Posts Tagged ‘loss’



Good Morning! I will believe in Good Morning. My body is still achy, numb, tired, and compassionate for my friends and their families who have suffered a sudden and traumatic and violent loss of their loved one.


A mother has lost her beloved daughter. A husband suffers the solitary loss of his soulmate wife who together created a life of good in their home, their work, and their play. Two young adult college age daughters have lost their earthly bond to their mother. Brother and sisters are minus one in their family – minus two, as they lost their father in his passing two years ago. Cousins, young, lively, playful, and filled with family outing memories, like the one they were returning from when disaster on the highway struck, suffer a hole too big to replace in the family fabric.  Friends and companion teachers stand present, yet walled in by the daily absence of Judy’s presence in their lives.  Students, present and past, have lost a friend, mentor and extraordinary woman.


I will believe in Good Morning….


Judy was a bright light and she shone brightest in two areas of her life – her family and her middle school classroom.  There is no light switch that can remedy the darkness in these spaces. A dimmer dims the spots she occupied and for now, it looks very dark and it hurts.


I will believe in Good Morning…


For awhile, our personal and world compass is turned upside down. South is the new North. Each of us must find new paths – paths we never intended or suspected we would have to take. Paths we don’t want to take. We look for an escape route and it is not there. We are stuck with  “what is.”  And we surely don’t like what is.  We are tired, beyond what we know, and each day comes, asking of us to take one step forward.  We don’t want to.


I will believe in Good Morning…


Husband, daughters, sisters, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, mother…..we want to be there for you in our own little daily world. It can look like, after the initial liturgies and visitations are performed, we go about our lives, as usual.  But it is not true.


You, dear ones, are the ones most deeply touched by unspeakable grief. But, as your friends on the outside, we too are changed forever. We will never, ever be the same within our families or our world, as we were before this loss befell you. It is in us as well and it will never leave us. Our composition is altered. We will all find new light eventually. We will all suffer the “new life” that will be lived. We will all feel the hole that only faith, hope and love can heal. We will all look at life with “new eyes” – eyes that cannot understand –eyes that want to see differently – eyes that look toward an earthly horizon and into the heart of the beloved one who has gone home.


I will believe in Good Morning…with a heart of hurting love.

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All Saints (c) Jan Richardson


This guest blog from Jan Richardson comes to you on November 1, All Saints Day celebrated in the Catholic Church. This year I have “lost” dear family and friends, more than I want to count. I am aware of the “thin veil” as I have been visited by many of them in my dreams and have even heard them speak. We are Eternal Beings. This I now know and continue to believe. Still, I am jealous of the thin veil and it is not enough for me to know they are “still here.”  I grieve the losses of my friends’ of their spouses and siblings and being in this “of a certain age” category, the expectation that these losses will diminish has all but vanished. Acceptance is hard in coming. Prayer is centering. But wishful thinking continues and memories float through my awareness like a familiar drive-through order.

Peace Be.


“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living;
for to him all of them are alive.”
—Luke 20:38

I have long loved this trinity of days of October 31, November 1, and November 2: Halloween, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Souls. For many years these days have been for me a threshold time—what the Celtic tradition calls a thin place, where the veil between worlds becomes permeable. I learned long ago that this thin place is a time for paying attention, for listening at the threshold, for noticing what door seems to be opening and inviting me to walk through.

It seemed fitting that Gary and I began dating on Halloween, that the roots of our relationship go deep into these thin, in-between, meeting-of-worlds days. As I continue to navigate this path in the wake of his dying, it comes as a comfort to remember the message of the Feast of All Saints: that in the body of Christ, death does not release us from being in relationship with one another. The separation that causes us such pain in this life does not sever the bonds of community.

As we move through these days, I want to share a blessing I wrote three years ago, the last time this reading from Luke 20 came up in the lectionary. When I wrote the blessing, I had no idea how much I would need it for myself, and how soon. Just a week after I posted it, Gary had the surgery that, so unexpectedly, would bear him away from us.

In these days, may the veil be thin for each of us. May we know the blessing of those who are gone from this life but who breathe with us still, and may we know the grace of the God who breathes life into us all. Deep peace to you.

God of the Living
A Blessing

When the wall
between the worlds
is too firm,
too close.

When it seems
all solidity
and sharp edges.

When every morning
you wake as if
flattened against it,
its forbidding presence
fairly pressing the breath
from you
all over again.

Then may you be given
a glimpse
of how weak the wall

and how strong what stirs
on the other side,

breathing with you
and blessing you
forever bound to you
but freeing you
into this living,
into this world
so much wider
than you ever knew.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

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Cat - Hello God

When you place the call, God answers. This was my recent communication.

September 15, 2014
I am reading “They Speak By Silences” author listed as A Carthusian; and Surrender, a guide for prayer by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan & S. Marie Schwan; An article in AARP magazine (Aug-Sept) The Missing was a light bulb going off for me yesterday. Although it was an article focused on the loss suffered by the families of Flight 370, Vietnam MIA’s (still 1,500 listed), missing children and adults, it put a name to a condition I believe myself to be living…..AMBIGUOUS LOSS….. though fear is involved, it is more a gathering of many different emotions that are open to hit strongly at any given moment.

Psychologist Pauline Boss says “Ambiguous loss triggers a kind of stressful, unresolved emotional state distinct from traditional grief. ..resistant to usual therapeutic treatment (don’t have $$ for treatment now anyway) instead the path to healing involves negotiation an uneasy rapprochement with the unanswered questions that such a loss leaves in its wake. “Grief therapy doesn’t work because there is nothing wrong with the person, there is something wrong with the situation itself.

I would not go so far as to say there is nothing wrong with me, BUT I do feel the reality of living in the WAKE of personal challenging circumstances , and constantly discerning between what I must surrender to and the courage to change the things I can change, which seem so very few at this time.

Then I call upon my higher self to manifest, live in faith and continue my life one step at a time; I can cycle anger, despair, confusion, craziness, at any time of any day; I do not know when they will assail me and at times overcome me. I do all this with acknowledging my responsibility in all of it and consciously trying to knock out any traces of blame.

And my life looks from the outside looking in that “nothing much is going on here.”

I feel I am in constant negotiation, daily, with the terms of my life.

GOD’S ANSWER came on Tues. September 16 at 11:16 am in the
Twenty Four Hours AA Meditation Book:

Cat, pen and blank open notepad

(This looks just like my journal that I pasted the following answer in).
Sept. 9 Meditation of the Day:

“In God’s strength you conquer life. Your conquering power is the grace of God. There can be no complete failure with God. Do you want to make the best of your life? (yes) Then live as near as possible to God, the Master and Giver of All Life.

Your reward for depending upon God’s strength will be sure. Sometimes the reward will be renewed power to face life. (yesterday, I was in great need of this renewed power, I could not feel my own), sometimes wrong thinking overcome
( great struggle here yesterday and trying to quiet the wrong thinking, oh woe is me, what will become of us?), sometime people brought to a new way of living. (What is this new way, when you are doing the best you can?).

Whatever success comes will not be all your own doing, but largely the working out of the grace of God.”

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Dad & Sue’s Birthdays – 1970

My birthday comes right after New Year’s Day on January second. I celebrate it. Just after my birthday comes my father’s birthday on January fourth. I always remember it. This year, dad would have been ninety-six. He died suddenly in July 1977.

Dad was a fun-loving, hard-working Irishman from Heffron heritage who loved Eisenhour, both as a military general and an American President. The black Chevrolet was his choice of car for many years before he could think of owning any other car.

Born in upper Wisconsin, his boyhood bore both the harshness of the seasonal weather and the responsibilities of the oldest son, providing for his mother and younger sister after his woodsman father passed away while he,  Anthony Junior (Tony), was still young.

He attended teachers college for a certificate, and began trading “trades” to raise more money for his own keep and for his family. He was proud of teaching in a “one-room” schoolhouse like we heard of in the Little House on the Prairie tales.

He was a police officer on the Eau Claire Wisconsin police force in the late 1930s and early 1940s and really did catch “the bad guys” with his parnter, Scotty. He had a brown scrapbook, now in my brother’s possession, that contained medals, photos, and newspaper clips of many “take-downs” during his law and order career. More than a few photos displayed dad and his fellow law officers, standing with one leg hitched up upon the running board of that era’s car — their chase vechicle.

He met the first love of his life, my birth mother, when he experienced a stay in the hospital (I believe it was Luther, but it could have been Sacred Heart Hospital, I am not sure) to pass a kidney stone which was giving him great grief. While there, he was in the care of a beautiful Norweigian nurse named Doris, whom he began to court with his wild, Irish charm.

 You would have to look hard and long through their dating and early marriage black and white photos to find a “serious” pose among them. Together they were always “horsing around” with each other or making fun of whoever was behind the camera. Always, their bright white teeth flashing in wide smiles or outright belly-laughter.

Into this family I was born, after dad and Doris had adopted my older brother from a Catholic orphanage. Mom convinced dad that nobody could love this orphan baby boy the way they could together, and home they came with Dave.  Soon after his arrival, mom became pregnant with me. But it was a troubled pregnancy and she delivered me early with etopic poisoning, complicated by kidney failure. She died just a few days after my birth and dad’s birthday. 

Dad was only in his late twenties when this personal tradegy came upon him. He had a young son and daughter to care for in the aftermath, and I can only guess how he healed his grief, for it was a mysterious fact that this was never discussed in the family with us children, even when we reached adulthood. It is a conversation I wish I would have had the courage to start. I certainly practiced it often enough.

I do know he never had any doubts about providing for his two children as a widower single parent and he set forth with strong determination to do so, enlisting two grandmothers’ help along the way. Dad left the police department in search of more income to support his growing family, and managed a sports store, still in Eau Claire.  

By the time I was around two years old, another brunette Norweigian woman caught his eye and his heart and Marion would come into our home as his wife and our new mother. This love affair lasted forever — or to say correctly — to the time of his death in 1977 and long after that in Marion’s heart until she could no longer remember any of us due to the memory robbery visited upon her in Alzheimers disease.

Tony and Marion gave birth to my youngest brother, John and we were one complete family of five from the 1940s until the mid-sixties when we children started forging our own paths in life; Dave in the Coast Guard; Sue married and moved to Kentucky; and John finishing up high school.

Dad was in the propane gas business by that time, managing a plant in Lansing, Michigan when an opportunity arose around 1968 to transfer his talents and work to a tropical paradise, St. Thomas, Virgin Island and manage a plant there. They did that together, mom working for the company too. It was a magic “begin again” moment for both of them and they loved living and working there and building new friendships and awarenesses with island culture. 

They didn’t really take up sea fishing there in the tropics but when they lived in Wisconsin and Michigan, it was one of their favorite pastimes and their most ideal vacation.

They had a favorite spot in Chapleau, Ontario where they stayed in a rustic cabin at Moosehorn Lodge, became faithful friends of the owner-couple and traveled there yearly for a one week vacation on the crystal blue water lakes in a quiet little dinghy putt-putt motor boat. This would be accompanied by rest and relaxation in the cabin and great home-cooking of fresh lake fish, fried potatoes and veggies.

In 1977, now living in the VI, they had not been to Canada for quite some time. That year, they were looking into a cruise trip to their home countries of Ireland and Norway, but there was some holdup in aquiring their passports and dad decided to scrap the whole idea and come back to Lansing, borrow a car from Dave, and drive up to Moosehorn Lodge.

This change of plans was a blessing in disguise, although none of us in the family felt immediately blessed by what happened on the second day of their vacation. Dad felt tired so they relaxed in the cabin the first day of vacation. But on the first fishing trip the next day, dad suffered a fatal heart attack  in the boat and died instantly even though mom tried to help with CPR. After securing the boat in the obscure landing area, she got an ambulance through the help of the lodge owners. Thus began a quick trip ito the hospital in Chapleau, but a rescue of dad’s life was not possible.

Yet, Dave and John were able to be with mom soon after the distressing news which would not have been possible had mom and dad gone to Europe as planned.  The shock value of dad’s death couldn’t have been higher for mom or for us. One month earlier, my husband and I just moved and started a business in a town not far from Lansing, and I was awaiting dad and mom’s visit to us when they returned from Canada, in just one week.

It had been over a year since I had seen them, and so much had changed in our life since we acquired the business that I was truly counting the days until I would see them and talk to them again. That I would not talk to my dad ever again became a bitter, bitter pill to swallow.

 The complete opposites of “saying hello” and having to “say goodbye” was a battle I played out in my soul for a long time after. Eventually, I penned a poem on paper, and set it on the backdrop paper from which I have my Mystic Muse with the bell coming forward. The trees remind me of the Canadian country mom and dad loved so much. Today, dad, my spirit says “hello” to your spirit, just as it has done each year near your birthday.

Canadian Pines

                                         He left without
                                                   saying good-bye
                                         amidst Canadian pines
                                                    and placid blue lakes.
                                         I had meant to say hello
                                                     before he would go.
                                          But the chance
                                                     passed me by.

                                           He was not a continent away
                                                     as had been their plan
                                           to visit for the first time
                                                     each of their native homelands.
                                            They came instead
                                                      that hot week in July
                                             to his favorite place on earth.

                                              His tired and restless spirit
                                                       would feed
                                                on lake-fresh fish
                                                         he caught.
                                                 And the peace he found
                                                         in the northern breeze
                                                 always soothed his troubled heart.

                                                 He would rest and relax
                                                         and have fun with his mate
                                                 in the place which he
                                                          so loved.

                                                  And then —
                                                          he would visit me.

                                                  But he left instead
                                                         at the end of the day
                                                   before he got off the lake.
                                                   It broke my heart he had                                                             to go.
                                                   Because you see, I still had meant
                                                            to say




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