Archive for Grief Posts

published in Change, Death, Financial Planning, Grief, Life After Loss, Money, Prosperity, Widowhood by Maryanne | December 20, 2018 | 2 Comments

This is the 5th and final blog in the Fall 2018 Life After Loss blog series: 

Grief & Money Go Together Like Flies & Honey

 

In other words, they don’t.

Unfortunately, they do tend to dance into our lives, hand in hand, at the same time…like some sort of poorly-matched dynamic duo.

On some deeper level, we may perceive the money we receive, as the result of a loved one’s death, as “blood money.” And because of this, much to our dismay we may find ourselves giving it away – in one form or another – as fast as possible.

But believe me, this is rarely intentional.

So what’s going on?

“If you come into big money when you’re not ready for it on the inside, the chances are your wealth will be short-lived and you will lose it.”

– T. Harv Eker

Why?

Because, as one of my all-time favourite authors explains:

“It’s hard to hold on to what we don’t believe we deserve, whether it’s money, love, or success.”

– Sarah Ban Breathnach

But why, for Heaven’s sake, wouldn’t we believe we “deserve” the money?

Because if a sizeable chunk of change has come our way as the result of the sudden death (or not so sudden) of a loved one, we may feel guilt. Even if we had absolutely nothing to do in bringing about the death of our loved one, we may still experience guilt…although we may not be consciously aware of it.

But WHY would we feel guilty?

Because we are still here…alive and hopefully healthy (although probably not very happy) and yet our loved one’s life is over. It’s called survivor’s guilt and although it is not rational, it is very real. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to last long – if diagnosed. The problem, of course, is that it often isn’t diagnosed. Rather, the fallout of survivor’s guilt manifests – often for years to come – in our choices, our lives, our actions, our habits, our relationships and oh yes, our bank account.

Whether we like it or not, our ability to make prudent financial decisions in the wake of a significant loss is often hampered by the fact that we may be spending money in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. We might be trying to fill the void in our lives – and the Grand Canyon-sized hole in our hearts – with stuff.

Does it work? In the short term, sort of. In the long term, no.

The temporary high that comes with spending does not – cannot – fill the emotional and spiritual void in our hearts and lives…although it can certainly fill our homes and closets with copious amounts of clutter and crap. As with the drug addict needing the next high, the hit that comes with buying something soon subsides and the quickest way to get that quasi-good feeling again is to spend.

I strongly suspect that when we are in the depths of grief, we also spend to feel some semblance of control. If our loved one has been oh-so-unfairly yanked from us, we learn a very brutal life lesson about just how little control we have. And I think it is human nature to not take particularly kindly to this realization. So to compensate, we may choose to go shopping and buy whatever the heck we want…because we can. We may not be able to financially afford this activity but in the short term, the sense of power it temporarily gives us seems worth the long-term ramifications.

But real power – authentic power – doesn’t come from buying things. It can’t. Authentic power has to do with our souls and our purpose for being here. Yes, money plays a significant role in us fulfilling our purpose…but the soul’s currency is not cash. It is love and service, kindness and compassion.

The next time you go to purchase something, ask yourself: what is you are really trying to buy?

Finally – but perhaps most importantly when it comes to the dynamic duo of grief & money – the reality is that we may be shocked to discover that the death of a loved one has caused a hurt that is, unbelievably, far worse than we ever could have imagined.

This passage from the book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, captures beautifully what I suspect may be going on below the surface in the wake of experiencing an incredibly painful loss:

“And dimly she realized one of the great laws of the human soul: that when the emotional soul receives a wounding shock, which does not kill the body, the soul seems to recover as the body recovers. But this is only appearance…Slowly, slowly the wound to the soul begins to make itself felt, like a bruise, which only slowly deepens its terrible ache, till it fills all the psyche. And when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is then that the terrible after-effects have to be encountered at their worst.”

In other words: even though some time may have passed since our loss, the horrific hurt we have experienced – the wounding of our soul – may be just starting to make its way to the surface. Choose wisely how you handle that hurt. Spending and/or giving away more money than you can afford will, in the long run, cause more harm than good.

Money is sacred. Money is freedom. But with freedom comes responsibility.

“If you expect your money to take care of you, you must take care of your money.”

– Suze Orman

If you suspect that I speak so passionately on this subject matter because of personal experience, you’d be right. I have learned the hard way that spending money one cannot afford to spend – whether that’s buying stuff, donating to charity, gift-giving, trying to make the world a better place through funding financially unsustainable projects, and so on – does not bring a loved one back. It does not make people love you more. It does not right a wrong.

What it does do is put you in a financially precarious position that can jeopardize your future and rob you of the freedom to forge a new path of your choosing.

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one and are struggling with how to make prudent financial decisions, my wish for you this coming year is to get the professional guidance you need to get back on track…your track to a financially sustainable future.

Will I be blogging more about grief & money in the future?

You can bet your bottom dollar I will. If you want to receive these blogs, be sure to subscribe to the Life After Loss blog series (they will resume in mid-2019).

In the meantime, you may find our Potent Prosperity Principles daily quote cards of use (but if you are taking my advice and curbing your spending, you don’t have to buy the cards! There is a link in the blog where you can read all 30 quotes):

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here

 

 

 

 

published in Christmas, Death, Gratitude, Grief, Humour, Inspiration, Life After Loss, Widowhood by Maryanne | December 13, 2018 | 2 Comments

This the 4th blog in the Fall 2018 Life After Loss blog series:

The Gift of Happy Memories – May a Memory of Your Loved One Make You Smile This Holiday Season

 

John & MA (to right) at rehearsal dinner, prior to their wedding, July 1997

“Memories are perhaps the best gifts of all.”

– Gloria Gaither

A couple of weeks ago, I had a table selling my wares at a Christmas market in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta. I had a lot of fun over those four days, meeting new people, visiting with dear friends and reconnecting with some old friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

One of those people was Cheryl. She’d seen a Facebook post about my table at the Christmas market so brought one of her daughters, Dani, to come by and say hi.

MA & Cheryl

Cheryl and I go way back. Cheryl’s husband, Brian, is an old friend of my husband, John (they met in Junior High). Although I hadn’t seen Cheryl in years, we’d kept in touch via e-mail and social media. But seeing her in person was different, of course. It was like no time at all had passed and the fun memories of our party-days came flooding back.

One memory in particular stood out, so I thought I’d share that with you…partly because it is a funny story 😊 but also because it is a great example of the gift of a happy memory.

The Glass of Water

Brian was the first in John’s group of buddies (“The Boyz”) to get married. John and I were in early twenties at the time and I can remember the two of us dancing at Brian & Cheryl’s wedding like it was yesterday. But it was what happened after the wedding (ahem) that really sticks in my mind.

John’s older sister, Stacey, had her own apartment but she was out of town that weekend, so John and I crashed at her place the night of Brian & Cheryl’s wedding.

I won’t divulge details but let’s just say that when Stacey came home to her apartment complex the next day (John and I, of course, were long gone), she ran into her downstairs neighbor in the stairwell. The neighbor was an older woman who stopped Stacey and said something to the effect of, “Oh my…what a night YOU had! After listening to you & whoever you were with, I had to get up and get a glass of water.”

Stacey (who, I should mention, was also the Resident Manager of the apartment complex) was mortified…and puzzled. But she quickly figured out what had happened. “That was NOT me you heard,” she said to the woman. “That was my BROTHER and his damn girlfriend.”

When Stacey later told John the story, he roared with laughter. So did I. Eventually, so did she.

MA & Stacey in Paris, Apr 2018

Now that 18 years have passed since John’s death, more often than not when I think of him, I find myself smiling or laughing at the wonderful times we shared as a young couple. For so many years, when I thought of him, I tended to focus on his death 🙁 or, when I did recall a happy memory, it often made me feel sad because I knew it could never be again.

And although that is true, that doesn’t have to be sad. Memories are a portal to the past…we can go for a quick visit any time we want. We don’t have stay long/stuck. But when we do go, WE get to decide what we are going to take from that memory…and perhaps even how we are going to feel.

The older I get, the more I choose to feel happiness when I think of all the fun & goofy things I’ve experienced with the people I have loved. For I have also learned that how I feel in this moment seems to play a role in how the future unfolds…almost as if the energy of joy and laughter attracts more of those types of experiences.

May you, too, experience the gift of a happy memory this holiday season.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To subscribe to the Life After Loss blog series, please sign up here

 

 

published in Death, Family, Grief, Life After Loss, Motherhood by Maryanne | December 5, 2018 | No Comment

This the 3rd blog in the Fall 2018 Life After Loss blog series:

When a Fear Demands to be Faced – Letting Hurt OUT

 

My friend Alan once said to me that perhaps not all our fears are meant to be faced. Some fears, he suggested, are best left alone – for they just might be in place for a good reason.

Some fears, on the other hand, demand to be faced. These are the ones that find their way to the surface and, like a tiger, make their presence known.

For while we can pretend, for a time, not to see an elephant in the living room; when a tiger waltzes in, we don’t get the luxury of ignoring it…if we want to survive, that is.

Such was my experience the day after my Mom passed away in the spring of 2014.

She died quite suddenly on a Monday morning. It was my brother Doug who phoned to tell me the news. By Monday evening, I was back in my hometown of Calgary with my family. Tuesday morning, we went to the funeral home to get the logistics sorted. After that, some of us piled into Doug’s truck and we went to the grocery store to pick up the makings for lunch.

And that, strangely enough, is when things fell apart.

When Doug and Pat returned to the truck from the store, they were carrying the groceries in plastic bags. And for some reason, I ignored the voice of reason in my head that said, “Don’t say anything. Don’t say anything. This is not the time to mention they should have taken re-usable bags.”

But of course, what did I say?

“You shouldn’t be using plastic bags.”

This, not surprisingly, was akin to poking an already wounded tiger – my brother Doug – in the bottom with a nice sharp stick.

KABOOM!

Now prior to this, I had never fought with my brother, Doug, in my life. And trust me, I never will again. Doug is one of my greatest fans. He gets me like no one else. I can do no wrong. This time, however, I did do wrong – and he let me know it. Let’s just say the drive back to my Mom’s apartment was a very loud and fast one, with Doug and I screaming at each other the entire way about who has the worst environmental footprint. Thankfully, the rest of the family members in the truck had the wisdom to know not to intervene but rather just let this play out— and hope to God they lived to see another day.

Now, I would like to say that by the time Doug and I got back to my Mom’s apartment, we had cooled down. But no. In fact, I think we were even angrier at each other by that point. So I jumped out of the truck, stomped over to the building entrance and yanked open the door, smashing it against a bench. Then I ran up the stairs and into my Mom’s apartment, past the concerned faces of my other family members who didn’t know yet what had happened, and into the guest bedroom. And then I did what I always do when I don’t know how to handle my feelings: I wrote.

Ten minutes later, I emerged from the guest bedroom – at the exact same time Doug was coming out of the bathroom directly across the hall. And before I even had to time to think, I threw my arms around him.

“I am SO sorry!!” I wailed. “This isn’t about the plastic bags! I WANT MY MOM!”

And then the oddest thing happened…something that has never happened to me before. I began to sob uncontrollably on Doug’s shoulder. It was ugly. It was messy. It was embarrassing. And it turned out to be the smartest thing I ever could have done.

Doug and I moved into the guest bedroom and sat, side by side, on the bed. And the best way to describe what happened next was that it felt like there was an alien inside me, trying to get out. By this point, I wasn’t just sobbing, I was heaving.

Doug wasn’t mad at me anymore; I think he thought I was possessed.

“Googie,” he said, using my childhood nickname. “What is wrong?”

“I can’t do this!” I cried.

“Do what?” he asked.

I turned to him and heard myself say, “Live the rest of my life without a Mom.”

And there it was: my fear of being motherless. That’s the alien that had been trying to get out. That was the tiger.

“You don’t have our Mom anymore,” he said. “But you still have all of us. And we will always be there for you.”

I managed a smile. “I know.”

“And for the record,” he continued, “I usually do use re-useable bags. I just didn’t happen to have any in my truck today…and it was the last thing on my mind.”

I nodded. “It was completely inappropriate of me to say something, today of all days.”

“Actually,” he said, “knowing you, it kinda makes sense. Because our Mom was just like Mother Nature…tough as they come and, in the end, she was going to do what she was going to do. Just like Mom, Mother Nature always wins in the end. Don’t you forget that, Maryanne. We are pushing Mother Nature to her limits and it’s just a matter of time before she really starts to bite back.”

As it turned out, my meltdown on Doug’s shoulder turned out to be very therapeutic, partly because it was such a physical release of the hurt, and partly because it brought to the surface a deeply rooted fear of abandonment. I cried after my Mom’s death like I never could after my husband, John’s, death – probably because I was absolutely terrified of facing the fact that I had been left behind.

But if I could turn back the clock and go back to John’s death, I would say to heck with the stoicism crap – and proceed to have the most spectacular meltdown/s imaginable.

Because now I know that the sooner the hurt and fears are out, the sooner we can heal.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To subscribe to the Life After Loss blog series, please sign up here