Some days you just cry
Some days I just cry, just feeling so much sadness.
If this happens to you -- even months or years after the death of a loved one, don't be surprised. It can just sweep over you, uninvited. It can happen when you are alone, or even with friends and family.
It could be the sunshine, it could be the rain, it could be a memory that flashes through your mind. Both new grief and long-term grief carry strange and unpredictable feelings. Even months or years later.
The question is: How can you shake off this sadness and regain a positive feeling, so you can go on with the day's activities, and feel better?
Well, there are many ways to trick yourself into regaining perspective and lifting yourself up.
• One is to go out in the yard and plant some new flowers in the patio pots or in the garden.
• Another is to take a walk and look around at nature, look outside yourself
• Play with your cat or dog. Pets are very cheering and comforting.
• Call a friend and catch up, or make plans.
• Go for a scenic drive
• Think about the fun Swedish festival you went to last month.
• Go to the local farmers market and add little things to your collections.
• Go to lunch at a favorite restaurant or cafe, one where they know your name and make excellent home-cooked food.
• Look forward to the delicious Greek summer festivals coming up, with homemade kebab and moussaka and baklava, and fun music, and folk dancing.
• Think about the annual Polish Pierogi Festival with all its delicious food and festivities, also this month.
These local festivals and fairs are refreshing because they get you out with friends and the community, again get you outside yourself. They are enjoyable, even if you go by yourself, just be part of the crowd.
Same with nature.
One of my favorite ways to start the day is a simple yard walk. Fun to see what's new, and what's growing. And it's a good way to run into your neighbors and stay in touch, especially in these summer months.
The point is: It takes some deliberate effort to cope with and manage grief. I did this just today. When I felt sad, I went out and planted some new flowers -- poppy seeds and beebalms which attract butterflies and hummingbirds. My earlier seeds got drowned out with all the rain, so am trying again.
They will bring smiles when they sprout, and when they bloom. And I noticed some sunflowers are sprouting up in my morning glory pots, that's a new one. You never know. We can get a lot of joy from nature.
Another idea is to turn to your hobbies -- whether cooking, reading, biking, painting, music, sports, anything that is soothing and makes you happy.
I personally often turn to cooking. My dear husband Baheej, along with my sister-in-law Noelle, taught me to cook. So it is something Baheej and I did together. He had a beautiful touch on how to arrange and present the food in an appealing way, and a perfect sense of taste for the right spices.
Right now I've started reading a historical docu-novel, given to me by friend Cami, on the life of Queen Victoria in England. It begins when Victoria was just 16 and trying to keep out of the clutches of her domineering mother and her mother's court adviser, who were trying to control her every move.
She made it to maturity at age 18 and took over as queen. Next I will get to her marriage with her beloved Albert, and that's quite a story in itself. When he died, she memorialized him by leaving all his clothes, belongings, and his office in place, just as they were the day he died. She was in mourning the rest of her life. Quite a love story.
We all must try to do what we can to make what they call a nice day. Actually, one should not underestimate nice days. They propel you forward and bring good feelings. They keep us going.
So the point is -- if sad feelings sweep over you after the death of a loved one, whether your spouse, partner, parent, child, sibling, or friend -- try hard to lift yourself up. It's normal to cry sometimes. Rely on friends, family, your own inner strength, and your happy memories.
We can do it.
• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a Ph.D. in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College, and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at email@example.com or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Ander