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Archive for March, 2012

We hear often about how Facebook has changed the world that we live in, and how it has negatively impacted human relationships because no one communicates in person anymore. Of all of the bad things about Facebook: bullying, emotional affairs, its addictive qualities and more, this week I am thankful for the power of the tool to connect with someone suffering a devastating loss.

I opened my Facebook account two days ago to see a cryptic post from a friend who lives in Arizona and who I haven’t seen for years, since I lived and worked there. She said “my heart hurts.” Yesterday I opened my account to find another post explaining that her best friend, her lover, her one-year-old’s father had died the day before. There were hundreds of responses and messages on her wall expressing condolences. Throughout the day she posted photos of her husband with their child, and people continued to comment. Toward the end of the day she posted information on the Celebration of Life which will take place next week.

Although I haven’t commented on her wall yet, I’ve been thinking of my friend and I will get a card into the mail shortly letting her know that I care. I struggle with this type of thing because I struggle with the public nature of Facebook. I don’t post things that are very personal, probably because I’ve never wanted everyone to know my business. But this is different. Facebook has become such a part of life, that to me it seems natural to share such a life-altering event. And it is allowing those of us who aren’t physically there, and would not be on the short list to get notified of tragedies like this to support our friend.

Is this a new way to grieve? Facebook allows people to share pictures, thoughts, memories and dare I go so far as to suggest emotions? All at a very rapid speed. Is this immediate outpouring of support and reminiscing of times gone by via the internet going to take place of human interaction and funerals? I personally don’t think so – I think there will always be physical needs of the one left behind – seeing and placing the body or ashes somewhere meaningful and the human connection that comes from a hug or holding of a hand. But what Facebook does offer is a sort of scrapbook of life, a tangible way to show the grief that one is feeling, and the love we have for one another. I think Facebook is a great tool for working through grief.

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a "low profile" sole provides a grea...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once again, we welcome Pete Reinl from Church & Chapel to our blog and thank him for sharing his insights on grief and loss with our readers.

I enjoy, for the most part, running every other day as a form of exercise. There are two hills on my running route; one about midway through which seems to stretch on forever, and the other toward the end of my route which is shorter but much steeper. Sometimes, each looks insurmountable and it takes everything in me to keep running. At other times they seem to be manageable, even less challenging. I’ve noticed during the manageable times of running the hills I’m concentrating more on each individual step I’m taking verses looking to see how far I have yet to go. Then, there are those days I just simply ‘feel’ stronger verses being tired and worn out. I’ve also noticed during those manageable times that I’m aware of what is beyond the hill – in the first case a nice long decline, and in the second, the end of my run.

Sometimes in the midst of grieving, particularly early on in the journey, we become overwhelmed by our experiences and all the choices we are faced with on many different levels. Experiencing feelings we’ve heard about from others but could’ve never imagined having ourselves with such intensity and depth, such as sadness, guilt, loneliness, fear, relief, and anger, to name a few. Tears we’re afraid will never stop ~ fearing that we’ll never genuinely smile again. Weeping that comes from a place in us we never knew existed. Finding ourselves believing we’re going ‘crazy’ because we’re so scattered, forgetful, distracted, impatient, low on energy and saying things that are out of character for us. Then, there are all those choices and decisions needing to be made and people to consider. What will the holidays look like? Who will take care of the bills? Can I continue to live here? When is it okay for me to consider being in another intimate relationship? Do I want another intimate relationship? What about the laundry? Who will fix the car if it breaks down? I don’t know how to cook? Who will be my ‘go to’ person – the person I confide in? God? Faith? Who am I now? Who will I become? What purpose do I have? What about the children? Who gets what? Who are my friends? Can I, should I, continue in the bowling league? And yet even more choices! It can be – IS – daunting.

Perhaps we need to consider taking one step at a time…one day at a time…one hour at a time…sometimes, one minute at a time. Taking ‘things’ as they come ~ one at a time. Choosing to be ‘selfish’ and honoring our needs, over those of others. Perhaps we would do ourselves, and those around us, a huge favor if we tried to remain in the moment, as unpleasant and painful as that might be. Surrendering to who I am and what I need right now. It seems to me, when we look at everything all-at-once and stay in the ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ and ‘what then’ and ‘what will they think’ we become overwhelmed and ‘it all’ can become a powerful source of depression, and drain the precious little energy we have. Fully feeling what we feel right now, sharing our story with others who are safe, and making decisions that are based on our readiness, our intuition, and in our best interest, not based on a ‘should’, is part of how we heal.

Sometimes, all we have in us are small steps. Sometimes we can take larger ones. Sometimes we don’t have one step in us at all ~ and that’s okay. It’s important to take a moment, every now and then, to look back at where we’ve been on our journey of grief and give ourselves some credit verses beating ourselves up and comparing ourselves with others. And, when we’re ready, to contemplate what healing might look like in the future; how we imagine joy in our lives again. To visualize / envision who we want to become and what we want our lives to look like again ~ integrated and whole, in a new and changed way. In essence, we’re in the midst of creating a new life that will naturally and authentically honor our deceased loved ones, while honoring our True Selves, a single step at a time.

 

Pete Reinl, Director of Grief Support Services

Church and Chapel Funeral Homes

petereinl@churchandchapel.us

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Sometimes I forget that not everyone in the world knows what Hospice is or feels as strongly as I do that it’s a necessary step at the end of someone’s life. Unfortunately I got my reminder last week at the visitation of a family member who died of cancer and was at a hospice for the last few days of his life. The first thing my cousin said to me after we hugged was, “Hospice was such a blessing – everyone there was amazing and now I get it. I don’t know how you do it.” When I finally got to her mom for a conversation, she looked me in the eye and said, “You need to come raise funds here in our town for a hospice like the one we were in.” A woman of action, with a new-found passion, she is.

I offer an overview of the Hospice philosophy monthly to our new Volunteers, and it’s always a good reminder for me – pulling me back to my purpose. I was reminded this week not to take for granted that people know about hospice, and I’d like to give our readers my 30 second overview – just as a reminder.

  • Hospice is about the patient – they deserve to have an acceptable level of pain (none if that is possible), be included in decisions regarding their care and be treated like the living, breathing person they are – not a “dying” person
  • Hospice recognizes that everyone is different – whatever I find comforting is not what the next person is going to appreciate and vice versa.
  • Hospice takes care of the loved ones, too. When you lose someone you love, it’s one of the hardest things ever. Hospice can help the grieving just as much as they helped the patient.
  • Dignity matters in hospice. Enough said.
  • Hospice lets you be a daughter, wife, or grandchild again, when you’ve been acting in the “caregiver” role for too long.

I don’t know if this will help anyone discover hospice earlier or believe in it rather than think it’s giving up. I hope it does. Everyone deserves dignity and compassion and I believe it’s especially important at the end of one’s life. The hospice philosophy is to take care of the whole human, and that’s the kind of care I would want if I were nearing the end.

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Today’s guest blog is from the amazing creators of “The Brave Girls’ Club,” a website devoted to reminding us to be strong and brave and live life. You can find The Brave Girls’ Club at http://www.bravegirlsclub.com. We thank them for granting us permission to share this great insight with you.

Dear Passionate Girl,

Sometimes things get stripped out of our lives and we feel like we can’t live life with the same intensity or passion or joy ever again.

This is just not true, beautiful girl.

Even if we have lost all of our money, we can still have grand and beautiful adventures….we can make anything an adventure…in fact, learning to live without money can become one of the most wonderful adventures there is! If we have lost someone we love, we truly can still love and be loved…and we can remember wonderful memories and let go of painful ones….and more wonderful people will show up in our lives as soon as we are ready. Even when a career change must happen….and it feels scary and devastating….this can be the beginning of something that we never could have experienced otherwise.

Making the most of where we are is how we live with intensity, passion and joy. Making due with what we have in this moment spurs creativity and resourcefulness that would not have been necessary otherwise. Reframe it all, dear friend….see the possibilities even when it feels like you’ve just had the wind knocked out of you.

Your life is MEANT to be filled with passion and joy……..if you can’t find it….make it. It can always be done…..we can create the happiness that we can not find.

You are so loved…never forgotten…always always always loved.
Go live big…and then live even bigger.
xoxo

{This is an excerpt from the Brave Girls Club “a little birdie told me – daily truth”. Click to read this entire truth or to subscribe to receive Daily Truths in your email inbox.}

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It is our pleasure to share this blog by Jodi Chapman with you (with her permission, of course). You can see her original post with full photos and other Soul Speak blogs HERE. Thank you to Kayla Waldschmidt for reaching out to Jodi and realizing that this topic is so relevant to our readers! In a world full of change it’s hard to remember that from change comes re-creation and new (different) purpose and life. We hope you enjoy Jodi’s words as much as we did.

A few days ago, I wrote about leaping toward our dreams – putting both feet in – not allowing ourselves to have a safety net. Tony Robbins calls this going to an island and burning the frickin’ boats to make sure we are all in! Well, as I sit here typing this post from an office completely void of any furniture (except for the card table that I am sitting at now, which shakes with each letter that I type) – I would have to say this: I have officially burned my boats.

Yesterday, I watched the remnants of a dream that I carried with me and held onto for many years drive away. I sold all of my office furniture. My beautiful desk that I was once so happy to sit at every day is now in someone else’s office for them to sit at and enjoy every day. This wasn’t an ordinary desk – it was one that represented success to me. It represented making it – being there – living the dream. And for awhile, while sitting at this desk, I started to believe that it was working – my dreams were coming true. I had the beautiful desk, the amazing studio, the gift business that I started from scratch – all of the pieces that should’ve added up to a happy and fulfilling life, right?

The only problem was that I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was growing in a different direction, and I was hanging onto this life – this furniture – this vision because it was comfortable, safe, and known. But it no longer fed my soul, and that’s something that has taken me years to admit to and years to do something about. I knew that I needed to do something drastic – something that wouldn’t allow me to stay in this comfortable space. Something that would force me to get out there and start living this dream of mine where I am an inspirational writer and I pay all of my bills through my words.

An inspirational writer doesn’t need all of this space. An inspirational writer doesn’t need all of this furniture. We moved out of this studio almost two years ago and brought the furniture with us – into a much smaller space. We were still holding onto this dream – even though it was no longer our dream. And isn’t that true for so many of us? We visualize how we want our lives to be and then when we are actually living that life and it no longer feels right we are reluctant to let it go because we worked so hard to make it come true. I get that, I really do. But there comes a time in each of our lives where we have to ask ourselves some tough questions – is it more important to hang onto that dream or more important to give yourself permission to let it go – so you can be free to dream again?

I want to dream again. I don’t want to hang onto an old dream that no longer feels right simply because I spent years living it. So now, as I look around my office, I get to decide how I would like to fill my office. What makes me feel good? What will inspire me so that I can hopefully inspire others?

This is definitely not a comfortable feeling to look around and see so much space – so much emptiness. My first inclination was to run out and buy a new desk to fill this void. And then I wondered what would happen if I simply sat with this feeling of discomfort for a bit and really felt it and embraced it. What would happen if I paused for a moment during this journey from here to there? How different would I feel to take some time in this space in between these two worlds and just be?

So that is what I am doing today. I am sitting. I am allowing myself to be in this moment of letting one dream go because it was time to welcome a new dream. I am taking some time to say goodbye to yesterday’s dream. I am respecting it enough to give it this time for closure.

And then tomorrow (or whenever it feels right), I will begin the journey of re-creating my new life and filling my space with only that which feels right and makes my soul sing.

Even though this isn’t the easiest space to be in at the moment, I know that this change is exactly what I need to make room for so many wonderful new dreams. I feel so much lighter and so much more free.

I would love to hear your own story of how you are burning bridges in your own life!

Knowing that we are all in this together is so helpful. Your love and support help me continue to move forward toward this life that I know I am meant to live.

So much gratitude,

Jodi

P.S. – I promise to take a picture of my new office once my new vision is complete. (And I can locate the camera.)

Jodi Chapman is the author of the inspirational blog, Soul Speak; the upcoming book, Coming Back to Life: How an Unlikely Friend Helped Me Reclaim My True Spirit; and the bestselling Soulful Journals series, co-authored with her husband, Dan Teck. She would love to connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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Steven Spielberg at Hollywood Walk of Fame

Image via Wikipedia

I am a huge movie fan. Most weekends, I watch at least one movie (most of the time 2-3). Unexpectedly, I watched two movies this weekend that had wonderfully honest and inspirational messages of what grief truly looks like, how it affects relationships and families, and how to move toward healing. Check them out and let me know what you think.

50/50

Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen star in this phenomonal movie about a young man’s journey with cancer. The movie portrays how this unexpected diagnosis affects all of his relationships–with his girlfriend, best friend, and parents. It was a reminder that at times the way people cope with our loss may not appear or feel supportive. However, we need to remember that they are also going through a loss as well. The myriad of emotions that these characters experience reminds us that being diagnosed with a disease does indeed immediately bring about grief.

Super 8

I did not expect this movie to be related to grief at all, but was pleasantly surprised by this J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg movie. It was set in the 1970’s or 1980’s and felt vaguely like the movie E.T. The main character’s mother dies in a tragic accident, which leaves him and his father left to not only grieve her loss but learn how to relate to each other. It was a true journey of forgiveness, connection, and learning to find new support with those who remain.

We tend to think of grief as being sad and depressing. But I think you will find that there can be quite a bit of laughter, tenderness, love, and even happiness along the way. Just like in real life.

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A Step Toward Healing

I went to Walgreens the other week and before Valentine’s Day was even here, Easter candy was on the shelves. It got me thinking about how in our culture, we always seem to be looking ahead for the next thing instead of enjoying the moment. I’ve even seen a couple Mother’s Day commercials already.

This phenomenon also extends to grief. People ask me how to stop crying, take the pain away, or get over their grief. Even though the tendency to want to avoid difficult painful emotions is understandable, the solution is really to be okay exactly where you are. It sounds counter-intuitive, but the solution to reduce the pain and intensity is to stop and feel it. Be okay in the moment. It won’t last forever, I promise. Many people fear that they will be stuck in an emotion if they allow themselves to surrender to it. Feelings are like clouds. Just like we cannot hold onto a happy or joyful feeling, we can’t hold on to sad or painful feelings. In fact our body cannot sustain a strong emotion for more than 90 seconds. If you have ever seen a toddler throw a tantrum, and they were not interrupted, after about 90 seconds they lay on the floor like a deflated balloon. The same is true for adults. We tend to try to talk our way out of an emotion or distract ourselves, which makes the feeling last longer. If we just feel it and let it out, we can move on with our day less tense and fully present in the moment. Maybe then, at times, we can begin to enjoy some of those moments. And that is a step toward healing.

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