Writing through death
The last time I sat down to write a blog, I managed one sentence “Today my uncle died” and couldn’t go on. I thought writing will help ease my pain, but attempting it a few hours after hearing the devastating news was not practical. I was numb, and couldn’t process what was happening so I shut the computer down, and have had angst about writing ever since. This is a new feeling associated with blogging for I have found writing these blogs very cathartic. These last few weeks, however, I have not wanted to write. I did not want the therapeutic experience writing gives me, but I know I need to journal.
Death- It is the only thing we are certain will happen to everyone in life, yet it is the hardest part of life. The agony of losing a loved one is so immense that I literally feel weighted down, with a deep hollowness inside me. The tears seem to last forever, and the sobs take my breath away. Physically, I am sick to my stomach, I shake, and feel like I’ve have been hit by a truck. Emotionally, I am in shock, confused, angry, depressed, anxious, impassive, and scared. Mentally, I know all the things I was taught in Catholic School, “he’s in a better place”, “she is in no more pain”, “he is the lucky one with God”, are suppose to help me, but they don’t. My thoughts go to other loved ones, “how is she going to go on without him” how are they going to survive this”, “how will we all get through this holiday season.” The one thing I have found comfort in, is the belief that when you have touched as many lives as possible, fulfilling your purpose in this lifetime, you will go. I like to see it as a sign that his “work here on earth is complete”. I know my uncle touched thousands of lives, and lived his life with purpose.
I know all the things I should to do to cope with grief, yet it’s difficult; the sorrow can be overwhelming at times. I have lost a number of people, and each time that scab on my heart reopens and the pain gets deeper. The grief of losing my beloved grandfather last year was something I can not even explain. I know it was going to happen the week before he died, but the heartache blindsided me. I think I went straight to the depression stage of grief, and was in it for 7 weeks. I remember like it was yesterday, practicing Savasana during Emily’s class and depression started lifting, though tears, and I was moving to a place of acceptance. I miss him daily, and cry often, but feel his presence with me, which brings comfort. Experiencing the death of my cherished Godfather has been different. I think because it was so sudden and unexpected, the shock stage of grief has been persistent.
I woke up that morning with a call from my mom, “Uncle Renny is dying”. I couldn’t grasp what she had said, “WHAT!(I screamed)what do you mean?”. As she proceeded telling me the details, I sat there numb, and started to shutdown. She said, “I’ll call you back when I hear.” My husband, who worked for my uncle, heard me, got upset and consoled me, though I was unresponsive. I unrolled my yoga mat because I thought that will help me. As I was practicing yoga, I heard my mom’s ring tone on my phone. I paused and pondered for a moment, do I answer it?, knowing what she is going to tell me, or finish my practice. Of course, I answered it and broke down in tears when she told me the news. That hour was full of tears, shock, disbelief, and angst. I kept looking at my mat, and thinking “I need to finish”, but couldn’t, because that would be “wrong”. Yet, I had a nagging, anxious energy, so I went back to my mat. It’s still so bizarre to me, that I finished my yoga practice, the same hour I heard that my beloved Godfather died. I feel that it is not what I was supposed to do, yet that’s what I needed to do. As robotic as I was, focusing on my breath helped me forgot, for a short moment, what had just happen to my family. Though, when I ended my practice in Savasana , the reality came back to me, and the tears started to flow. I suddenly became angry at myself for being “selfish” and practicing yoga at this devastating time. I couldn’t practice yoga for a couple of days, because of the reminder of how I “handled the news of my uncle”. When I finally allowed myself to unroll my mat, the guilt started to dissipate. I recognized that I was using my anger about my uncle’s death towards myself and towards my practice. Once I remembered that yoga is not the enemy, I started my daily practice again.
Yoga and meditation have been healing tools to cope with life’s struggles. They have a soothing effect even when tears are rolling down my cheeks. They allow me to be present and feel. Though I had a negative attitude towards yoga for a coupe of days, I knew the moment I practiced again, it would have a healing effect on me. My first class after my uncle’s death was this past Monday. Jean started with a Metta-Loving, Kindness Meditation. It was exactly what my heart needed. That class was so restorative and spreading love and kindness to myself and others was wonderful. The gratitude I felt for that experience lifted my spirits.
My uncle was an amazing man. He touched countless lives, and really lived his life to the fullest. He was a role model. In his honor, I will do my best to live my life as he did, spreading joy, kindness and love to all beings. I wrote the following Facebook post six days after he died: “I have been struggling to write, for there are no words, no inspirational quotes to ease the pain of losing a loved one. But I have gratitude for my cherished memories with my beloved Godfather and all the lives he touched. Uncle Renny lived his life with purpose by Living and Loving Life Passionately, Spreading Joy & Warmth wherever he went, and Giving of himself so Kindly & Generously to all he met. He has touched hundreds of lives, especially mine. You’re Always in my Heart Uncle Renny xoxo Give Poppop a big Birthday Hug and please pray and continue to look over and protect the kids, grandkids, aunt Donna, all the family, friends, employees and everyone that is feeling this pain xoxo Salute! Xoxo” As hard as it was to write those words, it felt good. As hard as this blog has been to write, I feel content that I was able to journal about this tragedy through the tears and all.
“For some the idea that death is a final end is frightening and the prospect of future lives is comforting, and for others the opposite is true. However, it does seem that if the dying person has a meaningful life, he or she can die happily.” ~Dalai Lama