Conversations While You Grieve

 

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As we go through life, losing a loved one is so incredibly devastating and people chose different ways to go on.  In my experience, after losing both my parents and one of my closest friends, I find myself thinking of them often and  while including them in my daily life as often as I can.  Often I find myself having a conversation out loud to share something happening, a feeling I have, or even just to say I miss that you won’t be with me at a specific event.  Recently, I just celebrated a special milestone birthday.  This made me think about my parents and other loved ones who were not there to share this special day with me.  When my husband and I returned from my party and I was emptying the trunk of endless presents and balloons, two balloons cut loose and went straight up to the sky.  I want to think that they were sent to my parents so they could be a part of my celebration.  No celebration is ever the same without them.

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My father passed away over 25 years ago and I always feel grief and sadness when I think about my own children and how they did not get to know this wonderful man whom I adored.  How different their lives would have been if they could have grown up with him as their grandfather who would always give them endless love and encouragement.  I feel him at all of our special times, I see his face and personality through my children’s eyes and I miss him so very much.  More recently I lost my mom and I have yet to have an hour of my life go by where I do not feel like communicating with her.  I communicate with her in my dreams, with my words and even in my thoughts as I sit here writing or doing an everyday task.  Many times a family event or crisis will erupt and I find myself having long conversations with mom about what is happening.  It comforts me to speak with her and I can feel her gentle touch telling me it will be fine.

Some people feel frightened when they think of people who have passed away.  I feel deep sadness yet I feel as if they are always with me.  When situations arise that are out of my control, I often think about what my mother would think or say.  I often find myself pointing out to her someone’s shortcomings that I once pointed out to her when she was alive.  My mother only saw the good in people.  I try so very hard to be the same way, but with age comes wisdom. Wisdom to let go of those who betray you, lie to you and are not faithful to you as they were before.  Many tears later you become stronger and realize that life is too short to worry about these incidentals.  When you can sit back and know with all your heart that you did the very best you could, you need to let go and just go on.

My life is not the same without my parents.  As I approached this milestone and just finished celebrating it, I realize that life is a journey or even like a train ride.  You get on board and people get on and off your train.  Certain people get off your journey train to go their eternal resting place. This is a tough bump on the track and is hard to repair. We never forget those stops along the journey. Some people get off and return again at a later date, because we all know how busy life can be and how time surely does fly.  That has been a recent part of my life as I have reconnected with high school and college friends that I had not seen for a long time.  We lived far apart and life got too busy.  Now they are on my train again and we are having the ride of our lives.  On the other hand, others get off and you are not looking for them at the next stop or ever again.  Accepting that is the only way to go on to lead a peaceful life.

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How have I grown as a person?  How am I ready to embrace the next part of my life?  With strength and courage I am ready to forge full steam ahead and make my own decisions about who will be on my train and who has gotten off, never to rejoin me on my journey.  Instead of anger I have chosen the feelings of indifference and peacefulness with my self.  I am practicing mindfulness, taking better care of my body and soul and giving love to those who deserve to have my love.  My love is selfless and without end.  But now that I go along my journey into the next phase, that love will not be given to those undeserving of it.  I would never have the urge to hurt anyone but I can go on without them.  I will pray for their salvation and their finding of the truth but they will no longer be in my  life.  Because deep in my heart I have lost the two most important people in my life, my parents, and my conversations with them will continue until we meet again…….

 

The Road Ahead

Did you ever sit and ask yourself “What next?”  It is often a scary and very difficult question to answer.  As I am nearing my retirement from teaching (the next few years), I often spend time contemplating what I will do next.  I try to get a realistic idea of life as a retired person when we have our extended week vacations, but know that this is not a true view as we often try to squeeze everything in that has to get done into a short time period.  So what if your time is unlimited?  What if it doesn’t matter if you do it today or tomorrow or next week?  How do you stay focused and live life to the fullest?

Big questions like these need real thought and exploration. I often try to picture my life on a daily basis and when I put the activities in each day, I know that it will take motivation, energy and consistency to help achieve a healthy, fulfilled retirement. Having a plan and sticking to it is so important to avoid being home in retirement and saying “what now?”.

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Do I see myself sitting on a beach, volunteering in the community or getting a part time job?  Perhaps for some of the time.  Do I see myself going to the gym every single day instead of trying to squeeze it in after a long day of working with children?  These are all visions that focus me to decide what I want to do next.  Mapping out a typical day in my mind makes it more of a realistic goal.

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I have many friends that have retired and their advice is to plan ahead.  Write a list of all the things you want to do, places you want to go and imagine your typical day.  Think about what you wanted to do in your life that you didn’t because it wouldn’t pay the bills.  Now that you have planned for your retirement and have a good idea of the money coming in and going out every month, what is it that you want to really do to feel complete in your life?

As I ponder and plan for this upcoming change in my life in the next few years, I am always making lists in my mind, in my phone and even in my plan book.  Always reading, I am always making note of something that catches my eye that I want to look into at a later date.  Just this weekend I wrote down two courses at my local BOCES that I may be interested in taking — maybe some computer based learning (programs I am not fluent in) and a cooking class  (a type of food I would like to try to cook but never had time with a work schedule) and maybe a new language

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What is on your bucket list?  If someone told you that you can do anything for one year, no questions asked, what would be on your list?  My list includes going to Italy and Greece, traveling within the U.S. to places like Arizona, Tennessee and South Carolina, and at home minimizing collections that are taking up space and organizing my living space.  These are just a few items from my list.  No matter how old you are, you should always write down your dreams and goals.  That makes them more attainable.

Most importantly I look forward to being more mindful of activities I am pursuing as I will be rushing around less and taking in all that I dreamed of doing since working.   So what is it that you think about every day when you are working? What would you rather be doing?  Start keeping track of your thoughts, save them for the future and you will always be busy in your retirement.  Happy dreaming!

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