What are we so afraid of?

What is with all the fear?

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There is a lot of be afraid of.

As we all know, there this virus going around.  And that virus has the potential to kill you.

And it seems like every day the news changing it’s story about the virus.  And as each day passes, the headlines become scarier.  And the messages are mixed.  Can anyone keep any of it straight anymore?

We fear for our health and we fear for our livelihoods.

And now it looks like 2020 is going to be the worst hurricane season ever.

And just when things couldn’t get any worse, we now have “Murder Hornets”.

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No wonder why we are scared.  Hurricanes are scary.  Any kind of flying insect with a stinger is scary, even those without the word “murder” in their name.

But have we stopped and asked us why we are so scared.

My daughter is scared of bugs.  It doesn’t matter what kind of bug.  She’s even afraid of ants.

I am not going to lie.  I don’t love bugs.  They make me uncomfortable.  But I deal with them.

My daughter is also afraid of various Disney villains and she is afraid of the dark.

I fear oompa loompas.  They make me extremely uncomfortable and totally give me the heebie jeebies.   Bryon enjoyed scaring me with that one.  One time when I was in the bathroom, he took my phone and changed my wallpaper to a picture of an oompa loompa.  So poor, unsuspecting me picked up my phone and saw that. I screamed.  I then put a lock on my screen.

There is a lot of things in this world to be afraid of.  And quarantine and the news and all the certainty is exacerbating our fears.

To be clear- I am not telling you to not to be concerned about the virus.  Your level of concern is up to you to assess and decide what your level of fear is.  Especially since I can’t write a post that is perfectly tailored to be perfectly applicable to everyone.  If you live in a place that is a COVID-19 hotspot, then you are going to be more fearful of catching it than someone who is not in a COVID-19 hotspot.

As the writer of this blog post, I have to trust you, the reader, to make your own decision about your feelings.  And that is how it should be.  As the reader, you need to take from this blog post what resonates with you and leave what doesn’t resonate.  Partially resonating is cool too.

One thing I do not talk about on this blog much is the fact that I am more into New Age thinking.  I don’t talk about it because I fear what people may think of me.  It’s not what Catholics do.  But I have issues with Catholicism and all organized religion at the moment.  But I will be clear, while I may roll my eyes at some of the hypocrisy I see, I am not an Atheist.  But this is all for another post at another time.

So try to follow me.  I am more New Agey now.  I do believe we are all energy.  The cool thing is that since we are all energy, we never truly die, which I know because I feel Bryon’s energy at time.  I keep my beliefs to myself because I am fearful of what people will think of them. Which is stupid.

Most of us have probably felt or been recipients to positive energy and negative energy.

The emotions we feel have energy.

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The energy we have affects ourselves and those around us.  Our energy can also be affected by those around us.  Raising your energy is your responsibility but it will help out those around you as well.

At the very least, people won’t be saying you are a bitch when you leave the room.

I kid.  I am sure if you are great and those people were blaming you and resorting to name calling.  I got your back.

If you notice on the bottom, there are contracted energy.  Emotions like Shame, Guilt, Apathy, Grief and Fear are all contracted energy.  We are not living to our fullest potential when we are in those emotions.

Let’s quickly go up the scale.

Shame.  The lowest energy.

I did a lot of soul searching after Bryon died.  I stumbled on this Ted Talk with Brene Brown and it changed my life.

 

Watch it.  It may change your life.

I then wanted to read every book Brene Brown wrote.  I started with The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  The link is an Amazon Affiliate link.  I read alot and I have always been afraid to make money with book recommendations.  It’s silly.  Why should I be afraid of that?

I have since read everything that Brene Brown has written.  I have watched her special on Netflix.  I hope I can see her talk in person.

But after I watched that initial Ted Talk, I felt free to feel vulnerable. The biggest piece I got was that you can’t be vulnerable without courage.

I have felt shame in life.  I have never felt good enough.  I was never smart enough, pretty enough, or thin enough.  Shame caused me to build walls and Brene has helped me tear some down.  I am still working on others though.

Guilt and apathy are definitely emotions I have dealt with.  Survivors guilt is real.

Grief…more than half this blog is about grief.  I don’t think I need to prove it’s real.

Then we get to fear.

While one can cause a person to feel shame or guilt, I feel like fear is easily manipulated by other people.  People can incite fear in you.

Heck, some of your fears may not actually be your fears.  You may have learned those fears.

Another question to ask is if someone wants you to be fearful, especially if they gain from you being fearful.  Maybe you have a friend who tears you down to lower your self confidence and that makes you fearful to take chances in your life.  Your friend may want to keep you down because they are afraid you will make other friends or that you may outshine them.  I don’t know.  Really, if your friend does that, you probably need a new friend.

It’s okay to feel fear from time to time but is fear taking over your life?

So if you feel like you are playing into the feeling of fear, it might be a good idea (just a suggestion) to try to understand why you are afraid and see if it’s something that can be addressed and rectified.   Especially, because fear is keeping you from being the best version of you.  We all deserve to at our best.

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Weekly Gratitude #10: Three Years

Today is my blog’s birthday.

I started this blog as a way to process and cope with all the emotions I was feelings 5 months post-loss.  I was starting to “wake up” from the grief fog and I felt the need to share my emotions as I have noticed a dearth of information to help young widows.  I wanted my information out there so if another widow stumbled across it, they would know that they were not alone.

I also felt the need to share my story because I wanted others to understand the emotions that a widowed person felt, at least from my perspective.  After all, that is the only perspective I can honestly offer.

So much has changed since that time.

At that time I was somewhere between existing and surviving.

Now I am a survivor and on some days, I might even consider myself to be thriving.

Some locations in my story have changed.

Some characters in my story are the same, but some characters are different. I don’t doubt that all the characters in my life are there (or have been there) for a reason.

When I started this blog, my daughter was a toddler.  Now she is a kindergartener.

As I reread some of my earlier blog posts, I feel that strange dichotomy that widows feel.  The dichotomy where my old life and my old self feel current and they exist alongside my new life and new self.

My last two sentences of my first blog post really hit me hard.

“A part of me died with him that morning.  This is the story of the part of me that is still living.”

At that point in time, my soul was completely fractured.  I felt like an empty shell of who I was and I had no clue how I was going to move forward.

Now it is three years later.  I have survived.  I have grown.

Yes, a part of me may have died the same morning Bryon did but the part of me that is still living has forged ahead.

She has grown back into a whole, albeit different, person.

I want to thank all of you who have been a part of this ride.  As I said the other day, nothing ever lasts forever.  But I appreciate all of you who continue to travel this journey with me.

Stay In Your Own Lane

Alternate Title: Why I hate advice.

Do you ever feel like you live in a fish bowl?

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As a widow, I have felt like I live in a fishbowl.

I accept responsibility for part of that.  After all, I do put some of my most intimate thoughts on the internet because…therapy.

And I also felt called to create a space where other widows  (and other people who may be suffering from an emotional loss) may not feel so alone.  And I have made some cool friends from this blog so that’s a win.

Somewhere along the way, people started thinking it was okay to tell me how to live my life.

I got unsolicited advice on so many topics.

I got unsolicited advice on how to raise my child, how to manage my time, how to manage my money, when I should date again, what my physical and emotional boundaries should be and even on how to grieve and how to widow.

I do not need to be told how to grieve or how to widow.

I even had other widows tell me how to widow.  Yeah…my experience isn’t the same as yours, mmmmkay?

@kerryannmckim

Why do so many people feel the need to tell other people how to live their lives?

Why are so many people concerned with what everyone else is doing?

Why can’t people just stay in their own lanes?

Seriously.

If you are giving unsolicited advice- you must be an expert.

You must know everything about everything.

Maybe you have mastered Life.  Maybe your little plastic car is filled with kids and you have money and always spin a 10.

Your life must be perfect because you have nothing to improve so you are looking externally for something to occupy your mind.  Your life must be so perfect that there is no room for improvement.

Because you wouldn’t think of giving love advice if you can’t hold onto a relationship.

Nor would you give money advice if your credit score is in the toilet.

You wouldn’t give career advice if you are underpaid and hate your job, right?

I didn’t think so.

Before you give unsolicited advice, clean up your own life.

Stay in your own lane.

It’s none of your business how other people choose to live their lives.

Stay in your own lane.

What might work for you may not work for other people.  Because they are not you.

It is so easy to look at someone’s life and to have an opinion.

Keep that opinion to yourself.

It isn’t your life.

Most people just need time to figure their own shit out.

Sure, you can offer to help in a positive manner.

But keep your G-D opinion to yourself.

Give people the space to let them sort out their problems on their own timeline.

If they need your help, they will likely ask for it.

Stay in your own lane.

This also works in the reverse.

If you are living your life, sorting out your own shit and minding your own business and someone tries to offer you unsolicited advice, you don’t need to accept it.

Don’t let it distract you or upset you.

Don’t let doubts take hold.

Stay in your own lane.

Stay in your lane unless you make the decision to change lanes and do it when you feel safe to do so.  Not because someone is making you.

Nothing Ever Lasts Forever

Nothing ever lasts forever.

I don’t who needed that message, but here it is.

Nothing ever lasts forever.

But what does that even mean?

Nothing ever lasts forever.

We live in a physical world where time is linear and is always moving forward.

But in addition to the linear timeline, we have so many other factors that are affected by time.  Things like energy, emotions, love, hate,  relationships, money, planetary alignments, memories and outside events we can’t control.  Just to be clear- this is not an exhaustive list.

Things are always changing and nothing ever lasts forever.

The good things don’t last forever.  Relationships can fall apart.  Couples can grow apart or someone can die. Friendships can end.  A job you like may end abruptly.

But neither do the bad things.  Bad things will eventually turn around.  Maybe not as quickly as you may like, but they will turn around eventually.

So if the things are good right now – cherish them because they probably won’t always be good.

And if things are rough right now- try to hang in there.  Things are bound to turn up soon.

Karaoke Side Door Cafe Albany 2012
Karaoke 2012

 

Festivus for the Rest of Us: Airing of Grievances

Happy Festivus!

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I admit that I am a “cherry-picker” when it comes to Festivus.  I do not have a Festivus pole (yet), or do Festivus dinner or Feats of Strength.

However, I do participate in the Airing of Grievances.

And here they are in no particular order.

  1. The fact that my throat chakra is always blocked.  Could it be because no one listens to me, especially my 5 year old who has selective hearing?   Could it be the fact that I have brought once up the truth to people who were important to my life at the time and they choose to believe the lie? Could it be the fact that I don’t speak my mind because I know people won’t understand and I don’t bother?
  2. The new Welcome to Maine sign.  It’s stupid and it was a complete waste of money.

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    The one that has been there forever needs to come back.

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  3. Negative People
  4. The fact that I am an empath and I absorb the energy of the aforementioned negative people.

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  5. The fact that there is not a decent Mexican or Italian restaurant in our town.
  6. The fact that our government is a circus
  7. The fact that so many people didn’t pay attention to their high school Civics class.
  8. Narcissists and Toxic people.  They need help but they won’t ever take responsibility for your actions and they will continue to hurt people for their own gain.  I am just grateful that I am getting better at recognizing those behaviors and I run.

    Difficult People

  9.  People who project onto other people.
  10. Hypocrisy
  11. People who are only religious to make a political statement.
  12. The fact that people can say insensitive stuff to people who are grieving and people tell the one who is grieving that they need to get over it.  Maybe other people need to be more sensitive?
  13. Potholes.  ( I stole that one from Amy in our most recent episode of Xennial Mom Podcast)
  14. Crowds
  15.  People who don’t look inside themselves and people who don’t do inner work.
  16. People who only listen to respond, not to understand.
  17. People who drive under the speed limit.
  18. The fact that I formatted this post with a space between each grievance and WordPress put all the text together when I previewed it.  I am sorry.  Blame WordPress.  (Squarespace is looking more appealing, but I don’t want to have to migrate my data).
  19. The fact I will think of more grievances after this.

Have a Happy Festivus and a Joyous Holiday Season.

 

 

Eaten words

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

2016 was the year Bryon died.

2016 was also the year of a lot of celebrity deaths.

I have very little recollection of which celebrities died that year.  2016 was a bit of a blur to me.

~Kerry’s 2016 recap~

~pretend there is a dream transition sequence like they had in 1980’s sitcoms~

The first three months were pretty normal.  It was winter.  We went on a cruise.  My daughter got an ear infection, pinkeye and hand, foot and mouth disease each about a week apart.  I got pink eye and viral pharyngitis.  Bryon did not get pink eye.  I started running again and signed up for a half marathon.  And Bryon and I watched a lot of 2016 presidential debates.

Then I spent five months splitting my time sitting next to my husband in an ICU room while he clung to his life and waiting in waiting rooms while he was taken off to procedures.  I cried a lot.  I prayed and waited.  Lots of people would bring me iced coffee that I subsisted on.  My daughter got another ear infection and we discovered she was allergic to amoxicillin because she broke out in hives.  

Then Bryon died. 

The biggest before and after moment of my life.

The last four months of 2016 I cried a lot and wondered what the f*ck just happened to my life.

~dream transition sequence~

I vaguely remember a lot of celebrities died.  However I can only remember three.

While we were on our cruise, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died.

Are Supreme Court Justices considered celebrities?  They are famous but does famous = celebrity?  That is a philosophical point I will have to ponder when I should be doing something more productive.  Though I do see a lot of fanfare for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on my Facebook Newsfeed so for the purpose of this blog post, Supreme Court Justices will be considered celebrities.

Bryon loved and respected Justice Scalia.  One time Bryon was telling me about a certain Bar that you can get admitted to where you can argue cases in front of the Supreme Court.  If I remember correctly, he said, if admitted, one of the best things was that his name would be read in front of the nine Supreme Court Justices.

Bryon never saw Mean Girls but I told him that I could imagine him having a Regina George moment.  I had to explain the whole Regina George thing to him.

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Once Bryon grasped the idea of Regina George’s popularity, he agreed.  He said he could totally see himself gushing “Justice Scalia sneered at me.  IT WAS AWESOME.”

We took an Eastern Caribbean Cruise in early 2016.  One that would be very ominous.  One omen being Justice Scalia’s death, another death being Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential run.  But don’t worry…I am not bitter about it.  Not at all.

The second death I remember was the death of Prince.  Or the artist formerly known as Prince.  Did he ever go back to being Prince?

I remember that because I was following a spoof Joe Biden Facebook account and when Prince died the spoof facebook account had a condolence posted with a picture of Prince William.  Bryon was aware at the point and I remember showing the meme and he smiled.  Or laughed the best he could.

And the third death of 2016 I remember was Alan Thicke’s death.  Dr. Seaver.

It was after Bryon was dead.

I remembered the fact that despite having a Facebook newsfeed full of Patriots fan, it was Bryon who showed me this genius video from Julian Edelman.

So yeah…I don’t remember much about who died in 2016 because one of the two most important people in my life died.

But I do remember being annoyed with seeing Facebook posts where people bemoaned the deaths of the celebrities.

Maybe these people were just paying tribute and I was blowing it out of proportion in my head.

At the time, this public grief felt disingenuous.

And I spoke up.

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Yes it is sad when someone dies.

These celebrities had family and friends and their death was going to leave a much bigger whole in their lives than us average folk.

Each person has a variety of layers of relationships.  The inner core will likely be your  family and very closest friends.  The next layer would be friends and family you aren’t close to and co-workers.  The next layer after that would probably be acquaintances.  Maybe you have a layer between friends and acquaintances for those people who are in that “more than an acquaintance but less than a friend” space.

Most of us have no more relationships after acquaintances.  Anyone else would be a stranger really.

But celebrities have tons of people outside that layer called fans.

If you are a fan, the celebrity can hold a cherished spot in your heart but that celebrity probably has no clue who you are.

When a celebrity dies, chances are your daily life is not altered.

Maybe, but probably not.

I felt strongly about it at the time.  But tonight, I am have to eat my words.

Admittingly, I was watching Golden Girls and thought about how sad it was that the only living one is Betty White.  I don’t want to think about a world without Betty White, so I won’t.

But tonight, I read the news story about Alex Trebek getting emotional.  I did not see the episode.  This evening slipped away.

I found myself thinking that I need to DVR Jeopardy because we don’t know how much longer we have Alex Trebek.

I am 41 and for as long as I remember, Alex Trebek has faithfully hosted Jeopardy.

He bridges a time in my life when my grandparents were still alive and we talked on rotary phones and cable TV was a new phenomenon to the present day.  If I wanted to watch him, I would actually have to walk up to the TV, which was probably small and black and white, turn a knob to get the TV to turn on and maybe even turn the dial if the TV previously was on a different channel.  If I was lucky, I wouldn’t have to mess with the antenna (because the only TV that had cable was in the living room).

I work in oncology data.  The best way to describe what I do is that I am the person in between the patient record and government statistics.  Our data is also used in medical research.

I truly hope Alex Trebek beats the odds.  But working in oncology data, I know Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer is a grim diagnosis.

I am in awe of Alex Trebek because instead of retiring, he chose to continue hosting the show.  He chose to be continue to be there for us when he doesn’t have to be.

And from what I read in the news, he is tolerating chemo pretty well.

But life is fragile and illness can bring complications.  Complications that we may never be prepared for.

I don’t want to think about it.  So I am going to end this blog post abruptly and stew in my eaten words.  And enjoy watching Alex Trebek for as long as I am able.

Tired

This wasn’t the blog post I was intending to write.

The one I was intending to write had a lot more anger.

So to the people who like to gossip about me…sorry. You will have to get your entertainment somewhere else.

You also may want to re-evaluate your own life.

But what do I know. 🤷‍♀️

Also, I just want to say that Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” is one of the best songs ever written. I discovered it driving one random day on Mount Desert Island, ME during my political days.

Though it shouldn’t be confused with the bar that used to be in Troy, NY.

Here is a picture of Bryon and I at that bar.

I digress.

If you don’t know me by now, my mind goes on tangents.

I used to be embarrassed by it. People told me that I think too much.

As I have gotten older, I have embeaced my overactive mind.

Maybe everyone else should think some more.

Anyway, if you follow my blog, you probably know that I don’t write as much as I had previously.

It’s because I am tired.

You’re probably thinking “Duh, Kerry…we are all tired. You aren’t special.”

While it’s true that I am not special, over the past three and a half years, I probably have had a lot more major life changes than the average person.

I am not mocking those tired from work and parenthood.

It’s rough.

But when you add life changes and grief on top, you become exhausted.

And secondary losses. Because when your person dies, you aren’t just missing your person. You lose so much more; your identity, your sense of security, your faith, your health, sometimes you lose your financial security. Your mileage may vary. Secondary loss is different for everyone.

It’s one thing to be tired from being busy but rebuilding your life brings it to a new level.

Sleeping in on a random Saturday will not make up for the exhaustion I feel.

(Before people freak out, obviously I am speaking in general terms. Everyone has different stressers and everyone reacts differently. And maybe you are working to exhaustion. If you are working to exhaustion, please take a relaxing break. The rest of you…just bear with me.)

I have been too tired to be creative to write.

I am too tired to read.

I started to work out again and I have been too tired to attend my fitness classes.

I manage to scrape together enough energy to work and spend time with my daughter. But I am running on fumes.

Now some of you pseudo/armchair psychologists with Web MD medical degrees might say I am depressed but I know I am not.

I was diagnosed with dysmythia as a young adult. Dysmythia is a chronic, low grade form of depression. I seem to have outgrown it in my twenties.

I am not depressed. I feel great joy and gratitude in my life even if it is alongside anger from losing Bryon.

I’ve just had a lot thrown at me over the past 3.5 years.

I’m just tired.

I just want to stay by myself at some air bnb by the ocean, somewhere warm and just lay down in a reclining lawn chair and listen to the ocean.

Like, for days on end.

If I were to venture out, it would be to get dressed up and go have a fancy meal by myself. With steak and (preferably) Chateauneuf De Pape though a Cote Du Rhone would be acceptable. And something chocolate for dessert.

And I am not trying to be pretentious. I just like a good steak and red wine.

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I travel with packed itineraries. I usually come back from vacation needing a vacation.

But here I am…tired.

Maybe I need to do my own version of Eat, Pray, Love except I don’t want to be as pretentious as Elizabeth Gilbert. She just totally rubbed me the wrong way though I didn’t mind her when I read Big Magic. Though I read Eat, Pray, Love when it came out, long before my life got turned upside down. Maybe I should give her another chance.

When I have energy to read.

Maybe I need to start knitting something again. Something that will take me a long time so I focus on the rhythm and not the finished product.

What do you do to get your energy back? I am open to suggestions.

A message for anyone who needs to hear it

I have no idea who needs this message but it’s here for whoever or whomever needs it.

(And I just googled “whoever vs whomever”. It’s late and I am too tired to make sense of it. I’ll fix this and the multitude of typos and grammar mistakes I am going to make due to the aforementioned tiredness.)

And this is making me think of Dr Frasier Crane, correcting a caller on the difference between “literally” and “figuratively”.

So for those people who want to nitpick my grammer…I got nothing.

Though bonus points if you were amused that the Frasier meme is about grammar since Frasier is played by Kelsey Grammar.

I digress.

It came to me that everyone deserves to be appreciated.

Everyone deserves to be valued.

Everyone deserves to be taken seriously.

When you talk to those you are closest too, you deserved to be listened to.

And what you have to say should be taken seriously.

You might be thinking, “That’s all great Kerry but the world is not all rainbows and smiles. What if people don’t appreciate you?”

And that’s a very valid hypothetical question.

Because not everyone is going to appreciate you.

Because…there are 7 billion people on this planet and there is no way we can appreciate each other.

At least on an intimate, inter-personal level.

I tend to think of it as a sliding scale. Those closer to you should appreciate you more.

Which brings me to the Top 5.

The Top 5 should not be confused with the Top 8…for those of us old enough to remember the MySpace days.

Also, whatever happened to Tom?

I guess he got burned because he way nicer than Mark Zuckerberg. 🤷‍♀️

Anyway, back to the “top 5”.

I am a fan of Jim Rohn’s quote that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

It is so accurate.

But what if those 5 people don’t appreciate you?

Well, then you probably don’t appreciate yourself.

Because you are tolerating not being appreciated.

Remember-

You deserve to be appreciated.

You deserve to be valued.

You deserve to be taken seriously.

When you talk to those you are closest too, you deserve to be listened to.

And what you have to say should be taken seriously.

If those closest to you don’t respect you or appreciate you, you may need to re-evaluate your top 5.

You also should re-evaluate yourself. Maybe you aren’t appreciating those in your life.

Keep yourself surrounded by those who are positive and lift you up.

You won’t be sorry.

10 Do’s and Don’t for helping someone in crisis (or grief).

This blog post is a long time coming.

I have tried to write about this topic so many times but something always stopped me.

I was afraid to be honest.

I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.

Background story

But something recently changed that.

For the past couple of months, my friends mother has been very sick. There was a period of time where my friend didn’t know if her mother was going to live or die.

(Don’t worry. My friend is aware of this blog post. She will not be blind-sided.)

A few months ago, my friends mother went into septic shock.

I spent a lot of time messaging back and forth with my friend. At the time, she was concerned she was burdening me with painful memories. I would be lying if I said that events like this do not stir up painful memories. I remember how lonely I felt when Bryon was in the ICU. I wasn’t physically alone but I was emotionally alone.

I can assure you that you don’t know that kind of fear until you have lived it.

After surviving that experience, I can’t let anyone sit through that experience alone.

So I can push aside all those painful memories and the emotions attached to those memories to help those who are going through similar situations.

(By pushing aside those emotions…I don’t mean push those emotions aside literally. It is import to acknowledge those feelings. Feel them. Then set them aside.)

My friends mother was in the hospital for a couple of months. I offered to help my friend in other ways during this time but my friend said she was okay. I didn’t push. (More on that later in this post)

My friends mother was discharged from the hospital earlier this week.

My friend has messaged me and she thanked me for being there for her. I responded that I felt bad because I did not do enough for her.

My friend’s response was that she disagreed.

She said I helped her and was informative about the experience. I helped her to ask the right questions, especially at a time when her brain could barely think of anything other than not knowing if her mother was going to live or die.

I remember how overwhelmed I was when Bryon was sick. A lot of information was thrown at me.

I pondered this and it all clicked.

I had helped my friend in the way she needed to be helped.

My feeling like I hadn’t done enough to help my friend was about making myself feel better.

I think it is human nature that we try to help people in the ways we think they need to be helped, not in the way they actually need to be helped.

Since I have officially been on both sides of this issue, I feel like I can finally write about this important topic.

  1. Do remember that it’s about THEM and not YOU.

I start with this one because I think all the other items on this list stem from this.

Before you think I am being critical, I want to remind you that I am guilty of doing this.

I am not saying everyone is helping for the wrong reasons. But unless you are Mother Theresa, you are not 100% selfless. To some extent, you are offering to help because  you are trying to make yourself feel better.

I am not saying to not help people.

Your friend or family member, or coworker or neighbor or you friend of the a friend or acquaintance or maybe even a complete stranger is having a hard go and you want help fix the problem. That is a good thing. You are a good person.

Just make sure that you are helping or offering to help to actually help, not to just make yourself feel better. If you feel better in the process, that’s a double win.

I promise you, if you keep reading, this point will make sense by the end of the list.

  1. Do respect boundaries.

Some people are not comfortable asking for help or receiving help. They may not want to accept help. They might be embarrassed to accept help. Our culture encourages us to be independent and stoic. Many of us don’t know how to accept help.

They are most likely overwhelmed.

When you are in the middle of a crisis, it’s hard to think of anything besides the person who is very sick or might die. You may want to help but the truth is, almost everything is the further thing from their mind.

It’s great that you want to help, but don’t push.

Just be ready to help when they are finally ready to accept it.

  1. Do offer specific ways to help.

When someone is going through a trauma, we want to help. We may not know how to help so we have a tendency to say “Let me know if you need anything.” I am guilty of this, even in my post-trauma life. But I am going to explain why this isn’t very helpful.

When someone is going through a trauma or has just experienced a major loss, they may not know what they need. They are overwhelmed. Their life was literally just turned upside down.

When Bryon was in the ICU, I subsisted on iced coffee and those ice cream sundae cones that were sold in the hospital cafeteria. Depending on how well Bryon was doing that day indicated whether I would take the time away to shower and take care of my daily hygiene. I know it’s gross but it’s a reality. Things that are normally viewed as vital take a backseat when you are in crisis.

I knew my parents were taking care of my toddler daughter and my cat. Bryon had scheduled all our monthly payments before he got sick. But I had no clue about anything else and I had no brain power to think of anything other than “is my husband going to live or die”?

You might be wondering, what if the person has died? A widow doesn’t need to worry anymore about the outcome, right?

To give you an example of where my mind was during those early days of widowhood, I lost my phone. My parents and I spent an hour tearing apart the house. I finally found my phone…in the refrigerator. I have no idea why my phone was there.

Also, don’t put your phone in the fridge. My phone was never the same after that. It became possessed and Bryon wasn’t there to fix it for me.

My point is, if you want to help someone going through a trauma or loss, be specific.

Is their lawn overgrown? Offer to mow it.

Is something in their house in disrepair? Offer to fix it.

Want to bring them dinner? Ask them if you can bring dinner on Thursday night or if you can give them a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

Just be specific because it will be a lot easier for the person to say “yes” or “no” than come up with task.

It’s great you want to help but make it easy on the person you are trying to help.

  1. Don’t take it personally if your help isn’t needed.

When someone is going through a trauma or a loss, people offer to help.

A lot of people.

That is great but the person you want to help may be inundated with offers to help. They may already have someone mowing their lawn or bringing them meals. They are most likely grateful for your offer but they are too overwhelmed to think of something else that might need tending to.

I had people get mad at me because they offered to help and I didn’t take them up for it.

I became stressed out that I was offending people because I didn’t take them up on their offers.

You don’t want to put someone who is going through a trauma or loss to feel guilty on top of all the other emotions that come with that crisis.

Don’t take it personally. However, remember to…

  1. Do follow up.

All those people offering to help the person in crisis will eventually disappear. They will move on with their lives and lose interest.

If you are patient, you will get a chance to help.

If you truly want to help the person, follow up every couple of weeks or once a month.

Trust me, there is a good chance this person will need help in the months and even years to follow. A widow will post on Facebook that they need and not get any responses and wonder what happened to all the people at the funeral who offered to help. It happens.

  1. Do follow through

If you promised to help, show up.

I know life happens and sometimes legitimate things pop up that may prevent you from following through. And that’s okay.

But if someone is going through a crisis and you gave your word, trying your hardest to be there.

If you have to back out, try to find a replacement.

The person going through the crisis is counting on you.

When Bryon was in the ICU, I had a friend agree to baby-sit my young daughter. Around the time my friend was supposed to arrive, she texts me and asks if I still needed her to baby-sit.

What?

I affirmed that yes, I still needed her to baby-sit like she agreed to.

My friends started giving excuses. She was a manipulative person in general and she was trying to get me to say something along the lines of “That’s okay. I’ll manage.”

I didn’t. I ended the conversation along the lines of “well you got to do what you got to do.”

The same person offered to help me if I needed it in the future.

I can’t make this up.

I never asked her for a favor again.

And luckily another friend came to the rescue and baby-sat my daughter that evening. In case you were wondering.

  1. Do let go of attachments and expectations.

Here you need to be like Elsa and let it go.

Just help. Don’t worry what the person does with the gift cards or excess food or whatever. Don’t get attached to any outcome. This person is just trying to survive and doesn’t need people breathing down their neck.

An example-

When asked for suggestions on how to help new widows, I always suggest a Target gift card. Because if the widow is financially strapped, she can use it to buy laundry detergent, underwear, cat food, whatever she needs. If she’s okay financially, then she gets some retail therapy. But don’t give her a gift card and tell her how to spend it.

This example leads me to…

  1. Do respect their privacy

Just because you help someone does not mean that you they owe you an explanation on life choices.

If you help someone, it does not mean that you get to ask about their financial situation or their relationship status.

If you help someone, it does not mean that you get a say in their living arrangements or parenting choices.

As Salt N Pepa said:

It ain’t none of your business.

If someone needs your opinion, they will ask for it. End of story.

  1. Don’t keep score.

It’s not like Nike. Just don’t do it.

Let the Karma Gods worry about it. They can keep track on their Google-Doc-In-the-Sky spreadsheet.

If someone is going through a crisis and you help them, I would say that there is a 99.9% chance that this experience will change them forever. They will most likely pay it forward the best to their ability. They are not required to report back to you every time they paid it forward.

Of course, there is the 0.01% chance that the person you helped isn’t profoundly changed.  And if that’s the case, you may just need to accept that you helped an asshole and move on.

If you help someone, it doesn’t mean that you can take the relationship for granted because they “owe” you.

If you help someone and feel the need to keep score, just back away from the relationship. This is where things get toxic.  This isn’t a healthy relationship for anyone involved.

  1. Don’t throw it in their face afterwards.

If you throw the fact that you helped someone in their face, you might be an asshole.

Again. It’s not like Nike. Just don’t do it.

Because, Karma.

If you find yourself in this situation, you suggest you re-evaluate your life and how you treat people.

And if you happen to be the person who accepted help and someone who helped you threw it in your face, walk away from that relationship. It’s not a healthy dynamic.

Final thoughts

I hope this information is useful. The purpose was to help people be the most effective when helping.

I really hope this post did not come across as negative. We are all probably guilty of many of the items on this list.  Don’t feel bad.  As long as you are trying to help people, then you’re heart is in the right place and that is the most important thing.

If you have any suggestions on how to help those in crisis, feel free to drop me a comment.

If you have ever been in a position where you needed to accept help, what did you find useful?

Unexpressed thoughts

Sometimes I feel like I live in a different world than everyone else.

This feeling became even more pronounced when Bryon died. You look at the world differently after your soul has been shattered.

Trauma changes you and stays with you.

I was blind to how good my life was. It’s easy to get annoyed when people complain but they are blind. There is no point to get annoyed because their blindness is a good thing. It means they haven’t experienced trauma.

I try to make sense of what is going on in this crazy world.

People research on Google not to find,the truth but to find information to back up their viewpoint. It doesn’t matter how poor the source is.

People dehumanize those who they disagree with. People aren’t automatically unintelligent or mentally ill because they disagree with you.

I’ve had to ban myself from reading comments on news stories. Because people are crazy. I become angry and use this emoji a lot: 🤦‍♀️

And this GIF:

But people have the right to see the world how they want, even if you think that view is wrong.

And you have the right to think their view is wrong, too.

But why do we care?

We have our opinions, we may choose to share them and then we get pissed when people don’t agree…

How many people who share their opinions on Facebook actually go out and make a difference?

However, when someone shares an opinion you don’t have, you can disagree.

But just because someone’s opinion invokes a strong reaction from you doesn’t make that person’s opinion less valid and wrong because It doesn’t reasonate with yours.

And just because someone disagrees with your opinion doesn t make your opinion less valid.

Why am I writing this?

Because my newsfeed is full of opinions and news stories. And I am not quitting Facebook because I like seeing pictures of everyone’s kids and pets. I want to see people’s vacations and new homes. I want to see funny memes. I even want to see pictures of what people had for dinner.

But I have been having a thought about an issue. It’s actually what I think of as a “looking at both sides opinion” but I don’t share because I feel that all it will do is piss everyone off. It will most likely have the opposite effect than what I would intend.

It’s all madness.

The funny thing, I have spent 40 years trying to fit in and reasonate with this “different world” but I think I finally realize is that I don’t have too.

Not every opinion or idea needs to be expressed.

One time Bryon and I had a layover and there were these two newly acquainted strangers who were talking.

And talking.

And talking.

These people wouldn’t shut up.

At that time, I was pregnant with my daughter and Bryon and I were both tired and crabby.

Bryon got exasperated and says (to me) “Oh. Em. Gee. Has this guy ever heard of the concept of an unexpressed thought?”

So I decided it’s okay to not share all my thoughts.

I don’t want to be like annoying airport guy.

I mean, we all have upwards of 60,000 thoughts a day and it would be impossible to share that many.

That’s a challenge I won’t be accepting.

But of the thoughts that have provoked a strong reaction, I don’t need to share.

What’s the point? To provoke an equal and opposite reaction? To seek some sort of validation.

Nope. I decided it’s okay to be okay with the feeling that I live in a different world from everyone else.

Everyone lives in their own world.

There is no way you can reasonated with everyone.

So you keep doing you and I will keep going me.