Jun 18, 2020
Losing a father can be devastating, and celebrating Father’s Day can be bittersweet, especially for those of us who have lost our dads. Sadly, I’ll admit I am a member of this club too, having lost my own wonderful dad to lung cancer many years ago. Additionally, my daughter’s father tragically passed away when she was just a baby, leaving me to bravely and creatively find ways to honor and keep the memory alive of the father she never met.
I am sure that many of you feel the same way, but what I wouldn’t do to do to share just one more smile, laugh, or “I love you” with either of these amazing dads that I was blessed to have in my life. Dads certainly plan an essential role in our lives. They are ordinary men turned by love into fearless and playful superheroes. They love us unconditionally with love so genuine that they never expect anything in return for all the kind, supporting beautiful things that they do for us. Dads are amazing because they are our protectors. They hug us when we are sad. They show us how to navigate the tough times. Their laps make the best couches. They sneak downstairs late at night with us to share a bowl of ice-cream over talk, even after our mothers have warned us “no dessert and to go to bed.” They share giggles, stories, and games. They are our teachers, wise and knowledgeable. And when they are no longer with us, the void is impossible to fill.
On Father’s Day, many of our friends will be able to Facetime or Zoom call their fathers to celebrate this important day. The lucky ones will be able to visit their dads face to face, share a card or a thoughtful gift, and maybe even a meal together. But just because your father is no longer with you doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate the day by honoring their memory. Remembering can make us feel better, more connected, and it allows us to celebrate beautiful memories and experience positive feelings related to those that have passed on.
Here are some ways to celebrate those terrific dads who are with us in spirit.
Write Your Dad a Letter: Is there anything you want to tell your dad? Perhaps, it is something you wished you had said while he was still alive or maybe, it is something that has happened since his passing that you have been longing to tell him. Writing a letter is a great way to express your emotions in a positive, meaningful way.
Connect with Family and Friends Who Loved Your Dad: Spending the day with others who loved your dad is a great way to honor his memory. If your dad loved having a bar-b-q, why not get the family together for one and share stories and memories. If your dad loved hiking, why not go for a hike with those who loved him. Gathering with others during difficult days is a great way to offer you the emotion you need on what is likely a difficult day.
**Make a Scrapbook or Photo Album: ** Spend the day taking a trip down memory lane. You likely have many photos on a camera or your smartphone waiting to be downloaded into an album or scrapbook. Sorting through old photos is a sure way to make you smile and bring back beautiful memories of your dad.
**Cook Your Dad’s Favorite Meal: ** Perhaps, it seems like forever since you cooked your dad’s favorite meal. What did he love a nice steak? Or a special meal only you had the recipe to? Why not honor your dad this year by cooking up some of his favorite dishes? Cooking can be relaxing, and putting the time, effort, and love into something he enjoyed so much can make you feel closer to him at a time when you are missing him.
Heal by Helping: Sharing your time with others in need today can be a great way to honor your dad. If your dad was in a nursing home, why not deliver donuts or a special treat to the dads there. If your dad was involved with charity work, why not honor him by sharing your time this week or financially donating to his favorite cause. Ask yourself if you know of any dads you know who might have experienced loss themselves and might be feeling lonely today. Reach out to them and connect. The power of healing found in simple gestures of kindness often goes understated. If you have the opportunity to find ways to be helpful to others in your community, reach out and do so in your dad’s memory.
Remember, to grieve is to love. Feeling sad or feeling lonely is a normal part of the grieving process. Finding the strength to take the time to honor your dad and celebrate your memories on Father’s Day is a beautiful opportunity to discover sources of power that you may not have known were available to you. So this Father’s Day, let us remember all those dads no longer with us, who spent their lifetime cheering us on!
Dads – we remember you – and we honor you on this special day!
Sep 15, 2020
The Dalai Lama shares a straightforward but important message “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” It would seem that happiness does have a pretty important role in our lives. In fact, our happiness can have a huge impact on the way we approach our day to day, how we relate to others, and most importantly on our overall health.
One thing is for sure, we all want more happiness in our life. And in order to find more happiness, you need to define what happiness looks and feels like for you. Take a minute and ask yourself are you happy? I mean really truly happy. Are you happy with the way your life is right now at this present moment? Or do you have a running mental list of things you think you need in order to be truly happy? You are not alone if you feel like you are always chasing happiness. A recent study from NORC at the University of Chicago found that just 14% of American adults say they’re very happy.
What is Happiness?
Defining happiness is difficult. It means and feels something different to each and every one of us. Perhaps the best place to start is to understand what happiness is not. Happiness is not losing ten pounds. Happiness is not a bigger paycheck. Happiness is not right around the corner. Happiness is right in front of you. Happiness is the warmth of sunshine on your face. Happiness is the joy you get from helping others. Happiness is the hug you receive or give to a loved one. Happiness is the satisfaction of time well spent. In this sense, happiness comes from a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. It is a sense that no matter what life throws at you – life is as it should be. Happiness is not about never feeling sad or challenging. Happiness is not about feeling happy at every single moment.
Happiness is Good For Your Health
Studies show that happiness really can influence health. We feel happy in a variety of ways. It can make us feel relaxed, euphoric, and content. When we are happy we tend to take better care of our physical and emotional needs. We find the time to move our bodies, eat well, stay connected, and get good sleep. On a cellular level, when we are happy, there is a lot of important stuff going on. Some of the benefits of happiness include:
The best advice I have ever received in my life is that happiness depends on you. It depends on the internal dialogue that you are having with yourself. Your spouse, your shiny new car or your new career is not going to provide happiness for you. When you open your mindset to this new way of framing happiness – you will find that happiness has always been there waiting for you – right under your nose.
Happiness and joy become elusive when we attach it to an external force and when we give that external force power over our emotions. Finding happiness is not easy, but the steps to happiness are simple. Here are a few steps to get you started to a happy, more fulfilling life:
Step One: **Acceptance **: The key to happiness is accepting where you are today. Accept where you are at this very moment. Love yourself and be kind to yourself. If you have gained ten pounds, so be it. Do those ten pounds make you any less loveable? Should it make you any less happy? Accept that some days will be harder than others. Accept that life will have emotional and physical challenges and hurdles. Accepting life as a winding path with detours will allow you to have space to embrace the joyful, happy things that life throws your way.
Step Two: ** Choice**: Remember you own your feelings. You have the choice to be happy or angry or sad. Take the time to do things that you enjoy. Surround yourself with loving supportive people. Draw boundaries around things in your life that need boundaries. Focus on the positive and make a conscious effort to have gratitude for the little and big things that life brings your way.
**Step Three: Coping **: No one ever said that life is easy. Times will get tough. You will have challenges. What are the tools and resources that are there for you to help you through difficult times? Stress is not always unavoidable. It can build up. What daily routines can you incorporate to manage your stress to make more room for happiness? Nurturing a circle of supportive friends can help you feel happier and less stressed in many facets of your life.
If you feel like you need some support, join our Circles of Support. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded people and a professional therapist that will guide you through your journey.
Oct 01, 2020
After the loss of a loved one it is common to feel that you are going through the movements of life with very little purpose. Grief can be overwhelming, lonely and long lasting. The emotions of grief are all encompassing and oftentimes it may feel difficult to find a safe space to let your feelings out. After the loss of your loved one you may have many things you want to share with them. For others you may feel that while they were alive you have left important things unsaid. Writing or grief journaling can be an excellent tool to express your emotions in a safe and healing way. Writing can be therapeutic, cathartic and can help you to organize feelings or sort through conflicting emotions.
Writing may come easy to you. Perhaps, it is something that you find enjoyable. Or you may be thinking I have never been a writer. I am not very good at it. I don’t know even know how to get started with grief journaling. The good news is that grief journaling is a healing tool available to everyone.
Whether you are a seasoned writer or new to the practice, here are some writing prompts to get you started. Feel free to use a computer if you are more comfortable. Paper and pen work equally as well. Or if you are super tech-savvy, there are even journal apps to get you started, such as https://journey.cloud. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. This grief journal is for you and does not need to be read by anyone else. Let your thoughts, emotions, and even tears flow freely.
Ten Writing Prompts For Grief Journaling