I can’t believe that is has been a year since Melissa passed away. Today is the day that she official died and to be honest it is still as raw as it was a year ago. I have tried to write this post for weeks and since I can’t seem to write it I am going to leave links to where you can read some of her writing.
Here is a post where people wrote some memories of her and I post it on my blog. Also she was a regular guest poster on my blog and you can see those post here or here. Also here is her obituary if anyone wants to read it or see it.
I was going through my archives looking for a post to post about Melissa and I found this post. I am not sure where it came from or why I had it as a draft and never published it. I actually think she posted it on her blog but I know that we all can learn something for her while we are mourning her passing.
Grief Has Taught Me A Few Things
May 2, 2011 | Author Melissa Shell
Until I began experiencing grief as a result of dad’s death, I never realized anything could feel as emotionally and physically painful as depression. In fact, they have felt so similar that I became confused, and had a difficult time distinguishing the difference between the two. At one point, I even convinced myself that I was heading toward a depressive episode.
I went to my psychiatrist, thinking she was going to raise the dosage of my depression medication, because of how badly I was feeling. Instead, she told me what I was feeling was normal grief, and while it hurt just as badly as depression does, it was not the same thing. She told me to be patient. She told me the worst of what I was feeling would pass in a few weeks. She was right.
She did give me a word of warning, telling me that with my history of depression I would have a greater chance of my grief turning into a depressive episode. Her solution was not to raise my medication dosage, but instead watch me a little more closely than usual.
Now that the pain of dad’s loss is not so intense, I can see the wisdom in what she said. I can also identify some of the differences between grief and depression, as well as acknowledge that I have learned a few things from this experience.
Both grief and depression include symptoms of sadness, tearfulness, disturbances in sleep, decreased socialization, and changes in appetite. In most cases, that is where the similarities end. Usually, after the first two to three weeks of the grieving process the person is – in most cases – able to carry out most of the obligations and activities that come with daily living. However, a person with severe depression will lack the ability to function for many weeks, months, and in some cases years. In addition, early morning awakening is more common in depression.
One of the biggest differences I have noticed between depression and grief is what my mind has focused on. During my severe major depressive episode I spent a lot of time thinking about myself – in a self negating way. Some of my thoughts during that time were that I was “worth nothing”, “a burden”, and “unlovable”. Nothing could penetrate my thoughts of despair, and my inability to have hope. Eventually, the only option I felt was left to me was suicide. In my grieving process, I have been in emotional pain, but there have been no feelings of despair or hopelessness. Nor have I had any negative thoughts about myself or suicidal thoughts.
There is no question that feelings of loss and sadness are a significant part of grief, however, those feelings are distinctly different than feelings of loss and sadness in someone with depression. A person with depression will usually experience a constant and overwhelming feeling of sadness, while someone grieving typically experiences sadness in “waves”. Most of the time, it is in response to some reminder of their loved one.
For me, these painful memories of dad are paired with positive feelings and memories. For example, when I began the process of trying to organize things in the garage I became overwhelmed with grief. Dad’s death was the reason I was having to organize the garage, and get things ready to move. That hurt. I sat down and cried for an hour. When I was able to calm down enough to get back to work one of the first things I found was dad’s coonskin hat. So in the middle of that emotional pain I found something to laugh about. During my depressive episode finding that hat certainly would not have made me laugh, in reality it probably would have caused me to cry even more.
While there have been plenty of times when I have wanted to be alone in my grief, I have noticed that I have not gone to the extremes I did during my depressive episode to isolate myself. I have maintained social contacts, and even reached out to friends and family when I felt overwhelmed by my grief. I have allowed myself to be consoled, something that would have been impossible if what I had been feeling was depression symptoms.
I still miss dad, and I know I always will, but at least I have a professional sport team, my mother, real friends, and online friends to help me through my grieving process.
If you would like to play along with this new meme all you have to do is:
Grab the button
Write a post that includes a song and why you like that song
Come back and link up!
This weeks song is by a group called Karmin. They are doing a cover and lets just say everything I hear this song I am amazed that she can rap like that. I hope you all enjoy it! Also after the video is Melissa’s post for this week!
If I Could Do Things Differently
At one time or another, most – if not all – of us have uttered the words “if I could do things differently…”. I think it is natural for us to look back on parts of our lives and wonder what things would’ve been like if we had made different choices. For a long time, I viewed this activity as nothing more than an entertaining daydream, or something I used to beat myself up with. It was a game with no practical value.
My thinking about the “if I could do things differently…” scenario recently changed due to something I read in a great devotional I own. It is called Inspiration for Girlfriends, written by Ellen Miller. She has a section in the devotional titled Getting a Do-Over. The first time I looked at the title I thought “yeah I’m going to skip this part”, and I did. I didn’t even bother to skim through that section until I had almost finished the devotional and was running out of things to read in it. What I finally began to read it, I was very surprised to see that the author did not start the section off with how healing it is to think about past events and vent away about them, or think about the past and try to figure out whose fault it was that we made a poor decision. Instead she started the section off with how much we needed mentors in our lives.
Basically she presents the idea that regardless of our age, how successful or unsuccessful we are, whether we are single or married, we all need successful men or women who have walked ahead of us. Basically, they have “been there and done that” stories, and are willing to share their insights. The author calls these stories Do-Overs, and explains them like this:
…do overs are experiences to which, had they had a mentor they might have acted or reacted differently – even though they wouldn’t change their lives today.
I found the concept of this amazing! Here was a way for me to take negative parts of my past, and turn them into something that might benefit someone else. What a wonderfully, positive way for me to view some of the not so wonderful things in my past that I was not exactly proud of. The truth is we all make our own mistakes, and I daresay that very seldom do we choose wisely. However, I think the wisdom, insight, and the benefit of another person’s experience will at least give us something to think about before we commit ourselves to a course of action.
There is healing that comes withNOTrewriting our past, but sharing it as a way for someone to make better decisions about their future.
In the very near future, I hope to share a few of my Do-Overs with you. I hope you take the time to share a few with me and Margaret.
Here is Melissa’s post for today. I want to let Melissa know that I am so thankful that she writes for my blog and that I am so glad God put her in my life because she has taught me so much. I look at her like she is a my mom and hope one day her and I can meet in person!
About this time last year, I got really frustrated about never being able to find a purse big enough to carry all the things I have to carry with me – this included my diabetic kit. So I got this wild idea, why not buy a diaper bag? It certainly would be big enough, not to mention it would have plenty of compartments so I could be better organized. I picked out what I thought was great one. It was brown and green, and it did not have any decorations or words on it that indicated it was a diaper bag. I really thought no one would be able to tell that I was carrying a diaper bag instead of a purse. I was proud of my purchase – at first. After I got it home, I started feeling a little bit of regret about buying it. No matter what I initially thought, and no matter what I put in it, the thing still looked like a diaper bag. Not wanting to admit I had made a mistake when I purchased it, I used it. A few short weeks later I replaced the diaper bag with a purse, and quietly stuck the diaper bag someplace where I did not have to see it. I regretted buying it, and I was relieved when I could hide it away.
Whether it stems from something not working out the way we thought it would, or because of our own poor moral choices, regret is something we all have in common. What sets us apart from one another is how we choose to deal with it. Some of us can appropriately manage our regrets, but then there are quite a few of us who make the mistake of wallowing in regret. Getting bogged down by the should’ve’s, would’ve’s, could’ve’s of our past mistakes prevents us from being able to learn from them, and move past them. I know it would be really nice if we could just throw our mistakes away, but we can’t. Our mistakes are part of who we are.
What we can do to prevent us from getting bogged down by feelings of regret is quietly put our mistakes away somewhere, just like I did with that diaper bag. We should not get rid of them, because there may be a time we may need to call on that experience in order to keep us from making the same mistake again. Or to share our own experience with someone else to prevent them from heading down the road we already traveled.
I believe God wants us to live a full and meaningful life – even if you did buy a stupid diaper bag. Put it away.
Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. ~ Samuel Johnson
In all honesty, the LAST thing I want to do is treat someone kindly when they have been rude or disrespectful to me – even when it’s my own family. I find myself thinking “I’ll show them what rude really is.” or”Pfft, they look like they’re in a bad mood today, they cannot even be bothered to smile, well then neither can I.”
There is something about someone treating me disrespectfully that makes me feel as if I am not obligated to be polite. I know this is a petty mindset, and I cannot behave any old way I want. I believe it is my responsibility to be kind in such situations, even though any feelings of fondness for the person are absent. However, I do try to remember that kindness/being polite must not be confused with giving someone carte blanche to treat me like a dormant.
The reality is, I really do not know what is going on in the life of someone I encounter at the store, bank, post office, or any number of other public places. Whatever it is could be contributing to their bad attitude for the day. My kindness – even if it is just a smile – could be the encouragement. In some cases, the politeness I grudgingly extend prevents me from becoming as ill behaved as the rude person I am interacting with.
Families are made up of people too. They can be just as rude, and mean as total strangers. There are even times when I do not like one or more of my family members. Not liking them does not negate my responsibility in being polite to them. Even in this circumstance, I do not have to allow them to run me over with their rudeness. On more than one occasion, I have had to let a family member know – politely – that I love them, but I will not allow them to speak to or treat to me inappropriately.
Why do I feel I should treat people kindly? One reason is I want the impact – no matter how small – I have on a person to be a positive one. The other reason is I think it is the right thing to do: Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord for gave you, say you must forgive others. ~ Colossians 3:12-13
My obligation in every interaction is to be kind, or polite – NOT A DOORMAT.
What do you think? Do you think we should be polite in every situation? Or are there times when it is okay to be rude?