You know how it is when something makes such an impression on you, or affects you deeply, and you just can’t get it out of your mind. My husband and I went to see American Sniper a couple of weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about what I saw. Even more, I can’t forget what I felt as I watched Chris Kyle’s story unfold on the screen. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘grief’
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.
Memorial Day is the time we’ve set aside to honor our fallen heroes who gave their lives for our freedom. No greater gift exists—and no greater sacrifice is possible—than to give your life for something you believe in.
While our military and their families deserve our thanks every day, May has been named National Military Appreciation Month. It’s easy to overlook the daily sacrifices service members and their families make for us, but their sacrifices are real and significant. Check out some ways you can show them your thanks on the Military Appreciation Month facebook page.
Some say that those in the military signed up for their lifestyle. They signed up to serve their country and give their lives if necessary to protect our freedom. But even though they’ve committed to serve, hardships accompany that service. Families are often separated. Children may be born while a father is away. Finances can be challenging when families live in separate locations. Moves can be frequent and unexpected. Communication may be sporadic. Deployments can come up unexpectedly. Pre-deployment training and preparation are stressful. And loneliness is sometimes overwhelming. Add fear to the equation when the service member is deployed to a war-torn area. In addition, a military career includes a certain amount of peril on a daily basis.
I was a military wife for twenty-one years. Those serving in the military are among the most dedicated, patriotic people I’ve ever known.
Whether your loss is the death of someone or the end of a relationship, loss of health or mobility, loss of your home or job, loss of your business or your assets, loss of security, or any meaningful loss, you will experience change. How you respond to the change (and this will likely be many kinds of changes)—will determine your future. How you respond sets your course in a positive or harmful way.
Attitude is one of the most powerful tools in your life, possibly the most important one. Your attitude determines how you ‘see’ what happened to you, and it will be a key element in how you respond.
Much, if not most, of what happens in your life is outside of your control. So how will you respond to the majority of events, conditions, and circumstances you face?
Think about it. Life is about learning. When we don’t get it right the first time, we usually get another chance to learn the lesson—and we keep going back to square one until we ‘get it.’
How 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.”
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!
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.
Laughter is a “healing” escape. Research has confirmed the powerful medicinal effects of laughter. It truly is a miracle drug! And how many ‘drugs’ today have no negative side effects? Laughter produces only positive effects—on both the mind and the body! Laughter even helps to fight disease.
Have you noticed in your own experience that positive and negative responses cannot occupy the same space? If you’re giggling, can you stay mad or upset? How many times have you been angry with someone, and they kept teasing you until you smiled or laughed? When you couldn’t keep from smiling (no matter how hard you tried) didn’t your mood change?
I understand that at times during grief, especially early on, you won’t be able to laugh. And please know that I am not disrespecting or disregarding the grieving process. It’s crucial. However, everyone needs breathing space from grief. Otherwise, it’s too overwhelming.
Grief has a way of knocking you off-balance and stealing the wind from your sails until you get a handle on what’s happening, learn enough to know what to expect, and find out about the steps you can take to move toward healing. An anchor will keep you from falling during the unexpected chaos that comes with grief.
Anchors will vary among grievers.
Have you hastily jumped to a conclusion during grief (or just in your daily life), later learned you seriously misjudged a situation, action, or person’s intention — and then realized your rash judgment created a division you could not completely restore? What a devastating realization!
During grief, be aware that emotions run in high gear. And certain times, such as the holidays, can trigger reactions that are uncharacteristically intense. Your thinking may be a bit unclear. So, with these things in mind — stop and think before responding (or reacting) instinctively to whatever situation you meet.
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.
Grief is a vulnerable time — and it’s easy to be swayed by guilt. We think we should be stronger than we feel and more self-sufficient than we are. When we don’t live up to our own expectations, let alone anyone else’s, we feel guilty and incapable. Before we realize what’s happening, we can fall into a negative downward spiral when we’re under such pressure.
Treat yourself gently when you’re facing grief! The grieving process may be the hardest thing you have ever done. And when you’re tempted to be too hard on yourself, remember what you’re going through.
No one should try to face grief alone.
A friend used to teasingly call me Scarlett (as in Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind, who was known for saying, “I’ll think about that tomorrow!”) This attitude is okay when it involves setting something unimportant or less pressing aside temporarily to concentrate on a more urgent issue at hand. However, people tend to avoid thinking about grief altogether, as though by not thinking about it, they can somehow escape it.
I’m surely not suggesting that you dwell on grief. But at least know where to go and what to look for when loss touches your life, and grief arrives with it.
I had never thought about grief until I was face-to-face with it, and then I had no idea what to do.
If you aren’t sure of your destination, how are you going to get there? And if you don’t know the obstacles to watch out for — and avoid — you may trip somewhere along the way. I like to call these possible bumps in the road ‘flashpoints’ because working through them is critical in your journey to healing.
Your path through grief will be smoother when you know what to expect. And when you know the possible snags, you’re less likely to get stuck on them.
Unresolved anger and guilt can be flashpoints that trap you, and as long as they control you, healing will be short-circuited.
The Grief ‘Club’ is a group you never wanted to join. But the irony of it all is that fellow members have the ability to connect with you and understand what you’re going through in ways that strangers to the club (even though they may be people closest to you) cannot.
An unspoken bond exists between people who have suffered a deep loss. They not only know about grief, they know grief—so they can relate to your feelings, fears, and questions. Fellow members have an awareness that is missing in those who do not belong to the club. Others, regardless of their desire, simply do not have the same ability to understand—because grief cannot be known any way except firsthand.
I’m still amazed (even though I know it’s true) that a perfect stranger may be able to relate to me better than someone I’ve known and loved for years.
Have you received this gift?
© 2011 Judy Brizendine