Surviving the First Year of Grief

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Surviving the First Year of Grief
Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of my mom’s death. That means I’ve endured many of the difficult “firsts” that grievers dread — first birthdays, holidays, and school events. This one-year mark also signifies that I’ve learned how to live in a world without my mom in it. And let me tell you, that’s no small feat.

When the phone rang a year ago at 3 a.m. with news that Mom had passed away, I started shaking uncontrollably. Then came the flood of tears, accompanied by a flood of jumbled thoughts. I collapsed into my husband’s arms and said between breathless sobs, “I don’t have a mom anymore.” Releasing those six words into the universe was a jarring, surreal, unsettling moment.

Mom’s passing was tragic and traumatizing — the kind of death that made me question if I could go on living. Though I never considered harming myself, I do recall thinking that should a car happen to strike me one day when I was out for a run, I’d be okay with that. I’m not sure if I was apathetic about living or intrigued about dying; all I knew was that for a period of time, life crippled me.

Tasks that should be simple — eating, sleeping, and breathing, for example — were now insanely challenging. I also struggled to care for my two young sons. One gorgeous spring day, the kids asked to go outside so I took a folding chair onto the driveway to watch them play. Only I wasn’t so much watching them as I was zoning out in a grief-stricken haze. Looking back, I’m relieved my little one didn’t run out into traffic because I doubt my slow reflexes could have stopped him.

The spring and summer months were never-ending. Stuck in the mire of grief and all the crud that comes with it — guilt, rage, frustration, and sadness — all I wanted to do was fast-forward time. I was desperate to move past the agony to get to a better place.

I was beyond bummed that I couldn’t even escape grieving during slumber. Every night, I had exhausting dreams. In one of them, I was stumbling on stilts down a pitch-black path in search of my mom. I was wobbly, lost, and confused, which pretty well summed up my condition during consciousness as well. In another dream, I fell into a bottomless pit of darkness. At least I thought it was bottomless, but ultimately I did hit rock bottom with a massive thud, at which point I sprang to my feet and ran from three menacing guys in black cloaks who were chasing me with shiny swords. I was terrified initially until it dawned on me that if I stopped running and simply let these people slay me, I would be immortalized — and finally at peace. That sounded awfully good.

“Cool,” I thought. “Kill me.” I stood still and calmly awaited the prick of the piercing sword. Weird, I know. That’s how most of my dreams were for awhile. After several months, however, the fog mercifully lifted, the harrowing dreams ceased, and I returned to the land of the living. Through it all, one thing remain unchanged: my fervent desire to talk about my mom. The funny thing about death (which really isn’t funny at all) is how the majority of the population clams up about the deceased whenever they see you. It’s like they think, “Oh, no! I’d better not mention her mom or else then she’ll start thinking about her mom and get sad.”

Please, let me enlighten you. First off, I’m always thinking about my mom, which I love, actually. Second, while, yes, on some level “mom memories” sadden me, that sadness is always superseded by the joy I feel whenever somebody is kind enough to invite her name into the conversation.

Now that it’s been a year, my thoughts have shifted. I no longer wish to fast-forward time. Where would that get me, anyway, except for additional wrinkles and taller children? My dreams have also shifted in that they are no longer driven by fear and confusion; now they seem to come from a place of understanding and acceptance. The vivid dream I had earlier this week in the morning of April 2 exemplifies my point.

It occurred at 3 a.m. — precisely the same time Mom passed away one year ago. In it, a huge storm blew through our neighborhood and uprooted our beautiful house from its foundation. After the storm, my husband and I frantically searched for our two children and found that they were okay. Relief. Then we realized we wouldn’t have power or water or be able to live comfortably for awhile, but we could still continue to live in the house even with such extensive damage. More relief. We stood in stunned silence, looking at our wrecked house, astounded by the total destruction. We simply couldn’t believe the massive devastation that had leveled our lives in such a brief amount of time. Still, all I could focus on was that we had survived… We were survivors.

And that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the course of this past year. Grieving the loss of someone you deeply love is beyond painful, and some days you really question if and how you’re going to make it through. But if you let yourself feel, open yourself up, accept love and hugs from those around you, and fully embrace the grieving process, you will slowly move forward. You will slowly heal.

Please know that if you are currently grieving — even if it’s an intense, unrelenting, overwhelming, all-consuming, catastrophic grief — you will survive, too. So take that deep breath when the universe allows it, and trust that you will learn to live again — in peace.

Ride the Thunder: The Art of Transforming Your Life
About one year ago, my partner had a serious health problem. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, and he had to stay in the hospital for an entire month. Facing financial problems (something which is inevitable these days) and fearing for your partner’s life is not an easy situation and certainly not one that you anticipate or are prepared for. You can’t deal with one problem at a time, in this case; you don’t have the option. So, what do you do?

What I did, was ask for help from a higher being (or higher spirit or guide, you can give it any name you like). That wasn’t very difficult for me, because I happen to believe in the spiritual plane and have read many interesting books on the subject — including the ancient Greeks, Plato, Pythagoras and the pre-socratic philosophers.

All of them, in their own words, described the infinite nature of spirit that also exists in man and woman. We have the answers. We know what has to be done. We know how we should be reacting. We just need to connect, which is an entirely different matter, because we all have our own way to connect to things and don’t need to follow in somebody else’s footsteps. Some of us might connect through our work and others through family or any other way.

The main thing, though, is to be aware of something that is greater than the everyday problems we face (or than the things that we believe to be important). There is something higher, and we are connected to that, we are a part of that. But, still, it takes a life threatening situation to realize it.

I lived day-by-day, pushing myself, asking for guidance, making mistakes, searching for solutions, connecting to people and feeling a wind behind me taking me farther. There is no easy way, but “easy” might be a fantasy word.

So, why do we have to go through all of these difficulties? I believe we need to because this is how we become better. We need to learn to “run faster” than our problems, the pain, the obstacles. We need to become Hermes with wings in our feet. We need to broaden our thoughts; we need to incorporate in them the spirit.

When Zeus sends a thunder down on you (to create a poetic picture in what otherwise is pretty agonizing) he sends you a message: “This is the way”. The thunder opens up a road for you, and if you want to go through the situation alive, you have to ride the thunder. Failing to do that means you have to go through the situation again and again, until you decide to act in a certain way.

What helped me through the hurricane was an inner voice coming from a place unknown to me, like the “daemon” of Socrates. For the question, “How can he get over his illness and get well again?” the answer was: “He needs to remember his true self.”

To do that one has to follow these three steps:

Step 1: Take the garbage out of the house — get rid of all of the things that you know no longer serve you. These could be ugly thoughts, negative feelings or even objects that take too much of your space.

Step 2: Take a good look at yourself. Look as if you have never seen yourself before, and ask yourself: “Who am I really?”

Step 3: Awaken the spirit inside you, because there is a divine self in you who is fast asleep. When you do this you can contact the higher power because it listens only to its equal — it can only listen to the divine spirit inside you.

When you take these three steps, you can acquire power, genius, alertness, consciousness and protection for you and your kin (and a desire to help your fellow men and women). This is the first and simplest initiation.

What my inner voice told me is that we need to stay focused on our truest self. When we stray from our core self, we fill ourselves with anger, anxiety and stress, which affects our mental and physical health.

The only way to be creative is to get in touch with our true self. And we get in touch with the true self only when we get rid of all the “garbage” that we have collected over time. In this way, what you become after going through all the difficulties you encounter in life is actually an initiated person.

So, my partner got better and had to start all over again, feeling weak but also stronger, no matter how contradicting that sounds. Life, after all, is full of contradictions and men and women have to go through it with the knowledge that nothing is in vain, nothing is by accident and we are all destined to be the best we can.

More Money Isn’t Going To Make You Happy
How important, if at all, is having more money for our happiness and well-being? Unsurprisingly this question stimulates a lot of opinion and debate. But are people accurate in their predictions about the benefits of having money?

A new study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology highlights that people are often mistaken in how spending our money might benefit our lives. People are prone to forecasting errors – that is, they mistakenly predict future events to be better or worse than they actually turn out to be.

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