Yesterday two things happened that helped my mental and emotional state enormously. I had my first counselling session and I had a long chat with a dear friend whose mum died when he was only 7.
I’ve always been a bit dismissive of counselling and other talking therapies, but something happened to me yesterday morning. I’m not quite sure what it was. My counsellor is a lovely lady who let me talk about how I’m feeling, the sh*t that we have faced in recent years around health issues and other such stuff. She said some things back – not all that much that I hadn’t already heard although some useful perspective. But looking back I think it was one thing that I realised and expressed for the first time to her that has been particularly important. This thing that I’m going through, this trial that my loved ones and I are facing, makes me feel so small. I feel tiny and powerless. Yes, it’s a lack of control, but it’s more than that. There is absolutely no possible way of controlling this. There is absolutely no way that I can employ any talents or skills to direct the outcome. And that makes me feel small. Shrivelled. Turned in on myself. And for the first time, it’s ok to feel small. To acknowledge that I am a tiny dot. Because we all die. All of us. And no one ever wants to die, but we do and we are gone, and our smallness disappears and that’s it. Being small and powerless is ok because the biggest thing that happens to us after birth – death – makes us all small. No one can stand tall and defy death. We are all humbled by it. We are all made small by it.
And for the first time I feel ok about not being able to control when I die. It will happen. At some point. So the key thing is to enjoy living while I can. To live tall. To stand up and face life and embrace it and appreciate it. I may be powerless in the face of death but in the face of life I can be a giant. I can make each day how I choose. And it’s so much better if each day is one during which I am at peace, rather than being so stressed about being out of control about death.
That’s not to say I am completely ok now. I’m still sad. And weary. And trying to find my strength. But I have started to find some peace. Realising that death is always going to come and is never going to be welcome has helped quite a lot. So let’s get on with the living.
And my chat with my friend. I needed to hear his experiences – that his mum never left him, or his dad, or his brother. That her death has never been ok but has become part of their story. That he has learned to live with it and build his life, not in spite of it but with that loss as a part of who he is. That my husband and kids will find a way to live without me. That the kids will grow up and have functional lives and jobs and their own kids, still missing me but able to cope. So however long I have left, I need to use it to make memories with them that they can carry with them.
From the deep to the trivial – I’ve been sent so many jokes since my last blog entry. I have a fairly crap sense of humour so all of them have made me laugh. Top prize so far goes to my lovely friend Emma who sent this gem:
Q: How do you turn a duck into a soul singer?
A: Put it in the microwave until it’s bill withers!