Welcome to the BalanSoul Library. Here, you’ll find many resources written by George Parker, as well as a number of links to other pieces of information we think you might find useful in your research. Most of these e-books and articles are free to download! The ones that do have a price tag are inexpensive, and these sales help us to build BalanSoul into an even more extensive site with a constantly growing library. We thank you in advance for your support.

The Meaning of Depression

Do you know how Depression REALLY feels like?

Depression: it’s a terrible weight—a silent burden that can…

Living Successful with Depression

Depression: This ebook is written by an Author who is living successfully with Depression. It puts paid forever to the….

Defeating the Depression that Eludes Conventional Medicine

Depression: If you have depression and have tried more than one ……..

The Genetics of Stress and Depression

Depression: The field of genetic research has revealed so much in recent years about how the human…..

Stop Losing Your Mind

Recognizing and Controlling the Effects of Ageing

All organisms change as they age, and this process of change is……

More Than Just a ‘Gut Feeling’

What Gastrointestinal Health Means for Your Brain

We all know an upset digestive tract is uncomfortable and burdensome, but…

30 Ways to Reduce Stress

I’ve spent a good portion of my career investigating stress—what it is, what it does, and how it contributes to a host of mental and physical health…..,

Important Facts About Stress

Stress is one of the most common psychological problems people face today. For many, it’s far more than bothersome—it’s exhausting and……

A Little Known Culprit in the Cause of Heart Disease

“In the late 1980’s a young German physician and medical researcher named Mathias Rath discovered….

The Cardio-Core System

“In the late 1980’s a young German physician and medical researcher named Mathias Rath discovered a possible root cause of

The Myth of Cholesterol Excerpts

There are a million books about cardiovascular health on the market, but there is one that we certainly…..

Structure and Functions of Blood Vessels

If you want to understand how your body works, START HERE!

Of all your bodily systems, few are as essential as

Formation of an Atherosclerotic Plaque

This much we all know. But do you know what atherosclerosis is?

Atherosclerosis is a type of heart disease…

Fighting Cancer in Your Everyday life

Are you afraid of CANCER?

With rates rising and rising, most all of us are, and with good …..

Cancer Fighting Foods

Fewer words are scarier than CANCER

No question about it, cancer is as deadly as it is sneaky…..

Connecting Liver Function to Living Cancer-Free

What do you know about your liver?

Most know little of the detoxifying miracles performed

Nutritional Support for Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy saves lives. It’s a wonder of modern medicine, to be sure.

But it can also be a painful course …..

Cancer and Sugar: A Deadly Combination

Want to stop cancer in its tracks?

We only have so much control over whether cancer begins to develop in……

Natural Cancer Protocols

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia (over 35,700 people annually). Despite a 30% improvement in the survival rate over the last two decades,….

Clinical Detoxification

Your body is constantly FULL OF TOXINS.

Some of these toxic substances infiltrate you from the outside world, while other…

The Cancer Chronicles:Breast Cancer

Fewer words are scarier than cancer.
No question about it, cancer is as deadly as it is sneaky. Aside from …….

The Cancer Chronicles:Prostate Cancer

If cancer hasn’t already impacted your life, chances are it will in the future. Whether it hits a …..

The Cancer Chronicles: The Reality of Cancer

If cancer hasn’t already impacted your life, chances are it will in the future. Whether it hits a friend…….

The Cancer Chronicles:Colon Cancer

If cancer hasn’t already impacted your life, chances are it will in the future. Whether it hits a friend, family ……

9 Steps to Excercising for a Healthy Future

We all know that exercise is good for us. We all know that we should probably do it more. so what….

Clinical Weight Management

Lose Weight theScientificWay

Don’t let the models on magazine covers fool you: Millions of people across the world…..

Easing Joint Pain

Joint pain affects people from all walks of life. It can come from pre-existing injuries, from ageing, from overuse or under-use, and just about anything in…..

Mind, Body, Energy & Spiritual Consciousness:

Seeing the Invisible Limbs of the Soul

How to RISE ABOVE everyday problems and REACH for a DEEPER meaning to LIFE

Checklist for Better Sleep

Begin to SLEEP SOUNDLY…starting right now!

How is it that as the pace of lives speeds up, making us more and more …

The Nature of Naturopathic Medicine

What is natural medicine, anyway?

What’s the difference between alternative medicine, naturopathic….

Naturopathy and the Headache of Modern Life

Have you ever had a headache?

If you have—who hasn’t?—then you’ve experienced your body communicating….

In Sickness and In Health

For those who are facing terminal cancer and have accessed every means of treatment, but to no avail, there may seem to be nothing left but the end of life…..

Sleep Science and Sleep Sense

It’s a fact that approximately a third of the world’s population is suffering from a dangerous level of sleep deprivation. As a result, they are more at risk for illnesses such…..

The Meaning of Depression

Do you know how Depression REALLY feels like?

Depression: it’s a terrible weight—a silent burden that can…

Living Successful with Depression

Depression: This ebook is written by an Author who is living successfully with Depression. It puts paid forever to the….

Defeating the Depression that Eludes Conventional Medicine

Depression: If you have depression and have tried more than one ……..

The Genetics of Stress and Depression

Depression: The field of genetic research has revealed so much in recent years about how the human…..

Stop Losing Your Mind

Recognizing and Controlling the Effects of Ageing

All organisms change as they age, and this process of change is……

More Than Just a ‘Gut Feeling’

What Gastrointestinal Health Means for Your Brain

We all know an upset digestive tract is uncomfortable and burdensome, but…

30 Ways to Reduce Stress

I’ve spent a good portion of my career investigating stress—what it is, what it does, and how it contributes to a host of mental and physical health…..,

Important Facts About Stress

Stress is one of the most common psychological problems people face today. For many, it’s far more than bothersome—it’s exhausting and……

A Little Known Culprit in the Cause of Heart Disease

“In the late 1980’s a young German physician and medical researcher named Mathias Rath discovered….

The Cardio-Core System

“In the late 1980’s a young German physician and medical researcher named Mathias Rath discovered a possible root cause of

The Myth of Cholesterol Excerpts

There are a million books about cardiovascular health on the market, but there is one that we certainly…..

Structure and Functions of Blood Vessels

If you want to understand how your body works, START HERE!

Of all your bodily systems, few are as essential as

Formation of an Atherosclerotic Plaque

This much we all know. But do you know what atherosclerosis is?

Atherosclerosis is a type of heart disease…

Fighting Cancer in Your Everyday life

Are you afraid of CANCER?

With rates rising and rising, most all of us are, and with good …..

Cancer Fighting Foods

Fewer words are scarier than CANCER

No question about it, cancer is as deadly as it is sneaky…..

Connecting Liver Function to Living Cancer-Free

What do you know about your liver?

Most know little of the detoxifying miracles performed

Nutritional Support for Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy saves lives. It’s a wonder of modern medicine, to be sure.

But it can also be a painful course …..

Cancer and Sugar: A Deadly Combination

Want to stop cancer in its tracks?

We only have so much control over whether cancer begins to develop in……

Natural Cancer Protocols

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia (over 35,700 people annually). Despite a 30% improvement in the survival rate over the last two decades,….

Clinical Detoxification

Your body is constantly FULL OF TOXINS.

Some of these toxic substances infiltrate you from the outside world, while other…

The Cancer Chronicles:Breast Cancer

Fewer words are scarier than cancer.
No question about it, cancer is as deadly as it is sneaky. Aside from …….

The Cancer Chronicles:Prostate Cancer

If cancer hasn’t already impacted your life, chances are it will in the future. Whether it hits a …..

The Cancer Chronicles: The Reality of Cancer

If cancer hasn’t already impacted your life, chances are it will in the future. Whether it hits a friend…….

The Cancer Chronicles:Colon Cancer

If cancer hasn’t already impacted your life, chances are it will in the future. Whether it hits a friend, family ……

9 Steps to Excercising for a Healthy Future

We all know that exercise is good for us. We all know that we should probably do it more. so what….

Clinical Weight Management

Lose Weight theScientificWay

Don’t let the models on magazine covers fool you: Millions of people across the world…..

Easing Joint Pain

Joint pain affects people from all walks of life. It can come from pre-existing injuries, from ageing, from overuse or under-use, and just about anything in…..

Mind, Body, Energy & Spiritual Consciousness:

Seeing the Invisible Limbs of the Soul

How to RISE ABOVE everyday problems and REACH for a DEEPER meaning to LIFE

Checklist for Better Sleep

Begin to SLEEP SOUNDLY…starting right now!

How is it that as the pace of lives speeds up, making us more and more …

The Nature of Naturopathic Medicine

What is natural medicine, anyway?

What’s the difference between alternative medicine, naturopathic….

Naturopathy and the Headache of Modern Life

Have you ever had a headache?

If you have—who hasn’t?—then you’ve experienced your body communicating….

In Sickness and In Health

For those who are facing terminal cancer and have accessed every means of treatment, but to no avail, there may seem to be nothing left but the end of life…..

Sleep Science and Sleep Sense

It’s a fact that approximately a third of the world’s population is suffering from a dangerous level of sleep deprivation. As a result, they are more at risk for illnesses such…..

© Balansoul 2010. The entire contents of this domain are copyright. We respect your privacy. Please read our Privacy Policy.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior written consent of the copyright owners. (We sue. Be warned.)

Tsunami

Harumi Watanabe rushed home to her elderly parents as soon as the earthquake struck. “I closed my shop and drove as quickly as I could,” she said. But there wasn’t enough time to save them. “They were old and too weak to walk so I couldn’t get them in the car.”


They were still in the living room when the tsunami hit. Though she gripped their wrinkled hands with all her might, the force of the water was too strong.

Her mother and father were ripped from her grasp, screaming that they couldn’t breathe before they were dragged down. Her last words to them as the surge filled their family home with water, mud and carnage had been a desperate cry to “stay together”.


Watanabe was then fighting for her own life. “I stood on the furniture, but the water came up to my neck. There was only a narrow band of air below the ceiling. I thought I would die.”


Watanabe is one of the fortunate few residents to survive in Shintona, a coastal town near the centre of Japan‘s biggest earthquake since records began and one of the worst affected by the tsunami.


The nearby bay is filled with cars, concrete and half-sunken homes that have floated away from their foundations. A railway line has been ripped from the ground and twisted vertically like a garden fence. Cars and motorbikes lie broken and so roughly reparked by the tsunami that some balance precariously on their bonnets. Emergency and media helicopters buzz overhead and the bereaved sob by the side of the road. The air is rich with the rotting smell of disaster and death.


Japanese army personnel and rescue workers search for bodies amid the mud. Their work is sporadically interrupted by earthquake alerts and tsunami warnings, but they do not have to look far. The dead are wrapped in blue plastic sheeting and laid on military stretchers.


Their numbers rose as quickly as the dozen or so rescue workers were able to find and carry them.

“We have found 50 bodies here today and there’ll be more,” said an officer in the self defence forces as his team took a quick lunchbreak. “We’re putting more efforts into rescue elsewhere as there is very little chance of anyone surviving here.”


The death toll in and around this area looks certain to rise. Drive east from Sendai and there are several stretches of devastated coastline.

Helicopters buzz above Xintomei and Nobiru, where hundreds of bodies have reportedly been discovered. Further round the coast in Minami Shirazu, close to 10,000 people are reportedly missing after their town was engulfed by the tsunami.


The full impact is still to be revealed. Rescue operations have been hampered by disrupted communications and ruptured roads. Travellers to the region are confronted by long traffic jams, broken fuel supply systems and diversions around broken nuclear power plants.


Since Friday’s earthquake, which has been upgraded to magnitude 9.0, the confirmed toll from the multiple calamities has climbed to more than 1,300 deaths, 1,700 injuries and at least 1,000 missing people, according to the National Police Agency. Many believe that is just the start. The beleaguered residents of Japan’s north-east have been exposed to a cocktail of terror that would seem far-fetched even in a disaster film.


Following the massive quake and a biblical flood, hundreds of thousands of residents have also been evacuated from the site of three broken nuclear reactors. Chemists have been inundated with previously unheard of requests for potassium iodide, which can help minimise the risk to the thyroid glands in the event of a release of radioactivity.


So many aftershocks ripple across the region each day that many locals ignore the official advice that they hide under tables until the tremor has finished. This is dangerous, according to Takashi Yokota, director of the Earthquake Prediction Information Division of the Meteorological Agency, which warns of a 70% chance of a further quake of 7.0 magnitude or greater in the next three days.


Much of the concern is focusing on of the elderly. At Shintona, about 90% of the victims were described as old, suggesting this might become a defining characteristic of the disaster.


After the Sichuan earthquake in China, in which an estimated 90,000 people died, the focus was on building design and the large numbers of children who died in collapsed schools. In Shintona, however, buildings have – for the most part – been remarkably resilient while the elderly population have proved painfully vulnerable. Several locals said the young had been able to flee quickly after the tsunami warning was issued, but the old found it harder to run.

“There are many old people here,” said Jiro Saito, head of the local disaster countermeasures committee. “We have evacuation drills, but people could not get to the meeting place in time. The tsunami was beyond our expectations.We must reflect on our shortcomings.”


Japan is proud of having the world’s longest life expectancy, which is particularly evident in rural areas. 

Shintona’s large elderly population is evident in the intimate belongings now scattered in the muddy streets – 12-inch vinyl albums of Enka (Japanese blues) classics, a walking stick and tatami mats.


This community is home to one of Miyagi’s first old people’s homes. The care manager, Kiyoko Kawanami, said she was able to confirm only 20 of the 90 residents as safe. “We don’t know what happened to them. The tsunami hit while we were trying to organise an evacuation,” she said.


Kawanami took one group to the emergency shelter in Nobiru primary school. “On the way back I was stuck in traffic. There was an alarm. People screamed at me to get out of the car and run uphill. It saved me. My feet got wet but nothing else.”


The fate of the other residents remains unclear. Shigejiro Murayama had come to look for his lost brother. While his wife cried and sighed beside him, he silently progressed as quickly as he was able with a walking stick. But he had to turn back when he saw what had happened.


“There is no road left,” he laughed darkly. “This is a mess. Look at what has happened.”
In the nearby city of Sendai, smoke continues to billow across the sky from the fire at a petrochemical factory. The air is filled with the sound of sirens and birdsong.


Ai Matsuhashi is showing signs of post-traumatic shock. “I can’t sleep. I feel like the world is shaking all the time. I heard that is normal after a big earthquake, but I’m still worried,” she said .


In a first step towards rebuilding her life, she has tried to tidy up and repair the broken furniture and belongings. But it is a frustrating task because each time she cleans up, there is another aftershock that tilts everything back over again.


Since the electricity was restored on Saturday night, she has left the television on for comfort, but there are other worries “My biggest problem is the lack of a toilet. The authorities tell us we should use plastic bags. But I can’t bring myself to do that.”

Shortages of water, fuel and food are a major concern. The city and surrounding areas are filled with long lines of people and cars queueing up for water and petrol.


“We evacuated to high ground and a strong modern building so we are safe, but we haven’t had water or electricity since the quake,” said Yuta Kimura as she waited for her turn to use a well at a shrine in Matsushima.

The authorities have established refugee centres in municipal schools and gymnasiums, but several people said they were reluctant to go. “There is no point going to Sendai,” said Toshinobu Abe.

 

“They have just as little food and electricity as us. The refugee centres there are too crowded. We are better off seeking shelter at the temple near our home,” he added as he tried to salvage some clothes and blankets from the mud, weeds and fishing nets in his now uninhabitable home.

© Balansoul 2010. The entire contents of this domain are copyright. We respect your privacy. Please read our Privacy Policy.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior written consent of the copyright owners. (We sue. Be warned.)

Oklahoma

By: Clark W.

My last drunk began on December 31st 1984; it was literally a nightmare. As I drove to a New Year’s Eve party located in rural Oklahoma, I swore to myself that I would control my drinking. Around 1:00 AM on New Year’s Day, I blacked out. I later learned that I engaged the guest’s refrigerator in a fist fight. When asked to leave, I threw a whisky bottle at my host’s 80-year-old mother. I then drove towards a neighboring town to continue the celebration.

Taking the back roads to avoid the police, I accidentally drove my pick – up into a deep ditch, I was stuck. The temperature that night was minus 18º Fahrenheit and I was dressed in jeans and a light wind breaker, I decided to stay put. My truck ran out of gas and the heater quit producing heat. I became enraged and promptly tore the plastic heating vents from the dash and smashed them; I also stomped my accelerator into bits. I eventually passed out. While passed out, I dreamed that I was outside of my body floating outside the truck. Looking at my body slumped over the steering wheel, I remember promising that if I could return to my body, I would change.


I came too and started running down the country road towards some lights about a mile away. I fell down many times, but I finally made it. I was very cold. Going around to the back of the farmhouse, I knocked (Banged really) on the back door. I then scrapped the ice off the window and saw a blazing furnace inside. I broke the window with my elbow and reached through and unlocked the door, an older gentleman met me inside. Recognizing me from the area, it was a small town, he invited me in. I grabbed his furnace and babbled about something before he drove me home. When I later made my amends to this man, he would not tell me what I had said that night, knowing it would embarrass me. He also stated that when he grabbed his gun, something told him not to take it to the door.


As a result of an another bad drunk a few months before this night, I had promised my self that I would go to an AA meeting if another drinking disaster ever befell me, well this certainly qualified. My first AA meeting consisted of 6 guys whining about their problems, the basic message I got was “Life sucks and we can’t drink” and that maybe God would help them. As a hard core atheist, I was less than impressed and decided that AA was not for me. For 6 months I went to bars and would not drink alcohol. Although my life was a shambles, I was better off than when I drank. I moved in with my cousin in Dallas, Texas hoping to find work. Big city life did not agree with me. I was terribly lonely and quite frankly thought myself in desperate need of female companionship. Going to bars and not drinking was not working out.


Then one day, while looking through a Playboy magazine, a short article about AA caught my eye. The article said that coffee shops around AA clubhouses were just brimming with young ladies. The article explained that due to having shared their emotions at the meetings, these women were “ripe for the picking.” I decided that I would beat out the competition in the coffee shops by going directly to the AA meetings themselves. Thank God for Playboy magazine!


While I was not interested in a solution besides stubbornly not drinking, I enjoyed the meetings and the coffee shops afterwards, not just for the girls either. I genuinely enjoyed the friendship of AA members.

After 14 years of sobriety, I have found that my solutions to alcoholism have been directly related to my definition of alcoholism. For the first 2 months in the fellowship, when I said I was an alcoholic, I meant that when drinking I could not always control the amount I took in. Blacking out was my worst fear; this fear kept me from drinking. The solution to this allergic reaction was simple, just don’t drink alcohol. With this definition, I could live anyway I want, I chose anything but drink. The trouble was, I desperately wanted to drink. Every night I would fight the urge for just a few drinks.

 I would combat the impulse by reminding myself of my drunk a log. I would also go to lots of meetings. Being unemployed and lonely; I made 3 meetings a day. I loved to share and would always talk about my drunk stories and how my allergy made another horrific blackout a certainty if I were to drink. My only real solution to alcoholism was to remember my bad drunks and go to meetings as much as I could.


One day I was sharing about the allergy (what else?). After I shared, a man shared his feelings about the mental obsession alcoholics have with drinking, although I had heard this before, this time it had a profound effect. One thought crowded out all others. I thought “If I was a reasonable man, I would have quit drinking when I was 14 years old.” After the meeting I went back to my cousin’s apartment, she was working the night shift and would be gone for the evening.


I thought about my drinking history. I had in fact quit drinking when I was 14 years old (a few months after I started), but I didn’t stay quit, a few weeks later I convinced myself that I could control my intake if I just tried harder. I remembered all the bad drunks and blackouts, followed by quitting. I had quit many times, only to start again a few days, weeks, or months later. Always with a new plan for successful drinking. I had tried limiting drinks, wine only, beer only, etc. My quitter was in fine shape; I had a defective starter.


My definition of alcoholism changed that night. Yes, I had an allergy to alcohol all right, but it was coupled with a mental illness. This mental illness had always made me believe that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I could drink without bad consequences. Deep down I knew that no matter how many meetings I made, no matter how well I remembered my last drunk, this mental illness, alcoholism, would someday cause me to drink again.


I read and reread the chapter to the agnostic, especially the first paragraph. This paragraph asks me two questions about my drinking. If I answer yes to these questions, the paragraph tells me that I may be suffering from an illness that only a spiritual experience will conquer. I desperately wanted my alcoholism conquered. I wrestled with whether to pray or not. Since I hated the thought of believing in God, this was a tough one. Looking back at it, it seems funny. I didn’t believe in God, yet had an immense resentment against God. I mean, I don’t believe in the tooth fairy either, but I don’t have a resentment against him. I blamed God for my child hood, and thought it absurd that a loving God could have allowed all of that to take place. My new definition of alcoholism demanded a spiritual solution, what could I do?


When drinking I never really cared if people witnessed my vomiting, but frankly I was scared to death that someone would observe me on my knees praying. In addition to locking the apartment door, I braced a chair against it for added privacy. My words were something like this “God I don’t believe in you, but I don’t know what else to do. I cannot go on like this and will do what ever it takes to serve you if you are real.” An overwhelming presence rushed through me. I cannot fully describe it, other than I firmly believe it was the God of my understanding.


The next day I got a sponsor. I had heard “Tough Love John” share in meetings and was impressed with his knowledge of the 12 steps and the Big Book. His first advice to me was the best advice I have ever received in over 14 years of sobriety. John explained to me that the first 164 pages of the Big Book outlined the “program,” and was the only place that I would find specific instructions on how to recover from alcoholism. The fellowship was full of good advice on how to stay sober; but if I wanted to recover from alcoholism, I would need to follow the instructions laid out in the Big Book. John never gave me advice about jobs, girls, or anything else. He taught me to recover using the program. He knew that once I was returned to sanity, I could make up my own mind about such matters, with God’s help of course.

After a few months as a recovered alcoholic, I joined the Army. Being an all or nothing kind a guy, I joined up as an Airborne Ranger. The training was hard and demanding for a 26 year old man, and some of the advice givers in the fellowship thought it was a terrible mistake for an alcoholic to face such pressure and advised me to quit. I went through a lot in my five years as an Airborne Ranger and thank God that I was able to experience the spiritual and character growth that only certain trails can bring about, not to mention the many fine young men I was able to meet and try to emulate.

God has never abandoned me during my 14-year military career and I eventually realized a life long dream and became a Green Beret. I am currently stationed at Fort Carson Colorado and live in nearby Colorado Springs.


I met my beautiful wife at an AA meeting in Savannah Ga. we have been happily married now for 12 years (Playboy was right). We are members of the Sunday morning Breakfast Group. This group meets every Sunday at a local restaurant and enjoys breakfast and fellowship until 10 AM. At 10, the meeting starts, it is conducted like most meetings I have enjoyed around the world, with the exception of the last few minutes. The last person called to share is asked to discuss the importance of sponsorship and the rewards of belonging to a home group.

 

I recently did a five-month stint in Kosovo. For the first three months there were no meetings available to me. I read the Big Book and listen to Joe and Charlie Big Book tapes. Although I yearned for AA meetings, I found that I was much more diligent about adhering to the “Design for living that works.” My sobriety and peace of mind hinge on my relationship with the God of my understanding through the practice of the 12 steps. After three months, a small AA group started up on Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. I enjoyed several meetings there and we even got to work with a newcomer.


It just goes to show that armed with the program and the fellowship, we are never really alone.

© Balansoul 2010. The entire contents of this domain are copyright. We respect your privacy. Please read our Privacy Policy.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior written consent of the copyright owners. (We sue. Be warned.)

My Journey to Freedom

By: Laurie Glass

After years of struggling with my health, after years of giving and giving to others, and after several changes of direction in my life, I was spent on all levels. I then lost some things that were very important to me. As I began to grieve, I reached out for support from those around me. My pleas were met with silence, and I sank into depression.


I’d worked so hard, and I’d always try to do the right thing. Yet things fell apart beyond my control when I was in my 30’s, and I didn’t know how to start over yet again. I tried to look into the future, but it was blank. 

I looked inside, and I didn’t know who I was anymore. I also became angry with God for the way my life was turning out and distanced myself from Him.


I consciously began to restrict my food intake in an attempt to control at least one area of my life. I knew this was an anorexic behavior, but I reasoned I would do it temporarily just to get through a difficult time. But it didn’t take long before anorexia was controlling me. I took diet pills, and my doctor threatened to hospitalize me to get me off them. Although it was hard to do, I went off them on my own according to his instructions.


While grieving over losses, healing from hurts, questioning my life and purpose and so on, I was overwhelmed with my emotions as well as afraid to allow them to surface. I thought I would lose complete control. As it was, there were times I really should have been hospitalized. I was depressed and suicidal. In fact, in my mind, anorexia was a slow form of suicide. I went through some emotionally scary times. In time, I had to let some feelings surface, and I spent countless hours in tears writing in my journal. It was an emotionally excruciating time.


God pursued me and after some candid talks with Him, we became close again. It was wonderful having my Best Friend back. I learned how patient, forgiving and gracious He was, and I will always treasure that time in my life when He drew me back to Him.


I went through another job change and bought a small home. It was great to be settled in, but I still had underlying issues to work through.


I did well with my eating early on, but then I relapsed for a long time. I went on and off the diet pills several more times. At that point, my goal wasn’t to lose more and more weight, but I couldn’t accept the last bit of weight gain. So I got caught up in a gain-lose cycle. There were times I thought about trying to fight anorexia again, but I couldn’t think of a reason to try. Besides, I didn’t want to go to all of that hard work only to relapse again. On the other hand, I couldn’t take the ups and downs anymore, and I was getting sicker. So I decided to fight one more time. I was finally willing to see a dietitian and obtained a meal plan.

By this point, I’d worked through most of the underlying issues – the grieving, allowing my emotions to surface, journaling through tons of thoughts and feelings about God, relationships, the direction of my life and so on. I wrote verses, inspirational quotes and truthful statements on note cards. This was effective in changing my thoughts about myself and in alleviating my doubts that I would break free of the eating disorder. After living with anorexia for going on six years, I fought it harder than ever.

But I didn’t fight on my own. I leaned on God in a way I never had before. During those final months, I ate better, felt better about my life, had hope of breaking free of the eating disorder, and I didn’t look back. It was 2003, and after doing so much of the hard work of recovery, I knew I was very close to breaking free. Then on a day I call Freedom Sunday, God spoke to me in a very profound way and freed me of anorexia! It was an amazing experience!


Now I’m a new person who takes care of herself, is content with her life, laughs every day, has healthier coping skills and relationships, possesses a renewed hope, keeps healthy boundaries in this vulnerable area of her life, and is ever so grateful that God didn’t give up on her.


Now it’s my passion to reach out to those with eating disorders which I do through my writing as well as through my website, Freedom From Eating Disorders. www.freedomfromed.com There I offer encouragement and support as well as practical recovery helps. I want others to enjoy the same freedom I now embrace.

© Balansoul 2010. The entire contents of this domain are copyright. We respect your privacy. Please read our Privacy Policy.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior written consent of the copyright owners. (We sue. Be warned.)

My Journey from Darkness to Light

By: Patricia Potts

 

Patricia, mother of 5, writer, speaker and singer shares her story of hope and recovery. In her 20’s she lived through major dysfunctional depression then later learned she was bipolar.

Mother used to say that as a young girl I was either all the way up or all the way down! Little did she know that even at an early age I was displaying symptoms of bipolar illness. I was about 4 months pregnant with our fourth daughter when I was in my 20’s. My husband, Dan, came home from work one day to find no dinner and me sitting in the kitchen with our 2 daughters running around in a messy house. One had a dirty diaper, the other had hardly any clothes on.

A boy in my preschool had been out of control when the parents came to pick up their children and I was embarrassed and depressed about it. When Dan asked me why everything was such a mess I replied “You’re right, I’m a horrible mother and a terrible wife, I just can’t do anything right!” Grimacing, he went downstairs with the girls to watch T.V. so I could calm down, but I didn’t calm down this time.


Something snapped inside of me as I realized that no matter how hard I tried I could never make everyone happy. I could never be the “Patty Perfect” I so desperately wanted to be. All things considered, I also believed that my husband and children would be better off without me. I put on an old coat and left the house not knowing where I was going and not expecting to come back. The first night I spent on a cot in the basement of a stranger’s house. I realized that leaving my home meant loosing my preschool, my daycare, the trust of my husband and all semblance of self-esteem. When I returned three days later I wash shaky, fearful, confused and withdrawn. I then spent the next 3 months wading through dysfunctional depression. Much of my time was spent staring at the ceiling and wishing God would take me home while my mother-in-law took over with the house and kids. There was no internet searches or support groups that I knew of but I was blessed to have a good therapist who taught me many helpful ideas. Among the most significant lessons, however, came when I attended a workshop where I learned the four stages of overcoming loss. I applied those steps (denial, acceptance, rebuilding, sharing) and was finally able to begin to functioning again. About a year after my baby was born I began teaching classes at the library and community education about HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND OVERCOME DEPRESSION.

My next relapse came when I became overly involved in trying to help others going through depression. Along with some other women I started a magazine and a network for women suffering from depression. I spent most of one night typing bylaws for our new organization. The next morning I crashed. Depression rearing its ugly head again and I got sucked in.


That morning after the older kids when to school and I got someone to watch our preschooler I wiggled into a sleeping bag, and crawled beneath the kitchen then called a suicide hotline.

I was livid when I got an answering machine! Fortunately, when I tried a different number and I was able to talk to a woman who listened to my plight and suggested that I get to a psychiatrist. Her encouragement together with that of a friend led me to make an appointment.


The day before I went to see the psychiatrist I asked a dozen friends to pray for me at 11 while I was meeting with him. I didn’t want to be one of those people who had to try multiple meds to find something that worked. That day I was put on a medication that has worked for me for over 20 years (that is when I take it and use other tools of recovery.) I went through a few more relapses while I learned that, although exercise, cognitive therapy, herbs and the other ideas, I truly did need to stay on my meds.


My life today is far different than it was during my relapse days. Although I have my bad days, I have learned that with the help of medication, recovery tools and the example of others who are successfully living with mental illness I am able to stay in recovery and help others do the same.

 

My husband and I now have 5 children and 7 grandchildren. In moderation I also enjoy writing (I’ve written 2 book to help people with bipolar), speaking, teaching guitar and singing. I find life both challenging and fulfilling. It has been said “Trouble makes us one with every human being in the world.” As we face our troubles together as individuals blessed with bipolar may we find the positives in our illness and learn to harness it so we can be better people. If I can be of help to you please let me know. – Patricia


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Emma's Story

You’d never pick him out as an abuser, he was small built and never got into fights and everyone who met him thought he was a sweet guy. When I was thrown out of home and had to live with him he very suddenly started to get rough. It was minor stuff like shoving me, being all up in my face, not serious stuff but looking back it started then. When I was pregnant he suddenly became very violent: what had been pulling my hair got to be him kicking me in the stomach. 

The day after I’d had the abortion was the first time he raped me. One morning he “accidentally” shoved me in the stomach so hard he pushed me out of bed and I screamed in agony. In the space of a short few weeks this was my life and I was dead inside. It really was that fast, the violence came like flicking a switch and I was instantly shattered by the horrific abuse.


A few people tried to get me to leave but by the time they were doing that I was already deeply traumatised by months of verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Then because I didn’t leave people said I must like it, that I must be making it up, that by not leaving I was choosing the abuse and I deserved it. I was so low and vulnerable that I believed what they said. I used to scream and scream for help and nobody would come, people would hear but ignore it. This makes me cry now writing it. People heard but they thought I wasn’t worth saving because it was my fault for staying.


After a few months I was a shell. I was getting so drunk I couldn’t walk every day of my sad life. On a good day I’d just pass out drunk at home, on a bad I’d get a beating. Fortunately most of it I’ve blanked out but what I remember has left deep wounds. When he beat on me it would be hours, shoving me against walls, twisting my fingers and banging my head against things … then he’d get aroused. I’d be sobbing and screaming hysterically, my poor face bright red and swollen from tears and I’d have to carry out degrading and painful sex acts. If I refused he’d rape me. This was my life.

During the years that we were together he’d worked himself into believing that I was responsible for everything that went wrong in our lives. If he made a mistake at work it would be my fault for distracting him, it was my fault he couldn’t get it up because I was so ugly and so on. This was fortunate because he met someone else and decided that because I was so awful and he was such a victim it was fine for him to chuck me and move her in.

I gradually rebuilt my shattered life and slowly realised that what had happened to me was domestic violence.
I’ve got over the worst of the problems but what still cuts me up is other people’s anti-victim prejudice, people saying that we deserve it for not leaving. When I told a friend I spent literally hours explaining why victim blaming is wrong yet a few months later she said she had “no sympathy” for victims because we’re “nobheads” and bring the abuse on ourselves. I gave her numerous chances to apologise but she refused despite knowing how deeply she’d hurt me. What surprised me is that she found being diagnosed with herpes so upsetting she suffered sexual dysfunction and had to go to counselling yet thinks that being traumatised by DV makes you an idiot – but I guess bigotry isn’t logical. Even after she moved to work in telematics she ignored my attempt to resolve things so eventually I had to cut her out.


Last time I spoke to my ex he was still martyring himself and making me out as the bad guy. He absolutely believes it, passionately believes that he was the victim and that I made a big deal out of nothing. I value every day that I’m alive even though I have permanent problems with my speech, memory, nightmares, flashbacks, hearing, sex, intimacy and physical scars because I know I’m lucky to have broken the cycle. If you’re reading this and you’re going through it I just want to say sweetie, you can escape this and whatever anyone says this isn’t something that you cause or deserve. I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor and you can make that change too.

 

~ Emma.

 

 

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The light on SAD

I self-diagnosed SAD when I was 17 or 18. I read about the condition and made the connection. I’d felt a “darkness” come over me for as long as I could remember around September each year and would withdraw from social activities and become nervous and anxious, feeling a desperate need to be at home and in the company of family – insecure and terribly clingy.


As a child, I would cry a lot and ask to go home from school in the winter months. I wouldn’t socialise with other children after school.

Even as an adult I couldn’t bring myself to make social dates during winter – a sharp contrast to my summer life where every day is filled with appointments and events.


During my college years, my attendance dropped every year between October and Christmas when I couldn’t discipline myself to get up and go into classes. Until the sun rose I couldn’t function or clear the negative feelings I was experiencing because it was dark outside. As a result, relationships with my tutors went downhill and my work suffered. I was passionate about the illustration course I was studying but the effects of SAD kept me trapped.


I discovered light therapy a few years ago after staying with my older brother who had bought a SAD light. While staying with him one weekend he was using it a few hours a day and I was exposed to the light. I wasn’t aware of it working for me until he switched it off and immediately I slumped into a depression. It was an epiphany – he switched off the light and I crashed… I realised how normal I’d been feeling while it was on. I wanted my own light and purchased one after I graduated.


Now I can get up in the mornings and go to my work. Living with my partner helps enormously as his support and encouragement really helps. Without him I’d not discipline myself at all! The Pharos offers some relief. I still hide away but feel more… normal. I’m less lethargic through winter days. My colleagues commented on my lighter moods just a few weeks after I’d bought the light box. They found me easier to work with than previously and I began feeling more productive.


I talk about my feelings with friends as much as I can – it helps me to admit this ‘SAD’ problem and gives them understanding of why I retreat from social life for a period of time.

 

My advice to anyone who can relate to my story and experiences is to try light therapy. I have never heard of anyone it doesn’t help. In addition, get a support network – tell friends, family and colleagues what you’re going through so they can at least understand what is happening to you. If a holiday abroad is affordable then get away in October. The effects of the sunshine and the whole ‘holiday feel good factor’ can last past Christmas.

 

 

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A Fresh Journey Through Loss

The day I lost my husband my heart felt ripped out, a feeling I had never experienced before. I felt clarity in the moment and confusion over where I was going, all at the same time. I wanted to cry at the injustice of a widow at 47 years of age. I had three boys and they each needed their father. My husband Joseph had always said the boys could get along without him. I’d tried to tell him he was wrong. Our boys, 11, 18, and 19, needed him more than ever. He had said he was certain they would be okay.

They were his boys, they were strong. How can you be okay when you lose your father? Their ages didn’t matter; the loss was real.


I hated that my kids saw their father waste away. I know it bothered Joseph tremendously, but it wasn’t something we talked about or could control. It was a difficult way to remember a loved one. He didn’t like anyone to see him like that, with sunken eyes and barely weighing anything at the end. He always joked, right up to the last 18 hours. It hurt that the kids will remember how he looked when he died, but it raises me up to know they also saw how he died-without complaint, fighting and doing his best to the end. Going about life the best he could.


Joseph died the way you think a man should die. Like in an old Western movie, with courage and dignity. Not once did he say “Why me?” If he ever thought it, he never said so. He was very matter-of-fact when telling anyone he was sick with cancer. If people were interested, he’d share the different things he was doing to beat it. He had elected not to do chemo and radiation, but instead went the route of alternative medicine.


Emotion rocked me up and down while my family lived with the knowledge that cancer was in our midst. Emotion and determination were the glue that kept me together for the entire 11 months he was ill. I always said to myself, “No matter what happens, we’ll be okay.” I still believe that, even now, almost five years after his diagnosis. There are still moments of loneliness that transcend the grief, but it is true time has a way of smoothing and healing loss. Memories of our life together aren’t forgotten, but remembered with a smile or reminiscent grin. I understand what it means when they say something is bittersweet. It applies to memories of a life shared and then broken apart. I feel we all heal in different ways and there is no prescribed way to go about it; it is each individual’s private journey. To some degree, we have the help of friends, family, and loved ones, but ultimately it’s our show.


The journey has been difficult these many months and years. The second 6 months I found more difficult than the first six months. The first several months I was caught up with keeping myself busy with business, working, and making money. I had to deal with death certificates, lawyers and social security, then there were insurance claims and survivor benefits and hospitalization coverage. The invoices for the hospital tests the last months of Joseph’s life were still coming in the mail six months after he’d been gone. We had a car payment I continued to pay, even though the bank told me I could stop since the car loan death benefit would pay off the balance. I had excellent credit, but if I had followed the bank’s advice, I would have had a mark against my credit since it took six months to receive the final payoff. We had bought the car three weeks before we found out Joseph was sick, so after requesting all of Joseph’s doctor reports, the insurance company finally paid off the remaining balance. These practical, mundane matters kept me focused on day-to-day living.


I remember after Joseph died I suddenly felt I had a lot of time to do whatever I needed to do, as if the days had grown longer. I could now leave the house, whereas I’d had the constant thought the previous eleven months that I had to make sure Joseph’s pain medicine was covered or there weren’t any doctor appointments that may be missed. It’s like I couldn’t figure how to pick up the previous threads of my life, since life for almost a year had centered on Joseph’s illness.


My strength in keeping myself on an even keel was out of concern for my kids’ welfare. I had no time to be lonely or even think about being lonely and it was easier handling the daily living that way. I kept very busy. For me, the hurt seemed to magnify and became more noticeable about five months after Joseph’s passing, right around our first wedding anniversary. It was a gnawing emptiness that at first hurt more when I saw other couples together.
The date of our anniversary my sister-in-law, my mother, and my oldest son called me on the phone. Their concern meant a lot, but I knew I would have to figure out how to deal with these dates in a way that worked for me. My kids took a picture of Joseph and I from happier times and had it enlarged and framed. They presented it to me with a card in which they had all written a little something. I was incredibly touched and I recall hugging each of them while I sobbed; their thoughtfulness something I’ll never forget.

The first Christmas after Joseph’s death was the most difficult in my memory. I went into a sort of depression, a mixture of sadness and self-pity, two weeks before the holiday and a few weeks after. I didn’t even know it was depression pulling me down until one day that heavy, sad feeling really hit me. I was so terribly alone and lonely. In my room, I would allow myself the luxury of tears. I use the words “allow myself” because for some reason I felt guilty hiding and crying.

Our family always spent Christmas at my parent’s house with my four brothers, my sister and all their families. It had been that way for years. I had always enjoyed being with family at this time, carrying on the tradition started when we were kids. However, the first year it was very difficult being around my happy, boisterous family, seeing the complete units. Mother, father, children. Boyfriend and girlfriend. Yes, it hurt. It wasn’t jealousy, I was just made acutely aware of the fact that I no longer had that complete unit. Sometimes it is so true that you don’t realize what you’ve lost until it’s no longer there. I walked around with this dull ache in my chest that wouldn’t go away. I put on the face, without even thinking about it, so everything would look fine; everyone would think I was fine. I could handle anything life shoves in my face. I’m strong, I told myself repeatedly. I don’t need anyone. That was my litany. I will not embarrass myself by crying or being needy. I couldn’t stand to be a needy, whining person. I understand it in other people but I told myself I’d never be needy or desperate. How could I embarrass myself by showing the true emotion inside, maybe even shedding tears in public? That was not me. Perhaps little snatches of it slip out now and then, but never all the gut-wrenching emotion I kept hidden.


Especially in front of my kids, I remained strong. I didn’t want them to be scared or worried that I was cracking up. Whether they knew it or not, they needed me more than I needed to break down. That was my thought, right or wrong. And maybe that is how my kids faced the world also. They kept it all together and sometimes I just wanted them to come to me so I could hold them close and reassure them that everything would be okay. I wanted to remember what our lives were like before everything turned upside down.


The boys rarely cried in front of me. They were really men in the making, taking it on the chin. I know we all had our moments of crying, but I only saw glimpses here and there. My boys kept their own counsel and perhaps they were taking their cue from me. Many times, I was operating in a revved-up mode.


In hindsight, I know keeping my emotions in control was just a way of handling life. At some point, I began to want someone in my life to fill up the empty hole inside me. I would be driving down the road, and I’d hear a song that struck a chord and it resonated in me. I’d start crying; deep, wracking sobs pulled up from the depths. Where did that come from? Just when I think I’m on an even keel, something as simple as a song sets me off. Was I heading for a breakdown?


I kept looking outside myself for help, all the time drawing closer to the truth that all answers must be found within. There are no quick-fix answers. I saw different professionals to discover the contentment within myself, and this questioning directed me on the road to finding the happiness within. I’m always willing to learn and listen. I’ve worked on myself for most of my adult life, but never more concentrated than in the several years. It’s like I’m both the experiment and the mad scientist directing the whole thing. Sometimes it is a scary prospect, thinking I was in charge of everything. There was no getting away from the truth, I was well and truly on my own, for the first time in my life. How can such a prospect be frightening and yet liberating at the same time?

 


Elaine Williams is a mother of three boys and a widow of four years. Her story is the story of many women

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Death With Dignity

My story is not about death as the title implies…it’s truly about a well-lived and joyous life. My mom was a vigorous women her entire life; captain of the cheerleading squad in high school; married a handsome, ambitious military man; mother and ever-vigilant guardian of nine children. She mastered every part of her life with a gusto and enthusiasm that few have the courage to muster. Strong, feminine and self-determined, Mom was a complete woman in an age where that just wasn’t the fashion.

It should be no surprise based on that description that you would find that she was a strong advocate of advance directives. Simply put, an advanced directive essentially is a legal tool that allows your wishes to be followed in the event where your incapacity prevents you from doing so yourself.

 

Her illness and eventual passing were sudden in terms of her vigor. She remained very active and virile despite problems with Coronary Artery Disease. She endured several rounds of angioplasty where the medical team inserts a balloon catheter and inflates it within the artery to increase the blood flow. It was only a matter of time I guess that she would eventually have to have coronary by-pass surgery.

 

When the time came for that surgery, she knew it wasn’t going to be routine. She already had the advanced directive drawn up but it’s what she did with it that makes her situation inspiring to others. She didn’t wait until her incapacity took away her ability to express her wishes. She took the time to make sure that we all had it before her surgery. She used the advanced directive as a foil to make the grieving process in case of her death much easier. Just in case, she started with the advanced directive but expanded to how much she loved her life, her husband and her children and that if something should go wrong to where she wouldn’t be the woman we knew her to be, that we should celebrate her life and let her go. She clearly and plainly laid it out that if God was going to take her, she had some things she had to do before that happened.

 

In reflecting her illness and death, what she was actually doing was stating terms. If she was going to die, she was going to do so on her terms. She was going to master her death just as she did her life. If she was going to be severely disabled from her surgery, then she told us plainly and simply…I want to die in my own bed with my family around me.

 

True to her premonition, her surgery didn’t go well. Self-fulfilling prophecy? And true to our promise and her wishes, we were able to take her home to her bed, with her loving family surrounding her and she took her last breath with her husband and family sending her off with tears and kisses.

 

We truly live our lives in seconds…moments. I share this story only to compel you to take the time and write your advanced directive in spite of whatever state of health you’re in. Then take that document the next step…tell your family you love them but just in case…here’s the play book. They’ll love you for thinking of them.

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Daddy's Hands

By: © Ferna Lary Mills

Daddy was a man of small stature, but he had a big heart, and big, strong hands. When I was very young, his hands were always calloused from hard work, trying so hard to take care of his family.


As I grew up, he had big hands to discipline with, and strong hands to hold on to. Any time I ever got into trouble, he was there to give me a helping hand, to pull me back up on my feet. Daddy always had warm hands, filled with love.

Then a time came when he had a major stroke. His right hand no longer worked as the stroke had paralyzed him on his right side. Suddenly, this man who was so independent, who never asked a living soul for a single thing, was forced to ask others for a helping hand. Daddy had been through wars, fought hunger, struggled to earn a living during tough times, and faced many crisis in his life. But this was the hardest thing he said he ever had to do: learning to ask others for help.

He struggled for months during physical therapy, determined with a will so strong that one day he would regain the use of that hand and be able to stand on his own two feet once again. Eventually, his determination paid off and he did regain some use of that hand, but not enough to suit him.

After he went home, he wrote me little notes that were barely legible, but proved his strong determination in learning to reuse that hand. He was so proud that he was able to write even short notes. We were both proud!

As he struggled with his health, Daddy continued to offer his helping hands to others, helping many in ways too numerous to count, in ways that only Daddy could.

Time passed by too quickly, and the day came that Daddy’s heart finally gave out, in spite of recuperating from the stroke and dealing with prostate cancer. I’ve felt so distraught that death took him so quickly and I wasn’t there to hold onto Daddy’s hands and to say goodbye. I felt like I had failed him.

He used to joke that he had no friends. He was quite a jokester. He also joked that he was never going to die, but rather he would just live forever, if only to prove he could. Daddy told two lies. He did die on Valentines Day, taking a piece of my heart with him. But the second lie was visible when so many of his friends filled the visitation room prior to the funeral. Each one had a special tale to tell of how Daddy was always there for them, with those great big helping hands.

Though I have many memories of Daddy, the one thing I will never forget is the strength and the love in his hands. Now, a power much higher than myself holds onto my sweet Daddy’s hands.

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I went to a party, Mom…

There are times when adversity seems to visit us in forms that we had never anticipated. We can live our whole lives attempting to do what we know is right. The things that our parents taught us echo in our hearts and we keep to the promises that we have made. But life is an interconnection between us all. What we do, one day, can affect all the tomorrows of another. In some cases, these actions can give hope to those around us. In some instances, the actions of others can damage that hope.

In our next illustration, we can see how the poor choices of one can adversely affect even those who have made a good choice. When we truly understand how close we all are to each other, then maybe we will consider our own actions. Not just in the light of what they may mean to their own circumstances, but what they may mean to others and those who are bonded to them, as well.

Fortunately there are those who take the time to illustrate these truths regarding our own interpersonal connections. These voices are intended to reach out to those who may have never considered how their actions affect others. But when you see these reactions through the eyes of those who have been touched by adversity, then you come one step closer to understanding the connected nature of humanity.

~ George Parker, N.D.

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Surviving Tragedy

By Dr. Randy Wysong

The loss of loved ones is inevitable. The tragedy is not so much for the one who has passed as it is for those who remain and suffer guilt, regrets and loneliness.

There is no adequate way to prepare for and no way to escape tragedy other than to die before anyone close to you does or be a recluse and not permit close relationships.

However, close, loving relationships are a wonderful part of life. Perhaps the pain we feel from the loss of a loved one is to teach us the very meaning of life, love, and to treat it well when we have it.


But everything should be in measure. To throw oneself totally into another person and lose self and independence is a formula for disaster. When the loved one is gone, meaning can be lost which in turn can jeopardize health and life. Love well, but always keep a part of yourself that can survive in the absence of the loved one.


Rejection by someone you love can bring almost the identical pain and suffering as losing someone to death. It can be even worse since the lost person’s presence continues as a constant reminder. The wound is irritated, scraped, reopened again and again.


The best way to survive tragedy is to plan for it. For one thing, if you are self-developing, as this book is encouraging you to do, you will have an independent life that you can fall back on. But also know beforehand that there will be no quick or easy healing. Pain and sorrow are part of the healing process. Do not assume life is ending or that the acute pain will remain forever.


Think of a tragic loss like receiving a deep knife wound to the brain. First there is the sharp and excruciating pain (for this metaphor forget that brain tissue has no pain receptors). Then there will be less, but more chronic pain. Brain/heart healing has inevitable ups and downs. Grieving is like any other wound. It can be reopened (like stubbing a toe on the mend) by a memory, a song, a visit or acquaintance and then re-closed. The further the distance in time from the event, the more quickly the wound re-heals when re-injured.

With more time (usually at least two years) the wound closes more completely. Once the ‘scar’ is in place, the pain is duller and continues to fade. Life becomes livable again even though the scar is never totally gone.

This natural healing process, in which time is the most essential element, is a reality all of us must understand to survive well through such an ordeal. The pain you feel is not unique and is not the most anyone has endured. Give yourself time to heal and do smart things that will speed the process and ease the suffering.

That is easy to say, almost impossible to understand or implement when tragedy strikes. During the healing stages you must force yourself to do certain things. Do them not because it is what you feel like doing (you won’t) but because it is necessary for your survival. Exercise, social contact, rest and good nutrition are essential. These are the factors your mind needs as building blocks for the healing process. Do not let your healthy routine stop. You need to buy time and the best currency is to continue with smart living.


Becoming active in a cause that helps others, or one relevant to the loss. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the America’s Most Wanted television program are two such examples, can speed the healing process by distracting, forcing you to think outside of yourself to the feelings and needs of others, and gives that all important sense of control and purpose.


Determine now, before tragedy strikes, that you will do these healthy and interpersonal things to heal whether or not you feel like it.


People who stop eating and shut themselves in their room to mourn only delay healing and may even create life-threatening disease. The mind-body connection is very real. If you give up and wish death, your body listens. That is why so many people fall victim to serious illness and even die close in time to the loss of a loved one. Although you may feel like giving up, others love and need you. You have a responsibility to them and to yourself to treat your gift of life with the respect it deserves.


Tragedy is a universal and shared human experience. For those of you who are enduring personal tragedy, the heart of the rest of humanity aches for you and wishes for your speedy recovery. For those not experiencing a loss, love well while there is opportunity so there can be no regrets.

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It's just one of those Animalriffic days

Mom, Dad, Uncle Jim ~~ ~~ ~~ DON’T MOVE YET!!

He’s not my brother ~~ ~~ He’s just HEAVY!!

I promise I won’t do it again, Momma!

Just wait a couple’a years and try that again! YEAH!!

Come on, throw the ball, throw the ball, ~~ ~~ I’m ready ~~ ~~ yeah ~~ throw it!

Hmmmmm. I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure that what you heard is what I actually meant!

We gotta get a bigger bed!

Hey, can I have a bite’a that?

HEY!! What’s with this ‘warm spot’ ?

You woke me up to tell me THAT??

HIIIIEEEEEEYAAAAH!!!

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Motivational & Inspirational Quotes

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

 

Mother Teresa

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

 

Seneca S. Eliot

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

 

Author Unknown

It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man
who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while
DARING GREATLY
so that his place shall never be
with those timid souls
who know neither victory or defeat.

 

Theodore Roosevelt

“Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic.”

 

Jean Sibelius

“The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed.”

 

Lloyd Jones

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people

who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

Dale Carnegie

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, It is the only thing that ever has.”

 

Margaret Mead

“It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, ‘Always do what you are afraid to do.’ “

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not wait for your ship to come in, get in your boat and row out.”

Michelle C. Ustaszeski

“Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant.

There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.”

 

Johann Gottfried Von Herder

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day.”

 

Thornton Wilder

“A champion is someone who gets up, even when he can’t.”

 

Jack Dempsey

“We are what we repeatedly do.

Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

 

Aristotle

“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.”

 

Albert Einstein

“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”

John Muir

“The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without,

the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be.”

 

Horace Bushnell

“Experience is the child of thought, and thought is the child of action.”

 

Benjamin Disraeli

“Do we not all agree to call rapid thought and noble impulse by the name of inspiration?”

 

George Eliot

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

 

Leon J. Suenes

“You can change your life with the way you set your thoughts.

Be positive, be free and you’ll be able to experience life from a different perspective.”

Rachel Lynn Cauchi

“The past cannot be changed, the future is still in your power.”

 

Hugh White

“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.”

Author Unknown

“Somewhere there’s someone who dreams of your smile,
and finds in your presence that life is worth while.
So when you are lonely, remember it’s true
Somebody somewhere is thinking of you.”

K. Blackburn

“The only place where dreams are impossible is in your own mind.”

Emalie

“As you travel through life, your dreams will guide you,
determination will get you there, and love will provide the greatest scenery of all.”

Michelle C. Ustaszeski

“If you want to get to the top in life, you are going to have to take the stairs.”

Michelle C. Ustaszeski

“It is sometimes hard to cross that bridge, try something new, or make that change.
But once you do, you will realize that things are usually never as bad as we imagine.”

Michelle C. Ustaszeski

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Author Unknown

“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably,
and never regret anything that made you smile.”

Author Unknown

“The past is what we always tend to look back on, but remember the future is what we look to, to move forward.”

Charlee DeSa

“You can shine, no matter what you’re made of. Never give up in your doings.

Keep faith and hope alive, and all your dreams and aspirations will become a reality one day!”

Copyright © 2011 Mantse Richie

“I was smiling yesterday, I am smiling today and I will smile tomorrow

simply because life is too short to cry for anything.”

Ted Nelson

“I was smiling yesterday, I am smiling today and I will smile tomorrow

simply because life is too short to cry for anything.”

Ted Nelson

“When life gives you 100 reason to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile. Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear. Keep the faith and drop the fear.”

Emmanuel Tiwo

“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be”

Abraham Lincoln

“Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching”

Thomas Jefferson

“Keys to success… research your idea, plan for success, expect success, & just plain do it! It amazes me how many people skip the last step! Practice being a “doer” and success will follow you every step of the way!”

Josh S. Hinds

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self- confidence is preparation.”

Arthur Ashe

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching.”

Mark Twain

“You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people to get what they want!”

Zig Ziglar

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Motivational & Inspirational Quotes

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams.Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

Pope John XXIII

“Earn as much money as you possibly can and as quickly as you can. The sooner you get money out of the way, the sooner you will be able to get to the rest of your problems in style.”

Jim Rohn

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.”

Jim Rohn

“If you want a confidence, act as if you already have it. Try the “as if” technique.”

William James (1842-1910)

“The way you give your name to others is a measure of how much you like and respect yourself.”

Brian Tracy

“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”

Napoleon Hill

Author of 1936 classic Think and Grow Rich

The guy says, “When you work where I work, by the time you get home, it’s late. You’ve got to have a bite to eat, watch a little TV, relax and get to bed. You can’t sit up half the night planning, planning, planning.” And he’s the same guy who is behind on his car payment!

Jim Rohn

“Great minds must be ready not only to take opportunities, but to make them.”

Colton

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon–instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”

Dale Carnegie


“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

“To dream anything that you want to dream. That is the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.”

Bernard Edmonds

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of. You don’t have charge of the constellations, but you do have charge of whether you read, develop new skills, and take new classes.”

Jim Rohn….master motivator

“The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules whose would you use?”

Dale Carnegie (1888-1955)

“When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when We treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, the mind of man can achieve.”

Napoleon Hill author of Think and Grow Rich


“Failure is an opinion. It is either an educational tool for starting over or an excuse breeding tool for saying it’s over.”

Doug Firebaugh

“There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.”

Dale Carnegie

An old man once said …There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good.
So love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t.
Life is too short to be anything but happy.
Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living

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THE OLD MAN

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem. And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!

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One Fatal Mistake

By: Author Unknown

In a lush Victoria park, Mercedes had decided to swallow a tiny pink pill given to her by a friend.

 

The first time I really saw Mercedes-Rae Clarke, she was in Year 7, standing in the schoolyard, a tiny bird of a girl with big brown eyes and an impish smile. She was 12 years old then and my daughter Kate’s new friend.


I had heard about ”Merch” from Kate for months. Mercedes had moved into my daughter’s French-immersion class in Victoria, Canada earlier that year, a new kid thrown among a tight group of students who had been together since kindergarten.

Soon she was among the most popular in the crowd. All the boys had a crush on her, and all the girls wanted to be her friend, consulting her on hair and clothes and music and all the things 12-year-old girls spend so much time talking about. Kate would say, ”Merch says this” and ”Merch does that.”
But this was the first time I’d had a good look at her. And I thought: What a beautiful girl. What eyes! She had a big smile and a big laugh for someone so petite and delicate. The other girls towered over her.


Over the next 18 months, I got to know her, driving her in a carpool to dance class each week, often hosting the sleepovers that seemed to occur almost every weekend at someone’s home.


This is the Mercedes I knew: an adventurous, outgoing sprite who loved to shop and socialise, excelled at dance, loved to try out new hairstyles. My daughter Maddy, two years younger than Kate, idolised Merch because, unlike with some of the older girls, when Merch came over, Maddy wasn’t excluded. Merch would brush Maddy’s hair and give her a new hairstyle and include her in all the talk.


A video of Mercedes from a school camping trip last year shows her sitting by the campfire at night, stuffing one marshmallow after another into her mouth until she reaches an astonishing ten, cheeks puffed out like a crazy chipmunk, and her classmates doubling over in laughter. That was a typical Mercedes moment: an imp with eyes dancing in merriment, playing the crowd.


A few times, on dance-class nights, her mother, Sherry, would call to say she couldn’t get away from work just yet. Could Mercedes stay with us until she could pick her up? Sherry worked at a downtown funeral home as a mortician. I knew her call meant a family was having trouble with a death and she needed to spend extra time with them. ”Of course,” I’d say, knowing first-hand the juggle working mothers do to keep children safe, with friends.


Sherry was a hardworking, strong mother of three. Along with Mercedes, she had two sons: Chris, a married adult, and Kody, a year older than Mercedes. Sherry bravely left an unhealthy relationship with Mercedes’s father to forge a new life on her own in Victoria with her two younger children. They lived in the suburbs, but Sherry wanted Mercedes to have the benefits of a French-immersion programme near her work, and that meant a long commute to and from town for the two of them every day.


The last time Mercedes was at our house, before the fateful day that changed everything, Kate and Mercedes spent a lazy August afternoon, hanging around our backyard, jumping on the trampoline with Maddy and mugging and posing with our digital camera.


And then, around dinnertime on Monday, September 5, 2005, the day before she was to start Year 9, Kate burst out of her room, tears streaming down her face. Mercedes, she wailed, had tried the drug ecstasy. She had never tried any drugs before. She was now in hospital on life-support!


The day before, on a sunny Sunday afternoon in a lush Victoria park, Mercedes had decided to swallow a tiny pink pill given to her by a friend. She was with two friends; one had tried ecstasy before and said it was fun. That friend had bought three pills for about $10 each from a guy on the street in downtown Victoria.


When the three girls swallowed the little pink pills, Mercedes began almost immediately to vomit. Soon she complained of a terrible headache and that she couldn’t see. Then her eyes rolled back into her head, and her body contorted in a seizure. One of the girls ran to the nearby house of a family friend to get help.


When Sherry arrived at the hospital about 90 minutes later, Mercedes was unconscious, medical staff working around her. She never woke up again. Over the next 24 hours, she continued to have seizures, her blood pressure skyrocketed, her temperature soared, she had multiple heart attacks and resuscitations. She was placed on life-support on Sunday night. Everyone prayed a miracle would save her.


By late Monday night, Mercedes’s brain scan showed no activity: The tiny pink pill had rendered her brain-dead. Sherry was faced with what must be a parent’s most agonising decision: to disconnect her child from life-support, donate her organs and let her die. The medical staff gave the family time to say goodbye. On Tuesday, the halls outside Mercedes’s room were full of people: cousins, aunts and uncles, and friends. Sherry asked that close friends such as Kate come to see Mercedes.


For Kate and me, saying goodbye to Mercedes in the paediatric ICU is a devastating memory that will never leave us. She was lying, pale and motionless, in an ICU bed surrounded by machines, tubes in her arm and throat, her lungs rising and falling to the whoosh of a ventilator. Her beautiful brown eyes stared out, vacant and dull.


Mercedes was removed from life-support that Tuesday evening. Her organs were harvested for transplantation. Because Sherry was a licensed mortician, the hospital allowed her to collect her daughter’s body directly from the operating room. Sherry and her friend and colleague Bill wrapped Mercedes in a blanket and took her that night to the funeral home. There Sherry washed and prepared her daughter’s body for her funeral. To me the tenderness and despair of performing such a final act for one’s own child is heartbreaking.

For Sherry there are important messages she needs the world to know: Mercedes was a good kid from a good home who made a single bad decision.

Sherry says the coroner’s office told her a few weeks later that the drug was pure ecstasy – not laced with crystal meth, as rumour had it. Sherry also wants the world to know: ”Ecstasy is seen as the fun drug, the one to take to a party and have a good time with, not nearly as bad as crystal meth. But ecstasy can kill, too.”

And Sherry wants other kids to remember Mercedes. If they hear friends talking about trying ecstasy, she pleads, have the courage to tell a parent or a teacher: It could save a life. ”Mercedes made a mistake for all of you,” she says. ”Learn from her mistake.”

A few weeks ago, when we pulled out the digital camera for a family occasion, we stumbled upon a forgotten picture of Mercedes: that last day in August, caught in mid-air while jumping on our trampoline, big smile, hair flying, skinny arms and legs flailing – so alive and vigorous. So full of promise.

And my heart broke anew.

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Finding Laughter Again

By: © Ferna Lary Mills

Laughter. That strange emotion that causes us to breathe funny, makes our face wrinkle upwards, brings funny sounds from our throats and sometimes even causes tears to roll from our eyes. Sometimes it’s brought on simply by a word, or only a look, or a memory that suddenly comes to mind.

Laughter seems so inappropriate and foreign when we are in such deep stages of sorrow and grief. Yet laughter is still good for the soul. It allows healing to take place, stress to be released, and it bonds us together with one another when all of our bonds seem to have come loose at the seams. Yet, it’s so elusive and sometimes even unthinkable to believe we will ever laugh again.

After my mother died, I was so surprised when laughter came again, for it happened while preparing to go to her funeral. Yes, it felt so very inappropriate at the time, but it was good for the soul, and not just for me!

My parents had been divorced for 29 years. Upon learning of my mom’s death, my father drove 1800 miles to be with us kids while we buried our mother. Now, Dad being a very frugal man, owned only one suit . . . a black tuxedo he bought from Goodwill to wear to a friends wedding a few years ago. He was quite proud of his tux and bragged that it cost him only $10. Rather, he paid $6 for the tux and $4 to have it cleaned! He was so proud of his “bargain”!

When I finished dressing to go to my mother’s funeral, I turned to see Dad strutting into the room in his beautiful $10 tuxedo, complete with tails and a worn red silk rose attached to the lapel. I’m sorry, but I busted out laughing! We laughed together. Then we laughed and cried. But the tears washed out our souls and helped us to prepare for the lengthy and slow healing process. Yes, Dad did wear his tux to her funeral. However, I gently plucked the fake rose from the lapel and placed it in his pocket.

Only ten short months later, I ended up having to bury my father, too. But the memory of that tux still brings a grin to my face and a smile to my heart. By the way, we buried Dad in his favorite suit, but with a real red rose on the lapel. I know he would have been proud!

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By Changing Your Thinking

By Unknown (One of the classic inspirational poems)

By Changing Your Thinking,

You change your beliefs;

When you change your beliefs,

You change your expectations;

When you change your expectations,

You change your attitude;

When you change your attitude,

You change your behavior;

When you change your behavior,

You change your performance;

When you change your performance;

You Change Your Life!

 

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Moving stories about Grief and those left behind

Grief Through the Eyes of Children at Camp Jonathan

By: Author Unknown

Jonathan was a six-year old boy who died in 1988. Social worker Mary Lee Carroll, LCSW, served as his hospice volunteer. Her work with him and his spirit inspired Ms. Carroll to develop a pediatric bereavement program for a local hospice in Connecticut. In 1994, the organization received a grant from the Junior League of Waterbury, Connecticut, to sponsor Camp Jonathan. In 1999, Camp Jonathan was incorporated and now stands alone, and serves the needs of the bereaved in the Watertown area of Connecticut.

Every summer, Camp Jonathan sponsors a week-long summer day camp for bereaved children who have suffered the death of a significant person in their lives. The comments below on the nature ofgrief were made by children who attended a one-week support program in July 2005.

 

When A New Born Baby Dies

By: Author Unknown

When my son Gabriel was stillborn at 21 weeks we were blindsided. I had no idea that in this age of modern medicine and in a country as prosperous as the United States that babies still died. I thought it was something that only happened in third world counties, or maybe back in the pioneer days. And yet, it does happen.

When a baby dies it is hard on the entire family — but I can imagine it is uniquely hard for a grandparent. Not only are you, yourself grieving the loss of your grandbaby, but your own child is hurting as well. What do you do? What CAN you do?


Often people do nothing. It used to be that when a baby died (either before or shortly after birth), the mother was not allowed to hold or see her child. She was told to forget and to try again as soon as possible. Things have changed. It has been discovered that it is better for the healing process if the mom is able to see her baby if possible; for the parents to hold and dress and photograph and name their child. If the baby was lost earlier in the pregnancy the parents may not be able to do even this. But the moment a mom finds out she is expecting she starts making plans for, and loving, her child. A loss at any stage is devastating. To be told to forget and move on can be hurtful; no matter how well intentioned the advice is.


There are support groups to help a family facing this trial. But even though this outside help is important, I often hear that families do not feel supported by those closest to them: their own family members. Part of this is due to differences in how our generations have been told to grieve. Part of it is probably due to the fact that family members are grieving themselves. And part of it, maybe, is that it is just too sad. Too sad to think about and too sad to talk about and certainly too sad to make a particular point to remember. And yet, that is often exactly what grieving parents need, people to remember.

 

You need to do what is best for you while grieving your grandchild. Nobody grieves the same and there is no straight path for healing from this loss. But it is also important to reach out to your child.

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I Regretted But It Was Too Late

By: Author Unknown

I woke up one morning hearing my grandma (who lives a few houses away from us) shouting for my mom to help call the ambulance. Within minutes, an ambulance came and brought my uncle to the hospital. I was so shocked, I did not know what had happened! There we were, all preparing for his wedding that was going to happen next week, and then all of a sudden he was going to the hospital?

I knelt down and prayed. And right after I prayed, my mom called and told me, he’s gone. Everyone was shocked because no one even knew what happened. He was a cheerful and playful uncle everyone loved. I doubted life after that.

Just a few years later, life poured everything on me. I was chosen to lead the biggest club in my school. I was then chosen as the school’s swimming team’s captain and we had to defend the champion title. At that time, I wished there were a few of me to attend to everything! I was interviewed, invited to events, asked to give talks, flew all around the country and so on.

Then, in the midst of everything, I broke down. I was so tired of everything I turned to my best friend, Ryan, and said, “I feel like quitting”. He said, “Only losers quit and I believe, we all believe, you are not one.” With that, I continued on with all my activities. Ryan gave me a tremendous amount of support during that time.


One day, after a tiring trip to the beach, I came home and went to bed early. Upon waking up, I received a call that told me something that changed my life, “Ryan passed away…….. He drowned”.


I cannot describe how I felt at that very moment. Emotions filled me. Anger – towards Ryan for not keeping his promise, and towards God for taking everyone away. Guilt – because I never had the chance to tell Ryan and my uncle how much I appreciated them both and cherish them both. Sadness because all my supports are taken away!


I continued to wallow in my own self-pity and shut the door behind me. I told myself, “this reality is too real! I cannot take it.” I was living a life where I wanted every day to be the last.


Then Ryan’s mom called me to his house. She gave me Ryan’s artworks and some other notes and told me, “He is now in a better place.


I woke up. I totally woke up and I told myself, I had the privilege to know him. And to know my uncle. One showed me how to be happy with life and one gave me so much support just because he wanted me to succeed. They are gone but I will continue their legacy, all that they have taught me.


And I know that I have only this one chance to live life, to taste life. I am not going to waste this very chance. I am going to shape it, use it and make it the way I want it to be so that when I leave one day, I can leave behind an identity. An identity I want people to remember me as. We’ve got only one chance to live so live it the right way. Don’t waste it!

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Abortion Regret

Copyright © 1998 Colleen Graham Robertson

I had just returned home from the clinic. I had made my choice…I’d had an abortion. Tired, weary and hurting I tried to sleep.


It wasn’t a physical hurt, but a hurt that came from deep within me, a pain that branched out to every part of my being. I had never hurt like this before. Why was I feeling like this now? Why didn’t somebody tell me it would be like this? At the time before the abortion I was convinced it wasn’t even a baby. I remembered what a friend had said, “It’s not even a baby yet, it’s only a mass of tissue. So don’t worry about it. Once it’s done it’s over with!” But it’s not over! This is the worst kind of hurt. Will it ever go away? What in the world have I done? God, please forgive me!

I lie there, silent, my thoughts screaming through my head.


After a long, restless struggle, I began to feel myself drifting off. Somewhere between wakefulness and sleep I had this sensation, it was as if I were rising upward, floating, weightlessly towering far above the world below.
Suddenly, I found myself in a place far beyond my imagination. I first recall the overwhelming fragrance of what seemed to be a vast field of flowers, an awesome scent. Was I dreaming?


As I opened my eyes, breathlessly, I took it all in. Somehow, I had been transformed to another world. Without being told, I knew my eyes beheld the Celestial City. This unearthly splendor I was experiencing could not be matched by any earthly pleasure. The feeling of utter bliss stirred my senses.


As I stood enchanted by the magnificence surrounding me, I began to hear a faint cry somewhere in the distance. Wondering where it was coming from, instantly, there I was: the Pearly Gates, even more magnificent than my grandmother had described to me growing up.


There, at the foot of the gate, where the heart-broken sobs rang out, was a small child. The child’s cries penetrated my soul as if it were my own pain, until my face too was streaked with tears. “Sweetheart,” I said, “Why are you crying?”


The child replied, “The Gate Keeper said he has no name recorded for me in his Great Book, because I have no name. But it’s not my fault! I had no choice; I was aborted.”


It wasn’t until that moment I realized that this child was my own. I held my child as we cried until we saw it, a light; a light so brilliant, so radiant a glow, that it warmed our hearts and dried our tears. Out of that light we heard a voice, like divine music pronounce: “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for such is the kingdom of Heaven. Your name is, My Child.”


The name “My Child” had no more been spoken than it appeared in the Lamb’s Book of Life. At that instant, the Gate Keeper opened the gate and we heard as the trumpet blew an angelic choir singing, and it was then that we saw Him. It was Jesus, in all His glory. We knew it was Jesus, as he held out his arms, we could see his nail scarred hands. Without hesitation My Child ran to Him and was tenderly lifted up into His warm embrace. He looked to me saying, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. In all things set an example by doing what is good. Now go and sin no more!”


Suddenly, I was swept back to the world I thought I had left behind. Once again, I lie there silent, regretful, pondering over the wrong I had done.


Yet, anticipating the days ahead and longing to make known to others the love and forgiveness I now knew I was destined to share…Jesus!


Still, that choice would have to be theirs.

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Today is Thanksgiving Day... And Today is Jason's Birthday

By: Author Unknown

Today is Thanksgiving Day…and today is Jason’s birthday…and we are so thankful that Jason came to be our son on November 26th, l974. Jason would be 35 today…how the years have flown by and stood still at the same time.


Smiles come to us as we remember when Jason was a little boy…he loved learning…going to school…and loved creating, writing and taping TV shows, making his own TV guides.

Jason had a love of music…all kinds…good music from the 70’s…especially The Eagles…Huey Lewis…Steely Dan…Billy Joel…loved good Jazz…Miles Davis…John Coltrane…and even Frank Sinatra… This time of the year brings me memories of how Jason would give me a list of “hard to find” CD’s, as he got older…somehow I managed to find them all…I so remember the smile on his face…so sweet.


Jason loved comedy and had a wonderful sense of humor…you have heard me say that if you have ever watched Seinfeld…then you have seen Jason!…Jason had taped all of the shows…I had never watched it, but after Jason left us for his new life…Seinfeld became a part of our life…and still is… Several years ago, Jerry performed here…and I met him… And I know that this happened only because of Jason…no other explanation.

 

We miss Jason everyday…and always will…as all of you know…grief is a lifelong journey…and many of you cannot see this now…but blessings will come to you because your child lived…A couple of months after Jason died…and I was at a very low place… A poem came into my head one morning…and it starts like this…Mom, please don’t feel guilty…It was just my time to go… I know the words came to me from Jason…We all come to earth for our lifetime…and Jason’s was…24 years, 4 months and 15 days…for that we are thankful.


Life is a miracle…and we are all miracles…we are here to learn, to share, to love and to give to others… Today…on Thanksgiving…and Jason’s birthday, I would like for you to take the time to give the gift of love to someone you know, or maybe someone you don’t know…for when we give love to others it comes back to us and miracles take place… We all know how brief life is here on this earth. We will remember the miracle of Jason coming to be our son and we are better because of him.


Happy Birthday Jason…how appropriate is this quote from Jerry Seinfeld…I can hear Jason’s wonderful laugh…


“Life is truely a ride. We are all strapped in and no one can stop it! As you make each passage from youth to adulthood to maturity, sometimes you put your arms up and scream, sometimes you just hang onto the bar in front of you. But the RIDE is the thing. I think the most you can hope for at the end of life is that your hair is messed, you are out of breath…and you didn’t throw up.” —Jerry Seinfeld


We can shed tears that he’s gone…or we can smile because he lived! That is what Jason would want us to do. He wants us to live, to smile, and to know that he is still with us!


Jason…You blessed our lives and still do. Thank you for the gift of YOU…for helping us to grow and become better…we will keep trying.


We have alot to be thankful for today…JASON…his family…his friends…Sweet Memories.


Be thankful today…and be blessed.

 

We love you,
Mom , Dad and Jeff
Joy, Mike and Jeff Curnutt

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Unexpected Healing: A Memoir of a Father's Death to Cancer

By: Author Unknown

“If anyone strikes my heart, it does not break, but it bursts and the flame coming out of it becomes a torch on my path.”- Hazrat Inaya.


I had arrived at the house that Tuesday evening, the day he died. When my mother’s call reached me, the panic only mildly tempered in her voice, all she said was, “It’s really bad.”A nurse was there, holding a stethoscope to his heart, as were the two loving Filipino care givers, Arnell and Oscar. Over the last few months they had worked and slept there 24 hours and had become part of the family. My mother managed to contact the priest in time to deliver the last rites. 

I stood by the end of his bed, head bowed, reciting the prayers with the rest of them. My dad lay there, cross-eyed and still from the morphine. He was uncharacteristically quiet.


It startles me that I actually watched him take his last breath. Fitting I suppose because he watched me take my first. He made me and now I would carry his DNA to the end of my life, a strange sort of passing of the baton. I have my father’s feet: Knobby and narrow, and not especially pretty. These past several months I spent many hours massaging his feet, he liked that, and I had noticed the similarity. When they carried his body out a few hours later and his feet poked through the end of the bag, I was reminded of this again. The odd things that made me feel a part of him, here was another to add to the absurdity of death. And dying. How it all began.


My father and I were never friends. Growing up, he made fun of my looks (my Irish- Welsh genetics had proffered me a pointy chin and square masculine jaw), chided me for my spotty intelligence, and generally instilled intimidation. I regarded him suspiciously and often fearfully. His unpredictable nature was both bombastic and critical, snapping into hilarious and sweet on the turn of a dime. His illness had been with him twenty-two years, but the real end, the sharp decline, was in the last two. It was during that time when our relationship, mercifully and surprisingly, improved.


When someone is very sick, their loved ones actually get sick, too. Our sickness is one of worry, concern, and the whittling away of our energy. Inexplicably, we also carry a surplus of optimism. One has to be optimistic. When I got my dad to walk around the pool with his cane, swearing and complaining the entire five feet, I felt like the head cheerleader at the home game.


Sometimes the triumphs were smaller, like getting him to eat half a sandwich. He loved bacon on a well-toasted English muffin. And still other times, the best I could rally a cheer for was him sleeping through the night without keeping my mother up every hour. Often I didn’t even know what I was rooting for: wellness, distraction from illness, appearance of health or balance or hope, or just an ordinary day where nothing, no crisis at all, happened. Dying of cancer is very active, very much a show and it takes everyone with it.


Here’s what I learned: Watching someone die slowly is impossible, horrendous, and insurmountable. But you do it anyway. I can’t tell you when exactly, but the role of cheerleader morphed into the role of solider. Now I had been recruited for this tour of duty.


My mother and I took turns answering the baby monitor. I had purchased one as a solution to our many worries about not hearing him from other rooms. We took turns dashing up the stairs when we heard his call: straighten the bed sheets, get more protein drink, and help him to the bathroom. We were soldiers in the war, hyper alert for anything, and we were not surprised when warfare came. Vomiting, mood swings, rage, and despair. “When am I going to get over this thing?” my child-like father would ask. The only answer was the one never replied.


And what other battles was I fighting? What were our weapons? You know already the enemy is winning, that there isn’t going to be a happy ending, so the battle is for capturing every possible second left. And to be acutely present to it, pressing into the pages of your memory because both time and the disease are closing in.


Like a war zone, my parent’s house descended into chaos. Every possible surface was filled with mountains of medicine bottles, scraps of paper, and half-eaten bowls of food. Upon entering the kitchen in search for scissors and discovering my mom popping open another bottle of wine, nearly toppling the cat off the table as she poured, I made her promise we would never slide into the likes of “Grey Gardens.” This made her laugh. It was good to make her laugh. I made a point to do that when I could. Laughter was a tricky tool in my family. Funny, but often duplicitous, especially to my dad who built a career on jokes.


What comes with a tidal wave personality like his was a well equipped vocabulary for killing anything in its path, and his viciousness took no prisoners. My dad craved gobs of attention, with appetites both extravagant and massive. A daughter of strength and moderation was no match for him and our interactions were frictional.


Back to the last six weeks of his life – while spending most of the day in bed and rarely getting downstairs, he asked me to read the Sunday comics to him. This event involved explaining verbally what was in each picture. I employed various cartoon-like voices to better create the world of the comic strips. He found my interpretations less than stellar and let me know, but complimented me for a valiant effort. It remains a lovely moment for me. Another lighter moment: Upon administering medicinal marijuana in lollypop form to ease his nausea, my father looked up from his bed, sucker neatly wedged between his lips and said, “Hey Ames – did you ever think it would come to this, feeding your father pot?” No, I never did. He thanked me often for all the help.


“I am so lucky,” he once said after… well does it matter?


“No, I am the lucky one,” was my reply. Those wondrous moments slip in quietly like morning light, genuine and warm.


Some days I lay next to him and hold his hand while we listened to music or watched baseball. The World Series was on and he tried to explain the game to me. Time was moving and he had only so much left. Those afternoons I would bring my arsenal of good cheer for that was within my reach. That is what I could do. I read David Sedaris to him, brought funny stories from the paper, (one he really laughed at that involved a man blaming his cat for surfing a number of pornographic websites) and made him brownies. Throughout my entire life my dad lived on one side of the chasm and me the other, but this illness spun a thread that reached across and held us together.


Most of the time I held it together, both for him and for my mom. I stuffed it all inside until I could get home and release the vapors of anguish. There was one moment though, when even I couldn’t solider it through. I remember the day was about two weeks before his death. My father loved the TV channel where they played music. He particularly loved the Broadway station. La Cage Aux Follies was playing and in a burst of energy, my father in a rather robust voice chimed in with the refrain, “I am what I am..” It was the most vigor I had seen him in months and it made me smile for the rest of the day.


Quite the contrary came a week later. One afternoon I was laying next to him, trying to soothe him, his hand slipping out and away from mine. He was fidgeting and angry and rolled over. I could hear the labored breathing and grew alarmed at the change of his skin. I noticed that particular day he looked ghoulishly white and pasty, a reminder of the disease and its residency in his body. Over the TV came the slow refrain of Barbara Streisand singing, “Happy Days are here again.”The picture of his nearly inert body, his twitching feet searching for the covers, and the dark evening light broke the dam and my tears gave way. That day I lost the battle.

The funeral was a circus. Having gained a reputation as the dark sheep of the family, the one who left and spent some time away from the family, my attendance was met coldly. Death becomes so personal that is it almost comedic. I witnessed all the hands gripping too tightly to the cocktail glasses, the false frozen smiles, and the well-intentioned, impotent words. I stayed upstairs and lay on the bed where my father had been, thinking about him and hoping where ever he went it was peaceful.

Grieving isn’t about forgetting. It’s about dividing up one’s feelings. Portions to mourn and release and portions to re-claim and build again. It is architecture and construction – creative, tedious and unpredictable.


At his memorial everyone spoke of his large appetites, and his robust joy of life. I do not share that with him. I am moderate, cautious of this world, a small foot in it at best. To my credit, I have built a solid relationship with myself, having navigated my interior deeply and thoroughly. My dad did not. He couldn’t or wouldn’t access his personal self, I suppose because his public self was so bright and playful. The truth is I believe what lay deep in there terrified him and so he scooted away from everything too emotional or candid. Uncomfortable with intimacy, with anything that involved self reflection, we were strangers from foreign lands, joined together in crisis.


The day after he died my mother immediately had the handicap rails and ramps, bars and stools all stripped. She wanted no reminders. There is a steely practicality to my mother, her Irish ruggedness, her “forward moving, stay in line solider” attitude. We lost this battle, but we have to keep moving. She confessed there were times lo these many months that were so excruciating that she wanted to get in her car and drive far far away. The anguish of watching someone die is so overwhelming, so impossible that it is to marvel anyone can manage it. When the brink of my despair broke and fell before me, I was shocked to see that same pain created something even more astonishing: My heart had grown and taken on a new shape.


The weeks afterward: random moments that break me up. Weird reminders, wheelchairs, canes, the smell of bacon. What do we all silently promise to do to the ones who made us? We promise to hold their hand.
Cancer was my prison, dad was the prisoner, and the light through the cell window was love. He wasn’t freed in the traditional sense, but I believe his heart was given redemption. So was mine. I never did impress him much with my intelligence or wit, nor did he me. Our conversations were never deep. Who would have guessed that I felt the closest to him when in the silence we held hands and watched CSI? There was no need to dazzle with words – words were futile and false. But I had the most elegant of weapons – a blunt sword that required simply holding, not brandishing. It was what reflected off the shiny tip that mattered. The picture of father and daughter connected by flesh, quiet and undisguised.


I do not have regrets. I spent precious time with him that weaved the smallest strand we could both tread across. It was a joint effort and one that I know involved a series of miracles. My heart is shattered for sure, but like a mirror that has fallen to the ground and the pieces have cracked and splintered, they can also be glued together. More profoundly, what is now reflected back will be better. For that is the thing about death. You change. And if you were present to it you will absorb this experience into the gallery of your life. Turns out, you don’t acquire wisdom: You become it.


As horrifying as it sounds, disease is a gift. All this time I thought I was showing up for him, administering mercy and kindness to help with the transition. But I was there for me. I suppose I had always wanted a close relationship with my father, I would have asked that he always be kind to me, respectful, and supportive. I would have hoped he and I could have been great friends, with private jokes, and mutual tastes. We weren’t and I have often wondered what other woman I would be had I had his nurturing. My dad was not my hero. He was an unformed man, demonized by his excesses and crippled emotional blankness. Sometimes when I lie on my bed, I reach my hand across the pillow like I did all those months. His hand isn’t there, but I can see his face looking back at me, with gratitude in his eyes. Never underestimate the power of holding a hand.

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Mother Learns How to Comfort Bereaved Son

By: Nina Bennett

I was used to fixing the problems Timothy, my youngest son, encountered when he was a child. If his older brother knocked down his castle of blocks, I helped him rebuild it. When he fell down learning to walk, I could pick him up. When he tumbled off his bike, I would bandage his scraped knee and send him on his way again. As he made his way through the teenage years, I was there to listen, offer advice if asked, and advocate for him when it was needed. I was faced with many difficult situations while raising two sons, but there was never one I couldn’t at least make better.

When Tim’s daughter Maddy was stillborn, I was finally confronted with something I couldn’t fix. Not only was I unable to fix it, I couldn’t even make it better. The weight of this fall was so great that I didn’t know how to even begin to stand Tim back on his feet. I had no idea of how to parent a bereaved child. As vast and rich as the English language is, I could find no words to ease his pain.


I agonized over every interaction. Should I call him? What should I say? Fearing for his mental health, how many phone calls do I let go unanswered before I intervene? Should I just go to his house and pound on the door? If I don’t call or go over, will he realize that I am trying to be respectful or will he think I don’t care?


I have never felt more powerless in my life. I cried as often and as hard for my son as I did for myself. Not only was I grieving my granddaughter, I was also mourning my son as I had known him. Images of the wonderful man my son had grown to be played through my mind. The look of sheer joy on his wedding day, the excitement in his voice when he called to tell me of his wife’s pregnancy, the exuberance shown while playing with his niece and nephew. The mother in me wanted – no, needed – to take care of him. And yet there was absolutely nothing I could do.


Just as my son had to learn a different kind of parenting when his first child was stillborn, so did I. Eventually, I realized that I could parent Tim by remembering his daughter. As much as I wished to, I couldn’t bear his grief for him but I could share it.


Rather than exhibit a misguided facade of emotional control, I could be honest in showing my son how much I love and miss his daughter. She has no physical presence in this world, but I do. I can tell her story, I can give witness to her life and I can ensure her place in our family. Through my writing and speaking, I can let my son see the impact on others of his daughter’s stillbirth.


An essential part of parenting is to set an example for your children, to instill your values and beliefs by living them. In an effort to display unconditional love, I embraced and supported the decisions my son made when his daughter was stillborn without attempting to influence them.

 

One of the most important life lessons I’ve learned from Maddy is to appreciate the beauty of the journey. Too often in life we rush through the journey, intent on reaching the destination. In some instances, the destination becomes the journey. I can parent my bereaved son by showing him that it is possible to reinvest in living, that there is still joy to be found, and that the journeys of his life, while not always what he would wish them to be, are indeed beautiful.

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Death of Grandchild is a Double Loss

By: Sherry Van Pelt

My name is Sherry Van Pelt. I am a wife to my husband Max of 43 years, a mother of three and a grandmother of three. I am also an author and speaker.


April 11 was my second-born grandson, Conner’s, birthday. He would have been 16 this year. Oh, the fun age. The 16th birthday, to me, is when you no longer feel like you are a child but not quite an adult. You aren’t quite sure where to go with those feelings you have inside you. Also, the child seems to change physically.

But I will never get to see those changes in my grandson. As a matter of fact, I never got to share any birthdays with him as he was stillborn. To this day, we do not know what happened on his day of birth, but he stopped breathing shortly before he was born. No reason was ever given.


I can still feel the horrific chain of events of that day. As a grandparent, I wasn’t sure what to do. Where is there a handbook written on “What to do when you grandchild dies?”. As a grandparent, you are in such grief and in such complete shock yourself, you aren’t sure what to do first when you are given the news of the death of the baby – and your grandbaby!


I think I remember sitting on the edge of the bed completely stunned at first thinking this can’t be happening. The pregnancy was so normal, so what went wrong?


The medical staff had taken my daughter into the operating room to do an emergency C-Section, and when the doctor came out to give us the unbelievable news, I wrapped my arms around my son-in-law, David, and sobbed with him. Later, we went to see Conner in his bassinet together and just wept. The pain in my heart was so deep as I watched his daddy hold him; he shook with grief.


Suddenly, my mind whirled as I thought: What do I do now? And what do I tell my daughter when she wakes up?
After awhile, I called my husband and the other grandparents. Then I sat and waited for my daughter to come back to her room. While waiting, I prayed and prayed for God to give me the strength to help my daughter through this. You see, a grandparent has the pain of losing a grandchild and then there is the enormous pain that you have for your own child. I don’t know which hurts worse.

When Michelle (my daughter) came out, she and David cried like I’ve never seen anyone cry before. It tore me up inside. It took my breath away. I felt smothered. Then my daughter reached out to me, and we hugged and she asked me “why?” Again, no answer. All I could do was hang on to her tight and give her my love and support.

I remember on the day we lost Conner seeing all the people in the hospital walking around. Some were talking and laughing, others having lunch in the café, others leaving in their cars, and I just wanted to yell, “Hey, stop, I just lost my grandson! You need to stop and grieve with me! Can’t you see I am hurting?!” But the world goes on around us.


The pain was at times overwhelming. I felt helpless. I wanted to fix the problem. But I couldn’t. There are some things not even a parent can fix. But with my faith in tact, I went forward and was there for my daughter at all times. I respected her times when she just needed to be alone too.


But I also remembered to grieve for my grandson. You have to. You will go through many grieving steps, and you need to take each one as it comes. Your grief won’t go away overnight, and don’t let anyone try to tell you that it will whether you are the parents or grandparents. Also, friends do console the parents, as they should, but often times forget the grandparents are grieving tremendously. People forget that a grandparent grieves twice – once for the grandchild they lost and again for their own child that is hurting.

 

I wasn’t upset with anyone, that is just the way it is. I am thankful I was raised to have strong faith in God and that is what I relied on.

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Stories of Grief

By: Author Unknown

I lost my Mom almost a year ago, and there are times where I just feel like I can not breathe. The grief and loss that comes over me all at once is more than I can bear at times. There are times that my daughter plays the piano and I just can’t breathe, I just can’t listen. The songs she plays are the ones that my Mother taught her. The same ones that she taught me. My daughter finds comfort in this, I want to run screaming. On the other hand I can make some of the dishes (potato salad, deviled eggs etc) that I grew up with and find great peace and comfort and somehow I just know that she is right there helping along the way. 

At times I can sit and talk about my Mom at great length, other times I can’t say one thing without bursting into tears. Sometimes it is one day at a time and other times it is one moment at a time.

__________

I recall a time when I actually called a friend whose husband had died, and I got the answering machine. She hadn’t erased his voice on the machine, and I actually talked to the machine as if I were talking to him. Looking back, I felt a little stupid, but I still felt like I was talking to him.

__________

My sister died in 1998. In her memory, I wore her wedding gown on my wedding day in 2008. Even though it was my second marriage, I wanted her to be there with me and I felt it was a way of honoring her memory and feeling her presence. I know she WAS there because we got married on the beach up north and while the weather had been very unpredictable the previous weeks the day turned out to be sunny and gorgeous.

__________

My brother, a paramedic for a very large city, was killed two years ago by what we thought was a drunk driver while he was on his motorcycle on his way home to his wife and two children. Later, we found out he was run over on purpose – he was hit by a SUV going almost 100 mph – clearly a hate crime and racially motivated. We were devastated. I had no way of knowing then that his death would change me or our family so much. I used to think that life would go on when someone dies – and it does – but when some people die, their presence was so prevalent in our lives that their passing leaves an unfillable hole of depression and despair. Life will go on, but we will never be the same.

__________

I lost my son Ronnie in a head-on collision with a tractor trailer. He was only 38 years old. It happened May 7, 2009 in Lucerne Valley Ca. the Thursday before Mothers Day and 3 weeks before he was 39 years old. Every day I wake up, he is the first thing on my mind and every night before I go to bed I look at his picture. I dream of him all the time. I planted a flower at the crash site and was watering it every week but it got to be so hard to do this. Everyone says it takes time. Time is all I have left. I kept a lot of his things and look at them all the time. Maybe someday this will get a little easier. I “will” see him again someday. I know I will.

 

__________

My beloved father passed on August 10, 2010 and I am still in shock. I cope by working, but as soon as I return home, pass his bedroom, walk down the hallway, view family photos on the bookshelf, counters, and walls I quietly weep to myself and keep thinking that he will walk out his room and ask what’s for dinner. As we ate our meal he would always tell me, ” I’m tired of living” and I would respond quickly by saying, “Oh, Dad you’re 85 and your grandmother lived to be 104”. He would laugh and say, “Old soldiers never die, they just smell that way!” I love him very much and I will always cherish the memories, but I have mixed feelings of sadness, guilt, love, and confusion. I will cope and heal as time goes by.

__________

I lost one of my twin sons at the age of 27 last year. I grieve every single day for him. People are so insensitive in that they say “well, you still have one son left.” Yes, that’s true, but my children are my heart & soul & it’s raining in my heart. Each child is different, they have their own personalities & I truly miss my son’s sense of humor, his generosity & just everything about him, especially his hugs for me. I don’t think we ever “get over” grieving. It hasn’t faded for me & I surly don’t want to ever forget how wonderful my child was & I do appreciate my other son, very much. I try to see him or call him as much as I can & as much as he allows! I tell him every time I talk to him that I love him. I too pray that there is another time & place where I will be reunited with my child.

__________

I lost my son 1 year, 4 months, 8 days and 1 hour ago. Every day I cry. I wake up every morning to the reality that he is gone. I have 2 of his shirts that he had on the day before he died with his scent still on them. I know I sound like I am nuts, but I go in my closet and look at his pictures and smell him. I live one day at a time. I don’t know how long this will go on (maybe till I am gone, who knows). I lost him in a way that is so hard to get over. But I believe that I will see him again some day.

__________

My father died 15 years ago and every day I write his name along with the names of my deceased brother, grandparents, uncle and aunt. They are not here to write their names…I do it in honor of them.

__________

I lost my son at the age of 14 due to suicide (popular in our school district at the time), that was 17 years ago and it still feels like yesterday. I did not go to counseling, did not take meds and was ok but had a lot of so called friends tell a lot of BS stories. I did have a long talk with my daughter about the issue and we came to terms with the issue. So I take the day off work every year on that day to reflect the good times we had that day was December 7,1993.

__________

I lost my fiancee to a fatal accident 2 years ago today. I still wear the ring he bought me every day. He was a local DJ and also taught me to. So at least once every couple months I will book a DJ party just so that when the music starts I can feel him again. I still wear his t shirts to bed at night, and talk to him. The pain was so awful I began experiencing panic attacks and night terrors, which still occur just not as frequently. I am currently seeing a life counseling therapist and taking anti-anxiety meds to help, but the best therapy is spraying his cologne on his pillow before I go to sleep.

__________

 

My twin sister was murdered in January of this year. It’s like the earth was knocked off its axis – I feel some days like I might have to drive myself to the pysch unit because I feel like I’m going crazy. However, it passes and I just continue to work through it one second, one minute, on hour at a time. Such a huge loss – miss her every day, all day long.

__________

 

when my cousin died, she was like my sister and we grew up together like sisters, i would send her emails and would IM her yahoo messenger…it wasnt a “not letting go” thing i think it was just “holding on to memories” thing, my way, we never used to see alot of each other physically but we talked ALL the time on messenger and emails..miss you sister-girl!

__________

I had a thought to pick up the phone and call my mommy yesterday to see how she was doing and to hear her sweet voice, but after a moment I remembered that she had died 2yrs ago. Yes in reality I never forget that she has passed away, yet sometimes for a moment I get lost in thought. Today when I get a sweet message on my phone, when it touches my heart to hear my little girls voice or hear my man tell me how much he loves me and there is joy in their voices, I think to myself…I better save this because you just never know… you never know when tomorrow may not come. Death has taught me so much about life and myself. My heart goes out to all of you that commented on this page.

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A Life Changing Cup of Coffee

By: © Betty Sue Eaton

Have you ever had a truth slammed into your gut like the fist of God getting your attention? I had one such experience about six months after my daughter, Paula’s death. As I visited with a new neighbor in our new place of residence, I thought to find comfort in a sympathetic woman about my age. She appeared in her driveway as I planted the flowers – mostly ‘mums’ from Paula’s funeral. She introduced herself as Kathy, and she was accompanied by her two beautiful little daughters, four-year old Elizabeth, and six-year old Elaine.

Chatting for a moment about the mums, I explained how I came by them. She invited me in for a cup of coffee and we continued to share our life stories with each other. I remarked at how much Elizabeth resembles Clyde, and Elaine looked just like her. She laughed and then told me a harrowing story of how she and Clyde came to have the girls.

She said that for four years they had been Mommie and Daddy to two little boys, and for two years they had been Mommie and Daddy to no one. I thought I had suffered the greatest loss any mother – or family- could possible go through, until I heard Kathy’s experience. It seems that she, her husband, Clyde, and their two sons and a nephew were returning to Midland after a summer retreat in Walla Walla, Washington. After a long night drive, they stopped to admire the vistas of the Grand Canyon leaving the two little boys, one aged 4 and the other eight months, in the back seat of the car asleep, while she, Clyde and the nephew got out and stretched their tired muscles. Suddenly, as they watched helplessly, the brakes on the car failed and the car with the little boys inside plunged over the precipice and were gone! Hearing this dreadful story, I was horrified. Her story hit me in the pit of my stomach like a fist and I felt my heart break.

She continued. In their church there were a large number of orphaned children and her girls were two of those. Two years after the death of their little boys, she and Clyde adopted Elizabeth and Elaine and never looked back. “Now, for two years”, she said, “We are Mommie and Daddy to two wonderful little girls. I am pleased that you think they look like us!”

Kathy taught me a wonderful lesson that day without even realizing it. Count your blessings even when one of them has been taken away! After all, I still had two of my children and for a time, she and Clyde had none of theirs. I couldn’t, and still can’t imagine what they must have endured with the loss their entire family at one time, and what strength they had to muster to survive such a dreadful tragedy! There is only one way they could have: They put their total trust in God. They never questioned His will, but instead, chose to move forward and reach out to two little girls who desperately needed a Mommy and Daddy.

I resolved that day, that morning, that I would not second-guess my loss anymore, but ins tead would appreciate all the more having had Paula for a short time and love Pam and Richard even more. I would thank God every day for the blessings He had showered on me and not complain when things did not go strictly according to me, because He is the Master, not me. Kathy will never know the impact her story had on me nor the great lesson she taught me over a cup of coffee, for which I will forever be thankful.

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Suggestions for Someone Who's Grieving

By: James E. Miller

Something has left your life and changed it. However much you may wish otherwise, you will never be the same.
What has happened to you may be the most heart-wrenching experience you have ever known. Perhaps you have lost what you thought you could not possibly live without. Perhaps something has been taken from you that has given your life deep meaning and great joy. Perhaps you have been given news that threatens to be your undoing.

You may find that each day has become an agony for you, that you cannot escape your anguish. You may know what it’s like to finally fall asleep, only to discover that your torture does not leave you; it follows you in your dreams. When you awaken, it stabs at you once more. You may wonder how long you’ll be able to go on living like this. You may wonder if it will ever get better, or if there will be anything to hope for or live for again.


It’s possible that what has happened to you may not be the worst thing you’ve ever known. You may be able to recall times in your life when your situation seemed more trying than it does now. And yet, you may still find that the experience with which you’re now confronted leaves you shaken and unnerved. Your feelings may rush over you unpredictably, beyond your control. You may hurt deep inside. You may wonder how long your life will go on this way.


However long this troubling time lasts, chances are it will seem too long.


Almost always it goes on too long for people around you, especially those who do not understand how much your life has been affected. They may want you to return to normal more quickly than you’re able. They may not realize that your “old normal” may not be your “new normal.” They may act concerned if your sadness persists. They may resist your needing to talk about what has happened to you, and what is happening within you.


Your grieving may go on longer than you want it to. You may tire of feeling always tired. You may grow weary of your weariness. You may feel weakened by the continuing pain. Your task, however, is to remain in your pain long enough—not a day longer than you need to, but not a day less than your loss demands. For however uncomfortable this time is for you, it is serving a purpose. It is helping you heal. And all wounds heal the same way—from the inside out.


If you remember nothing else, remember this: you are not alone. Others have made the journey before that you are making now, and they have returned to lead lives that are both engaging and fulfilling. Others are making a similar journey at this moment and they are learning as you are learning. Others are around you who wish to support you and to do what they can for you. There are companions for you along the way. You may not have experienced that yet, but they’re there.


Not all the thoughts written here will be equally appropriate for you. Some will fit your situation better than others. Take the ideas and suggestions that suit you the best and offer you the most. Then leave the rest for other people, or for another time in your life. May you find here a sense of hope and the assurance that all is not lost. Yes, you have been hurt. Yes, your path is not easy. Yes, the way seems long. But, no, you do not have to suffer forever. No, you do not have to be completely overcome. No, you do not have to travel entirely alone. You can do what you fear you cannot. You can find ways to help yourself and ways to be helped. You can make this a time of growth, and you can become the person you wish to become.


In other words, you can heal. You can be whole again. You can be you.

 

The best way to handle your feelings is not to “handle” them but to feel them.


You may receive unhelpful messages from others about how to deal with your feelings as you go through this chaotic time of your life. You may receive such messages even from yourself. Here are three examples:
“You must be strong now.” Sometimes you’re expected to be strong for your own sake, and sometimes it’s for other people, usually those in your own family. “Be strong,” of course, has another translation: “Don’t show that you’re weak by putting your emotions on open display.”


“You’re handling this very well.” The translation here is, “You’re not crying and acting upset in front of others.” It’s reported that an entire generation took important cues about handling their loss from Jackie Kennedy on national TV in the days following JFK’s murder. Her private, reserved way need not be yours.


“Cheer up. You’ll be over this soon.” Many people know how to respond better to happy faces than sad ones. They have special difficulty when those faces stay sad for a long time. In a subtle way they’re saying to people like you, “Hurry up now. Let’s get this part over with.” They’re saying this more for their own comfort than for yours.


If you hear these or similar messages, you will do yourself a favor to ignore them. The best way to go through this process of dealing with loss is by following your own timetable and with your feelings firmly in place. The healthiest way to deal with your emotions is to feel them as they happen, whenever that is, wherever that occurs.
You may experience feelings you’d expect. You may be sad about what has happened and what it means for your life. You may feel depressed, even despairing. You may find that you’re more afraid than normal. You may feel lonely. You may be even more lonely when you’re with other people, including people you love. You may feel tired all the time. You may be easily distracted.


There are other feelings you may not expect to have. You may be angry, if not enraged. You may be unusually anxious and not understand why. You may feel a real sense of relief, as if a burden has been lifted from you. Afterward you may feel embarrassed that you felt so relieved. You may feel guilty, unexpectedly so.

 

Another sensation you may experience is this: almost no feeling at all. You may feel empty and numb. That’s a common reaction at first. It’s a sign that your body may be protecting you for awhile, until you are more ready to process all that has occurred.

What you are going through is an ordeal. It takes courage to face all you must face. It takes a huge amount of ene