Appreciate the Value of a Moment

“Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

-Dr. Seuss

Don’t you just wish you could know the importance of a moment exactly when it happens and not when it’s too late?  But let’s be honest most of us don’t realize the significance of a moment until its gone or even grasp how much someone means to us until we don’t have them anymore.  And sometimes this can’t be helped.

The last time I spoke to my friend Ray he told me he wanted to get together for dinner.  One thing led to another and I was busy working and finishing my book, Divine Visits.  I figured there was no rush; we had plenty of time to do dinner.

Except that time never came because Ray died soon after from complications from a stroke.  As I think back, I wish I had taken the time to go out to dinner with Ray.  Obviously, if I had known Ray was going to die, I would have acted differently.  I would not have taken so much for granted.

But often times, it takes a funeral or a tragedy to stop us in our tracks and get us to cherish the value of a moment.  It takes losing a friendship before we truly understand how much joy that friend added to our lives.

drseuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Obviously, we can’t possibly know when the time we spend with someone is our last time.  But one thing we can do is make the most of every moment. How?  Well as Dr. Seuss once said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple.”

  1. Practice Gratitude:  Appreciate your blessings and share your thankfulness.
  2. Let everyone know how much they mean to you:  Tell them how you feel.
  3. Show Your Love:  Don’t just say I love you, SHOW IT. Everyone needs to feel loved.
  4. Be True to YOU!:  Don’t change who you are for anyone. Respect yourself enough to be true to yourself and be who you truly are.

Renowned children’s author and cartoonist Dr. Seuss published over 60 books.  Some of his most famous works include The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.  His first book, Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times before it was published in 1937 by Vanguard Press.

His catchy phrases, brilliant rhymes and visionary characters won the hearts of both children and adults alike.  My favorite quote by Dr. Seuss is “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”  Wise words by a very wise man.

Getting older is not all that bad.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate these small moments in life more and more.  Getting older has taught me priceless lessons that unfortunately only come with age.  It has introduced me to the person I truly am.

So looking back, although I’ve come to recognize the value of countless memories of years gone by,   I wish I had done so while they were still moments more often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unleash the Power of Intention in 2016

“In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent, and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link.”

Carlos Castaneda

intentionTomorrow millions of people will wake up with their usual New Year’s resolutions only to be looking at last year’s list and likely next year’s as well. Actually following thru on these promises to yourself is not about willpower or even drive. Rather it’s about the power of intention.

Less than 10 percent actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Most people give up in just a few short weeks and go back to their old ways. Why is that? Everything that we do is shaped by our intentions, not our actions. In other words, it’s not about what we do but the force or desire behind our actions. Our intentions not only shape who we are but also create our destiny.

Thousands of years ago, the sages of India noted that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our intentions. The classic Vedic text known as the Upanishads states, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

Merriam-Webster defines an intention as “the thing that you plan to do or achieve: an aim or purpose.” It is this aim or this attitude that guides our actions. I can remember when my husband John and I were dating a year, my Dad demanded to know what John’s intentions were. Did he plan to marry me or was he just “fooling around” as my father put it.

The power of intention is different than the law of attraction. In an interview with Successful Living, the late Wayne Dyer described it this way, “The law of attraction is this: You don’t attract what you want. You attract what you are.

“Most people’s mistake in trying to apply the law of attraction is they want things; they demand things. But God doesn’t work that way,” he said. “It’s all about allowing.”

There are three easy steps to unleashing your intentions for 2016:

  1. Release: Release your intentions and thoughts out into the Universe.
  2. Detach: Let go and detach yourself from those intentions. In other words, don’t constantly think and worry about the outcome. Allow your destiny to take shape.
  3. Trust: Trust in the power of your intentions. Without trust, relationships and friendships end. And without trust, our intentions are fruitless.

Light travels at a rate of 186,000 miles per second. Although impressive, thoughts practically travel instantaneously. These thoughts precede every action. And our intentions or desires precede every thought. As I’ve said many times, these thoughts create our reality. Once released, these thoughts become waves of energy which then become part of a never-ending force which shapes our destiny.

Deepak Chopra once said, “Intention is the starting point of every dream. It is the creative power that fulfills all of our needs, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening or love.”

When you mean to do something, you release your intention. Where there is no intention there is no fulfillment.

Failing does not mean being a failure. You are a failure only if you choose to be one. There are lessons to be learned regardless of the outcome. So don’t let fear stop your intentions.

Energy flows where our intention goes. Release. Detach. Trust.

 

The Miracle on Market Street

“For we walk by faith, not by sight…” II Corinthians 5:7/KJV

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Joey and Kristen Masciantonio are devout Catholics.  But they were losing faith.  Their 15-month old daughter Gianna suffers from juvenile xanthogranuloma, a rare but serious blood disorder. Gianna had suffered through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments during her young life.  So much so that doctors from the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital told her parents she would likely not survive any more of them.  And because the brain tumor has not been shrinking, they should just enjoy their final months with their baby daughter.

They were sitting at home one Saturday morning when their friend, Donny, who happened to be an FBI agent assigned to security detail for Pope Francis’ Philly visit, called and told them to hurry downtown, as he was fortunate enough to get them passes to see the Pope up close.

Joey initially resisted, thinking that with Gianna’s weakened immune system, bringing her into a large crowd was probably not a good idea.  His wife, however, persisted and they finally agreed to go.

When the Pope’s motorcade was nearing, Joey held his baby high above his head, so that Donny their FBI friend, could spot them, and signal to the head of security, who swiftly took Gianna from Joey and brought her to the Pope, who leaned forward and kissed her on the head and granted her his blessing.

“We believe it was definitely a divine moment,” they said.

Six weeks later, Gianna’s latest  MRI results came back and showed the the tumor had significantly and inexplicably  shrunk to where it was “virtually invisible” and the doctors are now saying she will likely survive.

The Masciantonio family and their friends were calling it the “Miracle on Market Street”, referring to the downtown Philadelphia street where Pope Francis’ healing kiss took place.  Their faith now fully restored, they openly and loudly proclaim that God’s work saved their baby’s life.

Faith is a remarkable and amazing thing.  With it, nothing is impossible.

Recently, I attended mass at my parish.  It was the start of a new series called, “The Promise.”  Fr. Michael stood up before the congregation and immediately had my attention as he told us, “A little faith goes a long way but you must trust.”  We’ve all heard it before, empty promises, empty words.

I swear.

Believe me.

Trust me.

I promise you.

I will.

We’ve all been broken by broken promises.  I promise is such a heavy word but far too often it’s taken too lightly.  People say it without giving it any thought.  We’ve all heard them and, quite frankly, we’ve all done it.  I’ll be there for you.  Just call me.  You can trust me. I care about you.  I love you.  How many times has a friend promised to call or promised to get together but never followed through. These are what I call fleeting promises. They are short lived and have little substance or weight.  They are frequently made but infrequently kept.

These promises may be taken lightly but they often have heavy consequences.  Broken promises lead to broken relationships.  Our level of trust in any relationship is based on our experiences with the other person. These experiences build our level of trust.

As I sat there in church, Fr. Michael’s words seemed to fill every crevice of my heart.  I recognized myself, my life in his words.  The truth is like everyone else, I’ve been hurt.  I’ve been let down.  I’ve felt the brunt of empty, broken promises.  Lately, I’ve been having a hard time trusting again.  It was almost like Fr. Michael was speaking directly to me; everyone else in the church was seemingly nonexistent.

If it’s hard for us to trust the people in our lives, then how hard is it to trust in the unseen?  How hard is it to trust in God’s word and His countless promises in the Bible?

So many things, Fr. Michael noted, get in the way of trusting God.  So many things get in the way of taking God on his word. But he strongly reminded everyone that we must trust in the unseen.  Because life is much more than you can see with our eyes.  “Broken hearts become brand new,” said Fr. Michael.  “That’s what faith can do……God says, ‘I have.  I will and I can.’”

I got to thinking about everything Fr. Michael said.  So many things get in the way of trusting someone.  True, it is sometimes hard to have faith in God’s word.  But isn’t that true for any relationship?    True, it is hard for us to trust in the unseen.  But, honestly, to me God is not really unseen.  God is everywhere and in everything.  Below is a short story that explains this well; unfortunately the author is unknown.

A small boy once approached his slightly older sister with a question about God. “Susan, can anybody ever really see God?” he asked. Busy with other things, Susan curtly replied: “No, of course not silly. God is so far up in heaven that nobody can see Him.”

Time passed, but his question still lingered so he approached his mother: “Mum, can anybody ever really see God?”

“No, not really,” she gently said. “God is a spirit and He dwells in our hearts, but we can never really see Him.” Somewhat satisfied but still wondering, the youngster went on his way.

Not long afterwards, his saintly old grandfather took the little boy on a fishing trip. They were having a great time together—it had been an ideal day.

The sun was beginning to set with unusual splendor as the day ended. The old man stopped fishing and turned his full attention to the exquisite beauty unfolding before him. On seeing the face of his grandfather reflecting such deep peace and contentment as he gazed into the magnificent ever-changing sunset, the little boy thought for a moment and finally spoke hesitatingly,

“Grandad, I—I wasn’t going to ask anybody else, but I wonder if you can tell me the answer to something I’ve been wondering about a long time—can anybody—can anybody ever really see God?”

The old man did not even turn his head. A long moment slipped by before he finally answered.

“Grandson,” he quietly said. “It’s getting so I can’t see anything else.”

I love that story.  If you look long enough, much like the grandfather in this story, you will see God.

He was clearly present in baby Gianna’s miracle cure, but He is also present in the air that we breathe.  He is present in the roar of the incessant ocean and the beauty of the lone rose.  He is everywhere and in everything, especially the love that you feel within your heart.

 

This blog is dedicated to baby Gianna Masciantonio.  May God continue to bless her with his miracles.

 

 

Living In An Imperfect World

In Honor of World Cerebral Palsy Day

imperfect

Yesterday was picture day for my two teenage daughters.  The photography company asked that we fill out a form.  Did I want the pictures done with photo editing for a higher premium or did I want them done without?  Easy choice.  I checked off without photo editing.

Those so called imperfections are what make my daughters who they are. Years from now when I look back at their high school days, I want to remember them as they were and always will be: perfectly imperfect.

There’s only one problem.  We live in a society that thrives on the pursuit of perfection.  As a young college graduate, I went for an interview with an advertising agency.  I was offered the job only to later have the offer retracted when it was discovered that I was hearing impaired.  In fact, I was told by the advertising manager to get out of my chosen field because I was never going to make it.

A few months later, I interviewed with an association and was not offered the position.  I found out later it was because the executive director “did not like my speech impediment.”

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not saying that I expected to be hired for a job that I was not qualified for.  What I am saying is that I expected to be judged on my ability rather than my disability.  I expected to be accepted despite my so called imperfections.  I was more than capable and willing but I soon found out that society was not quite ready for me.

Just turn on the television or look at ads in magazines or newspapers.  What do you see?  Beautiful faces.  Slim bodies.  Picture-perfect homes.  The perfect life.  There’s only one problem; there is no such thing.  Our obsession with perfection in fact makes us imperfect.

When I got married, I wanted to be the perfect wife.  When my daughter Erica was born I wanted to be the perfect mother.  I strived to be the perfect friend, daughter, sister, etc.  But I lost myself somewhere on that road to perfection and I became someone other than me.  The real me was born with cerebral palsy, suffers from hearing loss, walks with a limp, has a speech impediment, makes mistakes, and, oh yes, even has an ugly birthmark on her right hand.

I couldn’t wait until the day I had a full-time job with health coverage so I could go and have that ugly birthmark removed.  I went to one of the best plastic surgeons in the area only to be told that he would have to be remove skin from my buttocks to replace the skin removed from my hand.  So either way, he told me, I would have a scar on my hand.

I opted to keep my birthmark and looking back, I’m so glad I did.  As I’ve grown older and wiser over the years, I’ve come to realize that all of my imperfections make me who I am.  If we were meant to be perfect, God would have created us that way.  He didn’t because our imperfections are our fingerprints.  They are what make us all unique.

Take a moment to think about how your perfect world would be.  Perhaps your perfect world would be filled with love and no judgement.  Everyone is born gorgeous with no bodily “flaws.”  Everyone is always happy.  We all have wonderful families and adoring friends.  There is no sickness, everyone is smart, and there is only one social class.  There’s no drama, no fighting, no hurt feelings, nada.

This so-called perfect world utopia is not only impossible but extremely boring.  Our imperfections and the challenges that come along with them are what allow us to learn and grow.  The pain that we feel when someone we love hurts us is supposed to hurt.  That pain helps us to appreciate that very love and not take anything for granted.  Our flaws are what make us interesting and unique.  They shape our personality and set us apart. Without them, everything would be ordinary and mundane.

Today, October 7, is recognized as World Cerebral Palsy Day.  I propose a Perfectly Imperfect Day.  It would be a day for all of us to recognize and celebrate the very uniqueness that makes us who we are.

I’ve long discovered that my many weaknesses in life, including my disability, are in fact my strengths.  If I had a choice, I would not change the fact that I was born with a disability.  If I did, I wouldn’t be me.

In the words of Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.

WAYNE DYER: The Next Adventure

“We are not our bodies, our possessions, or our careers.  Who we are is Divine love and that is infinite.”

Dr. Wayne Dyerwaynedyer

Dr. Wayne Dyer once said beautiful thoughts build a beautiful soul.  If you need any proof of these words, just look at his life.  The best-selling author of over 30 books and self-help mogul died on August 30, 2015 at his home in Maui, Hawaii of a heart-attack at the age of 75.  A long-time admirer of both his books and his amazing wisdom, I am saddened by his death.  It is comforting to know, however, that Dyer knew death was but a transition and did not fear it.

“Choose to see death as simply removing a garment or moving from one room to another . . . it’s merely a transition,” he said.  He also believed as do I that we are infinite beings.  In other words, we always were and we always will be.  God did not put us all here to live and then die.  “Eternity is now,” noted Dyer.   “Right now, right here, you’re an infinite being. Once you get past the fear of death as an end, you merge with the infinite and feel the comfort and relief that this realization brings.”

Although I know Dyer is enjoying his next adventure, I will surely miss his physical presence.  His wisdom, however, will forever live on.  He has touched millions of souls and changed countless lives.  He understood and taught that we are all here for a reason; every life serves a purpose.  It’s obvious that his purpose was to enlighten and help others…a task he more than accomplished.

But Dyer was clear that it’s not about what we do.  What we do, does not define us.  Rather it’s about how our actions affect others.  He explained it well when he said, “Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t do…you aren’t.”

His death is actually a testament to these very words.  Dyer’s physical presence may be gone, but he still is.  His presence is still felt around the globe.  He wasn’t what he did.  He was all the differences that he made.  He was all the lives that he touched.  He was the love that he shared—a love that can still be felt and can never be extinguished.

It’s about who you are on the inside, not your list of accomplishments or things earned.  “When you squeeze out an orange, orange comes out because that’s what’s inside.  When you’re squeezed, what comes out is what’s inside.”

In honor of Dr. Wayne Dyer, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes by him.  These include:

  • “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
  • “I cannot always control what goes on outside.  But I can always control what goes on inside.”
  • “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.  It’s to enjoy each step along the way.”
  • “Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul.”
  • “Loving people live in a loving world.  Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”
  • “You’ll see it when you believe it.”
  • “Our loves are a sum total of the choices we have made.”
  • “Simply put, you believe that things or people make you unhappy, but this is not accurate.  You make yourself unhappy.”
  • “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.”
  • “The last suit you wear, you don’t need any pockets.”

Dyer grew up in a series of foster homes.  His father, an alcoholic, left the family when he was just 3 years old.  Things were difficult for his family to be sure.  But as we can all see by the incredible life he lived and the amazing man he was, he was not a victim of his circumstances.  No one is.

We are only the victim of our mind.  We are only the victim of our thoughts—both positive and negative.  “It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time,” he once said. “Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.”

In one of his final interviews with James Altucher, he reminded us of the number one regret of the dying from Bronnie Ware’s popular book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”   Dyer said that’s about the essence of it all. He clearly didn’t have this deathbed regret. And neither should we.

Everything Is Not About Being Black or White…Its About Being People

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

aug blog pic1As a little girl, I had a dream.  I wanted to be a journalist much like WDBJ reporter Alison Parker who was murdered yesterday on live television.

People are calling yesterday’s fatal shooting of Parker and cameraman Adam Ward a racist hate crime.  Were Parker and Ward the victim of hate?  Yes, but it’s much bigger than that.

Afterwards, the gunman, Vester Lee Flanagan, a former WDBJ-TV reporter who went by the name of Bryce Williams faxed a 23-page manifesto-cum-suicide note to ABC News.  His note claimed that yesterday’s live execution was his reaction to the Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17 of this year.  Sources indicate that the murder weapon was purchased legally from a Virginia store just two days after the church shooting.

The fax also expressed Flanagan’s admiration for the two Columbine High School killers in Colorado.  On April 20, 1999, two teens went on a shooting rampage killing and injuring several people before turning the gun on themselves. Let’s take this into perspective for a moment.

The Columbine High School attack took place 16 years ago when Flanagan was 25 years old.  His note claimed that the more recent church shooting set him off and also claimed harassment from WDBJ.  On Twitter, he claimed Parker had made racist comments.  He later filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

His claims were dismissed because the allegations could not be verified. Flanagan’s horrific killing did not start with these so-called allegations, however.  It started long before yesterday.  This man was obviously disturbed and mentally unstable.  In his fax, he writes, “The church shooting was the tipping point . . . but my anger has been building steadily. . . I’ve been a human powder keg for a while . . . just waiting to go BOOM!!!”*

In his note he also talked about how he was harassed by white women and also attacked for being a gay, black man.

Last night, WDBJ President and General Manger, Jeffrey Marks, appeared on The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News with Bill O’Reilly.  When asked about how Flanagan was as an employee, Marks told O’Reilly that we can know what people say and do but not what they think and feel.  That remark really hit home for me.  These racist attacks don’t start with how people act.  They start with how people think. They start with how people feel.

These attacks start not with discrimination but with hatred.  The same hatred was fostered by the terrorists on 9/11, the recent mob riots in Baltimore and Jefferson County, the earlier shootings in Charleston, Virginia Tech and Columbine. Palestine vs Israel, ISIS and countless others going all the way back to the Crusades.  They are a product of a mindset brought on by either a hateful ideology or a sense of being somehow wronged.

Fifty-two years ago tomorrow (August 28, 1963), Martin Luther King Jr. made one of the most memorable speeches in history when he talked about having a dream.**aug blog pic2

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. . .

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

When King made this masterful speech, he was not talking about equality for just African Americans, he was talking about equality for all.  It’s not about seeing people as black or white; Hispanic or Asian, gay or straight, Muslim, Jew, Christian or atheist.   It’s not about seeing someone as disabled or “normal.”  It’s about seeing people as people.

Being born with Cerebral Palsy and hearing loss, I, too, experienced many acts of prejudice.  I was picked on and bullied.  When I was fresh out of college, I was offered a job at an advertising agency.  However, when the manger later learned of my hearing loss, I was told that I would never make it.  I was told to get out of my chosen field.  The job offer was then retracted.

There were and continue to be countless other incidents I can list.  But the point is, throughout all that happened to me personally in life, I never let hatred build up inside me, hoping to one day exact revenge on society for wronging me.  Instead, I used those experiences as a self-motivator turning all those negatives into positives.  I fought harder to succeed and be the best person I could be hoping to instill in my children a similar mindset of understanding, love and tolerance.

I, too, have a dream.  I have a dream that this world will someday understand that we are not either black or white.  That this prejudice and the horrible acts of crime that often result from it, is simply borne from generalized hatred towards any particular group of people.

I have a dream that that we will realize that we cannot simply make gun control laws stricter, or have greater security in public places and expect this problem to go away.   We will someday realize that we must fundamentally change how we teach our children.  We will teach our children to see people not as black or white but as people.

Despite the bad in this world, we will remember that the good will always prevail.  And someday, we will all stand together, no longer divided. Only together can we make this world a better place.

This blog is dedicated in memory of Alison Parker and Adam Ward.  My deepest condolences go out to their family, friends and colleagues. 

*http://abcnews.go.com/US/shooting-alleged-gunman-details-grievances-suicide-notes/story?id=33336339

**http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

The Unthinkable: Dealing with the Loss of a Child

What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.

Helen Keller

One of the worst pains that anyone can endure is undoubtedly the loss of a child.  Each year statistics show that about 53,000 parents face the loss of a child in the U.S.  As the mother of two, the thought is just inconceivable to me.

LND.jpegIt doesn’t matter if the child is young or an adult, parents are supposed to go before their children.  My father’s sister (my aunt Mary) lost two daughters.  One daughter, my cousin Debbie, died when she was a young teenager from brain cancer.  It was so hard for me and my family to witness the excruciating pain that my cousin endured until she finally crossed over.  But as hard as it was for us, nothing compares to the pain my aunt and uncle had to suffer.

Years later, Debbie’s oldest sister Lina was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Although Lina was much older than her sister when she was diagnosed, the pain was the same.  My Aunt Mary had suffered through the loss of her daughter and then her husband.  Losing her oldest daughter was more than she could handle.

We’ve had many heartfelt conversations about my two deceased cousins.  My aunt always cries and says, “I lost two daughters, Jo.  I lost two.”  My assurances that she will see Debbie and Lina again do bring her comfort yet the pain of losing a child remains.  Life has in many ways stopped for my aunt as she now feels guilty about moving on and enjoying her life.

I bring up my aunt because July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month.  As an author and afterlife researcher, I’ve had many people ask me, “Josie, knowing what you know now (that there is life after death), does it make it easier for you when you lose a loved one?  My answer is always the same.  Yes, it’s easier but it’s not easy.  Losing a loved one hurts.  It really hurts.

Sure, I know I will see them again.  Because of my experiences, I do not fear death.  Love never dies.  It’s always there but it is that same love that we shared with the deceased that causes us pain.  It is that love that causes us grief.  Think about it.   You cannot have one without the other.

If I had a choice and could deny myself love so as to not experience grief, I would refuse it.  I will always choose love.

On Grief and Grieving, a book by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, describes the five stages of grief.  They are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.  It’s important to note, however, that not everyone goes through all of them, nor do they necessarily occur in this order.  A parent who is dealing with the unexpected murder of their child, for example, may be stuck in the anger stage.  Grief is a deeply personal and singular experience.

In other words, it’s your own.  No one can tell you how you should feel, how to get over it or how long it should take.  The only person who can understand and deal with the emotions you are going through is you.

True grief is, of course, normal.  However, burying our children seems unnatural.  Although we are never prepared to bury a loved one, we are certainly more prepared when it comes to an aging parent, etc.  We don’t expect to have to bury our children.

If you know someone who has lost a child, just let them know you are there for them.  Very often, people don’t know what to say and it sometimes comes out all wrong.  If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything at all.  Listen more than you talk.

If you are a bereaved parent, don’t ignore your feelings.  Allow yourself to grieve anyway that you choose and take as much time as you need.  Don’t hesitate to lean on your friends and family and keep the lines of communication open.

Of course, many of my readers are dealing with the heartache of losing loved ones.  Often they reach out to me seeking comfort.  Time after time, my heart always breaks for each and every one of them.  I wish there was something that I could do to quickly take away the pain but there are no quick fixes when it comes to grief.

The best thing I can do is help them understand that although the body dies, the spirit lives and also try to help others understand that love never dies.  To demonstrate this, I want to share a brief excerpt from my book, Visits from Heaven.  The story entitled “Tanya’s Heavenly Bracelet” appears on page 203.  It is an amazing story of one bereaved mom’s struggle with the loss of her daughter, Tanya.  Through her grief, Carol discovers that her daughter never really left her.

Tanya’s Heavenly Bracelet (An excerpt from Visits from Heaven/4th Dimension Press)

After her death we began to receive many comforting signs, but Tanya’s appearance and hug was the most precious gift of them all.  At this point in my life, I did not want to go on living; I missed my daughter so much.  She always had a way of giving the best hugs.  She’d squeeze real tight and hang on for the longest time.  I would go to her grave site every morning before work and every evening after work.  Each time I would tell her how much I loved and missed her.  Each time I would say, “I’d give anything for one last hug.”

VFHbookOne night just before her sixteenth birthday, I walked into my room and sat at the edge of my bed.  When I looked up, Tanya was there! She didn’t say anything but her eyes expressed so much love and she had the most beautiful smile.

Tanya wrapped her arms around me.  I put my right hand on her left arm.  She was cool yet not cold, solid but not quite hard.  My hand did not go through her, but I was just so different; it felt kind of like touching “Jell-O.”

The texture of her skin startled me.  There are no words to describe what her arm felt like.  I drew a quick breath, and then Tanya gave me the most beautiful loving smile.  She just backed away and was gone.  I can’t even begin to convey how much her “visit” meant to me.

I hope Carol’s story brings some comfort to those of you who are grieving.  Focus on the love within.  As I always say, love is the one thing that transcends death.  No one, absolutely no one, can ever take that love away from you.

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