linnmarrhappysunflower.jpgLife is filled with moments of great joy and moments when we need the quiet loving support of those who know us best. Today is one of those days when I needed the loving and warm support of my family and spirit brought it to me in a small but clear way. Since last night I’ve been feeling longing for my parents, for their warmth, their clear knowing of me and who I am and what I’m about. So much doesn’t even need words with the people who have known you your whole life, or a good share of your life. I lack that most of the time in my life. Most of the people I’ve known my entire life either live in another place far from me or have passed on into spirit so at times I long for the comfort of the ones that know me best and love me despite my many flaws.

As I was doing things around the house this morning, thinking of my parents and missing them I pulled a container from the cabinet and on top of it was a coaster; The coaster was embossed with Jane and this saying,

From the Hebrew “God is gracious,” She is gentle and loving, kind and caring; always there when you need her. a friend you can turn to.

Jane is the name of my mother who has passed into spirit. So on this day when I needed her so much she showed me yet again, in a clear way that she is always watching over me, always loving me, guiding me from the other side. I love you mom and I’m grateful for your love and support from spirit. I have much to learn and I know you are helping me and smiling down on me. I miss you.

Photo Credit: Flickr Linn Marr

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My dad Merl

May those of you in grief find peace in your heart in this new year. May the love of those who have passed touch you and allow you to know they are with you, watching over you and continuing to surround you with love from spirit. Many times I’ve felt the presence of my parents and I know their love is always with me guiding me and helping me when I need it most. May you have a blessed New Year!

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My mom, Jane Christmas of 1996

With the rush and emotion of Christmas approaching even I, who have been down the road of healing grief for many years have some emotional and painful moments. A couple days ago as I was contemplating my day and the many tasks ahead of me I felt a wave of missing my parents rush over me. My parents have both passed over into spirit and even now many years into healing I have days that still feel deeply overwhelming without those I love most near me.

In that moment of missing them, I turned to my old standby of opening a book to any random page and seeing the message that spirit will bring me. On this day, in this moment the message was clearly my mother showing her presence and her support in my life. It was a beautiful and inspiring moment that I wanted to share so others may feel comforted as well.

The book I chose to open was called When God Winks This is a book of instances where people have found, just as I that someone was watching over them, supporting them or helping them in their moments of need and that it was much more than a simple coincidence, that it is god’s way of watching over our lives.

The page that I opened up was about Barbara Streisand and her experiences of making the movie Yentyl, which she made in honor of her father who had died. As I read the piece about her experience of feeling her father’s knowing of her making this movie I suddenly began to have my own moment of knowing.

Vividly I was reminded how much my mother adored Barbara Streisand and that she used to have a large movie poster of the movie Yentyl hanging above her office desk at home. The poster was of Barbara Striesand in character from the movie. I had received the movie poster while living in California many years ago and had given it to my mom knowing how much she loved Barbara Streisand. In that moment of reading about Barbara Striesand and Yentyl I realized without a single doubt that my mom was showing her prescence so that I would understand clearly that her love is surrounding me and supporting me still from heaven.

There’s little that’s worse than grieving through the holidays; in my experience. So for starters don’t expect too much of yourself, do what feels right and let the rest be for another year. There have been holiday seasons when I was in such deep grief that even putting up the Christmas tree felt like it a task beyond what I could handle. On that year I hung a wreath and had a tiny one foot table top Christmas tree, Christmas cards that year became Valentine cards! My pain was so deep, my grief so shattering that all I wished for was New Years Day; knowing that would mean Christmas was over and a new and hopefully less painful year was beginning.

I cannot make your grief less, or take away your pain. I can only tell you, take care of your self, your spirit and allow yourself to truly grieve the ones you miss. That is the only real way through the pain; to feel the loss, to feel the depth of missing them and to talk to them in spirit, or keep a journal and write out your pain. That worked for me like nothing else did and today I am a happier, healed person for allowing my grief a place in my life. I allowed myself days when all I did was sit and cry and read inspirational books, or walk on the beach or sit under a tree and remember the person I loved so dearly, who was taken from my life.

I feel for each of you in this season. I know the pain of grief and I send up prayers thaty each of you will be watched over and supported in your dark days. I remember distinctly the Christmas after my father died; (2003) there was a holiday commercial on that year that practically made me nautious. In the commercial was a big happy family in red sweaters with a golden retriever all grouped near the Christmas tree beaming with happiness as if everything in their world couldn’t be more perfect. My thought every single time I saw that commercial was I will never be a family like that, because my parents and daughter have been taken from me. It felt so unfair, because my pain was so great. I hated to even see their happiness.

Sometimes in our grief it is unbelievably painful to see others in their happiness; thankfully that feeling fades and we find a way to make peace with our loss and to create life for ourselves again. Our lives will never be the same after our loss, but they can indeed be positive again with time, healing, grief counseling, prayer and a journal. Be gentle with yourself this season and do only what you feel able to handle and close the door on the rest; saving it for another time or year when you feel more ready to handle it. Blessings to each of you!

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Sunset in Dunedin, Florida

Caring for ourselves is essential, and many times we put caring for ourselves last on our to do list. How many of you are saying amen to this? I have been down this road a few times and have learned the hard way to pay attention to my body, spirit and intuition.

When my mother was dying I put forth tremendous energy toward supporting and loving her. At the time she learned she was ill I lived in Hawaii and she lived in Indiana. Not only did I fly back and forth three times in a three month period, but I called her nearly daily and sent her either a post card, card or letter every single day. The amount of energy, love and time I focused on my mother and helping her get through her illness until her death was extraordinary.

It took a serious toll on my emotions and my life. I found myself at times so desperately exhausted and out of sorts that I realized it had been far too long since I had taken time for myself or anything that approached fun. After a few short weeks I found myself overcome by the strain of my mother’s illness. It was a constant battle to keep my spirit focused and my every day life on track, I realized at that point I had to make time for myself in order to be the support she needed. What comes to mind is the statement that all flight attendants make during the safety demonstration. In an emergency put your oxygen mask on before assisting your child. Let’s be realistic, you can’t help another if you can’t help yourself first.

So if you are currently facing a similar situation what can you do to help yourself when you barely have time to make it through every day?

First, realize that you’re days will flow smoother if you are in a better mental space. Realistically you’re going a through a roller coaster of emotion due to the extreme situation you are facing. But there are things you can do to make it a little better. Below is my list of ten things that will help you bear the unbearable in these painful times.

1. Find time for silence, prayer or meditation. Even if you take only 15 minutes to focus your mind, pray or meditate it will help you maintain a calmness that can help you through the rough moments.

2. Focus in short spans of time, or on single event/tasks. This helped me so much after losing my mother. If I had used this technique during her illness it may have helped me. By keeping my focus on what I could do in a single half hour, rather than worrying about the dozens of things I needed to do ithroughout the day I was more calm and actually better able to deal with my day and was far less likely to lose it. Focusing on a single task allows a calmness that we cannot get when we are springing from one task to another and are split in ten different directions while dealing with the emotional upheaval that comes naturally from dealing with the serious illness of a loved one.

3 Find something that brings you pleasure and MAKE TIME FOR IT. It can be something as simple as the ritual of taking a long bath with candles and prayer. It can be a walk with your dog. It might be a late night comedy DVD that makes you laugh deeply and allows a release of emotion and pent up pain.

4. Sleep is key, get adequate rest. This is essential in helping you maintain your strength and emotional focus during a painful time. If you think I’m kidding, go back to the flight attendant rule for safety. Put your oxygen mask on before attempting to help another. You aren’t capable of helping others if you are not first taking care of yourself.

5. Find a friend and share your pain. Share your fears and allow your friend to be there in your darkest moments. I cannot emphasize this enough. When my mother died my friend Tammy was my life preserver. She allowed me to cry, yell and release my pain anytime I needed it. Ten years later I still remember the depth of her friendship and how much of a support she was to me in one of the most painful times in my life.

6. Remove yourself from the situation at least once a week and do something very normal like going to lunch with a friend. Go for a beautiful drive or walk on the beach. Take time to breath and rejuvinate yourself.

7. Gratitude.. I know that during a family health crisis is the most difficult time to think about being grateful, the depth of pain we are experiencing is so tremendous that we feel life as we know it is over. Yet in this time, we need to keep our focus and remember there are at least small things that we can be grateful for. Gratefulness changes our energy and our allows to focus for a single moment on the positive.

8. Create a network of care givers. This is so essential in not becoming overwhelmed with the care of a loved one or friend. Create a chart of mornings, afternoon and evenings when various people can be available. Another list can be created for friends or family to cook meals. Cooking is absolutely impossible when situations demands us to care for a loved one.

9. Create an email or phone chain. This way time and effort are shared. This way one person is not burdened with the effort of keeping everyone updated. Having access to email helps tremendously in keeping friends and loved ones far away in constant touch with a family crisis and offers them a small comfort in a painful time.

10. Reach out to your loved ones and create an umbrella of love that enfolds and surrounds all of you through the difficult and painful time. The support of the whole will help in the most painful moments.