Nothing in Life Prepares One to Grieve

A woman who lost her husband of 49 years pulled me aside after I spoke at a meeting and said, “Ray, no one knows until they know.” I knew she was speaking about the intense suffering associated with her grief. Grieving had taken hold of her. I understood. I journaled about my grief when it first struck me in Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. Here is an excerpt from my journal.

“Nothing in life prepared me for this moment of loss. I witnessed others face this moment from a compassionate and safe distance, but I didn’t own the moment with them. I was there for others because it was what one does for those we care about. I was empathetic. I was being a good person. I’d send a note or flowers. I learned I knew nothing about grieving. I had no clue to the depths of the suffering in front of me.

When grief took hold of me, I quickly learned of its power. I learned of its stubborn refusal to let go. I felt it imposing its will upon me. Grief owns me and batters me relentlessly with its gale-force winds day and night with no end in sight. There is nothing I can do to hide from it, toss it aside, or stuff it in the hidden spaces of my mind. Like an unwanted relative, grief didn’t wait for me to answer the doorbell, it walked right in and announced it was moving in with no intention to leave.”

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. Available in paperback and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

Excerpt From

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

Raymond Calabrese

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Sorrow Is Like a Ceaseless Rain

When I began writing Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again I was unsure I’d find my way through the grieving process. I began Chapter 1 with the poem, Sorrow, by Edna St. Vincent Millay.  His poem expressed how I felt. Here is the poem as I placed it at the beginning of Chapter 1 in Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

SORROW

Sorrow like a ceaseless rain

Beats upon my heart.

People twist and scream in pain,

Dawn will find them still again;

This has neither wax nor wane,

Neither stop nor start.

People dress and go to town;

I sit in my chair.

All my thoughts are slow and brown:

Standing up or sitting down

Little matters, or what gown

Or what shoes I wear.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. Available in paperback and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

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Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

Raymond Calabrese

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A Time To Recall Good Memories

I’ve spoken to hundreds of people who grieve and face a similar experience as me. Each of us, who deeply loved the person we lost, feel our pain at a visceral level. The indescribable depths of the pain are akin to a dense cloud blocking the sun. One begins to wonder if the sun will ever shine. M helped me to break away the dense cloud by recalling good memories of Babe. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

“Love works in mysterious ways to all who are open to its miraculous power. It expresses itself as a gentle summer’s breeze or the morning song of the mocking bird. You’re ready to take the next step, Ray. I want you to ‘re-member’ the love Babe and you shared,” she said, using air quotes. “I quote ‘re-member’ because I want you to reconnect to your good memories of Babe. It is difficult to remember and reconnect as you step into the future. It is a part of the dance you’re learning.”

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. Available in paperback and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

Excerpt From

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

Raymond CalabreseT

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Sometimes There is No Anwer to “Why?”

Have you asked Why? I did throughout the depths of my grieving, thousands of times, and never found an answer. I asked M, “Why?” She gently guided me with her wisdom. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

“I keep asking why. I never find an answer. I find only anger and sadness. I might as well try to stop the tide from rising.”

M nodded, and said, “Exactly, Ray. Instead, why not choose to open the door and escape from the labyrinth of chasing after the ‘why’ questions? Why not ask questions to help you make today a better day than yesterday? Think about questions that lead you in a hopeful direction to more fully discover the meaning in your life.”

“What if my questions can’t be answered?” I asked.

M shrugged, then said, “You can spend your life seeking the answers to those questions or you can accept their unfathomable nature. Learn to live with them, Ray.”

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. Available in paperback and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

Excerpt From

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

Raymond Calabrese

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We Are All Wounded

M became an indispensable guide during the height of my grieving. At one point, where I was wallowing in self pity, she challenged me to make peace with the past. I reacted predictably and spoke of my wounds. I forgot, for a moment, M also suffered a similar loss. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“We are all wounded, Ray. Wounds heal and leave scars. We all carry scars. Our scars are an important part of our story. Each scar is sacred. Each of us purchased our scars at great cost. You’re transforming your raw wounds into holy scars. In time, each scar will be a reminder of Babe’s death and the grieving you endured. More importantly, each scar will become the symbol of choosing to live. The symbols are a part of the story, but not the whole story. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. Available in paperback and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

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Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

Raymond Calabrese

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Tough Advice: Stop Making Excuses

M challenged me with Tough advice when she told me to Let go of the past and move forward. The more deeply I felt my loss, the tighter my bonds to the past became. Each time M challenged me to let go of the past, I made an excuse not to let go. M finally challenged me to let go of my excuse making. It wasn’t easy, but as M told me, I had a choice. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again where I wrestled with this decision.

“It’s easier for me to live in the past where I was happy rather than figure out how to live in the present in a way that added meaning to my life and held on to the hope that happiness would one day find me again. I realized I developed excuse-making into a professional skill as excuses rolled off my tongue as easy as grass turns green in the spring.

If I really wanted to dance with suffering and grieving, I would need to let go of what held me to the past with a death grip and not make excuses about moving forward. Easier said than done, but I would give it my best. I wanted to dance with grieving.”

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. Available in paperback and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

Excerpt From

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

Raymond Calabrese

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Dare to Live

Whether grieving or not grieving, I’ve met many people who are alive but not living. There is a big difference. In Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again, M challenges me to dare to live. Here is an excerpt:

“I’m sharing what I learned from my experience. You’re strong enough to start taking dares. Trust God that in the areas where you’re weak, He is strong. Dare to act, Ray. Dare to do the things you don’t want to do. Dare to live life, and grieving will gradually disappear. … Our two biggest obstacles are excuse-making and not letting go of the past. If you really want to live life and let grieving slip away, stop making excuses and let go of past …”

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. Available in paperback and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

Excerpt From

Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again

Raymond Calabrese

This material is copyright protected