Friday, April 15, 2016
Somewhere In A Dream
Most people have lost someone they love. Death is never pleasant. It hurts those of us who are still alive. The grief can feel unbearable at times.
They say there are seven stages of grief. They are distinct stages although I have learned through my own experiences that some of them can occur at the same time.
1. Shock and denial. When my father told my sisters and me that my brother had been killed in Viet Nam I sat at the steering wheel of my car waiting for the tears I knew would come. I knew it was true. But I was numb. I was in shock.
2. Pain and guilt. When my father died I was so hurt. All of us were. I was a daddy's girl and could not imagine my life without him. I even cried to my husband that although I knew it was a possibility that my mother might someday remarry I did not want a stepfather. I was a grown woman for goodness sake. What a morbid thought I was having.
3. Anger and bargaining. My niece was only 8 years old when she died from a lifelong illness. After the funeral we went to her mother's house to comfort each other. Naturally all the children were upset. When we had not seen them for a while I looked for them. They were in my nephew's, her little brother, room. My niece's name was Rhonda. They were listening to "Help Me Rhonda" by the Beach Boys over and over. My nephew felt that if he had been with her he could have to saved her.
4. Depression, loneliness, reflection. After Mom died I tried to take care of my children and all my brothers and sisters. I was the oldest after all. My work was kind enough to give me as much time off as I felt necessary. When I went back to work I walked in the door and realized that I was an orphan. I turned around and went back home.
5. The upward turn. Life does go on. Eventually things get a little easier.
6. Reconstruction and working through. Little by little you begin to resolve things in your mind. I have found that sharing memories with others who are grieving is one of the best therapies. Funny stories. Sad stories. Fond memories. They are what bond us to each other and the one we lost.
7. Acceptance, hope. After an amount of time you begin to accept that the person is not physically in your life any more. You can see hope that it will not always hurt as much.
An interesting thing that happened to me was that after a period of time I would have a dream about a loved one who died. I have dreamed about my niece, my mother, and even my ex-husband. The dream about my father was the most powerful.
We were all sitting in the living room as we always did. At the same time that it happened every day the front door opened and in walked my father! He was dressed like a sailor (he had been in the Navy) and was wearing a pea coat and carrying a duffel bag. I jumped up and threw my arms around his neck and held on for dear life.
I had my daddy back. He had been gone for about a year. I had no intention of letting go.
My mother and brothers and sisters were lined up across from me standing in front of the wall. Finally my mother stepped forward and looked closely at the back of his neck. "Yep. That's him all right." That was what she said.
Then Mom went back to standing in front of the wall with her arms folded angrily. Finally she said firmly, "I hope you know I spent all that money!" She meant some of the money from his life insurance. I woke up.
I was reluctant to tell Mom about my dream. I did not want to upset her. She loved him before I did.
When I decided to tell her about my dream she started to laugh and could not stop. When she finally caught her breath she told me that she had just had a dream about him coming back too. And she said that the whole time she kept thinking, "How on earth am I ever going to be able to pay all that money back?"
I believe the "dream" is part of my healing process. I know I felt better getting that one last hug.