For my generation, this is the time of our lives—the time we must say goodbye to our parents, aunts and uncles. This happens to all of us who live long enough, but still we stand a little stunned to have suddenly become part of the oldest generation in our families.
Over the last six weeks, I have suffered the death of my father and I have watched the grieving of three friends who have also lost a parent. Four funerals. In all cases, the deceased had lived a long and fulfilling life. That’s a blessing to be sure, but it’s still hard for those left alive. Not only do we miss our loved ones, we know that we’re next in line. That Mortality Gorilla in the room is getting harder and harder to ignore.
A couple of days after my father’s funeral, Time magazine arrived in my postal box with a very appropriate article: New Ways to Think About Grief. In recent decades. psychology practitioners have used the five stages of dying (denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross‘s On Death and Dying, and applied it to the grief process. Kubler-Ross, herself, got in on the action with On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss.
Today the psychology community is saying, “Not so fast!” As with all advice that attempts to package human experiences into nice little boxes wrapped with a bow, we instinctively know that one size does not fit all. There can be vast differences in how individuals experience these universal experiences.
The article busts through the wall of certain myths about the grieving process (i.e. We Grieve in Stages, and Grieving is Harder on Women than Men) to communicate the truths we’ve always known, and what science is confirming: grieving is different for different people; some can benefit from the stages approach to grief, while others (indeed, most of us) are resilient enough to get through loss on their own without stages or phases or tasks.
There may be traditional, religious and cultural scripts we follow when we grieve the loss of our loved ones, but in the end we take our own paths. Grieving is for the living.
Want to read what others have to say about grief and grieving? Well, this wouldn’t be Okie Reads if we didn’t point you toward some titles. Amazon’s page on Death, Grief and Bereavement is a good place to start, as is your local bookstore or Oklahoma Public Library
I always hate to make New Year’s Resolutions. That’s usually the kiss of death for any proposed changes to my life. So I’m hunting for a new word to get this year off on a better foot. Hmmm… online dictionary has these Synonyms:
aim, boldness, constancy, courage, dauntlessness, decidedness, decision, declaration, dedication, doggedness, earnestness, energy, firmness, fixed purpose, fortitude, guts, heart, immovability, intent, intention, judgment, mettle, moxie, obstinacy, perseverance, pluck, purpose, purposefulness, purposiveness, relentlessness, resoluteness, resolve, settlement, sincerity, spirit, spunk, staunchness, staying power, steadfastness, stubbornness, tenacity, verdict, willpower.
I’m leaning toward a “Gutty Fixed Purpose ” ; “Dogged Fortitude” or maybe “Plucky Purpose”, whichever way I go it needs to be a better effort than my lame attempts last year. My past promises to myself; to read more, write better reviews, quit procrastinating, etc. have not been realized. So with a Sincere Spirit I hope to improve my blogging this year, take you along for some great reads, highlight Oklahoma authors and remind you and myself that reading is fun, relaxing, entertaining and informative.
So lets start the New Year with Oklahoma’s Creativity Coach, Romney Oualline Nesbitt’s book, Secrets from a Creativity Coach. It’s a great tool to get your life and creative juices flowing. I first heard about this book at the Red Dirt Book Festival’s author book review panel. I had been feeling overwhelmed by work, blogs, housework, and all the other annoying minutiae of everyday life. The review got me hooked.
Ms. Nesbitt has some very good, practical advise. She’s in the life coaching, creativity promoting business. She shares her techniques in the book by focusing on people, just like us, having a hard time getting their act together. She gives examples of how to turn things around by doing very simple changes. Her six changes to combat procrastination and perfectionism (my own downfall) are :
1. Be Present. “Be present in your seat whether that is at your computer, drawing table or piano bench.” “You can’t write a novel while you’re mowing the lawn. You can’t paint a portrait while you’re at the mall.” In my case, it’s you can’t read a book when you have the television on.
2. Stay. Get in your work space and stay there. She suggests using a timer if you have to. Give yourself a chance to get those creative jusices flowing. “Give yourself the gift of time.”
3. Don’t Look Back. I think I like this suggestion best. I’m always going back over why I didn’t accomplish something. Romney says: “Administer your own absolution. Forgive yourself for your pattern of inaction and start anew.”
4. Believe in the power of “good enough”. Every thing around you doesn’t have to be perfect for you to get going. Just getting started is the way to go. There’s no perfect time or place.
5. Take action and don’t stop. “Write one word, one sentence, squirt out your paints, or put your hands on the keyboard.” “Start and don’t stop. Do something!” I personally need to stop thinking about doing something and actually do it.
6. Today! “Today is the best possible day to begin, don’t wait for Someday.
and I’m going to add a seventh step, Go out and get this little book, start your New Year off with some optimism and creativity.