Grieving’s Great Lessons

For the past 30 days, I shared excerpts from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. I wrote during the height of grieving not knowing if I’d ever find a way through. It’s now nearly three years since Babe died. I wish grieving on no one; yet, grieving waits for each of us on our journey. It’s not a pleasant thought. I’m happy I didn’t know what it felt like before it happened. As tough as it is, grieving has been a great teacher. Here are 10 lesson I learned on this journey.

  1. Everyone has scars, don’t compare.
  2. Everyone who grieves, hurts. Don’t judge anyone.
  3. It doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, or other, it hurts like hell. Anyone who grieves deserves compassion.
  4. Unpack all the good memories and be grateful for each one.
  5. Live each day as if it is the only day you have.
  6. Life isn’t fair, don’t worry about it.
  7. Life is a wonderful gift, don’t waste it.
  8. There is no answer to why, so don’t waste time looking for an answer.
  9. Don’t wait to be loved by others, reach out and connect and keep on connecting.
  10. Life wins. Love wins. Never quit. Never give up.

There are many other lessons, but these quickly come to mind. I’m grateful for the time Babe and I had together. I’m grateful for the space in which I find myself. I’m going to keep on living, keep on smiling, and keep on singing. 

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.

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Healing Power of Love

M’s Advice

M opened my eyes to the lessons grieving was teaching me and to the wonderful gift called life. It’s a one time gift. I decided the best way to honor Babe, was to discover how to live again. No one ever said it would be easy, but I’ve never quit. M offered me a final piece of advice I try to connect with each day. Here is M’s advice to me from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“M took hold of both my hands, “Ray, each day you will meet new people. You’ll feel love flowing to you, through you, and drenching you. You’ll know, perhaps for the first time, that nothing is more important, nothing is better than responding in the moment by offering your unconditional love to whoever is with you in the moment. Trust it, Ray. Trust it, and the power of love will heal you.”

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 Changed Me – I Knew Love Wins

Grieving Changed Me

It was nine months since Babe died. I sat with M at the coffee shop. She saw changes in me. She wanted to know if saw any changes in me. Grieving changed me. I think it changes everyone. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again on how I was changing:

“How are you different, Ray?” M asked. “When I look at you, I see what I see. But, I don’t see everything. There are parts of you that only you know. And, there are parts of you that you don’t recognize and only God knows them. . . . What matters to you, Ray?”

“You do, M. My family does. My neighbors do. The people at the Y. The baristas at the coffee shop. The birds that come to my bird feeders. I feel myself connecting to everyone I meet, and to all of God’s amazing creations surrounding me. It is this sense of connection that is pulling me out of isolation. It is healing my open wounds. It is creating a new heart for me, one capable of loving all and receiving love from all.”

M smiled and said, “Love is leading you, Ray. Love wins. Love heals. The more you love, the greater your healing. Where love is, the door is always open.”

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.

I Struggled To Find An Answer to ‘Why?’

I knew I was making progress in my struggle with grieving; yet, I found myself always asking, WHY? I desperately wanted an answer to my why. I spoke to M about my struggle in trying to find an answer to Why. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“I said “I know I’m seeking answers to questions. I just can’t seem to find any answers. 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?”  . . .

M shrugged, then said, “Some questions will never have an answer in this lifetime,” she continued. “These are the questions we live. In a strange way, they are more powerful because we can’t find answers. They shape how we live through the choices we make and come to grips with them.”

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 is Tough, I Was Becoming Stronger

M told me she could see me becoming stronger each day. She asked me to write four letters to Babe. I was to write each letter in the present tense as if Babe were still alive. I frequently paused while I wrote these letters to compose myself. It was a very emotional experience, but, it was a liberating experience that strengthened my will to go on. Here is an excerpt from my love letter to Babe in Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“Dear Babe,

You’re my first thought when I awaken and the last thought before I fall asleep. When I awaken in the middle of the night and I whisper, “Babe, I love you. I’ll love you forever.” Did you know, I trace the sign of the cross on your shoulder while you are sleeping? I do it every time I wake up in the night. When I trace it, I ask God to bless you and watch over you. The first words you utter after you open your eyes are, “I love you, Bun.” I touch you and say, “I love you, too.”

Each day, your joy of life lights a fire within me. When you open your eyes and turn to me in bed, I see the sparks of joy, life, and love. I know in that moment all is right, all is good, and it will be a great day. You ignite the flames of love, hope, and joy within me. You teach me to lighten up, have fun, and enjoy life’s gifts. “It’s not all serious and it’s not all work,” you tell me.”

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

I Learned Valuable Lessons From Unavoidable Suffering

M Taught Me to Learn From Unavoidable Suffering

Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“Can you see what’s happening, Ray? You’re not stuck. A grateful heart heals, renews, and recreates. Remember what Saint Teresa of Ávila said: ‘All things are passing; God never changes, patience obtains all things.’ Don’t be afraid of suffering. It’s unavoidable. You can do nothing to make it go away. It has a life of its own. You did not purposely will this suffering upon yourself. It happened. It happened as it will happen to everyone. It is part of the human condition. We can push aside all thoughts of it to some remote canyon in Texas, but it waits patiently, knowing its time will come. Instead of suffering being a curse, think of your unavoidable suffering as a wonderful gift to help you become a more loving and compassionate person. If you’re willing, you will see the lessons it is teaching you.”

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

Gratitude Became my Grieving Turning Point

Gratitude Became my Turning Point

M continued to encourage me to be grateful for Babe. Being grateful was difficult because I fixed my focus on what I lost, not what I had. It was only later when I realized being grateful was the grieving breakthrough I sought. It was only later when I realized I couldn’t be grateful and sad at the same time. Here is a journal excerpt where I continue to express my gratitude for Babe.

“You taught me to love. You taught me about love. You were, and still are, love. Each moment we spent together, you taught me another love lesson. Each time you touched me, you taught me about love. Each word you spoke to me was a message of love. Each time you looked at me, you filled me with love. How can I choose to do anything else but love? You’re a gift. I buried your body, but I did not bury you. Ciao—until …”

I finished my brief journal entry. I was smiling. My heart was at peace. The images of Babe lingered with me. For the moment, life was good.”

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