Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Grieving’

Healing Through the Holidays

Another Thanksgiving and so many reasons to be grateful and yet… Although we may be struggling with the fact that there is an empty seat at the table, we remember the holidays when everyone was taking up their assigned seats and passing the turkey and gravy. Laughing and sharing what it meant to be together. Those were the times…

Loss has a way of catching you unaware especially during the holiday season. It creeps up on you and renders you speechless in mid sentence. Your voice catches in your throat and you pray not to be obvious to others. You think to yourself, I need to brush away my tears quickly so I don’t upset others. It is amazing what we do to appear strong to others.

The holidays are challenging to get through normally. Add the life changing event of loss to the mix and sometimes just getting through rather than celebrating is the best you can do. It’s okay. Most of us have been there or will be going through it sooner or later. No family escapes the sadness of losing a loved one. We are all travelers on this same path. It is predictable but not invited. The timing may be different but the gut wrenching ‘whys’ and ‘if onlys’ are the same. Maybe if we try to reach out and grab the hand of a fellow traveler and let them know we care both of our paths may be smoother. It’s worth a try.

Our loved ones want us to remember the special times we had, the unconditional love that still exists in our hearts and reflect on the gifts – large and small in our lives today. We see the victims of Hurricane Sandy and realize how quickly life can change. We have experienced devastating change in our own lives and have been altered -bruised and beaten- but we continue on because we realize that our loved ones may be gone from our physical presence but we will always have the special memories the ‘Kodak moments’ to remember. Memories like precious gems that grow more valuable with age are gifts that last a lifetime. We close our eyes and see the smile, hear the humor and feel the intensity of our loved one. We know we are enveloped by their unconditional love. When we feel the chill of loneliness surround us, we have only to remember the love. It will warm us and light our way toward tomorrow.

On one level we know there was a reason for their passing, ‘To everything there is a season.’ But knowing is one thing and understanding much less accepting is another. Our hearts and minds struggle to function in concert. This cruel twist of fate seems impossible to understand but eventually we stop fighting and demanding that it be different. Eventually, we move to a point of recognizing that we have more lessons yet to learn. Is is hard? The toughest thing imaginable. Can we speed up the process? No, we all heal in our own unique time and space.

So when you sit down with family or friends over this holiday let’s remember that our loved ones are around us always. We have learned a great many valuable life lessons. We are strong, we are survivors. Most importantly, we have learned both the value of unconditional love and that the energy of our loved ones last forever.

Robert Frost wrote a poem that may speak to you. It is entitled Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

On this Thanksgiving eve may you remember yesterday with love and peace, celebrate today for the opportunity to make the day a little brighter and look forward to the challenges of all your tomorrow’s because you are loved.

As Frost said in another poem..
I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Have a great few days!

Help Someone Heal

Thank you to those of you who emailed me directly to respond to my blog on Sunday. It is reassuring that I am helping people who have experienced loss and the challenging, confusing and life altering feelings that accompany the letting go of what was…

Over the last few days, three different people have talked to me about loss involving a senseless act of violence. Taking someone’s life cannot be fully understood by those of us remaining here on earth. We ask ourselves, why would someone do such a horrendous thing? Our minds cannot process it and work through it to arrive at an understanding. We may think the perpetrator of a violent act was not in their right mind, extremely troubled, or did not have a stable upbringing, the list goes on and on. Whatever rationalization we attempt falls short. It still does not seem fair that the flame of someone’s life has been snuffed out as quickly as the flame from a candle. Another useless killing. Another family left to try to function in the aftermath.

Over 6,600 deaths from all causes occur daily in the U.S. The rate for homicides has dropped from a high of 9.8 percent per 100,000 in 1991 to 4.8 percent per year in 2010. These numbers are important. They show a significant drop in homicides and should help us feel a little safer. However, it would be impossible to expect the families of victims of these violent crimes to be encouraged by the numbers since they will no longer have their loved ones in their lives. Grief hurts. The longer it envelopes your life, the deeper the wound becomes. When I talk with someone who has lost a loved one 20 years ago and they still cannot muster up a genuine smile, their eyes showing a depth of hurt that is impossible to describe, my heat goes out to them. They seem to have stopped living and are merely existing. It is, as if, their life has become a sentence that they are simply living out.

On my blog last Sunday, I mentioned a man who lost his wife in a vehicular accident caused by a drunk driver. He has received signs that his wife is giving him to assure him she is still around him with loving concern. Again the statistics are improving but the pain continues. Traffic fatalities have decreased in the past five years. In 2010, the latest recorded statistic, 32,885 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. Fewer is better but once again, doesn’t offer peace to those families who are facing each day without their loved one.

What can we do to help the thousands of walking wounded that have lost their loved ones through any type of loss? You can make a difference. Making a concerted effort to listen to them as they repeat and repeat what happened as they process the reality of their loss is so important. You don’t have to offer any sage advice but simply listen with love. Give them the gift of a empathic listener. Showing them you care by taking the initiative to connect with them and offering the little things that may cause them to think about healing their grief may be the life line they need. I know through experience that reading about others who have survived a loss can give hope for tomorrow. Usually these people do not even know what they need to achieve closure. Do the research to find specific support groups, or grief counselors by name and number so that they do not have to search for these on their own but can simply call a number if they so choose. Books or articles may tell a story that just resonates with them and offers the encouragement they need to take the small, arduous steps needed for recovery. When the student is ready the teacher comes along. Tomorrow the same ideas you may have mentioned previously just might be internalized and accepted by them if they are ready. Don’t give up just continue to support them as they struggle to stand and face tomorrow.

Each of us can do something to help. Eventually, we may be able to see them return from the grip of loss and move on with their lives. It won’t be easy and it won’t be fast. Their mind and heart must crawl through the muck of hurt, anger and denial to get to a point of acceptance. Be patient and be there with love for a human being who is raw with the loneliness and pain of loss.

As my son said in my book, Just Behind the Door, ” Mom, all is as it should be.” It has taken me years to truly ‘get this’ and to decide to live the rest of my life knowing the Universe did not make a mistake with his passing. My lesson has been to keep the wonderful memories alive that I have of him and move on with my life in peace, love and a knowing that I am helping others.

There is a poem in my book that has helped me and I offer a part of it to you.

When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do,
You must not tie yourself to me with too many tears
But be thankful we had so many good years….
So grieve for me a while, if grieve you must
Then let the grief be comforted by trust…
I won’t be far away for life goes on.
And if you need me, call and I will come…
And if you listen with your heart, you will hear,
All my love around you soft and clear…

Please make a copy of this blog and pass it on to someone who might benefit from it. There are so many out there who need a hand extended to them in love.

Have a peaceful few days.