Finding Love After Loss

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Can You Have a Second Chance at Love?

Let me pose a question ...
Do you feel that you have already had your "chance" at love and that it is not in the cards for you to experience it again?

Feeling that way may be a natural tendency for widows and widowers; however, reconciling that thought is also part of the process of readjusting the picture of your late spouse, which includes letting go of the preconceived notion (and associated guilt) that there is only one possible romantic partner for each of us.

To feel you will never have another opportunity to be in love again is simply your ego putting limitations on what you can want and have. Remember, the world is a giant mirror and whatever thoughts you project will be reflected back to you. You can have it all in life -- if that's what you want and project out. It's all up to you!

Self-reflection is a very necessary step that helps you to figure out what it is you truly want. Your words may say one thing, but your actions another. For example, you may think you want a romantic relationship, but you allow no one to break through the barriers you have erected around your heart. Make sure to clearly examine your thoughts and actions in order to understand yourself. This will illuminate any denial you may have of your innermost desires.

To be continued ....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How To Let Go of Fear

Fear is perpetuated by two factors: (1) the unknown and (2) the repeating of the known. So, we are both afraid of something new, and, at the same time, afraid of repeating past mistakes or similar situations. This clearly reflects the duality of life.

It is scary, yet exhilarating to try something new. In this situation, it is important to have self confidence in your ability to conquer any mountain. When you exude confidence, you inspire others to see you in that light, too. Your innate confidence makes your success a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It is also scary to enter a familiar scenario where there is the possibility of the past repeating itself (for example, opening up your heart and then losing your love again). In this situation, it is important to remember that if you are aware of the pitfalls and can accept that they will always be there, then you have a better chance of reaching a more successful conclusion.

And, sometimes we've done our work, and we "know" the reasons why we are afraid. Knowing is sometimes not enough. The key is acceptance and the subsequent permission to feel good about yourself as you are and your circumstances. You also need to give yourself permission to take a leap of faith into the unknown and to know you will be okay if you experience loss again.

If we were perfect and had learned all our lessons, there would be no reason for us to be on this planet. We would be done. Life is about learning and moving through our experiences with the allowance to be weak and strong; leader and follower; giver and taker; teacher and student, etc. all rolled up in one. It is our dual nature not to be one or the other, but both at the same time, and we need to know that it is okay to feel each way. Humans should always be a work in progress -- learning and growing from experience, mistakes, and good and hard times.

To release your fear of the known, recognize that you have the power to let go of the past and not repeat unwanted outcomes (within your control).

To release your fear of the unknown, accept and trust yourself while having confidence in your ability to succeed in whatever circumstance you find yourself.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Freedom Lies In the Unknown

One more from Deepak Chopra's The Way of the Wizard, Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want.

"The wizard has completely freed himself from the known. To him, the only freedom lies in the unknown because whatever is known is past and dead."

After losing a loved one, a person is set adrift from all that he/she once knew. Rather than being stuck in how it always was, try to open up your mind to possibilities.

Try to treat the unknown (your new life) as an adventure and not something to be feared. Instead of walking with your head down and blinders on, walk with your eyes up and constantly look around you.

Take advantage of chance meetings and coincidences; listen to your intuition and act on it; and learn to trust yourself.

These actions will help you to break free from the known and enter the unknown of a new life.

This is yet another step on the journey from loss to renewal that will allow you to readjust the picture of your former spouse so that you may welcome new love into your life. Please know that I am not suggesting that you jump head first into new adventures without considering the ramifications -- only to be open to unknown.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dating After The Loss of a Partner to Suicide

If your spouse has committed suicide, you are dealing with complicated grief issues on top of all the “regular” ones everyone else confronts.

Suicide is a very egocentric act. Any thought of others, and the subsequent pain that will be inflicted on those left behind, is brushed aside because the suicide can not see past his/her own pain.

Ironically, the suicide survivor also acts egocentrically because after the death, he/she immediately wants to shoulder the blame and make it all about him or her. Accordingly, the following “I” statements are commonly heard."

--"Why didn’t I see this coming?"
--“If I had just been paying attention, I would've seen the signs and stopped this tragedy.”
--“It’s my fault; I refused to listen and answer the cry for help.”

--“Why did I have to start an argument over something so inconsequential?”

These questions, and similar ones, are asked in the quest for the survivor to make sense of this irrational act. He/she attempts to apply logic to the situation, or look for a cause-and-effect, because that is how we, as humans, understand and bring order to our world.

Herein lies the dilemma, and the root of the guilt, of a suicide survivor. It is virtually impossible to successfully apply logic to an illogical situation and expect to arrive at a satisfactory answer. In truth, there are very few good explanations why someone would choose death as a solution to a problem, with the exception being the case of euthanasia.

When logic fails to supply any answers, guilt and self-blame are always there as alternatives. The survivor continues to berate him/herself for missing the signs and stopping the fatal act. Keep in mind, it is very easy to recognize clues in retrospect, but life can only be lived going forward. Thus, we must try to make the best decisions with the information that is in front of us at the moment, along with what we have learned from our experiences.

The survivor’s guilt is compounded by the fact that a person’s emotional and rational minds do not travel along parallel highways. One of the greatest tasks of the survivor is to work towards having these two pathways of emotionality and rationality travel more concurrently and eventually merge to come to a resolution.

In order for a survivor to move forward, he/she must accept that responsibility for the act lies solely on the shoulders of the person who completed the suicide. The only person for whom one can be responsible is him or herself.

No matter how much we wish we could go back and respond differently, it is impossible to change the facts of one’s life and erase this terrible tragedy. It is, however, possible to take charge vigorously of one’s own life in the wake of misfortune and chaos.

One of your tasks is to overcome this feeling that you are damaged goods. I know after I lost my husband to suicide, I would think to myself – Are people going to think that I was such a horrible person that he had to kill himself to get away from me?

This was such faulty (although natural) thinking on my part. However, I just wasn’t giving people enough credit. Not once did I get a negative reaction about ME because my husband took his own life. Yes, they felt extremely bad for me having to cope with that type of loss, but I never felt that they thought I was the issue.

Actually, I believe you have to use what you have. So, after a while, I used telling about the circumstances of my husband’s death as a little secret test I gave my dates. I would watch and listen carefully to see how they reacted. As I said, everyone passed with flying colors.

In truth, I say the word suicide whenever I can. I’m on a mission to eradicate the taboo associated with that type of death. If we start talking about it, then those who might not ask for help because of the shame associated with suicide might do so. We also have to let a person (who we think is at risk) know what our life would be like without him or her in it. A suicide most often feels his/her loved ones might be better off without him/her. They cannot see past their own pain to see what pain they will inflict on their loved ones.

But, I digress, so back to dating after suicide ....


The fact that one feels damaged after the death of a spouse, no matter the circumstances, is the first tip-off that grief issues still need more work. It is when you are nearing the end of your grief journey (and about to step back into the world) that you will be ready to feel good about yourself again and where you stand in the world.

It is also my belief that a successful dating “career” will not be experienced until one is ready to welcome new love in to his or her life. There’s lots of work that goes into accomplishing that feat, and, not that time will take care of it, but it does take time to work through all the issues.

Mourners, in general, are in a hurry to get through their pain. That's natural. Who wouldn’t be? Who wants to feel this searing pain go on and on? But, just as you “can’t hurry love”, you cannot hurry the resolution of grief and all the hard work that is necessary to reach higher and more steady ground.

I invite you to look at my website at
http://LNGerst.com or http://FindingLoveAfterLoss.com to partake of the resources I offer to the bereaved and to those ready to find love again.

The Power of Conversation

How do you view conversation? Is it just a method to command others, relate facts and figures, or, perhaps, describe your emotions?

Have you ever considered the fact that conversation has the ability to change the world? In fact, conversation is a very powerful tool that allows one to transform another's way of thinking -- to let him or her see the world with a new perspective.

Some of us think we have nothing of interest about which to talk, and yet others believe everything they say is of the utmost importance -- any everyone has to hear about it!

There are many types of conversations one can have, including self-talk, family talk, work talk, and leisure talk.

Self-talk is thinking aloud. We discuss, debate and arrive at decisions by using self-talk.

Family talk is listening to the members of your family while they try out their wings in a safe environment. At home, they make discoveries about how to navigate the world. Then, they go out and attempt to use those discoveries with others in the outside world.

Work talk is technical talk. It covers talk on which you feel confident to express opinions and educate others.

Leisure talk, perhaps, is the most difficult to have for some. This is talk, either, when you first meet someone, are out on a date, or are with friends in social settings. This is the type of conversation about which many people find themselves feeling awkward with nothing of import to say.

This exactly the time when you can become your most courageous and powerful self!

Conversations are not so much about relaying facts, but helping others to discover new ideas and ways of looking at the world. As widows and widowers you have experienced a life altering event. Death, as no other occurrence, teaches the survivor more about life than anything else. By adopting a positive view point about what has happened to you, you can enlighten the world. You can make a difference about how people respond to survivors of loss. You can show them courage under duress and how to realize that tragedy is a great opportunity for spiritual and mental growth. Be a messenger with your conversation and change how the world views life and death.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Observing the Observer

Here is one more lesson from The Way of the Wizard, Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want by Deepak Chopra.

"While listening to music, turn to the one who is hearing,
or if you happen to see a rainbow, catch sight of the one who is seeing.
In these cases, you will immediately sense awareness ... (that is) intensely alive."

This is an exercise that may assist you in finding out something about your true self. Instead of simply completing the act of observation, you can concurrently watch the observer, allowing you to get a different perspective. In reality, you are simultaneously acting, observing, and observing the observing.

For quite a while after my first husband's death, I felt as if my life were a movie and I merely an observer rather than a participant. It was a very surreal experience and took a lot of effort to step back into the world and "join up" again.

Experiencing the depths of grief is a sometimes isolating event. It is in this isolation that deep self-introspection can take place. I felt I learned so much in the time period when I stood apart from the normal activities of life. It allowed me to formulate positive changes I could incorporate as I moved forward in my new life.

In an attempt to understand how I was feeling, I wrote the following ...

I am an observer of my own life.
I watch in the shadows as I love, live and laugh.

I am a blank screen,
observing my emotions, actions and reactions.

I do not act
I sit and wait for my counterpart to engage the world.

But I am ever present --
A safe harbor in which retreat is found.

It is one's inner core of strength that is called upon in times of despair and grief, and this core helps to form the pillars of this safe harbor to which one can retreat and regroup so as to face another day without his or her loved one.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Who Am I?

In Deepak Chopra's book, The Way of the Wizard, Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want, the wizard and Arthur ponder:


"Who am I? is the only question worth asking
and the only one never answered."


Since my late husband and I met while were mere teenagers and were inherently similar, as time went along, we became more so. When I was forced to confront the world by myself, I truly learned who I was -- and, surprisingly, it was someone quite different than I thought.

I came to realize that I had been carrying around old pictures of myself, which I needed to update in my mind as I took on new roles and became more independent. I attempted to let each new experience I encountered expand my consciousness and let me soar to new (and previously unknown) heights.

As I continue down my path, I am constantly asking myself the equivalent of the question: "What do I want to be when I grow up?"

I believe life is a quest to find out who you are, and we keep searching until we are no more.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Seeing The Real You

I found a good way to work through grief (and other issues) is reading the wisdom of others. Why reinvent the wheel? For eons, lots of smart and deep thinkers have pondered the meaning of life and one's place in the world.

So, I read a great variety of books, articles, etc and take bits and pieces of each -- the ones I feel would be a good fit in my life and belief system. This helps me to formulate a plan on how to move forward and makes me think about the types of new thoughts I want to incorporate into my daily life.

During my mourning period, when I was in a frantic search for answers -- anything that could make me feel better -- I ran across Deepak Chopra's book, The Way of the Wizard, Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want. I immediately knew I had found something that deeply resounded with me.

It is written as a dialogue between Merlin (the wizard) and (King) Arthur as a young boy. Merlin, as the personification of our wisest self, "teaches" Arthur about life, love and the world at large through lessons and examples.

In the coming days, I will share with you my favorites.

"A memory is a once-living thing turned into a dead image.
But as long as I can forget you every day,
then I will wake up to see you anew the day after.
I will see the real you, stripped of outworn images."


I believe these few short sentences hold a powerful message. If every time we interact with someone, we forget all our preconceived notions of "who he or she was", then judgment can be obliterated. As each person is, hopefully, always evolving, we can simply accept him/her as he/she is at that moment in time -- rather than how we "remember" him or her. Moreover, we can also begin to accept ourselves as we are today and not as we were yesterday or many yesterdays ago. In this way, every day is an opportunity for change and growth.

Next up ... "Who am I?"

Friday, July 9, 2010

How To Calm First Date Nerves

Is the last time you dated maybe ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago? Are you about to have your first date, and are you more than a little nervous? Watch the video to learn how to overcome those first date jitters.

The watchword is INTERESTED.
video