The clouds hang low and heavy today on the borders of our world. There is a stillness when memory and time merge and all things are present to us. It is as if the grey veils the present and brings us closer to another world. This morning, I was thinking about the anniversary of Aaron’s death and without even as much as taking a step, I was back there. I think this is true for all of us, especially when the anniversary looms. I always find that some time before the actual date, there will be a revisit to the exact moment and time it all happened. This may present itself in different images each year. This year, I remember the exact moment I got the call from the detective that the bodies of Aaron and Brian had been found–ending the five long days of searching, of hope and despair. This moment came back to me and I relived it once again. I know it sounds awful and it is, yet, afterwards, it is as though the storm broke, the rain came and the tempests washed over me. Then, as it always happens, it passes and peace comes. This is our story, I know you feel this too, whenever there is an anniversary for you. At some point before the actual day, there is a remembrance, a visitation of that moment in time. We sink beneath the ocean of our sorrow, but the story doesn’t end there. It cannot. We hold on to the strong hand of the rescuer that will save us–that will bring us back to the safety of the new shore we have come to know. We believe, we hold on, we let go of the struggle and feel the pain. Only then, when the tempests rage and we allow our feelings to emerge, does relief come. We do not stay in the pit of our grief forever, but there are times when the visitation comes and we must go to it. So much for the myth that there is “closure” or that we “move on.” No, dear friends, we do move forward, but the visitation is part of our life, it takes us for a while to the depths, but then we emerge, the storm clears and we are saved once again.
I will be leading a healing retreat by the ocean, in Ventnor, New Jersey August 30-Sept1. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info
Today, the weather is grey and the sun only a distant memory of what once was. It is tempting to think this is all there is, but we cannot allow any moment, any day, any event to define us. Rather it is the way we deal with all these things that will define what life is left to us.
I would like to share a poem that our dear friend Gillian sent from Scotland, which I think says it very well:
“I do not define myself by how many roadblocks have appeared in my path
I define myself by the courage I’ve found to forge new roads
I do not define myself by how many disappointments I’ve faced
I define myself by the forgiveness and the faith I have found to begin again
I do not define myself by how long a relationship lasted
I define myself by how much I have loved, and been willing to love
I do not define myself by how many times I have been knocked down
I define myself by how many times I have struggled to my feet
I do not define myself by the number of mistakes I have made
I define myself by the knowledge I have learned from trying a new way
I am not my pain
I am not my past
I am that which has emerged from the fire”
Thanks for these words of wisdom, you can feel through these words that the person who wrote the earned them and learned them from the pain of life and had the courage to keep living–and we are grateful for the example and the encouragement. Peace and courage to us all!
I am leading a healing workshop by the ocean in Ventnor, New Jersey by the ocean Aug 30th to sept 1. Please write to me for more info at email@example.com
“Weeping endures for the whole night, but joy comes in the morning”. The psalmist tells us this to give us hope and strength during the long, dark night of our grief, and oh, how long it lasts before we feel the flood of joy that restores us and give us peace. The long night is the length of our lives, and even when the joy comes more frequently, there are nights when all seems lost. It is then we remember that the morning always comes and with it the possibility of joy. This is our task, to remember there can be joy and open our hearts to it, even when the night holds us hostage. We wrestle with the darkness and call upon the strong angels of the light to help us. We pray without stopping until the darkness dims and the light returns. The joy returns because the battle is done–at least for the moment. The joy comes in the morning because once again, we open our eyes to the new day. This is a glorious truth, this struggle, this battle with the darkness. We do not fear the struggle because we believe the light will find us again and we shall know the joy that can only come out of the darkest night. And for this we offer our prayers of thanksgiving and face the new day in joy and in peace.
There will be a healing retreat this summer in Ventnor, New Jersey, at a retreat house facing the ocean, August 30th-Sept 1. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
These days of spring are busier than ever and I think back to the days and months after Aaron’s death and how different things were then. Every day held within it a pain so intense, I wondered how I would ever survive such an ordeal–and even if I could, did I want to go on living? The answer was yes on both accounts but with reservations. One, I knew I would survive, although often I did doubt whether I had the strength to do so. The answer to the second question was harder. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on living with so great a loss. I couldn’t see across the huge ocean I found myself in. Who would want to live if life meant always treading water, trying to deal with the pain? But I also knew that things change, they always do. Time brings us to the place where we would be, even if we do not believe or don’t want to go. Just as time brought this terrible event into our life, so time will bring us to another chapter in our lives. Gradually, imperceptibly, we become time itself. We are a moving, breathing clock of our life here on earth. We possess all things, lose all things and gain all things in the movement of the hands of time. We are part of the complicated wheels that twist and turn. And as they turn so do we face each day with hope that time will be kind to us as we make our way in the life we have now.
We humans are usually focused on the material world, after all, that is what we can see, touch and what we consider to be real. And while it is all too real in many ways, it is not the only world that exists. There is beyond the material, a world full of the unseen. Atoms, quarks, even higgs-boson, all unseen to the human eye–but there nonetheless. And of course, this is only the beginnings of such discoveries by science. Perhaps there will be a day when science can actually “see” what many of us call the spiritual and unlock its secrets. In the meantime, we can only imagine our own version of it or believe what religions and spiritual traditions tell us is there. But often, we neglect the spiritual world and only focus on the material. We think that security lies in the material–it does not. And those of us who have lost a loved one should know that. The material world guarantees no such security–things change, people leave us, the body dies. To put your faith in the material world is a folly. That is why scripture tells us: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all things shall be added to you.” And what are the things of the kingdom? They are Love, joy, peace. These are the jewels of the kingdom and will endure long after material world is taken from us. From these beautiful things of the spirit come the gift of service and in that lies all true happiness. Our grief, our loss, teaches us this truth in terrible ways. We see and know that the material cannot, does not endure. Only the higher values of the spiritual world will sustain us throughout our lives and our loss. Today, make it a point to put the things of the spirit first, and all things will be added to your life. Peace
I am leading a healing retreat in Ventnor, New Jersey, by the ocean, August 30-Sept 1st. Please write to me at email@example.com for more info
After Mother’s Day, I know it is only a few weeks more until the anniversary of Aaron’s passing. Passing seems far too mild a work for the way he left. And that’s the thing about certain kinds of death–they are not the beautiful ones in which family and friends are gathered to pray, cry and wish the one they love well as they move peacefully from this world to the next. There are some deaths like that. Many times there is a dignity and respect for the last moments of one’s life. There is a farewell worthy of living and dying. We stand witness in our own way, giving them strength, peace and love as they take their last breaths. In most religions and spiritual traditions rituals, prayers and sitting by the bedside of the one who is leaving help us and our loved ones to make the passage. But then there are the deaths that are unexpected, brutal, with no such ceremony to mark their passing. We are denied our rituals of care, dignity, respect and Love–and so are they. This is the hardest thing to face, along with the missing, of course. It is the absence of so much that defines their death. It is the presence of horror that marks their exit from this life. This compounds our grief and makes it so very complicated. We are left with our arms empty, robbed of the last moments of life with them. Such a grief is like no other and we stagger under its weight. It will be fourteen years this Memorial Day since Aaron’s murder–yes, that’s what it was. Not a passing, but a ripping away, a brutal, ugly death. I have made peace with how it happened through the years–yet as the date grows closer, I am reminded of it and all its devastation and the wound re-opens. It is the same for many of us. That is why anniversaries are never happy events. Yet, I can say, that today, his life is not all about his death. It is about the life he lived and the gifts he gave to all. But still, in the quiet moments, I remember sadly, how it was he came to pass. Peace
I am leading a healing retreat in Ventnor, New Jersey, August 30-Sept 1, it will be a wonderful weekend of healing and sharing. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info
Happy Mother’s today to everyone who has ever offered someone a loving thought, a helping hand, a prayer of care. Mothering does not only happen in the child of the body, but in the spirit of the heart. Some of us will never birth a little one, but yet are the mother of us all. So to you all, I give honor to your caring hearts today. We also think of our own mothers, living here and in the other world and give thanks to them. We think of the line of the ancestors stretching back into the history of us–what a miracle this life is! We endure all generations of all things and still we go on. That is the story of us. For all the men, thinking of your wives and partners who nourish and sustain you and your children, whether here or in the world beyond, a great gift has been given and still remains in the memories of their love. And for all the mothers who care for the children of the ones who passed, many blessing be yours. And for all of us who grieve the loss of our children, we are united in our love for them–and remember them always. Our hearts may be broken, but oh, what joy remains in the gifts they gave us. We are all of us, the mothers of the world, united in our care of the ones we love and the humanity we call our own. I wish you all the flowers that grow out of your sorrow and bloom in the everlasting joy of love.
I am leading a healing retreat in Ventnor, New Jersey, at a retreat house on the boardwalk overlooking the ocean, August 30th-Sept 1. Please write to me at email@example.com for more info.
The spring brings with it the rush of energy and the wild growth of things to come. It’s easy to over do it, expend too much energy and become exhausted. We are so busy tending the field, we forget to tend to ourselves. This seems to be especially true in our grief. We have responsibilities to fulfill and often we don’t realize how hard we are pushing ourselves. We forget that our grief takes much of our energy–unseen, working inside us, in the deep recesses of our being. Many of you are telling me how exhausted you are trying to keep up with your families, jobs, responsibilities. Even those of us with years of experience forget that while we can rebuild our health, repair our trauma, I’m not sure we ever regain our starting point. For most of us, there remains some impairment, however small. Stress becomes our barometer for how well we are doing, because our former symptoms return. Exhaustion, impatience, intolerance, not sleeping well–a return of sadness and even hopelessness. When these symptoms occur, we need to stop and rebalance, renew and restore. We need to step out for a moment and replenish our reserves, so that we do not become even more vulnerable. And yes, I realize that sometimes, we just can’t avoid the stress. But we can remember to return to our center, our hearts and our souls. This can be done in many simple ways. Going off-line, literally. Turing our phones off. Sitting quietly. Taking a walk in the beauty of nature. We can stop climbing the wall and simply rest in the shade awhile. We can get our priories straight–peace, love, joy. And when these are in order and we feel stronger, we can go out again.
I am leading a healing retreat by the ocean, in Ventnor, New Jersey, August 30-Sept 1st. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org fo rmore info.
Sorry I wasn’t able to post the last few days–it seems time ran away from me and I’m not sure where it went! In fact, I often wonder where the time goes. At the end of the month it will be 14 years since the death of my son Aaron–can it truly be that long since I’ve seen him? Many of you talk about this. How can we endure all this time without the ones we love? And for those of you in the beginning, I hear you say you wonder how it is you will live through all the years ahead. I don’t know how any of us do it, other than each day comes and we learn to live through it and in it. The days become months and years and suddenly, we realize that time has gone by and we are still here. I was talking to a mother who said the belief that she will see her son again is the one thing that makes life bearable for her. For many of us, that thought sustains us and gives us hope. We may have no idea what lies on the other side, but we believe that some part, some spark of the one we love endures beyond this material world. The memories of them accompany us as each day passes. Their spirits go ahead of us to the place where someday we will be. In the meantime, there is life to be lived here, each and every day–let’s make the best of it, while we can. Peace
I will be leading a healing retreat in Ventnor, New Jersey, at a retreat house on the boardwalk, August 30th-September 1st. Please write to me at email@example.com for more info
The sorrow to strength conference in Washington was wonderful–I was deeply moved to see so many loving people joining together to help one another on this river of life we travel on. After my workshop, we went out on a boat on the Potomac river. We stopped way out in the middle of the water and I led a healing ceremony. We shared happy memories of our loved ones and the joy they gave us, the precious, irreplaceable joy. We cried and we laughed and the gentle evening wind blew across our faces. Each of us had a little paper boat and we thought about the river of life and the journey we find ourselves on. We made a wish and set our little boats on the water. We said that no matter where this river, this journey takes us, we will not be alone. The love they gave us will be strong in our hearts. Their spirit will be forever with us and we will go forward, knowing they are always with us. As the sun set on the Potomac and the river of life stretched ahead of us, I realized that no one among us knows what the river will bring, but we will face it together, in the strength that is borne out of our sorrows and made strong by the unbreakable bonds of love.
There is a healing retreat I am leading in Ventnor, New Jersey, on the boardwalk, overlooking the ocean. It is August 30th-Sept 1, I hope you will join me as we travel on this river of life. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.