Change is Tough

Change is tough when you are on the receiving end.
It can be exhilarating to see all the possibilities that change affords, and then to align resources, systems and life to make them happen. Change really can be fun if you choose to be a “change maker.” Unless you are on the receiving end, then you are a “change-taker.” For most people, the status quo is their friend. Unexpected change is not exhilarating; it is disorienting. When your view of the world has been based on the assumption that you could pretty much count on the future being like the past. The changes you must make invalidate that assumption and disrupt your worldview. You are being forced to let go of the familiar, while being asked to embrace something new. It is not so be easy. Every conceivable emotion will be unleashed — fear, anger, envy, depression. Some will be vocal, others silent. Some will be aggressively hostile, others passive aggressive. Some will be consciously resistant, others will not be aware of their own resistance. Change creates grief. Grieving is essential to change.
Grief actually serves a good purpose when dealing with change. Grieving is the process of reconciling yourself with new circumstances, with a changed world. Without grief, change would paralyze you; drive you insane. Before people can reconcile themselves to change, they must go through the grieving transition cycle. No exceptions. There is no shortcut or way around.

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Prayer by Rumi

I found this prayer by Rumi (13th century Sufi poet) sung at a life celebration service so very beautiful and I’d like to share it with you here:

On the day I die

Don’t weep, don’t cry

He’s gone, he’s gone

The sun sets

The moon retires

But they’re not gone, for long

The tomb becomes a womb

Death and birth are so alike

The buried seed

Stretches down and reaches for the light

The bucket lowers

Dips and fills so all may bloom

Unimagined beauty

Fills the room

Your mouth closes here

And opens with a shout of joy there

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Ten Tips for Christian Widows

A Christian counselor friend says, “If you were my sister, my mother, or a dear friend and your husband had just died, here are the ten things I’d tell you to successfully navigate the waters of widowhood.”

1. Trust God. Easier said than done, I know. But just do it, one step, one breath at a time.
2. Trust yourself–for the most part. Don’t let others make decisions for you like what to do with his clothing, when to change your pillowcases, etc. You can do this. On the other hand, realize that this huge jolt in your life can put you in a spin and make some irrational actions seem perfectly logical. Now’s not the time to start an affair, make large donations or rush into plastic surgery. “Don’t make a decision in a storm that you wouldn’t make in calm weather”. ~Max Lucado
3. Breathe, cry, walk. Kind of reminds you of Eat, Pray, Love doesn’t it? But I wouldn’t advise any of those yet. They’ll happen on their own. Breathing, crying, and walking are what you simply must do.
4. Don’t worry about sleep. It’ll happen sooner or later.
5. Take care of your kids and/or grand kids. They just lost their father and/or grandfather; they don’t need to lose their mom or grandma, too.
6. Read these 3 books right away. First, read Widow’s Key by Linda Lindholm. This is a practical comprehensive step-by-step guide through all the before, during and after aspects of loss. Second, Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace by James R. White. This is a short book that describes the patterns of grief and God’s part in it, so you know you’re not going crazy. Then read Miriam Neff’s From One Widow to Another for some other tools in dealing with widowhood.

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THERE COMES A DAY

Whether you think so at first, there finally comes a day when you actually feel better and when you are no longer consumed with grief. You come to terms with the fact that your loved one is gone and never coming back. You become more appreciative and aware of life’s gifts and living in the here and now.

The depth and timelines of mourning are different for everyone. However, trust that there is a point where you actually do feel better and are no longer overcome by fear and sad thoughts. When you have allowed yourself to grieve fully and do what you need to do to process your loss, then you can walk the final step. To live your life fully is in no way dismissive of your late husband’s life or all that he meant to you.

There are moments when you are thrilled to be alive and anxious to see what comes into your life. It is wonderful when you get to this turning point, but sometimes widows find it hard to embrace this final step in overcoming the loss. It is all right to admit you’re OK without him, life is good, you are happy again and you don’t feel guilty about it anymore. You can laugh, enjoy life, be open to new experiences or love and yet not have to punctuate it with “but, of course, I’ll always love and miss him.” Visualize a way, time and place where you are happy again, then make it come true for yourself.

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Pilgrimage to Sacred Places

What is a Pilgrimage?

All religions, from the rudimentary to the most expansive, have a common specific place of reference that assumes particular importance for their followers.  In their eyes, this singular aura marks out a territory traveled mentally as often as desired and physically as many times as possible, but depending on the follower’s means, at least once in a lifetime. A parenthesis if not a break, a journey of pilgrimage, however long, provides an opportunity to leave daily contingencies behind in order to evaluate one’s life quest so far and devote oneself to reflection. Pilgrims pledges themselves to that higher cause of a greater understanding of who they are and what in them is true. They search for that meaning which binds their hearts and points them on their way through life. Many pilgrims walk to remember and honor deceased loved ones.

For example, faithful, adventurous and curious pilgrims have been making the long journey along the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain for more than a thousand years. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, dedicated to the Apostle St. James, is their destination. The true place reached is deep within your heart. A pilgrimage is an embodied prayer. Camino de Santiago is one of Europe’s best known and traveled pilgrimage routes and destinations. The Holy Year of 2010 saw a record turnout of pilgrims from around the world. Ask about Widow’s Key organized trip to the Camino.

“The person who travels to a sacred site is not the same person when they return home.  They have been awakened to a greater respect for the planet, accelerating a beautiful unity and harmony between all living people, cultures and religions. The ancients who created these sites help us remember that this is the most important truth there is. “           — Aluna Joy Yaxkin

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