Do You Believe In Yourself?


 

Recently, I saw on TV that Oprah Winfrey did Tony Robbins’ Firewalk.  It reminded me that 12+ years ago, so did I.  A lot has happened since that day – and suddenly I began thinking this was partly the reason for people telling me how strong I am under serious conditions.

Firewalking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers or stones.  To walk over fire – what a thought!  My friend Polly B. invited me and another friend, Cathy W., to the Tony Robbins UPW (Unleash the Power Within) event where the Firewalk is offered.   Firewalk:  very scary thing to do one thinks in the comfort of your living room, safe at home.  But I was intrigued and vastly curious.  So I attended, thinking I’d watch others do their Firewalk.  I considered the experience in those terms and I was fine with that.

When it came to the point in the seminar where Tony walked us over and showed us how they prepare by setting the fire and waiting until it burns down to red-hot embers, it only served to re-emphasize the scariness.  Could people really train their minds to do it?

What is the point of doing a Firewalk anyway?  The idea is that rather than just get a ton of theory in any book or DVD, you have to experience the challenge of facing something you believe you cannot do – something IMPOSSIBLE for you to do, and then face up to it and just go ahead and DO it.  It teaches you to face your greatest fears, and all the other challenges in your life become easy by comparison!

Suddenly I felt like the only one insistent upon not doing the Firewalk.   Now it was time and we ALL walked over to the site of those now red-hot embers and began to walk.  We’d been told how to prepare, what to do and what to think.  We had rehearsed mentally over and over again until it was memorized.

 

 

My friend Cathy walked first and completed the Firewalk with passion!  When it was my turn the “coach” asked me if I wanted to do this.  I said, “I’m not sure,” and began to tear up.  I was petrified and yet felt something inside urging me to go ahead!  The program coach reminded me what we had memorized.  Told me that I could do this and it convinced me that I at least had to try.  And I did.  And the additional joy came as my friend, Polly B., was the one catching me at the end!

The take-away from this Firewalk provides life transforming tools to help push you through obstacles, achieve your goals, take consistent action on your ideas, and ultimately redefine and improve the quality of your entire life.

A heart-breaking tragedy in my life recently from the suicide of my husband made me aware that my life will never be the same again.  The Firewalk also made me realize that I would never, ever be the same again!  I just forgot about it for all these years.  Oprah’s Firewalk reminded me that “I can live through this” and live my life with love and happiness, and achieve goals I also had forgotten.  Or maybe, realign my goals to match my present day needs.  I have the power within and I know how to use it to live my life with more passion, happiness and fulfillment than ever before!   And I won’t settle for anything less.

 

Advertisements

Survivor Support Group & Living With Suicide


 

 One learns to live with the loss, the tragedy, the waste and the gaping hole in the fabric of one’s life.  There is no closure; there cannot be without answers.  I want to remember him all my life, vividly:  his laughter, the smell of his favorite coffee, his moments of joy, his humility and his integrity.”

 

If you have lost someone to suicide, the first thing you should know is that you’re not alone.  Each year over 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide – their devastated family and friends they leave behind are known as “survivors.”  There are millions of survivors who, like us, are trying to cope with this heartbreaking loss. 

It can be so powerful to connect with other survivors.  And such a relief to be able to talk openly about the suicide with people who really understand.  I write this for a couple of reasons.  First, it helps me to heal by sharing my own personal grief.  Second, it is my aim to help others understand us and for those survivors of suicide, to begin to focus on themselves to heal and gain support. 

For so many survivors, a crucial part of their healing process is the support and sense of connection they feel through sharing their grief with other survivors.  The most common way this sharing occurs is through survivor support groups.  These groups provide a safe place where survivors can share their experiences and support each other. 

It is natural to feel a bit unsure about going to your first support group meeting.  In No Time to Say Goodbye, one facilitator explains what you can expect:

“We sit in a circle, with each person giving a brief introduction: first name, who was lost, when and how it happened.  I then ask the people who are attending for the first time to begin, because they usually have an urgent need to talk. The rest of the group reaches out to them by describing their own experiences and how they are feeling. The new people realize they are not alone with their nightmare. By comparing their situations with others, they also begin to understand that they don’t have a monopoly on pain.”

Some survivors attend a support group almost immediately, some wait for years; others attend for a year or two and then go only occasionally — on anniversaries, holidays, or particularly difficult days.  You may find it takes a few meetings before you begin to feel comfortable.  Or you may find that the group setting isn’t quite right for you, but can still be a useful way to meet one or two fellow survivors who become new, lifelong friends based on the common bond of understanding the pain and tragedy of suicide loss. 

 

We are each in charge of our own journey of healing.  May you always be traveling further.”

 

 

Life Without My Husband


You’re not alone within your experience and feelings.  And sometimes the best feeling in the world with loss, especially from suicide, is to know that you are not alone.

 

 When your loved one has committed suicide, your entire world changes completely.  The man I love and shared my life with, died through suicide.  Days fly by quicker than you’ve ever known.  They are consumed with nonstop thoughts and visions of your past memories together.  It’s a matter of days on end of grief spasms, trying not to cry too hard, yet realizing you can’t stop.  You keep remembering the way he held you, a million kisses and hugs, his holding your hand while walking or just watching a movie.  Saying I love you and hearing him tell you, “I’d do anything for you.”   

The first day not together after his death, you fight back tears every second and wonder how you can live without him.  You’re numb and feel every emotion all at the same time.  You struggle to walk to your car and drive away from home without him, only to pull over moments later to break down in tears.  Your home is just a house now.  Every day revolves around thinking about him.  You try to stay busy, but the stress doesn’t go away.  It’s a roller coaster ride and life won’t let you get off.

Being alone some days is more comforting than forcing yourself to be in a good mood to have coffee with a friend. Friends struggle to say the right things to help, but they feel helpless as well.  It’s an invisible barrier that separates even family. 
Doing laundry and realizing there are none of his clothes to do, and wishing there was. Trying to figure out something for dinner even if you don’t feel like eating.  Sleeping on the couch because you can’t bear to sleep in your bed when he is not there and it’s just not the same without him next to you. Leaving his slippers and sneakers next to the front door because it comforts you, and because he left them there.

 

Feeling guilty for enjoying a sunny day, a good movie or just a ride in the car.  Avoiding phone calls because you just can’t talk about it again and break down endlessly.  “I’m fine” is never enough, but you can’t make them understand no matter how hard you try. Alienating yourself so you don’t have to fake a smile or conversation. 

Wanting to just scream and yell until you have no voice left, and wiping away those endless tears.  “Snapping out of it” will take a long time.  The word “why” is the first word in everything you think about.  No matter how hard you try, you’re always thinking the worst case scenario.  Wanting to sleep the whole next year because it’s the only time you get a break from worrying.  In reality, sleep is only a couple hours here and there. 

Avoiding your favorite CDs or TV shows that you enjoyed together because you have no one’s hand to hold or arms to lay in.  Wearing his clothes while he is gone and using a shirt with his cologne as a pillowcase to snuggle up to.  Trying to pray double-time, but feeling like a hypocrite because right now you may be angry with God.  Walking around with a lump in your throat and a pit in your stomach. Truly feeling lost, scared and powerless every single day.  You’re just going through the motions of getting up, getting ready and going through your day.  When all is said and done, you’re proud of the woman you are yet you miss the man, your soulmate, whom you love now and forever.  

A remedy for heartache is to lead as happy a life as possible.  Genuine friends understand that I am doing my best to work through your grief and am trying to reinvest in life itself.  If others don’t understand, I don’t worry about them.  Surviving and rebuilding my life is what is truly important.

I’m beginning to think through some activities that can bring some degree of purpose and focus.  Remember to start slowly and move carefully, with friends who are supportive and understanding.  I’m so fortunate to have good friends who understand and are trying to be patient with me.  We meet for lunch occasionally and have a girls’ night out for dinner.  It helps that they support me and show their love in this way.  And I’m hoping to take the first steps in going to the doggie park with my friend and her dog, and maybe take a walk on the beach.  It will be difficult for me as walks on the beach, especially at sunset, was a favorite for my husband and me.   

 

Each day I have to say to myself that I’ve decided to live.  Recognizing that I’m living through a terrible tragedy, yet I still have to survive.  It takes practice, lots of it, to take one moment, one day at a time. 

I had no choice and no control over the suicide but I now have a choice to survive and live through it.  It is by far the hardest task that anyone will ever have to perform but I will survive.

Experience Borne of Personal Grief


I have been going through a grief process from the sudden, unexpected loss of my husband.  I didn’t realize there was such a thing as grief spasms and a grief process and I knew far less how to deal with suicide.  There isn’t much understanding of grief in this society.  Many well intentioned people think we should “just get over it” and get on with our lives. 

Grief is very painful and at times the pain is intolerable.  It is a mixture of many emotions that come and go, sometimes without warning.  Grieving is the period during which we actively experience these emotions.  How long and how difficult the grieving period is depends upon our relationship with the person who dies, the circumstances of the death, and the situation of the survivor(s).   Grieving is a process we all must travel through. 

 There is no escaping it.  Experts describe the grieving process and those emotions of grief in various ways.  The most commonon described reactions include:  shock, denial, anger, guilt, depression, acceptance and growth.  Some of us experience the grieving process in this order.  Although most often a person feels several of these emotions simultaneously, perhaps in different degrees.

When death comes suddently, as in an accident or suicide, shock is often our first response.  We may be numb or like a robot, be able to go through the motions of life while actually feeling little.  At the same time, physical symptoms such as confusion and loss of appetite are common.

Shock and denial are natural ways of softening the immediate blow of death.  Denial can follow soon after the initial shock.  We know our loved one has died, but a part of us cannot yet accept the reality of death.  It is not uncommon to fantasize that our loved one will walk through the door, as if nothing has happened.  

Anger is perfectly normal.  It may be directed at the deceased for leaving and causing a sense of abandonment, or at the doctors and nurses who did not do enough.  People of faith may feel anger at God for allowing so much pain and anguish.  Anger may also be directed at ourself for not saving the life of our loved one.   

Few survivors escape feelings of guilt and regret.  “I should have done more” are words that haunt many people.  Were angry words exhcnaged?  Most people are very creative in finding reasons for guilt.  So many things could have been done differently “if only I had known.” 

Sadness is the most inevitable emotion of grief.  It is normal to feel abandoned, alone and afraid.  After the shock and denial have passed and the anger has been exhausted, sadness and even hopelessness may set in.  We may have little energy to do even the simplest chores.  Crying episodes may seem endless.   These are grief spasms.

I want you to know that time alone will not heal grief.  Acknowledging our loss and experiencing the pain may free us from a yearning to return to the past.  Acceptance does not mean forgetting, but rather using our memories to create a new life without our loved one. 

Grief is a chance for personal growth.  Some survivors seek meaning in loss and get involved in causes or projects that help others.  Some find a new compassion in themselves as a result of the pain they have suffered.  They may become more sensitive to others.  Some find new strength and independence they never knew they had.

Getting over a loss is slow, hard work.  In order for growth to be possible, it is essential to allow ourself to feel all  the emotions that arise, as painful as they may be, and to treat oneself with patience and kindness.  Personally, I choose the quote of Winston Churchill as my mantra, “If you feel like you’re going through Hell, keep going!”   Give into it — even give it precedence over other emotions and activities, because grief is a pain that will get in the way later if it is ignored.  Realize that grief has no timetable; it is cyclical, so expect the emotions to come and go for weeks, months, or even years.  While a show of strength is admirable, it does not serve the need to express sadness, even when it comes out at unexpected times and places.

It’s important to take time to seek comfort from friends who will listen.  Let them know you need to talk about your loss.  People will understand, although they may not know how to respond.  Also important remember to forgive yourself for all the things you believe you should have said or done.  And forgive yourself for the anger, guilt and embarrassment you may have felt while grieving.

Bereavement groups can help us recognize feelings and put them in perspective.  They can also help alleviate the feeling that we are alone.  The experience of sharing with others who are in a similar situation can be comforting and reassuring.  Sometimes, new friendships grow through these groups. 

What grief is not?  Grief is not a mountain to be climbed, with the strong reaching the summit long before the weak.  Grief is not an athletic event, with stop watches timing our progress.  Grief is a walk through loss and pain with no competition and no time trials.

Just remember:  Grief is normalYOU are normal.  Surrender to the process which follows significant loss.  I’m still surrendering to mine.  Still grieving and still trying to be kind and gentle with myself.  Over time, I’ll share with you and let you know how it goes.  We are endeavoring to travel down a new path, a new life.  This is truly the hardest thing in life we have ever had to do and we will get it through it.