Grief and Loss

Coming Alive After Loss

After eating breakfast at the Aquarius restaurant at the Dream Inn, which overlooks the ocean, boardwalk and Wharf in Santa Cruz, my boyfriend Mark and I decided to stroll on the Wharf where “Woodies on the Wharf” was taking place, a car convention featuring more than 200 stylish, pre-1952 “wood-bodied” cars, known as “Woodies”. Walking hand-in-hand we admired these classic cars which have been restored by their caring passionate owners.

Each car was unique with varying colors, designs, interior upholsteries and decorative ornaments. A few had the doll “Woody” from the movie Toy Story sitting on the dash or the hood of the car. Some had surf boards on roof racks. The varnished wood was gorgeous and the paint jobs exquisite.  The cars appeared shiny, polished impeccably. I wanted to rub my hands all over them to feel their smoothness on my skin. I barely touched them, though, so as not to leave even a finger print on these perfect works of art.

My senses were fully alive after a morning of passionate love making with Mark and a deep, lively conversation over breakfast about possibility, transformation and the nature of existence. Not only was I moved by the beauty of […]

The Other Side of Grief: Awakening New Possibilities for Living

A lot has happened in my life since my last post, including the dissolution of my 18-year marriage, letting go of my home and most of my possessions, and moving eight times (I am still not settled). The grieving process of “emptying out” as my therapist called it was intense and at times unbearable. Sometimes it felt like the pain would never end. The article below, The Other Side of Grief, offers a brief glimpse into my process and some of the tools that helped me to transform my life.

Star-shaped diamonds dance on the surface of the ocean, creating a path of light across the azure waves in front of me to the brilliant warm sun. On either side of the path white spray shoots up from the blow holes of Humpback whales. Sitting atop the cliffs at Eselan, in Big Sur, my eyes scan the ocean in anticipation of the next shiny black mammoth to surface. In my line of sight, orange monarch butterflies flitter around, sometimes ten at a time. I am entranced by their lightness and beauty as they float through the clear blue sky. Awe-struck, I think, “My life is so amazing. How does it […]

Reflections on Grief and Joy

A three-quarter moon glowed pinkish-peach from the rising sun’s reflection on its shadowy surface, as it made its decent towards the horizon. Alone, I stood on the beach taking in the luminescent beauty of the moon, and the glimmering platinum ocean. The early morning light created a symphony of colors as the blue from the sky peaked through the fog, creating a metallic bluish-silver color.

The sand was smooth without foot prints, except for the occasional spiky claw print of a seagull. Bundled up with a scarf, hat and jacket on, I walked slowly from one length of the beach to the other, about half a mile, stopping occasionally to take in the quickly changing scenery and watching as the waves gently rolled and crashed. Their sound soothed my broken heart.

It had been eight months since I had separated from John, after being married for 17-years. Despite the separation being my idea, I was devastated that we hadn’t been able to resolve our differences. The grief was unbearable at times, especially since it was compounded by the loss of my dog and letting go of my dream of having a baby. Now, I was also letting go of my life […]

Dragonfly Magic: A Gift in the Grieving Process

 

A large metallic blue-green dragonfly buzzed back and forth again and again. I followed it with my eyes, like watching a tennis match. It was unusual, so I took it as a good sign. Everything was going to be okay.

It had been a beautiful Sunday in mid-August and I was sitting in the faded green Adirondack chair in our backyard, in Santa Cruz, CA my head tilted back, soaking up the sun. Relieved to relax for a few minutes, I took several deep breaths. Rennie, my ailing Shepard-mix dog, lay panting heavily next to me. I had helped her outside to go to the bathroom. I stroked the soft fur on her back gently as my fingers glided over her protruding spine. I was attuned to her every breath and movement.

Earlier that morning, John had said to me, “It’s time.” We had asked for a sign, something to tell us Rennie was ready to die, something to make our unbearable decision easier. Rennie’s health had declined rapidly in recent weeks. First, she was hospitalized with acute pancreatitis. She bounced back, but then became lethargic. A trip to the vet revealed she had an auto-immune condition which affected her jaws […]

By |October 30th, 2013|Grief and Loss, Transformation|

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The Courage to Let Go

“Enough is enough. It’s time to let go,” my body told to me.

A month earlier, I had woken up with the flu. I was nauseous, tired, and had a fever. I was also in the midst of yet another early miscarriage with terrible cramps. Trying to have a baby was taking a huge toll on me. It was becoming clear to me I needed to stop.

I had held onto hope for so long. Even though I was getting older and my window of fertility was closing, I had a dream several years ago that I would have a baby when I was forty-five. On both my mom’s side and my father’s side of the family, there were women who had babies well into their forties. Also, I frequently felt the baby’s spiritual presence with me, and assumed that it would come into life form and be a part of our family. It’s what my heart wanted.

Now at the age of forty-six, the thought of surrendering my dream scared me. What would happen if I stopped trying? I would surely never have a baby. Will I regret not trying harder? Who would take care of me in my aging years […]

Loss: Fertile Ground for Transformation and Awakening

Two days after New Years, I had an appointment with my massage therapist, Gypsy. Walking into his studio was like emerging into a safe cozy cocoon; candles were lit, the lights were turned down, and there was a warm glow emanating from the gas fireplace. In this quiet space, I began to relax.

“What are we working on today?” Gypsy asked.

“My heart…it needs healing,” I responded.

On New Years day, I had found myself feeling depressed. Usually this holiday is my favorite, because I love celebrating my accomplishments from the previous year, and I look forward to all of the possibilities for the upcoming year. But instead, I felt sad and angry. I had invested a lot of time, energy and money into growing my business, and here I was, in the same financial place with my income, but now also further in debt. Weighing even more heavily on my heart was my recent experience of what appeared to be yet another early miscarriage. I had had all of the usual symptoms of pregnancy for two weeks such as nausea, headaches, extreme hunger and fatigue, but they were more intensified than normal. I had allowed myself to get excited. This must […]

Rainbow Moon – Hope in the Storm

It had rained all day and two more storms were expected. That evening we got a reprieve as the clouds parted and the full moon lit up the night sky. From our house, just blocks from the beach, we could hear the waves crash and the fog horn blare. They sounded like a train engine roaring. Excited to see the huge breakers, John and I walked arm in arm to the beach, while sharing about our days.

The sand was unrecognizable. Half of it had disappeared under water. The waves rolled in fast, one stacked on top of the other four at a time. The remaining sand was re-shaped into different patterns. Where the beach once sloped gently towards the water, there were now large two foot drop offs. White froth from the tips of the waves skimmed over the sand like desert tumble weeds. Tangled bunches of salty smelling seaweed strewn among rocks, drift wood, broken clam and mussel shells, skeletons of dead sand crabs, and lifeless seabirds. I watched each step carefully as I walked through this obstacle course. Despite the wind the air was unusually balmy for this time of year. I was comfortable in just jeans […]

By |December 10th, 2012|Grief and Loss, Transformation|

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Angel on the Other Side

Saying Goodbye to Bucky –  Part Two
(Scroll down to previous post for Part One)

I thought I would feel relieved after putting Bucky to sleep, but I felt awful. Had he still wanted to live? Did we let him go too soon? Why did this happen this way? I hadn’t been ready to let him go. Perhaps if we had waited, I would have been more prepared. I regretted making such a quick decision.

For several mornings, I woke up sick to my stomach. Bucky wasn’t asleep on my meditation chair, but tufts of his fur and fragments of litter were still there. His food dishes and litter box were sitting out. I felt a huge void in our home and couldn’t believe he was actually gone. It was like experiencing a nightmare from which I couldn’t awaken.

I was astonished by how deep the pain was. How could such a small being make such a huge impact on my heart? I missed Bucky terribly…being able to hold and cuddle him, pet and kiss him, baby and nurture him. I was his protector and mommy. He was my companion and comfort, and offered me an outlet for my affection. He needed me […]

Saying Goodbye to Bucky – Part I

Waking out of a deep sleep, I heard my husband, John, shout, “Karen, you need to get up and see this. Bucky can’t walk.”

It can’t be that bad, I’ll just roll over and sleep a little more.

“Get up,” he said. “You have to see this.”

Grudgingly, I got out of bed and saw that our cat, Bucky kept falling over as he tried to drink from his water bowl.

Bucky was 20 years old. Since I never had children, he was my “baby,” sweet, gentle, timid and affectionate. I loved to cuddle with him and pet his soft gray and white fur. As the runt of his litter, Bucky had outlived his brother, Spanky, and his next feline companion, Kitty. He was the least adventurous of them all, although, having moved ten times in his long life, he experienced plenty of adventure.

Blind and arthritic, Bucky had recently become incontinent and developed a terrible smell that bathing didn’t help. Was his time near? He didn’t appear to be suffering. I hadn’t even considered putting him to sleep. He kept my lap warm while I wrote in the morning, slept in my meditation chair next to me as I worked during the […]

By |October 24th, 2012|Acceptance, Grief and Loss|

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7 Healthy Ways to Cope With the Loss of a Loved One

There’s truly nothing worse than experiencing the loss of a loved one. Nothing can prepare you for the immense sadness and pain of saying goodbye to a friend, family, co-worker, or neighbor, but there are ways to help you come to terms with your loss in a healthy, positive manner. If you or someone you know is experiencing bereavement, take a look at these seven healthy ways to cope with the loss of a loved one.

(This is a guest post provided by Jena Ellis at LifeInsuranceQuotes.org)

Click here to read more…

By |September 27th, 2012|Grief and Loss|

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