Thursday, December 8, 2016

Five-Minute Friday-Looking for Joy!

I'm supposed to be setting the timer and writing about joy. Because that is the word prompt for this week's Five Minute Friday. But I don't want to write about joy. Why do people pick these kinds of words at this time of the year? I would like to take a poll. How many of you out there (yes, you and you and even you over there) really find joy in Christmas? That's what I thought. When you don't have to be identified it is easier to say this really doesn't bring you joy. And what is joy anyway? 

When Richard was dying, during that last, long, hard year, my mind would often stray to what my life was going to be like after he was gone. At that time I was thinking about how much I could sleep. How it would only be ME I would have to take care of. How I would finally be free from the burden of taking care of every single need of a living, breathing person. Do you know what that is like? It is when you no longer matter. Just them and their needs. And I wouldn't have had it any other way. He was so important to me that I wanted him to be pain free, well fed, clean, shaved and tucked into his warm, clean bed. And all of that took up my entire day. And often my entire night. Those of you who have been caregivers to a dying spouse, parent, or child know what I am talking about. All of your waking moments (and most of those while you are asleep) center around the needs of your loved one. There isn't any time to think of yourself. And there certainly isn't much joy.

I am a Christian lady and I know that God is looking after me. But sometimes that is hard to see. And most of the time I am not thinking he has given me much to be joyous about. Because when you are at low points in your life it is hard to believe. It is hard to hear people tell you things will get better. I am especially disturbed when I hear those things from people who don't have a clue what I have been through. Because all of us go through this care-giving process differently. There are no two cases that are exactly alike. So just because you have 'done your time' doesn't mean you have any idea what my time has been like. Sometimes the joy is just in having someone listen. I don't need advice. I just need someone to hear me out and not try to talk me out of anything. This grieving process is just that. A process. There is no beginning. There isn't an end. It didn't start the day Richard died. It started long before as I grieved the losses that taking care of him was creating for him and for me. It didn't end on the one year 'death' anniversary or the second year anniversary. And I am going to venture to bet it won't be over at the five year anniversary. And it will always be harder at the holidays. Because he found so much joy at this time of the year is why I am not finding joy right now. 

I have started to think of grief as a deep hole. A hole you find yourself in and you need to find your way out. The edges are hard and ragged. You will claw your way to the top and fall back down again. And that will probably happen more than once. You will smile. You will laugh. You will enjoy your life. But you might not have joy! And that is okay! You have to find joy in the tiniest places. That's where I'm going to start. Again! And again! Until it comes easier. 
 Stop

Now if you made it through all of my pathetic whining go over to Kate's Heading Home and join in this writing challenge. I feel better for just putting it out there. But what I'm feeling is not joy. Or is it??



39 comments:

  1. I can understand the part of what you give up just to make it through the day. Most people do not understand that.
    I don't think you are whining...just telling it like it is.
    On a side note my middle name is Joy :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, then I am happy to have some Joy in my life!! Thanks for reading FSOF (I don't think I even know your first name)

      Delete
  2. I can only imagine how hard it would be to find joy during the holidays after losing a spouse. I'm so sorry for your grief. I appreciate your realness. Praying God's presence will be extra evident for you this Christmas season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Stacy! I just want to keep it real here. And sometimes it is just easier to not write. But tonight I felt compelled. Thank you for visiting!

      Delete
  3. Pathetic whining? Uh, Paula, NO. You've spoken the truth as only one who's lived that truth can say it.

    I know that Barbara will agree with you. Yesterday she was recovering from the stomach flu, and I went down hard. I don't remember much of the day, but she had to put herself aside and deal with a husband who was literally screaming in pain, and who did not recognize her. Apparently I kept calling her Jose, and as insisting that I needed to get to the Canal Zone and get evac'd. Hard for anyone to deal with, and harder still to have to put aside her own illness and offer the comfort she could. (All this she told me...as I said, I don't recall a thing.)

    Bless you, dear brave heart, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope that Barbara will soon be feeling better. It is right when you say the caregiver CANNOT get sick. There is no time for that! I hope you are not suffering extreme pain now, Andrew! I cannot imagine what you are going through. I am sending you some of those same blessings!!!!

      Delete
  4. Hi Paula - it's good this 5 minute Friday allows you to express your raw feelings ... with many thoughts to you ... and I do hope peace will be with you ... Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is what I do best Hilary. Express myself. I almost didn't write this week. Joy is not a favorite word. But then I thought to myself, who says it has to be joyful!!!

      Delete
  5. Well, I find joy in Christmas despite having lost my father on Christmas eve in 1980. I think that cemented my disbelief in any kind of loving god. But I pushed on, recovered, watched my marriage end and raised my sons, sent all of them through college and now marvel at the men they have become. I try hard to make the best of every day and I do not dwell on what is not great or what I have suffered in the past. It does nothing to make me feel better. Folks may think I am one tough bitch, but I do experience JOY.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you could find joy in Christmas when you lost your father. That would be hard. And in the end it sounds like you are doing okay! I'm a bit on the slow side. And I am not ready to experience joy in any big ways but I will find a tiny bit of joy somewhere!

      Delete
    2. And I hope you find joy this year. Look to those wonderful grandchildren you tell us about.

      Delete
  6. Christmas Joy for me is the birth of Jesus. He came in to our world to be a gift to each of us. Joy to the World! The Lord has come!

    ReplyDelete
  7. :) Thank you for your honesty. Everyone processes life differently--and my journey may be along the same road, but it doesn't make it the same as yours at all! It's ok to own your journey, get to know it well, analyze it and find meaning in it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Grief, for me, has already started just with the aging process. I see it every day in my life and that of my husband (who is 9 years older than me). I love that you are keeping it real. I've been following you for a while but something about your writing lately really has me paying closer attention. Thank you for that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Richard was 18 years older than me Susan!! I wonder what it is that has you paying closer attention!! The aging process does make us more aware that time is no longer on our side. Blessings for a good weekend!!

      Delete
    2. P.S. I realize I didn't answer your poll question. I do not find joy in the Christmas season. I don't decorate. I don't attend Christmas functions. It's all just a little too much since my child grew up and moved away. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy other people's decorations and I get joy from watching children enjoy the magic of the season. A couple years ago I decided to stop doing the things that don't bring me joy. Guilt-free. Decorating for holidays is one of those "don't do anymore" things. Recently someone asked me if I was all done decorating for Christmas and they were VERY taken aback when I said I don't decorate. I decided the next person who asks, I'll just nod my head and say "yes, I'm all done". The person's intentions were not bad, it's just the societal expectation is just a little much. I would not want to steal anyone else's joy, that's for sure.

      Delete
    3. I can see how one would quit doing what doesn't bring them joy. I might do that one day when the g-kids no longer live with me! I do it for them. We will see!

      Delete
  9. It was not pathetic nor was it whining. You get to experience your grief the way you wish, and if that makes the word "joy" anger you, then so be it. And yeah, I don't particularly like this time of year, but for very different reasons from you.

    My belief system is different than yours. So take this for what it's worth. I was taught that those that passed on can visit us. We may see them in our dreams. In our waking life, we only get hints that they're there. They especially love to visit during important times.

    So, if Richard loved Christmas, he's probably coming by to visit. And if you are open to the idea, you may get a sense of him. It'll be in signs that are subtle. It'd be easy to dismiss as coincidence or wishful thinking. And if this doesn't bring you any comfort, feel free to completely disregard it. But it's a thought I wanted to leave you with today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never liked this time of the year either, Liz. Just knowing how much Richard loved it just makes it bittersweet for me now. I am sure seeing Richard a lot in my dreams lately! I guess he is visiting, huh! Thank you for this today! I do believe!!

      Delete
  10. Sending you a hug, Paula. I agree with you, everyone grieves differently and it takes some longer than others. We all grieve those we lost, especially I would imagine the love of one's life like Richard was for you and you for him.

    betty

    ReplyDelete
  11. I guess I don't connect any holiday with anyone. I let the holiday stand for itself. Both my parents died around the holidays and my brother too. You missing Richard is normal and I hope you can one day "en"joy the holidays again. I am sorry you go through this, but again, mourning takes the time it needs. Wishing you all the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some are able to connect holidays with people and some just let them stand alone. Thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  12. Girl, your words never fail to somber, to touch me. And, you've pinpointed what (I think) is a much overlooked term: "Joy."
    Talk about an unrealistic expectation ... about setting folks up for failure.
    I've not experienced real joy during the holidays since the 70's. Too bad I didn't recognize it at the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that the truth! Wish I had paid more attention to joy back then too!

      Delete
  13. I totally understand the inability to find joy in the holidays. I used to love this time of year...that was a long time ago though. The holidays are always rough when you've lost loved ones. This one is going to be especially tough since I just lost my Dad. He and my Mom were staying with me for the whole past year and, unlike most years, last Christmas I put up a tree -- for them. My Dad loved the tree and kept saying how much he appreciated me putting it up for them -- because he said he knew it was going to be his last. Those were hard words to hear, and at the time, I was so sure he was wrong. Needless to say, I didn't put a tree up this year. I get what you're saying about being a caregiver. No one understands until they've gone through it.
    I think as we age joy really becomes fleeting. And we have to find it in the little things, when and where we can.

    Very poignant, what you wrote. Thanks for sharing. It hit home.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will be thinking of you Michele. It will not be easy the first time around. I'm glad you put the tree up last year. You are right about no one understanding unless they go though it. And grief is different for everyone! Bless you lady!

      Delete
  14. You loved well. What a gift to your beloved. I sense the depth of your loss by reading your post. It wasn't a whine, it was being real. I hope some bright spots will carry you through this holiday season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Norma! I have lots of bright spots. I'd rather call them that!

      Delete
  15. I am amazed how much you can type in 5 minutes. But such with such heart-felt words, we can have some idea how hard it is to lose our loved ones.

    Peace and Joy are X-mas memes.
    As for me, I get Joy in seeing the grandkids faces light up when they see Xmas lights.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I type fast! And I have thought out what I am going to say before I start. And sometimes I might go a bit over the allotted 5 minutes!

      Delete
  16. So many of us have a hard time at the holidays, for many different reasons. Here's to hoping we all find joy, even for a moment. God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sometimes the pressure of being expected to feel a certain way can be stressful and overwhelming. You feel what you feel and owe nobody explanations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only it were that easy! It's not! I try to put on a good face for the kiddos!

      Delete

I love to hear what you might think. Leave me a comment. I guarantee though that I will delete your comment if you are just here to cause trouble. So tread lightly!