Grief and Christmas


I have an amazing Life! With each passing day my heart fills with more gratitude than should be allowed by one person.  I’m a firm believer that a specific day isn’t more special than any other day, but today–Christmas–feels more meaningful for some reason.

Let me start by saying it’s been an emotional week.  We laid to rest my Uncle who was a phenomenal man.  He lived an extraordinary life and loved fiercely in a way that changed everyone he came in contact with.  Even though he is no longer with us, it has been breathtaking to witness his presence shine through in the faces and hearts of those who love him.

Death feels so final at first.  It’s so hard to fully grasp.  But what I have come to learn this past week is just how much we are all connected.  We are all blanketed with Love and that holds us all together.  Our human existence is something we struggle to understand but when we see Love in action it all makes more sense.  I realize to some of you it may feel generic to suggest our only purpose here is to Love, but when you strip everything else away is there anything more important?


We shuffle along in our day-to-day activities assuming our job, our mortgage, or our car payment are all so important.  We pick up extra shifts and lose precious time with loved ones because that’s what our society tells us to do.

This past week has been a wonderful reminder to me of what is truly important.  Spending time with my beautiful Aunt, telling stories around the table and laughing, writing letters to my amazing children and loving wife, gathering around the fireplace and Christmas tree to open gifts with my dear family, celebrating the life of an exceptional man; these are all perfect reminders to me that Love is why I am here.

I experience this Love the deepest and most pure by simply staying in the present moment.  My gratitude for my Life spills over from one moment to the next as I observe my children, my wife, my Aunt, my family, and my friends.

And then to complete my day of gratitude for my amazing Life, I steal away time for myself to press this fountain pen onto paper and reflect on all the Love I am surrounded by.  As my week of Grief and Christmas draws to a close, I’m thankful for you.  I’m thankful for each and every one of you–whether we have met or not–because Love connects our species even when we are confused and forget.


May you hold your loved ones a little closer during this holiday season.  May you set aside differences long enough to see the Love that connects us all.  May you use the moments you have left on this earth for good, since we don’t know how many moments we have left.  May you have a blessed and beautiful holiday season with those you love.

Rest in peace, Uncle Ray.  I am a better husband, father, friend, and human being thanks to your influence.

I have an amazing Life!  So do you!


Peace my friends!



“Suck It Up?” Yeah, right! Dealing With Grief


I’m not sure what’s in the air!  People that are very near and dear to me are going through some real heavy shit right now.  I’m hearing stories of disappointment, terror, and difficulty way more than normal.  

When you hear about difficulties someone is going through in the news you may think to yourself, “Well that sucks.” When one of your acquaintances has something terrible happen, it hits closer to home so you may send a card or suggest to them you’re praying for them on social media.  

But what happens when really heavy, dark, difficult days befall your loved ones?  I can tell you for me personally, it’s terrible!!!  I want to do everything in my power to try and ease the pain, to lessen the blow, or to jump on top of the grenade to minimize the damage.  I obsess over how I could help or what my best option would be to help them get back to normal.  And then yesterday it totally hit me:  Some things aren’t meant to get over by just redirecting their attention.  How do you possibly get over the loss of a loved one—I mean someone you would take a bullet for just to know they are okay?  Who am I—who are we as a society—to say how long someone should take to get back to “normal?”  

What do you say to someone who’s recently experienced some heavy circumstances?  

“Get over it?”

“Suck it up?”

“Life’s a bitch?”

I’m sorry but that just doesn’t fly with me!!  Oh sure, I would love to see them break through their cloud of grief and despair; but asking them to simply brush aside their truth so I feel more comfortable is a total prick move!  And yet I’ve caught myself recently—more than once—trying to redirect a loved one’s attention away from their pain instead of simply loving them right where they are at.  

How do you say goodbye to a living arrangement that brought you sheer joy?  Maybe a spouse, roommate, sibling, son, daughter, or grandchild once graced your presence every day and now they don’t.  Saying goodbye is never easy.  Sometimes watching someone walk out the door is nearly as painful as watching your own beating heart ripped out and trampled on the floor.  


Being a man, it’s completely natural to want to rush in and save the day.  Men are fixers and I’m no exception but some things can’t be “fixed” back to what they were before.  So what’s a fixer supposed to do with the shattered broken pieces when they fall in his lap?

The first instinct is to start sorting through the pieces and try to fit them together like a jigsaw puzzle.  But I’ve learned something very valuable recently:  Some people just need you to be there—to sit with them for a while in their pain.  You can’t take it away from them, you can’t fix it, you can’t argue with them about all the reasons they should just “let it go.”

You sit!

You sit your ass down in a chair across from them or on the couch beside them and you tell them no matter what, you’ll be there. Sometimes all they need is for someone to just be there for them even if you can’t solve their problems.  Just knowing there is someone who cares can make all the difference in the world.  


So many people assume they only have to deal with grief when one of their loved ones passes away; but did you know that grief is a part of everyday life for everyone?  Every loss you experience in life sets grief in motion and it doesn’t have to be death; i.e. your child heads off to college, you and your spouse divorce, you have to move from a house you love, your innocence was stolen from you too early, you lose your job, your best friend moves away, your loved one goes off to war, the group you adore spending time with has an event that changes the dynamics, your health takes a drastic turn for the worse, etc.  Any loss can cause grief!

The frustrating thing about our current culture is grief is looked down upon.  If you aren’t your bubbly happy make-everyone-around-you-feel-comfortable-self then you’re somehow judged as having a problem.  And if the grief of the loss isn’t enough, now you’re stuck trying to defend your position on why you feel the way you do.  Eventually you just shove the loss down as far as you can without fully working through your grief because—well, because—your well-meaning family isn’t comfortable seeing you like this and urges you to just get over it and move on.  

Everyone reacts differently to grief but it is widely accepted that we go through the five stages of grief first introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  The stages are: 1. Denial, 2. Anger, 3. Bargaining, 4. Depression, and 5. Acceptance.  This is not a complete list of possible emotions, your grief can go through any of these stages in any order, and you may not experience all five stages.  


If you are experiencing loss or grief right now for any reason, I am truly sorry!!  If you have tried to take your grief to friends or loved ones who—due to their own uncomfortableness—couldn’t sit with you through the pain, I am sorry.  I recently heard Alexander Shaia suggest on The RobCast podcast, “Do not look to friends and family who have not gone on their own journey to support you when you start to grow.”  People are creatures of habit and comfort.  If you take your grief to friends or family who are unaware, you will get anything but relief.  We assume our family “should” help us with our grief, but be careful and cautious who you take your grief to.  


For those of you I know who are going through some real heavy shit right now—I love you!! And I will do whatever I can to see you through your grief.  If you need someone to listen, I’ve been told I’m an excellent listener and would be happy to sit with you.  If you need a hug, I’ve been told I’m pretty good at those too!!

Peace my friends