What to do when losses stack up?


Just when I felt I could take a breath, it happened again. After a string of losses last fall that included the deaths of my brother and seven weeks later his wife, our family has suffered another death.

Rob’s mom, our beloved MOTUS as she was affectionately called because she lived close to the White House, died April 22.

We are in grief again. Or, rather, we are in grief still.

What do you do when you have one loss after another? I wish I could tell you. Even though intellectually I understand and can even explain what happens when grief accumulates, it’s another thing to live it.

This week’s Pinspiration

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Inspiration on grief from Women on Fire- Womenonfire.com

So, I’m wandering around in a fog, noticing it takes me about four times longer to accomplish anything.  Noticing I can sleep way past my wake-up time. Noticing that I’d rather sit and watch the otters play outside our bedroom window than do anything else.
Simple joys — Rob captured these wonders of nature today rolling around in the sand outside our window in Florida.Otters serving as Women on Fire inspiration

Right now, creative thought is gone. Memory is out the door. Concentration hardly exists. Everything from eating and cleaning to reading and writing feels effortful.

It took me nearly an hour to write the paragraphs above.

What I do know is that the paralyzing feelings from this accumulation of grief are real — and temporary.

They are nature’s way of slowing me down to heal. It is as though I’ve been in an internal car accident. Outside, I may look normal (well, that’s debateable 😉 Inside, I need time, patience, love, support and self-care to heal from the wreckage that is my sad and broken heart.

I want to imagine it all fixed. All OK. All right with the world.

And, it will be.  Eventually.

In the meantime, I take great comfort in every kind word, every hug, every sweet gesture of love and care that comes my way.  Women (and Men!) on Fire are particularly good at “being with” during times like this.

From Wanda Dillard sending me a CD that helped her through her grief to Maria Cannone delivering a big basket of Mrs. Field’s goodies with a note that said “sweets really do help” to Debby Edwards’ offering of prayers and Father Edward Beck dedicating a Mass to MOTUS.

This is what gets me through.  The tremendous love and support of our community. If you’ve been part of us for a while, I know you feel it too.

Over the years, ungrieved losses can stack up.  If unnoticed and ignored, losses from moves, divorces, serious illnesses, children leaving home, and deaths can add up to inertia, depression, illness.

The only way around grief is through it …slowly, lovingly, carefully. Unwrapping each loss in its own time, honoring and remembering, until we can breathe again.

So for now I will:

  • · Listen to my body — and give myself permission to rest as much as I need to, ignoring any past programming that shames me for resting and napping
  • · Listen to my heart — and lean into the grief and express my heart’s deep pain no matter what form that takes — crying, screaming, sobbing, whimpering
  • · Listen to my head — and if I find that I am stuck in my grief or making little progress through it after a period of time, I will not hesitate to seek professional counseling or reach out for help from experts in our community such as Rev. Andrea Raynor or Hospice nurse Mary Landberg
  • · Listen to my soul — and be very gentle and tender with myself; understanding that the nature of suffering develops us into more compassionate human beings; and that I am stronger and better for having known, loved and cared about so many dear people who have now passed.

Even though I know this bittersweet time is part of the flow of my life, I want to express my eternal gratitude to you for the love and support that surrounds us here and makes it possible for me to share my heart — and for you to share yours.

As always, the love and care of our Women on Fire community is extended to you — in your triumphs and in your losses too.

Wishing you all good things in the week ahead ~



Courage To Grieve, Part 2

I am grieving. The impact of three deaths in six weeks – my brother, my long-time yoga teacher and friend, and our beloved Women on Fire member Jane – has left me exhausted and sad.

Your wonderful notes, gifts and words of support during this time have meant the world to me. Thank you.

*This Week’s Pinspiration*

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So, when my husband cheerily asked me what I was going to write about today, I drew a blank.  Nothing. Was. Coming.

And, I wanted to bop him on the head for even bugging me about it.

That’s how it is sometimes during grief.  I am not myself.  I’d never bop my husband on the head for being supportive! Except clearly when I’m grieving.

And to make things even harder, I can’t easily grab on – to plans, to thoughts, to what to do next.  Slights or perceived injustices that normally escape my attention can pierce my heart.

Having survived heartbreak from losing loved ones in the past, I know my current condition is temporary.  Yet I want these feelings to be gone now and my “normal” self to return.

If you, too, are experiencing the effects from losing someone you love or are expecting to lose, you know the struggle.  Sleepless nights, loss of concentration and perspective, fear, anxiety, physical and emotional exhaustion.

I want to think my way through – to make sense of the losses — but I can’t. And I know the only way around this sadness is to feel my way through it. Lean into my grief, which means to scream, cry, sob, whimper, whatever I need to do to express this hurt.  And, I want to dedicate myself to tripling my self-care.

It’s not even one day at a time for the grieving soul. It’s one moment at a time.

The French philosopher La Rochefoucauld said, “Neither the sun nor death can be looked at with a steady eye.”

Last week I took note of what gave me relief when I glanced away from death and stopped ruminating.  Even if relief only lasted a minute, an hour, or an evening, it was enough to keep me moving and let me know I will get through this. Grief has no timetable. It takes as long as it takes.

Here are seven things I want to share that brought me comfort. If you’re grieving, my wish for you is to find what might bring you some relief, too. So, here’s my list:

Thank you for the fun, sweet Chloe!

* Playing with an adorable, cuddly, giggling, 9-month-old baby girl for an entire evening.

* Lunch with a friend whose mother is dying. From our touching time together, she crafted this beautiful video.  If you have someone terminally ill in your life, make sure they know what their life meant to you. It will be your greatest final gift.

* Joining the Women on Fire Fall Cleanse group – having the support of holistic health coach Amy Marzluff and Women on Fire members to eat healthy and take care of myself is extra powerful and helpful during this tender time.

* Reading a short, inspiring, uplifting book.  Stay tuned for this month’s Book To Live By. I loved this book so much I’ve chosen it as our November selection.

Homemade pumpkin cookies 🙂

* Baking pumpkin cookies (recipe when you click!) from scratch. As a little girl, I loved to bake more than anything. Even though I’m on the cleanse and not currently eating sweets, it gave me so much joy to bake cookies and give them away!

* A two-hour nap, a walk and a romantic dinner with my husband (the same husband I had the audacity to want to bop today!) at our favorite restaurant the night before I started the cleanse.

* Cleaning out my closet! Clutter bogs me down and makes me even more tired when I’m grieving.  So I took to my closet and am happy to report two boxes full of gently used clothing, purses and jewelry are headed to Dress For Success in Columbus, Ohio.

(Thank you to Women on Fire book co-author Marilyn Brown for introducing me to this wonderful organization, which recycles clothes for women in need.)

* And, you.  You give me comfort by being here week after week. Thank you for walking through life together.  I cannot imagine it without you.  The way you are with me. The care and support you give to each other is truly inspiring.

Now, that is something I can grab on to.

Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you back here next Sunday!