Living Well, Dying Well

Mary Friedel-Hunt

I think it’s Tuesday. Each day falls into the next, some endless, some fly by quickly, none feel right. Our daily lives, our country, our planet is in chaos as anxiety tromps through our woods, cities and villages. We all feel threatened in some way. Hope gets buried easily. Those who have children have one set of challenges. Those who live alone have another. We all have many right now. 

Today, early August, school is on our minds. More than 80 percent of our teachers are anxious about returning to the classroom. Should schools open? Corporations want their employees back at their desks. Hospitals are beyond capacity in many places. Staff do their best to keep patients alive. We thank them. Businesses have gone under and paying the mortgage is on many people’s minds. Many are not honoring the only tools we have … masks, social distance, clean hands. It is a tough time. We all want “normal” back. But that normal is gone forever. Hence our grief.

After my husband, Bill, died I wanted normal back. Anyone who has lost a spouse, a child or someone else significant wants the past back. It took me a very long time to find a new normal, one I clearly did not like as well. But now we are all in need of a new normal. 

So I remind myself throughout the days that the sky is still blue, flowers are blossoming around us, forests and gardens are lush with growth. Friends still care. Babies are still being born. Toddlers have no clue what is going on … everything is new to them. 

We can’t think “pandemic” or chaos every waking hour. 

We need some balance each and every day. A movie, music, our jobs, if we are lucky enough to have one; making art; reading; hiking; playing with those toddlers; Zooming with friends; housework; gardening; baking goodies; reaching out to someone.

And, yes, before long the anxiety or grief or anger returns when the paints are put away or the movie ends happily … or not. And so we take some solitude to walk into that anxiety, grief and/or anger. Ask yourself just what do you fear most? What are you grieving? What makes you angry? Feelings matters. It is not healthy to bury them. We bury them alive, you know. They will come out somehow. It is ok to feel fear. It is normal to grieve. Anger is really about loss. The future is unknown right now. It always is. We like to avoid that thought. 

So we turn to this moment and enter into it with full presence. That is how we return to calm. We do it over and over again. We call it meditation whether it is doing the dishes by hand, walking in nature or sitting on a cushion. 

“Be Here Now” said a wise man named Ram Dass. The past is gone. The future does not exist yet. Be Here Now. It is what we have … a wondrous gift. Do not waste these months, these opportunities to grow.

Mary Friedel-Hunt MA LCSW is a clinical social worker, thanotologist and certified bereavement counselor. She can be reached at mfriedelhunt@charter.net; P.O. Box 1036, Spring Green, WI 53588; or www.PersonalGrowthandGriefSupportCenter.com. Vincent Kavaloski’s “Parables and Ponderings” will return next month.