For those of you who are new, or who don't know... I work with the elderly (or as we like to call it in Hawaii, our kupuna). Not only do I have the privilege to take care of them, but I also have the privilege to build relationships with them. To go back to the 30s, 40s and 50s eras. To hear stories about where different residents were during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. What is was like to grow up on the plantation fields of Kauai. I get to build relationships. And when the rubber meets the road - it is those relationships that keep me going.
The negative side to working with our kupuna is that eventually, they pass on. Sometimes it hits you like a pinch. Other times, it hits you like a jab. And some times it smacks you down flat on your face. The latter happened this week. And though I've experienced death with one of the closest people to me in the WORLD (dad). It still affects you. It still stops you in your tracks. It still frazzles your entire day. The thought of that person and their families linger with you while you're making dinner, knowing it must be different at their house that night. Laying in bed, you think about how hard it must be for their dearest loved ones to close their eyes on one of the roughest days of their life.
And then the morning comes.
Not literally the next day. Time progresses. Initial shock starts to wear off. Loved ones hold your hand and help put humpty dumpty back together again.
While waiting for the morning to come, I wanted to share three things to help you get through that sensitive and transitional time.
Focus on the positive. Yes, you're loved one is gone. You will miss them terribly. That will never go away. It is human nature. So many memories. So many stories. Try to focus on the fact that your loved one is not experiencing any more pain or suffering.
Write in a journal. After my dad passed away, and I returned back to work - I often found myself reflecting about him, our stories. Many times something happened in my day that I wanted to share with him. Realizing that I couldn't made me sad. Then I remember a journal that I was given that had not been written in yet. Whenever I thought about something I wanted to share with my Dad - I wrote it down in that book. Now that book is filled with letters to him. Sometimes I'm telling him about all the new things happening in my life. Other times I'm venting to him about situations. After writing to him, it feels so good to get off of my chest. Though he isn't here to physically read it, and while I know that he is watching up above. It is still nice to "tell" him about it.
Celebrate. Celebrate the life your loved one lived. (Though I'm posting on Friday, this is being written Thursday night). Today my Dad would have been 66 years old. Though I may have teared when writing my caption, when I finally posted a shout-out on Instagram; I celebrated him by having his favorite lunch for dinner (Quarter-Pounder meal at McD's). Other birthdays I went to his favorite bar, and cooked my favorite meal he made for me, Chicken Pasta. Just a simple gesture to recognize him on his special day kept things light, heart-felt and in GOOD, HAPPY memory of him.
I hope these three things are helpful for you when something has hit you like a ton of bricks and you are in that dark tunnel waiting to see the shining light at the end of a long, dark road.