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Love Never Dies, A Newsletter about the Journey from Loss to Love
Sandy Goodman, Editor
Welcome to the "LOVE NEVER DIES" newsletter. Please e-mail me after perusing this issue with any ideas, submissions, or questions for the May issue. Thank you!
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IN THIS ISSUE
=> From the Editor
=> News and Tidbits
=> Tips and Ideas
=> From our Readers
=> Copyright and Subscribe/Unsubscribe information
FROM THE EDITOR
The Pit--Sandy Goodman
The bereaved have a special place they go to. A place in their mind, but outside of their day to day lives. As if pulled by unseen hands, with heads bowed, they descend into the void. Some may go immediately after a loss, while others wait until the fog lifts and the reality of their situation becomes clear. I, along with many, call this place the pit. A hole. A cavity. A place without light.
Described as a despicable, frightening place, the pit is not on anyone's list of "places I want to visit." Even while we are there, using the pit as a buffer, we curse its existence. But lately, as I think of my time spent there, I understand how necessary its presence is.
Here, amongst the living, we must act as if we are "doing okay." We must cry in the shower or in our cars, eat as if we are hungry, and feel compassion for the mother whose child has failed a class. Above ground, outside of the pit, we are expected to be over it in a set amount of time. We must let our friends and family relax and we certainly shouldn't make them uncomfortable by mentioning their name. Life goes on...and so must we. And so we seek refuge in a pit of pain, a space where only those who grieve seek solace.
We go to the pit to feel our grief. We need that space where we can hold our pain close to us. We need to feel every little prick, every stab, every barrage of excruciating agony. We need to cry out in the night, scream at the universe, and spew obscenities at those who have stolen what is ours. We need to talk to our loved one who has left us too soon, and we need to listen to what they have to say about their leaving. We need to not eat if we're not hungry, stay awake if we can't sleep, and sleep all day if we need to. We need a place to be sad. And nothing more. We cannot do that here in the real world. Not without reproach.
And so we sink into the pit of suffering. We take with us the things we hold priceless, the shirt he wore that last night, the class ring she never got to see, and the teddy bear he slept with since he was a week old. A picture or two, a candle for light, and the most important thing, the pain that connects us to them. We may stay a few months or a few years, but while we are there, we are safe. Nothing worse can happen.
The pit forced me to grieve. It offered no excuses, no distractions, and no quick fixes. It protected me from myself, and from those who did not understand my need to feel the gut wrenching pain of my child's death. I am thankful for my time there, not resentful. I needed the solitude and the acceptance I found in the pit. I needed that corner of time to honor the pain I was feeling and to see it again as love. I needed to spend time with my son, learning to see him differently, and remembering what I had always known. Love never dies.
A drop of rain
falling to earth
does not cease to exist
when it joins the ocean.
It becomes a part
of something bigger,
and something greater,
but remains always
a drop of rain,
connected and identifiable,
to the storm
NEWS AND TIDBITS
News is slim this quarter. As far as Love Never Dies: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Love goes, we're trusting the process. Those who are meant to read it, will. I sometimes get discouraged but without fail, I get a kick in the butt to stop doubting. Example...I received an email from a woman ...well, let's just copy and paste what she told me.
"THE BOOK WAS ACTUALLY MY SISTERS.SHE LOST HER HUSBAND IN MAY THIS YEAR AND HAS BEEN FINDING IT HARD GOING. WELL I HAD A DREAM NOT LONG AFTER HE DIED WHERE HE KEPT REPEATING LOVE NEVER DIES SANDY GOODMIN-OR WHAT I THOUGHT . I CONTACTED MY SISTER THE FOLLOWING DAY WITH THE TITLE AND YOUR NAME AND TOLD HER TO SEE IF THIS BOOK EXISTED IF SHE COULD BORROW IT FROM THE LIBRARY. SHE WENT TO THE LIBRARY WHO HAD NO RECORD OF THE BOOK BUT BECAUSE SHE INSISTED THEY CHECKED THE BOOK CATALOGUES AND DISCOVERED THAT THE BOOK WAS NOT DUE TO BE RELEASED IN THE UK FOR A MONTH MY SISTER ORDERED THE BOOK AND RECEIVED IT ON RELEASE DAY."
It helps to know they are promoting on both sides of the veil. :-)
I have no speaking engagements lined up for this summer, but I will be attending the TCF conference in LA as a participant. I am really excited. If you plan to be there, please let me know. We need to meet! For info on the conference, go to The Compassionate Friends and click on the conference link.
We have a new grandson!! Tayton Cole was born on January 8th and is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. I can't wait for spring so we can take walks and rock on the front porch. And yes, Cole is Jason's middle name. Joshua and Trisha wanted to include Jason in their creation. I am very proud and I'm pretty sure Jason is too.
TIPS AND IDEAS
Once again, spring is in the air. Remember that the bereaved have a hard time with seasonal changes. Things that were sitting quietly in their minds suddenly come to life and old memories are hard to get a grip on. Be there for those who are grieving. If you are having a hard time, let someone know. Whether you call up a supportive friend or family member, make an appt. with a professional, or join an online support group doesn't matter. Do what works. But do something. You should not walk this path alone.
Grieving? Some suggestions for spring:
Plant a tree and put a plaque with their name on it at the base
Create a memorial garden in your back yard
Go to you city council and ask to adopt a little plot of ground for a garden or park
Take a walk and talk to those you miss
Start a scrapbook
Learn to meditate
I really struggled with this newsletter. I have procrastinated all month and put it off until the last day because I didn't know, and still don't know, what to write. I feel as if I'm not where I need to be right now. I haven't meditated for months, and my life seems too full and too hectic. Physically, not spiritually. It is so difficult to stop doing and just BE here.
I get up in the morning, rush through the initial planning for the day, do this, do that, do this, do that, eat a few times, do some more and then go to bed. I don't stop to concentrate on how it feels to take a deep breath, I pay no attention to the pleasure of warm water trickling down my back in the shower, and the only time I see the sunset is when I run to get the paper at the exact same moment.
I've become lazy. I have forgotten what it feels like to be aware. I have placed too much importance on what has to be done, and too little emphasis on what needs to be felt. I need to remember. I think this was my re-minder. Was it also yours?
FROM OUR READERS
No originals from readers this quarter, but Brenda sent me this by email and I think it's appropriate.
Finding Your Easter Sunrise
By Cindy Bollinger
There is a stopping point in the North Carolina mountains called Pretty Place. Pull off the main road and follow a dirt one to a clearing, and there stands an open-air chapel on the side of the mountain. Simple concrete benches encompass a stone pulpit. The area is open on all sides so you can see the breathtaking beauty of the scenery. A feeling of reverence permeates the place. People talk quietly, as though in church, in this wonderful place of solitary reflection.
At Easter time about twenty years ago, a group of friends and I decided to attend the sunrise service at Pretty Place. I had always wanted to go but never managed. I was an emergency-room nurse and had to work on this particular Easter Sunday, too, but worked it out to go to the service, and then go to work my shift. We got up about 2:00 A.M. to make the drive to Pretty Place. We arrived in the dark, parked and proceeded toward the chapel. A huge gathering of people collected in and around the chapel. In darkness, a simple nondenominational church service was held including a hymn, a prayer and a short message
I was content just to sit and enjoy the tranquility, the smell of earth and pine, and feel the coolness of the morning air on my skin. I heard the birds and the sounds of the woods around us and enjoyed the pleasure of being with my friends. The sky lightened as the day broke and a glowing orange ball began to appear as if it was rising out of the earth. One minute there was a gray canvas and the next, a glowing sphere of orange, yellow and pink rose, filling the sky. Then, more quickly than they had come, the crowd took their leave to return to the real world. I headed for work.
I arrived feeling peaceful and ready for the day. The ER was quiet, too. Since there were no patients, I began cleaning and restocking.
I heard the familiar announcement, "patient in the hall," and then the sound of a male voice calling for help in desperation and panic. I entered the hallway to see a man carrying a small, limp, breathless child. Traces of blood and discoloration smeared one side of her pale face. No other wounds were visible. The man handed me the little girl dressed in a frilly dress, lace-trimmed socks, patent-leather shoes and a crushed Easter bonnet. His words spilled out. He couldn't see her when he backed the family van out of the driveway. She was dressed and ready for church. She saw her daddy leaving. She ran behind him. She only wanted to go with her daddy.
I rushed her into critical care, leaving the father in the hallway. Someone would come shortly to get him to fill out the paperwork and show him to the family waiting room, not the usual waiting room, but the small, softly lit, private waiting room where families and friends await bad news and pray desperate prayers for the lives of their loved ones.
As the call of Code Blue went out over the hospital loudspeaker, a team gathered to do all that was possible to save this child. Her Easter clothes were cut away and she was intubated. We began CPR, started an IV, and gave her drugs to attempt to restart her heart and lungs. It soon became obvious her neck was broken. We continued to resuscitate her, doing everything within the power of man and medicine. We couldn't give up the life of this small child. Often a knowing, an intellectual process, says there is nothing to do, but the heart pushes us beyond this knowledge to try anyway. So try we did.
After the hopeless resuscitation ceased, I slowly removed the tubes with tears in my eyes, a huge lump in my throat and heaviness in my chest. We took care of the details of preparing her body for death and for her family to see her. The emergency-room doctor went to the family room. His words to the father started with, "Your little girl is dead. There was really nothing we could do, but we tried." He talked, trying to explain what had happened. He listened for a little while to give the father a chance to respond.
The cry we heard coming from this man as he was given the news still touches me at the core of my very being. Some of us have experienced the misfortunes in life that enable us to understand the pain and loss this man must have felt.
It's been twenty years since that Easter Sunday. I am married now and have four children of my own. I traded in the job of being a nurse for that of being a full-time mother and homemaker. Not an Easter has passed since that I do not remember that little girl in the arms of her father on that Easter Sunday. I can always recall the pain and agony of that father's cry at the news of the death of his daughter. Now, as a parent, I understand that cry in a way that I couldn't at that time.
Medical personnel must learn to deal with the pain and suffering of others in order to do their job. We witness human misery, loss of limb and life, loss of family and, at times, the horrible unspeakable things that people do to each other. My saving grace is always that when I remember that little girl dying, I also remember the profound experience of being at the Easter sunrise service. I'm glad that on that morning I made the effort to go. I remember the magnificence of that sunrise there on the side of a mountain and the awe I felt taking it all in.
I experienced two opposite ends of the spectrum of human emotion that day – wonder and despair, life and death, joy and suffering, breathtaking beauty and profound sadness. I wrap the beautiful memory of the sunrise service around me to protect me from the hurt I felt at the death of the little girl. That memory of the sunrise was the armor I carried into battle that day as I went to do my duty in the ER.
As a nurse or a doctor or anyone who deals with pain and suffering, we must care for ourselves in order to serve others. We cannot give water to others from an empty well. We must take time to refill the well – to find our Easter sunrise.
Copyright 2004, All Rights Reserved
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They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.
Love Never Dies