Posts Tagged ‘grief’

Struggling to “Be Here Now”?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

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Many of you know Ram Dass’s famous book, Be Here Now, the 1971 precursor to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. From the titles of these books, you get the idea that there is something to be gained from focusing on the present rather than being run by our painful past or anxiously awaiting the unknowable future. Easier said than done, perhaps.

We have all seen (or have) the bumper stickers that say, “I’d rather be ____.” And who doesn’t say wistfully, “I wish,” ending the sentence with fantasies of Friday/the weekend/vacation/a new job/a new relationship/more wealth. There’s nothing wrong with wishing and hoping and fantasizing. It’s a testament to our optimism and unique ability as humans to imagine the future. However, this same ability sometimes works against us.

One of my clients told me that he and his wife are going through a tough time. He’s afraid they may not make it. After a brief pause, he added, “Jane, I want to be hopeful. So I’m just going to put my anger and hurt aside.”

If it’s possible for this man to truly let go of his anger and hurt with the snap of his fingers, then more power to him. But if his hope depends on ignoring his painful feelings, that hope is bound to be short lived. Anger and disappointment, ignored and pushed aside, tend to recirculate. As much as we try, denying “what is” doesn’t make “what isn’t” more attainable.

Like this husband in pain, I often wish I were “there,” or at least anywhere-but-here, now. But we can only change that which we acknowledge exists. If we can practice sitting with our feelings as they are—all of them, not just the comfortable or happy ones—if we can stay present with the present, we notice that our feelings evolve.

Anger dissolves into hurt, sometimes tinged with regret. Hurt and regret give way to sadness and mourning. If we don’t run from this grief, it eventually leads to a unique combination of acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, and compassion. From this fertile soil, wisdom sprouts, flowering into grace. Grace releases us from the grip of suffering. We begin to notice that we feel free where we formerly felt constrained and tight. This process may happen slowly or quickly, but with patience, compassion for our struggle, and perseverance, it will happen. Isn’t this worth being here now for?

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A Lesson from 2007

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

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Here, in brief, is what I learned in 2007:

Honor your losses.
Celebrate your blessings.
Give compassion to yourself and others when either of these tasks seems difficult.

Two weeks ago, I shared my grief over my friend Gio’s sudden passing and invited you to honor your grief by sharing your stories. In addition to the one I am reprinting below, which speaks to the poignancy of love and loss, I received so many e-mails with condolences and tributes. Thank you for responding with your lovely, healing words and tender hearts. I am truly touched.

The Person You Would Love To Hate but Just Couldn’t

One of the closest friends that I’ll ever know, Jill, died 11 years ago TODAY. It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen her that I sometimes have doubts that she ever actually existed. She feels more like a dream than someone I actually knew, but if I tap in a little deeper, I remember that she did exist and was one of the most amazing people I have ever known — and it drums up all kinds of emotions.
Jill was the type of person who made everyone mixed tapes, sent cards for no reason, collected poetry, always laughing and joking, kind to everyone she came into contact with, an amazing athlete — basically the person you would love to hate but just couldn’t. Everything about her was genuine. And I tend to look back in awe — thinking I should have known that she was temporary. There was something about her that was bigger — so much more than anyone I’d ever known.
I’d thought about her a few times today and thought to myself that I should do something today to honor her — and then your e-newsletter came, Jane, and it provided me the perfect opportunity. It also reminds me of my passion to help people celebrate the lives of loved ones…which I hope to start looking into in the very near future.
—Jenny C.

About Jane Straus
Jane is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, www.stopenduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, www.grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

When the Words Won’t Come

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Last week, the day before my birthday, my dear friend Kathleen Dughi breathed her last breath as I, along with her other close friends, stroked her head and talked to her, keeping our promise to guide her to the threshhold of the journey beyond. I’ve been struggling to say something profound about the experience, something universal, but the words won’t come.

Four and half years ago, I was with Kathleen when she was told that she had breast cancer, that it was metastatic and aggressive, and that she had only a few months to live. In lieu of comforting words that would not come then, I suggested we go for a drink overlooking the bay. A drink or two helped Kathleen find the fighting words that defined the next four and half years: “Doctors don’t know everything.” Numbed by fear, shock, and confusion, I think I managed to nod.

As it turned out, the doctors did know how virulent this cancer could be. The only thing they didn’t know was Kathleen. I think that thriving four years beyond their predictions speaks volumes—about her courage, inner strength, stubbornness, intense desire to mother her son for as long as possible, and urge to push herself artistically.

She didn’t waste a day of those four years. If the doctors kept her sitting too long in the waiting room, she’d get up and threaten to leave (or actually walk out). If they told her she needed to stay in the hospital for five days after one of her many surgeries, she’d order the nurse to help her get dressed to go after only three. Her explanation required few words: “I have work to do.” And she did.

In the last four years, her jewelry designs have become internationally renowned. Tyra Banks has worn her creations for a photo shoot. Fashion magazines have done spreads on her. And her biggest source of pride, her son Oliver, has matured into a 14-year-old young man who cares enough to ask how you are or what he can do to help even in the midst of his own suffering. The morning before she died, he told her that she didn’t have to stay for him anymore, that he didn’t want her to suffer. None of us have any doubt that this is what released her to go in peace. None of us doubt the kind of man he is growing up to be. There are no words.

I can’t begin to describe the ache in my chest, the longing to hear her laugh again, to take one more hike together, to talk about our children’s latest achievements, to listen as she points to the latest blooms in her garden, naming them for me. The only words that will come are, “I admire you for making up your own rules. I will miss you, my dear friend.”

Go to StopEnduring.com to read excerpts from Jane Straus’s book, Enough Is Enough!, view her seminars and TV interviews, listen to her radio interviews, make an appointment for a personal coaching session, purchase the book, or sign up for her free newsletter.

Healing Your Grief

Monday, December 25th, 2006
 
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Dear Jane,
Why do I feel so bogged down and sooo wrapped up with myself that it has become a physical thing? I feel like I have “cancer of the heart.” When will this sad, unrelenting “Why me? It’s not fair. I don’t deserve a divorce” mindset ever go away?

First of all, you are asking yourself the wrong questions, questions that set you up for staying in a rut because they are so self-judging.

Although I don’t know how long you have been feeling this unrelenting sadness, it is important to respect your grief. When you lose a relationship, whether it is to divorce or death, you have a right to grieve. Unpopular as grieving is, it is necessary to experience for as long as it’s there. The more you beat yourself up about grieving, the slower the healing process. Practice more compassion for yourself. You have lost something. You feel rejected. These feelings are hard enough without your shaming yourself for them.

Perhaps this divorce is also bringing up past loss or rejection. Or you may be experiencing clinical depression or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in addition to your grief. I encourage you to talk to a life coach or therapist to help assess your unique situation. You shouldn’t have to bear the burden of your pain alone.

Read Chapter 6 of Enough Is Enough!, “Unchain Your Heart: Free Your Feelings” and also Chapter 7, “Take Off Your Armor: Heal Your Anger and Resentment.” Underneath your self-pity may be anger and resentment that need to see the light of day in order for you to get free. Please keep me posted.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, StopEnduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, Grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.