Posted in Compassion, Did you know?, Grief, Haibun, haiku, Reflections, Tournesol whispers

Welcoming the new year 2017

This is the time when one thinks back on the year that has just passed. For some they may feel they have barely survived this past year, having struggled through many difficult passages and obstacles.

For others it feels like a chore mixed with very brief moments of light to make them smile. Perhaps it is the giggle of their child, or watching an old lady with a hunch back hanging onto the arm of an old man with a cane…watching them shuffle in the mall together, giving them hope.

Some have had a year filled with pleasant surprises…a child has learned to walk, another has made his first goal, a daughter copies you when you put on your make up and whispers in the mirror next to you, “I want to be beautiful just like Mommy!”

Teenagers are faced with a rollercoaster of life mixed with raging hormones and still have to try and concentrate in high school! Imagine a woman in menopause or a man in mid-life crisis trying to learn new things and cope with an ever-changing body! Now add to that, personal strife and home
life that can, for some, be challenging!

There are children and youths of all ages as well as adults who may be passing through difficult times before walking into the realm of a new year; they may be missing a loved one…a sibling, a parent, a grandparent or a spouse either through death, separation or moving far far away. One cannot shake off the grief, the loss and pained memories of this loved one. And one doesn’t! His or her memory walks along with them, stepping into the new year. That person is smiling and laughing when they are happy and weeping when they are sobbing.

Some may find solace in a higher power and an afterlife that comforts them, thinking angels and the Great Spirit have welcomed a new member into their paradise. Others are lost and confused and are not too sure, yet, the memories still hold strong and carry one over to the next day and so on and so forth, day after day, month after month.

remembering
sting of loss and regrets
untold narratives

Time is often their sole consolation. In time the sting lessens, but the memories of “what was” still keep them company and warm through the cold winter months of January and February. The blossoms, however, are also figments of these memories in springtime turning into new promises. Hang on to some of those memories that soothe you and let the March winds eventually take away any disappointments.

Perhaps someone has promised to be there for them and “life” got in the way, leaving them bereft and empty but mostly disappointed and alone. That may also be an opportunity to depend on one’s own strengths and reach out to different acquaintances, slowly turning them into real friends.

Relationships change as one grows just as their needs do. As a single person, their perception of the world is so very different. As a couple it shifts and blends and as a parent it opens up to a whole different world…someone else matters just as much as they do! One now focuses not only on their individual needs but more importantly on the wellbeing and happiness of their children who are a part of them. Children help them open their eyes to another sphere. Children allow them to grow and open their hearts to “others”. Let’s face it! It is rewarding to give, is it not? And through some of these challenges in life, one also learns to look beyond the people who have received from you and find comfort when someone “new” gives to them…take it, for this is also blessing that person’s need to give.

Change is the only thing one can truly count on in life and with it comes other kinds of losses. It could be the end of a career, a promotion, the end of a relationship or moving to a new home or city. Despite the positive and wonderful aspects of any change, there is still a letting go of a life that was. Embrace it, look at it and only then can you adjust and welcome these new life changes.

untold narratives
lost in the wind
silenced
locked in the heavens
angles singing ballads

Wishing you hope, faith and peace in the new year for you and yours.

© Cheryl-Lynn 17/01/01

 

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Posted in Depression, Did you know?, Grief, Re-blogs

melancholy (haibun)

Some call it Seasonal Affective Disorder. Others call it pre-holiday blues and some simply acknowledge how much they miss that significant other. It is sometimes like missing a limb or a deflated lung…we all have our stories.   What helps you through these times?

Tournesol dans un jardin

This is a time of year a virus peaks its ugly head around mid-November.  It  spreads its infections to those most vulnerable. You may not “catch” it at the same time; you may not catch it every year and yet, there does not seem to be guaranteed antibiotic to cure its infective powers.

September days start waning as the sun sets sooner; October days rob you of nature’s dinner’s sweetest and most potent “digestif”.  November drops its veil of hoary matter and thickens day after day, week after week hiding nature’s Monet, slowly slipping into Picasso’s  Blue period.   Nights are longer than days and symptoms of this virus multiply

Humans are deprived of nature’s nutrient feeding brains with hope and cheer. Life, death, separation and loss blend.  Waiting, as it stings open wounds and those who’ve barely healed  are reminded  of life’s demises.

Children as well as adults struggle…

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Posted in Compassion, Did you know?, Grief

“Dead” is a four letter word

b me november 3We live in a society in Western culture where we do not even say the D word.  We say passed away, no longer with us or has gone forever…he or she is dead seems to scare us.  Dead is a four letter word but not an offensive word.  Since we feel uncomfortable or awkward we do not always know what to say.  Sometimes we laugh at the wrong time at funerals…that’s okay.  Other times we will hug a grieving friend or relative and just say, Gee, I’m so sorry. And THAT is enough.  The person grieving usually cannot even remember what you have said but remembers the genuine warmth and compassion of the person.  I know I just appreciated a good long hug and that even if I cried, the person still held on.

The ups and downs with the emotions for many months to come (and years) are abundant.  I have written about youths and bereavement here .  We feel feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, confusion to name a few and I would even add, temporary loss of memory  and  feeling like you are in a daze are “some” of the feelings we can experience when mourning the loss of a loved one.

I volunteered several years when I lived in Toronto for Bereaved Families of Ontario where I was surrounded by the most compassionate and caring people I have ever worked with. Here is a link of amazing articles on grief and a few written by a woman who trained me, who supported each volunteer and gave of herself tirelessly, Betty Ann Rutledge.

Grief,  to me, is like a pair of orthotics.  I have the ONLY pair like it. I am not talking about  those brands they advertise on television that you step on a machine and that company mails you one of the dozen models they have. I mean the foot doctor that evaluates the way you walk, examines your old pair of shoes and how they are worn out in some areas more than others and makes a mold of your foot…so don’t tell me the lumps, bumps and curves on my foot are identical to anyone in the world…I will not believe you.

So be mindful when you are writing a sympathy gushed condolence card to a friend or relative…not to assume how they are feeling or even try to write it out how they are feeling and will be feeling because you have no clue exactly how they feel. Heck, they don’t know half the time when some of their roller coaster emotions are part of their grief.  Many do not. Just keep that in mind.

Oh and that includes any person of any age and someone who may have lost a pet.  For many a pet, is friend who loves unconditionally…such a huge loss to experience.  Saying, “you can get another one” is NEVER helpful.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2015/01/24

Posted in Chronic Pain, Compassion, Depression, Grief, Homelessness, Mental Health, poetry, Stigma Talks

A holiday haibun with a smile

© Clr - Christmas Eve dinner with my children 2014
© Clr – Christmas Eve dinner with my children 2014

Ah!! the holidays are among us, where many families and friends get together. Notice I said “many” but not “most” or “all”. For many people and children, it is a day like any other day except the stores are closed, restaurants are too…eateries and diners where one might want to kill a few hours before going back home alone. What happens to those soliciting for “spare change”? Well, now the only people at subway entrances coming and going are people “usually” going to meet family or a friends or just a friend to share a bit of holiday love…cheer? I worked Christmas Day early in the morning and was surprised to see so many people at 6am on the subway and then it dawned on me that many revellers from the night before were coming home on the earliest subway after 5:30am. No one looked cheery though except the bus driver when I wished him Merry Christmas. And why must everyone be cheerful on this day? That is being presumptuous now is it not? Sure, we can feel blessed, heart warmed by a card or smile that week, we can feel lucky to be healthy enough to get around be if on foot, car, on scooter or wheel chair and able in some way to get OUT of that condo/house/flat. Connecting with people even silently is connecting and that is what I felt sitting in the food court December 23rd.

I needed a few spices to add to my turkey dressing…it tastes almost like my grandmother’s…you see she never gave her recipes. But I taste, add a dash of this and that and taste several times until it seems pretty darn close AND my adult children love it! That IS the strongest motivator to cook anything. Bake? Um, not really because I am not much of a baker but I may try a pie or two this coming week…

I purchased the items at Loblaws and crossed the street to the mall that is situated right across the street from my home. I wanted to get a few small gifts to give to the adults since my majour gift for the past few years is my Christmas meal and gifts for the children, currently, 3 boys and 2 german shepherd sisters. Ah, yes, nice socks are always needed because almost everyone I know gets a sock or two eaten up by the dryer (where else does that lost sock go?) It was already five and I thought I might get a cuppa or get a nice buttery and salty giant pretzel and sit to people watch. A line up at Mr Pretzel made me think of those long dreaded line-ups, Christmas shopping and the whole commercialization or C.S. {croc of shit or capitalism snares…take your pick} so I moved over to Thai Express…one person waiting, so I thought, that would be fine. Wait, wait, wait…I ask the woman at the counter if they were closing, she shakes her head, no smile and does not take my order…wait, wait, wait…a woman goes up to the cash and gives her order…I am stunned, frustrated and just leave…why should I give my hard-earned money to a business who cares less, right? On to another fast food place, order to eat here and find a most comfortable place with chairs with armrests…wow! and relax. I love to eat but you know, it is a social thing…so it is nice to be among people even if we aren’t talking. Not much different from some couples we see sometimes who eat and never look up at each other or talk, not much different from a parent sitting with their teenager who thinks talking to anyone 10 years older is uncool…and the list goes on…so sometimes our own individual self is just fine.

© Clr '14
© Clr ’14

I pretend to be looking at a text message on my camera and take a few photos of the group of men playing cards in front of me. It looked like a serious game and I wonder if they were regulars here. I mean, I see early morning regulars of older adults who come before the shops open to have their walk and by 9:30am. they are sipping coffee, reading the paper and many are in groups chatting about their plans for the day. But now it is after 5p.m. so I figure they are a group of men who are single for a few hours with their wives busy shopping or cooking a day before the eve of Christmas.

I am not much of a card player and wonder what game they are playing with soooo many cards. The only game I know of with that many cards is Canasta but I doubt these men are playing this. When they end the game one of the men who was just watching folds up his book where I wonder if he is entering scores for later payment…I wonder. Now that would be a cool story, eh?

Walking out the food court, I pass couples sitting, staring…no one talking, a woman with her little girl and the woman looks totally exhausted, a bunch of teens giggling and taking pics of each other and at the entrance of La Baie, in the comfortable overstuffed armchairs, two elderly men reading a news paper and one either sleeping or daydreaming. I wonder what their stories are. Being in the suburbs, people are often living with family…but there are many alone and I wonder if aloneness is more painful here or in the city. In the city we are closer to one another; in the burbs there are so many different stories but closeness and collaboration may be in clusters…I don’t know. Where I live in my 8 apartment building, the only people who were friendly lived on the second floor. Three different tenants and they were the ONLY tenants who talked to me, helped me with heavy parcels and always asked how I was….they were from Portugal, Florianópolis, Brazil and the most recent from around here. My next door neighbour never says hello unless I do first, his 20+ yr old son smiles and moves off even when I trying to lug my 17-inch tires with hubs to my car…no, “need any help”…nope…and that same neighbour who asked our landlord to take my parking spot so his son could take his…yeah, well, I must say it is not that friendly here either. Walking to the grocery store last week with bags in hand, that same neighbour just drove by me…could have saved me a few minutes …oh well.

As I left the mall to come home, I used my usual short cut walking down the tiny slope before getting to the sidewalk across the street from my building. It was not slippery at all but my ankles just gave up…down on I felt flat on the sidewalk trying to hurry to lift myself off the sidewalk but no feelings but pain in my ankles, and my right knee was already throbbing from the fall and I knew my left knee was bad enough…{had not knelt on it since last May!}…so wait a few moments, whimpering like a big baby…hearing cars go by and whimpering more for cars who had not EVEN slowed down. All I needed was a hand to get me up and I knew I could cross the street just fine…slowly …but fine.  But no cars stopped even if my winter coat was white…so puleeze do not tell me they did not see a human being flat on the sidewalk. I was careful as I worried I might fall again but this time on the street with my luck no one would stop…even after.

I made it home feeling so sorry for myself, limping and then examining the damage when I got home thankful I wore an old pair of leggings since that big hole could not be mended now.  Sure the aches and pains came later stronger but what hurt the most was the “laissez-faire” of folks…have we come to this now in our world? That makes me very sad and not safe at all.

Christmas Eve was lovely, eating good food…{well, harrumph…I made it (smiles) } and it was nice resting on the sofa admiring the fire, listening to the children play with my son, having my daughter take care of the planning, picking me up, setting the table and taking care of timing everything so we could all eat  and serving as hostess…thankful for my grandsons who were amazing considering the hype and anxiety before Christmas morning…grateful to my son who seemed to have fun playing with the boys and my son-in-law who is an amazing person, man, partner and son.

 

© Clr '14-25 6:40am.
© Clr ’14-25 6:40am.

 

The next day I left for work at dawn and hoped I would get a few pics of the sunrise before getting into the office at 6:45 a.m. …but nope…it remained dark. Well, then at least I made up for lack of nature’s beauty with an amazing sunset at 3:45 p.m…so gosh darn early!! on my way home.

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Today I am relishing the peaceful feel of the day  and missing my mom; wishing I could have been there more, said more things to her, yet I think she is hearing and feeling it now; however sometimes the silence is deafening and wonder how it is for many who have no choice but to sit in this painful dark place day after day even during the holidays. There can be many reasons … financially strapped, family and friends estrangement, a recent loss, a loss long ago that ripped their spirit, physical illness, mental illness and the latter sometimes being such an invisible disease no one can understand…unfortunately, too many do not try.

The next time you are out, if you see someone alone why not smile and say hello, offer him or her a good day…offer your seat with a smile…open a door with a smile…you have no idea how that may enrich a person’s day!   Our good memories are what soothe us, wrap us up like honey for a bee, warm our hearts like a duvet cover and make us smile like looking at a newborn baby or puppy tilt his head to the side.

Blessing and happy holidays to this amazing WordPress community and my readers. ((((((hugs)))))

Cheryl-Lynn

kindness
heartwarming like a duvet
honey to a bee

© Clr 2014/12/26

Posted in Did you know?, Grief

Letting go before moving on

What is change? What is transition? What is grief? These all have connections.

Have you ever had a promotion or learned you were going to a better school and still felt unsettled?  Perhaps you just got married or purchased a new home and you would think that you would be elated, right?  Perhaps you are but that little gnawing tugs once in a while. For some it is total confusion and disparity.   You would think that change for the better would automatically make you happy, right? So why the mixed feelings you wonder.

Imagine that your former life (single life, old school, old employment and home) are on one side of a building. Each in their separate room and in order to get to the newness of whatever you have earned or acquired, you need to get out of the room. You open the door and find yourself in a long corridor. The new life is in another room across this hallway and the door is slightly ajar.  You excitedly push the door open and start to enter, filled with a joy yet trepidation.   The longer you stay in the New room, the anxiety mounts or you start feeling depressed. What the heck is going on! You shout at yourself and are boggled about what could be happening to you.  You run back into the hallway and aren’t too sure what to do.  It is safe in the hallway but inside you feel chaos in your gut.

In any type of change or transition in life there is also a grieving process to let go of the old before taking on the new. Even if the old was not that great, it was familiar and it was a part of who you were and who you knew for some time.  For some people, that mourning phase can take  a short time and for others a bit longer. What IS important is to acknowledge you are turning a chapter in your life.

Years ago, I read Transitions by Bridges and he called that phase the “neutral zone” as it has a bit of positive and negative feel to it.  For some it is apathy…totally neutral but unfeeling…not happy or sad, just apathy.

A woman gets married and moves into her new home with her husband.  The first few months it is like an extended honeymoon but then she starts having bouts of mood swings.  A mother gives birth to a healthy little boy and several months later she is feeling sad.  It`s not postpartum she was told by her doctor but still she can`t shake the longing for her old life and now starts to feel guilty.  A man gets a huge promotion with big pay increase.  After working at the new position for a few months, he is feeling sluggish and not comfortable in this new change in his life.

Most people have adjustment periods they need to transition into a new role but most are never told why.  We are back in that corridor again.  The new life door is open and yet you cannot totally embrace it until you close the door to the former life. And you can`t really close that door until you actually give it one last glance.  Does this make sense?

It is a bit like when you move out of a house, before you give the key to the new owners/tenants, you walk around each room, pause at some areas, a window…reminded of something you did, heard…it was here you celebrated the news (new job, wedding, etc.).  Embrace those memories, walk through them one more time…and slowly let them go.  Now you can close that door and confidentially cross through that corridor and open the door to your new life.

I am simplifying this a bit but if you are interested in reading about this further, I recommend you to read Bridges’ book. I have used his techniques many times over the years with adults and youths.

Before turning that last page of your life chapter make sure you have read it entirely.

© Cheryl-Lynn ’14/11/11

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges

Posted in Did you know?, Grief

Clear Your Drain

This inspired me to write my next post on letting go before moving on. Have a look at this post by Martha0Stout and visit her blog as well.

martha0stout

Nothing stays buried, it all has to come up someday. –from “Forever”

Caution should always be taken when choosing a way to go.
Life is more than the moments that we collect whether we want to or not.
Only what you want to happen isn’t always going to come about.
Give yourself time to grieve whatever it is you have lost,
Because nothing stays static forever.
 

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Posted in Grief, Re-blogs

My Final Respects to Oscar

A beautiful post on rendering homage to a beautiful soul who has passed…a read that will touch anyone who knows grief.

My Travels with Depression

If you’ve never been a pet owner you might not completely understand the deep unconditional love we attach to our beloved pets.  Maybe you have experience of what a pet can mean when we are living with mental illness, especially if you live alone, as I do.

I watched my two cats being born fourteen years ago.  There were only two in the litter.  ‘Mother-Elsie’ was a stray I took pity on, one cold winter’s night.  She was the first cat I had ever known.

WP_20131123_001

My world was very different back then.  I had a good job that I loved.  Life was busy and comfortable.  There was no awareness of mental illness, as I know it now.  In many ways, a stray cat with two kittens was not really on the agenda, but something felt right, even though it cost me a small fortune.

It can be amazing to think…

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