It's Been A Hard Week's Month...

We got home Monday night about 11:00 p.m. and I feel as if I have some sort of cosmic jet lag. Exhausted.

How can it be a week since the accelerated journey of Mom's transition and then heading up to Camarillo to candidate for the minister's position there? In some ways, it feels like only yesterday; and in other ways, it already feels like a lifetime ago.

Today, I am going through more boxes and clearing out my closets and such. In between, I am endeavouring to handle more of the business calls regarding Mom-- calling the mortuary; dis-enrolling from SecureHorizons. I got through that call until the end when I thanked the rep for taking care of my Mom and then I broke down. I did note the irony that one of my favorite songs, "Breathe" was playing on the radio during that time. For those of you who may not have known, mom had C.O.P.D. (cardio-obstructive pulmonary disease) which is from smoking cigarettes since she was nine years old. And breathing, was not something she was able to do on her own anymore. I also duly note the irony of the fact that "breathe" is one of my two favorite words and I even use it in my work, "Breathing Enterprises".
I still endorse the idea and teach it when e'er I can ... in fact, won't you join me in a nice, cleansing breath right now? Thanks, I needed that.

I have given myself the gift to do only as I please this week. There are only a very few specific requirements and that leaves me plenty of room to: clean, cry, pray, write, nap, read, cry some more, do chores and dance around the house. Being raised a stoic in the Camelot era where even Jackie Kennedy (another Leo lady) knew how to hold it together during the worst possible of all scenarios; I am reluctant and not prone to surrendering to grief. It's not that I do not understand or advocate the value and healing elements of grief, and may I inform you that during my junior high school years I was voted as having the world's largest tear ducts -- and I still use them liberally in my life. It's just that I not wired to receive.

Receive? What does that have to do with grieving? Glad you asked...
Because it is only during this part of the process (for myself) that I was able to identify the correlation. I am really good at giving; and my nature (being a Leo?) I love to be given prezzies but I am not good at receiving them. I get flustered and awkward and usually try to delay opening gifts till I am by myself. (This does not apply as much during a Christmas morning when everyone is opening their gifts en masse.) So take all this one step further, and imagine how hard it would be for me to receive tenderness or thoughtfulness; gestures of compassion or even a hot dish during a time of crisis or personal grief.

What is it they say that we teach what we need to learn? I am happy to teach others the value of receiving and how it is just as essential as the giving. But I get a little short-sighted when it starts to get up close and personal. We could wax psychologic as to the various reasons why that is so, but it does not seem significant. It does seem significant that I willing to learn from my mother's life and death about the willingness to be vulnerable. My work as an actor was well suited to being vulnerable and that ability served me well in the roles I got to play. However, as a minister, being vulnerable had some gray areas. It seems that people want their minister to be vulnerable and human...but only in certain areas. This is where some of the stoicism I developed as a child, paid off. Not that I didn't have my weepy times from the pulpit...

My experience with death, grief and human nature has confirmed for me that we as a society do not teach and nurture people through these tough times. We are not a death-friendly culture and it is an area where we could use some major improvements. Since we are no longer a village or a community, we don't have our elders to embrace us and navigate us through these momentous and difficult periods of our lives.

My desire, and perhaps my goal, is that we -- the we who are Religious Scientists, Americans, family members, neighbors, friends -- can begin to educate and learn more about the dying process and the grieving process, so that we can be fully realized in our humanity.
God bless hospice work.

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