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.
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.
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.
Are you a pet lover? If you’ve ever considered a horse, guinea pig, dog, cat or any animal your friend or even family then you well understand the special bond and steadfast love that exists between you and this amazing being.
So why is it that so many are surprised at the grief that sets in when we have to say good-bye?
I hear those who are grieving say things like ‘I understand she was just a dog.’ and it’s often followed with tearful, loving honesty ‘She knew me, she was my best friend.’ And there it is, that loving bond that can be so hard to explain if you are not someone who has ever been close to a beloved pet.
It’s alright if you don’t understand that bond, that absolute unconditional love that people talk about when they go on and on about these companions that are so much more than pets. Maybe you’re not an animal person, that’s alright.
What I ask, is that we remember love comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. It may not be something that we understand or it might be completely clear to us. Grief is the result of someone or something that is cherished ending. Perhaps that companion had to be re-homed, or it may be that they died. Regardless, there has been a parting and it just plain hurts.
Recently, I’ve known a few people who had to say good-bye to their four-legged family members. I will tell you without a doubt, that there was heartbreak in their voices and love in their eyes as they talked about how they will miss their friends.
If you are grieving a pet, please know that your heart deserves the same support and kindness that should accompany any loss. If you care about someone who has had to say good-bye to one of these special relationships, please be gentle and patient. Let the person you care about talk about their pet, show you pictures, and yes, let them cry. Be there for them because it matters.
I’m grateful to say Reiki has been a part of my life for a very long time.
I’ve called upon Reiki for day to day stress relief, for myself and others. Reiki has been there when my dog began having strokes as a young boxer of only 4 years old. I felt the energy radiate and I was able to watch him come back in a way that still leaves me amazed. And of course, I’ve been privileged to work with clients to release and heal.
This healing energy is often considered an alternative modality. But I will tell you quite frankly, for me, I call on Reiki first. Because it can never harm, I trust Reiki to support me through headaches, worries or injuries. And that’s just what it does.
If you are unfamiliar with Reiki, let me tell you a bit about what a session will be like when we work together. If you are receiving the session in person, you will likely lie down on a massage table. Wear comfortable clothing because you are fully clothed at all times. There will be relaxing music playing, at the level you prefer. Your job is to simply close your eyes and relax. While you are laying on the table, I will spend the next 60 minutes moving around you. If I have your permission to touch you, I will gently lay my hands on you. If you prefer not to be touched, be assured the energy flows just as well. In that case, I would simply hold my hands above your body. We generally touch because humans crave the touch of other humans, but this is very individual. At the end of the hour, I will gently call you back to full wakefulness. You can share your thoughts and feelings if you like, but it is not necessary. This is entirely up to you.
Reiki has also been something that has played a strong role in healing grief for me and others. I will always be grateful to the Reiki practitioner who worked with me when my son died and also so grateful that I could send this energy myself. This gentle energy has helped to release pent up stress, worry, emotions that seemed blocked. After a Reiki session, it just seems that everything flows more easily.
It’s important to remember, that Reiki supports us to release what no longer serves us and to heal in whatever way we are ready for in that moment. There have been times when someone has got up from my Reiki table and poured out their heart, often surprising themselves. Be assured, anything shared is completely confidential. This is cleansing, healing and completely natural.
Other times, they might feel a deepening calm or peace. Really, it’s about what is right for the person receiving the energy. Reiki. I encourage you to consider adding this gentle treatment to your self-care regimen.