“States” of Grieving and Other Trying Moments…
I was born with an innate sense of humor, the gift of gab and the ability to see in my mind’s eye and place images on paper. These gifts surfaced early in my childhood and continue to serve me well as I continue my Greek-American storytelling odyssey…
“When a mother dies, she takes her stories with her, leaving a daughter to reconstruct them whatever way she can…” – Hope Edelman, Author, Motherless Daughters: THE LEGACY OF LOSS
WHERE WERE WE GOING THAT SNOWY DAY?
The snow had stopped falling that cold winter day.
It was the end of January.
The long, narrow driveway was covered with ice.
We were walking with mother, my sister and I,
Holding hands, we walked side by side.
She was heavy with child and it was hard to walk,
On that cold icy driveway we walked and talked.
Mother lost her footing and she slipped and fell.
She slipped and she fell on that cold icy day
And as hard as we tried to help her, she just slipped away.
I remember everything about that day,
But I can’t remember what people said.
Did anyone tell me “Barbara, your mother is dead”!
Did my father talk to us? What did he say?
Did he tell us why our mother had gone away?
Childhood sorrow opened the door to a lifetime of learning invaluable lessons about life and death. Early on I learned that the loss of my mother when I was 3-1/2 years old did not permanently disfigure my life. I learned to listen, to watch life carefully and to place enormous value on love and kindness and, armed with the gift of gab, by telling my family’s story – when the spirit moves me – helps me gracefully navigate states of grieving as they come up.
Grief counseling has become an industry. A quick search on the Internet reveals thousands of grief counseling websites, certified bereavement facilitators, and hundreds of advice-filled books. For the most part they all talk about “stages” of grieving as though we pass through the stages and come out the other end with CLOSURE! The stages to which they refer include: denial, anger, bargaining, closure, acceptance – there may be other stages but none come to mind.
Many years ago, while working as the resident storyteller at St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf, I had the good fortune to attend a staff development workshop offered by Grief Counselor Dr. Ken Moses. Something Dr. Moses talked about had a powerful impact on me. He said all we humans have going for us are “feeling states of grieving.” As I remember it, Dr. Moses said he did not believe people go through stages of grieving, “all we have going for us are states of grieving.”
For as long as I can remember, I find myself yanked in and out of a state of grieving – oftentimes for days on end. Rarely and I mean rarely does anyone around me know about the “state” I am in. Do I continue to function, succeed in my daily life coping whilst in a state of grieving and other trying moments when they surface? “YES!” Born with a quirky sense of humor, I try to face each day doing what I learned to do as a youngster. I tap into the restorative power of memory, navigating life-shattering events when they surface, listening and telling my family stories with a cheerful, open heart.
Where is the “CLOSURE?” Hmmm…I wonder…Closing this blog entry with the last five lines of a poem by American poet, Linda Pastan, THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEVING:
“Acceptance. I finally
But something is wrong.
Grief is a circular staircase.
I have lost you.”
“Language is sometimes the only thing that grieves our losses with us.”
– Lisel Mueller, Poet/Author