In life, there will be times when we have sadness and regrets about choices we have made. I read a line in a novel called Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, and I was very struck by what the author wrote, in regards to grieving what we did not do or get. ”Blaine needed what she was unable to give and she needed what he was unable to give, and she grieved this, the loss of what could have been.” And there it was in a nutshell. We can and we do spend time being sad about what could have been different in our lives if only.
I know this to be true and I have been there myself. And over time what I realized to be true for myself and probably for others, is that it is ok to grieve for what did not happen or for a relationship that is no more, but if we lose sight of what is ahead of us we will lose precious time that cannot be brought back. Our time is finite as far as we can tell at this time in history. So to lose it, is a loss in itself.
So, sometimes we have to make a choice, sometimes maybe we make mistakes and then we have to re-do what we have done or go down a different road. But at least we acted on something and tried to move forward. Life is about loving the people we have and learning the lessons that life sends us, so that we can be the best human beings possible.
Grief and Loss are part of the fabric of life, it is how we deal with it, that makes all the difference.
All people, gay and straight, and transgender come into their relationships with their own baggage and pre-conceived ideas. We come from a variety of religions, colors, culture and ethnic backgrounds which adds to the diversity and richness and also makes the relationships we are in more complicated.
It takes courage, determination, love and grit not to give up. It takes periodic reminders of why you and your loved one got together in the first place. It takes two people who don’t want to give up on the relationship to make it a go.
Guess what, the grass is not greener somewhere else. Who ever you end up with will delight and annoy you at different times. That is part of what happens. Over time, as you get to know each other, and deepen the intimacy between the two of you, you also get that, what you have is what you have.
Every long term relationship goes through different phrases. The beginning is the getting to know each other, listening carefully to what the other has to say. The delight, the excitement of it all is delicious and precious. The middle of the relationship is when you are in the stable part and for some people this is when things can go awry.
This is when you have to pay attention to each other, though it is not possible to do it in the way you did in the beginning, especially if you have children.
Why did you come together? Can you come back to that place of commitment, love, sharing and continued connection? If you start to go off the rails, talk to each other, get help if you need it and know that you have created something special, work on it.
If the other person is abusive, then that is a different story.
If you love each other, work towards keeping the relationship healthy.
When someone you know, a family member or friend dies in an accident, there is no chance to say goodbye, I love you, please be careful, you are precious, you are amazing, no there is no time to say any of this. One minute the person is here with us, the next they are gone from life.
It is a shock to the body, heart, mind and spirit. It takes time to wrap our brain around the fact that this person, alive and well one minute is gone. It is a hard part of life and yet these things to happen. We can’t keep the people we love in bubble wrap and keep them safe. All we can do is love them to the best of our ability, let them know periodically that we care about them. And hope for the best!
Be gentle and kind to yourself or anyone who has experienced this type of loss. It will take time to feel part of life again. Nature protects you at first by keeping you numb, over time you will start to have your feelings full blast and that is when the grief will come in waves and surprise you.
Please surround yourself with good people. People that won’t rush you to feel better, people who will be there and let you cry and say whatever it is you need to say.
I am sorry for your loss, I wish we could wave a wand and make it go away but we can’t!
There are grief groups and grief counselors if and when you need to talk to someone who is a professional
What does being authentic mean? Being authentic means being true to yourself. It means that you will pay attention to what your mind, heart, body and spirit are needing and telling you each day.
Your body will tell you, don’t drink anymore, don’t eat any more, please move me around and if you listen, you will start to feel better.
If you are working at a job that has meaning to you, your mind will be active and curious.
If you can’t find work that really is important to you, it is very crucial that you have meaningful things to do in your spare time.
Your heart will be open and happy if you are living an authentic life and closed and sad if you are not.
All of this impacts your spiritual life.
When you live a life that is not of your own choosing, you can have many emotions that are not making you and your life feel good. You can feel angry, resentful, bitter and sad. These feelings are there letting you know that something is not right with you.
So, how do you change this? First of all, you have to start paying attention to your inner voice. You can take a short period of time every day, five to fifteen minutes or more to read, write, meditate, pray or walk.
These are activities that will re-charge you and help you to tune in to what it is you are feeling and thinking.
For some people art works better. They are visual folks that can work through their feelings by doing different art projects.
People sometimes feel if they don’t have large amounts of time to do this, they won’t do it it at all. I say small amounts of time can still be helpful.
If you do all of this and still need help, you can talk to friends, family, a teacher or a professionally licensed counselor.
You deserve to be the best that you can be.
Here is to life and being authentic!
It never ceases to amaze me how ill prepared we are for death. We don’t know how to talk to our family and friends about it. We shy away from comforting people who are experiencing loss, or we talk to them in a way that does not really help them.
Here are some of my thoughts and tips for talking with people in grief.
1. Be present. What does that mean? It means to pay attention to what the person needs in the moment.
2. Check in. that means periodically calling or dropping by. You are letting the person know that you care and are aware of their feelings. Also they may not have the energy to call you to ask for something, this saves them from having to reach out to you.
3. Ask questions that are specific and appropriate. An example of this would be, instead of asking “What can I do for you? You can ask, would it be ok,if I dropped by on Saturday for a short visit? Would it be ok if I dropped off dinner on Tuesday night? I want to help you with some of your chores, what day can I come?
4. Be silent when your friend or family members needs quiet time.
5. Don’t assume. People assume how people are feeling or what they are needing, and you may be completely off course to what the person really wants and needs.
6. Don’t give advice: You should do this or you should do that or I someone that did this and it helped them. This is not really helpful when someone is grieving ( for most people).
7. Don’t push people to get better quickly. Grieving has its own rhythms and timing. Pushing people to participate or join in activities too soon can backfire on the person making them feel worse.
8.. Grief is personal, everyone has their own way of handling their pain. There is no specific timeline that works the same for everyone.
9. Just let your love for the person in grief surround them. They will know you are there and that you care about them.
When you are in the middle of big loss and the world seems cold and lonely, writing can help you get through some tough hours. Journaling can help you feel that there is somewhere you can write all the words that are bottled up inside of you. Write and keep on writing. Don’t worry if what you are writing makes any sense, just sit down and put pen to paper, or fingers on the keyboard and go for it. If you do this it can help you to put some thoughts and feelings out there about your grief.
Grief is hard work. You never know when the wave of sadness will hit you. You can feel so lonely as you try to make sense of what happened to that special person in your life who is longer there. Whether it be death or a break up, you can feel terrible. After awhile good friends and family members will go back to their lives, and they are not as available to be your sounding board. Using a journal can be another way of expressing yourself and feeling safe when the rest of your life may feel out of control.
Grief needs some way of being expressed. When you write about what you are feeling, it helps because you are paying attention to what is happening inside of you. It lets all of those emotions come to the surface, and it helps you deal with the rampage of feelings that start to come out.
A journal does not need to be a fancy book. It can be a notebook that you got at the local drugstore or it can be a journal that you buy at a book store, whatever catches your imagination, that is the one you should go for. You can take the amount of time that feels right to you writing every day, every other day or once a week.
I wish you the best as you start this new part of your life. Your journal can become part of your expressive life. It can help you in ways that will become more clear as time moves on.
A new year holds exciting possibilities! New chances to make your life more joyful, new relationships, working on being more healthy, more mindful.
What I see as really important is that a new year holds hope that we humans can make better choices for ourselves, do more self-care, and really explore in a more thorough way who we are. It is a chance to check in and see if we are being authentic and living the life we really want to live.
It takes courage to make changes and resiliency to keep going when there are tough things and people in our lives. Courage is doing things that are hard for us and moving through it as best as we can.
Taking small steps to change our routine can help make changes and not feel overwhelmed. An example of this would be to add one walk a week to your schedule. That can help you be healthier and not stress you out.
It is your choice, are you going to be courageous this year and really make changes? Are you going to push through some hard issues? It is ok to have support while you do this. You don’t have to do this alone. Some people talk to a trusted family member, a good friend, a religious or spiritual leader or a licensed counselor.
I hope you take this time to think about who you are, where you have been and where you want to go next in this precious life that you and I are living.
Happy New Year, let’s walk and talk together as the year unfolds!
The long, silent winter is here. the Holidays are upon us and people are running around trying to get ready. I hope you will try to keep things simple as to keep the stress levels down. Winter is a wonderful time and it can lead to the opportunity to be at home; it can also be a time for self-reflection. It is a time to stay warm and cozy. The Stillness of the season implies that there is not too much going on; at least not much is going on that can be seen by the naked eye. All the work is going on underground. When spring arrives all the glorious trees, bushes, grasses and colorful flowers that pop out all were evolving during that cold time.
This is the time when we are working internally, doing a lot of thinking and planning and making changes, silently as we go about our business of transformation.
Winter, this time before the spring, is the time to ask questions:
1. Who Am I?
2. Am I living the life I am meant to live.
3. Am I being the best that I can be?
4. Am I connected in a real way to the people I love?
5. If I only have a short time left on the earth, can I leave feeling peaceful?
Winter is a perfect time to reflect, to plan, and to get ready for the coming spring. Some people use meditation as a method of transforming themselves; others use psychotherapy as a method of coming to terms with who they are, and where they want to go in their lives. Others use exercise as a way of feeling good about themselves. I would recommend some combination of all of these, so that you are dealing with body, heart and spirit.
Families can be the source of joy, comfort and connection, or they can be the source of sorrow, pain and no real solid connection.
We cannot change anyone other than ourselves, but we can change how we react to any given person, family or not.
If your family is difficult for you, then I imagine you have had your share of sorrow and grief. You have not gotten some of your needs met by your family, and you might never thyour needs and feelings acknowledged by them.
I hope that you have received support and kindness in your life from other people. They can be friends, religious/spiritual leaders, people in a support group, a counselor or some other family member.
So here come the holidays with all of the expectations, hopes, dreams, and perhaps worries and concerns. What can you change, what do you want to keep the same and what are your challenges? A few of my suggestions are:
1. Simplify, meaning that you keep things uncomplicated, inexpensive and real.
2. Make new traditions that work for you
3. Included friends who don’t have familiy near by
4. Remember to have fun and joy in the activities that you are involved in.
Your family may not be who you would have chosen if you had the ability to choose your family. You can do as little or as much with them as you choose. Please, do not let any one guilt trip you around areas of, how much time you spend with them, how much money you spend, what foods you choose to serve, and how much you chose to decoreate.
We have one life that we know about and it is in the here and now. Choose to be around good, kind, joyful people and if you choose to be alone, then make it work as well as you can for yourself.
You deserve to have a peaceful and contented life.
If you have experienced the death of a family member or close friend right around this time of year, it can bring up extra stress for you. There it is, lights, carols, music, presents to think about, food, get togethers, and there you are sad, lonely, upset and not really ready to be in the holiday spirit. So what can you do? Are you allowed to take care of yourself during this time of year without feeling you are bringing everyone around you down?
You can pretend for a short while that you are ok, but newly grieving folks cannot keep up the pretense for long. And the question is, why should you? Death is a part of life, but it is a hard part and losing someone you wanted to spend the rest of your life with whether it be a spouse, parent, child, sibling or friend is painful You did not have any say in this, sometimes you did not even get to say goodbye, I love you.
So, what can you do?
* Get plenty of rest
*Visit with family or friends that understand how you are feeling, keep the numbers low.
*Start new traditions that feel ok for you. If you want a tree have one, if it is too much, let it go, light a candle for the departed one.
*Talk to someone who understands grieving. There are grief counselors and grief groups, especially around the time of the holidays.
*Allow yourself to feel your sadness and know that you won’t always feel this alone.
You will experience people who will say things that hurt or irritate you. These folks want you to feel better and they don’t always know what to say that will be helpful. Or they ignore your loss and pretend that everything is ok. They want you to be the way you use to be before your loss.
Well, you are different now, you have experienced profound loss and it will take you awhile to feel in balance with life again.
Take your time, be respectful of this loss. Take care of your wounded heart.