Sunday, May 11, 2014

When things take us by surprise—Carolyn R. Wilker

This week has been one of surprises and evidence of change in our lives—some of which does not come entirely by surprise. You see those little signs of those changes, if you look for them, but others, such as a death, can completely turn your world upside down and change the landscape around you.
Earlier on Friday, Heather came for a visit, one that we’d planned weeks ago. We talked about our work and other activities we’re engaged in and how those events shape our lives and contribute to both health and happiness or stress and distress. And since we both enjoy word games, I brought out my Scrabble board and letter tiles and we played a game.
 Before the visit was over, I received a phone call from someone who asked me to sit down before she relayed her news. Surprises, and yet in some ways we might have seen this coming. But still I was not ready to hear it. I had to deal with that at the moment and then, because I had a guest in my home and an event to host that evening, I had to set that news aside or at least try to.
On our way to storytelling, my friend Judy and I talked about events and circumstances that could take over the rest of our lives. She called it compartmentalize, which means to set something into its own space, then deal with it at a separate time.
We had a good evening of storytelling at The Button Factory, with engaged listeners and a great variety of stories, including two of the musical variety. It was my first time to host, and it had gone well. I had been able to focus, to tell my stories and lead the evening, with only a hint to a fellow storyteller that other things had absorbed my attention and, therefore, I hadn’t much time to feel nervous. But my stories were ready and I was ready to tell them.
Home again, and nearly ready to settle in for the night, I quickly checked email on my Playbook, for it was 11:00 p.m. by that time. While sipping on a last cup of tea, I checked if anything of an urgent nature had come up. One email caught my eye and seemed more prominent than the rest. Had I read it correctly? I scanned the email again and tried to shut out everything else from the day. Denise’s husband had died. I didn’t know Dennis, but I know his wife Denise. Through The Word Guild, through Write! Canada and events I’ve attended where she’s been there also.
Compartmentalize again. I decided to send a card to Denise since I couldn’t get to the funeral. I want her to know she’s in my thoughts and prayers, especially now.
In my dreams all those pieces of news swirled around and around, my weary brain trying to sort everything out and put it into order.
 As I process all this news and think of the implications, I remember again that God is with us wherever we are. He knows our thoughts, our worries, our concerns and our delight.
 I must admit that I have a hard time putting my worries in his lap and leaving them there, but I try again. Nothing will bring Dennis back, but we have the certainty of knowing he is with God now. That much will be a relief to his family in this sad time.
While other matters seem to be unsettled, we will eventually deal with those too. Perhaps compartmentalize is the best word after all, that and accepting the grace available to us, through no actions of our own. God with us.

Carolyn R. Wilker, editor, writer, storyteller


Peter Black said...

Thank you Carolyn, for providing perspective and a helpful approach in helping us deal with the matters in hand, while responding appropriately to the unscheduled matters that come along. We join our hearts in prayer for Denise and her family at this time. ~~+~~

Tracy Krauss said...

I remember well me feelings when someone close had died suddenly. The rest of the world continued - children played, people laughed... it seemed unreal when I was going through such a time of grief. When my parents died, the compartmentalization you mentioned took over. There were practical matters to be taken care of and grieving had to wait.
I want to express my sympathy to Denise and her family as well. The announcement was shocking despite the fact that i did not know her husband personally.

Glynis said...

Life overwhelms some days. Perhaps compartmentalize is a good word. Perhaps that might be considered another stage of grief, too. I saw Denise and I saw how brave she was and how graciously she dealt with the hundreds of people who stepped through to pay their respects. Good thoughts, Carolyn and an encouraging post.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you for your comments, Peter. It's not always easy to set things aside. Certainly it wasn't when my life-long friend died lat January, and yet we must continue.
Tracey, it does seem odd when we're out of step while grieving, but there are others who understand even if they want to rush us through grief, a process that must take its own time.
Glynis, I think you're right about that being a state of grief, but it may work for many other balancing acts we must play as mothers and parents.
I sent off my card right away on Saturday and I will catch up with Denise a bit later.

Kathie Chiu said...

Going through something unexpected right now, traumatic actually. But, life goes on and the dinner gets cooked, laundry gets done and on and on - because we compartmentalize. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Bobbi Junior said...

Thanks, Carolyn, for expressing comparmentalizing so well. We often get a sense that unless our feelings are given free reign, we aren't properly honouring the situation. But God says he is in charge, not our emotions. He gives us the ability to set powerful feelings on the shelf so life can move forward. Our job is to remember to bring them down, and sort through them with Him when the time is right. God is good.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thanks, Kathie and Bobbie Junior, for your comments.

Kathie, may you feel God with you in your situation right now.

Bobbie Junior,yes,I would say it's important to pay attention to those powerful feelings and not ignore them. We're emotional beings and to ignore those strong emotions entirely could hurt us. Perhaps we choose a time of day in which to do the grieving or sort through those intense feelings. There may be times, such as in Kathie's situation when it's much harder to set those feelings aside. Indeed they go with us everywhere, even when we set them on a shelf somewhere for a while.

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