Michelle taught me a coping mechanism that when I explained it to Marc he called it one element of “Neuro Linguistic Programming”. I don’t care what it’s called just as long as it works! Last year I was sort of complaining / sort of pointing out the fact that in 25 years of marriage we’d never once gone on a ‘family vacation’. Oh, we’d gone to weddings and anniversary celebrations or to visit family but never an actual vacation. After Bernadette passed away Marc suggested we go on that family vacation we’d never gone on before he returned to work. But by that point just the idea of a family vacation was excruciating. How can we ever go on a family vacation without Bernadette? It just didn’t/doesn’t seem possible. I don’t even want to go on one any more. But when I mentioned my agony to Michelle she suggested that one thing that works for her is to rename things. You’re essentially doing the same thing but in renaming it you can think of it differently. So instead of naming a trip a family vacation we could name it something else. A road trip perhaps. An excursion. A homeschool trip. Anything except family vacation. Labels can carry certain expectations/memories so renaming certain things can hopefully remove those expectations. I’m not saying I’m ready to rush off on an excursion any time soon, but as long as we no longer use the label family vacation then I might find myself more open to the idea of a trip.
Today was a really hard day for some reason. Squeezed in between chores and children, I was preparing all our documents for our taxes and had to constantly go through the past year’s receipts. Every time I did it reminded me of happier times and how quickly life can change. It constantly brought to mind Bernadette’s illness and how this time last year she was a happy little girl who was very much enjoying life and the anticipation of a new baby. C.S. Lewis talks about circling through grief like a spiral. One day you seem just fine and the next – bang – the grief seems to hit afresh like the loss happened just yesterday. It can be quite maddening to be honest. And it seems the harder I try to control my thoughts the harder it is and the further I fall. This is definitely a new reaction to preparing my taxes. Usually I just experience anxiety, frustration, and a good headache at the end. Thankfully over the last few years we’ve been able to leave all that with H & R Block. I was just about to hope that next year won’t be so painful, but next year we have to report the loss of Bernadette on Marc’s taxes. Hopefully by then it won’t have to mean tears and fresh grief. Hopefully.
We received a delightful surprise yesterday. Sarah sent us a nice little hardcover book called “Beyond the Sorrow: There’s Hope in the Promises of God” by Tammy Trent. Now that I’m done the taxes maybe I’ll curl up in a ball on the couch, wrap myself in a warm blanket, and devour the book, hoping for a few morsels of medicine for my aching heart and soul. And if duty doesn’t permit such a self-indulgence, I can at least think about what’s on page one: “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and He saves those whose spirits have been crushed.” Ps. 34:18