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

You CAN Learn Resilience

Resilience. A noun which means to recover from change, adversity or challenge. Buoyancy.

When we are grieving, it can sometimes feel as though there is no way forward. That this new reality has taken all of the air right out of us and left us flattened. That’s entirely fair, I get it.

Some are hardwired to go through the toughest times with what seems an innate ability to see a broader picture, to know that while they are broken, they will rise again. For others, that wiring seems quite different and the picture that they see is bleak and gray. This doesn’t mean that the pain or grief is any less for one group than the other, simply that they grieve and heal in their own way. One is more naturally resilient and the other will be well served by learning resilience.

Yes, resilience can be learned, it can be built within you. Just like most things on this journey through grief, into healing, it is one step at a time. None of the things below happen all at once, but knowing that you are taking steps toward healing is helpful. It matters.

– Surround yourself with a circle of support. Deliberately notice those who are able to support you with love and kindness. Become aware of those who leave you feeling better and those who leave you feeling worse when they leave. Choose to spend time with those who are there when you need them and leave you feeling better when you part. This is a very important step in self care.

– Make the daily, deliberate choice that you will rebuild your life. Yes, you are indeed forever changed. Accept that fact. (I know it’s not easy) Accept also, that change can be growth. The new you can and will be a person of increased compassion and kindness if you choose.

– Notice your thoughts and your words. Please don’t be judgmental of yourself, simply be aware. So often one who is grieving will tell themselves ‘I will never get over this.’ ‘My life is over now.’  or other statements of the like. When you hear yourself saying something along these lines, simply notice. And consider shifting the language or at least considering the possibility that those lines may be untrue. For instance, ‘I will never get over this.’ may be shifted to ‘I’m healing a bit at a time. I got through this morning’. Give yourself credit for doing a good job, it will help you to see that you are doing this, you are taking the steps toward healing.

– Find a purpose for your life. This may mean stepping further into something that has always been important to you or it may mean spending some time listening to your heart and discerning what is most meaningful to you now. Often, someone who has lost someone to a specific disease will spend time and energy supporting research efforts to eradicate the disease. Or someone who suffered severe financial reversals or even homelessness takes the time and energy to reach out to others who are going through a similar experience.

There are many other suggestions and I will certainly be writing more about this in the future.

The point is this, when we change our thoughts, our words and our actions, even the smallest bit, we change the way our life unfolds. We begin to build strength and resilience. We may not bounce back, but we will find our way back to life in a new way. One step at a time.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

 

Do Your Best and let that be Enough

We hear about self care, and most of us really would like to take good care of ourselves. Having said that, when we are overwhelmed with grief, we are often quick to be harsh and judgmental about ourselves. Both in our words and our thoughts.

What I would like to suggest is that we take a step back and look at the situation as though the situation was about someone else.

Would we be critical of a man who was unshaven and had stains on his shirt if we knew that he had just lost his wife?

Would we speak harshly to the woman who didn’t use her turn signal if we had a way of knowing that she had just been fired from a job that she desperately needs?

Would we be short-tempered and unkind to the child who is unfocused and belligerent, if we knew that they were being bullied and were afraid to go to school?

Or would we instead offer a bit of empathy, compassion and understanding?

Is there any reason at all, why you are not deserving of that same tender consideration?

That my friends is where self-care begins. By offering ourselves the grace and kindness that we would offer to a loved one or a stranger. Because when life happens, we do the best we can. It may not be perfect, but it is perfectly human.

I encourage you to face a mirror for this next step. Looking at the person who is looking back at you, consider your own situation in this very moment. I ask you to notice all that you are dealing with right now. Perhaps insomnia is your nightly companion, overwhelm, concern about finances or other family members. Put it all in.

Take a nice looooooong, deeeeeeep breath. And looking at that person in the mirror, send him or her as much love and compassion as you would that child who is filled with fear. In fact, looking deep into those eyes looking back at you, see the small child inside who longs for reassurance and a kind word.

Allow yourself to feel that love on the deepest levels possible. And it’s okay if you tear up. It’s a very natural, normal and human reaction to having your innermost thoughts, hopes, fears and emotions witnessed. Keep sending that love.

Allow that feeling of warmth and caring to wrap itself around you like a warm blanket. You are loved. You always have been loved. And you always will be.

This is the perfect time to call to mind some of the blessings in your life. Big or small, they all matter.

Some things to consider, do you have a safe place to live? Do you have a companion, animal or human that makes your heart melt? Do the squirrels scampering about outdoors make you smile? What comes to mind for you?

The good things in our lives, and that is truly anything that is going right, are the things I encourage you to focus on and offer deep gratitude. It’s like a balm to the soul. Frankly, if we are able to come up with something, almost anything for which we are truly grateful, our mood lifts and we find it easier to be kind to that person in the mirror.

Please remember, you really are not intended to be perfect. On the other hand, being your authentic self is perfectly human and more than enough.

Namaste,
Sandy

Period or Ellipsis?

Facts can be funny things. Some are truly universal. The sun is hot! Yep, that’s true for you and me as well. But other facts are not necessarily true for both you and me… unless they are. Oh boy, here we go already.

For instance. I read and hear many experts give guidelines of what to say to someone who is grieving They frequently also offer very specific guidelines about what not to say to someone who is experiencing grief. I appreciate and find value in these guidelines, but what if they are not helpful for everyone? Is it possible that what feels supportive for one may not be for another? Put on your pondering cap, and feel your way through.

Mistakes will be made, lessons will be learned. Life is like that. I try to remember that when something shares a fact as hard and fast, it is because to them it is indeed true. Period. End of sentence. I get that, but I also have found that hearing or reading some of these truths or what felt like rules to me was not always helpful but was in fact often confusing and even painful as I considered that if experts were telling me one thing and I was feeling different clearly the conclusion was that I was wrong. I was hurting in the wrong way. I was taking comfort from the wrong things. I was grieving and healing all wrong!

Wow, this was less than helpful. Very quickly, I began to read and listen in a new way. When someone would share a truth, a fact and end their sentence with a period, I would find myself hearing or imagine seeing an ellipsis… this gave me the freedom to find my own way. And to know that what is true for me, what is factual for me, may be different than it is for another.

Period. For me, this means non-negotiable, no flexibility, written in stone.
Ellipsis… ahhhh, what if this is true for some and not for others? This felt more supportive, more open to walking the path in my own way.

So if you hear me say something and it sounds like a fact, please know that it is factual for me. If it doesn’t sound or feel right for you, go ahead and add that ellipsis… and ask yourself, what if things look or feel different for me?

You and I are all walking this our own path of grief into healing. Even while we walk together, sometimes hand in hand, we continue to have our own unique experience.

Namaste,
Sandy

Self-Care, Yes, it Matters

If we’ve worked together for anything, you’ve heard me suggest… encourage… alright, I nag about self-care! Because it matters so very much. Self-care is right at the top of the list as far as I’m concerned.

Why? Because if you are not taking good care of you, you cannot possibly take care of anyone or anything else.

What does self-care mean? It means something different to all of us and it’s quite likely that it may mean something different this evening than it does at this moment. Put as simply as possible, it’s giving yourself permission to do what you need most at this moment.

For example, a cup of coffee and a stroll around the yard in the very wee hours of the morning is excellent self-care for me. The coffee feels warm in my hands even while the morning dew refreshes my feet. Taking a peek at plants as they are opening up, some showing off brand new blooms put me in a very excited and at the same time very tranquil frame of mind. It’s good for me.

Later, I pretty much need a walk. On nice days, I may need a couple. Walking, stretching my legs calms me and reminds me that I am strong and capable.

As the day winds down, I almost always feel a strong longing to spend time in the bathtub. It may be 10 minutes or an hour. Here’s the thing, it truly is a very intense feeling, my body and body are telling me to carve out time to spend in the water. I always feel like my very soul craves being near water and whenever possible, in the water.

Other days, self-care means checking off boxes that are on my list. Maybe cutting the grass or cleaning the house. Please, please, please let it be cutting the grass and not cleaning the house! 🙂

It might be realizing that concerns or worry are money related. The act of acknowledging and understanding what is prompting this feeling helps to find a solution. Perhaps cutting an expense or picking up a few extra hours at work. Also, excellent self-care if the feeling within you is good.

The very process of discernment, what is mine and what can/should I delegate? Making those decisions are excellent self-care as this brings around a calm which relieves stress.

It’s absolutely, completely, entirely alright to ask for support! We can’t do everything for everyone all of the time. It’s a gift to others as well as ourselves to ask for and allow support and caring. To share a hug, a meal or a conversation.

Self-care is about treating yourself with at least as much kindness, compassion and courtesy as you would a stranger.

Notice what your body is telling you, is it being nurtured with healthy food in the right proportions? Hear what your heart is saying to you. Are your thoughts and feeling being expressed in safe and healthy ways?

Excellent self-care is not any one thing. It is many small things. It’s making yourself a priority. After all, there’s only one like you. I know this to be true because I heard it from Mr. Rogers.

“Taking care is one way to show your love. Another way is letting people take good care of you when you need it.”
― Fred Rogers

Namaste,
Sandy

Grief to Healing

Grief is a noun. Sometimes I think about the word grief and I feel almost as though the word describes a thing, a place, a state of being. Grief. I wonder what it would look like if I could visualize it…

You’ve experienced a profound loss. It may be a person, a relationship, a financial situation or a myriad of other experiences. When we experience loss when we are faced with a profound change in our status of being. We may well feel as though we are victims. Fair enough. You are now in Grief. I visualize a sign-post designating this place.

Depending on many factors, we may spend quite a lot of time in that place without much movement at all. This is not unusual and may well be what we need at that time and possibly for a while. That’s alright, it’s where we are when we begin.

At some point, we begin movement. Healing. It can happen incredibly slowly or more quickly than we expect. We process our thoughts and emotions, we make strides along that path, through grief into healing. We are taking action. Up ahead is a new sign-post, it clearly says Survivor.

Grieving is a verb. An action word. Safe, healthy, productive grieving is taking place. So very important! As the pain is released, it makes room for healing to happen.

The Victim is now taking action, walking the path, moving forward to that new situation. The Victim is transformed into a Survivor. When I think of a survivor, I easily call to mind the image of someone who has been through something that has changed life as they knew it. They are changed, forever. The person is now a Survivor.

How would it be to deliberately continue to process thoughts, emotions, all of the aspects of grief? To continue walking that path, through grief into healing? Up ahead there is another sign-post you know.

Keep doing the work! Each step you take toward that new sign-post is an important gift of self-love that you give to yourself. And you deserve it!

Processing the hurt, finding out who you are now. Learning to love yourself in new ways and to integrate your experience. Celebrating all that you treasure from your past, appreciating your now and looking forward with joy to your future. You are evolving with every step, you are growing, you are healing.

You are a Thriver! Of course, I want to share the definition of thriver with you.

To grow vigorously; flourish.

To be successful or make steady progress; prosper.

This is you and me as well. We all begin at that same place, regardless of how we got there. Grief. As we do the work, we walk the path, together. We move at whatever pace is right for each of us. But each of us has within ourselves the ability to be a Thriver.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

 

 

The Contract

The words you are about to read are an excerpt from my book, ‘The Acorn Journal: Messages of Connection from The Other Side’.

I’m sharing this because Mike has been on my mind in such wonderful ways recently. You see, his birthday is right around the corner, Sunday, June 2nd. This year, he would have turned 32 years old. I’ve been thinking about all the laughter we shared over those 23 years. The squabbling, debating, playing… all of it. And I have to say, I’m so grateful for all of those years.

Mike loved knock-knock jokes, especially of the pirate variety. So, expect to see more of them on my Facebook page in the upcoming days.

As you read The Contract, I encourage you to think about the people you love, imagine the agreements that you made with them. And I hope that your heart feels both more full and lighter, all at the same time.

The Contract

My son Mike was 23 years old when he died. One day I was thinking about Mike and his short life, how much he was loved and how much he loved all of his family and friends. After much soul searching and contemplation, I made up a scenario in my head. What if…

What if before Mike was born I had the opportunity to read a contract. This contract would explain that on June 2, 1987, at precisely 6 am I would give birth to a 9lb bundle of love. As the contract went on it would explain that this hazel-eyed little boy would announce that he was awake by laughing and giggling in his crib. He would grow into a sweet, bull-headed, smart boy who would drive his elder brothers crazy by always humming or singing. He would not care about playing sports or being cool, he would be passionate about books and music. As he grew he would favor cowboy boots and flannel shirts, of the red and black variety.

As he became a teenager he would deal with Addison’s disease, but in his normal manner, he would seem to take it in stride. An intensely private person he would be very open and opinionated about how others should live their life. He would make strong friendships and he would develop interesting hobbies, brewing beer and wine and cooking, as well as hunting.

The contract would go on to clearly state that while we would be able to love and interact with this amazing person, on December 17, 2010, at some point he would end his short life by shotgun. There would be no negotiating this ending, it would be so. It would be written in the contract.

What if I had the option of signing that contract? Would I opt to learn to love this person with all of my heart if I knew that same heart would break in a million pieces on December 18, 2010, when my doorbell rang and a sheriff told me of my son’s death? Would I sign that contract knowing how profoundly my sweet husband would be affected, that I would watch him age years before my eyes? Would I sign the contract knowing that my two surviving sons would never be the same, that they would have to experience the most severe heartbreak imaginable while still in their 20’s? Would I sign that contract if it meant that we would all have to experience everything that we have in the past year?

Yes! I would, again and again, I would sign that contract! And I believe that my husband, two surviving sons, and my daughter-in-law would put their signatures right alongside mine and Mike’s. Without hesitation.

Knowing and loving my son was worth each and every moment of heartbreak. The blessings, the smiles the laughs, the aggravation, yelling, and squabbling were all blessings. And I would indeed sign that contract.

For the record, it is my belief that my soul did sign an energetic contract saying just what I’ve laid out above. That’s my belief and it may or not be yours. But I find comfort in knowing that even if I had known all those years ago how it would end, I would do it again. It’s so been worth it, at least for me.

And that gives me the strength to go forward for another day.

Namaste,
Sandy

The Towel – is it Code?

I went out to the patio early in the morning with my cup of coffee in hand only to discover a towel on the arm of my chair. An old stained towel, to be clear.

It is the standard operating procedure for my husband and me to spend a couple of hours each morning out on the patio drinking coffee whenever the weather is fairly comfortable. Early in the morning, the world is rather magical. There is dew on the grass and the birds provide all the music. It’s a time that is special for both of us.

But yesterday was different, remember the towel I talked about a few lines up?

For the longest time, my hubby has laughed just a wee bit when I go walking through the dewy grass in the morning. I swear that the plants are calling to me and I feel a need to take my coffee cup and visit each of them. Saying good morning and encouraging them to be well. It’s okay if you think this is silly, I love it. What makes John chuckle is the fact that I return to the patio with grass clippings on my feet. And then the dance begins. You know, the hopping around, waving my feet in the air so that the grass will dry and fall off. After all, there is no way I’m going to walk back into the house to refill my cup with grass on my feet! This is pretty much the routine almost every morning. John has suggested remedies for this problem. Wait until the grass dries to take my stroll – not gonna happen. Keep a water bucket to rinse the tootsies off after my walk – nope, the toes still need to dry. How about a towel? – yeah, that would probably fix the problem… but still I don’t do it.

Yesterday, I went outside to find this old, stained but very clean towel on the arm of my chair. I loved it!

This about much more than a way to dry my feet and keep my kitchen floor clean. This was hubby’s way of saying loud and clear ‘I love you’. This is his way. He notices and takes care of things that matter to me or that makes my life comfortable or easier.

He’s not the guy who does big things. He’s never sent me flowers at the office or made public declarations of his affection. But he notices things and takes action.

Recently I got in the car and found that he had put a bottle of water in each of the doors of both cars. He doesn’t drink water when we are on the road, but I do. He was thinking of me. This was ‘I love you’.

Now don’t get me wrong. We’ve known one another for almost 40 years and there are absolutely plenty of things he says or does that make me crazy. If you’ve got five minutes and a cup of coffee, I’ll tell you all about it. Those things seem to come to mind very easily, very quickly.

If we’re not careful, it can be the crazy-making that we notice and focus on. This morning, I simply want to acknowledge and appreciate that those crazy-making traits are balanced by the heart-filling behaviors that are quiet and deliberate and very meaningful.

Yeah, that towel means a lot to me. It’s stained because he knows it would really bother me to keep a new towel outdoors for my feet. But it’s clean because he knows that is also important to me. He knows these things because they matter to me and he has decided that makes them important to him as well. That too is saying ‘I love you’.

Louis Armstrong says it so well in his song ‘It’s a Wonderful World’. He sings a beautiful line:

I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

 

What does someone you know say or do to let you know that you are loved? How are you expressing those feelings for others? You are loved.

As for me, that towel will stay right where it is for quite some time. And each time I wipe my feet, I will remind myself that this guy I’m still crazy about, loves me.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

 

Prosperity Blessing

This was sent to me by a friend. It’s now saved on my Desktop and the first thing that I read when I open my computer. It feels very good, and so I wanted to share with you.

Namaste,
Sandy


A Prosperity Blessing

May you be blessed with an amazingly abundant day today!

May the clouds break and the heavens pour down upon you more joy, more love, more laughter and more money than you could have ever dreamed of.

May the sunshine its golden light of prosperity through every cell of your extraordinary body.

May you be cleansed today of any resistance or feelings of unworthiness that you may still be holding onto.

May your false illusions of doubt, fear, and scarcity gently fall away like soft white feathers on a gentle breeze.

May you be willing, simply willing to allow the Universe to shower you with miracles today.

May the Angels wrap you in their shining wings of opulence.

May the fairies deliver you to their pot of gold at the end of a majestic rainbow.

May your eyes shine with the glorious truth of who you really are and may that truth uplift others in your presence to their own inner knowing.

May your ears hear the sound of perfection ringing in your soul. May you taste the deliciousness of every precious bite of life as your day unfolds moment by moment with amazing grace, heartfelt love and a bounty of magnificent money.

As this day ends, may you slumber wrapped in an exquisite blanket of enduring peace and profound gratitude.

And may the last words you speak today be Thank You.

~Anonymous author

Are You Listening?

We all have guidance. Some call it intuition, others say it is our angels, guides or higher self. Of course, there are those who say it is our subconscious. Perhaps all of these things come into play, but what I want to know is this;  are you listening to that guidance?

Perfect example. I can be a wee bit hard-headed. I’m working on it but facts remain facts. Last week I got in the car and headed into town with the intention of getting new eyeglasses. As I drove, something kept telling me to check in my wallet to be sure that my prescription was there. But I resisted. Actually, I did more than resist. It was as though there was an internal argument going on.

Guidance – Check the wallet, you will not find the prescription.

Me – I don’t need to check, where else would I have put it?

Guidance – Sigh, just check. Pleeeeeeeease. Otherwise, you will find yourself at the location and no prescription will be found. Hint, you might want to look in your computer case though…

Me – Nope. I don’t need to. Although I feel twinges about this and I sort of want to give in and check that wallet, I can’t think where else the prescription might be. Besides, I would need to turn around! That’s not gonna happen. I’m going to stick to my first intention.

Guidance – Okay, have it your way. But the prescription is not in your wallet. Might be in your computer case, but who am I to tell you?

As you have no doubt cleverly discerned by now, I got to the desk and after completely emptying out my wallet on the desktop, realized the prescription was not there. So, I got back into my car and began going home.

You guessed it, when I got in I found myself checking my computer case. Where of course, I immediately found the prescription.

Guidance – See, I told you so!

Yes, it seems that my inner voice is a bit of a smart Aleck at times. On the other hand, I absolutely had it coming.

Are you listening to your guidance? Those nudges that suggest you turn left rather than right. That fleeting thought that hints at calling someone. That imperceptible something, often indefinable that propels you to say or do something that you might not have otherwise. This is guidance.

We all have access. Most of us are quite aware that there is something helping us to make decisions. When we choose to ignore this guidance, we are often able to see how we might have benefited from making other choices.

Each and every time we do listen, we reinforce our connection, our trust. We further develop a relationship that benefits us.

So, do you want to be the person standing that the desk searching for your eyeglass prescription? Or, would you like to take a few deep breaths and consider that maybe, just maybe, there is guidance coming to you that is helpful? It’s really up to you.

Namaste,
Sandy