Lost and Exploring: Beginning 2018

Standard

Perhaps this blog post is ‘late’, but everyone needs their time; I’ve needed this week, as well as the past year for all the things I have learned.

2017 was a year of transition for me, a year of growth. To be honest, I hope every year is one, and maybe that’s why bloggers all over the world like to reflect. There are, after all, sometimes milestones much easier to name, such as mine below:

These are things I did, things I’ve done, among others. However, perhaps the action nature of these achievements is what makes them easier to discuss, as well as to celebrate on social media.

There are also realizations, however, that have come along with these events. The thoughts around them, such as their meaning and how these disperse, affecting how I approach different aspects of life, may be less obvious, but still remain relevant. This includes how:

  • When in school, there’s a sense of an end to look forward to. You have steps, which includes finishing a certain number of courses and all the work included in them, and then you get your degree, a potential chapter now finished. With work, however, sometimes that kind of conclusion, goal, or direction may be less obvious.
  • Friends change, just as you do, as people do. Sometimes, this growth doesn’t work alongside each other; the parts that helped the friendship to grow in the first place may no longer fit as well. This may possibly be due to geography, having moved, but the drift may also occur based on the recognition of the difference from who you were to who you are now. And, that’s okay for these things to change, especially if you can still remember, honour, the bond that there used to be.

If that made sense to you, that’s good, because it took some time for me to comprehend. That’s part of being lost, I think, and I’ve certainly felt lost this past year. Thank you to those who have celebrated with me, as well as have supported me, as I have journeyed.

As far as 2018 goes, we’re a bit less than a week in, yet I know the resolutions I have are already beginning. This includes taking time to explore, while lost; if I don’t have an exact direction or goal in mind, let me at least see what kind of goals or directions there may be, see whether they are truly of interest to me, and are achievable, rather than floating around.

Because, life is filled with surprises, and holds few guarantees. If I want something, I’m going to need to pursue it and do everything I can, opening the door for opportunities.

In more tangible terms, this means I’m trying to do the following:

  • Podditea, a podcast by Janice Lam and Alana RangaswamyWith writing, a love of mine, I’m going to try my hand at new forms (e.g. short stories), and possibly try and put my writing out there more, such as submitting to a contest or some kind of publication.
  • With Podditea, I want to put more efforts into planning segments, being active on its social media, and planning its future.

Basically, I want to be more driven, and be more passionate with the projects I work on. I want to throw myself into the possibility of happiness.

I’m sharing all of this, because something I do love is discussion, and like I said – I want to put myself out there a bit, though not just with writing; I want to interact and engage with the world some more, again.

We’re all navigating our own lives, trying to find what works for us in this world, build our own personal worlds, and yet, part of what makes all that possible is through engaging with others who are doing the same thing.

So, happy belated 2018, everyone, and let’s connect, let’s explore; this is the stage I’m at, and so, let’s chat.

2017 Song rec: Thorns by Luna Shadows 

Advertisements

Studying Death, Loss, & Grief: Why I Do It

Standard

“What is Thanatology?”

“The study of death, bereavement, and grief.”

“Why would you take that?”

The conversation above is one I’ve had with various people as I explained my new minor to them. Their surprise as well as incomprehension is not shocking to me; it was rather expected. After all, it’s the same reaction I first had when I heard that thanatology was a subject one could get a degree

As mentioned above, Thanatology is the study of death. Courses in the subject include Suicide: Theory and Interventions, Introduction to Palliative Care, and Children and Death. Though some think these sound morbid, the material in the courses are quite informative. My experience so far in studying Thanatology has been that the knowledge is helpful, with there being quite a focus on how to help those who have suffered loss. It’s applicable.

That’s what I explain to those who ask why I study it; I tell them how it works well with my Psychology degree, the thanatology courses and material giving me a better understanding of how people think, react, and behave, especially when it comes to death.

However, there’s more to it than just that. There’s also the fact that as I study about death and loss, I learn to become more comfortable with the concepts through the constant exposure as well as get to explore my own views with them.

A term I picked up from my thanatology courses is death system. The definition for this term is “a socio-physical network through which our orientation toward mortality is mediated and expressed.” In other words – how we think, feel, and behave, be it directly or indirectly, to death. These reactions form through experience, belief systems (faith/religion/culture/society), and what has been taught.

Thus, as I take thanatology courses, I strive to explore my death system, to actually recognize what I think of death and how I’ve formed those opinions. One way that has occurred is through reflection; Thanatology asks for one to do that a lot.

In a recent assignment, I had to explore previous losses in my life. The instructions were to describe the losses, their impact, and how they fit with what we had learned in the course so far. As I worked on this report, I found myself having to mentally travel back to times I’d forgotten – and it wasn’t easy. The moments I chose to describe were not easy nor happy times.

Nonetheless, mentally immersing myself back there with the knowledge I’d gained through courses helped. I processed things I had not understood previously. I affirmed decisions I’d made as good ones. I recognized what had occurred and how it had changed me. In respect to the losses I’d suffered, I thought about how I still held onto happy memories.

Something I’ve learned from Thanatology is that grief is a lifelong process. It’s the price we pay for caring. However, though it may seem a steep price, there still are benefits to exploring it.

The assignment was an act of catharsis for me. It brought up memories that are in the past for good reason. However, again, retracing my steps from those times with present knowledge was a good thing. It gave me some more peace in the end.

Thanatology is not for everyone. The subject material may definitely lead one to getting very emotional, be it through reflection or the information given. I know I definitely found myself practicing selfcare as I worked on the assignment! However, I’ve found that exposure to be therapeutic. Self-reflection leads to further understanding of who I am and why. That allows me to create better coping methods when I find myself struggle, an example being when I have suffered a loss.

This is why I study Thanatology. Tell me, now after hearing a little bit of what it’s like – would you?

a_mile

2014 Reflection: The Poster Sale

Standard

The school term is over for me and I find myself at home. Glad to be back for the holidays, I’m spending it with family and friends. My time nonetheless is also being used to write new blog posts and to reflect on this past year. Many moments and thoughts I’ve had strike me as worthy of sharing. Here’s the first one:

A poster, one I bought at a poster sale in September, hangs in my university residence room. It serves as a source of happiness for me but it’s not this poster I want to discuss. Rather, there are two I saw that continue to remain in my thoughts despite the fact that I did not buy them.

Loss, a surrealistic painting, by Agnes Cecile. Prints of this were being sold at the poster sale I visited.

Loss, a surrealistic painting, by Agnes Cecile.

The first one is titled Loss. As seen on the left, it is a print of a painting created by Agnes Cecile. Its subject is a woman composed of blue and pink watercolour paints. Imagery of birds can be seen where her hair should be.

My interpretation of this artwork includes how the pink appears as bruises, lines resembling veins. To me, this signals harm. Pain. Suffering. Sadness permeates this woman. In addition, the bare shoulders and skin leads me to having thoughts of vulnerability. Weakness has been associated with this concept for a long time.

I see an inner struggle happening in this poster. A wearisome fight that may not be visible from an outsider’s view.

The second one is titled About a New Place.  As seen below, it depicts a woman’s face with her eyes appearing to follow the butterflies that surround her. Pink, red, blue, purple; more colour may be found in this painting than the last discussed.

About a New Place, a surrealistic painting by Agnes Cecile.

About a New Place, a surrealistic painting by Agnes Cecile.

Butterflies symbolize hope. Their involvement in this artwork, the increase in colour, and the title of the piece leads me to thinking that this woman finds herself with a new beginning.

I see recovery. A new chapter is possible and this is something the woman has realized. Struggles do not have to exist forever. The fight does not have to define her life.

These two posters were not a set. Nonetheless, I think they work well together. In them, I see a reminder that though struggles occur, there is hope. You can bounce back from them and recover.

I once mentioned that some blog posts I’ve written never get published. This was one of those; I don’t know why I forgot to post it, but perhaps that’s because I somehow knew it’d be better for a later time.

The thoughts I express here, about how hope exists and recovery is possible, that there can be more to life than just the struggles you may encounter, are those I still believe in. I think I always will. It’s why I do what I do, advocating for mental health. That’s for the next blog post though – one I promise to have up before the New Year.