Don’t Get Stuck in the Past – It’s Not Coming Back

John deerer 9630 Mud

Are you on the edge of something new? Remember when you were young and used to take chances so easily?

Experience shows that as we grow older, we become more frightened of learning something new. We are less likely to make changes in our lives. We get stuck in what we know –the same old same old.

Sometimes routine is good and sometimes it is not. When you go through a loss of some kind, you will inevitably need to explore new options. Transition is always a part of loss. Continue reading →

Do You Have Some Scotch Tape?

UnknownAn elderly lady sat next to me on the plane. She had accidentally ripped the front cover of the travel magazine she was reading.

“Do you have an Scotch tape?” she asked the flight attendant and pointed to the magazine. “I can fix it.” The attendant looked at her oddly and was puzzled. “We can bring you a new one,” she said. She disappeared down the aisle to find another magazine. “I just wanted to fix the old one,” the woman shrugged, turning to me. I just smiled. 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.

 

Warm Fires Burning

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Last night I was sitting next to the fire warming my chilled body. I had to keep the fire going by placing another split log on top of the embers. And then I ran out of wood, and the fire slowly began to die out.

People die. Sometimes we watch them slowly die and it’s difficult. The body dies and becomes cold, but a soul never gets cold, never.

A soul is like those embers that still have the spark of life, reaching out to visit a new place beyond this earth that we call “home”.

Then I added more wood to the top of the embers. The dying embers quickly ignited a new flame – it reminded me of life after death. And I felt that warmth once again.

 

I’m Lost Without My Dad – Jordyn Leopold Style

104-0434_IMG-644x483The trade deadline for the National Hockey League was on March 2, 2015 and one trade stood out amongst the many.

Why?

Because a young daughter had requested the trade of her Dad back to a city where they were living, in the state of Minnesota. She said in the letter that fell into the hands of the general manager, “I am lost without my Dad. Can you please ask the Jackets (the team he was currently player for) if you guys can get him?”

They had been separated and the love and time they once had was not possible because of the circumstance. I listened to the interview of Jordan Leopold describing the beautiful reunion as Daddy touched down at the airport and was greeted by all of his children and his wife. I had some tears.

I have spent time with many children whose parent had died. I hear the same words over and over: “I miss Daddy,” or translated, “I am lost without my Dad.”  It’s so hard for the remaining spouse or family members to tell children that Daddy is not coming home. He died.

That deep longing, missing, wishing for more time does not easily pass.

My faith says that God has written me a letter to confirm the reunion of those who died with their loved ones and friends. It’s found in the writing of John’s Gospel. It says:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I have gone ahead to prepare a place for you.”

I like that kind of hope, that kind of reunion. I am lost. Death will separate us from each other but the promise of a time again is a powerful reunion to look forward to with great anticipation.

 

 

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?

 

 

Two Boots Lost in the Mud

Two-BootsI took a picture of this field. Perhaps it means nothing to you, but it does to me.

When I was six years old, this field was completely flooded in the spring. As it began to dry up, it turned to thick mud.

One day, my brother and I decided to take a short cut home, which meant that we had to cross that field to get to the apartment where we were living. We were wearing rubber boots, but we did not realize was how deep, thick and sticky the mud was on that field. About half way home, I couldn’t move another step – I was stuck.

My brother tried with all of his might to pull me out. He couldn’t. I was stuck. Big time. The mud was right up to the rim of my boot. I was in deep.

I had no choice but to leave the boots behind and walk home in my stocking feet. I cried. It was cold and I was wet, but I made it home. My mom threw me in the bathtub, because I had mud everywhere – my feet, my pants, my hands and all over my coat.

Once my dad came home, my brother and I told him where the boots were. He went out and tried to find them. But it had continued to pour rain that day and he went back to search for them but they had disappeared. Two boots lost in the mud. We never did find them again!

We can get struck in grief. We can choose to remain, or we can step out into the muck. Grief is not easy, but it is necessary. I made it home that day.

You will make your way home as well – even if it’s with a little mud on your journey.

Idle Talk

Idle-Talk-1024x682One of the common ways that we avoid grief is through idle talk.

I do most of my writing in public places. As I sit in coffee shops and nurse my mug of java or enjoy a beer at the local pub, I often experience idle talk all around me. I don’t intend to listen in but sometimes people talk so loudly that it’s inevitable. Most of what I hear is chitchat, complaining, arguing, or gossiping.  Tune in sometimes to conversations around you. So often there isn’t much substance or depth.

This happens not just at coffee shops and pubs – I find that there can also be a lot of idle chat following the death of someone whom we love. Even though we are experiencing something very deep in lives, we tend to want to talk about things that don’t take us to our sadness, loneliness and missing. We converse on the surface. Strangely, our family and friends also respond with idle talk too and take their cue from us to not go deeper.

Grief can be one of the most transformational and life-changing experiences that we enter into, if we chose to enter into it. If others are willing to engage us at a deeper level and we are able to engage meaningfully, conversations of significance can change more people than just the one who is grieving.

Perhaps it’s time to ask more questions of those who are grieving and to give fewer answers as we listen to their responses.

Why not go beyond idle talk to deeper conversation?