Come along with local registered social worker Cathy MacDougall as she journals her way through her first self-imposed solo silent retreat
I awoke this morning at 3:10. I looked at the clock because I wanted to see if there was a pattern to my waking this early. Again, I lay in bed hoping to go back to sleep and I did about an hour later. I did not wake up until 10, that is very foreign to me! I rolled over and stayed in the cozy cocoon until 11:30! Resting. Although I did have the voice saying get up, get up! I would never have done this before. I would always get up to start my day knowing full well that there really isn’t much time in a day to do everything you have to do. I would have felt terribly upset with myself for allowing me the ‘luxury’ of lounging in bed like this. It’s day three and I’m beginning to see that it is okay to do this.
I digress for a moment. Is it a luxury or is it something I needed or wanted to do? Either way it’s okay. In this instance, I needed to do this. I was still tired. I was so tired coming into this week I know that I need more rest. I would not have been able to stay in bed if I did not. I do know that about me. When I wake up and cannot get back to sleep, I get up. I love getting up early, I always have, especially if I have the first hour or so to myself. However, this week was different, I listened to my body and it was screaming: ‘rest…sleep.’
The other thing that hit me as soon as I awoke is that today marks six years since my mother passed away. I absolutely loved my mother, and we became good friends as we both aged. She was 99 and I was 58 when she died. I also wanted to grieve her and my loss this day. Not a day goes by that I do not think or talk to my mom, but when your “doing, doing and going, going” all the time, and around others, you really cannot grieve properly.
Grieving is about allowing the sorrow and sadness of loss to be recognized. It also accepting that life will not be the same. This does not mean that it’s going to be sad all the time. For me it meant both relief and sadness. I grew after my mother was no longer with me. I review this laying in my bed this morning. I sometimes think about what she would say, and how she loved change. The silver lining. I still miss her, and I always will - at least I hope I will. Although I am not sure I believe in heaven as she did, it gives me comfort to think that she is watching over me and that I will see her again. It’s the only reason I don’t give up the notion of heaven. The alternative is too awful.
This day is one of reflection on my mom, how much I miss her. All the other losses come up as well. My father also died at 99 as well in 2007, and for the first time, I missed him! I mean really missed him! I had great parents, but my father was a very quiet man. Very consistent, routinized, which I do appreciate in people today. I think if I were older when he aged, I would have gotten to know him. Today, I began to miss that I did not. In many ways he remains a mystery to me. But I did love him. It’s funny how you can continue to love someone more even though they are no longer living. Love grows.
My day is slow moving. I am lost in thoughts of many colours. I did decide to get out as the rain had stopped and it was a beautiful warm day for this time of year. I drove first to two different beaches to walk and look for sea glass. I’m a beach girl. I love nature in this form. It is interesting how while growing up I was influenced to be afraid of water. My mom was very nervous about the water because a young friend of hers had drowned in the lake that was in front of her house. Generational trauma. It affects everyone. It is the universal human experience.
I had some fear of water too but only because I did no know how to swim. I learned myself when I was in my forties. I wanted to have the skill simply because I wanted to be able to get in the water and not drown. I like the water, but mostly being near it; watching it; listening to it, rather than being in it. It has always been alluring to me. Among other things it makes me feel a sense of freedom.
· Although, as a social worker, not an insight I have first had today, but grieving never ends, so we must embrace it. It’s the human thing to do. One of the universal human experiences.
· Its so important to know your body. Listen to it.
· I do not have to work so much…anymore. It is a hard lesson to learn.
· I invite you to look at your own losses and allow yourself to grieve. Trust that you will find solace in doing so. Give in to what Mother Nature says is so natural. Mother Nature always wins.