Category Archives: grief

For Hazel…

In darkness under the bridge we sit,
your ashes secured in a wooden chest.
The tiny weight of you reduced further still
by the trappings of your final rest.

The loss of you pours from me in salty waves,
I’m nigh drowning in the undertow.
While alive your heart was joined with mine
with you dead, mine doesn’t know where to go.

Any dream I had of seeing you again
vanished with the puff of your last breath,
for what chance does hope really have
when faced with the harsh reality of death?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
M.Morehead
3.12.2020

Weight…

There’s a certain heaviness to chronic pain. It’s an ephemeral heaviness, a constriction of muscles a healthy person might get in a P90X class or carrying their neighbor’s couch into the house for them.

The neck muscles are tight, the shoulders are tense, the back aches, all from a mixture of “guarding” – the act of holding your body in a particular way to avoid or minimize pain – or a lack of activity from feeling to ill to do much.

Over time it becomes a literal weight. You wake up in the morning and in order to get up out of bed you have to consciously choose to pick that weight up and carry it again. You can feel the lovely release of sleep slip away and the various and sundry physical alerts begin to wake up in your body.

Hey there, your head really hurts today. Maybe the weather is kicking up.

Hi, jaw here, just wanted you to know that we’ve got some extra tension from that really great conversation you had last night so you’ll see some extra stabby moments from us today.

Um… yeah, it’s your back. You did something, or maybe you didn’t -hell I just work here- but whatever the reason you will be having some difficulty moving around today. I’m going on break.

You’ll get up and agree to carry these issues again because the other option is don’t get up. An option I hear some people choose but I personally believe all us spoonies choose to get up more than we choose to give up. So you move on with your day, dressing, maybe showering, eating, and then you will have other weights fall on you.

Joints here, did you know you can sprain your wrist picking up a box of cereal in the “wrong” way? No. Well now you do.

As you move through your day you will feel heavier and heavier until at last you are able to place the nearly overwhelming weight of your maladies into bed for a few hours of rest. If you can rest. If not, maybe a few hours of a good book or movie.

Sometimes the weight is harder to carry than others. Right now, for me, with the recent death of my wonderful and amazing support cat, I am really struggling to lift it all. I haven’t lifted a paint brush since she died. I feel all the pain more intensely without her here to help. My mind races with anxiety and possibility and doubt and fear. There is no furry face in my face forcing a distraction.

Without her support I find myself at sea, having to find new ways to carry the weight with me throughout each day.

In the meantime each little addition seems more personal, more targeted to make my day difficult instead of just something I have to move through.

My patience is frayed, I am restless and uncertain, and my body continues to pile it on, day after day, smothering me in the weight of a disease I cannot control.

So I shared some of it with you in the hopes the load lightens a little. Thank you for helping me carry it.

So not self-helpful…

I think I may have PTSD when it comes to self-help books, books on migraines, or generally any written device intended to explain to me how to make my current state in life better.

I have been trying to unwrap why I loathe self-help lately and I have hit upon a theory. It’s a relatively new theory so bear with me but here we go.

Ours is a society of the quick fix. If we have a cold and can’t sleep we take NyQuil. If we have a cold and need to go to work we take DayQuil. What we don’t do is rest long enough for our bodies to battle the cold on their own.

Due to our quick fix mentality we have a tendency to offer solutions to the people in our lives who express problems. We rarely actually commiserate. It’s not because we don’t feel sympathy or even empathy for them, but our language of caring has morphed over time from listening and empathizing to offering solutions.

As a migraine sufferer I have had a lot of experience on the receiving end of solutions. It doesn’t bother me from friends or family but it’s the complete strangers that make me crazy. Usually when I meet someone and they find out I have migraines I get asked my entire medical history by someone without a medical degree because their fourth cousin once removed has migraines and maybe they can mention something my nationally recognized neurologist hasn’t thought of yet. It is exhausting and not a way I want to spend one of the rare times I actually leave my house to go out into the world.

I think this is why I hate self-help mechanisms. Rather than listening to each other, talking about our feelings, and creating deep, strong bonds of friendship we are offering other people’s takes on our interpretations of someone else’s problem.

Meet someone at a party going through a divorce? Offer them this book. Got a brother with MS? Here’s a book on how one person worked through their experience with it. Children being… children? Here’s a book on how to parent in a way the person who wrote the book likes most.

Now I am not saying seeking self-help is a bad thing. Personally, if you want to read books on parenting, relationships, investing, whatever medical diseases you may have, and that helps you handle life, go for it with my blessing! There is nothing wrong in my mind about seeking out information.

What upsets me is offering these unsolicited solutions to others in lieu of care.

I get it, caring is hard. It’s time consuming, it takes real listening and empathizing to truly succeed at it and none of us have the time or the energy.

Is that last part true though? Would we find consoling someone less tiring if we did it more often? Could it be we are out of practice and therefore it seems more tiring and time consuming then it truly is?

Here’s my truth: My best memories are from times when I opened up my mind and heart and joined someone in their hardships. Really joined them. Crawled down into the hole they were stuck in and sat with them for a while. I have been blessed enough to build truly amazing relationships with people because I was simply sitting with them and listening when they were having a hard day.

Sometimes the way to be the most helpful is to offer no help whatsoever.