Tag Archive | Friendship

“We Can”


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Recently, a particular cliché about how people should not do things for others seeking reward, but do so because it is the right thing to do continues appearing in my life. Since it keeps popping out at me in one form or another, I consider the cliché as a sign that I should write about. The true test of a pure heart is not whether an individual does something in search of a reward, or even because it is morally right; the true test is whether an individual even considers the consequence of helping another. He or she should not even have time to ponder the situation. While on our life’s journey, upon discovering someone in need of help, we really do not need to wonder whether helping another is a method of self-exaltation or whether helping falls into some category of “right” or “wrong.” We should just jump in to help because we can. I mean, seriously, when you encounter an injured person or animal and you rush to help. . .do you pause for a moment to think, “Hmmm, I wonder if anyone is watching” or “I wonder if God will reward me for this?” I hope no one pauses to consider his or her consequence of aiding someone in need. Perhaps I do exist in a never-never land because I like to imagine that the people in my life never give a second thought to helping someone. There are events in life that do not require any consideration of consequences, and helping others is definitely one such event. It has nothing to do with religion or morality; it has to do with the fact that in the flow of life, we are all on this earth together. Let’s just help each other get through it because we can.

©Relinda R. 2014

The 10 Best and Worst Things I’ve Learned after Losing my Spouse


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Best Things:

1. You learn which people are your true friends. (People who really care will show up, not to dispense advice, but to be there for whatever you need)

2. You realize to what great depth you loved someone. (Love deeply, you will grieve deeply)
3. You notice your loved one’s presence from time to time. (An important reminder that his or her soul continues to live)
4. You learn the truth about people. (People will show their true colors by their actions)
5. You learn to listen. (Listen to people, read everything—non-verbal behavior, verbal behavior, and between the lines, and you will see either their compassion or their annoyance with you)
6. You learn that cemeteries are sacred, and not to be feared.
7. You get to know yourself completely. (You may not like what you find, but at least you know the truth)
8. You realize how important love is during incarnations. (You discover that love is the only thing that matters)
9. You learn that people live to love.
10. You become strong. (Even if you were already strong, you become stronger)

Worst Things:
1. You learn which people are your true friends. (You realize that most people are merely acquaintances, and really do not care about your well-being unless it affects their life in some manner)
2. You realize to what great depth you loved someone. (Realizing the extent of your love means you also realize that your heart is ripped open and beyond repair)
3. You realize you can drink straight from the milk carton and it does not matter because there is no one there to care.
4. You learn the truth about people. (You learn that most people do not really care what you feel inside, but are concerned about what you reveal on the outside)
5. You learn to listen. (Unfortunately, while learning to listen—you develop an uncanny ability to read non-verbal clues)
6. You learn that people make assumptions based on appearances. (You realize that unless you are attractive, no one will ever get to know you)
7. You get to know yourself completely. (You may discover that it is impossible to function as yourself because people merely tolerate you)
8. You realize how important love is during incarnations. (By discovering that love is all that matters, you realize that everything that mattered is gone for the duration of this incarnation)
9. You learn that people live to love. (You realize that without love and affection, you cannot live, only exist)
10. You become strong. (If you were already strong, becoming stronger means that your heart begins to close, and eventually, it closes completely)

We all know that grief is different for everyone. We can read about the stages of grief, and the stories of grief, but ultimately, everyone experiences it differently. For me, losing my husband meant losing the best part of me. For nearly 20 years, I functioned on the premise that life was about happiness, affection, and love. For the last four years, I’ve realized that I was right—without those emotions, life is an unfulfilled journey. My husband and I were very passionate, and we laughed . . . we laughed so much. My personal experience dictates my list of the 10 best and worst things about losing a spouse. Everyone’s list is different.

You will note that many of the things on my “best” list are also on my “worst” list. It is all about perception. For instance, there is a positive and negative about learning who your true friends really are. If you think you have a wide circle of friends, you may realize that you only have a few. The true friends will not change the subject or ignore you. They will show up unexpectedly to mow your lawn or just listen. They will be there when you call them in the middle of the night, just to listen. And they never tell you that you are wrong to grieve. Treasure those people in your life, for they are few. On the other hand, finding out who your true friends are is a good thing because you realize where you stand with people. If they tire of your sadness, they tire of you. Those are the people who do not care about your feelings, but rather about what it is you can do for them. It is good to know where you stand. The cliché about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer is accurate. Know who your friends are and make adjustments accordingly.

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Realizing that you loved someone so completely that he or she was a part of you is wonderful, and equally devastating. You begin to know just how fully and completely you were loved and gave love, but at the same time, you realize that is gone and you will never have it again. For me, life has no purpose beyond that of loving. I can accumulate degrees and awards, but they mean nothing because at the end of the day—I have no one with whom to share those accomplishments. My life centered on affection—there were always good morning hugs, middle-of-the-day hugs, and night hugs. Now, I am fortunate to receive a hug once a year or so, and those hugs are usually forced. It is difficult learning to live life devoid of human affection. There are usually children and true friends to hug, but that is different, I am speaking of no holds barred, all-out partner hugs. Eventually, you learn that you can exist without affection, but that is all it is—existence. I continue to exist.

Learning the truth about people, much like learning who your friends are, is equally wonderful and devastating. You learn so much about people by reading their mannerisms and listening to their words. Unfortunately, you learn that the majority of people want to avoid you and just want to see you smile. They do not care whether those smiles are real or not; they just do not want to deal with the negativity or sadness. Essentially, you learn to wear a mask in public. Wearing a mask is not about deception necessarily, but about functioning in society. You must maintain a mask to work efficiently.

Learning that people live to love is a quandary. Love is the most powerful of all human emotion, and it does not matter how independent one is—when there is no one who looks into your eyes with total love, what is the point of anything? I’ve recently heard a lot about loving yourself, etc.—that is all great, but human beings still need to hear “I love you,” and not while gazing at your reflection. It is great to love yourself . . . to a point. When you love yourself too much, you become narcissistic and indifferent. I’ve always been independent, but I’ve also always believed that love is real. Ultimately, accepting that you will be alone for the rest of your days and no one will ever truly love you again is a pivotal point in life. For me, I have to accept it so that I can continue, but for anyone else—I would say never do this. Never accept solitude. Only the extremely strong will survive this way. Once you accept solitude, your heart begins to turn cold. I liked the “old me,” the person who loved completely and was loved in return. The “new me” has been alone so long that the thought of not being alone horrifies me. I am to the point that I look forward to coming home to an empty, cold, lonely home because for two days, I can be the “old me.” I can shed the mask and stop pretending, even if for just a few moments.

I was already strong. In fact, that was one of the qualities that my husband loved most about me. The “new me” has become even stronger. Colder, yes, but stronger—after all, the cold is a side effect of strength. You have to maintain a wall in order to build strength. You build a wall to cope and keep people out. Unfortunately, the wall eventually becomes so high that no one can penetrate it.

This list is primarily for me. I would never want anyone else to learn about grief in the manner I have. I will stop writing one day, I will stop talking about my loneliness one day, and I will completely accept solitude one day. I am still straddling the fence right now, with most of me almost there. “Hope” has all but taken his last breath inside my heart. When he gasps for the last breath of air, and I accept solitude completely, there will be no turning back. None. The “old me” looked forward to every day; the “new me” has nothing to look forward to, which is pointless. When Hope dies completely, I will have fulfilled my purpose in life as my heart closes forever. No doubt that it will be a great relief to most—they will no longer have to read about my grief or sadness, they will not hear negativity, they will see what they want. There will not be posts on social media sites, there will not be any more pleas for help; all will be silent. This is a good thing though, a good thing indeed, but not for those few true friends in my life, and certainly not for me.

©2014 Relinda R.

Learning to Live Without You—Day 1,044


Today is day 1,044 of living without him. I thought I would die on that day, and I suppose I did, but my heart continues to beat. I read a quote last night, which captures the feelings I have been experiencing lately. Rob Sheffield says:

It’s the same with people who say, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t
kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of
yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever
doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying. (quote)

While I never want my friends to stop verbalizing their pain, I find the quote incredibly accurate in describing my own life. I just happen to be the type of friend who strives to make others feel better. I do not like to see my friends hurting and I recognize when they need a sympathetic ear. In the same regard, people are growing tired of how I continue to whine about my loss two years, ten months, and eight days after suffering the loss of my husband.

I have known for some time that I have to behave as two separate people in order to cope with my grief. Ironically, the therapy (in the form of Facebook) my daughter arranged for me has also become my greatest foe. It is where I go to smile and sometimes, it makes me cry. I have lost friends because they tire of my grief. I have seen posts reminding me just how much I irritate my friends. When they ignore my posts, I feel wounded. Silly, I know, but I seem to have little control of my emotions during the previous 1,501,920 minutes of my life, if it is even what one might consider “a life.”

I am incredibly busy as I embark upon completing a bachelor degree in English. I am sleep-starved as I prepare to enter graduate school, but I think writing may be a thread preventing me from drifting too far away from reality. I am learning that Facebook can only be therapeutic if one says what others wish to hear. My blog, on the other hand, is my blog. So few of my friends read it, and the ones who do are indeed true friends and understand my need to vent my frustrations. That is my reasoning.

I must strive to be two different people in order to continue living. I must appear genuinely happy in public and on Facebook in order to continue living; however, when I am alone or writing for my blog, I can be the pitiful, desolate creature I am destined to become. I can bask in the misery of my grief without the worry of offending others. It is a difficult task to wear the mask of the bereaved, but I have worn it before and I can wear it again.

I read a different quote last night that said, “If you spent less time bitching about your life, you’d possibly enjoy it more.” Supposedly, the “Rock” coined that phrase. I have heard it before though. I do not know how many wives the “Rock” has buried or if he spent the last 90 million seconds of his life grieving the loss of his loved one, but my bet is that he has not. Regardless of how much that particular quote hurt me because it seems to say, “Shut up already and get over it,” I see the truth in it. I do not agree with the latter half because only someone who has not experienced true grief can continue to “enjoy life.” However, I see the validity of recognizing that people tire of hearing people bitching about their lives. I was that person once, prior to experiencing loss. I am not that person now. I know how important it is to express the grief you feel, before it consumes you and threatens annihilation. Shakespeare is correct in his thought, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”

I am making a promise to myself to manage my behavior more accordingly in the future. If I have learned anything during the last three years, it is that people will not understand the grief you feel until they have experienced it for themselves. I cannot control the behavior of others, but I can control my own behavior. Therefore, once again, I don the steely mask of the bereaved to appease others while I grieve privately. No one will notice. No one will mind at all. The only way they will know my broken heart is through my blog. And it is my blog, after all.

©2012 Relinda R.

The Book…Your Book…


Each moment of life is an eloquent word written in a paragraph. Those paragraphs are created from each day of experiences filled with laughter and tears. Each year, another chapter is complete. It is my wish that each of your pages contain laughter. It is my wish that you never have to wear a smile as armor. It is my wish that you never have to hurt alone. None of us knows how many chapters our book will hold, but it is my wish that as you write the concluding chapter of yours, you will smile and say, “I have loved with all my heart and I am truly loved for my heart.”

©2011 Relinda R.Image