The Power of Story

Grief is… podcast

I tell my grief story so that others will be more comfortable in telling theirs. Many thanks to Becky at The Death Dialogues Project for giving me the opportunity to share my story, laugh a little and speak candidly about why we need to collectively move forward in our understanding of loss, grief and new beginnings. Please share so that others may feel less alone. Grief is… on Spotify, Anchorfm, Apple Podcasts,Breaker, Cast Box, Google, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Radio Public and Stitcher.

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I’m being careful

Richard and Emily at his  Surprise Birthday Party 

My brother and husband both had terminal cancer. But, it was respiratory infections that ended their lives. Not covid-19 type of viral infections – just plain old regular respiratory infections. None of their caregivers were ill. The viruses were introduced into their homes by third parties who either didn’t know they were carriers or who thought they were being careful enough. So to those folks out there that believe you do not have to quarantine yourselves for 14 days after returning from abroad as long as you are “being careful” You Are Wrong. Dead Wrong.
Save a life. Stay inside for 14 days.

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Looking for previous “Widow Wednesdays? Start here with Widow Wednesday #1
Buy Heike’s book “Grief is…” click here

To learn more about Heike (Author: “Grief is…”) click here

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Widow Wednesday #11 Start with the small things

Gratitude is both next to impossible and essential when we are grieving. Don’t even think that I’m going to that place of being grateful because your loved one is no longer suffering or in heaven. That sort of thinking is flawed. That sort of gratitude is very messy and complicated – mostly because it stifles the voices of those who are suffering in order to make others feel less uncomfortable. I’m talking about looking for small ways to be grateful, even when our grief is still powerful.

There came a time when I was still deeply grieving that I knew I needed to change my thinking if I wanted to move away from being overwhelmed and sad all day long. I knew studies had shown that being grateful helped people live happier lives so I figured I had to give it a try- even though I was still feeling pretty gnarly and angry and far from grateful about pretty much everything.

I began by being grateful for little things like my air conditioning working when it was 30 degrees outside, eating a tomato that had grown in my garden and crawling into a bed with clean sheets. Sometimes I was grateful the day was done and no new crisis had reared its ugly head. Over time, I found that by consciously searching for things to be grateful about (and writing them down), my mind began to shift. I came to realize that not every moment of my day was painful.

Holding on to and appreciating those small joys made me acknowledge how fortunate I was to have good friends to sit with, to walk along the beach (even if I had to drive to get there) and to simply stand in the sun and feel it’s warmth on my face.   There was still a lot of chaos and pain in my life, but noticing and being grateful for these small moments of reprieve helped. It also made me realize that uneventful days are, in themselves, gifts and not a given, as I had once wrongly believed. I learned that my days, like life, would always be sometimes easier and sometimes harder. Searching for these small moments of grace in my day made me appreciate and value the people in my life more and perhaps even life itself more. This last part was way, way down the road.

So if you’re struggling start with the small stuff. It may take some effort, especially on difficult days, but it will help shift your thinking, ease you pain a little bit and maybe even make you laugh. Try to come up with three things and work your way up to five. Do this daily and if you forget start again tomorrow. No harm, no foul.

Let me know how this turns out for you.

If someone you love is struggling consider making a game of this with them. I can guarantee it will make you more grateful for what goes on during your day. More importantly, it may help your loved one.

P.S. You don’t have to wait for loss to make this part of your day. We used to play some version of this around the dinner table every night. I never grew tired of hearing that one of the best things of Richard’s day was coming home to be with us. Those moments will always definitely be some of my favourite memories.

Till next time,
Stay well,
Heike

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Looking for previous “Widow Wednesdays? Start here with Widow Wednesday #1
Buy Heike’s book “Grief is…” click here
To learn more about Heike (Author: “Grief is…”) click here
If you’d like to read more on how I put this into practice check out my blog on my gratefuls buddy Everyone needs a Jo-Anne.

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Finding Gratitude through Living

Gratitude through Living

At 18 I dove into the ocean of gratitude and never found shore

~Dr. Patch Adams~

What are you waiting for?

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Things not to say


1. Is he still alive? I thought he’d be dead by now.

2. But she lives in such a nice neighbourhood. I’m surprised she goes to AA.
(only poor people are alcoholics?)

3. Wow! What did she do to deserve that?
Upon learning that my brother and husband died 18 months apart: their deaths, my karma

4. He’s been struggling for a long time. You’re not really surprised he killed himself?
Death is always a surprise and we always hope for a better ending.

5. Well he made a lot of bad lifestyle choices.
Implies his death should not be a surprise or that it is somehow deserved.
note: Sometimes those who make ‘poor’ lifestyle choices live a long time and sometimes those who make ‘good’ lifestyle choices get sick and die young. Stop looking for a reason.

Let’s work to enjoy the moment and be kind with our words and our thoughts. We are all in this together.
Till next time,
Stay well,
Heike

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Looking for previous “Widow Wednesdays? Start here with Widow Wednesday #1
Buy Heike’s book “Grief is…” click here

To learn more about Heike (Author: “Grief is…”) click here

free image from clipart-library.com

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Widow Wednesday #10

Widow Wednesday

Welcome to Widow(er) Wednesday, where I share what worked, what didn’t work and what could work better.

To better support the grieving accept their messengers of love.

Messages of love

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
-Rumi

Pretty much everyone I know who has lost a loved one has told me a story of how they believed their loved one showed up in another form after they died. Not all of these people are religious and I could easily build an argument that having these experiences contradicts many religious doctrines. And yet still, even those who are deeply religious have told me these stories. I too, of course, have my own stories.

The very fact that we speak of angels, spirit guides, messengers and feeling someone’s presence indicates that these experiences are universal.

The time has come to accept these happenings as valid as well as valuable.

Whether healing comes in the form of a Spiderman band-aid, antibiotic cream, stitches, a warm cup of tea, a shot of brandy, a soft blanket, a hug, or the presence of someone who cares is irrelevant: all wounds need support in order to heal.
Sometimes we need all of these things to work together so that we can heal and some supports are more effective than others. When our wounds are not visible we still need to be supported to heal.

Consequently, I’ve come to realize when someone tells me of their late husband visiting in the form of his favourite bird or butterfly, or in my case, feeling my late husband’s presence in the wind, that she and I are being supported in our healing by our loved ones. These messages and messengers are gifts of healing.

The bottom line: I can accept another’s truth even when their experiences differ from my own. I’m sure you can too.
Till next time,
Stay well,
Heike

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Looking for previous “Widow Wednesdays? Start here with Widow Wednesday #1
Buy Heike’s book “Grief is…” click here

To learn more about Heike (Author: “Grief is…”) click here

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One of the Greatest Things Ever (so far)

Free vintage wedding image: The Graphics Fairy

A friend and I recently watched her ’70 something year old’ cousin marry her ’90 something year old’ fiancée. It was a beautiful ceremony. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Otherwise, I would have missed witnessing this joyous occasion. For this, I am grateful.

I wasn’t invited and my friend didn’t bring me along uninvited.

The ceremony took place in New York State. We were in Ontario. My friend’s mom (the bride’s first cousin) set up a Facetime call (in New York State) and then added in my friend and her two sisters. As we waited for the ceremony to begin we exchanged greetings and happy thoughts. When it did begin, we quickly muted our microphones to avoid any unintentional interruptions. Everything went smoothly and everyone rejoiced.  It’s one thing to enter into marriage all starry eyed in your twenties believing only good things will come your way. It’s another to make that commitment in your 70’s, 80’s and 90’s knowing very well what still lies ahead. It is love and courage personified.

It was a stellar afternoon and realizing that I’ll be able to attend all kinds of fabulous events via Facetime moving forward has made me very happy.  Using technology to support one another, stay connected and share in one another’s joy is a great thing. It is technology and life at its best.

Stay well, Heike

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Looking for  “Widow Wednesdays? Start here with Widow Wednesday #1
Buy Heike’s book “Grief is…” click here

To learn more about Heike (Author: “Grief is…”) click here

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Grief is (a short doc)

This summer I had the opportunity to work with Back Lane Studios and make a short doc. The goal, as per usual, was to let grieving folks know they are not alone and to make everyone else a bit more familiar with what to do when friends, family and co-workers are grieving. (hint: watch and share this video to show you get it). It’s an 8 minute commitment and I’m pretty sure you will learn something.
Stay well, Heike

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Looking for previous “Widow Wednesdays? Start here with Widow Wednesday #1
Buy Heike’s book “Grief is…” click here

To learn more about Heike (Author: “Grief is…”) click here

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