Jump Shift 2

Thursday, April 21, 2011 (con’t.)

Jump-Shift. That’s the term Dave and I use when we have a conversational change of topic.  It lets the other know that the next thing said probably has nothing to do with what was just said. Today I have spastic thoughts doing jump-shifts in my mind.

This purging of my office is more work than I imagined. I labor mentally over it all. I am usually so organized it’s obsessive. Now I am caught between decisions. Everything takes sooo long to complete. I am making progress. Being patient with myself is the toughest of all.

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I did make a trip to the funeral home yesterday. Only to be reminded that I have already downloaded the forms and they are filed somewhere on one of the stack of papers at home. For some reason this face to face contact was what I needed to help me remember the steps. This is the type of thing that slips my mind now. I know I am experiencing that lack of concentration so many in grief talk about. But aren’t I supposed to be different than everyone else because I have this acute awareness of what I am going through? Ha. No such luck! Grief does not discriminate.

Funny, but my professional persona came out when I sat at the funeral home conference table looking at urns, talking about prices, options and Dave’s final resting place. No overwhelming tears (tissues in my purse even thought I knew there would be a box near every corner of a funeral home); Actually, no tears. We walked around the cemetery. There are some cool (as in unique, awesome, rather than  cold, but that could be, too.) headstones; some people even plant a tree on the plot. There are occasional benches to sit and ponder. Niches or burial are available to families who choose cremation, too. I was outside myself envisioning what the family might want as a long term memorial. I have information to share so I can now work on these details with the “kids.” Again, the logistics of this discussion eludes me.

I didn’t tell Dave I was going to the funeral home. It feels so disloyal to plan this way. Would it hurt his feelings? This is a living concept, not a dying concept. This is the point of separation between us. Life. And death.

I’ve stated many times that I don’t want a service. But I know in my heart this isn’t about me and that there are many who will benefit from this ritual. For me, I don’t believe I need a service. (I reserve the right to change my mind!) For others I suspect, yes. Former students, colleagues, his kids, perhaps even my friends and friends of Dave’s loved ones. Society prefers ritual. So my planning and discussion included thoughts about a service. How many would attend, the director asked. Hmm. That is a good question.

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Have you told you loved ones what you’d want for medical treatment if you were suddenly incapacitated to decide for yourself? Another important website came to my attention last week just before the 4th annual National Healthcare Decision Day on April 16. Sadly I was only able to promote through Twitter@StoryForHealing in a timely fashion. Consider this my push to advance the cause. In my humble opinion, people of all ages should have this discussion long before it may be thought of as a remote need.  And there are 365 days a year this talk can occur, not just one. Life can change in an instant and written instruction is a gift for all the family members.

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The Unprepared Caregiver. I’d say that title fits even the most aware person when you care for a loved one through a multitude of healthcare. Long term or short term support, this blog is right on the money for intuitive and timely subjects. Grief Reflection is a conscious effort to follow my own story of caregiving and loss as it happens. The Unprepared Caregiver is the work of Dr. Zachary White, who really understands the emotion and challenges a caregiver faces both during and after this role consumes the everyday life of a family member. A must read for anyone who is caring for a loved one in hospice, or with a long term disability or disease.

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Writing has become so important to me. It is my safe haven for remembering and forgetting. I can really discover the inner thinking of my mind. Like the tale of the fish that was caught that keeps getting bigger with each retelling, I can bravely say what’s on my mind and become a little braver with each retelling. I can package up these random thoughts and make a connection. It’s better than a list, because I place words, emotions and direction into the paragraphs. Writing is action on my mental to-do list of pain, opportunities, work and home. As I write I just feel like me.

Leah has begun writing. Anonymously, public. I think that’s perfect. That’s all I really want from the work I do – to know that someone else can find themselves in the voice inside their head. It doesn’t matter that I read it, only that she has someone listening – especially herself. She will help others in her journey as much as I hope to touch someone one during mine. This is the drop in the water making concentric ripples that overlap. This is my inspiration for offering the community journal. There are gifts in loss, and writing is one way to find them. We become stronger from the travel. There are short paths and long paths, some hidden, some obvious. To each, our own.

OK, thoughts released.  Maybe now I can really get some work done. I can’t wait to get this journal ready for everyone to discover the cathartic world of writing and reflection in the Navigating Grief community.

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