“The Storm is Up, And All is on the Hazard”

tempestThere’s a kind of frenzy that happens after a death in the family.  There’s a sea-change during the rush of funeral arrangements.  Details drag at the ankles, family and well-wishers swarm, then dart off.  It’s like dropping to the bottom of the Mariana Trench and popping back up without a decompression chamber.  Something in the blood bubbles.

Then there’s the Bank Dash, a treasure hunt for the right piece of paper, guarded by people who speak a foreign language.  Just when a few words start to make sense, the Lawyer pulls out a different map and the hunt gallops off in another direction.  Everyone has a different opinion about how to read the legend, how to get from Here to There.  It’s the Tower of Babel flattened to an Iowa cornfield.

I don’t do well with frenzy, so there have been some outbursts.  Most notably, the sprint out of the lawyer’s office to cry in the street.  But, for the most part, I’ve managed with great aplomb, even if I do say so myself.  I’ve learned a lot since my dad died a couple of years ago.  I understand how stress affects me.  I know what to do to lessen the impact.  I’m a lot stronger than I ever believed.

Also, I’m blessed to have a sister who is In Charge.  Now that the initial chaos has settled, she deals with the insurance companies, the banks, the appraisers and auctioneers.  She’s tossed out that old map and made one of her own.  Thank the Stars.

We have a house to clean.  That’s something I can do.  If I break it down into the tiniest tasks.  Like emptying one drawer in one dresser.  Like bagging up the clothes in one closet.  Tiny tasks.  A beginning and an end.  That stops frenzy cold.  That turns a task into a meditation.  There’s space for deep breathing.  The blood starts to de-bubble.

And I need to practice coming back to mindfulness, because the stress isn’t over.  I start my new job as a Peer Support Specialist in a week, and I still don’t know what I’ll be doing.  My clinic is part of the whole restructuring of Iowa’s mental health delivery system.  I’ll be part of the Integrated Health Services Team, and I’ve met those folks—a nurse, case managers and an administrative assistant.  I’ve attended a couple of “professional development” sessions that made no sense to me—except for the HIPAA presentation.  I get HIPAA and how crucial confidentiality and privacy will be in my work.  The rest is gobbledygook.  I figure if I need to know this stuff, someone will tell me eventually.

Because none of the other Peers know what’s going on either.  That makes me feel better.  And the rest of the team is flying by the seat of their pants.  Professionals making it up as they go along.  So, I’ll find out more when I start next Monday.  Or not.

I know I’m at risk.  Stress exacerbates symptoms in anyone with a mental illness.  It can lead to a lapse or full-blown relapse.  Things could get pretty hairy.  But, I’ll do what I know to stay present and keep breathing.  And I’ll dream about my trip to London in September.  Because that won’t be stressful at all.

I’m on an Adventure.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dee Silbaugh
    Jun 29, 2014 @ 12:12:42

    Courage and deep breaths.


  2. Kathryn McCullough
    Jun 29, 2014 @ 13:26:56

    My ex-brother-in-law died last night, and I’m kind of glad to be in Ecuador–a bit removed from the frenzy. Breaking tasks down into tiny parts is the only way to go!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


  3. David Kanigan
    Jun 29, 2014 @ 19:06:51

    Breathe, that’s it Sandy.


    • Sandy Sue
      Jun 29, 2014 @ 20:14:08

      It’s amazing sometimes how that simple breath in and out will slow everything down, bring me back to my body and the Now. Yes, indeed. Breathing is good.


  4. LindaNoel
    Jun 30, 2014 @ 12:23:04

    SandySue, I am going to save what you have written that is about the Dealing with the Death of a Loved one/Parent because it is sooooo evocative of the Experience, inner and outer. I would like to have it to pass along to friends and family, with credit (authorship info) or not. May I ?
    AND I, too, was so very lucky/blessed to have a Sister (and Brother) who Together took care of All of the Stuff with Numbers in it and Official Forms. But all 4 of us sibs (3females1male) agreed to Always inform the others, check with them, be open, honest and supportive. And we did. I have heard often that this is NOT the case with siblings when parent(s) die. It was part of our ways of honoring our dear dear parents. 2. I have found running out of the room to sob against a wall or tree, and then coming back in smiling and saying, light and sincere, “It’s ok. I cry when I’m stressed — and therefore don’t get ulcers!” 3. I am sure the flying by the seat of the pants “structure” of your cooperative Mental Health Endeavor will be interesting, fun, bewildering and very good experience for all – workers and patients! There is so much more room for Expansion (of breathing, ideas, preconceptions, etc.) in that kind of environment than in a rigid work place. Yea for you! P.S. Is this too long of a “Comment” on your blog? I’d be happy to just email you in the future when I get going like this. xoxoxLindaNoel


    • Sandy Sue
      Jun 30, 2014 @ 14:39:19

      First, you’re welcome to share anything I put up on this blog. If you’d stick my name on it, all the better. Second, I think we’re both REALLY lucky in our siblings. Third, I don’t mind leaving a situation to emote, either. Most of the time, I’ve already shared that I’m bipolar. And if not, that usually opens a door to deeper communication. Fourth, I’m not too worried about the work situation, which is a complete change for me. Yaay, Growth! And last, write away, girlfriend! That’s what this space is for!


  5. LindaNoel
    Jul 01, 2014 @ 18:35:46

    I Always say it came from your blog…. and hey, I found The Right TOPS meeting for me this morning — full of smart, relaxed, hilarious women and one groovy old man — this, after checking out all the other meetings and finding them astoundingly horrid-boring-clueless etc. Today we all said how we found TOPS and I was happy to tell ’em I found you…across the country!


  6. Littlesundog
    Jul 05, 2014 @ 09:56:24

    I’m so excited about your Peer Support Specialist position. I love your expressive description about what you face in the aftermath of a death in the family. You pinned it. For me, your life experiences and understanding are what will make you a compassionate Peer Support Specialist… I cannot tell you the number of times you have pinned the emotions and frustration I have felt about my own personal situations. Your understanding and compassion gave me courage to see the gift in the experience.


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 05, 2014 @ 14:50:26

      We all have our compassionate and not-so-compassionate days. My greatest fear is that I’ll want to drop-kick people who can’t/won’t work as hard as I do.


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