Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief

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Collateral Beauty

I didn’t blog last week because I just didn’t feel inspired. Now I am snowed in and I just don’t have the energy… Excuses, excuses. Anyhow, I am going to cheat. I can because it is my blog so who is going to tell me I can’t? LOL!

I went to see “Collateral Beauty” this week with my friend Summer. I heard it got smashed down in the reviews. I can’t imagine why. I think it is one of the most brilliant, poignant, and profound movies about grief/loss and death/dying that I have ever seen. If you have the depth to see it, the lives and plots intertwine cleverly and many types of loss are addressed. Ok, not one of the most, THE most.

Will Smith gives you some visuals of grief that you will never forget. There are some lines in there that entire books could be written about. Summer cried several times throughout the movie. Me? I couldn’t cry. I was beyond tears. I was moved and riveted with my stomach squarely stuck in my mouth.

A perfect example of bittersweet. It was gut wrenching but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. If every person could watch it and grasp its meaning, I would never write another book or blog, produce a webinar, give a lecture. It just wouldn’t be necessary.

Personally, I couldn’t have watched it at a better time. Or a worse time. My dreams have been tormenting me by night, even though my conscious days have been fine. The movie was smack in the middle of the torture and I’m sure has inspired the last set of horrendous dreams.

Nevertheless, this blog is a blatant commercial. I can’t say much else about the movie because I would not want to give any of it away. Take your tissues and go. If you have experienced a significant loss firsthand, I would bet money that you will resonate with it very deeply.

Bravo. Sometimes the critics are spot on, and sometimes they have no idea what they are talking about.



Did I say I don’t like Mother’s Day? Not sure I’ve actually blogged that or not, but I know I’ve definitely said it. Here’s more fickle: Today, I LOVE IT!!

Frankie came home from school today with a purple flower (my favorite color) and a People magazine spoof for Mother of the Year. I won’t write it all, but here are some of the highlights that shock me, surprise me, warm my heart beyond belief.

She should be mother of the year because:
She doesn’t make me spoiled.
She gives me good advice.
She is cautious about my health.
She works three jobs to put food on my table.
She comforts me when I am sad.
She supports me when life throws problems at me.
When I’m sick she stays up all night to make sure I’m okay.
She supports the school by coming in class every once in awhile.

What do you love most about your mom?
She cares about my feelings.

What’s the smartest thing your mom has ever told you?
Don’t sing during class.

What kind of stuff is your mom really good at?

What’s one thing your mom should do more of?
Go to the bar and have a good time. (And I feel guilty when I get the chance to go out!)

What do you think your mom was like before she had kids?
She was probably happier. (That’s an ouch!)

Complete this sentence. “I know my mom loves me because she thinks I am funny.” (I think he’s hilarious, actually)

And last but not least, drum roll please….

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
Nothing, you’re amazing!

I love Mother’s Day!!!


You Just Never Know

So when I thought about writing Bitter and Sweet, Brigitte had me start reading books on writing books. There seemed to be an assumption in them that authors will write more than one book. I would explain to Brigitte that I wasn’t an author by profession and I would only be writing one book. She would just plant a seed with something like “Well, you never know.”

Then I started writing Bitter and Sweet, and I kept fighting myself. I did not WANT to write more than one book, but it was becoming very clear to me that my story was really two totally different topics. Bitter and Sweet became a book about facing a terminal illness, being a caretaker, a patient advocate. That really is different from the grief you deal with afterwards. In spite of my best efforts, I had to admit I had two books in me.

In the meantime, Brigitte keeps planting seeds about the next book after that and I keep reminding her there are only two books. She finally said that she already knows what the third book is- a book about all the stories that come to me because of the book I’ve already written. Damn her! That’s actually a good idea. And she was smart enough to say it to me the day after I heard this story.

The gentleman gave me permission to blog about this provided I took the usual care to change names. He was a contact I met through marketing bookstores. Some stores want to read the book before they will agree to try and sell it and he was one of those people. I called back to follow-up with him and ended up having a lengthy conversation with him.

He had only read about 90 pages of Bitter and Sweet but his first comment was that the title was perfect. He was weepy throughout his tale. Turns out he lost a son in an accident, and then his wife the year before Tim died. It happens almost every time I talk to someone about my book- they have a story to share. Who hasn’t been touched by cancer/death in some way?

He said the book was going to take him a while to finish. Generally, people either say they couldn’t put the book down and finished it very quickly, or they say it touches very close to home and it will take them a while to slowly digest it. He said the book was causing him to think about things that he has pushed down for awhile and that he believes God will use the book to help people heal. Wow. That would make my heart soar.

Then here’s the kicker. He was reading the section of the book where I described how Tim and I bought an adjustable bed. It was a big deal at the time because after he was diagnosed, we weren’t really able to sleep in the same room anymore. Tim had to sleep more upright and had great difficulty. So it was a day for celebration when we got the new bed and could lay side by side again.

The night that this man read that section, he had a dream about his wife. It was a very vivid dream and he felt her laying next to him. When he woke in the morning, he was heartbroken to discover that she was indeed still gone. But he had a beautiful night with her. Double wow.

That one story alone makes all the months of writing the book worthwhile. What a gift to him. What a bigger gift to me. Please let me know your story!



Have you ever seen that show “Ridiculousness”? It’s kind of like an MTV version of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Frankie loves it. He laughs hysterically when he watches it. I was laying in bed tonight when my head started blogging. Ridiculousness came to mind. I knew it had to be the title. Not because it’s funny. It’s the opposite. It comes from a very, very dark place.

Every once in a while I fall into this black hole. Intellectually I can totally dismantle its validity. In my mind I know it’s unhealthy junk. But emotionally I just can’t help myself. Twenty years of therapy on and off and I still battle my dark demons. Ridiculous.

I’m not sure what to call it. Depression? Probably in part. I hate it. It actually embarrasses me because it’s so pitiful and lacking in self worth. Definitely sadness. Can’t stop crying when I’m in it. On the surface, I am a pretty confident, outgoing woman. I’m relatively realistic about my strengths and weaknesses. I am aware I have much to offer the world. I am aware that in my own little corner of it, I have indeed offered the world my heart and soul and others have benefited from it. But in that dark place, I am scared- no petrified, that most people hate me. In a phrase? I’m unloveable. What is possessing me to write about it for others to see I have no idea, but I’m going with it.

About 15 years ago, I was working at a place and was getting ready to leave to dive into my practice. I was an email buddy with my co-worker’s husband and one time I felt like he pushed the writing a little too far and I told him to back off. Soon after that he excluded from his wife’s surprise party and then proceeded to let me know that it was intentional. He said I was a “liberal weirdo” and that everyone at work hated me and I was too stupid to realize it. Now, I had several co-workers assure me that wasn’t the case. And I knew he was lashing out because he was embarrassed that I called him out on something. But did any of that logic matter? Nope. Bingo. He hit me it my darkest fear. I was right, I’m not loveable.

The other night I had a very vivid, long, detailed dream. It was one of those non-sensical ones that is bizarre in details but crystal clear in meaning. I was with a group of people and I think we were actors of some sort. I had the distinct feeling that no one liked me and eventually people started to verbalize it. Then this mandate came down that every person had to find a twin to wear an identical costume with. It was obvious this order came down for one reason- to show me in a very tangible way that no one wanted to be my partner. I verbalized this to everyone. “Oh, I see. The purpose of this little exercise is to prove to me that I am alone.” They all jeered and laughed because it was true. There was one actor there (the guy from Mall Cop, go figure!) who I somehow sensed felt differently about it, but I couldn’t prove it. He was pouring drinks for everyone as they were having a celebratory toast. The occassion? Making me realize how disliked I was. However, I soon had the last laugh because I told them they were wrong and this guy did value me because he poured bitter liquid in their glasses. They were all spitting it out. I told them that he knew everyone of them would drink it but me.

I have no idea who that man was supposed to represent… God? And in a sense it was a positive ending. But I didn’t wake up feeling positive. I thought it was a horrible dream. Just awful. And I was even disgusted because I think I have it more together than to have that kind of deep seeded lack of self love to generate such dreams.

I’m sure there are many layers, but on at least one level, I think the “twin” represents a partner to me. In high school, I rarely had boyfriends. I met my first husband in Bible College. We divorced and then I spent seven years alone. Then I married Tim and we were together just a decade before he died. Here I am at 45, facing a birthday next week, and alone again. Dating, maybe, but not partnered.

I leave Sunday for my 25 year college reunion. It will be awesome. But I think it is part of the turmoil of my sleep. I remember attending the 10 year reunion, freshly divorced. I knew everyone was aware that my former husband was the one people were talking about because he became an atheist after our marriage. Tim and I attended my 15th reunion and for a brief, shining moment, I had a husband and baby by my side. Now I will attend my 25th. Alone again. Naturally.

No twin. No one that loves me so much they want to world to know by making me thier wife. I hate being a widow. I hate being a single mom. My loving friends point out that probably no one else will be able to say they are publishing a book. And I’m publishing a GREAT book!! I truly am proud of it. But I also realize that the ache in my heart isn’t about acheiving something extraordinary. It’s about being in the norm- having a significant other. I think that is part of my roller coaster of emotions about the success of the book. I want to revel in it, but I still haven’t acheived what my heart aches to- feeling loveable. Being someone’s favorite person. Being someone’s twin.

It’s ridiculous because I have more than one amazing person in my life. I am truly lucky and blessed to have family and friends that are astounding in thier loyalty and kindness. I know it frustrates them to some degree to know how much they care about me and extend themselves to me, yet I still fall down the rabbit hole sometimes. I truly love and appreciate them. And they fill a very real need and void in my life. But there is a void no friend or sister or father can fill.

I hate how pitiful it all sounds. And I intellectually know better. But for today, Thursday, my heart has fallen into the abyss. I won’t stay there. But it’s a dark night and I am truly praying for less ridiculous dreams tonight. Don’t give up on me, though. The positive Darcy will emerge again soon 🙂