Navigating the Seas of Grief and Despair

Jeremy Segrott

Photo Credit: Jeremy Segrott via CC Flickr

The death of a close friend, a dear sibling or spouse, or a loving relative can lead a person to great depths of grief, despair and hurt. There are times when the death seems like a blessing because the person was suffering from an illness or some other misfortune, and they are now free from their suffering. In some instances, the individual expires because of old age or in other occasions, the passing of an individual is sudden and shocking. Regardless, when someone a person knows passes from this life, there is usually a time of great sorrow and pain.

Over the course of this past year, I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing some family and friends of mine who either died suddenly or have been going through the dark valleys of their lives. I came across the following story a while back that was written by an older gentleman, who had written his response to someone who had asked the following question in an editorial in his newspaper: “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.” Many people responded but there was one old man whose incredible comment stood out from the rest. What he stated might just change the way we approach life and death:

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, parents, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

 I wish that I could say that you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if that scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and love. And scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

 “As for grief, you’ll find that it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with all of the wreckage around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was…and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing. Maybe it is a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float and stay alive.

 “In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they crash over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. If might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave keeps crashing…but in between waves…there is life.

 “Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall…or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at an airport. You can see it coming and for the most part, you prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

 “Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come…and you will survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of love…and lots of shipwrecks.”   ~ Source: Pinterest

It is my deepest hope and prayer that this commentary can help you or someone you know who may be “drowning” in a Sea of Despair or Grief. I know this…it helped me when I read it a while ago when my lifelong and best friend died, and who I miss every day…my Dad. So’s here to hope, grace, and happiness…and remembering the times with your loved one…the memories that will last a lifetime!

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Gestures of Kindness

Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Photo Credit: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

There are many kinds of people that we can find in today’s world: the pessimists and optimists, the solemn, the boisterous, the sad, the happy, the mean and nasty, the thoughtful and caring…the list goes on and on. There are also numerous ways that people convey the way they feel towards others by how they act, what they say, and how they behave towards others.

Think of  five different people that you may know…whether or not they are you friends or not does not matter. Think of how they act and/or what they say…OK…think of the way that you feel when they are around you. Do they make you happy or sad? Angry or joyful? Worthless or invaluable? Do they make you feel like a million bucks and on top of the world or like a loser that isn’t worth a dime? Our actions, more than our words, really can mean everything to people that we come in contact with everyday.

Let me tell you this quick little story: Every Sunday, my family and I go to church and every week, as I am walking to my seat, there is one elderly usher, who I will name Charlie, that I always look forward to see the most. I have known Charlie for many years now, but unfortunately, I have never really gotten to know him and I have only learned things about him by bits and pieces. I know that he lives alone with his beloved dog, lost his wife years ago, enjoys camping, and loves the Lord. Like I said, I really don’t know much about him…BUT…I do know this, he is a man with a gentle soul who always has kind words to say, a big smile, a caring spirit, and has always been a HUGE inspiration and source of reassurance to me…he is a quiet man of encouragement!

How many of you are a “Quiet Encouragement” to others? The great thing is this…you don’t have to do or say a lot of things to be a light and inspiration to others! So, make a goal every day and determine how many people you will try to encourage through simple gestures of kindness!

Time is Precious

vincent-albanese

Photo Credit: Vincent Albanese via CC Flickr

The speed and pace of today’s world is absolutely incredible. It seems as though time is flying by quicker and quicker, and we find ourselves with less time to do the things that we once did. The Technology Age, computers, the internet, social media, etc., has made it so that information can be found instantly and at the touch of a button.

Unfortunately, statistics also show us that people are under more stress, have less social skills, and are more out of shape, then ever before. How often do we desire to do something with our loved ones, family or friends…then “put it off”, and never get to do it?

The following poem, “Slow Dance,” written by David Weatherford, is an awesome reminder of the importance of spending our time wisely. Using our limited time here on Earth, to enjoy friendships, the beauty of the world, the joy of life, etc. It is my hope that the following words touch your heart and inspire you to understand the sweet importance of time and how we should use it.

“SLOW DANCE” by DAVID WEATHERFORD

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round

Or listened to rain slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight

Or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Do you run through each day on the fly?

When you ask, “How are you?” do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Ever told your child, “We’ll do it tomorrow,”

And in your haste not seen his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die,

’Cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

When you run so fast to get somewhere,

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race, so take it slower,

Hear the music before your song is over.

 

Saying Goodbye Can Be the Hardest Thing

Abbey1

Photo Credit: Unknown

I recently came across an incredibly heartwarming story on USHumor.com (not a funny story), that will melt your heart and maybe bring a tear to your eye. There are millions of people who have pets. Their pets become like another person in their family. They go to stores, walks, car or truck rides, trips, and a host of other things together. Pets grow up with their owners and become an integral part of their masters lives.

For many people, when their pets die, it can be absolutely devastating. There are some people that I know (and I am 53 years old), that still claim to this day, that losing their pet was one of the hardest and saddest time in their lives.

Thus, today’s story and the sweet response that someone decided to do to help mend a broken heart…..


Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter, Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God. I told her that I thought we could…so she dictated these words:

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she was sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending you a picture of her so when you see her, you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

Love, Meredith

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, “To Meredith” in an unfamiliar hand. Inside, there was the letter that we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,

Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away. Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and send it to me. What a wonderful mother that you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember…I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find, I am wherever there is love.

Love, God

Pictures That Speak Volumes #74

kid and cat

Photo Credit: Unknown

There is nothing more precious than seeing the pure innocence and joy of a youngster. This photo is a terrific image of a little toddler enjoying his furry little friend.

It really does make you think what people would be like…as they get older…if they still had this kind of total happiness and joy throughout their lives. It just goes to show us once again, the importance of taking the time to enjoy the little things in life, staying focused on the positive, learn from the negative, and ALWAYS be thankful!

Remember: NO ONE IS IN CHARGE OF YOUR HAPPINESS EXCEPT FOR YOU!!! 

 

 

The Purpose of Dogs According to Six-Year-Old

jimmy brown

Photo Credit: Jimmy Brown via CC Flickr

One of my favorite things in life when I was younger was having a companion that was as close as a sibling, friend, or family member….my pet dog. We did everything together…go swimming, play soccer (he was the goalie), fishing, going on walks, etc. I remember how sad I was when I learned that my dad had to “put him down” after living a long dog’s life.

I used to think, “I wonder why dogs were given to us humans?”

Well, of all of the explanations that I ever heard, the following story is probably the best explanation that I ever heard. I hope you enjoy this short little story as much as I did!

—————–

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found that he was dying of cancer. I told the family that we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought that it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting his old friend for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animals lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, “people are born so they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, that’s why they don’t have to stay here as long.

Just One More Time…

Mark K Baird via Morguefilecom

Photo Credit: Mark K. Baird via Morguefile.com

I recently turned the big “5-0” a couple of years ago and what was even more humiliating, was receiving an AARP membership letter in the mail the very next day…Ahhh! Anyway, I have always been a nostalgic-type guy and I have become even more so during the past months.

I usually find myself a few times each day thinking to myself, “just once, I would love to go back in time and do…..” basically, reminding myself of the days or years in my past. It always brings a type of warmth to my heart and a smile to my face thinking of the friends, people, places and activities that I used to enjoy.

I know that it isn’t healthy to “overindulge” or “dwell on the past” too much on the things of the past, but sometimes, when life gets hard, crazy, or hectic, it’s always nice to sit back and think of the special things that happened…when life was simple and pure.

So, if I could, I would love to go back and do some of these things…just one more time

Stay outside until the street lights came on…which meant it was time to come home

Have bike races around the block with baseball cards flapping in my spokes which we thought made us sound like we were riding motorcycles

Hear the dinner bell ring…which called us all home for dinner

Listen to grandma calling all of our cats letting them know that their food was ready

Go Snapper fishing with my dad off the boat docks until sundown

Help my mom decorate her classroom and get it ready for her students

Play baseball and kickball with the kids in our neighborhood for hours each day

Build a tree fort in the trees in our backyard

Play and “Hide and Seek” in the woods and discover things around creeks and ponds

Save the world from evil and chaos as super heroes Batman (and my brother) Robin

Sit on my grandfather’s lap and listen to one more of his stories

Go sleigh riding down “Mueller’s Hill”, fly off the snow ramps and navigate around the obstacles that we made

Give my mom and dad one more hug

Visit neighbors with my brother and then enjoy the treats that they would give us

Have crabapple fights with the neighbors

Build sandcastles then making a big sand wall trying to prevent the incoming tide from destroying my fortress

Smell the aromas of the sausage and pepper sandwiches, homemade French fries, fresh cotton candy and pizza that that were always present at the boardwalk

Hear the sounds of the binging and ringing of bells, whistles and other noises emanating from the boardwalk arcades

Feel the sudden pull of the line on my pole as a fish got snagged on the hook and the excitement of the “fight”

Experience my heart “skipping a beat” as I asked a girl on the first date of my life

Watch my dad take portraits of people in his photography studio

Take a family vacation with my wife and two boys

Experience the excitement and magic of dating my wife then marrying her

Go to Yankee Stadium with friends

Stand on the rock jetty by the beach, watching fishing, luxury, and other boats come in

Go to college again

Play miniature golf during a beautiful summer night

Go to a family reunion

I could go on and list more things for hours…but the one thing that I wish that I could do….just one more time…if only for a moment…would be to TELL my mom, dad and grandma…how much I loved them…and thank them for all the love that they showed me.

Life is short. Take the time each and every day to enjoy the big AND small things. Appreciate and be thankful for all the people that are in your life and let them know how much they mean to you…before they are all gone.