Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cold Calls

"Hello," I said into the phone. I am calling from Hospice, to offer condolences on the death of your mother. "Oh, thank you, I suppose," said the man." But I expected my mother to die, after all. She was 93. But, perhaps you don't know this. My wife died two weeks before."

I asked him how he was doing and if he had thought to talk to anyone. After all, the purpose of my call was to make him aware of the bereavement program, which includes lectures, support groups and even one on one counseling. "Well," he said, "if someone could give me a clue as to how to rebuild my life, I'd really appreciate it."

How, in the face of what seems like insurmountable pain do we find a way to go on, let alone build a new life? Yet, most of us who are widowed do manage to find a way to live fully after loss. We get up in the morning, we eat, breathe, we pay our bills, we continue to raise the children, go to work, in fact, we live. In the beginning, we are often surprised at our ability to get through the day. We are shocked that the sun comes up every day. I was amazed for months that the birds sang in the morning, building nests, mating, feeding their little ones. Numbly, we float through, or we bravely plough through with tenacity. We really don't have a choice; after all, we are still alive. It would be prudent to live well. In fact, this is the highest honor we can offer our lost loves, to continue to live vibrantly, passionately.

This man, who has suffered two losses back to back, cannot see how he will accomplish this, yet I am confident that eventually, he will. It takes time and he is only in the first months. My motto in the early years was to "proceed as if." Even though I kept asking myself, "Whose life am I in," I went through the motions until the motions began to feel natural and part of me. I identified things I loved, activities that gave me joy and forced myself to participate in them.

The man said that he just wants everything to get back to normal. I told him gently that he would have to find a new normal and that I was confident he would, in time. I certainly hope he does.

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