Have a Funeral In Your Heart

The few trees still upright were stripped of their branches, lonely flagpoles without a nation to claim them. Mike Mullin, author

More than three hundred twisters have wrecked havoc across the midwestern US states over the last two weeks alone. This is in addition to the unprecedented flooding across several states. People are in mourning for their possessions, their way of life, and the idea of life being the way they wanted it to be. 

In Asian philosophy, this mourning of the loss of how we thought life would be is called Ego Death. I profoundly experienced this when I was divorced over twenty-five years ago. I mourned the loss of a nuclear family and how I thought my life would be. Those who have lost their homes, possessions, livelihood, or their way of life must be willing to have a funeral in their heart. Grieving the loss of our expectations, as well as possessions or even loved ones, is an important step towards recovery. There is no way around grief. To move forward, the path is straight ahead. 

Affirmation: I accept the importance of grieving no matter what the loss.

Coaching question and request: What have you lost that you have yet to grieve? This could be something less profound than a parent, child, or spouse. Perhaps it is your innocence about the world. The loss of a friend, your most prized possession, or your way of life. Take a moment to think about your unfinished business around grief. Then do the work of having a funeral in your heart. 


Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash

Why Not All About Death and Dying?

Grief is like the ocean, it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim. Vicki Harrison, author

You might wonder why a blog called motherloss isn’t all about dying mothers, distressed daughters, or grief. First of all, if that were the case, Dear Reader, I’m sure I would have lost you long ago. Second, I believe that recovery is the focus of any mother loss discussion. Third, recovery is lifelong and all about learning to, once again, live life to the fullest. 

For these three reasons, this motherloss blog is about a variety of topics, including grief recovery. As I approach my 365th consecutive blog post, I’m planning to scale back my daily communication. However, I still plan to blog a few days a week on topics related to life; life full and running over. I hope you’ll stick with me. Let me know what’s important to you. Ask questions. Go to the blog site and become a follower. I’m looking forward to another year together.

Affirmation: I strive to live life to the fullest.

Coaching questions: Has this blog been meaningful to you? If it has, please let me know what topics were most important and what might be helpful or interesting in the future. How do you define recovery? 


Photo by J W on Unsplash

Using Creativity to Help Heal Your Broken Heart

Experiencing overwhelming pain doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to sketch new thoughts or paint new memories. Pain can be as transformative as the art on a torn canvas. Jess, blogger Visit her blog at https://outoftheashes33.wordpress.com

After suffering the loss of her sister and mother, Jess started writing about her personal journey. She writes on her blog, “I found my voice, I found my truth, but most importantly, I found healing in the words that were flowing from my soul.”

Whether we write, paint, make cards, cook, refinish furniture, garden—creativity seems to be one part of the process to heal our broken hearts. In my book Mom’s Gone, Now What?, creativity claims a chapter as one answer the Now What? question. Jess has found relieve and the beginnings of recovery through her writing. She writes from raw feelings and the deep emotion of a broken heart that is healing.

Affirmation: I can use creativity to heal.

Coaching questions: What’s a creativity endeavor you enjoy? How might you use it in your healing process? 


Three Steps to Grief Recovery

When you throw your bread out on the waters of life, it comes back buttered. Rev. Stanley Weems, Presbyterian Pastor

As I spoke with daughters who had experienced profound mother loss, I heard three things that seemed to be universal in their grief recovery.

  1. Focusing on others while moving away from your own troubled and grief-stricken mind, is a key to recovery. Nearly every  daughter with whom I spoke, felt a revival of their spirits when they began to reach out to others. 
  2. Gratitude is a key. As we look at the glass half full, expressing gratitude for the time we had with our loved one, gratitude for the inheritance we received, gratitude for the comfort that came our way, grief begins to dissipate.
  3. Seek professional help if you need it. All daughters who sought help said it made a profound difference in their recovery. Life is short. Don’t wait too long to seek help if you need it.

Whether we are generous with our stories, our empathy, our talents or time, the flow of energy into the world enables it to return in abundance.

Affirmation: I can recover.

Coaching questions: If you are struggling with grief, what one step can you take to move toward recovery? Do you want to move forward? If not, in what way is grief serving you? 

Developing Strength and Resilience

My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon. Japanese Haiku

I used this Haiku for one of my first blogs in March when we were still recovering from Hurricane Irma. We had lost so many trees in the mangroves next to our property that a water view emerged where there was none before. Now, more than a year after disaster struck, we are whole again—actually better than before the hurricane as everything that was replaced is to hurricane standards. 

As I look back over my life, I can see how I’ve recovered from the storms and, as a result, become stronger and more resilient. I’m better prepared than ever for what is next.

Affirmation: I am strong and resilient.

Coaching question: In what way have you grown through the “burning barns” of your life?

IMG_0931 (1).jpgThe mangroves off of Barfield Bay

Overcoming Hatred and Anger

One of the greatest lessons of my own life was learning to turn the inner rampage of hatred and anger toward my own father for his reprehensible behavior and abandonment of his family into an inner reaction more closely aligned with God and God-realized love. Wayne Dyer, American philosopher, self-help author, and motivational speaker

Sometimes the quote says it all. This is one of those stand-alone quotes that expresses the results of a lifetime of inner work and faith. Accepting and recognizing the reality of devastating behavior but choosing to not live a life filled with hatred and anger is a difficult  transformation. 

Daughters who were abandoned by their mothers frequently had a more difficult recovery than those whose mothers died. The “One Purpose” loss, as I call it, is devastating to a daughter’s self esteem and personal growth. And yet…like Dyer, I spoke with many women who had not only recovered but thrived after getting past their anger, sadness, disappointment, or hatred. 

Affirmation: I can overcome.

Coaching questions: What negative experience and bad feelings are you hanging onto? What’s a step you can take to let go of the negativity without excusing the behavior? What difference will living in a more loved-filled space make in your life?

Be A Grandma Moses

You can accomplish incredible things no matter what stage of your life you are in. Shaquille O’Neal, retired American professional basketball player

One of the icons of accomplishing great things later in life is Anna Mary Robertson, commonly known as Grandma Moses (1860-1961). Grandma Moses was one of the most famous folk artists of the twentieth century.

When Moses’ husband died in 1927, she sought ways to keep busy in her grief, using art in her recovery. In her seventies, Moses devoted most of her time to painting. Moses won the Women’s National Press Club Award for her artistic achievements in 1949 and met with President Harry Truman while collecting her award. She created roughly 1,500 works of art.  It’s never too late to begin.

Affirmation: I can start something new.

Coaching questions: If your concept of age wasn’t an issue, what would you start? What difference would it make in your life? What’s keeping you from a new adventure?

You Are Not Alone

We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say — and to feel–“Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel.” You’re not as alone as you thought. John Steinbeck, author, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature

One purpose of writing my book, When Lightning Strikes, is to help people feel connected and understood…. to be able to say, “Wow, I’m not as alone in my experience as I thought!” 

Loss is universal. Whether it is parent loss, sibling loss, spouse loss, friend loss, health loss, or even pet loss (I just met an author who is writing a memoir of her dog)…we all have had losses in our life and, if we live long enough, will have losses in the future. Although I’m focusing on mother loss, because that is what I know best (although I have first hand experience with spouse, friend, and father loss as well), the stories of loss are universal. The questions, the grief, the guilt, the recovery, the empathy…all apply across the loss experience. 

Affirmation: I am not alone.

Coaching questions: If you have not “told your story” of loss to another caring person, consider doing so. How might the “telling” help you in your recovery? If you have done this and found it beneficial, how might you help another person tell their story?


The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Chinese proverb

As I walked our neighborhood here on Marco Island, Florida this morning, I noticed that there is still hurricane recovery going on everywhere. If you’re one of my international friends, on September 10, 2017, Irma, a category 3 hurricane, made landfall on our island. Although the general clean up was completed months ago, many, many roofs are still under repair, tree stumps are dotting yards, fans, lighting, siding, pool cages are still being replaced…and on and on. This is eight months after the storm. Fortunately, at our house, we are 98 percent restored with just fence repairs, some window finishing and painting to be complete but it has been a long haul.

The message that came to me this morning…recovery takes time and things might not be exactly as they were before the storm. It seems to me that this is true in life as well. After a “life storm”, recovery takes time, it may be in stages, new “trees” must be planted, and life will not be the same. It takes perseverance and resilience to weather the storms of life.

Affirmation: I am resilient and persistent.

Coaching questions: How are you doing with your recovery? What has helped you be persistent and resilient in your life’s journey? What can you do better?