Bliss

Opening your heart to someone – really opening it – doesn’t mean everything will always be sweetness and light, although there are moments (many moments) when the love is pure and gentle.
 
Opening your heart means a willingness to accept the dark sides of another, just as you have your own. You may still draw your sword against those painful shadows, and try to bring them into the open to minimize their power, but you don’t shut down your feelings just because the loved one has dingy edges.
 
“Opening your heart” has a ring of joyful noise and harps and rainbows. Actually, in real life anyway, it’s a messy business that can include tears and anger. In fact, I believe it must… because until you face the harshnesses inherent in all of us, how can you truly, unconditionally love another?
 
In return for such acceptance, the joy is magnified and the power of that love strengthened.
 
So what got me going on this topic?
 
A little thing but it turned into – for me – another in a series of reinforcements of how connected my late husband and I were, and still are.
 
Many know I had a 2006 Pontiac GTO. Six speed, 400 horse, black with red leather interior. I loved that car. LOVED it.
 
And Johnny loved me in that car… in many respects, it exemplified the feral side of me, and why “Wild Thing” by The Troggs was on our wedding album.
 
I miss that car. I miss us in that car, and I miss Johnny’s Jeep Wrangler with the hard top off, with him in his bush jacket with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
 
A few minutes ago, I researched 2006 GTOs and found that there are some available. Not the black with red interior I’d had, although there are several red on reds, black on blacks, and even orange (no, thank you).
 
As I briefly pondered saving up the twenty-plus grand so I could once again someday have a replacement for the car I adored (she didn’t just announce her entrance; she growled to let you know she had arrived), a sudden sense of joy and amusement filled my heart and soul.
 
Johnny was getting a kick out of me and that car once again.
 
And I know this because our connection continues even now, a connection that may not have been possible if I had not truly accepted parts of John that perhaps should have been unacceptable. I’m not talking forgiveness, because to me that implies condescension. But rather, understanding and accepting – albeit with sadness – the aspects of John that he hated in himself.
 
In any event, that moment of connection with my husband is typical of one that happens every now and then. And I’m grateful.

*****************************************

In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.

My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see.  I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him in this life.

The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1.  Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.

Fair winds and following seas, Husband.

**************************************

We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Grief Warrior Project off the ground.  You can find us there at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewarriorproject/

Follow us on Twitter!  @WarriorProjME.

Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps.  All profits (after expenses) go to helping us help others.  You can find Heritage Collectibles at https://heritagecollectiblesmaine.com, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts).  Some of Heritage Collectibles’ inventory is on consignment at the offices of Heritage Health Services, 124 Canal Street in Lewiston.

**************************************

Despite decades of disbelief, I have come to realize that our loved ones are able to communicate with us through the life/death barrier.  My Johnny has proved this in ways that I can’t attribute to my own mind making things up… there have been complex coincidences and synchronicities, extraordinary happenings, and messages through others who could not possibly have any knowledge of the information they’ve passed on.  Truly mind-blowing stuff.  I don’t yet have a coherent sense of what I believe about life after death, but I know my husband loved me with everything he had, and that he still does.  Our wedding vows were “to death and beyond” and that has proved true for both of us.

I can’t tell you how it all works, or how you can get through to your own loved one, but if you’re interested, I can tell you of my experiences and my thoughts on this.

Posted in Inspirational, John K Snyder | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Longing

Longing

I find myself

Scrolling aimlessly

Searching for something
Searching for someone

Someone I miss terribly.

It’s a waste of time, of course
This futile attempt
To find him in the insights of others
When I can really only find him

In the quietness of my own soul.

Come back, I beg.

Please come home.

You must wait, dear, he whispers.
One day it will be time.

Until then, you have work to do.

And are needed where you are.

Linda Snyder, 28 May 2020
Posted in Grief, Loneliness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whoa… Loads Going on Here!

There’s been a great deal of work going on in the background here at The Grief Warrior Project… I’ll try to get caught up with everyone soon!

In the meantime, Heritage Health Services (the “parent” company of The Grief Warrior Project) has leased offices at 124 Canal Street, Suite 2 in Lewiston  ME.  We’ve recently gotten our NPI (National Provider Identifier) as a Community/Behavioral Mental Health Center, and plan to start working on the ability to bill health insurances soon.

As soon as it’s safe, we plan to re-start our support group meetings, and provide other services in the areas of grief support and suicide prevention.  One goal is to add a licensed therapist or two who specialize in grief to our services.

Here’s a preview of the waiting room… it has the low key, warm ambiance of a summer patio. It’s not quite done yet (I still need to get art up on the walls), but I love it!

Stay tuned!

(P.S.  I’m not sure why the photos of the office space aren’t showing up, and I have to head out right now.  Will try to fix this later.  In the meantime, if you’re on Facebook you can see photos on our group page, The Grief Warrior Project.  Thanks!)

Posted in Death & Dying, Grief, Support Groups, Warrior Project | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Executive Dysfunction and The “Impossible Task”

There’s an idea called the “Impossible Task” that’s gone viral in the past year or so.  Coined by M. Molly Backes, the Impossible Task is the inability to manage a very simple, every day function that would not be a problem were it not for the brain being affected by major depression, anxiety, AHDH, grief, or some other disorder that interrupts one’s executive functioning skills.

Executive function is defined as the brain’s ability to manage a variety of tasks in the areas of memory, flexible thinking and inhibitory control.

Without the ability to manage these tasks, an individual – children and adults alike – can have difficulty with any or all of the following:  paying attention, organizing and planning, starting tasks and sticking with them, managing their emotions, and keeping track of what one is doing.

Grief will do this to you.  Complicated grief, as in the aftermath of a suicide, can (and will) severely impact one’s executive functioning.

Tragically, I know this personally.  And so does anyone else impacted by the suicide of a loved one.

I was destroyed after my husband died by suicide in October of 2016 following a long period of failing health, during which time I had been struggling to balance everything, and to pick up the slack wherever I could to try to make life easier on him.  I can’t begin to tell you what a mess I was.

My problems with memory, planning & organizing, follow through, judgment, and emotional regulation had been coming on gradually anyway because of his illnesses and the stress and fear and anxiety that I was living with, but after John’s death, my ability to think seemed to die along with him.

Too many things were suddenly impossible, like paying bills.  I’d forget or be unable to figure out how to do it (too often, I couldn’t find my checkbooks or my debit cards; I would even find it impossible to sign in to my on-line accounts).

Then I’d have to talk to those I owed money to, but discussing why I’d gotten behind would set me off into uncontrollable bouts of messy, snotty sobbing, and could cost me hours of being able to accomplish anything.  I was barely hanging on as it was, and this would set me back even further.

I came home one day to find the water company had spray painted a blue arrow in the snow in front of my house. Oh my god… I couldn’t remember the last time I’d paid the water bill.  Panicked, I searched through my house for my checkbook, and then drove the half mile to the local water district.  I cried inconsolably while paying that bill.  The clerk seemed kind enough but clearly couldn’t understand my gasping about my husband’s suicide and how I couldn’t think any more.

Rationally, I knew that delaying paying bills, and even delaying getting organized enough to pay those bills, would make it all worse.  It didn’t matter.  I just couldn’t seem to pull it together, and even when I was aware of what I had to do, I couldn’t do it.  And of course, no one really understood.  After all, I had a Master’s degree in education, had run a nearly $9M business for 10 years, and had served on multiple boards and committees, often appointed by local mayors and even the State’s Governor at one point.

But I couldn’t think.  There were many tasks that just seemed impossible.

(A few weeks after John died, a salesman came into the antiques shop we had started. He wanted to sell me something; I think it was a fluorescent sign. I said I was sorry but I couldn’t even consider it right then because my husband had just died.  His response?  “Well, that’s not my fault”.  I doubt he had an executive functioning problem.  More likely a basic lack of humanity problem.)

Even my employer at the time didn’t understand what I was going through and I worked for a mental health agency.  (One supervisor told me to just do what I’d tell my clients to do.  She clearly didn’t grasp the enormity of what I was dealing with.)

I knew I was finally beginning to heal the day I made one of those “impossible task” phone calls, and didn’t break down.  At that point, John had been gone for three years.

There’s much more I could write on this topic: kids I’ve known with trauma histories or ADHD who can’t seem to get a handle on basic processes and whose parents don’t understand why the child “doesn’t pay attention”; adults with major depression who can’t seem to get out of their own way; the list is sadly longer than we might realize.

You really don’t ever know what battle is going on in someone else’s life.

For more information on The Impossible Task, check out these resources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/impossible-task-anxiety#1

A quick discussion of executive functioning can be found here:

https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/executive-functioning-issues/types-of-executive-function-skills
*******************************************************

In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.

My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see.  I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him.

The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1.  Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.

Fair winds and following seas, Husband.

**************************************

We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Grief Warrior Project off the ground.  You can find us there at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewarriorproject/

Follow us on Twitter!  @WarriorProjME.

Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps.  All profits (after expenses) go to helping us help others.  You can find Heritage Collectibles at  https://heritagecollectiblesmaine.com, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts).

Beginning September 23, 2019, you will be able to call in for grief support from Linda Snyder, M.S.  The fee is $40 per phone hour (50 minutes), payable in advance via PayPal (use LSnyder@regroupbiz.com as the Pay To email address) with times available as follows:

Mondays – Fridays, 4:00 am and 5:00 am EST
Wednesdays, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm EST
Fridays & Saturdays, 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm EST.

Just go to https://regroupbusinesssolutions.fullslate.com/ where you can sign up!  (It’s a bit confusing because there’s loads of writing to wade through, but if you go to the bottom left hand corner where it says “Online Scheduling” and click on the link that says “Grief Support Services”, it will take you to the calendar where you can choose an appointment time and sign up.

Talk to you soon!

**************************************

Despite decades of disbelief, I have come to realize that our loved ones are able to communicate with us through the life/death barrier.  My Johnny has proved this in ways that I can’t attribute to my own mind making things up… there have been complex coincidences and synchronicities, extraordinary happenings, and messages through others who could not possibly have any knowledge of the information they’ve passed on.  Truly mind-blowing stuff.  I don’t have a clue what I believe about life after death, but I know my husband loved me with everything he had, and that he still does.  Our wedding vows were “to death and beyond” and that has proved true for both of us.

I can’t tell you how it all works, or how you can get through to your own loved one, but if you’re interested, I can tell you of my experiences and my thoughts on this.

Posted in Coping Skills & Resiliency, Grief, Suicide | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Almost Three Years…

Well, strictly speaking, I’m “cured” of the bout of pneumonia that knocked me off my feet and significantly limited my ability to work for nearly two weeks. I could whine about the on-going cough and exhaustion, but everyone else is dealing with the same crap, so that’s nothing new.

There’s not a whole lot else to talk about lately… haven’t even heard from Johnny in a month… not even a whiff of cigarette smoke. But then, it’s hard to be open to messages when I’ve felt like I was going to cough up a lung at any moment.

A couple of nights ago I went out in back of the house to throw a ball to Millie – her favorite activity. John would throw that ball over and over, and his aim was always straight and true… it would land in the same place every single time, unlike mine. I never know where it’s gonna end up, bouncing off a tree, or way off the path, or even dropping it before I can actually get a throw delivered. It’s kind of okay, because Millie is older now and I worry about pushing her to run as far and as fast as she did when she and Johnny would play, even though she wants to..

Ah, but I just went off on a tangent.

So I went out back in the evening. It was dusk, the end of a beautiful crisp fall day. The air at the edge of our woods smelled… just like it did three years ago. Inhaling that air brought it all back.

The night John disappeared was rainy and soggy, but the next day brought sunshine and the kind of autumn day in Maine we all yearn for. And oh how I hoped to find him alive, just the victim of a stupid or clumsy accident out in those woods.

One week and one day from now will make three years. I do not miss him any less. I still wear my wedding rings on my left hand along with his wedding band, and if you see me with a tree of life pendant around my neck, which I wear several days a week, it’s because that pendant has a tiny urn of his ashes in it.

And every day that goes by, I remember one more thing I did that failed him.

I know i did many things right. But they aren’t as easy to remember as the ones I got wrong.

I’ve gotten messages from him that friends have described as “extraordinary”, and I know that he’ll be there when it’s my time, and that my miserable failings are understood and accepted as part of being human.

But it doesn’t take away the hurts that I inflicted unintentionally while he was still here; such as the times when I was “too busy” to listen, or disappointed him because I brought home Chinese take-out with no meat in it (because it was one of those days when I was unable to put aside my own needs for his).

As time goes on, I find that I am more patient with people’s failings when they’re trying to do well, and far more irritated by people who are deliberately being assholes, and that includes myself.

Greed, self-aggrandizement, hatred and/or fear of others because they’re different… it’s all so very stupid and tiresome. Love really is the only thing that matters.

*******************************************************

In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.

My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see.  I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him.

The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1.  Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.

Fair winds and following seas, Husband.

**************************************

We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Grief Warrior Project off the ground.  You can find us there at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewarriorproject/

Follow us on Twitter!  @WarriorProjME.

Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps.  All profits (after expenses) go to helping us help others.  You can find Heritage Collectibles at  https://heritagecollectiblesmaine.com, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts).

Beginning September 23, 2019, you will be able to call in for grief support from Linda Snyder, M.S.  The fee is $40 per phone hour (50 minutes), payable in advance via PayPal (use LSnyder@regroupbiz.com as the Pay To email address) with times available as follows:

Mondays – Fridays, 4:00 am and 5:00 am EST
Wednesdays, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm EST
Fridays & Saturdays, 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm EST.

Just go to https://regroupbusinesssolutions.fullslate.com/ where you can sign up!  (It’s a bit confusing because there’s loads of writing to wade through, but if you go to the bottom left hand corner where it says “Online Scheduling” and click on the link that says “Grief Support Services”, it will take you to the calendar where you can choose an appointment time and sign up.

Talk to you soon!

**************************************

Despite decades of disbelief, I have come to realize that our loved ones are able to communicate with us through the life/death barrier.  My Johnny has proved this in ways that I can’t attribute to my own mind making things up… there have been complex coincidences and synchronicities, extraordinary happenings, and messages through others who could not possibly have any knowledge of the information they’ve passed on.  Truly mind-blowing stuff.  I don’t have a clue what I believe about life after death, but I know my husband loved me with everything he had, and that he still does.  Our wedding vows were “to death and beyond” and that has proved true for both of us.

I can’t tell you how it all works, or how you can get through to your own loved one, but if you’re interested, I can tell you of my experiences and my thoughts on this.

Posted in Grief, Suicide | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Plea… Posted to My Facebook Timeline on August 30, 2019

A plea…

My Johnny was brilliant, talented, funny and larger than life. He was also deeply flawed and silently battled hideous demons he could not talk about, and which left him with a sense of shame that he couldn’t shake free of. He tried sometimes to let me in to his private hell, but then would suddenly shut down. It was painful to try to help when he couldn’t even voice what he was facing.

But he loved me with everything he had, and oh how I loved him.

I would give anything if he could walk through that door right now, with that deep gravelly voice and oddball sense of humor. But he was in tremendous pain, both emotionally and physically, a level of pain I would never want anyone to have to endure.

I would far rather live with the never-ending nightmare of my grief than have him remain alive under those circumstances, just to avoid “passing on his pain to me”, which seems to be the way too many people describe suicide.

He loved me and was convinced he was a burden and that I was better off without him. He would not have ended his own life if he’d known the impact his death, especially at his own hand, would have on me. I know this with everything I have.

I loved him, and would rather bear this pain that rips apart my very cells, than expect him to live with his torment.

Too many times I’ve heard people complain about a spouse’s death – whether by suicide or other causes. “How dare he leave me all alone like this?” “How selfish she was to not take care of her health!” “I am so angry that he is dead and now I have to deal with all the problems by myself!”

Anger is often a defense mechanism, used to cover up feelings that are hard to face: the need for love and belonging, for respect, for being part of something special.

Although I was upset with John for his alcoholism and was terrified I would come home some evening and find him dead from alcohol poisoning, I have not been angry with him for his suicide. Tragically, that suicide made clear the depth of his shame, his pain, and his own fear that I might indeed find him dead one night. After all, I twice had him in the ER where they found his blood alcohol content to be four times the legal limit. And yet, he was still standing, and talking, and lying, saying he hadn’t been drinking.

John did some shitty things because of his addictions; those very same addictions that I was in denial about for a long time. He fought them but couldn’t overcome the compulsions, and each time he lost a battle he spiraled deeper into an abyss of self-loathing that I only have the barest glimmer of.

It is my agonized hope that people will stop treating suicidality and addictions as a personal weakness, and start understanding them for the terrible disease of the mind and body that they are.

If you love me, please honor my husband’s life and struggle by spreading this word, or if necessary, by examining your attitudes.

If you only barely know me (or John), but love someone else who has lived this nightmare, please do the same.

Shaming those with addictions, depression or any other disease has never been proven to work.

Thank you.

*******************************************************

In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.

My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see.  I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him.

The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1.  Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.

Fair winds and following seas, Husband.

**************************************

We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Grief Warrior Project off the ground.  You can find us there at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewarriorproject/

Follow us on Twitter!  @WarriorProjME.

Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps.  All profits (after expenses) go to helping us help others.  You can find Heritage Collectibles at  https://heritagecollectiblesmaine.com, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts).

Beginning September 23, 2019, you will be able to call in for grief support from Linda Snyder, M.S.  The fee is $40 per phone hour (50 minutes), payable in advance via PayPal (use LSnyder@regroupbiz.com as the Pay To email address) with times available as follows:

Mondays – Fridays, 4:00 am and 5:00 am EST
Wednesdays, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm EST
Fridays & Saturdays, 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm EST.

Just go to https://regroupbusinesssolutions.fullslate.com/ where you can sign up!  (It’s a bit confusing because there’s loads of writing to wade through, but if you go to the bottom left hand corner where it says “Online Scheduling” and click on the link that says “Grief Support Services”, it will take you to the calendar where you can choose an appointment time and sign up.

Talk to you soon!

**************************************

Despite decades of disbelief, I have come to realize that our loved ones are able to communicate with us through the life/death barrier.  My Johnny has proved this in ways that I can’t attribute to my own mind making things up… there have been complex coincidences and synchronicities, extraordinary happenings, and messages through others who could not possibly have any knowledge of the information they’ve passed on.  Truly mind-blowing stuff.  I don’t have a clue what I believe about life after death, but I know my husband loved me with everything he had, and that he still does.  Our wedding vows were “to death and beyond” and that has proved true for both of us.

I can’t tell you how it all works, or how you can get through to your own loved one, but if you’re interested, I can tell you of my experiences and my thoughts on this.

Posted in Grief, Suicide | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts from September 2nd, 2019

My house smells like incense and a fresh pot of coffee.

The sound of rain is soothing and everything is a brilliant green.

The pups are sleeping on the chairs near me, and I’ve gotten several projects out of the way today. (I unfortunately will have to head in to a client’s office at 5:00 tomorrow morning in order to meet a deadline, but it’s a small price to pay to have today at home.)

Now I think I’ll open my laptop and watch Star Trek: Discovery.

Life can be good, even when major parts are missing.

*******************************************************

In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.

My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see.  I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him.

The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1.  Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.

Fair winds and following seas, Husband.

**************************************

We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Grief Warrior Project off the ground.  You can find us there at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewarriorproject/

Follow us on Twitter!  @WarriorProjME.

Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps.  All profits (after expenses) go to helping us help others.  You can find Heritage Collectibles at  https://heritagecollectiblesmaine.com, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts).

Beginning September 23, 2019, you will be able to call in for grief support from Linda Snyder, M.S.  The fee is $40 per phone hour (50 minutes), payable in advance via PayPal (use LSnyder@regroupbiz.com as the Pay To email address) with times available as follows:

Mondays – Fridays, 4:00 am and 5:00 am EST
Wednesdays, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm EST
Fridays & Saturdays, 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm EST.

Just go to https://regroupbusinesssolutions.fullslate.com/ where you can sign up!  (It’s a bit confusing because there’s loads of writing to wade through, but if you go to the bottom left hand corner where it says “Online Scheduling” and click on the link that says “Grief Support Services”, it will take you to the calendar where you can choose an appointment time and sign up.

Talk to you soon!

**************************************

Despite decades of disbelief, I have come to realize that our loved ones are able to communicate with us through the life/death barrier.  My Johnny has proved this in ways that I can’t attribute to my own mind making things up… there have been complex coincidences and synchronicities, extraordinary happenings, and messages through others who could not possibly have any knowledge of the information they’ve passed on.  Truly mind-blowing stuff.  I don’t have a clue what I believe about life after death, but I know my husband loved me with everything he had, and that he still does.  Our wedding vows were “to death and beyond” and that has proved true for both of us.

I can’t tell you how it all works, or how you can get through to your own loved one, but if you’re interested, I can tell you of my experiences and my thoughts on this.

Posted in Grief, Suicide | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment