Episode 8: Ugh, HOW and WHEN do I Start Grieving?
We all feel loss from time to time in our lives. Most of the time is something not so important and we deal with it and move on. Sometimes however, it is a significant loss. And in some cases, we never “get over it”. How come? Our bodies are hard wired to grieve loss. If we don’t allow this process, we often mess up our emotional well being and … well... we pay unforeseen consequences.
"This horrible loss has occurred, and there's nothing you can do to change it. Nothing you can do to stop it. Nothing you can do to replace it nothing. And you feel loss. You feel saddened and you're depressed."
hello and welcome to another episode of Living With Hospice. My name is Mitch Ware I'm privileged to be your host. Today you may hear some strange sounds in the background. That would be the crew that's here. That's Ah, Cosmo, the big Dog, Chloe, the rare orange female kitty and, of course, boss Cat Charlie, who's curled up on the counter sleeping and making sure that I don't mess this up too much. This episode. We're going to get into something I find really interesting. It's Ah, really near and dear to my heart, and that is how and when do we start grieving? It's safe to say that we all feel lost from time to time in our lives. Most of the time, it's something not so important and, well, we just deal with it and move on. Sometimes, however, it's really significant, and in some cases we never get over it. How come? Well, our bodies are hardwired to grieve loss, and if we don't allow that process well, we often mess up our own emotional well being, and we pay those unforeseen consequences. When we received news that our 24 year old son had a terminal form of brain cancer. I asked him, How do you want to deal with this without any hesitation? He said, Well, let's fight it, Dad. With that, he and I put on our war faces and started combat. We changed our mentality into that of, Ah, a warrior. Our mantra was, Nobody's dying today. We're gonna fight this fight, We're gonna beat it. And if anybody can, we can. We're living a series of 24 hour lifetimes. The rest of the family began to enter into a grief cycle. As soon as they heard the news, they began to grieve. Now they didn't realize it, but they did. What is the grief cycle or the grief process? Quite simply, it's a Siri's of emotions that we go through in an effort to deal with a large loss. Now that loss doesn't have to be a death. It happens with divorce. It happens with catastrophes like Ah, house burning down or or tornado that rips through your neighborhood that happened here in our community about six years ago. In like many other losses in life, most of us are not the same. We're still feeling that huge sense of loss. You know, we lived in an area that had hundreds of 150 year old oaks and maples that changed us from hot summer sun are gone in Less than 10 seconds. They were gone where we used to look up and see a green canopy filled with birds singing and squirrels dance and around from limb to limb. Well, now there's just sky. When people that used to live here, especially kids, grew up in this neighborhood, come back to visit. The first thing I noticed when they come around the corner is there's no more trees and how foreign it feels in how weird it is. Those trees being gone created a huge loss in our environment, and I'm still not over it. Today. I still can't get over the fact that I look out the front window and I can see blue sky and not beautiful maples and oaks, so the grief process can be defined in five stages. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Let's take a look at those a little closer denial. Many times when bad things happen, we say, Well, this must be just really a bad dream or this can't be happening. I'm gonna wake up in a minute and this will all be over. Thank goodness A buddy of mine restored vintage cars as a hobby. He started doing this when he and his wife were in their early twenties before kids came around. He had ah, Model T. He had an old olds mobile. That was from the twenties. I believed it had, Ah, a top on it that was well open. Kind of like an old horse pulled wagon and it actually had friends around the edges of the top. It really looked like, I guess, Ah one. The original horseless carriages. I guess that's probably because it was one of the original horseless carriages. Let's see, had a deuce Umberg. He had a cord. He had other cars like a 32 Ford. He had a 32 Ford hot rod and, ah, you know, one of the old deuce coupes that you see on the old movies. And of course, he had Ah, 57 Chevy. You can't have a collection like that without having a 57 Chevy. Now that his his family's all grown and gone, he thought he and is Mrs would begin to sell some of these often that they would travel around the world in their retirement one night not long ago, a few summers ago, I guess it was. Now there was a horrible electrical storm, the kind that the local TV stations break into regular programming and m bring you live coverage. As fate would have it, lightning hit his barn in. It didn't take long for this 125 year old big old barn to go up in flames. These folks lived out in the country, so by the time the Fire Department got there, well, there wasn't much that they could do. The structure was gone, its contents gone with it. As you can imagine, he and his family and his buddies were overwhelmed with grief. In fact, many of the friends had helped over the years to work on these pieces of automotive history. His family and friends all began to grief. They didn't know it, but they began this grief process. There were tears, realty ears. This was a horrible tragedy. The first step in grieving a loss is usually denial. Nobody wanted to believe the news. Nobody wanted to accept the fact that this had happened. You know it, It's gotta be a mistake. Word gets around town people like, know that Wow, No hope. Now that can't be. I recall when Matt came out of surgery, our son and the surgeon told our family that they didn't get the news that they wanted and that, in fact, he had cancer on his brain. I remember thinking, What? How can that be? He's super healthy. He works out several times a week. He's an athlete. This can't be right. Let's wait for the pathology reports to get back. There's got to be something wrong with that visual diagnosis. I mean, he eats well. He doesn't smoke the exercises. Just there's got to be a mistake somewhere. This cannot be right. The second step of grieving is anger. How could God let this happen? Or I know I should have played coaster attention. I ah, grand gree it ourselves or someone else. Why can't they fix this? How come those lightning rods we put on top of that barn didn't work? How come the smoke detectors didn't go off? How come a tornado had to come on? Our house. That brings us to the third step of the grieving process or the third stage bargaining. How many times have you heard people say, Ah, it should have been me. Oh, Lord, please don't take him or her. Take me. Or maybe if I change my ways, this will. This will get better and this problem will go away. The fourth step in this process is depression. This horrible loss has occurred, and there's nothing you can do to change it. Nothing you can do to stop it. Nothing you can do to replace it nothing. And you feel loss. You feel saddened and you're depressed. This step in the process really took ahold of me, and it still has a grip on me. To this day. The fifth and final step of grieving is the acceptance of the loss, really just saying, OK, this is really it's happening or it happened. There's nothing I or anyone else, for that matter conduce to change it. So I need to learn how to live with this. Whatever it is and manage, my life is best I can. That's not as hard as you might think to do. If you have allowed yourself to go through the steps of grieving. There's a huge piece that comes over us when we have run through the process, run through all of the stages and get to the point that okay, I can manage what I can manage. And I'm not going to worry about the rest. Worrying angst. Take a lot out of us. It can make us sick. Piece is a welcome relief from that worry, and peace can be had through acceptance. That is, when you begin to take care and manage your life again. Okay, so how long do these steps last? Great question. There's no good answer. Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time frame. If I get stuck in one of these stages of this process that I might want to talk to somebody about it, figure out why I'm not moving on from this anger from this Depression or from this denial. Look, if I can't help but be mad all the time, er, I'm not willing to believe that this is really happening. I'm going to go about my business is if it hadn't, this is going to eat me up. If we stay in these individual stages too long. It's just not healthy, and we need to talk to somebody about it. There's no shame in talking to somebody about it. Everyone grieves in their own way, and in their own time there's no right or wrong way to grieve. By the way, these five stages we talked about sometimes they don't come in that order. And there's no cookie cutter set timeline that applies to everyone. You know. Sadly, people who don't understand will say something like, Well, they were just cars. You got a fat check from the insurance company, Get over a day or it's just a house or it was just your dog. It was just a cat. It's just a horse. It could be replaced. So get over it or hey, you know, you've been divorced now for over a year, going on two years, time to get over it, Move on. You didn't deserve you. Anyway, you may be thinking, Why is going through this silly grief cycle important to me? I'm tough. I'm not easily defeated. This sucks. But I can handle it. Well, First, you don't have to handle this. Certainly don't have to handle this alone. Second, your body will handle it for you and can take care of it for you if you let it. And third, storing all this away just creates a ticking time bomb. People who store away their thoughts and feelings about loss are liable to live miserably, at least in part. They're not living the best life that they could, because their minds want to reconcile this loss, and they're more than ready to do so. But for some reason, we put the brakes on and stop that process before it's even run its course. We bury it on the back shelf in our mind someplace and try to forget that it's there. One of the best service is Hospice has to offer is the counseling with licensed therapists. Most hospices have a person that specializes in grief management that helps us navigate our feelings. It helps us during and after hospice care. Family's heir often left morning and walking around in what I like to call the 25th hour fog. 25th hour Mitch. There are only 24 hours in a day. Even Charlie, the boss cat, knows that. Well, that's true, but When you go through something like this, you experience some mental and emotional physical stress that just throws everything out of kilter. And to one extent or another, you just don't function like you normally would. I recall. A few months after our son passed away, I thought I was doing pretty well and A was working on some home projects. I went to a big box home improvement store. I know this store like the back of my hand. I can tell you where everything is in what it's used for. On this occasion, I was looking for some light switches that I needed, and I was in the electrical department with all the cool electrical stuff and I couldn't find the switch is and what I did. I couldn't figure out how to get to the front of the store. Seriously. I was lost. I looked around. I had no idea where the front of the store waas, and then I began to chuckle. It's like almost an out of body experience, like I know that I know where I am. I know that I know how the store's laid out, but for the life of me, I could not figure out how to get out of the store. So I spotted a guy I knew he was one of them. The department managers there, and I went over and engaged him, and we walk together to the front of the store. Weird? Yep. Uncommon. Nope. 25th hour fog is a thing, and everyone experiences it from one extent to another. It's how we're wired. It's simple, is that we probably all know someone who has experienced a really big loss in their lives. Perhaps a parent or other family member. Or maybe a close friend or coworker has passed away. Or maybe someone you're really close to has moved away to the other side of the world, and it's a huge loss. It's sad. Anyone talk about it Simple is that loss is really hard to manage. I know several people that when they lose someone close to them, they can't even go to the memorial service and they don't want to talk about it. And they don't want talk about that loss period. That's exactly what we're trying to avoid here, bottling up all these feelings and denying them you're stuck in that that one stage of grief. It's okay for a while, but after a while, and it really affects your health and your relationships is time to talk to somebody about that. Whether is the denial or the anger or the depression? I got stuck in the Depression mode for way too long. I wasn't mad at God for taking my son, but I was depressed that he was gone. I was so sad I would see someone who looked like him, and it would remind me of my loss. Or I would hear something that he would say or meet a friend of Hiss, and it would remind me of my loss. I was so sad that I would never see him be a dad. He said the only thing he really regretted in passing away early is that he would never be a dad. It would never be ableto coach Little League. He would never be able to go trick or treating with his kids. He wouldn't be able to go out and cut a Christmas tree and decorated. And those feelings and those memories come flooding back to me and I got stuck in that fourth stage of grief so even to this day, I have one foot in the fourth stage and one foot in the fifth stage. That's the stage of acceptance. Truth be known, it's not uncommon to have one foot in several stages of grief at the same time, or to go from one to the next, and then maybe to a different one. That happens to me as we wrap things up. Let me share a little story with you. When Matt was diagnosed that first day, oh, of the family and friends except for Matt and I began to grieve. They didn't know it, but they began the grieving process. Matt and I carried the sword and the A shield and continued to fight. As I mentioned earlier, I asked him, What do you want to do? But and he said, Let's fight this And I said, Okay, let's do that. As he was taking his last few breaths, I grabbed his right hand, the hand that hadn't been able to move for weeks due to a stroke that he'd had my wife whispered to him, Man, if you see God, go to him, it's okay, Go. And it was at that exact moment that I realized that the earthly fight was over and I said to Matt, Pal, if you see God run, run to him And Matt squeezed my hand, that hand that hadn't been able to move for weeks and crossed over to glory. It took me years to get through those first few steps of of these stages of grief, and I really skipped step one. I wasn't angry with God. I wasn't in denial that what had happened. It happened. So I'd skip to. Also, I did ask God why? And I asked God, why not me? I wasn't angry with him, but I was trying to bargain with him. Over the days and weeks and months to come, I was overwhelmed with a sense of loss. I was just sad. My firstborn, totally amazing, wonderful young man was gone in the years since I learned how to accept his not being here. He's far from for gotten, and he lives in my heart in the hearts of our family and friends. But I still went through a rough patch of depression. I was stuck there. I was so sad for such a long time. Most of my friends and family had no idea how depressed I was. I finally got tired of being depressed and told our family doctor about it. Who, by the way, I lived through this whole thing with us and I got some help, and I learned how to manage my feelings and move on to the acceptance phase, or certainly closer to the acceptance phase and a little further into the acceptance phase was still a toe or two in the Depression phase. Do I still have sad days? Yep, I do. I think about Matt often and what could have been. But with the love of family and friends, I've been able to manage these feelings. We all grieve, and we all grieve in our own way. There's no right or wrong way, and there's no timeline that fits all of us. If you don't take anything else away from this episode, remember this. It's okay to allow yourself to grieve. It's okay. Toe have these feelings. It's okay to admit that you need help sometimes getting through this part of the journey. If you're dealing with feelings that you don't know how to handle, talk to somebody, there's no shame in there. If you and or your loved one is in hospice care, talk to your counselor. Your therapist there, that's what they've been trained to do is to work with you on those feelings. Or maybe you want to talk to your minister or the hospice chaplain. If you aren't in hospice or you're not caregiver of someone in hospice and you're dealing with a major loss and you're stuck in one of these stages of grief, talk to your doctor or call the National Mental Health Hotline at 1 809 696642 That's 1 800 969664 to explain your situation to the person that's on the other end of the phone. They care. That's all the time we have today. We've covered a lot of ground, but it sure was good, wasn't it? We all grieve. We need to grieve. Our loss is the losses that that come into our lives so that we can live healthy and live the best life possible. As always, if you have any questions, any comments or maybe even want to share a story with us, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, Thanks for spending time with us here today on behalf of the whole gang until next time. This is Mitch Ware have a blessed day.