Thursday, September 22, 2022

I'll Cry if I Want To!

 

I'll Cry if I want to...and I won't if I don't!

    I, myself am guilty of passing judgement on the bereaved. Yes, you heard that right, I have, in the past, judged how others grieve based on my pre-existing impressions of how a person should behave when faced with losing someone they were close to. I say 'pre-existing impressions' because that is how my mind worked BEFORE I wore the shoes of the griever myself. 

    Between my upbringing ("Stop that crying"  "You're fine" "Never share your weaknesses with others" ) the media, (think movie scenes where folks drop to the floor and wail uncontrollably when the news of a loved one's sudden passing is delivered) and my own cultural and community beliefs ("it's unnatural for a child to die before it's parents",  "It just isn't fair, how can anyone ever recover from losing a child?" and one of my personal favorites, "Suicide is WRONG. It's a sin against God") is it any wonder that people's reaction to sudden and/or traumatic loss can be all over the board?


   

    If you've attended more than one funeral in your lifetime then you can relate to what I am saying.  You've seen the wife of 30+ years who suddenly finds herself a Widow throw herself upon her departed husband's coffin, begging him not to leave her, as a loving family member gently pulls her away and guides her back to her seat.  

    You may also have also witnessed a mother give the eulogy herself for her son who died tragically in a car wreck just 2 days before he was to be married to the love of his life, leaving you in awe of the strength that woman surely must have...strength you, yourself could never possess given the same circumstance.

   


    And what of the family members who are smiling and laughing with others as they greet people they haven't stayed in touch with, genuinely excited to see them once again, even if it is at their own mother's funeral?  Or the child who doesn't seem to be affected at all knowing her Daddy is never coming home from the war? How is that even possible?  Are they in denial do you think?

    What if I told you that ALL of those responses to grief were perfectly normal? 

    I've been most of those people myself. I've been on my knees screaming to the heavens, begging my 18 year old boy to come back after he took his own life by hanging...but you didn't see that because I wouldn't let you. I waited until everyone was gone from the house. Once alone, I felt safe enough to let my true feelings out.  I simply couldn't let anyone see me like that. Turns out I wasn't as strong as everyone kept telling me I was.  I didn't want anyone to know that I was living a lie. I felt ashamed, ashamed of losing control of myself in that way so I kept my deepest feelings hidden.

    I also greeted people at my daughter's memorial celebration with smiles and laughter, not a tear in sight because it truly was a celebration for me. I was celebrating how loved she was when she, herself lived her life believing she wasn't worthy. I was celebrating an end to her suffering, because cancer takes it toll and all she wanted was rest and eternal peace. And I was celebrating my own freedom. Yes, you heard that right too. I was freed from the physical burden of caring for my dying daughter, a grueling process that took over two years to complete.  I needed the relief that smiles and laughter brought that day. 

    But you didn't see the tears I cried for her many years later. Tears I wouldn't let flow while she was still here with us. Tears that had been kept at bay for so long they simply refused to come on cue when she died. Tears that finally, found release when, in my 60th year, I sat still long enough to put her story into words on paper.  Tears I welcomed as I recognized another layer of grief expressing itself after all those years in hibernation. 

    And then there was the eulogy I gave for my husband who also ended his own life in a dramatic stand-off with local law enforcement, without breaking down. I prepared for, facilitated and hosted his celebration of life at the home we shared together, the very place he took his life, and I did it with grace. 

    But you didn't see me drop to my knees in the forest next to his blood which was still glistening wet in the dappled sunlight the day he left this world.  You didn't see my heart crack open while I offered Reiki energy healing....sending it backward in time to the moment he pulled the trigger so that he might have felt my love as he made his chosen exit, hoping I eased his fear in those moments just a little bit. And you didn't see me each and every night for months after his death as I sat alone on his side of the bed, reaching out to him with tears quietly sliding down my cheeks. No, you didn't see those moments because they were mine to keep selfishly for myself.  Moments meant to be just for he and I.

    So next time you are faced with a bereaved person and you feel inclined to wonder, "why aren't they crying?"  or "Geeshe....they are taking this really hard"  or "Is she in denial? Why is she so calm? I'd be a mess if I were in her shoes" I invite you to take a moment to realize that you are only seeing a tiny portion of the face of grief. And while a picture may say a thousand words, a small snapshot into the life of the bereaved does not show you the entire truth of it at all. 

    I can guarantee you the bereaved is not showing you everything they are feeling. How could they when their own feelings and reactions are changing so rapidly? You see, grief is messy. It even surprises us, the griever when we suddenly find ourselves numb to the pain and unable to cry.  It catches us by surprise when we hear ourselves laugh out loud, often times leaving us feeling guilty like we have somehow dishonored the one who has died by being joyful for even a brief moment. And it totally confuses us when, years later we are dealing with physical illnesses and problems that surely are the result of grief we buried in our bodies because we were taught as children to swallow our feelings and hide our pain.

    But you also should not be judged for your own reactions to us. I mean it's really not your fault either is it? After all, our society has taught us to RUN from death. We talk in whispers at funerals lest we call the Grim Reaper's attention to ourselves and our families. We 'fight' against it by putting our loved ones through horrific 'cancer cures' in the hopes that we can somehow cheat death, and we NEVER prepare for a child's death because we've convinced ourselves it's unnatural to do so. With all these conditioned avoidance methods is it any wonder that none of us are equipped to deal with grief when it does show up at our door?

Curious?  Ask me anything. I'll give you an open and honest answer. 



    So how can we change all of this? It starts here, with an honest conversation. A conversation where we see ourselves in another's eyes. Authentic storytelling and compassionate listening is what is needed.  Admit it, you've all been curious about what goes on behind the scenes when someone dies, especially if that someone was considered to be 'too young to die' or died in a horrific way. I am here offering you that conversation. 

    Curious?  Ask me anything. I'll give you an open and honest answer.  I'll give you the truth of it...MY truth. And while doing so, I'll cry if I want to....and I won't if I don't! 

And if you still choose to judge the way I grieve, then you will most assuredly be met with another face of grief...one I haven't named yet. The face of ANGER.

As always, I welcome your thoughtful comments.

Blessings on your journey to Self-Discovery after loss,
Vicky


Vicky Edgerly is a Reiki Master and Spiritual Teacher who uses the wisdom she’s gained through study & personal experience to assist others in navigating life’s challenges.  As someone who has chosen to grow from her STE’s  (‘Spiritually Transformative Events’ ….a life event that changes one's belief systems and outlook on life), she uses her knowledge and experience to empower others.

Vicky specializes in showing folks the way through the grieving experience by applying metaphysical practices and offers private sessions as a “Grief Journey Guide”.  She has worked closely with The Afterlife Education Foundation from Portland Oregon for several years and was featured in open panel discussions at their annual conferences


For Additional Insights into the Grief Journey: 
Grieving Part 1...The Early Days
Grieving Part 2...When the Party's Over 


More From Vicky:

 www.whiteelephantwisdom.com


info@whiteelephantwisdom.com



    





Thursday, April 7, 2022

I AM

 

Original Artwork by Ollie Brewster 
(small graphic contribution by Vicky Edgerly)


I AM

I am granddaughter to the generations that came before me.

I am grandmother to the generations that spring forth from me.

I am PRESENT in all generations….I AM

 

I am  a being of light.

I am a conduit for bringing light to the Earth.

I am kin to the very stars themselves…I AM

 

I am grounded in the physicality of Mother Earth.

Her rivers are my veins, her water is my blood.

I am a planter-of-seeds on earth…I AM

 

I am the caress of a gentle breeze, the blast of an arctic wind.

I am the first wail of a newborn

and the last breath of a dying old woman…IAM

 

I am granddaughter to the generations that came before me.

I am grandmother to the generations that spring forth from me.

I am PRESENT in all generations….I AM

by Vicky Edgerly ~ 2022


About the Above Image

The art you see above, and subsequent writing, resulted from one of my favorite human interactions to date... 

As the story goes, my eldest grandchild, Ollie, had been doing some pretty great artwork of late, and I felt compelled to having them do a custom piece for me. A portrait. 

This wasn't just any portrait.  I wanted Ollie to do a portrait of how THEY saw ME. I left it completely up to them to use whatever medium they wanted and to take as long as they needed.

It didn't take long before I received Ollie's finished portrait along with this interesting note:

"So i sat down to draw your portrait but i'm slightly afraid that it may have turned out to actually be a self portrait by accident"

Well my goodness, the moment I laid eyes on this piece I had a powerful, emotional response to it. 

In the 30 seconds that followed I suddenly just KNEW things.  Things about humanity, the Soul and the earth/body connection.  I could SEE into the past and future generations by following the umbilical cord-like stream of energy connecting us all. It was an incredible experience, one that I savored so much I just had to write about it, commemorating it to our earthly timeline records. 

So yes, Ollie, this most certainly IS a self portrait of you, the artist! Its also a portrait of me, your mother, your sisters, and all who have ever or will ever walk the earth.   

It was my joy to co-create this with you by adding my own eyes to the portrait along with the past, present, future generations graphic. For we are all are forever entwined and connected to one another, and the thread binding you and I is one spun of golden silk! 

There is much written in the vibration of this image.  I trust it will find it's way into the hearts of those who gaze upon it.  In this way, may we all begin to see each other more clearly.  May we see each other as an extension of ourselves and may we allow our hearts to open. 

Blessings,

Vicky


Vicky Edgerly is a Reiki Master and Spiritual Teacher who uses the wisdom she’s gained through study & personal experience to assist others in navigating life’s challenges.  As someone who has chosen to grow from her STE’s  (‘Spiritually Transformative Events’ ….a life event that changes one's belief systems and outlook on life), she uses her knowledge and experience to empower others.

Vicky specializes in showing folks the way through the grieving experience by applying metaphysical practices and offers private sessions as a “Grief Journey Guide”.  She has worked closely with The Afterlife Education Foundation from Portland Oregon for several years and was featured in open panel discussions at their annual conferences


Read More from Vicky Edgerly: 


More From Vicky:

 www.whiteelephantwisdom.com


info@whiteelephantwisdom.com







Tuesday, March 22, 2022

WHAT GRIEF WANTS by Vicky Edgerly



What does my grief want from me anyway?!

I recognized during my very first grief journey that my pain was something of an enigma. Even though I didn’t want it anymore, I also didn't want anyone to try and take it from me.

 I appreciated those close to me who could sit with me and my pain….those who didn’t turn away when I dropped my veil and exposed the true nature of it.  The ugliness that it was.  I appreciated those Souls who could do that…the ones who could do that silently without agendas of their own. The ones who didn’t try to take my pain away from me. Because it was MINE….it was mine alone and no one could take it.  I would learn to resent those who tried. So yes, I guarded my pain like a jealous lover.

 "I know what it wants and I surrender..."

Today, some 20 years later, I still sit alone with my pain but it looks a lot different now.  Like lovers in a longtime relationship, we both have changed a lot along the way.  It’s quieter...we know each other so well after all these years that we can sit with each other in silence.  We can just BE together in the same room without one spoken word…there is no longer a need to name it. I know what it wants of me when it shows up at my door…there is no longer a need to search for reasons….to demand answers.  I know what it wants and I surrender.  I yield to it’s needs…I walk willingly into the familiar embrace.  I allow the pain, dulled by years of experience, tamed by my own stubborn struggle to ‘not let it win’, I allow it to envelope my whole being.  I rest my head upon it’s shoulder as we embrace and I allow the full richness of the penetrating sorrow to enter my being. I ALLOW it…I understand it’s needs. 

I used to think it came to consume me.
  Like an invasive cancerous thing that we, by nature are designed to hate….to fight against at all cost. I used to think that…before I got to know it by name.  Grief.

Turns out I misunderstood what it wanted.  It doesn’t want to fight. To do so only creates more struggle, like thrashing about while trying to escape barbed wire would. I’d only become entangled and suffer more injury in the long run, for this is a battle that will never be won.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Lizards & COVID-19


Since my 'nature walks' are temporarily confined to my apartment complex because of the changes COVID 19 has brought to us, I am choosing to find adventure in my somewhat limited environment.

Today, I was amused to realize just how much I have been enjoying the little lizards that run around everywhere down here in Florida. I couldn't help but notice how my relationship with them has evolved during our 'quarantine' where dozens of them skip and skitter across my footpath on my daily walk-abouts.


As I was walking this morning I passed one who had lost most of its tail....and I spoke to it words of sympathy. Then, quickly realized that sympathy wasn't needed (or desired) but instead, offered compliments on how beautiful and agile it still was, tail or no tail.


Next I saw the biggest one I've seen to date perched atop the largest rock in that section of landscaping just as pretty as you please and so I said to it, "Well, I see you've made King of the Mountain.....but what makes you so sure you belong up there?" Which, I immediately realized was not needed (or desired) so I added, "but look at how beautiful your markings are and your confidence to stand alone for all to see is inspiring!"

As I rounded a corner a few minutes later I witnessed a large lizard chasing one that was half its size and I couldn't help my first response which was to scold the big bully. "Hey! STOP that and mind your own business" but then my attention turned to the little guy who so gracefully made its hasty exit and changed my thoughts and comments to, "Oh boy look at you go! Isn't it marvelous that you have your big friend there to help push you to be the best you can be!?" because, well, my first-impression comments steeped in bully/victimhood mentality were not needed (or desired).

Friday, February 14, 2020

Grieving Part 6_Valentine's Day for One

Valentine's Day for One

Have you ever felt the weight of being alone on Valentines Day?  (Or New Years Eve or any other holiday that suggests we must celebrate with a spouse or 'special someone') I think any one of us, whether we have lost a spouse through death or simply find ourselves without a partner when this special 'day of love' rolls around, can relate to the inevitable feelings of loneliness that arise within us. It seems to be a universal thing. So, if you are experiencing this because you find yourself unattached at the moment, can you imagine how much more intense it must feel for someone who, let's say, has recently lost their husband, wife or lover through something as 'final' as death?

Broken Hearts and Dead Flowers

Most of us who are grieving the death of that someone we considered to be 'the love of our lives' will certainly feel that loss much more acutely when Valentine's Day dawns.  We most likely have spent a certain amount of time 'dreading' the arrival of the magical day of Love as soon as we realized the calendar had changed to February.  We could see it clearly looming there before us in the not too distant future.  We convinced ourselves that it will be a horrible day for us...that we will most assuredly be sad, lonely and broken-hearted.  That we will spend the day in agony over missing the one we loved so dearly in life who is no longer here to make us feel special.  They won't be bringing us flowers & chocolate...or taking us to a lovely dinner for two or simply doing those silly little gestures of love we found so endearing when they were alive and here with us.  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Reality...A Matter of Perception

"These 7 little words actually hold all the answers to the mystery of life itself within them."

I want to talk about perception.  I think it's an underrated commodity.  As in, folks don't give it the value it deserves.  I mean really, think about this popular quote:
                                  "What we PERCEIVE is what we BELIEVE."
These 7 little words actually hold all the answers to the mystery of life itself within them.  How you say?  Well, because they are letting us in on the secret that our PERCEPTION of what is happening around us actually creates our reality!  Let's break it down...

What is Reality?

Some might think this a silly question with an obvious answer.  They might say something like, "Well that's obvious.  Reality is what we can see, hear, feel and touch.  It is the world around us and all that we experience within it."  Well I beg to differ with that opinion.  I believe 'reality' is a bit more complex than that, and yet in principal is really simple.  I believe that reality is based on how one PERCEIVES the various stimuli they are exposed to. 

Have you ever watched someone else face something especially challenging in their life with a steadfast determination that things will work out just fine and wondered to yourself, "how do they DO that?  Why aren't they falling apart?  I don't think I could handle that.....I'd surely crumble!"  

Or perhaps you are the person who watches someone in hysterics over a traumatic event and says silently to yourself, "Oh darlin, if you would only relax and surrender to what is happening things would be a lot less stressful for you as you go through this.  After all, things always have a way of working themselves out." 

What do you suppose makes these types of people so different from one another? I used to ponder this question quite often...until I figured out the answer.  PERCEPTION.  Perception is simply how we view what is happening around us.  And contrary to popular belief, we do actually have a CHOICE in all of this.  We, in each and every moment of our lives, can choose what to believe and what not to believe. There is great power in this realization. Let's go a bit deeper...

Friday, September 6, 2019

Grief and Our Pets

Grief and Our Pets

by Vicky Edgerly

     I had to say goodbye to my dog recently.  His name was Jangles and he was the youngest of 3 Labs that my late-husband and I raised together.  My 'Baby Boy'.  I cradled his sweet face in my lap and whispered words of love and gratitude into his ears as the drugs sent him off to sleep.  You would think that after burying both of my children and my husband, losing a pet would be inconsequential to me...but it isn't.  It isn't at all.

     I have a vivid memory of a woman grieving her deceased dog that used to spark a lot of anger in me. You see, my own son had taken his life at the tender age of 18 just a few weeks before, when a women I worked with announced the death of her beloved dog of some 15 years over the weekend.  This was during a time in my own journey where the grief over my son's suicide was still very much in the driver's seat.  I prided myself on how far I had come because I could go to the office and hold it together for the required eight hour day (although the floodgates would burst open as soon as I pushed through the exit doors at days end and hot, wet tears would be pouring down my face and bouncing off my shoes by the time I reached my car).

     The bereaved Dog Mommy was having a rough time with her own loss.  Her emotional state would periodically require her to get up and abandon her desk to go sit in the lunch room until she could get her tears under control.  This left me to handle her job of answering incoming calls, which seemed like an extreme hardship for me at the time as my still traumatized brain struggled to function properly in the workplace.

     My anger toward this woman, and others like her was very real and demanded my attention.  How dare these people compare the grief they feel over a deceased pet to that of a mother who has buried a child or a young widow who has had to say goodbye to the man she thought she'd spend her life with?  Really?

"That grieving dog Mom, as it turned out, had lived a life full of abuse, neglect and abandonment."