Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too. ~~Lawrence Bixby

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Good Grief

Many of us associate grief only with death. But I find that grief comes in many forms – there are little deaths (not the French meaning!) that occur frequently when one is dealing with a progressive disability or illness, and grief is an ongoing part of the process.

I must grieve for what is lost to me. The list is long, and getting longer. I often don’t allow the grief in (or out) – it seems pointless. Nothing will change, whether I acknowledge the loss and grief or not. But stuck emotions will eventually become depression and a sense of hopelessness. I struggle to find the balance between a healthy expression of difficult emotions and becoming maudlin.

I made the heart-wrenching decision to drop choir this term during a week of intense, unrelenting pain. It has now abated somewhat, but I still think it was the right decision.  Winter is a difficult time to get to rehearsal every week; now that I’m taking my scooter, I have to load it in the car, unload it at the parking lot, and load it again to come home. It’s cold and wet. Getting there was daunting, rehearsals exhausting (the rehearsal room is not access-friendly), and I just don’t have it in me right now. Hopefully I will feel different next month when the new term starts up.

It’s another big line item to add to the grief list. I miss the weekly time with my friends, I miss robust singing and the beautiful sounds that come from our choir. I miss the laughter. I always thought choir would be the last thing I’d let go of, that they’d have to pry the music from my cold, dead hands.

But I still have my ensemble, Tapestry; we meet here every two weeks. There is much laughter and beautiful music, and a comradery that is unique to a singing group. (And now I force them to sample my baked goods!) And there are plenty of other things I can still do, activities that make me happy, such as arranging music, photography, and writing.

Sometimes I put a ludicrous twist on it and think of things I’m unable to do, such as climb Mt. Everest or compete on one of the dance shows, run marathons all over the world, cycle the Tour de France. Yes, definitely my disability is keeping me from these activities!

But the grief is real and must be dealt with if I want to be healthy. I've begun working with a yoga therapist, which is a lovely combination of assisted yoga poses, guided meditation, and good old fashioned talk therapy. In my first session this week I experienced a sensation in my throat chakra that I haven't felt for a long time: it’s like a big chunk of ice partially blocking my throat. I know that tears are close, and the thaw is not far behind. Soon the tributaries of grief will loosen, the river will flow, and I will let it out and hope that the floodwaters don’t submerge me.