Tag Archives: dealing with loss

A Tale of Kale, Tribute to My Sister

Kolorful KaleBy Gloria Loring

It’s everywhere! I have people sending me recipes for it, serving it to me in salads, soups, and stews. Bags of kale chips beckon to me at the Whole Foods checkout counter. But my favorite connection to kale is through my brother-in-law.

For those of you who don’t know one bunch of greens from another, kale is a crinkly edged cousin of swiss chard, yet meatier. As a friend told me, “If kale were a woman, she’d be a real broad.” She’s tough, I can tell you that.

Six days after my sister’s journey with cancer ended, three hundred of us celebrated her in songs, tears, and smiles. To my surprise, my brother-in-law Eduardo, his face taut with suppressed emotion, walked to the podium to speak of the love of his life. His son Ian stood beside him. Eduardo spoke of Peggy’s determination to do whatever was required in her efforts toward healing. Efforts that included eating kale (as part of a vegan diet). Eduardo choose kale as the metaphor for how Peggy would take what looked prickly, ragged, unfamiliar, and lovingly ingest it. He spoke of watching her pray over her plain steamed kale and then eat it happily, when to him it looked like a weed to be pulled from the garden. To illustrate, Ian pulled a large bunch of kale from the plastic bag at his side. Chuckles spread through the crowd. Eduardo ended by comparing himself to the kale, still a bit prickly, but softened by all he had been through and the great gift of twenty years with my beautiful sister.

Two weeks later, Eduardo was at home thinking about the organic garden that Peggy had mothered so tenderly. In her last months she was too weak, the watering system broke, and everything shriveled. Perhaps, he thought, “I should replant it as a tribute to her.” He began walking to the back of the property to assess all there was to do. As he approached, he saw a desert wasteland of raised boxes, except for one tall bushy plant that had sprouted, without water, without care.

Peggy's KaleYes, it was head of kale, growing, flourishing, reaching up toward the light, just as my sister’s spirit did, all through her life, through the hospital stays, the surgery, the radiation, through the difficult nights and quiet final days. Bringing the best of herself, in spite of anything, everything. If that bunch of kale were a woman, she’d be my sister.

* * *

The former “Liz Chandler” on Days of Our Lives, Gloria Loring is a singer, songwriter, actress and author. Her new memoir, titled with a quote by Albert Einstein, is Coincidence Is God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous.

www.glorialoring.com, www.facebook.com/GloriaLoring, @GloriaLoring

Deepak Chopra: How Do We Deal With Loss?

We all know that death is a part of life. How could we not? And yet even awareness cannot fully soften the blow of losing a loved one, no matter how spiritually prepared we may be. What, then, can we do to deal with loss?

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak addresses methods for coping with loss, beginning with releasing anger and denial:

Death and the loss of the body and brain is a realm of potential, where thought still forms and consciousness still exists. Local consciousness becomes non-local consciousness, but this local consciousness is where we have our relationships, those who we care about and love. The people who are dealing with the loss of another should try not to grieve with anger or denial, but with love and remembering the great times they spent with the person who passed away. Remembering the life and experiences of the person we lost can bring joy and fill the void the loved one left behind. Ultimate love translates into compassion, empathy, a desire to do good. This helps us deal with loss.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and share your thoughts in the comments section below!

5 Ways to Hit it Out of the Park When Life Throws You a Curveball

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 4.50.15 PMBy Dr. Andra Brosh

You know as much as I do that life doesn’t always go as planned. You can fantasize and dream about how you would like things to go, but the harsh reality is that your very existence on this earth is tenuous, and your reality is founded on unpredictability, not certainty.

Once this simple truth is accepted, you can focus less on manipulating and controlling how your life unfolds, and prepare yourself for the inevitable curveball coming your way. You may have already been up to the plate to receive one, but just like in baseball, you never really know when the next one is coming, so it’s always great to be prepared.

When something happens in your life that you didn’t expect, or thought never would, it’s likely to knock you off your feet. You might get blindsided by an infidelity or divorce, diagnosed with a life threatening illness, or realize that you will never be able to have children. Losing a job, your home, or a loved one will also rock your world to the point of capsizing.

These life challenges, and the many others that can strike at any time, are really hard to contend with, but they don’t have to wreck you. Whether you know it or not, you have been training your whole life to deal with these kinds of struggles. Just like your ancestors, you inherently possess the skills you need to deal with anything that gets thrown your way. You are wired to survive.

If you have already survived a serious life challenge then you know what to expect. This is where hindsight is truly 20/20, so be sure you learn what you need to know from the past so you can apply it in the future.

If you are just stepping up to bat, and realize at this moment that a curveball is headed your way, then it’s time to hunker down, and get ready to swing. If you are still “on the bench” and haven’t had to play ball yet, this is the perfect time to start thinking about how you will handle things when they arise.

Here are 5 ways to hit that inevitable curveball out of the park:

1. Take Pause

The experience of dealing with an unexpected life challenge is filled with frenetic energy, and a sense of urgency. Instead of making hasty decisions and going full throttle toward trying to solve the issue, take a moment to digest what has happened. Slow it way down, breathe, and sit with the reality of your situation before taking any action. Hitting the pause button is always a good idea when overwhelm and chaos are omnipresent because it creates a space for thoughtful reflection, better choices, and a more engaged process.

2. Remain Present

Worry will become your silent partner when you are dealing with a curveball. Projecting into the future is a natural human response to stress and uncertainty, and the human brain is always looking for what’s “next”. You may also become riddled with regret about what you could have or should have done in the past to prevent your present situation. Getting stuck in the past or the future doesn’t serve you in these times of crisis. The goal is to remain in the present, even though this feels counter-intuitive.

3. Maintain Integrity

It’s at times like these when your character and values are put to the test. Even if you are the most patient, diligent, and high-functioning individual on the planet, you are sure to become lost, disconnected and a blubbering version of yourself at a time of crisis. Staying true to what you believe, and paying attention to how you want to come across as you move through any transition will ground you in maintaining your most authentic self.

4. Reach Out

For most people seeking help at a time of crisis is justified, but you may have a hard time asking for support even in your darkest moment. It’s common to believe that you can solve all of your problems on your own, but you actually show greater strength by seeking the counsel of a professional. There are always going to be people who can offer wisdom and experience beyond what you can give yourself. Take advantage of the many great healers out there, and give yourself the gift of growing and learning from what feels like a rock bottom. Getting the tools you need to rise above will ensure that you come out the other side better then when you went in.

5. Be Honest

A strong defense against the pain of disappointment that accompanies being hit by a curveball is denial. Not accepting your circumstances, or trying to blame the world for what is happening to you is a way to avoid what you are dealing with. You may feel a sense of shame around your situation making it harder to find the self-compassion you deserve. Remember that you are not alone, seek out others who have experienced a similar fate, and acknowledge that like everyone else in the world, your humaneness makes you immune to a perfect existence.

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picofme2Dr. Andra Brosh is a Clinical Psychologist, writer, and thought leader. Her unique perspectives on life, love and connection stem from her own personal wisdom, and her knowledge of psychology and philosophy. Dr. Brosh’s work is founded on the fundamental truth that we are all wired to be relational beings, and that with the right guidance and tools everyone can find happiness and fulfillment in their interpersonal relationships.

Find Out What You Want – Step #8

bring-up

 See, this is my fear. The only one that is real.

It is not that I will die, it is not that I might get sick, it is not pain.

It is not a ruin that scares me. A bankruptcy, a homelessness.

I feel no fear at the thought of losing Christopher and, if you know me at all, you know that the prospect of being alone is fairly attractive to me.

No,

the only loss that fills me with terror

is the loss

of myself.

Having to live my life along the guidelines set by others. Asking others what it is that I want, what it is that I need, what it is that I should. Relying on others to tell me what life is, what God is, what I am. Looking to others for love, for happiness, for purpose, for meaning

and for redemption.

Having to go where I am told, when I am told, to do what I am told.

Having to achieve what I am told I should achieve, wanting what I am told I should want to fulfill the expectations

of others.

That scares me.

That terrifies me.

That is hell

for me.

The Night My Husband Didn’t Call and the Fear of Losing a Loved One

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 1.39.39 PMThe clock in my kitchen is my go-to for all my timely needs. There are other clocks around the house, but for some reason I always consult the kitchen clock for accurate time. Oddly enough, the five minute intervals read “now” instead of numbers, so time telling is a two step translation process – a process that perhaps took the edge off last night as I was watching that minute hand in orbit, converting “nows” into numbers, waiting for my husband to come home after work.

We were all hungry, dinner was hot. Around 6:0o I called him four times in quick succession. I thought the intensity of my effort might encourage him to pick up, mentally willing him with every ring. Nothing.

So finally at 7:00 I sat the crew down to eat. Dinner was typical. The girls chowed down while my son staged a sit-in across the room. We ate the last half of our meal in intentional silence, doing our best to focus on chewing and tasting. In the silence I had a hard time focusing on anything really. Well, anything but this: Where the hell is my husband???

As the “nows” accumulated, one nagging, irrational thought snagged its claws on my otherwise typical thoughts. If he got into an accident, the hospital would have called me, right? Would I have a sixth sense if he was dead? Would I just know? He’s not dead, though. But he could be. No. Could he be? I’m sure he’s fine. Maybe I’ll watch a little TV.

The phone finally rang after I put the kids to sleep. He was fine, enjoying dinner with a friend visiting from out of town. He had actually told me several times he had plans but I forgot, didn’t write it down, screwed up. Oops. All that worrying for nothing. It’s not as if I didn’t have a gentle reminder telling me to be here and “now”.  Jeez.

The scene brought to mind of a poem I heard by Richard Blanco on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I pulled this off of NPR’s transcripts, so I’m guessing how the stanzas might be broken up. Enjoy…

Killing Mark” by Poet Richard Blanco

His plane went down over Los Angeles last week, again.

Or was it Long Island?

Boxer shorts, hair gel, his toothbrush washed up on the shore of New Haven, but his body never recovered, I feared.

Monday he cut off his leg chain-sawing. Bleed to death slowly while I was shopping for a new lamp.

Never heard my messages on his cell phone.

Where are you? Call me.

I told him to be careful.

He never listens.

Tonight, 15 minutes late. I’m sure he’s hit a moose on Route 26.

But maybe he survived.

Someone from the hospital will call me, give me his room number. I’ll bring his pajamas and some magazines.

5:25, still no phone call.

Voice mail full.

I turn on the news, wait for the report. Flashes of moose blood, his car mangled, as I buzz around the bedroom dusting the furniture, sorting the sock drawer.

By 7:30, I’m taking mental notes for his eulogy, suddenly adoring all I’ve hated, 10 years worth of nose hairs in the sink, of lost car keys, of chewing too loud and hogging the bed sheets,

when Joy yowls. Ears to the sound of footsteps up the drive and darts to the doorway,

I follow with a scowl: Where the hell were you? Couldn’t you call?

Translation. I die each time I kill you.

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Photo credit: LiLit Ghazaryan

Lost & Found

As much as I hate to admit it, I have been known to lose a material “thing” now and then—a diamond earring (lost twice and found twice), all of my earrings for that matter (well, usually one so the pair is no longer), a watch, a leather jacket, my wallet (a few times, and returned each time)….The list goes on.  Most recently, I lost my IPad2. 

Mind you, I have worked quite hard on being mindful, grounded and in charge of my belongings.  But this time, my watchfulness was overrun by my exhaustion, having just lectured in Montreal, sleep deprived, I was now traveling on to Germany.  Somehow and somewhere between the London and Dusseldorf airports, I lost my beloved computer gadget.  Perhaps I left it on my seat; perhaps in the waiting area; perhaps…..I was sure I had left it on my seat, but the airline staff swore that an Ipad was not found.  They were actually quite rude, if I might add.  “Are they telling the truth?” I wondered.   

My thoughts spiraled into negativity– berating myself for losing an expensive item (again); hurt that anyone could be so mean to me, especially those in the service field; and angry at the person who stole my Ipad (how could they!).  I thought, “How can people be so mean? Can anyone be trusted? ” Just as the thought, “People suck,” started to form, I stopped myself. After all, I am a spiritual teacher, and spiritual people aren’t supposed to hate people.    

Truthfully, I stopped myself because I couldn’t help noticing that my friend was speaking to the airline and “lost property” staff on my behalf in German, and lovingly consoling me.  I stopped because when we arrived at her home, her family and our friends empathized and supported me.  I stopped because in response to hearing my news, my father wrote me an email reminding me that the Ipad was only a material possession, not the people in my life who love me. 

And when I stopped, I noticed that without my Ipad, I could not withdraw into my world of journal reading and scrabble playing.  Instead, I happily engaged with people and enjoyed walks in nature.   How strange, I contemplated, that even though I had only possessed the gadget for a couple of months, I had quickly acquired an attachment to it. How often did I choose the computer over people?

Is it true for you?

What are you attached to?  How much do you appreciate those you love?  How often do you experience the magic of nature?  And how long can you wait before you pick up your smart phone, laptop or other fancy computer “thing?”  Would you feel withdrawal if you had to be without your gadgets?

For me, I lost my property, but I found love and a lot of meaning.

In these difficult economic times, when material “things” have questionable worth, perhaps you can take a moment to be present in your life. Love. Breathe. Laugh.  Not forever…just for a moment every now and again.

PHOTO (cc); Flickr / Josh Liba

Releasing the Toxicity…

It’s been about a month or so since my tacky break-up happened and mostly, I have seen things in a positive light. I describe it as "tacky" because he didn’t even have the balls to break up with me with any dignity. Instead, he chose a weekend where I would be visiting my family I had not seen in a year and a half and text messaged a break-up text on my last connecting flight home. When I arrived to see my family at the airport, they found me in tears. He proceeded to move everything with the exception of some major pieces of his life; like his car, most of his child’s expensive video games, etc. I am sure at this point, you must be wondering how terrible the relationship was for him to completely disregard me. His child recently moved out of state with his mother (divorce) and he began to act quite peculiar. He was talking with a girl, who happened to hook up with my last ex at the end of my last relationship, and they met in a borderline personality disorder discussion forum a week previous. Only one week after the separation, he married her. Wow. 

We were together for three years and I must admit, nights like these are quite hard to get through. I am much better off in the end- we simply were not meant to spend any more time with one another, but I suppose it is the manner in which he left that leaves me with these feelings of disgust, sadness and bewilderment. I am supposed to study for two exams I have tomorrow, but I am in pain;therefore, I write. I know that this is one door closed but many doors opened. 

I had contemplated moving back to where my family lives this past April but didn’t because I was not prepared and having doubts. I now have the desire again, but doubt because I am going through such an emotional time in my life. Truly, he was a destructive person..destroying my friendships and attempting to destroy the very core of who I am. He told my neighbors I was too strong and he was too weak, that he needed to be with someone just as needy as he was…I guess that I should listen to my father when he said I "dodged a bullet." 

In school and working my ass off…but I ask myself, what is more important than having your true friends and family around you to support and love you. There is nothing more priceless than being in the presence of those who love and accept you unconditionally…I have known this for so long…but is this rational or right? Moving and changing schools, finding a good job again are such hassles, but is it worth it in the end? 

All these things I need to think about and make certain that I am making the best decision with what I know.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your support. Some nights, I have sincerely needed it.

<3

What it Means to Grieve a Loss

When you open yourself up to love, you open yourself up to loss. When you suffer a loss, you will experience the painful emotion we call grief. It’s a natural response to loss yet to the person going through this afflictive emotion, the experience feels overwhelming. I would like to help you understand that going through it means it is a process not an event and, depending on the personal connection you have to the loss, it is very individual. And yet, the grieving process itself is universal: we feel sad when we experience loss.

Because we will all suffer loss as part our life’s journey, we will all need time and spiritual healing to recover. But our world wants us to hurry up and get on with things. This demand – whether from society or someone in our life – doesn’t work with the grieving process because loss, as love, is embedded deep in our souls and it cannot be rushed.

When someone you loved has died, your life feels different because it is different. In your grief process you will long and ache for the person. If you have lost a beloved child, your grief will go on and on and you will need to find a new purpose in your life to survive. That is what helps me, trying to help you, that is my new purpose.

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that loss and grief exist only when someone we love dies but loss and grief are felt in other life circumstances, too. Presently, I’m experiencing a sense of loss over our much loved pastor’s transfer, a deep loss for me and collectively for our parish community.

Because grief surfaces with situations other than death, look over some additional examples of loss which you may have experienced. They also deserve recognition for their importance in your spiritual healing and well-being.

Loss of your marriage and the family life you wanted for yourself and your children.

Loss of a home you loved and that shared circle of close friends.

Loss of trust in your own judgment after a terrible betrayal.

Loss of your job.

Loss of financial security.

Loss of your health.

Loss that comes with a disability.

Loss of your youth.

Loss of never marrying.

Loss of the courage to live your own life.

Loss suffered with infertility issues.

Loss of a friend or family member through addiction or mental illness.

Loss that you will never have the mom or dad or siblings that you needed.

Loss of your parent stolen by dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Loss of the kids when they leave for pre-school, college, marriage, or independent living.

Loss of your family pet.

Loss when you realize your child will never have a story-book life.

Loss of not having grandchildren.

Loss of not seeing your grandchildren because you are denied visitation.

Loss of your dreams.

Loss of your faith – once strong and unshakable – now dim or nonexistent.

As you can see, these are examples of other losses people have shared with me. Maybe they even touch on your loss.

When we are grieving a loss, we often feel we want to be alone and we pull away from others. This isolates us more. This pulling away causes the loneliness of loss to increase. This loneliness can move our grief into a depression and then – worse – into despair, a dark hole that is much harder to climb out of and much more difficult to recover from than grief.

Don’t go it alone. Remember what Winnie the Pooh once remarked, "You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes." Here are some suggestions to get you out of your corner of the forest:

One Share your pain with compassionate family members and friends.

Two Talk with a rabbi, priest, minister or person of faith.

Three Find a counselor who understands loss personally and clinically.

Four Nourish you body, rest frequently, exercise moderately.

Five Commit to volunteer somewhere.

Seven Receive hugs from comforting supporters.

Remember, it takes great courage and work to survive your shattering losses and your grief is testimony to the love you were able to give. And remember, my friends, you are remarkable each morning when you get out of bed, put your feet on the floor, and ask for the grace to make this day and Every Day Matter.

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S.,CGP
Psychotherapist and Author of When Every Day Matters: A Mother’s Memoir on Love, Loss and Life
Simple Abundance Press 

http://www.WhenEveryDayMatters.com

www.MJHB.net


 

 

Grief and Joy

When I think of grieving, I think of pain and sadness. I think of my stomach in knots, tears flowing uncontrollably and a broken heart. Joy has no place in grief at first glance.

To me, grief is like a precious vase or plate that shatters into pieces. You look at all of your feelings and pieces of love and wonder how you can ever repair it—it feels destroyed.

 Life isn’t perfect and we will all experience loss and grief. It is something we all will share at some time or another. For some of us, it may be an animal we have loved like a child, for others it may be a parent, sibling or even a child. My friend Susie Krabacher, who runs an orphanage in Haiti, is losing children she has raised by the hundreds because of the earthquake. There is no joy in these losses.

 Joy, for me, came when I could let the loss of my brother (to suicide) change me. I make a decision that the trauma I felt in not having him be a part of my life, in wondering what I could have done to help him, in being the one to have to tell my parents..had to be something I honored his life with. He would have hated it if I had crawled in a hole and let it destroy me. He ended his life, he didn’t end mine. I decided that I needed to find ways to love and remember him as the beautiful soul that he was.

So I did. I thought about him, prayed about him; when I’d see a movie or go somewhere I thought he’d love, I would talk to him in my heart about it. While sadness was always there when those moments came up, joy began to creep in as well. It’s as if the missing of him became part joy because it brought him closer to me.

There are no quick fixes or formulas to pain or grief or loss. What may work for one person, may not for another. What I think the focus should be is: How do we honor and remember the loved one who left? Find ways to do that and see if there can be a form of joy in doing that.

 

Best Of The Week: Dealing With Grief and Loss

We are touched by the response to this week’s call for content on dealing with grief, tragedy and loss. Thank you for sharing all of your stories, and we hope that you will be inspired in reading your fellow community members’ personal journeys on how they overcame their own tragic loss. 

Loss Knows No Age and Grieves None The Less By Angie Provost

Guilt After a Passing By Carole Lynne

Stay With The Dying By Carole Lynne

8 Ways to Create Spiritual Sky Hooks That Will Keep You Afloat By Caroline Sutherland

How To Help Someone Grieve By Kellen Von Houser

Why Is Death So Painful By Leonard Jacobson

Grief Postponed: Peace Is Possible Even After Many Decades By Paul Puckett

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