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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


Kendall said...

Raw honesty is a beautiful thing, Terri. It allows us in, so we can connect and feel with you. Thank you for this powerful writing. I hold you in my heart.

Terri said...

Thank you, Kendall. I feel held and cared for, which is an enormous help.

DeEtte Beghtol Waleed said...

I'm sorry to hear you had to drop the chorus. I hear your pain and grief. I send you light.

Natasha Beck said...

Thanks for sharing your honest feelings about a difficult situation. I too struggle with loss of things I used to be able to do easily. Take care.

Nancy said...

And I hold you in my heart, tenderly in this moment. Love n

Krista Weikel-Delaplane said...

Thank you for sharing your grief. I had to make the difficult decision to not sing this term because of MS fatigue - I'm still working part time and it took way too much energy to get to rehearsal after a long day... Then to have to SING for 2.5 hours wiped me out every week to the point that I didn't recover. I'm grieving the loss of community and SONG but am relieved to have one less commitment now. I hope to return when my energy improves. Hugs to you on your journey.

Mary Ellen said...

Hi Terri,

You are one of the bravest people I know! Being a very gifted singer and musician and having your loving partner must be sources of strength and light for you. Not only are you extremely candid about your feelings ( good bad and ugly,) You are a role model for anyone facing physical adversity , and choosing to "do it anyway". Your blog is great. I've never responded to " social media" before.
Regarding Aurora, a chorus member might be happy to pick you up and drop you off for chorus related
journeys. It must be hard to ask anyone for anything, but it might make your life easier.
Mary Ellen
Aurora A1 on leave

Tiffin said...

As my dear old dad used to say while battling Parkinson's, "you don't get to choose your lot in life, just what you'll make of it". As long as you keep analysing it, holding it up and turning it around to see all its facets, I think you'll continue to handle your lot with grace and aplomb, Ter. I'm sorry the choir was too challenging physically, as I know you loved it. But I've never known you to sit back for too long without finding something fresh with which to challenge yourself. Sending a blessing. xo