Today I have the pleasure of sharing a fascinating interview with Jane Duncan Rogers, author of “Gifted by Grief.”
“Gifted by Grief” is an inspiring story. Dealing with grief and loss after the passing of her beloved husband Phillip, was the catalyst that helped Jane find herself and connect more deeply to her purpose and passion for living her own life. It’s an amazing book that motivates people to live up to their full potential and a guide to help those who are grieving navigate those dark waters. –Angela Artemis
Read the full interview or listen to it. To listen click on the Audio Player below:
- Jane, what led you to write “Gifted by Grief?”
I always knew I would write about this experience. Well, I was already writing about it in my journal, from day one of Philip’s diagnosis, just like I’d been writing in my journal since I was in my teens.
I also knew I needed to wait until the time was right – and I knew that the time would be right when I felt utterly compelled to do it. Sure enough, that’s what happened, and one morning on holiday when I was ill and had to stay in bed, I created a MindMap of the outline. It surprised me when I got home that I didn’t immediately start writing! But I trusted that I would know, and sure enough, in a few months, again on holiday, I woke one morning and just knew the time was right.
2. How did you feel when Philip was diagnosed, and you found yourselves coming face to face with the possibility of death?
It was a huge shock initially. It prompted a long conversation between us which led to us feeling closer than we had done for ages. Philip made some significant changes in his life which I could see were benefitting him but they benefitted me too. That’s why in the end we were able to be grateful for what cancer had brought, even though by that time we knew he would die from it. Strange paradox that, but it’s true.
- There’s a story in the book about The List – can you tell me more about that?
We’d received an email from a friend of ours insisting we address various questions about the end of life. They were quite pointed some of them, like what kind of coffin do you want, what personal items do you want to leave to anyone in particular, and did I know Philip’s user names and passwords. We resisted doing this for quite a while but eventually I pinned Philip down and we answered them together. It was hard, but in the end, after a couple of hours we were done, and we felt great. It was another thing that created great intimacy, which was wonderful. It felt like our last project together – although now I think this book is the last project!
- For most people their journals are very private. Yet you have shared intimately from them. How do you feel about that now it’s in print?
Well, I feel very strongly about bringing grief out of the closet, so to speak. As baby boomers get older, there is quite a lot around now about death and dying, but not so much that focuses on grief, and the effects of that.
One of the effects of the book is that you get an insight into the minds of both myself as the carer and survivor, and Philip as the patient (through his blog entries). I hope this will help readers to understand that though the feelings may be strong, you CAN get through this. Also I hope it will help people who are grieving to not hide away. I read about so many people who feel they have to pretend that they are all right. I rarely did that, and I was lucky in that I had friends who encouraged me to express how I felt in the moment. That’s how I discovered that if you just let whatever feeling be there, it will go, and usually quite quickly. It’s the ‘trying not to have it’ that actually keeps it there.
6. Tell me about “The Listening?”
The Listening was a kind of channeled writing that had been coming through me for several years previously. One day I was out walking, railing at God because I wasn’t able to have children. Suddenly I heard a ‘voice’ telling me ‘You are not meant to have children in this life; your life is purely a spiritual one’. I was amazed. Over time a relationship with this voice developed, and I discovered it was easiest to hear it if I was writing the words down. By now these were words that I saw in my mind’s eye. I have journals full of them, and they are always, unfailingly, loving and truthful. Here’s an example from my book, about 15 months after my husband had died:
“Death is but a passing from one form to another without fear or clinging. As easy as moving through a doorway from one room to another, and as lacking in fear. So come to this doorway when you are ready to anoint and bless your true Self. Stillness is the secret passage through which this journey is made, and indeed is what life is made of, in essence.”
As you can imagine, I found The Listening very helpful during this time.
- There was a very strong impact for you when Philip actually died, and you saw only a ‘dead body’. It’s not like that for everyone, is it? So how can you relate to others who maybe still see their loved ones as being a body?
It shocked me, that. I had seen one dead body before and I knew from that experience that you can see the life force has disappeared. But what was really amazing about that time was how disinterested I was in his body. That helped in then exploring what IS in this body that is sitting talking to you now. Which as you know set me off on quite a journey!
If others are relating still to their loved ones as if they were a body that is no longer here, that’s fine, so long as it isn’t causing complicated stress or stopping them from thriving in their lives. It’s too easy with grief to get stuck, and when that happens you need a helping hand to get you out, even if you feel ambivalent about it.
- What should people do if they feel they are stuck in grief?
When you’re hit by grief, it’s often a shock even if you knew what to expect (that happened to me) and then you have to adjust to a new situation. Eventually you get used to that situation, even if you don’t like it much. That in itself then becomes familiar over time, and when something has become familiar it can be easy to want to stay there, even if you are hurting still.
If you’re stuck and you know it, then that is the most important thing. Because then little by little you can take steps to get out of the hole of grief. But you may have become used to this new situation and its become familiar, but you know you’re not happy and thriving. Well, the obvious answer to this is that you want your loved one back and then everything will be all right.
I had personal counseling and coaching which helped me, but I also had my own background of therapeutic training which helped me realize what was going on. I never wanted to join a group – the others’ pain was too much for me, and then when I began to feel stronger, I didn’t have the need for it. So – get support is my answer in short!
- Tell me more about the shift that happened for you when you realized you are peace itself.
Well, everything looks the same and yet is experienced quite differently. Not all the time, but most of the time. Result – I am much more relaxed, at peace, able to move easily throughout life, have relationships with people.
The effect of it is that the dramas of life simply are not so important any more. People who are bereaved often say this, but in this case, it’s nearly 4 years now and they are still not very important. It’s like the dramas of an individual life are stories in a story book – to be read, enjoyed, but not really believed as the truth. When you can view your own life and that of others like that, and you know that you really are the peace that underlies all these stories, then you become much less attached to how the story turns out. Which makes for a much more peaceful life!
- Most people would think that a happy ending to the death of a spouse would be meeting someone else that you can fall in love with (without forgetting your previous spouse, of course). That’s not your happy ending – or is there something you’re not telling us?!
When you’re dependent on something or someone outside of you, then there will inevitably be loss at some point. What you think you can get from the outside and bring to your inside is always, by definition, transitory. It’s only when you turn that upside down, and focus on coming from inside towards the outer, that you discover experiences and a sense of who you truly are. And who you truly are has never begun, never ends, is always there. It flows through a body called Jane or Angela, for instance, but it never goes away.
That seems to me to be much more valuable than meeting another man! And yet – I’m living at a practical level too, and so it would be great to meet someone.
- What can listeners do if they want to know more about you and your work?
Buy the book! Gifted By Grief: A True Story of Cancer, Loss and Rebirth.
Visit my website www.giftedbygrief.com where they will be able to download the prologue and first two chapters. And then buy on Amazon, where it is discounted for your readers only from Monday 19th October – Friday 23rd, making it just $2.99 instead of $8.80.
Join my Facebook group – go to Facebook and put in Gifted By Grief and you’ll find it
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me if you are interested in joining a group to get your own copy of The List done.
Want to meet me? I’d love to meet you in person.
Come on out to the Awaken Wellness Fair
November 22, 2015 where I’m speaking. Click here for details.
The Downward Spiral of Wallowing in Your Dark Emotions
Have you ever been pulled way down into your dark emotions, so much so that it was hard to snap out of it?
There are times in life when “bad” things happen that throw us into a tailspin emotionally. Events such as bankruptcy, divorce or the loss of job, to name only a few, can take us to the depths of despair.
After the shock wears off our despair is compounded by flooding fears about our own survival and safety followed by perpetual worry.
We worry about how we are going to pay our bills, feed our family, where we will live, the decisions we have to make, completing paper work, filing papers, dealing with the legal system, making phone calls and going on interviews and on and on.
But, eventually thank goodness, most survive such challenges. And hopefully we not only survive and thrive but we learn a lot about life and ourselves from going through challenging times too.
A Slippery Slope
The trouble starts when we stay at the emotional level of the problem long after it has been resolved and the situation concluded. Living in this state reshapes the brain and imprints upon it a deep neural pathway where we automatically react to everything that occurs with this dark heavy negative outlook.
We are in a state of continually waiting for the “next shoe to drop.” Nothing is ever okay again, or “good” and nothing really makes us happy; forget about seeing the positive side of life or that our glass is half full when this is the mental state of our being.
There are other events such as losing a loved that bring us to these depths too but normal grieving is not what I’m referring to here. Mourning can go on for months or even a few years and it’s part of the healing process in the stages of grief. If it goes too long and the person remains morose about life in general then it can become part of this same syndrome of wallowing.
Brooding makes things worse
A person I knew was passed over for a promotion. For months every evening after work they sat in the dark drinking until it was time to go to bed. They were angry and all they wanted to do was brood over how unfairly they were treated.
A casual remark that it was a beautiful day caused them to turn to me with a menacing sneer and say, “Is it?” It was like a scene out of the film, “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson. I could see the anger glinting in their eyes. How dare I be cheerful when they were morose and life was so horrible?
They finally snapped out of it when they got a new job. But, there was a good six months where they just wanted to brood.
Brooding was how they reacted to everything that happened in their life. This behavior pattern automatically took over in response to any stressors. The brooding response had been ingrained so deeply over the years that they truly weren’t able to just “snap out of it.” It was beyond their control but they weren’t willing to seek the professional help that was necessary to overcome it either.
This is why you need to be aware of the downward spiral of wallowing in your dark emotions. You want to be able to shift out of them before they become deeply imbedded response patterns.
**If you have a mental illness, a condition such as bipolar disorder, or clinical depression this requires professional help and you must seek a qualified therapist.
Nip it in the bud
In my practice I see this once in a while. People will come to me for a session when they are in the throes of dealing with the aftermath of challenging event. After the session they feel more confident that things are going to work out and that life will return to a new semblance of “normal.”
Then, I may hear from them a year later and they are still in this negative mindset. They are not over what happened and living in a state of anger, fear and negativity. When we speak again they respond to any suggestion of positivity by bringing up the problem and pointing out how it’s preventing them from being happy again.
Down the rabbit hole
The pull of negative emotions is strong. It’s easy to allow the dark side to take over. And when we are angry and upset it feels good – at first. Initially expressing our anger and venting it is fine. It’s healthy to let it out and get it off our chest but at some point we need to let go of it so we can move on with our lives. We also need to be aware that if we don’t let go of it we may be creating a negative emotional response pattern that will get harder and harder to overcome with time.
How to Snap Out of Wallowing in Your Dark Emotions:
1. Make a gratitude list. List all the things that you have to be grateful for and that are going right. Choose to see the good qualities of the people in your life. Write out this list daily. The action of writing will help you connect to all the good you have in your life. Notice something new each day to be grateful for and add that to the list.
2. Shift your focus to the positive. What you focus on expands. When you keep focusing on negativity your mind sifts and sorts through every detail of your day to bring “forward” to your awareness more things to be negative about. You must shift your focus so that then you condition your mind to bring “forward” all the good in your life.
3. Breathe out the dark emotions. When you feel overwhelmed by negativity stop and focus on breathing. It’s easy: Breathe in through your nose and hold the breath for three counts then let it out through your mouth. Do this five or 10 times and you’ll break the cycle. Tell yourself you are breathing out all the negativity. (Make focused breathing part of a daily routine of meditation and you’re sure to avoid the slippery slope.)
4. Get moving. Go for a walk or a work out. Skip rope, jump on a trampoline or take a swim. Exercise helps the body produce endorphins, chemicals that your body releases which elevate your mood. When you move your body you will naturally begin to feel better.
5. Create a mental trigger. When you feel yourself going down that spiral do something to shift your mental state. An easy thing to do is have an affirmation that you repeat over and over to break you out of the cycle. Try this one: I am now and forever happy, healthy and grateful for my wonderful life. You can make up your own. Think of it as a “band aid” to immediately stop the “emotional” bleeding.
Can you see why nipping prolonged negativity in the bud is a smart thing? How do you deal with snapping out of a negative emotional state? Share with us.
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P.S. Being more in touch with your intuition prevents you from going down that rabbit hole. Learn more – click here.
Mediumship: From Grief to Healing Relief
(A Personal Story)
By Vicki C.
One beautiful Monday morning in late summer, I woke with a start.
Something was off, Michael had not come to bed.
He often fell asleep on the couch and preferred to stay there until he woke up and came to bed. This didn’t really fit my picture of how “things should be”, but I learned to let him do it his way and I also learned that I could spread way out in bed and fall asleep easily. But this morning he wasn’t there and it was very quiet in our home even though he was usually the first one up making coffee.
I felt scared and I knew something was wrong.
He hadn’t been feeling very well the last few days and his back was in spasm which caused him a lot of pain. Because of that pain he had increased his meds and showed signs of that. Many times I had said to him when I saw the little mound of pills in his palm before bedtime, “Michael, I wish you wouldn’t take so many, one of these days I’m not going to be able to wake you up!”
Of course he played macho with me and said he knew what he was doing, but I didn’t think he did. He took pills for too many different things. Pills for post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, physical pain in his back and joints, nightmares from Vietnam and pills to stop the itching because he had psoriatic arthritis. There were also muscle relaxers and pills for a tremor in his hand.
He was not a happy man and hadn’t been for years. His burden was too heavy and he no longer felt like the ‘real man’ that he once had been. I knew he was unhappy and wanted to “go HOME” but he didn’t believe in suicide and didn’t want to hurt me and his three adult children so he kept on going. He listened to a lot of music because he was a musician, a drummer in his youth, and he was smart and witty but rarely smiled or laughed anymore like he used to.
When I went to bed on Sunday night I covered him with a sheet so the fan wouldn’t give him a chill. He was on his back and snoring quietly. I had no idea that was the last time I would see him alive.
We had planned a trip to Cancun, Mexico and we were both excited, although I was doubting that it would be as wonderful as I wanted it to be. He was just not in good shape. The veteran’s hospital had pulled his teeth months earlier but it wasn’t until the week before he died that they finally gave him his dentures. He could barely eat with them and the all inclusive resort we were going to had eleven restaurants.
I felt very troubled about this disconnect from his reality but we had booked the trip and planned on going. We both desperately needed the relaxation and the fun. Still, I felt off all weekend and so was he, something just didn’t feel right at all.
I got up out of bed, trying to ignore my growing dread and headed for the bathroom. I could see him laying on the couch from there and I looked at his belly to see that it was moving in and out. It didn’t look like it was. I was filled with horror but I went into the bathroom hoping I was wrong. I just had to be wrong. We had been together for 21 years and he was my life.
It wasn’t easy but we were there for each other and I somehow felt safer in the world with him by my side.
I finished and came right out, walked slowly toward him and I could feel the emptiness in the room. He was on his side, his legs over the side of the sofa and both arms hanging down. A little sofa pillow pressed into his nose and mouth, as if he had rolled into it. There was no life there. I could feel it, there was no Michael there.
“Oh no honey, no” I whispered.
My insides turned to ice, he was cold and his color was drained. When I moved the pillow from his face his nose was distorted and the area around his mouth discolored. My God, what happened I thought, and yet I knew; he took one too many pills that night and his poor body just couldn’t take it anymore. When he had rolled into that pillow he didn’t have the strength to take another breath. I went into immediate shock and didn’t know what to do, this had never happened to me before.
This was my fear coming true right there now, now, now… My apartment manager, my friend Judy, she would be at work, she would know what to do, she could think for me because I sure wasn’t able to do it. I called her on the phone, barely speaking, I told her, “Michael is dead!” She made me repeat it as she couldn’t believe what I was saying. They always gave each other a ribbing in fun, both German through and through and both right about everything. “Please come up, please come…”
“I’m coming!”, and she did, just as fast as her short legs could carry her. She came in the door, hugged me then looked at Michael and called 911. She sat by me and held my hand and talked to me a bit, asked me a few questions, it’s all a blur except she was there and I wasn’t all alone with my departed loved one.
Then she had me call his daughter and his son. The hardest calls I ever made. In their shock they said they would be there as soon as possible. By then there were six or seven officers in the room, police and fire officers I believe. They had lots of questions but were very gentle and respectful of my state of mind. In between I made calls to my own family who were also in complete shock. I told them we would talk later.
At one point everyone left the apartment for a few minutes and I was left alone with Michael. I was able to hug his cold body and kiss his face and tell him goodbye. I don’t remember the words but I am so glad I had those few minutes to tell him I loved him and that I knew he was just passing on to a better place and he wouldn’t be in pain anymore.
Then the Coroner’s Office came and they wanted to remove his body. They asked us to step into another room to spare us the shock of seeing him lifted up and removed. I’m so glad they asked us to do that. I would hate to remember that scene over and over in my mind.
When the Coroner was gone and all of the officers, Michael’s daughter suggested we go over to her house so we could get our minds around what had happened. She also had to call her sister from out of state because she knew she would want to drive back with her four children to be with the family. We all left quickly, just wanting to walk away from the pain.
Later I called my friends and one of those friends was Angela. She met Michael once years ago and was shocked to learn that he had died. She offered a reading if I needed one when I was ready.
I was ready and so excited about us possibly make contact with him and finding out, hopefully, what had happened during the night. So we set a date for the reading.
Little did Angela know that it wouldn’t be just me, but my three grown step-children also. I asked her if this would be alright with her and she said yes. As we all sat around my apartment size living room, with the phone on speaker on the coffee table you could feel the excitement in the room. It had been a very painful and confusing time for all of us.
And so we began, Angela went into her “space” and immediately Michael was there. In her mind she clearly saw him and told us where he was standing in the apartment, even though she had never been here before. He looked young and healthy again. She had told us that if he showed up he would place pictures, thoughts and words into her mind which she would most likely not understand. She would share these scenes, words and feelings with us and we would interpret what she told us.
Well, he came through with immediate “Michael” humor, and we all knew it was him. He stood by the patio door smiling and said, “So this is how I get your attention?” He was referring to his adult children who didn’t conform to his expectations of staying regularly in touch with him or returning his phone calls.
From there the reading continued and again and again personal information came through that we understood and that validated that it was Michael. He made us laugh, he made us cry, he told us that he rose off the couch in the middle of the night and saw a man laying on the couch. He didn’t recognize him and he came into the bedroom to tell me about it. He couldn’t wake me and then he realized, in true shock, that he had taken too much of his medication and he had passed. He went back to the body on the couch and saw that the body was indeed him.
He passed and his mother was there to meet him. He described how happy he felt, a bit dazed, but wonderful. His spirit hugged each one of us, he also bent over to show us how he could now touch his toes again and that his skin was clear.
He had suffered with terrible back pain for years and had a severe case of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis all of which restricted his movement. He also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder from the his sniper days in the Vietnam War. Michael was and is a wonderful man but was a very injured soul.
We all felt so happy to know that his pain was gone, but as his eldest daughter said, in tears, “We are so happy he is well and feels wonderful we only wish we could have shared that with him here.”
He had much to say to us, as he had in life, and he told us we had all been blessings in his life and that nothing but love matters, and to have no guilt or worries because love is the only thing that you take with you. He told us he wished he could have seen all the blessings in his in life from behind his darkness and that he had a lot to work on. Then his mother came through behaving and looking much as she had in life, and took his hand and told him it was time to go, there was much to do.
It was an incredible session. Each of us lightened up by leaps and bounds. Our hearts were happy for him and for understanding what had happened.
His oldest daughter had been in terrible anxiety from the guilt of not having called him for three weeks. After the reading she was ecstatic with joy after he expressed his love for her. The pain had lifted and has never returned.
We all felt sad and shocked by his not being with us anymore, but that reading was a miracle for us. The reading gave us all such a gift, a way to let go and accept his passing. We knew, without a doubt that he is in a better place and free from this world of physical and emotional pain.
We love you Michael, you were our blessing too!
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one know that they can and will communicate with you when you are ready. Has communicating with a departed loved one helped you heal from grief? Share your experience with us in the comments.
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P.S. Learn to develop your intuition. Click here!