Idea of Death by Hafiz

How
Fascinating the idea of death 
Can be. 
Too bad, though, 
Because 
It just isn’t 
True.

Hafiz
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Relearning to be Grateful

Relearning to be Grateful

M told me losing the ability to be grateful is common among men and women who grieve. She encouraged me to “relearn gratefulness.” She suggested I begin by journaling my gratitude for Babe. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“I am grateful for how Babe helped me lighten up and not take life so seriously. I am grateful for how she saw in me what I couldn’t see for myself. I am grateful each time I heard her laugh. I am grateful for the times we made love. I am grateful for each of our dates. I am grateful for how Babe taught me to manage a household. I watched and learned from her. The lessons she taught me helped me to keep the house clean, cook, make things neat, and manage money. Little did I know, God was using Babe to prepare me this part of my life.

I am grateful for the small things. I can still see her childlike excitement at decorating for Christmas, her delight while she cooked a meal, or her enjoyment as she sipped a cup of coffee. I am grateful for watching her get all dolled up for me. I told her many times she was born beautiful. I am grateful for her excitement whenever we planned a trip. She would start packing two weeks early. “I am grateful for the moments when I was anxious and she’d put her hand on my neck. As if by magic, my tension and anxiety would instantly disappear.”

Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found at https://dancingalone530.com/dancing-alone/

Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright

Getting Past the Grieving Wall

Getting Past the Grieving Wall

M could see in me what I couldn’t see or feel in myself. She said, “Ray, you’re making progress. It’s time to take a bold step.” Taking this step was easier said than done. Here is an excerpt from my journal in Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“Knowing what I should do and knowing why it is good for me do not always coincide. M told me I have no choice but to learn to live again. I can no longer lock myself behind the walls of my house. It’s time for me to reach out to others and connect with them in more meaningful ways. Why can’t people connect with me? Why do I have to do all the work? Why can’t it just happen for me and to me?

I sound like a child not wanting to do chores. Choosing to live again isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is a whole new learning curve. I am being asked to choose to live, even if it is painful and pain-filled. It means re-engaging life and answering yes to M’s question, “Do I choose to live and to act on my decision?”

Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found at https://dancingalone530.com/dancing-alone/

Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright

Grieving Held On; Slowly, I Became More Resilient

I Was Slowly Becoming More Resilient

Each morning I woke to face my adversary, grieving. Grieving waited for me with a smile seeking to knock me down again and again. Each day I rose determined to fight back. Slowly, I was becoming stronger, more resilient. I didn’t notice it at first; it was at the ten week mark of grieving where I thought I got a glimpse of dawn that lasted long enough to give me hope. Here is an excerpt from my journal in Dancing Alone: Learning to Love Again:

“I am at the ten-week mark of grieving. I think I see progress in small ways. In other ways, the emptiness is as strong as it was on day one. Living one day at a time, doing the best I can, and trying to stay in the moment is a herculean task.

Perhaps grief will never leave me. I wonder when people look at me and see me smiling if they think I’ve bounced all the way back and no longer see me grieving. I put on a happy face. I smile. I engage in conversations. I try not to speak about my grieving. If asked, I share my story again and again. It is the price I pay for the gift of loving Babe. Would I trade my life and wish it differently if I knew my life with Babe would end this way? I wouldn’t think about it for a second. My life with Babe was, and continues to be, a love story.

Babe, through her life, taught me to love. She was as close to God in her life as anyone I’ve ever known. Why would I trade that?”

Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found at https://dancingalone530.com/dancing-alone/

Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright

M Offered Me Tough Love as I Grieved

M often gave me tough love as I grieved. During a pity party, M challenged me to choose to live. She said it wasn’t easy, I’d have to frequently make the decision to counter the violence of the emotional storms I experienced. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again where M helped me make it through another emotional storm:

“I’ve never experienced emotional storms with wind gusts reaching hurricane strength. They strike at times of their choosing. . . . I was listening to music when one of our favorite songs played. My emotions were overwhelming and I couldn’t stop the tears. How do I handle these storms, M?”

M offered a soft smile and a question. “When the tears and shaking stopped, what did you do?”

I gave M a quizzical look in reply.

“What did you do?” she asked again, softly but firmly.

“I moved the clothes out of the washer and into the dryer. I made a healthy salad to go with supper. And I put more bird seed in the bird feeder. Why?”

“I’m hearing you say you had an emotional storm. You weathered it. And, you chose to go on living. You didn’t crawl into a shell and feel sorry for yourself. . . . What’s your problem?” M pressed on. “You had an emotional storm. It came. It brought its winds. You survived. More will come. You’ll survive. You’ll survive as long as you choose to live when the storm ends.”

Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found at https://dancingalone530.com/dancing-alone/

Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright

Grieving Taught Me Life Isn’t Fair

Grieving taught me a hard lesson, ‘Life isn’t fair.’ I didn’t want to learn the lesson. I wanted life to be fair. I wanted the outcome to be different. M helped me understand life’s unfairness is an equal opportunity employer. No one is exempt from this life lesson. Here is how M spoke to me about this hard lesson in an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“Life’s not fair, M. It’s not right.”

“M dismissed my argument. “You’re no more special than anyone else, Ray. Life is not going to give you a pass. No one gets a pass. No one is born with a contract stating life will be fair. We’re born to parents we didn’t choose. We didn’t choose out cultural or economic environment. Nor did we have a choice in our religious upbringing. Life doesn’t play by the rules you want. When you think about what happened to you in a fair and not fair way, the only possible outcomes are anger and resentment.”

Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found at https://dancingalone530.com/dancing-alone/

Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright

Grieving Generates Strong Emotions With No Let Up

Grieving Generates Strong EmotionS With No Let Up

M asked me to journal about the emotions I was experiencing. She said, “Our emotions, if left unchecked, can cripple us.” Journaling while I grieved was difficult, I felt at a deep level it was important if I were to learn to live again. Here is a journal excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

“I run from away from dealing with my emotions by engaging in exercise, prayer, and writing. Even in those times of distraction, my emotions rear their ugly heads into my space, grab ahold of me, and throw me to the floor. My emotions stand over me, waving their fists and daring me to get up, all too willing to knock me down again. I wearily rise to my knees. I stand again, my legs wobbly. I try to clear my head. It hurts like hell.

My emotions cause me to cry over the most trivial things. I go to church for solace. I gaze at the stained glass windows behind the altar and cry. I listen to hymns and cry. I hear a scriptural verse and cry. I stare straight ahead, avoiding the glances of other patrons. I don’t want people to stare at me. I let the tears stream off my face and drip from my chin. It hurts like hell.”

Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found at https://dancingalone530.com/dancing-alone/

Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright