Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Initiative

Something I've been thinking about for a long time is to use this space as a resource for dealing with loss and the grief that accompanies loss. I'd like to hear about your successes and failures, if you're willing to share, in dealing with the loss of a loved one.

I've been fortunate with the people that surround me - in how they've helped guide me, and the insight they offer in my struggle with losing Meghan. Those experiences have given me an understanding into moving forward through tragedy. A key element I'd like to highlight is being open to new experiences. When you lose a loved one it's easy to shut everything out and shut yourself off. It can be difficult to relate to others because your experience is unique and everything else feels inauthentic. You're numb and isolated and it feels secure to stay cut off.

I am where I am today because I allowed my grief to have its space but I didn't allow it to to take over. I was willing to let other people help me, and I was willing to try things outside of my comfort zone to heal. A phrase I came across in the book Shantaram illustrates this point really well; “I don't know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it.” 

When you think about the horrible things that people have gone through, it is terrifying. It's scary that soldiers return from war missing limbs and go on to live happy productive lives. It's scary because really bad things can happen. It doesn't have to be scary, however, that we can move forward. Humans have developed an incredible depth of strength that even death can't stop. It's important to remember what we've gone through in reference to where we're going.  

I remember being scared to start therapy. Here's how I pictured it: therapist in the corner armchair, under an ornate lamp, quietly judging me on a legal pad. Me on a leather couch, trying to convince him/her that my life sucks. I thought I had to shell out hundreds of dollars every week to connect my struggles to a scenario from childhood, then leave with a xanax prescription. I thought it would be an ineffective solution to the things I was dealing with. I guess you could say that I thought it would be self-indulgent. I was mistaken on all accounts. 

There were armchairs and lamps but no legal pads or couches. There was no judgement. There was no convincing on my part, no prescriptions. More importantly, there was someone who was always on my side, willing to let me talk through any issue that I felt important. And the money? If you live near a university, there's likely a counseling program that offers income-based counseling from graduate students. I paid $10 a week to talk to someone that very much wanted to see me improve my outlook. Not every session was complaining or talking about my childhood. There was a lot of discussion about how I handled things vs. how I felt I should handle things. My therapist was there to serve as a mirror, to be objective about my experience and to be completely in my corner. There were definitely challenging sessions but the goal was always to see me get better.

If I had not been willing to go through therapy, I believe I would still feel guilty about Meghan dying. I would still feel the need to be isolated. I think I'd still worry about others' expectations about my feelings, rather than trusting my own feelings. This isn't to say that I don't still struggle, because I do. But I am in a much better place than I was two years ago and that is due to a willingness to try new things. We have a scary amount of strength inside us, but sometimes we just have to be ok with letting others help us find it.  

So, tell me what you think...tell me what worked for you, or what didn't, and why. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

New Stuff

I made a bunch of updates to the blog, everything is (hopefully) more organized and accessible. Meghan's birthday, July 15th, is in three weeks and that means another half marathon for me. It'd be fun if some (or all) of you would commit to doing something similarly exercise related on the same day while I'm running. Eh? Let me know what you think of the reorganization and the exercise idea!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

There's this one song that I became totally obsessed with right after Meghan passed away. It is one of those that you wish you had a hand in writing because it seems so lyrically personal and situationally perfect. I haven't listened to this song in nearly two years and for whatever reason, I put it on tonight. I feel like I need to make some changes about how I write on here and what I write on here. I don't do it enough and this experience is completely cathartic.

I don't do it enough.

I feel like Meghan left me with tools and a direction and I want to keep pursuing them. I want her memory to make a difference for people and be helpful. She made an enormously beneficial change in me and I feel like her influence is something that can be extended far beyond me. I miss her. I think about what she went through all the time. I wish I could have done more. I hope what she started with this blog succeeds in its intention.

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