*Warning: this is going to be a looooong post. This is about a book that has affected me deeply and is affecting some of my thoughts and perceptions. There's many, many quotes in this post, most probably want to skip it*
My therapist recommended a book to me. It's called Permission to Mourn: A New Way to Do Grief by Tom Zuba.
This books has really opened my eyes up to a lot. Many of it with grief, but in other aspects of my life too. The items in bold go beyond Emma, Chase, and Ivy and into a new realm of who I am and other things that are becoming a focus in counseling.
I'm going to share some of the quotes that have deep meaning to me, have me wondering, questioning, etc. I'm probably going to take time in the next few weeks, months, maybe even years, examining some of these, because as time's gone on, I find myself wondering who I even am and what now.
Onto the quotes:
“I firmly believe that for many of us, if we were able to take in, really take in, the enormity of what has happened to us we would not be able to live. Literally. I believe our bodies would shut down. Our minds would turn off. Our spirits would take flight. Our new reality is simply too much to take in all at once. So, we take it in little-by-little, detail-by detail. Over time.”
“No one wants to hear about it anymore. If I’m always a downer they’ll stop inviting me. When you’re with your family. (Don’t ruin Christmas/Easter/Mother’s Day/Father’s Day. Can we have one family gathering when you don’t cry? We all miss him/her but can’t you be happy for one day? For me?) You stuff your feelings. You repress and deny any and every emotion that arises. You try to look and act “normal”, hoping and praying that one day you’ll actually feel normal again. And people tell you how strong you are. How “good” you are doing. How great it is to have the old “you” back. But you know a different truth. You feel numb. Empty. Lethargic. Hopeless. Exhausted. On the inside. When you’re really honest and quiet and alone, you know that you are a swirling cesspool of feelings and emotional wanting to explode. You’re angry. And you’re not even sure what you’re angry about.”
“And when your arms physically ache to hold your beloved, when you have heart palpitations and stomach pains and fight to keep your balance, this too is grief. You think you are going crazy. You are not. You have entered the wilderness of grief. And in order to get out, you must go through. Period. You must give yourself permission to mourn.”
“You must give yourself permission to mourn. You must actively pursue your own healing. Time alone will not and does heal. You’ve been lied to. It’s what you consciously decide to do with your time that matters. That determines whether or not you will heal.”
“There is a new way to do grief. First you must set the intention to heal. You choose to heal. And then you create a plan. Concrete. Measureable. Doable.”
“Commit to crying. Say yes to crying. Allow yourself to cry every day, reminding yourself that when you cry, you heal. Crying is the body’s way of clearing out the hold and making room for the new. Cry. Cry. Cry. And when you do, say over and over and over, I am healing, I am healing, I am healing.”
“You will never, ever be the person you were before the person you love dearly died. Never. Ever. Until you surrender that truth you will not heal.”
“You are supposed to question every single belief you held true and dear. When you do this you will discover that many (most) of the beliefs you’ve chosen to hold on to no longer serve you. And you begin your search for new beliefs. Believes that complement the new you that is emerging. This can be exciting, challenging, frustrating, scary, invigorating, confusing, and hopeful at the same time.”
“This is life. Like a fragile tender seedling. Which is you. The new you. The new you emerging. Wiser. More compassionate. Stronger. More vulnerable. Flexible.”
“So many people ask me, Is healing possible? And if it is possible, what do I do? To heal? Yes, healing is possible. And contrary to popular belief, part of the way you heal is to tell your story over and over and over again. Why? Because the truth is that at the time of you loved one’s death, if you were really able to fully grasp the magnitude of what happened and all its implications you would most likely not be able to survive. Literally. If the breadth and scope and all-encompassing reach of your beloved’s death came crashing down on your in one explosion you yourself would implode. It’s just too much. So your spirit, your mind, your body protects you by allowing the truth to sink in slowly over time at a pace you can live with. And it’s in telling the story of what happened over and over and over again that you are able to see and come to know the truth. The magnitude. Of what has happened. So I can offer light. And hope. And possibility.
“Rejecting the old way of doing grief. I allowed myself to feel those feelings and emotions. And in doing so, I was thrust into the deepest, darkest, blackest, seemingly endless pit of despair. For a time. Complete utter indescribable despair. Perhaps you have been there. Perhaps you are there right now. In that pit. And during that time you realize grief is not the enemy.”
“Grief is not the enemy. Grief is the teacher. The powerful blessed gift-from-God teacher. But you must be brave enough to enter the pit. By feeling your feelings. You must be brave enough to recognize, acknowledge, and turn away from all of your soft additions. The activities you cling to in order to stay numb. Numb to your feelings and emotions. To life. And to wisdom. Soft addictions, like, watching endless television. And shopping. Nonstop. And playing mindless electronic video games. Over and over and over again. And eating to fill the bottomless hole. In your heart. The hole that’s there because someone you love died. And drinking. And drinking some more. And relying on prescription meds. Kidding yourself by saying they must because the doctor knows I’m taking them.”
“There has to be another way, I thought. I can not keep repressing, denying, pretending, and numbing. I must do something different. I must discover my next step. And I did. Discover my next step. And I took it. And then I took the next step. And the next. By feeling, honoring, and releasing my feelings I began to crawl out of the deep dark pit. And you can too.”
“If you are like me, you have prayed for a miracle. We each have our own story. And we hold on to beliefs about our stories. Beliefs that can cause us incredible pain. Beliefs such as: He was stolen from me. She died too young. We were robbed. I should have been there. I could have saved him. Her death is my fault. I am not a good mother. I was not a good husband. I will never be happy again. There will always be a great big hole. Perhaps you are holding on to some of these painful beliefs. Or other similar painful beliefs. Author Marianne Williamson defines a miracle as a shift in perception. That simple. That profound. A shift in perception. I have grown to love this definition of a miracle. This definition of a miracle gives meaning to my prayers. Not to change the perfect mind of God but rather to change me, my perception, of life as it is unfolding, and as it has unfold. So the miracle for me is questioning the beliefs I hold on to that cause me pain. Or is there another way of looking at life? At my life? At my beliefs about my story? A less painful way? Can a miracle occur? Can I shift my perception about what happened? So when you pray. If you pray. Consider praying for that. For a miracle. Fro a shift in perception. But only if you want to make peace with life. Your life. And only if you want to learn how to live a full joy-filled life with the death of your beloved. Pray for a miracle. Pray for a shift in perception. Yours.”
“You think they are gone. Vanished. You think that there is no more relationship. Only in our memories and in our hearts. But the relationship continues. Always. The person you love that died is right here. Waiting. Wanting. Ready. Doing everything that he/she can do to let you know they are right here. Still. Beside you. Above you. Below you. In front of you. Behind you. Yes, they are in that perfect song.”
“It’s the language you use to describe the death of your loved one that tells the story. The story of whether or not you will heal. And your language is deeply rooted in your beliefs. Your beliefs about death, grief, mourning, resurrection, and life itself. If you are like me you subconsciously inhaled your beliefs at an early age without realizing (really) the power they have to create your feelings, emotions, and experiences. You cling to them. Your beliefs. You fight for them. You defend them and own them. These beliefs are mine! You don’t even realize that your beliefs can stop you from healing. After someone you love dearly has died. You hold beliefs that create pain on top of pain on top of unbearable pain.”
“You begin to heal when you identify a belief that causes you pain. This is the first step. The second step is asking yourself if this belief is true. Is it really true? Can you be 100% certain of that? The third step is having the courage and the wisdom and being open to the grace that allows you to release the belief that has been causing you so much pain. The thirst step is understanding that when you thought was true is not. The third step is not easy. And the fourth step is identifying and holding on to a new belief. A believe that brings you peace instead of pain. Light instead of darkness. Hope instead of despair. Life instead of death.”
“It’s the language you use to describe the death of you loved one that tells the story. The story of whether or not you will heal because your language is so deeply rooted in your beliefs. What story are you telling?”
“You hear people say, it’s so great to see you out and about. You’re really doing well. You are so very strong. While deep inside you know the toll that faking it to please others is taking on you physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. You wonder how long you can hang on. The pain seems to actually be getting worse. You feel pain on top of pain on top of unbearable pain. And at night, when you finally drop into bed exhausted from all the scurrying and the running and the pretending to be just fine you begin to get a glimpse of your new life. Just a glimpse. You begin to feel your feelings. They bubble up. They have to. You can only deny and repress and numb and pretend for so long.”
“And every so often this encounter with your feelings is frightening and overwhelming and confusing and uncomfortable. It feels messy and out of control. You have been lead to believe that feeling your feelings is the problem. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Feeling your feelings is the path to healing. Realize and remember that you are not your feelings is the path to healing. You are not sadness. You are not anger. You are not despair. You are not loneliness. You are not confusion. You are not regret. You are not guilt. You are none of that. Or any of the other feelings or emotions that are grief expressing itself through you. Remind yourself that every feeling and every emotion has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Practice meeting each feeling and each emotion that arises with compassion, and tenderness, and gentle kindness. Remember that you are not these feelings and you are not these emotions. They are energy currents running through your body rooted in the beliefs you hold on to. You are actually a spirit that has come to earth to have a human experience. And when you are finished you will return home. And part of your work here on Earth is learning to life a full joy-filled life with the death of your beloved.”
“If you are like me you want to know that the people you love who have died are safe. That they are happy and healthy and whole again. That they know you ask for forgiveness and that you forgive them. You want o be sure that they know how much you loved them while they were with you in their physical bodies and how much you will continue to love them now that they have returned to their spirit form. You want their reassurance that they know you did everything you could to keep them alive. With you. You want them to know that they will not be forgotten. And that your deepest hope is that you will them again when it is your turn to leave your physical body. So you ask for signs. You pray. You plead. You beg. Give me a sign you are still here. And you hear that favorite song on the radio at the perfect time in the perfect place. And then you hear it again and you wondering, could it be? And you notice the butterfly appearing when you need to see it most. As if it knows the cry of your heart. And you wonder could it be? And the bird taps at your window. And comes back again and again helping you feel a connection. And again you wonder, could it be? And you see their name on a billboard and on a license plate and in the newspaper. And you seem them in a dream. You can feel them. Hear them. Hold them. And you wondering could it be? And I say to you over and over and over again yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. This is your beloved talking to you. He is telling you he is okay. She is telling you she is still here. And you go to see the Long Island Medium and she tells you the same thing. And you read Sylvia Browne’s books, and John Edwards’ books, and James Van Praagh’s books, and they all say the same thing. They say yes. Yes.”
“His life was taken from him much too early. It’s a painful belief that many of us breathe in. Unexamined. Unquestioned. He died too early. She died too soon. As if any one of us can point to someone who died right on time. The death of someone you love dearly cracks you open. Wide open. It gives you the opportunity to question everything. Or you may remain asleep. Until the next time. Who or what gives life? Who or what takes life? Ultimately? In the biggest picture? The picture that is so enormously big that we can’t begin to fathom it. Yet we try. And I think we should. Who or what gives and takes life? Is this true all the time? Or just some of the time? Who do you become when you believe that the person you love so dearly was taken from you much too early? Who do you become when you believe that? And when you believe that who does your version of God become? And how do you feel about a God who allows the people you dearly love to die much too early? And who would you be and how would you feel and how would you live life if you decided to believe that God whatever you believe God to be, only allows each of us to die right on time? Regardless of the circumstances of our death. What if you decided to believe that it could be no other way? That everyone dies right on time. Even if you don’t understand it. And you never will. While you’re in your physical body. Who would you be if you decided to believe that everyone dies at the perfect time? Everyone.”
“We were pregnant, as she always said. As we turned to share our news. I felt a bit of hopeful joy bubbling up from my core mixed in with the sadness and confusion and anger and despair and bewilderment and all the other feelings and emotions that are expressions of grief. I felt a bit of hopeful joy and I realized it doesn’t have to be an either-or-situation. One feeling can sit right beside another feeling. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Make sure you set the intention, make the decision to create a space for hope for possibility for peace for relief for gratitude and yes even for a bit of joy. Make sure you keep that door open even the tiniest bit. It does not have to be all or nothing. One feeling can sit right beside another feeling. You can create a space for hope.”
“In time and with a lot of hard work, I did discover a gift. Many gifts in fact. I’m not sure how I would have responded or what I would have thought or felt had someone suggested that there were fits given and to be received following their deaths. But now from the chair that I sit in today oh have there been gifts. And so very, very, very, very grateful. Search for the gifts. They are there. And when you are willing, ready, and able you will discover your gifts too.”
“What if I told you that you will always have a relationship with the people you love who have died? Always. And what if I told you that those relationships will either bring you peace and comfort and strength and connection and inspiration or they will bring you pain and loneliness and heartache and sorrow. And what if I told you that the choice is yours? You define the relationship. You are either moving closer to the people you love who have died. Or you are pushing them away. By building a wall. When someone you love died it’s your job to redefine the relationship. It’s your job to forgive if forgiveness is necessary. It’s your job to say good-bye to their physical form if that will bring you peace. Just as it’s your job to say hello to their spirit form. You will always have a relationship with the people you love. Even after they leave their physical body. Even after they die. You are defining those relationships right now. Consciously or subconsciously. Pay attention and define them consciously with love. You will always have a relationship with the people you love. Always.”
“And the truth is, you have two voices in your head. And it feels like these two voices do battle every day. One voice tells you that you will be okay. That you will be happy again. That life will feel good again. That you can do this. That you have the courage, the strength, the knowledge, the wisdom, the grace to live again. Or for the first time. And the other voice says No. It is too scary out there. You will be hurt again. You will not recover. It is not possible. The sorrow is too deep. The loss too great. You are doomed to a life of pain of sadness of suffering of isolation of desperation. You get to decide which voice you listen to. You get to decide which voice you make room for. Which one you feed and nourish and pay attention to and encourage to grow stronger and louder and more influential. You get to decide which voice you say yes to. Not just once. But over and over and over again. It begins with setting the intention. The intention to say yes.”