The Grumpy, Old Lady

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They overshot their seat number on the plane and had to make their way back down the aisle in the airplane, against oncoming traffic: a mom, a dad, a child and an uncle.

As they worked their way back to row 13, a lady stood in their way. She had to move back a touch for them to get by. It was a tight fit. The family maneuvered their way into the seats. She glared at them. Continue reading →

Following the Bunny Prints

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When we were young, my first wife Pam used to cut out bunny footprints for Easter. When the kids would wake up early Sunday morning, the bunny prints would lead the way to the Easter baskets and treats. The “Easter Bunny” had been in our home the night before and had hidden all those little chocolates all over the house.

Keeara, our oldest daughter, does the same thing each Easter with her children.  This year, Erica and I got to witness our grandchildren running excitedly all over the house, gathering up their treasures. Continue reading →

How to Philosophize Grief

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Our son, Landon, introduced us to a new game that is an app on his iPhone. It’s played against other people who have the app – it’s called Trivia Crack and it’s addictive! You get 20 seconds to give the correct multiple-choice answer. We played it all the way home from visiting our grandchildren this Easter. Even if we didn’t get every question, we learned new facts to the questions in each category – much like a game of Trivial Pursuit. It was fun!

Asking new questions – that’s one of the benefits of coming out of grief and mourning. It gives us the ability to ask questions that help us grow in a different direction than before. You don’t get answers if you’re not asking questions. Questions are the main ingredient in changing perception. And we need a different view of life following the death of a loved one or friend or any loss we may experiencing. Our power to change lies in the questions we ask.

In many ways we become philosophers because we seek answers. Sometimes we seek answers as to why the person died; if there is anything beyond this earth; or what might be next for our lives. “What is my purpose now that my loved one is gone?”

Sometimes the questions are unanswerable. But the questions can also help us to gain momentum and get back into life in order to discover our next steps.

Those who don’t ask questions get stuck! Those who ask questions get answers – maybe different ones than they expected, but ones that lead to growth and life.

So don’t be afraid to ask questions.

 

Grief Is Not the Enemy

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If we look at grief as the enemy, then we are in for a tough ride. If we look at grief as our friend, it can actually help us along the way. Befriending grief is a brave decision – we don’t know much about this so-called friend whom we have just met. Can we trust it in our lives?  What will grief do to us? Will it confuse us? Will it support us?

Why would we leave grief on its own to have its own way when we can makes decisions together? Continue reading →

We Don’t Need Rescuing!

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We don’t need to be rescued, but what we do need is somebody to be in our boat –someone who can help paddle alongside us when necessary.

I remember getting caught once in a huge storm. There was the two of us and we were in a canoe in the middle of the lake. We did not notice the storm brewing in the distance. You probably called it! Yes, I was with a girl and so did not notice anything but her.

We were in the middle of the lake and it was tough going! We could not paddle hard enough to get back to the camp we were at. “Let’s just allow the storm to take us to where it wants to,” I said. “Then when can get out of the boat once it gets to the shoreline and paddle back to camp along the edge of the lake once the storm is past.” I thought I was brilliant! And, although it may have been the long way home, we did finally find our way back to camp safely.

Had we stayed out in the middle of the lake, open to the elements, perhaps we would have needed to be rescued. The waves and the direction of the wind took us towards the shore. We just had to be patient. And let’s face it – I was a little scared because I was not in control. But at least I had someone with me – I wasn’t on my own.

This grief storm shall pass too. The intensity of grief is real. You feel exposed to the elements. You will feel better though, knowing that someone else is in your boat. You don’t have to go it alone.

Someone is willing to be with you in the storm. Do you know who that might be?

Everyone Gets the Same Offer

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Everyone begins grieving in the same way: someone significant dies and you miss him or her. Indeed, death occurs mostly through four means: sudden death, terminal illness, major organ failure or long term (as in Alzheimer’s). And each type of death will bring its specific challenges to the grieving process.

But each death results in grief and therefore everyone gets the same offer, the same question: what will you do now?

Why is it that some people are able to move forward in their lives, acknowledging the reality of death? They are able to honor the person who has died, while at the same time giving themselves permission to find joy and happiness following their loss. Why can some people do that…and not others?

Every single transition that we go through in life is about choices. And, yes, some transitions are more difficult than others. But if you don’t see grief as a transitional place or a process through which you need to move, then you are at a higher risk of your grief becoming complicated, a term used by professionals to denote grief that has been arrested and crystallized.

In my experience, I have found the phrase “everybody grieves in their own way” to be most unhelpful. Why? Because so often people stop right there, without giving people tools to help them discover how grief might be unique for them and why they might be experiencing certain reactions.

Most people want some helpful approaches to consider in their loss transition. Grief needs to turn into mourning. Grief is our reaction to loss; mourning is our choice to respond to it in an intentional and proactive manner. What will I do? What can I do? What should I do?

Why not go back to this blogging website and take a look at all of the different categories. Perhaps you might consider one new approach to your grief today. Why? Because, in grief, everyone get the same offer. So what will you offer yourself as grief relief today? Will you just let it unfold you or will you help it unfold?

 

 

“NO” Is Not a Bad Word

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Most people want to be kind to you following the death of your loved one or special friend. But have you ever wanted to say “NO” to a person but didn’t? Because you didn’t, it left you feeling frustrated or even angry. “They were trying to be nice,” you’d tell yourself, but their ‘kindness’ wasn’t what you needed in your heart of hearts. “No” is not a bad word when you are grieving…

“No, I don’t want to go out to a dance.”

“No, I don’t need to go to church today.”

“No, I don’t need you to come to visit with me.”

“No, I don’t need to go to your counselor.”

“No, I don’t need to hear about your own experience.”

“No, I don’t need to hear those platitudes right now.”

“No, I don’t need to talk to your friend who has gone through a similar experience.”

Most people have a harder time saying “no” than “yes”. We struggle with offending someone or feel guilty for not accepting a friend’s offer to ‘help’.

Sometimes, we will need to say “yes” – it is important to do that as well. But I have found that, in my many years of counseling people, learning to say “no” is one of the most important skills and one of the most challenging skills to learn. But you must say it in order to put a boundary around your heart – it needs to be protected in its fragile state and no one can do that but you.

So learn to say “no”. It’s really okay.