Tuesday, May 21, 2019

THE WAY IN GRIEF



Was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed Sunday morning and happened on this question: “Who nurtured you and gave you the foundation for hope and healing in the very beginning? It originated from a Healing Through Hope* post, a grief on-line meeting support group. A safe place for healing. The facilitators were asking a food-for-thought question in preparation for their next meeting.

“Who nurtured you and gave you the foundation for hope and healing in the very beginning?”

A great question and an opportunity for a look back and a check in. I was brought back to the first days of Matty’s passing. Pain, red-stabbing, hot, heartbreaking pain is the first thing that enters my mind and the anger, I had forgotten about the anger. Yet, after four years of walking with Grief and through the wisdom of hindsight, I can stop and look back now and acknowledge that yes, it has been the most painful, angry day of my life and then move beyond the first round emotions to really swirl this question around in my heart.

My Who is really a What, a collection of Whos extending their most precious gift—their love. There was much human love expressed for Matty and our family, and so much kindness and compassion.

A Good Samaritan at the scene, Michael Bernier a war veteran, reached out to our family via a comment of pure compassion woven amongst the civil and the uncivil, posted on WMUR’s FB page, our local media who’d reported the accident prior to notification of family by posting a very identifiable photo of Matty’s mangled truck under the banner of “Breaking News Alert”. The state troopers had not yet delivered the news of the fatality. Pure chaos ensued as family was frantically looking for the wreckage from tell-tale signs from the scene, any news on Matty’s condition, which hospital he may have been brought to.

Michael’s post: To the family; My sincere condolences, I was at the scene of the accident in the South bound lane shortly after it occurred I was directing traffic so the emergency personnel could gain quick access to him. 
Please know that Matthew was not alone, he was surrounded by extremely caring people who did their collective best to look after him. One woman took her coat off to cover him from the cold. Fire rescue and police were there in minutes and did everything they could for him on the scene and got Matthew into the ambulance as efficiently as possible. 
My thoughts and prayers are with Matthew and your family. I am very sorry for your loss.
My brother reached out to Michael with words of great appreciation, and with permission, I am reprinting a portion of our interactions: Michael’s response; 

You are all so very welcome, I just wanted your family to know that your loved one was truly cared for in his greatest time of need. There was true human compassion and the best attempts to provide comfort to Matthew. 
If it were me in his place I would want my family and children to know this. 
I am a veteran and unfortunately this type of thing is not foreign to me. But for many of the people with Matthew at the scene it was an overwhelming experience. Despite the shock of the whole situation we all worked as cohesive as possible to try and help and comfort him. 

Despite the tragedy that was unfolding in front of us all involved it was very refreshing (for me) to see that there are brave compassionate caring people in our community. 
It is my absolute privilege to provide your family with any level of comfort, in this great time of mourning. 

Matthew will remain with me personally in my thoughts for the rest of my life along with the rest of my fallen brothers and sisters that I have lost. 
Thank you for your replies, they are equally as meaningful to me. 
Thank you.
 

All of Michael’s words held me up and these especially "Matthew will remain with me personally in my thoughts for the rest of my life along with the rest of my fallen brothers and sisters that I have lost".  That is really what matters most to me. That my beautiful boy is remembered. That he lived, he mattered and someone else is keeping him safe in their heart. That his name, whether spoken aloud or silently remembered, lives on. A good man and I will be forever grateful for the kindness, the caring and the compassion he gave to my son and extended to our family. A man I've never met yet will forever admire.

Love embraced Matty again when a very close friend of his was the professional First Responder on the scene of the accident. The friend will remain unnamed due to the HIPAA Privacy Rule inforce for our Emergency Personnel. The shock this friend must have absorbed when he saw it was his dear friend that he needed to attend to. What strength and courage it must have taken to be both friend and medical tech in that same moment. He rode with him in the ambulance, stayed with him in the Emergency Room, held his hand til Matty took his last breath. In love for Matty and compassion for me, this beautiful friend shared his story with me at Matty’s Celebration of Life service. For days my heart had been beating in crushing despair with the thought that Matty died with no family or friends with him. I wondered if he suffered, what his final moments on this earth were like, what were his final thoughts, was he alone with emergency personnel? Upon hearing the story, gratefulness and peace for this part of my grief filled my heart, blanketing the sorrow that lay underneath the looming question; the question begging for an answer—answered. Love for Matty, extended to his Mom.

Love for Matty snaked around a corner in a line that extended several neighborhood blocks as family, friends, co-workers and business associates waited hours in line to pay their final respects in sub-zero weather that matched the chill that we all felt when hearing the news that January day. Matty, killed in a single-car accident.

Love filled the waiting rooms, the viewing room; love was found in abundance in hugs and tears as we tried to wrap our arms around the unimaginable.

It was love that gave my husband and I, mourning and grieving very differently, the space we needed tethered by the connection that supports. It was the love of a sister that called daily from her home, a four hour drive away, and made sure we had our morning mug of tea and tears together. It was the love of a son, daughters in law and four little grandbabies that created a force field that held us together. It was the love of family, friends and reconnected old friends that contained the blaze of fire I held in my heart and ensured that I did not self-combust. Love tended the fire and worked on suppression knowing that the embers would glow for a very long time.

It was in a moment of feeling the bounty of love that surrounded, circulated and permeated my heart by so many that made me think silently and so illogically, “maybe this is not going to be as hard as I thought”, unaware in these early days of the effects shock imprints on the body. I was so very, very wrong! When the shock of it all wore off, excruciating heart pain returned. Love felt frozen in my heart; my feelings, numbed and cold, stilled and incapable of my giving. I sat with this new loss from a frozen heart and in silence, sorrow, reflection and prayer—this too passed. With thoughts of gratitude and remembrances, I re-discovered the warm spot that held Matty while the love of others held me and wrapped in love, my heart thawed.

It was my heart’s foundation to live a life lovingly with much laughter, kindness, and compassion while upholding the innate moral code of the Golden Rule.  A foundation of the heart, inherent in both my Mom and Dad and instilled in myself and my siblings was lauded as a good path to joy and happiness. It is a strong foundation and in walking with Grief, I feel as though my heart’s foundation remains solid. Nothing depleted or removed from, rather it has been added to and put through a test of its strength. My way in Grief is seeking integration with this foundation. This was Matty’s intrinsic foundation and he lived it well. It was love that made me ask the question “where are you Matty?”. It was love that fueled my need, my desire to find his spirit—to renew a relationship that was made of the heavens.

Matty left us with a legacy of love. Matty’s spirit brought me to the in-flow of Divine Love—everlasting Love, expansive Love, a never-constricting Love, a multi-dimensional Love; a Love bigger than human love, a soul to spirit, spirit to Spirit Love. Divine Love is the greatness of heart. Pierced by the magic arrow of soul, the heart changes, transforms my spiritual world allowing miracles to happen in my physical world. It is an example of working from the inside out and creates a stream of Love where the unseen becomes visible; where once hidden becomes known, discerning the connectivity to all living, human, plant, animal with soul. It is the light that shines the way to Oneness to Wholeness. A Love continually expanding with the ever-expanding Universe. Its container is infinite and eternal.

What power L(l)ove has! Four words when repeated, create a mantra to help quiet the chaotic babbling in my mind. A garden of hope planted by the knowing that I am the holder—the giver and receiver of an impenetrable force. Not death, not darkness, not sorrow, not fear can extinguish the intensity of Light that is L(l)ove, both the human and the Divine.

Tears and sadness enveloped in hope do not disturb the joy, happiness and laughter of my heart’s foundation. Healing has illuminated that Love and Grief, the ache and the joy, the tears and the laughter, the goodbyes and hellos among many others are individual sides of the same coin. I face the reality of this paradox regularly in Grief. My heart simply makes room for all emotions and they bubble forth a great amount of empathy and compassion and show me that I am living with a deeper Love guided by Grief handed over to the Divine. Grief—not bad, not good, made up of light and dark, sometimes quiet, sometimes loud and a part of me now. A chapter of my story that is transforming and healing me.

How do I see the way in Grief? Is this the same question I’ve asked in a different manner as I collect the pieces of Grief while seeking the how-to of integration? I’ve learned that there is no way out, no way through. Grief is permanent as my L(l)ove is permanent, a to the moon and back through infinity type of L(l)ove. There is no total absence of joy and laughter nor total sadness, weariness and heaviness. Grief transforms with forward movement. Grief has another side that I met along my way. It is insights and learnings. It is finding balance and ushering peace and calm and comfort into the arms of uncomfortable-ness. It’s a shedding, a letting go, a release that delivers a change-ness, a now-ness. It’s a complete turn-around, a total 360ยบ.  It’s a within-ness that shuts the light on—wisdom garnered from my 4 year-old grandson, Bear. Learning language is a process. How many words does a 4 year-old hold? I don’t have an answer to that, however I do know that the Littles concentrate on intention when a desire, a want or a need, wishes to be met. Bear was born with greatness of heart and his soul has “shut his light on”. He bypasses the chaos and confusion of not always having the correct word at hand, yet his heart holds the intention and in our heart connection I understand what he needs help with.

It’s seeing and understanding, gaining clarity within the chaos and the uncertainty. It’s taking a risk. It’s operating from the inside out with faith in W(w)hatever / W(w)homever. Faith upended by belief through way of experience (the game-changer), to a knowing. It’s communication not necessarily with words and most definitely with feeling and interpretation. It’s shining a light on yourself. In spirit-speak, shining a light on you-R-Self. It is trust. It is truth. It is wisdom. It is my way in Grief.

*NOTE: To learn more about Healing through Hope, please visit their Facebook page by clicking on the link above. This group is a valuable resource for inspiring growth and healing on your journey through child loss and grief from many other forms of loss.
From their page:
Healing Through Hope
- learning to live with the loss of our child/children.
- An environment to feel safe to share.
- A way for all to find Hope.
- A way to use that Hope toward Healing.
- Inspiration and empowerment to move forward and grow.

Our mission is to find hope and move toward healing. Within a circle meeting environment, we explore supportive tools that help guide us on our personal and individual healing journeys.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

SECOND LOVE—AN ALIGNMENT OF THE HEART


“And if the situation should keep us separated
You know the world won't fall apart
And you will free the beautiful bird
That's caught inside your heart 
-Rickie Lee Jones, “The Horses”












Words hold the power to touch the hearts of many. Love is the unseen force that carries words to the heart. When we do not have the words, we have the Love—and words and Love are the springboard for my telling a chapter of our family’s Love story.

This is a story about second loves, Nikki and Jake’s and Jake, Addy and Bear’s. It’s a story of Matty’s blessing of this second love, the continuation of his legacy of love that touches many hearts. The heart is large enough to hold many loves. Grief eventually finds its rightful place next to joy and somehow we are able to re-engage in life. Joy and love are life's allies.

Love, human love comes in many shapes, sizes and depths. It lives in the heart, a holding place that acts like a sponge for love. It has the ability to change its size to accommodate love in all its forms. Divine Love on the other hand, is the brightest, strongest, most everlasting force the heart will experience. It rests in the soul. Love designed by the Architect to ensure an earthly life filled with peace, happiness and love, human loveliving in the shadow of God’s Love in every moment of our incarnate lives. God’s Love / Divine Love, available to all for the asking. A Love greater than human love, a Love that transcends, a healing Love in partnership with human love.

Matty is nudging this sharing. Jake is a friend of Matty’s in the Before part of Matty’s life. Nikki and Jake’s relationship exists in the After of Matty and is a wonderful example of the heart's ability to expand with L(l)ove. . . and it has been sparked in all of us. When we don't have the words, we have the Love . . . for each other and this is how we communicate.

The excerpted lyrics from above are from a song co-authored by Rickie Lee Jones. One of Nikki’s very good friends introduced the lyrics to her. So many have carried Nikki in their hearts. This beautiful 30 year old woman at the time of Matty's passing, was left a single Mom of a 4 month old baby and a toddler of 2. Her heart, shattered to pieces, was held together by the glue that is her love for Matty and his for her. They resonated deeply for me, these words. Our family never wanted Nikki to remain alone and we did not know when the timing of a second love would be right for her, yet we knew it was her timing. Very early on after Matty’s passing, our family had a conversation that her heart was not ready to hold yet we knew it would safeguard our words . . . they may not have been the right words yet we had the Love.




Nikki would always be a daughter, a sister to us and we wanted to be a part of the village that she now needed to heal. We would not judge if she found love in a month, a year, 10 years from now; we wanted her heart to grow from the love she had for our son and brother. In time, Jake and Nikki’s lives intersected and we are so very grateful she is experiencing second love. We see the truth in Rickie Lee Jones’ lyrics “ . . . and you will free the beautiful bird that’s caught inside your heart”. That bird is love and love released breathes the oxygen of the heart into our universe; growing kindness, empathy and compassion marinated in patience and trust. Nikki and Jake have given us a glimpse of what is in their hearts and we are witnessing spirit blending.

“When we don't have the words, we have the Love”

I’d like for you to meet Jake. It’s a rather unorthodox introduction as it is delivered from a saved text message from January 4th 2018, the day after Matty’s third anniversary. In this instance, texting afforded me a forever memory of my spirit blending experience with Jake and Matty. The love in our hearts for Matty provided all the minutia that is usually reserved for a personal face to face conversation; voice inflections, seeing L(l)ove rise to the surface, gentleness delivered in an act of compassion—I was touched by the soul of a very good man, guided by the spirit of another.

“When we don't have the words, we have the Love”

J: Good Morning Diane, I'm sorry I didn't reach out yesterday I just wasn't sure what to say. You were in my thoughts all day. I thought a lot about Matthew. He sent what I believe to be was a sign. I hope my relationship with Nikki, Addy and Bear is a pure reflection of the love and respect I have for Matt as well as for you, Jason and Bruce.
D: It was an emotional day and January 3rd still feels like it freshly happened. I relived it all. It was dark and heavy yet today is the day after and I'm not carrying that crazy pain . . . back on my path to healing. Your words are beautiful and heartfelt Jake. I had asked Matty to send a sign and he did, to you. He never disappoints.
You treat Nikki and the kids so gently with much love, respect and caring. You feel like part of our family Jake and I'm sure Matty is grateful that you're helping his family to carry on. In one of our medium readings, Matty told us he would send someone special and I believe that special is you. I once told Nikki, the beauty of you is that you are Matty's friend. You love him. You are part of our Before and After and as a result there are no explanations needed. Matty's anniversary will probably always be a hard day. We are all learning that the heart is large enough to hold many loves. When we don't have the words we have the Love . . . for Matty, Nikki, Addy & Bear and that is how we communicate. Thank you for reaching out.


When a human love as big as Matty’s, changes through his passing to a special, greater Love, a Divine Love—know that our hearts will remain touched for our finite time on this earth. Matty’s spirit bestows a special gift to our souls. His human love is wrapped in Divine Love, protecting that love that touched us all so deeply, preparing our souls for a deposit of Divine Love. 

Nikki reserved a special place in her Christmas card this year for both Jake and Matty. She wanted words that would honor Matty and blend her lives lived in love. She reached out to me and I had no words, yet I had the Love. In my usual conversation with Matty at bedtime, I asked what he would say. I was awakened at 5:00 the following morning with these words from Matty:


“Sharing our legacy of Love this holiday season—the heart holds infinite capacity. Love honors the past by blending dreams and creating an abundant future. Love is the state of the heart.”
MLA13

Words from Matty, a blessing for opening our hearts and allowing our souls to be transformed by Love. Pain of loss can be transformed by Love. The mind has to first be opened and when it is, the deepest examination of beliefs takes place. When I step away from the synchronicities of this love story, I observe a bigger, better plan at work. Was Matty’s greatest purpose to see Addy and Bear born into this earthly world? Are Matty’s, Nikki and Jake’s souls intertwined to continue to grow love/Love? Is this soul planning? I believe it is, a contract planned and executed by Love. A heavenly plan guiding our earthly lives; one of the beautiful mysteries God holds for us. By embracing Nikki’s second love, we are guided to a deeper understanding of Divine Love; that place of Knowing that Love never dies.

The mind has no difficulty holding onto and releasing fear into this world. The heart finds ease in holding onto and releasing love. When the heart learns to release love, a Higher Consciousness steps in. My soul, my spirit, my God teaches me about the ease of releasing Love. Matty left behind a legacy of love. It continues to grow as he shares how his spirit is touched by Divine Love. That capital “L” thing. This process—this transformation from feeling, and living with human love begins in the heart and when ready, has a conversation with the soul. As it is a process, the mind will want a say and the heart, with patience waits. The soul teaches from a place of no time.

“When we don't have the words, we have the Love”

Matty, in reference to his inspired words, my word contributions in our writings, once said “I’m so close that she doesn’t know where she ends and I begin”*. This is the experience of spirit blending. It’s a process so subtle that the present moment does not always recognize when it is happening. The validation, and the knowing for me is that these words come from soul/spirit and are my gift from spirit—a soul planned mission for Matty and I. This process of how we write, Matty and I,  still holds some doubt and fear of rejection in acceptance for me. Feelings of doubt rise to the surface as I read the words for the first time. These feelings dissipate as I re-read the words, interspersed with time and space, allowing me to see the words as if for the first time—sensing the coming from another's hand. My heart accepts the Love—Love quiets the mind.

I see spirit blending at work in the process of finding and falling into second loves; a spirit blending involving all who care about the left behinds of physical death. Bitterness can never find a home in an open heart. Bitterness is the moat that makes the heart inaccessible for second loves; for the widow and widower and family and friends unable to give second love the gift of acceptance. Its’ a refusal of God’s greatest  gift.  An open heart invites promise, a new way of seeing Love through the ache of the pain of loss. Spirit blends Love with love allowing for the heart’s expansion and the soul’s transformation.

“When we don't have the words, we have the Love”

Spirit’s message is universal. This guidance applies to all avenues of our lives. When feelings of upset, pain, fear, overwhelm and any others that put blinders on love; this is the time when hurtful words are often hurled from the lips. Take a deep breath, mouth closed and suppress the words. Focus on the heart—your reservoir of love. Let spirit in, allow Love to come to the help of the heart.

Today, I had no words yet I have the love and the Love. My soul was nudged by Matty and spirit and my heart was telling me there was a message that needed delivering. “Trust the Love and the words will flow.”   My trust grows with every message and my heart is filled with gratitude for my healing and the ability to share Matty's wisdom. Spirit  blending.

Second loves, oftentimes not spoken of out loud, yet the whispers can be heard and come cloaked in judgment and misunderstanding. Second loves are a most beautiful gift for the widow and widower—love, guided, nurtured and blessed by Love. Open your hearts with acceptance and gratitude—embrace the beauty of Love from the ashes of grief.

“When we don't have the words, we have the Love”

Love will guide you to the right words needed at the right moment. I leave you with words from Khalil Gibran. In hope, please let them open your hearts in support of second loves.
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.  
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;  
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.  
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.  
Much of your pain is self-chosen. 
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.  
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:  
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,  
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears. 
Khalil Gibran
*A message from matty delivered in a medium reading by Evidential spirit Medium, Rachel Pearson.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

HOLIDAY HOPE


Artwork by Jennifer Albin of Soul Whisper Arts
Jennifer’s art holds a very important place in my journey to healing. Multiple pieces of her work sit in sacred spaces on my mantle of remembrance to Matty. I practice a form of self-care with every piece I own. A gift for me that re-gifts itself many times over. Jennifer’s artwork is created from her soul and helps me to touch my own. They bring me comfort and guide me into introspection that delivers growth. I’ve looked at this piece daily for near four years and in working with Hope, the whispers are becoming a song—a new birth.


Hope—if I sit in stillness, open my heart and listen intently, I can hear her speak to me. 

"I welcome you in all stages of your mourning and grieving. I welcome you in your sadness, in your tears. I welcome you when you share your joy, discover inspiration, and in the great sigh of an A'ha moment, when you celebrate your insights." 

"I whisper to you 'healing is a process' as I invite my friends Patience, Trust and Belief to join me in holding you close. I acknowledge your pain, the breaking of your heart as the result of physically losing your child.”

"I applaud you as you release your fears and doubts and I hear your whispers back to me 'Love never dies.' I wipe away a tear of joy as we now speak the same language. I sit in awe and wonder as I observe your growth in kindness, empathy and compassion. Your pain softens and your heart continues to heal. I marvel at your persistence and tenacity as you tackle the very hard work that encircles you on all fronts—emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually as you mourn and grieve.”


"I hold your hand tightly as you learn that Grief is not to be shied away from and neither is happiness and finding your way back to life. I am grateful for your embrace on good and not so good days. I cheer you on as you realize a newfound relationship with your child in spirit. I applaud the signs he sends as a “Hello” and “I Love you”. I feel pride as I watch you strive to navigate this world beyond the veil. As much as your child and Spirit's thoughts and words delivered by whatever method of communication connected you—provided comfort, support and uplift when needed—it was the experience of feeling, starting, stopping, moving forward and backward; learning to live in the chaos of the emotions that took up residence in your heart, this is where and when and how your awareness began to repair the brokenness." 


"Through this hard work of mourning and grieving, you have uncovered gifts of joy, received blessings and grace along your path. Your child walks with you in spirit; by your side, guiding you along the way. I knock on the door of your soul  reaching beyond your heart in prayer to God our Great Father, asking that your soul be touched in this process; transformed by Divine Love, so much bigger than human love."


"I may not have been visible at first, simply a seed planted for growth. As you discovered that seed, your grief shifted—I became visible through the lens of your heart. We have blended you and I, as we've moved forward these past years. You have found a level of peace that lies atop an undercurrent of melancholy—a signal that there is more heart work to be done."



"How did you arrive at this place you find yourself today? You were brought to me by despair and I was so happy to meet you. I take a look back and remember that your journey so far could not have been imagined in early grief. Through sadness and tears, by grabbing hold of hands extended, by giving, receiving and sharing, you walked your path. You borrowed the hope of others when you thought my light dimmed. You realized that when you could not see the brightness of my light, it was because you were closing the door to your heart. My light will always burn, even when seen as small as a candle’s flame. My light seeps through the cracks of your heart until you find your way home. You practiced self care, you prayed, you begged, you pleaded—you Trusted and you accepted the hand of Surrender. You engaged in support groups, you sought the outside help and care of a counselor—and the greatest of all—Love moved you forward. We got to know one another. Wisdom grew you and in seeking Divine Love, your healing began."


"I see your courage, your vulnerability, your brave—your beautiful soul, as you ebb and flow like the ocean's tide. We are very much a part of each other. I, a permanent imprint on your heart; I will never leave you. You, confident in the knowing that in sharing my light, we are experiencing an interconnectedness with humanity, walking towards a new wholeness.” 
Hope
Y

With gratitude to Hope, I share her blessings this Holiday Season. I’ve learned that Hope has a panoramic view of grief, something I was unable to see early on, yet knew in my heart that walking with Hope I would never walk alone. Hope is not to be confused with optimism. I heard it said that optimism stems from the mind and hope, the heart. Hope welcomed me with open arms and accepted me in the state that despair delivered me—when I had nothing to give to my family, to myself, to humanity. As I’ve walked with Hope, this beautiful unseen force that makes herself known through feeling, she has sprinkled my mind's eye with optimism and my heart sees it as glitter, adding a hopeful sparkle to my life.  

I’ve come to better understand what Henri Nouwen describes as the difference between these attitudes.  In paraphrasing, optimism is the expectation that things will get better. Hope is the trust that it will. Optimism looks to the future, hope lives in the moment.  Henri Nouwen’s writings, a passage in Turning My Mourning Into Dancing, defined hope in a way that made it understandable to me in grief.

“Hope is willing to leave unanswered questions unanswered and unknown futures unknown. Hope makes you see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the shadows of disappointment and darkness.”
Henri Nouwen


Optimism holds the shine of inspiration. Hope is God's promise to us.

What is your Hope? What is your optimism?



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Thursday, November 15, 2018

TO MOM FROM MATTY—A BIRTHDAY MESSAGE


Paving MY way through grief


The deep sadness in grief may resemble hopelessness, yet in reality, sadness walks the stepping stones of Hope to the threshold of Trust’s door. It enters after a long journey as melancholy—a tinnitus of the heart—seeking transformation and surrender to the soul.

A birthday message from Matty; words delivering a heart full of contemplation for sure. In my season of the soul, as I am guided to see the grieving process through a different lens, I make a discovery. It is a beautiful happening when Hope, invited along on this journey, becomes such an integral part of the process that slowly, silently one day it slips into integration—a part of.

The feeling in my heart as of late has been a physical sensation, a slight heaviness. Melancholia lives as an undercurrent; an observer of life, joy and laughter that continue to fill my heart. She allows the flow of that which she sees as opposite to herself and yet, with the confidence she has gained from her transformation from sorrow and deep sadness, she is not shy in making it known that acknowledgement is what she needs. She has a message that I have not been heeding, perhaps even hearing.

Melancholy is sharpening my awareness to the internal sounds and feels within my body. Within—where the soul lives—a terrain that with help can traverse what was once seen as rocky and non-fertile to rich soil waiting to be seeded, planted and given nurturance to bloom and grow. A second chance for my heart as it contemplates what the walk through the harsh conditions presented by grief have been like—and survived.

Melancholy ushers in a slower pace in this winter of grief. There is an entirely unique landscape to be experienced in winter. The browns and grays allow me to see the strength of nature’s foundation. Trees standing tall without their foliage offer up a lesson—a natural cycle has come to fulfillment. They stand as patient sentries surrounded by the loss of their leafage, confident in their knowing that this is simply a time of rest needed in preparation for the spring renewal.

My trust in this journey is strong enough to know that I need not rush through Melancholy. One thing I know for sure is there is no once-and-for-all fix to the lows that are a part of grief.  As I contemplate and become aware of my soul’s guidance on how to adapt and integrate Melancholy into my ordinary days, I will not lose sight of the moments that gift me gladdenings of the heart, for these I am forever grateful.

Wishing a peaceful Thanksgiving to all.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

TRUTH, VULNERABILITY, INTEGRITY AND BLUE FUNKS!

Truth, like all the other processes in Grief . . . comes in layers.

QUESTIONS:
Integrity and vulnerability . . . which comes first?
Am I staying in truth if I tell my story with ommissions?
Why do these ommissions feel like gentle lies?
What are the qualities of personal integrity?
Why am I feeling embarrassment when looking into the mirror of vulnerability?


These questions are finding a place in my heart as the chaos in my mind is searching for answers. My mind remembers that the soul holds the answers and a simple ask of “Help Please” begins to unfurl clarity.

My dilemma arose in the time from my last post to this one. I was on a happiness, joyful high in coming home from Memphis. I had been surrounded by friends, new and old met through heart-connections of a shared sorrow. I told OUR story, Matty’s and mine and the Love in the presentation room was palpable—the Love we have for our children and they for us; the Love for each other born of grief and tears and broken hearts, healing in the arms of compassion. The ache was nowhere to be found—unrealistic and ready to make itself known in the most cruel of ways. The crash hit hard.  Thrown to the curb by Grief, back to the days of when I lived in angst of hearing THAT question “How are you today?” And I peered at this new feeling of embarrassment, laughed at by guilt and shame, and asked “Why?”. And Why answered that my vulnerability in the past only felt as if it came easy because it rose from a heap of hurt that had nothing left to lose. Raw felt normal and vulnerable allowed my pain to release itself through the cracks in my heart, making space for healing that was blind as to where it needed to go.

And then a poem by Nayyirah Waheed beckoned to me:

}and if your gift is to make people. feel.
something. do not cover that in
apology. do not lie to accommodate
others’ fear of feeling.~

And I remembered the times when you, my heart friends, followers and readers of Voice of Grief wrote to me to let me know I was given a gift of putting into words what you were feeling and unable to express and how words, when leaned into, were a help in your own journeys.

And I asked myself again “What is Voice of Grief’s purpose?” And I feel Matty as these words are penned: “We are holding space for an opening to a conversation filled with hope for a new dawn in understanding grief . . . from the processing by the bereaved and from the lens of loved ones, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and passers-by standing on the periphery of grief . . . for those with a desire to run in, be with, help out and for those who can do nothing but simply run away”.

And I find courage from this memory and now see what it looks like in its infancy—unsteady on its feet, wondering how many starts, stops and falls will occur before it reaches its old height. And I answer that angst filled question: “Just for today I’d like to be honest and say that I am struggling even though you may rather hear I’m good. Please see me, feel my heart. I am seeing the joy and the ache from a different layer of healing and I need to make peace with this new perspective”.

What I do know is that healing happens in our story-sharing, when we weave what we’ve learned from our struggles, our spills, our rises and shines. When the weft and the warp of our experiences create a net so solid, secure and stable; it becomes able to hold the risks and rewards of speaking from a place of vulnerability. From a space of courage, opening the heart and releasing that which is honest and true; revealing that feelings of uncomfortable-ness touch an emotional freedom within that then casts out an invitation, an opportunity for other hearts to identify and connect with.

I am leaning into the wise words of a friend right now, a heart-connected sister Beth D’Angelo, until I am able to write the next chapter of my story. She is the creator of many things, one of which is her Grow Hope Project. In a recent conversation regarding storytelling, Beth shared insight into who she is. With her permission to share, I’d like to introduce you to Beth in her own words.

}I am a storyteller, a story collector as well as a secret keeper. I have been “privy” to the shadow side of human responses and have chosen the light side to live in. This duality makes it simple and deeply complex at the same time. Grow Hope was a silent message to me in February 2004. Sean’s accident was February 21. .  .  . I wrote two days later, “Grow Hope, Mom”. How does one connect that to today? A breath at a time. I have been asked to grow hope in another, by showing what it looks like to honor and let go of the details of tragedy. Ugh some days!! OMG in others! I want both!~

Here’s Beth D’Angelo’s story:
“On Becoming” 

Okay, I said it.
I don’t trust you.
I thought I did.
I leaned into the unknown, the uncertainty, the upside down-ness of it all.
I surrendered, studied how to live life on life’s terms – I fell, I got up, I spoke up and I did all this magnificently well despite what they thought.
I did what was asked of me.
I played small.  I played big.  I took risks and listened to wisdom.
I threw down the shields, the swords, and the falseness and I stood naked.
I showed my flaws, my wounds…I shut up, I spoke up, and choked down the urge to defend my position.
I never said anything against you.  I never felt you did anything “to me” but only “for” me.

I felt you beside me until….
Until I got exhausted from doing and trying.
I looked at those who say they are by my side;
I felt the eggshells that broke under my weight.
I looked the other way, practiced forgiveness, and what sprang up was a new bouquet of self-righteousness and judgement.  And I hated what I was holding.

I lost it today.
I broke.
I spoke from that brokenness – in the face of what should be gratitude.
I shared with another.
I chose to be real and to wail – to speak what needed to be released; that I am still expecting from others what they cannot give.
I thought if I played to the best of my ability to do, think, speak on the level that would bring favor in your eyes, that just maybe I’d get a reprieve….
I lost trust that I could care.
I don’t care anymore.
I lost it today.  I sobbed for myself.
I am afraid.
I don’t know what to do with what I am supposed to do.
I just don’t know what to do.

I spoke with a soul sister.
She suggested I step back and just rest in it.
She said that this is the slow process of accepting those things about myself.
That it doesn’t mean the things I don’t like about myself will go away, that I will accept the good and the bad – all of me.

This is the edge of what surrender looks like.
It is different from its’ shadow, “giving up”.
There is something rare, raw and vulnerable in surrendering.
This is not easy, nor is it comfortable and it is certainly not enjoyable.

So here I am.
The edge.
If I peer over too far, I feel something might push me…without my permission.
Without my permission-yes, I know that one.
The deepest, darkest, the greatest fear is in that bottom I cannot see.
That bottom justifies life’s bullshit with a sweetness that is intoxicating.
I feel it’s calling – the false, the lies and betrayal is in its voice…
That voice has become stronger, more fierce…..has taken up more space than it should; filling the crowded corners with overwhelming layers of not enough and all those should have been’s…..

But I have grown stronger as well.
I have turned my body to face the uncertainty-to see and feel and hear just what is calling my name and it isn’t down there-its up there-in the light, the breeze, on silent wings….
In the process of dropping falseness and masks; courage, resilience and hope held up their arms to ward off what wants to claim as theirs.

Theirs……
Yours……
I have outgrown what served so well for so long and this newness is not asking more of what I am-rather-it is asking me to be exactly what I am.
I thought I stopped caring and trusting-but I haven’t….
I have been involved in the unwrapping-the unfolding, the undoing of careful assembly work for decades….

It is not you that I don’t trust.
It is me.
I don’t know how to trust all that I know to be – the natural, authentic.. the me.
My imaginary fears are just as real as real is real.
And that makes no sense and all sense…..

I said it.
I don’t trust me.
to stand long-term in my vulnerability.  The “what if’s” are intent on tangling me up.
It has nothing to do with you.
It has everything to do with me….
I take that back, God.  I do trust you – I am just scared that I will fall and be lost.
That I will be lost in the uncertainty and the belonging I yearn for and fight against.

However, I am willing to be willing to stay open; to learn what being off-balance feels like so I stand in that space that frightens me so.
I am willing to question with curiosity; to soften the details of my story; to lean into what is being offered as “life embellishments”.
Okay, I said it.
I am willing because….I am still standing…and this is one amazing reason to continue staying open and trusting the journey.

Written by Beth D’Angelo, 2018
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