A Challenge to Find Gratitude

This month, I accepted a challenge to find gratitude and thankfulness everyday. That’s 30 days of thankfulness. It has been uplifting and also eye-opening.

One of the surprises was my thankfulness for COVID-19. Looking at it closer, I believe it forced us all to realize many things like:

-we were living an overly fast-paced life
-touch is a blessing
-hugs can heal
-leaving elder family in the care of others takes away something much more valuable than money
-indeed, there is time to pursue a hobby
-some people seem to eschew infection of the flu

The last point is especially interesting to me.

How Many Times Have You Had the Flu?

Almost everyone I talk to suffered the flu at least once in their lives. This is true of some of my relatives. My mother knows she had the flu once. My eldest son also knows he had the flu. I know I have never had the flu. That’s right, never. I’ve also never had a flu shot. Why would I?

The Last Deadly Flu Pandemic

An article in yesterday’s paper reminded me how the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 affected my life. No, I’m not that old. But my paternal grandparents, Edith and Lenus, were living in Chicago, Illinois in the same rooming house at that time.

How a Pandemic Brought Them Together

Edith was the oldest of a farm family from central Wisconsin. She had been sent, at age 14, to Rockford, Illinois to help a relative during her pregnancy. Edith was forced to leave school. She wasn’t happy about it and soon saw an opportunity to go to Chicago. Traveling by herself she set off for the big city of Chicago and found employment in a hospital cafeteria. By that time, Lenus worked on a Lake Michigan barge, shoveling coal, having immigrated from Sweden at age 17. He found a room at the same boarding house.

My grandfather, Lenus, came down with the Spanish flu. Edith nursed him back to health. She didn’t contract the flu. Their friendship grew and courtship began. My grandmother told me this story and she kept daily diaries on very small tablets, written in beautiful penciled cursive handwriting.

Their wedding took place in 1923. I’m still working with my Wisconsin cousins on determining the exact date, but we all remember celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Wisconsin the summer of 1973.

From the formality of their wedding photo, it seems likely it was a big wedding on the family farm. What strikes me about their faces is the smile of Lenus and the sternness of Edith. Knowing them in later years, Lenus didn’t smile much and Edith smiled a lot. Growing up living next door on a Polk County, Florida lake, surrounded by a 10-acre citrus grove contributed to my quiet, country childhood.

I am grateful my grandfather was able to survive the pandemic and my grandmother had a rare immunity. Perhaps her strong constitution flows in my veins, fueled by shared DNA.

A Message of Hope for the Future

This true story of resilience and the effect now triangulate 100 years into the future. Young people who were exposed to COVID-19 and had no symptoms may have a natural immunity and pass it onto their children. Those who overcame their illness now have antibodies and a stronger constitution, which is also genetically and environmentally conducive to stronger future generations.

My Challenge to Find Gratitude

December is looming with holiday stress amplified in this year of the pandemic. Wouldn’t it feel good to find one thing to be grateful for each day in December? And how about sharing this challenge to find gratitude on social media? I pledge to post about gratitude everyday in December. Won’t you join me? You can find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by searching for @dawnoutside.

In gratitude for you,

Coping with a Loved One’s Suicide

I planned to write a light-hearted blog until I had a tearful episode early this week. Coping with a loved one’s suicide is a complicated  and unique situation. It knows no timetable. Almost immediately I knew a blog about suicide survivors was eminent.

Triggers From Other Survivors

For no apparent reason, while riding my stationary bicycle, I suddenly thought of my husband, Pablo’s, suicide in September 2014. The tears flowed, gushing forth like a torrent then almost subsided before starting up again. Within ten minutes, it was all over, the pressure valve temporarily down to zero.

Reviewing the days leading up to my outpouring of grief, I realized there were triggers. During a conversation with a friend, she related the devastation felt by family members when suicide entered their lives.

As is common, the ex-wife and son are dumbstruck by the unexpected suicide in their midst.

“Why did they do this?”

“What were they thinking?”

“What could I have done to prevent it?”

Suicide survivors want answers. Even if there is a note left, the answers do not come. Coping with a loved one’s suicide is complex and difficult to understand.

Another trigger came from watching a Facebook video of my friend and mentor, Psychic Kim Moore, relate how the suicide of her loved one completely changed her life. I was studying with Kim when Pablo passed. Her support and the support of my classmates was crucial.

Finally, perhaps the pull of the blue moon’s energy might have been my tipping point.

Understanding Suicide Survivors

As I was researching this blog, I came across a Psychology Today article, Understanding Survivors of Suicide Loss. It is a comprehensive look at this special situation. I encourage you to read the entire article if you are a survivor or are unsure how to support a survivor.

In my circumstance, I was able to talk to a psychologist who specialized in suicide. Her help was immeasurable. Yet, today, six years later, I still grieve. This is the nature of grief. It is normal to experience ups and downs stretching over years, especially when grieving as a suicide survivor.

How to Find a Support Group

What also helps is talking to other suicide survivors. I Googled “suicide survivor support groups near me” and found this information in my area:

  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention AFSP Search
  • Healing After a Loved One’s Suicide (HALOS)
  • Suicide.org Florida Support Groups

Next Steps

I sent an email to a support group near me to register for the November meeting. Please use the AFSP Search to find a support group near you.

Coping with a loved one’s suicide requires support. We can’t do this alone.

Recovering still,

Tell Them You Love Them Right Now

Is there someone in your life you miss because there is a rift between you? Tell them you love them right now. You know you do, but pride, fear of rejection, or a lack of love for yourself keeps getting in the way.

One Way to Bridge the Gap

  1. Start by closing your eyes.
  2. Now take 3 deep breaths.
  3. Imagine someone you feel so connected with now (like a beloved pet).
  4. Feel that warm feeling filling your heart space.
  5. Next visualize your estranged person smiling at you.
  6. Share the warm heart space energy with them until your whole body feels expanded.
  7. Now dial their number, write a text, compose an email.
  8. “I just want to tell you how much I love you”.

How It Could Have Been

You can take the first step to repair your relationship even if they have passed on. The energy between you still exists and needs healing. Follow the steps above and compose a letter to them. After the first sentence, let the rest flow from your heart, through your hand, onto the paper.

Forgiveness is Key

When you tell them you love them, forgiveness starts. You will feel relief. They may react the same way. The possibility of a conversation lies just ahead.

Real two-way conversations can be daunting, especially when repairing a broken relationship. Here are a few pointers to get started. The first rule of good communication is expressing how you feel, rather than make accusations.

  • “I feel hurt when this happens.”
  • Take it slow.
  • Stay focused on repairing your relationship.
  • Give it time.

Looking for More Help?

It’s difficult to communicate effectively. No one teaches us this skill in school. Certainly, online resources can be very helpful. One of my favorites is VeryWell Mind’s article on healing relationships with a spouse or partner. The same principles work with any personal relationship.

Sending you loving energy,

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