In my closed Grief Group I monitor on Facebook, I do daily prompts to help assist my members in expressing their deep grief for their great love. It is a prompt about what they are more mindful about now while on their grief journey. It’s our prompt titled, “Mindful Monday”.
I start off with “What does it mean to be mindful? And I define the word mindful with this definition–“Deliberately pay attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. It takes practice to become comfortable with mindfulness techniques. It’s the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”
If you are not a griever, or grieving as deeply as me, some of this blog may surprise you. If you are a griever, you will be nodding the whole time as you read my words. You will understand my expressive heart completely.
As I read what my members express in the prompt, I could surmise what we all have in common. And that is, we don’t forget we have feelings and are permitted to pay attention these feelings. Our minds may be clouded at certain times, but, our memory is top notch. Like for instance, why am I even bringing this blog to light? I am because I remember an incident 5 years ago that is repeating itself similarly to now. In a week, I will be attending my father in law’s 75th Birthday party. It’s not a surprise party—he’s well aware of it, in fact, he picked out the pasta noodle he wanted my husband to add to his pasta sauce. Word of mouth was used for the invite and planning is in full swing. We will both be there to celebrate –along with whoever, in my opinion, made the time in their schedule to plan to attend. Some aren’t coming due to work or they had other plans—planned in some advance prior to this idea. The ones that aren’t coming are being excused. No big deal. Well, that right there triggers my memory –and angers me.
See, five years ago, there was a surprise birthday party for him. And guess what? I didn’t go. It was one year after my mother passed and I ventured into my Master of Humanities studies. I hadn’t been in school for over 19 years and my first paper was due the Monday after this party. I had also developed an issue with being around crowds. Big or small, I wasn’t comfortable around too many people—strangers or not, the anxiety level skyrocketed. At the time this party was to be held, my mom would have been gone only a year. The last time was around any crowd to this level was at my mother’s funeral. I was not up to it. I couldn’t handle the anxiety of being with so many people and handling my first essay, so I chose to back out, do the paper over that weekend and avoid going. I felt better with that decision. I truly did. But, a few didn’t see it the way I did. My husband was irate with me and my mother in law made a point to talk down to me about it as she claimed she understood. She understood so well that she influenced my husband that I needed help. I needed a counselor, for my grief was crippling me. I didn’t see it as that, for this was not my first rodeo with the grieving process, but I did question my well-being after she pointed this out—well after being screamed at, you listen. So, I agreed to take my husband with me to the counselor I was seeing in group settings at our local Hospice center, for a one on one session with her. He wanted to get to the bottom of this issue and prove me wrong. Long story short, he was called out at the session, by my counselor. Short of telling him, “Your mother needs to butt out”, he got the message loud and clear that grieving is serious and I was doing the right thing for ME at the time—AND he should have backed me up more, especially to his mother and not been against me. I believe my reaction to my counselor agreeing with me, just proved to me that I was easily influenced as well by someone else who wasn’t being mindful of my feelings.
As I mentioned before, all the excuses for others not coming to this birthday party for the same man, have been left untouched and laid to rest. How does the person who has to go to work to pay for vacation expenses get the green flag to miss this? But when I was struggling with my grief, and missed the previous milestone birthday event, I was pointed out as needing help, talked down to and misunderstood—told I was being selfish?
But, yes, I am attending this birthday party. Two days prior to it, I will be remembering my mom’s passing of six years. The day before that, I’ll be back at a doctor’s office for treatment of the same depression and anxiety. Yes, it’s back. I am grateful my anxiety has diminished –some. I’ve attended parties, weddings, public events with crowds and have survived them unscathed. I made sure someone I knew was at these events I could sit at a table with or someone I dragged with me, to help me with the transition of missing my great loves; my mom and dad. While at this party, filled with many people I know I will feel quite alone. No one will be mindful that I am celebrating the birthday of someone’s father, where I wish I was celebrating another birthday with my own. I will be missing helping my mother pull it all together.
Yet moving along with my life, I have made some strides in this part; my grief journey that is; a journey where I’m mindful of my feelings and my memory is intact. It’s the struggle of a griever and today I’m OK with that. I just wish everyone else was, too….not OK, but, mindful. In the meantime, I’ll be mindful, they aren’t living my life.
Sully Said it.