September 8th – Grief

The ‘Piece of My Mind’ that I am sharing today is rather a deep one. ‘Grief’ – we all experience it and we all process it in our own way. This post is about my way. (Sorry, this post will be a lengthy one.)

I have experienced a few devastating losses over the years, the first being the loss of my brother-in-law. Paul died suddenly in a horrific accident. His death was a terrible loss for everyone who knew him and definitely for everyone in our family. He had been married to my sister Jeanne as long as I could remember so he was more of a big brother than an in-law. I was shocked and beyond saddened.

Years later – I was driving across the city with my daughter on a Sunday afternoon. Suddenly, I ‘sensed’ Paul lean forward from the back seat and sharply warn me to “protect her”. I glanced over at Jen, who was about nine at the time. She was sprawled across her seat with the seatbelt pulled up to her neck. I barked at her to sit up. She responded immediately by jolting straight up. I looked back at the road just in time to see the black van in front of us slam to a sudden stop. I responded, but not fast enough. I slammed my little sedan into the back of the van. The police came and, as the one behind is always at fault in such situations, I expected to be charged. The police officer spoke to the driver of the van and to me and gave me a minimal ticket. (I don’t remember why the driver of the van had slammed on his brakes). Everyone involved was unharmed and our insurance company covered all of the repairs. The thing with Paul was wierd but I just thought that the mind does strange things. I let it go at that.

The next major loss in my life, was the death of my father. I was devastated. We were so close. He had been suffering from cancer for a few years. My rocky marriage had turned violent and dangerous at the same time. My heart, my soul and my life were just shattered. I stumbled through the next few months until I was forced to pull myself together and get myself and my three teenagers out of the dysfunctional situation with my ex. The next few years brought the best, the worst and the weirdest experiences of my life. Through it all, I often felt my father’s presence. We all did things that we simply could not have done, if he had not been a part of it – supporting us, encouraging us, laughing at our mishaps. My Dad was gone but he had left a part of himself with each and every one of us.

Finally, Mom passed away a few years ago. Losing a parent is always difficult but Mom was ninety-five, the quality of her life had deteriorated in her final years, and she was finally ‘home’ with Dad. We all accepted our loss and we were all prepared to move on with our lives. After the funeral, we all headed back to our own homes and families. A few days later I started to hear hymns in my mind. Like when you get a little tune stuck in your head. But they were not hymns from Mom’s funeral. They were not hymns that I was familiar with. They were hymns that I knew were from my mother’s youth. I knew she had left a piece of her soul in my heart. By that point, I just knew.

Back to my Dad. Losing my Dad had a devastating impact on me at the time of his death and my grief had been overwhelming. With everything else that was terrible about that time, the timing of his death was the hardest. Dad passed away on December 17th – days before Christmas. Everything about that time was made worse by the Christmas decorations, the carols, the holiday reminders that would come back hard and fast – every year, for decades! Every December hit me hard. Finally one year, I woke up on a December morning to a holiday carol. I could feel the familiar pain crushing my heart. And I ‘heard’ my Dad. I heard him tell me to let it go, that every year he felt my pain, and that it was haunting him.

I had the biggest epiphany of my life when I realized that if I could sense his presence in my life, that he could feel mine. I vowed there and then to ‘let it go’. Not just for Dad specifically, but for all that I lost and all that I would lose.

Grief is natural, but going forward I will never allow grief to consume me again. What’s more, I know that no matter what happens in my life, I will do anything I can to keep my heart and my soul light and filled with peace and love, contentment and happiness. It is not just about me or for me. It is about the people that I love. The ones here with me and the ones who go ahead of me. It is for all that I carry in my heart.

So that is my take on life and love, loss and grief. As always, feel free to comment in the comment section below. All comments are welcome and will be respected.

Have a great day! Take care and see you tomorrow. 💞

Religion

I grew up in a French Catholic home.  Religion was a big part of our heritage and a big part of our daily life.   I left the church many years ago because I could no longer be a part of it.  At first I put my religion in the background, as my husband at the time had become  negative and disrespectful towards it.  I felt he was doing our children more harm than I was doing them good, by having religion in our lives.  Then, when I left my husband, I left the church completely because the powers that be frowned on divorce and I refused to be frowned upon for getting myself and my children out of a terrible and dangerous situation. I did the right thing, and to this day, I know what I did was the right thing.

I am hardly the only person who had  legitimate reasons for leaving the church.   There has been every type of abuse by clergy in the church and many who used their authority to support it and conceal it.    There is no denying this and there is no excusing it.   Victims need to be compensated and supported and abusers and their supporters need to be held accountable. 

It would seem that organized religion, especially the Catholic Church is a floundering institution which, at some point, will permanently drift into obscurity.  A lot of people would like to see this happen.  I am not one of them. Although I do wonder if it is beyond saving, I do feel that it is an institution that has always been worth saving and it grieves me that it probably will not happen.

Growing up, the Catholic Church was an important institution. I didn’t believe that it was ever infallible but I felt it was important in my life.

– We were fortunate to have dedicated priests and nuns serving our parish. I remember many of them today. They were a valued and respected part of our community and our lives.

– We were fortunate that we were taught basic morals and values – that we were taught rules that have helped us live good lives, rules that we could pass on to our children so they can live good lives.

– We were fortunate to have a strong sense of community. We celebrated births and we mourned deaths, together. We made time to gather every Sunday and many times in between. Our priest opened the church hall up to all of the teenagers in our small town (and surrounding areas). During the week we shot pool, played shuffleboard or table tennis, and practiced singing for our glee club. On weekends, we had dances which featured local aspiring bands. Father L’Heureux was our sole chaperone. I can only remember one incident. One young guy thought he would sneak in a mickey of alcohol. Father L’Heureux stepped in to escort him out and took a punch to the face. There was no blood but the good priest was not happy about having his cigar crushed. 😂

– We were fortunate to have many women (nuns) who devoted their lives to taking care of the sick and the elderly in homes and hospitals. These facilities were anticeptic, brilliantly, CLEAN. The food was nourishing and healing. The nursing was strict but compassionate . I spent a month in a public hospital a few years ago. I could not believe how we now treat our sick and suffering. The place was disgustingly dirty. The food was just plain disgusting. It was in no way edible, much less nourishing. Other than my cardiac specialist, who was amazing in every way, care and compassion was pretty much non-existent.

– We were fortunate to have a place to gather with others to experience a living faith. It was a moving and uplifting experience.

There were, and are, many positive contributions that religion, and specifically the Catholic Church made to society. There were a lot of truly dedicated and devoted clergy in the church who spent their lives serving others. I am so sorry that their lives and good deeds have been lost in the noise of the corruption that has rocked the church over the past few years. I am sorry for all that we have lost, especially since we have nothing of comparable value with which to replace it with.