The Grief Walk

Image result for griefAs a nurse, I experience many emotions with families that cross my path. The spectrum involved in one day can sometimes be dizzying and is often exhausting. The powerful emotions surrounding loss can easily overwhelm even the most veteran nurses when tragic loss arrives during a “normal” work day, unannounced and uninvited. A chaplain offers a prayer, nurses gather to cry and hug, and then the serving resumes. We proceed through our shifts and appear to be unscathed…but loss always leaves a mark, whether acknowledged or not. The grieving process is the healing process. As nurses we talk through our losses. We manage them alone at night while the rest of the world sleeps. The goal being to walk all the way through the grief and experience healing that can then ignite deeper compassion and nursing care that promotes true health and wellness for our patients as well as ourselves.

Our response to loss initiates an extensive ripple effect through our lives. It is worth acknowledging and discussing. I think people don’t understand how many losses are really experienced throughout life. Things that we may think are “just a part of life” create losses/wounds that need to be grieved. It is easier to disregard the impact of loss then to address the emotions of these difficult times. Left alone, these emotions destroy us. They build up and become distorted and impact us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. However, when we are willing to grieve and walk through the pain and out on the other side, we transform a gaping wound to a small scar. We can lift our heads and embrace a new normal.

So why have I brought up such an uplifting topic? My work allows me to see new life coming into the world every shift, and I wonder what lies ahead for these small miracles that have landed in this family called the human race. Hatred seems to be growing like a forest fire after a drought and I have to wonder…is this a ripple from grief and loss that have not been healed but rather passed down through generations? When the response to tragedy is finding someone to blame…a seed of hatred is planted. When the response to loss is jealousy of others who haven’t experienced that same loss…seeds of contempt and entitlement are planted. When the response to loss is isolation and self-pity…seeds of bitterness and resentment are planted. Destructive coping skills can impact families through generations and create deep chasms of pain in stone hearts. These hearts turn into nations imploding.

Loss is a given, but grieving and healing areImage result for grief choices and not mandatory. When we acknowledge our feelings and our grief, we are accepting the hurt and pain that come from the healing process. We must be vulnerable and welcome uncertainty and that is not in our comfort zone. However, the beauty is that as we journey, we grow and develop new skills. We meet others that reach back to aid us in our assent. And we stop the bleeding and heal. Then we can turn around and extend a hand to others with soft hearts and eyes filled with tenderness instead of hatred. I have walked a few roads that involved extreme loss and I have many scars. These times were dark, heavy, and oppressive. I would not want to experience them again. But the emotional stamina, faith, strength, confidence, hope, and clarity of thinking that I have today were all developed and nurtured during the grief walks of my life. Now, my scars offer common ground when others that are hurting. Ripples of empathy and non-judgmental kindness instead of hatred, bitterness, and pain are the result.

Take a moment and think about losses you have experienced. Some will be enormous, like loss of trust or control from an abusive situation or loss of a loved one or wayward child. Some may seem insignificant like the loss of a pet or a friend moving away. All loss leaves a mark. When kids move away we experience loss. When we retire there are losses to address. When loved ones pass and there are no answers, the loss is immense. We all experience loss and must choose our responses carefully.

I pray for you today as you read this blog. My journey has led me to a deep faith in God that sustains me each day. I know that He can be trusted and is my unwavering foundation of security no matter what losses come my way. Maybe I just lost you there. Maybe you have been hurt by something that happened to you at church or someone’s actions who said they were a Christian. I understand and I truly am sorry. My prayer is that you take it up with God. His shoulders are big enough and He can handle even the most rambunctious human heart. This is encouragement for healing, a hand reaching back, an acknowledgment of need. Please stop the bleeding and find rest and peace.

 

 

“May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, New Living Translation)

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Dream: Go For It!

Dreaming 

A new year with new opportunities for fresh plans and goals. Unfortunately, this is also prime time for unrealistic expectations that can lead us down the road to frustration, disappointment, and yet another hit to the self-esteem. As the infomercials and gym fliers attack, pause and figure out what you really need and want for 2016.

Dream a little bit. What would you really like to see happen in 2016? I don’t mean win the lottery! I mean, what goals are you willing to fight for, sacrifice for, and come out of your comfort zone for…because that is the goal you want to put in the cross-hairs.

Patience 

Whatever goal is your focus, be patient. Much easier said than done! Habits are hard to change, but not impossible! The formula is consistency and time; we must be dedicated to transformation.

I recently heard a tip that I thought was phenomenal. We need to stop listening to ourselves and start talking to ourselves.  We need to be patient and understand that it takes time to change those negative tapes that run in the background of our minds, but we can challenge them and preach truth to ourselves and with perseverance, we can change.

The Pit of Comfort

I am a queen of justification! Who’s with me? I can always come up with “legitimate” reasons why I “need” something that I want. And, we seem to be quick to help each other justify actions counter to our goals too! Why is it so tempting to lure ourselves and others off the path of discipline that leads to success? My guess is that fear often drives that bus. Fear of failure, fear of expectations, fear of giving up vices, fear of disapproval of others, fear of discomfort…fear is huge. All of these fears add to the trouble we experience leaving our pit of comfort…whatever that pit looks like for us. You may be surprised what pit you are choosing to hang out in. Maybe you have set up house in a body that is too large because you believe it is shielding you from pain or fear. Maybe you cuddle with negative attitudes and depression buying into the lie that you don’t deserve anything else due to leftovers from past hurts or failed relationships. Maybe your soft landing is a pile of excuses you have claimed as truth as to why you can’t change fueled by smoldering crash landings from former attempts. Our justifications keep us in our comfort zone that is really more like a strait jacket. We believe we are protecting ourselves, but in reality we are hiding and hindering growth and maturity and abundant living.

A big pit of comfort for me has always been Diet Coke. As a teenager it was an allowable pleasure in my strict and conservative home, it didn’t have any calories so if fit in with my crazed eating habits, and it became a friend for when I felt down or wanted a treat. It never asked anything of me and it was consistent and unchanging. That habit grew over the years into a powerful force in my life, becoming an immovable part of schedules and budgets. This has been my reality but I am staring it down in 2016!

What is your “Diet Coke”? What is that thing that you are absolutely unwilling to give up even though you know it is not in your best interest? That my friend is where you need to aim your weapons to begin true transformation. There is a reason you cling to it, an attachment that is larger than just the object of your desire, your idol. Figure that out and you are on your way to meeting goals and creating the lifestyle you really want.AuntJodi

My challenge to you as this new year begins, is to find goals that challenge comfort. For me this means no more Diet Coke, yep, I’m done. As I talked this over with my husband to ensure he was willing to support my whiny and probably irritable transition, he asked me a valuable question: “have you thought about what you will replace it with?” Any plan for change must include survival strategies that are realistic. I can drink coffee and tea to ease the transition off of caffeine, but the reality is that I don’t want to replace the idol that Diet Coke became. I have accepted that this will be uncomfortable and I am determined to learn though the discomfort and embrace it instead of run from it. I pray and meditate when the cravings are strong. I speak truth to myself about the cravings, what do I really want…peace, relief, rest…Diet Coke doesn’t meet any of those needs! It is about being honest with our realities and being willing to be uncomfortable in order to achieve the lifestyle of health and freedom that we really desire. One of my favorite quotes from Jillian Michaels is “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Dream big friends and achieve lasting success by stepping outside of your comfort zone!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

 

Night Songs

Surviving life with grace and hope

u.b.healthy

Create the life you want