Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘death’

A Message of Hope

“You can make a difference in the world. What better day to start than today? I encourage you to always know your purpose, follow it, work hard at it, choose to have a positive perspective on how to view the world around you, choose to overcome your own hard times and choose hope within them. Life, in fact, is all about choice and the choice is yours alone to make. Choose hope.” Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis the first grade teacher from Sandy Hook elementary that hid her 15 first graders in the tiny bathroom within her classroom ends every speech, as she did Friday night in Tempe, Arizona with this powerful message.

In her recently published book entitled, ‘Choosing Hope,’ she gives us a glimpse of the tragedy she lived through when 20 children and 6 staff members were viciously gunned down on December 14, 2012. We all heard the facts continuously repeated in the media. Yet, when you put a name with a face and hear the events reiterated by the person who was literally a wall away it impacts your senses. She explains what it was like to hear the gunfire and people pleading for their lives as she attempted to keep her loving charges quiet and hidden from ‘the bad man.’ It simply stops you in your tracks and you reflect on the importance of living bravely, loving fully and seeing gratitude in absolutely everything in life.

As Kaitlin said, ‘you don’t move on but can choose to move forward’ with your life. That is a powerful thought that needs to roll around in our brains to be fully appreciated. We don’t move on from death or violence but we can move forward.

She confidently explained the steps she had taken to help heal. Therapy and the ongoing support from a loving father, mother and fiancĂ© were all an integral part of her healing process. At first glance you might think she has been magically ‘fixed’ until an unusual sound in the room causes her eyes to flash as she seeks out like a laser beam the origin. Ahh yes, you think to yourself, you can recognize the sign of a fellow traveler whose life has been forever changed through a tragedy. We are just a bit more aware and cautious as we take in our surroundings. We are on alert as the deeply hidden wound in our psyche momentarily surfaces.

You can’t help but be amazed at her story. A feeling of hope cascades over you as you hear her talk about her ‘tomorrow’s.’ Here is a 31 year old woman who has been forever changed, marked if you will, through violence, fear and loss that most of us can’t even conceptualize yet she chooses to push us to focus on recognizing our own life purpose and live each day in a grateful, positive state of mind. Amazing.

You leave thinking about the immensity of her experience and naturally reflect on any issue that may have recently surfaced in your life that seemed to momentarily disrupt our flow. We feel humbled maybe even embarrassed at the comparison. Kaitlin’s journey can help us keep things in perspective and give us confidence to know that as human beings we are capable of incredible feats of bravery, understanding and healing when we keep our eyes forward on our tomorrow’s.

The next time we have a personal life challenge and become frightened that we may lose it, we will stop and remember … we really are capable of tremendous resiliency. We can make it though unbelievable life challenges when we choose to overcome rather than succumb.

May we live long enough to see less violence and more love in our world.

Have a great few days!

It’s All About Perspective

Today before you say an unkind word to someone – do you know what they are dealing with – have you walked in their shoes?

Before you complain about the taste of your food – think of the 1 out of 7 people worldwide (1 million children in the U.S. alone) who go to bed hungry every night.

Before you complain about your partner, best friend or family member – think of having no one in your life to even get under your skin.

Today before you complain about life – think of someone who left this earth too soon.

Before you complain about your children – think of someone who desires children but has none.

Before whining about the distance you drive to work or traffic problems you encounter – think about the people who can’t even afford a vehicle to drive.

When you are tired and complain about your job – think of the unemployed who are struggling day to day just to exist (6% in the U.S., 27% in Greece, 44% in Bosnia/Herzegovina).

Before you make a negative comment consider if it will make a difference 5 years from now in the big scheme of things.

When you go to bed complaining that you are totally exhausted – be thankful that you had the opportunity to live another day.

When you have a brief illness that disrupts your life – think of those who will never get over their illness and would trade places with you in a minute.

When you complain about an achy joint – think of those who are paralyzed.

When you think about the foolishness of someone – remember a time when you were also foolish.

If you think you are all powerful to gain a better perspective – look around at nature and be prepared to be humbled.

When life seems overwhelming and you just want it to stop – think about what that really means.

When you complain that life is not making you happy – look at what you are thinking, saying and doing to make it better.

We all have moments when life seems difficult even overwhelming yet somehow, some way the sun comes up tomorrow and gradually we feel a little better, more able to cope with our latest trials and tribulations. If we didn’t have the challenges would we truly appreciate the majority of times when life is good? Maybe our job on this earth is to face our issues without losing hope for tomorrow and search for the lesson in every situation. Ask yourself…what is life trying to tell me?

Have a great few days!

Fear of the Unknown

We like closure. It helps us feel more in control. However, if closure is not immediate what do we do? Frequently, we fill in the details about what this MIGHT mean. Our monkey brains work nonstop and our past experiences often fill in the unknown with fear, anxiety and negative thinking. Fear, in itself, can be a good thing. It has allowed us to evolve by signaling the need for a flight response. For instance, one could think of the letters in the word fear as standing for ‘f… everything and run’ when you feel physically threatened.

Another valid interpretation of the letters in fear could mean ‘false evidence appearing real’ when we don’t have enough information to understand the meaning behind a situation. In this circumstance your choice of interpretation is just that, your choice and your interpretation based on incomplete data. When you slow down and think more deeply about what you really don’t yet know about the circumstance you gain a sense of control and greater self confidence.

Ultimately, when additional information is supplied we usually think to ourselves, ‘Oh, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.’ It might even be a good thing eventually but at the initial moment we often have a tendency to put ourselves through a boat load of stress and worry. Why?

We act consistently with beliefs about ourselves which were formed from childhood and further developed through life experiences. The problem is that we often create our own filters during moments of stress and negative experiences then use these filters to interpret the future. This is especially true if someone in our lives has been in a position that, over time, created fear or anxiety in our lives. Maybe we had a parent or boss that used intimidation or fear as a method of control. If you have experienced this it really says a lot more about their insecurities than about your own capabilities. But as you are creating your own life filters you are rarely able to internalize this point.

The good news is that once we realize that our fears often develop from either lack of information or from the negative behavior directed from others we can do something about it! When we feel fear or anxiety about future events begin to take over our thinking we have the power to slow down our thinking, exhale slowly, and remember that 99% of what we fear or worry about never comes to pass. Future events can be interpreted with fear and anxiety OR a belief in your own personal power. If you reflect upon the many things in life that you have been able to manage, accomplish and overcome, it will help you gain a renewed sense of confidence. You really can handle whatever life has in store.

Visualize the phrase ‘jumping to conclusions.’ It’s a funny image. Would you normally arrive at a conclusion about something in your life without all the needed information? Would you buy something, designed something or conclude something about someone with few facts? Probably not. Yet this is exactly what we do to ourselves when we allow fear or anxiety from previous experiences to control our interpretation of future events.

Learning to control our response to stressful or difficult circumstances is not easy. It takes practice. We may fall back, occasionally, to the ‘what ifs’ in life. That’s okay. The amount of TIME we allow ourselves to REMAIN in that state seems to determine our happiness index in life overall. Something to think about!

Have a great few days!

Diagonally Parked

Do you ever feel like you are diagonally parked in a parallel universe? You know, the feeling that you just don’t quite fit neatly in a package like other people seem to do? The image I get is like trying to fit a gift in a box so you can wrap it in beautiful wrapping paper and some pieces and parts just won’t quite stay put. I think many of us have these feelings from time to time. I know of only one person that I have met in my entire life that hasn’t appeared to feel that way. I have always thought of her as an angel on earth. Her gratitude and happiness for just being alive is a gift that just keeps on giving to all of us who are around her. For the rest of us, however, it just feels, at times, like something is missing or lacking in our lives. We just don’t feel like we totally fit. We have heard the statement before, ‘ is that all there is’ when referring to our life on this earth plane.Could we be searching for a higher purpose and deeper understanding for our lives?

Recently, I finished two books on NDE’s (near death experiences). Both were written by medical doctors – one an orthopedic surgeon and the other by a
neurosurgeon. Both had experiences – one drown – and the other contracted gram-negative E. coli bacterial meningitis and was in a coma for 7 days. All medical personnel involved in their cases said they would never survive and if they did would be in a vegetative state. Yet, they not only survived but thrived and committed themselves to sharing with us what they saw on the other side.

When we read about their life experiences, it is gripping, a bit overwhelming but, most importantly, reassuring that we are more than the sum of our individual physical parts. We were made in love, for love and about love. I’m talking here about the unconditional type of love that says I am valued, loved and purposeful because I AM? You know the type of love I am talking about, it can be seen in the eyes of a mother who looks at her child. We realize from this perspective of love that there is a purpose for our life that is bigger than ourselves, bigger, in fact, than we can ever imagine. When we read accounts of people who have been given the chance to see the other side we realize that there truly is a reason for all things that happen to us and that nothing happens by mere accident. The Universal Energy/God simply doesn’t make mistakes. When we finally get it, we can breath deeply and live in the belief, the knowing that, ‘All is as it should be.’

The two doctors who wrote these books have demonstrated such courage. They have willingly faced their own medical community knowing that this type of sharing would be discounted by many, if not all, of their colleagues. They were willing to risk their reputation, friends even income to share their life altering experiences. They felt compelled to write their stories in order to help all of us realize the importance of unconditional love and the significance of the life source from which we originate. I thank them for their efforts. It will help many realize that they are not diagonally parked in a parallel universe but are simply seeking a higher truth for their lives and deeper knowing that we are all connected.

For those of you who would like to read these remarkable stories, the titles are To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD and Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, MD.

Have a great few days!

Being Authentic in Grief

We often hear about the importance of being positive. Seeing your glass as half full rather than half empty is a mindset involving both a skill and an art. It is something that we work on continuously throughout our lives. We like ourselves better when we are positive. Others want to be around us because we have an energy field that is welcoming and uplifting. An important part of being in a positive state involves being our authentic selves. When we recognize and honor our true feelings about something that happened to us, we are being authentic. We are strong enough to show others that we are the same, emotionally, on the inside as the outside.

Being authentic, especially through personal loss is both the hardest and most important thing we can do for ourselves. Challenging or catastrophic experiences involving loss (death, divorce, separation) or other wounds or scars can easily become deeply buried in your psyche because the pain seems so great that you feel unable to confront your own feelings. You may be afraid that if the floodgate holding back your feelings is opened, you may never be able to get it together again. I understand, I have been there. I can tell you that those buried feelings just fester inside you and the anger and hurt you feel can become toxic in your mind and body. The choice between being authentic and verbalizing your true feelings or burying them cannot be overstated. I truly believe it is the difference between simply existing or a life well lived.

Finding a trusted friend who is willing to take all the time YOU need to work through your loss is critical. A good listener just listens and does not rush to tell you how you should handle something or how you should feel. These people are rare to find but are out there and will be of immense help to you. Grief counselors are trained to listen well and can also be invaluable in your search for peace. Send the intention out to the Universe to deliver someone to help you if you are emotionally stuck in a quagmire of anger, blame or discontent. You know you have found that great listener when you explain your situation and they respond with, “How do YOU feel about that?” And they listen with love and grace…

The importance of taking the time to process through your loss and express your authentic feelings about the situation can help you immensely. It is like putting salve on a wound. Eventually, the wound doesn’t hurt as much. Will it ever heal? Maybe not. But it won’t continue to hurt or bleed so profusely. We will live long enough to see the lessons we have learned from our losses and eventually the bigger picture of why those things happened.

Ultimately, we either choose to process through our emotions and arrive at an eventual peace about the situation or we will be dealing with the residue both here and on the other side. Lisa Williams in her book, The Survival of the Soul, talks about the importance of resolving our emotional issues on the Earth plane before we cross over. We will have to deal with the issues sometime, someplace, and it is better to do it now.

We can ultimately be more positive in our life if we choose to be our authentic self and live our truth, surround ourselves with love – of self – and others and remember that as difficult as our lives may be from time to time, we wrote our life script to learn specific lessons. It is no one’s fault, the world is not out to get us, we just chose a difficult path this time. Quoting from my son in the book, Just Behind The Door, “All is as it should be.”

Have a great few days!

Finding Your Own Truth

This focus of this blog is on loss and how to move on with life. In addition to death, divorce and separation there are many other types of losses. The loss of self-respect, personal security, and confidence in a better tomorrow are additional areas that can paralyze a person, now or in the future. A traumatic event such as rape can be buried in the psyche and resurface with a vengeance years later. In the meantime, the individual may live with insecurities and fears that don’t even seem reasonable to an outsider.

Statistics show that 90 percent of rapes are NEVER reported. Further, according to an article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology well over 32,000 pregnancies are the result of rape each year. That’s a lot of walking wounded sisters out there – and we remain quiet.

This week when I heard Representative Todd Akin from Missouri say, (pregnancy from rape) ” is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.” I thought to myself, surely no one in 2012 could be that ill-informed. Unfortunately, not true. A senator, Chuck Winder from Boise, Idaho added insult to injury recently when he supported adding a mandatory ultrasound procedure prior to an abortion in a piece of proposed legislation. In doing so, he raised the question, ” whether or not women would understand whether they had been raped.” Sounds as ridiculous as the statement by representative Stephen Freind from Pennsylvania who, in 1988 said, ” the odds of a woman who is raped getting pregnant are, “one in millions and millions and millions.” Not accurate.

I understand that the topic of abortion is controversial. Every one should have the right to their own opinion, this is America. However, when misinformation or fear is used in an effort to further a political or religious opinion, it is time to stand up and be counted. I believe that the statement, “the truth shall set us free,” applies to each of us. Our job is to find our OWN truth and be willing to live and speak it.

Have a great few days!

Take Time to Fully Process Through You Grief

I read recently that forgiveness (of yourself and others) happens naturally when we embrace every part of ourselves that has been hurt from a loss. I thought about that for some time. It seems we hear about the necessity of getting on with our lives more frequently that anything else. I understand that the average person expects you to ‘get your life back together and move on’ about 2-4 weeks after a loss. Really? That type of thinking tells me they probably haven’t lived through a life-changing loss yet. ‘Yet’ is the operative word here because none of us escapes loss. It is just a matter of time. Loss of any kind (death, divorce, separation) creates feelings and emotions that cannot simply be brushed away quickly. When you try to move on or ‘keep a stiff upper lip’ the loss becomes buried in your entire being and will take a toll on you. It takes time to process through all of the ‘yucky stuff’ that surfaces in your mind and to make peace with it eventually. I am convinced if you don’t fully process through the hurt to discover the lesson, it will return over and over in your life until you ‘get it.’

Given the pace that we live at today, reflecting and processing the grief of our loss takes time that may think we cannot afford. However, as I have said in my book, Just Behind the Door, each loss seems to be like a rock in the back pack you are invisibly carrying around. As you hurry through the hurt, thinking that you just have to put one foot in front of the other, the back pack gets heavier and heavier. I visualize a person that is hunched over from the weight of the pack they are carrying. Those rocks (or boulders depending on the depth of the loss) do not eventually disappear on their own. Time does not, necessarily, heal a broken heart. It takes work to surface those boulders your are carrying around. By recognizing the hurt you still have down deep, and searching for the lesson(s) you have learned from the experience you will eventually feel whole. This is difficult work that may take a person trained in the field of loss to help you let go of the heavy load you are carrying. Please value yourself enough to seek help if you can’t seem to process the loss fully.

Everyone has their own special mission – lessons to learn – on this earth. No one seems to escape unscathed. Your friends can be a wonderful support system for you. They will listen to you no matter how many times you need to repeat the experience of your loss. Good friends care enough to be there for you no matter how long it takes.

I look forward to the day that we will all become so evolved that the learning through the suffering paradigm will be replaced by learning through love and joy. It may take us time but I believe we will get there.

Have a great few days!