Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

We Are not Alone — the Bell Tolls for Each of Us

Friday, December 21st, 2012

lone craggy rock with trees atop_blue ocean_alone_blue skyAs I lay in bed last night, trying to go to sleep, a line from John Donne’s famous poem kept racing across my mind: “No man is an island.” His words of so long ago are surely as true today as when he wrote them.

I kept thinking about the tragedy last week in Newtown, CT, especially since just a few of days ago marked the first day of funerals for those who were gunned down. I couldn’t get those families out of my mind … nor the words of the poem.

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Stick Up for Hopefulness, Especially During Grief

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Whimsically painted Adirondack chairs_primary colors_hopefulnessIs hopefulness worth sticking up for?

This time of year should be joyful, hopeful, exciting, and filled with anticipation. But when you’re grieving, the holidays often produce feelings of dread instead of happy expectation. If you’re grieving, what are you supposed to do? Are you doomed to an anxiety-ridden season?

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Watch Out for Built-In Obstacles During Grief

Friday, September 7th, 2012

gray stone wall with trailing green vines_obstaclesI’m very honored to be guest blogging for the second time today for the Fairhaven Memorial Blog!

I hope you’ll check out the article—and share it with your friends, family, and people you know.

People everywhere are experiencing all types of loss. Everyone needs hope. And when faced with grief, we all need help.

Just click on the link to read:  Fairhaven Memorial Blog

Grief or Hope — What Defines Your Life?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

dark crumbling bldg wall with view to complete stone and brick building_green tree bathed in sunshineWhat defines your life? Sometimes an event or experience creates such a strong impact—positive or negative—that we allow it to define not only who we are, but also our future.

Each of us can probably point to certain defining moments in our lives when something happened that changed our course or direction. Maybe it’s an ‘Aha’ moment when suddenly we understood a concept that changed everything for us. Perhaps it’s an achievement such as finally earning an advanced degree, winning a race, or reaching an important personal goal. Positive events such as these can be pivotal in moving us ahead, in charting a new path, or by propelling us to a higher level. Such events may also work to redefine who we are and who we can be as a consequence of our experience.

On the other hand, painful events carry the potential to define our lives, too, and the result can either be positive or negative.

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Grief Was Not What I Expected — and What a Teacher It’s Been!

Friday, June 8th, 2012

bright multicolored hot air balloon, american flag, blue sky, hopeI’m very excited to be guest blogging today for Fairhaven Memorial Park.

I hope you’ll check out the article—and share it with your friends and anyone you know who would be interested.

Just click on the link:  Fairhaven Memorial Park

 

When You’re Feeling Gloomy, Encouragement Is a Lifeline!

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

bright_yellow_tulip_green_leavesHow many of you have had to fight against discouragement? Every single one of us has been there—right? Whether you’re facing disappointment, despair, or another difficult condition or situation, unfortunately the following quote is true, and going through the ‘what is’ can be a challenge:

“In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through what is.”
—Anonymous

Hopelessness seems to show up at the worst times—when things keep going wrong, when plans or dreams aren’t working out the way you hoped, when you’re being bombarded on all sides by challenges, and sometimes when you’re just plain tired!

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Sunshine After Grief

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

sunshine_bright-red-gold-white-flowers-clustered-togetherYou may not be in a place right now to believe what I’m going to say—but at least consider that sunshine after grief is possible!

Fourteen years ago, I questioned whether I would ever feel like smiling again—and whether I’d be happy in the future. But now I know it’s true—and not just for me, but for so many others who have been through the pain of grief. If you’re wondering the same thing, I want to reassure you that happiness is not only possible, but likely to happen for you, if that’s the choice you make after loss.

A wonderful friend from a past grief support group, who lost his wife several years ago, suggested that I share my story to encourage others who are disheartened and now facing loss. Regardless of where you are at this moment, know that you are not alone, and many of us have been in the same place—struggling with negative feelings, fears, and uncertainties.

My story of loss happened suddenly, without any warning. I thought everything was just fine. My husband took off on a mountain bike ride—something he frequently did—except this time, he never came home. The instant he died, my entire life changed. I had trouble envisioning any kind of future for myself back then.

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The Devastating Reality of Sudden Death

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

single white calla lily nestled among green leavesWhen someone dies unexpectedly, the shock and pain are indescribable. Often we are paralyzed. We don’t understand, and we don’t know what to do.

Millions of people around the world are mourning the sudden death of Whitney Houston and trying to take in the reality of something they cannot believe is real. For Whitney’s family and those who love her the most, the pain is beyond comprehension. My heart breaks when I think of what her daughter Bobbi Kristina, her mother Cissy, her ex-husband Bobby, and others closest to her are going through right now, because I’ll never forget the unspeakable pain I lived through fourteen years ago when my husband John went mountain-bike riding and never came home. Tragedy strikes—and we are overwhelmed by grief.

No one is prepared for death, even if someone is sick and isn’t expected to live. And when death comes unexpectedly, we feel even more helpless and confused. Grief is not something we think about until we come face-to-face with it, and by that time, it’s too late. We’re thrust abruptly into grief, we don’t have a clue what is happening to us, how to respond, or what to do—and at some point, we’ll know we have to find a way to navigate the fear, confusion, and uncertainty of our personal grief journey.

Misunderstanding surrounds grief.

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Grief Is Hope

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

trees with brigh orange leaves against smoky sky with sun peeking throughYou may be thinking, “Grief is hope? What in the world are you talking about? I’m in the middle of grief, and it sure doesn’t feel like hope! In fact, I’m struggling to stay hopeful.”

The word I haven’t been able to get out of my mind this week is ‘hope’ because I so desperately want to express this sense of hope to you. Each of us face losses of many kinds, and they are all devastating in their own ways. Our losses cause pain — and the pain is inescapable. But here’s where the hope comes in!

Grief is the way we get from pain to a fulfilling life again. When we choose to grieve, we are choosing hope, because we’ve decided to take the necessary steps to move through the pain (over time) and start living again.

Grieving does not happen automatically.

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Gratitude During Grief

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

orange rose nestled among varied bright yellow flowersYou may be thinking, “Gratitude during grief — are you kidding?”

A friend shared something with me that changed his life. Last year he started a gratitude journal. All year long, he’s written something in his journal each day. Even on the worst of days, he’s been able to find things to be grateful for.

Before going to sleep at night, he thinks about his day and records his gratitude in his book. Each time he writes, he starts out by saying that he’s glad to be alive! He almost died. That experience changes the way you think. Some days my friend also begins his day by writing in his gratitude journal.

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Stand Firm When Grieving — and Give Hope a Chance

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Lone bird standing on large rock with blue ocean in background and blue sky white cloudsMore than any other time of year, I believe our strength is tested the most during the holiday season.

We have high expectations for the holidays, and we naturally think about our loved ones more than ever. We long to be with those we love, and when that’s impossible, we’re sad. I’m no different than anyone else. The first holidays without my husband were especially tough. But I had built a foundation that held me up despite the utter sadness and pain I felt.

Soon after my husband died, I made a decision — and I remember exactly where I was standing when I made it. Making that decision was clearly important to my future and critical to my grief journey.

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Remembering 9/11 — We Were Stunned by Grief

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Waves breaking on the beach and puffy clouds in a sunrise sky9/11 was an unforgettable day in the life of our nation. It was a day of tragedy, horror, disbelief, pain, sadness, and the end of life as we had known it before. We were stunned by grief.

But beyond the collective grief of all Americans, for those who lost loved ones that day, 9/11 and what it represents in their lives will never be forgotten — as is the case for each of us who has suffered the profound loss of someone or something that means everything to us. 9/11 is a symbol for all who have known deep loss — but I want to convince you that it’s also a symbol of hope and determination.

Each person who is alive will experience grief. If you haven’t already, it’s just a matter of time. Grief is a fact of life. But what is even more tragic than your loss is for you to allow grief to define the remainder of your life!

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What Surprised You the Most about Grief?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Photo of isolated dockDid you ever stop to consider that something could trigger changes causing you to feel like a stranger, even to yourself? How could that happen?

Soon after my husband died, not only did I feel isolated–but I didn’t even recognize the person inside of me. I didn’t know the imposter who, at times, was angry and hostile for no logical reason. How did this intruder move in and push me aside?   Photo of two isolated people sitting on bench

Grief affects every area of our lives. No wonder its effects are noticeable and sometimes overwhelming. However, there is a path through grief–and if you want to find healing, you’ll take the steps to reach your new beginning.

Remapping is doable. There is a way through …

© 2011 Judy Brizendine

What Kind of Grief Day Are You Having?

Monday, June 27th, 2011

photo of red suede shoesYou may think this is a little odd, but I was thinking about shoes the other day—and about how a shoe could tell a story about my grief journey.

I have a pair of work boots that I used to wear on job sites to keep my nice shoes from being destroyed. We never knew what we would run into on construction sites—drywall mud, paint, dirt, construction debris—or just about anything! So I tried to keep my work boots in the trunk, just in case. The grief journey is kind of like that—you never know just what you’ll run up against or how something will affect you at a certain time.

My work boots were comfortable, sturdy, ordinary, no-nonsense shoes. And well- worn. They were made for work. Certainly at times grief felt like hard work—and I felt worn-out and a little ragged—just like my work boots.Leather work boots

At other times, something would happen to really lift my spirits and give me hope— kind of like my red suede slip-on loafers. Comforting. Positive. Someone would call just to let me know they’d been thinking about me. Or a friend would offer to help with something I couldn’t do by myself. Optimistic shoes—like a grief day touched by the reassurance that everything will be okay again.

Not every day during grief is a ‘work boot’ day. Thankfully, there are some ‘red suede loafer’ days, too!

What kind of grief day are you having?

© 2011 Judy Brizendine

Hope after Loss—New Beginnings

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

photo of beautiful orchidHello world! Welcome to my blog!

It’s great to meet you. Take a few minutes and look around. See what’s here.

This blog is about hope and inspiration. It’s about help. It’s about seeing the beauty that’s all around you, even if you can’t see it right now. It’s about finding a way to smile—and know that you are not alone. It’s about getting you to believe—really believe —that you will make it through grief. And that life will be good again. But it takes effort on your part. You have to believe in yourself and really want things to get better!

You’ll find truth here. I won’t pull punches. I’ll tell you about things I learned the hard way. I want your path after loss to be easier than mine was.

Let’s make this journey together. You don’t have to do this alone.

© 2011 Judy Brizendine