Monday, November 5, 2012

Flannel Sheets

This evening I changed our bed and thought, as I shook the colors of autumn leaves across the mattress, I love flannel sheets.

I'm about caught up on the laundry.  We had hot water last week but, without power, we were the only clean things around the house.  Cold, damp towels draped themselves all over the bathroom and hallway, and clothes worn all day and then slept in piled up in corners.  Fleece socks migrated all over the house.

In a couple of weeks, I will be speaking to a small group at a Suicide Survivors Day.  As I've been pondering what I might say ("Tell them how you survived."  "I have no idea."), the thought that occurred to me was, I love flannel sheets.

I haven't really enjoyed much of anything for four years.  I delighted in my daughter's two graduations, college and master's programs, and cried each time as she walked forward to receive her diploma ~ but that was because I knew what the cost had been, and what extraordinary triumphs those moments were.  My little girl, so brilliant and so very brave.   I was in awe at my friend's ordination last night, watching the Holy Spirit sparkle through the sanctuary and the crowd afterward, several of whom played a role in my own path to ordination.  My friend, so determined and so accomplished.

But simple enjoyment has been elusive.

I think I will tell them: Don't underestimate the trauma.  There is nothing else like it.  You will stagger through a shattered world for years.  That doesn't mean that you can't do things ~ as some people might think, because they haven't had to.  It doesn't mean that you can't learn and work and care for others.  You can, and you might as well, because if you don't you'll be sorry later.

("How can I help others?" a widowed friend asked me yesterday.  "I can't, not when I can't accept my own situation." "Of course you can!" I snapped.  Meaning, don't bother waiting until you're all healed and ready, because you won't ever be that.)

Just don't underestimate how difficult it is.  You don't have to tell.  No one will believe you anyway.  But know it yourself, so you remember to give yourself time and space when you need them.

And someday you may be able to shake soft bedding out in November and say to yourself, I love flannel sheets.


  1. Insightful as always. I learn so much from you as you share your experiences and feelings. Thank you.

    On a lighter note, I LOVE flannel sheets and started using them again two weeks ago.

  2. One of the gifts you offer the group is your honesty about suicide and the reality of life post-suicide. And those flannel sheets offer hope!

  3. I shared this with my daughter and husband. I think we'll reread this post many times.

  4. You are a voice of wisdom and experience in a land with very few guideposts. You are very much needed, even when you feel you have no answers. Just having survived four years later is a good part of the answer. The shock waves here keep rolling. We have left our church...just too much of everything painful there. The emotional chaos is ever present. I don't know how others stay, but your word "dissociation" seems to apply. So glad you are a writer and speaker, and that you know things others don't. It all needs to be shared.

  5. Flannel is a wool textile (the word comes from an old Welsh word for wool), sometimes blended with either a synthetic fabric or cotton. Sheets made from flannel are incredibly warm and insulating. My source