Tag Archives: grief

Visiting Angie at Rest Haven

I’ve been missing my sweet friend Angie lately, partly because I know I could have talked to her about my Uncle Hal and she would understand the impact of his death on me.  I’d realized recently that I’d been driving past Rest Haven on my way to an appointment a week or so ago so I went to visit her yesterday.  There was construction going on there, it looks as if they are expanding Rest Haven.  I noticed a lot of birds singing and the groundskeepers were busy caring for the property.  DSC_0145It was so nice to see fall colors there, although it made me miss fall in Pittsburgh, PA!  Most interesting was that I wasn’t prepared for how happy I was going to be to see her picture again.  Her beautiful smile still shines on.  DSC_0142

I sent her mom and sister a close up of her picture and the other sweet happening has been that friends and family have been sharing and appreciating this photo as well. DSC_0143Angie died 8/1/1999 of cystic fibrosis.  She was a talented, loving, wise, and full of life individual that I’ve known since 1st grade soccer.  Valuable lessons she has taught me include taking care of my body because I only have one, that I should live fully, presently, and passionately, and most often to make sure I communicate with those I love honestly and openly.

Living Between Life and Death: A Tribute to Uncle Hal


Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. -Brené Brown

Today I gave a message at the Eugene Mennonite Church and below here is the take away.

I would like each of you to consider if you only had 6 days left on Earth, like Uncle Hal had from the day he admitted on hospice – are you living the life you want to be living? Do those you love and cherish know how you define a good death -for an instance do you want to die at home, amongst family or friends? And, are you in pain? How are you sharing your pain with others? Please do not suffer alone.
I leave you with this…
Grief never ends…but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love.



Yesterday I started back to work.  By midday I was conflicted because I was so enjoying the training but I was also feeling extreme fatigue from the lack of sleeping the night before.  I was starting to feel a little sick to my stomach and as the afternoon progressed I realized I had some control over what was next.  Decided to cancel my teeth cleaning, that just was not important today.  Visited one of my dearest friends and saw a couple other colleagues, got hugs and empathy.  And headed home for a much needed nap.

Woke up refreshed and ready for my first private practice session since 10/10/15, the day after I found out my Uncle was admitted on hospice.  By evening I felt strong.  I took another hour nap and then was able to write like I’d wanted to write the last couple of days.  Not to say I haven’t been writing but I’m trying to document my last hours with Uncle Hal and from that come up with a message for Sunday, titled Living Between Life and Death.  I’m happy to see my subconscious has been doing a lot of this writing and I got into the flow last night.

Today I am back at Riverbend Hospital and on the floor with my MSW student.  To think, I was a brand new MSW student in October 2010.  We also have a site visit with the field liaison today.  I also have one private practice client after work at the hospital.  This morning I must draw strength from within.  It is going to be okay.  I am going to be okay.

Heron Park in Springfield, Oregon

Heron Park in Springfield, Oregon


IMGP4677Last night I prepared for a successful night’s sleep with both of us needing to wake up early and me needing to re-enter my work world after three days of bereavement.  I fell fast asleep but at one point woke with extreme sadness, tears rolling.  At another point I woke up in night sweats and complete thirst so I went to get water to find one dog needs to pee and the other throws up.  How did they know I would be up and they would need me?  I was (and am) so tired but I felt (and still feel) like writing.  I actually started this post however after a blessed bump of a key and the whole thing erased…decided sleep was more important at that point.  Here I am now at 4am up because the youngest dog would not stop crying for his dad.

I had prepared for success and thought it impossible I wouldn’t sleep after my second night of a$$ kicking indoor soccer.  No, we did not win but the sport really does a girl in.  My whole body aches, feels good really to push it this hard.  There’s a dear friend of mine Christina I’ve been writing back and forth with since her terminal cancer diagnosis (firstly why CANCER WHY?) (secondly -keep hoping the miracle of a cure will come her way, then I realize the miracle is right before our eyes – it is her) (thirdly – click on her name and follow her story if you are so inspired).  I sent her an IM the other day describing my waves of grieve and she gave me this imagery:

Yes, waves, flowing in and out. The imagery that comes to me is standing in the ocean and enjoying the beauty of the majestic sea only to be knocked down- a bit surprised and unsettled. Then rising again to find your footing and resuming the laughter and enjoying the sea, then it comes again, that wave to big to manage and knocks us down yet again. Memories of the good times will continue to flood your thoughts, so too will the images of the end of life- the loss, that emptiness that suddenly appears in our heart. It is good to grieve- with our end goal to get to the gentle place where we celebrate the gift of having our beloved ones join us in this journey, if for only a season, more than we mourn the loss. You see their imprint is left forever in the way we see and do life- this is how they live on forever, through you. Or perhaps a slightly irreverent physical experience as an example, I get to enjoy each day are the extreme shifts between intense and often unbearable hot-flashes/night sweats. One moment I have some mental and physical footing only to be brought to my knees and filled with uncontrollable events that are happening to me. I then recover, from the waves of sweating, panic, frustration, and helplessness and find my footing again. Oh I how wish that this lifetime protected us from suffering, loss, and pain. But it does not. We are therefore left to find the beauty in each moment-in the suffering, the loss, and the pain. It is there. We must look hard sometimes to find it. Let the tears flow as they rise. Allow joy and memories of the joy blanket your entire being. I too am thinking of you. 💕

How is it that I am allowed the gift of giving and receiving from her?  Which is how I came to find the photo above from a trip to Newport, OR…some time ago.  But I can feel the waves, smell the salt…and feel the grounding.  Part of today’s horoscope:  Keeping your current inspiration alive is the key to your soul’s satisfaction.

The Journey


There is an alley much like this in the same neighborhood at Hal & Gayle’s previous home (of 35 years) on C Street in Springfield, Oregon.  It parallels Hal’s shop, which was lit up by an arsonist once upon a time.  Today was full of writing, reflection, introspection, and a sense that the journey I have been on is going to change courses.  I cannot tell you how it will change at this point except that I am sure of it.  There’s this term called post traumatic growth that I came upon in graduate school.  It touches on the growth of a person that can occur after trauma/loss.  What I’m seeing is a gift Uncle Hal has left me.  The gift is revealing itself slowly and as long as I stay open, I believe the doors will continue to open in ways I had never imagined.

Waves of Grief

Just when I start feeling stronger, heart full, mind clear…something hits me again.  Stomach hurts, head hurts…I sit, meditate, or try to catch up on some much needed sleep.  Yesterday I plunked on the piano for the first time in….who knows how long.  Trying to find some music for a tribute I’m working on for next weekend.  Shall I call it the pre-memorial?  I’m not sure but something was telling me I needed to tell my story of my final hours with Uncle Hal.  And there’s probably some other messages weaved in there that I’m only just now unearthing.

One thing I’ve let go this year is my photoblog ritual.  Perhaps I’ll be re-committing to this again.  In any case here are a some photos from before Uncle Hal died. Oh and part of today’s horoscope:  Relax your resistance and trust your intuition to teach you how to navigate the murky waters of your heart.

10/11/15: The Violin owned by Word Girl (Amelia) or Wonder Woman (Alice) my Star Gazer Star Dancers

10/11/15: The Violin owned by Word Girl (Amelia) or Wonder Woman (Alice) my Star Gazer Star Dancers

10/13/15: Entry to Uncle Hal's Office, I say goodbye

10/13/15: Entry to Uncle Hal’s Office, I say goodbye

10/12/15: The Hunt, trying to find His Story to read and print for his boys

10/12/15: The Hunt, trying to find His Story to read and print for his boys

Uncle's Organization: Wishing I had a wall for a chalkboard like this!

Uncle’s Organization: Wishing I had a wall for a chalkboard like this!

One of his beloved bike bags: Where is he going now?

One of his beloved bike bags: Where is he going now?

Letter to My Uncle

My Dearest Uncle Hal,

There never has been a day in my life where you did not exist.  You are the epitome of a great father. The grief I feel right now is that I will have to learn a new way to relate to you as you pass through this life.

You’ve provided me with love, food, shelter, a home, hope, patience, acceptance, security, honesty, humor, grace, compassion, spirituality, forgiveness, analytical thinking, mathematical curiosity…I cannot imagine what my life would have been like, without you. Your home has always been home to me.  Your love unquestionable.

I love your stories, teachings, thinking, spirit.  You have taught me the perfection of imperfection, that turning to wonder is both acceptable and necessary.

When I think of you I automatically see your smile, the sparkle in your eyes, the tenor of your voice, the gentleness and strength of spirit.  I hear you playing piano, singing music, holding hands, building a fire.  I see you at the pulpit, in the classroom, walking the perimeter of your home, biking across streets, driving a Volvo, being at Camp Myrtlewood, in the shop making all kinds of mess & noise, talking & walking with Jack, writing, planning and scheming with your pencil & paper, fixing something with your tools, cooking in the kitchen, kissing your precious Gayle, laughing with your children, and playing with your darling grandchildren.  I’ve learned to drive because of you, took my first rafting trip with you, helped build ramps, built and took down forts, talked a lot of shop.  Completely honored, I walked down that isle with you on my wedding day,

Uncle, not only have you given, but you have received.  You have taught me the value and necessity of both and how they can be provided without shame, guilt, or recourse.

Thank you from the depth of my soul, from the bottom of my being.  For always, without a doubt, being an exceptional man, father, grandfather – a wonderful human being.

May we all live in such a way that always honors you.

All My love,