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AcceptanceGrief and Loss

Saying YES to Life after Loss

By June 22, 2012No Comments

Relegated to the couch once again, bundled up in a blanket, not only was I in physical pain, but I was angry. It had been more than three weeks since I had gotten sick with the flu around the time of my father’s and brother’s anniversaries of their deaths (see previous post about anniversary reactions). Now, because of a lingering cough, I had fractured a rib. Why is this happening to me? When am I going to feel better?

I longed to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine and longer spring days. All around people were celebrating life. Music played, young folks walked down the street dressed in flip flops, bathing suits and shorts, headed for the beach, while I was stuck inside feeling sorry for myself.

Prior to this illness I had been feeling really good about the progress I had made with my health and with strengthening my immune system. For several months, I had received acupuncture and hadn’t gotten sick. Further, I had been involved in a business training program and had experienced increased prosperity. Now, my business was crumbling and my doubts were growing. Would I ever be able to sustain my health and energy long enough to serve more people and make a sustainable income? Would I ever live up to my fullest potential?

Grieving, I reached out to a friend for support who suggested I had taken two steps forward and one step back. She reminded me that I was at the tail end of a long grieving process starting with my brother’s death thirteen years ago, my father’s death and many other losses. With her love and support I vented my anger and released my grief about grief. Shortly after, I felt much lighter and was able to relax into my situation, accepting it for what it was.

The next day, my pain diminished substantially and a couple days later I was invited by a neighbor to go sailing. Hesitantly, I said yes. I was concerned about feeling worse, but was tired of holding back my energy and wanted to engage more fully in my life.

Out on the water in the fresh air and sunshine, my spirit came alive. We noticed several groupings of sea lions resting with their fins sticking up in the air. Curious, we sailed close to one. The sea lions submerged under water and dispersed. Shortly after, we looked back to witness one racing up behind our boat porpoising like a dolphin, jumping in the air, spinning and flipping. It criss-crossed behind us and swam along side of the boat. At one point, I thought it was going to jump up into the boat. In all of my years of sailing, I had never witnessed anything like this. The sea lion appeared to be playing with us.

With joy and wonder in my heart, I felt grateful for being alive and for having said YES to the invitation to live more fully!

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Karen Mehringer, MA, MFT - Grief support, counseling and life coaching in Santa Cruz area.