Category Archives: Learning

Words of Hope

Photo by Deanna Kassenoff: Cardinal and Chickadee

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
 
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

As long as we are here

After the death of a child, grief extinguishes our hope–our hopes, our dreams, our future. With nothing to hold on to, hopelessness becomes seemingly tangible. Life becomes unreal and unsteady. But as long as we are here, hope still flutters deep inside us. Though it’s an impossible thing to see. It’s there. Perched in our souls, our sons and daughters, though gone, still live within us. And they never stop singing; so don’t ever stop listening. Even though the songs or sounds may be fleeting and without words, hope is the thing with feathers that never stops – at all.

Photo by Deanna Kassenoff: Cardinal and Chickadee

Poem source: Poetry Foundation

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Joy

Dad and the boys, beach 2003

Dad, Joey, and Sam, 2003

Months after Sam’s death, and shortly before he was gone too, my father, always trying to cheer me on, reassured me that I’d find joy again. I disagreed. I didn’t want joy, happiness. I was consumed with grief, and wanted to die too. He worried about this, I’m sure, which added to his grief.

What I’ve learned about joy over the past eight years:

It’s one of the hardest things you have to do—find joy again, after loss.

It’s never the same kind of joy you felt before, when he or she or they were here, alive.

This joy lies in between the grieving and the living; that middle place where grieving and living coexist.

And in this middle place you find the still point, the peace.

And you find peace when you do whatever it is that makes you happy, no matter how ridiculous.

And whatever it is, it will be enough (for the time being).

And enough is the key.

What else is there in this life?

But the scent of your favorite soap. The sound of a snoring dog. The taste of butter and honey on a waffle. The lunch hour you spend laughing and talking with a close friend. The incredulous smile on the elderly man’s face when you hand back his lottery tickets, after the wind grabbed them away from him in the grocery store parking lot. This moment in between the grieving and the living, when you are running, chasing, and stepping on flying wisps of paper, that is the still point.

And enough, for the time being.

Peace.

My dad (9/1/1935 - 1/9/2008)

My dad (9/1/1935 – 1/9/2008)

What I learned from a soldier

Dad

In Memory of my father, Don Everett  (9/1/1935 – 1/9/2008)

What I learned from a soldier…

About strength
It’s okay to cry…

About caring
Take your vitamins… Stay away from dark alleys… Watch your back… I love you…

About illness
I’m so sorry you’re sick… I’m very concerned… Have you been eating right? Taking your vitamins? 

Continue reading

Tightrope Walkers

1895, “The Tightrope Walker” by Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)

1895, “The Tightrope Walker” by Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931)

tight·rope (tītʹrōp´) noun
1. A tightly stretched rope, usually of wire, on which acrobats perform high above the ground.
2. An extremely precarious course or situation.


 “I am always at the beginning,” said The Buddha, on being asked what life was like.

Hello 2015.

Here we are: at the beginning again.
Accidental acrobats.
On this tightrope twined
with the messiness of living,
threads of grief,
and strands of memory.  Continue reading

Quote: Issa

Does Issa speak of longing? His tears? Or continuing, despite the tears? I first read these lines a handful of years ago. When I was too attached. Unwilling to go on without

My beautiful boy. I was unable to save him. The smartest doctors in the world were unable to save him. And then, I couldn’t bring him back. No matter how hard I cried, or what magic I performed, or how many letters I arranged.  Continue reading

Think of the “Like” button as a “Support” button

"Like" Button

Happy stories, sad stories

Happy or funny stories compel people to “Like” and “Share” them. Inspirational, uplifting and amusing stories sometimes go viral. That’s the incredible thing about the internet. It can inform, inspire, entertain, and connect us.

But, it is counterintuitive to “Like” mournful stories much less “Share” them. Isolating further the one who is sharing from the most desolate and lonely place.

The following quote is from Why I Want You To Like That My Baby Died: Supporting Grief Through Social Media by Devany LeDrew, which I found here.

“When I post about my grief, your like is a silent nod of acknowledgement. I understand that you may have no words. While a heartfelt sentiment is best (even a ❤ or typing my daughter’s name is comforting), I know that you may be pressed for time or struggling with what to say. Clicking like makes me feel less alone.

“If I say I miss my daughter, you can like that. I give you permission. I know that you don’t “like” my grief. Instead, you are letting me know that you remember her instead of just scrolling by.”

Stories of death, especially the death of a child, are dark, taboo even. And have been, since…well, always. It is the scariest notion any parent can fathom. My child died and I am still afraid of this unfathomable idea. Afraid it could happen again. But being afraid doesn’t help, or keep us safe, does it?  Continue reading