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coping with life's curve balls


I've been hanging out over at Ambulance Driver's place and he had a hysterically funny You Tube video of the Five Stages of Grief. My favorite part is when the giraffe is in Acceptance and he says, "You know something? I'm cool with this." And of course, the last thing the giraffe says is the best.

Without giving it away, I will tell you this short video is masterfully edited so you can feel free to watch it at work (even though I know none of you use the computer for cyber-surfing on The Man's time, wink, wink). I guarantee you will laugh more than once.

So yesterday I found the CD my kids received from Vacation Bible School and they have been listening to the songs. This year's theme was Secret Agents and most of the songs have a Mission-Impossible feel to them. And the message in all of the songs is along the lines of "be strong and courageous because our God is here to help us through anything and everything."

I actually sat back and listened to the music while I watched my middle daughter dance to the songs. When the song ends she takes a bow and I clap. Then the next song starts and we go through the routine again.

There I was listening to the message and I was struck by how simple it all seems. And I suppose in the beginning it is simple. The things that disappoint us as children are monumental at the time (a hole in a favorite stuffed animal, dropping an ice cream cone on the sidewalk, etc.) but really are not that devastating in the scheme of things, right? Ice cream and a stuffed bear can be replaced.

But as we mature and grow the disappointments become greater and greater. Some of those things can still be replaced, perhaps with some regret, like a favorite pair of jeans, and other things cannot. And we have to figure out what our personal coping methods are. As you have probably figured out, I am trying to deal with the agonizingly slow loss of my brother and mother. It is permeating my mind these days.

Sometimes I feel like the giraffe in acceptance and I truly feel "cool with that." I can see the disease as God's Will, even though I do not, and probably cannot, fully understand the "why" of it. Those are the times I really live in the moment and appreciate the time I share with my mom and my brother. I try to imprint those times as the memory I will draw upon later and as I said, at those times I am cool with that.

Other times I feel like the giraffe in depression. The feeling of intense sadness envelopes me like quicksand with its excruciatingly slow descent and no chance of escape. The loss of my mother and brother, regardless of when their deaths will actually occur, seems stifling, imminent, all encompassing, never-ending.

I find it curious that society is so frightened of sadness, depression and death, yet so open about the otherwise intimate details of life. The folks on Jerry Springer will tell you every detail of their private lives, yet the only emotion they express is anger. I think people are afraid to feel vulnerable and sad.

I have noticed that when I write about my mother and brother I receive no comments. It's as if everyone is afraid to acknowledge that sadness and loss happen as a regular part of life. If what I have written about is funny or angry or lively or anything but sad, the comments come more readily.

But, apparently, death isn't received as well as funny and lively are.


2007-07-20 at 7:41 a.m.

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