Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by enna

  1. enna

    Living with Loss

    Keeping you in my thoughts and love, Kay. I am so sorry. I know you did what you needed to do for your beloved Arlie. I am here if you need to talk. Anne
  2. My dear friends, This is such sad news. I am so sorry to hear about your losses. To be violated like this is so traumatic. I hold both of you in my thoughts. Marty's article about the 'emotional impact of burglary' is good and I also think to talk with someone might help. Sending love, Anne
  3. Thank you for your contribution to the book, Maryann. Your article is on my 'To Read List" and I know you understand this ~ so many books and articles to read.
  4. How true what you say is to those points you have made, Mary Linda. We have heard that not all hospices are the same. It sounds like you did not have a good experience with the hospice for you and your husband. This is tragic for a family who needs the care and concern from others at a time like this. My experience with hospice was the opposite. The Hospice Team who worked with us was excellent. I still remember each one of them as if it were yesterday (my husband passed in 2012). My only regret is that we did not know to call them earlier. The coordination of the Team was evident from day one. Once the social worker visited and put things in motion our lives became easier. We chose to have the Hospice doctor seeing to my husband’s care because she would be available 24/7 as our Primary doctor could not be. Our nurse came weekly and near the end daily, the CNA person was perfect and did her job with tenderness and love, we had access to a chaplain and a volunteer. A hospice volunteer veteran visited a few times and this was a comfort to my husband who was a fighter pilot during WW11. When my husband was no longer able to be up and about our den became his special place. We had all the necessary items provided by our nurse like a hospital bed for not only his comfort but to make it easier for us to care for him. Our nurse made sure that my husband was as comfortable with medication as possible. She spent time talking with me about what was going on whenever there was a change. This Hospice Team was here for our family and a grief counselor was available to my family and me for a year after my husband died. Having the Team working with us freed me up to be a wife and not only his caregiver. I could tell so many stories and without hospice, we would never have been able to keep my husband at home where he wanted to be. I know not every family can have their family member remain at home. When it is possible having a good hospice team available is a must. I am so glad you have had good experiences with hospice and so sorry that the one that counted most for you was not.
  5. Wednesday, February 27, 2019 The Longing of Saudade Nine years after Evelyn’s death, I stood on the coast of Maine at dusk looking over the Atlantic Ocean, feeling what I have come to know as saudade, a Portuguese word for profound melancholic longing. I desperately yearned to see Ev again, knowing that I never would. She died suddenly, and I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. My love for her did not end with her death. Nor had I ceased hoping that she would walk into the room and I would feel my heart skip a beat. I wanted to see her smile again and hear her laugh. I wanted to hug her and ask all the questions that had piled up in her absence. I wanted her to tease me for some of the stupid things I’d done trying to cope, in ways that only she could do. She made ordinary days feel special. So much had changed over the years. I’d remarried and was happy again. Yet, in my eyes, you could see a certainty, a hardness, perhaps, from my close acquaintance with death. I share more of my emotions than I did before, and I was thankful for this. Hopefully, I was also more compassionate for the suffering of others because people had set their lives aside to help me when I didn’t have the energy to ask. Anyone who loses someone close, whether it’s a spouse, parent, child, or friend, feels an edge to their lives that don’t leave, along with residual anger, frustration, and despair. And if someone died young, and unfairly in our eyes, our new awareness of the depth of life can open into darkness that worries us. Our lives are constantly being reshaped by changes, with moments of grace, clarity, and unexpected encounters. If we are brave and face them openly, they can nudge our lives in the direction we want to go. Because of grief, we tend to speak directly now, and we’ve developed a b. s. meter because many people who said they cared and wanted to help, didn’t. They told us what we wanted to hear. But words without actions are worse than useless. They build up expectations and hope where none exist. It would have been better if they had said they couldn’t deal with grief because then we would still trust them to be honest. As the years go on, our lives will fill with people we’ve loved who are gone. Even when new people enter, no one replaces the ones we lost. They remain nestled in our hearts. That night, standing on the shore with the ocean stretched out before me, rather than move on to my next task, I let the feeling of saudade deepen. I lingered and let myself feel the complexity of the moment—both joy and sorrow—as I watched the graceful beauty of seagulls flying low over the water. The ocean was calm because of an offshore breeze, and the lighthouse was sending beams of light from the rocky coast into the gathering dusk, guiding people into harbors of safety. In the midst of my gratitude for the present, there was also sadness when I thought about what might have been and the dreams we had that will not be. As love once changed me, so now does grief. Posted by Mark Liebenow
  6. Wednesday, January 30, 2019 Widowers Grief An Honest Journey Through Grief What we want from a memoir when matters of life and death are involved is honesty. We don’t want sugar. Sugar doesn’t give us real hope. Sugar melts away when tears begin to fall. We want truth because we know that one day we will face what they have gone through, and we want to know how to survive. Elaine Mansfield’s book, Leaning Into Love, is honest about her husband’s struggles with cancer and chemotherapy, and honest about her struggle with grief and beginning a new life alone. Even with people who have as strong a faith and are as determined as Elaine and Vic, death still wins the physical battle. Elaine writes of her battle to hold on and the longing to let go because it was so hard to live without him until she had no choice. “His gentle passage opens my heart and stills my mind,” she writes after Vic dies. She bends but does not break: “The downward pull of grief persists, but I often touch the slippery edge and rise above instead of being sucked under.” The book is divided into Before and After, with death as the turning point. There are no magic words here that will erase death’s sorrow, but she offers insights — stay attentive to grief, do not give up when grief goes on for longer than you expect, screw up your courage and do what needs to be done, even if it scares you. After Vic’s death, Elaine begins writing as a way for understanding her grief, guided by friends and teachers. She writes about how lost she felt in the first months, the slow movement out of constant sorrow, and how grief still periodically returns three years later, brought back by a stray memory or seeing one of Vic’s possessions. “Grief doesn’t end for me, or anyone,” Elaine writes, “If we dare to love, then we will grieve. Mortality is the shadow that falls when the sun shines.” Sprinkled through the narrative are the words of Elaine and Vic’s spiritual mentors — Anthony Damiani, Marion Woodman, and the Dalai Lama, as well as words from the poems of Rainer Maria Rilke and Naomi Shihab Nye, including Nye’s astounding “Kindness” poem. There is much that I admire and treasure about Elaine’s book. I underlined over 150 passages that surprised, challenged, or delighted me. What I did not realize, until I closed the book and reflected on its words, was its balance. Elaine often returns to the land as a nurturing place, and writes of her desire for daily exercise and cooking healthy food, even though, on some days, these are the last things she wants to do. This is the Physical dimension of being. She writes of her ongoing practice of meditation, worship, and of spending time in solitude. This is the Spiritual dimension. And she speaks of her volunteering to help with a hospice group, and of the support she received from her community of friends, both during Vic’s illness and their presence after his death. This is the Heart dimension. All three are needed. Death changes our lives, not for better or worse. It simply sends us off in a different direction. Six weeks after Vic died, Marion Woodman wrote to Elaine: “Something is emerging that could not have happened in your old life.” Each year Elaine raises Monarch butterflies and watches their transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. She felt her own life undergoing a similar transformation. Everyone’s experience of grief will differ, but this book is a testament to holding on when a large part of your life is taken away. Elaine writes, “Vic’s death taught me that only kindness and love matter in the end. When we fall, and we all will fall, we can rise up if we lean into each other and the sacred gift of life.” Elaine’s words move with the flow of a powerful river that picks us up and carries us into a deeper understanding of life. Posted by Mark Liebenow
  7. You are always in my thoughts and prayers, Katie. 💜
  8. Oh, Kay, I am so sorry to hear that Jim is having such a hard time. He has had an up and down time of it. The last thing any of us should have to even think of is not being able to get the medicine we need for our health. I think Insurance companies and big pharma have ruined our country. Our doctors used to be able to oversee our health and now they have to go through insurance companies. I hope that Jim will be able to get any medicine he needs to help him. And I pray that you will be able to see him soon.💜
  9. Thank you, George, for this positive reflection. As you say, the timeline is different for each one of us. Tools for Healing are what we need as we go through our individual journeys. For some of us, we have moved beyond our early grief and are beginning to "Get busy living." Again, thank you. Anne
  10. Wednesday, January 9, 2019 Breadcrumbs As you start to walk on the way, the way appears. Rumi We don’t get through grief by sitting on our butt. Well, okay, sitting is fine for a time, but grief is not going to leave on its own. We have to pay attention to what it is doing inside us. We have to walk with grief and listen to what it is saying. When death hits, a list starts in our heads of everything we’ve lost, and the list becomes lengthy. The journey of grief involves accepting what has happened. This doesn’t mean that we agree or like what’s happened. And it involves letting go of a bunch of our dreams and expectations. This is anguishing because we don’t want to risk losing anything that we have left, and it tears us apart to think of doing so. We also have to let go of death if we are to feel the warmth of life again and turn back towards life. So where does that leave us? Letting go in grief is like Inanna’s descent into the Underworld in Mesopotamian mythology to find her sister. In order to pass through each gate on her way down, Inanna has to give up something valuable she possesses. At the end, even her clothes are taken away and she is naked, with no power or prestige left. It is only then, when she has nowhere to turn, that she looks inside herself and finds the strength to continue. When we have given up everything, when the light has faded and darkness has replaced its last glimmer with loneliness and despair, and we take that first step into the unknown, it is then that we notice a trail of breadcrumbs left by those who have traveled through grief’s wilderness before us. We could not see this trail until we faced our fears, gathered our courage, and took that step, trusting the wilderness before us. The breadcrumbs and trail ducks lead us through the Forest of Uncertainty and over the Mountains of Dark Silence to a place we’ve never been. What are these breadcrumbs? They are the words of others who have dipped their pens into their hearts and written the raw truth of their grief. They are the voices of those who stop to talk with us on the street and share words of support. They are the open arms of people who hug us long and hard. They are those who show up on our doorstep with freshly baked bread and listen to us share the wilderness of our hearts. Posted by Mark Liebenow
  11. Thank you, Maryann, for your kind words. Yes, we have found a way to move through our losses and that is why I find this forum to be so important to keep open. I am so happy that you are finding new ways to live your life as you always keep your Mark close to your heart. I believe that there is a way to find happiness after a great loss because our hearts expand to allow for this. 💜
  12. I so agree with you, Kay, about food. I still love to cook and I always make something that I like. This holiday I made my lasagna because it is one of the dishes that I particularly like. Thank goodness I had a few people to help me share it because I always make too much. I also make a pistachio bundt cake that is to die for. If you like pound cake you would like my cake. I'm glad you have your own style of dress, Kay. I have my own comfortable clothes when I'm staying in. I never wear shoes in the house unless I go into the garage! 🙂
  13. Thank you, Marita. I can only imagine how much you miss your Gord. You are still very early in your grief. One day without even thinking about it a splash of color will appear even for a moment and your heart will feel a little bit lighter. You will always miss Gord. 💜
  14. Yes, Marty. My thinking about this is if it helps one person that is enough.
  15. January 5, 2019 As a caregiver for my beloved Jim for five years, one important thing I learned during that time was the importance of caring for self. I think that part of healing has to do with self-care and this is what I'm doing for the New Year. I just came off of a stay at home Retreat and decided to prepare a Self-Care basket that I can go to when I need a day to focus on myself. This did not happen to me in my first years of loss but we change and for me, today I like to focus on doing something for myself. My Self-Care Basket for 2019 Gifting myself a day of self-care ~ suggestions for my basket (items can be changed) ***Drink more lemon water that day, or buy fresh flowers for the day, schedule naptime, have a self-love affirmations list to recite throughout the day: I accept all compliments, I let go of all negative talk, I accept myself for who I am, I will treat myself with kindness, I will stop apologizing for who I am… Something Physical Massage oils (I like eucalyptus oil and tea extract), a yoga DVD, facial mask supplies, Epsom salts for a bath, take a walk in nature, spend time in your garden, go for a swim, treat self to a manicure/pedicure, find a reason to laugh Something Emotional Journal/pen, tissues, add a movie you’ve already seen or one you want to watch to your basket, listen to music from a playlist you created, create an art piece to express your emotion Something Spiritual Meditations or articles from my Pinterest boards, do a random act of kindness, read a favorite book, listen to inspirational talks, listen to music, breathe, listen to a podcast or TED talks: ‘Body Language’ by Amy Cuddy and ‘The Power of Introverts’ by Susan Cain are two talks I listened to on my stay at home Retreat (the Internet has many TED talks that inspire) Something Sensory Stress ball, scented candle, soft blanket or fuzzy socks, a pleasure reading book (I like Mary Oliver’s book Dog Songs), drink herbal tea, listen to music, and eat chocolate Something Social Send a card to a special person, write a letter to someone you haven’t heard from for a while, call or text a friend, spend time with an animal and if you do not have a pet perhaps you could visit a shelter, write a letter to yourself complimenting yourself for something you did, go to lunch with friends, be proactive, not reactive to situations Notes to self: In the evening make a plan for the next day · Have a routine – streamlines daily processes · Have a style of dress (I like scarves and add them to my wardrobe) · Check your emails or texts and respond sooner rather than later · Keep your space neat – less clutter · List things that you are grateful for that day · Define what gives you stress
  16. Tools for Healing is a good place to start...it's never a straight line
  17. Dealing With Grief During the Holidays... https://www.refugeingrief.com/2018/12/11/dealing-with-grief-during-the-holidays/
  18. The above webinar hosted by Drs Gloria and Heidi Horsley from Open to Hope with guest Debbie Rambis from Compassionate Friends reminding us again how we can get through the holidays by following some suggestions. * If you have young children try to keep the holiday for them * Accept a holiday invitation but let a friend know that you might have to take a break so the friend can let everyone know you are all right * If there is a toast before a dinner include everyone, not just the one who is gone * Start a new tradition – make a wreath with some of your loved one’s favorite things on it or light a special candle or make a special ornament to add to the tree * Find a way to give – there are many * Don’t assume that people know what you want – ask for help * Exercise – grief can get trapped in our bodies – go for a walk * Rest the mind before bedtime – work a puzzle * Remember to breathe – there’s an app called CALM – it’s wonderful * Laugh – it has the same effect as crying * Don’t isolate yourself – keep some social connections * Have self-compassion – hugs are good * Focus on the positive – it helps rather than being negative * Don’t drink or use drugs – it will not help Open to Hope is a good place to find helpful information as you work on your grief. Compassionate Friends is also a good group – they have closed groups that you can join that focus on each type of loss This webinar was recorded and will be available for viewing at a later date Here's the replay of the webinar.
  19. It saddens me that you had to send this message out to us, Marty. It is not easy to ask for money and most of us know how important a website like this is. I’m sure none of us thinks about what it costs to keep a site like this one up and running. I think as difficult as it is to ask for donations it’s good to remind us that donations are necessary to keep the site free from ads and pay for the use of a URL. Many who are grieving probably don’t even see a donate button. I have visited many sites that are so full of ads that I don’t even know what the topics are supposed to be. When I first came to this website it was after my husband died and it was under the direction of Hospice of the Valley in Arizona but due to lay-offs this site was no longer sponsored by HOV and since the site was Marty’s dream she decided to buy it and keep it running because she knew how important it was to people who are grieving. Others told me that those who came here understood that those of us grieving would always have someone here who listened. It has been so. I think the purpose of the GHDG website is to share with others and that to me was having a place to come for support in my grieving. That is why there have always been suggestions to help us move through our losses. It is a place to share what we are learning about grief. We have to read about grief. We have to hear what others have learned about grief. We have to not only be sensitive to what others are going through but to share what we are learning. It doesn’t make any difference what kind of a loss ~ a loss is a loss. Our lives have changed and we have to learn how to live with the changes. Sharing how we do that helps us ~ letting one another know how we are doing or not doing is the first step but it can’t be all that we do. Since there is no time limit on grief we each move forward at our own pace. The first years we are consumed with just coming to terms with the loss. After that, we begin to look for ways to accept that our losses cannot be reversed. We find ways that work for us and share those things with others. Some of those things could be rituals, journal writings, a significant quote or song or article we have read ~ anything that has helped works. Some are creative and write poetry or create iMovies focusing on the good memories of the ones we have lost or spending time coloring. Others have taken up gardening or cooking or even sewing. We cannot focus on our grief 24/7 so it is healthy to have something that will give us some peace. 🙂
  20. Wednesday, November 28, 2018 Winter's Light (Advent and Hanukkah begin on Dec. 2 this year.) When the year’s shadows are heaviest, when nights become long and cold, when feelings of self-doubt, despair, and death draw near, we light candles to push back the darkness that surrounds us. The light of stars, the roaring bonfires, the calm flames of candles remind us of people we’ve loved, dreams we’ve followed over the years, and the guidance of wise teachers. They call us to reclaim what stirs our passions, what brings us energy and meaning. They challenge us to care for those among us for whom the light has grown dim. The flickering of the flames tonight draws us out of our normal preoccupations to focus on this moment. We set aside the burdens of life and let our hearts fill with light and with compassion for others, because when the light comes, it comes for all. Each night I light a candle and let dreams return that I have put off for too long. People find renewal of their faith in this dark season. Many use lights in their rituals of remembrance and rededication, like Christian candlelight services, Jewish Hanukkah, Hindu Diwali, and the African American celebration of community in Kwanzaa. We celebrate the message, waiting beneath the holiday decorations, that despite the trauma of what has happened this year — bad jobs, no jobs, lost homes, struggles with health, the death of loved ones, the unrest in society — hope is not gone. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, glad news will come that we do not expect, the miraculous will happen, if we do not give in to despair and we work to keep the fires burning. Some will return to the rituals of ancient traditions to find a fresh breath of spirit. Others will find renewal outdoors, surrounded by mountains and forests. We will feel part of something greater than our individual lives, and stand in awe of nature’s majesty rising up above us. Although grief has pulled our lives apart, the transcendence of nature tells us that one day we will be okay. In a couple of weeks, the Winter Solstice will signal the turning of winter back toward spring. Before then, in the movement of the natural world, the long hours of darkness encourage us to slow our rushing through the day to move at the meandering pace of the creeks. We feel the Presence of life around us as we watch the light glow on the top of the mountains, and reclaim the connection between our lives and the Spirit of creation. The darkness does not do away with the light but completes it, just as grief completes our understanding of love. The Sierra peaks in Yosemite will give little hint that they have noticed the sun’s subtle shift back towards the Northern Hemisphere, but Half Dome will hold the day’s light a bit longer. Down in the valley, along the Merced River as it winds through the meadows in its winter clothing, the ouzel, John Muir’s favorite bird, swims under the water, hops up and down in the rapids, and sings its song of joy to the day’s fleeting warmth. May you find a place this holiday season where the sacred fire in your heart is rekindled. Posted by Mark Liebenow
  21. "The holiday seasons add an extra measure of pain to people already bearing more than they can, more than they should ever have to. There is the empty seat at the table, the heaviness of all the ways the one you love is missing, traditions that have gone flat, smacking against the empty place. Death, illness, and massive life events – they all sour the season in ways those outside your loss can’t understand. Whether you’ve always loved the holidays or avoided them as best you could, the first several seasons after a loss or big life event can well and truly suck. So many people want to make this a “good” holiday for you…part of your family wants traditions to stay exactly the same, others want to change everything. Conflicting desires, broken hearts, lots of attention when you’d rather just hide in your blanket fort until the whole thing is over – it’s too much. Given that this season is going to be rough, how will you survive? Say no a lot. Really. Other people will tell you should say yes to things, get out more, be social. You know what? No. If “being social” gives you the hives, why on earth would you do that? Remember that “no” is a complete sentence. You can say, “no, thank you” if you must say more. Choose your gatherings. If you do choose to attend something holiday-ish, choose wisely. Sometimes a big crowd is easier than a small one because you can slip out unnoticed, as you need to. While a small gathering might have been most comfortable in your life before, those intimate things can feel more like a crucible now, with people watching to see how you’re doing. Find companionship, or find ways to be alone-together with others. Musical offerings, candlelight meditations or services — check those little local newspapers and see what’s going on in your community. A fantastic place to be alone-together with people who really get grief is the Writing Your Grief community. We’ve always got room for you: https://www.refugeingrief.com/30daywriting/ Volunteer. The first Thanksgiving after Matt died, I volunteered in the local soup kitchen. It was an “acceptable” reason for not attending family obligations, and also a way I could serve others in my own quiet way. Have a plan. Before you go to a party or an event, be sure to make your exit plan clear — with yourself. Give yourself an out, whether that is a specific time limit or an emotional cue that lets you know it’s time to go. Stick to your plan. Check in with yourself. This is true not just for events and gatherings, but for every single moment of life: check in with yourself. Take just a minute to breathe, one good inhale/exhale, and ask yourself how you’re doing. Ask yourself what you need. It may be that the piped-in Christmas carols at the grocery store are just too much. Maybe you need to leave now — just abandon that cart in the aisle. Or maybe you feel like you can push through, so you put your emotional blinders on and sing yourself some other song to blot out the noise. Give yourself what you need at that moment. Which brings me to my favorite anytime-not-just-the-holidays tip: LEAVE WHENEVER YOU WANT. Please remember that this is your life. You do not have to do anything that feels bad or wrong or horrifying. Even if you agreed to participate in something, you can change your mind at any time. Stop whatever you’re doing whenever you want. The holidays are going to hurt, my friend. That is just reality. Whether you are missing someone who should be part of the festivities, or you are missing someone who shared your love of quiet acknowledgement over raucous partying, this season will add some to your grief. Companion yourself. Care for yourself. Listen. Reach out where it feels good to reach, curl in when that is what you need. Make this season as much of a comfort to you as you can."
  22. Reflect on the simple gifts...this is a favorite of mine.
  • Create New...