I want to be a better friend to those who are in pain.

 

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*Content warning: This post discusses suicide and depression.

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook and I had to share it with you.

Why “I love you” and “Please reach out” are the crappiest things to post after someone has died by suicide – by Deanna Zandt

I have been one of those people with good intentions who have simply said the wrong things, and for that, I’m deeply sorry.  I have been there, yet I still don’t know what to say when a friend is in their darkest moments.  I need to always remember, I didn’t want to die because I didn’t feel loved, I simply wanted the pain to stop.  It helped me to have someone sit with me, hold my hand, and simply be a witness to my pain.  It helped me to know that they would help if they could, but that they didn’t try to force this false help on me.  I know these things, but it’s very hard to do these things for someone from afar.  I can’t simply sit with someone when they are in pain if I can’t be physically with them.  Often, when I reach out to someone through texts, or messages, I don’t know what to say after that initial contact. Silence is unacceptable when you are texting.  I want them to know that I care, and I simply want to be there for them.  I know I can’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.

I also read another article I found interesting: Depression and Suicide: Being mindful and accepting of the pain of the dark days – by Jack C. Surguy M.A. 

Jack Surguy mentions something that I found helpful for me; by accepting that everything changes I can take solace in knowing that these feelings will not last forever.  (even if they feel like they will)  When I’m am suffering I know that it will end, that is actually my mantra when my emotions are all out of wack, “this will end”.  I guess it’s a variation on “this too shall pass”, but that sounds trite to me for some reason.  I promise no matter what you are going through right now, good, bad or indifferent, it will change.

I hope you find both of these articles interesting and possibly helpful.

Right now my wrist is killing me, so I need to stop typing, but after the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I felt I needed to talk about this, I want to do better.  I want my friends (you) to know I love them, that I care, and that I respect their pain.  I want them to know this every day, not just times like these.

 

* photo by W. Holcombe.  A red yucca plant viewed while lying down looking at the sky.  I found it stunning.

 

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Quick update…much more to come

I’m tired.

I sat down to write this and all I can think is, “I’m tired”.  Hell, I’d say I’m pretty exhausted, and I still have so much to do.  Just praying I can accomplish much more before I completely collapse.

On the 23rd the movers came and packed up our house to move us from North Carolina to Arizona.  We started our trek across the country the next day.  We had planned to take it slow, drive about 4-5 hours a day, as long as we got there sometime this week we thought that would be fine.  After the second day we got word that our stuff would be arriving in Tucson on Tuesday (the 29th), if we drove 8 hours a day for the next couple of days we would be there in time.  It wasn’t a huge deal if we weren’t there when everything arrived, we had people who could take care of it for us, but I could tell that the thought of us not being there when they unloaded was stressing Stuart a little, so we decided to make it happen.  We arrived the afternoon of the 28th, and our stuff arrived at 8:30am the next day.

The trip here was pretty uneventful, just a few little things bare mentioning.  For most of the trip I had a stomach ache.  Gastritis was hitting me hard.  I could only handle bland food.  That’s a little challenging when you are driving across the country with a little dog and have an allergy to wheat.  I ate a lot of oatmeal and baked potatoes.  One night I did venture out and had steamed chicken and broccoli with rice…no sauce, and I did okay with it.  I’m happy to say that my stomach calmed down now after we got here, I even had a piece of pizza.  The pain in my stomach was so bad the first day that I seriously considered going to the ER, but I just had an endoscopy done and it only showed gastritis, so I was pretty sure it was just flaring.  (Gastritis is a general term for a group of conditions with one thing in common: inflammation of the lining of the stomach.)  I have been wondering why my stomach hurt so much on this trip and the only thing that I can think of that was different was that I stopped taking turmeric last week.  (I know you are all thinking, stress, but I have been under a lot of stress the past month and I haven’t had a stomach ache)  I’d been taking tumeric for months (maybe a year) for inflammation, but I wasn’t sure it was doing much.  Now I’m beginning to think it was reducing the inflammation in my stomach.  I started taking it again last weekend, and I haven’t had issues since.

I must admit the pain caused me to be one irritable cranky bi…umm…witch.  Things that normally wouldn’t phase me in the slightest were suddenly getting on my nerves something awful.  Yes, the stress of moving did not help.  I was feeling a bit emotional about leaving the Southeast.  It just seems a bit final.  I simply don’t know if I’ll see some of those people ever again, I’m not dwelling on it, but it makes me sad.  And not knowing what to expect with Stuart’s stepmom was also probably contributing to the stress.  I really hate that word.  I hate that just normal day things that we have to deal with can cause so many physical symptoms. Stress is not always a bad thing, but it can do havoc on your body.  And I hate it when a doctor tells me that “it’s stress”, argh!

So the trip was good except for my tummy ache and being a grump.

On the 29th the movers delivered our stuff and I saw the house for the first time.

When I walked up to the house a hummingbird came right up to me, I took it as a sign that this is a good place. (both my and Stuart’s mom loved hummingbirds, I have a couple of meaningful hummingbird encounters, I may share those on another day)  The house has a good feeling about it.  The house is old and small, but it’s well taken care of, and it has an amazing yard.  Not the kind of yard you have in the Southeast, but a cool Southwest yard.  It also has a pool.  I’m so excited about that!  Oh, I’ll post pictures soon, I’ll show you everything!

After the movers left we went and had lunch with Stuart’s dad and Margaret.  It was the first time I’ve seen her since the accident.  I wasn’t sure what to expect so I prepared myself for the worst.  She is still a dear sweet woman whom I adore; but she had no recollection of meeting me before, or knowing anything about me.  I didn’t expect her to, so I wasn’t disappointed.  I was pleased that she remembered Stuart was here last month, that was nice.  She may not remember that tomorrow, but she remembered it today.  We had a pleasant lunch, then it was time for us to leave and she became agitated.  She is convinced they are trying to poison her.  You see, she doesn’t like to take her medication, so they put it in applesauce to give it to her, but she tasted it.  It was that taste that made her start believing they were trying to poison her.  I’m told she calms down fast and she won’t remember that, but it affected me.  She was very happy for the rest of the visit, she talked and talked. She made the comment that she likes everything.  When I simply smiled when she said, “No really, I just like everything.  Well, I don’t like someone right up in my face waving their hand, but mostly I like everything.”  (this was before the poisoning episode)

She is so in love with John (Dad).  When he walks in she lights up, and runs over to him and hugs him and kisses him.  It’s so wonderful.  They are still so much in love.  He is a very good husband.  Tonight Stuart was telling me that they don’t know if she’ll continue to remember him.  She has lost most of her short term memory and it keeps encroaching on every day.  She will start forgetting those she has not for the least amount of time; Dad and she have only been married for 7 years so she could start forgetting him in the not too distant future.  The longer she has known someone the longer she will remember them, she may not remember their correct age; for example she may think her son is her husband, because if fits with she is in her memory.  It makes me sad.  They are so much in love.  Dad once told Stuart that as much as he loved Stuart’s mom, Margaret was his soulmate; it breaks my heart that they had so little time together.

Margaret does seem to enjoy the time we spend together.  She just talks and talks, about anything and nothing, but some of her stories are quite entertaining.  I enjoy talking with her, my only problem with that is that I can’t hear a lot of what she says; I follow her body language and mimic it, that seems to be enough for her, but I really wish I could hear her better.  I don’t know if I can be with her alone if I can’t hear it well, I may not understand that she needs assistance before she gets agitated.

I started writing this last week, but we had a time getting out internet connected, the cable company isn’t in much of a hurry to send technicians out to a house to get them turned on so I couldn’t finish it.  For some reason, the WordPress app wouldn’t let me do anything on my own blog.  I couldn’t even comment of a post.  And the last reason I haven’t been able to post is that I haven’t been able to type very easily.

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getting the steroid injection in my wrist….at least my doctor was super cute.

Right before we left my right wrist started hurting and my thumb was partially numb.  Just exactly like how the De Quervain’s tendinosis in my left wrist.  That is pretty strange; it’s not acutually that strange for people who have had it, but it’s alson normally found in women who have babies.  The act of repeatedly picking up a child can cause it, but me?  Why am I getting this?  I have no idea what I’m doing, I thought I’d figured out what cause it in my left wrist, but now I’m not too sure.  Well, I got a shot in it on Wednesday, crossing fingers it works and I don’t have to have further treatment.  So that’s the reason’s I haven’t been posting about this adventure.  Well those and being incredibly busy.

I’ll write more about where we are living now soon.,,,With more pictures.

Mindfulness Monday: to be in the moment*

“In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.”

Victoria Moran

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”

Mother Teresa

“Welcome to the present moment. Here. Now. The only moment there ever is.”

Eckhart Tolle

* Wendy is settling into her new life in Tucson and asked me to fill in for her today. When she gets the chance, she’ll post about her adventures.

This week, I’m returning to the simple principal of mindfulness (as Wendy has taught me): be in the moment.

© Lorraine (detail of tile mosaic, Natural History Museum subway station, NYC)

Mindfulness Monday – Travel

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“Everything I was I carry with me.

Everything I will be lies waiting on the road ahead.”

~ Majian

 

“Wherever you go

There you are”

~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

“We travel,

Some of us forever,

To seek other states,

Other lives, other souls.”

~ Anais Nin

 

 

* Photos are from the road traveling from North Carolina to Arizona, We aren’t there yet, we’re in New Mexico should be in Tucson this afternoon.

Safe travels.

Meaningful Monday: Pema Chödrön

 

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photo by Lorraine

Wendy is too busy with all the wonderous changes in her life to present her usual Mindfulness Monday post at the moment. So, I am stepping in with a guest post for her.

I have always found great wisdom, humour and compassion in the words of  Pema Chödrön. She is member of/teacher at a Shambhala Buddist community – Gampo Abbey – in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia which gives her words a special resonance with me. My paternal roots, and extended chunks of my adult life were spent in the Maritimes. No better spot for meditation, retreat, and restoration. I just returned from the South Shore of Nova Scotia. My first visit “home” in 7 years; a truly transformative experience.

So in honour of Wendy and Nova Scotia, I present Meaningful Monday as a guest host for Wendy’s wonderful Mindfulness Mondays. All quotes are from Pema Chödrön.

 

“When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”

“Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start.”

“Every situation is a passing memory.”

Mindfulness Monday – Pain

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painting by W. Holcombe 

“Pain can change you,

but that doesn’t mean

it has to be a bad change.

Take that pain and

turn it into wisdom.

~Dalai Lama

“To diminish the suffering of pain,

We need to make a crucial distinction

Between pain of pain,

And the pain we create

By our thoughts about the pain.

Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness and helplessness

Are all mental and emotional responses

That can intensify pain.”

~Howard Cutler

“Pain is not wrong.

reacting to pain as wrong initiates

the trance of unworthiness.

The moment we believe something is wrong,

our world shrinks and

we lose ourselves in the effort

to combat the pain.”

~Tara Brach

 

 

*painting by W. Holcombe.  All rights reserved. Please do not use without permission.

It’s really happening….life is changing fast.

“Everything changes, nothing remains without change.” ~ Buddha

Okay so I started this a number of times and just can’t get my words to come out right, so I’m going to try the mindful writing for this post and see how it goes.  What you are about to read will be written with my eyes closed and I’ll be taking a deep breath after each sentence….let’s see how it goes.

Okay, so deep. deep breath.  In.  Out.  Breathe.  I must take time to do that more often.  The simple act of stopping and breathing with intention has helped to calm my mind and open my awareness.  How wonderful that such a small action can do so much.  It is amazing to me.  Again.  Breathe.  In…. Out…..  calm.

Now let’s see if I can write what’s on my mind.

We will be leaving for Tucson in a couple of weeks.  Stuart starts his new job there on June 11th.  Everything has been falling into place.  Well, kinda, sorta.  Enough has fallen into place that it all feels right.  This feels like we are making the best decision for all.

A couple of weeks ago Stuart went for a job interview in Tucson, while there he also looked at houses for us to rent.  Not only was he offered the job, but he found a little house for us to rent while our house sells and we start looking for a house to buy out there.  As I said, it all seems to be falling into place.

Suddenly I was hit with the fact that we’d be leaving in about a month and I may not ever see many of the people on this coast again.  I’m being realistic here, not pessimistic.  We don’t travel much, I don’t travel well, and a lot of my family is getting older.  I scrambled to try to make planes to see everyone.  We tried to make plans, but first Stuart got sick with a cold, then I caught it, and my cold turned into a cough and an ear infection.  I’ve been running a fever for a week.  I just started on antibiotics, and I’m hopeful I’ll be all better before we leave, but it caused a lot of trouble.  Between both of us getting sick and people on vacation, I’m only going to be able to see a select few.  I was devastated.  It really got to me.  My anxiety got very high and I was just so sad.  Then I started telling myself I needed to just let it go.  No regrets.  I can only do what I can do, if I can’t see everyone I just need to let it go.  I’ll keep in touch the best I can.  All anyone can do is their best.  So, I let it go.  It is the way it is.  I accept it and I’m okay with it.

Then there’s the worry about the move itself.  I did start to get all worked up about it all, then again, I started using my new mantra.  “Let it go”  Deep breath…. in and…. out.  It’s all good.  I will take each day as it comes and deal with it at that time, I will not worry about what may be, that only causes more anxiety and I need to let that go.

I was feeling really good about things.  Letting go of what I couldn’t change, accepting each day as it comes, and taking care of things that I needed to take care of.  (like getting all my records from doctors, getting all my prescriptions filled, looking for new doctors, taking Kiki to the vet and getting her ready for the trip….so much to do, and I’ve been getting it done)  My therapist even mentioned how well I was dealing with all the change and how mindfulness has become so ingrained in me.  I admit, I was feeling pretty good about it all.

Then the bottom fell out.  I expected to get to Tucson before Stuart’s step mom’s Alzheimer’s advanced too much.  She didn’t know who Stuart was when he was there, but that didn’t surprise me too much, she’s really only met him in person once…well a few times over a 5 month period when we stayed in Tucson one winter, but not other than that.  She knows Stuart’s dad, and see seems happy.  But this week, due to side effects, they had to take her off the medication that helps slow the progression of her disease.  They expect her to decline rapidly now.  Dad doesn’t know how much longer she will know him.  It breaks my heart.  and it scares me.  I’ve never been around anyone who has Alzheimer’s.  I don’t know what to expect, especially if it is so advanced.  I’m afraid I won’t handle it well.  I just want to make things easier for Dad.  If that just means washing his clothes and stuff, that’s what I’ll do.  I’ll help the best I can.  That’s all I can do.  M is in the best place she could be for this, and I’m sure they will help me know how to deal with the situation.  I’m also reading as much as I can to learn more about it.  Frankly, that disease scares me.  The thought of not remembering my husband, that rips my heart out.  What would be worse, watching Stuart go through it.  It just makes me sad.  I’m working on being okay with the way things are.  Accepting that I can’t change it, and simply being okay with it.  Yes I think I said that before.  I also got news that I can’t really talk about on here, but it has stressed me out!!  Getting to the place of acceptance on this is going to be harder.   No, I can accept that it’s happening, I’m just not sure what that will mean and how it will affect me, more so, how it will affect Stuart and Dad.  Stuart’s not worried about it, he’s annoyed by it, but not worried.  So why am I?  I have to accept this, and be okay with it.  This will take a lot of deep breaths.  Sometimes my husband puts his head in the sand about things.  I hope that isn’t the case with this.  I know it will all be as it will be, and I’ll deal with things as they come up.  I will try my best not to worry about what may be.  One moment at a time.

Well I think I’m done for today.  I’ve spilled a lot out, but I’ve been vague enough that you are probably wondering… “what on earth?”