Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One More Time

So, I only have two more sessions of my Thursday night Grief Class left. It is a 13 week curriculum that will take a break for the holidays, rewind, and start all over in January. You can join again and again and again. And depending on the amount of fog surrounding your grief, multiple repeats may be necessary.

When I first joined, I was handed the standard  paperback book that contains 12 weeks of lessons. The lesson calls for notes on the class DVD, and five homework lessons per week. It is the same format for your typical Beth Moore Bible Study, so I was a little intimidated. Her daily lessons can take 30 minutes each, and I found my brain power had  disappeared around July 13 along with D. I laughed when I opened the grief version of this format: they ask about 2 gentle questions a day and practically give you the answers. That, I could handle.

I have enjoyed getting to know the members of my class. Our stories are all very different in detail, but our endings are obviously the same. Something interesting that has come out of the class is a discussion about what is the "easiest" way to lose a loved one. Some seem to feel that since D had a terminal diagnosis that must have been much easier then an unexpected phone call in the middle of the night. In some ways, I agree. But that would kind of be like comparing Dante's nine levels of hell. No matter which way you look at it, you are still in a bad place.  

I replay the doctor's words far too often in my mind. We went from a 6-12 month life expectancy to a 1-3 month timeline within a week as the cancer ramped up. And in the end? It was only about 3 weeks. Most of that time was spent in denial and a cloud of morphine to ease the pain. But still it was 3 weeks longer then an unexpected phone call announcing the unthinkable.

I recently read an article by a doctor who said that many people think a terminal diagnosis allows the  left behind spouse to do most of the grieving ahead of time. He said that would be like being certified to parachute from an airplane, but you had never actually taken the first jump. It is simply not the same. There is no way to prepare for the "real" thing.

I'm not sure if I will "re-up" for the Grief Class or not. I'd love to think I'm making progress on my own and don't need the training wheels. But then I have the flashes of reality that make me realize this journey is going to be much longer than I bargained for. And maybe I do need those companions along for the ride.

Still focusing on the miracle of hope which provides the only pinprick of light in this darkness. Like Camus, I hope that "in the depth of winter I can find within me an invincible summer".

1 comment:

Lynn said...

I have experienced the grief of death both quickly when my dad was killed in an accident and from a terminal illness when my husband had brain cancer. In my experience the finality of death doesn't come in the process of the terminal illness it happens when they are actually gone. Even though we know somewhere in our minds that they are dying it doesn't become a reality until it actually happens. At least that was how it was for me and my children. The accident is different in that there is no warning and you are totally taken off guard and I kept thinking this can't be real. In the end death is death and grief is hard no matter how it came to be. I know the Lord carried me at that hard time or I would not have made it through. It is a long process and we all go through it in different ways. But there is HOPE, it does get better! Those glimpses of hope last longer and eventually life returns to a "new normal".