Holiday Grief – 10 Tips To Get You Through

Holiday Grief – 10 Tips To Get You Through

I lost my Dad on Christmas Eve when I was just 16. The next year my Mom, Grandma and I took our holiday grief on vacation and found ourselves on a beach in Hawaii for the holiday season. It was a great way to break with the traditions and memories none of us wanted to face. My most vivid memory of that Hawaiian vacation was sitting next to an older gentleman at dinner on Christmas Eve and noticing he was wearing the exact same sweater my Dad would’ve been wearing. It brought my grief right up to the surface and I left the dinner to go down to the beach and cry. Holiday Grief Needless to say it’s been a long time since I felt the untarnished joy in the holiday season. But, I believe that we are deserving of joy during the holidays… even if it comes balanced with the heart ache and longing for the person we love and are missing deeply. In my book, From Grief to Growth, I talk about an essential element of healing is learning to hold both joy and sadness in the same moment. There is no more challenging time to do this than the holidays. Which is why I put together 10 easy to follow tips that will support you as you navigate this season. I don’t like to say ‘survive the holidays’ because I want to encourage you to have the mindset that you are always fully capable of more than survival. Last year I did a live webinar where we discussed these ten tips and this year I sent...
Healing Note #8: Healing Comes When We Need It Most

Healing Note #8: Healing Comes When We Need It Most

  As you know I accept guest posts from people who would like to share their story of healing and hope. When I read Kathy’s story I immediately felt a bond with her and her son. I too have experienced the healing she tells you about below. It’s beyond magical when you have one of these experiences. I know you will be uplifted and comforted by her story. Please share it with your communities as a beacon of light to others!   My healing story occurred one night last February.  We had a major snow storm which meant my husband and I would not be going to work since we are both educators and schools were closed.  Midway through the week, my husband decided he had enough of the cold weather so he packed his golf clubs and drove to North Carolina to enjoy some warmer weather.  I encouraged him to leave because I needed some alone time to work through my grief journey which was consuming and tormenting me even though it had been five years since my son passed away. Grief Arrives At the young age of 17, my son was diagnosed with leukemia.    One day he was playing basketball for his high school team and the next day he was fighting for his life in ICU.  The week before his diagnosis, he was home sick with what I thought were “typical” cold symptoms.  He stayed home for a couple of days but managed to rally enough energy to return to school on Friday.  He spent the entire weekend practicing with his team and hanging out with...
I’m A Gold Star Mom

I’m A Gold Star Mom

Yes, I’m a Gold Star Mom I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about this. Not because I don’t feel a deep and humble pride to have this title. But because I feel this title is too sacred to splash it out into the world simply because it became a flash in the firestorm of an embroiled political debate. Unfortunately comments about our military are back in the news this week, so here goes my two cents (as they say). I became a Gold Star Mom in October of 2010 when my oldest son passed away while home on leave from the Army. We are, in some ways, a typical military family. My father was a World War II vet, my father-in-law a Vietnam vet, my brother-in law-served in the Navy and continues to serve our country, my husband is an Iraqi vet who is now a police officer. In other ways we fall the other way. I am a yoga instructor and honor the yoga tradition and philosophy as my guiding light. I’ve spent weekends at a practicing Hindu Ashram in the mountains. I burn sage, chant mantras and meditate. We love to quote the Dalai Lama – both his real quotes and our favorites from Bill Murray’s bit in Caddy Shack. We are a Gold Star Family. Before I launch ahead I want to be clear that this is not a political post or an endorsement for or against any party. It is my life and the lives of so many other parents like me. I’m writing this because I find myself at a crossroads. On one...
The Goodness In Grief And How It Connects Us

The Goodness In Grief And How It Connects Us

I am so excited to share this post from Tracie to you! In this post Tracie shares how she and I got connected… and it was NOT love at first sight. Enjoy and please leave a comment at the bottom. You can read more of Tracie’s wisdom at her blog, From the Heart   I remember the day I clicked on the link to an article on grief that I saw in my Facebook feed. I was raw in grief, deep in the thick of the first few months of hell-on-earth, still numb with shock and disbelief.  And then I saw the words, right there in the http address “crazygoodgrief.com.” I got MAD. I don’t even remember honestly what I did, maybe I clicked on the link, maybe I didn’t. Maybe I read an article or clicked on the about page and read about this woman, “Paula”, maybe I didn’t. What I remember, is thinking “GOOD GRIEF?” What in the world is GOOD about GRIEF. I slammed the cover of that book, shut the door on that space, and stomped away. Nothing GOOD about it, Paula Stephens, whoever you are! And my grief journey continued… But there came a day, I remember it clearly, when I decided to open the door again. I decided to get up and walk through the door of healing. I decided that I didn’t want to die in the pit of sorrow. After all, I promised my son the day he died that I wouldn’t quit living. And guess what? When I was ready, there were healing messengers there waiting for me, encouraging me...
Mother’s Day for the Bereaved Mom – My Invitation to You

Mother’s Day for the Bereaved Mom – My Invitation to You

This might be your first Mother’s Day without your loved one, or you might be like me and have a few under your belt. Either way I suspect you are feeling that familiar lump in your throat and/or that knot in your stomach. I get it, I have it too. This is my invitation for you… I invite you to feel GRIEF fully, be with it, inspect GRIEF, but most of all ​- Don’t shy away! Get to know GRIEF, makes friends with it, invite it in, pull up an extra chair at the table, ask it questions, turn it inside out and upside down. Become so familiar with it that every time GRIEF comes to visit you know just the type of beverage to get out to host its presence. And most of all always leave a seat open at the table because GRIEF does not let you know when it’s coming. GRIEF arrives uninvited but expecting your full attention. Then be prepared for GRIEF to surprise you and show up dressed up as something else. As you love it and make friends with it, GRIEF is going to get angry and lash out and it might try and pull you down deeper. But hold your ground with loving kindness and compassion towards yourself and let GRIEF know that you welcome it as a part of your whole  – your whole life experience – but be very clear that it is NOT your entire life’s experience. Not even close! Explain to GRIEF that although its density and weight are unbearable at times, it is only a small piece of all the incredible memories and experiences...

Healing Note #7: Forever Changed

It’s been my belief for a while now that telling our story is a powerful way to shift our grief and keep the momentum behind our healing process. This “Healing Note” is from is from a mom in the Crazy Good Grief community that has so much to offer and has been a huge gift to me personally in my healing journey. Comment below and tell me how things have changed for you! Also, find out how to submit your healing note  and your healing note could be the next one published here on the blog. FOREVER CHANGED Submitted by Jenny Robbins *You can more of Jenny’s blog at www.heworeflannel.com If you’ve ever lost someone close to you (and you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you haven’t), or ventured onto a grief group page (like this one), then you’ve probably heard the adage that after experiencing profound loss you are forever changed. My nineteen-year-old son, Kade, accidentally drowned on June 29th, 2012, three and a half years from my writing this. I haven’t questioned or reflected much on being forever changed because I’ve found it to be so true. There are some changes in my life right now. That’s probably why the other day when I was taking this grief thing out, and examining it from all angles, I thought about change: The change of the new year, the changes in my life, and how I’m a different person now than before Kade died. I know it in my heart. I see it in the mirror. I live with it every day. But how would I describe being forever...
My Favorite 5 Books on Healing After Loss

My Favorite 5 Books on Healing After Loss

I have never been one to make health related new year’s resolutions – but I usually say that reading is one of the things I would like more of in my life. As I was making a list of what I wanted to read in 2016 it was fun to reflect on five books on healing after loss that I’ve found supported my journey. One of the most powerful lessons I learned from my Dad is to be a ‘lifelong learner’, lucky for me I am hardwired for curiosity and self-help, but let’s call it “personal development” it sounds better. Since I’m taking a semester off from teaching at the university I feel like I should be able to cram a little more reading into my world. But I also wanted to share with you some of the books on healing after loss I’ve read that have supported my grief journey. Then I want to hear from you and find out what books you love and have found healing after your loss! 5 Books on Healing After Loss Below I have shared ones’s that I’ve read and links so that you can go straight to Amazon and buy them yourself. I have limited this list to all books that are directly related to grief and loss. My next post I will share my favorite books for healing and growth that aren’t grief books. Rare Bird, by Anna Whiston Donaldson An easy place to start since, if you’ll remember, I shared my interview with this incredible mamma late last year. Love Anna, love the book. It’s just so raw, genuine and...
New Year’s Resolutions For The Grieving

New Year’s Resolutions For The Grieving

What was the #1 New Year’s Resolution in 2015? Yep, you guessed it – LOSE WEIGHT! In 2010 I lost 150 pounds – True Story! I lost 150 pounds that came from the deepest folds of my heart and radiated out into every fiber of my mind, body and spirit. What’s left of that weight sits in an urn on the table in my living room. My son Brandon. Tweet: In 2010 I lost 150 lbs, what’s left is in an urn at my house -My son Brandon. http://bit.ly/1R7xwku #newyearsresolutions @crazygoodgrief After that weight loss, losing that ‘last 5 pounds’ or making New Year’s Resolutions based on vanity began to seem silly. Would I really be happier five pounds lighter, if my butt was tighter, my belly flatter or my arms more sculpted? Happier – No. More body satisfaction – Probably. Overall quality of life satisfaction – Probably not. Would I feel more love and belonging in my relationships – No. But damn, I would be smokin’ hot! (for the record – there is nothing wrong with these resolutions as long as you are clear on what you get for your efforts) Grief reshuffles what our resolutions should be & and what’s worth working for. Tweet: Grief reshuffles what our resolutions should be & what’s worth working for. http://bit.ly/1R7xwku @crazygoodgrief #healing #grief #love Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions Statisticbrain.com posted the Top 10 Resolutions of 2015. Here you go… Rank Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2015 1 Lose Weight 2 Getting Organized 3 Spend Less, Save More 4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest 5 Staying Fit and Healthy...
Why Christmas Eve 30 Years Ago is My Most Memorable… it’s not what you think.

Why Christmas Eve 30 Years Ago is My Most Memorable… it’s not what you think.

Growing up Christmas Eve was the day Santa delivered our gifts. Yes, in my family someone always dressed up as Santa and delivered the gifts on Christmas Eve. So, for a child, this was the day that created lasting memories. Like the year we suspected Santa was Grandad dressed up and the year my brother and I dressed up in the suit and handed out gifts. And the silly green felt bow-tie with red trees on it that my Dad wore every Christmas. But it’s the Christmas Eve 30 years ago, when I was 16,  that is truly memorable.  I remember details about that day in vivid technicolor. I can tell you it was sunny but the air was Colorado winter crisp, the song on the radio was My Hometown by Bruce Springsteen,  the clock on the hospital room wall clicked along unusually loudly, the view from the first floor room looked out onto the parking lot. Even today I could find and walk into that same hospital room … not that I want to. But also also remember the phone call that morning from the hospital. My Dad, who had been admitted the day before, had told his oncologist he was done fighting. He was ready to let go fighting the cancer that had consumed him first when I was only seven and then came back when I was twelve.   I was raised on and became fluent on the language of cancer treatment. My Dad had done it all… Traditionally he had done chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Non-traditionally I went with him to the Phillipino faith healers...
Why We Lose Friends After A Loved One Dies (and what you can do about it)

Why We Lose Friends After A Loved One Dies (and what you can do about it)

When you listen to those who’ve lost a loved one it doesn’t take long before you begin to hear the sad retelling of friendships lost or damaged and complaints of feeling isolated by family members. The unfortunate result, for the person who is grieving, is a deepening sadness and bewilderment wondering… Why are the people I thought would always be there for me unable to stand by me?  One Word Answer: Vulnerability Your loss, of a child, spouse, parent or friend, makes other people feel weak, defenseless & helpless. It challenges their sense of control and makes them face their own greatest fears of losing a loved one. For them to stand with your pain, they must touch a place in themselves they don’t want to go to. You were most likely this same person prior to your loss. I know I was and I’m sure I didn’t’ show up in the best way possible for friends who needed me. Because back then, like your friends now, I had a choice. But now, like you, I don’t get to choose the amount of vulnerability I expose myself to – death of a loved one mandates that we step into vulnerability. [click to tweet!] And I’m not talking putting our toe in the water – it’s a cannon ball type of immersion into vulnerability! There lies the difference between you and them – They get to choose to walk away from those feelings, protect themselves and take shelter from the raw, vulnerable, burn of an unexpected death. They get to slather up with Vulnerability Protection Factor 50 (VPF50) and go on with their lives....