How Are You Doing? A Message of Hope and Solidarity.

How Are You Doing? A Message of Hope and Solidarity.

As we have all been affected in one way or another by the coronavirus, (COVID-19), as it is known as a novel disease; and as a virus by the name SARS-CoV-2 I just wanted to take a moment to check in on you and say that I hope that you are doing well. I hope that your loved ones, too, are doing well. If it happens that you are not doing well or someone that you know is not, or has not fared well as a result of of this pandemic my heart goes out to you and please know that even though you may not know it, there are people who are thinking of you and praying for you every day. I am one of those people. What we are experiencing right now is heavy to bear, but it is something that we will overcome.

I would like to remind you of the importance of being present – especially when life may seem to be unraveling at the seams. Let me share with you a quote by R. Wayne Willis, author of Hope Notes which says, “To grow some hope, take a hope-full step. That first step is the most difficult.” There are times in our lives when cultivating hope can be a hard thing do, but in reality we should never really expect it to be something that will happen overnight. Some things need time. So take it day by day if you need to. Keep the faith and know that we will all get through this together.

If there is anything even the slightest bit positive about what we are now forced to endure, it the opportunity to come together as one as we work through our concerns, fears, losses and patiently await resolve.

As always, thank you for reading.

Until the next post…

Please take care.

Losing a Pet is Like Losing a Child

Losing a Pet is Like Losing a Child

Good Monday to you!

This one is for pet owners.

It’s also for anyone who can’t understand why people grieve the loss of their pets.

We lost our family pet during the first week of January. He was the sweetest, funniest (yes, pets can make you laugh hysterically), “little ham” ever – and a big part of our lives. When you’ve had a pet for 14 years they tend to grow on you and their loss can really “sting”.

Whoever said, “Pets are like Family” obviously owned, cared for and loved one themselves, because they sure knew what they were talking about. We found our little guy , a chihuahua mix, at a local pet store — but he was a shelter dog. One that if not for our youngest child, ( our son who passed away), asking us repeatedly to get a dog, we would not have had. Which would’ve meant that we would have missed out on some very special moments.

Just as with the family members and friends that we have lost, we have memories in the form of photos; but there also the stories. Oh, how I love the stories.

They remind us of the reason why “he” had to be the one to come home with us and become a part of our family.

It hurt having to say goodbye to him forever, not just because we loved him, but because having him around after losing our son allowed us to still have a little bit of our son around.

If you think about it… our pets lives are very much like that of the life that we have with our children, or anyone else that we may be taking care of on a daily basis. Their lives become intertwined with ours as we wake each day, on time, to ensure that they are fed.

We play with them, talk to them (yes, I said “talk” to them), we socialize them with other pets at pet establishments or dog parks; and sometimes we even set up play dates for them. We take them to the veterinarian to keep them healthy, or when they become ill.

Many pet owners, like myself, watch what our pets eat to ensure that they are eating foods that will benefit their health needs and keep their bodies strong.

We make sure that they exercise – usually with a nice walk, and it’s not unusual to hear a “pet-parent” talk about how their pet is often their source of motivation to get off the couch and to get a little exercise.

It’s no wonder that pet owners are considered healthier than non-pet owners, (even though recent research concludes that there is not enough evidence to support that belief). Yet, as a life-long pet owner I believe in the benefits and positive effects of pet ownership; and I challenge you to become a pet owner and judge for yourself!

Our pets keep us going and moving through life, while also adding positively to our livelihood. But, it’s their unconditional love that we probably benefit from the most. As that part of pet ownership has been shown to support emotional health and well-being.

I am sure that every pet owner will agree that there is nothing like the warm welcome and excitement that your pet shows when you walk through the door after being gone for a while.

Here is the thing… A loss is a loss. It doesn’t matter if it is a family member, friend or pet. It’s about how those we lost had an affect on our lives, and how much we will forever miss them.

So remember this the next time that someone thinks you are being dramatic because your pet died and you are grieving their loss; and keep grieving until you feel better. It’s not your fault that they don’t understand. Nor is it your responsibility to make them understand. But, feel free to send them a link to this post in hopes that they may one day learn to understand that pet loss is just as realistic and significant as human loss.

Thank you for reading!

Until the next post…

With love.

Take care,

xo

What I learned about resilience from hiking in the desert

What I learned about resilience from hiking in the desert

I am always looking for ways to find similarities between life and nature whenever I am out hiking, taking nature photos or just out and about walking my dog.

One thing that I, and other outdoor enthusiasts, can probably agree on is that nature has this glorious way of teaching us about ourselves and life.

The only difference will likely be in perspective and opinion as everyone tends to see different things — and in different places — sometimes where others may not see anything at all…. such is the remarkableness of storytelling! Such is the splendor of our natural world.

When hiking a trail every landscape, for me, seems to have a plethora of lessons. Lessons that may or may not always be immediately noticeable. Sometimes a lesson will catch you off guard right after you just turned a corner or reached a phenomenal trail peak; and at other times it is found in a sunrise or sunset, a wild creature that has just crossed your path, or something as simple as the shape, texture or color of a plant, tree or rock.

The amount of inspiration is, in my opinion, limitless and I would like to share a few of the lessons that I have learned from the natural landscape of the Joshua Tree National Park desert with you on this Wellness Wednesday.

  • Life is hard, but regardless of the conditions and situations you may be faced to live with, you can survive them. [It is possible to survive just about anything]
  • Even though the conditions and situations may seem desolate, every now and then, (usually when you least expect it), a little bit of hope and possibility will rain down on you and give you just the break that you may need to make it to the end of your trail. [With or without hope… with a little patience good things will happen]
  • The rain is necessary! That is…if you want to be able to truly enjoy the full range of the beauty of the desert. [Balance is the key to joy and well-being]
  • Sometimes it will be the trail that you least expected to inspire you that you end up gaining the most from – so try not to pre-judge or worry about the trail that you are on. [Life is always full of surprises – if you’re open to receiving them]
  • Although the flora and fauna residing within the desert may seem strong, (because they have had to endure so much harsh weather), they are actually some of the most delicate, beautiful and treasured items and should be respected and handled with great care. [Strength can be found in many places and expressed in a variety of ways – not in just the most obvious things]
  • Every trip through the desert should be carefully thought out. [Acknowledge what you must face and face it best by preparing for the unexpected – because there is a good chance of something happening that will be unexpected- safety first…always and in all things.]
  • Stunning and amazing thing will spring up from the most unexpected spaces. [Life is full of surprises…Always be prepared for a plot twist]
  • You may have to carry heavy loads through rocky terrain and challenging elevations until you reach the top of the mountain or complete that strenuous trail; but every step you take is one step closer to removing the weight from your back and delighting in pure refreshment. [Allow yourself to be transformed by things that you may find difficult to manage because there will be a reward of some kind waiting for you at the end.]
  • You can journey through the desert trails alone and make it through, but that journey is often more interesting and special with a friend by your side to share it with. [Sometimes a little support can help ease your journey and make the time go by a lot faster.]
  • Just when you thing that you have had enough of the desert, something special will happen to change your mind and you will realize that your pilgrimage through the vast unknown was a gift from above; that is when you will feel as though there is no place that you would rather be. [Accepting all facets of life allows you to remain open to continually finding gratitude and joy!]

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

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