Monday, November 11, 2019

GOOD GRIEF. My Wishes for You

Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting TransformationMay you find PEACE in your heart – remembering
it’s more than a pump,
And feel compassion for YOURSELF and others.
May you experience JOY every day;
It gives you something to live for and gladdens the heart.
May you continue to share your CARING with others,
And let others COMFORT you when you are feeling down,
sad, or alone.
May you hang on during tough times – sometimes
that’s all you can do;
But remember to let HOPE float up and do its magic healing.
May you remember to BREATHE when faced with fear, stress or loss;
It relaxes the body and refocuses the mind.
May you make time for YOURSELF each and every day
Practicing self-care and becoming your best.
May you recognize you are worthy and loved by GOD and others,
So you can share this LOVE with others too.
May you LIVE every day as if it were your last,
So you have no regrets.
May you have the courage to be AWESOME,
And hold tightly to the wonderful person you are.

Thank you from my HEART
                                    Cheryl A. Barrett, 11/25/2014

Allow for Time
to Heal Your Wounded Spirit

You don’t know how strong you are until being strong
is the only option you have.
Bob Marley, Songwriter, Musician

Yes, it takes time to work through grief and loss.
There is no specified time limit for this journey. It is unique to each person. There is no one path for all, but a path exists for each of us to walk. These five actions helped me on my journey:

·       Be patient. There will be ups and downs, progress and setbacks, on this healing journey.
·       Be strong. Use your resources and reach out to family and friends to support you.
·       Have faith. Move confidently toward the future filled with endless possibilities.
·       Look back. Express joy and gratitude for what you shared.
·       Look forward. Live with joy and gratitude in anticipation of your future.

While finishing this book, I reviewed the textbooks that I used in a Stress Management Instructor course I had taken some years ago. I found a section on stress and human spirituality, addressing the issues and impact of loss.

Some view this spiritual loss as a heart-sick feeling devastating to the soul. Yes, it does feel this way and goes on for some time. Your mind, your heart, and your soul are at war with the healing process at first. As time moves on, your mind shows you the logic of the situation, leading the way to healing as you set positive intentions. Your heart and soul continue to ache and recovery lags woefully behind, creating extended sorrow and grief.

The war within me went on for some time before I could take small steps toward healing. Yes, this war within is often said to be a trip to hell. I agree!

According to holistic stress management speaker B. L. Seaward, Ph.D: “There are two ways to emerge from a proverbial trip to hell. The first is as a victim, where one carries a sense of remorse or resentment for a very long time — sometimes forever. The second is as a victor, an individual who emerges gracefully with neither animosity nor resentment.”

Dr. Seaward mentions that the journey of healing requires “exercising your muscles of the soul.” Using his list of topics, I explain next how I exercised “the muscles of the soul” to heal my own wounded spirit from the loss of my dear husband, Fred.

     Compassion: I accepted comfort and compassion from friends and family who listened to me and shared in my grieving. I asked for help, hugs, or companionship when I felt the need. I read and reread the condolence cards and emails, finding comfort in the loving words. I am truly grateful for such caring sent my way. I also was compassionate toward myself, accepting my weaknesses. I allowed myself to cry. I even bravely chose events that brought on the tears, so I could purge myself of the pain of loss. Watching movies that involved loss and healing were very helpful, and I felt much better.

     Courage: I protected myself from triggers that would cause me to cry at times. I wore sunglasses to camouflage my eyes and hide the ravages of a tearful face. I carried tissues everywhere to mop up the waterfall of tears. I wanted people to see a survivor, not a victim of a tragedy…and someone with a brave heart who could stand tall and move forward. Writing this book took courage I did not think I had.

     Creativity: I found things that brought joy and laughter back into my life and put a smile on my face. I saw a “how to” video on making baskets out of recycled paper rolled into long tubes and made a few of these. The finished project was satisfying. In another creative adventure, three of us went to a “wine and paint night” at a local restaurant and painted a big sunflower with acrylics. We adopted artists’ personas: I am now known as (Cherylbrant) and my accomplices were my friend, Peg (Pegasso), and my daughter, Bonnie (Boninchi): each imitating her favorite artist with her painting. We had fun.

     Curiosity: I sought out options and answers to so many questions about finances, funeral details, insurance, IRAs, 401Ks, death benefits, who needs death certificates, applying for social security, retirement, name change and beneficiary change. And so much more. I made lists upon lists and checked off items as they were done — eventually.

     Faith: I had faith from the start, although it was battered down by the nearly overwhelming grief, anger and regrets. Although my faith was wounded, I still watched the Sunday service with Joel Osteen. I still read my daily devotions on The Power of Being Thankful by Joyce Meyer. I still prayed. I kept searching for understanding until I reread the story of Job in the Bible. Job experienced numerous losses and kept his faith. I found that you might never get the answers as to why this tragedy happened, but in faith, you walk forward, confident that there is a light waiting for you ahead.

     Forgiveness: This was hard, but I did forgive my husband for leaving me. I forgave God for taking him. I forgave myself for all the perceived regrets I had of not doing as much as I could have and should have done. I chose to give up the overpowering unforgiveness that kept eroding my spirit. It was such a relief.

     Humbleness: I worked to get outside of myself, helping others not as fortunate as I am. Looking at the big picture, my loss was insignificant compared to what some others have had to deal with in their life. I put together a care package for a friend, Anne, who always gives to others…so she would take time for herself, for a change. I mentored a young woman, June, in her pursuit of higher education in nursing. I gave my ticket to the amusement park to someone else to go. I volunteered to work on a quilt that was to be raffled off to raise money for the church. I cooked a meal and packed up a goodie bag for a friend whose husband underwent surgery. These actions helped me stop being focused on “poor me,” and I am thankful for the opportunity to do these. I look forward to doing more in the future.

     Humor: I am blessed to live with a daughter who makes me laugh hard and often. We laugh about memories with my husband, her father. We laugh about almost anything. She often breaks into a song and dance that is hysterical. She still hides sometimes and tries to scare me like her father used to do to both of us. I watched movies alone that were funny, as well as watching ones with my daughter or with a friend and laughed a lot. My daughter was, and is, the greatest gift in keeping me smiling and stimulating laughter. I think she was a comedian in her past life. I knew that laughter heals, and I employed my creativity to make opportunities for it to happen. Laughter was a great tension reducer for me.

     Integrity: I fell short in “honesty” at first, as I needed to insulate myself from the pain and loss. Certainly, it was evident to many how devastating to me Fred’s death was, but to others who were not close, things looked “OK.” I told people I was fine when I was not, that I was eating when I was not, that I was sleeping when I was not — and more. As the impact of my grief lessened somewhat and time moved forward, I was able to find a way to trust others and share how I really felt. It was hard to keep up the “good lie” and such a relief to be able to share how I truly felt. I discovered that once I faced and became my truth again, I could become empowered and exercise other muscles of the soul more effectively.

     Intuition: Sensing, insights, inspiration, and enlightenment are part of intuition. I have had experience with intuition in the past. For example, my intuition told me that the first person (male) I met in Home Depot was the one to help me with my car issue in the parking lot, but I dismissed it. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to return to him, and he was the one who came and helped start my car. Often, we get a feeling about something and dismiss it, moving forward at a too-fast mental pace. Slowing down and taking a pause to reflect allows for opportunities to become more evident. I am thankful that when I was walking up the stairs the night my husband died, I acted on the feeling that I had and turned to look at him and say, “Good night, Fred” — the last time I spoke to him. I am now more sensitive to my intuition for self-care and for caring for others’ needs.

     Optimism: Being positive was a challenge, as I had lost someone who was a constant source of support — my personal cheerleader of positivity. Suddenly, I had to create my own positivity. I found it is much easier to be negative and find fault than to be positive. So, I discovered a way to start. I faked being positive at first, and then little-by-little I began to feel positive about something in my day. I woke up and expressed thankfulness for the day. I set an intention to allow hope to bloom in my heart and open my eyes to a new future. I saw people struggling with much worse situations than mine, leading me to get out of my own way. I embraced a spirit of optimism.

     Patience: I grieved hard…with tears, anger, frustration, and more. I questioned God: Why did you do this to me? I questioned my dead husband: Why did you do this to me? I asked: Why did I deserve to be alone? I looked around at other older couples and envied them their togetherness and asked again: Why not me? Guess what? There were no answers, only acceptance that one time is over and another time is beginning. With patience and the passing of time, I came to terms with this. I felt peace.

     Persistence: To deal with all the details on my journey required persistence, because there were always loose ends. Nothing got done in a one-time action. There were always follow-ups, often too many to keep track of them all. I just made new lists and kept going.

     Resiliency: There were many times that I regressed in the healing process, but I did not give up. I bounced back stronger after every new wave of grief, anger, regret or self-pity that hit me, threatening to take me under. Each time, I chose to be strong and go forward; I bounced back quicker and was able to move forward again…and again…and again.

     Unconditional love: I worked for only four and a half months after my loss. I quit, to get out of the rat race and to be able to take better care of myself. I still mourned, even as I opened a new door to my future. I learned to love myself. The most amazing thing happened: I have become filled with more joy, peace, happiness, and expectation for sharing with others.

You can use the form on the next page with these same topics to write how you have exercised the muscles of your soul as you journey through your own grief and loss. It took time for me to do this, and it was sporadic, but thoughts and experiences along the way produced what I have shared about the muscles of the soul to me.
Yes, this journey is hard and it may be a long one. Be strong, and walk forward step-by-step, breath-by-breath. You, too, will emerge the victor. You have learned much and have much to share now with others.


·       I step forward in faith and am stronger each day.
·       I use the muscles of the soul to heal my wounded spirit.
·       I am optimistic that I can experience joy and love.


With her permission, I am serializing here a near-final version of 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: 

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