10 Ways That Suffering Can Help You Grow Spiritually

10 Ways That Suffering Can Help You Grow Spiritually

Well…we have survived yet another Monday my friends! Happy Tuesday! Today on “Talk-about-it-Tuesday” I would like to discuss spirituality and how suffering can contribute positively to personal growth.

“Don’t put your soul in the wrong hands, mindset, or environment.

– Lalah Delia

Spirituality means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and my intention with regard to this particular blog post is not to focus on the different types of spirituality or get into the topic of religion; but rather to look at how it (spirituality) can be beneficial in the instance of grief.

One thing that I have noticed is that all spirituality carries with it is the ability to bring us back to our “center.” Back to our “home base.” Back to a phenomenal place where we’re able to develop a deep connection with something that is many times greater than ourselves, and perform rituals that make our spiritual practice (whatever it may be) special and meaningful to us.

“Spirituality is a supreme inter-communication between you and everything.”

-Bryant McGill

Spirituality is often the thing that we’re reaching our for when we experience loss because that is a time in our lives when we tend to really seek answers to the most perplexing questions about life… and death.

I have found so much comfort in discovering and implementing the guidance that I’ve received from my spiritual practice(s). They have brought more peace, tranquility and inspiration into my life making it easier for me to heal.

Suffering can be as lonely as it is painful; and it feels wonderful to have something in my life that I can do to alleviate the pain and loneliness that can also be practiced in very personal and intimate way without infringing on anyone else’s personal comfort level. I can express what I am feeling without any worries because I know that I am in the company of a power that understands my grief, and who is ready to assist me in performing my soul work and growth.

“Part of the spiritual work is remembering who you are – when triggered.”

– Lalah Delia

I have compiled a list of 10 ways that suffering has helped me to grow spiritually. I believe that this list could help you too.

  • Suffering makes your appreciation for life more profound because you get to observe closely just how precious every single moment is. You get to see it’s worth up close and personal.
  • You learn that life comes with limitations – and you learn to accept that reality.
  • You learn that no matter how much you think that you have control over your life… you do not.
  • You gain a greater understanding of the gift of vulnerability and you become more fearless and courageous as a result.
  • It can help you open your heart and mind to the gift of “storytelling”, authenticity and self-expression.
  • It can help gain insight of your life purpose and find meaning in life.
  • It helps you remain focused on the important things in life and you become more grateful for everything.
  • It can help increase your interest in fostering an intimate relationship with a higher power.
  • It can help you prepare for and manage life’s ups and downs.
  • Suffering teaches you to have more compassion and empathy in all of your relationships.

If you have any thoughts about this post please share! I would love to hear all about it!

Thank you for reading!

Until the next post…

Take care + Be well

Grief Rituals

Grief Rituals

Hi Everyone! I hope that your week is off to a wonderful start! I also hope that you had a great weekend. Well it is Monday, which means that it is “Memorial Monday” here at Salubrity and Soul.

Memorial Mondays are days that I will discuss topics related to grief and loss, and on this first Memorial Monday I’d like to begin this series by discussing healing rituals for grief and loss, or “grief rituals”.

A ritual, (although it may sound like something having to do with witchcraft or something), is actually just a task or activity that is performed, and is considered proven to be personally effective as a means of helping the bereaved move through their grief.

“If you have lost someone you love this year, or if it’s the anniversary of their death, you can celebrate their life by creating a ritual that is meaningful for you.” – Dr. Margaret Rutherford

After my son died I began stocking up on candles because I found that lighting a candle every Friday night beginning at the last hour that he was physically at home, until the hour that we received word of his accident helped me adjust to losing his physical presence within our home. It also helped me to gently process losing our mother/child, mother/son relationship and connection.

That was almost two years ago, and I still practice that ritual, but now instead of lighting a candle every Friday evening, I now light one every evening after dinner at which time I call out my son’s name and declare that this candle lighting is for him and then I go on to say a few words to my son and close with a prayer or some other wording that holds special meaning. I then end each nightly candle lighting by blowing out the candle and then telling my son “good night”.

Another ritual that I have is that I watch, (or rather continue to watch), my son’s favorite television shows. There are several shows that my husband, son and I used to watch together regularly and we would have in-depth conversations about each episode afterwards. That was really hard to adjust to losing by the way…

Continuing to watch those shows helps to remind us of his opinions, perspectives and personality. He used to have his own special spot on the couch and now when we watch those shows it is healing because it’s almost as though we can still feel his presence.

“All healing is first a healing of the heart”. – Carl Townsend

I guess I would probably also include my journaling practice as being one of my grief rituals as well since the writing that that I do for my grief is within a journal that is reserved specifically for expressing my personal feelings about my son, how his loss has affected me – and our family. It is also another way that I speak to my son as well.

The ritual examples that I have just discussed are daily and weekly rituals. However, there are also grief rituals that can be performed monthly or yearly as well; such as memorial rituals. I will talk about those next week so if you are a part of my fellow bereaved tribe, stay tuned for those other helpful ideas.

There are many things that can be done to ease grief. Grief rituals are just a part of the many ways to do so. What makes these rituals so special is that they are often quite personal in nature, and can be created to be very unique representations of the relationship that we had with the person we lost; and our connection to them. So much so, that it can become a way for us to continue feeling that connection – even after they have passed on.

Grief rituals can be helpful in providing, us, the grieved, with some sense of of normalcy during a time when everything seems to be out of control. I like to think of them as a way of “making the burn sting a little less” when you’re needing the world to just slow down a bit because your grief is making it so hard for you to keep up.

That is what grief rituals have done for me. They helped me to re-frame my thinking by making me feel as though what has passed; hasn’t completely passed and it gave me the chance to view my loss in a more positive light by helping me remember that there are so many things that I can still be grateful for within my experience with loss.

One important thing to remember during your grief ritual is to let yourself feel whatever you need to feel, and don’t feel bad if you find that you need to express any anger, or need to cry. Just let it out because that is going to help you get through your pain – even though it may not feel like it. If you don’t find that you need to express any emotion that is fine too. There is no right or wrong way to feel during a grief ritual – or through any aspect of grieving.

Here are a few daily and weekly grief ritual ideas:

  • Write in a grief journal daily.
  • Visit your loved one’s burial or accident site weekly.
  • Light a candle daily or weekly during a specific time of the day to remember and honor your loved one.
  • Watch your loved ones favorite shows, sports or movie.
  • Create a playlist of your loved ones favorite song(s) and play it during a specific time of the day or week.
  • Put fresh flowers in their room weekly.
  • Say a daily prayer for them or recite their favorite quote or other reading.

Do you have any thoughts regarding daily and weekly grief rituals? If you know of any additional grief ritual ideas please feel free to share them with me. I would also be very interested in hearing any stories telling how you were helped, (or not helped), by a grief ritual.

Thank you for reading!

Until the next post…

Take care + be well

Breaking Away

Breaking Away

I have a confession to make. I jumped the gun. About a month ago, I became so overwhelmed, (or should I say that I allowed myself to become so overwhelmed), that I almost gave up. I almost gave up on Salubrity and Soul. Yes, that would have been a terrible thing to do! Especially since (as anyone who has followed my story knows), I waited so long to start it. But, what’s even worse than that is I kept feeling that I would be letting not only myself down, but my son down as well.

So instead of giving up, I decided to just take a nice long break and get back to everything once I feel better prepared to add blogging; and all of the added social connecting that comes with it.

I wrote about “unplugging” once before in my blog post 10 Things A Digital Detox Can Do For You”, but for some reason this time I needed more than a little digital detox. I was burned out and needed something a little more serious. What I needed was a sabbatical – a blogger’s sabbatical. Which is not a real term to my knowledge, but I think it has a nice little ring to it – don’t you?

“Rest is not idle, is not wasteful. Sometimes rest is the most productive thing you can do for body and soul.”

– Erica Layne

I cannot deny that the holidays, memorial event planning, awareness projects, work, overcoming the surprises acknowledged after finally gaining closure after losing my son over a year ago and an unexpected health concern all took a huge toll on me. The writing was on the wall and all I had to do was make a decision. Was I going to try to control and conceal it? Or was I going to take my well-being into my own hands and handle it in a healthy way? The healthy route, obviously, attracted me more.

“Self-care isn’t always manicures, bubble baths & eating healthy food. Sometimes it’s forcing yourself to get out of bed take a shower and participate in life again.”

– Meredith Marple

I knew that there was really only one thing to do, which was to bring everything that I was doing to a grinding halt, and just immerse myself in a sea of self-care. What’s more healthy and wellness minded than that? To notice the signs of burnout and potential additional bereavement issues and then heed to them. To care for yourself when you need to.

There is no shame felt here. Just gratitude and grace. There is no guilt here either. Just a sizable amount of self-love and a sense of contentment. Knowing that in all of my struggles suffering and vulnerability, I still have the faith and courage to keep moving forward – even if that also means that I have to slow down a little bit as well.

On the humorous side, one great thing about this “sabbatical” is that I didn’t have to obtain permission to take it. My only requirement was to seek inspiration, offer myself patience with regard to writing, and to rest and take really good care of myself. Which I did by doing a lot of meditating, a lot of healing baths, nature walking, journaling and changing some of my eating habits.

“Be you, love you, All ways, always.”

Alexandra Elle

While the payoff for taking this “sabbatical” is that I have been able to apply greater focus on enhancing my skills and creativity, assess my needs for engagement and productivity; but in a much less frantic manner. That is a complete win-win in my eyes.

Taking a break isn’t a weakness. Neither is taking as many breaks as you need – especially when you are in the process of healing. It may be the only thing standing between your failure and your success; and at least a break will energize you a little better than any attempt to just continue pushing on through.

Until the next post,

Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well.

Carol

Gratitude

Gratitude

“Gratitude soothes and heals the soul.”

– C.c.m.

Some days won’t be as good as others, but there will always be something good in each day. The key is to keep looking up!

Until the next post…

Blessings, love and light,

Carol

Eating Healthy While Grieving

Eating Healthy While Grieving

One of the things that happens to the bereaved right after losing someone is that we tend to seek out things that will help us fill our recent void. Our bodies begin to crave more rest, and a host of other things – one being great tasting foods.  Grief often tends to cause our appetites to change; and while some will experience a loss of appetite, others may experience an increase in appetite as the need to gravitate towards foods that elicit a dopamine release from the brain cause us to feel all warm and fuzzy inside and completely comforted.  This is all due to the stress that comes with grief, and just as with any other form of stress we may know of our own “go-to” foods that we find personally healing.  In fact we can all probably conjure in our minds right this very moment, (I am sure), a dish or recipe that we know has the power to make us instantly happier at any given moment.  For me it’s my Mom’s curried chicken recipe or just about anything with, garbanzo beans, dark leafy greens, avocado or Italian. Those foods always go straight to my soul and make everything better. 

But, back to how grief either increases or decreases our appetite.  In the days weeks and first few months after losing my son, I lost my appetite which resulted in my losing 12 lbs.  Food was the farthest thing from my mind and I remember every time that I did eat, regardless of whether or not it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, I felt as though I was forcing myself to eat.  I was forcing myself to eat, because I knew that eating something was the only way that I was going to have any energy to keep running back and forth to the hospital, plan a funeral service and take care of all of the lose ends and important tasks that must be taken care of after someone passes away.  

Even though my appetite was not there I knew that I had to eat in order to stay somewhat healthy.  Sadly, though, I found myself in a bit of a fast food whirlwind grabbing unhealthy, easy, non-nutritious foods to sustain myself which as you probably already guessed, left me feeling even more depleted.   

Something had to change and I needed to find a way to get back to normalcy and start eating healthy again.  So, I began by gradually increasing the days that I would cook healthy meals at home instead of eating out or grabbing fast food. Starting with two days a week at first, and eventually leading to making healthy home cooked meals 6 days a week – it took me 4 months to return to my usual healthy eating schedule. 

One thing that made it easy to do was to cook in bulk so that we would have leftovers available, (either from the previous day or frozen), if something came up and I was unable to cook one day.  Another trick that I used was to pre-make healthy juices, smoothies, vegetable and fruit plates, soups and salads and I kept them at hand so they were easy to grab from the refrigerator for a quick snack or lunch.      

It is not uncommon for the grieved to receive food from friends and family after the funeral has passed, and this practice can be such a wonderful blessing when you are too emotionally and physically and weary to cook anything. I can’t stress enough how much helping the grieved in this way can mean the world anyone who has just lost someone. However, that is not something that we can rely on for the long haul. 

Therefore, having and idea of how to implement a healthy meal plan and and what to include can be invaluable not just to the bereaved while adjusting to a new way of being, but it could also be helpful to anyone who might be feeling overworked, over stressed, just plain tired or for any reason. 

During the spring and summer months we will usually feel satiated after eating just about anything light, but for a lot of people there is something about fall and winter that moves us toward craving comfort foods such as stews, hearty soups and casseroles. There is something about the cooler months that have us reaching for foods that warm our bodies as well as our hearts. The good thing is this, we don’t always have to abstain from enjoying those delicious comfort foods. 

For example, one way to still eat them and avoid adding extra pounds, or eating unhealthy, is to change a recipe so that it becomes healthier, but still tastes great. This is what I did with my lasagne recipe when I stopped making it with meat and all of the extra, delicious, but unnecessary cheese. It is absolutely scrumptious!  I will post a recipe for that lasagne this week in what will be Salubrity and Soul’s new recipe section, and it will also be posted on the Salubrity and Soul Instagram account.   

If you have found yourself in the same unhealthy conundrum and feel the need to eat healthier after loss or just prefer eating a decent home meal try:

  • Asking friends and family for help with obtaining home cooked meals. 
  • Creating your own home cooked meals by making larger amounts of precooked meals and either freezing them for later, or to enjoy as leftovers during the week. 
  • Avoid fast-food by buying pre-packaged meals.  Many of which can are now vegan, vegetarian, low-sodium or gluten free. 
  • Make homemade soups, stews and casseroles in a crock pot or instant pot to save time and your energy.
  • Order food from a good restaurant instead of grabbing unhealthy fast food and have it delivered.    

As you can see, there are several things that you can do to help ensure that you are eating as healthy as possible while dealing with loss, and I will have more tips and tricks for maintain your health while grieving in the coming weeks.     

Until the next post,

Take care + be well,

Carol

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!  It has been several days since my last post.  I decided to ring in the holidays on a much needed easy note, placing a majority of my focus and attention on maintaining holiday family rituals, creating new ones, spending time with my husband, my two remaining adult children, my precious grand kids and completing a Christmas donation project in honor of my “angel son”.

The last few weeks have been somewhat hectic, but I have learned to balance the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with equal amounts of “me time” as a way allowing myself to still enjoy the holiday season while also ensuring that I take care of myself first; so that I can also still be there for my family to celebrate the season with a joyful spirit.

This is the second holiday season without my youngest child and one of my greatest lessons of this past year has been learning to push past my feelings of hurt and remaining grateful for all that I still have in my life.  With grief it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of “loss”, which in most cases is inevitable and completely understandable.  However, that is not a place to reside.  Practicing gratitude has helped me remember all of good that I have in my life despite also having to live through the bad.

Luckily for me, I began my gratitude practice prior to my son’s death, and that is what I turned to and leaned on immediately after his death. I have to be completely honest though – there were many days where I felt as though there was nothing to be grateful for.  Those days happen, but the funniest thing took place when I realized that those days occur. I learned to be grateful for those days. I learned to appreciate that reality, and doing so helped me heal and get through some of the most discouraging days I have ever encountered.

I know it might seem strange to be grateful for “not being able to find anything to be grateful for”, but what not having anything to be grateful for did for me was to allow me to be thankful for my bad days, my disadvantages, my sadness, and believe it or not – my grief.  Yes, all of those uninspiring and less than perfect things were suddenly something to appreciate, because they helped to remind me that those things helped to make me a stronger and more resilient person. Furthermore, every time that I expressed gratitude for those things it made me appreciate the good in my life more. In a strange sort of way it made me see that everything in my life and everything that I experience is something to be grateful for because it either added something positive to my life, or allowed me to experience or (better yet) learn something new. Either way it is growth.  Either way it is life. Either way it is beautiful.

The truth is – I may still wake up one day and feel out of sorts, but it’s okay.  I still have a beautiful family. My “angel son” is still my son, I still have an abundance of wonderful family memories, I still have amazing supportive family and friends, I still live on a great big beautiful planet where seasons change and where I can enjoy nature and the outdoors. I am grateful for my followers and that you have taken the time to read my posts.  I am grateful for the opportunity to follow you, learn more about you and read the posts that you have shared with me.

I’d like to close by saying that I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and regardless of whether or not you have lost someone, my hope is that you were able to share beautiful moments with loved ones – moments that created memories to last a lifetime. The month of November is nearing its end, but our expressions of gratitude don’t have to.  Let’s all try to remain grateful for what we have in our lives regularly and throughout the year.  We all have so much to be thankful for – even when things might not seem to be so great. We just have to open our hearts, minds and eyes to see and appreciate all that surrounds us. Blessings to you all! xo

Until the next post…

Blessings!

Take care + Be well,

Carol xo

The Reminder

The Reminder

“This year will be better than last year.

This month will be better than last month.

Today will be better than yesterday.

Look for the signs.

Keep the faith and just keep showing up.”

– Carol C.M.


Until the next post.

Blessings,

Take care + be well,

Carol xo