Category Archives: Kathy Briant

Gods, Surgery, What to say

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

How many Gods from how many cultures are acceptable? I think Celtic, Norse with a sprinkling of Greek? That’s what I am going for.

LIFE:

Had sinus surgery so lots of leaking blood from the nose and throat, wonderful. It is amazing how much you use your nose and sinuses and how every little part can hurt for a while. I guess with over 32 sinuses, extract two and the others all complain. Even my teeth ached for a while.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com
sorry-for-your-loss

The idea behind the statement…

34. Educate people on what to say. “I’m sorry for your loss.” or “I’m sorry.” are fine. All you have to say in return is “Thank you.” Or just nod. That’s all you have to do.

Then just move on. Nothing to see here, folks. But I’ll notice if you ignore me. People do not know what to say, so they either gush all over you or ignore you. Neither is appropriate. Do the polite thing and maybe if someone knows you well, they can ask from time to time, “How are you doing?

Most people want to be treated normally and yet if given the opportunity; they would like to talk about it a little with people they trust. If you are a friend or close associate of someone with a loss, be prepared to get upset at what a grieving person may want to share. We are all so ignorant about grief and loss. It is very, very sad. However, it is a learning opportunity, unfortunately, for all of us.

 

Lots of characters; New stuff,bad finger; Get grief support

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

After a while all the characters blur and sometimes I have to look up the name. Does this mean I am quite a distance in my book? I hope so.

LIFE:

Got a new front door, a new patio door, a new furnace. Had a garage sale, hurt my little finger moving concrete sidewalk blocks so the nail is all black and got sinus surgery. Busy, busy, that’s for sure.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

find-people-to-support-you

  1. Develop and use a Grief Support Group. You are part of a club you never wanted to join, but the members can help each other.

It took me a year to go to a grief support group. It was a very rough year. I had a cousin to talk to and a few others, but I was spiraling out of control. No one really understood what I was going through since most had not lost a child. There is nothing to compare to a group of people going through the same thing. We understood each other and it was a relief to know I could talk about my loss and not be so alone.

Sometimes you can find a few supportive people or sometimes you need a group. Do what you can to find someone somewhere who can support you. It is very important. I went to Canadian Mental Health for support when Shannon was sick, which was invaluable to understand her depression and how to hold my own so I didn’t go down with her. I needed to define boundaries, because her issues tended to overshadow my life completely. I took courses to understand her depression and courses to understand suicide. I knew she would likely kill herself because she just didn’t want to be here, so I waited a year after her first attempt and tried everything I could think of to help her. It didn’t work and she swallowed everything she could find and was gone.

Afterwards, I went from the support group for families dealing with mental illness to those who had lost a loved one from suicide. That was good, but not quite right for me. The best one I found, however, was through Rockyview Hospital and was for parents who had lost a child. That was wonderfully helpful for me, listening to what other parents were going through and sharing my loss. We helped each other immensely, I believe.

I did try a counsellor at first, but one who was not trained in grief specifically. There are lots of counselling people out there, who are wonderful, but grief is very specific and you need someone trained in that, not just a regular counsellor. If you decide to go the counselling route, make sure you find someone trained in grief.

 

Odin, Funerals, Grief and people’s comments

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

Did you know Odin has a raven on each shoulder and Thor is just a pretty boy bully?

LIFE:

Went to a funeral this week for a friend who lost a son. Made me miss my girl a lot.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…
You want them here, not “in a better place”
shannon-ashes
Shannon holding Josh who is now 8 yrs old

32. You won’t be able to hear all of this (in the book) at first and some of it will make you mad. If that happens, put the book aside. Later it may be helpful. Read it over again. You’ll be surprised at what you missed.

People mean the best, but sometimes what they say is not what you want to hear.  You’re just hurting too much. “They’re in a better place, think of the good times.” That makes you just want to smack someone. As far as you are concerned, you want them here, not in a better place and the times right now are anything but good. All that will come eventually you hope, but initially, people can say the stupidest things to you.

Also you may have a bit of a rage problem. You have been royally ripped off. Life is not fair. Where is your person? Who took them away? Raw emotion spews forth almost uncontrolled and it can be scary both for you and for others. Be patient with yourself and try not to take it out on well-intentioned idiots. I saved a lot of that for annoying phone calls and bad service. They deserved it.

Writing compulsion, Clever Catholics, Share Grief

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

I think I write for what needs to come out, like a compulsion, so if it never sells, so be it.

LIFE:

I went to a funeral this week. The Catholic Deacon had people stand for a prayer, sit, stand for a song, sit and also folks repeated things from time to time when he spoke. With my bad leg, I found it irritating. Why were they doing that I wondered? Then it occurred to me. The Catholics are clever. Other churches leave the congregation alone and they nap. In the Catholic Church people stand and sit several times and speak so that  they can’t fall asleep. Seem unfair somehow. Isn’t Sunday Service where some people get a much needed rest? Not in a Catholic service, they’re too smart for us.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

  1. Check in regularly with a trusted sympathetic friend, minister, professional or someone else going through grief. Tell them how you are feeling and listen to what they have to say. If it is a counselling person, you need a grief counsellor, not a regular counsellor. Grief is a specialty and not every professional knows about it.

Grief is a very big deal and you need to talk to someone. I talked to my cousin the first year who was a trained grief counsellor and that was very helpful. Then after a year, when I could speak her name without instant tears, I went to a few grief support groups. The first one was for people who lost a loved one, but until I found the group that dealt with parents who had lost a child, I didn’t feel quite right.

Initially, I had talked to a counsellor, who lost a husband, but was not trained in grief and the only good advice I received was to try not to get stuck in any one of the stages of grief for too long. Later I came across someone who was really stuck in anger and had been for over a year and I realized what getting stuck somewhere can do to a person. The woman who had lost a son was still right at the beginning, angry at those who took her son’s life and angry at those who did nothing. She was just as angry at the end of a year as she had been at the beginning. She was eating herself alive and you could just see the destructive power the anger had over her. It was not good.

The best people were my own peer group. When I talked to others who had lost children themselves, I felt a kinship and a comfort. I would talk about my situation and they would talk about theirs. We could sympathize and understand each other. That was very healing for me. I kept in contact for a few years and that was a real blessing to me. We really understood each other. It helped a lot.

Beautiful white bush roses, Hyde Park, LondonBeautiful white bush roses, Hyde Park, London

Trees, Lemonade vs Coke, Grief takes time

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

Right now I am working on kinds of trees. The land I imagine is full of them, so there must be lots of variety and some of them are sentient…

LIFE:

My mother loves those huge hot dogs from Costco ($1.50 includes a drink –a best deal in town). So I got her one and a lemonade. It comes in a Pepsi paper cup. So she says, Coke? I said lemonade. She doesn’t always hear well.

I watched her prepare her hot dog. It is quite the process. First she slices the long hot dog lengthwise. Then she puts it in the bun and cuts it in half. Then she dresses it, onion, mustard, relish and finally ketchup on the side. Then she eats that half, usually with a knife and fork (I know, hilarious). Once that is done she starts on the other half. It takes her over ½ hour to eat the thing, but she enjoys it.

I said, How do you like the lemonade? It was half done. Lemonade? I thought it was Coke? Coke? I said and started to laugh. How do you mistake lemonade for Coke? Made me and her laugh and laugh. Who needs TV when you have mom.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

Grief time

30. Grief takes its own time. Don’t have expectations of yourself. You can’t predict how you will be or for how long. Others should not expect this of you either.

I always thought, ok, maybe six months, maybe a year. Not. I am in year six now and yesterday I had a bad moment, thinking of Shannon and all that was lost. Very sad. I am not as torn up about it, nor for as long, but I don’t think those feelings will ever go away. Time mutes them perhaps, but loss is a permanent sorrow and grief lasts a lifetime.

People have expectations based on I don’t know what. TV? We are so poorly prepared for death in this culture. It’s ridiculous. It is such an individual experience that there are no real hard and fast guidelines. First numbness or denial, then rage and other out of control emotions, sickness, depression, resignation and I don’t think there is ever acceptance. That is sort of the range of things, but the order, length of time in each, and which will last for a long time – well, that’s up to your reaction and you can’t plan a reaction. So be kind and try not to get stuck too long in any one stage. Don’t have expectations of yourself and let others know that you are not here to live up to their expectations either. It will take its own time.

 

Too much stuff; Doggie Daycare; Grief & Marriages

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

Figuring out the final conflict when all this stuff comes to me about another character. Could it be another book?

LIFE:

My little dog needs a daycare for her once  a week socialization with other pooches and to meet new people. I need somewhere closer than the one I use now, though the trainer is great. This one has rest time where staff sit on the floor with dogs who are resting on blankets – soft music, aromatherapy. Do they have a place like this for people? Sign me up.

Rosie & Gus, playing as pups. A dog’s gotta play.

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

29. Your spouse may be grieving in their own say, quite differently from you. Allow them the benefit of the doubt.

Many marriages break up, especially after the death of a child. Two people behaving in irrational ways because of grief can tear each other apart. You need to let each other be and be gentle. Do not have expectations of them that may be unrealistic for them.

Men tend to spend more time numb. To wives it can appear uncaring. The wife is a puddle of emotion, crying, etc. and the husband is standing there stoic. The tears may even frighten him and he walks away. The numbness looks like no reaction at all, as though he doesn’t care. Or the roles may switch. One woman told me it took her five years to react to the loss of her son and then it hit as though the loss happened yesterday. The husband had almost completed his process while the wife was at the very beginning. Imagine living in the same house without a lot of understanding of what the other is going through. Comfort, talk and then leave the person alone without you criticizing or condemning or disapproving. It’s not your process maybe, but it is theirs.

People can be so different in their approach to grief. They are often surprised themselves at their behaviors, but that’s grief. So different. Grieve in your own way and please allow the person to grieve in theirs – there is no right and wrong and no one way to do it.

 

Book Denied, B-Day for Dogs, What’s Normal?

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

The pieces of a book for me are very scattered – then eventually you begin to see the pattern…and sometimes it’s a crazy quilt.

Just received a rejection from the publisher that was interested in my book. Awww…

LIFE:

Silliest thing I have ever seen – a birthday card to my dog from the vet –

http://www.sloppykisscards.com/partners/vetinsite/11355/pwq6bt5gx4

That vet clinic is nuts. (Do you suppose now that she has a card, she will expect cake?)

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

28. The most bizarre behavior can be pretty normal when someone is grieving. Throw out the word “normal” because you won’t be seeing it for a while.

2_Shannon Cubed normal_eq

When my daughter died,  I could not say her name without crying for a  whole year. Very inappropriate in some settings. I couldn’t deal with it for a year and at the end of the year, I found a grief support group, which helped a lot. I really didn’t have much of a will to live either.

A woman I know slept in her child’s bed and kept his room closed so his smell would stay. After about a year when the smell of him left, she sold the house.

Another couple went to bed for three months and their son had to make sure they ate something and eventually was able to get them out of bed, until the second year, when they went to bed again. The mom said, the first year was just coping with the loss, the second year, you know it is permanent for always and for her the real grief began.

I was waiting for something and after a few weeks, realized I was waiting for Shannon to phone me. She never went more than a week or two without phoning. My mind knew she was gone, but emotionally, I couldn’t imagine her not phoning again. I couldn’t comprehend it.

Swords to rubber, Rollin’, Rollin’, No routines

 

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

What if all the swords turned to rubber and were useless and attacking wolves started to chase their tails in confusion? Am I on to something or is that just dumb? Thinking, thinking…

LIFE:

I have been rolling around in this #@ chair for going on three weeks now. I am exhausted, annoyed and muscles I have not used to roll around in are very sore. Inactivity is not my name. I know I have to give the foot a rest and not use it, but that means I am pretty much not doing anything and I find that exasperating. Five days and it is over. Will I survive?

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

27. Try no routine.

When you feel like you can’t make another commitment without screaming, maybe it is time to let everything go for a while. If your life feels like a straitjacket, let yourself go free. You really don’t have to do what you have planned. Let it go. Do nothing. Do something unexpected.

One woman I know left everything for a few months and just travelled. When she came back she felt much better. If it hadn’t worked, she had an escape plan for being able to return, so it was pretty safe.

Let your routine go and just be. We are ruled by the clock and time too much anyway.

64 Wake Up

Peaceful war, Folks who took picture of my foot, Routine

 

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

How can you have a battle that is exciting but not bloody? Humor? Perhaps, but with intensity to create tension. Hmm, requires a lot of thought. Still thinking…

LIFE:

I got nothin’, so here’s silly folks.

when-radiologists-take-a-selfie

GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

26. Try a routine.

When your world is in turmoil and you can’t figure out what is happening or where you are, sometimes developing a routine can help settle you down by establishing something familiar and normal. I found a routine comforting, so initially I would do the same thing, the same way, at the same time. Sleep at a certain time, wake at a certain time and have supper at a certain time. I found this helped stop the world from spinning. It was a way for me to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. I knew what I was going to do next. It was predictable.

If you are a fly by the seat of your pants type person to start with then the added disruption of a death can put you completely out of kilter. When all is disorder, try order. It doesn’t mean you have to be tied down like that for a long time, just long enough to help you reestablish your equilibrium. Chaos can be very frightening and that is not what you need when you are trying to find your way in a sea of grief.

Many people find planning and execution of that plan in day to day items helps them manage on sort of rote memory so that they can keep going. It’s not a solution; it is a way to cope for a while, to give yourself a break.

Don’t worry if one day you can’t do it anymore. You can try something else, like no routine and no expectations.

 

Total bad guys, bad foot, get rid of stuff

BOOK: see www.KathyBriantBooks.com for some more writing samples

How many bad guys can you have? I think about four bad ones, two primary plus a lot of little nasty helpers. Next, how to fit them all in the book.

LIFE: Bad foot

I have a bad tendon on the top of my foot and need to be in a cast boot for a few weeks. I am not supposed to walk on it either. Oh joy. I tried a walker, no. I tried crutches; awful, how do people hop around? I can’t do it. Then I discovered my wonderful computer chair with five wheels, so I have been wheeling around the house for days now and it seems to work. The kitchen is lino, so going across the divide is a problem and I have to lift the chair over, which means standing and moving a little, but it can be done.

It is exhausting and that damned little dog is purposely digging in the yard so she comes in with black feet. Poor me. I am having quite the pity party. But that wonderful chair is a lifesaver.

Bad foot Bad foot

 GRIEF: 106 Ways to Deal with Grief, www.KathyBriantBooks.com

The idea behind the statement…

25. Get rid of their things when you are ready.

My cousin was a bit of a hoarder, so when his wife died, he kept the clothes, jewelry, knickknacks and all sorts of stuff. He even kept the funeral picture in his bedroom, huge, oversized and on the dresser with her ashes, and the ashes of their last dog. His house had a suffocating, allergic sort of feel, nothing moved, everything was jammed in.

I tried talking to him, saying some women at a second-hand store would likely love her clothes since she wasn’t a small woman, and larger clothes are in demand. I told him that I thought those friends they had would love some little thing, some knickknack of hers to remember her by. Nothing.

I don’t think his wife cared, do you? What did it matter to her if her things were thrown out or given away? But he had to keep everything. I think it was a bit of an issue for him, the inability to let anything go. His house was cluttered and I don’t see how he could enjoy it much. He used to say, if you move anything, just remember to put it back where you got it so you won’t disturb the dust. Then he had to move and sell the house. His poor sons and their wives, that place was chock-a-block.

I can understand keeping things for a while. With Shannon, I had to clear out her apartment quickly so a lot of her stuff ended up in my house and gradually, little by little I went through the boxes. It feels good to give things to people and clear up all that stuff. I am almost done. I gave away her camera to someone who loves photography just recently. One box remains in my bedroom of things I want to put in albums and sort through. She died in 2009, so giddy up I often say to myself and I will. Don’t let the weight of stuff, stuff, stuff complicate your life. After the initial reluctance to let things go, because it feels like you are letting them go, take care of business. Do it when you are ready, but please do it. You’ll be happier for it.