Quotes That Make My Soul Sing #7

“Staying open to joy, to beauty, to love, brightens all of your life experiences. Being mindful of these opportunities will greatly enhance your life.”

Emily Thiroux Threatt, Loving and Living Your Way Through Grief

While preparing for an upcoming interview on grief and the holidays with Emily Thiroux Threatt, I read this quote in her book. I heard my inner voice screaming, “YES, YES, YES!” Grieving the losses of my dad and his partner of 21 years, I struggled without knowing just how much. The process of becoming mindful of the opportunities definitely helped me to move through the grief into celebrating the love and wisdom they brought to my life.

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With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff, Author of Letters from a Better Me

Upcoming Wisdom Panel: Handling Grief During the Holidays

Daily Aligning with Love, Abundance, and Peace #143

I’m grateful for the times I had with loved ones who passed. Life is a precious gift. The people we spend time with leave imprints on our souls. We are with the people we love as long as we are meant to be, if we expected more time with them than we got, we are fighting the reality that is. It’s a perception that can cause many people great pain that goes well beyond grieving. Years ago, I learned the importance of focusing on the time I did have. This perception of thought has helped me so much through times of grief.

Not everyone will understand it or want to believe this perception for themselves, and that is okay. We each have to find perceptions of truth that align with the lives we want to be living. My perceptions of focusing on the times I was given with a person help me to align with love, abundance, and peace. Even in my grief, when I focus on the the times I did have, I find peace in my heart. Expectations of more time or beating myself up over things I should have done, keep me in the energy of fear, lack, and separation. When I look back at all my loved ones who passed, I’m grateful for the memories I do have; I smile at the stories other share; and I feel blessed that I got the time I did. This doesn’t lessen their places in my my heart.

Today, I commit to celebrating the times I DID HAVE with loved ones who passed away. Around holidays and milestones I think about the loved ones who passed more than on any average day. It’s the memories of the holidays spent together, which usually were filled with joy and laughter. I know I’m not alone in this. In the past, I’ve written them letters; I’ve talked to them on walks; I’ve written to others about them; and I’ve went through old pictures and videos remembering the times I was given. Just to write this piece, I went through over 10,000 pictures tracking down special memories. I’m so grateful I have the picture and got the moments, even if some of the moments were shared through others. I have the memory.

I know loss can be extremely painful. I’m not saying that tears aren’t running down my face sometimes when I’m thinking about the people who are no longer with me, but what I love is that when I put my energy into celebrating the times I DID HAVE, as sad as I may feel, I still feel aligned:

  • I’m aligned with love, because I’m celebrating the memories.
  • I’m aligned with abundance, because I was given the opportunity to share love with someone else for however long I was given. I’m grateful for the moments I got.
  • I’m aligned with peace, because I know I’m honoring their legacy by living in the energy that keeps them alive in my heart and empowers me to keep doing the best I can.

My goal is to honor the lives of the people I love by living the best I can with the time I have left. I know by aligning with love, abundance, and peace, I’m doing just that. This piece is dedicated to all the people who have lost people they loved and are struggling. My prayers are with you.

With Love, Abundance, and Peace,

©Rachael Wolff 2020

Author of Letters from a Better Me

Letters to Corona: Part 3

Dear Corona,

Today, I’m honoring the grief I’m feeling in the wake of your wave. My life was moving along in a way I was comfortable until your presence had us close our doors and proceed with caution. I’m grieving the loss of revenue from the events I can’t take part in. I’m grieving for all the broken plans that I was excited for. I’m grieving for my quiet time to work without kids. I’m grieving the loss of my norm. I’m grieving my way of participating in the world. 

Just because I’m grieving these things doesn’t mean I don’t have compassion for those who have lost loved ones, jobs, and homes—I do. My grief is not any less there because someone else’s grief is there too. Grief is not meant to be one-upped. We can grieve different things and each one matters. Each one affects our inner worlds.

I know some will not even get to the place where they are able to name what they are feeling as grief. Some will try to shove it down deep out of guilt for having it. Others will try to rationalize it away because they are blessed with so much, how could they possibly feel grief? Some will run to addiction in their denial. No thoughts or actions will stop grief from coming through the door. They will wreak havoc on our nervous systems. They will create internal war, pain, resentment, and shame. 

In hindsight, I was unknowingly resisting my own grief.  When it came in, the grief felt like a rogue wave knocking me down and catching me in it’s pull. I struggled to find my footing and kept fighting to breathe. Only because I’ve experienced, studied, and processed grief did I recognize it by name when it flooded in. I had moved through the denial and felt the loss fully with no control over the tears that came streaming down my face. I’m still not done, but I’m healing because I’m allowing myself to feel.

I’ve struggled for my footing after being knocked down by grief, but I know I will come out stronger than I was before. I went to people I knew would understand and where I didn’t feel alone. I’m taking the time and space to sit with my grief, while not denying the affect it has on me. I ask Spirit for assistance in moving through what I’m feeling in the healthiest way possible. I heard the call to write, and I’m listening. I got the message to breathe and stretch—I’m doing just that. I’m not alone. Experiencing this has shown me how much I’ve grown, and how much I still have to learn. 

Thank you for your continued lessons in compassion for myself and others. I’m grateful for the reminder that grief is apart of this process and we will each experience it in different ways. I honor my grief and I honor the grief of my fellow humans.

With Love and Gratitude,

A Better Me

©Rachael Wolff 2020

Oh Grief!

I haven’t written for a while, because quite honestly, I’ve been lost in grief. In October my “Gifted mother” (GM) went home to my dad in heaven. So, not only am I going through the grief of losing her, but also because we need to sell their family home, I’ve been feeling like I’m losing him all over again. I have to say goodbye to a home that offered so many loving memories, when truly I so desperately want to hold onto it. I’m financially not in the position to do it. My dad, GM and I talked about me having the house many times because it was my dream home for the kids and I to live. I have pictured them growing up there a million times. So, not only have I lost them, I lost a dream of a life. I know in my heart if I was meant to have the house, a way would have presented itself, but it hasn’t. I have to believe its because that is not the direction I’m supposed to be going, but right now that reality is very hard to swallow.

Every day since I found out my GM was dying has been a struggle. So many thoughts and feelings have been eating at me. I’ve been endlessly spinning. My life has paid the price for being out of balance as I’ve watched my children suffering in their own ways and I’ve watched my joy be tainted with so much questioning. I’ve been watching myself, thank GOD with awareness; I haven’t been able to stop the thoughts from coming, but at least knowing that my natural childlike defenses are on heightened alert.

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I’ve been keeping myself endlessly busy, which is very easy to do as a single mom during the holidays. My goal was to get through the holidays and get a fresh new start in 2017. On December 28th, my 98-year-old grandmother died. She is the last of my grandparents and her and my grandfather have lived in their house since before my dad was born. So, another door closes and once again the house needs to be sold. All the memories of the house will be left to my head and heart. My kids and I visited her on our road trip this summer. Her humor was still fully intact and her love for us was abundant. She was an amazing example of a life well lived. I feel her loss to the core of my being.

In my Intro to Human Development course in college, the book Life-Span Development by John W. Santrock said, “Grief is the emotional numbness, disbelief, separation anxiety, despair, sadness, and loneliness that accompany the loss of someone we love.” Grief doesn’t just surface when people, pets, and living things die. It surfaces anytime someone or thing we have feelings for leaves our lives. When we leave any part of an old life behind, such as: loss of work, divorce, addictions, changes in location and/or lifestyle; we grieve.

Kübler -Ross developed the idea of the 5 stages of gief that came from what was considered originally as the 5 stages of dying. They are the same:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I’ve seen this process again and again, but somehow I think I can escape these losses without going through the each stage. When I read through it in class, I could relate, but only as a past tense experience. I keep trying to believe there is some magic way to not experience the feelings of every stage. Now at least, I’m able to slow down and look at the list and go OK, I have to just let it pass through me with awareness. Most days I have to remind myself daily or I forget and spin it into a drama that I don’t want added to my life. I can spend time questioning every detail and letting all of the progress of these past years whirl around me as I’m swept up in this tornado.

Sometimes we forget that grieving isn’t exclusive to adults either. Some cultures have rituals they follow, which I believe helps them stay present to the grieving process. But in other cultures, living in a fast-paced society; the busy doing world of single mothers; teachers stretched so thin they can’t see the whole student; and mental health systems that are too interested in labeling kids quickly; we can miss what grief is doing to the children. I just recently got a taste of how some educators have become numb to a child’s emotional pain. This is not entirely their fault, teachers are stretched so thin that sometimes all they can see is behavior and they don’t find the time to see that a child may be grieving.

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My son has been struggling for a long time, but more than ever this year. Our last six years have been full of losses, but even I missed that some of his acting up may have been because he was grieving all these tremendous losses in his life. We tried therapy but they couldn’t label what they saw in the short time he had covered, so it was missed on all kinds of levels. I didn’t see it until it got so bad that it was impossible to avoid. I started researching how grief comes out in students. The results came out like a checklist of all the behaviors he has been exhibiting in school. This experience has reminded me of how easy it is to expect children to do what we can’t do ourselves. Who acts normal when they are grieving? As an adult with lots of experience with grief, I’m watching myself be totally chaotic and lost at times. How is it an 11 year old, who hasn’t studied it and is only at the beginning of understanding meaning of life supposed to process all these losses like death, divorce, addiction, moving, etc.?

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Grief is something that has been studied and documented for years. There is a formula but it is complicated and not linear. There is no escape from the process. We must face it in order to move through it. If we try to avoid any of the stages we stay stuck. Sometimes we will try to fill the void and we will endlessly fail. Other times we try to cover the void with alcohol, drugs (illegal or prescribed), food, sex, and/or some other form of addictive behavior. Once again staying stuck and digging ourselves into a deeper pit of endless sorrow. I’m deep in the grief process right now and I’m not running, but I feel far from normal. I’m just trying to stay aware of where my head and heart are and doing the next right thing. Today that meant spending 30 minutes reading with my kids before school; taking a long walk while listening to an inspiring audiobook; meditating; having lunch with a friend; and reading and writing about grief. In my research, I found one of my favorite authors, Louise Hay wrote a book with David Kessler about grieving called, You Can Heal Your Heart. I love how when we ask for help and mean it, we find exactly what we need.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

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