The Battleground of Grief

The battleground of grief can be internal or external. Internally all I could visualize was how I saw all of the things I could not control just strewn all around me. A wild fight where everything was on the line. Everything was left on the ground. The only thing left was a casualty of war. A prisoner of war. Me.

The powerful surge of sorrow and grief and the magnitude of the empty space that resides in my heart and in my life since Brittany died is real. It’s not some story that happened to me. As October 13th approaches, I am reminded my journey is far from over. Some days it feels like I just started this journey yesterday and other days it seems like a lifetime ago.

Externally, it can look like how your relationships with your family, your friends, perhaps your marriage or your loved ones. Some relationships struggle after loss but make it through and unfortunately some don’t. The grief is so powerful. It takes ahold of you and plows through you like a wrecking ball. And the unfortunate truth is those who love you feel the brunt of grief too. They grieve who you used to be or who they want you to be.

Grief, it changes you and the people you connect with. Even 12 years later, my grief, my loss impacts those close to me. My close relationships suffer. And although I try to ignore it or “fix” it; grief has no timeline.  I find that I keep to myself, my thoughts and feelings because seriously who wants to hear over and over again how badly I miss my daughter? Who wants to be around me during these months when I’m distant and moody? I don’t even want to talk about it. It opens up old wounds. The scars of a battle I lost; one that I didn’t even know how to fight. But each year I try and I’ll keep working at it. I’m a warrior.

Everyone’s response to grief is different; their ability to manage the battle internally and externally can be vastly different from your own experience. Because everyone is different; the help you seek or the therapy you receive may look different too. That’s ok. Just get help. Talk. Write. Mentor.

Until Next Time,

M

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Vision Board – 101

Hello Everyone,

I’ve included a powerpoint for you to review and it includes an audio message from me on what to expect while you prepare to create your very own vision board.

Please review and should you have any questions or would like to make a comment, please do that below and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

I’m looking forward to this project and I hope you find it an enjoyable process.

Vision Board – 101

PDF – no audio vision-board-101

Until next time,

M

 

Vision Board. Phase One

A while back I mentioned that I wanted to take this blog is a slightly different direction. There is so much light, pain, sorrow and joy baked into the words that rolled into stories to dilute it down. Grief will always be a part of who I am. My daughter will always be a part of who I am. Where we go from here is to model for you how I got where I am today.

Next week I will be posting how to create your vision board. There is a little homework that needs to be done before next week. There are several tools and prep work which have been listed below. If you are interested in creating your own vision board, here are the steps to completed phase one:

Obtain once piece of poster board (black or white)

Glue Sticks

Scissors

Tape

Magazine/newspaper clippings (the most time consuming): These will be used to create your vision board. As you browse through magazines or newspapers, focus on words or sentences that resonate with you. Let your creativity flow. Don’t over think it. Go with whatever moves you. Clip them out and keep them handy for the post next week.

I challenge you to think about your vision board as a place to create a goal of something you want to achieve and from there we can begin to build the interventions (clippings) that you will want to follow to complete your goal.

Again, don’t overthink it. When I first started building vision boards, they were superficial and somewhat materialistic. Now I’ve moved into more depth and soul searching. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of material things on my current vision board.

Disclaimer: there is NO wrong way to do this. Just follow your heart and be creative – and most of all – HAVE fun!!

Until next time,

M

Unexpected Emotions

So, this past weekend I saw Mamma Mia 2 and found myself surprised at how emotional I became towards the end of the movie. For those of you who have not seen it, I’ll try not to give too much away as to not spoil it for you.

In a few of the scenes they were addressing how loss impacted a few of the characters and all the emotions bubbled up to the top quickly and took me by surprise. I found I could not contain my tears and they spilled from my eyes. I had a huge headache from holding it all in. Initially I thought it was odd and was a little annoyed that I couldn’t make it through a movie without losing it.

Then I realized that our past experiences direct our responses to similar “like” experiences, even when the experiences weren’t directly related to us. For example, in the movie the loss of a mother evoked a moment of sadness for me because I too have lost a mom. I was struck by how the daughter’s emotion, the husband’s emotion and the friend’s emotion – all resonated with me. I saw it from all their perspectives. So much pain rolled up into a ball of sadness and tears.

I struggled to keep it together and I wasn’t alone. You could hear the many sniffles throughout the theater, but I focused on my own so that I did not just break out into a full out ugly cry. I thought so many of us truly understood how those characters were feeling and how the actors wanted you, the audience to feel. They did a great job and for me, they were very successful.

I realized that I still, as a daughter, miss my mom every day. While she has been gone for almost 30 years, a girl still needs her mama. I also cried because the character was about to have a baby and something I’d always prayed and hoped for my own daughter, but that was not to happen. We always understood that she would not have a normal life – or as normal as we’d dreamed of. Her death finalized and put to rest any hopes and dreams I had for her. I’ve spent a great deal of time mourning the loss of something. It’s not always a person. Sometimes it’s a dream; a hope; a plan.

The movie was great and in many ways, better than the original so I highly recommend it. Take tissues if you have lost someone or something because it will tug at your broken heart just a little.

Until next time,

M

Mindfulness

One of the ways I have transitioned my grief is through the process of being more mindful about my thoughts. Earlier on my journey I would let grief swallow me up to where I’d end up in a puddle of tears and choking on my grief. I was a mess. All of that crying and sorrow kept me from seeing the light right in front of me. It was like a shroud had engulfed me and I couldn’t see my way out it.

When I began to spend time writing my thoughts down in my journal I found I could sort them out better. From there I found I was able to see my grief, my thoughts, my feelings differently. Being mindful about why I felt a certain way created a space to redirect my grief. To really channel it into something that could be a vessel of change. Sometimes I felt like I was wrestling some of those thoughts and feelings to the ground because they were so big and painful. The beautiful gift that can come from mindfulness is the shift in focus from the pain of my daughter’s death to honor of my daughter’s life. That was profound and life-changing for me. It can be for you too.

If you haven’t ever considered writing in a journal, I’d encourage you to do so. Don’t be afraid of writing perfectly or even spelling correctly. Focus on pouring out the words from your heart and onto the paper. It was hard in the beginning but as I wrote I began to see something unfold before my eyes. I began to feel peace and it allowed light to crack through my broken heart. Mindfulness of your thoughts and feelings through writing can be therapeutic beyond measure.

Creating mindfulness is work. You need space – a comfortable place to land and be free to express your thoughts and feelings. If you don’t have a defined space to do that in your home, you can even take a few items that create a sense of calm in your spirt like – candles, scents, a journal/pen and lighting etc. Creating the ambiance that allows you to stop and take a nice deep breath and focus on the positive energy that is buried deep within you. Yes it’s still there.

Mindfulness is about space, breathing and letting the negative thoughts clear and allow the positive thoughts to remain. When you begin to drift back into the negative, just take a deep breath and refocus on the positive. Focus on something good. Consistency is the key with this practice. Sometimes you may need it daily and sometimes just a few times a week. Regular practice and you will grow into your mindfulness and more positive thoughts will begin to overcome the negative or sad ones.

Additionally, I incorporated the use of essential oils into my mindfulness routine now and love to use various oils and blends to create that special blend that compliments my mindfulness routine. When I feel that its time for me to take a step back and find some time to get quiet – essential oils produce that peaceful calming environment necessary to just be still. I chose Young Living Essential Oils because of the quality and care they take to ensure the safety of their customers. There are many oils to choose from, but Valor, Hope, Gratitude and Peace & Calming are ones I use often in my diffusers at home and when I travel.

As I said in a previous post, the focus of this blog will shift from acknowledging and validating loss to focus the mind and body allowing the pursuit of healing and finding a positive way to channel grief. To shift your focus and your energy into something that honors your loved one who has passed on. Then you’ll begin to see positive changes in how you process your grief. Channeling it into something that will honor your child or loved one is a beautiful thing. I spent many years in the low space and it took a lot of energy to move from that space to where I am now – but I’m here to say it can be done.

None of this will ever replace or forget our loved ones, but rather it creates the beautiful space to honor and celebrate who they were to us and to the world.

Here’s to your mindfulness!

Mal

*disclaimer

I am not a professional mental health counselor and recommend that you seek out professional counseling to help manage your grief.

New Beginnings

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Over the past 11 years I’ve written about the pain and anguish of losing a child. I’ve focused on supporting the concept that when we come together and support each other through our grief, that we are not alone on this journey. We are a community of support for each other and I never want to lose that focus. That said, I want to shift the focus of this blog to be more of how do we support the “new normal” that we find ourselves navigating now.

Over the next few months, the posts are going to incorporate the recognition and validation of loss and measures to honor ourselves and our loved ones through specific changes that can direct your actions and thoughts into a new way of thinking.

Specific topics will cover (in no specific order):

  • Vision Boards
  • Life-style changes
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Health and Wellness

If there are any topics you’d like to see here, please comment below. I hope to have the first post completed by this weekend. There will be a series and maybe, just maybe you’ll see videos too!

I’m excited for this next phase of “Mysoulspeaks” and feel strongly through prayer and much meditation that this is the next step in not only my healing but many of you that follow my blog.

Until next time,

M

Visions of my daughter.

I often post photos of my daughter at or around her death. I’m not sure if there is any significance to that other than it was how I remember her most. The vibrancy of her soul oozes out of each photo. One might even be able to stare into her eyes and see what a beautiful person she was, inside and out.

In the last months of her life she chose different paths than I would have predicted. She became less focused on material things, which for a teenager seemed a bit out of character. When months before it was “mom, I need this movie or I need a new cell phone” – it was always “I need”. Then the summer before her death she changed. She began to ask “Can I go buy a card and balloon for a friend at school?” or “Can I go read to kindergarteners?” – I remember thinking “who is this child?”. It’s as if her old soul knew that her time was near.

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Brittany – one of her senior pictures from 2006

I knew my daughter pretty well, but it was after her death did I understand the beautiful young woman she truly was becoming. Her friends and classmates wrote about her either on her memory board at her Celebration of Life or in cards sent to me in the weeks after. I found out she had a passion to help others who did not feel accepted. She would often come to the “rescue” of student at school and tell people to give them a chance. Perhaps she understood how it felt more than people knew what it was like to be ousted and often times bullied by her peers.

One of her school friends sent me this note and it truly helped me in the weeks and months after Brittany’s death. We had dealt with so much pain and sadness over her school years and I found it touching that perhaps in hindsight people remembered her for who she truly was. Here is a little snippet from that letter:

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From Hannah

At 17, Brittany was wise beyond her years and loved with every fiber of her being. All along I thought I was raising my daughter when in fact, she was here to teach me about life. It took her death and the days and weeks after to realize that. In fact, I’m still learning every day what a gift life is and how God moves in ways to create space for learning those valuable lessons.

Perhaps with the busyness of life, school, work and managing a chronic illness – we all got lost in the day-to-day getting by and may have missed those beautiful moments. I was privileged to have been witness to just a few, but I know for sure there were far more than I ever knew.

The lesson here is to stop and enjoy those moments when they happen. Don’t let life get in the way of experiencing who your children are as people. The gifts they are from God, which are lessons for us all to learn. Sometimes the lessons are not comfortable or it seems like the world is against us, but in reality it’s a life lesson to share with others. So put down the phones, the cameras, the videos, work and go out into the world with your children and experience life as it’s happening. It will be in those moments you will come to understand the awesome human being they are and more importantly who you are.

Until next time,

M