Sunday, July 14, 2013

Post Conference Post

Hard to believe it's the day after the end of the conference. It was an amazing, amazing event. I "enjoyed" it so much (the people who were there understand what I mean by this). Dr Joanne Cacciatore is a fantastic speaker and a warm, giving person to work with. And the parents. Oh man. The sharing, the compassion, the love, the tears, the creativity, the kindness, the laughs (yup), it was just incredible. And now we have SO MUCH WORK TO DO. But, we always did. And we are not alone. (And we know now we never were.)

Alongside the amazing stuff, there was some really hard stuff. I got frustrated a few times, fed up with the grief. Some moments of "Why am I here?" I hesitated at times to open up. The doubts were there. I put myself on at least one good timeout. I had similar feelings at the MISS conference. In my limited experience of grief conferences (2), this is normal. Those moments are so grueling.

Yesterday after the conference, we had an emotional crisis here at home which I think was a result of the intensity of the last two days and everyone being tired and emotional. It's been resolved today with hard work on all sides and we are comfortable once again. I am doing much soul-searching and trying to learn and respond appropriately. Sorry to be so cryptic, just trying to respect everyone's privacy and really focus on the experience around being so raw after a conference of this type. Mindfulness, I think, is the key.

Speaking of mindfulness - Dr Cacciatore told us about the barefoot hikes she does in the desert near her home in Arizona. She described it as a "mindfulness practice". This morning when I woke up, I really felt like being close to nature so my family & I went for a hike on the Baden-Powell trail. I suddenly had a great urge to take off my sandals and hike barefoot. So I did! LOVED IT. It really does make you attend to every step and you end up seeing things you might not otherwise see (literally and figuratively). I think this helped me so much with the earlier crisis and just integrating some of what happened at the conference. Note that Dr Cacciatore usually hikes in silence, often with a group of bereaved parents, and has to deal with things like sharp dessert rocks and cactus plants, and maybe she was being gentle with us when she did not mention SNAKES. My barefoot hike today was short, not silent because I was with family and the trail was super busy with people trail running, looking at their cell phones and talking about work. I would love to try it somewhere more peaceful next time.

Photos from today:

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