he was a child. His mother was Elphège`s gouvernante and raised PaCo in the old carriage house.  There had always been an understanding that Paco could stay in his humble but comfortable loft for as long as he wished.  He was a bit of an enigma to most here.  No one knew where he went every afternoon returning at twilight.

His stride was shaky, shuffling towards the nearest chair, he was the first seated and the others all took a seat.  Monsieur le notaire took his place and advised he had very little to say, “Monsieur Veilleux has recorded his last Will and Testament on this video, a copy is in all your envelopes along with necessary supporting documents as well.  Allons-y…”

The video commenced: Monsieur Veilleux is seated in the carriage house in an overstuffed arm chair…

“Bonjour mes chers amis…mon fils, Iréné. Comme vous voyez…I am a humble man.  I was born in a privileged environment with little needs but those who know me well, I have always worked hard. I love this village and if you are viewing this video, I have already taken off to new territories; hopefully I will be joining ma belle et douce Alys; perhaps I will also meet with maman et papa  who taught me to respect nature and human dignity. I have tried to do both.  The orchard is not as vibrant as it was but it has managed well enough to offer work to many in the village.  For that I am pleased.

During the ice storm several years ago, I was fortunate enough having 3 generators and welcomed many of you wonderful people in my home.  What a learning experience mother nature offered me.   That entire month co-habitating under difficult climatic circumstances was a turning point for me. You were privileged in one sense, being in college outside the triangle that got hit from this ice storm.  I had forged closer relations with some of you who are here today.  For that I thank you. Merci mes chers amis…you have blessed me with a gift that is priceless …the gift of purpose.

Voici, mon cher fils, I want to offer you this wonderful opportunity…you have no idea how enrichissant it feels to have such a blessing and here is my offering to you with love and hope that you grow with this dowry.

Iréné, you have struggled since the death of Alys, ta charmante maman; you were so young.  A boy at eleven still needs the love and comfort of sa maman. Since then you left me, your family, your friends and followed your own path and got lost along the way. I only hope you are here, present, as my friends are viewing this last discourse I share with you.

Sometimes when a person is lost in obscurity he finds himself in the clutches of des esprits douteux.  For you, it has been the spirits of the mind that robbed your will. You did not know that addiction was the poison of your forefathers.  Alas, yes, and this poisonous concoction disguised as a healing cocktail turns into a possessive demon…who robbed me of my son and deprived you of living.  I know you have suffered and still ache, mon fils.

I am turning le Manoir Merveilleux into a halfway house for men and women recovering from addiction.  I have more space than I have ever required and since the ice storm I have been exploring opportunities to develop my purpose in the days remaining in my life. I have visited Le Virage and la Maison Foster and mademoiselle Gagnon has helped me in this research, educated me more on the wrath of addictions and the long rehabilitation required to remain sober.  I never realized how difficult this could be. I always assumed you did not have enough willpower or that I had spoiled you too much and somehow I had enabled you.  Pardonne-moi, mon fils, I was so ignorant.

I learned that many font des rechutes, relapses as well. So I asked my friends to explore this more for me. Madame Champagne headed the research.  We found that when a person who had the support of loving friends and family,  had more chances in succeeding but what seemed to be a stronger influence was having a sense of purpose.  The strongest motivator seemed to be purpose…un raison d’être was key to maintaining sobriety.  Perhaps it is not the only source of success but I am willing to wager it may be what the doctor ordered for you, mon fils.

Paco will be the Clinical Director.

Iréné gasped and almost spilled his coffee on his lap. The villagers listened but did not seem as shocked by this announcement.  Paco lowered his eyes and stared at his hands waiting for his childhood friend to finish his discourse. He was saddened by this great loss…a brother in so many ways and his confidant.

“Paco has a PhD in psychology as you may not have known and has been the psychologist at the Cowansville Correctional Insititute for the past 25 years working the evening shift;  in 1998 I asked him if he would consider getting his certification in addictions and I am pleased he seemed as interested in this field of study as I did.

Paco is a humble man, Iréné. Do not judge him by his modest living and scruffy attire. He wears the same outdoor garb when chopping wood or raking the leaves, that belonged to his father who died not long after your mother passed.    He says it brings him closer to his father`s spirit.  He maintains the grounds at his insistence for he says it frees his spirit and feeds his mind. We already have students who come regularly to maintain the grounds who are part of another programme I have set up for aspiring college students. When they complete their high school, I will cover their tuition fees IF they succeed in their studies for a total of 6 years. Education is a free pass to life, my son.

Paco has always lived in the carriage house where he was raised and it is with great humility he accepted to take his place in le Manoir.  The carriage house is being refurbished and all latest digital instruments helpful in pursing post-secondary studies will be installed along with updated furnishings.  This will be your new home, Iréné, once you return from La Façon d’être. I am hoping you will try one more time…giving sobriety a chance.

When you return, you will have access to an addiction counsellor and group support in le Manoir anytime.  You will be given a list of chores you are required to do as all the residents do at this new halfway house.  Once you have completed your term here, you will have access to the carriage house as your new home for as long as you wish.   I have set aside funding for you to eventually return to academia.  The mind is a precious gift one must not waste…you are privileged in so many ways, mon fils. I hope you will benefit from this opportunity.

I have one stipulation for you, mon fils, if you wish to continue receiving the monthly allowance from your trust fund, you must volunteer a minimum of 10 hours a month in a non-profit agency that offers support to children, youths, men, women or  families in need. Once you find your “calling” PaCo and mademoiselle Gagnon must approve the organization and will be your advisor/mentor along this rich journey.

I will always be with you, mon fils, in love and spirit.”

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/08

**********************************************

I started writing a story about this prompted image and along the way another prompt from Dungeon Prompts this week, Purpose and the Art of Holding Back  was on my mind and it slipped into the theme of this story.  I thought to myself, Well, that is sort of cheating, isn’t it?  But I don’t write many narratives or poems on this blog and I thought this would be an appropriate contribution. I hope you enjoyed it, Cheryl-Lynn.

Diamond Jubilee Medal – Addendum

 image003 (1)

At the reception with all those fancy shmancy people (corporate donors, upper management), regional directors along with  counsellors, colleagues and volunteers, I was feeling pretty calm.  I was allowed a guest, so I had invited a long time, former colleague and friend, Kelly, who I had not seen in years!  I was pleased to have  her “witness” this moment with me. It was also great to have my best friend and colleague, Maria,  receive this honour with me too!  There could not be a more perfect evening than this!…until…

It was especially wonderful getting to talk to a volunteer who also was recipient for this honorable award. How she touched my heart!  Her daughter had been bullied A LOT and she had taken her life!  I felt an imaginary boxing glove sock it to me right in the solar plexus and then tears started filling my eyes. I remember the series of suicides in that area of the country 2+ years ago. It had impacted me the most in my entire career working on this youth line.  What struck me were the stories shared in the media and how I had recognized one youth as a teen to whom I had spoken…I felt so guilty and powerless.

Now here I was facing this amazing woman, grief-stricken mother,  and volunteer who goes to schools to talk about bullying and spread the word to get help and not take your life.  I told her I remember speaking to a girl at that time and how sad I had felt.   She just smiled and tried to comfort ME!  She kept thanking me for doing the wonderful work that we do on this youth line.

This wonderful woman…this amazing soul, mother, angel of grace deserved this medal more than she can ever know!  She has shared her story month after month…she has spread the word that our youth line is an option and she has saved so many youths from taking their lives…so much more than she will ever know.  How fitting that SHE received such an honour…The Great Spirit has created some amazing angels of mercy …Pam, this amazing woman and her daughter, Jenna who continues to be a part of that important message…Don’t ever give up…there is help.

And so when I received this medal, I opened the box and looked at the medal and tears welled up again. I noticed how it resembled my step-father’s medal he received from the army for having fought in World War II.  And I…an ordinary person like me who did nothing extraordinary was holding this medal in my hand now!  How my step-father and Mom would have been proud of me today!

My thoughts went back to Pam and her extraordinary courage for sharing her story with youths day after day despite the pain it must bring to her.  How I feel honoured and thankful to have met this woman. For over 2 years I have carried this guilt and fear whenever I get a similar call nowadays.  I had not realized how much I had been moved by this tragedy.

If it had not been for my having this opportunity to go up to Toronto, thank you Kathy, to receive this medal…thank you Kids Help Phone, I would never had met this outstanding person, Pam…I accept this Diamond Jubilee medal in honour of  your Jenna.  Thank you!

http://tech.ca.msn.com/mom-believes-bullying-pushed-teen-to-suicide

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, June 6, 2013

Got my mommy fix:)

I know it sounds silly for someone my age…I’m a mom of 2 adults children, a grandmother and yet…going to see Mom this morning…waiting for her to wake up…like I was a kid and she would work late hours as a hairdresser back in the ’50’s…I let her sleep in because I knew she was tired.  When she would wake up, she would smile …always have that look that mothers have when they adore their children…that look that said how special I was to her.  It made me feel like sticking out my chubby chest (kids were considered healthy only if chubby in those days).

She would put her hands in my hair and gently minouche me under my chin…sometimes squeeze those chubby cheeks (which I liked less) and gently flutter her finger on my neck.  I knew I was the best kid on the block when she did that!

911890_381459438635983_368133294_nThis morning, she was sleeping in her chair…I was stroking her hair and forehead gently…minouching her forehead just so she could feel a faint touch…she woke up gradually and reached out her hands…touched my hand with her left hand and lifted her right hand and touched my neck ever so gently…just a tender soft minouche…her eyes appeared a little less glazed for a split second…”Awwwwww I have my mom back!” I thought to myself with a smile.

We had a nice visit…I fed her lunch and I left feeling ready to brave the world this week ’cause I had my “mommy fix”.

Visiting Mom and her demon friend

me as a childI need to visit Mom today.  I need to feel or remember that enormous love and bond we have…had.   I never question being loved when I am with Mom…EVER!    Her spirit, her soul, her heart is somewhere in her body…her mind has been invaded as well, poor mom no longer has to battle Worry and Insomnia…finally she is at peace but her demon has robbed me of her enchanting presence…how I miss her quirky remarks, her contagious laugh and her soothing arms around me.

I will visit her today…I need to drift off into my imagination…just hold her hand…she still kisses my hand and my face if I approach her close enough and whisper, “Hi Mum”…she sometimes holds her breath for a split second and she kisses me and holds my hand tightly…then I know for a split second she escaped the clutches of her own demon…Dementia.mom and me nov 10 2012