COVID GRIEF

It has been a year since the pandemic began here in the United States. At that time, none of us knew what we were in store for. We were innocent and naive thinking we’d be inconvenienced for a short time. Now we know the hardships COVID19 is capable of causing. We wear masks, try to maintain a safe distance from others, don’t hug our loved ones and avoid shopping or eating out. People are working from home. Children have been trying to learn through virtual lessons. People we know and love are sick or perhaps even dying. Nothing is normal and we miss everything that we took for granted.

Most of us are aware that we are changed. We are not ourselves in many ways. Our feelings are not unlike those of grief when experiencing a specific loss, such as in divorce, a loss of a job or home, the death of a loved one or our own approaching death. In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross first described what she called the five stages of grief. Looking at these stages now may help us to understand some of our current feelings and moods. Those five stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

It is easy to see that our first reaction to the pandemic was denial that it could possibly be this serious. As time went on and we realized our lives were severely altered it was natural to feel anger. Anger at being told what we could and could not do, anger at those who refused to take those necessary precautions and anger at the inconvenience of it all was a frequent feeling. Bargaining may be harder to recognize, but at times we surely promised mentally that we’d follow the rules and that would bring an end to this curse sooner. Depression, including suicide, today is a significant problem according to mental health professionals. It is hard to fight when one is depressed and the condition becomes a vortex of despondency and a feeling of inertia that makes each day hard to face. Acceptance is having hope and in the case of COVID a feeling that normalcy will return and that life will be joyous again.

These stages of grief do not always come in this order and it isn’t unusual to switch back and forth among these stages. There are no exact parameters. Some degree of each stage will probably linger and overlap other stages. After twelve months of this experience you can probably identify these stages of grief in your life. Hopefully this recognition of the process and an understanding of the stages will help us to go forward with hope.

Photo by Pixabay

Dishes With Attitude

Depression Glass

Depression glass sounds, well, depressing. It is far from it as can be seen in the photos below. Depression glass was made from 1929 to 1939 in the United States during the, you guessed it, Depression. Such pieces in beautiful colors of pink, yellow and green, are collectors pieces today and I have about two dozen dishes passed down by my maternal grandmother who I called Mammy. I love them because they were hers and then my Mom’s. I wonder where they will end up, because my heirs are not likely to really care for them. They are not that practical to use, since they are rather fancy in design. I’m guessing that they brightened the daily life of many homemakers during the depression when money and everything else was scarce.

One of the best things about these fancy dishes is that they could often be obtained for free in products such as Quaker Oats or at very low prices, making it possible for most homes to have at least a few pieces during that era. My depression glass makes me happy because of the memories it evokes.

Carnival Glass

Carnival glass is harder to describe so I’m going to rely on the three photos below and Wikipedia: “Carnival glass gets its iridescent sheen from the application of metallic salts while the glass is still hot from the pressing. A final firing of the glass brings out the iridescent properties of the salts, giving carnival glass the distinct shine it is known for.”

Carnival glass was first made in the US, but later was produced in almost every country. It was particularly popular in Australia. Huge production took place in the 1920s, again when housewives were looking to brighten up drab lifestyles and homes. The name comes from the fact that such pieces were often given as prizes at carnivals and fairgrounds. Much of it was sold, however, and some pieces today are collector’s items which can be worth considerable amounts of money, particularly the scarce colors. Carnival glass is fun because it is so different from what we commonly see today.

I have a few pieces of Carnaval glass passed down by each of my Grandmothers.

Fiesta

Fiesta dish ware speaks for itself! It is made in a fiesta of colors and it has brightened my home for over 60 years. It comes in open stock and I chose it for my dishes rather than a china pattern when I wed back in 1960. China came later, but Fiesta dishes served our family growing up and still decks my table today, everyday.

Fiesta is a line of ceramic glazed dishes introduced by the Home Laughlin Company of West Virginia in 1936. The art deco style dinnerware was not manufactured from 1973 to 1985 but is produced today in the colors in the photos below and many others. Over the years colors are introduced and then retired. A few of those pieces I have from Mammy’s kitchen, gray, rose and a very dark green.

Fun fact, at one point some Fiesta colors were found to be slightly radioactive, due to uranium compounds being used in the ceramic glaze. I have one such piece, a bright coral salad plate. I will keep it forever. I think my Fiesta dishes will find happy homes after I die, because my daughters and at least one granddaughter enjoy pieces already.

Cut Glass

Cut Glass dishes are not as prevalent as the other fun kinds described above. I have one cut glass bowl seen below. Cut glass is not the same as glass etching. Rather it feels slightly sharp to the touch at each of the cut surfaces. Pressed glass looks similar but is smoother and less valuable. I wish I knew the history of this cut glass bowl, but all I know is that it was my Mother’s and she loved and valued it, so I do as well.

These Times

What Are You Feeling?

These are unprecedented times of pandemic, wild fires, hurricanes, racial tension and political uncertainty. We experience so many emotions at the same time and we wonder how to deal with any one of them. Perhaps one way to sort out our feelings is to realize that we are enduring profound grief. We are Grieving the loss of normalcy that is missing in our lives.

Most of us are familiar with the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Do any of these sound like what you are feeling? I believe we are encountering profound grief at this time. We do not have to experience a loss through death in order to undergo these emotions. https://crookedcreek.live/2018/12/10/grief/

Any loss can cause some or all of these emotions in any order. It is not unreasonable to feel anger when unable to go out to eat in a restaurant or to enjoy a big family get-together. If is very natural to be depressed when unable to hug your loved ones for months on end. These are normal feelings and we are normal having them, but it does not mean it is easy.

Hopefully just recognizing the grief for what it is will be of some help. Acknowledging rather than denying may help us to feel more normal. Accepting the abnormal might mean realizing that it is temporary and that there will be normalcy once again at sometime in the future.

In the meantime, explore your feelings by making a list of that has changed. This may put things into a different perspective. We may realize that there have been gains as well as losses.

LOSTGAINED
Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.” Marcel Proust

Dying to leave, Trying to stay . . .

In My Experience

Depression is a thief. It robs one of blue skies, the songs of birds, the warmth of authentic hugs and most of life’s simplest pleasures. It is more than a “down” day. It is life-changing and it is painful beyond explanation. All the medications, treatments and counseling in the world sometimes barely make a dent in depression’s hold.

If you are depressed, know someone who is or just want to learn more about the subject please read the following blog by John Pavlovitz. He describes depression with first-hand knowledge.

https://johnpavlovitz.com/2019/11/23/dying-to-leave-trying-to-live-my-depression-journey/

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Graphic by Pixabay

 

Grief

Stages of Grief

In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published the book “On Death and Dying” outlining what came to be known as the Five Stages of Grief. Few understood that Kubler-Ross was describing what she had observed in her patients who were dying. It was about personal grief from one’s own approaching death but could be applied to the grief of any loss that might be experienced. The author published a second book decades later entitled “On Grief and Grieving” in which she explained the stages further.

With this background in mind, it serves us well to briefly look at the five stages which Dr. Kubler-Ross listed.

1.Denial
Denial is a natural reaction which briefly buffers one from the unthinkable reality of death or approaching death.

2. Anger
Anger is often directed at the unfairness of the loss one is experiencing.

3. Bargaining
Bargaining is a mechanism that is especially used by those who are anticipating their own death. Bargaining might be in the form of asking to just see a daughter’s wedding or a grandchild’s birth before death.

4. Depression
Depression sets in when one realizes that bargaining will not work and is a period of deep mourning.

5. Acceptance
Accepting the inevitability of death brings a measure of peace, but it does not erase grief. 

One should never expect grief to be packaged in a neat orderly group of these five steps. Instead, grieving is personal and these stages can occur in any order, can overlap, as well as come and go over time. Having a general idea of what one is experiencing in these terms can, however, be helpful in recognizing the normalcy of the process.

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/07/06/book-reviews/

Types of Loss

These stages, these feelings are not only connected with loss through death but can be from any type of significant loss. Some that quickly come to my mind are the loss of a job, a home or a pet. Other less obvious perhaps are the loss of self-image (through injury or surgery), loss of a partner through divorce or separation and even loss of status or a sense of self. Through all of these losses and more, we can expect to deny, be angry, bargain, experience depression and hopefully finally reach a degree of acceptance.

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How to Say Goodbye

One of the hardest things to do is to say goodbye to one who is dying. Knowing that these are likely the last words you will speak to someone you care about is a formidable responsibility. Beryl Schewe (Eden Prairie News) notes six things that should or could be said. They are: I love you, Thank you, I forgive you, Forgive me, I will be OK, and Goodbye. It seems to me that any of these six simple phrases said in love are appropriate. I believe they are enough. I believe they can bring peace to both the dying and the survivor.

In the next post, we will discuss what to say and not say to one who is grieving.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” Queen Elizabeth II

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Suicide Prevention

Today I received this from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and I want to share it with you. Please use any of these resource links that you might need and/or pass the information along to others. 

To our AFSP Family,
On the heels of the reports of a second high profile loss to suicide, I wanted to take a moment to pull our AFSP family together and offer resources, and support.
We understand that the recent coverage may trigger strong feelings or memories that may be impacting you right now.
If this is the case for you, please take care of the basics for yourself and those around you: breathe, support each other, and practice kindness and self-care, even more than usual; un-plug from the news and/or social media if you need to minimize your exposure to this news coverage and chatter.
We encourage you to make sure you prioritize your mental health right now. Protect your sleep, eat healthy, exercise, stay in treatment if that’s part of your life, and connect to the people and things that encourage you. If things seem more difficult than usual, reach out for help; friends, family, religious leader, anyone you trust. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 @ 1-800-273-TALK or text TALK to 741-741.
Along with the extensive (and sometimes graphic and inappropriate) media coverage, the CDC also issued a significant report evaluating the trend of suicide death in the U.S, so you may see that much of the news reporting is incorporating data from that report.
While we have very important work to do, we need each of you to be in a good, emotionally healthy place to do so. If you need some time to regroup and recharge, take that time. Your wellness is a priority.
Sharing Safely
We ask that if you desire to share about this news, that you share the AFSP national social media posts or posts from other mental health organizations that focus on the hotline number and seeking help – and to not share articles or content that are sensational and graphic in nature. We encourage people to share messages of hope and that encourage seeking of help.
Supporting Safe Reporting in the Media
If you have contacts within the media, please share the Safe Reporting Guideline to help ensure best practices are being used when reporting on suicide. Download the Recommendations HERE.
Find Local Support
Survivor Outreach Program – You are not alone. Our trained peer support volunteers are all suicide loss survivors who know firsthand how difficult it can be to find your way in the aftermath of a suicide. CLICK HERE to request a visit with an SOP volunteer.
Mental Health Professionals – If you’re living with depression or another mental health condition, a health professional can help. CLICK HERE to find a mental health professional in your area.
Thank you for all that you do to help #StopSuicide in our community.
We have a lot of work to do, but together we can save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.
Sincerely,
Christine Moutier, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide is not going away, but with more information and understanding regarding depression we may be able to stem the tide which threatens to wash over people of all ages, colors, religions and economic status. 

https://crookedcreek.live/2017/11/05/walk/

https://crookedcreek.live/2017/03/01/death-suicide/

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

 

What I Know for Sure 2

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” Hal Borland

It has been over two weeks since we began discussing “What I Know for Sure.” To me, this absence of posts is no surprise. After all, there are so few things we know for sure, or perhaps I should say, that “I” know for sure. Your comments after that first installment of this subject were thought provoking and I look forward to you sharing more as we go forward.

Sometimes during the night, when revelations so often materialize, I think, “I must remember this for the blog,” but when morning arrives the thought has vanished. If I am so sure, why did that certainty evaporate with dawn? To me it is further verification we know so little for sure.  Or, perhaps it is that what we know isn’t of great consequence.

Listed below are the four (4) things which I declared, initially, I know for sure. Thank you for not asking me to explain #4! It is one which I feel strongly about and I wonder if you have things which you think too few people know for sure, but should be obvious.

  1. There are few things of which I am 100% sure, but one of those certainties is the fact that I love my family with all my heart.
  2. Having time alone is a necessity for me, but I sometimes forget how much I need to be with people.
  3. Native Americans should not be called Indians.
  4. Dish towels and dish cloths should be laundered separately and not with bath towels or underwear.

What I know for Sure Today

5. April is not delivering in March. That giraffe! Have you been watching? I have, since sometime toward the end of February, and somedays I feel so sorry for her and other days I am mad . . . at her, at the Animal Adventure Park, at her Baby Daddy, Oliver. It is irrational, I know. Nature cannot be rushed. It will happen when the time is right, etc., etc. Last week, on April 8, the park’s veterinarian said that was going to be the day, “April is showing signs of early labor.” NOT! Thousands watched the live cam in anticipation, but no baby. Poor April, gestation for giraffes is fifteen months and the offspring will weigh around 150 pounds. April has gone through this three (3) times before. She knows what she is doing. It’s the caregivers who apparently do not. 

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6. Love at first sight is a real phenomenon. Not romantic love, I don’t know about that, but a Mother’s love for her newborn. No matter how red, skinny or fat. No matter how covered with toothpaste-looking vernix caseosa, bald or not, a Mom is going to experience pure love the moment she looks at her newborn’s face.

7. Depression should be renamed.  Depression is a word from the late Middle ages meaning to “press down”. It evokes a slump or perhaps an indentation, nothing too significant. The word may refer to the economy (recession), weather (tropical) or to geography (relative to the horizon). It also is a medical diagnosis and this is what should change in order to more adequately portray the condition. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders there are several diagnostic codes listed for variations of this disorder. It is not my intent to delve into the nuances of this diagnosis which can be complex and even terminal, but to encourage thought and perhaps dialog.

Too often, this diagnosis is considered to be a temporary “down” feeling which will pass, but in fact it is more likely to be a permanent condition that varies in intensity. If you struggle to understand friends or family members who you know to be depressed, please read this short account by John Pavolvitz, one of my favorite bloggers. I had been following Pavolvitz’s posts for over a year without knowing he suffers from depression, until reading this one:  http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/07/05/the-privilege-of-mental-health/

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Photo Credit: Missy Cornish

As Borland’s quote at the beginning of this post, some things are a surety and they bring comfort. It is reassuring to know spring never misses its turn and no night lasts forever. As one of our readers has stated, “. . . . . the Sun always rises. Light transforms the darkness.” And, while this is true there are those who suffer from “clinical depression” who cannot know this for sure, everyday. No matter what we call depression, it is a diagnosis to be taken seriously, to be treated and to be better understood. That understanding brings light to sufferers.

Part 2 of 4

Theme photo by Akiko Kobayashi (Japan)