Day 1340- Watch Your Language

Today I meet a friend for brunch. On this post-material (nod to Gary Schwartz) Shayna journey, Bill has been there every step. He led Shayna’s memorial service and he and I have taken long walks regularly where he’s helped me process this. I’ve said things to Bill I wouldn’t say to many other people. As a former pastor and current divorce counselor, he’s got the active listening skills and techniques to make me feel comfortable sharing with him.

As I’ve gone along the journey, he’s been looking for signs of progress. I can sense that, as a counselor, he wants to see me making progress. I don’t know about progress. In those first several days, weeks, and months progress seemed impossible. It wasn’t even something to be sought. All I wanted to do was to be with Shayna. I just wanted the pain to end. If someone mentioned a future beyond tomorrow, it was beyond my comprehension. I didn’t want to think about the immediate future- only the long term future when I would finally leave this realm.

It’s interesting checking in with Bill. It’s typically once or twice a month that we’ll get together. During this entire time, the business has been a struggle. As my financial planner, Bill has intimate knowledge of my finances. He always asks about the business as well as about my mental and emotional state and as someone who cannot tolerate people who do nothing but complain, I get tired of hearing myself report the same thing week after week, into months, and years. I tell him I’m working on patience. But, I have to report the truth. If you don’t want to hear it, don’t ask. But, Bill has been patient listening to me say that not much has changed.

Today, at brunch, Bill asks the same questions. There have been some changes recently. Expenses are way down as I’ve stopped pouring money into things that weren’t working. Advertising is working since trying a new scheme with Google ads. The part-time job with Thomas helps. Tywana has a full-time job. The distribution deal is back in the realm of possibility. And, there’s more. Bill is excited for me saying this is the most positive he has heard me. I guess that’s true. But, I’m just reporting the facts.

Then, he says something to me he has said before. I can’t recall his exact phrasing. But, it’s part of his Divorce and Beyond ministry lexicon. The goal is to move people past the point where the divorce is no longer “life-defining”. He’s been counseling me using his divorce counseling skills. As he’s phrasing what he wants to say very carefully, I’m thinking about how I’m going to respond. I greatly appreciate all that he’s done and is doing for me. But, I’ve got to correct him on this point. Shayna’s passing is life-defining for me. It always will be. It can be no other way, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He clarifies. “What I mean is no longer defining your life as before Shayna passed and after Shayna passed.” I take this to mean like a B.C. / A.D. thing. Man, I want to agree with you Bill. But, no.

Yes, my life is split into two halves (well not halves exactly). I label my blog posts with the number of days it’s been since Shayna’s passing. I’m counting up the days until we are reunited. He asks me if I reflect on how things have changed on milestone dates since Shayna’s passing, her birthday, her angel date, etc. When you’re divorced, I guess you do that, for a while. At this point, with my divorce over three decades in the rearview mirror, I struggle to remember our anniversary date. I don’t recall Mary’s birthday. I think of her and it a couple of times a year, only when something triggers it. I tell Bill I think of Shayna every single day. My day starts and ends with her on my mind, and she’s on my mind all during the day. Shayna motivates most of what I do now. It’s Sunday morning, and I’m sitting here making an entry into the blog named after her. After this, I’ll work on the life-coaching class I’m taking that I would not be taking had I not been placed on this path by her passing. I think I can safely say there will never be an event in my life that is more life-defining than Shayna’s passing. There certainly has not been.

Then, Bill says that what he means is he sees me moving on. The phrase moving on is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Technically, I don’t know that there is any difference between the two, but for me when I picture moving on, I see leaving Shayna in the past. To move on means to leave behind. I will never move on. I’ve moved on from my divorce. It’s in my past. I’ve taken lessons from it. I rarely think about it. And I certainly don’t want to reflect on it daily. I explain to Bill what he sees is me moving forward. Moving forward is very different from moving on. I carry Shayna with me as I move forward. While I’ve always looked forward to my reunion with Shayna, I am seeing that some good can happen between now and then as she is still with me, inspiring me, pushing me. She connects with me through signs, synchronicities, drop-ins with mediums, and in dreams. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together, and I see so many ways the Universe is conspiring to make that happen.

I think the change Bill sees in me is immediately after Shayna passed all I could think about was the past. All of my happiness was in the past. I wanted to go back to the past. I either wanted to clock to fast forward to the end or turn back to before she left. Anything to be out of the present. What I’ve come to is a place where I feel Shayna still with me and where I am focused on where we are going.

With Shining Lights Parents, language can be a trigger that can send us spiraling. Language matters. “Committed suicide” is a phrase that has connotations of suicide being a crime. We commit murder, we commit a bank robbery. We search for new language that is more sensitive and honors the person who has passed and the family. Completed suicide is a phrase that has less judgemental implications.

hayna’s passing will always be a life-defining event for me, as we planned it. It’s supposed to be. I want it to be. If a day goes by and I don’t think of Shayna, something has gone very wrong. It means dementia has set in. I will never move on. I will move forward, together with Shayna. I will continue moving toward Shayna and the completion of my journey. And with that, Day 1340 is underway. It’s time for me to study my life coaching course.

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  1. Like you said, my son’s death was life -defining for me. I can never be the person I was before—she had an innocence, a naïveté that I cannot recapture. And of course, when he died, so did she. I look at “before” pictures of myself—there is a light in my eyes when I smiled that’s missing now. Sometimes I miss the old me as much as I miss Omar….but what can I do?

    And the “moving on” language—why are people so obsessed with the notion that no matter what happens in life, we have to move? Stopping to catch your breath is not allowed. Sometimes I just want to sit right down in the middle of my path of life and refuse to move. But like a “good girl,” I keep giving those around me the illusion of movement.

    1. That is an excellent point, Jackie. Sometimes we do have to just sit, take a break, catch our breath. Our society doesn’t allow for that. If you’re not constantly moving forward, you’re stuck. We’re not sharks. We don’t have to be in constant motion.

  2. Hi Brian —
    The car accident when Saul died next to me, changed my life. I have certainly moved forward, but I KNOW Saul is right here with me on my path, cheering me on.
    About 5 years after Saul died, my son (Saul was buried on his 21st birthday) said something profound to me that I will never forget: “Mom, there has been nothing worse than seeing you in complete despair, and nothing better than seeing you be able to have joy once again. ”
    Brian, I wish the same for you.

    1. Thank you so much, Irene. After Shayna crossed I couldn’t see joy ever coming again. I couldn’t even want it. It still feels strange to think I might be joyful in this life. But, it’s only possible if I know Shayna is still here with me.