How Do We Move Beyond Pain That Feels Greater Than We Can Bear?

I was Touched by the Raw Pain
As I watched My Sister’s Keeper I was touched by the raw pain of Kate’s own struggle to make sense of the changes her family faced through her illness and the devastation  of her loss as they watched her die. At one point in the movie Kate’s sister asked the judge how it felt when her daughter died. I could answer immediately, having faced the loss of my daughter and my parents as well as others near and dear to me in the last decade.

For me their loss feels like life has ended. It feels like all the blood has drained from my heart; I’m standing and breathing, yet feel empty and dead. It feels like my life is over. Lisa Overman

Handing Grief Differently
I was touched by the honesty of what this family faced and how they each handled it so differently, yet in the end when Kate passed they found a way to honor her memory with a yearly family vacation to a place she loved; the wide open spaces of Montana.  For each of us how we bear our grief and find our way through our pain differs. Yet honestly no matter who we are, what we do for a living or where we live we each feel the depth of our losses deep in our soul. No matter if we reach out or go within we must take steps, baby steps forward, coping with our grief and loss.

Yes, our life as we knew it is over; the life we desired blown to bits and we’re left to take one tiny step at a time into a future  we really don’t understand or care for. Our loss is deep and lasting. With time and effort our healing will begin.

Nate Burkus and His Healing
I heard Nate Burkus say on Oprah recently that after his partners death he didn’t want to do much of anything for four months, that he was living but felt dead. He often thought, what’s the point of it all. He would often stay in bed grieving. It’s true as we are coping with our grief and loss many of us have those times, I certainly had them.

Moving Through a Loss That Devastates Us.
I had days when dying felt easier than living, when my mother’s loss felt like the end of my life. How do we move beyond the loss that devastates us? We take small steps. We find support whether it be talking to a grief therapist, our family or friends or a healthy combination of all three. Maybe we talk to a minister or we take comfort in silent prayer. The important thing is to take a step toward coping with our grief and loss. Each small step will lead to a bigger step when we’re ready, until we reach a place where we can take a breath again without feeling pain.

Many Small Steps
With many small steps we will reach a day when we wake up and feel a smile cross our face; when for so long there was nothing to smile about. There is no magic that will heal us. Somehow, with time after living in our pain we realize we can honor the memory and love of the one’s we’ve lost better by living joyfully. As many, myself included can attest, when a loved one is dying they usually express their desire for us to live fully. They want our happiness. They don’t want us living daily in pain or living empty lives, wishing for them. For me the best way to honor my loved ones is to touch other lives and show people through my example that there’s a way through the pain and loss.

My Life Looks Different

My life looks different than I expected. I’m actually laughing as I write that statement. It’s as if a bulldozer destroyed my life and one block at a time, through a sea of tears I began to rebuild it. Did I want this life? Not so much really, but clearly God did. I now focus my life teaching, writing and maintaining a website that supports and inspires others in grief or loss. I treasure those I love deeply. I’ve learned life is short, pain is very real and we are best served living life with as much joy as our hearts can hold. It happens one step at a time. Take that first step with me.

How We Say Goodbye

Grieving and Saying Goodbye
The process of grieving and saying goodbye to loved ones is as individual as our very personalities. How we approach closure is not as important as actually having closure. We all need time and our personal beliefs to allow for closure in a loved ones passing. For some of us, myself included a service with a few personal mementos, a video slide show and selected photos is a lovely part of closure. A service allows me to focus my attention and heart on all I treasured about the person in my life and to hear bits of humor, love and memories that other people treasured as well. It allows me time for tears, for laughter and for honoring all the special traits I loved about the person passing.

The Memorial
The memorial is presented as a final goodbye, a final honoring of the soul passing, but the reality is that it’s only the beginning of a long goodbye. There are many stages and emotions in our grieving process. At first we may be so shell shocked we are simply numb, for others there is anger at the unfairness of the passing, still others may bury their emotion along side the loved one, refusing to deal with the emotional pain they feel, instead remaining stoic.

There is No Right or Wrong Way
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there is a process and no matter how we deny it, or refuse to face it, the process will go on and we will find ourselves overcome with tears, sadness or anger at odd times when we are under great stress. We may break down when something touches our heart and reminds us of our loved one. I can remember many moments when my grief has overcome me and I’ve cried unexpectedly. A few years ago as I wandered through Hallmark around my mom’s birthday, which is also Mother’s Day I was overcome with emotion as I looked at figurines, which my mom had collected. As I looked around and turned a corner my eyes lit on a fairy/angel figurine and in that moment I felt my mom watching over me. She was showing me through that tiny angel that she is there, watching, caring and loving me. It was a sweet moment of spiritual comfort. That fairy angel figurine now graces my dresser and makes me smile when I look at her.

Treasured Mementos
For some the photos and belongings are a treasured reminder, for others they are too painful. Everyone honors their loved ones in different ways. I have photos and mementos all over my home as sweet reminders of those I love. My dad’s brother Theron, said to me once when visiting that its too hard for him to have all the photos around, that it’s a painful reminder. Instead he enjoys some of my dad’s furniture and belongings treasuring them in his home as a part of honoring my dad’s memory.

Significant Days and Moments
There will always be significant days and moments that are a struggle years after a passing. For each person the days will be different. If we can share these moments with someone we love the grief feels less and we feel more supported. This is something we must be vocal about in order to be supported in our painful moments. Many people don’t understand and need clear directives of what helps us in honoring our loved ones. Only when others understand can they step up and support us in our need.

Time truly does heal; we always hear that statement, yet I’ve found it to be true in my own grieving process. With time, years and treasured memories our hearts find peace and a way to go on, while still honoring those whose presence we miss in our lives.

Giving Ourselves Time
Giving ourselves time and allowing others time to grieve in their own way is critical. For some therapy helps or journaling or just having time in prayer. We are all very different souls facing loss and grief and we each need very personal ways to release our pain and move into feeling peaceful over a passing.

Reach Out For Support
It’s important to reach out and share with others in our grief. Sharing our pain and burden eases it, and allows us a measure of peace. If you know someone grieving reach out to them, make them laugh, take time to talk, share and listen to their memories and pain. Your love and support in dark moments will mean the world and will be remembered.
We all love and we all feel loss, so finding ways to honor our loss, release it and feel peace again is essential. Friends, loved ones, therapists, nature, prayer and time are all a piece of the process. May you each feel supported and loved through your own healing process.

Healing Will Come

We All Face Grief
We all have moments, weeks and years in our lives when pain, grief and loss overcome us. We move through our losses at the pace our hearts allow. For some healing comes more quickly than for others, there is no right or wrong when a heart is healing. The statement “Time Heals” was on my mom’s nurse tee shirt and I have found that to be true in my own life, with my own losses.

Offer Love and Support
At times there is nothing we can to do help another heal besides offer our love and support. At times our love and support will be turned away, as our friends or loved ones grapple with their pain, loss and scars in their own way. I can attest that it is frustrating beyond belief to watch someone you love turn away from your love and your support because they are in pain and can’t open their hearts fully.

Step Back and Allow God to Touch Their Life

In those times there is nothing more to do than step back and allow God to touch their life and help them to heal. There is only so much any of us can offer and if we are turned away then we release them, knowing we did everything we could. We gave our support and our love freely and there is nothing more to be done. In their deepest pain only God can guide our friends and loved ones who need to heal.

Healing Happens As a Person is Ready
Healing takes place as each person is ready for it. For some it’s a dark, scary, painful, path. I know, I’ve walked that path several times over in losing my parents, my daughter and so many friends and relatives to death. I walked it as my marriage ended. There is no easy way down that path, it is a path that we walk with God, without even knowing it. We are supported and loved even in our darkest pain and deepest grief, even when we don’t feel it, and long for support. The hardest part of having walked that path is knowing I can’t take away another’s pain or fear. Those are things that have to happen within each of us, we have to willingly open our heart again and take a chance to love, even when we feel our lives have been destroyed by the pain love caused.

There is No Easy Path, My Year From Hell
There is no easy path through the pain of watching your marriage end, watching the one you love walk away and go to another. I know, I watched it happen in my own life. I watched my husband walk away six months after our daughter died, moving in with another woman. In that same time period my grandfather whom I adored died and just months later my aunt was killed by a drunk driver. It was truly the year from Hell.

We Made it Through The Darkness
I don’t know how my family and I made it through that darkness; but we did.
I went on to love again, to love more deeply and to love more passionately because then I understood how quickly loss can come and how precious each day with those we love is. Life can end in a instant and goodbyes don’t always come. I know that first hand. So now I live generously, with passion and with a grateful heart for everyone in my life. It isn’t always easy and sometimes I get slapped with pain and loss again, but I know God is always there and I will always be supported and guided.

Sharing Our Hearts With Love

There is nothing we can do but share our hearts with love, with those we treasure. When those we love walk away, as they sometimes do we can only pray that if they are meant to be a part of our lives that God will heal their hearts and heal ours too. Healing comes as we are ready to accept it. Sometimes we fight it, we struggle in every way to go against it because we are so deeply in pain and fear.

In Those Darkest Times
I pray that God’s support will be felt by those I love, and by those you love too. All we can do is pray that healing comes on angels wings and those we love find joy, peace and love again. There is nothing more we can ask. Love heals

When Sadness Overcomes Me, Saying Goodbye

This week has been a sad one for me. I’ve lost two people I love. Both people were significant in my life and both will be missed deeply, for very different reasons. One was my friend Scott. I had known Scott for twelve years. He made me laugh and shared my love of Hawaii and travel. He was a barbershop singer and a teacher. He was a treasured friend.

The other was my minister who I had come to love as a mentor and spiritual guide through some rough personal moments in my life. I had known Reverend Donna Jean, or Dee Jay as she loved to be called for approximately four years. The depth of my sadness over Reverend Dee Jay resonates within me. I cannot imagine our church without her, and do not want to imagine it without her. I know she will continue to guide our church and our ministers from the other side of the veil and we will feel her love and support, but hearing her words, seeing her smile and knowing she is at the pulpit is what I will miss, what all of us will miss deeply.

Reverend Donna Jean was one of the most genuine, loving, people I have ever met. She was a spiritual support for all of us and guided us with her insight, wit and wisdom. The realization that she is gone from her physical body is so deeply sad. I know she had been very ill and that her cancer had been a struggle. I remember well each of my own parents struggle with cancer. Their pain, their discomfort and the toll it took on them. I know she is better off in spirit but I will miss her deeply. I feel so sad today, so sad for our church. I hear her voice in my head, ‘don’t be sad, I am here in spirit and everyone has already stepped into their necessary rolls this last year and a half while I was ill.’ Harmony will flourish and we will know she is there in spirit, supporting, guiding and encouraging us with that sense of humor and wit we loved. I love you Reverend DJ and I will miss you deeply.