... 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

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Supportive Role

The supportive role of friend to someone who has lost their soul mate is not always an easy one, but when it is founded on love, it becomes patient and kind and unselfish and most of all, non-judgmental.

I cannot pretend to know what it feels like to lose my soul mate.  I do have friends who have been there and I try to understand, to be as supportive as I can.  I do not always succeed in helping them live with their grief, but I do try.  I try to suspend my life for the few minutes it takes to call and just touch base, to ask how they are doing, how they are REALLY doing.  And then instead of trying to think of what I am going to say or how to avoid causing them more pain, to listen, really listen to what they say, to engage with them. I try to remember birthdays and anniversaries, both happy ones and sad, because I know they will be especially tender and vulnerable on those days. I try to step out of my own confining little box of routine and remember to include them in my life, asking them to dinner, a movie, shopping or simply coffee for an hour.  If they are up to it, I am thrilled.  If not, I hold on to accepting where they are.  They deserve a pass for as long as they need it. They are mourning. I am not.  That is all the reason I need.

Friday, February 26, 2016

I know I will see you again

I truly believe John sends songs to me at just the right time. They are one of the ways our loved ones communicate with us. The Afterlife is made of energy [we are too - we just vibrate at a lower frequency] and music is a favorite energy of theirs. It has happened to me too many times to just be coincidence.
Anyway, one particular day I was feeling especially sad and missing John a lot and the song "I'll See You Again" by Westlife popped up on my Pandora feed.
The words are from the viewpoint of the mourner but the point is true from both sides of death's veil.
We WILL see our soul mate again.They are just a little ways ahead of us on this life journey that we are all on. When our time comes to pass over, they will come to greet us and take us away and it will be glorious.
Until then we need to go forward and do what we need to do to fulfill our life's purpose.
I say this knowing this is hard. We are all at different points in our grief process and I have the luxury of almost 6 years worth of practice. You might be newer at this and the thoughts of going forward might seem both daunting and unwanted. I know. I get it.
That is why we are here for you. Take our virtual hands.
We will get through this together.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

From the moment we connected...

From the moment we connected, we knew. We knew we were soulmates. We knew we had loved each other in many previous lifetimes. We were instantly best friends. We could read each others thoughts. We could finish each others sentences. We could write each other a monologue. And now, sweet love, I write you a monologue of what I know you want to say to me across time and space. Or perhaps I’m just writing what I want to hear. Either way the words are the same. I love you. I miss you. I want you. And I can feel your love wash over me as the words echo back.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Little Things

I think we go through life all too often taking those we love for granted. That’s really just how life is. We treasure the relationship. No question about that. Sometimes we may argue, but we always love. Perhaps we show it in small gestures. A smile. A “remember when?” memory. A laugh shared over some silly joke just between the two of you. Or just a reach across the bed in the darkness of night. Small things for sure, but a critical part of the warp and woof of your life together.

We may not see that person we love so much every day or we may wake to their face and fall asleep at their side.  They may live miles and miles away from us or in the same house. But somehow we always know they are there across the room, at the end of a telephone line, an email, a Facebook post or even the other end of a road. 

Their presence is a part of the air we breathe. And like breathing, we may simply stop thinking of them consciously ... until one day they are gone and we cannot reach them in any of our usual ways. It is then that we think back to those small moments that brought a smile to our heart, that gave substance to a love that could not be defined.  Those are the moments that will lift us up and help us move through our grief to a measure of peace.

Friday, February 19, 2016

These are not setbacks

There really is no "setback" in grief. Grief is. I don't believe we ever stop grieving. Our grief just takes different forms. It can change from month to month, year to year, even day to day.
We can be going along, patting ourselves on the back for doing so well, and then Bam! Almost seeming to come out of nowhere, we are back to the beginning again. It could be triggered by a familiar smell, a song, a photo.
But we find ourselves crying, feeling the sadness, the longing.
Don't beat yourself up over it. Just go with it. Go through it.
The good thing is these occurrences don't last as long as they used to and we will once again be able to right ourselves and move forward.
It's all okay.
I experienced this just the other day. I was driving along in my car and a song came on that just grabbed me. In fact, it's a very special song. It was Josh Groban's "To Where You Are". I had it played at John's funeral;. And hearing it brought that all back and I cried while I drove.
I was sad and missing John and upset that he and I had to go through that.
But by the time I got home I was all right. I knew I was sad. But I also knew I was going to be able to get on with my day too.
It's all right to miss our loved ones. It's all right to cry.
We loved. We miss them.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What Is Right

I am grieving today.  But I despite my grief, am also trying to support others who are mourning the loss of my friend - her brother, his whole family, our other soul-sister, her many friends from around the world.  All of our hearts are breaking in one way or another.

Suddenly I get it. As hard as I have tried to learn what to say or what to do, I still really haven’t known what is “right.”  I think “right” depends on the person.  For some, it is simply putting your arms around one another and allowing the tears to fall. For others it’s a card or flowers or food.  Sometimes it’s as simple as saying a heartfelt, “I am so sorry for your loss, for our loss.” I guess I forget that last one all too often.  It seems to be such a staple phrase on television police dramas that it somehow feels a little trite and overused.  But said with heart, it is truly the sincerest and most personal expression of sympathy. And I find myself saying it because I am learning that it is far gentler than offering unsolicited advice. And it does comfort.

Our sixth principle says, "When I am stronger, I will pay it forward to help others who are mourning the loss of their soul mate." If I can pay anything forward to those who so want to help, it is to remind them that sometimes the kindest thing you can do is to offer yourself, to be present, to be mindful of the person who is mourning and offer not advice but what is right for that individual.  It is what others are doing for me as I mourn my friend. It is what I try to do for them as they too mourn.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Our sixth principle

When I am stronger, I will pay it forward to help others who are mourning the loss of their soul mate.

This business of mourning is not easy.
In fact, it is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I remember saying in those first few months that it was so awful I would not even wish it on someone I didn’t like.
But I have a few years under my belt now. And I have learned things.
Maybe I have learned things that can help someone else going through the same thing.
Maybe I can even help someone else by sharing what I have learned and make their burden, if not easier, less lonely.

So that is the essence of what From Grief To Peace is all about.
We three have joined forces to pay it forward, so to speak.
To help those who are mourning the loss of their soul mate because we feel that the loss of a soul mate has its own particular traits that make it especially hard.
All grief is not the same. There is no one size fits all.
All grief books are not the same either and it has been our experience that most fall short of the mark.
So we decided to make what we wished we had.
We will share with you what we have learned.
What worked.
What didn’t.
What we wish our family and friends knew so we could help each other cope with the loss.

And we ask that, if you find something here that resonates with you, please use it and then pass it on to someone else it could help, too.
We are here for each other.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Today I want to apologize.

Today I want to apologize to my friends for those times in my early days of grief that I ignored the ringing telephone and neglected to return your messages inviting me to a movie, to lunch, or out for coffee. I was hiding out with my head under the covers. I didn’t know how to say that I just couldn’t face participating in any activities. But I wish I could have told you not to give up on me but rather allow me some space and ask me again in a week or a month or two. Thank you to those of you who figured it out for yourselves and are still in my life.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Going further

There is another side to this fifth principle - we must not only stand up for ourselves, we must help others to help us.
What does that mean?
Perhaps others put expectations on us because they themselves don't know what to do so they fall back on what they have been told or heard.
Much as it might help, our friends and loved ones aren't mind readers and I am sure sometimes their platitudes do come from a place of caring, even though it might seem to us to be misguided.
Seeing us grieve is frightening. They may feel helpless. They may feel threatened - this could and will be them someday.
They don't know what to do to make it better, not understanding that they can't really make it better.
So many people asked me what they could do after John passed. What I wanted at that moment was for John to come back. Could they do that?
Obviously, no.
But there were other things they could do and many did.
I don't remember much of what anyone said those first few months. No one said anything profound.
But I remember the ones who came and stayed with me. I remember the ones who brought me food, who sat with me, who cried with me, who held me.
Hard as it is, sometimes we just have to tell people what we need.
So in addition to standing up for ourselves when people put expectations on us, feel comfortable asking for what you feel will help you:
Sit with me.
Have a meal with me.
Cry with me.
Hold me.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Our fifth principle

I will feel comfortable standing up for myself when others put their expectations on me.

I think this principle may be hard for some people. I know it was, initially, for me. But I believe it is a very important principle and one that needs emphasis. I think it is a principle that is probably the foundation for the others because no matter what we believe, if we cannot voice our beliefs, if we do not feel strong enough in our beliefs to stick up for ourselves when others impose their beliefs and wishes on us, we will fail.
And by failing, I mean suffer.
Two stories come to mind:
·         One woman related the story of how she and her son came home from her husband’s [his father’s] funeral and he erased the outgoing message on her answering machine that is father had recorded because he was sure it would upset his mother.
·         Another woman disclosed how her daughters immediately started pulling their father’s clothes out of the closet and disposing of them after they came home from his service as their mother watched helplessly. Again, they felt it was something that needed to be done right then and there.  
Who is anyone to decide how we should cope?
Unless someone is threatening to do harm to themselves, grief needs to be allowed to be expressed in whatever way feels comfortable.
Keeping outgoing messages and clothes, crying, needing to talk about the death or the loved one’s life – all of it is good and appropriate.
It’s our grief. It’s our loved one. It’s our soul mate who has gone. No one – not one other person – knows how we feel. Not even another person who has lost their soul mate.
Every relationship – every person – is different.
Just because I know how it feels for me to lose John doesn’t mean I know how it feels for you to lose your Love. I can empathize. I can imagine. I can support you. But I can’t know exactly how you feel.
So, I must respect your grieving.
And so must others.
And so, it is perfectly okay for you to say “Stop. I don’t want to do that now. I want to keep his message, his robe. I want to not eat right now. I want to walk, think, cry, scream, sit quietly…whatever.”
When it is their time to grieve – and sadly, their time will come too – they will understand. But they may not now so you must tell them. Well-meaning as they may be, no one has the right to tell you how to mourn the love of your life.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What Works for You

The one you love is gone and suddenly, you find yourself alone.  You will be getting advice from every corner of your life, especially for the first few months.  Join a support group ...  don’t be alone ... get out of the house ... take up a new hobby … write … make new friends … travel … and on, and on. But maybe all you want to do is stay behind the four walls of your home and cry.  The last thing you want is people hovering over you.  Or maybe you want those people around you, lots of them. Yes, you desperately want something to distract you from your grief, but what is the “right” thing?

The fact is, despite all the pain, you are still the same basic person you were before.  Your inherent personality has not changed.  If anything, it is magnified.  It is more intensely present and uncensored than ever before. Just being widowed doesn’t mean you change who you are and what works best for you.  If you were solitary before, you will probably still find comfort in being alone.  If you were sociable and gregarious, preferring to be with friends before, chances are you will want people around you now.

There is no right way to do this. But you will find that you need to do something once you begin to feel able to take that first step toward overcoming the inertia that wrapped itself around you the moment you realized your love was really gone and you were alone. It is not uncommon to rush from one new “project” or activity to another. Just know that there are things you can do that will fit with your unique personality. Those are the things that will help you the most. They do not have to be complicated or grand in scope.  Sometimes the simplest things help the most.
One friend of mine could not stand the thought of going home to her empty house at dinnertime.  Instead, she simply walked the extent of her local mall, window shopping and surrounding herself with life and people.  It worked for her because she is very much a people person and always has been.

Another friend flew away to Europe almost immediately after her husband succumbed to his long illness.  I know some of you may think it was callous, but the fact is, she had always travelled with her husband and she was especially adventurous.  Travelling was something they loved to do together.  Seeing new lands, hearing new tongues, tasting unfamiliar foods reminded her of the good things they had experienced as a couple. It brought her comfort.

But yet another friend simply could not handle the stream of well-meaning friends who appeared after her husband’s transition. She found her comfort in being alone, meditating, writing, reading, exploring this strange new world she found herself inhabiting.  But then, her before world had focused on her relationship with her husband.  They were the center of each other’s universe, complete in their intimate circle of two. With him gone she found a new connection with him in the mental and spiritual focus that came in the midst of a familiar solitude. It is a connection that still endures almost six years later.

The thing is, you have to find what works for you in this mourning thing.  You will know what that is because everything else will leave you just a little bit uncomfortable. I’m not saying you should not try new and different things, to step outside your box, if you will.  You may discover a new passion you had overlooked before.  You may meet new friends who become a lifetime support system. But just recognize that the new things that will last longest are probably the things that fit most closely with who you really are.  Those will be the things that work for you.