Hello World!

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o’er-wrought heart and bids it break.” — William Shakespeare (MacBeth)

I love the simple pleasure of sitting in my backyard at sunrise and in the evening, when the sun’s rays are diffused softly through the green leaves of summer, and the birds and trilling insects provide the soundtrack.  It is a peaceful, contemplative time, time for being alone with my thoughts and prayers, or time for just being.

But those times have been few and far between lately for me, despite having so much to reflect on in my life right now!  It seems the universe has busted me wide open with the events of the past 8 months!  But I also recognize that this time is fertile ground for healing and spiritual growth, and growth needs nurturing and community – thus the reason for this blog.

My wif’e’s passing has left two children without a mom, a husband without a partner and best friend, a household with befuddled boys at the helm, and a huge void filled with sorrow and loss; it’s time to start working through and recognizing these issues and feelings and emotions, both as a salve for my spirit, and as an example to my children.

It’s interesting how different cultures handle these issues.  The Jewish shiva is a week long period of official mourning, and mourners do not attend weddings, bar/bat-mitzvahs or other events that include music for up to 30 days after the burial.  Additionally, the children of the deceased do not attend these events or cut their hair for up to 12 months following the death of a parent.  In Chinese culture,  after the funeral is over, the period of mourning by the family continues for another 100 days.  A piece of colored cloth is worn on the sleeve of each of the family members for 100 days to signify mourning; black is worn by the deceased’s children, blue by the grandchildren and green by the great grandchildren.  More traditional families will wear the pieces if cloth for up to three years.

But in American culture, mourning periods are much shorter, with the bereaved expected to return to their daily lives far too soon.  Work allows for only three days off, despite the funeral being on the forth day; and in those four days those closest to the deceased have to make decisions on caskets and vaults, burial plots and flowers, eulogies and wakes, while balancing the good intentions of a plethora of well-wishers.  Sleep isn’t even an option during this brief time, let alone real grieving.

So for the past few weeks I’ve done what I’ve should, taking care of the house, keeping the bill collectors at bay, and mostly, trying to instill in my sons some confidence that dad can take care of them.  My to do list is almost down to manageable, which has finally freed up some time to reflect.  And now there is a wellspring of thoughts, emotions and grieving that needs attention…

So I’m going to to give my sorrow words –  what I’ll say I don’t know, where to conversation goes is unknown.  But I’ll extend this invitation to join, for “Grief shared is grief diminished” – Rabbi Grollman

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16 thoughts on “Hello World!

  1. Grief, healing and growth have no specific timeline…and they often overlap each other…weaving a beautiful tapestry of all of the joys, laughter , sorrow and tears….be gentle with yourself and just let the flow of each day carry you along….trust that each new day begins with the beauty of a sunrise…and take comfort that each evening ends with serene sunsets…..no specific timeline is needed for the sun to rise and set…it just flows…as will your healing and growth…bhugs to you and the boys…deb

  2. Joe – I am very proud of you for this! Proud that you are putting your thoughts to paper. Proud that you are allowing yourself to recognize and give voice to the variety of thoughts, emotions and challenges you are facing. In not hiding the emotional challenges with the boys, you are giving them the ability to acknowledge how and what they feel…knowing – that you are all in it together. Debbie gave you all the best gift – herself. She was true to who she was. That is the gift she has given the boys. The ability to laugh in sorrow, the ability to take joy in the moment. The ability to understand that what they feel, what you feel – regardless of what it is – is ok. My dad gave my brothers and I a similar gift – one we will always be grateful for. Live in the moment, love the past and look forward towards the future. Debbie will always be in it – as she is in you all.

  3. Joe, this is such a great idea. Not only is the written word in itself cathartic, but you are so right in pulling in the rest of us to help you now. It’s so easy to get caught up in your grief so that everything else falls away. You never cease to amaze me, my friend. Can’t wait to talk to you around one of our Hurricane Brother campfires deep in the wilderness.

    • Man I have NEVER needed a wilderness trip like i need one now, complete with those awesome campfire conversations that feed the soul. It won’t be anytime soon, gotta get the kids (and myself!) on our feet, but it’s coming…

  4. Very well put Joe. It is unbelievable how little time you get to mourn. There are so many and too many details to work out just “moments” after you lose the love of your life. It’s unfair but necessary of course. I was so very impressed on how you handled things, how you handled the boys and all of us. You are a great guy and I have no doubt you will continue to make the right decisions and be strong. And you need to take time for yourself to reflect, remember and mourn. You need this and deserve this my friend.

  5. I briefly met you long ago and have a connection to you through your family. My brother and hero passed away tragically about 8 years ago. The most mind-blowing part to me, as you mentioned above, was how quickly everyone was expected to get back to “normal” life. It felt disrespectful to the memory of my brother and to those of us who were hurting.

    For some of my family, it was their out, they had lives to get back to. I did not. So, I was left alone in grief. My only word of advice is to keep this up and keep reaching out and talking about it and remembering. I tried to swallow my grief and it ate me from the inside out for years. It still does at times, but I have learned constructive ways to deal with it.

    Now I live and love harder because he does not. In a way, that was a gift he left me.

    Keep moving.

    PCB

  6. Such lovely words stemming from such terrible circumstances. I am a classmate of Sarah’s from MtL, I saw this link on my FB feed. I hope it’s OK to have shared it with my neighbor, who lost his wife in late May, leaving 3 young boys… A sad bond indeed, but maybe you two can get in touch…

  7. Hi Joe: I am a friend of Sarah’s from MTL HS and she had made a post to her friends on Facebook about your loss. I felt compelled to just reach out and say hello even though we have never met. The point of my message is that I want you to know there are people out there whom you may or may not know that are really praying, putting out love/hope or whatever it is they do to to help you and your boys find a path to clarity and peace. All my Best to you…

  8. Wonderful way for you to express your feelings, Joe. I am so proud of my big brother. You have watched two of the most important people in your life die right in front of you – Your dad when you were only 15 and now your wife. Many people would not be able to handle that and I’m sure at times you feel like you can’t. But, you are such a strong person and find very creative ways to handle your grief. Keep writing!!

  9. I meant it when I told you that it is great to see you back at work, as much as you did not feel like “getting back to normal”. We all have been thinking of you and your family, sending good, healing thoughts your way. When we talked, I could see a bit of the Joe that I knew “before” (you will find that your beloved wife’s passing will be a point of reference in time from now on), but of course, something is different. This blog is a wonderful release. Thank you for sending the link.

    • Janice, thanks for sharing, hope you do more. It’s very helpful to me and I’m sure to others, maybe even yourself; that’s what this is for…

  10. Hey Joe. I had no idea about Deb. I’m heartbroken for you. I remember Deb being this upbeat, positive energy that lit up the room. She had this warmth and welcoming about her the second you were with her. Grieving takes a lifetime, and the first stage is of course the most difficult. It sounds like you are doing wonderful for yourself and your boys. They see your strengths and your weaknesses and will grow into wonderful men because of that. I noticed your Colorado hat! I’m living in Denver…love it here! Let me know when your travels brings you this way again. Keep writing…oxoxoxox Karen (Voas) Ceraso

    • Good to hear from you Karen, hope all is well and thanks so much for the kind words, this sharing certainly does help. And yes i do know all about your beautiful state, it’s one of my favorites, and one of my best friends lives there, so I am there a lot, though not as often as I would like!

      http://jwalko.smugmug.com/

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