Why Is It So Hard To Change?

May 23, 2010 by  
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4514367690_b9e59f6ac1_mI think one of the reasons it is so hard, it’s because in most cases that would mean we would have to come to terms with having been, having done or having acted in the “wrong” way.

And so because we are so attached to the concepts of right and wrong the intermediary step of recognizing that we and life could have been different if only we had known what we know now, a difficult one to take.

Let me be specific:

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Moving Through Grief

May 20, 2010 by  
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When we lose a partner one of the things we also lose is a sense of belonging.  We go from being a team to being an individual.  Sometimes we can even feel disoriented like everyone else has a place to go to except us.  Or that the world is spinning fast and we can barely keep our balance.

This phase happens when we start stepping back into the world.  When we feel we would like to see what else is in the world for us.  This is a delicate time because being frightened can send us into a shell.

During this time it is important to realize 1 – Life as it was is over, and 2 – We have decided to fully experience life again.

Don’t worry about not remembering our loved ones that are no longer here.  We will always remember.  We will always love.  And we will always miss.  But all in a different way.  All giving space to love again.  Because that is what life is: love, resilience, wisdom, experience.

So when you feel off balance take a deep breath and stop thinking.  Go back within and tell yourself you are okay.  Tell yourself one step at a time.

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Thoughts On Grief

May 13, 2010 by  
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When my husband passed away almost two years ago, I kept trying to find meaning in the loss.  How could so much pain be for nothing?

I have since learned that is a very common reaction.  We lose so much that we want something in return; wisdom, insight, super powers, or even just a special seat in heaven.

I remember saying over and over that I was still the same person I had been before Chris got sick and the same person after he died.  But I was wrong.  I would soon learn that loss and grief have a way to bring us face to face with whom we are and life itself.  Many things change after great loses especially how we want to live our lives and what’s important.

In the article by Roshi Joan Halifax, posted on this site (http://theloveprojectinc.com/?p=3015) she writes:  “To deny grief is to rob ourselves of the heavy stones that will eventually be the ballast for the two great accumulations of wisdom and compassion.”

Grief is not something to be desired but if it knocks on your door, let it in, offer it a seat and make friends with it.  It is a strange friendship the one we form with grief; while it rips us apart it also builds us up in a different way.  If we let the friendship flourish from the destruction a deep sense of self will rise.

I can now tell the Deborah of years past that much does change and while I don’t know about a special seat in heaven I do know of a different seat on earth build on solid ballasts.

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.  ~William Shakespeare

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“A Buddhist Perspective on Grieving”

May 12, 2010 by  
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The below is an excerpt from a book by Roshi Joan Halifax.  It is one of the most insightful and delicate pieces on death and dying I’ve ever read.  So I wanted to share with you.

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by Roshi Joan Halifax

The ultimate relationship we can have is with someone who is dying. Here we are often brought to grief, whether we know it or not. Grief can seem like an unbearable experience. But for those of us who have entered the broken world of loss and sorrow, we realize that in the fractured landscape of grief we can find the pieces of our life that we ourselves have forgotten.

Grief may push us into the hard question of Why? Why do I have to suffer like this? Why can’t I get over it? Why did this one have to die? Why… . In the tangled web of “Why,” we cannot find the reasons or words to make sense of our sadness.

Dying people also can grieve before they die. They can grieve in anticipation of their death for all they will seem to lose and what they have lost by being ill. Caregivers will grieve before those they care for have died. They are often saddened by the loss of freedom and options of those that are ill and the knowledge that death will rob them of one more relationship. Those that have been left behind by the dying are often broken apart by the knowledge that they cannot bring back that which has been lost. The irrevocability of it all often leaves them helpless and sad. And then there is the taste of grief in Western culture which is conditioned to possess and not let go.

We all face loss, and perhaps can accept it as a gift, albeit for most us, a terrible one. Maybe we can let loss work us. To deny grief is to rob ourselves of the heavy stones that will eventually be the ballast for the two great accumulations of wisdom and compassion. Grief is often not addressed in contemporary Buddhism. Perhaps it is looked on as a weakness of character or as a failure of practice. But from the point of view of this practitioner, it is a vital part of our very human life, an experience that can open compassion, and an important phase of maturation, giving our lives and practice depth and humility.

To begin, it is important for us to remember that the experience of being with dying for many does not stop at the moment of death. As a caregiver of a dying person or family member who has been at the death of a relative, we may attend the body after death and offer our presence to the community as they and we grieve. When the details of dying and death are settled, then what arises from the depths of the human heart is the many expressions of sorrow when the presence of loss is finally give the room to be seen and felt.

Sometimes grieving lasts not for weeks or months but for years. Frequently the reason why grief is not resolved is that it has not been sufficiently attended to just after the loss of a loved one. Family and friends of the deceased can become consumed by the busyness of the business that happens right after someone dies.

This is one of the great problems that we face in the Western way of dying, that business is so much a part of the experience of dying and death. Survivors often face a complex situation on the material level in the after-death phase. They find themselves looking for a funeral home, letting friends and family know that a death has happened, and creating a funeral service. Unraveling health insurance, taxes, and the last will and testament also take time and energy at this stage. Later there is cleaning up, dividing and giving away the deceased’s property, and other seemingly endless chores of closure. Resorting to the business of death can be a way for survivors to avoid the depth of their own loss.

Like dying, grieving has its phases, and it is important to pass through them.
Similar to the phases of dying, grief can be characterized by numbness and denial, anger, great sorrow, depression, despair and confusion. Finally, there can be acceptance and even transcendence as sorrow has opened the door of appreciation and compassion. These phases are similar to those experienced in a rite of passage: separation, transition, return.

Grief can also arise as a person is dying. Family and friends as well as the one who is dying can experience what is called “anticipatory grief,” the bones of loss already showing. Working with that grief is an important part of what one can do in the care of the dying. In fact, most caregivers have to cross and recross this territory of grief in being with living and dying many times in the course of just one person dying…Continued

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Just One Day Without Expectations

April 30, 2010 by  
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When my husband passed away I felt myself withdrawn from normal everyday conversations. My life felt like anything but normal. His last year on this earth had been filled with doctors and hospitals. Our world had been switched to living on hospital time. Time stood still. My entire focus had been taking care of my husband, anticipating his every need. It was like living in a bubble with one topic of conversation; mortality.

Accepting that no matter how much you try to live a healthy lifestyle, it may not be enough. Accepting that some chapters in our life end no matter how much we fight to keep them open. Paralyzing fear challenges our faith. Confidence can get replaced by insecurity.

To search for meaning while fighting the emotions that you don’t fit in anymore are mentally and physically exhausting. Continually faced with new situations, where and how do we find the courage to stand strong? It seems that one minute we are full of confidence. Then in the blink of an eye, insecurity overcomes your person. Thoughts go flat line. Words escape you. Why?

As an educator and mentor I advocate being kind to yourself. To self reflect asking “Did you do the best you could?” when goals fall short. That’s truly all we can ask of ourselves. A basic principle. Why am I having such difficulty in applying that to me?

Can you make it through a day without expectations of the day, of people, of yourself, of life? twitter @ zen_habits (Leo Babauta)

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Making Friends With Aging And Dying

April 19, 2010 by  
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Yellow Rose

Yellow Rose

Yesterday, I was talking to my dad on the phone about my upcoming visit to Brazil.  We discussed all the things we were planning in doing together and right before I said goodbye my dad said: “I so look forward to seeing you.  I don’t know how many more times I’ll get to see you.”  I felt sad about his remark because it is true.  My dad is 86 years old and we are coming to the end of our path together.

After we hung up the phone I thought about death and aging.  I’m not a morbid person at all but after losing my husband, I’ve become more acquainted with what it actually means to see someone die and to be the one left behind.

Death and aging are part of life and both happen to us every second, or whatever tiniest measure of time there is.  Not being aware of their power is like standing on the shore watching a tsunami approach and doing nothing.

I’m not advocating thinking about aging all the time.  But I’m suggesting being aware of time and not putting all of our eggs in the basket of youth and appearance.  I’m suggesting creating a basket for wisdom, understanding and growth.

I’m also not advocating thinking about dying all the time.  But I’m suggesting being aware of the preciousness of life by relating to others, doing what’s important and not squandering our energy in things that truly don’t matter.

As hard as it may seem, being aware of aging and dying has the power to enrich the life we have today.

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Embrace Grief

April 13, 2010 by  
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Sorrow makes us all children again – destroys all differences of intellect.  The wisest know nothing.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Candles

Candles

It is said there is no bigger regret as the one when we lose someone dear to us without telling how much we loved them    or having shared with them as much as possible.

After having had many troubled relationships, when I met my husband I knew how blessed I was to have met him and I told him that as often as possible.  When he passed there was only the sorrow of having lost him. I embraced my pain with courage as I knew I had to give it a voice.

Grief humbled and demanded my attention to the life I still have.  No to squander it in petty feelings and thoughts.  I have the past in my heart but I don’t live in it. I would not be honoring the love I have within me for my husband if I did so.  I do not think of the future as I know it changes with every thought or action I take in the present.

Grief has inspired me to reach out and make my existence truly mean something to me.

In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.  ~Robert Ingersoll

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Easter Sunday

April 4, 2010 by  
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April 4th, 2010. Easter Sunday. The last time Easter was on April 4th was 1999. A moment of time filled with precious memories…

When I was a toddler I was baptised Catholic along with my sister. Our father was Catholic, our mother Methodist. We were raised in the Methodist Church yet in my mid-20′s I made the decision to convert to Catholicism. When I first met my husband we talked about our faith. As a young boy his family didn’t go to church. In spite of this, his faith grew and he attended the Baptist Church with his friends. Before we married I knew I would be setting aside my dream, of being a family that shared one faith. Yet I loved him deeply. We would become a family that shared our spirituality.

Years passed. Every September, classes would be offered for those interested in joining the Church. I would bring information home for my husband. Nothing ever came of it. Then one year he shocked me. He had already signed up to attend. There were no promises about converting. I completely understood. This was a decision that only he could make. For six months there were weekly classes, then a retreat. It was there, the Saturday before Palm Sunday, he would make his decision. I still remember that evening when he came home. Sit down, we need to talk he says. That next week he not only wanted to become Catholic, he wanted for us to get married in the Church. I was beyond shocked. Asking him exactly when did he think we should get married, I wasn’t prepared for his answer. ”Well I become Catholic next weekend and I think we should get married right after that on Easter Sunday.”

So we did. I stood beside him at the Easter Vigil as he completed his journey to become Catholic. Easter Sunday, April 4, 1999 surrounded by family and friends, we were married, and blessed by the priest who had walked with him as he searched his faith. My dream had come true. Now I would have my husband join my daughter, walking in front of me to receive Communion. We would be a family, now sharing one faith.

Less than ten years later, again we were surrounded by family and friends. The same priest who blessed my husband as he became Catholic and blessed our marriage, would now preside over his funeral Mass and bless his ashes. Emotions swirled. Time stopped. Life became surreal.

Attending Mass is so different now without my husband sitting next to me. I pray to him for strength. I pray for him Eternal Life.

Peace be with you.

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Through Grief Into Life

March 24, 2010 by  
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After my husband passed away I put his wedding ring on a chain and wore it around my neck.  Then I wondered when my own wedding ring should join his in the same chain.  Then one day his ring, my ring and the chain were placed in a velvet box in my closet.

Life goes on.

I miss intimacy.  Not just sex but lying in bed with someone and watching TV, having candle lit dinners, and falling asleep with another person’s arms around me.  I also miss having a man around the house doing things I can’t.  And I miss my husband.

The other day a friend came over and hung the house numbers – I had taken them down while having the house painted – which had been resting in a drawer for the last six months.  His presence in a way made me feel as if I was again one half of a couple and I realized how much I like that feeling.  I love sharing.  I specially like to share the good things I accomplish in work, the fun stuff I do or the nice things I hear from others.  When I’m blue I most often prefer solitude.

After my friend or as a girlfriend called him – borrowed husband – finished the house tasks, I cooked a meal and felt compelled to light candles.  I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t add that I also felt physically attracted to him.  While handing him tools our hands touched and I felt his skin to be soft and smooth.  I watched his arms flex as he worked and my heart skipped a beat.

Life goes on.

This was the first time since my husband passed away nineteen months ago that I felt attracted to anyone.  But it was not the first time I thought about the possibility of being intimate with someone else.  Last month I bought online two sets of sexy lingerie that have been living in a plastic bag in my drawer since their arrival.  They are laying low waiting for the right time to adorn my body.

Of course all these feelings are in my head and heart.  I don’t know how or when they will manifest as a reality but when I daydream my needs for giving and receiving love exist without a hitch.  Kisses and touches happen in a most harmonious way and the shock of being in a new man’s arms after years of being with my husband do not stop me from experiencing the moment.

Reality could be somewhat different.  Fear and guilt might populate my heart. Do my feelings mean I love Chris less than someone else who forever will keep their hearts shut?

No.

I know I will always love Chris and he will always be my husband.  But I also know I have in my heart the space for loving and receiving love from another man.

Life goes on.

I won’t rush anything.  I try my best to live one day at a time as life has shown me that plans often go astray in life’s rambunctious nature.

But I do know one day all the love I have in me will find a worthy recipient and then again on a Sunday I will again wake up late with my man and make him brunch.

I am part of a community of men and women whose scars run deep but whose hopes and love for life keep us all going.

Life goes on.  We love, laugh, and cry but above all else we must live with the hurt and the hope.  It is our gift to ourselves and the ones we have lost.

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I Hear You

March 23, 2010 by  
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Below is John’s writing.  He wrote it thinking about his wife who has recently past away.

Your voice is as subtle
as the sound of silence.
I hear your whisper
steady and intense.

Your breath is as natural
as the scent of fresh air.
I inhale and exhale
in meditation and prayer.

Your touch is as soft
as a swift gentle breeze,
I feel the chills
in one heart squeeze.

Your sight is as clear
as a crisp sunny day.
I have insight
when I meditate and pray.

Your taste is as pure
as water from a stream.
I am afloat
in the wake of a dream.

Your wisdom is as bright
as the truth you bestow.
I am inspired
by what you know.

John

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