Young Widow Forum

Specific Situations => Other Circumstances => Topic started by: Michael797 on May 24, 2017, 07:36:43 AM

Title: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Michael797 on May 24, 2017, 07:36:43 AM
Listeners, old and new - Radio Hell wants your assistance. We have to take a few days away from the station because life and stuff. But since our little mental hamster wheels never ever stop spinning, we've begun work on a project that, if all goes relatively well, maybe Jess will agree to post in the "Please Read" group or something.

Usually bereaved folks don't like to do a lot of talking in the beginning; as a result, non-grievers will become confused as to what they can do to be of help. It might be a nice idea to have sort of a "manifesto" to shove under their noses to clear up the confusion. That's what this project is about, an attempt to create some sort of action plan for those who hope to take care of the bereaved.

Be advised that this is a really really really rough draft that lacks the usual polish and pathos that you've come to expect from a RH transmission. That's where you come in. Please either PM or submit suggestions, amendments, deletions, snark-free alternatives (although we hate those, we'll suck it in if necessary), or other comments that would best represent YOUR wishes during this oh-so-delicate time. What do YOU wish people would say or do? What do you wish people would avoid saying or doing? Now's your chance. We'll make a second or third pass through the doc once we get some feedback, then we'll see if a POINT to our grief could actually be made.

Thanks in advance for everything. Here it comes:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So you wanna help someone through the grieving process, do you? Here are a few things you’ll need to know up front:

1.   The person you thought you knew has left the building. There’s bits of the old person in there, but they’re currently drowning in grief and are in no position to act like the old “them” right now. They don’t want to have to act for anyone. You may not recognize them; you may even panic about this. You’ll have to get over that for their sake.

2.   This is not about you! Actually, nothing about this is about you. Your BP (bereaved person) is dealing with an enormous hole in their life. This is not a good time for you to have any selfish inclinations whatsoever. Their well is dry, and there’s no way of knowing when it will start to fill up again. If that’s a problem, then leave the BP to someone more selfless. Seriously. Do not go into this looking for personal gain or recognition; they don’t have it to give. Do not hope to be the one to “cure” them. Your job will be to listen without judgement.

3.   They may shock you with things they say. You have to be ready. You may not recognize the person talking to you. This is not a sign that they’ve turned evil. They're really lost right now and will be for quite a while.

4.   Talking about “time” is worthless. A second is a thousand years right now, especially in the first year or two. You will be very mistaken if you think there’s some magical time limit to their grief. Maybe you’re on a schedule, but theirs has been destroyed. You’ll need to accept and respect that. If you can’t, you won’t be helping.

5.   It’s a given that if you ask “How are you?” they’ll either lie and say they’re fine, or they’ll tell you the truth. The truth may include a huge meltdown right in front of you. "How they are" is much worse than you can imagine. There really isn't any need to ask.

6.   The vast majority of BPs are going to shun the spotlight. This is not a good time to throw a party for them.

7.   Anything can trigger them. They’re about as raw as a nerve can get. You may say or suggest something that sets off a memory of the BP’s departed. Tell them you’re sorry and listen to their explanation of why it set them off; there’s a very good chance they’ll forgive you. Forgive them for having a whole bunch of stuff to learn all over again.

9.   They may have other reality-based problems to deal with. Their financial and security situations will probably have changed, frequently for the worse. If you can help with that, great; if you can’t, maybe find someone who can. That would be very kind of you.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Monique on May 26, 2017, 12:06:13 AM
This is fantastic. I struggle constantly to figure out WHAT exactly it is that I wish people woukd say/ do. A few additional things that come to mind:

10. Try to be a bit more gentle than usual. The BP may be hypersensitive to all sorts of things right now and might not be able to handle criticism or teasing the way they used to, even if you're not trying to be mean.

11. If they tell you something you can do to help, or something they would rather you NOT do, listen to them. Just because someone is grieving does not mean they are incapable of making a decision or acting in their own best interests. Ignoring their wishes will not be helpful and will probably only make things worse.

12. Don't be surprised if they frequently forget things or seem distracted or flaky. They're struggling just to get through the day and have a lot on their mind.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Michael797 on May 26, 2017, 07:46:39 AM
Thank you for the feedback, Monique - I guess you would know. They'll be included, maybe added to, if that's ok.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Monique on May 26, 2017, 11:33:30 AM
Absolutely! Like you said, just a rough draft, though I tried to stick to a similar style to yours for consistency's sake.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Michael797 on June 03, 2017, 09:35:34 AM
Quick update: this project is still alive (so to speak), but rather than a pamphlet, it's probably going to grow into a booklet, with a page for each numbered item.

There's still more than enough time to submit suggestions. It's understandable that you might be hesitant to open up old wounds, but if there's something you went through that we're missing, please feel free to add it to our list. It's hard to imagine we've covered everything already. Feel free to PM or post if you'd like to contribute one of your bad experiences with the living. It just seems rude to go mining the other threads for that without permission.

I will say that the other day my mother looked me directly in the eyes and hissed "You have no idea what grief really is."

Yeah, that wasn't helpful at all, mom.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: TooSoon on June 03, 2017, 12:02:47 PM
Lest you missed this oft repeated quote from my mother, I will share again.  Two months after Scott died, I just could not - one Saturday afternoon - get out of bed to go to yet another 6 year old birthday party so I asked my mother to take M.  She then called a close friend of mine and said, "I dont know what is wrong with her. We are Anglo-Saxons. We pull ourselves together and move on."

Alt-righty then (my mother is a liberal making this all the more WTF).  Oh and I'm actually 50% Greek.

Sending you lots of love, Michael. If you want to come over, we are here. Xxoo
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: serpico on June 04, 2017, 02:09:53 PM
Alt-righty then (my mother is a liberal making this all the more WTF).

Not sure what you mean here?
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Lisa on June 04, 2017, 05:25:00 PM
"If it's not one thing, it's a Mother "
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: TooSoon on June 04, 2017, 08:08:58 PM
Alt-righty then (my mother is a liberal making this all the more WTF).

Not sure what you mean here?

A little dark humor between my friend who started this thread and me.  I'm pretty sure that was the point of this thread and am pretty sure he gets  it.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: serpico on June 04, 2017, 08:24:42 PM
Sorry to have interrupted. I'll check out now.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Bunny on June 05, 2017, 09:36:29 AM
I will say that the other day my mother looked me directly in the eyes and hissed "You have no idea what grief really is."

Yeah, that wasn't helpful at all, mom.

Ummmm....WOW. Moms are certainly complicated funny little creatures sometimes, eh? Mine was obsessed with telling me- from Day One- that I was depressed and she understood exactly how I felt because she had suffered through major bouts of depression in her life also. So had I, so I knew this was NOT depression. This was grief. It is completely different and cannot be medicated away. She spent months trying to get me to take pills, calling my feelings depression instead of grief- Even Though I Kept Repeating To Her That Wasn't The Problem. It was very frustrating and made me feel invisible to her.

So how about saying something about how Grief doesn't mean you're depressed (though, yes, that can happen to some people). It means you're Really Really Super Duper Sad- beyond all belief SAD. Down into the very marrow of your bones SAD. not depressed. It's different. Stop trying to quantify my sadness and just let me be sad because it's perfectly Normal and Sane to be this Incredibly Sad when something this horrible has happened.

It's probably never a good idea to start any sentence to the bereaved person with 'I know just how you feel...'
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Jen on June 06, 2017, 03:54:17 AM
Deepest apologies for being late to this particular party-- I'll cop to being spectacularly unobservant; I had missed this altogether. That's not really a problem, since I don't really have anything to add, except...

Let me cry. I know it's unattractive and indelicate and makes you supremely uncomfortable, but I'm generating more tears than I ever knew a person could produce, and they have to come out. Words? I have none. Intense and intractable pain? Oh, yes. I know you mean well, but patting my shoulder and telling me "It's all right" is patronizing and dismissive. I need to cry. Thank you.

This is as true for me now as it was three years ago. I'm starting to leak just typing this. It's like there's a bottomless well of agony that I've managed to cap off, but the slightest little bump or knock jars it open and all that vast yawning misery overwhelms me again. In the early days I cried shamelessly around my family, my friends, my coworkers. Now I have to hide it from everyone. I duck my head, I hide behind my hair, I pretend my allergies are killing me. I lock myself in the bathroom. Anything to keep people from noticing that I'm crying again. Because I can't explain it at this point-- I don't have an excuse anymore. That particular statute of limitations has expired for me. The despair and the hopelessness... those haven't. And the tears still come.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: hachi on June 06, 2017, 08:31:18 AM
It's probably never a good idea to start any sentence to the bereaved person with 'I know just how you feel...'

Yes, or  "at least" anything!
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Michael797 on June 06, 2017, 12:03:38 PM
Thank you, Bunny, Jen, and Hachi. I'm still very much monitoring the thread, and your suggestions remind me that you all have entirely too much experience with this.

Week 6 and I feel like a Ping-Pong ball in a dryer with no idea of how to proceed from here. Knowing that someone out there is paying attention helps. I can tell you that I expect to go through a roomful of therapists before this all plays out.

An acquaintance of mine has a friend who claims to be psychic. She's been bugging me with "important news." I finally got a hold of her and she told me her psychic friend wants me to know that she's been in touch with my son and he wants me to know that he loves me.

I told her I have a mechanical Elmo in storage who will say the same thing whenever I push his stomach.

Long and hard is the way from darkness to light.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: hachi on June 06, 2017, 01:26:04 PM
An acquaintance of mine has a friend who claims to be psychic. She's been bugging me with "important news." I finally got a hold of her and she told me her psychic friend wants me to know that she's been in touch with my son and he wants me to know that he loves me.

Ugh, that would make me a little crazy. My brother's girlfriend told me that my DH came to her in a dream when I had not had one. single. dream. with him in it. Boy did that tick me off.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Michael797 on July 22, 2017, 12:10:32 PM
Update on the project: Yesterday marked the three-year sadiversary of losing my fiancée, and next week will be the three-month sadiversary of losing my son (kinda interesting how the symmetry sort of happened, ain't it?). It's been a while since my last post, sorry. As so many of you already know, things often get really really worse in the life of a BP, and that's what's been happening here of late. Apologies for lack of responses to PMs as well. This post is an attempt to address my social failures of the past several weeks.

My son's mother has made arrangements with his school to provide an annual scholarship for some needy student to be awarded in my son's name. If nobody has any serious objections, I'd like to publish the results of this project on Amazon as an eBook with proceeds going to the scholarship in an attempt to keep my son's candle burning for as long as I can.

Acknowledgements are due to Jenni, who has graciously provided me the opportunity to house-sit at her place while she's taking her family on a vacation. As a result of the solitude, I've managed to get twenty-seven pages written for the aforementioned booklet/project.

Later on this week, I will attempt to offer up an excerpt to you folks so you can see where the whole thing is headed. Additional thanks to Monique and TS for their contributions, whether intentional or accidental. If any of you three feel you should be entitled to a percentages of the profit (unlikely as the concept of profit may be, given the work), please let me know and I will accommodate.

Regardless, I can't help but feel grateful to the community in general for letting me get away with so much bullshit for the past three years. I cannot attempt to do your kindnesses any justice with the crap I'm going to publish; rest assured that I wouldn't dream of speaking for any of you. That's a promise.

Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: Michael797 on July 25, 2017, 10:00:16 AM
As sort of promised, here's a sample of the aforementioned work, which has sort of grown to nearly fifty pages now. It's still rough, obviously, but I'm out of smooth edges. Warnings about enjoyment are probably unnecessary.

PRE-RAMBLE

Time and technology have, in remarkable ways, advanced the cause of helping humans to survive the catastrophic loss of someone close to them. Hordes of books, lists, words of advice, prayers, and other anthologies of consolation are readily available to anyone at the push of a few buttons (provided you can figure out where the buttons are). There are also plenty of places that someone attempting to help a grieving friend or family member can find useful information to assist in recovery.

Having said all that, the work that you are reading does NOT provide answers, comfort, or solace in any way, any usefulness of the information that follows to help someone who is mourning a loved one is purely coincidental. So there’s that.

Further, the author wishes to warn anyone unfortunate enough to be reading this diatribe that the rants, pathos, bombast, and despair contained herein do NOT intentionally reflect the feelings and thoughts of other bereaved people. It’s a simple fact that if a bereaved person somehow finds something relatable in the pages of this book, it is either an unholy coincidence or a clear sign that they are not doing very well at all.

Lucky breaks were hard for me to come by even in those halcyon days of pre-bereavement. I did not lead a charmed life by anyone’s definition. I really only experienced two genuinely positive breaks late in my life; the first was when my son was born. The second was when I met the woman who would become my fiancée.

Neither of them are around anymore. Any illusions of recovery from losing my fiancée were snatched away by the death of my son less than three years later.

What do you suppose that might do to someone who was already pretty unstable to begin with?

A smart person would take this opportunity to shut this book like a cheap window, punch up IHeartRadio on your favorite device, and put “Wind Beneath My Wings” in a repeating queue if they were looking for something resembling comfort.

So why does this book exist in the first place? I’ll admit that, with so many people trying to survive genuinely acute and piercing pain, the world really didn’t need an angry, crazy old codger spewing bullshit about how the world and everyone in it was the source of endless horror. I was truly leaning toward just abandoning altogether any idea of a book and spending the rest of my now-few days simply crawling toward an overdue demise.

Shortly after I had made the decision to give up the project, I had a conversation with a widowed friend of mine about a cousin of hers who committed suicide. He was in his 20’s and, for all appearances, had a great deal going for him. The suicide came literally out of nowhere. He had taken an apartment in a high-rise development; one day he crawled out of a window and quietly leapt to his death.

The family was, as could be expected, in shock and profoundly devastated. Their lives were likewise demolished; no longer able to feel happiness or excitement toward anything that used to be part of their lives, they now simply stumble quietly from moment to moment, likely unwilling or unable to handle anything that might invite further angst. Bereaved folks know that feeling pretty well.

It was the stumbling quietly that pushed me over the tipping point. I decided that, like it or fuck it, the world was indeed going to get an angry, crazy old codger spewing bullshit about how the world and everyone in it was the source of endless despair after all.

You can ignore me and this book all you wish, of course. For me, this is one final, pointless gesture to serve as a reminder to anyone unfortunate enough to come across this book that life isn’t all Jesus and Disney for everyone.

Finally, for anyone who thought that the author deserved, for whatever reasons, to suffer eternal torment for his past actions toward them, I trust you will take satisfaction from knowing that your wishes have been granted. You know who you are; hope you’re happy.

For the rest – it’s your world, not mine anymore. Frankly, I don’t really care what you do with it. But people who have suffered such acute loss shouldn’t have to pay my karmic debts.

This book is a cautionary tale, nothing more. If you've never felt like this and never want to, good for you. I hope you somehow avoid the hell I found myself in.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: BrokenHeart2 on July 25, 2017, 10:20:04 AM
There's a hell of a lot of pain in them there words Michael.
" I decided that, like it or fuck it, the world was indeed going to get an angry, crazy old codger spewing bullshit about how the world and everyone in it was the source of endless despair after all." I would hardly call it bullshit but that is your prerogative.  You may just never know who you might help get through a similar hell that you are going through by writing this book.  I hope it somehow helps you, even if it's just a smidgen, sort through all of what's happened. 
I wish I could just give you a hug.  This virtual hug will have to do.
Title: Re: A Radio Hell Group Project - please contribute thoughts and feelings
Post by: TooSoon on July 26, 2017, 12:02:28 PM
Michael,  just popping in to say that our driveway looks like the parking lot at a diner during the early bird special between your behemoth and Andy's vintage Olds.   8)  See you soon.  xoxo