Tag Archives: cope
On Thanksgiving Day my cousin, Michelle, who lost her husband to cancer about a month ago, had a post on Facebook stating how Charlie had loved Thanksgiving, had been the main meal planner, did the shopping, cooking, and eating. Not only was she grieving the loss of her husband, but their family tradition every year involves going around the table and each person saying what they are thankful for. Michelle posted that she wasn’t sure how she would answer this year because every year she always said the same thing…her family, her job, the love of her amazing husband and that he continued to kick cancer’s butt.
Michelle and Charlie – Photos “stolen” from her Facebook Page
This year Charlie didn’t kick cancer’s butt, it kicked him. Hard. He was still working about two weeks prior to his passing. He went down fast. When I read her post I didn’t even hesitate, I just started typing. My comment to her was:
“I know what you are thankful for, it is the same thing I am thankful for. Neither Charlie or Ron are sick, nauseous, in pain, or in any way suffering from that horrid disease. Maybe they have found each other in heaven and are getting acquainted by trading photography tips and stories.”
After I posted the above response the reality hit me. I may have used my ankle surgery as an excuse for choosing to spend the holiday solo, but the reality was I didn’t want to do the meal preparations alone, at least not this year. Ron and I had always prepared it jointly. I stuffed the bird and baked the sweet potatoes. Ron did the potatoes, sometimes re-baked, sometimes mashed, sometimes both. Ron made the fruit salad. I did the green bean casserole. One of us made the gravy, and the list goes on.
Last year I did it all alone, but that was different. Ron was too sick to participate in the preparations in 2015, but he was still here. He came to the table, had a few bites of food, and went back to the couch. Austin (our 9-year old grandson) spent most of the day sitting next to Ron. Eleven days later Ron was gone.
I realized that regardless of how well I have adjusted there will be moments when things hit me, and sometimes I won’t realize it at the time. What I posted to Michelle in the comments is true. I am glad that Ron is no longer struggling to swallow, weak, or sick from the combination of chemo and the disease itself. I have moved on with my life, I have made the adjustment to being alone. How do I know?
Another question that Michelle had posed to me a week or two earlier was how I handled going through Ron’s belongings. She was struggling with that step. My answer, you will know when you are ready, because it will be just another task, not an emotional roller coaster. I only recently started cleaning Ron’s clothes out of the closet. I told Michelle that I hadn’t unpacked the bag of Ron’s clothes I brought home from hospice the day he died until a few weeks ago. That bag had been in my closet unopened for 11 months. I was finally ready. No emotions, just clothes to put away.
Everyone is different and processes loss at different levels. From time to time there will probably be something that triggers a memory or an emotion. We are, after all, human.
So in answering my cousin’s post in an effort to help her cope with her loss, I gained insight into my own reasons for being so adamant about not preparing the meal this year. Next year will be different. If I don’t have people here I will be gone and doing something. Possibly volunteer at a kitchen that provides meals for the needy. Home alone will not become a habit of mine, of that I am certain.
I recently came across an article online titled “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” by Dr. Travis Bradberry and wondered where I fall in the realm of things. Do I fit the mentally strong? Am I stumbling along at a pathetic rate? While articles such as this can be great for self-evaluation, sometimes you just don’t want to know the answers.
Curiosity got the best of me and I forged forward in my quest for knowledge. Depending on how far back you reflect, I can easily say the past six years have been stressful, but I feel I am doing well emotionally. I just keep trudging along and don’t think about the conglomerate mess my life has been.
Six years ago I was in a bad accident when I was hit by a car while riding my motorcycle, landing me in a trauma center for seventeen days, rehab for two months, and then a year of physical therapy and medical follow ups after that. Two of my granddaughters were taken by Child Protective Services and put into foster care. My husband and I applied to foster them and were denied, we later applied to adopt them and again CPS fought us and we lost. Both girls have been adopted by strangers.
My son was sentenced to 6-22 years in prison for home invasion; his earliest possible parole date is in March 2018. Two cousins passed away, as did a 19 year old nephew who had brain cancer. Other deaths in the family included my father-in-law, brother-in-law, both of my parents (18 months apart), and my husband. I spent about 1-1/2 years traveling back to my old hometown to work on cleaning out the house my parents had resided in since 1966. While this was going on my husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, had surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy as he fought the disease for about 15 months before the cancer won and he passed away. I am now scheduled for surgery on my ankle due to residual deterioration from my accident and am once again facing a lengthy recovery.
I look at the list of things I have handled in the past few years and in my opinion have coped well with everything life has thrown at me. I have often felt that I have strong coping mechanisms but don’t really know why. I am baffled when people have one issue on their plate and are falling apart at the seams. I delved into the article hoping to discover what it is that makes one person successfully juggle a plethora of issues while another crumbles under the slightest amount of pressure.
What the article explained is that mental strength is a matter of emotional intelligence. The article stated “Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.”
The article consisted of a list of thirteen things emotionally intelligent people avoid. This piqued my curiosity as I don’t conscientiously avoid much of anything. What I found is that of the thirteen items listed, I do eleven of them naturally / subconsciously. Two items I falter on, but what the heck, we all have areas needing improvement.
The two weakness I have were actually the first two items listed:
- They don’t stay in their comfort zone
- They don’t give in to fear
I feel these two areas are related and to a certain degree overlap. While I don’t totally avoid these two behavior patterns, I don’t follow them 100% either. I tend to operate on a certain level of caution which prevents me from venturing two far outside my comfort zone. Fear is not a physical fear but an emotional fear of doing something, such as public speaking. While I have taken on the challenge of completing numerous things this past year that I never have in the past, the combination of my comfort zone and fear of unknown territory has also prevented me from fully tackling a few others that should have been addressed sooner and more frequently than they have. My weaknesses, the areas I need to work on.
I was happy to discover that the other nine items listed are all areas where I meet the criteria for having emotional intelligence:
- They don’t stop believing in themselves
- They don’t beg for attention
- They don’t act like jerks
- They don’t hold grudges
- They don’t hang around negative people
- They don’t feel sorry for themselves
- They don’t feel entitled
- They don’t close their minds
- They don’t let anyone limit their joy
- They don’t get eaten up by jealousy and envy
- They don’t live in the past
If you tend to let the stress of life get you down, if you are unable to roll with the ups and downs of life and have difficulty coping you may want to read 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. Explore the areas you need to tackle so your life can move forward in a more positive direction.
If you are like me and feel you easily cope with the stresses of life, I still suggest you read the article in its entirety. You may find areas in which you can improve. As for me, I’m working on alleviating my fear and expanding my comfort zone. Look out world….here I come!
I have always been a fairly organized person. Someone who gets involved in clubs and takes on a board position and/or committee chair person. I commit to things and meet my commitments. Busy is Better!
Lately I was struggling to get things done, and found some items on my to-do list week after week. What happened? Why was I suddenly falling behind, not juggling my life the way I always have? Then there was that moment, the flip of a switch, the lightbulb came on and I figured it out.
I am no longer juggling just my responsibilities. I am also juggling those of my deceased husband, plus the additional phone calls and paperwork that have to be done to get everything transferred into my name, his name removed from things, etc. Then of course there is the learning curve in which everything he did takes me a considerably longer amount of time because I don’t have a full grasp of it yet. That is improving, but it is a process.
Every process, every learning curve has its bumps in the road. There are frustrations that come with everything. The frustration of living in a computer generated world in which computers rule what happens and people follow the computer rather than thinking and using logical, common sense. The aggravation that is felt when all the appropriate steps have been taken, only to find out the company didn’t do what they should have and so you have to take further steps to correct things.
I applied for a mortgage modification and got approved, but they never told me not to make a payment, so I have made them all, but in the meantime they are holding my payments in “suspense” while they complete the change over and are repeatedly sending me delinquent notices, including by certified mail that I had to go sign for. When I called I was told those are computer generated notices and I will continue to receive them until they get everything rolled over. And how long will that take? Oh, about two more weeks.
I drove over 35 miles to a main cell phone store to switch the account from my husbands to my own name. I gave them all my information, told them to remove my husband’s phone and two pads he had. Put the account in my name, leave my daughter on as a manager. The phone and pad did get removed, but when my daughter called to get assistance with her phone the pass codes I gave them weren’t working. As it turns out that is because they never made the switch. They still had the account in my husband’s name, had me as a manger, which I had been before my husband’s death, and removed my daughter as a manager. Then I had to wait and call back on a weekday, because this I found out on the weekend. When I called I informed them it was rather incompetent being I had stood in their store with a death certificate and yet they left my husband on as the owner of the account…a dead man has no responsibility to you to pay the bill! Got that one fixed.
That is only two in a long list of situations that have created chaos in an already chaotic situation. Then of course there are the regular duties of paying bills, service on motor vehicles, and lawn mowing that my husband always handled. My daughter commented that she knows she needs to come over and mow my lawn. I told her instruction on use of the riding lawnmower would allow me to handle the task myself. Seriously, I have driven boats, jet skis, motorcycle and moped, I should be able to handle a wild and crazy lawnmower!
So, when I got to really thinking it about it I finally realized, the reason I am trying to juggle but falling behind is because I am handling everything that was previously handled by two, and I haven’t gotten the process down yet. On a positive note, I am improving. It is a process.
I am now back amongst the living, or at least trying to be. My husband, Ron, was laughing as I asked how people cope with this on a regular basis. The last time I dealt with this was in September 2010, and that was only for 48 hours, this was five days down, two days debatable, and I’m still not totally back.
I can blame the attorney I work for, he is the one that contaminated me with this awful cold/flu bug. When I contacted him last week on Wednesday and told him I was at work, but only for a couple hours to get some things organized and then going home sick, he called me and said “The good news is, you’ll live.” He then proceeded to tell me while I had it I would be miserable. Nothing like a note of encouragement from the boss!
People like me who generally don’t get sick don’t do sick well, we don’t know how to cope. Seriously, I don’t have time for this! However, the world did not come to a screeching halt because I was not functioning in it, and I did make a few observations along the way.
- Daytime TV has its advantages and disadvantages. When you are likely going to be sleeping more than watching, channels that run marathons are great. You can watch 15 minutes of Criminal Minds at 11 am, catch a few more minutes at 12:30, and then grab a great ending at 2:00. Same characters, and the variety in the crime just adds a bit of interest to the show.
- As soon as you get fully reclined and snuggled under your afghan the telephone will ring.
- Despite all the lousy telemarketer messages you get on your answering machine, there are an even larger number of callers that don’t leave messages if you ignore the incoming call.
- There are a lot of TV shows advertised that appear to be families fighting, both physically and verbally, with each other. Do people really watch these shows?
- When you are sick and have an upset stomach, cooking shows do nothing to spur hunger — watch to your heart’s content without any risk of calorie intake.
- I can survive without consuming coffee for seven days — that is how long I did not even want coffee, a sure sign I was sick, I am a pot a day person.
- Gatorade, although considered a good drink for restoring balance to your system, makes you thirsty and increases the need for water consumption 2-3 times over the normal. Doesn’t this just flush out all those good electrolytes it is supposed to be restoring?
- Almost all of the game show hosts have changed since the last time I was watching daytime TV. I miss Bob Barker and Monty Hall.
- After a week of consuming practically nothing, the stomach shrinks and those simple little Weight Watcher Smart Ones meals that I once needed to supplement with fruit are now, on their own, almost too much for one meal.
- There is nothing more depressing than to anticipate a huge weight loss based on a weeks worth of next to nothing consumption, only to step on the scale and see only a 4 lb. difference.
Despite all the vast knowledge I accumulated during my time of illness, and even though I have not yet fully recovered, since I have one of those horrid lingering coughs that sounds like I’m ready to keel over and die any minute, I am now back up and once again functioning in society. I had my first cup of coffee this morning for the first time in seven days…a sure sign that I am on the way to a full recovery.
Here’s hoping I don’t get sick again for several years. I don’t have time for this , and I seriously don’t know how people who get sick on a regular basis cope. Ugghhh!