Solving problems is a common thread in the tapestry of life. When Dad deserted us in 1947, counseling was not suggested. We were merely told, “You’ll get over it after a while.” We just coped with our loss. All losses, from death, loss of home, possessions, health, job, pets, sibling rivalry demand some level of grieving. Today’s remedy is stay busy; find new outlets; get counseling; join a group; maintain routine and take care of yourself. My brother, John, as shared in an earlier blog encourages healing by acknowledging sorrow and allowing yourself to cry. This helps, but not totally. Then, a four-worder flooded into my head, “Take your own advice”. Hmm, what have I been recommending to clients over the years? I invite clients to write out frustrations with mates, jobs, siblings, children and friends which fosters healing communication.
When I was 15, I began to write my feelings, thoughts and desires in my journal concerning school problems, tension with someone or job decision. I discovered when I allotted plenty of time to list the pros and cons and considered options, the problems were quickly solved.
Fast forward 20 years when this simple home therapy came in handy in parenting. Our elementary aged sons were arguing excessively over their shared cars and tracks set-up in the basement. David, older by a few years, was especially perturbed with Roger who refused to cooperate. I couldn’t make peace so, in desperation, I asked each to write down what they were upset about and then we would have a conference. David wrote that that Roger wouldn’t give him time to fix the track and Roger complained that David wouldn’t let him run the cars until the track was fixed. I listened. Their specific objection was acknowledged. That was it. Nothing more said. They never argued over that track again. Writing their objections gave them time to consider. Coaching Kids book shares that story. So, I used writing with parenting years ago and with clients today but discovered last week a new use of old-fashioned home therapy.
As I was doing my normal journaling, I was surprised that my words turned into notes to Jim:
I like to imagine your arms around me, Jim. I miss hearing your voice and asking me what our plans are for the day. I can’t go through the day without thinking about you at every turn.
Jim, I know you wouldn’t like for me to be alone and struggle with lids, hoses, finances and spiders. I am functioning well; sleeping, eating, writing, visiting via phone, cleaning, maintaining my normal 5 am to 10 pm. The pandemic restrictions are awful. Kay brings me groceries and checks on me regularly. The boys call every day.
After writing these notes, I felt very good—unsad. I continued for another few days.
Good morning, Dear. I’m making decisions without much stress. I am trying to do what you would do if the tables were turned—think through it and get on with life, ministering to people and enjoying the family. You wouldn’t want me to be stopped in my tracks.
Honey, I miss observing your sweet walk with the Lord. You never got angry or upset. I always admired the nights you slipped out of bed to pray for a couple hours regarding making an important decision, a church need or someone in the hospital was on your mind.
Jim, I miss our routine bedtime prayer for family, church, friends, missions. Then, holding hands for a long time until one of us turns to go to sleep. I miss feeling you cover me up in the night. You were always concerned about my welfare.
Jim, as I cut up carrots, I missed having you nudge me out of the way at the sink and find your favorite sharpened knife and say, “I’ll do this. How do you want them cut?”
You would be pleased Jim, that the family has taken your place as my protector and confidant. Mark and Wayne are mowing the grass in your honor and memory. They’re using your mower to keep it in good condition. I left a hose running the other day and caused a minor flood on North side. You would have noticed it much sooner. I’m adding another A-to our seminar list of needs that feelers have—assistance.
Good morning, Honey. The church asked me to fill your place on the Pastor/Search Committee. I’m honored to do that. We are still a team.
I weep as I write to Jim, but that doesn’t deter my messages because afterwards I feel comforted. Healing is taking place. I’m not solving problems; recording pros and cons or considering options for decisions. It’s comforting just to keep him current in my life.
Then, I began to wonder, is this weird? Is this normal? Am I just not willing to let him go? But to be sure I was behaving normally, emotionally, spiritually and positively, I decided to run this by my professor, brother. I shared the above notes with him and asked him if I was full of prunes and in some sort of denial.
John said that writing to Jim was not only normal but insightful as well. He said written expressions to a deceased spouse is in many ways pioneer and should expedite my new journey. He urged me to share my note-writing with my blog readers.
Acknowledging sorrow is positive and practical. It’s not negative like feeling sorry for yourself. Talking to Jim every day brings me joy, peace and purpose. And lest anyone wonder, I am very thankful that he was released from bully brain tumors to enter the forever life.
I’m aware of God’s sustaining mercy and care and am happily continuing my trek on an unfamiliar but well-traveled scenic trail. Writing weekly blogs keeps me focused and challenged.
Whatever your problem or sadness is, try expression writing and see if your anxiety is lessened and your progress positive. If you try it, please let me know. We may be on to something, as John said. Many people experience anger at their loved one’s exit, a subject for another blog if comments echo that request.
Now, to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Eph. 3:20 (NIV)
He will restore, support and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. I Pet. 5:10 (NLT)
Now, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. I Pet 5:10 (NIV)
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. Ps. 55:22 (NIV) also repeated in I Peter 5:7
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
A marvelous trio: joy, peace and hope!