Finding the Courage to Blog about Personal Matters

People often ask me where I get the courage to blog about the personal aspects of my life — first my grief over the death of my long time life mate/soul mate, then my efforts to deal with my schizoaffective brother, now the problems with my aged father.

To be honest, I do find myself a bit ashamed at having to admit my frustrations with my father. Although he is ambulatory and still strong, he refuses to do much of anything for himself. Even the home health aide from the nursing service that had been temporarily prescribed for him by his doctor has admitted he doesn’t need her. He is perfectly capable of taking care of himself. He just doesn’t want to. He claims that doing the least little thing tires him, which I do understand, but so what? Life is exhausting. Being old is exhausting. People in worse shape than he is live alone and have no choice but to do things for themselves.

windNone of this is a problem except that I am generally the one who gets stuck catering to his whims, and it’s especially a problem when he wakes me up in the middle of the night because he is frantic he doesn’t have something close at hand he won’t need until the following afternoon. (As I mentioned yesterday, this sort of behavior is teaching me to stop fretting. To live in the moment. If I don’t have what I might need tomorrow afternoon, then I tell myself to get a good night’s sleep and deal with the matter tomorrow. Although I don’t much like Scarlet O’Hara, she did have a good point in her decisions to worry about things tomorrow. Even better is Rhett Butler’s rejoinder to her, “Frankly, my dear . . . Like Rhett, I just don’t want to give a damn about things that cannot be changed or do not need to be changed at this very minute.)

Other than admitting my frustrations and leaving myself open to accusations of harshness or hardheartedness — particularly since I don’t believe the aged have the right to use their infirmities as a club to control their families — I don’t find that writing about such matters takes much courage. Because I share my stories, others who are in the same dead end situations tell me about their plights, which is encouraging for all of us. Grief for a deceased soul mate, heartbreak of dealing with mentally ill alcoholics, frustrations with taking care of the aged are things so many of us have to deal with. It’s nice to be able to break the ice of aloneness and find encouragement in knowing we are not the only ones with such problems.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Necessity For Grief

People keep telling me I’m courageous to write about my grief, and perhaps it does take courage to let people see me at my most vulnerable, especially when I remember that the grieving me will be living forever in cyberspace. Even if I find peace or new meaning or happiness, that vulnerable part will still be accessible to anyone with a connection to the internet. But that is a small price to pay to be able to get my message across.

I never had a message to impart, but after the death of my life mate/soul mate, I found I did have something to say, and it is this: it’s okay to grief. Such a simple message, really, and not just meant for the bereft, but also those connected to the bereft. Too often family and friends urge their bereft loved one to “move on,” “get over it,” “stop thinking about it.” And they need to know that it’s okay for the bereft to grieve. If they can’t handle their loved one’s grief, imagine how much harder it is for the bereft to handle the pain.

We live in a society that values cheerfulness at all costs, and sometimes, when it comes to grief, the cost of putting on a cheery mien to make others feel better is simply too high. Despite what people seem to think, happiness and joy are not the only allowable emotions. Grief is important, too. If the bereft shows no danger signs, such as drinking too much, blocking out family and friends for many months, suicidal impulses such as stockpiling pills, then it’s better to let grief take its course.

Grief is how we learn how to adapt to a world without — without our loved ones’ presence, without their friendship, without their support, without their love —and it is possible to learn how adapt well enough so that we can live, laugh, love again. Grief digs deep into our psyche, allowing us to ask the important questions that get lost in the activity of daily life: who am I, why am I here, and what’s it all about? Even more important, perhaps, grief helps us to grow in courage, strength, wisdom. It would be nice if happiness and easy living gave us such attributes, and sometimes they do, but more often growth comes with adversity.

Although we bereft often wish to be done with our grief, we would resist anyone who tried to take it away from us. It is ours. Its lessons are ours to learn. Its power to reshape us into people who can deal with anything is ours to grasp.

Apparently, as I’ve been writing this bloggerie, I’ve amended my message. Not only is it important to grieve, it is necessary.