Hello…It’s Me

It’s one day short of a year since I last posted.  I promise not to stay away so long in the future.  That said, fair warning, this is not a cheery, Happy New Year post.  It is a post recognizing the pain of my/our year amidst a global pandemic.  It is also a post about hope and faith, for without those, we are lost.  

As we enter our third year with Covid laying over the globe in a pall like a soft haze cloaking what was once normal life, we struggle to make sense of it all.  For me, 2021 became a raging battle with grief as I placed Martin into a memory care home.  It was no doubt the worst day of both our lives.

Over the months which followed, I watched Martin decline further into oblivion. My grief over the loss of his personhood, that citadel of self, grew in so many unexpected, public ways.  I was surprised at the depth of my anger, the feelings of profound loss, immediate, primary, secondary, anticipatory.   Unrelenting spirit robbing emotions.  My anger was so prevalent I initially thought there was something wrong with me.  This is where grief counselors, social workers and doctors come in.  Along with feelings of helplessness, sadness, loneliness and depression, anger is a very normal emotion of grieving.  

Viewing news clips of people acting out in various ways over restrictions fostered by Covid, I understood, even as the pandemic took a backseat to my private sorrow.  I say private.  However, like those tearful or angry people on the news, my sorrow, feelings of loss, of no control, of loneliness declared itself in what’s known as grieving out loud.  The downside of grieving out loud is the revelation of our society’s discomfort with the emotions of grief.  Judgment abounds, even within our pandemic worn medical community.  In my grief I’ve been characterized  as “too emotional”.

However, even when grief is publicly displayed, it is personal.  We each grieve in our own way, in our own time.  For example, to someone who grieves in a cognitive way, volunteering may help them find solace.  But, for someone grieving out loud, volunteering may cause the grief to be internalized and never resolved.  For caregivers in specific, it may be trading one caregiving role for another.  I’ve given myself permission to grieve for as long as it takes, engage in a period of extended self-care and rest, and most importantly, not internalize my feelings due to societal expectations and discomfort.

Knowing this, I would like to wrap my arms around the big wide world in a huge hug of comfort and reassurance.  Grief is about what was lost, what is and what may have been. Grief is complicated.  While the world seems to be roiling in madness, grief is not a negative.  We may not be comfortable with the public displays of grief we see and hear, yet these emotions can give way to a better world.  Grieving is necessary for our mental, emotional and spiritual selves to recover our lives and move forward.  I have hope both for myself and our global community.  Hope lights our path to the future.

As I strive to light my pathway I have faith we, as humans, can transcend beyond the seeming hopelessness of our current situation.  As a species, we have overcome so many things in our past including other pandemics and epidemics.  Gathering strength from the lost past I mourn, I have faith we can collectively emerge with greater strength and resilience.

In the midst of uncertainty, let us go into 2022 with hope and faith.  Faith that humanity will conquer this dark time.  Hope for a better day than we ever imagined.  Faith in the resilience of the human spirit.  Hope for overcoming what appears insurmountable at this moment.  Faith that we can care for ourselves and each other with kindness, forgiveness and comfort.  Hope for turning our grief into renewed meaning and purpose.

As we look to the New Year, let us embrace it together with hope and faith.

22 comments on “Hello…It’s Me

  1. Dear Kathy,

    Your post hit home for me on so many levels.

    First, I must say that I am so very, very sorry for what you and Martin
    have been/are going through. I can’t think of many things harder than
    losing the one you love even though their body still lives on.

    I’ve had a lot of experience with grief in the last 3 years. My wife Jo
    Ann had a combination stroke and heart attack in 2019 in which I was
    certain I’d just watched her die. She said, “I feel odd. I think I’m
    going to faint,” at which point her eyes rolled back, she collapsed on
    the bed, and stopped breathing. Two neighbors and I gave her CPR until
    the ambulance arrived.

    After she’d gotten through that (quadruple bypass surgery and a new
    atrial heart valve, along with some excruciatingly painful vascular
    issues), she had a stroke on April 2020, just after the initial pandemic
    lockdown, that left her with aphasia, the inability to say certain
    words. Her memory is still good, thankfully, but she’s lost the ability
    to say most names and nouns.

    2021 has not been easier. My mom died of a stroke on January 10th,
    followed a week later by my friend since kindergarten, Steve – a doctor,
    who died of COVID complications after being on a ventilator for 2-1/2
    months. February took our sweet, beloved long-haired dachshund, Sasha,
    by way of a fast-moving cancer. And then, just three weeks ago, Dad
    developed an abdominal infection from a leaky bowel and died a week later.

    So, yes – grief. Grief over lost loved ones, grief over life plans that
    will now never happen, grief over the constant threat of COVID, so very
    much grief.

    You are absolutely right that we each need to grieve in our own way, and
    that grief can be different from one loss to the next. To hell with what
    society expects or is comfortable with. Those who don’t get it have
    probably been lucky enough not to have experienced it yet. Grief is
    personal, even when we express it publicly.

    Stay true to your own feelings, Kathy. Keep taking good care of yourself.

    Like you, I hope that 2022 will finally be a kinder, gentler year for us
    all.

                Sympathetically,

                Daryl

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  2. Kathy,
    I have a close colleague who also made the difficult decision to place her husband into a memory care facility. I have watched her journey, and can only image that yours has paralleled hers. I wish you peace.
    Nancy

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  3. Kathy, I’m sad for you and what you are facing. I always enjoyed your posts — so much insight in every sentence! Bravo for sharing your deepest emotions in this post. I send you a big, virtual hug with good wishes for peace in your heart in the new year.

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  4. So thrilled to hear from you and so sorry to hear about Your having to put Martin in a memory care facility. It means so much to know and learn of your journey and I really appreciate your willingness to include us. I admire your resilience and transparency and insightful reflections and learning. Happy to know you may take up blogging a little more often again. You’re missed!

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  5. Nice to hear from you
    We put my 98 year old mother in a memory care home and I have made peace with it.
    She is now getting better care then we here children can provide and that is what is giving me peace. God bless the caregivers.

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  6. Dear Kathy,
    Sending you warm wishes for an abundance of Strength and Peace in the year ahead.
    So glad you took the time to share your journey with us as the year closes.
    Sending warm wishes for your dear Martin.
    Love,
    Imogene

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  7. Kathy, thank you for this beautifully written passage. I, too, grieve for a family member. I, too, hope for a better 2022. Returning the hug.

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  8. Thank you Kathy for your words and feelings. As i enter the New Year, I will feel your words of hope and faith. This last year ended a 4 year relationship, which is nothing compared to what you have gone through with Martin. It was “my doing” so I grapple with the decision and beat myself up constantly. Being alone is hard now, especially in this Covid world! So I will hold onto hope and faith and prayers for peace…for you, and me.
    Billie

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  9. I just recently discovered your blog and as a newly retired teacher, it struck home. I am so sorry to hear of your recent loss, because of course, that’s what it is. I do hope you continue to blog, as I shall continue to read. Take care. -Jenn

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  10. Kathy,
    My heart goes out to you in your situation. I know this has to be sooooo hard !!! So many people are in your predictament these days it seems. I pray that God will be your strength and comfort in these times.
    Lots of Love, Phyllis

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  11. Kathy: I so enjoy reading your blogs. They have helped me as a “retired” person as well as a caregiver. Life’s troubles can be so unfair; unforgiving. Getting support from counselors gave you a different perspective which you needed. We all are grieving out loud. No, you are not being “too emotional.” You are doing everything possible for yourself and your family. Faith, hope and resolve for 2022. Thank you.

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  12. Kathy I am sorry for what you have been through and what we have all been through. It had to be gut wrenching to place your husband in memory care. Our retirement years are something we dream of and plan for, slowly losing a spouse is not part of the plan. I am what my friends call strange, so here we go. I am a Medium and yes you can all laugh 😂😂 I am okay with it. This started when I was 3 years old. Before I even explore the Pandemic, let me talk about Alzheimer’s, Dementia and all the other diagnosis that robs us of our loved ones. I watched my Grandpa Powell go through that journey. At twelve I realized what was happening. I remember sitting on the porch and he called a dog that he owned in 1933. He sat there and pet him. I sat beside him and also pet the invisible dog. As our loved ones slowly leave us they go to the other side. They aren’t lost, they are with those that have gone on before them. It still is heartbreaking for us, but at least we know the part that has gone on is in a happy place. Now the Pandemic, I had heard stories since I was a little girl about the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. My Grandma Powell came very close to dying. She survived but at a cost. For a month she couldn’t stand light or sound. She experienced what she called a mental breakdown. I was hoping that there would not be a pandemic in my lifetime. I was meditating with a friend on July 14, 2019.i saw the Earth below me and such pain . I couldn’t understand how the entire world 🌎 could be in so much pain. I told my friends that it didn’t make sense. I knew that there was something coming and to stock food and household goods. I warned a friend on February 28,2020 that she needed to stock food that by December 2020 at least 200,000 would die. I have no idea when this will end, I wish I did. My developmentally delayed daughter and I have spent 2. Thanksgivings alone and 2 Christmas’s alone. It almost feel like time stopped in December of 2019. We will get through this . There will be a new normal. By the way, I did warn you, I am strange. I am hoping this coming year of 2022 will be a new start. Please Take care… Namaste 🙏
    .

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  13. Continuing to keep you and Martin in my thoughts and prayers. I have thought of you both many times this past year and wish you peace. I wish Martin good care and peace.
    Sadly, our lives don’t always unfold as we had envisioned, or wished. All our roads will become difficult as we age. But I wish you a new kind of peace and happiness that comes with knowing you made the best decisions for Martin. Now please be gentle with yourself and allow yourself some happiness. You made some difficult decisions, but they were necessary and right. We’re pulling for you!

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  14. Kathy .I have been thinking of you and wondering when you would post next. From the other side of the world I was hoping life would be gentle for both you and Martin. The decisions you’ve had to make are heartbreaking and you deserve all time you need to process them. As 2022 reveals itself , I wish you both love and grace in the face of days to come .❤️

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  15. Kathy, Thank you for this, and especially for your insistence on owning grief as a normal part of the human experience. I hope that 2022 will bring you to a stage of grieving that balances the anger of loss with the sweetness of a lifetime of memories.

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  16. Hi! I recently found your blog. I am so sorry that you and Martin along with your family have gone through this. I am glad you have been able to grieve. I don’t think that there is such a thing as be “too emotional” for your family, loved ones.❤ Hope and faith.

    Like

  17. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So need your inspiration and a look at your journey. I’m on a similar journey now…just a couple of years into a new stage of my life.

    Like

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