Note: This weekend reflection is written by guest contributor, Jolyon Druce.
There has been a cookbook floating around our house for a very long time. My wife, Sharon asked me to scan some recipes for her (to avoid smudging the pages,obtain ingredients for store list, etc.). “Crock-It”, is a beautifully illustrated book of crockpot recipes. To scan the pages would mean I would have to pretty much destroy the book so I started looking around for a downloadable version. In finding it, I found out how connected this person is to ‘our’ world.
The author, Barbara M. Murray is about my age and grew up in California as well. She is a hospice nurse and wrote, “Transition - A Guide E-Booklet for the End of Life.” In the preface she offers this stunning insight,
“Death is like turning out the light because the dawn has arrived…”
This is my introduction of her, to you. You see her brother Gilbert Murray was the last person killed by Ted Kaczynski (also known as the Unabomber). “A Sisters Memoir - Surviving the Unabomber’s Last Blast” is a remarkable autobiography that tells part of her story. How as a hospice nurse she struggled to cope with her brother’s tragic death. The grief and the emotional trauma, long buried, would suddenly burst out again (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). In healing, Murray underwent EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) to help her move through the PTSD that had overtaken her life.
Part of the therapeutic process involved writing about her experiences, to release them from the inner walls of her prison and to begin to paint the pages of her life. Writing, like drawing, can bring a calmness that aids the expression of difficult memories. It can also help cultivate a loving presence with past painful hurts in order to heal.
In 1970, her high school prom was held at Disneyland. Murray was pregnant and after her baby’s birth, she made the heart wrenching decision to give her baby up for adoption (I could have easily been there at the same time as my high school was
nearby and I visited too). Forty years later Murray revisited Disneyland, after reconnecting with her daughter. There is so much more depth to her story…
Being a nurse brings you close to birth and death and all the in-between.
Allow yourself the freedom to be creative. Write your stories down. You will be surprised at all the life you lived in between
soccer matches and ballet class lessons for your kids (if you are a parent) or in service to others.
Pick up a brush, a pen or perhaps some clay and lose yourself in the moment (finger-painting on the walls is acceptable, too).
“What are three good things about Alzheimer’s?
You never watch reruns. You meet new people every day. And you can hide your own Easter eggs.” ~ Barbara M. Murray RN
Written by - Jolyon Druce
Special thanks to Jolyon for contributing this reflection on the ways we can heal and overcome grief.