Sunday, March 6, 2016

How a mug & spoons help me manage my grief and my life

The day I went to the ER for a suspected miscarriage, my husband wandered the hospital halls after the ultrasound to find food, and stopped at the gift shop. Once we returned to the room after the scan, and the medical staff exited, I told him I did not see a heartbeat on the screen. He claimed hunger, which I knew was true because I heard his stomach growl, and it was well past his usual lunchtime. He came back a while later with a cafeteria cup (probably containing sweet tea) and this mug. He was trying to cheer me up and be a little funny. Unfortunately, the mug stinks at keeping coffee warm enough for very long, and it has a chip in the rim from someone else leaving it in the van. I pulled it from the cabinet for sentimental reasons. I didn't want it broken in circulation. To me, it is more than *just* a mug. It is one of the very few tangible items I have connected to the very brief existence of our Francis.

In the Healing After Pregnancy Loss group I joined, we talk about spoons. It is related to the blog post about The Spoon Theory. One day, I was feeling frustrated with the poor reconciliation of my to-do list versus the got-it-done list. My upline director suggested I change how I view the spoons. Instead of using up the spoons, decide how to spend them and what kind of investment will be to spend them. I had a HUGE moment of AH-HAAAA!

I went to the box of plastic cutlery, and I grabbed a handful of spoons out of it. I then found a sharpie marker that actually wrote clearly and worked. I labeled the majority of the spoons. I did leave several blank for those days the grief visits, the stress plays hard in the day, the work of the day wears on me. But the others, I gave a name. As I use a spoon, I turn it handle up in the mug.

  • Crafting - because I haven't done any in a long time, and it is something I want and need to do. Most days my brain just can't fire the pistons correctly for the simplest of knitting though. It's there when I'm ready for it.
  • 31 - I have two of these for my business, so that I intentionally touch my work daily - one for the fun stuff, one for the must-do stuff.
  • Schlepping people - I have to get people places on time and some days, it pulls a lot out of my resources to do it. But it has a name on a spoon because it is a must-do and it helps my family.
  • Reflection - time at the end of the day to journal and end the day on a positive note.
  • Time with my spouse- probably the most important spoon in the bunch. He is incredibly busy and stretched, and we must connect regularly so we avoid drifting in opposing streams.
  • D.W.O.P.S. - Dealing With Other People's Stuff (or the expletive as it were). When it's not just a friend venting, and you find yourself  getting sucked into it. Or your kids are just at each other's throats all day and you're wearing thin of hearing it or refereeing it.
  • Morning - Mornings take a bit out of me because I'm not a morning person, and there's a time crunch, and coffee isn't always hitting the brain fast enough. 
  • Self Care - bathing, grooming, even getting out of my pajamas on those heavy-spirit days.
  • Home Care - because a tidy space blesses everyone, and some days I struggle to even move a dish to the sink or dishwasher.

This is how I sometimes have to manage my days, and manage my grief. I'm a visual tactile person, and some members of my family do not always comprehend the burden on my soul or how it affects my ability to be the matriarch of my household. They can look at the spoons and see how many are available with the handle still down. I have reached a point that I don't need to use the mug of spoons to manage my days as regularly, but it's a gentle reminder to me that life must keep moving, and that there is space and spoons available to allow the grief to visit me for a few minutes, and spoons that are an investment in my life and that of my family.
This coffee mug is not just a silly mug to me. It was a gift from my husband, an attempt to demonstrate his pain to me where he can not articulate it, and his way of sharing humor to kiss my heartache that exists in a way he can not touch. This mug holds a value to me that only someone who has grieved a heavy loss and holds a tangible item related to that situation can fathom. To the rest of the world, it's *just a mug*. If you have a loved one who has such an item, please be respectful about it. When you treat it as an ordinary object, while it has special meaning to them, what you do is disrespect their grief and mourning. Every loss is difficult, regardless of the circumstances. Losing a child though, is a suffering that is more than a loss of the life, but the future that life would have had and the role others would have played in the child's story.