Grief And Blueberry Scones

“Grief is an emotional, spiritual and psychological journey to healing”

Elizabeth Kubler Ross

 

I sat on the edge of the unmade bed waiting for the cup of tepid coffee to spurt from the small brewer in my hotel room.  As the gurgling stopped, I heard the familiar ding indicating an inbox message had just arrived. I stood up, wrestled with the plastic packaging that held my creamer pack and poured it in. I was stirring the oily substance into the dark brew as I ran my thumb over my notification to find her message.

“She’s gone. My sister is gone”

Knowing my dear friend as well as I do, and her predisposition to long winded narratives, these simple six words were indicative of the shock, the confusion, the pain and the tears that she was typing through.  Not knowing in those moments where to turn to share such news, she had come to me, knowing that I would understand what she was trying to convey.  I sat stunned for a brief moment, I barely recall what I responded with as the waves of her agony washed over me.

She is the grief counselor. I am the medium. And for those brief moments to follow, our shared understanding of death fell to the wayside as neither of us could find the words to make this disappear.  This wasn’t a typical death. Her sister was younger, living life, raising a child, vivacious…and a few hours before this one….she was alive. Or perhaps it was a typical death for those that we respectively counsel, but in that space of time, we were without vocabulary and hopeless together.  I didn’t have to utter a syllable, and she didn’t expect one. A thousand miles apart we sat together in the silence and found some odd comfort there.

I closed my eyes against my tears, calmed the punch into my stomach and sent her my angels.

This news shook me to my very core. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this so deeply. I didn’t know her sister well, I had met her only twice.  I only knew of their ridiculous adventures, their shared love of anything inappropriate and their bond that I envied from afar.  My struggle with finding the right things to say grew stronger as I bombarded her with flippant and humorous anecdotes to move her through the process of the first days of her loss. Her pain was far too familiar, our friendship too close. Thankfully, her sister being the powerful woman she was, was able to assist me with her words often falling from my fingertips and spilling onto the page in front of me. Some were not the most comforting of words and my instinct was to backspace them away. But true to myself I left them there hanging and was brightened by the laughter on the other end. My friend needed these words so I left them for her.

A few weeks ago now, the process of the expected duties of the bereaved came to a crashing halt. It happens. After the whirlwind of must do is over, the silence of not knowing what to do will descend.  She took to sharing her thoughts in her not knowing.

” What my sister has taught me about grief is that you cannot hide from it. As an educated psychotherapist, I have read about this and counseled others but now I am living it. You can stay as busy as possible and you can take care of everyone, but it will come looking for you. Those times when something hilarious just happened and you go to text her, it will find you. In those times when you see a family photo after she’s gone and instantly notice her absence, it will find you. Those times when you think about the trips you had planned to take, it will find you.”

You cannot hide from it.

I saw my friend yesterday. We sat on her couch and she shared over lemon blueberry scones with warm butter and coffee. Well, coffee for me. Steeped tea with an ungodly amount of sugar for her.  “Coffee will kill ya”  Yes, well so will sugar in copious amounts. Ding ding.

But I digress.

She curled her legs up beneath her, picked away at her scone and spoke of her anger surrounding certain elements of such a profound loss. Her resentment in finding that some didn’t recognize how to allow for healing.  As I sat listening, I began to recognize the tone of her voice, the pinch of her lips and  the sadness in her eyes. As I sat watching her I saw myself and heard all of the words I have never expressed.

It’s been nearly two years since I also lost someone very dear to me. I have lost many people but not one of them provided me a better lesson in out running grief such as this one did. Maybe it was his age, his unassuming manner, his expectation of nothing, his gratefulness for the small things.  Maybe it was simply that we grew up together. Or maybe it is my own anger over a life not fully lived. I really have no answer for it.  All I do know is that every now and then…swells of grief wash over me while I scramble to find a beach bucket to scoop them away, because I just don’t have time for this today…

You cannot hide from it

I know because I’ve been trying.

There is no hiding from this. You can’t comfort it away in comforting others. You can’t busy it away in heavy schedules and must do lists. You can’t write it away, dance it away or dream it away.  It is a part of your world and you must allow yourself to honor that part by giving space to it when it demands. You can’t pencil in the time you spend with it. It simply is there and it rarely announces its arrival.

Grief showed up yesterday and I allowed it in. To share blueberry lemon scones with warm butter. To share familiar words and familiar feelings with a friend.

And grief will show up again next week, next month or next year.

And I will sit with it over hot coffee and blueberry scones…

And share with it what it will teach me.

And then share it with you.

My friend’s blog is below if you wish to read the rest of her words.  I would do so, because she is incredibly gifted at helping us understand. She opened my eyes yesterday without even intending to do so. That’s a gift. 🙂

“What My Sister Has Taught Me About Grief”

In love..in light..in giggles and copious amounts of silliness..

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And If You Go First – When A Child Dies

Only parents that have lost a child can understand a parent that has lost a child.

And only children that have left without you can understand a child that arrives without you.

“Follow me, follow me, I know the way”

I am no expert in child loss. I am simply a mum with an unusual ability to help you in some small way to navigate the profound pain of your journey.

No one likes to consider the possibility that a child may go ahead before we do. In the textbook of natural progression, the expectation is that the children assemble at the bedside of the aged parent as they draw close to the end of the physical breath.  And although this process is still painful, the ability to find closure is simply easier.  The dying adult has forged relationships along the way, expressed their own understanding of what they might expect once they arrive to the other side, and take with them a myriad of experiences and memories. It’s just easier.  We derive some measure of comfort that dad or mum might be waiting to greet them. Maybe the neighbor of 40 years that became like a brother…or someone else that the loved one has created a relationship with over their human lifetime. We just innately understand that somehow, in their adult years, that they are safe on arrival.

If you are a parent or a care giver of a child you will understand the overwhelming fear that strikes you as your five year old steps away from you in the clothing racks.  You glance down with the expectation that they are standing beside you and your heart leaps in panic when you don’t see them there.  Logically we know that they can’t possibly be more than ten feet away but this does not deter us from the parental instinct of fear.

“Where did they go!?”  presents a tunnel vision type of scenario where you rush to find them, everything in your cart forgotten in a split second.  Finding them moments later giggling behind the service desk you finally release the breath you’ve been holding.  “Don’t you EVER do that to me again! You scared poor mummy half to death!”

I’ve spent thousands of hours with parents who can’t find them.  And whether it be that they have passed through to wait on the heaven side, or that they are missing the desperate need to know where they went is crippling.  To know that they are safe and not afraid is overwhelming.  It matters not that they were with them when they left. They do not know where they are.  Long relationships were not forged. A lifetime of memories were not created.  The child is gone and to the grieving parent…

The child went alone.

And for those that support or have in your company those grieving this pain I beg you to consider for a moment that these parents will never stop looking. Please be mindful to not deter them from their need to do so. It is an inherent right as a parent to seek out their babies.  Never ask them to give that up by suggesting that it’s time to move on. Or that other children need them now. Or that other children are possible. To these parents their children are missing. And as a parent yourself, would you ever stop looking…ask yourself before offering advice….would I stop looking?

Now for my words and from the value of my abilities, I can offer you the comfort of knowing that they didn’t go alone.  Call them Angels, call them Divine presence, call them what you are comfortable with. But the little ones..they never go alone.  As you sit with me and tell me that no other family that they would “know” was waiting, I can assure you that there was. But first….

A child will appear. A child not much older than your own. With sparkling eyes and dimples that dance as they call out to yours…

“Follow me, follow me, I know the way”

A child like your own child. A tiny soul that had to leave their family too soon . A wise young soul that understands everything that you don’t in that moment. A patient little person who knows that you are aching and struggling with who is waiting.

A perfectly divine child will be there for you when you can’t be there for them. An entity of the purest love and the the lightest of giggles will lead them home. A child that smells of sunshine and sand. A child that lived a brief lifetime here yet carries a hundred lifetimes of heaven. A child that understands your pain more than anyone else can possibly understand.

A child of parents just like yourself.

A child just like yours.

And one day, not too far from today, the child you grieve will be that child…

And another parent will grieve.  And another parent will ask…

“Where did they go?”

And your child will answer…

” Follow me, follow me, I know the way”

And I will smile softly as an Angel leads them away.

Only parents that have lost a child can understand a parent that has lost a child.

And only children that have left without you can understand a child that arrives without you.

Angels don’t live full physical lifetimes. Angels always go first.

My love to all that are looking for their children.

One day an Angel will be waiting for you.

With sparkling eyes and dancing dimples.

Love each other.

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Perhaps Love”

“And even if you lose yourself and don’t know what to do, the memory of love will see you through”
Perhaps Love : John Denver

I’ve spent this past few days reconnecting to my “people” for want of a better term.
I half hoped for them to be somewhat prepared to give me something incredibly insightful on which I could grow. The first night was not quite what I expected as I was woken to someone shaking my shoulder and expressing ( far too loudly I might add) “Thanks for checking back in!!” In my half conscious state my response was something to the effect of “You didn’t seriously just wake me up for that?” before I rolled away and drifted back to sleep. However, I woke feeling good knowing that at least they were still talking to me given that I hadn’t even attempted to “pencil” them into my schedule this last uhhh…well, that’s beside the point.
So last night as I closed my eyes I thanked them for still being here and asked for something bigger, something better for which to break up my night. If you must waken me provoke me to want to think.
I woke to one simple request. No shoulder shaking, no fanfare, just the words…
“Let’s talk about what love really is”
I sat up and snort laughed a little. Calmly resisted the urge to smother the snoring someone beside me. That’s love right? And then got up to pee. Sitting there in the bathroom at 4 am staring at the toilet paper roll that someone put on upside down…and thought…this is love. Not freaking out because its rolling from bottom and not the top. If you love me you’ll put the paper on the right way.
This was gonna be a walk in the park.
I got this. Pffft.
Climbed back under the sheet and turned over. And heard a giggle. Followed by…
“You think so do ya?”
I rolled my eyes, stretched my legs out and sighed…
“I do this for a living. I know so”
Plus I watched Titanic last night. Jack froze to death for Rose even though they could clearly both fit on whatever that was she was floating on. Hell, they could have fit four people on there arranged properly.  That’s love. It’s stupid love but it’s love. Right?
God I’m funny.
I woke at 7 am. Grabbed the first of my six bowls of coffee and flipped open the laptop. I stared at it for two hours before I found myself wandering google looking for everyone else’s idea of love. By now, on my fourth bowl of caffeine I am agitated and growing frustrated by the second.
“It’s a feeling, it’s a touch, it’s a puppy, a new baby, an awakening, new shoes, a hug, a kind word, an ear that listens, a heart that shares. It’s flowers and chocolates, small unexpected gifts”.  Sigh. Love is exactly what we’ve been taught to believe it is.
As I sat here staring into the eyes of the puppy that just chewed up my phone ( but I love him cause he’s a puppy of course) I was prompted by the voice once again…
“You’ve just proved point one, that we accept what you have been led to believe as love. So now focus on what love is not”
Oh for the love of all things holy. This wasn’t supposed to take up half my day.
“Are you uncomfortable asking yourself what love is not?”
Mic drop.
Hold on. I’ll need another coffee for this part. Is Baileys too much you think? Too early in the day?
“It’s five o’clock somewhere”
Got it.
What love is not:
“Love is not looking for what love looks like”
Well that was simple.
But what does that mean?
We’ve learned that love must come with something palpable. That love must be felt in someway, be proven somehow, in order for that love to exist. How can we ever truly understand love if we spend our lives trying to both discover how we can show it or have it shown to us?
In believing that love must be shown, we take away from the very fundamental fact that we are love. As sweet at is is to receive small tokens, some trinket and as sour the emotion of jealously to determine its depth…I have to ask you…
Why?
Why do we consistently have to prove ourselves or seek out proof of something we should inherently know to be true.
And again…..the simple answer is….
Because we can see.
The problem here is that we were given eyes to see. Its unfortunate.
“Show me you love me”
“I’ll believe it when I see it”
“You don’t see me”
“I don’t see why”
“Roses are red”
“Show me you love me”
“Look at me”
We are inherently visual. What a shame.
Even as we move toward the transition that is known as death we are urged to look for the light.
“You’ll see a bright light”
In the case of near death experience
“I saw a bright light and then felt an overwhelming love”
Uh huh.
False. Completely and irrevocably false.
You cannot find the light until you stand in the dark first.
You do not know love until you don’t see from where it is coming.
There is a space between our lives. A stop over point so to say.  This is the place that I go to find your loved ones. The same place I go to find my “people”.  For me, it is the most incredible place I have ever not seen. It is darker than the dark that occurs when you close your eyes. It is darker than the moment your anesthetic drops you and leaves you to the mercy of that for which you cannot control. It is darker than blindness. It holds no space for imagination, for creativity, for any thought of how it should look. It has no “look” at all.  It is the point of which you have no choice but to release the need to see to believe. It is the point of where you understand that love has nothing to do with proof but only to do with trust.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it”
John 1:15
Yes, I just quoted the bible. Hold me up. I think I’ve had too many Baileys…
The light will come. But it is only in knowing that it exists that it will shine. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean its not there.
For you, I go in, I collect the love that is there and only then can I move forward to light where they can show me the memories that you need, the gifts that they gave you, the flowers that you miss. Because it’s not enough for me to say “They love you, they simply love you” no….
You need proof. You need the color of the flowers….
It’s ok…. I get this…
I have eyes too…
We’re all human after all.
A message from Spirit:
“I know not your race yet I love you. I know not your scripture yet I love you. I know not your intention for me yet I love you. I know not your worth yet I love you. I know not your intelligence yet I love you. I know not your journey  yet I love you. I know not who you are yet I love you. I know not your judgements nor your prejudice yet I love you. Here together in this place where we can only trust I trust you because you stand in this space with me and trust me also, in that we find no choice. In that we have only love”
It would be an incredible gift should the world go dark for a week. Only there would we know love.
Only there would we know peace.
Until we remember…..until we arrive….
“And even if you lose yourself and don’t know what to do, the memory of love will see you through”
Don’t be afraid of the dark. You know it.
Tania

“A Thousand Broken Pieces of Pretty” ©2017

I glared into the lights of the transport ahead of me. Released my shoulders and took a deep breath. I took one last glance up at the bear behind me. Locked eyes and watched as he slowly dropped his under my gaze…

“F*ck you Boo Boo, lets dance”

Photo: Tony Boot

*****Language alert. Not suitable for young audiences*****

 

 

I’ve always found it extraordinarily difficult to completely step out of all the energies and emotional baggage attached to all those experiences I have encountered in  both my professional life and my personal life. Taking little pieces of fabric from each story, I stock a shoe box that quickly overflows and fills the room, leaving me standing in piles of colorful edges and dark frays where the thread has aged. I look about and wonder how do I put all this together to create something incredible?

And then I freak out because I can’t sew and even if I could what pieces do I pull together first?

So. I step out and shut the door and hang my “Do Not Disturb” sign from the knob.

I’ve always been this way. It’s a strange ten year cycle that has repeated for five decades  now.  I think a small part of me holds hope that the more broken pieces of fabric might disintegrate and blow away leaving space to add  more of the new. After all what can I do with the thin and worn. How can that cover and comfort anyone?

My ten year cycle extended to 12 this time. I’m impressed. The last time I opened the door was in 2005 and all I really managed to do then was to sit quietly for two years and match sizes into piles that represented chapters before I shut the door again.  Theoretically of course if you take into account the two years I sat creating the piles….yes…I guess it’s been ten years after all.

Three weeks ago I discovered myself standing on the “Do Not Disturb” sign and glancing upwards saw that the door had opened just a crack.

I slowly approached the door and very cautiously peeked in. As my eyes took in the floor to ceiling kaleidoscope of color and ragged edges I became aware of a familiar sound that made me fall back into the wall behind me.

I’d buried my grizzly.

For those that know  me they know what I am speaking of. For those new to my journey, I spent two long years with a bear that was ferocious and ten feet tall when I took him in. In that two year period I managed to tame him and create a cub that I could slap on the head when he got out of control.

The sound that came from under a pile of pieces was not that of the cub I forgot when I shut the door. There was nothing cute and controllable about this sound.

I shook my head and processed quickly what this might mean. Pulled into my resolve and muttered “Not this time you bastard”  I grabbed the doorknob and pulled but in retrospect I don’t recall hearing it click into locked position.

Only one hour later I was driving the 401 westbound when the familiar spin sensation slammed into me. Trying to maintain control in the middle lane, a transport to one side, a string of vehicles to my other.

Knowing what was happening, I reached for the water bottle, twisted the cap and focused on the sensation as the liquid poured down my throat. My breathing, the all too familiar panting, I struggled to not allow the oxygen to flood my brain and further disconnect me from the focus I needed at that moment.

I glanced up to find an opening in the traffic to escape and instead found myself staring into the yellow eyes of my bear. He’d followed me.

My panic had returned.

All that had terrified me the first night in 2005 was looking right through me. Except this time it was different. This time I knew that there was a cub in there, more scared of me than I was of it. I glared into the lights of the transport ahead of me. Released my shoulders and took a deep breath. I took one last glance up at the bear behind me. Locked eyes and watched as he slowly dropped his under my gaze…

“F*ck you Boo Boo, lets dance”

The problem with panic disorder is that you have absolutely no idea when, if or where it might suddenly appear. You can keep piling pieces in the corner but a point arrives where its too much weight for the walls to hold and the door will fall open.  Eventually you have to sink into the fabrics and make a decision to pull them together into something manageable.

I’ve had two fairly significant attacks these past two weeks. Hence my decision to step out of life for a couple of weeks and step into the room that feeds the bear. In that space lined with a thousand words and long chapters. In that space where new beginnings emerge.

In that space where the story of my life is told.

You just read the prologue….

“Shattered Reflections”

“A Thousand Broken Pieces of Pretty”©2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Sex or Chocolate in Heaven

Take your credit card. Sex is pricey. And stock up on cake for when the bill comes rolling in. You’ll be both depressed and exhausted. But wait…chocolate…

“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”

Marie Antoinette

Although her context was less than compassionate…her words are fairly in keeping with what we were promised when we fell out of the uterus.

“Its gonna suck sometimes kid…but there’s chocolate”

 

I know, I know. I too shivered at the realization that there would be no cake in heaven. Imagine for a moment no chocolate for all of eternity. Gads.

Spending our afterlife minus the comfort food that has sustained us through so many of our discomforts in this physical life. Good God all mighty this is asking an awful lot in exchange for all we’ve endured here!

However, before you go pushing down the doors of the local churches screaming

“Why oh why!?!?!” …

Let me shed some light on what might be considered a tremendous faux pas on the part of the hospitality committee at the pearly gates. Before you all withhold tip out to Angel Boy there…

You see…

We don’t need cake in heaven.

Oh and get ready…..

We don’t need sex either. Oh my God…I KNOW.  Quickly now…run to the nearest XXX store and buy everything you need to experience it ALL before it’s too late!

Take your credit card. Sex is pricey. And stock up on cake for when the bill comes rolling in. You’ll be both depressed and exhausted. But wait…chocolate…

That’ll fix ya.

There’s always that.

Here in this physical lifetime we are asked to endure some of the most difficult experiences we can possibly anticipate. We signed up for this when we chose to dive into the womb after one of those “sexcapades” mentioned above.

Why did we choose that? The easy answer obviously would be for cake.

We need the comforts that we are permitted to make this journey a more manageable one. It is just that simple. Because we as humans struggle with finding comfort within our own souls we are offered the next best thing to blunt off what hurts us.

I will always remember my Nanny unwrapping a Dairy Milk to shove into my whiny little face.

“Chocolate fixes everything Fanlight”

And she was right bless her soul. All of my earthly discomfort would evaporate as the creamy sweetness would wrap itself around my tongue.

Not for long of course. Many, many Dairy Milks were consumed in the making of a Happy Medium.

In the keeping of spiritual I am leaving out the XXX store visits. 😉

The physical world requires compensation prizes. It’s just that simple.

And Heaven does not.

Think to one of the best meals you have ever tasted. Or the most unbelievably intimate experience you have ever felt. We’ve all said it.

“OMG this tastes like heaven”

“OMG I think I died and went to heaven”

“OMG this is better than sex!”

These moments I mention above are few and far between. We are not intended to know this feeling everyday because we need to prepare to feel it for eternity.

We are simply allowed tastings to sustain us through all the awful times when it doesn’t taste quite so palatable.

Do yourselves a favor. Don’t always turn down the cake. It was our birthright to take some small consolations for agreeing to live.

Life is hard. We love, we lose. We love, we grieve. We dream, we shatter. We want, we don’t get. We ask, we don’t receive. We go through every day accepting what is not acceptable and being asked to forgive what is unforgivable. We are told we are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough. We are shaken and stirred, broken and rebuilt,

Damn right we deserve chocolate.

Eat yours and know you have earned every bite.

And when its time for you to leave this world.

It’s gonna feel like chocolate after sex.

Forever and Ever

Yum.

 

Be gentle on yourselves.

Tania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Promise You’ll Have Good Days

“I woke yesterday morning with a familiar discomfort spreading into my chest wall….”

first blog

 

“There will  be bad days…that make you cry”

I understand.

I woke yesterday morning with a familiar discomfort spreading into my chest wall, the indescribable ache that no surgeon can find nor repair.  The grief pit where all of my intentions of a good day are collected as they fall over the edge with each heartbeat.

There was nothing I could do to stop the descent, no pills to slow the fall, no hands to reach in to pull the heart muscle back to its regular size. Nothing to do but to wait it out…just another bad day….

No words would bandage the raw edges….just another bad day…

If you have experienced the loss of someone who you love you will understand the feeling I describe above. I can’t say you could describe it because that is impossible no words exist in this place. But you certainly can understand it in how it aches.

It’s like we are all part of a grieving community that no one really wants to belong to at all. Life doesn’t give us the option of a membership choice unfortunately. Because we choose to live, we must go through the inescapable pain of loss. If any one life lesson was designed to test your own ability to want to live at all…this is the one.

As I lolled back into my recliner and watched half interested in what was happening in the world of those that were experiencing a good day I began to notice a theme emerging in what I was being presented with. I pulled myself up a little straighter, pushed a tear from my cheek and felt a small crooked smile begin to form..my heart tried to stop it but like a puppet tied to strings I found myself unable to pull the corners back down into my bad day face…

I was grateful.

I was looking at smiling faces, at life being lived, at funny stories and blessings to others to have a great day. And what stood out was that these were not benign reminders at all, but authored by all those with whom my relationship started in the darkest moments of their lives.

And yesterday/the day before/last week even… their pages sat idle, no posts were applied..maybe it was their bad day… just sitting there waiting for the bleeding to stop. Just sit and wait it out…just another bad day…

We are not alone in our grieving lives. We are a community albeit unwillingly, and in each other we can find ourselves.

And in each other we can see that there will be those bad days….

But a good day will follow…

It’s a good day…

I hope yours is too…

And if it’s a bad day….

I promise you good days ahead.

 

In love…in understanding…in comfort….

Tania