Grief Feed

Mindful Grieving

Grief Wood Sculpture
"I want to go through this just once - whether it takes a few days, a few months, or a few years." Those were the wise words of my dear friend as she asked me for some suggestions about how to navigate this new journey thrust upon her by the sudden death of her older brother. Two weeks ago, she was halfway around the world in Australia when she got that dreaded call in the middle of the night. He had been missing and then the police welfare check confirmed their worst fears, four days after he apparently died alone in his apartment. Shocked and stunned into paralysis, she sat on the edge of her bed unable to move, unable to put together a plan of what to do next. Literally, what to do next. Somehow, in a surreal blur of warp speed and slow motion, she made her way back to Albuquerque only to leave the next day for the funeral and then back home two days later. Events transpired so fast, even jet lag couldn't catch up with her until a few days ago.

 Of course, I listened far more than I spoke, and then only to remind her of the need to drink plenty of water, eat nutritious food, get as much sleep as possible, trust love, and stay in today.


The Mindful Path of Grief

Path in Woods

Within the embrace of today is this moment. Notice this moment. Notice that you are feeling; perhaps notice what you are feeling. With the gentleness and delicate care that you reserve for only your most beloved friend, gaze upon yourself with compassionate acceptance. Notice, too, that in this loving space, there is no need for "shoulds," no need for judgments, no need to be anything different from who you are right now. Grief is as unique as the proverbial snowflake. Each person's process is invented as it unfolds.

Perhaps you are in shock. Perhaps your mind is racing. Perhaps you are numb. You may want to withdraw. You may want to invite friends to come close. Maybe you want to talk. Maybe you want to scream. Maybe you want to sit and rock yourself in the dark. There is nothing to change; there is only to allow. Allow your natural instinct for self-compassion to guide your conscious process through this most sacred and searing time.

Dice Today Tomorrow

As much as possible, protect your physical space, time, and privacy to respond to whatever inclination your grief asks of you. Simplify your life; reduce your usual daily demands to only the most basic. This is the surest and safest path through this challenging journey.

Neither be averse nor attached to your experience. You don't need to be afraid of the pain. Even if you allow yourself to be overwhelmed with your pain, seemingly lost and alone, and beyond reach, you are not. You are tethered to your truth through your trust in a love-filled universe.

Let your friends love you. Let us lift you up when it is time for you to be lifted up.

                                                              Ocean One Big Wave

You don't need to judge the waves, let alone name them. Just ride along with them, assured that you will be delivered safely to a better place. No feeling is too much or too little, too soon or too late. There is no normal; there is no abnormal. Follow your own lead as you compassionately witness yourself. Allowing yourself to be in this moment will mysteriously reveal your next steps. Trust that those steps will carry you to serenity.

                                                            Anxiety Workshop Butterfly

Let your grief move through you. Notice it and respect its own wisdom to move beyond you. Do not insult your grief by clinging to it or identifying with it. It knows its rightful place is to merely touch you, like the alight of a butterfly upon your shoulder.

Grief is the ecstatic reminder that you have loved. Take comfort, even joy in the knowledge that you have fulfilled the purpose of your life, that you have willingly paid the price of deep love with the currency of deep pain. Perhaps you will even love again in your life because, having now come full circle, your healing teaches you that the pain of loss is the bittersweet affirmation of your highest accomplishment: you loved.

Do just these three things today:

                   Notice . . . . .    

                                               Accept . . . . .      

                                                                                 Release . . . . .



KR NaPali Coast Small


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"The First Eighty Years are the Hardest: Feeling, Dealing, Healing" - Mary Roush

Mary RoushMy mom, Mary Roush died on the evening of August 27, 2012. On the morning of August 28, 2012, I awoke a motherless daughter. That was seven weeks ago and that's why I haven't published a post in awhile. There was the drop-everything-race-to-Tucson drive to the hospital and then the flying-back-and-forth-to-start-the-Fall-semester, and then the funeral service, and then flying back the next weekend to be with my now-all-alone dad, and then all the usual life demands continued, unwilling to even pause a moment while I sat and cried and grieved and rocked myself on the couch, clutching the pillow, or the dog, or anything at all that might fill my now motherless arms. It has been a time, it has.

My mother was 81. She had survived hip replacement surgeries (one was botched and had to be re-done), back surgery, pneumonia, thrush, MRSA, bladder cancer, and finally bladder removal surgery because the immunotherapy destroyed her bladder. She was finally pain free, cane free, and happily care free. She was volunteering; she performed in a talent show, and she was sponsoring several women through her 12-Step program. She had 44 years as an actively recovering alcoholic. Ten days later, she would have celebrated 61 years of marriage with her husband, my dad, Skip.

Mary Roush Performing One Woman Skit
"Growing Old Disgracefully" Skit

How fitting that she was at her usual Saturday morning 12-Step meeting when she experienced sudden severe abdominal pain, passed out and later that afternoon barely survived (flat-lined twice) emergency surgery to repair a perforated bowel. She never awakened - at least not until she reached the Other Side on Monday night.  I was with her in the hospital. I held her hand and kissed her forehead and rubbed her feet and stroked her hair. I talked to her, assuring her that everything was fine, that dad was OK, and that what came next was up to whatever she and God decided.  I thanked her for being my mom and for teaching me so much about love, spirituality, acceptance, and living in this moment. Many of the posts on this blog include references to my relationship with my mom. Aware that the other kids may not have this blessed chance to be with her, I went down the line in their stead. "Kathy loves you." long pause... "Kim loves you." long pause... "Mike loves you." long pause... "Kay loves you." long pause... "And dad adores you." I went on to include the in-laws, the grandchildren, mom's best friend, Carole, and ended with the two dogs, Fannie and Foxy.

My mom had just finished her autobiography, the title of this post, "The First Eighty Years are the Hardest: Feeling, Dealing, Healing." For many years, her friends and family implored her to write her story and she finally did. I am now in the process of copy editing and working with her self-publishing consultant in Green Valley, AZ trying to get it formatted (she picked out way too many pictures!) and printed. Her goal was to have it done by Thanksgiving and then have at least five copies made for the kids as Christmas presents this year. By the way, if anyone who is reading this can offer some direction about how to get from the completed manuscript stage to the printed self-published book stage, I welcome your help. Someone in Albuquerque would be great. We need to insert the pictures and then we're done.



Mary Roush in Academy Awards Dress
Mary Being Fitted with her Academy Awards Gown
Many years ago, during the years of her psychotherapy private practice in Denver, my mom was contemplating the AA motto, "Think, Think, Think." She said she appreciated the spirit of the message, - and - she realized she had often abused the privilege a bit too much in order to avoid feeling her feelings. And so, she invented a new AA motto: "Feel, Deal, Heal." Hence, the tag line of her book title.

I am including the obituary that I wrote here,  Download Obituary for Mary Roush if you would like to read it.

I plan to share with you in my next post a bit of what I've experienced around grieving. I teach a class at CNM called Death and Dying. While I learned alot through my sister's death seven years ago, this experience is quite different. I hope I might have something to offer you for when you go through this process. A friend of mine texted, "Thinking of you. How are you doing?" I texted back, "I am flowing along with the process. The process sucks." And while that is true, the process is amazing; it is huge, and it can be done. Until then, I will open another box of Kleenex, go through some more pictures and drag the dog up onto the couch with me.

Mary Roush with Daughter, Kris
Mary Roush with her daughter, Kris


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