Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Healing Your Heart’

I Need to be Heard

Recently I had the privilege of leading a grief group for a local church. Those in the group experienced all types of losses – some of which they have continued to carry with them for years. Suffering can be the most powerful energy force in the Universe if – and only if – we use it as an instrument for change and process our loss fully.
When we experience any type of loss we question ‘Why me?” Maybe the real question is “Why not me?” Loss comes in so many forms – death, divorce, career and location change, empty nest, medical conditions that alter lifestyle – the list goes on and on – it is something that everyone of us will deal with in our lives. It is an equal opportunity employer. Yet we often remain woefully unprepared to handle the roller coaster of our emotions. We are guided on how to live by family, friends, school and church but rarely helped in learning how to handle loss. What is normal? Will I survive? Will this pain in my heart ever leave?
The average length of time that society gives us to grieve is two to three months and then we are expected to move on. Seriously! We know from research that the deeper our love the deeper our grief. For some it takes years to heal. Yes, we can heal but we will never quite be the same. Loss takes a piece of our heart in it’s wake.
When we try to ‘keep a stiff upper lip’ and move on without fully processing our loss it is like eating bad food…anything else that you eat after just doesn’t set quite right. If you find yourself stuck in grief try to find someone out there that you can talk with…the emphasis is on you talking and them listening.
A poem by Leslie Delp published in New Freedom, Pennsylvania basically says it all…


                                        I Need to be Heard
I need to be heard…

Please don’t tell me how YOU feel!

I need to be heard…

Please don’t try to comfort me by telling me, “You’ll be better in time.”

I need to be heard…

Please don’t try to pacify me by trying to ‘top it’ with a hurt of your own.

I need to be heard…

Please don’t look away when I mention that precious name!

I need to be heard…

Can’t there be anger among sadness and misery?

I need to be heard…

Meet me where I am and LISTEN to me…

Until I don’t need to be heard anymore.
‘Just Behind the Door’ is a book I wrote on loss that has offered hundreds of folks hope amidst their sadness. It may be of help in working through grief and is available through Amazon. Another book, Grieving Mindfully by Sameet Kumar helps us breath deeply and mindfully at the times when you need it most. 
Have a great few days!

Practicing Forgiveness is Good for Your Heart!

In childhood it’s all about self but as we mature into adulthood we begin to understand the importance of being kinder, more forgiving and accepting of others. We start to see the world in shades of grey rather than simply black and white. This week the Pope’s message was to practice ‘peace, tolerance and respect for the dignity and rights of others.’ It seems that integral to doing this is to practice the art of forgiveness.

There is a reason that forgiveness is at the heart of healing. At a recent gathering in Manhattan 400 people were asked if they had difficulty and were not on speaking terms with members of their families. Over two-thirds of the participants raised their hands! Think about how many people are holding on to grudges and surrounding themselves with negative energy – it must be exhausting. Recognizing the importance of the topic, forgiveness is being further studied through the Stanford Forgiveness Project.

There are two common themes within all of this – forgiveness and its challenging cousin – judgment. When we think about an upset between family members or friends it seems to boil down to two things: assuming we hold the trump card on truth (believing that we know how others should feel or behave) and refusing to accept responsibility for any hurt we may have caused them through our practice of judging. Judgment can be felt without any words spoken.

When judgmental attitudes surface those half-hearted apologies of ‘I’m sorry that you’re upset,’ are not examples of respect or love. A true apology is recognizing what we have done that has hurt someone and then being courageous enough to verbalize it to them. In other words it’s about us – our actions – and not their reactions that are at play here.

The good news is that as we practice accepting responsibility for own own behavior we become stronger, more positive and happier people. We begin to realize that we don’t walk in another’s shoes and really have no idea about how difficult it is for them to learn their own life lessons. Maybe – just maybe – they are doing the best they know how at this moment.

Dr. Fritz Perls, the noted German psychoanalyst who emphasized Gestalt Therapy speaks to tolerance and acceptance of others in The Gestalt Prayer:

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
And if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful…

When I read this prayer I think of a world in which true acceptance of differences is foremost in our thinking and behavior. Peace, tolerance and respect for self and others flows from this mindset. We become more rather than less as human beings.

We are all in a fluid state between independence and interdependence in life. Doesn’t it just make sense to look for the strengths in family and friends rather than focusing on what we perceive as their weaknesses? When we acknowledge their effort we show them that we have faith in their ability to handle difficult situations. We allow them to grow. As we learn to judge less and forgive more the value and significance of touching base or celebrating holidays begins to take on a greater significance. We learn to bring our best selves to the table and treat our family and friends as we would like to be treated.

Over the next few days let’s try to see how we can practice greater forgiveness and allow the Pope’s message of peace, tolerance and respect to take seed in our lives.

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.