Why “Grieflessons” ?

When my husband and I bought a house in Mexico in 2001, little did we know I would be moving into it without him. We had our moving sale in the states and packed up our van, but three days before we were due to begin our journey down to our new home, we discovered he had pancreatic cancer. He lived for three weeks. That is how, 2 months later, I came to be lying alone on an air mattress in an empty house in a country where I knew neither a soul nor the language.

I wrote a book based on my first 8 years after his death and originally, I thought this blog would be about grief–how it expresses itself, how I responded to it and how I came to realize that it is a powerful agent for growth and change.  Very quickly, however,  the scope of what the blog encompasses grew beyond my initial purposes. Rather than a blog to help people deal with death, it seems to have become a blog to enable myself and others to deal with life.

A big part of this change was initially due to my participation in National Poetry Writing Month, wherein I published a poem a day for a month.  That led to postings about my life in general, which is why I  changed the name of my blog to “Lifelessons.”  After NaPoWriMo in 2013, I decided I wanted to continue to write and post every day and I have done so with  only one exception (when I spilled a Coke on my computer and was without internet access for a day or two) since April 1 of 2014. Since then I have also begun daily postings to several photo prompts as well and I’m now in search of a support group for addictive bloggers!  (That is mainly a joke.)

Soon I also hope to add a section that shows my sculpture, retablos and other art work.  Life changes and changes.  So will this blog.

37 thoughts on “Why “Grieflessons” ?

  1. Cynthia

    Hi Judy…It’s really hard to define the place where I am right now. Things are still pretty much day to day or, at most,week to week and that has me a little frustrated. There is so much I need to do to simplify my life…which is becoming a psychological and spiritual necessity. I still have so much ‘stuff’ that Gene collected. However, my personality demands that I do it in an orderly, ‘responsible’ manner. Then I put it off again because of the emotional toll it takes. I NEED to do more creative, hands on projects for me, it will come…after the construction repairs are done. It’s so odd that I can be patient in some areas of life and not in others. I guess I feel disjointed and a little unsure. Most grief books cut off after the first year or so…almost like you’re supposed to have it all worked out by then. I understand that each grief path is different, has to be, because we are unique. Still it would help to see that I’m not alone. Most friends just want to say that I’m doing ok…sometimes not enough…does that make sense? I am getting stronger and I can begin to see it, but I want more. Next steps aren’t clear.

    Like

    Reply
    1. grieflessons Post author

      Hi Cynthia. I’m trying to remember how long it has been since Gene died. I know what you mean about the chore of clearing out. Probably a lot of the things you have to get rid of are things you acquired at my sales when Bob died! It took me four years to clear out the house and studios. It seemed overwhelming until I decided to take it studio by studio or category by category. Don’t try to do everything at once. Set smaller goals so you can achieve them. I’m sure your problem, as mine was, is that you know how much Gene valued everything, and so you feel disloyal selling it in the first place and also disloyal if you accept a price lower than he might have agreed to. Just remember. You are buying your freedom!!! Get it done with as little stress to yourself as is possible, accept the help of friends and remember the guys outside of the grocery store who are looking for work. I relied heavily upon them. oxoxoxo Judy

      Like

      Reply
  2. Cynthia

    It’s been 3.5 years since Gene passed away and I’ve been blessed having a young man working his way through college to help with yard work. Last year he transioned into a construction laborer for the man who is doing all the repairs. Erik is the person who worked with us on the kitchen. He is as much a perfectionist as Gene was, albeit in different areas. The repairs have taken a lot of time and focus. I’m thinking that most of the house things should be finished this year. Then I need to look at yard stuff, replacing retaining walls, etc. So I just have to hang on and keep pushing through.

    Like

    Reply
  3. jaysonbrownjewelry

    My most recent loss was one that many have encountered and yet one I never thought I would. It was when my best friend, partner, and wife of 24 years decided she wanted a divorce. When this day arrived It felt like a death had occurred. This was someone I had spent almost every day of those years with, together, enjoying so many things, art, travel and many, many good times. I wish I could say that was how it always was, but the last 4 years were not a happy time. I was constantly trying to contort myself to accommodate her insecurities, these were by far the hardest years of our relationship , and the darkest years of my life I can remember. Once I was alone, I didn’t know how to just be, so many feelings of loss and depression overwhelmed me. I could barely function in my day to day life. The only thing that seemed to get me through this period was my friends and family. I had one saint of a friend named David, he had recently been through a divorce. He called me every day, and would stop by the house to see how I was doing. We would go to meetings together for fellowship with friends. This would give me some relief for short periods of time. I would watch movies late into the night, until I would fall asleep to escape my pain. For me this was also a time of drawing closer to spirit. There was lots of time for anger and despair, but also for prayer and meditation. When I look back now it was a time of total transformation and magic, although I could not see it at the time. So many prayers and dreams have come true since that time, it’s been amazing. Since then, my friend David, has passed on. He had his own battle with depression. and eventually took his own life. David was a great friend, and a truly beautiful person. When I learned of his death it was a shock to me, though I did know the struggles he was having. The lessons grief have brought to my life have left me with a depth of gratitude, and acceptance, I had not known before. A gift, inside my own heart, which had to break to be set free.

    Like

    Reply
    1. grieflessons Post author

      Thank you so much, Jayson, for sharing this. I wish I’d known what you were going through at the time, but I know by experience that family members are sometimes the last to know our deepest pain. I know that if you haven’t already, that you will someday be someone else’s “David.” You illustrate perfectly what I have come to believe, and that is that the deepest pain and grief somehow have a transformative power. I’m not the same person I was before I met your dad and I’m no longer the same person I was before he died. Those human strengths we pull from ourselves when we face a traumatic loss are what make it worth going forward into a different but often even better life. We would not choose these transformative experiences, but the only power we have over them is how we respond to them. You know how much your dad admired you, I hope. Guess I need to tell you how much I admire you, to. You have figured out how to bring “Joy” back into your life–in more ways than one. Love, Judy

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. Martha Kennedy

    Wow, and I thought what I’m doing right now is scary! I’m just selling out, packing up and moving to the state I came from, of course, I have no where to live there (yet). I’m glad you dropped by my blog this morning.

    Like

    Reply
  5. the dune mouse

    Thank you for sharing your story. Grief is a journey too. After my youngest brother died ( the manner of his death) over 3 years later I still find myself sometimes plunged into the depths. Time and getting older doesn’t make it easier. Yet, I’m grateful. Life is precious.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. Kathy Simmons

    Hi Judy, I happened upon your blog while visiting the Shamrock challenge. I took note of your grief theme as I lost my best friend suddenly a little over a year ago. I wrote about her on my blog https://nynkblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/amazing-grace-2/ and hope you may read if you have the chance. I am so sorry about the tremendous loss of our husband but congratulation you on your courage and fantastic success in dealing with the tragedy. Enjoy the day.

    Like

    Reply
  7. Pingback: From Grief to Life | lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

  8. Marilyn Armstrong

    I missed this first time around, so I’m glad to catch up to it. Not glad, exactly since I lost my brother to pancreatic cancer all too recently. And both maternal grandparents. Sort of runs in my family. That’s a terrible thing that happened to you. I’m glad you have found your way back to a better place. It must have been very difficult.

    Like

    Reply
  9. Alka Girdhar

    Hi Judy

    I am moved and can relate to it.
    Although this was more than 20 years ago, I lost my father soon after we had moved to our new house, in fact he had built it with great care paying attention to details, so he was excited about the whole thing. Still in his jubilant mood he went off to sleep at night and never woke up. Heart fail.
    Cancer is awful as such. Two years ago, my father-in-law passed away. He discovered that he had a last stage gall bladder cancer, that too in this bile duct. A happy healthy man (for his age) was reduced to skeleton within two months.
    For you it was three weeks. Must have been too heart breaking. Life moves on and those who are left behind have to live, howsoever difficult it is.
    God bless!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. lifelessons Post author

      There are advantages to quick deaths. This is what I would choose for myself. My sister’s long grief over her Alzheimer’s and her present long lingering has made me resolute in not wanting the same for myself. I know we would all wish the leisurely chance to say goodbye and without pain or loss of mental faculties, that would be wonderful. I guess there is as much variety in death as life. One of the wonders of the world, that so many billions of patterns could be devised–all of them different. Thanks for commenting, Paula. We need to share our pleasant stories as well as our shattering ones! Judy

      Like

      Reply
  10. Dancing Echoes

    What a tragic shock. I am so sorry for your loss. I love your statement that your blog is about how to deal with life because that gets to the heart of the matter in coping with death and “death” comes in many forms.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  11. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

    You have a sharp and keen eye for numerous facets of life. Your short stories from prompts, your photography and thoughts of nature are just a few of your pages I’ve visited and all are equally impressive. Moving to Mexico is not an adventure I would have wanted to take on by myself but then I’ve never had to consider doing so. I cannot imagine all the emotions and then the learning curves you went through.
    I’m going to browse your blog. You have a terrific assortment of topics.

    Like

    Reply
    1. lifelessons Post author

      Thanks, Sheri. My decision to go ahead and move to Mexico was helped by the fact that we had already bought a house there..and cleared out most of our house in the states except for the studios that took me 4 more years to clear out. These things sometimes happen step by step until we just do them!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches.

        I so understand. Someday I plan to blog about how Tom and I ended up in Arkansas. We’d lived in some of the most exoctic locations in the world and here we are – Arkansas. We have the best medical care we’ve ever had for Tom. It is absolutely top notch.
        I thought about how many times we packed up Tom’s studios [although we always had the government doing it] it was still the toughest part of all the long distance moves. Thankfully we didn’t have to worry about a weight allowance.
        I had a good time roaming about on your blog in the wee hours of the morning.
        You provided me a lot of great reading material and thoughts to ponder. You do have a first rate blog.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. lifelessons Post author

        It is so thrilling to look at notifications or stats and see someone working their way back through my blog. That is the best compliment ever!! I am so glad you enjoyed it and found it of use in your ponderings! I told a friend the other day that I think these blogs are a way to talk about things we’ve never found anyone to talk to about before. (Now that is a sentence and a half.–ha.) I never expected to love blogging as much as I do. I guess it is a matter of finding the people to read who are talking about what you want to hear. When the world is your menu to choose from–what a delicious sampling of words and ideas! Thanks for choosing my kitchen!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. writesasmalabarcash

    We all do it differently, and that’s fine. The reality is that we are stuck with the rest of our lives. Geoff and I had talked earlier and agreed that whichever one was left should be as happy as possible, whatever it took. I have a friend who met another soul partner ‘too soon’ after losing her first. Should she offend a lot of people by accepting him? Or should she take her chance to be happy again. I’m glad to say she took the latter. You never forget that first love, we all know that. I would like to meet someone who would set off some sparks, but so far no luck. I’ve done a lot with the last four years, and I’m a different person now. I’ve left my body to scientific research – it’s likely to be the nearest I’ll get to a relationship! Don’t forget..We’re all different!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. lifelessons Post author

      I absolutely agree. What we attempt to do and what we are able to do are two different things, but I think the secret is trying–which you have done. A big part of my discovery after Bob died was realizing which parts of me were really me and which parts were there because each of us changes a bit (or a lot) to accommodate a relationship. I slowly changed out of part of a pair back into a single person again–one changed by the incredibly rich relationship I had with him, but looking again for what “I” needed rather than what “we” needed. I, too, am a different person now. Different from who I was before I married and different from who I was when I was married. I think perhaps that is the secret of life–to keep changing to accommodate circumstance while remaining true to what is important to us and beneficial to the world. Your leaving your body for scientific research seems a part of that. Your “doing a lot with the last four years” another part. Thanks for your thoughtful response to my explanation of my former blog name, Myra. I look forward to reading your blog. Judy

      Like

      Reply
  13. Po' Girl Shines

    I am so sorry to hear you had a loss such as this. It must have been very hard. I personally went through grief counseling for a while when some of my friends unexpectedly passed on and one of my two sons quit a good job and took off for years. There are so many things that can happen in one’s life, but I chose to believe in all the blessings, which are most things, and great surprises life can bring. Living by faith works for me. God bless!

    Like

    Reply
  14. momshieb

    Wow, Judy…how can it be that I feel like I’ve “known” you for many months, but hadn’t yet read this page. You are truly an inspiration…I can’t even begin to grasp such a shocking loss. I’m so happy to have found your blog, and gotten to know you a bit.
    I’m going to pass this page on to my sister, who recently lost her husband of 30 years….after a long long battle with Parkinson’s. She is very deep in grief right now, and working very hard at moving forward.

    Like

    Reply
  15. 49lilykatz

    Thank you, Judy, I just lost my beloved husband and best friend (Feb. 17th) and your writing is helping me more than you know. Life can go on, because you did all this, so I know it’s possible. God bless, and keep on keeping on.

    Like

    Reply
    1. lifelessons Post author

      Hi Lily. So sorry that you’ve lost your husband and best friend. I know that it is almost impossible to believe that things will eventually be “all right.” I think you need to continue to create little pleasures for yourself no matter what. It is what really exploited cultures such as those in Mexico and those enslaved have to do all their lives in order to have any life at all. I continue to see this happening in Mexico all the time, where people make a celebration out of any event–most particularly the death of a loved one. They choose to celebrate what is and was rather than to concentrate on what has been lost. Their lesson has been a valuable one to me. Not trying to “preach” of deny mourning. I know this is absolutely necessary. For me, the main thing in dealing with Bob’s death was to write about it, which is why I wrote the book that eventually led to this blog. I always appreciate your comments, lily, and hope you stay as strong as you need to be and let friends help you though the times you aren’t. Judy

      Like

      Reply
  16. janebasilblog

    It’s odd that I didn’t read this before. The timing of your husband’s death was tragic. The dream of your future in Mexico must have become a nightmare, but you seem to have built a good life for yourself there.
    I often ponder over the way that the important – and sometimes less important – people in our lives shape (in the most diverse ways) who we become and how we live. You lost your husband, so you started blogging. That got you onto the NAPoWriMo, and you’ve been inspiring and entertaining readers with your poetry ever since… n turn, your readers probably inspire you now and again.
    Paths, weaving and crossing, and influencing…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. janebasilblog

        It’s a good metaphor.
        This sounds back-to-front, but the internet as improved my social life. Before I began blogging I used to hide myself away and keep my distance from friends. Blogging has given me confidence. These days I to go out and communicate with people.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Oops.. and should say that his death was a nightmare but moving to Mexico wasn’t. In a way it made his death easier to bear. I think a new location does that–takes your mind off old sadnesses, partially because you are so busy adjusting to it, but also because it carries no associations with past lives. It is starting over.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. janebasilblog

        I think it depends on your personality. A lot of couples who holiday in this area like it so much that they sell up and move here when they retire. Often the shock of the move kills one of them – usually the husband – and the widow finds herself alone, with no idea of how to make new friends.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s