Tag Archive | death

Moving Up The Family Tree


As we age, I imagine we move up in the family tree.  As babies, we begin at the root of the family tree with our parents and other family members protecting us as we grow.  As we get older, we begin to branch off as our own limbs on the family tree and when/if we should marry and have children of our own, we develop our own branches off of our family trunk of love.

As the family tree increases, peopled with loving connections, it grows.  New branches and connections are formed to increase the tree’s size.  At mid-life though, something happens.  We begin to be in the middle or higher branches of the tree.  No longer are we one of the younger whipper-snappers, but we are now parents, aunts, uncles, and maybe even grandparents and we rise in the tree.  No longer are we establishing our branches.  We are expanding them with offshoots by our own family increasing in size.

When my father died, I was too grief-stricken to feel the shift that happened.  But I feel it now.  We’ve recently had a cousin of my Dad’s generation pass away.  No longer am I a child, but an adult, and I feel it’s my duty to represent our family limb in the passing of a beloved family member from another of the tree’s offshoots.

I guess it’s the way life progresses, but it was an eye-opening moment for me when I realized that I’m nearing the upper echelon of the tree.  I’m grateful that I’m a part of such a lovely family tree and I’m honored to be a part of the rising branches within our family tree.

Are you feeling that change in the generations too?  I guess as we age or under certain circumstances, we become the older generation, ready to nurture the younger ones as time goes by.  It’s all a part of the cycle of life.

Shine On!




It’s Just The Circle Of Life


I don’t mean any disrespect when I write – It’s just the circle of life.  It’s more of a factual statement than one which diminishes the emotion of birth to death.  As humans, we have experienced our own birth and someday we will experience our own death.  We may even experience by proxy, the death of friends, family and loved ones.  As women, we may even experience the gift of giving birth.

As a breast cancer survivor, I have experienced the thought of death as well.  Perhaps it’s not just those of us with illnesses that know the darkness that shrouds the fear at death’s door.  But it becomes a rite of passage when we are diagnosed with a disease which is a known killer.  It’s how we deal with that threat that the disease can take our lives which varies, person to person.

There’s no right way to deal with a breast cancer diagnosis and each of us who have heard those words, ‘you have cancer’ can attest to the fact that our lives completely change in a moment.  Forevermore we live with the threat that it won’t be cured or that it will return with a vengeance.  We fear the cancer, the treatment and the cloud that perpetually hangs back, in our peripheral view for the rest of our lives.  We mourn the loss of good health that we once had.  We crumble in the dark late at night fearing the worst, yet hoping for the best, making promises to the Universe or to God with pleas for strength, for one more day, for a cure, for peace.

We endure pain in order to be cured, yet the psyche many times does not ever find peace again to heal our spiritual self.  I have seen people who have become broken shells of their former selves after a diagnosis, never to fully regain the momentum of life afterwards for the fear of the cancer returning never leaves us.  Even if we put it in the back of our minds or try to totally erase it from our view, its specter awaits, lurking for the next lump’s arrival, the next battery of tests that are not within normal range, the next procedure to investigate some abnormality in the body.  It doesn’t really ever end.

I am coming up on 16 years since I was diagnosed and I can attest that it never ends.  Sure, we can go on merrily with our lives, hoping our happy-go-lucky charade continues to not provoke questions from others as to our health status.  We can cry at night when things aren’t good, but nobody understands this unless you have endured it.  We can be strong when needed and mask our fears to the masses.  After awhile, we even believe ourselves until something happens to knock us off-kilter and wham, we are back again in the throes of fear and wondering if the circle of life is at its end.

I understand dear friends.  I truly do.  Even the word remission is not a peaceful feeling as it only masks the tingling sensation of peace for the moment and the trembling fear of if/when the other shoe will drop again.

I don’t know why I am writing this post today.  It seems to be flowing out of me at a supersonic speed.  My fingers type so quickly and yet I am not sure if I am even making sense.  I’ve had many scares over the years.  Tumor markers which are higher than normal, lumps that have to be biopsied, scary tests to endure all while knowing that could be in store.  Crying in the night or during the day when nobody’s home.  Feeling the whoosh of relief when the doctor proclaims it’s ok for now.  Reliving the nightmares of past experiences knowing I’m on my own.  It’s hard, but we can live through the experience and keep going.  That’s the common denominator really.  Keep waking up to a new day.  Nightfall is hardest I know – that dead of night overwhelming feeling which is only diminished by sleep.  And the realization as dawn comes that we must face the reality in our situation.  I’m here for you.  I have been there and I feel blessed that I am still here to walk with you when you need a friend.

The circle of life begins and ends in a momentous way – birth and death – bringing the light of our souls into the world and then allowing the extinguishing of our soul light to be free.

Shine On!


P.S.  I’m fine, so no worries.  I don’t know why this post wrote itself today, but it did. xo


via Daily Prompt: Circle



Deceased praying mantis. Arms pointing to my home.

Ok friends, here’s another animal one for the blog.  The other day, I told you about the gas leak and propane leak at the house.  I also mentioned the dead animal smell in the backyard.  I never found the dead animal because I didn’t want to go looking for it honestly.  I’m not a gal who likes to see those types of things.  But the good news is that the smell has dissipated.  Thank goodness.

The gas leak is repaired.  Woo Hoo!  Hot shower here I come!  But as I ventured out to put out my garbage yesterday, I saw on my patio a dead praying mantis.  You may remember that I recently wrote about seeing a praying mantis and its symbolism here.  But a dead one?  I have scoured the internet looking for what it means to find a dead one facing my home (photo above).  However, I’ve found no answers to my question.

Last night on my way to bed, I saw a shadow in my kitchen window.  What in the world could it be?  So, me being me, I pulled back the curtain and it was a live praying mantis walking on the window outside.  I focused and took a bunch of photos of it and watched as he/she moved around.  I also peeked outside on the patio to confirm that it wasn’t the one I had previously seen dead because that one is still in the same position (and head was intact so if you were wondering if he had previously mated, apparently she wasn’t hungry).  If you don’t know what I’m referring to, I’ve read that the female praying mantis may eat the male after/during mating sometimes.  Can you imagine?

I saw a shadow of something through the kitchen curtains. As I lifted the curtains, I saw it was a large bug. It took about 20 minutes for me to watch the praying mantis walk around the window to realize what it was. What a lovely special visit before bedtime!

Anyway,  I thought it was interesting to note how the deceased praying mantis and the new live one on the window came into my life yesterday.  Just for the record, does anyone have any intuitive messages about this?  Please feel free to share.  Thank you!

Shine On!


via Daily Prompt: Focused


Help for Middle-Schoolers


I’ve mentioned many times over the last few days that there is help at school for parents and for students.  A friend of mine wrote a book that I want to share since I unexpectedly began a series on the beginning of school for teachers, parents and students.

Because I always want to help, here’s my tip for you!  This book is a keeper and I’m not just saying that!  If you have Middle-schoolers, this is a great book for you!

From tears and fears to cheers—the adult guide for middle-schoolers… Twenty of the most common issues that drive emotional middle-school students to the school counselor’s door are told in story form based on real-life confidential meetings, phone calls, and interventions. Stories include practical life lessons and inspiring solutions for such problems as anger management, eating disorders, peer pressure, bullying, divorcing parents, failure spirals, broken friendships, gossip, sexual harassment, and test and performance anxiety. The stories also provide insight for challenges with parents, teachers, or siblings, and they help students deal with being new at school, death and major change in the family, and friends who are desperate or hurting themselves. Each of the chapters details the process of taking these educationally disruptive issues from emergence to resolution in a format perfect for use by school counselors, teachers, and parents. Additionally, each chapter offers discussion and reflection questions at the end to help promote insight through discussions with individuals, groups, or in classrooms. This full range of school counselor programs, professional resources, and responsibilities is the perfect read for the school counselor wanting new tools and strategies, or for the graduate student wanting an understanding and guide for the career they have chosen. And for the parent or teacher, this book will help them support the social and emotional growth of their middle-school children with an understanding of their emotional needs.

Click here to see the video of her book!

Click here to buy a copy for yourself!

Join Behind the Counselor’s Door on Facebook!

Shine On!



Lying and Alzheimers Disease


If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia, you’ve probably told a fib or two, or perhaps better said, you’ve stretched the truth in order to spare them pain.  I know I have.  I was recently talking with a friend whose Momma is dear to my heart and we were discussing how we’ve stretched the truth at times in order to keep our loved ones’ minds at peace.  My friend was sharing how she worries about the tall tales we have used to cover up the truth when faced with uneasy questions.  The subject of the Good Book and Judgement Day came up.

Do you think we’d be forgiven for the lies, even though they were said with a loving heart and in the hopes of calming the confused minds of our loved ones?

What do you think?

Please don’t misunderstand my intentions.  I’m not advocating lying.  I’m simply putting it out there for discussion among those who are in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia community.  I want to know if you have fibbed and what you think about it.  Let me clarify, I didn’t just decide to fib on a whim.  My intentions were to soothe their confused minds and to give them peace and let them be happy in the present moment.  They have grieved enough in this lifetime.

For me, I have fibbed when I felt it necessary to not cause my loved ones repeated emotional pain.  I have measured and taken my cues from my loved ones’ emotional status when they’ve asked me hard questions repeatedly about someone – for example, “Where is he/she?”  Instead of telling the truth outright, “They passed away,” (and you’ve known that, but you can’t remember it), I’ve learned to ask them, “Where do you think he/she is?”  Many times, I have gone along with whatever they are thinking which has brought them peace.  I’ve also been known to answer in vague terms, such as, “I know if she/he could be here, they would be.  They are looking out for you still.  Yes, they are at home,” (but I’m meaning their spiritual home and the confused mind is thinking the physical home).

I’ve found that being in the moment with loved ones with memory problems is hard when we know the reality, but easier, when we put their hearts first.  There are times when they know their loved ones have passed away and the tears of sadness that ensue are heart-wrenching for us all.  They remember that they died and the sadness is all-encompassing even though they had forgotten that they knew.  There are times when they ask for validation and I am careful to make sure I check to see what they are remembering before I answer.  For if they remember that so and so passed away, it is nothing but an insult to lie at that point.  Truth given with love soothes the confused mind many times.  And yet, at others, there is no soothing truth.  It is simply a moment filled with anguish and peace is nowhere to be found.

I have learned that changing the subject often helps in some situations.  Repeatedly going down that sad path of loss can be detoured when we change the subject drastically.  Heaven knows, I’ve interrupted that path often with the offer of a cookie or a Hershey’s kiss or just by telling them, “I love you so much!” and following up with a hug.  Sometimes it works…and sometimes it doesn’t.  But it’s worth a try.

I know there are different degrees of memory loss as it is a progressive disease.  Even moment to moment, I have seen clarity, then confusion, changing in a few minutes span of time.  It’s a roller coaster ride sometimes and hard to manage for all of us.  I can’t even begin to imagine how it is for them when thoughts can be fleeting, words elusive and memory blurred or simply out of reach.

So, what are your thoughts?  Do you fib sometimes?  Do you have any tips for redirecting conversations?  What works for you and your loved ones?  What doesn’t work?  Please share!

Shine On!



The Last Time


We never know when the last time will be.  There.  I said it or better, I wrote it.  It’s a fact that most of the time, we never know that this may be the last time for fill in the blank.

Look back on your life and you may find endings and beginnings that at precise time, you might have been unaware were endings and beginnings in the making.

For example, the last time you fed your baby a bottle or changed the diaper (because they started using a sippy cup or going ‘potty’ like a big kid).  Did you know that it would be last time for sure?  Perhaps you are relieved at this point, but maybe in the future, you will look longingly back at their childhood wondering where the time has flittered away?

We can say the same for all types of situations, circumstances and people.  There are a myriad of events that in hindsight we can deem ‘the last time’ which at the time, we didn’t know.

My point is simple:  be present in all of your experiences.  Enjoy this special moment even if it doesn’t feel special, but instead feels routine.  Not to fear ‘the last time’ but to know in your heart, peacefully in your soul, that if this distinct last time were really the last time, you have peace.

So kiss your loved ones hello and goodbye.  Make the extra effort to connect with people, places and animals.  Find that quiet loving presence in your heart and allow it to expand throughout your day.  Don’t allow an opportunity for kindness and connection to pass you by.  Sure, it takes effort to be present, but The Presents of Presence is most definitely worth it!

I’m a living example…and I know you are too!

Feel free to share your experiences with the last time.

Shine On!





What Will You Leave Us This Time?


Click Here for Oh Very Young (with lyrics)

Above is a YouTube video with the lyrics to the song by Cat Stevens, Oh Very Young, which is a beautiful reminder for so many of us.  Have you ever thought of what you leave behind when you say goodbye to this life?  How will you be remembered?  Will you take the love and connections with you that you’ve made on this planet?  Will your memory remain with those who stay?  What will those who stay remember about you?
I pray that your memory of me will be of love, kindness, compassion, connections, caring and grace.  I wish the same for you with your loved ones and for all with whom you connect.  You are such a special person, here for a Divine Purpose to love, to hold and to make a difference in a beautiful way.  I was reminded of this today, so I will, in turn, remind you. ♥
Shine On!