Sunday, June 29, 2014

retelling our stories . . . seeking a current of peace

It seems as if the more experienced I get traveling this grief journey, the more I learn from others along the way. 

Actually, it isn’t appropriate to speak of “traveling the grief journey” any longer.  

Now I am simply living the life I’ve been given to live and a significant part of that has been to grow into the sorrow we have known.  The “grief journey” has been to learn how to allow this disintegrating and destabilizing experience that breaks the spirit and the heart to be felt and voiced, how to absorb it all into the whole of our lives without denying any part of it.  But,  when we speak of grief as a journey, we imply that it has a beginning and an end, a starting point and a moment of arrival.   Perhaps it does have a distinct starting point.  Who can forget the moment when life suddenly changes forever and shakes our very foundation with such violence?   But, a moment of arrival?   Not exactly.   Instead, there is a moment of awareness that while we would never choose what has happened, it is ours to embrace, to learn from and to hold tenderly in the center of our being.  

I think of the rest of my life as living within the current of what is beautiful , sometimes difficult, always loving and true . . . much as a river flows between its banks, flowing over and around the obstacles in its path.   If I can stay within these boundaries and avoid overflowing into what seems fair or what I insist must happen, then the center of my being remains calm. 

So, the other evening in our support group circle, when one participant requested that we spend some time re-telling our stories,  because she wanted to hear how they have changed,  I thought, “How wise is that ?”

There comes a time when re-telling the story reveals a deeper truth and one we need to hear ourselves express.  In re-telling the story, we grow more aware of the current of peace available to us.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

the courage of the seed

the courage of the seed

Seeds are so small and delicate looking.  Just tiny dots to the eye but full of tightly packed potential that we cannot see. And, when given the right conditions, they will crack open, releasing an energy that is surprising in its ability to create something completely new.  

We are like that tiny seed. 
So much is possible within and around us that we cannot see.
Most often what is required is that we allow ourselves to be broken open
so that what is possible has a chance to take root and grow.

Monday, June 9, 2014

what to do with their "things'

So,  let me help you get rid of all these things.    

            When are you going to put the crib away ?

                        Don’t you think it is time to redecorate this bedroom  ?

The “things” . . . the clothes, her room, the baby furniture, his golf clubs . . .

What to do with all the visible reminders of this irreplaceable life ?  
Is there a “right time”?   

Truly, this is one of the most difficult tasks for a parent whose child has died.  To erase any visible trace of a beloved child’s presence is unthinkable.  And that is perfectly normal. 

So, when family and friends try to help by suggesting that “it is time”, kindly let them know that your heart isn’t yet ready.  You will know when the time is right for you.
There is no rule about this, so don’t rush yourself. 

I knew one family who “practiced” by moving their little one’s toys from one part of the house to another.  It helped to see them in different places.  Eventually they were able to let certain things go, but never felt pressured about what to let go of, when or how.  They felt like this helped them to determine which of his things were the most precious to them. 

Another family repainted their baby’s room, but left one corner near the ceiling its original color and graced that corner with her name. 

Still others have lovingly taken the precious “things” and made quilts, memory boxes or chosen just the right time and place to give them to someone who needed them.  

There are no rules. 
Your heart will tell you when you can let go of some of the tangible reminders. 
And . . . eventually . . . you will be able to rest easy with the truth that the most precious reminders cannot be erased . . . ever.

They live forever in your deepest heart.

Monday, June 2, 2014

holding and being held

“It’s how we grow and heal, again and again, by holding and being held.”
Mark Nepo

There is a beautiful truth in Nepo’s words . . . and a beautiful ritual that reminds us of that truth.  We often end our support group sessions this way. 

We gather around the candle that burns in the center of our circle during our time together. ( This candle represents the compassionate presence of love in the world, the loving memory we hold for the one we have lost and the power of our own capacity to heal from the sorrow we bear.)  

Then we extend our left hand with the palm up and our right hand with the palm down, allowing our palms to touch.  As we do this, we become connected  -  supporting the person on our left and being supported by the person on our right . . . a reminder of the truth of Nepo’s words,

                        “We grow and heal, again and again, by holding and being held.”