Defining Grounded

IMG_5944The conversations around my house for weeks were centered around Prom.  You can blame Disney, social media, or our culture, but being a pretty princess is somewhere in our DNA or at least part of our little girl daydreams.   The talk was on dresses and shoes, clutches and nails, dinner and transportation, make-up and hair.  What we should have discussed with my introverted daughter, was skills for feeling overwhelmed when 250 teenagers are bumping and grinding in a dance circle.   All and all she did well, she spent more time in the bathroom than the average teenager, but she went, she took pictures, she talked to the people she felt the most comfortable with and next year when she goes again, she’ll know what to expect. She will have ideas on how to navigate the dance circles and awkward conversations.  Honestly, the most difficult things in life are the unknowns.

The day after prom I found a post in my feed about grounding.  It was called,  “Tips to Help with an Anxiety Attack.  Look around you and find Five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. The post continues to say this is grounding.  It can help when you feel like you have lost all control of your surroundings” -The Anxiety Therapist.   The first thing I thought was the person that wrote this has never had an anxiety attack.   When you are feeling anxious, your body gears up for a fight or flight response,  your heart beats faster, you can be agitated or restless, and mostly you have impaired concentration where your mind goes blank.  Not to mention in an actual attack, your vision can become narrowed and your hearing can feel overstimulated.   This made me chuckle to myself.  I just envisioned myself at nursing school breathing heavy with my head down asking, “I’m supposed to touch something, or smell something? Five of what and four of what?  I’ve only had a couple of these anxiety attacks, one in nursing school many years ago, and the other when my daughter passed unexpectedly,  I do, however, see the merit of teaching yourself or a friend the concept of grounding, taking your shoes off or holding an inanimate object.  It is supposed to help with bringing you back to the present moment.  I think that might be a teachable concept that someone can remember when they are feeling anxious if you keep it simple.

Later I was dusting and noticing how the dust was everywhere.  It was on every crevice, top, bottom, sides on all the knick-knacks on my shelving unit.  Two analogies came to mind. First, dust is like a loss.  It is everywhere, there is no hiding it.  It touches everything, every part of your life is touched by loss.    Second is that loss and grief scatters a person like dust in the wind.  I have never felt more fragmented than the months following the loss of my daughter.  My thoughts were scattered, my emotions were scattered, and the concept of time was also scattered.  I am just now slowly piecing myself back together. The concept of grounding comes back to me and I think about different forms of grounding.

Months ago I noticed some people, that were years out from their loss, seemed to be doing a tiny bit better than others.  There were some that were still having a hard time functioning on a day to day basis and others that struggled but seemed to be functioning.  I met with a few of them trying to understand what it was I was going through, reaching for someone who understood the terrible pain.   I started to notice a theme.  My one friend and husband organize a charity for children with the same disease as their son, Another set of parent went on to battle in courts to change a law that would save other children, and another couple works around the clock running a non-profit for wilderness therapy.  A father, I haven’t met in person, collects books annually because his child loved to read.  These people were also still married to their spouses after suffering such a loss, I believe the father was a single Dad before the loss, but he was writing and functioning a few years outside of the loss of his child.  One study indicated that divorce rates among bereaved parents are as much as eight times the norm ().  What did these parents have in common?  A sense of purpose, a focal point, a different form of grounding to the here and now.  Their pieces that had been broken and scattered to the wind brought together for a sense of purpose they had found.

Sitting in my Sunday morning coffee bible study group, somehow the subject of grounding came up, (probably I brought it up).  One man discusses the importance of using grounding wire, it keeps you from blowing your circuit and from the electrical current being scattered everywhere. We talk about how having faith is like being grounded.  Faith helps keep a person from being scattered, it brings light to the darkness.

Our group leader then reads Psalm 119 verse 105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Without anyone near the light switch that we could see, the rest of the conference room lights, at that same moment, turn on.  Luckily, this time, it was in a room full of people, and one of my friends that was with me the last time I had a similar experience, was there.   God has such a funny way of getting my attention, I felt like I got a “right on” and I can’t help but think my daughter’s sense of humor could also be at play here.  

 

 

 

 

Cleaning Up and moving Forward, Becoming Stuck like Chuck

Tyron Creek State Park, http://www.afsp.org/PortlandHike4Hope

I remember learning that my grandfather took all of my grandmother’s things and gave them to the Good Will. I remember being so upset that all of her things were gone. A few years later my other grandmother past away. All of her things that had not been distributed to her children, such as jewelry, sat for over ten years before my sister and I sorted some of the things that remained. My very good friend lost her husband a couple of years ago, and she found herself “stuck” when just trying to sort through his books.

I’ve learned a few things from online loss groups. First of all, there are different kinds of loss that can get someone stuck. Divorce, the loss of a career, a drastic move or a major change in your life. All of these life-changing events can leave you stuck emotionally with your stuff or your loved one’s stuff, or stuff from memories of the years gone by.

What I have found, is there is no right way to deal with STUFF. Some people cannot look at it ever again, like my grandfather. The memories of each item are just too painful. Some people would like to sort through it and give away what they don’t really need, but they want to give it to someone that really needs it or someone they feel good about giving it to. Others want to keep everything just as it was left, as a way to remember the person or the time of their life before the change or loss. Then there are people that want to repurpose or make memorable items from their loved one’s stuff.

None of these solutions are wrong, and I have learned it is a very personal choice, a choice that if you have to give your opinion, you should tread very lightly when giving it. Such as, “I took many of my daughter’s favorite shirts and made a quilt, if you are interested in the website, let me know.” I found by reading the different posts, I was somewhat of a blend of all these types of people. I wanted somethings of my daughters to keep, some things like size 8.5 shoes, when no one wears 8.5 shoes now, to go to someone that could really use them, and some things repurposed into meaningful items for my family.

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I recently found myself, “Stuck like Chuck.” I looked up the origin of that, by the way, and nobody knows where it came from, possibly a Chuck Norris reference. I realized over the last 14 months I have been unable to sort through much of anything without spending hours lost in time. A pair of socks, a book written in forth grade, pictures of four years ago when life was easier. Not to mention the Dang Facebook memories! I actually am glad to see them, but they also can suck me down into memory lane for hours.

I knew I needed to finally take the help I have been offered. I kept putting it off, not wanting anyone to see how my craft room looked like a hoarders oasis. I had decided to take on one room at a time, and to suck it up and take the help of my type A friends and relatives. I was also happy to hear that my friend that lost her husband did a similar project by paying a teen for the summer to help her sort items. That way she could dole out small projects and not be overwhelmed. I had a girlfriend help initially with sorting clothes, but I found in the last year I was unable to do much of anything besides survive.

So we spent the afternoon sorting kids craft stuff and my craft stuff. I had moments of tears when finding items of sentimental value. These items got there own box. My family member offered to take and sort the boxes of pictures I wasn’t ready to look at. The room got organized and some things left for a later date, but I am able to walk into the room now without dread.

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My advice for anyone reading this is to help each other out. If you know someone going through a big change or a loss, offer a Sunday afternoon to sort their most challenging items or place in their house. Just make sure to leave the judgment of what they should be doing at home.

If you are that someone going through a loss or a huge change in your life, go ahead and ask for help. Take the help you turned away previously. There is almost always someone around, a retired person in your church group, a type A coworker, a teen that need summer work. Below is a craft from the Celebration of Life flowers

 

Memorial Rose Oil

Ingredients:

  • Dried Flowers
  • small clear dropper bottles 1 ounce
  • small gift tags
  • Almond oil 16-ounce bottle
  • jojoba oil 4- ounce
  • vitamin E oil capsules
  • essential rose oil
  • (optional) vanilla essential oil

First, lay your flowers out on a screen to dry. Roses are the best for this particular craft. Somewhere air can circulate around them, such as the garage. Forget about them for a few months while they dry.

Take one of the dried rose buds or petals and drop it into the bottom of the clear bottle. Then fill the bottle 1/2 of the way with almond oil. Add Jojoba oil until it is 3/4 full. Add two drops of rose oil. You can also add one drop of vanilla. Mark the gift tag with the date or name of remembrance. You can give your memorial rose oil to friends and family or you can choose a larger dropper bottle and make yourself a larger body oil size. Rose oil has been known for its anti-aging properties and a small 1-ounce bottle sells for about $15 in stores.