Progress, not perfection
by Charles McKelvy
Monday will mark the two-month anniversary of my mother’s death at 93 on June 4, 2014.
I think I am doing just fine, but then, as a wise friend predicted, it just hits me. Like a ton of bricks. Well, that’s an over-worked metaphor. Let’s say I’m just driving along on one of our lovely back roads here in Berrien County, Michigan, and Mom comes to mind.
Mom, of course, being the one, the only—Hannah Dick Macfarlan McKelvy.
You knew her, right?
I am sure you did, because everybody who was anybody knew my Mom.
Anyway, I knew her for 64 years and change, and everything sure did change when she up and died on us the night of June 4, 2014. She was supposed to bounce back, as she had so many times before, but this time she didn’t.
Plain and simple: Mom died.
And I ain’t over it.
Not by a long shot.
I think I am, and then I know I’m not when that proverbial sack of sadness falls out of the sky and whacks me up side the head.
I ain’t over it.
Not by a long shot.
Not when I knew the lady for 64-plus years.
No, and I know I don’t have to be over it anytime soon, and, as a graphic reminder, I got this letter in the mail the other day from our friends at Hospice at Home, with a page devoted to bereavement and adapted from How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Colgrove, Bloomfield, and McWilliams.
Hospice would have me know that there are nine steps to survival following the death of a loved one, and here they are for all of us to share:
- Healing moves forward and takes a step back: Healing and growth is not a smooth forward progression. There will be many ups and downs—dramatic leaps, and depressing backslides.
- Take good care of yourself: Plan your days. Stick to a schedule. Activity will give you a sense of order. Allow yourself time to rest; you are under stress.
- Keep decision making to a minimum: Expect your judgment may be clouded for a while. You are going through change—don’t add additional changes.
- Seek comfort: Accept support from others.
- Reaffirm your beliefs: Use your faith; explore it, examine it, lean on it. GROW!
- Weekends and holidays can be difficult: Schedule activities you really enjoy.
- Thoughts of suicide: These may surface; they are symptoms of pain. If you feel they are getting out of control, seek help at once. Gryphon Place, helping you find solutions 24-hours a day, can be reached at 269-381-1510.
- Anger may be a part of grieving: Anger is a common reaction to grief. Channel your anger wisely, and it will subside as you heal.
- Enhance nutrition: Drink plenty of liquids and eat meals regularly.
Well, I have not had a single thought of suicide, and I am seeking comfort from my dear wife Natalie and family and many friends. And I am taking good care of myself, although I do need to sleep more and fret less.
I take great comfort in my spiritual exercises, and I am eating better than I ever have.
This weekend is all about bike rides, and my clarinet teacher and his wife and daughter are coming next weekend for a day of sun on the beach and music in the red barn. So weekends are working out.
As for anger, I take a walk or crank out some push-ups when I feel a fit of rage coming on.
So, I am a work in progress as I progress in what I call: Good Grief.
Good Grief, indeed!