December 2006


.christmas-eve-orlando-031.jpg Tonight, Christmas night I received a phone call from my friend Bill who I’ve known and loved for many years. He called to tell me that his son, who I’ve known for twelve years was in a critical motorcycle accident and is on life support. Bill and his brother are driving down the east coast to reach his son before he crosses into spirit. They understand his injuries are beyond what he can survive.

I was stunned, and even with the grief I’ve faced I was unprepared for this painful, tragic phone call. Sean, his son is 29. I told him I would pray for them and his family. I immediately sat down and prayed for my friend and his son. I then called a minister at my church, asking her to include them in her prayers.

Sean is a good hearted young man. I met him when he was a teen, when I dated his father. He was always on the edge of adventure or trouble. He has been through some tough moments in his life, but he’s loved and treasured by his family. I spoke to him just over two months ago and he sounded just like the Sean I remembered. He was happy and doing well in his life. He had a girl friend he loved, a good job and was working hard to stay on the right path in his life.

I’m focusing my love and prayers this moment on both of them. The good of his heart and the love he he’s had for life. I am deeply saddened for his family. I know heaven is preparing for Sean’s transition and I’m hopeful his father will reach the hospital to touch him and be with him as he makes his way into spirit. I pray that his family will find the peace of God surrounding them in this painful time.

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This is such a crazy time of year, one minute I feel excited and the next overwhelmed with the entire season and the zillion tasks to complete. I understand deeply the feelings of pain and loss you can face around the holidays. Even if your loss wasn’t recent the whole holiday glitz and cheer can set off reminders of our pain and the struggles we face in grief.
The thing I can suggest is …..do what you can handle. During the really rough years I did the parts of the holiday I felt I could handle and I released the others, knowing sometime in the future I would feel less pain. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t handle the festivities and the holiday cheer. Your life has painfully changed and your perceptions are deeply altered. Allow yourself to do what you can mentally and physically handle and let the rest be for another time.

Three years ago I had a hell of a Christmas, just four months after my father died unexpectedly at age 59. I remember saying to a friend I wished I could have the holiday experience you see in the Hallmark commercial, the family in the holiday sweaters, happy, smiling with life appearing in order. Where was that experience for my family? Instead we were grieving the loss of my father taken much too young and painfully. I still dont have the perfect life with the family in the red sweaters and sometimes my life still feels deeply painful with reminders of loved ones and friends gone too soon, too young. Yet I have learned to accept where I am today and allow the pain to wash over me as it will and to go with it. Sometimes that means I cry as I drive and I change the radio for songs I used to treasure because now they are too painful to hear. Yet I’ve healed, I am making huge inroads of progress. I can feel it and I can see it. You will find it too, with time. Give yourself time and allow yourself to truly grieve your loved one. May you be filled with the peace of heavenly guidance in this season of love and spiritual renewal.

Today I’m adding an excerpt from a piece I wrote shortly after my mother’s death in the late fall of 1997.

The pain seems endless and unimaginable. My mother is gone and a more significant loss is unimaginable in this moment. Some moments are managable and others rip through my heart. Most of the time I don’t know what day it is, and I can’t remember the simplest of details. She’s been gone thirteen days. I can’t begin to imagine the rest of my life without her laughter, knowledge and phone calls. I can’t believe she wont share my most precious moments, marriage, births, jobs and the ups and downs of every day life.

I rage at the injustice of her loss. She was beautiful, healthy, vegetarian and a dedicated workout enthusiast. She died at fifty-three within ten weeks of being diagnosed with lung cancer. Her disease progressed quickly, spreading to her bones, causing her great pain. My mother was brave and unafraid. She never complained about the cancer, and she didn’t rail at the injustice of her illness as I do. I wish I had one tenth of her strength. I know she is better off in spirit, out of pain, but the pain of her physical loss is tearing me apart. My thoughts are selfish and I don’t care. I hate that I have to live without her.

Tonight I was searching online for blogs and journals on grief. I ran across the most honest, deeply touching online journal on grief I have ever seen.

hp-pictures-248.jpg One of the things I most strongly remember about the first days of my grieving process was that I tried to focus on the moment.
In the days after my mother died just getting through fifteen minutes in those first days felt like a huge accomplishment. It also helped me to survive my tremendous pain; by not looking too far into what the day might hold, or the next. If you are grieving allow yourself time, time to just sit and stare into space remembering, praying, DOING WHATEVER YOU NEED. Ask for help. I know I didn’t always feel like it; yet calling someone who understands really makes the difference.

I can distinctly remember the hours I spent talking to my friend Tammy. She saved me; she allowed me to rage, and I did. I was filled with so much anger over my mother’s death and over the situations I was facing. She was kind enough to allow me to get it out. Even now nearly ten years later; thinking of those conversations makes me cry. She was a god send to me. Find a Tammy in your life; that person will make all the difference to your grieving and your sanity.

Sometimes grief is not only from a death. Sometimes grief comes with the loss of a relationship or the realization that a relationship is changing and you’re at a cross roads where you have to determine whether you can heal a relationship or whether it will end. It wont be the same depth of grief, yet it will be a grieving process just the same.

A Year by the Sea

is a thought provoking book about the transformations a woman goes through in her life. Joan and her husband are at a crossroads when they separate with him taking a promotion in a different part of the country and Joan moving into their summer cottage on Cape Cod. The book details the journey of Joan’s life during the year she lives at Cape Cod and the transitions she makes personally and within her relationship with her husband.

I felt this was an excellent autobiography for anyone contemplating their own life transitions or transformations. It was moving, realistic and thought provoking. She has written one or two others since this one.

I recently read a book called;

90 Minutes in Heaven.

This is the true story of a minister’s experience
when his car is hit by a semi on a bridge.
He is pronouced dead atthe scene
by two paramedics.

The book details his ninety minutes in heaven
before the paramedics realize he has returned to life
after covering his body and leaving it
for an hour and a half at the accident scene
as they dealt with other issues related to the accident.
This is truly an amazing and inspiring book.
For those who are grieving or questioning
what happens when we die this is a beautiful book to read.

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