Find Joy Instead of Despair

Mom’s third day in the hospital dawned as I assessed my morning routine. In my quest to find joy instead of despair, I learned to practice self-care in my caregiver role. Even so, there were little messages that I heard but didn’t heed. For example, I didn’t take time to make breakfast, looking up Bojangles’ sandwiches. But I forgot to download the ordering app. So instead, I completed an abridged version of my Reiki practice, showered, and put on makeup, including mascara.

Find Joy Instead of Despair

When I arrived at Bojangles, I tried to go inside. The staff locked it. I backed out of my parking space and pulled into the drive-up line behind two men on foot. They had motorcycle t-shirts on, and there were motorcycles in the parking lot.

I noticed the pile of large river rocks where the speaker and menu had been. The drive-up line moved slowly. As we neared the temporary ordering setup, I heard the noisy highway floating through my open windows and felt the cool morning breeze. I

It was amusing to watch the motorcycle guys order. They jumped on and backed off the sensor plate to let the Bojangles employee know they wanted to order. The taller of the two bent himself nearly in two at the speaker stand. Then it was my turn to drive up and order. The long line behind me was impressive, snaking around the far side of the building.

I closed my passenger side window to reduce the noise. Waiting patiently, I listened for acknowledgment from the speaker stand. Finally, I shouted at the pedestrians in front of me, “Guys! Hey, guys! Motorcycle guys!” Eventually, the shorter man turned my way and started to approach. Then a voice from the speaker stand said, “Are you talking to me?” I answered, “No, but I’d like to.” We all laughed. I placed my order. It was so amusing; I took a photo of the two guys in front of me from my windshield.

As they approached the drive-up window, one said, “This is a first for me, walking in the drive-up at Bojangle’s!”

Mom’s Third Day at the Hospital

Soon I was backing into a space in the hospital parking lot. Gathering my purse, book, coffee travel cup, and changing my glasses, I locked the car and walked the familiar path to the temporary entrance of the hospital. A new face was staffing the makeshift welcome table. After sanitizing my hands and placing my mask on my face, I approached.

“Do you know where you are headed?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m very familiar with the route.”

“I’ve heard that a lot this morning,” she replied.

As I walked through the gauntlet of chairs in the shared emergency room waiting area, I began the familiar path past walls striped with blue painter’s tape. The young man who was patching drywall all week was absent. I missed saying hello or commenting on his steady progress.

You Never See it Coming

Stepping into the waiting elevator, I pressed the button for the second floor. As the doors opened, I saw two unfamiliar masked faces at the nurse’s station.

“Good morning, you guys are new!”

One of the women, striking in her deep blue scrubs that matched the blue of her kind eyes, had moved toward me. I noticed her name tag said ‘Brenda.’ I turned left for the short walk to Mom’s room. Just before I arrived at the closed door, the nurse, who had discreetly followed me, spoke.

“Are you Dawn?”

“Yes.”

“I just put the phone down as I heard the elevator. I’m sorry, but your mother just passed.”

Brenda was ready for my reaction. She took the coffee mug out of my hand as I covered my audible sob. Her sweet arms hugged me as I continued to cry. Finally, my need to purge grief subsided, her hug loosened, and our eyes met.

“Spend as much time as you need.”

The room was oddly silent as I walked to my familiar spot next to the bed. Mom was serene; her closed eyes had lost their tightness. Although her body had ceased to function, I felt her soul nearby.

“Hi, Mom. It’s Dawn. It’s all over. Don’t worry about anything. You can be with Daddy now.”

I stroked her still warm forehead, “I love you.”

I closed the hospital room door and headed for the nurse’s station to thank them. Then, out of the blue, I heard myself telling the story of my funny experience in the drive-up at Bojangles. I knew Mom’s soul was there, too, laughing along with us.

Find Joy Instead of Despair

Hospitals and death can be harrowing experiences. Or they can be joyful. Allowing my emotion’s full impact when I had the loving support of nurse Brenda opened up space for the joy of release. The release was for my Mom and me. Furthermore, it gave me the freedom to relieve the natural stress felt by the hospital staff.

Having experienced the deaths of two husbands, my father and now my mother, in the past seven years has served as a primer for grieving and letting go.

Mom and I discussed death many times. She and I were together at Dad’s passing. And both were adamant in their wish to allow death it’s due. I’m grateful Mom’s end of life wasn’t prolonged and that the hospital staff supported our decisions.

My understanding of the importance of self-care, especially in the role of caregiver, has brought me peace. I have learned how to find joy instead of despair. So, may your life experiences bring you growth toward fulfilling your purpose.

Sue Linebaugh Anderson Obituary

As I started placing the Sue Linebaugh Anderson obituary in the Lakeland Ledger, I realized there was no reason I couldn’t post it here as a blog post. So now I can write everything I want to include about my Mother’s life, including links to other blogs in the future. So if you feel inclined, please leave a memory in a comment.

Sue Linebaugh Anderson Obituary

Sue, 93, passed away peacefully on June 4th, 2022, after a brief illness in Boone, NC. She was born on Bastille Day, 1928, in West Palm Beach, Florida, at her maternal grandparents’ home. Furthermore, it was the 4th birthday of her older brother.  Grandmother Frankin, “Dashie,” was devastated over the untimely death of her son, Benjamin Franklin. The doctor hoped a birth would lighten Dashie’s depression. It worked, and Sue became very close to her Grandmother Franklin, spending summertime in West Palm Beach.

Soon, she, Floyd Jr., her parents, Claribel, “Frankie,” and Floyd Linebaugh returned to their Winter Haven, Florida home. The same year Bok Tower Gardens near Lake Wales was dedicated. Then, less than a year later, the stock market crashed.

Sue attended local schools, graduated from Winter Haven High School in 1946, spent a year as a Cypress Gardens Southern Belle, and attended a Business School in Washington, DC.

Getting Married and Moving

Sue met her husband, Norman “Swede” Anderson, at a Winter Haven vs. Haines City high school football game and married a year later in Winter Haven. They resided amid a citrus grove on Lake Crystal in Dundee for forty years. Sue taught aerobics through the Haines City Recreation Department for ten years. Their next adventure was retirement in La Garita, Colorado, in the high-altitude farming San Luis valley. Sue cared for Swede until he passed away in La Garita in 2015. In 2016, Sue returned to Polk County with her daughter Dawn Anderson and son-in-law, Wayne Simons. She spent her last months in Watauga County, NC.

The Family Who Mourn Her

Survivors include her sister, Carolyn Harmon, daughter Lila Rogers (Steve), grandchildren Elizabeth Opala (Joe) and great-grandson Elias, Michael Rogers, daughter Dawn Anderson, grandchildren Larry Marciano, David Marciano (Starlight), and great-grandchildren, Charlotte and Benjamin Marciano. Nephews Bill Harmon (Cheryl), Blake Harmon (Cindy), Rush Harmon, Reed Harmon, and niece Jill Snively. Niece Linda Harmon Morgan predeceases her. Additionally, Michael Roads, Swede’s nephew, mourns her passing.

There are many more relatives and friends whose life Sue touched in multiple states and countries.

Her Religious Life

Although Southern Baptist by birth, Sue joined Grace Lutheran Church in Winter Haven in 1960. She was active in Circle, taught Sunday School to preschoolers, and served on the altar guild until moving to Colorado in 1989. Similarly, Sue was an active Saint Peter Lutheran Church member for 26 years. Upon returning to Polk County, she rejoined Grace Lutheran in Winter Haven. Her memorial service will be later this year.

Seven Weeks Later it Happened

For me, seven weeks later, it happened. You think you are progressing well in your grief journey after losing a spouse. Even with the daily bouts of crying, life is returning to ‘normal.’ Then, something brings the sadness back with a vengeance.

Seven Weeks Later, It Happened

For me, it was a phone call from a bereavement counselor with the hospice provider, Compassionate Care. However, the ring had nothing to do with my husband’s hospice. Instead, it was a friend, Jeanne, whom I knew because of my husband. Wayne dated Jeanne, and they remained friends.

Jeanne had asked me long before to act as her health surrogate. In my usual role as caregiver, I readily agreed. As often happens, Jeanne’s cancer didn’t work as expected. She endured for years. As I left Wayne’s memorial service, I received the phone call that Jeanne had been admitted to hospice. She passed eighteen days later.

A Simple Question from a Stranger

Anne, the bereavement counselor, called me last Monday morning, one week after Jeanne passed. She introduced herself and why she was calling.

Then Anne asked, “How are you doing?”

I started to answer when the sobs interrupted me.

Sometimes We Need to Talk

As I talked, Anne listened. She said very little, mainly offering support, honesty, and understanding during the thirty-minute phone call. The truth is that most people don’t want to hear about your grief. They want you to get over your grief and return to the person they love.

Furthermore, your friends want you to be happy. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger who isn’t vested in you. Still, it’s up to us to find how best to move through our grief.

How to Start Moving Out of the Heaviest Feelings

One way is indulging yourself in what has made you feel better in the past. Be aware that sometimes you might have been avoiding the grief. As someone expert in avoidance, I don’t recommend it. However, there are some universal ways to feel better while honoring grief.

  • Get outside.
  • Find ways to feed your personality.
  • Have compassion for yourself.
Claytonia virginica

I’m an extrovert who is creative, observant, curious, and loves research. So my way of moving out of my heaviest feelings was to take a leisurely walk in nature.

Star chickweed

 

Even though the trees were bare, a few flowers peaked out amongst the leaf litter. If you click on the photos, you can see larger photos.

 

Cutleaf toothwort

My self-compassion came when I realized I had overextended my physical limitations. So I stopped often, sat on tree stumps and boulders, and laughed at my attempts to take a selfie.

Final Thoughts

When you feel the grief has returned at a higher pitch, try to flow with it. Give yourself a break. If you are the friend of someone who has lost a loved one, be patient and supportive. We appreciate you more than you know.