When Marlene Hunt contacted me about using my quote in her book, “Twelve Steps of Hope,” I was honored and grateful. Writing is a creative way for me to disperse hope, healing and positive change. Through Marlene’s book, I get a chance to do that.
She’s such an inspiration, which is why I asked her to talk about grief here. If you’re suffering or know someone who is, you’ll find want to read her hopeful post.
By: Marlene Hunt
Grief is grief. However, each grief is different. I once read, when a parent dies, you lose your past; when a spouse dies, you lose your present, and when your child dies, you lose your future. And, when your sibling dies, you lose all three. I was asked one time to be on a grief panel, to teach what grief is like. Can one teach how a heart feels? Can you teach how a heart feels love? Can you teach how your heart actually feels physical pain after the personal loss of a loved one? No one can understand how your heart feels unless they have been on that journey.
During my lifetime I have experienced different types of grief. When I was 20 I was the driver in an auto accident which involved the fatality of a 13-year-old boy; my brother died suddenly of an unknown heart defect at the age of 24; I became a widow at the age of 50 when my husband, Tom, died three months after a liver cancer diagnosis; and two years later my parents died three months apart.
I learned grief affects your mind, body, and spirit. There would be times when I couldn’t remember things, I thought I was going crazy. I would go to sleep at night and wake up at 2:00 a.m. I couldn’t eat, and some have felt the need to overeat when they are grieving. I learned to write things down that I did, what bills I paid, etc. to help me remember what I did. I kept a yellow pad by my bed and when I woke up at 2:00 a.m. I would write my feelings and let my tears flow. Your body at times may be off balance, you may lose your concentration. All of these symptoms can be part of grief, and in time you will start to feel better.
There was a time in my grief journey that I was starting to drown. God kept throwing me life jackets, but I refused to hang onto them. I was always a strong person and thought ‘I can do this myself.’ I do know God intervened during one of my ‘drownings in grief’ and I finally surrender and received spiritual help.
I didn’t realize how each of my different types of grief affected me until I ‘surrendered’ and started to heal after my struggles with my husband, Tom’s, death. Only then I was able to start living the life that Tom would want for me, full of God’s promises and joy.
There will always be a part of you that misses your loved one, but remember to be open to happiness. In spite of the hurt, allow fond memories to ease your heartache. You can enjoy life again; however, no one but you can make that choice. God will give you strength and courage, but you have to be open to receive it.
How does one surrender and start to heal after a personal loss?
I have no magical words, and all I can tell you is what has helped me accept my personal loss and try to live with serenity and peace in my heart.
I recently wrote a simple book Twelve Steps of Hope which is a spiritual book based on my grief and other types of grief. The book is being used for personal use, and grief groups are starting to use the book as a study guide. It is copyrighted under Hope United Grief Group (HUGG), which is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation that I founded six years ago and all contributions will go to HUGG. HUGG provides Interdenominational two-night Retreats for all types of grief. We have speakers and facilitators that have experienced the different types of personal loss. We have a facebook page: Hope United Grief Group in which one can like the page for contact information and receive notifications on upcoming retreats. Our next retreat is the weekend of September 14-16th, at The Franciscan Retreat and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Deb Hadley, who lost both of her children, tragically nine months apart, will speak on ‘A Glimpse of Heaven.’
If you are on a grief journey and are reading this blog, I encourage you to continue to have hope. Someday you will see the sunshine again, and you will see the colors of the rainbow. Give yourself permission to live. Live life as your loved one would want you to live.
For more information on her upcoming fall retreat, read this flyer.