Monday, February 22, 2010

It's just a Cold.

Good morning Monday Mourners,

I got up this morning with a strange scratchiness in my throat and a stuffy nose. Not a good sign! It just might be a cold. I try to avoid them. I take my vitamins and drugs at the first symptom in hopes of avoiding or at least shortening the length of a cold. I'm sure you do the same. A winter cold; it's common to all of us. It's annoying and miserable; it's inconvenient and disruptive to our productivity. It's a cold. I hate them. So do you.
I did not rush to the emergency room. I didn't even call my doctor. Going to see the doctor would simple eat up 3 hours of my time and have him send me home to "wait it out". I didn't ignore it because that will only give it license to attack my body and perhaps develop into something that will require medical attention. It's just a cold. I took some medicine and a little vitamin C and I'll get some rest today. Maybe drink a little extra water and see if I cant flush this out of my system. But I will not be admitted to a hospital anytime soon - at least not for a cold.
It is amazing how our perspective can affect our behavior. The morning David woke up with a sharp pain in his side we made our way to the emergency room right away and before the day was out we knew we had terminal cancer. We didn't just shrug it off and assume it would go away. We took immediate action. It was not a cold - it was a life-threatening pain requiring immediate action.
Some days my grief becomes so painful, so pervasive that I lose my focus and my perspective gets off-kilter. I begin to think that this loneliness and sadness will kill me. In reality, though it is miserable and unsightly at times, my grief is... "a cold". It is not life-threatening. Painful but not a killer. And in light of eternity not to mention the whole of my life experience, this season of grief is about as long as a cold; short and soon to pass.
That's not in any way an attempt to minimize the very real pain we mourners feel. I did say it was "miserable". But it is also helpful in the midst of our "misery" to at least try to put it in proper perspective. This will pass. I will have better days and the "sniffles" of grief will give way to clear-headed, happier days. It's just a cold. And I know that I face not only better days to come but an eternity of truly happy, healthy, joy-filled days with my Lord - and my husband.
So, if today you are suffering with this irritating infirmity of grief hang in there! It will get better. Take some medicine if you can (loving friends and some quiet rest would be helpful) and plow through! I'm sniffling my way through it. We'll sniffle together. See you next week.


Monday, February 15, 2010

The Morning After

Good Monday Mourning!

Well today is the day after Valentines Day. I pray you found an opportunity to express love to those near and dear to you and that you received love from others. I had the opportunity to love some folks at church yesterday and that was fun. Good for the heart! I received lots of candy kisses and cards and even a few hugs. They were all wonderful and needed and I received them with gladness.
AND.... I prayed nearly every moment of the day that I would just make it through the day without crying. I made it through dry-eyed and no worse for wear. I am grateful that there are no more holidays centered around romance and love for many, many months. Perhaps I will be able to catch my breath and get back to some kind of emotional equalibrium now that the holidays are behind us.
I am grateful for family and friends who care for me. I am grateful for the time together; for laughter and presents and good health for all those I love. I am also grateful for "the morning after".- no more commercials about flowers and candy and romance. No more sentimental music and hype that only leads to dashed expectations and magnified loneliness. YEAH! I am quite able to handle this grieving thing with a healthy level of happiness and acceptance as long as the holidays don't push my buttons and provoke thoughts and feelings that are not helpful to my overall emotional stability.
I realized I had reached my limit when last night I screamed at my TV, "knock it off!" when they showed another valentine commercial at 10:30 in the evening. If the guy hasn't gotton Valentines Day taken care of by that hour he's not going to. No point in rubbing it in!
Well... enough of that. It is officially "the morning after". Hallelujah! The next holiday on my radar is Easter and that truly is a holy-day. I get my whole heart around that one! I'm looking for good days ahead. How about you?

Hang in there,

Pastor Karen

Monday, February 8, 2010

Welcome fellow mourners,

Well, this Monday is another one of those special days for me. In 6 days we will celebrate that Hallmark/Florist holiday called Valentines Day. That means we have all heard more than our share of commercials about flowers, jewelry and chocolate. I'm assuming that the person who dreamed up this holiday had the very best of intentions and I remember the day as being lots of fun when I was in grade school. We made construction paper envelopes to hold valentines from all our classmates and then we would open them all while nibbling on chocolate kisses and cupcakes. It was fun. Not so fun these days. I don't like Valentines Day.
Early on in our marriage. David and I chose not to celebrate Valentines day. David had a dozen roses delivered to my work. They were beautiful and I basked in the joy of his love for me until about 2 weeks later when I got the credit card bill and realized that those roses cost more than dinner and the theatre- for both of us! Even though I love flowers I encouraged David to pass on the roses at Valentines day. It just seemed to be the practical thing to do for a young couple with kids to feed and bills to pay.
So for a decade or more David and I agreed to spend NO money for the Hallmark holidays. Then about 15 years into our No-hallmark holiday spending pack David changed the rules. Six days before Valentines day David walked into my office with a bouquet of flowers; 6 roses with a little greenery; no vase, no box, no bow. I began to object and remind him that we don't spend money on overpriced flowers when he interrupted me. He was quite pleased with himself as he explained that the roses were under $20.00 because he got only 1/2 a dozen from a grocery store and delivered them in person which of course, earned him a "good job!" from me along with lots of kisses. I really do love flowers.
What a great memory! Now, six days before Valentines Day, I sit at my computer with a choice to be made. Will I spend this day saddened about the fact that I will not be getting any flowers today or anytime soon? Or will I cherish the memory of just how much my good guy loved me and found a way to express it "on the cheap"?
I put that thought on hold and took a few long sips of my coffee. It is Monday and I'm often a little gloomy on Mondays - mostly due to weekend fatigue. So I have learned to think twice before making decisions on Mondays.
Here's a thought! Maybe I should go to the grocery store and pick up half a dozen roses and put them on my desk. I can look at them all week and remember just how clever and loving my husband was. I Know! I'll get a dozen and share them with some friends who, like me, are living without a partner. Now that sounds like fun. I may have to get two dozen. And here lies another secret to handling grief instead of letting grief man-handle you: Lavish love on others and you will have less time to cry about the love you miss.
Find someone this week to give one of those childish valentines or a candy kiss to. It will do YOU a lot of good. I've got to go - those flower prices are going up!


Monday, February 1, 2010

Out of the Closet

Good Monday Mourning fellow grievers,

I slept in a bit this morning. Winter does that to me. How about you? Well, I finally crawled out of bed and went to my closet to find something to wear. I opened the folding doors wide and gazed into the side with all the shirts and sweaters - not to be confused with the side that holds the dresses and skirts. The two sections are divided by a row of shelves and cubbies that hold shoes, scarves and belts. So as I'm looking through the row of neatly hung clothes for something warm (very warm!) I realize something unusual is happening - at least unusual for a Monday morning; I was smiling. Yes! I confess, the sight of a closet not jammed with clothes; one where there is enough space for everything makes me smile.
I know that's a silly thing. I admit I am a bit embarrassed that something like adequate closet space makes me smile. Closet space is not a life-changing topic with any eternal value but I still smiled.
And then as quickly as the smile came it left- abruptly and quite unsettling as I realized WHY I finally have enough closet space; David died. I'm not sharing the space with men's suits and bowling balls and other silly things men think they should put in a closet. I'm not sharing the space anymore. (I actually tried to convince David that he should store his stuff in the spare bedroom closet so he wouldnt be so crowded in ours. He said he didnt feel crowded at all and maybe the problem was that I had too many clothes. Really! Men are so strange!)Adequate closet space is a nice thing to have but not if somebody has to die in order to get it.
This is the nature of grief. Everytime you think you might take some pleasure or delight in life - even in the little things like closet space - grief gets right up in your face like some drill sargent and tells you to wipe that silly smile off your face 'cause you got no reason to smile.
Well when this happens (and if you've grieved for a while I know i'ts happened to you) I fight back. I refuse to let grief fill me with false guilt and rob me of joy or happiness. David died and that is truly awful. But I will claim the whole closet and I will smile about it. Grief tries to tell us that we should never be happy again because our loved one is gone. Everytime a laugh or a smile breaks through grief is there to say, "how could you think of being happy at a time like this?!" I fight it! I do not let that lie take hold in my mind or my heart. You should fight it too. Yes, it is OK for me to be happy even while I grieve. Those two emotions are not mutually exclusive; they can coexist and I actually look for ways to find happiness in the little daily pleasures. Things like having the TV remote all to myself and wearing flannel to bed and closets that work. I am happy about such things and that doesnt mean I don't miss my husband. I miss him...every day AND I make the best of this "table for One". If being happy about closets void of men's baseball cleats that havent been worn in 10 years is wrong then I guess you can say, I'm "out of the closet!" Call me wrong. Just don't mess with my closet.
I hope you find something today to smile about. Tell me what makes you smile. Surely someone has one as silly as mine. Besides, God smiles at silly things too. He smiles at you and me... now that's silly!