Posts Tagged ‘Loss’

In two weeks it will be the one year anniversary of the passing of my very special friend Dale Brown. Nursing home policy says I can’t use his real name, but I will not cheat him or his memory by covering it up. He should be a man who is celebrated. I haven’t been looking forward to this time of year because I do not do well with sadness. I have written about him a time or two in the past and even then it was hard to fight back the tears. I don’t think I ever really sat there and just cried my hurt away. I instead have chosen to run and hide. I have a very hard time expressing this level of sadness, because I do not know how to process these feelings. I can handle sadness of either this or that, although most of the time anger masks how I am truly feeling inside. I refuse to let the world see me weak and in my fucked up head it is better people see you angry over shedding tears. This pain I feel over losing him is different. I cannot reprocess it and project anger onto the world. In the pit of my soul my psyche weeps, but my deficiencies as a man keeps those tears from reaching my eyes.

I would love nothing more than to just sit here and turn the faucets on, but I cannot bring myself to do it. I think I am still in the denial stage of grieving. I mean seriously is it healthy to hold onto denial this long? I still expect to see him here as if he had just been hiding from me this whole time; but I don’t, and each time that realization hits me it is as if I am reliving his death all over again. Since his passing I have not been able to allow myself to get close to another resident, because I do not want to build a friendship only to have them taken away from me. Just typing this I realize how selfish that is of me. Why should I deny others the special bond Dale and I shared? Why should I deny myself of these special bonds?

The one thing I learned from my relationship with Dale is I can be real around these guys, because many of them are beyond judgment. I know Dale showed himself to me without blinders on pretending to be someone he wasn’t, and I did the same with him. The conversations we had were some of the only honest conversations I have had with anyone. There was another man here I started to form a bond with, but he eventually left, not by deaths touch but by a relocation. When I first found this out I was devastated yet again, but at least I knew he was still alive, and had not suffered the same fate as Dale did. Awhile back before Dale passed away I became friends with this man who is so wonderful in his own right. He has trouble speaking so you really need to give him some dedicated time so he can express his feelings. When this is done he lights up knowing somebody took the time to stop what they were doing to pay attention to him and truly hear his feelings.

After Dale passed I sort of pushed him and the other residents away. I chose to stay secluded in my office away from the residents so not to get hurt again. I still have a really hard time opening myself up. I know I made just as much of an impact on Dales life as he did mine. I would here compliments from the staff on our special bond, and how it was benefiting Dale. I don’t think they realized his impact on my life was just as strong. I knew I could tell him anything and he would not think any different of me. I could tell him about my recent diagnosis and he would love me just the same. I don’t even feel comfortable stating my diagnosis on this blog, and everyone should know I don’t hold back on my personal opinions and feelings no matter how out there they are.

I think me starting to work at this nursing home at just the right time to have him enter my life was serendipity. If it were not for him “The Bucket List Foundation” would not have been created. The visions I have of him laying alone while he passed away still haunt my mind. I have many regrets in my life but this one sits a top. I claimed to truly care for him as a friend and as a person yet I was not with him when he died. Saying this now just rips at my insides. Before he lost the ability to speak he expressed his fear of dying alone. He was scared, and I wasn’t there to tell him everything was going to be ok. I was not there to hold his hand so he felt the warmth of a loved ones touch. I failed him.

The Bucket List Foundation will serve many purposes but the most important for me is our pledge that our clients will not die alone. I have said this before but perhaps if I am able to deliver on this promise it will heal my intense guilt over letting him pass alone. I hope this does because I can’t deal with a yearly reminder of one of my greatest failures.

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Become totally empty.

Let your heart be at peace.

Amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings,

observe how endings become beginnings.

Things flourish, each by each,

only to return to the source…

To what is and what is to be.

To return to the root is to find peace.

To find peace is to fulfill one’s destiny.

To fulfill one’s destiny is to be constant.

To know the constant is called insight.

Not knowing this cycle

leads to eternal disaster.

Knowing the constant gives perspective.

This perspective is impartial.

Impartiality is the highest nobility;

the highest nobility is Divine.

Being Divine, you will be at one with the Tao.

Being at one with the Tao is eternal.

This way is everlasting,

not endangered by physical death.

Lao-tzu

 The sixteenth verse describes the constant of change, while recounting the cycles of life. The one thing we can always count on in life is change. Nothing ever remains the same. The seasons change, relationships begin then end, and all life will someday become death. All things come then they go. The Tao does not play favorites in this process The Tao will bring winter whether we are ready for it or not. The Tao will return all things to the source whether we believe in it or not. The Tao does not answer prayers, but provides you with everything you will ever need. When a door closes the Tao opens a new one. These examples all show change. Observing endings becoming beginnings is a great way to deal with death, the loss of a job, or the ending of a relationship. Understanding when one door closes another one opens is a great coping method and a divine way to live ones life.

Lao-tzu advises us to become empty and allow our hearts to be at peace amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings. I think Lao-tzu is trying to teach us coping methods for how to deal with the numerous changes we encounter in life. His 2,500 year old description of the “rush of worldly comings and goings” fits perfectly well with where we are today. Life is hectic and crazy, and many of us have issues with the consistent changes we encounter.

Many of us are afraid of change. We avoid it as much as we can. I am a creature of habit. When things change around me whether it be changing of routines, or the changing of the seasons I am unable to cope. I become either manic or slip into a depression. I need to learn to embrace this constant and allow myself to be in harmony with the Tao. I need to become an observer of the life around me and appreciate the cyclical nature of all things.

I suffer from a mild case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, because of this I have a harder time with things outside my routines. For example I need to park in the exact same spot when I go to therapy. If I am not able to park in my spot I become agitated and then flip into the mode of needing to control every aspect of my surroundings. I try to recreate how everything looked the last time I was there. I will try and arrange the chairs in the waiting room in perfect order. I begin to have severe anxiety and panic attacks. I tried this lesson on Tuesday when I went to therapy. I grabbed my prayer beads and counted my twenty seven progressions. With each deep breath I imagined myself becoming empty, and my heart being at peace. To my surprise this tactic worked. I still had anxiety, but it was reduced to just a minor bother.

In the sixteenth line of the sixteenth verse it say “impartiality is the highest nobility.” The seventeenth line says the highest nobility is divine. For some reason I am drawn to these two lines. I had an idea, but I was not 100% sure the exact meaning of “impartiality.” The definition I received was the ability to weigh both views and opinions equally. I look into myself, and realized this is a trait I am lacking in. When it comes to things affecting me personally I am unable to see others views and feelings as equally as my own. I am not sure I can even say I am impartial when it comes to looking outside my circle and see issues equally. I will continue to meditate on this to try and find the answer.

Every religion has an explanation for what happens to you when you die; Taoism is no exception. Taoism says everything will return to the source to what is and what is to be. Now whether this is Heaven, Nirvana, or reincarnation no one will know until we pass. I interpret this as reincarnation. My theory is your shen (what is) leaves your body, and returns to the center of everything in the womb of our mother the great Tao. When you leave this womb you return back to any planet and enter into a new life (what is to be.) As a former atheist I know this sounds crazy, but somehow seems right. I have always been afraid of death and the great unknown; but the sixteenth verse brings me peace. I may not know what the outcome is, nor will I attempt to understand it, because the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The constancy between life and death returns us to our root. I find peace in knowing I will return to the source of all things, this nameless placeless site of all of our origination.