Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Full of Thanks and Practicing What You Preach

So I wrote a book and have been out there speaking publicly for several months now about how life is full of paradoxes and conflicting feelings that occur at the same time. I believe that with all of my heart. And yet when it happens to me,I still get caught off guard.

For the last three years, I have visited the cemetery. I’m not big on the cemetery necessarily, but I try and go and keep up with different holiday decorations for Tim’s plot. For three years I have been “saying hello” to Tim and then I kiss my fingers and touch the headstone. I almost always say, “Bye Baby. It hasn’t happened yet.”  What I mean by that is, that I keep waiting for the time in my life when I can see how my life has actually gotten better because of everything we’ve been through. I wait for when I feel somehow like the past is behind me.

Lately, I have been changing the flavor of my blogs. Lately, I have been saying when I leave, “I think it’s finally happening..” And it has been. Spring has sprung, but it just has happened in the winter months instead.

I am here in Georgia with my daughter Emily and her family. I have been eating up my grandkids with every ounce of love I have. I was even able to buy my granddaughter Aubry her first little bike while I was here. We leave later today and I will try hard not to cry. I make my grandson Parker cry when I do, so I don’t want to do that to him today.

Life is full of new and wonderful things. My book cover won first place in a contest this month. Yea for our talented graphic artist! Great things are happening.

That is why I was surprised that I could feel all the excitement of all these things, and found myself trying to be alone in a room so no one would see me cry. It is impossible with kids around. Both Parker and Aubry found me quick as a rabbit and asked in their cute, sweet voices “Grammy, are you hurt?” Straightened me up lickety-split.

I’m not sure why I’ve been like this. I have some ideas, but overall I’m frustrated that I can’t control my heart more. Sometimes little things happen that don’t go as planned, especially during holidays. I have these little fantasies about how they are going to go because I’m so sentimental and when things don’t go that way, my spirit can get crushed so easily. Not a part of me I am very fond of.

It hit me that the best way to describe it, would be if I were in town and went to the cemetery today, I would kiss the stone and say “I’m not quite there. Just not quite there.”

But I am definitely on my way. Life is definitely good and full of promise. It’s just not perfect. But what do I preach all the time? That’s ok. The glass is half empty and half full. So if you are lonely or sad today, it’s ok. Have your feelings, but know there is still much to be grateful for. Love all you guys like crazy!


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Things Are Changing

There’s been a new feeling in the air. In spite of the rain and wind, there is warmth in the air. In spite of how dark it is when you first wake up, there is light peeking through. I think it’s change. And for a change, the change is positive. The change is happier than usual.

I have a teenage client I’ve been working with. She has formed her identity around being angst-filled and not liking people. Sometimes she has glimpses of a different life. I keep challenging her to stop defining herself as unhappy and depressed. What would happen if she allowed herself to feel connected? What if she wallowed in that and opened up her heart? As crazy as it might sound, I think it’s frightening to her. Even though she would rather be happy (of course), it would be unfamiliar to her. She knows sadness and loneliness. She understands it.

I think I can relate to her. I am the lonely widow. I am accident-prone. I am the one who has unlucky, bizarre things happen to her. I am the one that love seems to pass over. If there is a difficult way to achieve something in life, I will find that way.

But what if I re-defined myself? What if all that is changing? What if those people close to my heart were able to smile and say things like “I’m so happy for you” or “I’m so glad things are working out”? I am actually having fun catching up with people and watching their surprised (but happy) expressions when I tell them things are going well.

I’ve been doing the usual speaking engagements, but it seems like I am lecturing more than ever for some reason. I’ve been changing up my speeches a little, winging it a little more which leads to shooting from the hip. But it also leads to my talking more just from my heart. I am walking out more energized and inspired. I talked to a philosophy class this week at a college and it was one of the best ever. They were actually required to read my book so I can’t tell you the rush I felt when I walked in the room and saw my book on some of their desks. And these men and women challenged me. They asked me questions no one has ever asked me. Some of their questions stopped me in my tracks. But I loved it!

I got an email this week from another college looking for me to lecture. The big thing about that, was they sought me out. It wasn’t Brigitte or I following up week after week trying to get our foot in the door. They sought us. That is a rush too.

I got another email this week from a college asking if I would be interested in teaching at their school. I know that is not entirely uncommon, and I hear that it is often a way for them to get cheap labor. But I don’t care. Teaching has never entered my mind and I was completely surprised and flattered to be asked. How cool is that?

Let a little love in your heart. I know it’s scary. I know it’s vulnerable. I know there are no guarantees that you won’t get hurt in the end. But try anyway. It’s an amazing feeling to be alive again.


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Inspiration

Last night, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 300+ breast cancer survivors. I was shaking in my boots because the largest group I have ever done is 150. Most of the time there is only a handful of people. This was crazy!

Of course, like so many other things, I ended up being the one inspired. I had a vendor table with my book and people would stop to see what it was about. Normally, this is when people tell me their own stories- their illness, someone they love, etc.. In this setting, the chances were high that anyone you talked to probably had cancer at some point in their lives. That was a given. I met so many women with such amazing, joyful attitudes.

One woman in particular sticks out in my mind. She was probably in her seventies. She rattled off what kind of cancer she had, which I don’t even remember because it wasn’t what had impacted me. She told me the story of her doctor calling her to tell her she had cancer. She was kind of using a tone that was dismissive, like “Yeah, yeah, ok” kind of a thing. So her doc says to her “Do you understand what I am telling you? Do you understand that you have cancer?” She said she responded with “Yes, I heard you. I’m not the type to sit in the corner and cry. Now are you done? Because I’m about to go play golf.” She was one tough bird. And a huge smile on her face. SHE should have been the one to do the speaking!

After dinner, I looked at the program and noticed the speaker after me had the same first name as the woman sitting next to me. I asked her if she was the other speaker and indeed she was. Right before we were about to go up, she looks at me and says, “Did you say that evaluation form? Talk about pressure!” I looked and sure enough there was a full-page evaluation form for the event. Not something like “Did you like it?” on a scale of one to five. It was a scale, but it was very specific. “Did you like Darcy Thiel’s presentation Making Lemonade?” Yikes! We both vowed to tell the coordinator that neither one of us was interested in hearing the ratings.

I finished my twenty-minute speech and then the lady sitting next to me got up for her turn. She very graciously started by saying something like, “That’s a tough act to follow. Let’s give another hand to Darcy.” That was lovely of her. She then proceeded to tell her story with a shaky voice and clearly was struggling to hold back tears. This beautiful young lady told about hearing the dreaded words “You have cancer.” I listened to her story, thinking how brave and amazing she was. Then she shocked me by talking about the SECOND time she had cancer. Good grief. I was very moved by her story as was everyone else in the room I am sure. She was the hero, the true inspiration for the evening.

After it was all over, I was standing near the exit at my book table. I saw her talking with her husband. I decided to give her a book. She acted like I gave her a million dollars. That made me feel like a million dollars! We talked about how we felt bonded somehow by sharing our stories on the same evening. I told her she bears the heavier burden and she said she thought the caretaker bears the heavier burden. So we decided we would just mutually admire each other.

What an absolutely great career I have. How lucky am I?