Archives for posts with tag: grieving

Monday dawned sunny and bright. I was fortunate to awake to the sound of waves lapping at the lakeshore and the sun peeking over the hill top.

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(sunset shot the night before)

There was already a lot of ugly and sadness I could have focussed on if I had let myself. And I admit the temptation to let it swallow me whole was palpable, but I put my big girl panties on, pulled up my positive pants, threw on a great pair of shoes, straightened my tiara and topped it off with bright lipstick and mascara! Well in truth, I took a deep breath, threw back the covers and made a CHOICE to CHOOSE beautiful; to see it, believe it and channel it. And I made that choice over and over when the temptation to doubt tapped me on the shoulder.

Later in the day the headline on my news feed about Manchester appeared.  Manchester – a place from far away that I’ve always associated with sports and music for some reason until that head line. The choice to see beautiful became even more difficult. My shoulders slumped, I just felt heavy.  I felt raw and numb all at once. I think a lot of us did.

Tuesday morning Huffington Post reported “explosion killed 22 people and injured 59, many of them teenagers.”  at an Ariana Grande concert. I witnessed the feelings come out through social media and in the news.

A friend posted, “Tears for those who just went to a concert. Tears for the world.”

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A cousin asked,

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And then I read my friend Michelle’s eloquent and heart felt Facebook post and am honoured that she gave me permission to share her words with you. When things happen which are impossible to make sense of, in the end all we really want to do is keep our precious treasures, those we love, safe.

Bubble wrap.
I need so much Bubble Wrap.

You know… The stuff you use to keep the things that are most precious to you, safe from harm. We wrap them up so they don’t get broken.

Bubble Wrap… Safe, dependable Bubble Wrap.

It may give one peace of mind, but there isn’t enough bubble wrap in the world on a day like today. On any kind of day in a world like the one we live in this day.

“Prayers for…”
“Our hearts and thoughts…”
“We stand with…”

These phrases are like labels now. Words we use to tape together the Bubble Wrap that we place around our hearts and minds to help keep us sane enough from locking our children in their rooms and nailing shut our windows and doors to keep out all the Bogeymen outside that lurk within a world that keeps getting smaller, from stealing their innocence, our naivete, and our collective sense of normalcy.

There is nothing normal about any of this. Even though this insanity is quickly seeming to become the norm. Padded rooms were once for the insane and yet, here I am, wishing I could wrap every precious being in my world in Bubble Wrap. How insane is that? And yet, Bubble Wrap was my first wish… My first “logical to me” thought while my heart screamed “Why?” and it’s echoes throbbed through my head.

Just as “There are no words…” is heard echoing thoughout the world.

But there are words…
“Please.” and “Stop.”

And there are so many echoes.

Because there will never, ever be enough Bubble Wrap.

©Michelle Laing Hoffman 2017

 

But until that plea is answered, in amongst the tragic and terrible burns the eternal flame of human kindness and compassion.

Huffington Post reported, “Public transport shut down, and taxis offered to give stranded people free rides home, while residents opened their homes to provide lodging.”

As the BBC noted, Then there are people like this young man who says “We can react in a lot of ways. We can react in anger. Or we can react by doing. This city is a community.”   The news outlets are capturing more than the devastation and carnage, they are capturing the humanity, compassion and resilience as well.

I think Grande summed it up for many of us with her tweet, “broken. from the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry. I don’t have words.”

“When someone says, “There are no words,” it is there I will find them and we will meet in the silent language of grief.” Benjamin Allen

While I have no words left, I do have kindness and compassion, and with those I will continue to shine my light more brightly so the darkness has no place to grow.

Please.  Stop.

Shine Brightly.

 

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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To anyone ready to give up today I have one huge favour to ask.

 

Please don’t 

Don’t give up
Don’t be alone
Don’t hide it
Don’t feel ashamed
Don’t believe your negative thoughts or pretend

 

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Please

Do keep going
Do ask for help (as many times as it takes!)
Do be open
Do accept where you are, but be willing to change it
Do know it will get better and so will you

 

 

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We care

 

Life has plenty of challenges and it’s easy to find ourselves in overwhelming circumstances feeling alone and unworthy, not knowing where to turn. It can happen to anyone at anytime. But there is ALWAYS hope. Whether today is a day you find yourself short on hope, or with a little extra to share, check out Project Hope Exchange. It’s a unique project that enables people to share hope. Give a little, get a lot.

Think you’re alone? Think again.

 

Give hope. Get hope. All in 30 seconds! What if we could do just that and start spreading hope around the world? We at The Adversity 2 Advocacy Allianceand Life Vest Inside believe we CAN, and we’re thrilled to be partnering to offer you this unique and powerful opportunity. Through Project Hope Exchange, we are collecting, aggregating and sharing 30-second audio messages fromindividuals who have survived some kind of adversity to others who are currently facing that same adversity. And at the heart of our exchange are real human voices. We hope you’ll add yours! (from the PHE website)

 

A closing thought.

Often we are consumed by “what if’s”, all the things that we worry and overthink about.

Today…

what if…

everything you’re going through right now 

is preparing you…

for a dream bigger than 

you can imagine…..

What if……

Just maybe…

Maybe so…

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I was working on my How To Be Happy journal that my lovely daughter gave me for Christmas.  Like me, it is a work in progress. It has made me question “what is happiness?” and more importantly, “what is happiness to me?”  I realize it is not the same for everyone. It can actually be quite different. I also understand happiness, at least for me, isn’t really about things, not even people, places or events.  Happiness is about feelings.

I began thinking about why and how some people lose happiness completely. How do they lose sight of everything hopeful and only see hopelessness, only feel fear and pain? How can we share the same basic reality but view it so differently? A friend recently pondered this.

“Lots of times I wonder what makes people end up the way they do? Why do we have the feelings, desires and emotions we do? How do you become truly happy? Which leads me to wonder, what makes up happiness?”

Depression surrounds us, an invisible presence most of us are blissfully unaware of.  We walk by people, sit with them, talk to them and we don’t see a mental illness, their pain, their need. I know this to be true. But what makes up happiness?  How do we find happiness when we’ve lost it?

I started Rise Like Air because I wanted to be part of a change, part of making something better.  I wanted to help people, even if it was just one person, realize that there is hope and that they don’t have to give up.  I wanted to share success stories and struggles to inspire people to keep trying, to embrace their own beauty and abilities, to empower them to love and live fully, to extend a hand to let them know that when they are hurting they aren’t alone, even if we can’t understand it all, there’s a place they can go to be unconditionally accepted.

Like many ideas that simmer slowly, a catalyst occurred to move it forward.  Six years ago this weekend we received word that Todd, a family friend we knew who had been experiencing severe depression took his life. It was the classic stereotypical situation with all the whys and how could have he’s. He had so much to live for, family that loved him completely, children to watch grow up, a good job he liked.  Sure there were setbacks, but how did he lose such complete perspective, lose all hope, lose all desire to live? And how did it seem to happen so quickly?

I remember what I was doing when we got the call.  I remember how everything suddenly became surreal, time slowed down, my heart started to race and I started to feel detached. And I remember the distinct feeling of I should have been able to do something. No, really I couldn’t have, I knew it then, I know it now. But it was what eventually moved me to start Rise Like Air. His mother,  Joyce, has been one of our greatest supporters. When I was almost ready to quit because I questioned the value, it was her wisdom and kind words that made me realize no matter what, if I’m only inspiring one person, that is more than enough.

She has taught me so much on this journey, including how important it is to talk about your loss and pain as you heal. Speaking of the people we love, sharing memories is a way of not only grieving, but keeping that person with us. So when you are tempted to say something, but don’t know what or how, take the leap. Your support will mean the world.

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I was out with a severely depressed friend a while ago.  I watched the interactions they had with others while we were together. They smiled and laughed, they chattered, they went about their business.  There was no sign that said, I feel like I’ve died inside, my body just hasn’t caught up yet. There was no indication that they needed a friend, needed help, or that they were anything but a “normal everyday happy” person.  I knew the truth and was shocked at how invisible it was on the surface, except when I looked into their eyes.  Eyes that no longer held any joy, hope or life. They were already dull, empty, pained. You can train your body to lie, but the eyes are much more difficult to hide.

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Depression is an invisible demon that revels in slowly sucking the joy, hope and life out of people so quietly that often, no one else even knows the deadly stranglehold is in play.

WHO, the World Health Organization, says in October 2015 that

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

Even when we do realize that someone needs help, often what we try to do to help is completely counterproductive.  Depression is not simple sadness. Often the very things we say or do trying to help actually make it worse, make them feel like they’ve failed, are a burden, are hopeless and helpless. However! This is not a reason to stay quiet or give up.  It’s a reason to learn what to do, how to be a positive support. How to save lives!

If someone had a broken leg we wouldn’t say, “well it can’t be that bad, just get up and walk on it!” We’d do all the things that have to happen to fix the leg and support the person while they are healing.  Why? Because we can see the injury, we can see and hear the pain they are experiencing. Visible or not it does not change the severity of the dis-ease.

But there are things we can say and do that are helpful.  There are resources that can make us part of the solution instead of part of the problem. We can be supporters who help others heal.  We can help save lives.

You never know what word, smile, conversation, text or email will be the thing that makes a small or big difference in someone’s life, that might save their life. When you listen to people who have been saved in their moment of despair, it often was something very small that saved them that day, gave them the strength to carry on.   It can be as simple as asking “Are you ok?” as in the case of Jamie Harrington, from Ballymena, Dublin,  who explained about meeting a man in his 30s sitting on the edge of a bridge and about to jump off it.

If we can help a person see through the clarity of our eyes instead of the clouded vision of their own, we can be the beacon of light they need until their own eyes clear.

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Project Hope Exchange is an organization committed to bringing hope to people everywhere.

Give hope. Get hope. All in 30 seconds! What if we could do just that and start spreading hope around the world? We at The Adversity 2 Advocacy Allianceand Life Vest Inside believe we CAN, and we’re thrilled to be partnering to offer you this unique and powerful opportunity. Through Project Hope Exchange, we are collecting, aggregating and sharing 30-second audio messages fromindividuals who have survived some kind of adversity to others who are currently facing that same adversity. And at the heart of our exchange are real human voices. We hope you’ll add yours!

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I have learned kindness, patience and unconditional love can make all the difference in helping people.  Life Vest Inside is an organization that  helps me and many others find their way through tough times by simply providing a safe, positive place to just be. Their video The Kindness Boomerang went viral a number of years ago and has been a catalyst for many to change their lives in positive ways.  So that is what I leave you with today, something positive, uplifting and hopeful.  We all have the ability to make a difference in people’s lives every moment of every day.  Do not waste your opportunity to help make a life better.  It just might be yours.

If you are experiencing depression or any mental health issue, please do not give up. No matter how long it’s been, how desperate or numb you feel, there are people who care and want to help. Please reach out.  There is a life vest.  All you have to do is hold on tight.  This is a dis-ease I truly believe we can beat together.

In memory of

Todd Pidhorodetsky April 21st, 1970 – March 6, 2010

You are loved, you are missed, you are treasured

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How to grieve. There’s been numerous books written on the subject. There’s been thousands, no millions of people who have experienced it and even helped others through it. But as grieving mother Jennifer Ruef poignantly puts it,

In the years since Edison died, I have asked myself “What if?” and “Why?” If only we hadn’t gone out that day. If I had not tried to progress him from his feeding tube to regular foods. I have sought book after book trying to find an instruction manual on how to grieve. It doesn’t feel like I am doing it right. It doesn’t get better. It gets worse.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross famously wrote about the stages of dying and grieving. I studied them often as a social work student. I worked with grieving families. I thought I understood grief.

Now I realize that was like thinking you understand water because you’ve been to a lake. And then you go to the ocean. I have Denied, been Angry, Bargained and have been Depressed. There is also an A, Acceptance. At least, she said there is.

From the article on CNN.com A Mother’s Grief

The family unexpectedly lost their 6 year old son Edison in 2011 not long before he would have started school. Now their younger son Donovan has reached that same milestone and she is finding it even harder than she could ever have imagined. Baby brother is now forever surpassing older brother. It’s the little things that you don’t think about that suddenly make you catch your breath. It doesn’t matter how much training, how much reading, how much experiencing through others pain you go through. It doesn’t seem to change how impossibly hard, how tortuously painful the experience is.

While I might not be able to imagine accurately what a person going through this truly feels, and let’s face it, I really don’t want to, it doesn’t stop us from being kind. It doesn’t stop us from choosing to be patient and understanding, even if we don’t quite understand.

So, two boys age 6 have taught their mommy many lessons. Most of all they have taught me that your heart can smile and break all at one time and will do so daily.

My heart is just beginning to heal. But while still broken, I will smile for Donovan. I will smile for Edison. I will smile that my grief journey has been mine, and not like those written in books. I may not be doing it correctly, I may be doing it for too long, but like my children, I am doing it with everything I have.

And somewhere in the middle of it all, the healing begins. Tiny and almost insignificant, but it starts. And with a little nurturing it grows. Although your life can never be the same again, you slowly begin to live again.

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©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Loss is a tragic thing, hard to understand, even more difficult to cope with.  The loss of a child is unimaginable.  My palms grow sweaty and my heart pounds at even the thought.  Maybe that’s what makes it hard to know what to say or what to do when someone loses someone they love.

I love words, writing them, reading them, thinking them. When it comes to grief and grieving my words almost always fail me.  “I’m sorry” is honest, but seems so empty and hollow.  I want my words to fix things or to make a positive difference, but instead they are left hanging.

I know people who have lost children and today, one of them passed this article along. She said that she could relate to every point in it. With that recommendation I thought it was a good place to start. I hoped that it would help me in future situations and I believe it will.

What I Wish More People Understood About Losing A Child is a short but excellent guide to supporting people who are going through one of, if not the worst experience in their life.  It’s not only the loss of a loved one, but the loss of their child. As parents, none of us start out by thinking one day our children will leave this earth before us.

Paula Stevens lists 5 things that we can do to help those who are suffering with inconsolable grief.

  1. Let them know that you remember their children, and celebrate them.
  2. Know you can’t fix the grief, but you can be a patient friend.
  3. Birthdays and the anniversary of the death will always be tough days that they will always mark and struggle with, even if they don’t talk about it.
  4. Happiness is a struggle every single day, even when wearing a smile.
  5. Accept that their grief probably makes you uncomfortable, and that’s ok. It’s not supposed to be comfortable.

We will never forget our child. And in fact, our loss is always right under the surface of other emotions, even happiness. We would rather lose it because you spoke his/her name and remembered our child, than try and shield ourselves from the pain and live in denial. Paula Stevens

Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness.  It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love.  The only cure for grief is to grieve. Earl Grollman

Maybe putting words together doesn’t have to be as hard as one might think.

“Your child was a sweetheart.  Everyone who met him just could not stop talking about him.  He is going to be relentlessly missed by everyone.”

And when words fail us, hugs and quiet company seldom do.

Edit 25Mar2015

The Kindness Blog shared a story today called When a parent loses their child, there’s really not much, if anything, that can bring them comfort.  It’s about what one family did as part of their grieving in order to honour their little boy who passed away.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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Grief Is Like An Ocean Image from the Web

Grief Is Like An Ocean
Image from the Web

We said goodbye to an incredibly special man last week, a man who I have been proud to call “Dad” for over 30 years.  He was a man who accepted me into the family without question and with a smile and open arms.  I think my own dad felt a little better knowing that when I was miles away from him, he could count that there was someone else who I could turn to.

My father in law suffered a stroke nine years ago. Even though he was no longer able to do all the things he had before, the importance of family never faltered. We realized how fragile life really is and how quickly things can change.

We were fortunate to be able to visit him and enjoy each other’s company the afternoon before he passed. At the time nothing seemed any different. We joked and visited. Knowing the comfort that church gave him I even attended service with him and mom. We all bid farewell promising to return later in the week.

The following morning everything changed. It wasn’t completely unexpected but it was still a surprise. A big one.

Later that evening as we hugged and cried and shared our grief in our own ways, my daughter put it in perspective for me.

She said that she was glad she went to see her Grandpa as often as she had. She’d made each time special just in case it would be the last time.

And as I look back that’s exactly what she did. There are no regrets, no hugs not given, I love yous not said.

And that my friends is how we should treat every encounter we have every day. Not because we are dwelling on the possibility for sadness or loss, but because we honour and are grateful for every experience we have, every special person in our lives.

We owe it to ourselves and everyone else. Seize the moment. Seize the day. Just don’t delay. Tell the people in your lives how you feel about them. Do it now.

No regrets.

The “After” of Happily Ever…

No longer a person in his place,
Yet it is far from empty.
Love and memories fill this space,
For breaking hearts a remedy.

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There are many ways we can remember those we’ve lost.  Bonnie, From Memory Bears by Bonnie, creates beautiful stuffed bears out of favourite pieces of clothing from loved ones.   A keepsake to hold and hug no matter what your age. The idea touched my heart so I’m sharing a link to her blog for others who may decide this is a perfect way to remember and bring comfort to those who remain.

If you have found other unique and comforting ways to remember loved ones please share and I’ll be happy to add any links.

©2014 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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