Understanding Grief – My Analogy

Everyone experiences grief in their own way. There is no clock to watch or calendar to check off the days to know when it will end. We are all experiencing grief as we deal with the impact of Covid on our lives. It can affect us in different ways and at different degrees. Given that we are in our third year of this Twilight Zone experience, it is no wonder that grief is taking over our emotional well-being.

If you add other life stressors to the Covid drama, grief can take over a calm lifestyle. In the past few years, I have suffered the loss of beloved family members, estranged relationships, broken hearts, the loss of a pet, changes in physical health, new life-altering illnesses, as well as relinquishing a dream. It’s no wonder why grief rears its ugly head in my life. I know I am not alone in the hard life experiences of today. I’ve worked hard to find gratitude daily. Most of the time, I do fairly well.

I have come up with an analogy to explain how grief works in my life. I visualize myself standing in shallow water where ocean waves are breaking. The waves are grief waiting to hit me. They are typically small waves, and I can support myself when they hit. Sometimes they are a little unexpected and come up behind me. I usually brace myself by digging my feet into the sand. I am not overwhelmed, but I do need to be careful to take care of myself. Occasionally, an unexpected giant wave surprises me and knocks me down. I struggle for air as I try to recover from the impact. It seems like I am out of control, not knowing if, or when, I will be OK.  

Last weekend a tidal wave hit me. It was an accumulation of all the above grief overwhelming me. My body was overcome with both physical and emotional pain. The universe provided me an opportunity to reach out and say I needed help. A generous dose of help was extended to me. I cried until I was out of tears to help with the emotional pain. I allowed myself to take some CBD for the physical pain.

I recounted my analogy to a friend on Thursday. She gave me a compliment about how I dealt with the latest experience. She was glad I had reached out for help when I realized I needed it. So, I have added to my story. If an overwhelming wave hits me and I can’t find my bearing, I will try and reach out for help.


What To Do? My Dilemma

I am struggling today. Struggling not with my physical health, as my pain levels are under control. Not with mental health, as I am doing well in that department also. I am having difficulty with my emotional health.

I was unaware of the implications of compounding grief. It was leaving me in a state of indecision. Thankfully, when I talked with my coach this morning, she helped me have more aha moments. I have still not made any decision, but I now realize why I am feeling so conflicted.

A little background to help clarify what I am dealing with. My Orthodox grandparents never celebrated Hanukkah with us. But joyfully we were always part of the Passover Seder. I relished the usage of the 5th and 6th set of dishes in her breakfast room. I understood the locked cabinets in the pantry room. I always knew how special Passover was to my family and ancestors.

I must give one detail that was spoken about almost every year at Passover. It seems that when I was a little one, I was sitting in a highchair watching the proceedings of the lengthy Passover service. At some point I was fed up with the reading and picked up my spoon and fork. I banged on the metal tray of the highchair and chanted, “I want food.” The entire family broke out in hysterical laughter which has never happened again at a Passover meal.

My paternal grandparents gave me a love of my Jewish heritage. I knew that I would never be a part of the Orthodox belief system, but I appreciated how it felt to belong to my family. After my grandparents ceased to host Passover, my aunt took over the helm. Our gatherings grew larger and larger encompassing more family than I ever knew existed. The evenings were joyful, spirited, and heartwarming. My entire being felt the special impact of celebrating Judaism.

Once my aunt could no longer host Passover, I happily stepped up to continue the traditions. I do not keep a kosher kitchen. I did my best to continue the family traditions. I also wanted to incorporate new, modern activities. I had young grandchildren who needed less time reading and more time actively participating. My aunt and uncle graciously accepted my Passover service. Bringing my grandchildren, a part of my history was, and is especially important to me. I may be the last generation to host Passover. That makes me sad.

Last year, needless to say, I did not host Passover. There was no family gathering. There were no kids wondering when they would finally be allowed to eat. I did not make special plague bags or coloring pages for the little ones. Instead, I made the five courses of food for two and watched a virtual Passover online. It was not the same. I was sad, missing my family. My heart ached for the loss of normalcy.

Now, Passover is coming in two weeks. I am feeling an unexpected internal turmoil. For many reasons, I don’t feel safe hosting Passover right now. I now realize the depth of my grief. I feel grief from Covid taking away my sense of wellbeing. I feel grief about sad things occurring in my extended family. I feel grief at the loss of all my family in my elder generation. I feel grief at losing my family connection to Judaism. I don’t know what I want this year.

Hopefully, next year I will return to some type of a new normal. I want to give my grandchildren a sense of their heritage. That doesn’t help me right now though. One option I have been given is to spend the day in meditation exploring more about Passover. That feels doable. Another idea was to spend the day at the cemetery reciting the Haggadah at my grandparent’s grave. I did some research and found that that is not appropriate.

I am struggling with the desire to respect the traditions while not feeling able to do what I have always done. I don’t like being indecisive. I have worked hard for three years on doing things that are good for me. I am happy with who I am now. I am struggling dealing with all the grief in my life right now. At least I know why I am feeling such indecision.

What should happen, will happen. I am leaving it up to my higher power to give me a clue as to what is good for me. A wise comment was stated to me today. I was told, G-d will understand if you can’t hold a Seder this year.

I Love My Tribe

I spent most of my day embraced by love.  I am happy for the fact that I have such a wonderful tribe of people who care about me. I have family members who check in to see if I am OK. (I am)  I have friends who extend an ear if/when I need to talk. It matters not, if I need to cry, laugh, or reminisce. I have friends who gingerly approach my feelings about death and the afterlife. (I have no problems discussing this as long as no one tries to trash my views.)  I have had people reach out to me that I haven’t been in touch with for awhile. It makes me feel less alone with my grief. I am not in any way trying to be heroic. I am feeling all my feelings which may change from hour to hour. 

I love my tribe. My afternoon ended with more bad news on another front.  I wondered if I should just wave a white flag and crawl under my covers to hide from the world. This is truly one of the very rare occasions that I wish I drank alcohol. Getting drunk sounds like a good idea tight now. But , I know it solves no problems. 

G-d, grant me the strength to keep moving one foot in front of the other until this grief is lessoned.

Your three things today are:  TRASH   HEROIC    PINCH
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