In August 2010, I was attending week three of a youth conference and found myself deep in meditation, sobbing as if I had just emerged from the womb. Here I was, in the middle of Berlin deep in meditation, with the photo of an older Indian man with long hair and in white robes at the front of the room, feeling at my very core that my life was about to change dramatically.
We can go days without talking, but I still know their love is there. Most of the time it's comforting, like a hug or a warm sweater. But sometimes it's heavy, almost suffocating, as if their happiness depends entirely on my actions, my life. I don't blame them because I know this intensity only stems from their greatest fear: losing me or my brothers.
He had suffered from a period of depression which had developed into a psychosis. When the news reached me, my world collapsed. The days that followed were spent in a state alternating between something dream-like and an acute, painful awareness of the reality of the situation. So many questions were asked. So few answered.
The underlying sentiment is that our dog is going to die anyway so why not relieve ourselves of the discomfort and inconvenience. I have worked with animals and people for decades -- it is both my passion and my career -- so I was caught off-guard when I felt that subtle pressure from mainstream society to put my dog down and move on with life.
Canadians are also helping ensure children and their families don't go hungry, thirsty or sleep out in the open. A child's healing and well-being is about more than just a safe place to play during the day. We know the importance of a warm, dry place to sleep, and a pot of nourishing food bubbling on the stove or fire at day's end.
I like to tell this story because I feel that our job as yoga instructors is to do what artists, poets, and priests do; to remind us of the great truth that to cling only to sweet as our only form of happiness is a trap. Sorrow teaches us about love and even bliss... if we let it. Ultimately, we can't share the light if we aren't cracked open.
I am moving through what I think of as the year of the terrible firsts. The first wedding anniversary without him; the first holidays; the first family celebration; birthdays, his, mine, our children's. And I move, inexorably, to the marking of the first anniversary of his death. In many ways, these months have been filled with surprises.
The idea of a jolly holiday is like rubbing salt in the wound when our loved one isn't there. Honour your grief. You may find a completely new way of handling celebratory occasions by starting new traditions, or you may feel more comfortable sticking to old ones. Either way, you will know what feels right.
My mother is dying. When it got to be too much at home we put her in hospice. Hospice, for those who are not familiar with the term, is a place where folks go to die. The criteria to enter are you have three-six months left to live with an expectation of no heroic measures. The goal is comfort and dignity in your final days. My brother and I camp out in the room with my mom. Me in the Murphy bed and him on the Lazy Boy. We fall asleep listening to her whisper to herself and hallucinate on the shadows she makes with her hands. My mom had lung cancer and it progressed to her brain, so she is not safe to be alone anymore. She could fall. She could leave and get lost. She could take all her clothes off and run the halls naked. So we move in to the tiny room with her.
Some readers may be well aware of the five stages of grief, the natural process of grieving, which, according to Kubler-Ross, move from denial to anger to fear to grief and finally to acceptance. Now that we have come to appreciate that obesity is a chronic disease, it should come as no surprise that these five stages also apply to obesity.
For almost four decades, I did not talk about the plane crash. Instead, I buried the tragedy and any associated feelings of grief as deep down as possible. That was the way tragedies and death were dealt with in the 70s. I was told, directly and indirectly, that the subject was closed, never to be discussed... the subject of death was unmentionable.
I learned early on when I was coping with my baby's death -- and again after my husband died -- that I had to be very specific about what I did or did not need from those around me. I used to be a shy person.. As I was working through my grief process, however, I started to see that a new, bolder side of my personality was begging to come out.
How does one trust in life again after experiencing two tragic losses? This is a question that I've asked myself since losing my son to stillbirth after a healthy 9-month pregnancy, followed just 18-months later by the death of my husband, a soldier serving in Afghanistan. How could I ever trust in anything again?
There were many times, especially in the beginning of my grief, when I turned to someone with a look that said, "What did you just say to me?" It took me a long time to not take comments too personally. I had to develop a thicker skin as time went by or I would've constantly been flying off the handle.
By now, most people recognize that the stages of grief outlined in the Kubler-Ross model are not a map. Each of us walks that lonely road in our own way. ut there is one aspect of grief that no one talks about, because it isn't "nice." But, let's be blunt: some part of grief is just plain feeling sorry for yourself.