Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Music That Heals

Music has always been a comfort for me.  The words and melodies of many tunes have validated my feelings and comforted my soul.  I can not imagine a world without music.

At Camp Widow East, in the "Mad at God" and "Two Sets of Footprints:  Faith Through Grieving" sessions many of us shared music that had been healing for us during our grief journey.  I wanted to give you a sampling of that list and hope that these songs will be a respite of peace for you. 

Better Than A Halleluja - Amy Grant 
Lonely Enough - Little Big Town
Whatever You're Doing - Sanctus Real 
Jody's Song - Melissa Greene
Held - Natalie Grant
He Is With You - Mandisa
Our Hope Endures - Natalie Grant
With Hope - Steven Curtis Chapman
Cry Out to Jesus - Third Day
Broken - Lifehouse
There Will Be A Day - Jeremy Camp
Unbreakable - Fireflight
I Will Rise - Chris Tomlin
Hope Now - Addison Road
Forever - Rascal Flatts
Stand - Rascal Flatts
Fall Apart - Josh Wilson
Praise You In This Storm - Casting Crowns

Dancing With the Angels - Monk & Neagle


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lessons in Loss and Living

This is the second installment of "What I Learned at Camp Widow"....

Dr. Michele Reiss, author of the book, Lessons in Loss and Living, was one of our speakers at Camp Widow.  Here are some notes from her session:

  • Learn to cope with grace.
  • Never allow the burdens of grief to negate the blessings I have in my life.
  • The cup is half empty and half full at the same time. ( practical, but I had never thought of that.  Duh!)
  • Be flexible and roll with the punches, especially those I don't see coming.  (You would think that folks wouldn't punch a widow/widower when they're down...but believe me, they do.)
  • I did not have control of the circumstances that got me to widowhood, but I do have some control over how I play with the cards I've been dealt.
  • This is NOT the life I signed up for, but it is MY life.
  • Seek comfort and ways to cope; don't look for a cure.  (The cure is not out there...I promise.)
  • Create my own magic wand... (still trying to make mine to match my lovely widow tiara.)
  • I can visit the land of "OH, WOE IS ME," but I can not live there.  (There is an expiration date on all visits...)
  • Learn to cultivate optimism:  Pay attention to how I think; Count my blessings, not my curses; Be grateful (look for little things, when big things aren't there); See the capacity to remain in the moment.
  • Live a TECHNICOLOR life.  Life is precious and changes on a dime.  Live life to the fullest.
  • Loss is an inevitable life experience.  (Man...don't I know it.)
  • Appreciate what I still have despite what I have lost.
  • Set priorities with the life I still have...decide what is important and take charge of that.  (Okay...I'm still working on my list.)
This was a great session.  I'm coping, but not so gracefully and I am woefully ungrateful for my blessings.  I still look back with longing...and forward with fear.  But, I do know this.  I'm going to survive.  

I'm still working on a way to thrive.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Camp Widow

Two weekends ago I had the great fortune to attend the first Camp Widow East in Myrtle Beach, NC sponsored by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation.  I know...."camp" sounds like a misnomer for a grief event, but it really did have a FUN feel to it.  There was a lot more laughter than tears...we played games, had social events, and formed friendships and bonds that will endure for a long time. I've dedicated the month of May to sharing what I learned from the wonderful sessions I attended and from the other widows/widowers at camp.  I hope you can catch some of the spirit of Camp Widow.

From my session "Happiness After Death" by Drs. Gloria & Heidi Horsley, I learned to keep my heart open to hope.  In fact, that is the name of their organization, Open to Hope, which helps those grieving after a loss.  Gloria and Heidi recognized that this was NOT the life I planned, wanted or hoped for, but they assured me that my overall satisfaction with life will return to what it was with time.  Time...I have heard it is the great healer.  I will never get over losing my husband, but I will overcome the pain.

Here are the the "Nine Steps to Finding Hope After Loss" that I learned from this session:

  1. Lighten Your Load - Grief is heavy lifting.  Let people help you.
  2. Find Gratitude - Being thankful can change how you feel.  In fact 8 minutes of gratitude a day can change your brain chemistry.
  3. Be of Service - Take care of yourself first and then move out to others.
  4. Move Your Body - Exercise can neutralize the acid in your body. This makes you feel better (and look better, too).
  5. Take Care of Yourself and Then Others - Don't forget to make yourself a priority.  Don't put your own essential needs at the bottom of your to-do list.
  6. Recognize Signs - God sends us signs to let us know that things are going to be okay.  Open your hearts to those connections.
  7. Hug and Be Hugged - You need to give and/or receive 18 hugs a day.
  8. Laughter - Allow yourself to laugh and don't feel guilty about it.  If you laugh it changes how you feel for 45 minutes.
  9. Stay Connected - Don't isolate yourself.  
I very much enjoyed this session and the practical advice offered.  Some of these things I learned on my own the hard way.  Others were common sense, but widow-head had obscured their obvious benefit.

Hoping you find comfort in these steps toward hope.