Reclaiming Your Joy After Loss

Come on Over to the Bright Side!

Uncategorized Sep 09, 2020

When Jacques died, I didn’t see anything as positive.  My world was dark.  Most of those who I thought were my friends were no place to be found. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. And I became really good at feeling sorry for myself. I was not happy living this way.

I had not been working at a paying job for over two years as I stayed home to care for Jacques. I was contemplating what I was supposed to be doing then when someone I used to work with called me and offered me a job. My knee jerk reaction was to decline because I had left the job I had working with her because the workplace environment had become impossible, filled with negativity.  I knew that I never wanted to be surrounded by all that again.  Then she explained to me that there had been a major change essentially dividing the department in two.  She was in the new department, and all those with the negativity were in the old department. She said the new department was a wonderful...

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Pain is Essential to Healing

Uncategorized Sep 02, 2020

I just finished reading Ibram X. Kendi’s book: How to be and Antiracist, such a powerful book helping me to put into perspective what is happening in our country today. The book is filled with humanness and things to think about. And he puts in the perspective of the fragility of life.

 

Kendi’s wife and Kendi himself both experienced cancer in the early times of their marriage. His was Stage 4 colon cancer. After losing Chadwick Boseman to colon cancer last week, I immediately thought, Oh no! We can’t lose another brilliant mind right now while we are in the middle of this, especially since his writing is helping us to understand and learn what we need to so that we can deal with the issue of racism. I was relieved to read that Kendi was in that very small minority of people who survived Stage 4 colon cancer.

 

In relating his story in the book, I was struck by his sentence: “Pain is essential to healing.” Those of us who have suffered loss...

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Purpose

Uncategorized Aug 27, 2020

In grief, our roles shift from those we had before our loss to those we have after. Often our before roles are clear and we tend to do them without having to think much about them. After, though, we often aren’t sure what to do.  Before your roles may have been things like caretaker, lover, and companion. After those roles may need to be replaced with something else.

For me, with both Jacques and Ron, I had spent two years each focusing on their needs, both physically and emotionally.  My life was consumed with all things related to them.  After Jacques I was lost and took a long to time start to figure things out. But after Ron, I discovered that the one thing I focused on most was now what was I supposed to do. What was my purpose?  

I journaled and explored what I loved to do, what I desired to do, what was next for me.  Though the answers didn’t come quickly, they prepared me to be ready to say yes when I realized what my new purpose...

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Use It Or --

Uncategorized Aug 19, 2020

Yesterday I drove down past the airport (wonderful to get out of the house for a moment even though I was just in my car), and I noticed there were cars parked everywhere. The cars were parked bumper to bumper and side to side and were covered with dust.  I imagine they had been there quite a while, probably since March when everything shut down. I am amazed at how many rental cars there are on Maui! And with no tourists on the island, the cares just sit there. The cars in this picture are in the dirt next to the Costco parking lot.

Ron had a Saturn Outlook that he just loved. It’s a really big car, so I don’t really like to drive it. I tried to drive it every once in a while, or loan it to a friend, but I didn’t do it often enough and I had to replace the battery, twice. I have finally come to terms that I don’t have to keep it just because it was Ron’s, so I am selling it to a friend. When I saw these cars yesterday, I wondered if any of them are...

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Can Grief Break Your Heart?

Uncategorized Aug 13, 2020

Grief actually does have physical effects on your body which can be severe. Have you had your heart race through the night leaving you exhausted when you wake in the morning? Has your whole body ached? Do you barely have enough energy to get around? Have you had unexplained headaches? Has eating become a challenge, or does just the thought of eating make you nauseas? Is your blood pressure high? All of these symptoms are common especially in early grief.

Studies have shown physical reactions your body can have to grief, each of them causing lots of symptoms. Inflammation is your body’s attempt to dealing with things that harm it. When your body gets inflamed during grief, it can worsen health issues you are already dealing with or it can cause new ones.  This inflammation can affect your immune system which can lead to infections. You may develop high blood pressure or a racing pulse. All of these issues require medical attention. They may lead to PTSD, which my doctor...

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Someone Else's Loss

Uncategorized Aug 05, 2020

 Saying the right things to someone who is grieving can be a challenge. In the awkwardness following a death, sometimes people just don’t know what to say, so many times they don’t say anything, and I guarantee, that is not helpful. The most likely thing someone will say is “I’m sorry for your loss.” I remember years ago when the phase “Have a nice day” got popular all of the sudden. When you parted company with anyone, they were likely to say, “Have a nice day.” I first I thought that was a pleasant thing for people to do, until it became a constant drone that lost its meaning. That’s where “I am sorry for your loss” is now. People seem to think that any time they hear someone has died, those words must be spoken out of courtesy before anything else is said. I would really love if no one ever said “I’m sorry for your loss” again. Just saying these words doesn’t help anything except...

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Acknowledge Your Feelings

feelings grief Jul 29, 2020

When dealing with loss, we are bombarded by feelings. Some of those feelings, like remembering love and moments of joy, can bring comfort, while others can drag us down to the depths of despair. When those feeling hit, you may fall into the abyss of suffering, unable to rise up from the mire. You have a choice of how to deal with these feelings.  You can fall into that deep hole and suffer, but you know that suffering doesn’t serve you, or you can recognize what is happening and deal with it constructively.

I found that when times like this hit, that the best thing for me to do was get out my journal and write. One way writing helped was to write a letter, which could be to my loved one, to God, to someone who brought up the feeling to me, and tell whoever I write to what I am experiencing right then and how I felt about it. One thing I dealt with was my anger at how Ron’s nephrologists handled his care. I felt that what they had done caused him great physical...

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Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional

Uncategorized Jul 23, 2020

When grieving, we all feel pain. We can recognize it and deal with it constructively, or we can melt into the deep abyss of suffering, unable to rise up from the mire. The good news is, you have choice in this matter. You can choose to survive and thrive.

Compare the loss of a loved one by death to the birth of a baby. In labor, the contractions start slowly, giving your body time to adjust. As the pains come more frequently, they are more intense. Finally when the pains are so close together and so strong, relief comes in pushing hard till the release of the baby sliding into the world.

Death is the opposite it birth, a similar process but reversed. The loss starts with incredible pain that’s deep and hard and seemingly eternal. Yet soon, you can take a breath. And in those breaths you find moments of peace. Grief alternates like those labor pains. The further away you get from the actual transition, the further apart are the waves of pain.

The key here is what you do in the...

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How Long Does Grief Take?

Uncategorized Jul 15, 2020

Grief has no finish line. No measuring tapes are involved. Grief is as individual as breathing.

Early grief is all encompassing. We sometimes feel we are drowning in grief. Every breath is a struggle. Sleep is our reprieve.

Then miraculously and often unnoticed, each breath is a little easier. We can’t anticipate when this will happen. Yet it does. Our body starts to crave easy air, and we breathe a little deeper.

Our stoic expression feels like it will crack if we speak or try to smile, then one day a friend says the sweetest thing, and our lips turn up slightly, and we realize that feels good.

Our heads have been feeling filled with dark clouds heavy with the rain of tears. Slowly the clouds lighten and then a golden ray of sun peaks through.

As this all progresses, we are not likely to notice, then one day we realize our breathing is easy and we haven’t been noticing the air entering and leaving our bodies.

We stretch, energizing our muscles, feeling the tingling in...

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The Old You

change love Jul 15, 2020

I went for a walk and saw no one on the way until I spotted a neighbor I had not meant before. We stayed a careful distance apart, but I could tell she was eager to talk. She expressed her amazement with all that is happening in our country between the pandemic and demonstrations. She proudly announced that she is 90 years old and finds it curious that all the “young people” are expecting things to go back to the way they were before all these things started to happen. Then she wisely said, “You know, things will never go back. They will never be the same.”

This conversation reminded me of how many of the grieving people I talk to mention that they want things to be the way they were before, or they want things to return to normal, but as my new friend said, that’s not going to happen. In reflecting on my own situation, I realized I do not want anything to go back because I know I am right where I am supposed to be right now, living in this moment.

I...

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