Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘healing’

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!

Beyond Silence There Is Communication

Many of you have emailed me after reading my book, ‘Just Behind The Door,’ to tell me how the book affected your life. For that I am grateful. My intent was to share the experience of losing a loved one – my son- and what I learned from the subsequent decade of communication that has followed. The most important goal in writing it was to offer hope to others that our loved ones may be gone physically but their energy – their spirit – lives on and WE CAN reconnect with them – of that I am certain.

In another email received this week Linda writes, ‘ my mind was open (but since my son’s death) I have closed myself off from the other side. In the last year I have been thinking about opening up that door of belief but I’m a little scared. But because of your book I’m willing to try to open the door again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.’

Losing a loved takes our breath away. Life no longer holds meaning as we become lost in our grief. Yet, we are expected to heal and go on. Our minds know this but we can’t seem to communicate it to our broken hearts. I understand – I have walked the walk.

When we read about how others have attempted to cope with their grief in can give us hope that we will eventually make it through what is truly the most devastating experience possible. If you know of anyone who might need help in dealing with their grief please consider giving them my book, ‘Just Behind The Door.’ It might just serve as a lifeline for them when they need it most. This poem says it all…

If you look with your head and heart you will see:
Beyond chaos, there is reason
Beyond darkness, there is light
Beyond absence, there is presence
Beyond nothingness, there are infinite possibilities
Beyond pain, there is healing
Beyond brokenness, there is wholeness
Beyond anger, there is peace
Beyond indifference, there is connection
Beyond boxes, there is infinity
Beyond questions, there are answers
Beyond silence, there is communication
With communication, there is love, light and peace.

In gratitude to Linda and all of you who have taken the time to email me – I thank you.

Have a great few days!

Hearing is Believing!

When we experience the death of a loved one our world changes dramatically. Although the light hasn’t gone out in our eyes it is dimmed. Colors seem less vibrant, conversations less stimulating and our energy depleted. We may silently wonder to ourselves, ” Where are they? Are they okay?” Often talking about these thoughts with our friends or even family members just doesn’t work. So we keep reiterating these question to ourselves digging a deeper hole of grief that seems to engulf us. Although we may have heard ideas about the spirit continuing to exist, we struggle to wrap our minds around the concept of our loved ones being in a different dimension – heaven – or whatever label you are most comfortable using. I understand … I have walked in those shoes. I have read that the depth of our loss is directly proportional to the depth of our love. The deepest chasm we can imagine pales by comparison to our own feelings of loss. We keep thinking, “It’s not the natural order of things, someone got this mixed up, rewind!” The pain seems unbearable as we struggle to put one foot slowly in front of the other. We seek something that will help us know we can get through it – visibly bruised and battered – but still in one piece.

When I lost my son, the salve that comforted my broken heart came in two forms. First, I started reading books from other parents who had lost their child. Interestingly, many had penned these books 10 years after the loss. I get it now. It takes that long to be willingly to resurrect those gut wrenching feelings that rendered us both hopeless and helpless when it happened. Those books helped immensely. Most talked about signs, indicators of their child’s presence and all served to confirm to this bleeding heart that if these parents made it though this so can I. Signs, indicators? How do I get these I wondered a million and one times over the first few months.

The Universe responded to my heartfelt plea. The second form of help came in a delicate package from another state. Someone, an angel on earth, who changed my life. The Universe knew what I was seeking ( confirmation that my son didn’t simply disappear into the cosmos) and orchestrated a meeting with this person to help me make the connection with my son that I so desperately needed. Before talking with her my grief was so deep that even when presented with obvious signs that his spirit was alive and well, I dismissed them thinking that my mind was playing tricks on me. Through her assistance I have been able to hear from my son, in his own words for well over a decade. I decided to write about it in the book I published entitled, “Just Behind the Door.” My objective was to help others achieve the sense of greater peace and understanding that I have received.

When we write about loss, disclosing our innermost feelings and fears it can be a healing mechanism not only for ourselves but for other fellow travelers along the way. Yes, our loved ones still exists, albeit in a different form. In this case hearing is believing. I have referred hundreds of people to this person and every single time have heard how astonished they were that they were told such specific information. If you want to learn more about my decade of communication you can order a copy of the book through AuthorHouse.com. You will know, intuitively, if the book is right for you or as a gift for someone else. Let your feelings lead the way.

There is a great deal of solace achieved when we hear specific phrases or information that only our loved one who has passed on could know. It confirms to us that this type of connection is real. It lifts the heavy burden of grief off our shoulders by proving that their life was no brief candle but rather a perpetual flame that continues to burn brightly – somewhere – somehow – and is always available to give us comfort.

Have a great few days!

The Beauty of the Rose

We learn everyday in every way when we choose to be an avid participant of the Universe. When we take the time and apply our brains and hearts to observe events we see we begin to realize that life is not simply a series of random events that happen to us but are, in fact, all held together by a magnet of meaning, purpose and reason. Each person, place or thing that comes into our lives is serving a purpose. The question then is …what do we do with our experiences? Do we attempt to learn from them or pass through the experiences as quickly as possible in an attempt to accomplish the next thing on our ‘to do’ list? Is it possible to look at our constant need to rush as a modern tragedy of our lifestyles? If so, we can choose to do something about it. Even though we are moving faster and time seems to be speeding up, we can train ourselves to focus more intently on the various interactions we experience at the moment to gain a deeper understanding of what life is teaching us. In the process we achieve the divine grace … The lesson …intended in each experience.

It may seem a bit overwhelming to think about every person, place or thing that comes into our lives as a learning opportunity. It is rather like being in a 24/7 classroom where the instructor is continually giving us new learning. Yet, we can look at this concept with gratitude or choose to see it as simply information overload. It is an opportunity to grow or to stagnate. The choice is always up to us.

We may decide to look at all these experiences like Don Quixote did in the musical ‘Man of La Mancha.’ He chose to see the rough and degraded Aldonza for her inner beauty and, in fact, renamed her Dulcinea. When he chose to see her inner beauty it caused a transformation to happen. People – including ourselves – really do live up to expectations. It’s helpful to remember to bless the beauty of the rose and forgive the thorns.

Our spiritual growth is enhanced when we decide to see the opportunities presented to us as another stepping stone in our deeper awareness of ourselves and this life experience. You are going to live through them anyway – why not grab hold of the moment and learn from it?

Have a great few days!

Life is 650,000 hours!

According to Bill Bryson in his book, ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything,’ the average human being lives about 650,000 hours which amounts to a little over 74 years. Of course this is simply an average but it does give a person pause when you think about our life span in that context – reduced to the concept of hours. All of a sudden every hour we spend living in the past or worrying about the future takes on a whole different perspective. One hour gone …how many more do we have left?

Each of us is carrying a load of rocks from our past in our invisible backpacks. If we perseverate on them the rocks can become boulders and cause us to slow down and even bend under the weight. The question is do we have the extra time and energy to continue to carry around anger, regrets or disappointments from the past? Or is it time to decide the next hour, day and week of our life will be better than ever because the clock is, indeed, ticking.

A simple practice of training ourselves, immediately upon awakening, to think about one thing to be grateful for and put a smile on our face we start our day off with more physical and emotional energy. It doesn’t cost a thing but will reap tons of benefit. It also helps us bring our ‘a game’ to the moment, the hour in which we are living. You may be thinking to yourself that you’re not a morning person. You don’t have to be. Simply getting into the practice of waking up with a thought of gratitude and a smile can be a game changer for the day. You still don’t have to talk to anyone until you have had that first cup of coffee or tea. This practice just seems to help get our own internal house in order for the new day. After all, you are still alive and have another chance to realize your purpose and make a difference in life. That, in itself, is a big reason to be happy.

It’s a matter of intention and self awareness. The next time you pass a mirror glance at it and honestly decide what your face is showing to the world. Does it project warmth, positive energy and welcome others in? Can you see a smile in your eyes? If not, the good news is that you can decide to change. Since it takes less energy to be positive than negative it seems like a no brainer to me. Yes, it takes honest self reflection and a bit of effort but we can change just about anything in our lives if we so desire. No cost involved – just a choice to become more aware of our own happiness index and do something about it.

Living is not resisting and merely existing but rather evolving by learning, growing, and polishing the rougher edges of our personality. We all have them. We can become happier, more energized and the person we always wanted to be when we have the courage to take stock of our lives and choose to do something about it. Self improvement is time incredibly well spent. It fuels the body, heart and soul.

Today you can choose to make a difference in life – one step at a time- starting with yourself. Now that is something to get excited about!

Have a great few days!

Extend a Hand

I recently received a heartfelt letter from a woman in California who had read my book, ‘Just Behind The Door.’ I thank all of you who have had the opportunity to read the book as well as those of you who have emailed me your impressions. Losing a child, regardless of their age, or a partner, parent, sibling or best friend causes us to walk a similar path through grief. It is so important to know that you are not alone and that yes, the feelings of loss can be so overwhelming they can take you to your knees. There is nothing wrong when you momentarily feel so deeply that you question life itself. The deeper our love the deeper our grief.

What IS important to know when you are troubled about anything is that you will make it through – not necessarily totally unscathed – but you will make it through when you reach out to others for help. Regardless of the type of help whether reading about someone else’s journey, joining a loss group, working with a counselor or simply talking, talking and talking to a family member or friend about your feelings enables you to get the raw, gut wrenching hurt and fear to the surface. It may take weeks, months even years to truly heal. It’s okay – we are each on our own unique timeline in this life journey. Getting your feelings to the surface is THE critical first step in healing. At the surface there is light and with that light energy the slow, deliberate process of healing will begin.

Some might think that a person is strong if they don’t fall apart at times and show emotion. You know the reference to the saying attributed to the upper class British, ‘keep a stiff upper lip?’ Well, originally that was in reference to sewing the mouth closed of a corpse before throwing it overboard at sea. Kind of puts things in perspective doesn’t it? Show me a person who doesn’t struggle with their feelings when loss or difficult things happen in their life and I will show you a person who is sad, angry and alone.

True strength is being willing to admit vulnerability and seeking out someone to confide in who will truly hear you. Just as you can either be someone’s lifeline or anchor you can also be your own. The choice is always up to you. Being your true authentic self takes courage and by sharing your feelings it gives others the chance – the honor even – of being there for you. Those who are the happiest in life seem to have learned this lesson.

Remember the lyrics from the song written by Tommy Page, ‘A Shoulder To Cry On,’
Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on…
a friend to rely on…
you will feel better
if you let me walk with you…
by your side…
you won’t be alone…
a friend to rely on…
with you ’till the end.

Let’s show how strong we are by making a commitment to be there for others when they need us and to open up to others when we need a listening ear and caring heart. We reincarnated together, this time around for a reason and just like the links in a chain, together we are stronger.

Have a great few days!

Success Is Change!

Success in our lives can be defined by asking three questions. What is truly important to us – what makes our blood pump a little faster? What do we find most difficult to handle (the things that make us anxious or our stomachs churn)? And what do we hold sacred in our hearts – the most important things without which we would not want to be here? These are big questions to think about and even bigger to answer. The closer you can get to the truth of who you really are and what you want your life to stand for the closer you are to achieving your own true success. That is all the Universe asks of us, to be true to ourselves and our prebirth agreement.

As we start the new year, I have found it helpful to reflect on these questions and honestly determine accomplishments, lessons learned and even more importantly, lessons yet to be learned. Doing so is both exciting and humbling. It seems like there is never a shortage of lessons. Ultimately, it all boils down to working on the personal challenges involved in accepting the changes we are faced with in life.

When we look at the challenge of the ultimate change in our life involving loss, there was something we needed to learn from it. As hard as the loss was it enabled us to learn important lessons. It may seem impossible, at first, to reach a deeper understanding. It is there, I promise you, just be brave and continue to search. What do you now place greater value on since experiencing the loss?

Loss comes in many forms. A death, of course, is the biggest challenge, the real show stopper. However, any change we experience in life brings, at first, a feeling of loss. My last blog was on the steps we go through when we experience change and loss. You might want to go back to the archive section on this website and review those steps, maybe even print them.

As part of the human race we are much more alike than different in our human emotions. We all experience insecurity, denial, anger, fear, acceptance and love. That’s why these steps are so predictable, the length of time we spend in each step is the human variable. We can find reassurance in knowing the emotions we experience are normal. When we are immersed in tears, we are not ‘losing it,’ but expressing our honest feelings involved in the loss – the change in our lives. Since nothing remains the same for long, being aware of these steps and being able to emotionally apply them gives us greater confidence and security in facing tomorrow.

Soul searching is not for the faint of heart but as Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “The truth will set you free.” It is good to take stock of what you have accomplished this year and what you still find most difficult to handle, what gives you pause. Once you decide to work on those feelings and situations you will be able to master them. Mastery brings a feeling of greater confidence and peace. Next year when you take stock of your life you will smile and think to yourself, ‘worked on that one and getter better every day!’

Have a great few days!

Another Life, Another Tragedy

Another senseless death – a TSA worker simply doing his job – is gone. Didn’t the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school teach us anything? For those of us who have lost someone it reminds us that life is fragile, there is no guarantee of tomorrow. As we watch others live through the stages of grief, from a loss that could have been prevented, we wonder what will it take, how many more lives must be lost before we are strong enough as a country to make the changes necessary to ensure greater safety for everyone. The survivors, the family members will get through this over time but never get over it. As we know the death of a loved one changes our life forever.

These innocent people, including children and public workers simply could not have died in vain. These deaths have brought our nation to our knees, momentarily stunned into silence, as we watch people run, yet again, from the sounds of a gun firing into a crowd of innocent people. Is it possible that these human beings have given their lives to teach us as a nation that life is sacred and that gun violence should no longer be tolerated? Do we take pride in being labeled the gun capital of the world? I think not, we are better than that – or are we?

In a recent interview former President Clinton said he is the only president who stood up to the NRA and won. It seems that our elected officials are more worried about being reelected – meaning not standing up to the NRA- that voting the will of the people. President Clinton explained that in a recent poll 92% of American people stated that they support a ban on assault rifles. Yet when the critical time comes to vote they are NOT EVEN AWARE of a candidate’s position on the topic! We are blessed to be able to vote freely in this country but with that opportunity comes an obligation to be informed on the issues before simply pulling a lever.

The words of President Obama in January still ring in my ears, “We must change…doing nothing is not an option,” they should cause us to wake up and face the truth in our country. We have allowed violence to grow to epidemic proportions. We pride ourselves in being the leader of the civilized world and yet experience 32 murders per DAY in the U.S. What can we learn from countries such as England, Australia, Germany and Japan who have acted decisively, in a nonpartisan effort, to assure the safety of their people and defenseless children? Can we check our egos at the door, finally, and say we can humble ourselves enough to learn from others? We are strong, we are intelligent but we are not invincible.

Piers Morgan of CNN has been relentless in his effort to help us understand the staggering statistics that, sadly, are unique to the U.S. Both professionally and personally he is committed to doing something to help. He is not letting the issue of our need for greater gun control drop as the rest of the country resumes their lives.

Senator Diane Feinstein saw the positive effect from the legislation to ban assault weapons succeed for 10 years, until 2004 when it expired as part of the sunset provision contained in the law. Yet, she has been back once again trying to pass legislation to ban the deadly assault rifles. As she said about Sandy Hook, “This is the straw that broke the camel’s back!” She is a model senator who will eventually receive the support of legislators in Washington when and if they are held accountable by us and not until.

What can we do to help? We must keep up the pressure to see assault weapon legislation passed again but this time with NO sunset provision. That will ensure greater safety for all of us – especially our children. Other major issues such as improved mental health services and reducing the amount of violence promoted on T.V., movies and video games must be addressed. Glamorizing violence, killing and maiming is simply wrong. When you put garbage in your mind you get garbage out. It is simply cause and effect. We know that we are what we think about most often.

The candidates running in the mid term elections in 2014 will be gearing up shortly. May we be strong enough, informed enough and tenacious enough to elect individuals who will do the right thing.

Please pass this blog on to others. We will need all the support possible to make the changes necessary in our country. Together we can change our world.

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!

Allow Yourself to Heal

I talked to a person recently who said that they no longer feel joy in their life since losing their loved one. They feel anxious, unable to concentrate and just basically empty inside. I understand. I have been there. From the moment you wake in the morning a heaviness descends around you and you have to absolutely will yourself to take that first step of the day. The loss of someone you love is not easy to put into words. Loyalty, trust and joy are just a few of the emotions felt when we love someone so deeply. We think to ourselves, now all that is gone from my life. Our grief is not only for today but the many unrealized tomorrows.

An important part of healing from loss or even just making it through the challenges of living as we learn our life lessons is to ‘allow.’ By definition, allow is ‘to permit.’ To give yourself permission to feel, grieve, remember, even momentarily to wish things had been different, and it is a natural part of grieving the changes that happen in our lives.

We are so used to making things happen that to just allow life to unfold seems counterintuitive. We may feel that it is a cop out, an excuse to do nothing. Quite the contrary. If we turn the kaleidoscope in our minds ever so slightly, we will see that when we allow, we resist the urge to try to control everything or to demand life be a certain way to make us happy. We still strive to become all that we can be but as things happen that hurt or derail us we look at them not with indignation but with a deeper understanding as we search for the personal lessons contained within them. To learn to allow is a hard lesson. To me, that one little word – allow – means a combination of acceptance for what is combined with a belief that ‘all is as it should be.’ It speaks of a power, an energy, greater than ourselves

Take some time over the next few days to think about the word ‘allow.’ How would your life be different if you looked at events, challenges even losses in your life and thought to yourself, my life is about accepting that the Universe is unfolding in perfect order. When you learn to allow, a sense of peace envelops you and you begin to exhale the stress that is so deeply bottled up within you.

A poem that has been meaningful to me on this lesson of allowing life to unfold was written by R. Bach.

A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction
and at such a speed,
It feels an impulsion…this is the place to go now.
But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns
behind all clouds,
And you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough
To see beyond horizons.

Have a great few days!