I’m listening to the radio and the host mentioned how excited she is for Thanksgiving to be coming up next week. I didn’t even realize how quickly it came up.
Before, I would have had my Thanksgiving Day reservation made at Boulevard Five72 and a complete menu for the day after Thanksgiving all prepared by November 1st!
Now, the holidays approach like a regular day for me and I can almost slip through it unnoticed – until the invites come flooding in from friends asking for me to celebrate with them.
Of course I am always grateful, but the holidays after a loss is hard.
Even when you are surrounded by loving family and friends, sometimes it’s still not the same.
Through the smiles and laughter, there are times when a deep sadness peeps through and I wish I was home surrounded by what was familiar.
So, all of this is to say that I know that for some, the holidays may not be easy to navigate. In fact it may be downright hard.
I’ve come to realize that while the holidays will not be the same – some years will be good, some passable and some not so good – I had to give myself permission to do the holidays my way.
I focus on one day at a time and allow myself to do what makes me feel good, even if it means not following the expectations of what others may want me to do.
Every year, Derek and I engaged in our own holiday traditions. One of those would be to go to Bethlehem, PA to look at the Christmas lights and watch Santa ride through town on his Clydesdale-drawn sleigh.
I had a need to continue the tradition even though he was not physically here – so one morning, I just got into the car and drove to PA. The experience was different as it wasn’t during the night as I was used to doing. I also didn’t see Santa, but funnily enough I ended up having a good time exploring the Christmas shops and museums. I let go of expectations and gave myself permission to experience the tradition in a different way.
There are no expectations for you to be able to get through every day smiling and happy and that is ok even if others do not understand.
SO GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO TO GET THROUGH THE COMING WEEKS.
If you want to stay in and create a voice message that says you are “Out of the Office”–
Book a trip for the holidays or indulge in something that makes you happy.
Leave a party early or not attend at all.
Give yourself permission to let the energy flow however you need it to.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO PLEASE EVERYONE
AND KNOW THAT EACH YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT.
I used to go to South Carolina to spend the holidays with my best friend and her family. The warm weather and running after my nieces would help me to reset.
This Thanksgiving is a toss-up of spending it with friends or taking an impromptu trip up north. Or I may make lavender and white chocolate cocoa, put on my favorite sweats and binge watch movies.
For Christmas, I always hold an annual Cookie Swap party in early December. However, this year, I have not given a single thought to the actual day and that is ok. Whatever I decide on, I know it will be what I want to do to make me happy. It will be what my soul needs.
SO YOUR MISSION – IF YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT – IS TO DO EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY OR CONTENT. THAT’S ALL THAT YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT. ♥
Sending love and light always.
RECIPE FOR LAVENDER & WHITE CHOCOLATE COCOA
Combine all of these ingredients into a small container to use whenever you want this indulgent treat.
¼ cup powdered milk
½ cup vanilla pudding mix
1 cup white chocolate, shaved
2 tbsp lavender
In a small saucepan, add ¼ cup of the Hot Chocolate Mixture into 1 ¼ cups of milk. Stir until heated through and the chocolate has melted.
Strain to remove the lavender and Enjoy!
Image by © Andreaobzerova
“Love is composed of a single soul
inhabiting two bodies.” | Aristotle
Following is a clip of a couple performing in Ukraine’s Got Talent. Their dance is talented and beautiful, but it is also an example of how trust and unconditional love can meld two souls into one.
I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and in perfect timing.
I arrived home this evening with a feeling of wanting to “meditate into my blog.” As I situated myself at the keyboard and started to open up the user interface to write, I received an email alert that one of my (now) dear friends had published a posting. The posting was based on a letter that a friend of her’s had written in her online widow’s group. The letter was about how others can help us — this tribe of widows and widowers who are bond together in our loss — as we navigate through our new life…This letter couldn’t have come at a perfect time as this is a subject I’ve thought upon for a while.
As I sat there reading the letter, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was reminded of all of the moments when someone would tell me that I was going to meet someone else in life or that death was a part of life and I needed to live life to its fullest. While I understand that friends and acquaintances were trying to be helpful, I know that they were frightened, too in trying to handle my grief — it was too close for comfort. This letter from a widow’s perspective is perfect for anyone in my life who has been unsure of how to approach me or what to do. This letter is a compilation from the anonymous widow, my dear friend Sarah Treanor with my own insertions:
Please talk about my loved one, even though he is gone. If it makes me cry, its fine. It is comforting to cry. It is excruciating to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk about him, and I need to do it over and over.
Be patient with my agitation and mood swings. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in great waves, and I never know when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand.
Don’t abandon me with the excuse that you don’t want to upset me. You can’t catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don’t know what to say, just gently say “I’m sorry”. You can even say “I just don’t know what to say, but I care, and I want you to know that.”
Just because I look or sound good, doesn’t mean I feel good. I may be a strong person however ask me how I feel, only if you really want to find out and have the time to listen.
Please do not ask me if I am going to start dating again. I know you just are trying to make things better for me in finding love again. However I just lost my life partner and my mind is on him and preserving his memories and our traditions together. I can’t see a life with anyone else yet.
Days may get better but I will never recover. This is not a cold or flu. I’m not sick. I’m grieving and that’s different. My grieving may not even fully begin until 6 months after my loved one’s death. Don’t think that I’ll be over it in a year. I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was with him, the life that we shared, the family we will never have and all the other plans we had for our future together. I became a different person because of him and am now a different person after him.
I will not always be grieving this intently, but I will never forget my loved one. And rather than recover, I want to incorporate his life and love into the rest of my life. He is a part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember him with joy or through my creativity and other times with a tear. These are okay.
I don’t have to accept his death. Yes, I understand that it’s happened, and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just not acceptable. I am not angry with him for passing away, I am angry that I am a part of a club that I did not ask to join.
Please don’t tell me what I “should” be doing, it makes me feel even more lost and alone. I feel bad enough that my loved one is dead, so please don’t make it worse by telling me I’m not doing this right. There is no right or wrong — there’s only “is.” And right now I am trying to do the best that I can.
Please don’t tell me to get on with my life. My life is going on, and I am thankful for that life but this will take a long time, and I will never be my old self again. A new person walks in these shoes, one with a hole in their heart a galaxy-wide.
I need to know that you care about me, I need to feel your touch and hugs. I need you just to be with me and I need to be with you. I need to know that you believe in me and my ability to get through my grief in my own way, and in my own time.
Please don’t assume that I am too busy or that I have too many other people’s support and that you’ll be bothering me. If everyone does this, then no one calls, and no one checks on me, and I feel even more alone.
Please don’t say “Call me if you need anything.” I’ll never call you because I have no idea what I need. Trying to figure out what you could do for me takes more energy than I have. Also please do not make ‘conversation only’ offers. “Let’s get together” — and then not follow up. I am sensitive in my grieving, but I’d rather hear you say, “I’ve been thinking of you,” than make a offer if you don’t mean it. So, in advance, let me give you some ideas…
a) Send me a card on special holidays, his birthday, and the anniversary of his death, and be sure to mention his name. You can’t make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for giving me the opportunity to shed them because someone cared enough about me to reach out on the difficult day.
b) Give me a call (or even a heartfelt message on Facebook) just to see how I’m doing. I may not always answer, but leave me a message to let me know you were thinking of me. Please don’t give up on me because somewhere down the line, I will answer, or call back, when I am ready to share.
c) Mail me a very small, heartfelt, cheer up gift. I’ve had a few people do this and it has just made my heart glow and – some days – has been the shining jewel that turned my whole day around.
Please don’t judge me now or think that I’m behaving strangely. Remember I’m grieving and I’m still in shock. I am afraid. I am angry. I’m experiencing a pain unlike any I’ve ever felt before and one that can’t be imagined by anyone who has not walked in my shoes. Weddings, baby showers and other celebratory events are hard or me. Not because I begrudge anyone’s happiness for these are beautiful events that celebrate our humanity and the power of love. I am doing the best I can to be supportive. However above all I hurt and sometimes its hard to keep a happy face on. Therefore, sometimes it’s better for me to offer support in other ways.
Please keep inviting me out for coffee or for a walk. I may decline but will always appreciate being asked.
Don’t worry if you think I’m getting better, and then suddenly I seem to slip backwards. Grief makes me behave this way at times. Please don’t tell me you know how I feel. Words cannot begin to describe what I am going through. Sympathize with me, but don’t take away my right to my pain. I know that we all have our own life’s challenges; I’ve suffered loss and different challenges as well. I’ve lost my mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles and host of relatives. I will tell you now, while it really hurt to lose them I can’t begin to express the pain I feel now.
Remember in the days or years ahead, after your loss, when you need me as I have needed you – I will understand and come and be with you.
Thank you for your patience, for caring, for helping and for understanding.
A couple of weeks ago, my dear fellow blogger and friend, Sarah Treanor referred me to a book called The Gift Giver by Jennifer Hawkins.
I will provide a full review of the book shortly, however I will say that I found myself crying and nodding my head in solidarity with the Author as she described some of her experiences following the sudden death of her husband.
One such moment in the book, is of Jennifer recounting a memory when upon experiencing the lost of her step-mother through cancer, she finds herself at the bookstore in the efforts of trying to understand the “mysteries of life.” She stumbles upon the book — Home with God by Neale Donald Walsch. This is a book that I myself, stumbled upon and read to help me understand the mysteries surrounding life and death and to answer the ultimate question “Why did this happen?” See my review on this book in my “What I am Reading section.
While reading Home with God and how the Universe gives us an opportunity at the moment of death to choose whether we want to live or die, the Author realizes that she had a near death experience in a moment during a car accident before meeting her husband.
Like the Author I didn’t realize the relevance of my near death experience until I also read Home with God. I think many of us see a near death experience as a moment of seeing a white tunnel hearing angelic voices around us. However these moments can occur multiple times in a span of nanosecond. Nearly missing a car that has sped through a traffic light, having a severe allergic reaction to medication or food, complications during childbirth — these are all moments when our souls may be faced with death. In the moments when our lives are in danger, the author in Home with God suggests that we have the information and power to choose our “destiny.”
The ideal suggests that while we may not be consciously aware, our superconscious or soul has the free will to make a choice at the time of death if it wants to “cross over” or reverse the death and continue experiencing what it came to Earth to experience. At the time of our near or death’s experience, our souls will get a sneak peek into seeing and feeling Heaven. It will then be asked if it’s ready to move on. If the soul has a thought or feeling of wanting to keep living, then it will return to the body and the accident or death will be adverted.
Now, this ideal can be upsetting because if the soul is able to choose, why would it choose to leave a life of loved ones behind?
“Nearly every person who is dying is not dying for the first time. If they choose, this time, to “stay dead,” it is because they feel really complete with what they came here to do. Therefore, do not begrudge them their moving on, nor feel angry because they have not come back. They came back to you many times to keep you company before.” [HWG: Ch. 32, Pg. 260)
Neale’s dialogue with God would suggest that consciously we normally wouldn’t make that choice. However the soul is able to make the choice because it can not only see into its future but it can also see the whole picture of what the effects of its living or dying would produce. It knows when its time of experiencing in the physical life is complete. In fact, a soul has probably made the choice multiple times in their physical lifetime to come back in order to stay with their loved ones.
Now while my account of the memory of my near death experience may differ in account from those who shared the experience with me because we all viewed it different standpoints, the feelings and emotions surrounding the event remain the same.
I was heading back upstate to college after spending a typical weekend in the city. On Fridays and Saturdays, I would drive down from Colgate in Hamilton, NY to New York City to work as a Head Hostess at the Central Park Boathouse. I had worked at the Boathouse over the last couple of summers and had agreed to work during the weekends when I wasn’t performing Sound or DJ’ing. This weekend was particularly busy with more people dining out because of the beautiful 65 degree weather and me having to work doubles.
I had invited two girlfriends to ride back up with me as they were spending that weekend with their families and I didn’t see the point of them taking the 6 hour bus ride back up north. Plus it was good to have company for a change.
We met up around 4PM and started to make our trip back up. I realized I was additionally thankful for the company when one of them offered to drive up allowing me to rest a few hours. Sleep came easily to me as I had been on my feet and had been working non-stop through the weekend and the Sunday Brunch rush.
I was awaken by the urgent tapping of my girlfriend who was driving. While we were basking in 65 degree “shorts weather” in the City, we were welcomed to a blizzard and 30 degree weather on the back roads near Roscoe, NY.
By this time, my girlfriend in the back had also woken up and we instructed our friend to stay steady until we made it off the mountain as we could both tell that she was becoming nervous and we intended to switch sides. Being that I had a 2 door hatchback, I always kept a few cinderblocks in the back to weigh down the car. However the wind was so strong the car kept slipping along the fresh snow. This made her worry even more and tighten her grip on the steering wheel as if it were glued to her hands.
In the next moments, the car shifted to the right and as if pushed was jerked all the way to the left side and off the road. At that precise moment, the song, “Slow Down” by Brand Nubian came on the radio.
The car went straight out and felt like it had nose-dived down into the blackness of the night. I can tell you that when you don’t know whether you’re facing an accident or worse you don’t scream and neither do you “brace yourself” as we hear so often spoken in car crash scenes as depicted in movies. In a moment that seemed to both last forever and in a split second, I was silently sending love out to all of those that I knew I would leave behind.
However as that car fell down, in an instant I knew we would all be okay. With this thought the car landed into something however we were still in a 90 degree angle. Because it was so dark outside, we almost didn’t want to move but my girlfriend opened the door to see where we were. My other friend opened the back door, not feeling or seeing anything but hearing a loud rushing sound below. She told us to close the doors and to not get out of the car. The only way we would be attempting to exit would be through the hatchback as that seemed the safest route. We first had to put on a few layers of clothes as we had dressed for the 65 degree weather back home.
After we quietly changed we slowly opened the hatchback and crawled through the car and out into the unknown groping for rocks or any kind of earth to move us up onto the road.
Just as we made it up to the top, we heard the welcoming sound of a fire engine siren. The officials said that a driver of a passing by tractor-trailer called in the accident.
The Fire Department used a crane to pull the car up. The car had miraculously wedged itself in between two rock formations and came out without a scratch on it. We realized that we had nearly missed a ravine that plunge down to a river below. As we walked into the EMT truck we began to laugh so much so that the medics thought we may have had a concussion. We declined a trip to the hospital that night and got back into the car which I had immediately named Angel.
However different or the same our experience of that night was, we drove the rest of the way to school with a new perspective on how easily our “adventure tale” to our friends the next day could have gone a lot differently. The car could have gone right and straight off of the mountain instead of to the left. It could have moved a few inches passed the place where it wedged itself between the rocks crashing into the water. Had the car not slowed down right before skidding off, we could have crashed into on-coming traffic. There were so many minute paths during that accident that could have create an alternate reality for all of us. And yet everything happened precisely the way it was supposed to in order to ensure our safety.
Lawrence Anthony, a renowned conservationist passed away on March 7th. Two days later, his family witnessed the solemn procession of formerly violent and rogue elephants that traveled 12 hours to pay their respects to their rescuer.
While most mammals show only a passing interest in the passing of their own, elephants are spiritually recognizant of those who’ve passed over (even over long distances) and congregate to mourn those they love.
To read more about Lawrence Anthony and on this amazing story click here.
I just finished reading this wonderful book called This I Know: Notes on Unraveling The Heart by Susannah Conway. It’s a very thoughtful and beautifully-written book about a woman’s healing journey after her partner passes away suddenly. After each chapter, Susannah invites her readers to reflect upon different facets of their life or feelings through creative writing or photography. It pushes you through your comfort zone and helps us to re-discover ourselves and what makes us special. It also allowed me to mentally draw a picture of myself pre-Derek and post-Derek and how much I’ve learned from him and thank him for inspiring me to be a more special me :).
So I am sharing my “Ten Things” with you.
Ten Things You May Not Know About Me:
1. Before meeting Derek, I wasn’t an outdoor enthusiast. Now I go hiking and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Derek taught me how to push the limits within myself. I thank him greatly for that.
2. I almost always place other’s needs in front of myself. I am working on learning a balance so that I do not neglect myself.
3. I would pick to watch a Horror movie over a Comedy or Romantic flick any day.
4. I can play the piano by ear.
5. I love getting “lost” through long Sunday drives.
6. I used to be a D.J. and Sound Tech and as such own a large collection of music across all genres and time periods.
7. Am thinking about getting my first tattoo on my foot that says “Love Never Fails”
8. I am an avid video gamer. My favorite games are Final Fantasy and Skyrim.
9. Majored in International Relations with a language proficiency in Japanese. Check out a future post on a story of how I transitioned from this major into a Marketing career.
10. I love making new connections with people and learning something new everyday. So let’s start here what are “ten things” that you would like your friends and others to know about you?