Saturday, July 31, 2010
Started with the Fourth, which turned out to be really nice and ended with an awesome trip up to Northern Michigan with some very special friends. In the middle, my cousin my cousin, his wife and their daughter came out for a long weekend and it was really nice. My cousin was like my little brother growing up so it was really cool to hang out for a long weekend and show him and his family a little bit of the Burgh even with every roadway in the ENTIRE eastern region of the Burgh under construction…thank you Pen Dot.
I also survived my birthday and what would have been our thirteenth wedding anniversary. I did good on both days. Birthdays get much less eventful as you get older although my girls made sure we had a cake and marked the occasion. The wedding anniversary was okay. Last year's was much tougher. Jen was restricted to a bed and wasn’t really talking so it was hard. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about what I’m going to say next. I will never forget the date, but I’m not sure I want to be reminded about it either.
It was one of the happiest days of my life when we got married. We were young, so full of life, confident about our future and obviously very much in love. I will never forget that…never. But what I think about now is the last anniversary we spent together. The one where Jen couldn’t even talk to me, where she was in bed looking up at me with glassy far away eyes and we both knew the end was inevitable.
Okay, okay…enough of the downer material…onto happier thoughts…as I said I survived July…now onto August. Abbie’s birthday is quickly approaching and I’m also determined to see to it that she has an awesome time. After that is the One-year, mark of Jen’s passing. I can’t write about it yet because I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. A good friend of mine asked what am I doing to commemorate the day - honestly, I don’t know. I may want to just be alone, I may want to be around family and friends, I may go to work just to occupy my mind and time…I just don’t know yet.
In any event, I know I will be okay. There are many reasons as to why, which I will share later in other posts. I have all sorts of very positive things going on in my life at the moment. August will be just as busy, if not busier then July, and school starts at the end of the month. Just the other day someone asked how I was doing and I said, “I’m doing okay, actually better then okay, I’m doing good”. To which they replied, “yeah, I believe you now, I didn’t before, but you seem much better now”. I am better folks…I’m actually starting to smile again and feel better about things,
Monday, July 26, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The five stages of grief:
• Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
• Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
• Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
• Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
• Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
• Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
• Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
• Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
• Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
• Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
• Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
• Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.
I'm an Engineer so I love this graph
1. Shock: Anesthetized against the overwhelming loss. Not comprehending and not able to face the full magnitude of it.
2. EMOTIONAL RELEASE: Beginning to realize how dreadful the loss is. Venting or releasing these feelings is better than trying to repress them.
3. DEPRESSION, LONELINESS AND UTTER ISOLATION: Feeling of “No help for me.” Down in the depths of despair. Should know this is a NORMAL feeling. Aided by EXPRESSED CONCERN.
4. PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF DISTRESS: “Ill” with symptoms related to the loss. Best help is to understand the grief process.
5. PANIC: Convinced “something is wrong with me” as a person, can concentrate on little else. May fear losing the mind.
6. GUILT FEELINGS: May recall own past neglect, mistreatment, or wrong to the deceased. Wrongs may be imaginary or exaggerated. But they may be REAL wrongs with REAL guilt. Confession and unburdening of real guilt gives best relief. “Forgiveness” of real wrongs, as if they were imaginary, is no adequate solution.
7. HOSTILITY: Feeling better leads to expressing self more actively. Hostile expressions toward those who “caused” the loss are common. Such hostility is normal but not to be encouraged.
8. INABILITY TO RENEW NORMAL ACTIVITIES: Cannot get back to “business as usual.” Must bear loss alone, since others are back to normal activities. Need encouragement to face new realities, not to be sheltered from them.
9. GRADUAL OVERCOMING OF GRIEF: Emotional balance returns little by little, like healing of a physical would. Rate varies with individuals.
10. READJUSTMENT TO THE NEW REALITIES
This is one of the best descriptions that I have come across - it truly captures it...
Grief is not an elevator ride. You cannot get on and off at the appropriate floor. Likewise, it is not a racetrack where you circle continually but never really get ahead. Grief is a spiral. It denotes movement and progress through a slow dance with repeated partners. Two steps forward, one step back. Until one day, you find the music has ended and you are free to carry on at a usual pace. But don’t be surprised if at some unexpected moment you hear an old tune and find yourself locking arms with sorrow for one last round; because a spiral also denotes cycles and repetition. And the process of grief, though it moves, moves in cycles.
A Few Things You Need to Know
Yes, the cycle of grief is a real thing. Pick a definition and cycle it doesn't really matter - bottom line it's real and yes it's out there...
Second, the cycle is totally, and I mean totally unpredictable. You never know when or how it will affect you at any given time.
I could be standing in line at Target, or grocery shopping at and you see a Mom with her kids, you hear a song on the radio, you see a stupid commercial on TV, I hope you get the picture. It's TOTALLY random, unpredictable, and uncontrollable, it's friggin nerve wracking and to a detailed planner / control freak like myself it's horrible.
I like to think I am doing better than most. I think I am ahead of the curve and capable of handling the situation for multiple reasons. I honestly do think I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I should be and I have said why on past blog entries.
Jen and I got to have the "hard and difficult" conversations that I hope YOU readers NEVER have to have with you loved one. But the fact that we did talk about it meant so, so much...to both of us. I sincerely believe that it brought Jen some sort of inner peace in talking about it and deep down I think she knew that whenever I said that I did not and could not want to have the conversation - she looked at me and said "yes, we need to talk about this and we need to talk about it today".
I make no bones about it...my wife was stronger, and more prepared than me, she was more in tuned to what was happening and she was not afraid of anything. SHE prepared ME and the girls for this journey after her departure and for that; I will always be thankful and grateful.
So now...back to the original question posed by my good friend..."what stage am I in"? My answer would be the following and here is why...
I'm the following stage:
Stage 9. GRADUAL OVERCOMING OF GRIEF: Emotional balance returns little by little, like healing of a physical would. Rate varies with individuals.
Stage 10. READJUSTMENT TO THE NEW REALITIES
The ACCEPTANCE Stage: Finally finding the way forward
In my opinion, it would be a total disservice to the memory of my wife to sit around and be depressed for the rest of my life. AND I have these two amazing little girls that absolutely need a strong and positive influence in their lives. Please, PLEASE I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea on this - I will NEVER let my girls forget whom their Mother was. I can't and I won't...I loved Jen too much to let that ever happen...but flat out refuse to let this be the defining moment of their young lives...if I allowed that to happen...Jen would never forgive me.
Man...Such a rambling post...I hope this makes sense to those who read it...
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
First, it’s hot
I mean incredibly hot and humid. We seem to go from upper 70’s / low 80’s to mid 90’s as soon as the calendar hits July.
Second, Independence Day
It’s my next to favorite holiday behind Thanksgiving. Ever since I was a kid the Fourth of July always meant a big family picnic with burgers, hotdogs, volleyball, softball, horseshoes…all my cousins would be there and we would play all day and of course end the night with fireworks.
My entire family is still out in New Jersey and Jen doesn’t have a real big immediate family. When we bought our house six years ago we were both sold on the view from the backyard. It overlooks a valley and you can see multiple towns and locations below. On the Fourth of July when fireworks are going off at any given time there are 10-12 different sets going off at once. It’s very cool to just sit there and watch all the fireworks going off at one time. The girls love it as well and we invite family and friends over to watch them with us. I hope that it’s a special memory that the girls will have and they carry it with them and it makes Independence Day special for them as well.
Third, my birthday
Birthday’s become less important as you get older but it’s still a special day…after all it’s the day you were born. I was dreading my birthday this year, but it turned out to be a nice time with family and friends.
Fourth, wedding anniversary
What would have been our 13th wedding anniversary is next week. It’s funny because 13 years seems like a long time, but in reality it isn’t. For some reason anniversaries are always remembered in multiples of five. I can remember our 5th and 10th wedding anniversaries…and just assumed that when we hit 15, 20, 25 etc we would joke, laugh and celebrate. I don’t want this to sound all negative and like a downer…honestly I don’t, but I have this compelling, constant need to remind people to NOT take things for granted. Life is just too damn short and unpredictable. Celebrate your 13th wedding anniversary …your 21st….your 7th….what ever number…don’t wait for silly number because you might not get the opportunity.
State of Mind
I am doing okay. I am. I like to think I’m actually doing better then okay. I not only survived Allie’s birthday, the Fourth of July and my own birthday but I was actually able to let go and enjoy myself. The girls and I are doing well and every now and then I catch myself sort of looking around and saying to myself “they are okay, we are okay…I am okay”…I feel very fortunate to have so many people who truly care for me and my girls and the support of my family has been awesome.
I know there are many more challenges to come in the future. The fact that I don’t even know what many of the challenges are or will be bothers me, but I know that we (the girls and I) are going to be okay. I could NOT and would NOT say that a year ago…but now I can…we are going to be okay.
Finally, thank you to everyone who sent me an email over the past week…it was truly flattering and humbling to receive so many messages wishing us the best and offering messages of hope and support. Thank You so much…it means a lot…it does! I feel like I’m coming out of the fog and I’m definitely moving in the right direction – I just really wanted to say “thank you” to all my family and friends…without you all we wouldn’t be where we are now…thanks folks…you guys are okay…
Inside Bill's Head -- Previously Known as (Inside the Head of a Grieving Single Dad)
In August of 2009 my wife Jennifer passed away from an Anaplastic Astrocytoma Brain Tumor. She was only 38 years old. She left me and our two little girls Abbie and Allie to continue life’s journey.
I promised her that I would NOT become angry and bitter about what happened...in order to do that I am attempting to write to express my thoughts and feelings.
This site is a place where I can express my thoughts, feelings and rants...