I call it a cloud.  A storm cloud.  A storm cloud filled with tragic events.  This cloud of tragedy chose our house and the residents inside to reign its terror.  It has hovered for months but this morning, there was a phone call with news that may loosen the grip of this fury.  Just enough wind of information, perhaps more like a breeze, I am able to document a tip or two that I have found helpful in coping with this life altering event.

We all handle tragedy differently.  Realize that.  Period.  Do NOT get distracted by others handling the situation differently than you.   Be confident in yourself knowing you are as intelligent and capable as another.  Remember, this happened to YOU and YOURS.  No one knows your own life better than YOU even though they think they do!

Identify your needs.  As care taker, voice your thoughts to yourself first and then to others, what you need and want.  Maybe, even in writing.  I needed space, time, and a voice.  As an adult, with different life circumstances and being highly reflective in nature, I have noticed how I react to things.  When something is not right, I go deep within.  I need time to digest what is happening and I need a voice expressing to others how I am feeling.  I go from being fairly private to being ultimately private.  So, from the outside, it looks like I am alone and feeling lonely, an interpretation, but from within me, it is how I cope.

Stay true to your needs.  And I am.  Does it confuse others because I am not acting like they think I should?  Yes.  Does it seem like I am ungrateful?  Probably.  Does it give me space to think through all the new implications my life now has?  Does it give me time to take care of the non-medical needs this new tragedy of a loved one has brought on?  Does it give me  voice when I am discussing the matter with the professionals in a way that I feel right, respectful, and comfortable?  Yes.  Stay true to your needs.

Offer a way others can help.  Others do want to help.  I am new to such tragic events and didn’t know how to suggest help.  But, with the space and time to think about things, I now realize how others can help me.  I have found that I really appreciate those little thoughtful notes asking about how I am doing.  That I was in their thoughts.  Just little one-liners asking if I could or wanted to chat.  Giving me a voice.  Any communication saying they hadn’t forgotten about me.  As feeling equally affected, this is the support I need from them.

Seek the help of the Professionals and Resources around you.  This is huge and when I began doing this, I could actually feel the ‘cloud’ shift.  Listen carefully to those in the field, who you invited, and dealing specifically with the patient.  Take their suggestions.  Those who are in the field, who know the law of your locale, and who may guide you in emotional ways.  I now have two case managers, a lawyer, a doctor following my health, and have found a support group for grief counseling.  I cannot wait until the first session of counseling as I will listen to how others are coping.  I will listen intently when others talk on issues that really bothered me in this journey.  What did I miss that might have helped me?  Why am I so sensitive to one thing but not to another?  Things like that.  I also have hired a painter who, through these horrible months, has painted the interior of the entire house giving it a fresh, beautiful welcoming look for the hopeful return of my loved one.  And, I have done some of the painting to get my mind on something else.

Be patient.  This is truly near impossible however, I have found it much more possible when I have my affairs in order such as taking care of the multitude of non-discussed responsibilities that are a consequence of what might be needed.  The more I am on top of understanding the big picture, the more patient I can be towards who really needs my focus, of course, supporting and encouraging the one in need.

Plan a manageable life for yourself.   My sick one is not local.  Imagine that added stress.  So, I have to plan a way to see him while managing what I call community living.  Others may suggest a schedule or even demand what they think is right for you.  Early on, I actually heard those words.  Ha.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to yourself as no one knows you as best as you.

Think of what is on your side.  I do recognize what I have on my side.  Things such as my health and wellness, fortitude, energy, and mostly the strong love I have for the patient.  Oh, and did I mention knitting?

I take my knitting with me when I visit.  Knitting creates happy conversations as well as takes my mind off my troubles.  And, when the patient asks if I brought my knitting and says he likes that because it is like a part of home, you quietly sob without him noticing and realize it is serving the both of you.   I haven’t had to battle with the weather these months in travel and I am physically able to drive.  I take nothing for granted.

Hope is eternal.

35 thoughts on “ Life-Altering Event Tips ”

  1. Hi Holly, I have been thinking of you very often. I agree with all that you say in this post. I don’t know if this will give you other perspectives or ideas, but here is a link to a post I wrote nearly five years ago: https://christinelaennec.co.uk/2012/09/09/being-a-parent-caregiver-40-things-that-help-me/

    Obviously being a spouse and a caregiver is a bit different, and also each and every family and situation is unique.

    I hope you are receiving good support, and are feeling that you are weathering the storm and even that there is indeed light ahead. Xox

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    1. Oh, I’ve just read your ‘top 40’ as well as your circumstances of you being a caregiver. So many questions I have for you and so many similar feelings and thoughts we have with each other. I loved your list and am feeling quite overwhelmed as this new title is still so current for me. Also, hubby has had a change in locale making him a WALKING distance away from me now rather than the 2 hr. one way I had been doing every other day. I am still in shock (I suppose good shock if there is such a thing) and am currently revising yet again my schedule so I can function in life, again. Exciting, overwhelming, but also noticeably guarded hoping the good changes we are seeing are here to stay. Thank you so much for sharing with me.

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  2. Oh Holly, it is so wonderful to read your words again. You are paying it forward in many ways by your natural gifts that God has given you. You are inspiring so many by your immense pain and tragedy you have endured for months. You are making positives out of negatives and not many are able to achieve that. I am so proud of you for encouraging others, for helping so many to stay strong, taking baby steps, to find peace and comfort in others and within.
    You will be traveling down a rocky road for a very long time and I am so sorry that you will be. Please keep writing and share your news. We are praying for both of you and your families this is affecting. Thank you for inspiring me and giving me comfort too.
    Much love, hope and peace to you!!!
    Love Jane

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    1. oh, Jane Thank you for your note. I do fear that road is going to be rocky for some time. I am wondering if I would be comforted knowing which road we will be taking. Currently, there are good days and bad and just when one becomes hopeful, those hopes are dashed with a good dose of reality. Today is a day I have chosen to relax so I best get to it. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend as we honor others. We’ll stay in touch. Love to you and your family.

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  3. How wonderfully you have expressed your distress. I am a Griefshare leader. You are turning mourning into eventual joy. Have faith that this journey will bring comfort. Without love there would not be grief.- a long ago friend. Beverly

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    1. Oh, Beverly . . so great to hear from you. Now I will need to take your words and contemplate. They are thought-provoking. Thank you for reaching out.

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  4. Thank you for sharing the wisdom you are using to cope with the storms that life has brought your way. Your strength and resolve are inspirational and I am hoping the clouds will lift a little higher each day for you and yours. Knitting is such a wonderful gift. I rejoice in it daily. Stay strong.
    Barbara

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  5. So sorry to see you going through such a hard time. It is good that you found ways to get support, many different ways. It takes time to adjust to a painful situation, grief, anger, sorrow, all sorts of emotions must have gone through your heart, mind and gut. Take care, one day at a time. Hope things get better in time.

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    1. Yes! Those stages of emotions were all there, some still, which is exactly why I needed the space. Unfortunately, it got ugly because I didn’t get the space I requested. So, now there is confusion and mending on the horizon. I now have what I need and am able to move forward. And, yes, I am realizing more and more that it truly is one day at a time. Oh, boy . . . you talk as if from experience. Thank you for stopping and sharing your thoughts.

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      1. I found that the mere fact of accepting that it is Ok not to be OK makes a world of difference. Fighting against the pain is like hitting against a wall – it does not make it go away and it gets more and more painful. Once you accept the pain, it seems to slowly vanish away. Confusion will slowly go away too, just welcome everything you feel with open arms, as the response your body is giving you and the tools to help you cope. I am glad to know you are finding solace, with pockets of knitting to loose yourself in something you love. Take care.

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        1. Accepting pain I fear may be very good advice. And it is ok not to be ok. Hmm . . words to mull over as I spend my Sunday painting. Thank you, Agnes for your words of wisdom.

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    1. Thank you, my friends. Thelma, the patient has a nurse right now who is the spitting’ image of you. She is his favorite nurse and has been with him a lot of these days so I think they really feel like they know one another. At times, he calls her by your name and we all just laugh. Alex, please continue sending those little notes like you do! I’m loving them!

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  6. Holly,
    As always, you express yourself beautifully and have the gift of breaking apart for the reader, a very complex situation. Having gone through a season of storm before ( as probably most if not all of your readers have), I relate and yet have a very different way of coping. That is what’s so interesting and helps all of us who care about you and want to help, to understand you better, and in the long run be better equipped to really support you.
    God bless you and yours,
    Joanne

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    1. I have had such feedback on this post that I cannot say enough how glad I am I wrote it. There was just enough light in my life to put my thoughts together and I didn’t want to lose what I have observed, the true purpose for journal writing. Now, on a down day I can look back and read my own get-me-up. Now, my curiosity wants to know how you handle storms of this nature. We shall talk soon and thank you so much for your note.

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  7. I’ve been thinking of you Holly!! Sounds like you have figured how to deal with your life altering event as best you can! Praying for your loved one and that his recovery continues! Thankfully knitting gives you that sense of peace and solitude away from worry!!
    Hang in there!!!

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    1. I’ve been diligently working on coping to the point I can actually write about it, which in itself is very therapeutic. We ought to know in the next few weeks more clearly where this is all going. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts.

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  8. Hi Holly. What wise words and they have really helped me in my current situation which is really hard.
    Thank you so much
    Love Rita

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    1. Oh, Rita . . I will never know what words resounded with you but sharing and talking with others who actually get it is so helpful. Can’t wait for my support group. I am very curious to see if some of their words will help me with those things that seemed so outrageously insensitive to me.

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  9. Hi Holly
    Thinking of you always and glad to hear the cloud is lifting​. It takes one step at a time to get to the end of your journey. Knitting was a tremendous solace to me when I was on the same journey. Celebrate your new dress at the end when all clouds have lifted and the blue sky will go well with the color of your dress.
    Jane (zaniejanie)

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    1. oh, such positivity and I love that. The little brush of a breeze comes with many, many ifs. I have prepared myself emotionally for the ‘either this’ or the better ‘that’. Choice thinking helps me to accept what will be. Thank you so very much for your note, Jana.

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  10. So many lessons learned in such a hard way. I do think of you often, but will be better about letting you know that in the future. :-) Not knowing you in the real world, I don’t know exactly what you are going through, but it sounds like your life has been in upheaval for a while now. And it sounds like it was sudden and devastating. I wish I could do something to ease your burden, but it sounds like you have figured out how you need to go on, and that is a big thing that some people don’t learn. And that fact that you are able to articulate so clearly what you have learned is pretty wonderful.

    I love that knitting is a solace to you AND your loved one. Because it is something that you can do almost without thinking or you can do and totally focus on if you need the distraction. It’s an all-round wonderful activity.

    You hang in there. Storm clouds eventually roll away and we get sunshine.

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    1. There is that, the many lessons, for sure. I have never been so thankful for my knitting love more than now. This outfit can be my sunrise (perfect color for such) and yes, about the storm rolling away which is why I think it is the perfect analogy.

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          1. I can believe it. But I hope you got it fro Ravelry, so can just print another copy for yourself. How often are you able to go to the hospital? You wrote that it is not close by…

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          2. I did indeed get the one section of directions I needed from a friend on Ravelry who I happened to notice knitted something from the same magazine. I have nearly finished the garment, sewed the zipper in today and quickly ripped it out. Not sure what was wrong but very sure there was something wrong. 3x/week to hospital and I stay pretty much for the day. We are hoping that the next leg of this ‘trip’, his rehab will relocate him closer. Applications are in all around where we live, but need to make sure where the best placement is to meet his medical needs.

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          3. I hope that you have good social workers at the hospitals like we do here – they make sure people get placed in the best places, as close to home as possible.

            I feel your pain – about 20 years ago my step dad was in the hospital for four months (all winter!) – Mom went 6 days a week, a 1.5 hour drive each way. It was grueling. She did 7 days for a long spell, but finally gave herself Mondays off. Days off are OK. I am glad he is doing well and rehab is on the agenda.

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          4. I am rather impressed with the efforts of the social workers I/we have encountered. Hubby’s rehab and new location is LOCAL and I can almost see his room from our backyard; a level of stress has been lifted. I am learning his therapies are mostly in the morning/early afternoons so I am just now rebuilding my schedule (again, ugh) to stay out of his way while seeing him every day. Exciting but also, guarded hoping his improving continues.

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