Grief

March 17, 2010 by  
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I’ve recently received some emails on the topic of grief, its journey, and how to live through it.  I know grieving is very personal and there is no right or wrong way of living with it and through it.  I also know sometimes the pain is huge and we feel we can be squashed by it.  So I reflected on my own nineteen month old journey and here are some thoughts I wanted to share.

The things that can certainly help us are remembering how much the person we lost wanted to stay alive.  Life is a gift no matter how hard sometimes it feels.  We have to honor this gift for ourselves and the people we lost.

Don’t put any pressure on yourself to do anything or to be anything.  Loss is such a rupture in our lives that it gives us permission as well as a chance to see life in a different light and to live it in a different way.  With the loss of someone really loved there is also a loss of ourselves as we were.  I am today more of myself than I actually have been before.  My sense of values and needs have also been readjusted and I actually respect more the person that I am today. So take this time to give yourself the space to go through all the changes YOU need to go through.

Stay close to yourself.  Really listen to your needs.  Do I really want to stay alone?  Should I go out with a friend or a family member for some distraction?  Sometimes we feel paralyzed and if we are in touch with ourselves we know that just a bit of effort will get us out of the house and that will be a good thing.  Sometimes we need solitude to think, to feel and to be with ourselves.  We need to honor those times as well.  Learn to listen to the differences.

Do small easy things that will cuddle and sooth your grief.  We all have easy to do things that sooth us; a massage, facial, a glass of wine, a nice meal, gardening.  Think of something you enjoy doing because you need to feed your soul.

Change your living environment a little or a lot.  Living in a somewhat different home lets us know that life has changed and it’s okay.  It psychologically reminds us that we have stayed alive through the change and new things and people will be moving through our lives.

Find things to do that you REALLY think are worthwhile and important.  Helping of service gives us a sense of worth and purpose while helping us focus on others for a period of time.

With the internet being so much part of our lives it is easy to look for a group or an activity that interests us.  There are group meetings for wine and cheese tastings at different restaurants or clubs.  There are book reading clubs, hiking clubs, language clubs.  Whatever you can think there is a club for it.  So find one that interests you and join it.  Meeting new people that don’t know anything about us gives us a taste of what our lives can become; a life that is not all about the loss.

As time goes on we start building a new life.  We never forget and there will always be those moments where we feel overwhelmed by the loss.  But at those times we take a deep breath and remind ourselves that life is in constant motion that new people and situations will undoubtedly enter our lives and we will learn and experience.

I have learned to live with my loss and while knowing this deep scar will never heal, I look forward to my new experiences and new people.  My wish is for all of you going through your own loss to have the strength and the love for life to continue on in your never ending quest of happiness.

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My First Video Blog

March 16, 2010 by  
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Road Map To The Future

January 11, 2010 by  
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I have been writing a manuscript about my life with my husband for the past fourteen months.  Below is the first page:

“My husband, Chris Rubin died of cancer on August 15th 2008 after a 2 ½ year battle that included a liver transplant, a wedding (ours) many trips to emergency rooms and countless stays at intensive care units across the country.

But mine is not a sad story of loss but a story of love, the depths of which I’m still discovering. Chris and I met in an ordinary way, a date set up by a friend, but everything that happened from there on was nothing but extraordinary.

Six weeks after his passing, I decided to write this book.  First because it had been something he had wanted to do but later because it was a way to transform pain into healing.  I honor his courage and his desire to live by living.

This book is a toast to Chris who was a gift given to me with eternal consequences.”

The manuscript has 226 pages and today I sent 50 pages to an agent who was interested in reading.

I am a writer/producer and have gone out on a limb with my work many times before, but this is different.  These 226 pages contain all the love and pain Chris and I shared together.

Every word in the manuscript is a commitment to the truth.  I wanted others to be reminded how fragile life is and to live each day fully.  And I wanted to say you can love as much as I did and still continue to love life after a great loss.  Because even when it hurts, life is a gift. The world is always open to every one of us to experience all the emotions.

A lot of us are deeply wounded but the scars we carry remind us where we have been and of our survival.

I wish we all continue to honor where we have been and embrace with passion where we are and where we’re going.

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Up In The Air

January 10, 2010 by  
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Bad habits are hard to break. Often there’s just something about them we enjoy, even if it’s not good for us. Good habits are also hard to break. Good habits can change because they don’t fit in our life anymore. Good habits can also be changed, out of our control, when situations turn life upside down.

The movie “Up in the Air” was all about habit. Ryan Bingham played by George Clooney, declares to the woman who has captured his heart, ”I want my life to be a +1.” After years of staying happily airborne, he was ready to change his habit of living, always on the go, unattached and alone.

Two years ago all of my habits for living changed. They became focused on taking care of my husband, whose strong health was slipping away. My habits took on the role of a caretaker, a nurse, a nutritionist. Then when he passed away my habit of living ”+1″ stopped. My life of automatic habits disconnected. My habit of loving my life was gone.

New Years Resolutions are all about habit. Creating good habits to stop smoking, join a gym, or loose weight are challenging. New habits can also be short lived. But what about when we have to create habits we don’t want? Habits like sleeping and living alone? Planning habits that are for 1 person alone, not 2? Habits that are now my reality. I’ve existed with them for over a year. Now it’s time that I learn how to live with them.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

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Kiss At Midnight

December 30, 2009 by  
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There is overwhelming silence when you live alone. It’s hard to conceive that I am 53 and living alone for the first time. I lived with my parents until I got married at 19. I became a mom at 22. Extremely uncomfortable and unbalanced with silence, I became the social director for my family and consistently filled our home with friends and laughter.

It has now been 376 days since my husband passed away. I miss him more than words can describe. I continue to experience such a range of emotions not having his arms and legs wrapped around me when I go to sleep. Waking up alone each and every morning only reinforces the reality that he is truly gone.

Each night snuggled securely in each other’s arms, we could be intensely intimate through touch, even without making love. Touch can offer a climax of passion that begins deep within your heart. I still find myself aching with raw emotions, reaching to retain the memory of his body against mine. There are times when I open the bathroom cabinet and the smell of my husband’s cologne is so strong it overwhelms me. With the smell of his presence, I close my eyes and hold him close.

The adjustment of traveling this journey alone has been terrifying. I know I have the choice to either make this transition move forward or settle and remain captive in my grief. There are days when the sadness overpowers me. The end of last year was spent existing in shock. Numbness and indifference pushed me through the year. I had moments when I felt somewhat confident yet they were gone as quickly as they came.

Now the end of the year is almost here. On New Years Eve I will be alone for the countdown. Even though I won’t feel my husband’s kiss at midnight, my soul will know he is there. I cherish the years we had together in this life and the love we shared.

When we look back at this year, what memories will we think about? What will we treasure the most?

What will I take forward with me, from this year filled with moments without my husband?

I will treasure memories of my family and friends, always there for me when I didn’t have the strength nor desire to stand on my own. Memories of honoring my husband by trying to do the best I could without him. Memories of hope.

Always treasure your special memories. Happy New Year.

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The Little Girl Inside

December 18, 2009 by  
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Yesterday I walked around for hours not having a clue as to where I was going. It was like I was the only single person. I was surrounded by couples. I kept noticing that so many were walking side-by-side yet not talking, and no physical contact. I felt so deeply sad for them. Whenever my husband and I would walk down the street we were always talking, laughing, holding hands or with our arms around each other. He always walked next to the street. He always slept next to the door. His theory was they’d have to go through him to get to me. He was always protecting me. And many times he even protected me from me.

Beginning back from when I was a little girl, I developed the habit of ignoring things that I didn’t want to accept. Make believe that it wasn’t real. Make believe that it hadn’t really happened. Or make believe it happened a different way that was easier to accept. When I was in college I studied Narrative Therapy which explained a lot to me about how I think. It is about rewriting the story. We can’t go back in time to change what has happened in our life yet we can recreate the experience and change the memory.

I have wanted to believe that my husband isn’t really gone. That he will come back home. Last week in my dreams there was a knock at the door. Looking out the window I saw him. Clearly it was him. Wearing his red jacket, jeans and Cole Haans loafers, there he stood, waiting for me to open the door. He wasn’t facing the door so I couldn’t see his face, yet I knew beyond a doubt it was him.

That little girl inside me was still holding tightly to her dreams, to not accept reality. For so many years my make-believe world worked. Until now.

I’ve tried to rewrite the story yet the ending doesn’t change. I have lived this past year in a fog, only going through the motions of each day. I can’t ignore that I’m alone. I can’t ignore the silence and the lonelines. I can only change the way my heart listens to the thoughts of the little girl inside, the attitude I bring to my tomorrows…

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A Gentle Reminder

December 17, 2009 by  
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While waiting in a crazy long line outside the airport to check my bag, I had a sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to make my flight. Anxiety intensified. Yet when it was finally my turn, the attendant told me to hurry, that I still might make it. Rushing inside it was like hitting a brick wall. I couldn’t even see the end of the line for security.

Despairingly, on the verge of tears I just couldn’t ask if anyone would let me in front of them. Lots of people were missing their flights and tempers were on a short leash, which I understood. Would I appreciate someone ahead of me letting people get in front? Why should they make their flight if it meant that I could then miss mine?

When I finally made it to the end of the line standing there was a student I befriended in one of my classes. She had shared with me her journey of being raised by a single mom. When she was still a young girl, her father passed away. Mature beyond her years, I remembered being humbled by this girl’s strong optimistic attitude. It was obvious that her memories with her dad reflected quality time together.

I needed this gentle reminder. Quality time is more important than quantity of time. Be thankful for the time we are given with people in this life. Focus to not spend time on what we don’t have anymore. Cherish our memories which are for a lifetime…

We do not remember days, we remember moments.
Cesare Pavese

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