Grief can go kick rocks

Grief really cant kick rocks, but if you don’t take care of yourself it can kick your butt….

A friend from High school past away last week. It was a shock to me even though I knew he was ill, but not ill to the point of him passing on.  The first thing I said to myself was “here we go again”  How am I going to deal with this?  Although, we haven’t spoke much since HS, we stayed in contact through FB.  I wasn’t able to attend the services since I live three states away and all the the other logistics of it. I’m stilling asking myself, how can I deal?  My anxiety was greatly elevated.  One of the ways I was able to make myself better and make my presence felt was by sending flowers.  It was nothing to big, but it was something.  I also reached out to one of his best friends in a message.  I always feel drawn to comfort others in time of grief,  In a way it comforts me….. Interesting huh?

The day of the service, I wasn’t myself.  Whenever someone dies that I either know or I am close to it brings up old feelings. Its like I played the service in my mind. I analyze things sometimes way to much. I can remember my mothers funeral from beginning to end.  Its sucks, I know but it makes me stronger. We all know you cant suppress grief, you have to let it takes it course. I was able to deal with the loss of my friend by focusing myself on helping his closer friends deal with grief. It makes my soul happy knowing that they  know they aren’t dealing with his loss alone.

He was loved by many and was a kind soul.  He will be greatly missed, but the memories I have will always make me smile.   Take the memories of your lost loved ones with you where ever you go.

 

Counseling, The best choice I made

After my mom died I was so distracted by many things.  Work, helping my dad, school, then my dad having surgery and a bit after becoming handicapped. It wasn’t till  3 years later when I realized I needed help.  Fortunately through my job I had an EAP contact (Employee Assistance Program)  If you aren’t familiar with this, its a 24 hour service some companies provide where you can not only receive free sessions of counseling, but they also help with other things. They also give you lists of counselors who are contracted under the EAP, which is great bonus. I’m grateful for this program since I really haven’t had to pay for much counseling over the past 16 years.  I, like many people was skeptical about going to counseling. After the first couple sessions, I knew I needed to be there.   This counselor I had was outstanding.  She was very understanding and got me through the most troubling times.  She is one of those people in life that you just wont forget.  I was going to see her at least 2-3 times a week and than it was scaled back based on 1.insurance and 2. How I was responding to the service.

I went to her for about 6 years in person. Years 2-3 was really when I  felt like I needed to go often. Each time I went I felt like a new person. As you know by now if you have been following along. I moved out of New Jersey and onto AZ. I kept in touch with the same counselor and we did our sessions over the phone, which after a while started not working out,  It just wasn’t the same.  After about a year I found another person to go speak with.  That didn’t last to long. I’m big on first impressions and we weren’t on the same page. Its one thing to get someone you like, but you also have to work well together to get anything out of the sessions.

Through all this counseling, I would always tell myself I didn’t want to go to counseling for the rest of my life. After so many appointments I thought I can just get through it myself, turns out I really cant.   I wound up finding another counselor through EAP and he really brought the light to why I couldn’t handle it all myself.   There seemed to be an underlying issue that wasn’t being dealt with and when something bigger happened that underlying fire was lit. It wasn’t until then I realized I needed to deal with the underlying issue. More on that underlying issue at a later time…. I’m forever grateful to this counselor, for he called me out on my shit and was absolutely right about it.   Some people need that, Don’t they?  Now I’m here in this great City Of Wilmington, still going to counseling periodically and trying my hardest to deal with the issues at hand. I have come a long way, and I truly believe that without the counseling I have had and will have I wouldn’t be who I am now.

The main reason I chose to write about this today is because I know there are plenty of people out there contemplating counseling.  I know there a people on my twitter feed that are on the fence about going also.  You can’t force someone to go, but if you are reading this and you are one of these people I would strongly consider it.  It could be a life changer, as it was for me.

If you have gone to counseling and or going to a counselor, I would love to hear about your experience it doesn’t have be personal. I love to hear about how others are bettering themselves.   Thank you for the continued support, I’m off to my counseling session =)

 

 

Good Grievings is support in extra innings

I found a blog online earlier that really hit home.  He wrote about how when someone passes, the influx of support is insane. The phone calls, messages,visitors etc are in abundance.  Then after a couple weeks, poof its gone besides a selected few.

The day I found out my mom died I was at school. I received the page on my beeper (that was a thing 19yrs ago) I called the number back and my dad said he was at the hospital and that he needed me there, but didn’t tell me what was going on. Since I had taken the bus to school his friend who was a security guard had someone pick me up.  The guy who picked me up didn’t say a word, which made the drive even longer. It wasn’t like the driver could tell me, Even if he did know what happened. We arrive at the hospital and there stands My Dad, my sister, my sisters godmother and godfather, The security guard and a nurse who was another friend of the family.  I get out of the van and my Dad says Tom, your Mother had an episode and she didn’t make it. What does an 18 year old feel after hearing those words. Everyone grabbed me not knowing if I was gonna run or what. I wound up punching the brick wall outside the emergency room. This caused me to have a dislocated knuckle and the doctors wanting me to get a tetanus shot.  I’m like what else could go wrong…..

We were at the hospital for a while, I don’t remember much after that. What I do remember vividly after leaving the hospital  is us getting home and the people that were already at the house.  My mom was a 911 dispatcher and she knew people (anyone from New Jersey knows people)  #igottaguy #iknowaguy lol.  I had friends already waiting for us. My godfather was already at the house in the kitchen. My godmothers brother is a cop in the town that we used to live in, that’s how I’m assuming he found out.  That day my mom died was so surreal. The amount of people coming and going was a gift that you never expect to happen. We had endless food, endless hugs, endless support.

The funeral was set for a Sunday, two hours in the afternoon and two hours at night.  The stream of people that came to pay their respects seemed to take forever. It just shows how much my mom was well respected, and how many people wanted  to be there not only for us but for themselves.  The next day was the service at the church. We get to the funeral home and a lot of the people returned to pay their final respects. We had a little service and on to the church, it was with a police escort of course.  As we walk into the church my Dad and I looked at each other and said WOW.  The amount of people that were at the church was jaw dropping.  The church had 4 sections to it, and it was packed.  The main seating area was packed full with everyone we know. It felt like half of the high school that my Sister, Mom and I went to was there.

After the church service we proceeded to the cemetery and then on to the re-pass, which is where most people would come to eat and decompress and talk.  We had whoever wanted to go to the  re-pass come back to our house to eat.  I don’t even remember who helped set that up, but I’m still grateful.  As the Re-pass started to wind down, and people starting leaving. Real life started to set in, the house felt empty, even though we still had some friends there. There was No MOM to be called anymore.  This is when we just wished people wold stay and never leave.  They had to leave though, Others had to get on with their lives and get back on track.  As John Pavlovitz says and I quote

Which is so true,  I’m not saying no one was there for us after the dust settled. You do  really learn who your true friends and family are after the fact.  There were some people who fell off the face of earth.  They either didn’t know how deal with my mom not being here or didn’t know how to communicate with us like they used to.   Its OK, I know it happens all the time.  People act strange when people die. Its apart of their process.   The weeks and months and years after was interesting to say the least…. I’ll leave that for another session.  Until next time.

‘‘Twas the night before Christmas”

As I sit here and reminisce on the past as a kid at Christmas, I remember all the great things we did and I smile. Of course it’s not the same now having 2 beautiful girls of my own. Traditions change, new memories are made. Although one tradition I have kept is reading the same book “The night before Christmas” that my parents read to me on my first Christmas. The rule was, when I have my first kid I read it to him or her. When my oldest has her first boy or girl. She will do the same.

I love reading “the book” (as we called it growing up) to them. I hope every year that I don’t start tearing up when I read it, and every year I don’t. My girls either ask a question about it or talk about Santa… it’s always something that gets me distracted. Quick story: My mom always read the book to us, so the first year after she passed we were like, ” man reading the book this year is gonna be hard” We get to Christmas Eve in 2000. My dad started to read and he messes up reading the book so bad that we were hysterically laughing. Like laughing so hard we were crying. We eventually got through it but my dad took forever. He couldn’t even keep reading cause we were laughing so hard. I wound up finishing it.

My mom was so animated when she read it, that it must have been so awkward for my dad. But what a great story to always remember. These are the stories that help me get through. These are the goodgrievings that help me get through the sad times. So on this Christmas Eve if you are sad and your heart hurts like mine has a few times today, think of a happy times that you had with the loved one that passed. I hope that it makes you smile and maybe laugh. Remember that they are with you, even if you aren’t open to it.

Merry Christmas my friends. Thank you for being who you are!

My soul is happy

I just wanted to say thank you for all the support I have received over the past year and half. I have met so many cool people on social media and that continues to grow.

Quick story: This lady came to my store last week, she was wanting to print some Christmas cards. She was asking me how it works so I started to help her. She picked a design and then I helped her add a photo to the card. The picture was of her dog, that I found out she adopted 8 years ago. She said this is the first year my husband and I aren’t on a Christmas card. You see her husband had passed away in September while they were evacuated from the hurricane. I continued to help as she started talking about him and how they were together for a long time. I don’t know what is it about my being, but others seem to know I’m a great listener when it comes to taking about grief and loved ones passing on. And these people don’t even know me 🤔. We kept chatting as I was helping her and I mentioned my mom passed away and she says “O so, you know” I responded, yes I do know, and I’m sorry that you have to deal with this now. I could see her day was a little brighter just by talking to me and of course because her Christmas cards came out so well. We finished our convo and she was ever so grateful for my help. She kept saying “thank you”. I gave her cards and shook her hand. I told her have a Merry Christmas and enjoy as much as you can.

I was meant to start doing all of this. The blog, the twitter, the podcast, thank you @soulgabashjazz. My first interview, thank you @chriswick_. So Grateful!

Faith and grieving

I was on Twitter this morning.  I read a tweet that asked,  If you have  stronger faith, does that make the grieving process easier?   I’m sure this question will get plenty of different responses. The answer for me though is No. It didn’t make it easier for me because even though I had been involved in the church growing up, I felt GOD had let me down by taking my Mom away from me. Even after all I did and believed in.  Some people think of faith as not only in God, but faith in themselves to do things with their life. Or faith that they can do crazy things like move cross-country twice =)

I grew up going to church every Sunday at 9am.  My sister and I  went to the same catholic school from kindergarten to 8th grade. We also both went to same catholic high school our mom went to.  My parents were a big part of the church, As they went on retreats and volunteered for almost everything. My sister and I did all the sacraments, and Sunday school. My families faith in God was real and it seemed like nothing could break it. When we got older and I went into High School we stopped going to church all the time. This didn’t mean our faith in the church, God and each other wasn’t still there.  We grew away from the every Sunday mass. I still used to go by myself, since the church that was apart of my HS was down the block from our old house.

My first ever job was working in the church on Sunday mornings. I used to set up for all 4 services. I made sure the priest’s garments were out and all the things were lined up. Even though I got paid for it, I felt there was more, I even thought about becoming a priest while working there. I was 17 and had no clue what I wanted to do with my life yet.  I was going to school, playing basketball, working on Sundays and doing homework.   I kept working in the church until I graduated from high school.  8 months after that is when my MOM died.  My faith hit rock bottom.  I was obviously angry at first, I was angry at GOD for taking my Mom from me.  Maybe it was because I was young when it happened and I didn’t know any better. Maybe my faith wasn’t as strong as I thought it was. You are probably asking yourself, Why be mad at God?  He is the one you should turn to in times like this, and not be mad at him.  It took me a long time to understand that you can’t be mad at God for taking a loved one from you, even though that is what makes most sense at that time. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some days I have anger about this. In those times I remind myself that I might not be where I am today if my mom was still here. I might not be the man I am today if it wasn’t for this tragedy. Had I been older when my mom passed, maybe my answer to the question above would have been yes. I still do have faith in God, even though I haven’t been in a catholic church since my sister passed almost 10 yrs ago.

I would love to hear what your answer would be to the question above and why. Send me a message and let me know. I want to thank  @maryanne_pope  her site is thepinkgazelle.com  for the inspiration on this post.  I absolutely love what she posts to her feed and love her site.

 

Finding Your Inner Spark After Trauma With Tom Biddulph

Here’s is an interview I did yesterday. I thought I would share it again. It’s very insightful. It actually took me longer than I thought to answer. Chris has some great questions that he came up with. Enjoy, and let me know what you think. I’m looking to do this more in the near future.

Hi, Tom. It’s a pleasure to get a chance to interview you after all of these months of interacting with each other! I’m glad we finally have a chance to&nbsp
— Read on www.chriswickinnovation.com/single-post/2018/11/23/Finding-Your-Inner-Spark-After-Trauma-With-Tom-Biddulph

Randomness

Everyone for the most part hates change, right? Or maybe it is just me? I don’t know how others think, but a lot of the time I think others know what I’m thinking. As if those people are in my head at that exact time. I love this blog! I feel it has reached others and has helped others know they aren’t alone. Honestly ever since I have been on the @soulgabashjazz podcast, I have connected with so many more awesome souls. Which in return makes my soul happier. For some reason though, there is a void. No, the void isn’t related to death. It’s something in me, something I need to get filled. There is more out there for me and I don’t know 1. What it exactly is and 2. What direction to go in.

I was just on Twitter tweeting random thoughts. Now here I am randomly writing to who ever is gonna read this. (I tend to overthink about writing topics) Random huh? There is no direction with this #randomness (is that a word) Shit, it’s my blog so I can be random…. I wish I was more random in my life. We were out earlier and took the girls to the park. My wife made a good point and said why can’t you just live in the moment? Live in the moment? I thought, I do need to start. I’m always planning our/my next move. I should have just enjoyed the time at the park more, instead of knowing what we were gonna do next. Then I thought, maybe it has something to do with losing my mom the way I did. Like I don’t want to miss out on the next thing we do, cause life it short. I had an awesome time at the park though, even though it didn’t show it. I love that my girls call me for help, especially when my little one was climbing. We then went to eat and get frozen yogurt. Then off to our happy place for an awesome sunset.

I’m going to start living more in the moment. Sooner than later my girls won’t be asking for help to climb things at the park, they won’t be wanting me to always be there. Heck my oldest sometimes doesn’t want me to lay in bed with her before she sleeps anymore. (We sing songs and talk about our day) I ll always be there to help them. I have told them both especially when they are older that daddy will always be there, even if it’s 3am. (Lets hope it isn’t though haha).

Im off to bed again, gotta be up in 4hrs. The only reason I woke was cause my little one woke up crying. Maybe it was a good thing, it got me blogging. I didn’t have to overthink what my next topic would be. Right Ashley @randomobservationswithash @loveashleytay

From this evening venture!

Cheers,

-T

The Hurricane

Never in my life was I so Anxious, even after losing my mom. Hurricane Florence hit our hometown in September and stuck around for three days. It was a Cat 4 before making landfall as a Cat 1. For all you non weather geeks, the Category of a hurricane goes off of how strong the winds were. Cat 1 is 74-99 mph sustained winds. (we had a gust of 104mph and also 24in of rain) My family and I evacuated to NJ with family. We left not knowing what we were going to come back to. Although it was a scary nervous time for us, we had neighbors who stayed and looked after our house.

The next morning we had gotten pictures of the siding that had came off the house from the wind. I kinda had a feeling that this was going to happen since the side of the house that it was on had nothing to block the wind. It was an open area without any trees and an easement where the rain water runs through from the street. We felt hopeless watching On tv from so far that our city was in a 3 day boxing match with Mother Nature. Later that night we had received more pictures of the house and rain water started to seep in behind the wood, from where the siding had came off. It was coming in from behind the wall through the window and electrical outlet-and into the living room. Luckily the morning we left I had a gut feeling that I should move all our furniture to the second floor and into the opposite rooms.

So, not knowing what was going to happen my anxiety got the best of me. I was a like a little baby and became selfish and wanted to be by myself. Not realizing that I had my wife and kids that needed me. It’s scary to think how much anxiety can affect ones being, and make them turn against others in the snap of a finger. I was so mad that I hurt the people that I love feelings, on top of dealing with Hurricane Flo! It wasn’t fair for me to be like that and I let all those feelings of old come back in.

My neighbor that stayed behind with her family was like an angel from god. She sprung into action. She took our garbage can, she took the storage bins we had the kids clothes in, and towels and placed them where the water was coming in the house to catch it. She was sending us pictures and we were like WOW! I still get goose bumps thinking about all she did for us. If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t have been able to stay in the house! The next morning when there was light she snapped a picture to show us that our ceiling in our living room had fallen. This was where the majority of the water came in. (Thank god this guy moved the furniture upstairs :)). Later that day our other neighbor next door to us had sent me a picture of them on a latter putting a huge tarp on the side of the house, to cover where the siding came off. That wasn’t a cheap tarp and plus it was a decent size area. Now I’m thinking to myself, How do we repay them?

The storm finally started pulling away and my house was secure from anymore water coming in. We get another picture of the living clean as a whistle. My Godsend of a neighbor cleaned up the ceiling that fell, she emptied the water out of the bins (probably about 6ins) , she cleaned and folded all the towels she used. Both of my neighbors actually picked up ALL the siding that came off the house and put in in the driveway. The days after the storm seems more hectic. We needed to make calls and figure out how we can get back home from NJ. A lot of roads were flooded and all the rivers were cresting. We decided to leave 2 days after the storm stopped. We needed to get back to normalcy, and I needed to get back to work. A normal trip home from where we were would have taken 9hrs straight. We got home in about 16hrs in two days!

Finally! We made it. Once we got home we were greeted by our neighbors. There were plenty of hugs to go around. It was great to be home and see our house. We got inside and saw first hand how clean it was (kudos to my better half for cleaning the entire house before left) on top of my neighbor cleaning up the mess. Here we are today, still waiting for things to be fixed. There is still plenty of debris in piles along the road, and still chainsaws cutting trees up. It may sound a little strange, but not only can you grieve a lost loved one or an animal. You can also grieve lost possessions ie a house/or even damage to a house that you are still able to live in, just like we are. At the end of the day you have to lean on each other to make it through. We all learn from our mistakes and if there is a next time (which I don’t) I ll be better at dealing with my anxiety so it doesn’t get the best of me. Thank you all for your support #goodgrieving

Cheers,

Tom

Quick thoughts

Not everyone can be super positive and upbeat each day.  There are days when I am feeling anxious, there are days when I feel down. If you follow me on twitter you may see me sending positive vibes and cheering others on.  You may see my feed and say to yourself, “wow this guy has got it together”  For the most part I do, and I love the connections I have made on social media. There are some days I just need to step back and let the day unfold.  If any specific day has me down, I have learned to tell myself that tomorrow is a new day.

With today being National Grief Awareness Day I wanted to thank those of you who signed the petition that I shared on Twitter. This petition was put out by Ms, Angie Cartwright in hopes that our government would recognize this day each year. I loved what she said on the site that I’m about to share.  https://www.change.org/p/declare-august-30th-national-grief-awareness-day   “silent grief, can become deadly grief”  I also wanted to mention that in the past week I have been seeing grief being talked about more and more.  Grief is not something that should be put to the side.  Grief is real and the more we talk about it, the more others who have lost loved ones will realize they aren’t alone in the process

Speaking about grief, can you grieve someone who is still with you? Think about that for a second. I have been thinking about that all week. You see my oldest daughter started kindergarten this week.  When I was driving her to school I thought about giving her, her first bath in the hospital when she was born, and my eyes welled up with tears.  So, the answer is YES! You can grieve someone that is still with you. I have been grieving that my baby isn’t a baby anymore. Everyone may interpret this differently since everyone grieves differently and at their own pace. My point is that you/we need to recognize it and speak about it no matter what. Thank you for reading my random thoughts about my week. live,laugh,love

Cheers,

Tom