In honor of National Scrapbooking Day over on Scrapbook.com, they are hosting a challenge to complete a mini-album about yourself. It could be any topic, as long as it pertained to YOU. I struggled a lot with this idea. One, I suck at mini-albums. I don't know why they are so challenging for me. You'd think I'd see it as a bunch of card faces put together, but I just have the hardest time with them. Two, I couldn't pick a topic. I was so wishy-washy about it. Not like me at all. Usually, I'm pretty decisive. Three, I didn't have much time this week. It was a crazy busy week, with Robby's wedding, dinner plans with a friend, taking my car to the dealership for it's 50,000 mile check-up, work, etc.
I don't know when the idea came to me to do an album about my grieving process. Originally, I was going to do one about how losing Rick has changed both me and my life. My outlook on life is totally different now; I'm not the same person I was 19 months ago, that's for sure. I was struggling with the journaling when I met a new widow. I met her through my job. She had just lost her husband the day before, totally unexpectedly. I offered my condolences and we got to talking. I told her about my grieving process. I know that talking to other widows helped me, and I was hoping to help her in some small way. We talked for a long time. Then her sisters showed up and I talked to them, too. As I was leaving, she told me that I had helped her more than anyone. It got me thinking and the idea popped into my head to do a lessons learned mini album. So, that's what I did. Grief is definitely a monster. Now, here come all of the pictures. The journaling was a piece of cake, but I had the hardest time with page design. Oh, well.
There are so many things I’ve learned about myself as I’ve journeyed through grief. It’s crazy how one experience can change you and your life so profoundly. You never really know just how much it will until it happens to you. Some things I’ve learned:
It’s okay to put yourself first sometimes.
It’s okay to ask for what you need.
It’s okay to demand what you need.
Saying “no, thanks” doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful.
Tears are not a sign of weakness.
On a similar note, refusing to cry in front of others is not uptight or wrong.
Lack of tears is not about strength; sometimes, tears just don’t feel adequate.
The shower is a great place to cry.
If you don’t have the energy to deal with something, find someone to do it for you.
If you want to do it yourself, it’s okay to take your time.
Some things will wait. For those that won’t, don’t sweat it. Just do what you can.
Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for grieving in your own way and on your own timetable.
Don’t get rid of personal effects until you are ready, and don’t let anyone rush you into giving them something.
Every loss is different. You may have all lost the same person, but that loss will affect you all in different ways, and take something different from each of you. Have patience with others, they’re trying to find their way through the path of grief, too.
Grief is like an ocean. Some killer waves will knock you on your ass. Quiet waters will make you feel complacent until that next killer wave knocks you on your ass again. It’s okay. Ride the waves, because the quiet waters come back eventually.
Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect that you’ll be fine in no time. Don’t get mad at yourself when you are not fine or when things don’t go like you expect. After all, nobody really expects what grief does. It’s not only an ocean, it’s a monster and it might take multiple battles to kick it down. Fight hard and rest between battles.
Time does not heal all wounds. It just makes them smart a little less.
Memories will pop up at unexpected times. Don’t push them away. Let them comfort you.
To paraphrase a book that really helped me, you CAN go on living when someone you love dies. You are stronger than you think, and you can pull through. Every person we meet puts their footprint on our soul and it’s our job to carry that footprint on its next journey. Live your life; it’s the best gift you can give your deceased loved one.
I warned you it'd be a long post! If you read all of that, you are a more patient person than I am!!! (oh, and thanks for doing it!)