Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Talking about grief (and paying your own way)

Its 10:19 pm

Thanks to the lovely Morgan Fairchild for my topic and to Michelle,Melissa and Suzanne for keeping me company.

  My computer is finally fixed. I took it to Polygon Computers,its where we went twice before when the computer was not working. Its has been about 18 months since I was last in. I carried the computer in and Mr. Li was there working as usual. As I was setting up the computer,he asked how I have been doing. I mentioned that last time I was in,that Lori was sick and that she had passed away. He said..."Yes,she had uterine cancer,right"? I was amazed...and said as much. He said he remembered me...he then proceeded to start looking at my machine. I made arrangements to come back and pick it later that afternoon and headed home.
   I got back at 3:00 pm and he had not only cleaned it up,he said I had deleted my own security suite and that it was pretty virused out. I honestly couldn't tell you when I did that but am I surprised? No,not really.
He also boosted my memory as well so I won't bog down anymore. That always happened when we had two or more tabs open but with more memory,its letting me keep 3 tabs open right now.
  As Mr. Li was explaining what he did,he got a phone call from a person who wanted to bring his computer down so Mr. Li could install a game for him. Instead,Mr. Li patiently explained how to do it over the phone. After he was finished,I commented how he could have had the guy come down and made some money instead of helping him for free on the phone. I think it was very kind of him to do that...even more so when Mr. Li had said business was very slow for him and he could have used the business.
 He asked if I wanted to pay him for his service and I said without a doubt. He said it would be 50.00 but I know from the other times,he charged 75.00 and I said I wanted to pay the 75.00 and whatever the memory addition would be. Its only fair,I mean,I couldn't have fixed it on my own...and Mr. Li needs money to pay for his shop which is off the beaten path here in my town.
  He said the memory was free and was thankful for the 75.00. He mentioned how Indians were always trying to undercut his prices,trying to get "deals". It pisses me off when I see that....the man is by himself,struggling to keep his small business going. No one forced these Indians to his shop,you go there,you better be ready to pay the fair price. Haggling is great at a flea market or a yard sale....but not at a small business,its very disrespectful.

Today is the 21st of January. Its been eight months since Lori Ann has been gone. Last Sunday I plugged my video camera that she had gotten me our last Christmas together. I knew I had two videos of our last days together when she was in hospice. Our friend Cheryl recorded us as Lori slept and I held her hand. I talked about we met and other things. I had actually forgotten that I had recorded a visit during our last month when her brother and his wife along with her best friend and her boyfriend. The video was so sweet but overwhelming emotionally. I made it through 6 minutes before having to turn it off. Seeing her alive,even in her advanced stage was just crushing. It brought back everything in focus and I wept for a long time.
  After I brought home the computer and plugged it in,I got a call from my grief therapist Becca, from Arbor Hospice.
  We talked about the video and the fact that everyone I talked to in the two days since I looked at the video told me that they couldn't look at videos. Pictures were good and one said the funeral service was something they could handle but way,no how. It made me feel better about that,that I wasn't alone in how I felt in watching it.
  I had to call Sony for a replacement cord so I can download my video to CDs. While I may not be able to watch now,I don't want to lose them either! They are my last link to seeing Lori alive.
  I caught a link on Morgan Fairchild's Twitter feed after I had talked to Becca.

Of all of our life's journeys,grief is perhaps the most completely personal and private path we walk.Simply put,there are truly no set rules to it. Everyone handles it their own way. Its how people react to others who are enduring severe loss that needs to be examined. How do we try and help those in that kind of pain? Its a very hard question to ask and deal with.
  I have written about volunteering at my job with two of my co-workers,Darryl and Justin. We did a painting project in Wayne and was part of a huge crew who repaired a VFW Hall in Detroit.
  Darryl sat in our break room during the first week of Christmas and shared with me about the loss of his mom. He,just like myself,didn't really celebrate Christmas in anyway that first year and assured me that he understood where I was coming from when I told him I wasn't doing Christmas this year.
  A week later...and we get some heartbreaking news,Darryl's dad was driving and had a massive heart attack. He managed to pull his truck off the secure and put the brakes on before he died. In a second,he had suffered the sudden death of his father. When I heard this...did I have any wisdom to share,peaceful comforting words to console him? Nope....I was left just like the rest of us,not really knowing what to say.
I know when he came in to work with his uncle,he had that shocked and dazed look you get during that first week. The only thing I could tell him was that I loved him and I was here. But it was important that I say something...

  The person suffering from deep loss,be it a survivor or a victim of trauma...need the following as pointed out by Catherine Woodiwiss,who not only lost her older sister in a accident but herself was critically injured in a terrible accident that left her face is such bad shape,she had to drink from straws for months and is facing a very long road back.
Catherine wrote the following in a blog post: “The victims of trauma experience days when you feel like a quivering, cowardly shell of yourself, when despair yawns as a terrible chasm, when fear paralyzes any chance for pleasure. This is just a fight that has to be won, over and over and over again.”

   This is the truth. Some days are better then others,I can agree with that. I do find myself in a slightly better frame of mind but it is fragile. I am still taking small steps and looking for a direction to go to. I don't feel like I am in a constant fog...I still feel unbalanced but at least I feel like I can see where I am going.

There are certain things people can remember when running into someone in deep loss or trauma. These are basic rules and these are my thoughts as they relate to me only. Remember,this may not apply to everyone.

Do be there.
   I have been rather blessed in the fact we have some amazing friends. I think Lori would be surprised at who stayed in the fight with me and who didn't. I have some amazing and loving support from my co-workers. We tend to try and watch out for each other. What I like is how much space I am given but at the same time if I am dragging,they will approach me and ask how I am doing. I do the same for the people who are in the same boat I am in. To put a hand on a shoulder and say "if you need to talk or vent" is comforting even if I don't need to. The fact I have that option is a good feeling. I don't feel alone.

Don’t compare, ever.
  This is a critical statement. Like I wrote before,grief and loss is the most personal journey. I have only had a couple of people compare their stories to ours. While I may nod my head,inside,I am shaking it. No one can compare because no one knows the connection you had with your loved one. You may have the same illness,accident,trauma but that is it. You can't begin to know what the other person is feeling inside. You can say "I lost someone I love too,I am so very sorry for the loss. I am here for you when you are ready". Believe me,when and if that person needs to talk,they will find you.

Do bring soup or a hot meal.

This is often forgotten after the first couple of weeks.I never really thought about this until I was alone one night standing in the kitchen with a dazed feeling. I know I needed to eat but what? A hot meal or going out for coffee is another gentle way of letting someone know you are here as a friend who is concerned for you.
Maybe you notice something small is missing from a home that you can help with...its not so much the meal or item but the gesture itself is telling that person, you are not forgotten.
Do not say “you’ll get over it.”

 There isn't much more unintended damaging words to say then this. This one and "Time will heal your pain".
Both statements are a crock of shit. I have written about someone who said  what happened to us was "an issue" That one almost caused me to lose my temper...but I considered the person and just felt sorry for her.
People who would say such a unthinking statement have no idea what is to love someone that much because if they did....this would never be uttered. And yeah,that includes losing a pet. I have heard people say that to a pet owner who has lost a beloved cat or dog. You "get over" a relationship,not getting a pay raise,a bad hair day. You do not get over from loss or a serious injury like if you dropped a ice cream cone.
Do be a builder.
 There isn't much I can say to this because I am not there yet. I am still trying to decide what I am going to build here. I know I have started building in the fact I am volunteering and trying to pay it forward. I want to try and build a legacy for Lori,so she is never forgotten. I have a few ideas and thoughts but no real plan. I will have to come back to this and revisit it in the future.

Don’t say it’s all for the best or try to make sense out of what has happened.

This is only half right. There is no "all for the best" because there is NO best when it comes to losing someone. This rates up with "This was God's will" in terms of stupidity. It may be God's design but trust me on this,a person doesn't want to HEAR that. But on the other hand,trying to make sense of what may of happened isn't a bad thing. I know in Lori's case,there were several mistakes made that could have saved her life. Trying to make sense of why she died when she didn't have too is of paramount importance to me. I don't wish what happened to us to happen to anyone else. The only way that can happen is to explore and see why it happen and to prevent it from happening again.
  This is when just being there as a friend or loved one is welcomed as a sounding board. Just talking about our experience has led me to a place where I am ready to talk to the U of M patient board about what happened during the last 3 months. I am not ready to talk to Oakwood yet as I am still too upset to explain my feelings about their crappy care of Lori.

This was on my heart as of late and when I saw this topic on Morgan's feed,I knew I had to write on it.
You can find the story I saw here . Feel free to drop a comment or question.

If you are on Twitter,you can find me @Jinzo_2400


Melissa - thanks for the chat
Rob W. - Hall of Fame as always!
Morgan - Thanks for the inspiration
Suzanne - fun as always
Denise - Praying for you as always
My 49ers friends - Still one behind the Steelers!
Eric Stuart - I am so ready to get my CDs!
Kerri - Two time winner! Hell YEAH!
Gordy - Congrats on your huge month and the new house!
Rich G. - We need to do coffee again,without the snowstorm!

1 comment:

  1. I very much sympathize with Mr. Li. My least favorite customers when I was in retail were those who tried to barter and did not want to pay a fair price. Also want to say I hear your anger ar Oakwood coming through your blog and do get it on many levels. Twice my mom had cancer, twice she was mis-diagnosed, and twice by the time she got proper diagnosis the cancer was too far advanced to treat. My mom will be gone 19 years in March and I am STILL angry. They second time she had bone cancer and they sent her to a shrink because they thought she was crazy. I am here for you if you need to vent!