Tag Archive | Grief

A River of Hope

waterfall

On some days

the cold rains don’t stop

 

A stormy torrent 

of pains

colliding

with hard rocks.

 

I cling to Your grace

and Your cross

a little tighter

My knuckles are raw

I am a fighter

 

You are my sturdy boat

keeping my head held up

and my life afloat

I hear you gently say,

“Keep your eyes on me”

“Don’t be afraid”

 

And I do believe

that with You

I can be free

 

No matter the day

where or when,

I see….

 

Your saving hope

will always 

stay

with me.

“Walk on the Water”

You look around, staring back at you
Another wave of doubt, will it pull you under? You wonder
What if I’m overtaken? What if I never make it?
What if no one’s there? Will You hear my prayer?

When you take that first step into the unknown
You know that He won’t let you go

So what are you waiting for? What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities, they try to hold to you
But you know you’re made for more, so don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes, and you can walk on the water, too

So get out, and let your fear fall to the ground
No time to waste, don’t wait, and don’t you turn around and miss out
Everything you were made for, I know you’re not sure
So you play it safe, you try to run away

If you take that first step into the unknown
He won’t let you go

So what are you waiting for? What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities, they try to hold to you
But you know you’re made for more, so don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes, and you can walk on the water, too

Step out, even when it’s storming
Step out, even when you’re broken
Step out, even when your heart is telling you
Telling you to give up

Step out, when your hope is stolen
Step out, you can’t see where you’re going
You don’t have to be afraid
So what are you waiting, what are you waiting for?

So what are you waiting for? What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities try to hold to you
You know you’re made for more, so don’t be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes, and you can walk on the water
Walk on the water, too

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Risen Life

I wanted to share this poem awhile ago, but life got in the way. It’s message reminds me of when Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16: 33). He didn’t say, “You might have trouble”, or “If you try really hard, you can avoid trouble”. No, He said, you WILL have trouble.

I appreciate how Jesus always said it like it was. He never minced words. I often think of the term “tough love” when I think of His many teachings. He wanted us to take responsiblity for our sinfulness, and warn us of what would happen if we didn’t “feel” like listening or obeying. So, although we will suffer through both natural and man-made troubles in our lives, our Lord time and time again reassures us that He will give us the courage that we need to rise above it all.

Risen Life

When you see a forest ravaged by storms, and earthquakes blasting the land, and fire burning down your home, say to yourself: I believe that the forest will come to life again. That land will be calm again and I shall remake my home.

When you hear rumors of war and people everywhere are dying of terror, when “nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 27:7), say bravely to yourself, “Jesus warned me of this and he added: ‘Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28)

When sin has you in its grip and you feel utterly defeated, say to yourself, “Christ is risen from the dead and I shall rise from my sin.”

When old age or illness embitters your life, say, “Christ is risen from the dead and has made a new heaven on a new earth.”

When you see your son running away from home in search of adventure and your cherished dream as father or mother crumbles around you, say, “My son will not run away from God; he will come back because God loves him.”

When charity seems to have vanished forever and you see others sunk in sin and drunk with treachery, say to yourself, “They will touch the depths but they will return because no on can live away from God.”

When the world seems a defeat for God and you are sick with the disorder, the violence, the terror, the war on the streets; when the earth seems to be chaos, say to yourself, “Jesus died and rose again on purpose to save, and his salvation is already with us.”

When your father or mother, your son or your daughter, your spouse or your friend are on their deathbed, and you are looking at the in the pain of parting, say, “We shall see each other again in the kingdom. Courage.”

This is what it means to believe in the resurrection. But there is more. Belief in the risen Christ means something else.

For Mother Teresa of Calcutta it means comforting the dying, and for you it means doing the same.

For Martin Luther King it meant facing death, and for you it means being unafraid to die for your brothers and sisters.

For Abbe Schultz, prior to Taize, it means opening his convent to hope, and for you opening your house to hope.

Every departing missionary is an act of faith in the resurrection.

Every newly opened leper hospital is an act of faith in the resurrection.

Every peace treaty, is an act of faith in the resurrection.

Every agreed commitment is an act of faith in the resurrection.

When you forgive your enemy

When you feed the hungry

When you defend the weak you believe in the resurrection.

When you have the courage to marry

When you welcome the newly born child

When you build your home you believe in the resurrection.

When you wake at peace in the morning

When you sing to the rising sun

When you go to work with joy you believe in the resurrection.

Last Things ~Carlo Carretto

Risen Life

I wanted to share this poem awhile ago, but life got in the way. It’s message reminds me of when Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16: 33). He didn’t say, “You might have trouble”, or “If you try really hard, you can avoid trouble”. No, He said, you WILL have trouble.

I appreciate how Jesus always said it like it was. He never minced words. I often think of the term “tough love” when I think of His many teachings. He wanted us to take responsiblity for our sinfulness, and warn us of what would happen if we didn’t “feel” like listening or obeying. So, although we will suffer through both natural and man-made troubles in our lives, our Lord time and time again reassures us that He will give us the courage that we need to rise above it all.

Risen Life

When you see a forest ravaged by storms, and earthquakes blasting the land, and fire burning down your home, say to yourself: I believe that the forest will come to life again. That land will be calm again and I shall remake my home.

When you hear rumors of war and people everywhere are dying of terror, when “nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 27:7), say bravely to yourself, “Jesus warned me of this and he added: ‘Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28)

When sin has you in its grip and you feel utterly defeated, say to yourself, “Christ is risen from the dead and I shall rise from my sin.”

When old age or illness embitters your life, say, “Christ is risen from the dead and has made a new heaven on a new earth.”

When you see your son running away from home in search of adventure and your cherished dream as father or mother crumbles around you, say, “My son will not run away from God; he will come back because God loves him.”

When charity seems to have vanished forever and you see others sunk in sin and drunk with treachery, say to yourself, “They will touch the depths but they will return because no on can live away from God.”

When the world seems a defeat for God and you are sick with the disorder, the violence, the terror, the war on the streets; when the earth seems to be chaos, say to yourself, “Jesus died and rose again on purpose to save, and his salvation is already with us.”

When your father or mother, your son or your daughter, your spouse or your friend are on their deathbed, and you are looking at the in the pain of parting, say, “We shall see each other again in the kingdom. Courage.”

This is what it means to believe in the resurrection. But there is more. Belief in the risen Christ means something else.

For Mother Teresa of Calcutta it means comforting the dying, and for you it means doing the same.

For Martin Luther King it meant facing death, and for you it means being unafraid to die for your brothers and sisters.

For Abbe Schultz, prior to Taize, it means opening his convent to hope, and for you opening your house to hope.

Every departing missionary is an act of faith in the resurrection.

Every newly opened leper hospital is an act of faith in the resurrection.

Every peace treaty, is an act of faith in the resurrection.

Every agreed commitment is an act of faith in the resurrection.

When you forgive your enemy

When you feed the hungry

When you defend the weak you believe in the resurrection.

When you have the courage to marry

When you welcome the newly born child

When you build your home you believe in the resurrection.

When you wake at peace in the morning

When you sing to the rising sun

When you go to work with joy you believe in the resurrection.

Last Things ~Carlo Carretto

Dear Tears

I wrote the poem “Dear Tears” about 15 years ago, while my grandma was suffering with vascular dementia. She had the same type of dementia that my mom has. My mom’s mom, whom we called “Nana”, had dementia for about seven years, until she passed away in 2000. My husband and I got married just a few months after she passed.  By the end of her illness, she did not recognize most of her family. Occasionally, she seemed to have fleeting glimpses of recognition. Sometimes she seemed to remember my mom, and bits and pieces from her old life.

I have vivid memories of visiting Nana at the Care Center, which was situated not far from my parents home. At the beginning of her stay, she would beg and beg me to take her home in my “red car”. It was heart wrenching to leave her there and witness her sad, forlorn, and confused eyes, with her never understanding why we were keeping her there. I would visit often with my mom, taking Nana for walks in her wheel chair around the property.

Many times Nana mistakenly believed that my mom was married to her first boyfriend, John, whom she had dated before my dad. She hadn’t seen or talked to John in over 30 years, but my grandma would often ask how he and his family were doing, and what he was up to. Mom and I would sometimes joke about that, and I would tease her for once throwing an engagement ring John had given her into the snow, when they had gotten into a fight one night. Nana also sometimes believed that her parents were still alive, and she wondered why they never visited her. It was painful explaining to her over and over again that they were in fact, dead and gone and now in heaven.

We would often go and visit the song birds down the hall from Nana’s room, where they nested and flitted about in their wall sized enclosure. Some days Nana didn’t mind going to sit with them and listen to the tiny bird’s sweet tweeting and chirping. As time went on though, she frequently rebelled at having to see those birds. On some level, I imagine that she understood that those tiny little things of beauty were stuck and trapped inside, just like she was.

Mom and I were at Nana’s bedside when she passed peacefully to her new life with God. I remember praying the Rosary, and my mom later told me that she had felt “a strong wind” blow across the room just after Nana died, even though there were no windows in the room, and the one and only door in the room was tightly closed. We both firmly believed that her angels took her, and that the gush of wind could’ve very well been them leading her on to her next life.

I remember having emotional conversations with my mom, where she would plead with me saying things like, “Mary, if I ever end up this way, you can not put me in a nursing home. I’m serious Mary, your father and I have enough money to get full time nursing care and that is what I would want. Promise me that.” I am sure that I promised her. I probably said something like, “OK, OK, OK mom, geez…do we really need to be talking about this right now?” Little did I know then, that less than 10 years later, I would be needing to do the very thing that she made me promise her I would not do. No wonder I had severe anxiety attacks while searching for a suitable care center for her to move into. I have since gotten help for that, thank God.

In many ways, caring for my mom feels so similar to how it felt caring for Nana. They both have the same witty humor, inquisitive natures, and stick to it stubbornness. My children call my mom Nana, just like I called her mom Nana. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, because I have such clear memories of being with Nana, and I get a sort of shock or “twilight zone” type of feeling when it sinks in that yep, it’s deja vu. I’m here again with dementia. Only it’s not Nana. It’s my mom. I am thankful for the kids in those moments. They are perfect for sucking me back into the now, and for helping me to appreciate the joy and innocence again, which they exude so well.

Dear Tears

Deep within,

my soul cries.

 

Tears and sadness

for the one,

who can not shed.

 

Tears for the one,

who knows not

what’s in her head.

 

Tears for the one,

who’s so alone,

in a world so

mangled and twisted.

 

Crying out my pain

for the precious and the dear,

who one day awake,

and know not

the face in the mirror.

 

These tears

which fall

will rest,

knowing that in the end,

His will

is what’s best.

 

This is a beautiful song written about the singer’s grandma, who had dementia. It is written and sung by the Dixie Chicks. (I don’t know the people in the photos)

This beautiful song, written and sung by Jon Foreman (lead singer of Swicthfoot) reminds me of my long journey of caring for my mom, and of all the years I spent trying to help her get better. It also helps me remember to unite my sufferings with Christ, who holds us close in our pain and deep fears.

 

The Long Goodbye…

I love poetry. I love it for its simplicity and depth. I love rhyme, metaphor, and alliteration. So often, poetry can capture thoughts and emotions that other types of writing can not. I love the idea of using just a few words to say so much.

Dementia is often called “The Long Goodbye”. That is because hour by hour, day by day, month by month, and year by year, we watch our loved ones with dementia very slowly fade away before our eyes. There are so many moments of letting go, deep grief, and also countless opportunities to embrace the “now” of those moments. A person with dementia primarily lives in the present moment. They have no choice. They can not remember specific experiences from the past, and when they do, they often get the realities of those moments confused or misplaced. Sometimes, the act of remembering hurts them, as they forget long-held, precious memories. On the other hand, not remembering certain painful moments can be a nice relief. I wrote this poem a few nights ago.

The Long Goodbye

You reach out

your frail hand

unsure

alone

on this unforgiving,

precarious land.

 

Wishing you had built

on sturdy rocks,

instead of unsteady

sinking sand.

 

Your synapses

fire at random.

At times, there is sense.

We never know what

we will get.

 

Your illusions

confuse you

“Is Nana still alive?”

“Did we have a funeral?”

“Did Bapa go before her?”

 

I answer the best I can.

“Nana passed 12 years ago, mom.

She had a beautiful funeral.

I spoke part of her eulogy.”

“You did?”

You seemed surprised by this.

I wonder why.

 

I will hold tight

to this frail

hand and mind.

Leading, as I try,

through the darkness,

on a road slowly fading,

a bitter-sweet journey

The Long Goodbye…

The following clip is of Bono, the lead singer from U2, reciting a poem titled “The Mother of God” written by William Butler Yeats. It is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

A Prayer

I wanted to share a powerful poem from a beautiful book called, “To Bless the Space Between Us” written by John O’Donohue. This is a poem that helps to give more clarity & understanding for what it may feel like to live a life of addiction. It is also, in a sense, a prayer. A prayer for truth, and freedom, and hope for addicts to one day be enlightened & saved from their prisons of self-destruction.

For An Addict

 On its way through the innocent night,

The moth is ambushed by the light,

Becomes glued to a window

Where a candle burns; its whole self,

Its dreams of flight and all desire

Trapped in one glazed gaze;

Now nothing else can satisfy

But the deadly beauty of flame.

 

When you lose the feel

For all other belonging

And what is truly near

Becomes distant and ghostly,

And you are visited

And claimed by a simplicity

Sinister in its singularity,

 

No longer yourself, your mind

And will owned and steered

From elsewhere now,

You would sacrifice anything

To dance once more to the haunted

Music with your fatal beloved

Who owns the eyes of your heart.

 

These words of blessing cannot

Reach, even as echoes,

To the shore of where you are,

Yet may they work without you

To soften some slight line through

To the white cave where

Your soul is captive

 

May some glimmer

Of outside light reach your eyes

To help you recognize how

You have fallen for a vampire.

 

May you crash hard and soon

Onto real ground again

Where this fundamentalist

Shell might start to crack

For you to hear

Again your own echo.

 

That your lost lonesome heart

Might learn to cry out

For the true intimacy

Of  love that waits

To take you home

To where you are known

And seen and where

Your life is treasured

Beyond every frontier

Of despair you have crossed.

 

 

 

Fly Away Angel Friend

Good friends are our angels on earth…helping us along, supporting us, and loving us for who we are, with all of our strengths and our shortcomings. This week my mom’s best friend in the Care Center is going to lose her battle against a fast acting cancerous brain tumor. Three weeks ago, mom’s friend, Signe, started to act out with anger and other uncharacteristic behaviors, so her daughter brought her in to get a MRI. They found a huge brain tumor, that had grown so fast and big, that there was no longer any hope for a successful surgery. Signe became an angel for my mom in many ways, and I know mom was one for her, as well.

Mom got to know Signe well early last fall when mom began to start eating out more in the dining room with the other residents. She clicked with Signe right away, as they were both very personable and friendly. Signe was closer to my mom’s age. She had strong conversational skills and was very inquisitive and cheerful, much like my mom. When I talk with mom about her friend passing soon, she sadly says, “Now who am I going to be friends with?  She was the only one who has their wits about them!” A funny quirk was that my mom thought her name was Sydney, instead of Signe, even though I tried to correct her many times! Signe never seemed to mind mom calling her by a different name 🙂

Signe’s friendship was very instrumental  in helping my mom get acclimated and comfortable there. They ate 3 meals a day together, and often spent times in between meals sitting at the table talking and sharing tea together. It got to the point where if we were with mom taking a walk, and it was close to dinner time, she would get anxious and say, “we need to hurry and get back, because Signe and I are eating dinner together, and she will wonder where I am if I’m not there!” I would sometimes get annoyed that she seemed to want to be with her friend more than me, but I also thought it was sweet, and I was very grateful that she was finally finding some happiness there.

My young kids and I got to know Signe well. She loved to see their joyful spirits and talk and visit with them. In many ways, my kids have become like grandkids to her and the other residents. They all just light up when they see us coming down the hall. I think we remind them of their own kids and grandkids and it helps to cheer them up. It is very rewarding to spread that kind of love and energy to people who desperately need it. 

Yesterday I talked to Becky, Signe’s daughter, who told me with much emotion how grateful she was that my mom came in to her mom’s life, and what a good friend she was to her. She said that my mom was like her mom’s guardian angel, & that she was always so friendly and sweet to Signe.  Signe was up sitting off in the living room when my daughter Anna & I got there. She was unresponsive, yet awake &  staring off.  I told her that we were praying hard for her.  Becky said that her mom wanted to get out of bed to see Donna (my mom).  I felt so sad for her and her family, yet very grateful that my mom was able to be that kind of friend to her during her last months on earth. 

I thank God for sending Signe into my mom’s life.  They were both so blessed to get to know each other when they did. I truly believe that God sends people into our lives exactly when we need them the most. We will miss you Signe….our special, one of a kind angel friend.