Monday Meditation: Persevering

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.”

-Walter Elliot

Grief isn’t just one experience that hangs out for a bit and then disappears. Grief is a very long road broken up into shorter segments that piggyback onto one another for the remainder of a griever’s life.

Outsiders often mistake grief for a one-and-done experience: someone dies, you get sad, you deal with it, you’re done with it, you move on, end of grief. This is just so wrong.

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Monday Meditation: Step On In

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

-Rabindranath Tagore

Grief is huge. It’s an ocean. If we stopped to contemplate what was living in every nook and cranny of the ocean and what could happen to us if we went to varying depths, we might become paralyzed.

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8 Years…

March 5 marked eight years since my mother’s death. This was a rough year. Year eight was one of the worst emotional years I’ve had in five years. And it was the year I succeeded in doing something my mother spoke of doing but could not. This was a year of shedding more of the pre-loss skin that tried to cling to a crumb of the life I had before my mother died. 

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Monday Meditation: Fall Now, Stand Later

“If you fell down yesterday, Stand up today.”

-H.G. Wells

One of the most significant misunderstandings concerning grief is the belief that grief is a one-and-done experience: loss happens, you get sad, you gradually become happier, and then, one day, grief is gone for good. The belief is helpful to grief supporters, who sometimes act as though our grief is a drag. The sooner we get over our grief, the faster they can move out of support mode.

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Monday Mediation: Rest Slowly

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”


Rest plus quiet does not equal stopping. It means going slowly. In the act of lying fallow, the ground continues to engage life as the soil replenishes its nutrients and prepares itself for planting again. The action is happening below the surface, out of sight. Just because it is hidden from view does not mean that it stops.

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Lasts Things: Valentine’s Day

I have never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. The candy, yes! But not so much the holiday. I got caught up in the hoopla as a teen, but even then enjoyed the day as more of a silly holiday better spent with friends. My parents and I have exchanged cards and little fun gifts (mostly candy) every year. My parents always exchanged cards with one another but never made a big show of having a big V-Day date or anything that I can remember.

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Monday Meditation: Is Loved and Lost Better?

” ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

Is it?

Ask a griever in the pain of missing a loved one any day of the year whether it truly is better to have loved and lost. Some may say that the pain they experience is too overwhelming that it makes them wish they never loved in the first place.

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Monday Meditation: Quiet Reconnection

“Learn to be quiet enough to hear the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in others.”

-Marian Wright Edelman

Learning to sit in quiet is a skill that takes time to develop. The noise outside is loud and often penetrates deep inside us, making it hard to shut off. The noise can obscure our true desires because it tells us that what we want cannot or should not be. No matter how long it takes to shut out intrusive noise, the results are worth the effort and practice.

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My “Dry” January 2023

Typically, Dry January refers to a month of abstention from alcohol (and maybe whatever else was overabundant in the pre-new year holiday season). After an emotionally exhausting and panic-attack-filled 2022, I decided to do my own grief version of a “Dry January” in 2023. 2022 was awful, and I wanted to begin a practice of abstaining from all the crap that made last year terrible.

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Monday Meditation: Quiet Matters

“When you quiet your mind, you can enter a world of clarity, peace and understanding.”

-Alice Coltrane

Quiet is more than just the absence of noise. Quiet is a state of being that helps suppress distracting intrusions so that the right sounds can become loud and clear.

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Monday Meditation: To Rest, Surrender.

“Leave the rest to the gods.”*


To rest, you have to stop expending energy in certain ways. Not only do you have to physically stop performing certain activities, but you also have to release depleting mental loads from your mind.

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Monday Meditation: Lie Fallow

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.”


Fallowing is a farming practice whereby a field is left unsown for a period of time to let the soil recover its nutrients and restore its moisture content. This recovery time later allows that same soil to grow a larger and better crop when next planted.

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The “rest” time granted to grievers by friends, family, and even bereavement policies amounts to a few days “off”. Grievers are supposed to fall back into formation, after this short break, without missing a beat like nothing much happened.

A weekend or even a week isn’t enough to deal with a loss; it’s not enough time to process what happened or adjust to the new life grievers are thrust into without their permission.

Instead of just resting, we might do better to give ourselves time to lie fallow, to give up being sown for a season, to stop feeling pressure to produce for a cycle, and instead just…be. By remaining fallow, we not only give ourselves rest, we also give ourselves time to recover. We give ourselves a better chance to thrive when we reenter the planting cycle.

We can’t stop doing everything in a fallow period (we still need to eat, pay bills, take care of children,etc.); but we can fall back on the basics, put ourselves in a more private and selective environment that allows us to gather good supporters around us, reprioritize our needs and wants, and reflect on how this massive shift has changed us, and to decide who we want to be in this new world.

Whether it has been one day since your loss or one thousand, take time to lie fallow, to rest with purpose and intention. Throw away the idea that you are being lazy and unproductive. You are readying yourself for the next “planting season” wherein you will rise and thrive.

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Monday Meditation: A New Year Rest

“Rest when you are weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.”

-Ralph Marston

December used to be an exciting month, a tiring one, but one filled with the energy of holiday electricity. The final week of the year used to be a time when I would organize myself and my professional and personal calendar. I would renew commitments to my goals and redraw the lines of my life blueprint, tracing old, still useable plans and developing additions where the old plan no longer fit. And in January, I was off and running!

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Now, as a griever, December is just…draining. January is…daunting.

Getting to the post-holiday lull has become the goal of my “holiday season.” In my post-loss life, January has become even more important in my grief calendar. My week of restful planning morphed into a week of thinking, “I’d like NOT to do that again.” I still examine my blueprint for life, but I retrace less, rebuild some, and shrink the blueprint to make way for more open space that can become whatever it needs to be as the year rolls forward. I now devote the time to rethinking, reorganizing, regrouping, and restarting…at a tortoise’s pace.

Rest is always missing from my life by the end of the year, especially in 2022. In 2023, I want to reclaim my rest. I have committed myself in the past to “doing less,” but I only removed one or two activities from my calendar…I didn’t actually do less.

This year, I have decided that the way to “do less” is to focus on rest. I am burned out, worn out, mentally and physically drained, and I don’t just deserve rest; I need rest to survive…and to thrive.

Many people commit to a “dry January,” when they abstain from alcohol after a frenzy of holiday social activities. My grief-related version of a dry January is a restful one. I want to abstain from the things that over-taxed my mental load (mainly other people), give up the energy that drove me to exhaustion, and say “Eff it” to every new idea of how to “live my best life” so I can just get back to basics, like rest and sleep and eating better.

I can’t continue my grief self-work if I’m an exhausted, anxiety-ridden wreck. No one can.

I’ve set a bedtime, I’ve set reading goals, I’ve decided on better meal-planning options, I’ve decided not to grab on to other people’s expectations (in other words: I’ve decided to disappoint many people) and focus on the small number of lives that matter most in my world. I’m finally resting the way I probably should have been years ago.

What kind of rest do you need this new year?

A Year For Rest

I am so happy to see 2022 go…it was a difficult year full of exhausting experiences and habits that I would not like to continue…ever.

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The year was full of family health traumas (I do know that for the people directly affected by these health issues, the year was far more stressful and exhausting) which highlighted poor support networks. Witnessing the lack of support and not being able to say anything about it was awful and draining. It reminded me of the lack of response I received when I desperately needed support and triggered similar emotional responses in me all year long (PTSD, anyone?).

I had hoped this year would be one of reconciliation, but it turned into a year of closure that capped years of tension. It was a year of bullying and continual criticism from new people and the usual suspects that caused me sleepless nights, which led to anxiety which led to panic attacks which led to a giant breakdown, or an intense release of pent-up emotions that were drowning me slowly and painfully for ten months.

It was full of a holiday season that strummed my feelings of being unnecessary and unimportant to my own relatives. It was a year of going to bed at 2 a.m. and waking up at 5 or 6 a.m. to finish my book on self-care (which I did–yay!) and dealing with the side effects of severe sleep deprivation and not dealing with it well. I let all of these things get in the way of what I really wanted to do with my time, which caused more anxiety flowing around the question of “Would I ever get to deal with my life again?!” It was a year that recalled many themes that echoed the two years after my mother’s death…and that created more anxiety because I don’t want to go through that again.

There were good things: we went on vacation for the first time in three years, saw friends and family and laughed with others in person, took swimming lessons, went on hikes, snuggled, read books, and I finally slept in the month of December. We also made some exciting decisions about our future, which triggered fears of initiating losses, but I’m okay with those now and am really ready for a new start.

I said goodbye to 2022 by watching The Glass Onion (highly recommended), a film about truth-seeking (albeit with some deception), the pitfalls of egotism, and the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. Minus the deception part, the film serves as a good reminder of what to encourage and discourage in the new year.

I started 2023 already weary and bedraggled and done. Maybe that’s a good thing. My mother’s words swirl through my head right now, words that often made me roll my eyes at her: When you’re down, there’s only one direction to go…. So maybe starting the year down and deflated isn’t the worst way to begin. I started 2022 rearing to go and looked at what happened there. If anything, 2022 was a year of removing dead weight–we tossed a lot of unnecessary household goods, to which I added the relationships and people who were draining my energy. 2022 did turn out to be a year of reconciliation…with myself.

2023 is going to be my Year of Rest. I am not committing to much right now except a bedtime and a wake time…oh, and drinking more herbal teas. That’s my January: resetting the sleep clock and drinking nice, warm things. During the remainder of the year, I intend to rest from drama, bullies, and people-pleasing. I intend to rest for myself, my child, my spouse, my father, my genuine and good relationships, my health, and my future. And I want to rest for my grief. It needs some time off…it was triggered like nothing I’ve experienced before. I thought seven years down the line, it would be a whisper in the breeze. Turns out, grief is a deflated balloon that can get blown around from time to time; any wind gust can pick it up and flap it around.

This year I will treat my grief like a hot air balloon that can take me to spectacular heights and on amazing journeys of discovery. I will hop in the basket, give it some air, and let it soar to a space where I can breathe above the craziness that insists on running frantically below.

Welcome, 2023. It’s time to rest.   

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7 Years

Today is the seventh anniversary of my mother’s death.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on
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