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Thursday, 23 December 2021

Body Over Mind

Last year at this time my husband was in the last stages of cancer, just two weeks from death. He was so ill he didn't know what day or month it was. He hadn't been expected to live that long, but his heart was young and strong, and it kept beating far beyond what the doctors had predicted.

All year I have dreaded this season. Normal days are bad enough. Special occasions are worse. Our Thanksgiving falls in October, and that was a hard, hard time - harder than I thought it would be, given that the previous Thanksgiving was a time when my husband was in treatment and was able to enjoy our usual special meal. Maybe that's precisely what made it hard this year. I don't know. All I really know is that I was laid low by memories and tough emotions for several weeks before and after that holiday.

Then for a couple of weeks, I felt enormously better, and thought to myself, maybe that was the peak period of grief for me. 

Then all the feelings came roaring back in November and have been with me ever since. I thought I'd be okay with a very scaled-back Christmas, and actually did most of my gift shopping early. I'd always done that alone anyway, as my husband was generally tied up with work.

But I've had feet of lead the last week. When I thought about wrapping gifts or decorating a tree, I couldn't do it. I had planned to bake as part of some gifts, but felt physically exhausted. Extra sleep didn't help. 

Last night, I forced myself to dig out the gift wrap and start, one gift at a time, to get the wrapping done. It was literally a process of telling myself each next step to do and willing my hands to do it. I cried more than once during the process.

And the baking isn't going to happen. I'm realizing I'm just not going to find the strength to do it. Instead, I'll be buying whatever I give. 

I would like to bake. I would like to decorate the tree. I would like to enjoy the food. I would have liked to do some crafts for the season.

How is it that our bodies know better than our minds how we are truly feeling?

33 comments:

Marie Smith said...

Oh Jenny! Thinking of you! I pray you come through this season with the love and support of family and friends. Take care.

Red said...

Losses are particularly difficult around special days and past activities. You've made some effort so good.

Joanne Noragon said...

Our bodies know a lot, especially about time. Be kind to yourself.

River said...

Like Joanne said, be kind to yourself, it's only been one year and you may feel the same every Christmas season for quite a while, just a bit less each time. Naps help. Merry Christmas.

messymimi said...

Gentle hugs to you. There's no right or wrong, just do what you can and what you want to do. You are being held in my heart.

Bonnie said...

Jenny, I have been thinking of you all month knowing it had to be unbelievably difficult for you this year in particular. I'm sorry I have not been around to offer you support but you have been in my thoughts. Please take care and be extra gentle with yourself. There is no time frame for grief but the days will get easier. Sending you gentle hugs.

Elephant's Child said...

Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring are flowing your way. As they do all the time.
Whatever you achieve is enough. And yes, please, please be kind and gracious to yourself.

Mike said...

This is your first holiday season to deal with the feelings. Give yourself a break. If you don't feel like doing something don't force yourself. Next year things will be a little better.

dinthebeast said...

Yes, please be good to yourself every chance you get, whether it feels like it will help or not. What you described reminds me of my rehab from my stroke. My OT therapist said that I had to develop a sequence of actions for everything I did, as the old sequences I had memorized wouldn't necessarily work any more. I still catch myself talking my way through various activities you wouldn't think required much attention.
Anyway, I hope you are feeling better soon. Holidays can be a hard time anyway.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Mary said...

You are the gift, Jenny. All year you've put one foot in front of the other and helped wherever and whenever you could despite your overwhelming grief--particularly with your mom in what has more often than not been a thankless task. Now is the time to treat yourself with gentle kindness and listen to your body. Hugs to you, Jenny. You are in my thoughts.

Susan said...

Keeping you in my heart.

Joan (Devon) said...

From what I can make out your husband's illness was sudden and unexpected and at the beginning there were appointments, prescriptions and treatments to deal with so no time to be thinking of what happens later. Suddenly when you are on your own and still grieving your new reality seems overwhelming and daunting. All I can suggest is take each day as it comes as one day may not be as bad as the previous one. It is on a 'good' day when you may feel you can put one foot in front of the other again. It will take time, but some 'good' days WILL come. Take care my friend, I'm thinking of you.

Janie Junebug said...

Certain times of the year are extra hard, aren't they? Take it easy and celebrate what you've done. Ignore what you didn't do.

Love,
Janie

e said...

Grief is so hard...Be gentle with yourself, sending you hugs.

gz said...

Be kind to yourself ((0))
Blessings be...we have many but at times they are hard to see xx

37paddington said...

You’re doing your best. And that’s enough. This season was always going to be hard. Sending love.

Lisa Southard said...

Sending gentle hugs xxx

Martha said...

Grief can be very debilitating, especially around the holidays. Thinking of you today and sending you lots of love and hugs. Do what you can when you can and if you can. Or do nothing at all if that's what you need. Be gentle and kind to yourself and reach out for a shoulder to lean on when you some support. xo

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Dear Jenny_o Heartfelt wishes for all the very best, you are a very brave person, and I hope and pray for better days ahead for you.

Diane Henders said...

It's no wonder you struggled with the Christmas season - I can imagine that it would be the worst part of your year of gut-punching "first times without". Wishing you peace...

jenny_o said...

Marie, Red, Joanne, River, Mimi, Bonnie, EC, Mike, Doug, Mary, Susan, Joan, Janie, e, gz, 37p, Lisa, Martha, Charlotte, and Diane:
Thank you for all your support and encouragement. I appreciate every word and good wish.

Rajani Rehana said...

God bless you 😊

baili said...

i can relate because i grew up seeing my mom lamenting on the death of her thirteen years son and special days made it most difficult for us ,as teenager it was impossible to understand her feeling completely but as i grew old i though i was able to grief of a mother for her loss.

i could not stop thinking of you despite of some issues i was facing recently dear Jenny and when the event came closer your thought was becoming larger in my mind with bothering feelings that how you will be abke to deal with pain and grief on this CHRISTMAS which is first even after the death of your husband .

i think the best way to deal with pain is to give it quality time to pass in it's genuine way like few months or may be an year .special days like this can help because they make one instantly return to the same depth of the trauma and it has been seen that the more deep you dive into the ocean of your pain after rising recovering from it is bit easier .
here you need your own will power and power of decision making ,once you feel that oyu have passed the extreme point you can try to hold strong yourself back and not let fall again in with help of some distractions and changes i think.they can be timely until you are back to normal life and mind.
what helps most is taking our selves out of any kind of guilt or pity .First we have to sort out if there is any and than remove it by trusting back in your efforts you put and the love and faithfulness you had ,then remind yourself that you did WHAT YOU COULD DO! if it were you instead of your beloved husband you could have done same that you did for him so there was nothing you can control .now you have to look forward and try to take charge of your body and mind .
mind is soul and brain is physical machine .you have to train your mind how to live and adjust in life ahead ,if you can make you brain practice new ways forcefully for some months at least you will be new person within an year i think.
i am no one to say such things may be still i consider you my friend and want best for you and despite of the lake of great bookish knowledge i think my experience makes me share my heart with you ,
mediation is greatest help for reshaping your mind and soul and you have so many opportunities online and from books to learn and apply to feel better in life !
love you and thinking of you ,please be well and it is in you hands only!
hugs and blessings to you and loved ones!

kylie said...

You could have justified cancelling Christmas all together!

Hang in there xo

Cherie said...

Sending you a gentle hug and hoping that 2022 is kind to you.

Karen said...

Myhusband also passed away just before Christmas. 17 years on and I still don't have the Christmas mojo. He was so into it!

Margo said...

Dearest Jenny, I have been out of the bloggy loop and I am so sorry to learn just now of your hard times and husband's death. Sending you love and holding you in my heart as you walk this strange path, hoping you find comfort and joy in places you were not expecting. You are wise to talk and write about it and go easy on yourself. xoxoxo

DB Stewart said...

It's ok to not have Christmas mojo (as one of your commenters said so cleverly). I celebrated my first Christmas with a grandchild; I wish I could have shared some of that Christmas mojo with you.

Mr. Shife said...

Listen to your body, jenny_o. It knows us far better than we think. I hope you were able to be kind to yourself and give yourself lots of grace. Take care and Happy New Year!!

Mary said...

Thinking of you this week. xo

jenny_o said...

Rajani, baili, kylie, Cherie, Karen, Margo, DB, Mr. Shife, and Mary:
Thank you all. Everyone has been so kind and I appreciate your thoughts and wishes.

Steve Reed said...

I'm sorry I missed this post and didn't comment earlier. As others have said, be kind to yourself. This is a process. (As you know!)

jenny_o said...

Steve: Thank you.