The Color of Grief

On Monday, I received a phone call that my nephew passed away unexpectedly. It’s one of those phone calls that you are never ever prepared for. As I spoke with family members we grappled with the questions of why, as we often do. As the day came to an end I noticed a heaviness that seemed to drape over me like a blanket. It doesn’t matter how old we are or how many loved ones we’ve lost, the feeling is the same. Exhausted from the heaviness of the news I turned in for the night, hoping that when I awoke it would all be just a dream.

The next morning as I began to go about my day, I couldn’t help but feel like something had shifted in the world around me. That blanket of heaviness was still draped over me. As I looked around it seemed as though the world had gone dim. I looked up in to the sky and at the landscape around me, the bright hues that I seen just a day before, seemed dull, muted and colorless.

Grief is utterly unexplainable. There are no words that can begin to define the experience. Yet the descriptions of how grief feels within seems universally the same.

In our grief we believe that in order to cope we must retreat within and cave to the voices of “I should have done something, it’s my fault, if only, but why?” Although those questions and feelings are a normal part of grief, we also need a continual interweaving of many things to help us heal and overcome our sorrow. As difficult as it may seem we must lean into our sorrow, for turning away from it gives in more power, weakening our ability to cope. We must also give our grief a voice by sharing our thoughts, feelings and happy memories with others. Sharing with one another provides an atmosphere comfort and compassion. We then need rest and solitude to rejuvenate. Throughout this intricate interweaving, we also need to practice self-compassion. The kind of compassion that you would offer a loved one or a friend when they are suffering, we must extend to ourselves. Self-Compassion is a great healer. It allows us to forgive ourselves for what ever part we think we might have played in the loss of our loved one. It is the continual interweaving of all these that help us cope and heal the ache inside.

In time, the blanket of heaviness will become lighter. The colors and bright hues will return. The world around us will not appear as dull and muted.

Remain Awake

images

“As you journey along your path, whether it be wide or narrow, remain awake.”

There are certainly days in my life where I remain numb with the distractions of life. There are also times when I am remain very awake. So awake that I feel the need to find a mind numbing activity to avoid what I don’t want to see, hear or feel. Numbing can happen purposefully or automatically. I am not talking about using substances as a way of numbing, although that is a very common and real way of numbing. What I am talking about is daily distractions and avoidance. It is easy to get caught up in all this things going on around us or avoid that which we don’t want to feel or deal with. It is also true that our mind and our bodies often protect us from too much pain in life. However, we can’t hide there all of the time. The key is to remain awake enough to pay attention to our journey and where our paths are taking us. We must stay on course until we understand what we have, want and need. If we are not awake enough, our steps veer off our intended destination and we find ourselves lost. We can’t see what is blocking our path. It can be painful to be awake, but in order to unblock our paths we must endure.  We don’t have to do it all at once. We can take baby steps or giant leaps, but we can endure and unblock our paths.

Are you awake? Can you look at the pain enough to unblock your path? It just takes the first step, then the next and the next. Go ahead you can do it!

 

Tragedy On Our Journey

Every day we are faced, or should I say bombarded with negativity and tragedy. If you are like me it can knock you down again and again.  BAM! Down you go! BOOM! From the other direction, down you go! Some day’s it makes us so weary that we feel like we will never get up again. We shut down, we avoid. Then somehow we stand up again and begin to move forward. Little by little we see the light again and we are stronger! We have an innate ability to find hope, strength and to get back up and continue our journey.

Whether you believe in God, a power greater than yourself, or your spirit within there is hope and strength. Surround yourself with that power and those who embody it.  You will find the strength to stand up and go forward. For me, I believe that God picks us up and dusts us off and says, “It’s okay, I am with you. You can do this. Just focus on the good!”  He says. “Everyday there will be things that will knock you down, but there are also things that lift you. Turn in the other direction! Trust me and you will see it! If you can’t see it, I will carry you until you can.”

We are incredibly resilient even when we don’t think we are. Follow the journey of your heart.  The path is full of life.  It is good, bad, beautiful, ugly and tragic; but so full of life.

The Journey Around the Bend

When you think of life’s journey and what is around the bend, do you approach it with fear or with excitement? Our journey is influenced by what we have experienced in the past.  When I was younger there was so much uncertainty and fear about what was ahead.  It wasn’t until I came to terms with my past that I began to approach my journey with excitement. So, you ask, how do you come to terms with your past?  If there were an easy answer we would all be approaching life with excitement.  Coming to terms with our past requires that we begin with opening our minds and our hearts.

Opening our minds means to set aside our beliefs, assumptions and ideas about someone or some situation and be open to other views.  If we set a complex object in the middle of a group of individuals, almost invariably, each will see something different.  When others don’t see things the same as we do it is because they can’t. Their experiences have given them a different view. Our job is to respect their view and not take personally. To honor their view as equally important, not wrong or right, bigger or worse. Once we can achieve this then we can begin to open our minds to new experiences. We can begin to truly hear one another we can resolve conflicts, compromise or just let it go and move forward.

Opening our hearts is yet another level and a much scarier one. In order to open our hearts we must become vulnerable to fear and hurt.  If our experience is one of being shamed, abandoned or attacked then we will be less open to it. However, in the midst of these vulnerabilities is where healing begins. We can not be open to excitement about the future unless we allow our hearts to open, to heal. Years ago I read somewhere that joy and pain go through the same door and if we block the pain, we block the joy. Change travels from the head to the heart. That channel must be open. We must grieve, feel our feelings, and face our inner demons, otherwise true change can not exist and we stay stuck.

In my own journey I too have been challenged to face my past and my inner demons. Once I was able to do so, my inner demons had no more power over my journey. For me, I also needed the support of others and my faith in order to begin,  sustain and endure my journey. Healing took the place. Hope, excitement and joy prevailed.  Step by step, little by little, change occurred.

Don’t let your past stand in the way of the excitement of what lies ahead. You are of value and deserve to enjoy your journey.

Change

“Change is one of the most challenging things in our life, yet it must occur over and over and over again in order for us to grow.” – Linda Lunsted

Let’s take this simple, yet complicated blog. I had (and still have) grand ideas about writing weekly. However, much to my liking, it has been several weeks since my first post.

For me change comes with repetition. Any good or bad behavior is created through its continual practice. A practice that creates an automatic response that seeps slowly and deeply into our psyche; where it often surprises us. We need grand dreams as they spur us on and give us life. However, we must create a safety zone within our internal dialog that says it’s okay to miss the mark. We need to give ourselves permission to fail.

I recently found a plaque that states “Growth demands a temporary surrender of security – Gail Sheehy.” Ouch, in order to grow or change we must be willing to reach deep within, past our comfort zone and expose our vulnerability. If we do not create a safety zone, shame will live there. Shame will then multiply and become the culprit of fear, immobility, procrastination, and a continual downward spiral into the depths of the “I can’t succeed,” or “I’m not good enough” abyss. We all go there! Some go more frequently then others. We must be willing to become vulnerable enough to risk failure and imperfection; it is through the acceptance of failure and imperfection that we become whole.

What are you needing to change in your life today ? Do you have a safety zone? Envision the statement “You have permission to fail!” Place it inside your thoughts, your soul and your being. Create a safety zone around it, allowing no one to step inside of that zone, including yourself. See it there, practice it, feel it. Allow it to create a new imprint.

As for me, I am not sure when I will add to this blog or create another post. However, I am creating my safety zone, at least at this moment. When I miss my mark, I will acknowledge my disappointment, envision my safety zone and try again. So can you!

The Dream Path

The path to your dreams doesn’t start with a complete plan.  Dreams start with one little step.  At times your dreams may seem unreachable. The path becomes cloudy and loses its visibility.   The bend in the path can become scary,  instead of exciting and alluring.  All you begin to see are barriers filled with doubt and fear.  You feel             overwhelmed and intimidated.  Don’t give in!  Instead, find something that you can do in the moment of the day to support that dream.

When an artist creates a piece of art, it is the intricate continual movement of the chisel, the pen, the brush, the music note or the voice that creates the masterpiece.

Today, at this moment, I am taking a little step toward one of my dreams. I am writing this blog.  A few weeks ago I signed up on wordpress.com, another step.  Over the years I have taken many little steps in the direction of this dream and other dreams.  I took steps that I didn’t even realize I took. If a dream lives within you, it will express itself.  It will guide you, even if we are unaware of those steps.

Hi, my name is Linda Lunsted and I am a Licensed Masters in Social Work.  I am currently in Private Practice as a Mental Health Therapist. Private Practice is another one of those dreams that began with one little step.  I never gave up even when things were cloudy or seemed unreachable. I took one little step, then another, and another.

What is your dream? What is your Masterpiece? What is one little thing that you can do today or this week? It may be just as simple as resting quietly, writing an idea on paper, enrolling in a class, or talking to a friend or mentor.  Start in one little corner of your dream.  Begin today, you wont regret it! If you look closely you many find that you are already taking those little steps, you just haven’t been paying attention.