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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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A Difficult Truth to Accept

If I don’t like a meal, I’ll ask the waiter to bring it back. If I don’t like the way a new shirt fits, I’ll return it. When grieving struck and suffering rolled over me like a tidal wave, they carried a no-return policy. M told me there were gifts in my suffering if I was willing to look for them. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“I heard M chuckle as she said, “Suffering … gives everyone gifts if we have the courage to recognize the gifts, and even greater courage to put the gifts into action. Our gifts come at a great price. No one seeks them. We pass by their window many times and never pay attention to them. Now it’s your turn to enter its store and take hold of your gifts.”

I understood what M was saying. It was a difficult truth to accept. She was pointing the way to a healthy choice and leaving the final decision up to me.

I said, “Thank you, M. I hear the shopkeeper inviting me in to accept my gifts.”

“I know of no other way to look at the grieving experience, Ray. Consider journaling about the gifts suffering offers you. Before I go, let me read a quote from The Diary of Anne Frank: ‘I don’t think about all the misery, but about all the beauty that remains.”

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. This material is copyright protected




Suffering Isn’t Easy, But it Happens

Suffering isn’t easy. Healthy people don’t want it for themselves or for others. Yet, it happens. In Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again, M shared her wisdom with me about suffering. I listened because I knew she suffered a great loss before me. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:

“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”

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Dancing Alone: Learning to Live again by Ray Calabrese

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Trusting My Intuition

Trusting My Intuition as I Grieved

On one of our visits, M encouraged me to trust my intuition as I grieved. Here is an excerpt from Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again. 

“M stared at me. A slight smile appeared. She slowly shook her head and said, “When you trust your intuition, you’re trusting God. Even if you fail, God will draw good out of your failure. It’s why, in the end, following your instincts will be the right course for you.”

M’s words resonated with me as I replied, “Oftentimes, I don’t see the hand of God until I look back over the distance I’ve traveled. When I look back, I realize how life prepared me for the moment. It is a moment of grace. It is a moment of gratitude. In that moment, I thank God for my teachers on the journey, for the strength and capabilities given to prepare me for the challenge. Most of all, I thank God for always being near me, even when I couldn’t sense He was there.

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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