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Showing posts with the label Grief

Routines for Survival in Difficult Times

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Although my focus these days is on bereavement, this article will be useful to many people, grieving now or not. My hope is that people will see my experiences and adapt them as needed for their own unique situations. We all grieve differently from each other, and for people in our lives; the reactions I had for each of my parents and my oldest brother were varied. Their passing was not unexpected — unlike my beloved wife Charlene. (It has been almost seven months, and I cried writing these words.) Grief is not depression, but my lifelong struggle with it complicates matters. Part of me died with her. The Grief Fog When a loved one passes on, it is common to have a grief fog  hit us: We go into a kind of shock. Thinking is impaired, and bereavement counselors as well as booklets advise us to avoid making major decisions whenever possible unless a trusted advisor is available. (Sleeplessness often accompanies grief, making things worse.) This fog can linger, stro

We Grieve, but we Must Eat

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  The human mind is sensitive to dates, anniversaries, and so on. I believe that is one of the reasons that events in the Year of Firsts (first Christmas, her birthday, my birthday, our wedding anniversary, etc.) hits us so hard. I have been having "good" days with less tears, but today is the six month anniversary of Charlene's passing. I stop to sob a bit while writing these sentences the day before. When I think back to meeting with the funeral director, he echoed something that others have told me: Don't forget to eat. A hamburger-macaroni casserole thing I made; kitchen is small and it's hard to get shadow-free pictures The church I had just started attending plugged me into a food ministry where people brought meals to my apartment; they know the bereaved may not eat. Also, a couple of Charlene's relatives bring me food on occasion. Indeed, one reader told me that when his wife died, he did forget to eat and drink. He ended up bein

Missing Her on Question Evolution Day

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Today is the thirteenth annual Question Evolution Day , and is a surprising entry in the Year of Firsts without Charlene. I invented the thing, inspired by the Question Evolution! campaign  by Creation Ministries International (my comment as "Robert S." was posted on July 4, 2011.) At first, QED was not something we did together. After a radio interview I had, the host suggested some things to enhance the observance. These included food items. We ended up planning on doing this annually. Made at RedKid Today I made pancakes and found out why blueberries are preferred over blackberries: Those puppies were an inch long and lumpy, making for uneven cooking. Charlene would have known better, and I had to learn it my ownself. For supper, I'm going to open up a can of split pea soup (primordial slime) and do fish fry takeout (Darwin's disciples believed we evolved from fish) from the same diner we've done before. She's not here to make a laye

Being Forgotten but Making an Impact

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  When I went to pick up my order at the diner, the guy running the cash register did not ask if this was a special occasion. Nor did I offer because this is a day when strong tears are on a hair trigger. It is the first wedding anniversary I have had to experience without my beloved Charlene. It hurts so much, but I thank God that he let me have over twenty years with her. People say that she still lives in me, in my memories. We need to use that and get a bigger picture. Charlene and Bob wedding vows January 21, 2006, modified at PhotoFunia In our past few months together, we were both realizing that neither of us had anyone who cared, so there was nobody to whom we can pass along pictures, meaningful decorations, or anything else. Certain things meant a great deal to us here and now, but that's it. Charlene touched some lives, and those people were glad to have known her. How long until they forget? A 1977 song by Blue Öyster Cult called "Goin' Thr

A Light in the Loneliness

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Although I picked up this tip on a site about grieving, it can be useful for a passel of people. It was about coming home to an empty residence. That has less impact on me than it may for many other people because I worked earlier than Charlene did. That means I got back while she was still working. The site suggested a way to cut the lonely arrival was to get an appliance timer and have it switch on a lamp, radio, or something. I pondered it for a spell, then got a cheap appliance timer.  Looking out from the bedroom, it is obvious where the lamp is Mayhaps the one we had is still here somewhere, but what I got was only five dollars. Difficult to fine tune and a big hassle fixing after a power outage, I should have bought the twelve dollar version that is more precise. While I still hate waking up and knowing my beloved is not here, the light comes on about three minutes after the alarm goes off. Well-situated to light the kitchen and living room for my needs i

My Grief Observed, but I Still Believe

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen After the loss of my beloved Charlene, several people suggested that I read A Grief Observed  by C.S. Lewis. It is a short book, but being mostly alone and dealing with my recovery from open-heart surgery, legal matters involving her estate, the tyranny of the physiological and mental problems of grief fog — reading was a challenge. However, after I purchased it, I converted it into an audio book with a text-to-speech service. Voices in TtS can be quite good. Lewis was British, so I chose a voice with an appropriate accent. It took an hour to hear, and I listened to it again this morning. A 1998 Polaroid photo of Charlene A quick side trail here. Remember when I said she had lousy self-esteem ? I found the Polaroid picture that was scanned and sent to me. It was the first image I saw of her, and still burned in my memory is that she said, "I hope it doesn't make you sick." A Grief Observed  was written after Lewis' wife died of cancer. They had

Our Last Christmas Gift Exchange

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Hopefully this article will at least prove interesting as well as helpful for people going through the grieving process. Charlene has been gone for just over three months, and this first Christmas in over twenty years without her is brutal. This morning I got up and took a picture of the tree, which is three feet tall and pre-lit, set on an end-table. I added some ornaments. One was a gut punch because it was from her late sister, "New Home 2008" for our new apartment. Now Charlene is celebrating her first Christmas with Jesus in her new home . Using a tripod and the phone camera's night setting, plus I removed clutter Our last Christmas together, we both had the Rona. On Christmas Eve, we watched the 1951  Scrooge  (changed to A Christmas Carol )...just noticed that I wrote "we watched" out of habit. This movie was in our rotation for Christmas Eve and Day viewings. I only made it about halfway though, what with being tired and all — we

Her Birthday, Self-Esteem, and the Other Poem

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Today is the 67th birthday of my beloved Charlene, which she is celebrating in Heaven. Right now, I am writing this while listening to one of those music compilation CDs that I made her long ago. The concept of self-esteem has exaggerated importance, often used as an excuse for inflated egos and pride. However, the healthy kind is important. As I mentioned before, we met online and got to know each other texting through AOL. It did not take long to learn that her self-esteem had taken a beating her entire life. Baby Charlene ca. 1957, via PhotoFunia and other enhancement processes Charlene almost never received "props" or complements from her parents. Her daughter (who died in 2010) and ex-husband verbally and mentally abused her. Lots of manipulation. Like I have done, she had wished to go to sleep and never wake up. I think her belief that self-elimination is a one-way ticket to Hell kept her alive. If I rightly recollect, she said she didn't de

Small Demonstrations of Love

People have probably noticed that in my articles on grief, I am being transparent. Anyone grieving needs to do this at least with themselves and counselors (which can include caring friends and family). I also admit to muddling through it all and probably never knowing the answers. This time, I am admitting that I underestimated Charlene's love for me. In my defense, we had a time of troubles years ago and she said she did not love me as much as before. In her defense, people change over time and she did indeed love me again later on. The other part is that I did not know until she went to be with Jesus how much I love her. People don't need to dramatically proclaim and demonstrate "I love you!" all the time. Love can be demonstrated in small ways as well, trickling in as time passes. They don't have to be material, either. Encouraging remarks, courtesies, showing respect, and other things add up. I bought a small book light so I could read in the living room with

She May Have Saved My Life

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Back in the late 1990s, I was in a loveless marriage and wanted to end it. By 1998, I was just existing and willing to let my psyche die. Charlene found me on AOL one evening, and we talked through the messenger almost every night for a year before we actually met in person. In a way, we knew each other inside out, sharing thoughts and feelings. We grew to love each other. I did not think I could be loved. From our first happy meeting in 1999, taken with a crummy disposable camera Charlene loved me before we met in person, and I started to come back to life inside. The execution of my own consciousness was halted, and I reckon that she saved my life; I may have not waited for the slow demise and hastened the process. This was still before we met. I wrote a couple of poems that are pretty dreadful about her. The poems were posted online and the property they were on disappeared, but I was able to find them again. I posted under an assumed name, so even though the

Levity, Learning, and Laundry

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  This is a mite wordy, but it is light reading. Although I am going through pain that I could never have imagined, and sometimes wonder about my sanity, good things happen. That grief fog is (in my case) characterized by forgetfulness and distractions. I have to do my own laundry. Kind people were doing it for me while I was under cardiologist restrictions not to lift more than ten pounds. When I was cleared to ease into going back to work, I started doing laundry. This was one of the many things Charlene did. I watched a video on how to do it. Washers and dryers very similar to where I live, Unsplash / Douglas Monterrosa Being alone now and having simple tastes, it is rather easy. I decided that I had time before church, and the laundry center at the apartment complex was open. The grief fog was not too bad and I was feeling a bit more alert. I gathered everything, went over, put in the wash, set my timer, and came back to the apartment. Twenty-some minutes late

Irrational Emotions and Losing a Part of Her

People who have paid attention to the original Star Trek  series have commented on, and even given serious thought to, how Mr. Spock and the other Vulcans go overboard in keeping emotions suppressed. They have them, but keep them tightly locked down. I think that is unhealthy — at least for real people. Emotions are a part of our lives, and God gave them to us for a reason. Still, it is inconvenient to break down in tears while in the shower, typing, or whatever. Too bad I cannot be logical and schedule those breakdowns. Charlene's car — well, my car now — by itself Someone told me that although emotions are not logical, they respond to logic. Well, maybe. But Charlene was my wife and best friend, and I'm going to allow myself to feel the emotions. Normally, I can hold them back in public or when I'm driving. Also, having a routine helps get me through the day: Clothes laid out the night before, the evening wind-down with a television show that we did for so many years stil

Noticing her Gifts to Me

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Calendars say that I am sixty-four today. Normally, I am not forthcoming about things like this, but since Charlene died six and a half weeks ago, I have been an open book to many people. It may help people who are grieving.  Anyway, this is the beginning of the Year of Firsts: My first birthday without her, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, our wedding anniversary, and so on. I just have to cowboy up and get through them. No apologies for tears — which is happening while I write this (I've even done it on legal and business phone calls). Now I want to talk about gifts. Charlene and Bob happy picture, possibly 2005 For having Scandinavian and Scottish ancestry, it's strange that I can't do facial hair very well. In this neck of the woods, giving a gift may bring thoughts of a package wrapped in paper and sporting a bow of ribbon. Some of us don't mind a bit getting something used, especially if it's personal to the giver as well as the reci

Songs of Torment

This weblog will focus on my grieving process for a while, and I hope that it will help some people who are going through these things as well. Everyone grieves sometime, but not the same way. There is no "getting over it." Some of these will be short, some long. Music has power. It can influence moods and even cause excitement (such as with rallying songs chosen as anthems). Some become a part of us while others have poor lyrics that were only effective because of the delivery and production. Songs can take us back to times in our lives, both good and bad. I'll hear a song now and remember how Charlene liked it. Some make me think of her even if she didn't know them. She told me that she was playing mix CDs in her car that I had made her years ago. I had label and case insert-printing software, and had fun doing it. What is seen here may be the very first one I made for her. (The picture was taken in the lantern area of the Rondout Lighthouse, and it was quite a feat