MY MINI LOSS AND GRIEF WORKSHOPS

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
―Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care Conference  Phoenix Arizona

About a month ago, I decided that I would start again to offer the *Between Now & Forever Loss & Grief workshops that I once gave for National Hospice conferences, churches and universities in several cities and towns around the US. I had thought that I was finished with them but some things happened recently, making me feel it was time to start again.

* Between Now & Forever means to me, that period of time between experiencing a great loss and moving into ‘Forever’ where everything is understood: Why did this happen to me, Why Now etc.

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Grand Rapids, Michigan

For several years, I offered as I said, these mini workshops or presentations at Hospice and Death Education Conferences as well as for privately organized  groups throughout the US. The workshops accompanied a photo/oral history exhibit by the same name which traveled to Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids, Mi,

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UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Our Lady of Lourdes West Islip, NY , Christ Church Cathedral-Houston, Little Rock Arkansas etc.

But I quit doing them when I went to Portland, Oregon to give a presentation at the Association for Death Education and Counseling Annual Conference. The conference was held at a large hotel and the night before the workshops began, there was a party which I went to and the first people I encountered were 2 grief therapists arguing about which of them had experienced the most grief in her life.

“Yikes!” I thought…..I don’t want any more to do with this and I left and went shopping, only coming back to give my presentation. It was a little bit like when I left the Episcopal Church many, many years before…..I didn’t want to be part of more than, better than, different than.

The only memorable part of my time in Portland was taking the Amtrak to Seattle and sitting next to a woman with 2 big buckets of freshly cut lilacs……reality…..the breath of LIFE.

So it’s been years, probably 15 years, since I’ve offered the workshops but just this past month, I’ve felt that it might be a good time to offer them again… though in a different way. There’s such an overwhelming amount of death, loss, grief and despair on this Earth right now and

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OUR LADY OF LOURDES ~WEST ISLIP, NY

these little workshops offer hope and inspiration..a light in the darkness and some magic too..

I no longer want to travel very far so I decided I would offer them in this part of New Mexico where I live–Las Vegas, Taos and Santa Fe and I would begin with Las Vegas. And so a few days ago, I made an appointment to talk with the priest at the Catholic Church in Las Vegas. The priest, whose name is Father George, suggested I call a man who had lost almost his entire family several years before when their minivan was hit by a drunk driver. His daughter, son-in law and 3 of their children were killed instantly when this driver, going the wrong way on the interstate hit their van, going 75 miles an hour.

I remembered the story [it made national news] and I didn’t want to call this man who had been through the imaginable. What could I possibly say?  I thought then about the losses in my own life and I thought about my workshops and what I could offer and what I could not.

TURNING TOWARD THE MORNING

“Turning Toward the Morning is a celebration of the human spirit. It is one of the most powerful expressions of love, compassion and transcendence I have ever seen. It is a reminder that we humans, for all our faults and failings, also contain the Divine. We are capable of great strengths, great visions, and great wisdom, which often surface in the wake of great pain. Watch this documentary with someone you love, and be prepared for magic.”

-New York Times Bestselling author, Larry Dossey, MD

I’m not a grief therapist-I never wanted to be. My workshops involve showing our award winning documentary, Turning Toward the Morning followed by a time to create simple memorials. I always bring colored markers, crayons, paints, glitter & colored paper and everyone from young children to the very elderly make drawings or write poems or letters and memorial-daddyeach one however simple or complex, is beautiful.

turning front coverTurning Toward the Morning includes 3 stories, 3 stories of parents who have lost a child to accidental death, suicide and terminal illness. The stories are told by the parents themselves……there are no ‘experts’ expressing opinions or giving advice.

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Michael and Breck Whitman from Turning Toward the Morning

The experts are the parents themselves.

After Father George suggested I contact the man who had lost his family, I thought about what really helps when there is tremendous loss. Who can help and how?  The answer, at least from my experience, is almost no one because it’s each person’s personal journey, one that they have to make alone. Even in the case of parents who lose a child, they each make the journey alone.

IN MY LIFE….

I thought about when my mother died when I was nine and how I instinctively closed myself off because I knew no one would understand. I knew they would say things like “Your mother was a wonderful person and now you have to live up to her memory and help your father.” or “She’s in a better place.” [How do they know I always wonder and how do those words help? They’re just words]

And I remembered when my brother killed himself at age 16. It was late August and I was getting ready to leave in 2 weeks for my sophomore year at Hollins College in Roanoke Virginia. My dad and stepmother thought it was too soon for me to go back but I wanted to be with my friends so they warned me “If you want to go back, don’t ask to come home. We’ve spent a lot of money.” [There would not be any emotional support at home which was why I wanted to leave]

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Sharon, Jeff and me  ~ Hollins College Roanoke, Virginia

For about 2 weeks after I was back at school, I was OK. My friends provided a distraction but then they were ready to go on with their lives as college sophomores and I wasn’t. I crashed, got sick–mono- and was sent to the college infirmary.

I was REALLY sick…I had night sweats and a terrible sore throat and I lay in bed on a rubber sheet not caring if I lived or died. But there was a doctor in that infirmary who took care of me. I don’t remember her name but I remember her because she was the first person who seemed to understand. I don’t remember any words that she spoke either….It was the feeling that came from her, a feeling of of compassion, caring and understanding and I felt safe and cared for with her as if I didn’t have to pretend. Later I learned that this doctor was herself terminally ill which probably explained her compassion.

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Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross signing books at a Life, Death and Transition workshop *The man on the left was a young dentist with ALS and the man on the right had lost his wife in a plane crash just the week before

Many years after that, I went to my first Life, Death and Transition workshop with Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. The workshop was held at the Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California and because of Elisabeth, her spirit and the way she was able to communicate with people, the feeling was the same..once again it wasn’t words but a FEELING of being cared for and understood…..I wanted to stay there forever, far away from the world that had hurt me and brought me so much pain.

WHAT CAN I OFFER

So the workshops…..What can I offer? I can’t offer a solution-no one can- but through  Turning Toward the Morning, I can offer the stories of some people who have found peace and a reason to go on… in the midst of great loss.

And I can offer the memorials as a way of expression, remembering and honoring…

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Captain Matthew Rogan  FDNY  died September 11, 2001

About a month after 911, I happened to be staying in the convent at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in West Islip, NY. Many of the firefighters who died on 911 were from West Islip and as I walked around the village, I saw memorials for them in many of the shop windows. One in particular stood out and I looked at the name–Matthew Rogan. When I got back to the convent, I asked one of the nuns, Sister Diane, about Matthew Rogan and she told me thatFile_01 matthew:parish his 10 year old son, also named Matthew, was in 4th grade at the church school. He was having a very difficult time she said and she was meeting with him whenever he needed to talk, in an attempt to help him through this terribly sad and painful time.

I asked if I could talk with Matthew, if he might like to tell his father’s story.

He did and the next day I interviewed him and took some photos. He drew a picture of his father’s firetruck which he wanted included in the memorial and when I got back home, I had everything framed and it became part of the traveling exhibit I did on loss and grief.matthew for sah copy copy

Six years later I took the exhibit to Our Lady of Lourdes and Matthew came with his mom. He came up to me and gave me a kiss on the cheek and then his mom told me how much it had meant to him to know that his father’s story had reached so many people. I was  happy…it’s always a giant leap of faith because I never know when I begin these projects what the outcome will be. *Matthew’s memorial is now permanently displayed at The Houston Firefighters Memorial in Houston, Texas.

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MATTHEW ROGAN WITH HIS MOM AND SISTER DIANE ~ OUR LADY OF LOURDES WEST ISLIP NY

 

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Matthew Rogan with his exhibit piece from Between Now & Forever ~Our Lady of Lourdes, West Islip, NY

CONNECTING….

exhibit 2 madisonIn 2004, I was invited to do a workshop presentation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was put on by the School of Nursing and it was extremely challenging in many ways. theater madisonAlong with the Between Now & Forever exhibit, I showed Turning Toward the Morning in a small theater there in the conference center

Before the film was shown, I gave a short talk about my experiences with loss, my therapy with the much loved addictions counselor, John Bradshaw and about the workshops with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. And then for some reason, maybe because I was very tired and wasn’t trying to impress anyone, I talked about how I had quite often in the past, cut myself with razor blades. I don’t know why I mentioned this then because I never talked about it. I thought it was shameful and I had seen before that people were horrified. Now it seems to be kind of an ‘in thing’ with kids like killing themselves on Facebook but at that time, I knew no one else who cut themselves.

But then the unexpected happened. When the film was over, quite a few people came up to me and began telling me their stories. They said things like I never cut myself but I tortured myself in other ways….and we understood each other and the whole feeling of that conference changed for me then and there. It wasn’t a formal event any longer but a real and true communion between people.

BLAZE

“We won’t succumb to hate, bitterness or disillusionment; we will use wisely the time we have left together…”

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BLAZE BERNSTEIN  1998-2018

I said I wanted to do the Between Now & Forever workshops in a different way but really I just want to add something to them and it’s this. A couple months ago I read a story that I could not forget: it was the story of University of Pennsylvania student, Blaze Bernstein who was brutally murdered by a ‘friend’.

Blaze who was known as a teenager with “a gentle and generous heart” was missing from his parents home in southern California for a week and when his body was found, he had been stabbed 20 times.

And his parents made this statement.

“We won’t succumb to hate, bitterness or disillusionment; we will use wisely the time we have left together. When we stop crying we will start doing positive things to affect change. We ask that everyone work towards something good. Stop being complacent. Do something now.

Now is the time to set aside fear, ignorance and judgement. It is time to love. Love each other. Be good. Do good and honor Blaze’s memory.”

~Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein

So I’m doing the workshops in memory of Blaze, as my small way of doing something good, of doing something positive to affect change.

Because it’s time now to move past and go beyond hate, revenge and blame…it’s way past time. Humanity will not survive much longer in this atmosphere. It’s all we hear in the ‘news’, from the politicians, from the ‘metoo’ people. It has become the accepted and expected way but it is not THE WAY.

For more information on the workshops, you can contact me at: fonehome@indian-creek.net

*ALSO I am offering these handmade hearts for a donation and as part of the workshops. They can be used as memorials…On the back, you can write a message: “RIP, in memory of” etc…with a fine tipped marker. 2 gold, 1 pink hearts

And if you would like to contribute to the continuation of this blog, you can do so here.

Thank you and May the Force be with You

MY EXPERIENCE WITH NATURAL MEDICINE [There is a BETTER WAY and It’s Right Here, Right Now]

*The following words were spoken by the Indian spiritual teacher, OSHO 35 years ago. We are now, in 2018, living in the midst of the times he spoke of…and we have some choices to make…

“Man is now living in his most critical moment and it is a crisis of immense dimensions. Either he will die or a new man will be reborn…It is going to be a death and resurrection. Unless human consciousness changes totally man cannot survive. As he is right now he is already outdated. …During this period there will be every kind of destruction on Earth including natural catastrophes and man manufactured auto-suicidal efforts. In other words there will be floods which have never been known since the time of Noah, along with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and everything else that is possible through nature. The Earth cannot tolerate this type of mankind any longer. There will be wars which are bound to end in nuclear explosions, hence no ordinary Noah’s ark is going to save humanity. …The Holocaust is not going to be confined to certain places, it is going to be global so no escape will be possible. You can only escape within and that’s what I teach. ….” (OSHO (1983))

For the past few months I’ve been very aware of a split on this planet, 2 very different worlds that are existing simultaneously

sundog    There is the old world which is dying and which is characterized by greed, fear, extreme materialism, hate, violence and blame. This world is ugly..it does not support life..it will not be able to sustain itself.  “The Earth cannot tolerate this type of mankind any longer…”

the rainbowAnd the new world coming characterized in part by sharing, acts of kindness, community, generosity, creativity…connection to Spirit, to the Creator.

And people are making their choices, choosing to live in one ‘reality’ or the other.

Since I’ve written about this already here and here,  I’m focusing in this post on health and healing, using Natural Medicine which is a significant part of The New Earth.

“The Most Allergic Person”

In my early 20s, I was married to a doctor, a surgeon and I believed totally and completely in traditional medicine. I believed in a lot of things then that turned out not to be true at all but I was young and I lived ‘inside the box’.

I was not a happy person in those days, having no purpose or understanding or reason for being…..I was a lost soul. And I had severe allergies. Every week, I went to the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston to get allergy shots where they told me I was one of the most allergic people they had ever seen. But even in my fogged and miserable state, I could see that I was getting worse from the shots–my nose ran constantly, my eyes were red and itched….I felt sick all the time.

I often went to Austin then, to visit friends and down the street from my friends’ house lived a man who offered ‘natural healing’. So on one of my trips, in desperation, I made an appointment and went to see him. I remember that he made a remedy, a tea which I was supposed to drink on a regular basis and he suggested I start doing some meditation. I drank the tea for maybe a month, the allergies went away and they never came back. Needless to say I never got another allergy shot.

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OSHA ROOT

* I think the tea remedy probably contained osha. “Osha, or Ligusticum porteri, (also called bear root) is an important perennial herb that inhabits the dry, upland meadows and ravines of the Rocky Mountains. The beneficial part of the osha plant is the root, which has long been used and considered sacred by Native Americans for cold, cough, and other respiratory ailments.”

As the yeas passed, I became more aware of natural medicine and methods of healing.  At a workshop in Hawaii, I learned about essential oils and I when I returned to Texas, I discovered that my veterinarian used the same oils for some of the animals he treated. I learned a lot more from him and I have used the oils ever since. As of this moment, I have not seen a doctor in 30 years.

MOTA/THE SACRED PLANT

jody's huge plantWhen I moved to northern New Mexico, 8 and 1/2 years ago, I discovered that nearly everyone I met smoked marijuana…it seemed almost a part of the culture. The people who smoked called it mota and they often referred to it as medicine. In Texas, I hadn’t known anyone who used it……I just equated it with Willy Nelson and Woodstock. It really meant nothing to me and I didn’t care about it one way or another.

But something happened that brought a sudden, sharp awareness: A drug bust which happened out here where I live, a terrifying experience when early one morning, 2 helicopters began circling low over my property and the surrounding area. For hours, the helicopters circled and then an army of military type vehicles carrying men armed with automatic weapons descended on a neighbor’s VERY SMALL, non commercial growing operation. WHY? There are meth labs and drug houses everywhere in this part of New Mexico…why not go after them? Well, follow the money trail…..and ask who will lose the most if marijuana is legal.

Still I had no real interest in marijuana, but I did have an interest in justice. I wrote a letter to the county sheriff  “… I have been so grateful to live in a peaceful community but yesterday all that changed for me. I was so scared..I didn’t sleep at all last night and today I just feel anger. And what I also know is that I have done absolutely nothing EVER in my life time to warrant being spied on by a helicopter…Who is responsible for these things and how do they justify the expense and who pays for all the gas and the pilots and all
those vehicles?” . There was no response.

Over the last 2 years, my life has become increasingly stressful and I have had a lot of trouble sleeping. I was using Advil PM but still, I woke up several times a night and had to drink a couple of glasses of wine to fall back asleep. Medical Cannabis is legal in New Mexico and I decided I would apply for my medical cannabis card–I have known for a long time that I have PTSD and PTSD is one of the ‘diseases’ that qualify a person to use medical cannabis.

cannabis heartI saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with PTSD and within a few weeks I got my card. I was able to purchase the tincture I needed and almost immediately, miracles began to happen. I was able to sleep soundly maybe for the first time ever and the severe knife like pains, I was having in my legs and feet..to the point I could barely walk. …went away. They are one hundred percent gone and they have never come back.

marijuanabreak_CBD_in_new_mexicoThe CBD tincture I use costs about $26 dollars a bottle and lasts at least 2 months and now I understand why the government, Big Pharma and many in the medical community are working so hard to ban marijuana: Because it’s a miracle plant known to heal *many diseases and it costs nearly nothing…Besides that it’s very easy to grow. Just imagine if I had gone to a doctor for my sleep problems and the pains in my legs. Imagine the tests and the medications prescribed.  Imagine the cost. And who benefits…who gets the money….always follow the money trail.  It’s like “Elementary My Dear Watson”

The propaganda these desperate people and organizations put out is beyond belief and it is at the expense of thousands of people who need the medicine…it’s criminal and it’s evil. As one man who was cured of end stage cancer put it ” How is it fair that because of my zip code I get to live and someone else..because of their zip code… will die?”

Here’s a list of some of the diseases that can be treated with medical cannabis:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy (seizures)
  • Glaucoma
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inflammation from various conditions
  • Insomnia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Nausea (emesis)
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tourette’s syndrome

FLASHING FLU SHOT SIGNS

walgreens fuckWhen I drive to the nearest town which is Las Vegas, New Mexico, I have to pass by Walgreens and I see the flashing signs for flu shots, shingles shots [are you kidding??], pneumonia shots…..and a red rage comes over me. Isn’t it obvious that it’s all about money???!!!  Once again, extreme greed, greed beyond belief at the expense of innocent and misinformed people. In my lifetime, I’ve only known one person with shingles and she had had shingles since she was young..always a result of stress. And I have personally encountered 3 people within the last 3 weeks who have gotten very sick AFTER they have gotten flu shots…and they seem mystified. As if to say we did as we were told and look what happened. EXACTLY!

As I was researching the clinic where I got the allergy shots so many years ago, I found this statement at the top of their website.

“If you’re planning a trip abroad, whether for business or pleasure, don’t let health problems ruin it. Visit our travel medicine and immunization specialists so you stay healthy while traveling.”

~from the Kelsey Seybold website

Do you really think they care…that they’re to help, to heal, to make your life better…do you really?

A week ago I happened to see this interview below. However you feel, whatever you believe, take time to watch this and also the 2nd clip -a retired dentist who cured himself of end stage cancer. This is life-changing and lifesaving information. And for HAPPINESS, watch Willy Nelson/Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die

If you would like to contribute to the continuation of this blog, you can do so here.

Thank you and May the Force be with You.

Moving On from #METOO… PLEASE! [Mother Grandpon and the Catacombs]

I think this is just a short post and not something I would usually write but enough is enough.

There’s an old world that is dying–it is characterized by greed, extreme materialism, self absorption, hate, blame, revenge, violence and insanity. I think almost everyone can see this.

There’s a new world, a New Earth coming in and in part, it’s characterized by compassion, kindness, community, personal responsibility, caring for the Earth and working to make the world a better place. [the WORLD not America]

Blaze-Nathan-BernsteinA month or so ago  Blaze Bernstein, a 19 year old,  University of Pennsylvania student was brutally murdered by a ‘friend’  He was home on Winter Break and was missing from his parents’ house. When his body was found a week later, he had been stabbed more than 20 times. And his parents made this statement:

“We won’t succumb to hate, bitterness or disillusionment; we will use wisely the time we have left together. When we stop crying we will start doing positive things to affect change. We ask that everyone work towards something good. Stop being complacent. Do something now.

Now is the time to set aside fear, ignorance and judgement. It is time to love. Love each other. Be good. Do good and honor Blaze’s memory.”

~Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein

Then a few days ago, I happened to watch a segment on the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nasser. One of his abuse victims was reading a statement in which she talked about how she cried every night [still after 15 plus years???!!!] and she was not able to work because of the abuse. After she finished her statement, her father who was at the proceedings, lunged at Larry Nasser but was stopped by the guards. The father later made a statement in which he droned on and on about the whole situation. His statement was filled with anger and bitterness and hatred.

When I was  watching this, I thought of the Bernsteins and I thought about how they had turned the worst possible nightmare a parent could ever experience into something for good, for others, for the world. Revenge and hate would have been expected, accepted and supported but they chose another way and in doing so have inspired many, many others to choose another way. @dogoodforblaze

*I taped the Bernsteins statement to my refrigerator as a reminder to myself…when I”m feeling mean, judgemental, revengeful, I will read and remember. There’s another way.

A few days ago, when I saw one of the ‘metoo’ storiesHip GrandmaI thought about my stepmother and I laughed. My stepmother who we called Mother Grandpon, prided herself in coming from what she called ‘a nice family’. She loved playing bridge, shopping, drinking vodka martinis and going to parties. She lived to be 91.

There was a story she liked to tell: it was the story of when she was a teenager visiting the catacombs in Rome and a monk pinched her butt as she was touring the catacombs. She thought it was funny and we did too.  I tried to imagine her now joining ‘metoo’ dredging up an ancient story, crying and feeling offended because now you can be offended by the tiniest thing.  But it would never have happened.

So I guess this is about choices: the choice to keep the cycle of hate and revenge going which is reaching out and poisoning everyone and everything, including the Earth itself or the choice to take personal responsibility, to accept what comes, to work toward making the difficult, painful things that are bound to happen.. into something to learn from, maybe as a way to help others… and to remember to

“Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?”

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor  161 -180

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