... a voice for those who mourn the loss of a soul mate
"He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began." - Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Grief and the holiday

Holidays without our soul mates are hard. For me, all the friendship and happiness makes me miss John more, not less. The first few years after John passed I preferred spending the holidays alone rather than with anyone. It actually made it easier.
Slowly, I have learned to keep John in my heart and carry him forward with me as I now celebrate with friends and family.
Do whatever feels right for you this Thanksgiving Day. Speak your loved one's name. Share memories. Be thankful for the time you had together. Look for signs that they are still with you.
And remember to take care of yourself. This is your grief, your life, your loved one. It's okay to put yourself first and to do this day whatever way you choose.
Much love to you this day.



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The First Holiday Alone



To me, every holiday the first year that my soul mate missed was hard. The first holiday without my soul mate was Thanksgiving, 8 years ago. I woke up that first Thanksgiving morning and wandered through the empty house expecting at any moment to smell stuffing because that was always the first thing Jerry prepared. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday to celebrate because it always involved family, friends, and lots of good food. And nothing made him happier than having a boisterous group of special people together in our home crowding around the kitchen with a big turkey roasting in the oven. The man could cook!  

  
Don’t spend the first holidays at home alone. Accept an invitation and show up. If you don't get an invitation to dinner, invite someone to go out and eat with you. I’ve learned not to try and re-create those celebrations from the past but to plan and make new memories. Now my family group usually eats Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant but the table is still filled by happy lively people. We drink a toast to our missing loved ones and tell lots of stories and say their names because the sound of their names on our lips remind us of the love we shared. And I don’t have to eat turkey.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Grieving Beau

In late September, I started finding feathers – one every day for the first few days and then not quite that often but still they came to me when I least expected to see them.  At first they were real feathers from common birds, nothing especially unusual, just feathers.  And then a more permanent form, including a lovely sculpted pewter feather that spoke to my heart and begged to be mine.  The day the first feather appeared, I was leaving a Life in the Afterlife conference and had been talking with my friends Betts and Joy about signs we receive from the other side.  Feathers are a very common sign so I knew at some level that the feathers were a message.  I just did not know who was sending them or why. 

I do now.

You see, the first feather I noticed came to me shortly after our precious cat Beau’s first “birthday” as a member of our family. I picked it up and saved it, putting it near my computer monitor where I could reflect on its meaning every day.  Well, Beau, being the great hunter he was in his mind, decided that feather and the two that followed must be a bird in some form and so tried to eat them all. I salvaged those wet, bedraggled feathers and put them away in my desk drawer. Subsequent feathers were saved from his natural predatory instincts in like manner.  I really did not give it a second thought and in time the appearance of fresh feathers dwindled.

In early November, Joy, Betts and I celebrated my birthday with a lovely lunch outside on the patio at T. Cooks, an elegant restaurant in central Phoenix.  Toward the end of our meal as we talked animatedly, Betts was waving a French fry in the air as she finished a comment when suddenly, a good-sized bird swooped across the table and snatched that fry right out of her hand.  Amazed at its bravado, I attached no particular significance to the mock attack. 

I do now.

And then, the unthinkable happened.  Sweet, innocent Beau decided somewhere in his kitty brain that it would be a good idea to go on a real adventure.  In a moment of distraction on my part, he slipped outside and was gone without my even realizing it.  I spent a fruitless day searching every corner of our house for him.  But he was gone.  We posted flyers.  I registered his photo with every rescue website that would allow it.  His microchip company notified all the vets and rescue groups in the area.  We sent an email blast to every house in the neighborhood.  I visited the pound shelters and the Humane Society and posted his face there.  Always the message was the same, “This beautiful cat is lost and he is loved.  If you see him, please, please help him come home.”

In a final act of desperation, I contacted a gifted pet intuitive, Debbie Johnstone, who felt very strongly that our Beau was still in this world and hiding. The sense was that he was more interested in the experience and adventure he was having than he was frightened.  We searched and we called and we sent him messages on how to find his way home.  Nothing worked.  I think now that perhaps it was never meant to.  Two days after we reached him psychically, a neighbor from a block away called.  He had found a very small paw and remnants of fur from what appeared to be a white cat. I was so sure our Beau was safe that I could not believe it could be him. Still, I contacted Debbie to reassure me that he was still alive. But that was not meant to be.

All the signs Debbie saw told her he had transitioned from this life to the next.  And, finally, the significance of the feathers came to me.  You see, Beau told Debbie he saw a huge bird just before he left this plane.  I believe he was taken from us by a great horned owl that has haunted our neighborhood in recent months.  We had heard him and seen him and now he had taken my Beau from me.  I think the feathers may have been sent to me to prepare me for what was coming and for how Beau would leave us. The very day he died, I saw yet another feathery reminder in a magazine – lovely white feather shaped Christmas ornaments with their tips dipped in gold (and yes, I WILL find and buy them).  What a perfect reminder of this pure white boy who, with his young, playful spirit, brought us such joy in his short life.  Yes, the feathers may signify the owl that took his life, but remember angels have feathery wings too.  Perhaps the feathers I have found were from angels trying to send me a measure of peace in advance of my grief.

I think it is important for me to remember that “our” place was my office where I write and where I have been struggling to find direction in the writing I have been doing for From Grief to Peace. Beau was very much a part of what I do here and I can feel his presence here now as I write about him.  I think perhaps he came into my life and left it far too soon in part to help me understand the grief my friends know after losing their soul mates. I cannot compare the grief I am feeling today to theirs.  Each of us must experience grief in our own way.  And I know some losses are greater than others.  That does not make the grief I feel on losing Beau any more or less.  It is just different. And it is mine.  I find myself wrapped in feelings of guilt (could I have done anything differently to change the outcome?), utter sadness (oh God, I hope he did not suffer!) and anger (I briefly wished I could kill that owl), but most of all, there is the pain of knowing I will never again cuddle a warm, purring Beau or laugh at his silly antics.

I know my friends have gone through similar but probably more intense feelings and this loss helps me understand their pain, their continued mourning. Losing my Beau has finally helped me clarify what I am doing with From Grief to Peace.  I now see my role so much more clearly.  I have never lost a soul mate.  But in knowing this loss, I believe I can become a voice for those close friends and family who desperately want to relate to and help a loved one who has lost a soul mate, to help them find their way to peace.

When Beau first came to us, he was the tiniest of kittens, small enough to fit in one hand. And he was the purest, most trusting soul.  His pure white color made me want to name him after an angel, but Norm convinced me otherwise.  And Beau he became. He taught me to love more deeply, to allow myself to be vulnerable and to know that there is more than just this one life on this plane of existence.  Those feathers and the message they sent over the months confirmed that.  The slightly bedraggled (as though Beau had been at it) one that appeared this morning did too. I feel strongly that my Beau sent it to me to tell me that he is in a place where he will always be happy and young at heart. Perhaps he was always meant to be an angel after all.




Thursday, November 19, 2015

Welcome

Welcome to our community.
It is sad that we are all here because it means we have lost someone very dear to us.
Someone who meant the whole world to us.
But I hope you can find comfort knowing that you are not alone and that others are traveling a road similar to yours. It is our hope that by sharing our experiences we can offer each other hope and a way to find our own road to peace.

We invite you to comment on these blog posts.
We also invite you to join our Facebook community.
These are the principles upon which we are building this community.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

First Day, Last Day

As I reflect on the tragedy that happened this week in Paris, I keep coming back to the fact that each of the people who died, victim and terrorist alike, was loved by someone at some point in their life. Some of them were probably also soulmates to someone who will now be left mourning that horrible, senseless loss. In an instant, that love on this plane was snuffed out.  The love will not die with death, but what remains will be a much lonelier form of love.

For those of us who remain, one major lesson to learn from these losses is that although today may be the first day of the rest of your life, it could just as easily be the last of yours or of someone you love.  Reminding ourselves to forgive more, to play more, and to tell those we love how much we respect and admire them helps us keep our relationships clean before we are thrown into that final separation.

Perhaps our purpose in life is to live the days we are given as fully and joyfully as we can so that when we are gone, people will remember us as someone who embodied love and enriched their lives. I am sure that looks a little different for each of us and is not always easy especially when we are consumed by grief, but in our hearts, we know when we are living to that purpose and when we are not.  The times we are not are the times we begin to “should” on ourselves or demand impossible levels of perfection from ourselves and others.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Precious photographs

I cherish all the pictures I have of John, and of us and the life we shared. Of course, I wish we had taken more now that they are all I have left. More photos, more video. Sometimes, I wish I could crawl inside the photos and videos and be there with him again.
I remember a friend telling me [after John had been gone only 8 months] that I had too many pictures of him around. Her husband in the meantime was alive and well and puttering in the garage at the time so I think she should have kept her mouth shut and I politely told her so.
This past week someone I know only casually said after death we should not "make a shrine" to our loved ones. Again, spoken by someone who truly has no idea what she is talking about.
I refuse to allow others to dictate how I choose to honor and cherish John's place in my life, then and now.
I encourage you to do whatever feels good and right for you. Your heart will guide you.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Whisper of Hope

When you have lost your soul mate, you may think that you are completely alone and that no one can understand that fathomless, dark emptiness your soul mate's death has left in your heart.  Know that you are not alone.  Others also know that devastation of the heart and are there to shine a light on the path through your grief.


Friday, November 6, 2015

What is a soul mate?

Soul mate is an overused and, I think, a highly misunderstood term. It can mean many things to many people but at its core is truly only one thing - that one person who is "home" to your soul, the one you travel this life with knowing he or she always has your back, who is your soft place to land. Losing that person to death is one of the most devastating things that can happen.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Soft Place to Fall

When I realize the depth of grief my friends Joy and Betts (and other precious friends and family) live with every day, my heart cries out to help, to mend what hurts, but no amount of compassion will ever let me know the path they walk day after day, year after year.  That’s the hard part of seeing someone I care so much about suffering. I can see the pain, but I can never fully understand, even if I suffer a similar loss.  Each person’s grief is unique and each person must experience it in their own way, in their own time.  Some grieve silently.  Some loudly and publicly.  Some move on quickly. Some never do. No one way is right or wrong.  It just is.  All I can do is be there with open arms and open heart to give my grieving friends a soft place to fall when the grief becomes too much to bear and accept them as they are in that moment.