I don’t need bereavement counseling!
This is what I said to myself the day after Sumio, my husband, went to heaven. It’s not that anyone suggested that I attend. I never thought about it.
I don’t want to express my feelings about the death of my husband with a group of women who have the same loss.
I stopped going to confession in the Catholic Church when they started group confessions. Why should I sit with a group of people and confess my sins?
Confession should be private. I remember confession in my Catholic elementary school, Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH).
Line up outside of the confessional box, keep your hands folded, and don’t talk to anyone in line. Wait for the person in front of you to exit the confessional box. Enter quietly, kneel on the kneeler, wait for the priest to open the window, and confess your sins for the week.
My sins: I disobeyed my mother ten times, hit my brothers twenty times and lied fourteen times.
We weren’t allowed to see the priest’s face and he couldn’t see ours. It was a secret. We would receive our penances and quickly share them with the others waiting outside for their turn. We went to confession every Friday.
I don’t remember when I stopped going to confession. It was probably after I graduated from Catholic High School. I went to Mexico City for five years and no one I knew went to church. I had a German/Spanish/Mexican boyfriend whose family went to church every Sunday. He didn’t. I came back to the United States and went back to church. Confessions became group sessions. I chose not to participate. Why would I want to share my sins with others?
My way of dealing with the death of Sumio was to write. Eight months before he passed he kept a journal. He wrote entries about the food he ate, how he was feeling from the chemo, and expressed his love for me. He wanted me to write an answer below his entries. Lisa, our daughter sent messages by email. He would print them out, cut them up, and paste them in his journal. He did this until the day before he was gone.
I continued to write messages in his journal every day. This was my way of grieving. I did it alone and I did it my way.
My writing career, well not a career yet, started with Sumio. Now, I want to tell his story.
This is my dilemma. Writers usually start writing when they are young and it becomes their passion. I started late. Two years ago after I retired from teaching. I am trying to catch up. I don’t know how I want to write the story. I have tried memoir, but seem to suck at it. Not enough details, present or past, first person or third, and ten pages for each chapter.
Writing is creative, they say. Just write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Just write. I used to be a grammar teacher. Grammar is important and so is spelling. It’s the creative part that gets me stuck. How can I become more creative?
I attend one-week writing workshops and weekend conferences whenever I can. I am taking an online program in creative non-fiction and a six week, once a week, two-hour session on writing my story.
I am hoping with this class that I can improve my creative skills. I sometimes think that writers are born with these skills. I wasn’t. I am hoping my skills are hiding somewhere and will reveal themselves soon. For now, I will just write what comes into my head and maybe someday it will all make sense.
I might not write a memoir, but I could write flash non-fiction or short stories. Writing is my way of dealing with bereavement.