Monday, May 30, 2016

5 Things to Remember When Someone You Love Loses Someone They Love

1. A person who’s grieving already knows that time heals wounds, and they don’t need to be reminded of it.

When you’re grieving, everyone wants to remind you that time will heal your pain, but no one can seem to tell you exactly what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to cope right now. And that’s all you really want to know.

Because it’s right now that you can’t sleep. It’s right now that you can’t eat. It’s right now that you still hear his voice, and smell his scent, and sense his presence, even though you know he’s not here anymore. It’s right now that all you seem to be capable of is crying. So despite the fact that you intellectually know all about time’s power to heal wounds, if you had all the time in the world right now, you still wouldn’t know what to do with the immediate, intense pain you feel.

Realize this, and treat those who are grieving accordingly. Don’t remind them that time heals. Instead, remind them that you’re with them right now, and that you’ll be available tomorrow too. Remind them that you love them, and that you’re standing beside them through their grief. Remind them that they aren’t going through this alone.

2. Grief doesn’t suddenly disappear, and some days are much better than others.

When someone you love passes away (or simply leaves), and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose them all at once. You lose them a little bit at a time over weeks, months and years – the way snail mail gradually stops coming to an address, and a person’s scent slowly fades from the pillows and even from the clothes they used to wear.
Everyone grieves in their own way. For some of us, it could take longer or shorter. One thing you can be certain of, however, is that grief never completely disappears. An ember still smolders inside our grieving hearts, even when we’ve moved forward with our lives. Most days we don’t notice it, but, out of the blue, it may flare to life. This reality is hard to deal with. We think we’ve accepted that they’re gone – that we’ve grieved and it’s over – and then BOOM! One little thing happens, and we feel like we’ve lost that person all over again.

This is exactly why caring for someone who’s grieving requires incredible patience.

3. The grieving process exhausts and consumes a person, which is why you can’t take their withdrawn behavior personally.

Relentless exhaustion is a common side effect of grief. Just getting out of bed in the morning can be an overwhelming and excruciating experience for a while. Also, someone suffering from grief may feel OK one moment and feel completely heartbroken the next, even if the environment around them hasn’t changed one bit. This can result in them canceling plans, departing get-togethers early, or saying no far more often than you’d like. Just remember it’s not about you – it has nothing to do with what you did or didn’t do. These are just some of the prevalent side effects working through the grieving process.

Do your best to not take anything they do too personally. People can only give to others what they have, and deep grief takes almost everything away from a person. All your actions and words should come from a place of love, but that doesn’t mean your grieving loved one will always be loving in return, and that’s OK. When you do not take things personally, you liberate yourself – you open yourself to loving someone who truly needs you, generously, and without letting needless expectations get in the way of the immeasurable amounts of support and affection you are capable of giving.

4. A person who’s grieving still wants to smile about the good times, and it’s OK to help them reminisce.

In the long run, grief can devour us, or it can enlighten us. It depends on what we focus on. We can decide that a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end earlier than we expected, or we can recognize that every single moment of it had more meaning than we dared to accept at the time – so much meaning it frightened us, so we just lived, just took for granted the time spent together every day, and didn’t allow ourselves to consider the sacredness of it.

When a wonderful relationship ends abruptly we suddenly see what was there all along – it wasn’t just a hug and a smile, not just a long walk together, not just meeting for lunch and talking about politics, people, and another day at work. It was EVERYTHING – all the little intricacies of life shared by two souls. The answer to the mystery of living is the love and respect we share sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss awakens us to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of a wonderful relationship that’s been lost, we’re driven to our knees.

When this happens to someone you love – when they are mourning the loss of someone they love – help them focus on all those good, imperfect times worth smiling about. Help them counterbalance the weight of their loss with the weight of their gratitude for what preceded the loss.

5. Grief can be a burden, but also a healthy anchor for healing and living well.

As human beings, we sometimes get used to the weight of grief and how it holds us in place. For instance, Angel once told me, “My brother will die over and over again for the rest of my life, and I’m OK with that – it keeps me closer to him.” This was Angel’s way of reminding me that grief doesn’t disappear. Step-by-step, breath-by-breath, it becomes a part of us. And it can become a healthy part of us too.

Although we may never completely stop grieving, simply because we never stop loving the ones we’ve lost, we can effectively leverage our love for them in the present. We can love them and emulate them by living with their magnificence as our daily inspiration. By doing this, they live on in the warmth of our broken hearts that don’t fully heal back up, and we will continue to grow and experience life, even with our wounds. It’s like badly breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the depth of your performance and the authenticity of your character.

Just knowing this and keeping it in mind, I think, can help us help our grieving loved ones dance again, gradually.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Still Friends…

It was T.D Jakes who preached a message titled ‘Can God trust you with trouble?’ At the crux of the teaching was what do we do when we try all we know to do and it still doesn’t work. What do you do when you had everyone pray for that ailing mother, but she still died? What do you do when you had hands laid on that pregnant woman and she still had a still-birth? In summary, what do you do when life happens and we are left overwhelmed?

The events of the past few weeks have reaffirmed my conviction that it is not in our place to make sense of certain things in Life. Try as you may, some answers will remain elusive and for all the explanations in the world, it still wouldn’t add up. In truth, life happens to both the just and the unjust and our job is not to attempt to figure out why certain things happen the way they do. The Good book did not promise us an easy sailing, but it assured us of strength to bear the storm.

There are moments in our lives when we know that some things are just not fair when they happen. There are nights when it seems so dark and we are left wondering how the day will break; those nights you hug a pillow to fall asleep. There are times when we look at the Word of God and we look at our life side by side and it just doesn’t correlate. At other times, we are just drained of strength and simply tired. In moment like this when we don’t understand, we have to trust God. We have to trust God not because of the situation but because of who He is, the things He has done in the past and His promise to bring us to an expected end. In the dark places of life, we must remember that God has the entire script and He must know something we don’t know. We must never forget that He allows certain things to happen because he has the full picture. As the song writer puts it ‘Though the storms keep on raging in my life and sometimes it is hard to tell my night from day, I know he will lead me safely for my soul has been anchored in Him.’

In the final analysis, our relationship with God is all that matters, and we must renew our friendship with Him irrespective of how we feel or what the situation is. When you didn’t get the job, when you waited 10 years to get pregnant and yet had a miscarriage, when you put in so much effort and yet remain improvised, when you bury your baby son in a box, when you pour that sand against the remains of your father and when nothing in this life seems enticing anymore, you have to lift up your hands in thanksgiving to God and say ‘We are still friends.’

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Leicester Story: Who Says You Can’t?

It was Will Smith in ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ that said to his son ‘Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.’ It was a quote borne out of the need to silent the many voices in your head and around you that suggest to you to follow well defined average paths and tell you that’s where you belong.

Though, a sporting tale, the story of Leicester City is a classic poster-boy case for anyone harboring great ambitions (emphasis on anyone & great ambitions). This was a football Club that was reeling at the bottom of the premier league table about a year ago with all the odds suggesting an inevitability of tier two football in the Championship. Today, Leicester City have not just emerged Champions of the elite Barclays English Premier League, they have even more completed the epilogue to a sublime sporting narrative that will both be the preoccupation of future historians, and a springboard for anyone with dreams.
It is somewhat of a cliché in modern football that money ultimately breeds success. The Madrid Galaticos and the reigns of Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour in Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, are firm examples of how fortune can buy trophies. Leicester City have proven to be the outliers to this trend. From hosting League One football about a decade ago, King Power stadium will now play host to the crème de la crème of European clubs. The tale is pure magic especially when one considers that the club was almost doomed last season. Today, Leicester have added a sequel to their 132 year history that changes everything. The entire team must hold their head up high in absolute pride. They fought for each other, and played for each other. From the save hands of Kasper Schmeichel, to the sublime leadership of Wes Morgan to the tireless feet of N’golo Kante to the prolific boots of Jamie Vardy, the players have achieved something no one but they believed in. In the Leicester story lays a motivation for smaller clubs in the league. Nothing can reinforce the point more than the Leister story that anything is possible in football if you dare to believe and want it bad enough.

In Claudio Ranieri, Leicester possesses a manager that has long been dismissed as an ‘has-been’ a nearly man and a tinkerman at best. Having voyaged round 14 clubs in his 28 years managerial career, the Italian has managed to somehow recreate himself and reinvented his tactical nous. He was dismissed by Greece in 2014 unceremoniously, and some pundits believed that that was the final nail to his managerial coffin. However, Claudio has defied all the odds. He has never won the league in every club he had managed. The closest he has come is second place in England (Chelsea) and in France (Monaco). No doubt, this is so much a personal redemption for Claudio as it is for the rest of the Foxes loyalists.

The incredibility of this story is not hinged on luck, as Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane noted, there was no luck in that triumph; they deserved it. For while the bookmakers waited for an eventual collapse at some point, the Foxes kept amassing points. When they needed to win ugly, they did. When they needed to scrap a point, they did. And when they had to soak in pressure and park the bus, they stationed the bus with sheer elegant.

However, when all of this sinks in and the dust begins to settle, the big question for Leicester will be what next for them. With such untold success comes an inflated expectation. Life in the Champions League will be a different kettle of fish, and with a season ahead where all of Chelsea, City and most probably, United will be heralding managerial watershed, the Foxes will have the job of defending their crown well cut out for them. Having said that, this is not the time to be encumbered with tomorrow’s thoughts. Leicester City and everyone associated with them have just earned their moment in the sun and they deserved to merry-on in that as long as they can muster. We might probably never see such a thing replicate itself for a long time to come in Sporting history and it is for that reason that the surreal story of Leicester City cannot reach a point when it begins to attain a status of ‘stale news.’