Reclaiming Your Joy After Loss
My good friend was talking a walk (a few weeks ago when we could) when she ran into a friend on her way. Walking on Maui is such a wonderful experience as everything is verdant, tropical, and fresh, and the trades winds are gently blowing. Gazing across the water to other islands is breathtaking. Encountering a friend is more the norm than the exception. This morning, Robin ran into Lily Diamond, blogger, author, and natural beauty. In catching up, Lily told Robin about the cookbook she wrote in dealing with her grief for her mother. I was fascinated by what Robin told me about Lily, so I went to her website and bought her cookbook: Kale and Caramel.
Lily moved to Maui when she was two and lived here until she went off to Yale for college. Her family lived immersed in the natural lifestyle of the island. Her mother, an herbalist and aromatherapist, raised Lily by teaching her a love of nature and living, spending time in long walks learning all about the plants they...
In the Writing Through Grief group I facilitate on Maui, one of our favorite exercises is writing Haiku Poetry. I first learned to write Haiku in a writing class in college and fell in love with the form years ago. The form is so simple that anyone can write it and easily express thought concisely.
Basically, Haiku poetry is written in 3 lines. The first and third lines have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables. Here are some examples:
no creatures better
not men nor flies – all are one
each one lives and dies
by William Blake
I write, erase, rewrite
Erase again, and then
A poppy blooms.
by Katsushika Hokusai
Calm as a river
Tranquility in my heart
Blue summer skies reign.
by Paul Holmes
Spring is in the air
Flowers are blooming sky high
Children are laughing
by Kaitlyn Guenther
In silence, alone,
I feel my heart and wonder
at the miracle.
In dealing with my own grief after two husbands died, I discovered that helping others deal with grief have me a sense of purpose. I wrote a book, created a writing through grief program I held at my home, facilitated a Death Café, and created a social media platform to help people take care of themselves through their grieving and see what is still positive in their lives. Then Covid 19 descended on the world. I immediately put my Writing Through Grief with Emily into a private Facebook group that people can join without any payment since being in touch with others is vital especially during this period of isolation. Yet I wanted to do more, so I wrote this blog to give you some perspective on the grief that we all are dealing with now.
Up until now, we all grieved for something at some point is our lives, but we tended to keep our grief to ourselves or to share it with others who were also grieving. Those not grieving tended to shy away from those who were so that the grief...
When my Daddy died, my world changed. He was such a special part of my life and was suddenly gone with no opportunity to say goodbye. Every day I missed him, and everything felt different. Then when Mom died after caring for her for almost a year, I was kind of lost without her. We weren’t particularly close throughout my life, but toward the end of her life, that all changed. I am grateful to have had that time with her. I now felt like an orphan, not playing the role of daughter anymore.
I took care of Jacques for the last two years of his life. I gave up everything to stay with him either at home or in the hospital. When he transitioned, I was no longer a wife, a caretaker, or a lover, and I no longer had a job to go to. Then I stayed home with Ron, or at the hospital, for his last two years. Although I had gained back those wife and lover roles after Jacques died, there I was again, losing those roles.
Now as I reflect, I see that while I did have...
Internationally, our world is focused on the pandemic of the Covid 19 virus. You are hearing about it everywhere you turn. Let me give you some practical advice.
A virus is a tiny parasite that can only survive in a living organism. It spreads by being introduced into your body. So all that advice about washing your hands and not touching your face is exactly what you need to do. Actually, this is exactly what we all need to always do.
You can check yourself by taking in a nice deep breath and holding it for a slow count of 10. If you actually have the virus, this would be difficult to do. If you wait until it’s hard for you to breathe, you may have waited too long. Also, keep your mouth moist. Sip water frequently and the virus can attach to dry places, but if it is washed down to the stomach, the acid there will kill the virus.
Now that you know all that, the best thing to do is let go of any fear you have related to the virus and focus completely on the moment...
I had the opportunity to judge the senior student projects at King Kekaulike High School right before it closed for the shut-down. Each year, every senior student spends the year preparing their project which includes a mentorship with a teacher of their choice and with a community member, an actual product they create, a research paper written about the product and process, presentations to classes on campus, and a presentation to community judges. These students learn so much from this process and create amazing things. The is the second year that I have had the honor of being a community judge.
When I judged last week, a young man came into the room to do his presentation, and it was obvious that something was wrong. He seemed so nervous and had trouble making eye contact, so I made it my mission to smile at him. When he realized I was doing this, he focused his presentation on me, took a deep breath, and relaxed into his presentation. It turned out that he had...
That chorus was definitely running through my mind as my call rang through to my client from Seattle. From empty streets to bare cupboards, children at home ALL of the time, travel bans, and sequestered Italians singing from their balconies, it is a new world.
However, I've come up with another MUST HAVE - the...
I saw a leaf dangling in the breeze, barely connected to the branch where it had grown, and I thought of me and my relationship with grief. Dangling is that tenuous position where I delicately hang, fluttering in the breeze not sure of whether to hang on or let go.
Hanging on seems important. I’ve been grieving for so long for one person after another that there is some security in grief. I know how to be and what to expect there, but it certainly is not a place of peace or comfort. Always feeling that ragged edge of constant yearning and sadness is heavy in my heart. Grief does serve an important purpose, and grief never really goes away, but I see now that I don’t have to live fully immersed in it. Instead of drowning from its weight, I can place it gently into a special place in my heart, offer it my gratitude, and see how much more life has in store for me.
Instead of continuing to dangle precariously, I am choosing to use my inner strength and live to break free, or...
Where are you right now? Are you where you want to be? Where you thought you would be? The one thing that can keep us stuck, feeling like we don’t know what to do, where to go, or who to be, is the struggle to be where we used to be or where we always wanted to be.
When dealing with the loss of a loved one, you know that things will never be the same. And that’s hard. You may have had that perfect husband or wife that you always dreamed of. Or you may have had a loving, caring mother or father that has always been a big part of your life. Or maybe your darling son or daughter died, or your best friend. Whoever it was, having that person present in your daily life has ended, and you can’t go back not matter how much you think you want to.
You never really dreamed about what it would be like to be without this special person in your life, and you can’t see your future without him or her. Since you can’t go back, and you can’t go forward, what you...
I’ve always been told that things come in threes, and that seems to be so. When
I woke up this morning at the start of this new decade. I was thinking about what I had done last year that brought me joy, and I thought of three things. That led me to think about what I am doing right now that brings me joy, and again, three things popped into my mind. So, I thought, what will my three things be for this year? And, you guessed it, three more things!
In 2019, I finished writing the manuscript for my book, Reclaiming Your Joy After Loss. This project took me about a year to complete and was a major life changing activity for me. In writing it, I worked through my own grief while discovering how I could help others do the same. I also took a life changing trip to Bali traveling by myself. I had several challenges in actually traveling to get there and back, but I handled them all, and I was deeply inspired by Bali: the people, their focus...