Dear Gloria and Heidi,
My name is Millie.
I have been listening to your show for the last eight weeks. I enjoy it very much. I have attended two Compassionate Friends meetings. I was in a local wholesale club and the woman behind me in line was my high school librarian who had lost her daughter in a drowning accident 27 years ago.
She had started going to Compassionate friends for the last year. She was so excited about telling me about Compassioante Friends that after meeting her in the store. I thought, “why not?” and went to the very next meeting which was about 4 weeks after I saw her because they had just had one. Our chapter meets once a month. After I saw her in the store I went home and got on the internet to see if they had a website which linked me to your show. I can’t tell you how much I have improved since I started listening to your show.
My son Charles died in January 18th, 2006. He had a rare form of cancer and died a very debilitating and slow death. Three weeks later my brother in law died suddenly from a severe asthma attack. So I can totally relate to your comments about wishing you had someone better to support you.
My partner, Yvonne, has been as supportive as she can be but she just lost her brother and I too know how difficult that can be. I lost my brother the year that Charles was born. In fact he(Mac) died Septeber 16th, 1984 and Charles was born October 12th, 1984. So I went through a lot that year.
But getting back to my point. I have been listening to all of your shows whether it directly involves my issue or not. There are themes that run through every grieving person. This particular show on Step Parents I was emphathising with my partner Yvonne. She will often say to me “what about me. I am grieving too.”
Sometimes I can respond compassionately and at other times I am almost defensive and say that I can’t think about you right now I have to take care of me. So it can become very stressful sometimes because we don’t always know how to communicate with our partners, let alone try and support them in their own process.
For me I quit working to care for my son while he was ill. I missed a lot of work since 2002 when he was diagnosed and so it feels like I have only worked part time for the last five years. I don’t want anyone’s pity. But going through finding a job after the loss of a child presents its own set of challenges. The first couple of interviews I went on I would literally fall apart in the car on the way home. It becomes so trivial and aggrivating explaning the gaps in employment.
After he died I took some time and went to SFCA and Mexico to spend time with a family member who was recovering from a stroke. I went to SF in March came home and immediately started looking for work. My background is in the Human Service field. My previous employer had offered me a job back doing what I was doing and I was hyped up about going back to work. But one thing that she said to me was”You might be physically ready to come back to work but are you emotionally ready?” So I thought about it for a few minutes and I said well maybe not. So I turned the job down at that time. I kind of regret that. I wish I would have gotten back on the saddle and just plunged away at it. But I sort of look at this time of not having a job as having a huge gift being given to me. It is kind of a quandry that I am in. My financial situation continues to worsen as I struggle through the whole employment games process.
I went to Mexico in September to see the same family member. It was nice and being around the ocean was very theraputic. I would say to myself that I need this in order to help me recover from this tramatic time that I am in. I would grieve and cry. But I also wrote and spent time with myself getting in my “feeling” space. I would sleep a lot. But when I got back I actively persued employment. Still I have no job. So it hasn’ t been as easy as I thought getting back to work. I know that something will happen to my advantage eventually. But I wonder how many other people have gone through similiar experiences.
It was the right choice for me to quit my job and take care of my son Charles. But it can be a struggle getting back to any kind of a normal life. Thanks for listening and thanks for your wonderful show.
Millie Cowles (pronounced with a long O sound like coles, coals)