Another edition of Tales from the Ammo Box

In browsing today, I came across an article from The Elder Academy and it sparked a few thoughts that I would like to share and expand on. When we experience loss, so many changes happen.  I relate this to when I was confronted by the loss of my daughter. My wife, Nancy and I had our world turned upside down and little was left that was recognizable.

On that November 2000 date, we experienced a moment that transitioned what was familiar into chaos.  Like most people faced with an unexpected death, we were overwhelmed. We needed reorienting in our changed worlds and lives, but without a roadmap or guide it was nearly an impossible task for me. Grieving is exhausting, no matter what kind of loss you have. Reorienting took me awhile to maneuver. I was not available or not showing up for Nancy or our son Peter. I just went through those early days in a haze. I didn’t broadcast my need for help because I was just drained. I isolated,  being quiet and self-protective in an attempt to regain balance.

I walked in fog; twisting on a path through through the unfamiliar landscape of grief. Nancy said that at times she felt the need to walk on eggshells around me. I returned to work in an attempt to keep busy, to numb the pain and attempt to put on a strong face. After all, as men we are told to be strong and sIlent. I gained weight, drank too much and lost interest in most activities. I didn’t fully know who I was, who others were and made some bad career and personal decisions.

In those early days, I realize now, that I was not trying hard enough. I was at a point where just showing up was difficult and I struggled with the inertia and exhaustion. It wasn’t until I became too uncomfortable living in the mess that I was in, that it was either change or give up on everything I had built. I chose to salvage my damaged life and to try to regain my identity and well being. I had assumed that I was going to make it, but I didn’t know how my recovery would play out.

“Knowing that you don’t have a clue about how to help yourself can be a huge gift to yourself.”

Along the way I spoke to professionals who planted seeds for my eventual recovery. I discovered the Grief Recover Method that spoke to me on my level and learned of men’s work. In short it took a lot of effort. Today, I use those building blocks to help others in their recovery.

“Not knowing is allowing openness and spaciousness to reveal the mystery and provide a path to understanding.”

This is especially true when grief is present. Not knowing is one of the hardest things for people to master. It often seems dangerous to take a leap of faith in a time when things are in chaos.  Our mind attempts to fill in not-knowing with all kinds of assumptions, assertions, projections often just making us more confused.

In grief, we have to navigate by guesswork, prepare to be wrong, and at best be open to discovery. My father used to tell me something like this and I never understood it until I was in that situation. “Hope for the best, expect the worst and take whatever comes,” he would say. Again, it boils down to a choice that I made and that you can make too.  Are you ready to take a positive healing step and set the pain of your loss aside? It doesn’t mean you will forget the loss but that you can let go of the pain. 

If you ask someone who is grieving how they are, there may be reasons why they can’t or won’t give a full answer. Don’t presume to fully comprehend what someone should be doing or what their capacity is. They are hurting and need help. You can be there for them and listen with an open heart. There are resources you can guide them to and a conversation may be the beginning of their journey to healthy healing.