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!
The importance of maintaining balance in our thinking cannot be overstated especially when it comes to love. The saying that love is blind is real. Differences are viewed as exciting, clever even precious. Over time, however, we may start to see those differences in a more critical light and get to a place of judgment and assumption and find ourselves feeling a bit off or emotionally unsure at times…all from the result of our overactive minds. Take a moment and think about the last time you jumped to conclusions about your loved one only to find out later you were 100 percent wrong. You allowed yourself to become both judge and jury and decided their behavior was, at best, uncaring. When you found out ‘the other half of the story’ and realized your assumption was in error it was embarrassing right? Yet, we all do it until we decide in our hearts that the love we share is bigger and more important than any petty grievance and way too important to be questioned even for a moment.
Fear is the culprit behind the lack of balance in our thinking. When you find yourself perseverating about something it comes purely from fear. Ask yourself what evidence you have to fear…most often than not there really is none. Yet, we can often imagine a million and one ‘what if’s’ while we let our minds run wild. Fear can be a wedge in even the strongest relationship.
Time to regroup. Time to stop judging and start appreciating, honoring and loving yourself and the special person in your life without fear. Are they different from you? Absolutely! Is that a good thing? You bet! When you judge you are saying, in essence, that they should be more like you! Really? Their differences make them who they are…the person you fell in love with…and that’s a beautiful thing. Do they always respond in a way that makes you comfortable or happy? Probably not. But truth be told they could probably say the same thing about you. I know that may be hard to believe but trust me on this – it’s true. We all have our idiosyncrasies.
When you truly love someone, unconditionally, there is no room for judgment or assumption. You see past their humanness. Your love embraces their whole being including any ‘shortcomings’ that you may attribute to them. In fact, the thought of shortcomings, in itself, means a judgment has taken place. You didn’t fall in love because you wanted a mirror image of yourself right – well hopefully not! Individual differences can add texture, color and depth to a relationship.
No one likes to be judged. It taps into a primal fear of insecurity and can close up our hearts as a form of protection. When we remember that we are all a loving being of the Universe that grows and blossoms from love the answer is quite clear. Slow down your thinking, trust and believe in the relationship and watch in amazement as it deepens even more over time.
Have a great few days!
Christmas is five days away! What happened to the time…to the year? We have all lived through blessings, challenges and opportunities this year. Some have caused us to grow beyond our wildest imaginings while others have caused us to make mid course corrections and adapt to new life changes. What we do know is that all were intended…all were for the purpose of self growth. As we run around feverishly picking up the last present at the store (or the mailbox for our online shoppers) let’s remember the unconditional love of the season – and keep it foremost in our hearts. Christmas brings out the best in all of us as we reflect on a few simple truths such as…
Friends and family without them our lights would not shine quite as brightly. If someone is struggling now is the time to go the extra mile to show them we care. Random acts of kindness can be a lifeline to another especially at this time of year.
Health – although we may be doing well it’s important to remember that for some fellow travelers health issues may be a challenge. They need our understanding. Regardless of our condition each of us wants to be treated with dignity and respect and seen as a capable human being. Everyone has the capacity to make a positive difference until our last breath – and beyond.
Opportunities – when we review what we have faced this year some things might not have gone as planned. We may have run into some difficulty with others. As Desmond Tutu tells us that ‘forgiveness is nothing less than the way to heal the world’ one person at a time. Let’s heal it together.
Joy – we can see it everywhere. The smiles, the hugs, the laughter of others helps us to remember – all is good with the world – and we see it clearly when we stop long enough to breathe deeply and live in the present.
Gratitude – it brings light into our lives and makes our life lessons easier when we appreciate what we have and maintain a mindset of ‘YES.’ It gives us strength and enthusiasm to face our tomorrows.
Our loved ones who have passed on left us with an incredible gift – unconditional love. Let’s pass it on to others and change the world.
For today, next week and next year – we can choose to remember the feelings we have at this time of year and decide – right here right now – to continue this unconditional love and appreciation for our life and those who are in it. Life really is good, our cups really are full and everything will work out just as it’s suppose to … it just takes a little faith in the miracle of life here on planet Earth.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
What is love? We see versions of it enacted on T.V., or read about it in a superficial basis in novels but once in a great while we experience it ourselves. We may be mislead into thinking that there is only one type of love and it either exists and withstands the test of time or not. But the ancient Greeks developed a deeper understanding of love and described it using four terms each indicating a different type of love.
Agape -the unconditional love that causes us to accept others with any and all their flaws and differences. We love them and expect nothing thing in return. We may see the word ‘agape’ on church bulletin boards or in book stores indicating anyone and everyone is welcomed and accepted. The second type of love, Philemon, was defined as a platonic, friendship type of love. This type epitomizes the phrase, ‘I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine.’ It’s the kind of love that best friends, not seeing each other for a time experience when meeting or talking again. It is, as if, nothing has changed in their relationship and they just pick up the where they left off. The third type of love was named Storage by the Greeks. It is a love of family and dear friends. It is unconditional, committed and causes us to feel comfortable and safe. Regardless of what we might say or do we know that we will always be accepted and loved. Eros, the fourth type of love is passionate even arousing a feeling of a natural ‘high’ when you are with the other person. You can talk for hours upon hours without even realizing the time that has elapsed.
Some relationships may focus on one particular type of love and it works for them. It is said, however, that for love to be everlasting all four types of love need to evolve into the relationship over time. What exactly does this all encompassing type of love look like?
We find ourselves thinking about this person frequently and wondering what they are doing, if they are thinking about us and when we will see them again. We are willing to expose ourselves to them – literally and figuratively. Over time we start to share our vulnerable areas without fear of judgment. We just know that if needed they would be there for us in a second. It offers an assurance, a strength that is outside of ourselves. We no longer feel we are taking this life journey alone but have someone along the way that is as equally interested in us as we are in them. The novelist, Cesar Pavese said, “You will be loved the day when you will be able to show your weakness without the person using it to assert his strength.” Love softens us, smoothes out our rough edges. This type of love causes the object of your love to be more important, more vivid to you than you are to yourself. Thoughts, ideas and plans are more exciting as you discuss them with the one you love. Your looks and touches can often best be understood through the magic of a song that you have heard a million times before but this time, yes – this time with him – it speaks to both your heart and mind. We feel more inspired and joyful about living. David Brooks explains it this way,” We want to do something special for them. Cooking a meal, buying a special little gift, picking them up at the airport, getting them water to drink – it’s a gift-love not reciprocity- love.” We experience for the first time something mystical, bigger than ourselves and we may try to analyze it to no avail. Eventually, we simply settle into the awesomeness of the experience. This type of love seems to expand our heart and causes us to smile from the inside out. It is said that the more you love, the more you can love because love expands with use! How beautiful it is to see this type of love between people. Once observed, we know that all is right with the world.
Have a great day!
The greatest gift we can give to someone is nurturing and unconditional love. It creates a bond that withstands even the most difficult challenges in life. There is now research that demonstrates that early maternal nurturing and love creates a bond in the child that serves them well throughout life and actually results in changes in the brain. According to Dr. Joan Luby from the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri, the hippocampus area of the brain has been found to be up to 10% larger in children who were loved and nurtured early in life. Since the hippocampus stores memories with emotional ties it just makes sense that early memories of love and adoration serves a person well for the rest of their lives. As they mature into adulthood somewhere in the back recesses of their minds they remember the feeling of being totally accepted and loved and know they are worthy of the same feeling in later life. They may be more discerning as they evaluate future possible relationships. They have memories that help them recognize true feelings of love and acceptance. It seems to me then that early bonding helps create a more positive sense of self. A willingness to seek rather than settle until that special moment when that feeling of unconditional love and acceptance once again appears in their life.
In educational research the importance of having at least one person in a child’s life that loves them unconditionally has long been recognized to be the most important factor a child brings with them to school. It often means the difference between success or struggle.
Once again, we see that unconditional love is the greatest thing we can give to another human being.
A new book just published entitled, ‘Unforgettable” and written by Scott Simon from NPR demonstrates this concept beautifully. As he sat by his mother’s beside for a few days as she was dying he began tweeting his thoughts. Over 1.2 million Twitter followers lived through this journey of his beloved mothers’ last days with him. He expanded upon those original tweets to create this book. Rather than being a sad, depressing read it is a celebration of a life between mother and son that is beauty beyond words. It continually resonates with laughter, shared memories and life lessons. You live through the challenges of this mother trying to keep a roof over her son’s head, making sure he had enough to eat by passing on the food herself. Yet always, always making light of the circumstance at hand so as not to burden him with worry. She becomes a real person – someone you would like to know. A person you just know you would have some laughs with as you discuss the latest absurdity of life.
The son, ahh yes, then there is the son – Scott Simon – he stands above the crowd with his unconditional love and devotion for his mother. His book is more than a memoir or tribute to a her. His words help us experience the emotions of a life well lived and remembered. They create a beautifully soft envelop of love that surrounds you as you turn each page and ultimately leave you with a feeling of gratitude for having been privileged enough to walk a mile in his shoes.
Have a great few days!
Deepak Chopra wrote a book entitled, ‘The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire’ which is still on my bookshelf 12 years later. His premise was that everyday coincidences are meaningful as they give us glimpses of the field of infinite possibilities that are at the heart of all things. He explained that we are connected to everything that exists and everything yet to come. When we begin to notice these coincidences – not as random happenings but as events of perfect timing – we begin to think more deeply about the implications in our own lives.
While the explanation above might sound a bit too philosophical to be fully understood, below are two examples that demonstrates the idea clearly.
A recent accident in the icy waters of the Spanish Fork River near Salt Lake claimed the life of a mother,Jennifer Groesbeck, age 25. In the partially submerged car, her 18 month little girl was found trapped after 13 hours, unconscious and dangling upside down in her car seat. Police and firefighters were called to the scene by a fisherman who spotted the car. Rescuers said that as they approached the car they definitely heard a female voice calling out for “Help” from inside the vehicle. But the emergency responders said the mother was dead and the 18 month old was not only unconscious but too young to call out. Tyler Beddoes, one of the rescuers said, ‘WE ALL HEARD THE SAME THING. How do you explain that?’ The good news about this story was that the baby survived and is doing well. The other good news is that it is yet another example of meaningful coincidence. It makes us stop and wonder – maybe even stretch our belief system slightly – about something bigger than ourselves. Was the rescue of this baby coincidence or miracle? Does it matter what we label it….No…but it does give us the opportunity to think more deeply about our existing belief system.
Deepak Chopra explains coincidences as messages from a higher source that are intended to guide us in ways to act that make our dreams and intentions a reality. A much different example of coincidence also happened recently. A text message was received from a bank which indicated a possible fraud had occurred on the owner’s credit card. Immediately following up on the alert it was found to be in error but opened up a much deeper and needed discussion, at the perfect moment in time, regarding life plans. What caused the text message to happened at precisely the right moment to stimulate the discussion? Was the message directed from a higher source? What I do know is that everything happens for a purpose and there is a great deal of loving support available to us that we cannot necessarily see with our naked eye. When we are receptive coincidences happen in perfect timing and are meant as a gift to help us along our path.
Take a moment over the next few days and watch when something happens – out of the blue – that causes you to think, feel or act differently. Would you have done so if the incident hadn’t presented itself at just the perfect moment in time? The interesting thing about the area of coincidence is that the more you recognize them the more they happen. They become like our guide on the side as we live out our time on planet Earth. Rather reassuring wouldn’t you say?
Have a great few days!