Friday, October 3, 2014

A Ritual I Developed During My Caregiver Stint

My ritual is somewhat like a pinata ceremony.
I write these blog entries in hopes that readers won't judge me, as I am bringing my own perspective to topics that deal with a death in my family. Although death is common ground, and should -- above anything -- unite us somehow, I've learned that folks may not agree with my outlook on certain topics. Feel free to disagree; but don't tell me I'm wrong, especially over a ritual that saved my sanity for the past two years.

According to The Chaplaincy Institute, ritual can make a person "stop, focus, and make sacred that which is ordinarily taken for granted. A ritual can be used as a way to give voice to the unspoken, facilitate healing, or remember a person or event. It can also be a way to refocus personal thought patterns so they become self-serving, not self-defeating. A ritual does not need to be elaborate or take a lot of time. In fact, to keep meaning from getting lost, the simpler the better."

That article goes on to provide an example of a ritual that involves an altar, candles, and prayer, which is fitting for that particular perspective. Other rituals I've known caregivers to use include yoga for meditative qualities and also for keeping the body fit. I love yoga practice, and I understand how yoga benefits me. But, I haven't had a class since the last one I took with Terri Hug, and that was before I even learned about my mother's illness. Terri is a sister from another mother, and I'm having a difficult time choosing to take on another yoga instructor after becoming so close with Terri. I need classes, because I don't have the self-discipline to practice alone.

Other caregiver rituals might include a set time each day/week to get away, or time to be alone. In my experience, however, getting away from home was fraught with anxiety, because every time I did leave home, mom would encounter an emergency situation. The only time I was able to get away was during Easter weekend, when some friends kidnapped me to spend a weekend with their poet and bard neighbors. But, that wasn't a ritual, although the escape was sorely needed and appreciated.

My alone time and ritual came about without planning. I still practice it after mom's death, especially when I'm at my folks' house. I leave the house proper to sit in the screened porch with my Android and begin to play Candy Crush Saga. Playing that game in itself is not a ritual; but, playing game #75 over and over and over again became a ritual for me, one that isn't elaborate or that takes a lot of time.

Other friends who play that game continue to offer free passes for me to get past game #130. Yes, that's how far I got before I learned about mom's cholangiocarcinoma. But, I'll never go there again. I doubt if I'll ever get past game #75. If I play the game without thinking about the game, it provides me with time for reflection and planning. If I play the game with intent on beating the other two women who are ahead of me, the play takes me away from everything. The fact that the game only allows play for five games unless the player wins a game (garnering one free game per win) is convenient, too. Once I've played through those five or so games, I'm revitalized and ready to get back to more pertinent tasks at hand.

I play game #75 when traveling, too, because my husband refuses to let me drive. But, the game isn't a ritual then -- in fact, it's boring. The only time Candy Crush Saga game #75 becomes a satisfying ritual is on my parents' back porch. This rite offers me comfort, mindlessness, and even some sense of self-worth and achievement. I am only a few points away from obtaining the #1 spot on that game. When I achieve that goal, I don't know what I'll do.

Note: Candy Crush Saga is a puzzle game distributed by King.com. The logo image is from Wikipedia.