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Thank you Marty, the article gave me some new ideas for becoming more social and also presented some good strategies for re-engaging with others. And because I still have EEs, it was validating and affirming as well.

Thank you.

fae

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The Art of Grieving

by Jessica McKimmie

www.peacethroughgrieving.com

A year and a half after my mom passed, I attended a 7-day meditation retreat at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA with Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (or “Thay”, as many affectionately call him, which is Vietnamese for “teacher”.) My first exposure to Thay’s teachings was in an Eastern Philosophy class in college. I always found his writings to be healing and accessible, so when I heard about his retreat, I signed up immediately. I had no idea how much that week would help my grieving process or the impact it would have on my life.
A pivotal point in the retreat happened a few days in, when Thay shared these words during a dharma talk:
“Once we understand the art of suffering, we will suffer less.”
I had so many questions. What is the “art” of suffering? We all want to suffer less…but how is this possible? If we understand the art of grieving, will we grieve less?
As Thay continued his teachings on “The Art of Suffering”, I realized I had intuitively begun to practice this “art” when my mother passed. As I wrote in my earlier blog post, Be Crumbled, Be Changed, I surrendered to my grief, not over-philosophizing or compartmentalizing my mom’s passing, as I had my father’s. I let myself feel the pain and did not push it away. I dove into meditation which allowed me to connect with my mom on a spiritual level. Meditation also allowed me the stillness necessary to begin to accept the reality of my new, changed life. But I had only begun down the path of understanding my grief, and was ready to uncover more.
Based on my experience over the past few years, this is my attempt to share “the art of grieving” in a few digestible steps. These steps can also help with other emotions that cause suffering such as fear, anger, worry or jealousy. Please realize that this is not a quick fix, rather, these steps can help illuminate a deeper understanding of our emotions so that we may emerge on a path of peace. (For more info, videos and articles, you can search “Thich Nhat Hanh” Art of Suffering.) Read on here >>>

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:wub:

Thank you very much, Marty. This was especially helpful to me.

fae

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"...Meditation also allowed me the stillness necessary to begin to accept the reality of my new, changed life. But I had only begun down the path of understanding my grief, and was ready to uncover more."

I liked this article ~ I liked the information on "a few digestible steps." Thank you.

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This is short but worth thinking about ~

Jul 11
2014 Doubt vs. Uncertainty

By Ellen Gerst

Jumpthegap-259x300.jpg

Mourning the loss of a partner is a time of uncertainty.

During this time, you are living in the gap – free floating across a deep, dark hole into which you are fighting not to fall. Without a solid footing, you might become panicky and look for things or people onto which to hold, so you don’t disappear into this hole.

It is prudent to evaluate and carefully choose onto what or whom you grasp.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between DOUBTING your ability to choose and being UNCERTAIN about what to choose.

Underneath doubt is the core emotion of fear; for example, you are afraid to trust yourself.

Conversely, uncertainty is indicative of a transitional phase. You are moving through your fear and are willing to just “be” in order to figure things out.

While you might think you’ve reached a plateau or are stuck, consider that, at times, simply being able to be still is indicative of growth.

Where are you in this process? Please share. . .

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This is good. I find I sometimes reach out to people because I need my Pete so much. And they aren't him. And I have to stop expecting to find what I had with him anywhere else. Because I never will. And I need to remember and be grateful for what I had. And realise that I won't find it anywhere else and I have to just find a way to cope alone. It's hard though.

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http://thegrieftoolbox.com/article/when-caregiving-ends-and-grieving-begins

When Caregiving Ends and Grieving Begins

Submitted by coachka |

Your role has changed… no longer are you the care giver. Your loved one has died and things are now different. You may be feeling a whole host of emotions ranging from relief, to anger, to disbelief and sadness. You may be responding by questioning who you are now, and how you go on. Welcome to the grief process.

Things are totally new and this major gear shift can be as overwhelming as the caregiver role you had. Your focus is different. Your routine has changed. A major loss has occurred.

Here are some tips to empower you in this new phase of your journey:

1. Honor the space/place that you are in emotionally. Your emotions may be all over the place and that is okay. There are no rules for grieving; it is a very individualized process and no two people move through it the same way. Acknowledging that this is a difficult time brings it into the light and allows for healing to begin.

2. Express the emotions that are surfacing for you. One of the biggest disservices we can do ourselves is to deny, suppress, avoid, or stuff our feelings. Our western society does not always embrace or encourage the expression of emotion especially when it comes to sadness and loss. However, by not allowing the feelings to surface we are akin to a pressure cooker that has a broken steam value. Emotions are energy in motion. If we don’t allow our emotions to flow through us and be expressed, then they get trapped. As humans we have a nice container for that in the form of our bodies. Headaches, backaches, stomach issues, joint aches, etc. – these can all be the result of unexpressed feelings of grief.

3. Don’t go it alone. A natural tendency is to isolate and think that others don’t want to hear your story or that they will be uncomfortable with your sadness. The truth is none of us is an island and we need the support and connection of others especially when we are grieving. There are probably more people than you might think who want to be there to support and listen to you. Ask for what you need and allow others the option to be there for you. They may be looking for your invitation.

4. Take time to be and not to do. Many people will be expecting you to “get back to normal” now that your caregiver role is over. Resist the urge to move too quickly. Your caregiver journey has changed you in ways that may not be evident so it is important to take time, assess your needs and your next steps, so that your new life reflects who you now are. Don’t let your timeline be dictated by others.

Above all, be gentle with yourself and remember that grieving is a process. You don’t wake up one day to find yourself suddenly ‘over’ the death of a loved one. The journey through this process and into the next phase of your life is as unique and special as you are. Take time to honor where you have been, the important role you have played, and the strength you possess to move forward.

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Thank you, Mary. This is a very true piece. It is now time for us to grieve. I know that I did the best I could as a caregiver to Jim. It is easy to look back and see what we could have done. I don't think I'll ever be "back to normal" ~ whatever that means! I am different and I will find joy in this "new normal" that I must now live without Jim.

It is a slow, painful journey we are on ~ the triggers still come but they are not as frightening as they were in the early days. I still have a hard time in the grocery store ~ I can't buy oreo cookies or cherrios (two of Jim's favorites).

Everytime the 25th of the month comes around I find myself holding my breath thinking about Jim's last breath.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ashley-davis-bush/til-death-do-us-not-part-_b_5586056.html

'Til Death Do Us Not Part: 5 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Deceased Spouse

by Ashley Davis Bush LCSW

n-COUPLE-IN-LOVE-large570.jpg

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Attention: The Most Basic Form of Love

Posted: 17 Jul 2014 02:26 PM PDT

ShellPurpleFlowers.jpg

Photo Credit: Shell Fischer

On my son Narayan’s sixth birthday, I gave him an ant farm. He spent hours watching with fascination as the little creatures magically created their network of tunnels. He even named several, and followed their struggles and progress closely.

After a few weeks, he pointed out the ants’ graveyard, and watched with wonder as several of them dragged the bodies of their dead comrades and deposited them there. The following day, when I picked Narayan up after school, he was visibly distressed: on the playground, the kids had made a game out of stepping on ants. My son couldn’t understand why his classmates were hurting these friends he so admired.

I tried to comfort him by explaining that when we really spend time with any living beings—as he had with the ants—we find out that they are real. They are changing, animated, hungry, social. Like us, their life is fragile and they want to stay alive. His playmates hadn’t had the chance to get to know ants in the way he did, I told him. If they had, they wouldn’t want to injure them either.

Whenever we wholeheartedly attend to the person we’re with, to the tree in our front yard, or to a squirrel perched on a branch, this living energy becomes an intimate part of who we are.

Krishnamurti wrote that “to pay attention means we care, which means we really love.” Attention is the most basic form of love. By paying attention, we let ourselves be touched by life, and our hearts naturally become more open and engaged.

We care about this awakened heart because, like a flower in full bloom, it is the full realization of our nature. Feeling loved and loving matters to us beyond all else. We feel most “who we are” when we feel connected to each other and the world around us, when our hearts are open, generous, and filled with love. Even when our hearts feel tight or numb, we still care about caring.

In describing his own spiritual unfolding, Ghandi said, “I hold myself to be incapable of hating any being on earth. By a long course of prayerful discipline, I have ceased for over forty years to hate anybody. I know this is a big claim. Nevertheless, I make it in all humility.”

When we look at our own lives and at the history of humanity, we realize that hatred, anger, and all forms of dislike are a pervasive and natural part of being alive. Aversion arises because we are so deeply conditioned to feel separate and different from others. As Ghandi found, only by dedicating ourselves to some form of intentional training can we dissolve this tendency, and embrace all beings with acceptance and love.

For Mother Teresa, serving the poor and dying of Calcutta was a practice of viewing each person as “Christ in his distressing disguise.” By doing so, she was able to see beyond the differences that might have hardened her heart and to serve with unconditional compassion each person she touched.

Through meditation practice, as we train ourselves more and more to pay attention with an engaged and open heart to see past surface appearances, we too begin to recognize a perennial truth: we are all connected to one another; our true nature is timeless, radiant, loving awareness. With this realization we feel our belonging with ants and redwoods, hawks and rivers. By deepening our attention, we are naturally moved to take care of this living world--our inner life and all those we touch.


Adapted from Radical Acceptance (2003)
© Tara Brach

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Thank you, Anne. Excellent piece.

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Do You Have to Be Reasonable When You're Grieving? by Megan Devine

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-devine/grief_b_5592835.html?page_version=legacy&view=print&comm_ref=false

I write, knowing that before and inside and beneath all those words, there is only howling. The howling is what's true. Everything else is at least one step removed. Everything else is intellect. It's not what's real.

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Thank you Anne, for the piece on attention, and thank you Mary, for a powerful piece on the howling of the broken heart.

fae

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You are welcome. Megan is a powerful writer.

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Allowing choices is what being a good listener means ~ not trying to change someone is so difficult especially if their choices aren't ours.

The article brings this out and talks about the need to support and accept each others' decisions as long as someone is not going to do harm to self.

https://reimagine.me/magazine/love-relationships/lori-marx-rubiner-choosing-a-different-path.html

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You Should be Over “IT”

Thoughts by Sharon White, Cedar Rapids, Iowa


It’s been a year; you should be over it. What exactly is “IT?” I’ll tell you what “IT’ is.
IT is five days after the funeral, Thanksgiving Day, trying to find something to be thankful for.
IT is Christmas without the merry, and New Year’s without the happy.
IT is your first day back to work when every minute you are afraid you will burst into tears.
IT is his birthday, but there is no him.
IT is Valentine’s Day, only this time the roses are from your children.
IT is your birthday, and there is still no him.
IT is April 15 and you sing “filing as surviving spouse” – surviving, yes; living, no.
IT is springtime when everything comes alive except you, that is.
IT is Easter and everyone is singing “Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad” – there is no rejoicing and no glad.
IT is Mother’s Day and you sadly remember how happy he was when each child was born.
IT is Father’s Day and your kids spend it with you and there is an empty chair in the room.
IT is the 4th of July and the job of raising the flag has been passed on to your sons.
IT is vacation time and you go with your widowed friend, and you both cry together.
IT is Halloween and you pass out the candy, but the silly grandpa in the mask is absent.
IT is seeing your one-year-old grandchild take her first step knowing there should be one more set of arms reaching out to her.
IT is looking at the moon and wondering if he sees the same moon like the two of you always did when apart in the past.
IT is receiving that first wedding invitation that is addressed to you and your “guest.”
IT is going back into “that” church for the first time and remembering, but not remembering and feeling that all eyes are upon you.
IT is going to another funeral for the first time and feeling yourself shaking all over, too distraught to stay, but unable to leave.
IT is doing all the things you always did, plus all the things he always did, and doing it when all your energy has been used for grieving.
IT is being strong when you really feel weak.
IT is putting on a pasted smile when you are crying inside and saying you are okay when you really aren’t.
IT is dealing with titles and abstracts and bills and attorneys and doing it very well when all you really want to do is hibernate.
IT is a whole big bunch of stuff you didn’t ask for, didn’t want and can’t even give away.
IT is going to the cemetery and seeing the monument with his name, and it hits you in the face that this is real.
IT is feeling like a traitor when you get rid of his personal belongings.
IT is seeing couples hand in hand and tearfully glancing at the gold band he put on your ginger years ago and somehow not being able to take it off.
IT is approaching the first anniversary of his death and reliving it all – oh, yes, you are better, but the void is no less.
IT is people forgetting and you cry, and it is people remembering and you cry.
IT is a future of unknowns and uncertainties and emptiness.
IT is your wedding anniversary, and for the first time you really understand the words, “till death do us part.”
IT is in the first glimpse of sunrise and in your last waking breath, and even finds ways to creep into your sleep and your dreams.
So maybe when someone tells you that you should be over it by now, you should just tell them what “IT” really is!

[source: Bereavement Magazine July/August 2003. Reprinted with permission from Bereavement Publishing, Inc., 888.604.4673

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http://thisisantler.com/2014/06/breaking-through-john-donne-and-the-rhino-of-grief/

breaking through: john donne and the rhino of grief by Mark Liebenow and posted today by Megan Devine

"The subliminal message I was receiving from society was that people expected me to grieve for a week and then celebrate that Evelyn had been part of my life. But as I packed up Evelyn’s possessions and sorted her memories, I couldn’t control the emotions that continued to surge through and sweep away everything not tied down. Usually I’m good at denying and deflecting my emotions, but this was different."

"Grief was a rhino that barged in and sat down in my living room."

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Two great pieces ~ Thank you, Marty, for You Should Be Over "IT" from Bereavement Magazine.

And Mary, I was just behind you in posting the article by Mark Liebenow. I have once again pulled out one of my favorite books by Thomas Merton, No Man Is An Island and will reread it again.

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I love Merton, Donne and Hopkins. All great reads.... :wub:

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Kathy of Greet Grief writes this short but powerful piece: Entering into Grief: A Leap of Faith

http://greetgrief.com/2014/07/24/entering-into-grief-a-leap-of-faith/

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Megan Devine has a unique way of stepping right into our feelings. She does it again in this blog post today.

http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=65cb04e36e42aca80e299ef67&id=43e246fa46&e=503bc56b58

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