Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


2 Comments

Solving Problems in Bed

Did I get your attention with that title? I can’t wait to see what kind of followers I get this week- lol.

Those of you who have read Bitter and Sweet may remember the story about Tim and I purchasing an adjustable king-size bed. When he was sick, he couldn’t lay the same way so he slept for several weeks on the recliner in the living room. After a bunch of research, we purchased a new bed. We opted for a split bed so that each of us could move the bed up or down and not bother the other. We thought we were pretty smart.

We were so excited the first night to be able to sleep in the same room again. However, we learned almost immediately that the split bed was a bad idea. What it did is make for a very uncomfortable crack down the middle of the bed. You either had to sleep a mile away from each other, or both squeeze into a twin-size bed.

I did some research on line and of course there was actually a product for such problems. I spent about $80 for a fleece piece that you put over the center of the crack and then it straps around the mattresses. That created another problem. I had to find sheets on line that you could buy separately. We had extra long twin fitted sheets for the mattresses, then had a king top sheet. With the fleece down the middle, you couldn’t have separate fitted sheets so I had to buy king fitted sheets. What a pain in the butt.

And it didn’t work. The fleece wasn’t very wide and all that happened was it would get pushed down the crack in the middle. Then when Frankie started coming into bed, he purposely pushed the mattresses apart and made a cave for himself to sleep in. Problems.

After Tim died, I tried a couple of times to put the bed on Craig’s list. Never even got offers. Can’t trade them in cuz the stores won’t take em back. While it’s adjustable, it’s not a hospital bed as there are no rails. Can’t really donate them to Hospice or anything. So I just keep living with it.

Yesterday, I decided it was time to do something about it. Why yesterday did it become urgent? I have no idea but I just get that way sometimes. A friend told me about those foam mattresses you can put on top. I thought that was a brilliant idea. Off to Kohl’s I went. Brigitte met me there as she has the charge card and all the coupons. We found what we were looking for. For a cool $580, I could solve my bed problems.

I laughed out loud. Ain’t no way in hell I’m paying that. Could get a new bed for Peter’s sake!

Of course, you have probably gathered by now that Brigitte is the world’s best problem solver and need meeter around. She called her husband and he said he would come look at the bed. He could probably build something to keep the mattresses together. Then I would just have to special order a mattress pad cover and try to solve it that way. Sigh.

Then it hit me. Why don’t I just trade beds with Frankie?

When he got home from school I asked him and he could care less. He’s never in his room anyway. Both he and Colin sleep in the guest room. Go figure.

So Colin helped me drag that bed upstairs with all the mechanics attached. It took about an hour and I was dripping in sweat. And of course that started the next seven loads of laundry for all the bedding. And I wouldn’t want anyone to know what my floor looked like once the bed got moved. Yikes! So there was more cleaning…

My room looks so much bigger now. Frankie’s looks so much smaller. But I don’t have a crack down the middle of my bed. In the process of all this, somehow it became some kind of symbolic moment. Frankie hardly ever sleeps with me now. And it felt like Moving Forward. Putting the past to bed, so to speak.

Of course, I’ve almost fallen twice already. Once when I went to get up, and once when I sat down to put on my socks. It’s much lower and it’s obviously going to take me a long time to adjust my equilibrium.

Anyone know how to solve balance problems?


4 Comments

Nickels

I had a spiritual direction session with Ellen yesterday. As usual, she impressed and amazed me. She always says things like “But you do all the work, Darcy” and I remind her that she is the one that challenges me, says things in certain ways that get me to think, and puts things into perspective. I almost always walk away from her office with more clarity and peace than when I walked in. She has a sign on her door that says “Hokey Pokey Clinic, where you can turn yourself around.” I love it!

Yesterday I walked away with a new therapeutic intervention that I can’t wait to try with a client when the appropriate time to use it arises. It was so simple and yet so brilliant. And of all things, it involved a nickel.

I was struggling with a decision I had to make. With all my conscious mind, the choices truly seemed equally plausible. So my mind wasn’t making it clear. When people would say, “What does your heart tell you?” I realized that my heart was failing me as well. I am usually pretty in tune with my instincts, but this time I was not getting any direction with that either. For all intents and purposes, I just couldn’t figure it out.

We did the usual therapeutic things. We talked about how the pressure to decide things was purely internal for me. There were no outside forces that were pressing me to figure things out. It was just my usual over-analyzing, intensely feeling self that was keeping me awake at night and feeling anxious through the day. We discussed my self-concept and all that stuff. It appeared during the first half of the session, that I needed to be comfortable with not making a decision. I sat with that for a while and “tried on” being okay with it. I was surprised by my ability to do it.

Later on though, things shifted again. As we continued to process things, Ellen said she remembered a powerful intervention she saw at a lecture she attended. She left the room and came back with a nickel.

She said when things are truly equal, you really can just toss a coin. Either decision would be fine and no matter where the coin lands, it will be okay. So she said “Heads will mean this, tails will mean this,” and she tossed it in the air. Before she revealed the coin, she looked at me and said “Tell me what you are thinking in this exact moment.” And I blurted out without hesitating what I thought my decision should be.

It was really amazing. It was an emotional shift. When that coin was up in the air, I couldn’t believe the flood of thoughts that went through my mind in those seconds. If it was heads, how would I feel? If it was tails, how would I respond? And suddenly, after hours of pondering, it was clear what I should do. And by the way, the actual coin toss showed the same decision I blurted out. I know it’s just chance, but it felt like confirmation anyway.

Brilliant. I love spiritual direction and therapy and figuring out the human mind and heart. It’s fascinating!


3 Comments

Girlfriends…A.K.A. Ya-Yas

October 14 was the three-year marker of Tim passing. Three years! My sister called me and said Dad was sure it was only two years. The pharmacist said he thought only a year and a half. My doctor was shocked and thought no more than two for sure. So we all agree on that point- it’s hard to believe it has been that long.

My kids did not want to anything special to remember the day. Quite frankly, the boys are more than happy to be left alone most of the time. So I decided to get away for the night. There is a lovely bed and breakfast about a half hour away from here. It is a church that is being remodeled. There is a separate building with a large kitchen, a large living room area, and 5 quaint bedrooms. If you can get enough people together, it’s very reasonably priced. We ended up with nine women and had the whole building to ourselves.

I brought games and movies but there was no need. We just chatted the whole time. From 2:00 PM on Sunday, til we left at noon on Monday. We talked about husbands, boyfriends, fathers, parenting, etc., etc.. It was a great way to get away and not be alone when “The Day” came. One woman is a widow that I met through the book. She is my age and has SIX kids. Can you imagine? She is so so so my hero.

I know Brigette very well and on Friday I was doing yard work and a thought hit me. I called her right away and told that if I knew her (which I do), I was sure she planning something with my friends to remember Tim. She is the one that spear-headed the cherry tree last October. I told her I didn’t want to be “The Widow” this weekend. I just wanted to be one of the girls. She respected my wishes and there were no speeches or presentations.

When we got home on Monday though, I had a beautiful surprise. She had registered a star in Tim’s name. She said in my talks I often talk about how Tim is still providing for us today by his story selling books. So she had it dated on March 16, 2013 when the book officially was launched. We did this in my niece’s honor back in 1990. It is the coolest thing. It comes with the coordinates so now I’ve gotten this great idea that we should try to actually see it. Brigette is researching planetariums to try and see how we could do that. I don’t think we can pull it off by Tim’s birthday but I will keep you posted.

Thanks Brigette. As always, you’ve outdone yourself. And thanks to all my ya-yas. I’m a pretty lucky girl!


2 Comments

Inspiration

Last night, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 300+ breast cancer survivors. I was shaking in my boots because the largest group I have ever done is 150. Most of the time there is only a handful of people. This was crazy!

Of course, like so many other things, I ended up being the one inspired. I had a vendor table with my book and people would stop to see what it was about. Normally, this is when people tell me their own stories- their illness, someone they love, etc.. In this setting, the chances were high that anyone you talked to probably had cancer at some point in their lives. That was a given. I met so many women with such amazing, joyful attitudes.

One woman in particular sticks out in my mind. She was probably in her seventies. She rattled off what kind of cancer she had, which I don’t even remember because it wasn’t what had impacted me. She told me the story of her doctor calling her to tell her she had cancer. She was kind of using a tone that was dismissive, like “Yeah, yeah, ok” kind of a thing. So her doc says to her “Do you understand what I am telling you? Do you understand that you have cancer?” She said she responded with “Yes, I heard you. I’m not the type to sit in the corner and cry. Now are you done? Because I’m about to go play golf.” She was one tough bird. And a huge smile on her face. SHE should have been the one to do the speaking!

After dinner, I looked at the program and noticed the speaker after me had the same first name as the woman sitting next to me. I asked her if she was the other speaker and indeed she was. Right before we were about to go up, she looks at me and says, “Did you say that evaluation form? Talk about pressure!” I looked and sure enough there was a full-page evaluation form for the event. Not something like “Did you like it?” on a scale of one to five. It was a scale, but it was very specific. “Did you like Darcy Thiel’s presentation Making Lemonade?” Yikes! We both vowed to tell the coordinator that neither one of us was interested in hearing the ratings.

I finished my twenty-minute speech and then the lady sitting next to me got up for her turn. She very graciously started by saying something like, “That’s a tough act to follow. Let’s give another hand to Darcy.” That was lovely of her. She then proceeded to tell her story with a shaky voice and clearly was struggling to hold back tears. This beautiful young lady told about hearing the dreaded words “You have cancer.” I listened to her story, thinking how brave and amazing she was. Then she shocked me by talking about the SECOND time she had cancer. Good grief. I was very moved by her story as was everyone else in the room I am sure. She was the hero, the true inspiration for the evening.

After it was all over, I was standing near the exit at my book table. I saw her talking with her husband. I decided to give her a book. She acted like I gave her a million dollars. That made me feel like a million dollars! We talked about how we felt bonded somehow by sharing our stories on the same evening. I told her she bears the heavier burden and she said she thought the caretaker bears the heavier burden. So we decided we would just mutually admire each other.

What an absolutely great career I have. How lucky am I?


Leave a comment

Interview Questions Part 2

I’m up at 4 AM and I’m cleaning out my blog page and found this post I never published. It was back from October so here it is:

For those of you that follow the RidingBitch blog, I apologize for the repetition. These are questions I answered on her blog about the process of writing a book. Hope you enjoy!

What has been the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
It feels sometimes like “grief brain” is permanent. So accomplishing anything can be hard on some days, much less a huge project like writing a book. Two things were hard. One thing, were the days when a wave of grief hit. I could talk/write/process for days and even weeks like I was just telling someone else’s story. Then for no reason that I could identify, it would be a crying, grieving day and the subject matter was larger than life. The second part was learning new things. I would have given up at least a trillion times if my dear friend Brigitte wasn’t working with me full time. She does all the research and information finding. She has the patience of a saint coupled with a brilliant mind!

How did you secure publishing?
We have actually “self-published”. First, we had to form a publishing company, which meant forming an LLC. It is called Baby Coop Publishing, LLC. Once you do the research, it’s tedious but not difficult. You fill out forms and then do legal notices in the paper. Total cost is about $350. After that, we did our research (ok, Brigitte did) and came up with what we thought were the best options. Lightning Source is the company that distributes our softcover book. All of the files were downloaded to them. They have certain companies they distribute to, but it’s most of the biggest in the industry. When they get orders, they print and ship. It’s called “print on demand.”
For the ebook versions, we went with a company called Book Baby. We are still in the process of downloading and revising with them. I thought this would be easier, but it has different challenges. Every reader (Nook, Kindle, Kobo, etc.) looks different. So it’s very hard to design something that looks good in every version. We are hoping to have that released within another two weeks.

What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?
My dream was that my book will be useful and helpful to people in the same way that other books helped us. You have listed a bunch of books and what you have gotten out of them- I’d like to be on that list some day  For a person struggling with cancer, they can find inspiration in the way Tim dealt with his illness. For a person handling the tasks of being a caretaker, it is full of helpful ideas of how to be a patient advocate. For loved ones and family, it is full of practical ways of how you can truly be a support to the people you care about.

What do you hope to achieve with your book?
The previous question answers the more spiritual goals of the book. On a practical level, I would love to pay off the mortgage of the house before my social security runs out! But the reality of how much money you make on a book is very small indeed. When you realize how many books you have to sell to really make a living, it’s almost impossible.
A much for practical goal for me, is that I am hoping that the book will help generate more referrals to my counseling practice. That is my main profession and passion and I will be doing that for many more years than I will be writing books.


4 Comments

Purple Pills

September and October are tough months for me, or so my friends tell me. October 14 will be the third year marker of Tim’s passing. A couple of weeks ago, Matthew got married. We all knew it was going to be a very emotional day. His wife lost her mom so the two of them have a special bond. So this young 22 year old planned her wedding without a mom. It was stressful and emotional as anticipated, but it was beautiful and meaningful and wonderful. Matthew was finally able to open the long awaited wedding card his father left him. Big day.

I’ve noticed my mood shifting. Depression I’m used to. But I’ve also had an edge. I’ve been angrier than usual. I’ve been saying things and standing up for myself far than I usually do. Then one of my friends asked me about menopause. Oh crap. That could very well be. The fall + menopause = look out everybody!

So I’ve been realizing that three years sounds like a long time to me. And I guess without meaning to, I expected myself to be further along than I am. I don’t expect to crash for a few weeks and start crying over everything and anything. It’s been almost three years! I know you’re not supposed to do that yourself, but I guess I did. It has been three years and it still feels like yesterday sometimes.

Finally, dear Brigette says to me, “Why don’t you talk to your doc about getting something extra for awhile?” Sigh. It’s like admitting defeat. It’s like confessing a sin. But I know she’s right. I need help or I’m going to end up in jail. On Tuesday I went to the pharmacy and got my pills. Well, I thought I was going to but I found out my doc hadn’t called it in yet. I looked at them like I could go postal on them, even though it wasn’t their fault. When I came back later we laughed about it. I told them it’s October, and I think I’m menopausal. And they dared to not have my meds. Were they crazy? I said I was going for lunch and asked if I could have a Margarita with this pill. My loving pharmicist said, “Darcy, you should have whatever you want to drink.” And we chuckled.

So I met Brigette for lunch and we broke out the first pill. It was purple. Purple is my favorite color. I felt better already. How could a purple pill be anything but helpful?

I’m much better today. I’m sure you’ve heard of the placebo effect. It has probably kicked in. I don’t care. Not one bit. If it’s all psychological and in my head, I don’t care. I’m just glad I feel better. I’m still grieving October, but at least I’m not postal.

Thank you purple pill!