Category Archives: Blogs

Healing Grief Residential Program in NSW with Petrea King

Healing Grief is a weekend residential program that acknowledges the pain of grief as
well as providing an understanding of bereavement, its idiosyncrasies and practical strategies to begin or continue the process of healing, integration and making meaning of our loss.

This program is suitable for anyone who has lost a loved one either recently or in the past and who finds that grief is ongoing.

There are limited spaces available for the upcoming program on 19th – 21st February in Bundanoon, NSW (90 minutes from Sydney). Financial subsidies are available for people who live in NSW, through support from NSW Health.

Reading Petrea’s book, Sometimes Hearts Have to Break is highly recommended before attending this program.

For more information visit http://www.questforlife.com.au or phone 02 4883 6599.

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How Will The Haitians Grieve Their Loved Ones

This blog posting is courtesy of JoAnne at Heartache to Healing  http://heartachetohealing.com/blog

The grief in Haiti is unimaginable; we have all seen the visual images of the death and destruction. CNN has reported that a government official said the death toll from the January 12th 7.0-magnitude earthquake may exceed between 100,000-200,000. The exact number is unknown and may remain unknown.

About 3 million people — one-third of Haiti’s population — were affected by the quake, the Red Cross said.

In addition to the physical suffering, there is the grief.  Grief is the normal and natural emotional response to loss.  I learned through some research* that the majority of the people are Catholics or Protestants, whose practice is to provide last rites to the dead and a proper burial.  The main Cathedral in Port Au Prince has crumbled; there will be no prayer vigils and no funeral masses for the dead.

There is an Afro-Creole view called Vodou (Voodoo) which is also practiced in Haiti.  The belief is that people are born and people died and this is simply the cycle of life, death and rebirth.  When the body dies the spirit moves on.  The belief is that the spirit moves through the water.  Looking into the water then, you see the land of the recent dead where the soul goes and it is said they stay there for a year and a day floating and resting. Then they are brought up in a ceremony and released to go on to God.

Vodou is actually helpful in that it functions as a social support network, through community congregations.  Every person in the tradition has access to spirits that govern the realm of death.  The spirits escort the people into the realm of death.  The belief is that death is part of life to be laughed at and death is something that takes everyone in the end.

Rituals are important to healing from grief; they offer a sense of being connected and offer the opportunity to let out emotions.   It seems the Haitian’s are being robbed of the basic burial rituals and mourning the dead in traditional ways will not be possible because so many bodies have been buried in mass graves.  Many families will never know where there dead lie.

My hope is that they find comfort in their religious belief’s, and with those family and friends that a have survived.  What can we do to let them know they are not alone and offer comfort? How can we offer hope to people in a situation that appears so hopeless? Except for offering prayers, I don’t know.  But if I find some answers, I will let you know.  If you have suggestions, let us know by commenting below.

*Elizabeth McAlister, Associate Professor of religion at Wesleyan University

21 Ways To Celebrate Life

malfaceThis was written by Mallika Chopra’s (daughter of Deepak Chopra) friend, Nancy Rothstein.  It was sent to her to commemorate the 21st birthday of her son, Josh, who was tragically killed when he was 15.

She wrote to Mallika:

After Josh was killed, I was seeking a way to offer a tribute for family and friends to honor his birthday. Out of such profound loss and sadness, I wanted to create something that would give people inspiration and help them find joy in the gift of life….while it is still theirs.

Josh answered by “communicating” to me…. just before his 17th birthday…”Ways to Celebrate Life.” Each birthday since, Josh has given me a “way” to add to his list. I hope that Josh inspires you to embrace and to celebrate life….and I know he would want you to have fun along the way.

1. Smile. Smiling makes you and those around you feel good. If you don’t feel good, a smile can trick your brain into feeling better.
2. Eat ice cream.
3. Run on the beach. If you can’t physically do this, use your imagination.
4. Call someone who is ill or lonely. Listen to their story. Take the time. Tell them your story, if they ask.
5. Listen to music that touches your heart and soul.
6. Sing in the shower, or out loud if you are comfortable.
7. Visit the grave of a loved one and celebrate your continued BREATH. And tell your loved one what’s on your mind.
8. Play with a dog.
9. Thank yourself for putting up with all the things about yourself that drive you nuts! Activate your sense of humor!
10. Apologize to someone you have wronged in any way.
11. Take a day, or even a few hours, “off” to do something you always want to do but never take the time to do.
12. Eat something you never indulge in (unless allergic!) and savor every bite….slowly. No guilt permitted!
13. Re-watch your favorite funny or happy movie in your most comfortable clothes.
14. Make plans with 2 friends that you are crazy about but never see…near or far away.
15. Go outdoors to a natural setting. Sit. Close your eyes. Listen to the world. It’s all an extension of you! Your breath connects you intrinsically to the world.
16. Laugh. Do something fun or silly that evokes laughter. It has been said that laughter is God’s sunshine.
17. Place this list in an envelope and revisit it periodically to see how you are celebrating YOURSELF! If you are good to yourself, you can be much better to those around you.
18. Go to your heart and make all your decisions from there; and all will be well.
19. Follow the path that matters.
20. Believe and feel the change you want to see and you will BE the change you envision.
21. ….Yet you must know that in the end, it is LOVE’s garden you must tend.

Read the full post and be completely inspired here.

Tweeting about cancer

Picture 2We are huge fans of the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.  In fact, we donate $10 when someone creates (and pays for a minimum 1 year) a Lifebook through livingyears.com/acrf, but I digress.

I was just over on their site (you can find it here) and read this blog post on patients that are turning to social media tools to help deal with the tribulations of battling their devastating disease.

I strongly suggest you head on over for a read of this very heartwarming story.

Celebrate Life

This is a wonderful post that I recently came across and it must be re-posted with all credit to Paul Seiple who wrote it.  He has a great blog so you should should check it out here.

*****

I usually reserve my little space for pop culture ramblings but this month I want to take a different direction.

Over the past few months celebrity deaths have dominated the news. When your favorite singer, actor, or director passes away you cannot help but feel like part of you passes with them. This is mainly due to all the good times you shared with them even though they do not know your name.

When Michael Jackson died, memories of a past Halloween in which my family (excluding me, I was thirteen and too cool to participate) dressed the part and acted out the Thriller video in our front yard rushed through my mind. Being a music lover, I was sad that we lost one of the greatest figures in the music world, but I was also sad that the years have caught up with my family and no longer can they morph into dancing zombies. But then thinking of my dad jumping out from the bushes dressed like a bloody mummy and scaring kids brought a smile to my face. Don’t worry; kids loved our house on Halloween. They still do, the scaring may have died down but the candy is till top notch.

Recently John Hughes passed away. I was a teenager in the 80’s when Hughes’ films were all the rage. It’s safe to say that with The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Pretty in Pink Hughes was a pioneer in the teen flick genre. To this day, Weird Science remains one of my favorite movies. When I read of Hughes’ death it brought back memories of gathering with my friends to watch these films. Once again, I was sad that the entertainment world had lost one of the greatest directors of my time, but I was also sad that I no longer can gather with my friends and partake in a movie with such ease. Then I thought about me and my friends sitting around imitating a drunken Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science and I smiled.

Over these last few months, death has also taken several people away that at some point in time were a part of my “real world.” In May, an ex-girlfriend passed away from cancer. Even though I had lost touch with her over the years, we shared many memories. As I was reading about the latter years of her life I learned that as she stared into the face of mortality she stayed strong. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain,” was her favorite quote. Her tenacity to remain positive is a lesson we all should learn.

The quote also sums up the life of another friend that recently passed. I met Mike Jones close to thirty years ago when I moved onto “the block.” (That’s what we all called our neighborhood, it wasn’t original, I know. But we were kids, cut us some slack.) I can’t recall ever seeing Mike without a smile on his face. And believe me, Mike had reasons to be negative. While the rest of the neighborhood kids rode their bikes and played football, Mike couldn’t. He was in a wheelchair. Mike never looked at his life in a negative light. He viewed his life as an opportunity. An opportunity to experience everything he wanted. And he did. Mike loved baseball. He got to work with the Danville Braves. He wanted to find a girlfriend. He did, and it turned into one of the most loving relationships I’ve ever witnessed. Mike was that person that made you a better person for knowing him.

I have many fond memories of Mike. One that sticks out is his love for wrestling. As a kid, I loved wrestling as well. I remember discussing the latest feuds on Georgia Championship Wrestling with Mike while I waited for his brother John to get ready to go outside and play. As John and I went outside Mike returned to his Atlanta Braves game with a smile on his face. He never let the fact that he couldn’t do everything the other kids could wipe that smile from his face. Mike faced many hardships throughout his life but through them all he celebrated life.

Celebrating life is something we all should do. No matter what obstacles are tossed in your life path, rejoice in the fact that you are alive.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to watch “Wildfire” Tommy Rich battle it out with the Masked Superstar. I’m sure Mike would approve.

“Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.”

*****

Days with my father

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We recently came across photographer Phillip Tolendano’s latest project where he has taken photography, memoir, chronicle, and diary and evolved them together into a beautifully honest photographic journey. In “Days With My Father”, he tells the story of living with his father’s dementia following his mother’s sudden death.

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Toledano writes simply and thoughtfully about his father’s condition, in ways both light-hearted and heart-breaking. Its loveliness is borne of its grace and truth; he’s not layering drama or trying to make anything seem like what it’s not. He’s sharing without adding any extra gild or lacquer, and sometimes that’s the hardest path of all.

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My dad is an amazing storyteller.  I’ve loved listening to him for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always taken pride in his Oscar-winner performances.  If he’s in a bad mood, I’ll ask him to tell me a story.  He embraces the role with such gusto, that his gloom dissipates instantly.  Here, he’s telling one of my favourites:  The Italian Fishmonger.  The man would say to my father, then a mischievous ten-year old kid:  Don’t squeeze the fish-it makes the eyes bulge!”

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Dying to Live

We recently came across this very moving documentary made in Western Austalia.  The ‘Dying To Live’ documentary series persuades members of 9 families, as well as several skilled and wise professionals to talk about:

  • How the 9 families coped…or didnt cope…from day one
  • The emotional rollercoaster associated with death in real life
  • Why people who chose life over euthanasia are glad they didn’t ‘check out’ early
  • The effect of what people said or did
  • How to handle fear. The patients and the carers
  • Leaving an inheritance thats more than just money
  • Preparing for a funeral…Your own or for a loved one

We were very moved by this clip on YouTube.  For more information, you can visit the “Dying to Live’” site here.