Sunday, April 27, 2014

a tribute in the face of stigma

When our son, Matt, died by suicide, we were faced with a cruel and harsh social stigma.  Losing our first born child was indescribably heartbreaking.  His pain from depression even worse, but to also endure judgments against him only made our grief  all the more painful.  All of  this got in the way of our need and desire to celebrate the beautiful gift he was to all of us who loved him. 

So, to say that suicide grief  is complicated is an understatement.

I think one reason for the stigma is that suicide triggers a reaction to control our fear of unbearable  pain.  So, if we blame the victim, then we don’t have to take in the dilemma of being driven to choose to die rather than to live.  If we see this choice as” their” fault, then we don’t have to ask the sharp questions of how and when might we have been more present to their struggle.

Thankfully, our family was surrounded by many loved ones who understood and who remembered Matt as the deeply loving man he was. Their love for him overshadowed all stigma and judgment so that blaming him never occurred to them.  But, still it was so hard to understand how such a horrific thing could have happened to us and, especially, to him.  

Below is the way I understood his choice then and, even after seven years, it still rings true now.  

"Matt’s illness made living the way he wanted to seem impossible.  His spirit struggled to find the joy that he knew was around him, but the illness got in the way.  For him life just became too hard. . . . so he made a choice to leave this earthly place and go to the life that comes after this one.  It makes sense to me to say that he chose to become “all spirit”.  Our spirit is that part of us that loves and laughs and cares and hopes,  so Matt chose to trust the promise of peace  and go to the “place” where life is lived in spirit.  I think he believed that he could love us better from that “place” than from here. 

We do not have the capacity to understand this.  Our human nature is simply limited in what it can understand about death and life after death.  But I trust that Matt is near us . . . loving us in the way of the spirit, encouraging us to heal from our sadness and remember all the happy memories we have.  He wants us to be strong when we can and to be tender and gentle all the time. He wants us to have a good time together and enjoy the beauty of the world around us.  And he wants us to love our dogs . . . for sure, he wants us to love our dogs !  

Matt isn’t gone.  He is simply with us in a different way.  And if you listen with your heart, you can hear him loving you. “

Friday, April 18, 2014

to rest deeply

to be alone
with no distractions or demands

to rest deeply 
one moment at a time
as long as it takes

to spill my thoughts and feelings onto
the accepting page
and allow the release of that unburdening

to listen and watch without notice of time
and let nature teach me to be at peace
with what is

this is Grace
healing Grace

Saturday, April 12, 2014

the courage of the seed

  Mark Nepo writes: 

"All the buried seeds crack open in the dark the instant they surrender to a process they can't see.  

What a powerful lesson is the beginning of spring.  All around us, everything small and buried surrenders to a process that none of the buried parts can see.  And this innate surrender allows everything edible and fragrant to break ground into a life of light that we call spring.  In nature we are quietly given countless models of how to give ourselves over to what appears dark and hopeless, but which ultimately is an awakening that is beyond all imagining. . . . 

As a seed buried in the earth cannot imagine itself as an orchid or hyacinth, neither can a heart packed with hurt imagine itself loved or at peace.  The courage of the seed is that once cracking, it cracks all the way."  

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Layered Now

photograph by Ashley Unbehagen

Sometimes grief seems like too much to bear
            and we instinctively hide
            seeking some way to dull its impact.

And that is exactly the moment we are invited
to soften enough,
to open enough,
to have courage enough
to see that Now is more
than the complexity of grief descending upon us.

Each grieving moment is layered with
the vast void of loss, that is true
but also,  the “nows” past
when our hearts were light with joy
and limitless with hope.

photograph by Ashley Unbehagen

Now is complex,
an intricately woven truth
made of memory , emptiness, gratitude and loss,
weaving the tapestry of a whole heart.

is the One Thread that
binds and embraces it all 

infusing us with a strength that is surprising.