10 Things That Are Helpful To Know About Grief

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At 7:47 am this morning, my phone signalled that I had a text. I was still asleep and not quite sure I was ready to wake up. I almost ignored it. However, at the second beckoning, I reached for the phone and read, “if you get up and get dressed there is a big seal on the beach where Jake and Ella play.”

My husband knows I get very excited when I’m afforded the opportunity to be close to sea creatures. How close depends on how safe I’ll be. Nonetheless, I usually want to give it a go.

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Yesterday was the first day of spring here. I could tell today was going to be a cracker of a day because sunlight was streaming through my window and beaconing me to accept his invitation.

I dressed quickly, grabbed my camera and made my way across the street to the beach where my grandchildren love to play when they visit.

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As I approached the shoreline, it was like the sea and it’s dwellers were dancing with joy electrified at the birth of springtime. It was amazing! I wondered what I had missed by sleeping away morning hours as I often do.

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The air was crisp, the cerulean sky was energizing and my heart was pounding with excitement. This was going to be a good day.

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As I turned the corner, sure enough, there was a huge seal lying on the beach. The sun was casting a glare but I took a photo anyway. It didn’t matter.

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I thought, “it’s not celebrating the day like every other creature I’ve seen. It must be sunbathing”. The closer I got, it didn’t move, didn’t scurry away as I expected. It was still, covered in sand, motionless. My excitement turned to worry. I wondered if it was alright.

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I got as close as I dare, sat snapping photos in every direction waiting for it to make a move because of my presence. But nothing.

I called out to it, it ignored me.

After a while, a local who was walking his dog came inquiring if it was alive. I affirmed that it was but not moving. He explained that she (oh, “it” is a “she”) had been here yesterday with her new born pup but the pup died.

Died? She lost her baby? Yesterday?

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Suddenly, my trip to the beach this morning was bitter sweet. I was in the presence of a mourner.

I sat with her for over an hour talking to her about what I imagined she must be feeling. For my heart was familiar with the pain of grief.

Shock. Fear. Loneliness. Anger. Exhaustion. Emptiness. Sadness.

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She lifted her head and looked at me. Her eyes were sad and I am sure that her mouth had formed a frown. Maybe I’m crazy, but I sensed her broken heart. I think she sensed I was offering understanding.

I continued to talk to her.

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She stretched her neck, opened her mouth and bellowed a deep moan.

“I know, it hurts. Loosing something we love, hurts. And it’s heart wrenching. I know.”

At that, she lay back down, motionless.

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From that moment, my heart was faced with looking at it’s own experience of grief.

Many years have passed since the day I was awakened to the experience of grief but I’ve learned that grief has no expiration date. The sting is not as shocking but it never ceases to amaze me how unexpectedly it knocks at my heart’s door.

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I lost my fiancé in a car accident caused by a drunken driver when I was 22 years old. I knew nothing of death. I did not know how to grieve. In fact, I felt completely lost.

I promise, I will share my story with you. After all, it is part of my journey to finding emotional healing. But not today.

Today, I want to share a few important lessons I learned about grief.

1. The shock hits like a lightening bolt. Prepared or not (and I categorically was not prepared), it’s a sucker punch to the heart.

2. Bereavement is like a waterfall. At the beginning, it seemed I had been plummeted to the pool below, tossed and tumbled in the fury of the flow. I felt powerless and numb. I was desperately hoping that I was moments from waking from a nightmare.

3. Death and grief make people uncomfortable. There were awkward encounters.

4. People offer support. It was valuable even when I didn’t know how to accept it.

5. People tell you things that are not true about grief. They mean well. It’s important to be honest with them when what they say doesn’t help. You can help take the pressure off of them by assuring them that just being there is more than enough.

6. The world doesn’t stop. It’s hard for others to understand that when their life resumed to a state normalcy yours didn’t.

7. Normal feels completely foreign. You are forever changed. Grief is not only about mourning what you lost but the process of discovering a new normal.

8. Grief does not submit itself to a time limit. Times does not heal all wounds. Your response to grief will change over time and the intensity of the emotions will decrease.

9. There are grief triggers everywhere. Don’t panic. After 32 years, today, when grief was triggered by a saddened seal, my thoughts revisited the pain and my heart reached out in my blog hoping to help a hurting heart.

10. When I was ready to live my life again, it did not mean I was disloyal to the one I lost. Although my life was forever changed; living, loving and pursuing happiness was proof that the love he left imprinted on my heart made me stronger, better, and bolder. I allowed his legacy to be about embracing life rather than the devastation of loss.

💖now that you are gone, my heart is broken. because you once were here, it is completely filled with love.💖-unknown

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows you don’t “recover”. Instead, you learn to incorporate the absence and memories into your life and channel your emotional energy into others, and eventually, your grief will walk beside you instead of consuming you” -unknown

Finally, if you are grieving, listen to your heart. Ask for help when you need it. Talk about your loved one when you need to (you will have a trusted friend who will know that bringing up the subject is a healthy thing to do). Feel. Cry. Love. Remember. Live. Hug…hug those you love…ALOT.

Reader, if you have been in the presence of a mourner and feel they may find some comfort in what you are reading, please share this post. However, please make it clear that they should read it when they and their heart are ready.

Sending my love and a great BIG HUG!
D

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The World Needs Heroes and Leaders

20131206-112447.jpgi woke to the sad news today that Nelson Mandela had passed away.

what a sad loss for earth.

i realize that this year many a hero has left their earthly home…whether a world reknown hero or a less well known but family or friend kind of hero.

our heart aches at the loss of those we love and those who have touched the world with their specialness.

as i thought about Nelson Mandela and all that he accomplished, it made me think of how easy it can be to sit back in comfort knowing that someone else is changing the world for the better.

however, the world needs heroes and leaders. hearts need someone to rely on, to help, to encourage, to strengthen…

i suppose as we loose and miss the great ones…it’s our turn to step up…

to do our part…

to be…

and live…

in small and great ways…

that make a difference to the world.

i give honor to the life that Nelson Mandela lived, i pray for comfort for his family, and pray he rest in peace (he’s earned it!)

Now…

it’s your turn!

and mine.
D

a time of grief

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today was one of those days…

no, not a pulling-your-hair-out  or i-want-to-scream kind of day…it was one of those days when you come face to face with the realities of life…

i attended a funeral.

i actually didn’t know this lovely lady very well but many people i have come to care about very much did.

i had the privelge to meet her a few times. my dad has always wanted to be what we Americans -or old school- call(ed) an undertaker. this lovely lady owned a funeral home. she graciously shared with me, one day, how the funeral process works in NZ and her passion for making the transition a family goes through in death as easy as possible. it was a fascinating conversation. it was also an inspiring conversation.

if you spend 5 minutes with someone who is passionate about their work or someone who is fulfilled by doing what they feel they are meant to do, you will understand what I mean about inspiring.

you kind of walk away wondering if you should give what they are doing a go because after all it must be the most amazing prospect in the world…that conversation with Rose made me wonder if i might just find giving “end of life services” a fulfilling occupation.

as death, loss and funerals do…it caused me to reflect.

i am aging.

my parents are aging.

i am saying good bye to many of the people i have shared life with in one way or another.

and it is not an easy part of this journey called life.

as amazing as new life is…death and loss are sobering.

a time to be born and a time to die…

i have always feared death.

it’s such an unknown.

it is so heart wrenching.

i have searched, as many do, to answer the unanswerable question…why?

sadly, i don’t have an answer to give. i often wish i had an adequate answer. i don’t.

there is nothing that makes our loss feel good or worthwhile.

however, love is an amazing healing force when we are faced with loss. today, i was a witness to many who extended their hearts in love to others who were suffering in a similar way to their own heart’s pain.

we all deal with loss differently.

some need to talk.

some need to serve.

some need to simply share what their heart is going through.

i find a common thread is that a grieving heart does not need to be “fixed”, it simply needs understanding as it walks this stage of the journey , in its own way.

grief can:
-awaken us to new values and new and deeper appreciations.

-cause us to reprioritize things in our lives, to recognize what’s really important and put it first.

-heighten our gratitude as we cease taking the gifts life bestows on us for granted.

the expansion created in my heart by grief helps me to be a greater vessel to bring love.

grief can assist us in opening our hearts to a greater state of love.

our hearts expand to feel more compassion for the suffering of others. it moves us outside of ourselves and causes us to reach toward the suffering of another person’s heart.

grief helps to create more space inside of us that allows life to flow through.

it focuses us on the reality of our immortality and how precious the moments we are given are…and how they must be celebrated.

today, in the midst of caring friends, i had no fear of death. i accepted, at our dear Friend’s bidding, to embrace the life i have been blessed to live…as fully as is within my ability…and when the “time” is come for me to walk from this life through the door of death into the wonders of heaven…that peace will gracefully guide me through.

i witnessed how amazing that process could be…from a precious lady who faced life and death with much conviction and passion in a most inspiring way.

celebrate life! yes, celebrate life!
D