For me one of the hardest things to do is watch the world go by on Facebook on a Saturday night and not be part of it, or be able to post my own moments that reflect life in action because there was no life happening but sickness and suffering. The story I told myself was one of despair and heartache but I continued to watch and to grieve. I call this self torture and abuse of sorts because I purposefully put myself back in a place every single Saturday to watch what I thought I was missing and wallow in what wasn’t happening.
I had no idea grief and loss came with the Caregiver journey because to me, grief and loss is associated with the death of someone and we for sure don’t fit into that category cause we are living right.... NOT... No one ever tells you about this kind of grief and loss, it’s called Ambiguous Loss...it is the loss of what is, what was and what will be, it is the loss you feel when the person you love changes because of a disease and you lose who they are one day at a time. It is the loss you feel when you look toward the future and everything you hoped and dreamed for all changes and is no longer realistic.
You can stay in this place through the whole journey if someone does not help you see what is happening. By normalize it, you have permission to feel it, grieve it and let it go. I firmly believe that once we understand “why” something is happening, we can accept, adjust and move on. Grief is no different, but if you don’t know it is there, it can turn into something that can eat you from the inside out and make the journey ten times harder. You have to let it in, feel it and accept it to be able to move on.
When you get in a place of grief it can easily put you in a place of all or nothing, and be truly defeating, but by reframing the dream we change the story we are telling ourselves and shift our attitude, affect and motivation. Dr. Ted Bowman a professor at the University of MN first introduced me to reframing dreams. Instead of loosing an entire dream, we lose the old version of it and gain a new version of possibilities.
For instance, we may no longer be able to physically go to Jamaica like we had once planned, but once we broke the dream down and really took a look at how we could reframe the dream we discovered the sexy part of going on a trip like that was simply being together in a beautiful place and enjoying each other’s company. Turns out we found the same “feeling” we were looking for in Duluth on a day trip. Was it the same as the Jamaica adventure? Nope, we were missing the palm trees and cabana boys, but we sat on the beach, watched the ships come in and had a picnic with all of our favorite junk food. What we had to understand that the places and events didn’t bring the feeling of connection, it is who we are with and the experiences we had together.
When the “third entity” enters your life, your measuring stick changes and the things that never used to hit your radar are now the most precious moments. Watching Jeff laugh and play with the dogs has brought immeasurable joy to our lives, but would we have even measured that joy or recognized it before? Our lives are a box of stories, and if we focus on all the realities this third entity brings, we will be unable to see the possibilities but we only have to refocus, reframe and refresh our way of thinking...to see everything that really matters.