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No one is on the schedule to write for tonight.

So I am posting this for grieving people who want a place to gather.

There is a discussion question after the fleur de kos.

Welcome, fellow travelers on the grief journey
and a special welcome to anyone new to The Grieving Room.
We meet every Monday evening.
Whether your loss is recent, or many years ago;
whether you've lost a person, or a pet;
or even if the person you're "mourning" is still alive,
("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time),
you can come to this diary and say whatever you need to say.
We can't solve each other's problems,
but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
Unlike a private journal
here, you know: your words are read by people who
have been through their own hell.
There's no need to pretty it up or tone it down..
It just is.

These days, when the worst feelings of grief and loneliness jump up and take me by surprise, creep up on me around the corner, or fall on me out of the sky, I stop for a moment and ask myself a question: do I have the energy to push back against this?

Sometimes I don't have the energy.  I feel like I am trapped under an enormous sandbag.  It takes everything I have to crawl out.

But sometimes when I do feel able to push back, I have specific things I do to distract myself, or lift my mood, or make an effort at comfort.

I am a food addict in recovery so I have to resist going to food for comfort.  Although it is tried and true, it only works for a short time and then I usually feel worse.  I have a book called 50 ways to soothe yourself without food, and some of those ideas are good for the run of the mill bad mood or sad day, but few are up to the task of being blindsided by grief.

Watching Stephen Colbert is fairly reliable.  I always keep a few Colbert Reports on my DVR for this purpose.  No matter how bad I feel, he always gives me at least one or two cathartic belly laughs per episode.

I listen to music, different music than I've ever listened to before, avoiding the melancholy oldies I've loved for decades.  In recent months I've been listening to Daft Punk (which I affectionately call "mindless repetitive robot music") and Justin Timberlake, someone I never gave a second thought to in the past ("let me show you a few things... show you a few things... about love").  I've been looking for other new (to me) music that has no triggers to sad memories or negative connotations to pain in my past.

I come to Daily Kos and let myself get distracted by the latest Republicon outrage.  Music diaries sometimes lead me to new music.  Or I find a community diary where I can get out of myself and find out how other people are doing, and make a virtual connection with my cyberfriends here.

Sometimes I manage to make a phone call to a friend in real life, although many of my friends are in other time zones and my closest friend is working such a demanding job that I don't want to interrupt her mountain of tasks, her infrequent work breaks or her much-needed sleep.

My therapist always says I can call her in an emergency, but I guess I am trying to hide from her how many emergencies I have.

And although I know a lot of people, it is very hard to reach out to my wider circle of friends.  I don't want to dump on them, even if they say they want to listen.  Besides, sometimes I'm tired of hearing my own self talk.

If it's the middle of the night and no one is awake and not much is happening in the open thread for night owls, sometimes I play computer games.  I can get lost in Text Twist and not be able to think about anything other than what seven letter word can be made from the letters U R N E V E E.

I do believe in prayer.  I especially believe in the prayer of tears.  Sometimes a good cry helps the feeling pass, but sometimes it escalates and I can never tell in advance which way it will go.

Sometimes I try everything on my comfort list and nothing works.

Sometimes I don't even try.

So this is my suggested discussion question:  When things are at their worst, do you float down the river of sadness or do you swim upstream?

Do you lie under the sandbag or do you wriggle your way out?

When grief has you in its grip, how do you comfort yourself?

Does anything help?

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Comment Preferences

  •  please share whatever you need to share (29+ / 0-)

    even if it is not a direct response to the diary.

    TGR is a grieving Open Thread.

    If you have a grief anniversary or other significant date coming up, and would like to write a diary for a particular week, please post a comment in this diary asking for the date you want, and/or send me a kosmail, and/or send an email to TrueBlueMajority AT gmail DOT com.
    The Grieving Room is open for discussion.

    What is on your mind and heart tonight?

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 06:40:56 PM PDT

  •  Even the very existence of TGR helps me. (21+ / 0-)

    Because I know there are others who understand. And who care. And who want to help.

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT -9.62, -9.13

    by BeninSC on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:01:04 PM PDT

  •  nothing helps, everything is coping, sometimes (15+ / 0-)

    being in DK is helpful but it's also enabling avoidance of important action

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 07:42:09 PM PDT

  •  Sometimes, the only way out is through. (13+ / 0-)

    I agree with BeninSC that TGR helps. A lot.

    As a lifelong "stuffer" of emotions, I have learned that adding to the pile only makes things worse down the road. When I allow myself to dive into the pain until I find the kernel at the bottom, I can then acknowledge it and, having done that, it loses power and begins to heal. Journaling has been helpful in working through things. Being willing to "share my story" when a listener indicates they're truly interested helps the healing process for me, too. I had someone point out to me once years ago that as long as I keep revisiting a certain issue or relationship, it's a sign that I haven't fully worked through and let go of it. Honoring that insight; if I'm talking to someone new, and "it" comes up again, whatever "it" is, I acknowledge that the healing process for that particular issue or relationship is unfinished, and welcome the chance to work with it some more that has been presented to me, so long as that person is willing. (I pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues to determine that.) If they're not, then I take it home, literally or figuratively, and work with it on my own. I'm not seeing a particular therapist now, but if I were, s/he would be another good resource for working with that issue.

    I've also had to accept my energy limitations, in the wake of my husband's sudden, unexpected passing. I've learned that a loss that big is an actual physical blow, as well as an emotional and psychological one, and I just flat need more time to rest and heal my whole being. Trying to fight that just leads to breakdowns, and I'm learning to spot that spiral when it starts and accept that it's time for a break RIGHT THEN and not sometime down the road when it's "more convenient."

    In the end, I have to trust that I WILL heal and that the healing is indeed happening, even when it doesn't feel like it at a given moment. I give myself "survivor cred" for having made it this far; acknowledge that life still has stuff for me to do; and there's probably some totally weird, outrageous, or otherwise incredible happening or two, waiting out there that I haven't seen yet to be amazed, amused, or infuriated by, and would I really want to miss it? 8^P

    What I want to know is, who's going to pay for these crimes against humanity that those b@st@rds are perpetrating against the rest of us?

    by Kit RMP on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 08:23:18 PM PDT

  •  I'm sorry, I had to host a diary for a while. (14+ / 0-)

    And could not get to your question.

    When things are at their worst, do you float down the river of sadness or do you swim upstream?
    I did a TGR diary several years ago about my Mom, with whom I was VERY close. Yes, her passing was very hard - she was the greatest and most pervasive truth I had ever known. Yet, we had discussed things before she died, and she had tried to prepare me as best she could. I told her I did not know how I would deal with her death, but I told her I would do my best. And she just smiled at me and winked that that would be good enough for her. She had confidence in me I did not feel.

    I kept my promise, however. I did do the best I could to deal with her death. I did (and DO) the best I can to live a full life and not dwell in sadness about one of the finest relationships of my life. I know that being sad can seem a way of honoring our loved ones. Yet, so can happiness and joy. Creative expression and growth. I FEEL her pleasure in my growth and development. I know that the fact that her death isn't a roadblock for me pleases her, as she would have NEVER wanted that. She wanted me to remember the great times, the shared joy, the love. And she wanted me to know that the love would not leave with her body. It has not, either. I still feel it and know it as a real, present truth. Not the SAME as when she was alive, but very real, nonetheless.

    She died well over 13 years ago, now, so, in its way, time has come to my aid, also. But I think that is a gift from her, too. Something she explicitly intended.

    May you feel the love, too, TBM, and the intent that you not be derailed by love that should always lift you, and propel you higher.

    "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT -9.62, -9.13

    by BeninSC on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 08:48:51 PM PDT

  •  Great diary... (12+ / 0-)

    What helps me is the memories.  One day when I was at work my dad let himself into my house and set my dining room table with the dishes that had been in the family since the 1950's-60's.  They are collectors items now, but I use them every single day. (Google Red Wing Pottery Village Green if you are curious)

    Every day we use them.  There are some chips showing up on some pieces, but I don't care.  I think of my family -all mostly gone now, when I dine at my own table.  They ate off of these plates every day as well.  When someone comments on the dinnerware, Mr. Bluejay tells them "these are very special dishes..."  Actually most of them are still quite beautiful - and yes... quite special.

    "If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones." John Steinbeck

    by BluejayRN on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:06:25 PM PDT

  •  every day, every load of stuff, (11+ / 0-)

    I am reminded of how happy my other mother would be to unpack, prowl through, research, and display the 'stuff'. If she were here right now, it would take even her expert self a year or better to manage even one load.

    I feel really fortunate to think that somehow, she's whispering in my ear, teaching me, even now.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:18:22 PM PDT

  •  I swear to gawd that I turn the TV on (13+ / 0-)

    and find a movie to put my head into.  I've never watched as much TV as I have in the last 3 years since Russell died.

    Part of it also is to have noise in the house so the quiet doesn't press on me and make me remember the reason it is so quiet.  It's rare that I can go very long without some noise on in the house.

    And it has to be either TV or a talk radio program.  I can't listen to much music because invariably a lyric or a melody will sink me into remembering why I am alone.

    So there you have it, the TV.  That is my answer.

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead -

    by FlamingoGrrl on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:27:50 PM PDT

  •  Everything on your list (9+ / 0-)

    I think I tried most of the good coping strategies and too many of the bad ones as well. Here's an odd thing that made me feel better once: I got a tattoo with my brother's initials. I had talked him out of a certain tattoo before he died and all of a sudden, one night, I got the wild idea that I needed a tattoo on my wrist, just where he had wanted his. It was so strange, but having a physical spot that hurt but was visible and was healing in an orderly, measured and understood way made me feel a bit better, it made the emotional pain a little more bearable for a while. I've never regretted that tattoo!

    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are. --Anaïs Nin

    by CenPhx on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:49:33 PM PDT

  •  My mom is in CCU and talking to my late daughter (11+ / 0-)

    Very odd, very is almost 91 and we didn't expect her to pull through emergency surgery for diverticulitis/colostomy...but she's hanging on...and she was talking to my Emmy the first night in recovery.

    I was telling a friend this morning that I am jealous I couldn't feel her/see her...and my friend said, Rae, why do you think it was Emmy who came to talk to your mom, and not your dad, or her sister, or anyone else? Emmy came because YOU were there, and your mom is in a space to let you know she was there.

    A lovely thought that really helped. Just had to share. It's been a long week.

    Don't use Jesus as an excuse to be a greedy, narrow-minded, bigoted asshole.

    by GammaRae on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:50:36 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for this story. (7+ / 0-)

      I am fascinated by the strange things that frequently happen near or around the time of death -- the seeming visits, messages, etc. -- and have collected stories from friends and acquaintances for years.  I have no clue what they are, but I know they are very common.

      I'm always hesitant to talk about such things in these diaries, because I'm afraid that people who haven't had such experiences will interpret that as somehow reflecting something wrong with them that they haven't, and I don't believe that at all.

      But the memory of those experiences is what comforts me most, and what I carry with me.  For example, in the first five years after my girlfriend/best friend/soulmate Jill died, she would show up in a surprising way in a dream around the time of my birthday every year.  The whole quality of the dreams would change.  They became definite visits, not dreams.

      Other examples:  I have a lamp in my living room that strangely goes on occasionally by itself in the middle of the night.  For no other reason than that I like to think it, I like to half-jokingly think of those occurances as messages from Jill.  

      But, two years ago (2011), on the night of her birthday, I thought, "Okay, Jill, if you're still around me, turn on that light tonight."  I really didn't expect it to, and I tried not to hope for it, and ... it didn't go on.  But ... I woke up in the middle of the night to find that the little lamp by my bedside had gone on by itself;  the only time it has ever done that, before and since.

      The year after that (2012) I told a friend about that and said that I hoped it would happen again that night -- but I really didn't expect it.  When you want it or expect it, that somehow seems to block it from happening.  And sure enough, no lights went on in my house that night.

      The next day I told my friend that no lights had gone on.  He said, "Um ... before I went to sleep I asked Jill -- [he had never met her in life] -- to turn on a light for you.  When I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I noticed that my dining room light had gone on by itself."

      I don't know what to make of such things ... but the memory of them comforts me most through all the times of doubt.

      •  For several years I could not go through (7+ / 0-)

        a store without things behind me falling off the shelves. Walk down an empty aisle and bang, something decided to fall down behind me. Turn around and nobody there, just a box or can on the floor.

        Make of it what you will.

        •  That reminds me of something I heard recently ... (5+ / 0-)

          ... from another friend, the widow of a well-respected film director from the 50's and 60's.

          Not too long after her husband died from the result of an incompetent dermatologist (whose injections of [something] induced a heart attack) -- maybe within a year -- she was in her house.  

          Out of the corner of her eye, behind her, she saw something fluttering down from the ceiling to the floor.  She went to see what it could be ... and it was a little photo of her husband with a big smile on his face.  

          She says she had never seen that photo before, and looking up, there was no place it could have fallen from.  There was just the blank ceiling up there, no shelves around.  She still has the photo.

          As you say, make of it what you will.

  •  Connecting with nature has been healing for me... (6+ / 0-)

    Taking a quiet walk in a woodsy park, on the shoreline of a beach, on a boardwalk near a river, have all been cleansing and healing experiences for my personal dealings with grief and loss. In everyday life, there is so much noise and clamor and chaos and busywork that it becomes vital to cease the constant chatter for even a half-hour or so and refuel on the natural world around us. There is so much solace and peace to be had from what has existed on this planet long before concrete, buildings, cars, electronics, and other artificial elements sprung up around its natural gifts.

    "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." - John F. Kennedy

    by boofdah on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 02:52:41 AM PDT

  •  My main source of comfort (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kit RMP

    is my family,
    and Randall.

    I also like checking in
    at the Itzl Alert Network,
    where I post the Tuesday diaries.

    It feels good
    to have a "place"
    here at Daily Kos,
    for checking in at every day.

    And I post rants in verse
    at the Tuesday Indigo Kalliope series.

    And sometimes check in here.

    I get to host
    on the 28th.

    See you then,
    if not before.

    Bringing a child into the world at this point in history is a crime, the crime of child endangerment.

    by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Wed Oct 09, 2013 at 03:09:18 AM PDT

  •  I just found you, TGR (0+ / 0-)

    What a surprise.
    What a generous, giving thing to create. Thank you, all.

    Someone above said, "When I allow myself to dive into the pain until I find the kernel at the bottom, I can then acknowledge it and, having done that, it loses power and begins to heal."
    I understand that. I can also say: don't be afraid that you won't come back from that dark place. We are built with a survival mechanism which makes us come back because you can only stand so much pain. Your body protects you. I agree that the pain loses its power when you fully acknowledge it. Don't be afraid. Just be prepared.
    And, for most of us, it gets better.

    Val, I am so very sorry. I did a bad thing to you when we were kids, and I never said I was sorry. I kept waiting for it not to be important anymore, and we grew farther and farther apart while I waited. I am so stupid!

    David - now, you too. (You know.) I'll grieve for a long, long time. And we can only try to take care of your son; I'm afraid he is lost. I know your grief, too. I love you! And here comes a hug. (*)

    I'll light a candle in a little while. Wherever the flame goes, I hope it will bring my thoughts to you.

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