Friday, January 19, 2018

Navigating the Waves of Grief


Sometimes I wonder if there are truly signs from our loved ones or if they're just plain ol' coincidences. I have had major signs of my mom, but you could always debunk it to something else that just happened to make its way to my attention. Some people of certain religions, like Christianity believe that signs and contact with deceased loved ones could be what's called "familiar spirits." If you have ever gone to a psychic medium to contact a deceased loved one, most likely, you are contacting a "familiar spirit" -- which is a spirit that is not your loved one, but knows everything your loved ones knows. They may tell you about a special pendant that you have in your jewelry box to prove to you that it's them.

Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27; and Deuteronomy 18:9-14 refer to “mediums and familiar spirits” and forbids being involved with them, as they are an abomination to the Lord. A medium is one who acts as a liaison to supposedly contact or communicate with the dead on behalf of the living. In reality mediums are contacting demons who convince the mediums that they are “familiar” and can be trusted and believed. The practices associated with mediums and familiar spirits were banned in Israel, and the punishment for practicing such things was death.

I spoke about this incident a few times before, but one early morning at around 3am, I was reading an article on the sofa in my living room. I couldn't sleep. It was a few weeks after my mother's passing. I heard my mother's voice (audibly) -- not "in my head" yell out, "Debbbbb-beyyyyy!" Like in a singsong kind of way. It sounded as if she was excited to get through the veil -- excited that she knew I would definitely hear her. Two things: my Christian friends warn me about the 3am "calls" from the other side, mocking the number "3" for the trinity -- the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. They also warned me that this is not my mother, and that most likely, a demon mimicking my mother's voice. Well, good job! I got up and ran back to my bedroom and threw the covers over my head. I was so freaked out by it.

But then my Christian friends said, "Well test the spirits to see if it was real or not." I have no idea what that means at all to tell you the truth. I don't know how to "test the spirits." The only thing I can do is pray for a hedge of protection anytime I'm praying about my mom, or if I need God to send my mother a message. The thing is, my mom is in peace right now, living a life of freedom. Why would I want to call upon her when she's the happiest she's ever been? But what about me? (The selfish part kicks in.) "What about me, Mom? You left me here!" Or, "God took you from me, it's not fair!"

What I've learned so far from losing both parents is this: death is inevitable. We're expected to lose our parents at some point, and you're lucky if you've spent all of your childhood with them into adulthood. Right? So what makes it a "tragic" incident that a parent dies at the age of 79? I mean -- for ME it's tragic, but that's the selfish me. And I admit, it kicks in an awful lot. Many people, including someone I know very well who is very upset over my mom's passing --- sometimes you challenge God and say, "Well, I don't think I have anymore faith now. Why would God do this to me?" I did this too, and you guys know how much faith I have in God -- it's not even faith anymore -- it's more like "I know that I know that I know" type of faith...

Do you think you can lie to God and say that you don't believe in Him anymore? God made us! God knows that we're thinking and He also knows our heart. You can't fool him. I told my friend, "Get mad at him, tell him why you're upset, yell, scream, but then ask Him to heal you." You can get mad at God -- He UNDERSTANDS. But don't say you're not going to have faith anymore. That's like looking at a maple tree that's standing right in front of you and saying, "I don't see anything." The truth is, you can't fool God. Bring your case to Him. Pray until you can't pray anymore. Watch and listen and be conscious of the hidden answers. Nobody likes mysterious and hidden answers. They want everything quickly, as they would if they Googled the answer. It doesn't work that way. The teacher is always quiet while giving a test.

Last week I was in a very bad state of mind. Whenever I have a huge wave of grief, other emotions take hold and I become a little combative with my loved ones. I even think irrational thoughts, borderline paranoid assumptions. This can make me very hard to live with, (God bless Madelene's heart!) Grief can do that to you. It can rip your heart out and make other people feel your pain as well. So whenever I get those waves, I go back into my "Deb Cave" and pray. I pray until the pain stops. I pray until I have some sort of better understanding. I pray until my heart stops screaming for help. My mom left me with these little proverbs she once wrote years ago when she was a born again Christian. One of them said, "My soul cries when your heart hurts."  I'm not sure why she wrote that, or maybe she was writing it for God -- as God's soul cries -- but I found it recently and felt it was her message seeing me grieve so terribly lately.

Bear with me as I try to navigate through my grieving process. I'm not just going to vent, but I will also tell you what helped me as I go through this all. I'm here so that maybe someone can relate to my story as well as to help those who need some advice through my own findings and struggles. I play to LIVE LIFE and conquer this grief, and make it my testimony! Each wave of grief teaches me something new. I will always be sharing my experiences as well as coping mechanisms that helped me. Most of the time the answer is going to be something that God gave me.

Hang in there if you're in a bad state of grieving. The wave doesn't last forever. God gives us peace in the midst of chaos, please believe that.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well! 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

My Hardest Cross to Bear


Have you ever just wanted to pack your bags and visit another state far, far away just to shut your mind off? Some would call it vacation, but I call it "the big brain reprogram." There's something to be said about being in a different atmosphere when you're going through a tough period in your life. I remember last May I was having horrible heart palpitations. I was caring for my mom, while watching her decline more and more. She needed more pain meds, more oxycodone, more morphine, more hospital visits. I wasn't sleeping at all. I was a walking zombie most of the time. I remember sitting in my living room in my section of the house crying. I didn't think anyone could hear me. My sister was downstairs visiting Mom and texted me, "Are you okay?" I didn't realize anyone could hear me. I didn't realize how hard I was crying. I was having anticipatory grief. I knew Mom was dying. I didn't want to see her die. I couldn't watch it....but I had to. My heart was palpitating to the point of getting checked out by an ER nurse. Everything was fine, so I made an emergency appointment with a cardiologist. It was more of a consultation for my workup for the following week, but I was leaving to go on vacation with my mom and my partner's family as well. How do I make these palpitations stop? What's wrong with me? Am I having a heart attack?

The doctor assured me that it wasn't a heart attack I was experiencing. He asked about my life's situation and then when he learned of what was happening, he said, "Go on vacation. I promise you this is just stress, or it could be a muscle spasm near your heart muscle that acts like the same 'twitch' you get sometimes on your eyelid. Relax. Breathe deeply. Sit next to the ocean this week." When I left his office, I never got another heart palpitation. I was able to safely drive everyone to the beach house and have the best vacation we ever had. And when I did get the full workup on my heart, I was fine. It was all stress related.

A month after vacation, I was grocery shopping. I was feeling weak from the lack of sleep due to worrying about my mom. I came home with her favorite dinner -- fresh Atlantic wild salmon. I looked over at her on the sofa and wanted to cry and sleep at the same time. I said, "Ma, do you think it would be ok if I make this tomorrow and we can order Chinese takeout for tonight?" She was more than happy with whatever. I felt so bad for not making the dinner that night, but I was literally dragging my feet from exhaustion. After she went to bed, later that night she called me downstairs. She said, "I have to call 911," calmly, and softly. She never wants the EMTs here. She fights it. She hugged me so tight, that I could barely breathe! How did she even have the strength? She said while hugging me, "I love you Debbie." I said I loved her back. Then she said, "I'm so worried about you." I said, "I am too, Ma...I am too..." And we both chuckled as we kept hugging. It was the longest hug my mother ever gave me. Then she went into her bedroom to make her bed and clean her room. She hadn't cleaned her room since she was diagnosed with cancer. She set aside all the remote controls in a pattern, like hotels do. She patted the throw blankets down so it didn't look wrinkled. But I knew what she was thinking as she stood there staring at her beautiful bedroom...

"This is the last time I'll ever see this room again."

I've told this story once before I believe. Losing Mom has been a long and tragic time in my life. I can't grieve anymore though! I can't! It's hurting me. They say it's good to mourn as long as you can, but I disagree. Even the Bible says to mourn for a couple of days, maybe a little more, but get yourself together and let the past be in the past. For the most part, my situation is a little different from all of my sisters' -- not better or worse -- just different. And what I mean by that is, since I work from home and do all the cooking and housework, I was home a lot with mom caring for her too. Trust me -- that woman took care of herself better than anybody else! She wasn't "disabled" -- only when she had bad days with excruciating pain. She was such a strong woman. Sometimes, she'd take care of ME! So my grief also involves feeling abandoned. Silly, right? But it's like, now what? Everyone is capable of taking care of themselves, so the feeling of not being "needed" has me in this strange limbo in life. My partner says she needs me, but if I wasn't here, she'd be just fine. I also miss the companionship, the conversations, her advice, her humor, her presence. I don't believe anyone will ever love me the way my mom did. She knew me so well, that sometimes I'd deny some things she knew about me and then think to myself, "How did she even know that?" Our connection was extraordinary.

I'm trying so hard not to grieve, and it's coming out in other ways, like outbursts of anger or extreme panic attacks during the day. It's affected my work greatly. I haven't written in a long time, just focusing on editing projects, and even that has declined. So please bear with me as I travel through this uncomfortable phase in my life. I'm trying to figure out how to live my life and where I fit into whatever purpose I have here. This year's horrendous flu left me with lingering asthma. Sometimes I'm scared to stay home alone because I get these horrible asthma attacks that turn into panic attacks, to the point of not being able to breathe, and then when I take the meds to stop the asthma, my heart races and palpitates, setting off my panic attacks again. It's a vicious cycle. I'm trying my hardest to fight off this relentless depression. Grief support groups only worsen my situation, and going to a therapist feels useless. I pray and I pray and I pray. God has been giving me these tests in life to make me stronger, but I'm so tired. I can't finish these tests. I beg Him to let up and ease my load as He states in the Bible. "Come to me those who are weary with heaven burdens," -- and I do, but then there's another test given that completely depletes me of all desire to live...and I want to live so badly!

Maybe leaving this house would help. Maybe getting a condo in a community would make me feel less alone. I always wanted to work from home ever since my corporate days. I hated going to the office! I hated it so much! And now, I hate being alone so much. I don't need a babysitter or someone to pacify my time -- I need to accustom myself to the deafening silence of my mom's absence. It's been 6 months since she passed. I didn't think I would be over her by then, because when my dad died, it took me years. I expect much longer with Mom. I want to focus on those around me who are in my life, but much of the time, it's just me with occasional conference calls with other people via video cam in other states. That's not "company." The weekends are okay. My partner has off and we usually spend them either going out to dinner or inviting friends over -- or just doing nothing at all, maybe cooking together and watching some movies. I sometimes meet a friend out for lunch or an early dinner, but it's not enough. I don't want to join "groups" or be involved in organizations just to appease the loneliness. I want to do things because I have a passion to do them.

The realization of all of this has me in a strange place right now. Like -- I'm trying not to be somewhere just to "be somewhere." I'm trying not to get out of the house just to "get out of the house." I want to have enthusiasm for anywhere I go. I don't want to spend time with someone just to pass the time. That's not only rude and disrespectful, but it's a burden on me as well if I'm not in the mood for company. I would never use a friend just because I'm feeling lonely. I want to be with a friend because I WANT their company.

I really miss her so much, but I have to adjust my attitude and accustom myself to this new and strange life I have now. Any suggestions would be appreciative.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well! 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

It's Okay to Let Go...


Miraculously, I made it out of the holidays alive somehow. I didn't know how I would react to it all. I wasn't sure. Christmas without Mom? Without Dad? My partner, Madelene was a huge support system for me, although some people in her family were upset she didn't make it to their events over an hour away. I get it, but this was my first Christmas without my mom. If you can't understand why she couldn't just fly off during Christmas and leave me, then I'm not sure what to say. My partner has known my mom for over 25 years -- she even called her, "Mom." My siblings are her siblings. We decided to head over to my sister's Christmas Eve party and spend some quality time with them. It was important this year. I didn't want to stay home and cry all night, plus, that wouldn't be fair for Madelene. We had a nice time with everyone and then later that night, we headed up. It started snowing while we were driving. It looked so beautiful as the snow fell onto my windshield and blanketed the roads. The same exact thing happened when it was my first Christmas without my father. We drove home while is snowed. It was magical.

The next evening on Christmas day, I had a hard time. I fell into my feelings and couldn't stop the tears. I wailed. It was like my soul crying out to God, "Help me!" Days after, I started getting the same symptoms of grief that I got days after my mom passed away. I started coughing so much, to the point of vomiting. Every morning, I'd wake up nauseous and dry heaving. I was already dreading New Year's Eve, because every single year, we would spend it with my mom and some of my family. New Year's Day, I would just spend it with Mom. Madelene usually works that day, but this year, she thought it was important to stay home. Surprisingly, our New Year's was so incredibly fun and peaceful! I cook eggplant parm, crab cakes, pigs in a blanket, salads and little goodies like my mom used to do. We had champagne and celebrated 2018 coming in. I was "okay." I felt very at peace. Then I realized, that my prolonged grief was not only selfish, but it was making me sick too.

And then I went and prayed and found this scripture in Sirach 37:16-23.

"When someone dies, you should mourn. Weep and wail to show how deeply you feel the loss. Prepare the body in the proper way, and be present at the burial. Weep bitterly and passionately: observe the proper period of mourning for the person. Mourn for a whole day or maybe two, to keep people from talking, but then pull yourself together and reconcile yourself to the loss. Grief can undermine your health and even lead to your own death. Grief lingers on after the death of a loved one, but it is not wise to let it lead you into poverty. Don't lose yourself in sorrow; drive it away. Remember that we must all die sometime. There is no way to bring the dead person back. All your sorrow does them no good and it hurts you. Don't forget that. You will die, just as they did. Today it was their turn, tomorrow it will be yours. When the dead have been laid to rest, let the memory of them fade. Once they are gone, take courage."

Look up, "broken heart syndrome." You can literally get sick and even die from prolonged grief.

At first, this passage may sound a little heartless or perhaps a little more direct than one would prefer, but nonetheless, it's true. I think about all of the wonderful years I had with my mother -- 43 wonderful years, and the last couple of years was hard, because I had to watch her suffer so terribly. But I was lucky enough to be 43 and not 10 or 15 or 25 years old. I don't know how I would've managed being so young and losing a parent. I noticed I was letting myself slip into this awful funk. I was sick all the time, and caught a horrible flu and bronchitis. It compromised my immunity and I didn't get better until recently! I was hospitalized numerous times due to my asthma triggers. My intense grief made me sick.

Another aspect of grieving that consumed me was isolating myself from the world. It's the worst thing you can do while grieving. I know they say that there's no right or wrong way to grieve, but isolating yourself could put you into a depression you can't get out of. Let people help you. Let others come over. Distractions is not the same thing as denial. Distractions are a beautiful way to balance your emotions. So I started letting friends in, letting them stay, have dinner, sleep over, and I also started going out more. It felt really good. I'm on my 6th month of the loss of my mother, and I am feeling hopeful. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I will have my moments and cry -- I almost didn't make it to my sister's Christmas Eve party -- but I HAD to, because I WANTED to, and I know Mom would've wanted me to as well.

Life is for the living. Through prayer and meditation, I'm beginning to find out that this is the message God has been giving me, whether through scripture or some other sign. He speaks to us in various and mysterious ways. It's up to us to be more conscious of it. So my New Year's resolution is to celebrate Mom's legacy, make those around me happy and spend quality time with them, and to let those who have passed, pass....and not in a heartless way, but to let go, because before Mom died, I told her, "It's okay to let go, Mom...I'll be okay."  And now she's telling me the same.

Let go...

Focus on those who are still alive and with you.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well!