Author Topic: Learning not just to survive but live again  (Read 281 times)

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Offline CarolineL

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Learning not just to survive but live again
« on: March 06, 2019, 03:35:37 PM »
Ok, anyone any ideas on how to live again, not just survive but to live. I know its a biggy but I will start with what helps me.                                              Filling my days, I find that if I keep busy I don't have to think about my grief, the missing to much. Then at the end of the day in a quiet place with my loved ones photo, I spend at least 15 mins chatting to him about my day and try to recall one happy memory of us together which may cause some tears to flow but that's ok and that seems to just settle me down nicely.

Offline Karena

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Re: Learning not just to survive but live again
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2019, 05:14:51 PM »
It was a biggy for me - having been a carer for most of my life i had no idea how to care for myself - since the age of 16 there was always work, then some-one to look after from my gran, through bringing up my kids - nursing Mark then my mum who both died of cancer, then Keith after his first stroke.
Between Mark dying and Keith and i being together, and with the girls being teenagers i went back to college and did a degree but i was still being a carer and working as well.
When keith died the girls had left home - i had been doing the same job for 12 years so it wasnt exactly challenging - i had no idea how to occupy myself or even what was the point of my life at all because that lifetime role was gone.
 
I had to move - which made me busy for a while and i had a neglected garden to sort out - so a lot of hard physical work, but that actually helped a lot - i wanted to re-create our garden - for him in a way - the new one was half the size but i still wanted a pond and a wildlife area and it was that, being in nature, which made me smile again for the first time - i was occupied with something and suddenly realised i could feel the sun on my back and this robin was singing so loudly and persistantly i couldnt ignore him.
 Then i decided to spend  time marking keiths life there is no gravestone or anything  - so i went round to our favourite places and planted native daffodills which took up time - getting the logistics worked out and overcoming or avoiding some of the situations that created the most anxiety for me while doing so. I still had our old campervan and had to learn pretty quick how to keep it on the road so a bit of mechanics and welding - but i went camping in it too, as a really good friend who was also in the same camping club as me pretty much made sure i kept going to the meets - and they were/still are a great bunch of people they were keithd friends too, they were couples and famillys and yet i never felt left out -  as famillys their kids grew up and a lot have stopped doing it now but there is a few left.

I decided if i didnt know how to make a life for myself then i would live my life through Keith - so i did some of the things he would have liked to do -and i went back to dolphin watching - which was pretty much how we spent all our holidays - The first time was very difficult and yet even though its only once a year for me now  i feel closest too him stood on that harbour wall its like getting a hug off him.
My eldest moved to south africa and i go there as well - and discovered again how much the natural world means to me but also how abject poverty affects the lives of so many people over there - i always knew that but seeing it first hand is very different.
Being on holiday is fine and being in the garden is too - but that left an awful lot of winter nights to fill and weekends - so i went back to the thing i knew could actually fill my mind - education - of course i wasnt going to do another degree that would be pointless and there arnt any evening classes near here - so i did online courses - the futurelearn site has loads of free ones - so i picked a few i thought were interesting - and that was great - because i wasnt trying to get a qualification i am too long in the tooth for a new "career" so i was free to chose what i wanted and i thought i was doing so randomly - until i did one - which was actually work related - in graphic design - and then the others seemed to drop into place - ecology /conservation/sub-sahran africa/ Soil study/food chains journalism even fiction writing - which doesnt have to be fiction - put it all with the graphic design and my love of gardening and i suddenly had a path -

I already knew about permaculture as both gardens were designed on a permaculture basis - basically its all about putting in but not taking out - so no pesticides chemical fertlisers etc but copying nature - which means working with not against it - planting the right things to help it work - so as i had a project to put together for the course. i contacted a charity building school gardens in africa - i cant go swaning off doing gap years until i retire but we live in a digital age which means i can design and write the stuff they need for fund raising, leaflets,web graphics etc also - i am wrting a kids book - with a story of a permaculture garden which they are going to sell on the basis of buy one and it pays for another to go free too a school - so the book is a story but it also descibes a little girl applying what she learned with the school garden too her home, so its like a set of instructions as well. and hopefully there will be a game to go with it - a book version and maybe an interactive digital version ( which i will need help with (lol) )

 I plan to do a permaculture design certificate - so i can get involved more with that side of it when i retire, but also want to spend some time doing conservation research i already do that with the dolphin watching but want to extend it.

The campervan finally gave out last year and having  thought i should replace it with a "sensible" car i then went and replaced it with the same - they guys who were going to take mine for parts also sell them - they even switched the driver and passenger seats from the old one for me -as i was pretty heartbrocken about losing it - so at the moment i am hand stitching curtains and trying my best to do some joinery to put together a conversion for the interior - so still busy.

I am 8 years into this journey now and it hasnt been easy i still talk too him not so much with a photo and at a dedicted time - but as things happen or i have ideas or even with the practical things - how do i do this or that  - he is always in my mind and i feel like he has been taking it with me - in part because it started with me doing things and living my life for him.

We will all do this differently and find our own paths the grief path is the one we tread together -for some it might be new hobbys or going back too old ones,, new friendships, new relationships, new activities, but we will all do it. :hug: 

Offline Emz2014

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Re: Learning not just to survive but live again
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2019, 07:19:31 AM »
Is hard to add anything to karenas great reply!

I have a book which I make a list of things I want to do, try or achieve (which I add to as I think of things) and then each month I take a look to see what I can (or want to) progress.  In the back of the book I write down the things I've achieved and done, so I can look back on it to see how far I've come and remember things I've done

It can be anything, learning something new, going somewhere, doing something you've never done before or tracking bands/shows you've seen.  For example, I had never been to an opera so popped it on my list, and now I have seen Carmen and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.  Another example, I challenged myself to having dinner out by myself - and I was really proud of achieving that one as it's something I was really nervous about (but had some need to achieve as I knew I was going to have to stay away alone for some training)

I also set myself the challenge of going to a theatre show alone (there had been times I missed shows as others hadn't wanted to see them).  Have done that twice now (although going to the cinema alone is still out of my comfort zone to try so far!)

This has helped my confidence,  when its feeling low I can look back at all the things I have achieved and done,  and adds something to look forward to when you choose things to ' book' in to do xx
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. 
Hold on in there xx

Offline Sandra61

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Re: Learning not just to survive but live again
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2019, 10:32:09 AM »
Hi Caroline,

It's only about a year and half since my latest bereavement and I lost my mum, which is different. I lost my dad 34 years ago and my nan and a close school friend when I was in my teens and every loss is different, because I was at different ages and stages of my life and because the circumstances I found myself in afterwards each time were different. This is the first time I have been left with just me to look after and I feel I am still in the early stages of finding out what I am going to do with however much is left of my life.

I decided early on that I needed a distraction and something to look forward to each week and to be interested in, so I joined a class and took up a new interest that my mum would have enjoyed too. That kind of made it OK to enjoy it and I am still going to that class after a year. It still helps me a lot too. I made some new friends there and that has helped and made me feel less alone.

I think finding your way into a new life that you feel is worthwhile is a slow journey of discovery. Filling your days is useful, but I think you need to do more than that and find something to do that really means something to you and that you feel is important to you. I think you have to try different things to see what you might enjoy and, as Karena says, and see where that leads. Setting yourself challenges too is good. It all gives you new experiences and so is fun, but also builds your confidence and helps you start to believe in yourself and that you still have a future on your own.

I work, so I don't have a lot of time to explore what I might like to do next, but so far, I am enjoying my other interests and looking to the future because of them. They do help add purpose to your life. There is a lot to deal with after you have lost someone anyway,so that takes up a lot of time too - all the sorting out and deciding whether to and whether you can stay where you are or need to move, sorting out official things etc. I still haven't got to the end of that. I have a friend who also lost his parents recently and also decided to try some classes to see what he might enjoy.

I also travel to places we went to together and that helps bring back memories. I also put together an album of favourite photos and that helped too. I think it is an on-going process and you just have to try different things and see where they lead. The most important thing is to get out there and start doing them. Some things will work and some work. It's all Ok. You will find your way. Good luck, Caroline. It's all part of finding your way into this new phase of your life and there is no right way to do that. You just have to see what your way will be.. xx :hearts:

Offline Karena

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Re: Learning not just to survive but live again
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2019, 12:36:37 PM »
Caroline
One of the courses i did was  to do with consciousness - (not mindfulness but physical brain activity -  lead by a neurologist )
Part of that was to look at human and animal behaviour and there are a lot of similaritys - for my project i focussed on Elephant grief as it is something that has been researched over a while now.
One thing that stood out for me was that the reaction of the closest animal to the one that has died  - (usually calf/mother as they dont have wives /husbands the same way we do) is to retreat too a layer. - The rest of the herd call by daily and drop off some tasty branches - if its a young calf and there is another calf in the herd the other calfs mother will suckle it  then they carry on with the routine and leave the animal in its lair   -they also drop branches over the deceased body to cover it - so in a way caring for them both, but there is no -pressure from them - no its time you went back to work, time you started going out etc etc - they will let the griever grieve then welcome them and continue to care for them as they emerge and move back into the herd activity, and they do so over time retreating back to the den in between

The point of telling you this is that as humans we have lost this natural behaviour and moved much more towards behaviour born from societal pressure often for convenience of others, rather than instinct  - so although we have all said how we started to get a life and ideas of how to do it as you asked - mine looks a bit manic -but it was a stop start journey its 8 years now so  i just wanted to say it is also ok to stay in the lair until you are ready, if you are experiencing that pressure from people around you.And also when you do step out, that its ok to continue to go back there, whenever you feel that something is the wrong thing or its getting too much or just that you want some time alone. :hug:

The lair may be physical - your house - it may be something different - a private diary where you can go back to how you felt last week even though you felt better at the weekend,  but now feel bad again -  it doesnt have to be a continual forward progression it may very well not be but we also do learn something from the set backs, and if that happens i think its important to take time to absorb it and reflect before stepping out again, so that we dont repeat the mistake.

I tried to join a local group (lets just say it was a well known womens collective and i am sure theyre not all like my local one (now disbanded) )

I did so, not because i had any particular desire too but because every one said join something in the local community and thats about all that was on offer.
When i got there i stood on my own and everyone continued chatting  in their already established sub groups ignoring me, when the speaker arrived i sat at the back on my own -i stood alone through the tea break, and i left at the end feeling absolutely awful - my reaction was to hide away - was it i was never going out again. - but retreating gave me time for reflection and i realised it was wrong for me - it wasnt a goal, i had no real desire to be part of any of those sub groups, in reality they had done me a favour and i learned from it that i needed to take a different direction - but that when i found one that was right, i would work out how to get round obstacles  - social anxiety in my case -  because i would be more confident that the destination was the most important thing.
I can travel across the world on my own - but i cant go into a cafe at home on my own,  the point is though that actually i dont need too go into the cafe  -  Whereas Emz did need too, so sensibly worked out how to cope with that in advance.

I took a step forward with that challenge last year, going into a railway station cafe because i got stranded there for hours and the alternative was freezing on a platform - sometimes motivation is unexpected events -  but the other things i have done  have given me more confidence in that kind of situation  - when i started out  i would have stayed on the platform.
 

Offline CarolineL

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Re: Learning not just to survive but live again
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2019, 03:47:01 PM »
Thank you for sharing, you guys are great and really appreciate all you have said.                                                                                                                  I think I am at the stage where it doesn't bother me going out with friends and I have had some really nice evenings but can take or leave it, its just so different without my hubby by my side.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What I really enjoy is just walking and walking and walking. Usually with my dog. Just being out in the countryside, all the sounds and colours of nature, Love it. Most of my days are so busy with work, looking after the family home and I do have to commute a long distance for work and at this time of year with the weather being a bit miserable I have become a bit of a hermit. After listening to you guys though I have decided as Spring is on the way I'm going to take up hiking again, maybe look for a local group if there is any and if there isn't then I will just go on my own (pooch in tow of course) and get my walking boots back on and maybe take my camera too which I haven't done for yrs. Thanks again for sharing x :hearts:

Offline Emz2014

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Re: Learning not just to survive but live again
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2019, 08:25:01 AM »
I think cameras help alor.  I found instagram after my loss (my friends daughter pestered me to join)  but I'm glad she did, I found a few photo challenges on there, where they give you a prompt for each day and then you take a photo for that prompt. It became something to focus on, think about and I loved seeing everyones individual interpretation of the daily word.

I still take so many photos now though! Lol xx
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. 
Hold on in there xx