Worst Case Scenario


Worst Case Scenario

chaos-485493_640I've made mention a few times that since Dad passed, I've really struggled. I honestly just can't seem to figure out how to do this grief thing. It's been two months and I still get these random attacks of sadness--yes, at this point I'm actually calling them attacks as it hits so randomly that I feel totally ambushed. Dozens of Google searches and visits to Barnes & Noble, and I have yet to find the guide of "7 Steps" to getting past this stage. that secret list that simply needs to be sequentially and intentionally executed to make all the pain go away. Yet I keep searching.

You see, in my mind, there must be a logical explanation for everything! I'm a knowledge-seeker and a process-follower. I'm a recipe follower. I'm a rule follower (mostly, smile). I'm a computer science major with nearly 30 years in the industry. There is order, there is sequence, there is root cause, there is cause and effect, and there is eventual and timely resolution. Now, I'm also a parent, and I have learned that much to my dismay, most of that does not translate into parenthood! And not surprising, I found it didn't always work with caregiving, either. And now, I'm slowly realizing that it also does not apply to grieving.

Years ago I took the most amazing class -- it was an 18-week Dale Carnegie Leadership course. One of the books we read as part of the class was his classic, "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living." I have never been much of a worrier but I still learned a lot from this book. One of the main principles he teaches is to focus on the worst case scenario: When you are worried about a situation, make a list of all the possible things that might happen -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then, rank them by magnitude, and figure out how you would resolve the worst one. Once you have that one solved in your head and are prepared for it, all the other options will seem easy to solve. I have used this logic in many, many situations over the years, and I can say that it has lifted many burdens from my shoulders. Interestingly, when Dad was ill, I used it then, and it helped me be prepared to deal with many challenging situations -- dealing with insurance companies, moving him to Texas, researching & finding an assisted living facility, juggling time with him, work and my family, and even dealing with his dementia.

But somehow, I overlooked his death as something to prepare myself for. Maybe I didn't view it as a worst case scenario? I mean, it did imply relief (for him), and no matter what, it WAS going to eventually happen. Maybe I grossly underestimated the timing (and I certainly did -- we all expected him to live much longer than just the one month he was with me in Texas!). I knew in advance that I would miss being able to call him and chat during my commute to work. I knew in advance that it would be sad to go home for the holidays and not have him there. I knew in advance that cleaning out his house and preparing it for sale would be physically and emotionally difficult. So what else did I need to prepare for? I had it all covered, right? Wrong.

I wish I knew in advance that his death would involve more than just missing someone and having a lot of tasks to wrap-up. I knew it would be bittersweet to think of happy memories, and I felt I was prepared for that. But I didn't know that it would also cause me to remember sad situations, disappointments and embarrassments -- many that I had not thought of in years. I wasn't prepared to feel guilty. And I definitely wasn't prepared to feel angry. Angry at him for things that he needed to resolve years ago and never did, and now that he's gone, can never be resolved. At least, they cannot be as long as I hold on to them. I wasn't prepared for all of this emotional baggage to come tumbling out of the closet and wake me up in the middle of the night, distract me during the day, and cause me to struggle to find joy in my life.

Everyone says it heals with time. Well, that's too vague -- I need a schedule, and a project plan, and a task list so we can get this issue resolved, pronto!

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I love the statement \"your soul will learn to include it.\" There is a peacefulness to that statement - I have struggled with the concept of \"getting over\" grief, as it seems to imply that I have to lose even more. Learning to co-exist seems a much more positive strategy. Thanks for sharing this!


This is extremely helpful! And yes, I am definitely looping through these. There is certainly some comfort in knowing it is \"normal.\" In my mind I picture it as a traffic circle - and hopefully I can figure out how to exit soon! :-) Thank you, Sally!


Thank you for writing this. It's been four months since my wife Valerie died. The one thing I have done is that I have gotten involved with a Grief Share group. The one thing I learned is that everyone grieves differently. What might be good for you might not be good for me and vice verse.\r\n\r\nIt really is a one day at a time experience


Ah, thanks Sally & Anita for inviting me to the chat tonight! Unfortunately I cannot attend tonight as I have another commitment, but the good news is, it's a fun work party, so I am looking forward to an evening \"out\" with a great group of people. I will try to join you next week!


I'm feeling most of the things you are talking about. It's been 5 months since mom died and I do pretty good until I see something, hear something, someone says something, any multitude of situations and the grief comes back and the tears come with it. I'm like you when will it get better? It still comes and my dad has been gone since 1998. Sally has been helping me on the Monday night chat line at 8:00 p.m.. I hope you will give it a try. I'll be there tonight too. Maybe we can help each other. Let's try....

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