I recently lost someone very dear to me. While the world would have called us friends, there is a circle of people who well understood that we were really family.
Her loss has devastated me. Twenty-five years ago, she and her blood family gave a young, lonely college student a home-away-from-home. What started out as a weekend job grew into a lasting bond. Losing such a fixture as that rocks your world to its very core.
This loss was compounded by current coronavirus orders and suppositions. I wasn’t able to do my random drop-by visits that we both so enjoyed. Knowing others stole that time from us makes the grief even more mind-numbing.
I’m usually one of those people that tackles difficult things head-on. Doing, helping, and supporting helps me to heal, but in this case, that was all taken away. I sat for the first few days, barely having the energy to lift my arm to take a drink of water. Forget eating or sleeping well because none of that was happening.
I realized I was going to have to do something to start processing my grief. While tears can be healing, I was simply wallowing in them. Here are some simple things I’m doing to begin healing my heart.
- Talk to people. I know, that sounds obvious, but in these days of so much isolation, it is more important than ever. There was no gathering when my friend died, no plans for a funeral. I so desperately needed human contact and to speak with people who knew her. Phone calls became my lifeline of sharing memories, telling hilarious stories, and chatting about what an amazing cook she was. Yes, I sobbed through many of these conversations, but it was incredibly therapeutic. I will say, though, I was selective with whom I spoke. Having people ask if it was due to corona or blow off my anger at not being able to see her would not have benefitted me in the least, so I only called people who would be a genuine source of support.
- Listen to your loved one’s voice. If you have a recording, voicemail message, or video, take the time to hear their words. Photographs are great, too, for reliving positive memories, but there is just something about hearing the person’s voice. It can make you feel closer to them and not quite so alone.
- Enjoy something they created or an activity you did together. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Maybe it’s a Christmas card from five years ago with a handwritten message. Perhaps you had some favorite songs you listed to together. It could be a favorite shared recipe or some really corny joke. In my case, my friend made bird feeders and have given me several. I filled those up right before a big snow storm, and for days I was able to enjoy watching the birdies and remembering how much she enjoyed spending time in her workshop.
The biggest thing to remember is something everyone says but you don’t really understand until you are in the throes of it: the grieving process is different for everyone, and that’s okay. There is no wrong way to do this, as long as you are taking care of yourself physically and emotionally and not harming others. If the steps above don’t speak to you, listen to your heart and find what does. And if you need a listening ear, I’m here for you.
If you need a place to share ideas about preserving knowledge of the past while putting your own modern twist on things, I would love to have you join us in Old Souls with New Ways.
While the lockdown has been hard on all of my children, there has particularly been few activities at all for my youngest. So, in early December, when she asked if we could really roast chestnuts over an open fire, I said, “Absolutely.”
Our fabulous neighbor offered the use of her fire pit, and I already had cast iron skillets we could use. Then the hunt for chestnuts began. I’ve seen them in various grocery stores in past years, but of course, now they were nowhere to be found. Internet to the rescue!
Of course, delivery was also delayed, but that turned out to be a wonderful thing. The nuts came in time for the winter solstice, which also was the night to see the Christmas “star.” Our Boy Scout built the fire for us, and we got to roasting. We sang Christmas carols, watched for the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn, and waved to neighbors who walked by.
Did the chestnuts take a long time to roast? Yep. Did I freeze my tushie off? You bet. Was it all worth it? No doubt in my mind. Seeing the joy on my daughter’s face, hearing her laugh, listening to her discuss astronomy (one of her top interests), and simply spending time together was a beautiful experience. Roasting chestnuts will be one of my favorite 2020 memories, and we will add it to our list of traditions.
**Oh, and by the way, don’t let online searches of “how to roast chestnuts” keep you from trying it. It really was simple. I rinsed the nuts, my husband scored them on the flat side, we threw them in cast iron skillets, then set on the grill over the fire. We stirred them with tongs occasionally. It did take at least half an hour for the first ones to be ready, but I think that had to do with how cold it was outside.**
Have you ever roasted chestnuts or at least eaten them? I would love to hear your story!