Tag Archives: grief

Get It Out

imageLast summer, the findings of a study conducted by the University of Houston were released regarding the well being of female breast cancer survivors, specifically Chinese women. This ethnic group was chosen primarily because of the stigma cancer holds within the Chinese community.

“Unlike the Caucasian population, many Chinese have less knowledge of breast cancer and they feel that the cancer is very threatening, and they associate it with immediate death,” said Qian Lu, assistant professor and director of the Culture and Health Research Center at the University of Houston.

The study, which was published in Health Psychology, a scholarly journal, was based upon writing. Each of the 19 participants in the study (based in the Los Angeles area) were given health assessment questionnaires before the study began, followed by three sets of instructions.
In week one, patients wrote about their deepest thoughts/fears/emotions in regards to their experience with breast cancer.

Week two, they wrote about coping mechanisms they used to relieve stress brought on by the disease, and in week three they were to write about their positive thoughts and feelings. The patients who put in 20 to 30 minutes each day regularly (3-4 days per week) for the three week period saw positive change in relationship to their immune system.

The report stated that the purpose of the writing exercise was “to facilitate emotional disclosure, effective coping and finding benefit, which would work together to bring stressors and personal goals into awareness and regulate thoughts and emotions relevant to the cancer experience.” It also went on to say that the “release offered by writing had a direct impact on the body’s capacity to withstand stress and fight off infection and disease.”

So – what’s this have to do with Parkinson’s disease?

I don’t think Chinese women have an edge when it comes to writing about their illness, disease, sickness, heartache, joy and/or thanks-givings. No – I believe that writing is good for anyone’s mind,  soul,  heart, and  spirit. You can scratch down (or type out) your thoughts and feelings and say whatever you choose in regards to how you’re feeling. It’s a release of pent up frustrations, anger, fear, confused thoughts, sorrow, grief – the list could go on and on. It’s a release when no one else will listen or when no one may understand. It’s called journaling. It’s therapy in its least expensive form (besides the one on one sharing of conversation between two good friends).

Journaling (or as the study referred to – writing) will not cure cancer. It will not cure Parkinson’s. But it will allow for a place to dump the stress and walk away, perhaps leading to a feeling of life being a bit lighter. When you’re body isn’t focused on fear, grief, sorrow and the like, it has a greater capacity to “withstand stress and fight off infection and disease,” as Lu stated above. Journaling offers the opportunity to get out your fears without feeling foolish. To release the grief over feeling you’ve lost something valuable. To be thankful for what you do have.

And that last sentence is important…

If you spend your time journaling everything negative about your life with PD, your life with PD will be anything but positive. There are still good and beautiful things to behold in the midst of this journey. So, if you are thinking about journaling your life with Parkinson’s disease, either as a patient or a care giver – release the fears, the unshed tears, the grief and the sorrow onto paper but make sure you include and end with the positive. Always end with something positive.

It’s there. I promise.

When You Can’t Breathe

  Steven Curtis Chapman says it best…

“I don’t even wanna breathe right now
All I wanna do is close my eyes
But I don’t wanna open them again
Until I’m standing on the other side

I don’t even wanna be right now
I don’t wanna think another thought
And I don’t wanna feel this pain I feel
And right now, pain is all I’ve got.”

It was a hard day.

I waved good-bye to my son, his wife, and my two grandchildren as they drove down the street, on their way to Northern Idaho to a new home, new jobs, a new life. Now instead of twelve minutes away, it was fifteen hours.

My two grandchildren, one five and the other – one year old. My two grandchildren, who I had watched almost since day one. Every day. All day.

I helped them learn to walk. Eat with a spoon. Drink from a cup.

I sat in that rocking chair over there, and rocked them to sleep. Sang to them hymns. Read to them about the pants with nobody inside of them. Held them when they were sick or well or when they just wanted to be held.

I sat at that table over there and played games with ‘Boo’, colored, painted, had tea parties.

And then one day, my son announced a new job opportunity and you can guess the rest and that’s why I stood outside one Sunday morning, waving good-bye to a car filled with precious ones.

And after they left, I went to the rose garden and everywhere I walked I heard Boo. I saw her chasing the blackbirds. And I could hear her excitement upon finally seeing the elusive jack rabbit we’ve been tracking for months – if she had been there.

And the next day, I worked in the garden and watered her garden – a garden filled with volunteer larkspur, bachelor buttons, poppies. She is so proud of her garden. I worked out there most all day. I worked out there until I couldn’t move. I worked out there so I didn’t have to think.

And Tuesday, yesterday, I still couldn’t move. I moved too much on Monday and paid for it on Tuesday. I had lost mobility and.. gained pain in its place. I sat on the couch and worked on my pictures and cried. My digital albums are filled with children’s smiles and I could almost hear the giggles behind those smiles.

And then there was Wednesday. At one point I felt like I had been locked in a blackened room – hopeless, lost, empty. And I wept. For something lost. And it felt as if my heart was literally breaking in two. The crack I could live with a week ago became a bottomless crevice. The strength that held me together a week ago had become jello.

And I wept.

God, how am I going to do this?, I whispered through tears I hadn’t spilled out so hard in so long.

My head told me those two little ones were not mine to hold onto. I was not even their parent. Can a Grammy love her little Grammy-grandchildren so very much?

Yes. Yes – she most definitely can.

As I sat on the bathroom floor, I cried some more and through the tears whispered, God, I lived for those kids.

They were my daily dose of laughter, love, smiles, hugs, joy. God used those two little ones to bless me over and above in so many ways I never deserved. I viewed them as my little disciples and we talked about God everywhere we went. In everything we did.

How I found the energy to do it every day, only God knows. I napped with John and napped when they went home. I fought through the pain within my body and refused to not hold my grandkids or change diapers even when I didn’t think I could stand it another minute.

My body was screaming to let go. My heart was screaming to hold on. My head was saying it was time. Time to listen to the body. The disease that strives to claim more ground with each passing day was doing its job. Time to let go.

It was the grace of God that intervened. But oh how it hurt. After all, I lived for those kids.

And then, I heard it. That still, small voice that you can hear when you’re sobbing uncontrollably because your not busy talking and making incessant, unneedful noise and chatter. The comforting, life-giving voice of God.

God, I lived for those kids, I had whispered through tears.

And before I could go on to the next thought of despair, He whispered back.

Live for me.”

The uncontrollable sobbing became controlled. The tears dried up. A tiny ray of sunshine, a tiny grain of hope took hold deep inside my heart and the crevice began to close and return to a crack. A few more tears fell. Not from grief but because of grace. The grace of God. The trustworthy grace of a merciful God.

I don’t know what living for Him looks like in the days ahead with PD – His plans, His dreams for me – but as I live for Him, I will trust Him completely. I’ve been through too much in my lifetime to do anything less.

Like I said, Steven Curtis Chapman says it best…

I don’t wanna feel this pain I feel
And right now, pain is all I’ve got.
It feels like it’s all I’ve got, but I know it’s not
No, I know You’re all I’ve got
And I will trust You, I’ll trust You
Trust You, God, I will
Even when I don’t understand, even then I will say again
You are my God, and I will trust You.

Trust You. I will trust You. 

Even when I don’t understand the physical, emotional, or mental pain, I will trust Him

Trusting Him always,
Sherri

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