## Saturday, October 19, 2019

### Review: SELF-ACTUALIZED BY POKER

I should have read the author's appendix on Texas Hold 'Em poker before I read the rest of the book. Even so, I would have had to remember numerous poker terms unfamiliar to me until now.

I was able to follow the math or accept it. Occasionally, I checked it, like finding there are six possible combinations to form a particular pair, such as K K. Or (52*51) = 2652 possible two-card combinations, such as at the beginning of your Hold 'Em play. There are half as many combinations, C(n=52,r=2), if the order they are chosen makes no difference, which would seem to be the case in Hold 'Em.

By describing and discussing his progress in learning and applying the principles underlying this form of poker,  Roman Gelperin demonstrates his transition from partial understanding of the game to near-total understanding, along with the pleasure that he received upon reaching that plateau, a transition which involved discarding the categories his poker-book gurus had taught and replacing them with his own mathematically correct analysis.

The book is clearly written, but filled with poker terms that were off-putting for this non-player.
Essentially, Gelperin learned to analyze the latter half of play rather than to take the opinions of the
masters, opinions that sometimes were contradictory. He raises this to achievement of "self-actualization," in Maslow's hierarchy's  terminology, though that seems a stretch. He has a follow-on book that examines this topic intensively.

As a physicist, I have myself enjoyed the occasional solving of a new problem by working from the most basic principles, and I agree there is a thrill in doing so, especially when one has found what others have missed or been mistaken about.  Whether I "self-actualized" in so doing, I'm not sure, but it was sometimes thrilling.

The book merits five stars for poker aficionados, but about three for the rest of us. Mathematically that made it (3+5)/2=4, on the average.

My site: WriteYourBookWithMe.com

## Friday, October 18, 2019

### UNDERSTANDING SASSIE, Goldie Sees Mike

Goldie  was alone.

She missed the company of her puppies.  She had taught her puppies how to hunt as a team, and this education made it easier for them to kill for their food.  Now she was hunting alone, and it was necessary for her to go farther from the den to obtain her food.  The nights were getting colder, and she no longer had the warmth of her puppies to dull the icy hands of the night.  She was lonesome and hungered for comfort.  As she traveled a greater distance to hunt, she found the dirt road.  She discovered the black skins and, like Sassie discovered, that man was responsible for the appearance of these black skins.  It was easy prey and she took advantage of the black treasurers that held food.

She wondered about a man that she noticed came to walk in this area of the forest every day at the same time.  He always seemed to be looking at the ground and mumbling something to himself.  I really love Millie!  I know she wants to graduate college, but I don’t think our relationship would stop her ability to graduate!  Should I propose?  What if I do propose and she says no?  It will only be a few months until she graduates.  Does she love me enough to trust me?

Mike’s conversations with himself were filled with confusing thoughts.  He came to this wooded area because Mother Nature helped him to think.  He started to bring his lunch here, because the wooded area was peaceful and comforting.  Unknown to him was Goldie’s presence.  Like Goldie, he was beginning to realize how lonely it was to live alone.

Goldie sensed that the man was troubled.  She liked the fact that he always left some of his lunch.  It was as if he knew there was a dog that needed to eat.  Impossible, Goldie thought, I would never let man see me!  Man is dangerous!

Yet Goldie saw gentleness and compassion in this man and wondered what it would be like to live with him.   She was thinking about breaking her own rule.  Stay away from Man!  She began to wonder, is this man really dangerous?

At the shelter, Sassie was getting more freedom and more time with Ruth.  She kept hearing something about a Puppy Play Day.  Play is something that she always enjoyed.  She missed the play with her brother and sister. What did Puppy Play Day mean?  Would I be able to meet some new friends?

Sassie heard Ruth and Jane talk about a time called “Saturday,” but it meant little to Sassie.  Sassie did understand that Ruth was excited about something, and as she listened to Jane and Ruth talk, she decided they were planning something fun.

Ruth was excited about introducing Sassie to the Puppy Play Day that would be held on Saturday.  Jane was explaining the rules and the fact that Millie would be there to help new owners understand what puppy play actions are good and what actions needed redirection.

Jane was smiling and laughing as she thought about past play dates, I have many toys, I have places for the puppies to hide if they want a time-out, and the owners are given directions for proper redirection or protecting a puppy’s personal space or their wish to hide.

Jane went on to describe one of the recent puppy play dates.   “Everyone was laughing and enjoying the moment.  Outside, the weather may have been miserable, but the noise of the wind was unnoticed as we watched the puppies play.  That day there was a group of four German Shepherd puppy siblings that were chasing each other around the large room.  Dog toys were scattered throughout the area.  Some of the other puppies were chewing on balls, ropes, and things of every shape and size.  A mixed-breed puppy was shaking a fluffy toy squirrel that squealed, much to the delight of those who wanted to steal this fun toy.

At one point, three of the German Shepherd puppies decided to lie down to rest.  However, the fourth puppy wanted them to continue the chase game.  He picked up a snake toy and shook it in front of the three resting puppies.  It was a temptation they could not ignore.  The chase game began again with everyone wanting to capture the snake toy.

Jane told Ruth, “It is a fun time, and we try to have a scheduled Puppy Play Day on the first and third Saturday of each month at 6 p.m.  If the weather is bad or there is a holiday, there will be no play dates scheduled.  Tomorrow is a Puppy Play Day.  You can bring Sassie to this one if you’d like.  She will already be here at the shelter; just come a little early and bring dog treats.”

Ruth was looking forward to giving Sassie a nice adventure at this puppy play time.

#

With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, near-final material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Sassie-Novel-Human-Communication/dp/1977206093/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Understanding+Sassie&qid=1559053238&s=books&sr=1-2

### GOOD GRIEF, Laugh, a Poem

Don’t make me laugh I’ve often said,
I’ll pee my pants or wet my bed.
So I stay still and keep real stiff
As I cross my legs and do not shift.
Yet it creeps forth unwillingly
This joyous sound of laughing glee.
Is laughter worth the price of pee?
Yes, I wholeheartedly agree.

Don’t make me laugh I’ve often said
I need my sorrow, pain and dread.
So deep inside I seal up tight
As I grasp each piece with all my might.
But then a whisper of mirth I hear
Bursts through the heartache and the fear.
Against my wishes, I smile and laugh.
Yes, laughter will be my epitaph.

Cheryl A. Barrett, 11/15/2017

###

With her permission, I am serializing here near-final material from nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise.

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link:

### Nefans, Canadian and African Achiever

This young man of Ivory Coast nationality, of Baoule origin, lost his parents on his 20th birthday.

Alone against misery and danger, having no one to take care of his life, Nefans was left to save himself: fighting for survival, sleeping in the streets, and eating garbage. Working to no longer be humiliated, seeking to be carried away by his destiny, as directed by his instinct, he found a job being a mechanic.

Sadly, despite his being so talented, they sent him away, leaving him nothing, with no return possible for his food….

Until the day he met a woman, Bea, who helped him to clean his garden, to tend it until it was self-sufficient. Bea loved him, and she helped Nefans to afford a renowned education to improve his own life. It was difficult in the beginning, but he applied himself, managed to control his actions and focus his thoughts of making a success of his life.

Nefans understood that life was not a game, but a struggle for his life and his future, and so he let himself be guided by Bea.

Bea was feeding him, doing everything for him. She was a humane woman, a woman who loved others, a humanitarian lady, and she decided to adopt Nefans. More, she dedicated herself to him, and dedicated all her assets to help this abandoned child, a child who did not want to be born in this kind of situation, a child who wanted to be born just like all other children, in a noble family or even a modest one, but just to have a family, with siblings, a father and a mother, just a family.

Being alone and nobody, Nefans’s meeting of his destiny with Bea gave him a chance of survival, this humanitarian act from a very admirable woman, Bea. So, Nefans loved Bea back with a love far more than platonic; they had become inseparable, a family.

Appreciating Nefans, Bea decided to help him obtain an education, then to be respected in society, so she enabled Nefans to enroll in school, and she took care of him…and he took care of her.

Bea was, in a word, an angel!

The times of his difficulties that had preceded did not help Nefans, and breaking into society was not easy for him ... Difficult it was for him, in the first moments of his studies, but with time and his perseverance, he succeeded.

Nefans learned that to advance in this world, he would have to persevere with audacity and determination. Once Nefans understood this, he proceeded to consider the choices open to him.

Brilliant, Nefans opted for a scholarship to go to Canada, to Montreal St-Eustache. Bea gave him her full blessing to achieve his most important goals, and she prayed for him, that luck would be with him, after all his years of suffering.

Nefans obtained his scholarship. In going to Canada, to a Canadian university, to study law, his main goal was to have a place in the bosom of the greatest intellectual center of law in the world of law....

It was not easy in the beginning for Nefans, knowing practically no one and being for the first time in Canada, and being in a Canadian University, in the White state in  which it was located.

He was polite and gracious with others, discreet, tried not to be noticed, but for his competition he had a bright and beautiful Canadian woman, Nicole, from a wealthy family, who also attended the University. She was watching Nefans, knowing that he was the first Black to be at the college.

His determination assisted him to become the most brilliant in his section, in biology, where he beat almost everyone, but was only on par with Nicole, the young and beautiful lady of the wealthy family.

The two clashed at a court of rights, for a humanitarian conference,  Refugee Children and the Unnoticed Poor.

Nefans knew that if he committed himself to a good defense fight, he would lose, because Nicole knew completely the courses and the sources. But  Nefans responded to her arguments, democrat that he was, speaking about his own life and experiences. Nefans dramatized his own life, not being embarrassed to tell it, and this made him a total success, even showing the judicial court his tears.

Since then, Nefans became a learned scholar in the world of law, his dream became a reality, bringing his adoptive mother Bea to Canada.

Nefans had succeeded in his studies, with honors, as he loved understanding the nature of the world, and enjoyed being correctly educated. He became an associate at the Faculty of Law at the University of Cocody, after 7 years. He had achieved this after many years of suffering and bitterness.

Nefans and Bea ended up having overcome the worst of the worst.

In this story, we see the miracle of God, Who propelled Nefans into a world of wisdom and zealous spirit.  Nefans succeeded professionally, married Nicole, and had beautiful children, all through the grace of God.

“God in his love helps those in extreme need,” says Nefans in gratitude.

###

Edited by me (DWC) from a manuscript provided by a humanitarian activist writer with the pen name P.C./F.D.

## Friday, October 11, 2019

### GOOD GRIEF, Recognize the Humor

Laugh Alone or with Others

When the woes of existence beset us, we urgently seek comic relief. The more emotions we invest in a subject, the greater it’s potential for guffaws.

There is nothing funny about your journey through grief and loss — or is there?

Humor is not something you seek out when you are going through grief and loss. However, it is ever present waiting to be invited back into your life. Humor pushed its way into my healing journey early and has eased my heart’s pain. Only you know when the time is right to embrace humor again and experience it’s healing power.

At the last viewing I attended, I was standing apart from others in the back of the funeral parlor, observing everyone. I saw the grieving widow bravely standing next to the coffin, dressed in black with sadness and grief evident on her face, her eyes staring straight ahead, and her hands trembling. The smallest thing set off a crying spell for all to witness. Someone placed a hand on her shoulder for comfort and another put tissues in her hand. I looked around and saw friends, family, and others who came to support her anxious, yet wary about how to help.

What else did I see? Some of those who came were also crying; some were stoic and keeping a stiff upper lip, while others were smiling in conversation and even sharing a laugh or two together. They were remembering the departed person in relation to a humorous event in which there was much shared laughter — an event I too remembered and smiled.

No, they were not being disrespectful. They were sharing fond memories of their time with the departed friend. They were also using humor and sometimes laughter as a coping mechanism to deal with the situation, to ease their discomfort.

You, too, have these happy, laughable shared memories and need some relief from the overwhelming emotions of grief and loss, but are unsure what to do.

What is humor? How can it help during times of grief and loss?

Humor is a positive emotion that can diffuse the many negative emotions you are experiencing — great for stress reduction. According to many, humor is good medicine. Humor therapy has been used as a coping mechanism to help deal with life’s hardships.

Studies have shown benefits of laughter include:
improving oxygenation to the brain,
relieving tension in the muscles,
creating a sense of peace.

Seeing the humor in life sometimes makes the most sense to us. Laughter makes you smile, and those around you are infected with it.

I remember my husband and I sitting downstairs in the living room one day. We heard my daughter laughing so hard upstairs that we just looked at each other and started laughing too.

No doubt you have laughed before and are familiar with the joy it brings. Can you remember the last time you laughed until your cheeks hurt and tears flowed down your face? Were you alone in your laughter? That’s okay. Or, were you with someone? That’s even better — shared laughter is awesome.

Relax and enjoy a good laugh now and again —what a relief it is!

The art of medicine consists of keeping the patient amused while nature heals the disease.
— Voltaire

During the healing process you may ask yourself this question: “Did I share laughter and humor with my loved one?”

If the answer is yes, then why not use memories of shared laughter to heal? Remembering shared times of laughter brings a smile to your face. It feels good.

I have many memories of shared laughter with my husband. Each time I recall one, I see his smiling face and hear the laughter — his, mine, and sometimes my daughter’s. A memory such as this can be triggered by intentionally recalling a shared event or upon seeing a picture, words, or something else, related to such a memory.

My daughter saw a stuffed animal in the store; its hair was peaked at the top of its head. This was a humor-event-trigger for us that caused us to break out with laughter. Why? This was the way my husband’s hair looked in the morning when he got up. His hair would be plastered down on the sides and straight up in the middle: thus, we called him “Freddy the Fin.”

Such precious memories make me cry sometimes, as they can no longer happen in real-time. But, that’s OK. Sadness and happiness can and do coexist.

Do you have such memories that make you both laugh and cry? Share these memories; write them down — enjoy those precious moments again and again!

Humor often relies on the difference between how things are and how they should be. It helps us gain perspective and can play a significant role in the journey through grief and loss — perhaps the one thing that helps you through a rough day.

New things that make you laugh can happen to you during your time of grieving. Both my daughter and I laughed at the car breakdown situation previously described and felt relief of tensions. We rolled our eyes and looked heavenward, saying: “Are you kidding me?” as if talking with my husband, whom we could also picture joining us in our laughter…as we sat helpless in a car that wouldn’t start with rain pouring down outside, thunder cracking, and lightening zapping through the night sky.

Burned into our brains, it’s a recollection we still frequently chuckle about — one very special memory. Later, we could laugh at more and more memorable experiences we had with my husband.

What other things can you do to create laughter? Just ask yourself what made you laugh in the past? Those memories are waiting for you to remember.

During a stress management course I took a few years ago, we each had to choose a project to complete. The project I chose was a “Tickler Notebook,” a collection of a various items that you think can stimulate laughter. I filled it with so many things that made me laugh: comics, pictures, sayings, poems, greeting cards, photos from a movie and many more.

It so happened that a colleague of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer and was going through this stressful life event. I made a copy of the Tickler Notebook and a co-worker of mine, Annmarie, added her beautiful butterfly photos with words of encouragement on each. We arranged this special Tickler Notebook and presented the final project to the colleague, hoping to bring her a little laughter and hopefully positive benefits. She was overwhelmed with our gift and shared her appreciation telling us how much she laughed.

Two activities below that I did were helpful to me: they got me out of the house, focused my attention on something other than my gloomy internal thoughts and stimulated laughter — even laughter at myself.

I went to the greeting card section of my favorite store and linger for a while reading the cards. Choosing cards at random first, then picking the ones that were humorous and made me laugh. At first, I chuckle silently and then the chuckles became more audible. Sometimes, others looked up and smiled at me, and we became comrades in shared fun. What could be better than sharing laughter? I have even done this with a friend who was feeling down. It will cheer them up too. I lingered in the greeting card section before my loss too, so had it in my stress management tool box to use.

The second activity made others laugh at me — and that’s OK. I found that staying in the card section for a while, organizing them into their proper places, was fun and soothing — but this also created chuckles from others. Sometimes, they joined in the fun, and we did an outstanding job of organizing the cards into a very neat display.  We also shared some life experiences, sharing comfort and laughter. And, we gave the store worker an anonymous gift — another thing to smile about.

For those of you susceptible to obsessive behavior: be careful, as the organizing fun event can migrate and mutate to other areas of the store: for example; arranging the air fresheners according to their scents on the shelf. It still happens to me on occasion, but I’ve learned to deal with it, because it is something I can control when I feel out of control, sad, or lonely.

Maybe you have some secret things you do that nobody knows about…as I’ve revealed here. Enjoy!

When I’m down in the dumps, I often watch funny movies. Some movies stimulate our emotions and bring forth laughter. You know what strikes your funny bone. You probably have a few movies that you can rely on to make you laugh. Take a moment to develop a list of the movies that make you laugh, movies that you have shared experiences with your loved one or your children… or choose new movies. Then plan some time to watch them alone or with someone else.

At first, you might have difficulty paying attention, as you are distracted by your woes. Have patience. Don’t give up. You’ll get the hang of it. Watching a funny movie with a friend can have the additional benefit of sharing the laughter as you watch each other’s response. Remember, laughter is contagious! Here are a few movies that made me laugh and rekindled some wonderful memories with my husband that had a healing impact:

1.      Innerspace (Dennis Quade, Martin Short, Meg Ryan) — I just loved the music, “Cupid” and “Twisting the Night Away,” the latter of which played for several minutes at the end, and I danced with the music. It reminded me of music played during my childhood, melodies that both my husband and I related to. I laughed throughout the movie, sang the old familiar songs, and felt good.
2.      Caddy Shack (Bill Murray) — My husband and I watched this every chance we got. I loved the groundhog and his little dance. We both laughed and smiled at each other. Now when I see this movie, I am reminded of the good laughter we shared together. I can still laugh at it. I even have a furry groundhog that makes the same moves as the one in the movie and plays the same song. I can flip it on anytime I wish; it makes me smile and laugh.
3.      The Other Woman (Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton) — My daughter and I have watched this several times and shared many laughs at EVERY viewing. It is a newer movie that only the two of us had watched together, but just the other day, I watched this movie with my best friend, who had not yet seen it, and we both laughed. We enjoyed sharing the laughter; she said it perked up her day, providing respite from her hectic pace and from obligations that had been getting her down.
4.      The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel) — A movie filled with many prominent, seasoned actors had some funny moments that I laughed at and enjoyed. One thing that particularly touched me was the way they embraced life’s changes, ups and downs evolving into the next phase of life’s journey. They were seniors like me who had experiences like me and showed how they coped and continued their life’s journey. This gave me hope.
5.      Leap Year (Amy Adams, Matthew Goode) — I have watched this movie alone and also several times with my
daughter. We laughed a lot. What struck me was the love story. When you least expect it, love comes your way. I remember how it was to be young and in love with my husband. We met on a blind date, and things just progressed from there. I feel blessed to have been part of his life for the time we had.

P.S. I have watched these movies many times and will still choose to watch them in the future — hopelessly addicted to a good laugh!

Now it’s your turn to create a laughter list when you are ready:
places to go,
people to see,
movies to watch,
or any activity that lift you spirit and tickle your funny bone.

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln

Make up your mind to be happy and enjoy family, friends, and the new life’s journey that lies ahead. Use the form at the end of this section to make your own list. Take the first step to happiness — SMILE — you are loved!

AFFIRMATIONS:

·       I give myself permission to laugh and find joy in everyday things.
·       I use laughter to ease tension in my body.

·       I am filled with positive actions.

###

With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise.

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link:

### UNDERSTANDING SASSIE. 19, Dog Behavior Testing

The time for Millie to do the dog evaluations had arrived.  She was eager to begin this task, and as Millie entered the shelter, she began to look for Jane.  She was in her office.  As Jane looked up, she saw Millie and said, “Millie, I have Room 101 ready, and the equipment that you requested has been placed in that room’s small closet.”

They moved to 101. Millie checked her list of dogs to be tested; she saw that Sassie would be the first dog to be tested.    “Ruth asked for permission to come into Room 101 to watch.  I told her that she could only watch by looking through the window outside the room.”

Millie smiled and said, “Yes, part of this test is to see how the dog reacts to me as I sit in this chair.  No distractions are permitted during this testing, and although I realize that Ruth wants to see Sassie pass, she cannot be in the room.  Thank you for explaining this to Ruth.  She most certainly can watch from that window.”

Millie then sat in the room’s single chair and asked Jane to bring in Sassie.  When Jane brought Sassie into the room, she unclipped Sassie’s leash and then walked back out the door.

Sassie had never been in this room.  She looked around, but when she saw Millie, she wagged her tail and went right up to her.  She gently bumped her elbow to see if Millie could be encouraged to pet her.  Sassie started to show Millie the Play Bow and even did a happy dance for her.  Millie checked the word “passed” on her clipboard and added a few comments to this area of the test.

Millie got a bowl of food and placed it onto the floor.  Sassie was encouraged to eat the food that was in the bowl.  Millie got the plastic hand and would “pet” Sassie as she ate.  Then the plastic hand was placed into the food bowl.  The plastic hand was used instead of the real hand because some dogs would bite any hand that went into their food bowl.  Once again, Sassie wagged her tail.

As Ruth looked through the window she whispered, “Way to go, Sassie!”  Then added, “I bet you’re wondering when the good treats are coming.”  Ruth was glad she had used positive random reinforcement with her training of Sassie.

As Millie put “passed” on each successful test, she began to enjoy watching Sassie’s trust of people and her free spirit.  In the next test, Millie put a pig’s ear on the floor and after Sassie started to chew on the ear, she placed the plastic hand near the treat.  As Millie pushed the pig’s ear away from Sassie, Millie was tempted to give a treat to Sassie, to reward her good behavior, but Millie knew that was against the rules of testing.  Sassie passed every test that Millie performed.

Millie decided to add a comment on the test sheet that she usually does not write, “This dog could easily pass the therapy dog test.  I recommend therapy dog testing in a year.”

Jane had been in her office during Sassie’s testing.  When the telephone rang, Jane had been concentrating on her paperwork and was only half listening to the caller.  The raspy voice said, “Ruth’s mother is a bad mother!”

Jane suddenly began to listen closer to the voice on the phone and asked, “What did you say?” The only response to Jane’s question was a click and the dial tone.

Staring at the phone, she slowly lowered the receiver.  Jane then glanced at the clock and realized that it was now time for the next dog to be brought into the testing area.  Jane hurried to Room 101.  She brought Sassie to Ruth before getting the next dog.

“Guess we can start the adoption paperwork this afternoon.” Ruth said as she turned to leave.

“Remind me to tell you about our Puppy Play Time,” Jane added before going to get another dog for Millie.

Jane was unsure if she should say anything to Ruth about that strange phone call, but then she decided that maybe now would not be a good time.

#

With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Sassie-Novel-Human-Communication/dp/1977206093/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Understanding+Sassie&qid=1559053238&s=books&sr=1-2

## Sunday, October 6, 2019

### GOOD GRIEF, Embrace Forgiveness

The moment you truly forgive, you have reclaimed your power from the mind. Non-forgiveness is the very nature of the mind, just as the mind-made false self, the ego, cannot survive without strife and conflict. The mind cannot forgive. Only you can.
— Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

I looked in the mirror one day. I saw a sad, lonely. and broken woman looking back at me. Her head tilted downward, shoulders slumped in defeat, eyes swollen and red, hair a mass of tangles and clothing wrinkled and worn.

What happened to me, I thought? I used to be happy, neat, active and loving.

A voice inside me said, you deserve what you look like and how you feel because you could have done better.

I felt like I got slapped in the face with the realization that I was carrying around a heap of guilt and regrets, unable to forgive myself for many things. Why should I forgive myself? Surely, I should suffer — and suffer I did, until I learned to forgive myself and my husband.

Yes, forgiveness was the hardest task for me in the process of healing my wounded spirit from the loss of my husband, Fred. Forgiveness was the step that took the longest.

At first, I was angry about much that related to my loss: that I was now alone, that I regretted things I should have said or done, that I may have missed something that could have changed or prolonged his life…and many more emotional issues. A constant bombardment of negative thoughts became roadblocks on my journey through the grieving process and healing.

I felt like a victim of a tragedy — and indeed I was a victim, the lone survivor of the loss of a loved one — the other half of me. However, I realized that I did not have to remain a victim. I could choose to become whole again through the act of forgiveness.

It’s very important to recognize that forgiveness is the voluntary act in which you willingly let go of a perceived wrong toward you that elicits feelings of anger, resentment, or other negative emotions. You feel righteous in your position of being wronged and you want to hold on tight to this feeling — waiting for the one who wronged you to “make it right.”

Well, this making it right could happen, but don’t hold your breath waiting. There are, however, complications with this thinking:
the person who you feel has wronged you may not know how you feel;
the person may not be available to apologize to you (death is an example);
or the person may not care how you feel.

I am sure you can think of other scenarios. Whatever the reasons for the negative emotions, if they are left unresolved, you will suffer in a state of un-forgiveness.

Let me assure you, until I was able to move through the forgiveness process, I was suffering big-time.

Remaining in the state of un-forgiveness is unhealthy. It can create chronic anxiety, harming the mind/body/spirit:
Your mind is operating at high speed, processing and reprocessing the negative emotions that steal your joy and block your path forward.
Your body is following the mind’s lead dealing with the effects of all this negativity: increased tension in muscles, possible increased blood pressure, insomnia, overeating or under-eating, etc.
Self-esteem plummets to depths you never experienced.

Not good feelings for sure, as I can attest to the constant anxiety and feeling of defeat.

However, I did not give up hope.

Working through this process of forgiveness worked well for me regarding grief, loss, and anger. I did not think of forgiving anyone right away. I was wrapped up in the negative emotions and thoroughly immersed in my own suffering. I felt righteously justified in my beliefs and held onto them…feeling a sense of power. Over time, however, I became aware of how these negative emotions were eating away at me and taking up so much of my time.

I realized that the first step in the forgiveness process, awareness, allowed me to acknowledge my negative thoughts and feelings that were feeding my suffering and keeping me a victim. Next, I came up with the list of questions I show below, and I started exploring the answers. This process allowed me to take back control and enhance the clarity of the real issues. Finally, I forgave myself and let it go.

Who am I unwilling to forgive?
What did they do that hurt me and made me develop these negative feelings?
Why am I letting this person have any control over me and cause my mind/body/spiritual distress?
How can I forgive the wrong I perceived?

Take your time. Find a quiet place to reflect on these questions. Write them down for reference. You will be surprised how you feel after doing this. It took some time before I could forgive my husband for dying and leaving me to continue on alone.

And so, the process began.

Little by little, I started to deal with my feelings and need for forgiveness.

Who was I not willing to forgive? The answer my husband.

What did he do that hurt me? The answerhe died, left me behind to continue alone and created guilt and regrets.

Why did I let this control my mind/body/spirit? The answer I needed to keep the connection to him no matter how much it hurt me.
How can I forgive the wrong I perceived? The answer — I do not want to yet.

As I became aware of my responses to these questions, I decided to forgive him for leaving me. After all, he did not die on purpose to hurt me. Arriving at this place of forgiveness took much time. It was hard work to let go and move forward.

Forgiveness of self, I found, was a much harder task to do than forgive someone else.

Who was I not willing to forgive? The answer — me.

Why did I let myself feel un-forgiveness? The answer — because I felt like I was somehow responsible for the loss.

Did I miss health clues that I could have done something about? The answer — I’m a nurse and should have noticed. I flagellated myself regularly for this.

Did I show how much I cared and loved him? The answer — I regretted not telling him I loved him or hugging him more. I regretted spending so much time working and so little time with him — and more.

Forgiving myself took much longer, but it did happen. I must admit that even after I forgave myself, I slipped back into moments of un-forgiveness. It happens. Just forgive yourself again. Don’t give up!

Remember, we are born to be spiritual and compassionate human beings. Embrace your spirituality and heart’s compassion to forgive yourself for the perceived errors and feelings of negativity — one step at a time. Let go of the emotional negativity and dare to open your heart to receiving the blessings of peace and comfort. You did the best you could at that time, in that place, with that person.

YOU and I still have our own journeys. We must move forward to live lives filled with joy and love. This takes time. Be kind to yourself. Fully embrace forgiveness toward the one you feel wronged you AND toward yourself — it is the right thing to do.

Love yourself enough to forgive yourself!

AFFIRMATIONS:

·       I forgive myself for what I think I have done wrong.
·       I love myself for the person I am yet to become.
·       I forgive my past and embrace every positive moment of the present.

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With her permission, I am serializing here nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise.

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this Amazon link: