Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reflections on Chelsea

I haven't written much on this blog and I find myself nervous about that. Monday was seven months. Daughter and I attended our local Suicide Survivors Support Group. Lovely was busy at school as she will be every night this week.

Monday night was the first night the support group met in two months because the last meeting would have been scheduled for Christmas Eve. It was the first time in a long time, perhaps since the last meeting, that I told the story of what happened on June 28th.   I realized I needed to tell that story.  I don't want life to just continue as if nothing happened. I don't want to erase him but that is what it feels like I am doing.

Each day in my e-mail inbox I receive the Daily Grief Support from Chelsea.  I have no idea who Chelsea is.  It is a service the Funeral Home offers.   I like to receive them even when I don't read them.  Chelsea has been a bit too chipper for me these last couple of weeks.  On Day 179, Chelsea wrote:
"When you turn around negative thoughts, the new thoughts may seem foreign, but continue to work on filling your mind with thoughts of where you want to be."
Chelsea has been schooled in CBT.    My issue with using CBT with grief is that grief is not a disorder really.  If I want to swim in negative thoughts, I will.  That's grief.

That's OK.  I am glad Chelsea writes me an email everyday.  She is trying.  Of course, Chelsea has no idea who I am.   She is in reality a computer program.   The nice thing about computer-generated e-mail services is that they keep in touch and they don't require a response.

Life goes on.  People need me to do stuff.  But Chelsea realizes that I am at day 179 of 365.  I am still on her grief calendar.  Actually, I am a bit farther along than day 179.  I didn't subscribe to the service until at least a month after Zach's death.   I dread day 365 when I no longer will hear from Chelsea.    My grief may outlast even her.


  1. Grief can snowball. If its big enough, it starts collecting all of our griefs in one big avalanche of sorrow. And it scoops up everything in its path.

    I am told, I do not know myself, that the way through involves something like focusing only on the task at hand and the very next one that follows. Break it down into all of its pieces, and focus on every detail of the present step. And then the next. And then the next.

  2. John, I don't think dear Chelsea is realistic in the positive outlook. What happened to your family unit is tragic. I went for grief counseling when my husband left me after my mother died. I appreciated the onion analogy - that our grieving process peels away layers, just like peeling away layers of an onion. And you are doing that hard work. But you are doing it surrounded by loving, caring friends. And with God's love and grace.

  3. Just journaling a bit on my own here in response to your journal On the CBT cheeryness thing. There's a person in my life who tends to be chirpy and positive even when I'm grumpy and dour. Even when I'm grumpy about their cheeryness, I appreciate them in spite of myself! The very fact of that cheeryness causes me to back up and look at myself and take in a different perspective. But there's another thing about grumpy and dourness. Not everybody will take it from us. It takes an unconditional acceptance to put up with the sourpuss. Perhaps, some of us only dare to let a few people, if any, see our true grumpy selves, with all of our imperfectness. But there are hopefully a few people each of us can trust to love us, unconditionally, no matter what we dish out at them. Fortunately, I believe God is like that. No matter what I dish out. In this, the words of Deut 31:8 are a comfort to me: "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”