Dealing with Grief

Decisions, Cross Roads, Challenges and Me

askvilleEvery now and then I find myself at a crossroad in life.  A time and place where you know you need to choose a direction, make a decision and that the choice you make will affect the rest of your life. 

I’ve sat at this crossroad wondering how I got there, trying to look at it objectively and thinking that once I saw the decisions I needed to make in the clear light of day, there was no debating, no wondering, no hesitation at all, the choices are simple.

You see, when I moved away from my ex husband my self-confidence was gone, my self-esteem was non-existent, and my self-worth was hiding in a dark corner somewhere.  The verbal and emotional abuse had taken its toll and it has taken a long time to get back to…me.

So, after going through a very rough holiday season where I spent a lot of time alone, grieving and generally feeling sorry for myself, I suddenly realized that I was choosing to feel alone, choosing to grieve, choosing to feel sorry for myself.  I had to stop and think about that awhile.  What else have I been choosing either by doing nothing, trying to ignore things, or just not dealing with things I knew I needed to own up too?

The answers have astounded.  How did I find them?  By truly looking at where I was and thinking about how I want to be remembered when I’m gone.  If I were to die 3 years from now, what would the people in my life say about me?  I didn’t like the answers my mind came up with.  I have a lot of work to do.  There’s nothing like visualization to get your goals clearly back in focus. 

One thing I’ve learned is that it takes far more energy to sit down and put up with things, force yourself to accept things, and look the other way, than it does to stand up, take responsibility, own up to your mistakes and take charge of your life. 

When you find yourself feeling bored, unhappy, depressed, or just down, ask yourself why?  Are you choosing to feel that way?  Or are there things you are allowing to go on in your life that are not in sync with who you are and what you believe as a person?  Either way you have choices, you have options and possibilities.  Stand up and take action!  It will change your perspective and your life.

Cherry Coley (c)

A New Day!

100_5469I was feeling a bit down today.  The weather was a bit gloomy, hazy, wet outside, and it was just one of those days.  At least that’s what I told myself this morning.  Then I wondered why.

 Why was I just accepting that I was having a “blue” day?  Was it disappointment over something? Did I not like how someone was treating me? Was it the weather? Am I not happy about where I am or things that are going on in my life right now? What?

 Does any of that matter? The answer is no, if you are living life from a proactive perspective instead of a reactive perspective none of the above makes any difference at all. 

 Being in a proactive mindset means that I CHOOSE how I feel in the morning.  I get to choose my attitude, perspective and my approach to everything that comes into my life each day.  That’s an enormous amount of personal power if you think about it.  Does it mean if I have a car wreck in the morning I won’t react and be upset?  Not necessarily, but it is still my choice to BE upset.

 Freedom comes in knowing that you can choose how you feel about any given circumstance, event, or situation at any given time.  So think about this, if you feel unappreciated, you feel jealousy, you feel taken for granted, or you feel unloved, why not take a moment – stop and ask yourself: are these feelings and is this behavior contributing to my health and happiness? What am I getting from feeling this way? It definitely doesn’t make you feel good.  So why choose to feel that way?

 Today make the choice to take a good look at how you are responding to things in your life.  Are you being proactive and choosing how you will feel and your attitude? Are you looking for the opportunities in any given situation? Or are you living in response to things that are going on?

 When we live in response we are living with our feelings hanging out there in the open.  Emotions unchecked can cloud judgment. Clouded judgment will keep you from seeing the opportunities and choices available to you.  How many times have you felt unappreciated or unloved, had things spiral into arguments or upset, only to find out later it was a misunderstanding?

 If you’re feeling down, like I was, stop to take a moment to appreciate your blessing and the good things in your life.  When you get in the attitude of being grateful it gets harder to feel down and stay that way.  Thank God for another day, I did, then I felt much better.

Cherry Coley (c)

Touched By An Angel

Aunt Marlene and Mom

Aunt Marlene and Mom

Tonight I watched “Touched By An Angel.”  I haven’t watched that show in years, but it caught my eye while flipping channels for a moment. 

It was a show about a drug addict that had a baby and Monica and Andrew worked to help her get clean.  Being television it all worked out just in time and just fine on screen.  It really was a good story.  I miss the gentle kindness of the show and inviting it into our lives each night.

I remember so well watching “Touched By An Angel” and “Highway To Heaven” with my mom and dad.  They loved the storyline with angels walking among us, helping and interacting, directing our paths when needed.  My mom thoroughly enjoyed the shows for years.  We would talk about the episode and then how it related to the bible and real life.  Sure, a lot of it was fiction, but it was a good clean show with a heart and you don’t see many of those anymore. 

So tonight, just for a moment, I was touched by another angel.  I felt the presence of my mom come and sit down on the couch beside me and share in a memory.  It was just a moment, but I am thankful for it just the same.  It made me smile and I love memories that do that. 

Take a moment today to remember some of the good memories you’ve shared.  It’s good to appreciate where we come from, it’s better to then live in the moment and enjoy the things we have and the people in our lives.  Life a gift, don’t take it for granted, enjoy every bit of it.

Cherry Coley (c)

Grief as a Teacher

photo by Casey Keal

photo by Casey Keal

Grief can play with your mind and your perception of the way events happened.  The tricks of the mind can lead to feelings of regret and guilt, hurt and betrayal, and leave you with a feeling of loss that can drive you to your knees at times.

All week the residual feelings of the grief felt earlier this week have been with me.  I finally got to the point I was asking “what is it I’m supposed to see or learn here?” “What am I missing, and why am I feeling this way?”

By asking these type of questions the feeling of distress is lifted a bit so that I can see what I need see instead of lingering on thoughts of how I wish things had been.  My girls are teenagers and the oldest is getting ready to move on with her life.  She is trying to find her way, changing her mind, debating what she wants, and taking her first steps forward.

Through the other milestones with my kids, my mom has been here.  She was my voice of encouragement, my voice of reason, the person that would laugh at my worrying and say, “karma works.” 

I think of all the times I was out too late at night, talking on the phone and tying up the line (before the age of personal cell phones), trying to find my way and changing my mind, and often driving my mom crazy with my ideas and dreams.

There are days when I feel lost without mom, yet I know her words, her wisdom and her love live on in me.  I will not forget, Mom, I will remember and we will go forward.

Cherry Coley (c)

I Want My Mommy!

Today I miss my mom.  It’s not that I don’t miss her every day, but today the gaping hole in my chest where my parents used to be was hurting more. 

I had been doing so much better, I was moving forward, getting things done and looking forward to the future and SLAM, grief strikes again.  I hate that. 

Grief has a way of popping up at times and turning the world upside down when you least expect it.  It’s just the way it works unfortunately.  The name of this round of grief is called – “things I wish I’d done differently.”  The worst part of this round was not thinking of the things I would have done differently with my parents, (I went thru that part last year). 

This was about things I wish I’d done differently in other areas of my life, with my ex-husband, my kids, my school days, and all the time I wasted doing stuff that didn’t really matter or turn out the way I wanted in the end. 

My kids are growing up so fast and I still have questions, but no more answers.  There are things that they bring up and do that I don’t know how to approach, so I make suggestions and do research.  I feel inadequate at times, though I know it’s not true. 

If my mom were here she would listen to my worries and insecurities and tell me to “suck it up,” and “karma works,” then smile and even laugh at me because I put her through many of the same issues and how well I remember that. 

The things we thought were so fun as kids – like staying out too late, and talking on the phone all night, are not so funny as a parent.  Life is a circle, that’s for sure.

I am thankful for the time I had with my mom and my dad.  I’m thankful they always had my best interests at heart, even though they didn’t always understand me. 

I am thankful I have two daughters, that remind me that life goes on and sometimes you have to look back to appreciate where you came from before you can go forward. 

Cherry Coley (c)

Putting the Past in its Place

IMG_0097Don’t give your strength and focus to the things that you want to be rid of in your life.  There’s no such thing as living in the past.  What you are actually doing is spending your time now thinking about things you cannot relive or change.

It’s human nature to reflect on situations and experiences.  We look back wishing we could experience an event again, or be with a person one more time, or maybe go back and change something, not say something, or do more for someone than we did at the time.

The most useful thing about the past is that if we let it, the past can guide us to live a better future, to pay more attention to details and what matters, to spend our time more wisely.  Life is a journey and the path behind us reminds us of where we’ve been, what we’ve been through can encourage us to keep going and can remind us that we will be able to handle whatever comes our way.

However, unresolved issues, grievances and hurts can make a person think too much on what once was, how they wish it were different or long for those that have moved on.

There are a lot of people hurting and feeling alone.  You are not alone.  You are not the only one hurting.  You are remembered and loved.  You are not forgotten.  It’s amazing what these words do and how they can make you feel. 

If you are hurting, reach out and talk to the people you care about and that care about you.  You aren’t imposing, even though you might feel like you are.  When someone truly cares they are happy to know they can help.  Let them help, let them have the blessing and the loving feeling that comes when you allow someone to help you.   Someday you will be in a position to help someone else that needs it and the blessing will be yours.

Today center your heart and mind on where you are and where you want to go.  Greet the day with the spirit of gratefulness for the blessings in your life.  You still have things you enjoy, people you love, opportunities yet to be realized and exciting new things to experience.  There is much to be grateful for each day.

 Train your brain and heart to be both grateful and aware of the things and people around you.  You will start to notice a change in your outlook and it will make a difference in your life and the people around you.  Like ripples on the water, the attitude of one affects others around them.

 Start today putting the past in its place so you can embrace your future dreams and live in the present. 

 Cherry Coley ©

I Don’t Feel So Merry

christmas1It’s Christmas time.  Yesterday we had snow, just a light dusting, and it was beautiful.  There is a chill in the wind today, it makes me want to stay home by the fire and drink hot cocoa

I have been looking at Christmas decorations, but they don’t seem quiet as sparkly as they used too.  I have been avoiding Christmas music for the most part.  I simply cannot listen to much of the Christmas music yet.

I am trying, but the truth is I just don’t feel the Christmas spirit much this year.  I try to remember last year, but all I can think of is that my days with my mom were running out and I didn’t know it.  Instead she and I stayed up late talking on Dec. 11th.  We were talking about  how everything was going to be different without dad, and we should try to make new Christmas  traditions. 

We had a long conversation that night about past Christmas’, about new plans, about the Bible and our beliefs, about my kids and our family.  Mom and I talked late into the night enjoying each others company.  I missed her,  I had not seen her in a week or two since Casey was working and using my car more.

Now, the song that best describes how I feel is “Where Are You Christmas?”  The answer is, I am not sure.  I think Christmas is the same, the spirit is the same, it is me that has changed.  I am still healing, still searching for answers that don’t exist and longing for conversations I will not get to finish until I see my mom and dad again someday.

This Christmas is a little better than last year, but it still hurts, aches.  Yet I know that time, faith, and hope will eventually heal the hurts, though they won’t fill the gaping hole left in my heart where my parents once lived.  I miss them. 

If you’re parents are still here, take the time to go see them.  If they need you, listen, and be there for them as they were for you.  If you have family you haven’t talked to in awhile, here’s your chance, your excuse, break the ice, heal the rift and share the love while you still can.  Christmas is about love and that is the greatest gift of all, don’t miss out on this free and wonderful gift.

Cherry Coley (c)

 

Stealth Mode

I was in Wal-Mart last night picking up some groceries, when I suddenly spotted the turkeys.  They were there in the freezer just like they are every year, but this year is different.  A cold chill ran up my spine and into my heart as I stared at them.  This is the first Thanksgiving my parents won’t be here.

 I swerved up a different isle trying to keep the tears from coming and feeling the waves of grief that comes with them.  It didn’t help; everywhere I looked there were more reminders.

 Then I started getting texts from my friend and (used to be) neighbor.  He had spotted my car in the parking lot and Lindsey sitting in it.  He said “hi” to her then started texting me as if he were stalking me in the store.  It was so funny it made me laugh.  He told me he was looking for me and if he found me I would have to pay for his groceries. 

 We went in stealth mode through the store, I checked out first and made it to the car. Whew!

 I texted him to let him know I made it, he laughed and said, “dang it!”

I am thankful for my friends with amazing sense of timing and a wonderful sense of humor.  You just can’t beat that.

 Cherry Coley ©

October is Here

The spider lilies are in bloom.  It both thrills me that they are there and breaks my heart because I know who planted them.  They are lasting evidence that my mom was there and they are not alone.  There have been flowers and plants coming up all year in the different seasons, carefully placed and planted in the yard.  My mom loved to garden. 

I love the lilies, I remember going to the different garden shops each year and buying seeds and bulbs for planting.  Then just as winter was ending she would dig up a large spot in the backyard to plant tomatoes, squash, green beans, mustard greens, and various other plants.  She loved fresh vegetables out of the garden.  She said there was just something so rewarding about planting things in the ground, and watching God make them grow.

mom’s flowers

The flowers are beautiful, just as the red bud tree’s have been this year.  I wish she was here to see and enjoy them one more time. 

There is a joy and a sadness as I look at the backyard with no one there to make sure the weeds don’t take over, and the garden patch sitting abandoned and empty.

 

I can’t help but wonder if the plants notice, isn’t that silly?  Do they know that no one is pampering them, or do they simply do what plants do and depend on God, stretch out their roots and reach up to feel the sunlight?

I miss my parents more now than ever.  A year ago my dad passed away on September 21st, and I can’t help but be silent and remember the weeks that followed, weeks where I wish I could go back and do a little more, be there a little more for my mom.  I did what I could, but IF I could go back I would do so much more.  Hindsight is really worthless. 

It is a good reminder though that we should really not take anything or anyone that we love for granted.  None of us are promised another day and knowing that, we should take the time to get to know those we care about, reach out to those we love, do things to show appreciation and to help without being asked or expecting anything in return. 

We all have our own issues, our own struggles daily.  How much better, more fulfilling would life be if we shared openly, loved without expectation, and left pride and judgement out of the picture?  Sure, I know that’s probably not realistic, but still it is something to think about.

Cherry Coley (c)

Change and Wishes

Being in such a state of change and self-reflection this year has proven to be a challenging, heartbreaking, sometimes tormenting, and sometimes joyful, happy, amazing experience.  The roller coaster of emotions brought on by great change can seem like too much to bear at times.  Yet the times like this – depending on how we choose to respond – can offer the most personal growth.

In the process I have had to seek and out and remove some words and thought patterns from my vocabulary that have been getting in my way of either seeing things clearly or creating obstacles that turn into excuses.  Some of the words and phrases are:

  • It’s always been done that way
  • I’m nervous/scared
  • It’s going to take too long
  • It’s too hard
  • What will my family / friends think?
  • I can’t afford it
  • It’s risky
  • I don’t deserve it
  • It’s not my nature
  • I’m too busy
  • No one will help me

 I have been going through and creating affirmations to ward off each of those excuses, steadfastly cutting them out of my life and silencing them as they come up to block me from moving forward.  The one that I came up against this last weekend caught me off guard.  I honestly didn’t realize how much I was saying it and how much energy I was spending on basically, nothing.  The words I have to push away now are “I wish.” 

 I find myself saying things to people like – “I wish you were here,”  “I wish we could go to….”  “I wish we had more time together,” too much wishing.  It has now bled into other areas for other reasons such as: “I wish I could get my car painted,”  “I wish the backdoor would lock better,”  “I wish I could travel to Ireland,” or “I wish I could go spend some time with my long distance friends.” 

I just realized how truly ridiculous it all sounds.  Seriously?  What am I doing wishing so much?  Life isn’t about “wishing” – life is about “living.”  If you spend all your time and energy wishing for things you, aren’t living in the present and making things happen. 

It’s interesting what we wind up seeing as our limits and how we create excuses to justify staying stuck and keeping those limits in place.  The truth is that the limits you are living with – you have created yourself.  The person keeping you from reaching your goals and fulfilling your dreams is you. 

Do some soul searching, find the things that inner voice uses to keep you in that limited frame of mind, realize that the inner voice – is you and you can learn to silence it or reprogram it to move forward instead of staying stuck.  Even more important, if you find yourself constantly wishing for things to happen, realize that you have the ability to make them happen, but you have to first realize where you are and why, then take the steps to move forward.  It’s time to stop wishing and start living.

Cherry Coley ©