Monday, October 19, 2015

More on grief, bereavement, war, bread, randomness


(Some of these photo are unrelated to the words. They're just pictures I took.)
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Part of my problem is that I had it so good for so long.
Baked October 2015. Rustic sourdough
with pecans, currants, cinnamon (part of my therapeutic work)
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Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle. Ian MacLaren
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One of the things I taught in hospice training and courses on hospice and palliative care was that each of us goes through the processes of dying, grief, etc. in different ways, at different speeds, in different cycles – and different at different times for the same person. It’s yet another example of the truth of, “It varies.”
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Seven months into this bereavement I looked at some of what I’ve written in the past about grief. I haven’t looked before now because I thought it best to experience whatever/however it is, without being influenced by external things, such as my own and other people’s previous thoughts about grief.
1967, a beautiful little town in Vietnam
Overall, I seem to have done a good job writing. So far, I like most the grief and bereavement chapter in my first book (1995). How can I “like” what I’ve written about grief? Mainly I like it because it’s accurate and helpful, at least for me. There are a few things I would change in what I wrote, but overall, pretty good. Grief WORK includes the following “tasks of bereavement” – each and all to be worked through again and again and again and...
  • Telling the “death story” and recounting the story of the illness (It’s not that you want to…)
  • Expressing and accepting the sadness
  • Expressing and accepting guilt, anger, and other feelings perceived as negative
  • Reviewing the relationship with the deceased (the really good part for me, usually)
  • Exploring possibilities in life after the death
  • Understanding common processes and problems in grief
  • Being understood or accepted by others

Baby playing by Carroll Street, 1982
I like that in that chapter I wrote about the potential for grief to “precipitate great personal or spiritual growth.”
I see myself working slowly through all of these tasks, but I’m not seeing much in the way of “growth” LOL. It’s a hopeful thing to see that I’m somewhere along the road in each “task.”
I get to easier places of not so much sadness and I get a little strength and kind of take on the next thing. Like today, writing to Dr. Lichliter (first draft). This was the first time I wrote about that last night.
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Phana (age 3 or 4) and me, 1985 or 86
I was in New Mexico to see Jim and Elisabeth a few weeks ago. The day I left, Katy had us over for breakfast (Thank You!). As we left her home, she was talking about attending a ceremony in the next weeks. The last thing I remember her saying was something like “… figuring out what to do with the rest of my life.” Good question!
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I’ve baked bread twice in about the past week. The second time was mainly for gifts. Both times I baked rustic sourdough – plain, with cheese, and with pecans, currants, sugar, and cinnamon.
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la rue sans joie, civilian bus blown up by VC mine
In the last post I wrote about war. A little bit more now – about places. I was at the DMZ (Deckhouse/Prairie), Dodge City (Thuy Bo), Con Thien (outside the wire, but I’m counting it), Gio Linh, Highway 1 (named by the French, the Street Without Joy), Khe Sanh, Lang Vei (How about that! I have several non-violent stories about being there.), Hue (before the bad time), Quang Tri (before the bad). I also spent a total of about four weeks in the rear at Danang and Phu Bai, also a few weeks at Dong Ha in the semi-rear.
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One thing I do is get out every day – usually twice/day. My main places to go are Central
Never too young to start smoking, I guess
Market and Whole Foods. Places with people around. More days than not I spend time with a friend or John (Thank You, Everybody!). Yesterday I went to WF twice – the first time was really good – I ran into someone I think highly of (hospice and mental health social worker from San Francisco). Also a friend from the festival scene, and there was a cute baby who gave me all kinds of smiles and a ~12 year old girl who had such a sweet smile I literally laughed out loud. The second time at WF was also good. I realized today that I could hang out in the café area inside or out and read. So I read for about an hour on the patio.
At Hill Fights, 1967 - wounded waiting for medevac
Look at how dirty their shirts are - that's not just sweat
I thought going to church today would be a nice opportunity to connect. The sermon was on the Song of Ruth, which was one of the last things I said to Leslie – wherever you go, I will go… So I connected to the grief, my grief. It was a tough one. At least we didn’t also sing In the Garden or That Old Rugged Cross. I went to Open Ring and spent some time with Dan Foster, so that was wonderful
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Things happen, like the Song of Ruth sermon or when I finally started on income tax, couldn’t find everything, and called Social Security re how to get papers related to Leslie and was told to bring our marriage license to the SSA office. Oh. So I’ll be going through things like birth certificates, marriage license, photos, other things from a sweet past life… 
Leslie in Yoeun's apartment on Carroll Street

Photo: Leslie in Yoeun's apartment on Carroll Street. Leslie went places not many people went. People would wait on her, knowing that whatever it was, Leslie would fix it.

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