Easier to share information

This is nothing revolutionary (except if you're old like me), but note that at the end of postings on the blog, there are icons for email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you find a comment or posting you want to share with others, just click on the icon and pass it on in whatever "newfangled" way you have of communicating with your friends.

Are You A "Mr. Fix-it?"

For a lot of men (me not included) being able to fix things around the house is an important achievement. Not only does it save money, it also provides a sense of control and accomplishment. While I am far from a handy kind of guy, I must admit that on those rare occasions when I actually do fix something, I'm pretty proud of myself.

Even though I might not be the typical Mr. Fix-it, I definitely took on that role when Kathleen died. Whenever my wife, Monica, opened up to me about her sadness, I felt compelled to provide her with solutions for her sadness. It was not until much later that I learned she was not looking to be fixed -- she just wanted me to listen.

Do any of you find yourselves trying to fix your partner's sadness? Do any of you feel like your partner is trying to fix you? Have you been able to deal effectively with the issue, or is it still a source of tension?

A poem for fathers

I was asked by a dad to share this poem he came across. If anyone knows the author, please let me know so I can give them credit.

It must be very difficult

To be a man in grief,
Since "men don't cry"
and "men are strong"
No tears can bring relief.

It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test,
And field the calls and visitors
So she can get some rest.

They always ask if she's all right
And what she's going through.
But seldom take his hand and ask,
"My friend, but how are you?"

He hears her crying in the night
And thinks his heart will break.
He dries her tears and comforts her,
But "stays strong" for her sake.

It must be very difficult
To start each day anew.
And try to be so very brave-
He lost his baby too.

Eileen Knight Hagemeister

The gift of forgiveness

It is rare that I am home watching TV on a Friday night (we are firm believers in trying to kick off the weekend with a diversion), but last night I found myself watching Dateline for the first time in a year. The program was depressing, but I was caught up in the report within minutes. It was about a man and woman (brother and sister) who, as teenagers in 1979, were the victims of a home invasion. Their father was a prominent Oklahoma minister and he and their mother were both senselessly murdered in the random attack. The children both survived, although they were critically wounded. The Dateline report was about this man's and woman's journeys since that horrible event -- the agony of the murderers' trials and multiple court appeals, the failed relationships they experienced, and how they eventually began to heal and were able to move forward. While the experience will obviously impact them the rest of their lives, the real focus of the story became the young man's ability to forgive the person who pulled the trigger that horrendous night. A lot of the questions to him centered around, "how could you possibly forgive someone who did that?"

What struck me in all the questions and answers about forgiveness was that no one ever mentioned that forgiveness does not mean condoning the hurtful action that occurred. When I was trained by the Grief Recovery Institute as a group facilitator, that point was one that hit me hard. I had never thought of it that way. The Institute's philosophy is that forgiveness really means, "I am not going to let this hurt me anymore." By looking at it that way, it gives at least a minuscule piece of responsibility (and control) to the person who feels they have been wronged. It becomes their decision as to how they want to move forward.

I was very angry at a certain individual caregiver who failed us when Kathleen died. I could not have been convinced at the time that there was any way I could forgive him. When I started to look at forgiveness as setting myself free rather than letting him totally off the hook, I was better able to let go and move on.

If you find yourself angry and unable to forgive someone, I hope that you give this some thought, because you might find that it is helpful. No one deserves to live their life filled with anger, and I certainly believe that Kathleen would not have wanted her death to result in that for me.

Grief and social media

It seems that social media is affecting nearly everything these days, including how we grieve. We recently started a Facebook page for A Place To Remember and it's a daily challenge to know what kinds of things to post -- what is helpful? what is too much? what is just plain silly? There is no doubt that it is a changing world technologically and even less doubt that it will continue at a rapid pace.

If you are willing, let me know what you think works and what does not work as far as providing the best avenues for communicating about your grief. Whether it is how I (and you ) use this blog, a Facebook page, Twitter, or some other new fangled "app" that I likely have not even heard of yet, I would like to know what you think!

It's 2011, and what better time is there to start acting like I know what is going on with all this stuff! Thanks!!