“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Last night I spent hours writing a post which I had titled “Motherless Daughters/Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings.”
I had come upon an old photo of my mother in the hospital, taken not long before she died.  andsince in all these years I had never written about her, I thought maybe finding the photo was a sign that it was time. So I spent all day writing, finding photos, film clips etc and then about 8:30 last night, just when I was ready to publish it, the whole post disappeared and I couldn’t retrieve it.
The message of the post was meant to be educational and inspiring; it was about what happens when a young child loses a parent, the good and the bad, how death can be approached differently, the teachings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross etc. It was somewhat based on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s quote “Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings.”
But it was gone and I couldn’t retrieve it so I went to sleep..
Today though, I don’t want to re create it. Today another story as my faith and hope are at an all time low, as I’m struggling to understand what’s happening to me and and why..as I’m looking for the courage to continue, to keep going.
When I was looking for film clips for my disappeared post, I found this film clip of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross reading FOOTPRINTS
I liked it–I remembered that Elisabeth often read it at her workshops and I found it comforting but lately, as everything has been collapsing around me, I have listened to so many words as well as advice, well meaning maybe but not often helpful..
So I decided to do this post, When Everything Collapses, are there really Footprints in the Sand? which maybe some will find meaningful, if not now maybe later: thoughts about what does help [and what doesn’t] when everything is collapsing around you and the faith which you thought you had, is disappearing quickly…I have about 5 percent of my faith left at this point and I’ve always had a lot, I’ve lived by faith alone much of my life.
I try not to write about myself only but if I do sometimes, hopefully there’s something others can relate to.
THE DISAPPEARING FRIENDS SYNDROME
Something I’ve noticed lately is that when things were good, I had quite a few friends [I thought] but since things have gotten very difficult and I’ve been sinking, I’ve been surprised to find out that I actually have only a few. Some people have dropped me completely and others have offered a few words and then disappeared. Since it’s very hard for me to ask for help, being rejected over and over again has not only been humiliating but has hurt my feelings deeply or as my Spanish speaking companion would say “it has broken my feelings”.
Apparently though, the ‘disappearing friends syndrome’ is a common occurrence and probably more so now in this increasingly materialistic and self centered world.
Dr. Jackson Rainer, a professor of psychology at Georgia Southern University] describes this kind of distancing as “stiff-arming” — creating as much space as possible from the possibility of trauma. It’s magical thinking in the service of denial: If bad things are happening to you and I stay away from you, then I’ll be safe.
Such people often wind up offering what Dr. Rainer calls pseudo-care, asking vaguely if there’s anything they can do but never following up. Or they might say they’re praying for the family in crisis, a response he dismisses as ineffectual at best. “A more compassionate response,” he said, “is ‘I am praying for myself to have the courage to help you.’ ”
So what to do, how to continue?
Years ago I was in a Life, Death and Transition that Elisabeth Kubler Ross was doing in Kamloops, British Columbia. Elisabeth had her own special way of conducting these workshops which I won’t go into now but her teachings came from the Spirit world and were unique to each person in the workshop…so she was never able to teach others-therapists, counselors etc exactly how she worked with people.
Elisabeth worked with each person in the group individually [there were usually 70 people in a workshop] but in front of the group. The purpose of this was to remind all of us that as she put it “We are all brothers and sisters.”
When my turn came, she told me that I would have to go up to every person in the group and ask for a hug. And she instructed the group “Don’t give her one unless she asks for it.” She left the room for a while and when she came back, she said to me, “Did you learn your lesson? Did you learn that you have to ask for what you need?”
So I’m asking….
I’ve written about this before but in a nutshell, a large nutshell,the funding for* RITES OF PASSAGE , the non profit I founded in 1988 to provide care for terminally ill people, went away completely after 26 years, April 1rst 2015. It was supposed to return after just a few months but never did. This funding allowed us to provide care for many, many terminally ill patients…. To make 20 educational documentary films which are used by hospitals, nursing schools, bereavement centers, universities etc. throughout the US and Canada. It allowed us to create 3 traveling photo/oral history exhibits on AIDS, on Loss & Grief and on Aging and it enabled me to do presentations for national hospice conferences throughout the US and Canada. Since April 2015, I’ve used up every bit of my savings, trying to keep things together. I have nothing left and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am angry, bitter, disgusted, frightened and confused as to how after all this work, I could end up with nothing.
The stress that I feel is enormous and constant and the fear overwhelming. When bill collectors are hounding you non stop, when you realize you may not be able to buy food or the necessities of life, it’s very frightening. If you’re reading this, try to imagine how it feels and if you think it will never happen to you…..it can….no one is immune in these current times.
You can read about RITES OF PASSAGE HERE and HERE and if you feel you can contribute so we can continue our work and PAY IT FORWARD, you can do so below. IT’S NOT TOO LATE AND THIS IS NOT A SELFISH REQUEST. If you take time to read about our work, I think you’ll understand the many, many contributions we’ve made in the fields of AIDS, Death and Dying, Aging, Native American issues etc. and with a little help, can continue to make.
* RITES OF PASSAGE, originally named AIDS Care and Assistance is a 501 c  not for profit organization founded in 1988.
So I don’t know…it’s not as if I haven’t had challenges and difficult times in my life….my life has been made up of one after another with hardly a resting place.
Anyway, here’s WHAT HAS HELPED
~Friends who listen without giving advice
~Friends who send true words of encouragement like the following:
You will more than survive; you will emerge stronger and clearer than ever—and all so that the people may live.
I am standing beside you at the fire.
~Friends who offer to help and really mean it and follow through
~And of course contributions, even small ones help enormously!
~ Turning more toward the Spiritual, listening to the spiritual teachers, for me Eckhart Tolle [see meditation film clip below] and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
~Sometimes watching reruns of All in the Family and inspirational films like Field of Dreams and Places in the Heart and a documentary we made called Angels Watch Over Me
~AND I’m fortunate to live with a man who having spent many years early in his life in prison and jail.–I say fortunate because he brings happiness and humor.... …to almost everything, I think because he has known suffering, extreme deprivation and loss of freedom in a way that most of us can’t conceive of and so has a much greater appreciation of just being alive. [see Jody Armijo’s story and his art HERE ]
WHAT DOESN’T HELP
I think I’ve already talked about this…Well actually there are a couple of things: telling someone to breathe and telling them to ‘hang in there’ Again well meaning but meaningless at least for me. It’s the same as saying “He went to a better place” Meaningless words, maybe well meant but no one, unless they’ve had a near death experience, really knows that there is a better place…it’s just a belief….maybe a nice belief but again, words that at least to me, are meaningless and actually irritating.
So I am breathing and I’ve been hanging for months now with no positive results.
Below is the Meditation film clip from Eckhart Tolle and also, a film clip of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross which is also relevant because friends often disappear when there is a death, when someone close do you dies….
And maybe, hopefully at some point through all these teachings, I’ll understand what all this suffering was for…and be able to say “Everything happens for a reason” but right now, at this moment, I’m not seeing the light