What Your Loved Ones Can Expect While You Grieve

I was going through some old messages looking for something quite specific. What I found was a message that I had sent to a few special people about 8 weeks after my son’s death. It helped me to explain my thoughts and feelings and also let some of these people know where my head and heart were at the time. I’m sharing it in hopes that it may help others.

Namaste,
Sandy

Good morning,

I was visiting a site this morning and found the helpful post that is below. I apologize for not knowing who the author is, but I still wanted to share.

This sums up and explains more clearly than I possibly can the ups and downs, clarity and confusion, interest and lethargy, etc. that have been occurring. You have been very patient and I’m afraid that if we are to continue to ‘hang out’ together I’m going to need to beg for more patience.

While I have searched, researched, read books, visited websites, etc. I cannot seem to find a guideline for moving through this time with any sort o grace or even a way to minimize the bumbling.

I’m working on not being short-tempered. Trying to hear what is said and not interpret (often in the wrong way) what is said to me. I am very aware that I often do not hear or read what is actually said or written. It’s almost as though something in my brain is filtering, but the filter is faulty.

My patience is short and my energy is very limited. It surprises me every time, but there it is. I have no idea how long this will last. It may be over by 2:17 pm this afternoon, that would be my preference! But I suspect these things may hang around or at least visit from time to time for quite a while. Only time will tell.

I want to thank you for the patience you have shown, I’m very aware of it even if I am not always able to thank you as I should and would like to do. Please know that the gratitude is there. It’s deep and it’s real.

I’m still in here, but it’s a bit murky and foggy and I’m simply finding my way one step at a time.

I have no doubt that I will resurface entirely at some point. Until then, I’ll keep bobbing up and I want you to know how much I appreciate having you around when I do.

Namaste,
Sandy

What Your Loved Ones Can Expect While You Grieve 

My grief process will take much longer than you want it to.
You can’t fix this for me by doing anything but you can just be there for me.
I will be in a sort of fog for at least 3 months. When the fog lifts, I might get worse.
I will have periods of doing okay, then I will feel despair again.
I will be exhausted. Grief is hard work.
My desire, creativity, and motivation will be gone for quite awhile.
My ability to experience joy may also be absent.
I will have a range of emotions from irritability to inexplicable rage and it may be targeted at you. Please forgive me.
I am vulnerable, I feel brittle, and I do not feel resilient.
I can’t take too much stimulation. I probably won’t feel like being sociable.
I know you miss the old me, but I’m forever changed by the loss of my loved one.

It will feel as though I haven’t made any progress. However, I am slowly healing with occasional normal setbacks.
I will heal. Please be patient, loving, and understanding.

What if Signs from my Son are Different than I Expect?

What if the strongest signs are the very absence of things I would expect?

I’ve been thinking about this. When we lose someone we love we look for signs that they are in spirit, that they are well and still connecting with us. We eagerly anticipate smells, sounds, songs, dreams and so much more. When we experience these things our hearts are comforted. I’ve had some of these experiences and I am incredibly grateful each time. Another reminder that someone I love is okay.

But what if things are a bit different?

So many write about sleeping with a shirt or another article of clothing that their loved one wore, allowing the aroma of their loved one to comfort them as they go to sleep. But after my son died, there were no aromas in his room.  None. Nada. Zilch.

In fact, even on the day he died, I remember standing in his bedroom and telling others that it was his time because he was gone so very completely.

His bed pillows – no aroma at all. His sheets and blankets – nothing. He wore cowboy boots – again, nothing. He showered every day after work and put on cologne, but there was no hint of that cologne in his room either. How was that possible?

Again and again, I come back to this fact. The memory of smell is one that our brain holds onto for years, we’re wired that way. Smells can take us back to our childhood. Close your eyes and just think about cookies or fresh grass. I am willing to bet that a very stong part of your memory is what those things smell like. Smells are usually very difficult to eliminate, which is why odor-neutralizing sprays are a huge business. Yet there was no aroma remaining in that room what so ever.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that was the first sign that Mikey sent. A sign that it was his time, a sign that it was okay that he left the planet. He left totally and completely, not even leaving behind a smell.

Namaste,
Sandy

Communicate with Loved Ones on The Other Side

‘Death ends a life, not a relationship.’ – Jack Lemmon

If you haven’t discerned by now, I want to be very clear. I believe… no, it’s much more than belief, I know that life continues after death.

The truth is that or me, the very meaning of the word death is a bit different than it may be for others. I think of death as a transition. A doorway if you will. Exiting life on planet Earth and entering life on The Other Side.

When we are grieving the loss of someone we love, we miss so many things! One of the most basic and deeply meaningful things that we miss is the ability to talk with them. To hear their voice, listen to their thoughts, have a conversation. It means so much.

The trouble is that while they are absolutely able to communicate with us, we are no longer speaking the same language. They no longer have a body, a voice box, and speech. When they reach out to us – and they will, it will be in a new way.

I’ve shared the experiences that we continue to have with receiving acorns. These little nuggets are very physical, showing up in the most unexpected places. There is no doubt in my mind that my son knew I would have difficulty acknowledging more subtle communication. I simply was not able in the beginning, the grief was too profound.

We often believe that if we ask for a specific sign that we will know it is our loved one. And that rocks when it happens! Still, that may not be the way your loved one is able to reach across the veil. And it’s entirely possible that you are not able to discern that communication at this point. It doesn’t mean they are not reaching out – it just means you are not connecting.

I want to encourage you to be open to possibilities. Notice aromas that make you think of the one you love. Recently while having a Reiki session, I became aware that both my biological father and step-father were communicating and it was all due to aroma. First, the very specific fragrance of the pipe tobacco Clarence smoked. The fragrance changed to be that of fresh wood shavings, which made me think of my dad, Art. There is no doubt in my mind or heart that this was ‘Hello, I love you.’ from both of them.

If you are asking for a white feather, please don’t dismiss noticing a picture of a feather on a package or even someone mentioning a painting of a feather. Perhaps you are asking to see a shape or light from your loved one, but so far it hasn’t happened. At the same time, you may notice that your pet is staring at a specific place, perhaps making sounds or acting playful. This may well be the one you love trying to connect with you.

This sort of communication is new to us, at least with this particular person. We each need to find our way and it may not look, sound or feel as we expect. Please be open to possibilities.

I think of it this way. If I expected one of my surviving sons to connect with me today, I’m most likely expecting a phone call. However, if they show up on my front doorstep, you bet I’m going to welcome them in. It may not be the communication that I expected, but it’s real. It’s wonderful. And it fills my heart with joy.

Talk to them. Sing to them. Invite them into your dreams. And if come to you in ways that you are not expecting, please, open the door. Let ’em in.

Namaste,
Sandy

Is it Wrong to Feel Happiness when Grieving?

Ahhh, the amazing complexities of being human.

So very often I will hear someone say that if they laugh or even chuckle, that they feel guilty. Somehow they feel that if they are not exhibiting intense pain at every moment – that perhaps they are not honoring their loved one.  As you might imagine, I believe otherwise.

I have often shared that on the day I learned that my son Mike was dead, at only 23 years old and by his own hand, there was laughter in my home.

Yes, there was sobbing. The sort that shakes your entire being. The sort of crying that feels as though a permanent trail is being carved into your face. The pain was intense. The heartbreak was real. And yet, there was laughter.

And yes, I was one of the people that smiled and laughed. Many stories of things Mike said and did were shared that day and many times since. Because Mike was a person who loved to laugh, to do silly things, to push the buttons of others – a big part of sharing these stories was once again experiencing the thoughts and feelings when these things first occurred. This brought about longing to once again hug my boy, but it also resulted n chuckles and some outright laughter.

No, sharing these warm memories and even the laughter did not in any way diminish my love for Mike or the grief that I felt knowing he would not walk into the room again, that in fact, Mike had died.

These feelings existed within me at the same time. Along with many other emotions. I felt gratitude that I had been given this special person to love and have in my world for 23 years. I felt worried and even fear for my husband and surviving sons. I felt nurtured and cared for by all of them and the many amazing people who reached out in love.

We can and do often experience many feelings at one time.  At this moment, I’m feeling calm and relaxed. I feel a wee bit of sadness that Mike can’t heckle me about my feelings right now while I’m typing this. I know he would have a lot to say.

Even while holding those feelings I am happy and grateful to the amazing teacher and mentor who just interviewed me for business. And I also am a bit worried about someone that I care about who is experiencing a health issue.

Yes, all of these feelings and more are co-existing within me at this moment.  Humans are multi-faceted, complicated beyond comprehension and absolutely capable of feeling many things at one time.

It’s okay to smile. It’s okay to enjoy a meal or an outing, a book or a movie. It’s okay to think about something different and become completely absorbed in that thought or experience.  Even when your grief is very new, raw and intense.

Feeling moments of respite, even joy does not mean that you don’t love the person you are grieving with your entire being. It simply means that you are quite wonderfully human.

Namaste,
Sandy

Is it True?

We have an experience. It’s often quite personal, especially when it pertains to grief. Thinking or sharing about our experience is telling our story. This matters so very much! Sharing our story helps us to process. Important stuff.

Is our story true? By that I mean to ask; are we sure that we have all of the facts straight?

Some months ago someone that I like and respect asked me to participate in something that was powerfully meaningful to me. I quickly responded via email with an excited ‘Yes, count me in!’ And then I heard nothing more. Crickets… I sent another email to the same address which had initiated the offer and again I received no response.

And I began telling myself a story. It went something like this.

Oh boy, I guess she really didn’t want me after all. Hmmmmm, maybe it was something that I said last time we met. Perhaps others included found me to be objectionable in some way.

On and on I went. The story grew in my head and I felt sad. In truth I felt very hurt. This person, someone that I really like must not like me after all. I felt rejected. I asked myself why they would invite me at all if they were going to ignore me. Why wouldn’t they simply reach out and tell me we were not a good fit. It must be because I am not worthy. I am less than. I am not enough. In my head this was all true. And it hurt like the dickens.

Then one day I thought about the question that my clients know they will be asked when presenting a similar story. How did I know that my story was true? Had I taken any steps to confirm the facts? Nope.

Yes, I had responded to the same email address from which the invitation originated, but I’m well aware that email can often have problems.

The next step was to contact her in another way. I received a very swift response! Not only did she still want me to participate, she had been very disappointed when she did not receive the expected response from me. My email went to her spam account, so she had never seen it. Situation cleared up and we went on to cooperate with one another on this project.

Now I should know better than to take thoughts and make them true without verification. Having said that, it’s a very normal, human thing to do. I found myself laughing about this more than once because knowing what we should do does not always mean that we do what we should.

When a heart is broken by grief, it can be very easy to slip into our story of neglect or abuse. Believing that we are unloved or uncared for can feel as though it’s true when we have not heard from someone. When we misinterpret something that is said – or not said. Or any number of other situations.

I ask you to question your own story. So very often when we are hurting the most, we can forget that others have a life separate from our anguish. They may try to reach out and perhaps we are not receptive in that moment. So many things hurt. Misunderstandings happen easily.

Please be gentle with yourself and with those who care about you. Ask them to be patient as well. To repeat things or write them down. Take the steps you need to be sure that your story is true. It matters. You too are human and we are all doing the very best that we can.

And please remember, each story of grief begins and ends with love.  This I absolutely believe to be true.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

 

 

Sometimes We Need to Sit in the Mud

A very wise woman I know very gently reminds others, ‘Sometimes you just need to spend time sitting in the mud’.

And I believe she’s absolutely right.

When you have a heart that is grieving, you may not even realize how very exhausted you are at the end of each day… or even right after waking. Grief is very hard work!

Time out matters.

While we often think that we need to get things done, even having a to-do list, a very important part of healing a grieving heart is allowing time and opportunity to simply be in the now. To truly feeeeeeeel all of those emotions at whatever level they are in the moment.

Release judgment. There is no right or wrong to your feelings. They simply are a measurement, an indicator of where you are right now.

What might this look like? It could mean a day curled up in bed for some. Perhaps listening to music, sleeping, crying or reminiscing. It might be time spent on the couch watching shows or movies that take us back to cherished time spent with the one we are missing. Perhaps a nice warm bath nourishing your body.

Find what works for you. This is not about movement or work; this is about feeling and allowing your heart to express itself.

And here’s a little secret for you. While this may feel as though you are doing nothing at all, you are in fact accomplishing quite a lot. It’s important to fully feel and acknowledge all feelings in order for them to begin healing.

Spend some time sitting in the mud. As you rest your body, your heart and your soul be assured that healing is happening deep within. This is a very important part of the healing journey.

Namaste,
Sandy