All SOUL – grief, loss, and moving forward. Perspectives from my children and me.
Welcome to the August edition of Tips and Topics (TNT). This edition is all about SOUL, the soul of grief, loss and moving forward. This edition is unique because August has some unique events historically and this year for me. It helps me to write and express my thoughts and feelings and I hope it helps you too.
- My birthday is August 9.
- On that date in 1976, 43 years ago, my father died at the age of 72.
- On that date in 2012, 7 years ago, my mother died at the age of 97 and a half.
- On that date, Marcia’s mother, Betty, was born 20 years earlier than me and we planned to celebrate her 90th and my 70th birthdays in their hometown of Bundaberg in Australia.
- On June 23, 2019, Betty passed away from an aggressive cancer 4 months after Marcia. Instead of celebrating our mutual August birthday, we spread ashes of both Marcia and Betty on the same beach in Bundaberg, almost to the day that we spread Bill’s ashes, Marcia’s dad and Betty’s husband.
- So this August became celebrations of the lives of both Marcia and Betty with hometown family and friends, except…….
- Jane was Marcia’s best friend in school growing up. She was planning to attend the celebration of Marcia’s life as was Austin, a longtime friend from University days.
- Jane passed away in June from cancer; and Austin died from complications of the flu just days before the event.
How does one process all these untimely events of grief and loss and move forward?
We lost Jim and Marcia 1 month after this happy scene on the plains of the Masai Mara, Kenya
Coming to grips with the fragility of life and moving forward
Mackenzie, our youngest daughter, whose 33rd birthday was just 6 days before Marcia was gone, shared her very fresh grief process just one week later. Here’s an excerpt:
You can read it all and see some photos on this Facebook link.
Taylor, our 35 year old son felt ready to share his process just now six months later. Here is an excerpt and also some more photos that you can access on his website.
You will want to hear the song he played and sang at Marcia’s celebration of life in March.
Miya, at 38 years is our oldest daughter and mother of two girls, Luna and Sol. She “speaks” and “writes” best via video.
And now for my update
- Every day, there is something that happens or a thought or idea that shows up that I remember would be the kind of thing I would want to share with Marcia.
- Sitting on the plane to and from Australia we would pass the 14 hours watching movies. That happened this week as I had the impulse to want to share with her a couple of movies I loved.
- What I notice I still haven’t gotten used to is to is that there is no “we” anymore. “We have a home in Davis and Carlsbad, California”; “We like to go traveling to different countries and cultures”; “We won’t be around for two weeks.”
- It will take time for me to naturally say “I have a home in Davis and Carlsbad, California.” “I like to go traveling to different countries and cultures”; “I won’t be around for two weeks.”
- I’ve had a strong desire to revisit places we would often go together and to experience them alone. It is as if facing those places without her by my side, helps me move forward and define a new beginning.
- You know the phrase “No Money, No Mission”. That is true for any individual or organization. It less true and stressful now that my budget needs are simpler with only one mouth to feed; one back to clothe; and one set of credit cards to finance, not two.
- It hasn’t happened yet as I intended, but in 2020 I am definitely scheduling in more ‘down’ time; more world traveling time; and less “mission” time.
- I still love what I do in training and consulting to advance my “mission” in the addiction and mental health fields. But I am fortunate now to be able to worry less about the money while still advancing my mission – some of the lemonade that can be squeezed from a year of sour lemons.
- Men have a harder time after the death of a spouse than women.
- Learning how to be alone, feed yourself, have someone to talk to everyday who cares enough about your inconsequential observations or ideas is a significant adjustment.
- With 23 years on the road training and consulting, I have had a lot of practice being alone and feeding myself. But I miss the daily check-ins and bits of conversation that I had for 46 years. Who is interested in my random observation that I saw a man today who looked just like that neighbor we had in Boston? Or that I found a restaurant that makes Chinese salt fish, fried rice? Or that I had a great game of pickleball?
- Then there are those situations where you want to make a comment about the people you are with at a social event. Marcia (and any long-term relationship) would know just what I was thinking by the look and opinion I conveyed with my eyes; or that tap on her leg under the table; or the code word that meant “Let’s get out of here”.
- Some men rush into marriage to fill the void. They create a whole new set of adjustments equally as challenging as learning how to be alone and define a new direction in life. I met a man recently who did just that. He married quickly and was divorced within a year, bemoaning his mistake.
- I won’t be filling the void by finding a replacement wife. In fact I recently listened to a podcast on the changing face of marriage in this day and age. Regardless of your personal beliefs about what marriage should be, the fact is that there are many options that people are choosing in contrast to traditional marriage.
- This is a whole area of exploration I am in no rush to wrap up in a neat package; or in some hastily consummated relationship. What unfolds will unfold.