Grief can be paralyzing. Stigmatizing. Demoralizing.
It's been eight weeks since Chris passed away. Two months that we've been without this larger than life figure. We've had good days and really bad days. But it's hard to believe it's been 60 days since we've talked/laughed/argued/hugged this man...
I've been particularly struggling because in the months leading up to Chris' death, we had been making good progress in our co-parenting relationship with the help of a family therapist. And the Saturday before he died, we sat together watching our 9-year old son play in his CYO basketball game. We talked and laughed like we had as newlyweds...bickering over politics and agreeing to disagree. But without any malice. He even offered to look at homes with me "as an extra set of eyes" as he knew I was in the middle of the home-buying process.
But his death put a hard stop to everything.
A stop to reconciling as co-parents. A temporary stop to the home-buying process. And with a world-wide pandemic...a stop to grieving with others. It's all so surreal.
But recently, I've felt a need to begin the process of reconnecting with the world as I had prior to death's unexpected visit.
Right before the pandemic shut down society as we know it, I stopped by the public library to peruse the titles written about coping with grief. I found Sheryl Sandberg's "Option B". When I first tried to read it, I couldn't get through Chapter 1...not because it wasn't well-written, but because it was. It was too real...too raw...toe emotional for me. Except for the fact that I was divorced, so much of her husband's death and her reaction was completely relatable. Dave Sandberg was 47 when he died...5 years younger than Chris, but both men were born in the same year. (1967) Chris just got 5 extra years before his heart attack.
But last night, I felt compelled to pick up the book while soaking in a hot bath and try again. And except for my sleepy eyes...I could not put it down.
One of the suggestions that Ms. Sandberg makes is to start creating an "accomplishment" list. This can sound counter-intuitive during the middle of a pandemic...or any other grief-inducing event, but her reasoning behind it makes sense. Research shows that "gratitude" journals, while positive, are also "passive", meaning that the author is listing things that they are grateful for...often because of receiving them as "blessings" so to speak.
But accomplishments, no matter how small in stature, are active. They show the griever that, while a terrible thing has happened to them, they are still valuable and worthy to both their loved ones and society at large. A listing of "accomplishments" shows that even in their deepest despair...they can move forward...as life continues to move forward.
So, I think from here on out I plan to blog on my "accomplishments". Not because they are fantastical in any sense of the word, but because they remind me of the necessary task of living. Some days will be more "accomplished" than others, but every day that I get up, move forward, and make life good for kids will be counted!
Here are 5 things that I got accomplished today...my "Plan B" (taking control of what I can in life rather than allowing life to paralyze me) since life has handed me/us an unexpected detour.
#1...self care and pediatric care. Ben and I are really struggling with allergies. I finally made an appointment for myself to get my allergies and asthma under control. Ben was playing outside and as he came into contact with grass and tree pollens his skin reacted horribly. It was scary going into our doctor offices during this pandemic, but also necessary. We are both medicated and feeling better. It took a lot of energy to make those appointments...but now that we've been seen and medicated...we have more energy!
#2...I downloaded the AIRNOW app for my phone. I need a better handle on the air quality in my community. This was definitely being proactive and as you can see, the air quality in Kansas City was awful yesterday.
#3...I traipsed up to the 3rd story of our apartment building with my 13-year old to see the pink super moon last night. I didn't even bother trying to take pics with my phone...but the view was spectacular through his telescope!
#4...I purchased a book of stamps at the Post Office self-serve kiosk so I can continue the business of writing sympathy thank you cards.
#5...I filled up the car for about $18.00. Wow.
That's it folks...appointment making/self care, book reading, gas-filling, stamp-purchasing, app-downloading, and most importantly spending time with my kids late on a school night...list of accomplishments.
Tomorrow is Good Friday...more thoughts on that tomorrow.
If you've read to the end...thank you. I appreciate your positive thoughts and prayers!