Friends, since the third week of January my life has been spinning out of control…and yet, almost simultaneously moving in slow motion. I’ve been experiencing a plethora of emotions while feeling pulled in a hundred different directions. Emotions as far reaching as lost and alone to…more times than I can count…afraid. My mother is now under Hospice care. A heart wrenching decision for my family.

Normally, I begin my weekly column with a thought, idea or theme which I expound on until I feel I’ve conveyed it adequately…or the deadline buzzer goes off and I’m racing to hit ‘send’ before it’s too late. Yet, sometimes I sit down to write on one topic and during the course of typing one word after another I’m led in an entirely different direction. All the while, trying on different titles to see which one fits the best. You, the reader, don’t realize this each week so I’ll simply be honest and tell you this was one of those times.

During these moments of redirection, I don’t always feel in control of the process. Regardless, when I feel compelled to charter a new course, I have no recourse but to follow. Uncomfortable territory for some. Yet, for me it’s not at all. I write from my heart and soul. I’m candid. Maybe at times, too candid. Yet, honest. Unless I’m spurting zaniness in a joyous attempt to make you laugh. Because I believe strongly in laughter’s remarkable ability to lift our spirits and lighten our hearts. Lately though, about the only thing not on my agenda has been laughter.

Bewildered, this year has left me stumped as to what could possibly happen next. I wander around, desperately grasping at straws only to have them disintegrate in my hand. Still, I frantically search for anything predictable…rational…normal. Yet ‘normalcy’ remains just out of reach.

My mother is transitioning into whatever lies beyond this life. (I will leave the ‘whatever’ to your own beliefs.) Some would argue ‘we all are.’ Thank you ‘some,’ we know. In fact, I believe it’s the one thing we all know for certain, yet don’t wish to talk about. We’ve all heard the quote for as long as we can remember. “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

However, there’s another certainty we don’t talk about because it affects each of us differently. So differently that it’s almost become taboo. Yet it’s as real as the emotions of denial, anger, depression, guilt/bargaining (If only I…) and acceptance. Combined all these emotions in any order and you’ve described grief.

Grief resides in the center of the swirling vortex of five emotions. During times of loss (loved one, marriage/relationship, job, etc.) we experience some form of one, or more, of theses emotions. If we lost our livelihood, we’d probably be in denial, immediately followed by splashing around in puddles of anger. Relationships are more difficult. There are too many catalysts igniting the failure of a union. Even though they say we can only experience one emotion at a time…when a relationship fails it feels as if numerous emotions are firing simultaneously.

The grief which comes with the loss of a loved one is profound. Whether we express it outwardly or not, it rocks us to our very core. Some of us cry. Some of us don’t. Some will choose one (emotion) to savor, avoiding the others in a valiant attempt be in control. Holding on to one emotion, however, could prolong the grieving process. Meanwhile, some of us immerse ourselves a little in each emotion. Engaging in anger, while quickly becoming consumed with denial. Then depression takes hold, turning into the mountain of ‘what if’s’ until steered into denial once again. It doesn’t matter, because grief is difficult to navigate. There is no right, or wrong, way to grieve. It’s as individual as we are. Yet, we all ‘feel’ grief.

Grief also has no time limit. How long it takes us to move through the emotional components of grief depends on many variables. However, reaching ‘acceptance’ is our ultimate goal. It offers peace, forgiveness and the ability to move forward. Acceptance born out of respect, carries with it an underlying current of gratitude. It’s good, grief.

Friends, if you find yourself in a grief situation…and you will. Talk to someone. Ask for help; and don’t forget to take care of you. Love, hugs, blessings and smiles…

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