Sunday Book Review – Upon Departure – Prose and #Poetry by John Roedel

I was introduced to the poetry of John Roedel by my lovely friend, Jane Sturgeon. Roedel writes heartfelt poetry from his soul. As a writer myself who writes raw from my soul, and as a griever, John’s poetry hits the mark with everything he writes. Upon Departure is his newest release I was eagerly awaiting to read. Roedel’s storytelling through prose and poetry is sure to touch anyone who has ever loved and lost.

Blurb:

From bestselling poet, storyteller and speaker John Roedel, comes a collection of poetry that explores the concept that our grief as a natural wonder that terraforms the landscape of our world in increments. It can take a lifetime to find peace when our loved one becomes an empty chair at our kitchen table.

let’s lace our hands
as if eternity is opening
up the veil into the great
mystery right in front of us

let’s feel our fingers against
each other as if this is the
last time we will touch before
we become celestial kites

let’s part our lips and say
what we should have said
to each other years ago:

“I love you.
I love you so.
I forgive you.

I’m sorry.
I’m blessed to know you.
I’m so grateful to you.”

My 5 Star Review:

Upon Departure is one of the best books I’ve read on heartfelt poetry, and on loving, life, and losing. After reading, Untied – the poetry of how knots become strings, also by Roedel, and as a writer myself, and one who is also living through grief, I will say that Roedel’s poetry speaks to me louder than some of the other many books I’ve read on grief. And this is simply because the rawness and realness of his pain jumps off the pages, especially to those of us who have also walked the walk – and are still walking through the haze of grief.

In this new release of prose and poetry, the book begins with a short introduction to Roedel’s journey of losing his father, the whirlwind of emotions, the unacceptance and disbelief, till the final acceptance, the ‘what ifs’ of doing things differently he experienced, and how the lingering effects continue through his own journey through life. In this beautiful book, you won’t find a table of contents, nor will you find titles of each poem, rather a story in prose spoken through poetry of words that paint pictures of loss, loving, hope, and eternal love, in metaphors. For anyone who loves emotional poetry, looking for comfort in poetry, or seeks a path in understanding grief, this is a book for you.

x

poem #1 begins:

“I don’t care what form

you return to me

I just want you back”

The poem continues on with stanzas about how Roedel doesn’t care in which form ‘you’ appear to me in various appearances:

“If you come back to me

as our favorite song on the radio

I’ll pull the car over immediately

and let the music retell our love story

on 80s power ballad at a time…”

“If you come back to me

as a row of goosebumps on my bare arm

I will trace my fingers across my skin

Carefully so I can read the love letter

you wrote to me in spirit braille…”

“If you come back to me

As a passage in a book

I will grab the fattest eraser I can find

And get rid of all the periods so you

Can become a run-on sentence…”

x

One of my favorites, Poem #10, grief summed up in a post card:

“Your grief is the purest love letter that you can ever send to the one you have lost to death…every tear that rolls down the grooves on your face is the most tender postcard you will ever write…”

x

Poem #12

“…everybody that you have lost along the way

returns to you on your last day

-it turns out that

love is a boomerang.”

x

Roedel has another wonderful book titled, Hey God, and wrote another excerpt for this book:

#13 – Me: Hey God…

“Grief keeps sneaking up on me.

God: To grieve means that you have loved. Grieving is one of the truest human experiences that you will ever participate in. It often arrives without warning – like a late-day summer storm – obscuring the sun and drenching you in downpour. It’s a gift, isn’t it?”

“…Bereavement is the debt you must pay for having loved. There is no getting over the loss of a beloved who is now resting in the arms of endless love. Grief has no expiration date. Despite the pass of time, the phantom pain of mourning is always one memory away from returning.”

x

From poem #15

“Every tear of

Loss that we shed

Carries with it

The DNA-of the relationship

Of the love

Of the story

That two people

Once shared…”

x

Poem #16 might be my favorite:

Tells about the writer stating he’s just a tourist in the world, and writes of all earthly experiences and possessions he’ll leave behind:

“…except for my

thoughts of you

-they are coming with me…”

x

Poem #22 – Where the author uses metaphors likening grief to a field of “rosebushes and bees”

“…Grief is a stretching field full

of thick beautiful rose bushes

and bees that you must travel

through to get to the other side…”

“…On the other side of the field of

grief is another – even bigger field

of grief that has even more beautiful

rose bushes and even angrier bees

and even more pointy thorns that you

must get through…”

x

Poignant moments:

“Being mortal means that we are all caught in a loop of meeting each other at Baggage Claim…”

Roedel goes on to say “To grieve the death of a beloved isn’t something that we check off in a box. Once we experience grief it changes us forever. Grief transforms us. Grief doesn’t just stay for a weekend, Grief moves into the loft of our hearts…”

“Grief isn’t an obstacle we overcome – it’s a masterclass in what it means to be human.”

“It can take a lifetime to find peace when our loved one becomes an empty chair at our kitchen table.”

“Life is life

there can be no after

for something that never ends…”

“…because love is the act of holding hands with

another person and counting to infinity by twos…”

“There is this unspoken call for us to have our wounds become scars long before they are ready to.”

“To grieve means that we have taken the risk to love without fear.”

“These tears are proof.

Of what?

That I loved.”

“It’s okay, my love. Eternity is holding me. Death isn’t an end. Death is a threshold. I’m still here. I never left. Love doesn’t die. I remain. There is no afterlife. There is only life. I’m here wih you. Love doesn’t die.”

“…After somebody that you love dies, it feels as if you have lost a limb. Even years later there can be phantom pains that can send you to your knees…”

©DGKaye2022

The SemiColon Translation – Not Just a Punctuation Mark

I’ve been seeing the semicolon symbol a lot on social media, and I’m identifying with it and sharing its other story here today. It’s also a symbol of courage that simply uses the punctuation mark to tell the world, our story isn’t over. It could have ended with a period, but the semicolon allows the story to continue.

..

Grammarly shared a post about this stating:

“A semicolon is used when an author could have chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.”

It was posted in 2015 by Grammarly, but has subsequently been recirculating and being used for suicide prevention advocating – the new significance of survival. – Project Semicolon

This punctuation mark has become a symbol for hope for anyone suffering depression, addiction, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and more of the same. You may have come across some of these posts on social media. Marketing has joined in with creating everything from jewelry, Tshirts, and more with the semicolon design. Many sufferers of depression have also tattooed this symbol somewhere on their person. The symbol was created to change the stigma and to help inspire others who walk the fine line of suicidal thoughts, and for showing solidarity against suicide, depression, addictions and other mental health struggles, inspiring strength for the suffering.

Grammarly shares a post about this symbol and talks about Amy Bleuel who began the nonprofit ‘project suicide’ back in 2013. She created the symbol to be used for more than just a punctuation mark after her own father committed suicide. Sadly, she took her own life in 2017.

Our world is getting infinitely harder for many of us to cope in. The statistics on suicide are growing enormously, and these don’t even apply to the same category with those who suffer actual mental illness. One does not have to suffer mental illness to take themselves to the dark side. I can attest to how devastating events in life can push our minds to some places we’d never thought we’d ever go to when provoked by emotional distress, loneliness or grieving.

The significance related to the punctuation mark is, a story of horrific pain is a mere pause in life, but life can continue. Problems, events, situations are temporary, but suicide is permanent. A reminder that life will go on and not be ended, symbolizing a continuation of life even when life throws us unbearable times.

Please, if you are someone contemplating self harm, or know someone who has reached this dark place, share this post and call your country’s national suicide prevention hotline:

In the U.S. call       1-800-273-8255   https://afsp.org/get-help 

Or simply dial #988

In Canada call        833-456-4566      https://talksuicide.ca/

In the U.K. there are various numbers listed on the NHS website  https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/behaviours/help-for-suicidal-thoughts/

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There is always hope. Most of the suicides can be prevented if the distressed person could just have someone to talk to. If you know someone who has experienced, or living a tragedy, life altering situation, or severely depressed, and they aren’t acting like their usual selves, closing themselves off to friends and loved ones, or just disappears from their social circles, please check up on them.

These numbers can be called when desperation reigns, be it thoughts about suicide, surviving a suicide attempt, or deep distorting thoughts for the grieving.

..

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/why-a-semicolon-tattoo-is-the-most-beautiful-tattoo/

©DGKaye2022

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You Never Know the Silent Load that Somebody may be Carrying

Be kind

You Never Know the Silent Load Somebo

dy May be Carrying.

Sunday Book Review – Bearing the Unbearable by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing a poignant book, written from her own experience with grief and loss, as well as shared interviews with some of her bereavement clients, by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore.

As many of you know, I’ve read a number of books on grief – from the clinical to the afterlife, and one thing I can say about this book is that it stands out from others because it talks about all aspects and changes of life we go through when grief strikes – not just the expected things. Dr. Cacciatore has ‘worn the shoes’. One other thing I’d like to note about this book is that I would highly recommend everyone to read this book. Why? Because everyone in the world will have to experience it in their lifetimes, and for those who haven’t yet, this book gives amazing insights. It’s also a good book for those who know or love a griever and don’t know how to act around them or what to say. It distinctly states what us grievers need in our new life path from those in our lives.

Blurb:

If you love, you will grieve—and nothing is more mysteriously central to becoming fully human. 

Dr. Cacciatore is featured in the 2021 documentary series The Me You Can’t See, from Oprah, Prince Harry, and Apple TV.

Bearing the Unbearable is a Foreword INDIES Award-Winner — Gold Medal for Self-Help.
__
When a loved one dies, the pain of loss can feel unbearable—especially in the case of a traumatizing death that leaves us shouting, “NO!” with every fiber of our body. The process of grieving can feel wild and nonlinear—and often lasts for much longer than other people, the nonbereaved, tell us it should.

Organized into fifty-two short chapters, Bearing the Unbearable is a companion for life’s most difficult times, revealing how grief can open our hearts to connection, compassion, and the very essence of our shared humanity. Dr. Joanne Cacciatore—bereavement educator, researcher, Zen priest, and leading counselor in the field—accompanies us along the heartbreaking path of love, loss, and grief. Through moving stories of her encounters with grief over decades of supporting individuals, families, and communities—as well as her own experience with loss—Cacciatore opens a space to process, integrate, and deeply honor our grief.

Not just for the bereaved, Bearing the Unbearable will be required reading for grief counselors, therapists and social workers, clergy of all varieties, educators, academics, and medical professionals. Organized into fifty-two accessible and stand-alone chapters, this book is also perfect for being read aloud in support groups.

My 5 Star Review:

Before I go into my review of this book, I will simply state, as a griever myself, that this book is one of the best books I’ve read on grief because it isn’t a clinical diagnosis book, it isn’t a guide on how to get through grief, but a tender telling of all the emotions a griever will experience throughout the rest of their lives, the triggers, and most of all, also beneficial to anyone who has ever known a griever and is lost for words or knowing how to act around someone who is grieving.

The book begins with a prologue of the author giving us a snapshot of her own grief story. She shares some of the questions all grievers ask and wonders how the world can continue on when her world was left empty – a common thread between all grievers. The author tells us she hopes for other grievers to feel they are in a safe place for us to be with our broken hearts. She warns that this book isn’t instruction on how to get over grief, but how to learn to live with the undeniable ebbs and flows and triggers of grief that will remain a part of our lives, for the rest of our lives. She talks about grievers needing others to reach out to us, and just how to do it by telling of her own experiences, and that of others she has consoled.

Dr. Cacciatore speaks of how death will affect every single person one day in their own individual way. The more we love, the more we will grieve. She also delves into how grief is manifested and what the shock of a traumatic death can leave on us – sometimes and often, leading to depression and/or PTSD, the repercussions of the shocking experience of losing a loved one, and how that often leads to running to substances to numb our pain. The good doctor touches on all the various types of trauma and grief from losing a loved one, a child, a parent, a spouse, etc., covering the gamut of what each of these relationships lost leave the living loved one to endure and the various habits and personality characteristics that are altered in the wake of, including the physical ailments many of us experience in light of grief, of which, many can become life threatening – especially when self-care desire disappears.

Most importantly to me, the author speaks of those in our circles who tend to abandon us in our hours of need because they don’t know what we need, and fears of talking about our lost loved ones causing more pain, explaining quite the opposite, how us grievers aren’t looking for solutions, only an ear to hear us speak of our great loss with a compassionate heart. “…But please just sit beside me. Say nothing. Do not offer a cure, or a pill, or a word, or a potion. Witness my suffering and don’t turn away from me. Please be gentle with me. Please self, be gentle with me too. I will not ever ‘get over it’ so please don’t urge me down that path.”

“Traumatic death provokes traumatic grief.” Truest words. The author gets into the body’s reactions to grief, comparing a diagnosis or a death edict having that ‘fight or flight’ feeling within us setting off in perceived physchological threat within. Only, the fight or flight feeling never really leaves. She goes into the despair the griever learns to live within. “This is grief’s most piercing message: there is no way around-the only way is through”. As she states, those who don’t deal with their grief and won’t allow themselves to feel, are only suppressing their grief, tells us it will eventually manifest in unexpected ways. The doctor warns that suppressing grief is responsible for so many addictions, abuse and social disconnection.

We learn about how some people’s cry for help – or, the lack of those cries, can often lead to that griever taking their own life. She warns that grief always has a place at the table. Talking about grief is necessary and should never be stifled. The distractions we use for ourselves as grievers is also discussed as our everlasting unquenchable yearning for our lost loved ones never goes away.

Another poignant discussion in this book delves into the loss of a child and how that sometimes leads parents to unintentionally neglect their living children while focusing on the loss of another. We also learn how crying is a natural valve to relieve stress and explains the biochemical essense of grief tears and their differentiation to other tears.

In this book there is a dedicated chapter to grievers on how to tell our friends and family what we need from them in our hours of grief. Letting them know our triggers, asking for our acceptance when we aren’t up to a family gathering, a cry for help, and more. She offers up solutions like, writing a note to family letting them know our needs and reassuring them to not hold back conversations of our lost loved one because that is one of the most needed conversation many grievers crave, is talking about our lost loved one.

Time is linear with grief, sometimes minutes feel like years, years feel like minutes. The author tells us how easily a grief moment will steal our breath. “It is both feared enemy and beloved companion who never leaves.” Reminding, we won’t stop grieving until we stop loving. “Those we love deeply who have died are part of our identity; they are a part of our biography. We feel that love in the marrow of our bones.”

The author offers writing to a lost loved one as a great therapy. Read it and weep as she explains these tears of release are good for the soul. She also talks about making a memory box we can revisit to soothe our souls in memory.

All different types of grief are covered in this book, from the ones we carry for our lost one to the kind where we blame ourselves for. You will find stories here that demonstrate things that can happen for those who withhold their grief.

I loved her analogy of grief ‘ it’s a big bowl of grief broth’, describing how just one more ingredient can overpower us with overwhelming grief.

Poignant Quotes:

“No intervention and no interventionist can ‘cure’ our grief. And we are not broken-we are brokenhearted.”

“Grief is not a medical disorder to be cured.

Grief is not spiritual crisis to be resolved.

Grief is not a social woe to be addressed.

Grief is, simply, a matter of the heart-to be felt.”

“When we cannot hold in our arms our loved ones who’ve died, we hold them in our hearts. This is being with grief.”

“When you’re feeling tired of our sadness, just remember that we are supremely more tired of their dead-ness.”

“Losing our beloved brings a pain unlike any other-and this pain is- legitimately ours. Being with grief is terrifyingly painful, yet when we live our grief honestly, it has the mysterious power to deepen the meaning of our lives. This is the gift-curse of grief.”

Whoever survives the test must tell his story. ~ Elie Wiesel

©DGKaye2022

How Am I Doing? Too Much Solitude isn’t Healthy – #Procrastination and #Grief

It was a year April 7th that I lost the love of my life, my husband, Puppy. And today is his birthday. I’ve been busy painting new rocks to place around his gravestone for his birthday visit. And went over to the garden center to pick up a lovely spring planter.

The sun’s rays were shining brightly in this photo

This past year has been one of The most difficult time of my life. Many days I find myself not coming to grips with anything. When you love deeply, you will grieve deeply. I am on my own way too much it seems and I know with certainty getting away for the winter was my saving grace, being around people – company, always someone to talk to.

Most of my days are spent reading, researching various things from the spiritual to online grief groups, and writing. It may seem I haven’t published anything for quite some time, but the writing has been plentiful and has given me much material to work with from my journaling and the many poems I have written. My procrastination, because of my newly acquired short attention span hasn’t permitted me to do anything concrete with any of it yet, but I’m slowly working on that as I struggle through each day with what feels like a never-ending grief who is my constant companion. I know though, that one day soon I will have much of my writing to share. My grief doesn’t just pop up randomly, but walks with me every minute of the day. Some days I can deflect it off ’till later’ and some days it just gets the best of me. So I continue to live in my mantra of ‘One Day at a Time.”

In my moments of distraction, I find myself running to Youtube listening to angel messages, Mediums, poets, from inspirational things to talks on the afterlife. I’ve been watching a lot of Youtube videos, getting lost in the 70s and 80s lately too. I can listen to that music because it takes me back to some of my most happiest times – the times before I met my husband, so those songs couldn’t set off yet another fresh round of grief. Somedays I find myself having to do anything to distract myself from doing anything productive as my grief is a staunch companion. I find myself always trying to gauge my emotions and watch where my mind goes. If I feel the need to abandon doing something constructive (like writing and getting back to edits so I can publish I book I wrote two years ago), when the weight of my grief reminds its presence, I need to do that in that moment. This is my coping mechanism taking over, and I must listen.

If my soul craves the need to jump over to Youtube to watch a video on the Afterlife, or a music video to take me back to a happier time, I do it. I’m alone much of the time and I thank goodness I’m resourceful because let me tell you, I loved living on my own when I was younger. I had the time of my life in those days with a very active social life. But this time ’round, both the calendar and the couch are equally empty.

I’m okay with music prior to knowing my Puppy, but not yet ready for hearing ‘our’ songs. I passed on the Luther Vandross video – So Amazing, that popped up on the playlist, the one I walked down the aisle to when we married.

I’m getting acquainted with, but not quite used to living alone. Being single in grief at a certain age is nothing like being single in my 20s and 30s, especially when you’re still trying to digest being in the digit ‘six’ club. If I didn’t have my writing to keep me sane, who knows where I’d be. Writing is my sanity, as it seems to have been my ‘go to’ since I was a child. I feel like I’m in a new learning phase of my life where I allow myself to follow my whims instead of putting them on the back burner for tomorrows – those tomorrows that sometimes never come.

But I’m always writing. I probably have enough writing for three new books. The only thing I haven’t yet got back to is my desire to do something with my words. So in the meantime, I keep writing. And I’m actually considering putting some of my writing in podcast that will eventually become part of the book on grief that I’ve been journaling about. The universe will guide me when the time is right. My heart is far from ready yet to reread the thousands of words I have written in these past two years.

My circles in life are considerably smaller. I am grateful for the friends in my life, especially those who’ve ‘stayed’. And equally grateful for my online writing friends here who keep check on me and keep me motivated, informed and entertained. I feel as though I haven’t found a direction yet, so I remain coasting along to whatever the days ask of me without putting pressure on myself. Grief is a strange animal that takes hold of me in a moment’s notice. It distracts, it chokes, it hinders, and somedays it’s just emotionally crippling for me, and it works on its own schedule. Too much alone time is not healthy for a griever. I am trying to work on that too.

I will finish off by saying that procrastination is a well known thing for writers as we often will look for a distraction when the muse isn’t fulfilling. But sometimes, in other aspects of life, procrastination is the very thing that soothes our insanity, and a diversion is just what the doctor ordered.

Happy Birthday to my Heavenly Husband 🧡💔💘

Last of the diehard Toronto Maple Leaf fans – who may just make it this year!

Mexican memories

Love of my life

©DGKaye2022

Death Anniversary – Twenty Years – The Bite. I Love You to the Moon and Back for One Thousand Lifetimes

I love you to the core of my soul.

When you asked me to marry you, my heart held all the joy in the world.

Yet, the fear of the future and concern about how I’d deal if I were to lose you because of our age difference, it frightened me to my soul.

I weighed the odds and decided that another love like ours could never be.

I hugged you in true laughter, and said yes, but I made you promise me at least 20 years.

What a fool I was, short-changing myself and not asking for thirty.

Your promise gave me 22,

That fateful fear that’d sometimes niggled at my mind, came back to bite.

No amount of years would have ever been enough to have to let you go.

I love you now, still, and forever.

I love you forever into the beyond.

God gifted me you, but only on loan. Because he wanted you back.

You were my lesson on love.

I tasted true unconditional love,

A gift that many have been denied the privilege.

You’re a gift that will blanket my heart for the rest of my days.

I love you.

Puppy grave
In my heart forever

One year ago today, I lost the love of my life. I can’t even fathom the thought it’s been one year. It still aches like yesterday. My heart is still heavy, and the missing is a continuous gaping hole in my heart.

Today I will visit my husband’s grave, our grave, and lay a new rock upon the headstone. Although I feel the need to visit his grave, I feel him more when I’m home, or wherever I go, as though he is with me. He sends me lots of signs, so I know this much.

The only thing I’ve learned about heart-wrenching grief, is that it never subsides. Each wave that comes over me is like a fresh wound. It doesn’t get easier, I just learn to dance around it when it hits. I don’t suppose it ever goes away because as long as there was love, there will always be grief for the giant loss that resides in my heart.

Next week I will begin planning a celebration of life for my Puppy, the one Covid restrictions denied him; just like the Covid hospital restrictions that added to his demise. I still carry a lot of anger inside for that.

Ours was a true love story, and such as grief is, the more we love, the harder and longer we will grieve.

In the past year, I watched my husband die daily before my eyes. My heart was ripped, yet I had to carry on taking care of him because it was all I could do. I cast my brokenness aside, held back my tears and wouldn’t even admit to myself that my other half was leaving me. Until he did.

I packed up 25 years of our life together, gave things away and moved two months later. I don’t even know how I did it all, I just felt like I was on auto pilot going through the motions.

It was my friends who got me through the difficult days, allowing me to speak about him, about the pain, without any interruption or words of empowerment. Grievers don’t need all those foofie condolences, they need love and support and an ear to blanket the soul, for there are no solutions. Grief is just a process that one must journey through alone. But ears and hugs go a long way to comfort. So I thank my wonderful circle of friends, both here and at home, and all of you here for your love and support and for giving me back some of the ‘normal’ I need to continue on.

Beloved Puppy

I’m a longggg way from healing, but I’m doing and showing up, and taking in all the moments of gratitude along this painful road. And the only thing that keeps me doing so is believing my husband is still always here with me.

I came across the perfect word while reading things in one of the online grief groups I follow. There is a Portuguese word called ‘Saudade’, pronounced ‘Sodahd’. In the article I read it talked about this being the perfect word for which there isn’t a perfect English translation. But the gist of the word is it means a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for something or someone that one loves despite them being gone. It’s akin to the term ‘bittersweet’, a longing for something or someone that will never be again. I too now feel it is the perfect description for my grief. According to Dictionary.com,

saudade

soh-dahd; Portuguese soh-dah-juh ]

noun

(in Portuguese folk culture) a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent:the theme of saudade in literature and music.

I love this new word, it describes well the indescribable longing of grief.

Big Puppy
My Puppy

I haven’t published much in the last few years, during my husband’s illness and his dying, and subsequently, after. But don’t be fooled. I’ve been writing like a fiend. I’ve written many poems, conversations, observations and soul searching thoughts through this journey. Turns out I’m 30K words into a book about grief and love, although written in drafts. One day, when my heart can take it, I will put that book together. For now, I would like to share one of the poems I wrote for my husband:

IF

If I’d held you tighter and never let you go,
When God took you, I’d be there with you now.

If there wasn’t a Covid, and my pleas were heard,
You might have still been here with me now.

If I faced my fear of losing you and told you all I knew of your fate,
Would it have scared you more?

If I had a trillion more days, I couldn’t love or miss you more.

If I wasn’t so broken, I could reminisce our happy times,
Instead of just seeing your pained face and body, in my every thought.

If I could stop this biting pain, I could breathe.

If love could have saved you, you’d still be here with me now.




©DGKaye2022


Sunday Movie Review – The Father – Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Coleman – #Dementia

The Sunday Movie Review – this movie caught me right out of left field. When I saw that The Father was released on Netflix starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman (The Crown), I couldn’t wait to watch it. I’ll also add that I had to put on my big girl pants to watch this heart grabbing story, but felt compelled to watch it, accompanied by a box of tissues.

 

A masterful performance by Anthony Hopkins in a heartwrenching role of The Father of Anne, played by Olivia Coleman.

 

My 5 Star Review:

 

This powerful story takes place in London where Anne has already taken in her father after realizing he shouldn’t be living on his own any longer, despite his stubborness. But Anthony (real name and movie name) still comes across as witty and intelligent – until he drifts into a lost person.

 

This is a heartbreaking character study movie, so don’t be looking for big plots and action. The premise is real and frightening and Hopkins gives the performance of his lifetime portraying a father with dementia. We get an internal look as we stand outside this box of grief and fear. The grief is what we feel from what we witness as this man continues to go back and forth from reality to his lost world of dementia and the grief we feel for his daughter Anne who remains compassionate, despite her moments of wanting to throw up her hands.

 

We take in the moments where Anthony’s fits of anger strike because his confusion annoys even himself. His verbal distaste for going into a home when suggested by Anne so she can take her opportunity to move to Paris, will have you, tugging at your own heartstrings.

 

The movie contains mostly dialogue and will have us the viewers just as confused as Anthony at some points as he trys to decipher the reality from his own dementia. The ending will rip what’s left of your heart out with Anthony’s vulnerability.

 

This movie portrays the brutal and raw realism of dementia, how one lives within himself with it and how those who are the caregivers live a living grief.

 

 

Most heartwrenching quote by Hopkins as he questions his own sanity:

“I feel as though I’m losing all my leaves.”

 

 

From IMDB :

Storyline

Having just scared off his recent caregiver, Anthony, an ailing, octogenarian Londoner gradually succumbing to dementia, feels abandoned when concerned Anne, his daughter, tells him she’s moving to Paris. Confused and upset, against the backdrop of a warped perspective and his rapid, heart-rending mental decline, Anthony is starting to lose his grip on reality, struggling to navigate the opaque landscape of present and past. Now, as faded memories and glimpses of lucidity trigger sudden mood swings, dear ones, Anthony’s surroundings, and even time itself become distorted. Why has his younger daughter stopped visiting? Who are the strangers that burst in on Anthony?Nick Riganas

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A fantastic half hour interview with Sir Anthony Hopkins on the making of this film, how he felt in the role and how he prepared for it. Note: He played a man his own age of 84.
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Has anyone here seen the movie? Thoughts?
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©DGKaye2021

 

Sunday Book Review – Healing A Spouse’s Grieving Heart by Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt

The Sunday Book Review highlights Healing a Spouse’s Grieving Heart by Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, who is a noted author, educator, and grief counselor. This book is a great companion guide for those of us who’ve loved and lost someone. It offers 100 practical ideas to help cope with grief.

 

Healing a Spouse's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Husband or Wife Dies (Healing Your Grieving Heart series) by [Alan Wolfelt]

Available on Amazon

 

Blurb:

Helping widows and widowers learn how to cope with the grief of losing their helpmate, their lover, and perhaps their financial provider, this guide shows them how to find continued meaning in life when doing so seems difficult. Bereaved spouses will find advice on when and how to dispose of their mate’s belongings, dealing with their children, and redefining their role with friends and family. Suggestions are provided for elderly mourners, young widows and widowers, unmarried lovers, and same-sex partners. The information and comfort offered apply to individuals whose spouse died recently or long ago.

 

My 5 Star Review:

Comfort for the grieving spouse’s heart told in bite-sized, often one page chapters. Easy to digest as a complete read through, or as a night table book where you could keep it handy to open a page for a bit of inspiration.

The book offers short and comforting words and suggestions and short to-the- point topics and advice to live by. An easy read that had my head nodding in acknowledgement to much of it. This book offers good tools to help wade through the grief journey.

Dr. Wolfelt offers us 100 Practical Ideas in one page chunks as he shares a common issue mourners face with uplifting advice on how to deal with those moments. I will share quotes I felt poignant, and I’ll add my own thoughts from my own experience in response:

“The death of a spouse tears through every layer of your existence.” – Fact.

“You will grow to learn that you can mourn and live at the same time.”–  I’m beginning to learn this.

“The loss of a partner is among life’s most wrenching and challenging experiences.” – 1000000%

The doctor tells us “The journey of grief is a long and difficult one. It is also a journey for which there is no preparation.” – Fact!

We’ll learn that feelings of shock, numbness, and disbelief are nature’s way of protecting us from the full reality of the death of a loved one. Yes! Thank God for the numbness and denial! We’re advised to reach out to someone when we need to share our pain. Good advice for sure, but for some like myself, I don’t like to reach out and burden others. I wish some would pick up a phone and check up on me – if nothing other than common courtesy.

Reminders about who we are now after we are left as half from one. The arduous and painful work will begin when we assume our own new single identity.

Here’s a bigee for me: “Widows often tell me how surprised and hurt they feel when friends fall away after the death of a spouse. I found out who my friends really are,” they say. – This is my number one glaring headlight into my new life – the very, very few who are now in my life. Death surely tells a whole story.

“Caring for someone who is sick is physically as well as emotionally draining.” – Understatement! There is no pain like watching your beloved die before you daily.

I’m pretty sure I’m here: “You may not know what to do with yourself now that your days are no longer consumed by caring for your spouse.” – Yes, not only our world has been shaken, stirred and turned upside down, but now we’re also out of routine, another sense of loss – that we are no longer needed.

“Many people have lost touch with the gift of family. Your friends may come and go, but family, as they say, is forever.” – I’m sorry, but this part actually made me laugh. Let me rephrase that: Your family may come and go, but friends are forever. I’m a living testament to this.

“If you harbor bad feelings about your partner’s medical care, find a way to express those feelings.” – Oh I’ve expressed my feelings loud and clear. Covid killed my husband and he didn’t even have it. He couldn’t be assessed in hospital during Covid, so like the many more who died because of Covid, without having Covid will be numbers we will be receiving in time. My husband was a victim of not being able to get assessed early enough in hospital. That is Fact.

“Being without someone to hug and hold is often a big part of their grief. You may have kissed and hugged your spouse every day. You probably slept side by side. Losing this kind of physical intimacy can feel devastating.” – No kidding! The good doctor hit the motherlode here. We hugged and kissed many times a day. Of course we slept not always side by side, but spooned and tucking my always cold feet under his legs. There is no replacement. It’s loss upon loss us grievers will continue to endure.

“It’s not unusual for mourners to save clothing, jewelry, books, locks of hair, and other personal items. You may even want to wear your husband’s old sweatshirt or sleep with your wife’s robe.” -Some of the small comforts in my own grief. I gave away most of hubby’s things and kept what was most sacred to me: Special photos, his gold chain, now worn with his wedding ring hanging from it. His slippers by the bed. His favorite sweatshirts. And his love that is always around.

“Should you still wear a wedding ring when you’re a widow, or shouldn’t you?” – Naturally, there is no one answer. But if you’re asking me, I will be wearing my wedding ring til the day I die – no matter what may come.

“Griefbursts” – This is a perfect word for the unprepared for moments where merely a kind word, hug or song can set off the waterworks.

Throughout this book, the good doctor shares some good advice on things to do to get back into community, suggests when it may be time to talk to a counselor, join a support group, among many other suggestions.

Another quote I found resonated big-time with me was: “You may lack the energy as well as the desire to participate in activities you used to find pleasurable. The fancy term for this is ‘anhedonia,’ which is the lack of ability to experience pleasure in things you previously found pleasurable.” – I’m so there. I don’t like to be out long, and like to dash right back home when out for a time. What I need is a holiday away from my environment.

“If you choose to marry, know that you will never get over your grief for the spouse who died. You will always love your previous spouse and, even years and decades later, you will always feel some grief over his or her death. This is normal and necessary.” – I absolutely couldn’t agree more. Real love never goes away. Why would I even consider remarrying? My husband filled my heart and soul. That doesn’t go away. Marrying anyone else could only make them second best, and who would want to be that?

If you are grieving, read this book.

 

©DGKaye2021

 

 

Moving – Closure and Erasure, and #Grieving

I recently did the big move two Saturdays ago. It was a horrendous journey from the getgo. Barely two weeks had passed after my husband’s death when I was informed there was a one bedroom coming available in July. I probably wasn’t in my rightest mind, but I did know I didn’t want to pay exuberant rent living alone in the big place, so I agreed to take the early departure.

 

But before any packing could be done, I had to go through a lifetime of everything we owned. I had to downsize to at least half of everything – furniture, clothes, shoes, and other assorted big things taking up space. I barely had time to mourn over the seperation of the so many things that have been a part of my life, our life, for decades. But there was no choice. And there was barely a helping hand to help me sort out our life and condense it into boxes and smaller spaces. Trauma teaches us just how many are really in our life, and how many actually give a shit. I found out – not many.

I was referred to the clown movers by ‘a friend’ in my building. My good friend Vinnie had brought me over a large moving trolley a month before the move, telling me to use it to transport stuff downstairs as soon as I got the keys early. I did many loads and unloads, alone, and by the time moving day came, it should have been a four hour deal. Only, the mover guys came with no moving tools, didn’t bother taking a shower before coming to our air-conditioned building that was working overtime with some of the worst humidity from a temporary heatwave that hit on moving day, making the breathing more unbearable – even through a mask. These clowns needed me to guide and babysit them, so there was no way I could be down in the new place doing anything constructive. You may be wondering, so no, NOBODY came to help me on moving day.

After over ten hours of moving, scraping, dragging my furniture up and down hallways, I fired them at almost 9pm. My bones all felt broken, and I fell into a very dark place. It wouldn’t be until the Monday, two days later that the cavalry – my good friends Vinnie, Tonie and Alison showed up to help turn my place into a home. There were a few more visits over the last two weeks from my lovely friends, as everyone is busy and has their own life issues to deal with, but I learned a lot. And I couldn’t help thinking about a famous quote from Maya Angelou – “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

Through my journey of grief, I haven’t been working on a book, heck, I haven’t been writing regularly, but I have been writing. I found myself writing snippets of life and what I learned and felt through the days of my husband’s illness, through his dying days, and the emotional fallout afterwards that I continue to live daily. Late at night is when my inspirational moments of recall become crystal clear, and I write these thoughts down in one Word doc that will surely become elaborated on and condensed into a book – eventually – when I regain my balance and begin to stomach rereading the enormity of my life this past year. But in the interim, I will share snippets of my thoughts, here on my blog:

 

Closure Erasure

I scream at the top of my lungs when the pain gets too much. I have to release it or I may just spontaneously combust. Since the day you went away I have been running on auto pilot. From the shock of your death to making funeral arrangements, to burying you, to trying to swallow the five lonely weeks you lived from your death edict diagnosis.

The paper work, the banks, investments, will, and income tax to be done too, kept me in a tailspin between tears. Then, the last thing in the world on my mind was moving, yet, I knew I had to. We had planned to move in the early fall before we even knew how very sick you were. What I really wanted to do when you died was lay in bed with covers over my head, for however long I wanted to – days? Weeks? Who knows how long I’d allow myself. But it was as if you intervened when I surprisingly found out in gest there was a smaller unit in the same building. I truly believe you made that happen. But in the midst of the madness of preparing for this 180 degree move for me, it felt more like a total 360.

Life was a merry-go-round of fun, spontaneity, and love. We traveled, we laughed, and we loved, and we had a great life. Once again, I’m suddenly on my own and moving back to a one bedroom apartment, like I did when I left home at eighteen. Only then, it was exciting and freeing. This time it’s painful and lonely.

I’ve given all your belongings to your family, as I was forced to take on the ‘cleaning out’ process as half our stuff would not fit the new place. In the span of my life taking a 180, losing you, and clearing out our life, every picture, sock, piece of furniture, had me and you all over it. A monumental task that I still to this day, do not know how I had the strength to keep moving through while my heart is shattered. But I did. And often I felt I wasn’t even in my own body. Like some invisible force was keeping me going – like a friend calling to offer a hand just at the right moment -like my bestie Zan who still calls me twice a day from the other side of the world, because other than you, my love, there is nobody left living on this planet earth who loves me to nth degree and unconditionally, but Zan.

Erasure and closure everywhere I look. Bare walls embedded with leftover nails sticking out the walls from photos and mirrors now sold or packed away are what reflect back to me now. I think about how many homes we’ve built and sold and downsized each time, yet, we kept so much, like the huge two shopping bags full of every card for every occasion we’d ever given each other in our almost twenty-five years together. When I was getting rid of a lot of things, someone remarked to me that I should toss those bags too. I told her what they were and she remarked they’re no good to me now. Did you hear that? They are ever more important to me now. And one day, when my heart is ready to smile about our good times, I’d like to look back at those cards and smile in my heart again.

 

©DGKaye2021

 

“You’re allowed to change your mind about the people and things you want in your life. You’re allowed to adjust your values and preferences as you get older and wiser. You’re allowed to evolve and be a different person today than you were yesterday. This is your life.” ~ Unknown wordables.