letting go….or not…..

September 28, 2010

Since I posed the question about letting go in my last blog entry, the universe has answered me in many different ways — through email messages, sets of songs on the radio, news updates on Facebook, and through John….

And the message that I am getting is that while I can let go of my past, the trauma of John’s suicide, and my grief, I can’t actually fully let go of loving John; it’s just not possible and there is no need to. I will love John forever and he is a vital part of my life and my journey here on Earth. Whew. What a relief! I was very saddened by the idea that I need to let go of him entirely in order to move forward into a new relationship.

I want to share a lovely and eloquently written email I received from a reader and friend in response to my last post. The message holds much wisdom and really rang true for me so I thought you sisters out there experiencing any kind of loss or heartbreak might appreciate it, so with her permission of course — I’m sharing it below.

The response comes from Iva out there in Croatia!

Just read your last entry…. felt compelled to reply for some reason.

Truth is, I have no answer for letting go. I get overwhelmed just trying to grasp the notion. For me personally (and I by no means am comparing the end of my love affair to your loss), letting go has not been willing through any stage of my journey of healing. It just…sort of… happens. In tiny ways and catches you off guard when you least expect it, basically when you have already given up on it ever happening and start to make peace with the fact that a part of you will always be pulling backwards.

I’ll tell you a story. Since the first day that Lee crushed me and walked away I have been waiting for the magical day that I no longer think of him in. I was not being realistic and it was my first and remains the only major break up; I expected it to be literally in a matter of weeks. Of course it wasn’t. I’d wake up in agony over having dreamed him, or having imagined he’d be in bed next to me when I awoke and the horrid reality would hit. The love I felt (and continue to feel) would constipate me at those moments, I had no release for it but the occasional light bolts of poetry or even writing him – letter upon letter which I knew I’d never send. Then close to a year later I went on a holiday with some dear friends. It was just 3 days away but I really love these girls and don’t get to see them often as one lives in England. So the second day I woke up and realized that a whole 24 hours had gone by without me giving Lee a thought. I truly marked the calender as it was the first minuscule step in my goal to let go.

To be honest Sarah, I don’t think it is consciously possible to accomplish. Not with that type of love. I’m not saying this to depress you, quite the opposite: I’m saying so to comfort you and reassure you that you’re not doing anything wrong, aren’t stuck nor going backwards. It is just something we cannot have control over (and this coming from a control freak so trust me, I know how frustrating that is). And on top of all this, letting go is not something that makes me very happy even when I DO make progress. In some ways, to me it equals forgetting. And that is NOT a good thing in my book. I need to remember, for my own selfish reasons and for the sake of my very identity which my former lover has shaped tremendously. So I fight it, at the cost of my own sanity. I reread emails, I make myself cry by still writing about him in my most intimate poetry, I look at pictures from vacations so long ago I can barely recognize who I was in those pictures.

And yet. Oblivion comes. Slowly and sneakily, it clouds first the small (yet oh so relevant) details, then bigger and more important aspects of the past. It pushes them aside more and more, as you experience and grow and love in the present. Until one day you find the thought of him only a painful jerk in your gut every once in a while. And then even that stops and you learn that maybe you have let go somewhere along the way.

Only you cannot for the life of you explain how this happened.

Thanks so much Iva!! Much love to you!!

What are your experiences, thoughts, or wisdom about letting go?


letting go

September 26, 2010

HOW do I let go of someone I love so damn much? Someone I have loved more than anyone in this world, whose loss has caused me more pain and sorrow than I have ever known? How can I do that? How can I let him go?

You know I’m so happy Kate has written and asked these questions. I have been going through a transition these past few weeks: wrapping up my dissertation, adjusting to my new internship, seeing clients, lots of training, and awaiting feedback and edits from my ghost editor about my book…and I have had very little energy at the end of it to write. I also haven’t been sure about what people are interested in reading, what blog posts are helping, engaging, emoting, or interesting for everyone, so I am grateful for Kate’s questions because they are about exactly what she wants to know about and are giving me a focal point for writing. I’m going to put a section at the top of the page that says Questions and Contact — and if anyone has any questions about anything related to suicide, grief, surviving a sucide, my experiences, or any aspects of therapy — please write in and I will do my best to answer your questions. This blog is a place for me to express my self but I write mostly for others out there who are going through similar things, and they don’t necessarily even have to be about suicide….so I welcome your questions!!!

So here’s Kate’s comment and her questions:

Just wanted to stop in and say that I frequently check in on your blog as I struggle with my own loss to suicide. While I have been open to grieving and working through my feelings and acknowledging it since my loved one took his life in the winter, I feel like another wave has come upon me. Did you feel that too as it got closer and closer to a year? Do you think that suicide was John’s destiny? Do you think it is anyone’s destiny? That’s one of the issues I think about a lot. I don’t think it was my loved one’s destiny and that’s what I seemingly have been told when I went to a medium and I don’t know why I am so stuck on that issue. Maybe because by his act, he changed my own destiny substantially. Keep up the good work. I wrote a bit after he passed but haven’t been able to for months, might start again. Am looking into EMDR for my grief. Did you try that?


Kate I am truly sorry for your loss and that you are in the midst of another wave of grief, they are so hard, sad, lonely, and blinding. The truth that I know though, if it’s any help, is that they pass, they are temporary. I definitely had new waves of grief hit me as the one year anniversary of John’s passing came around. It wasn’t too extreme for me though- because I had a lot of support while training for the suicide hotline, was learning so much and had also just moved to Los Angeles, so I was in a new environment and it was very therapeutic. Los Angeles has amazing sun light – brighter then anywhere I’ve ever seen in the U.S, and I was sitting on the beach a lot just staring at the ocean, and that helped too. But I did notice that as the anniversary of his passing came up, November 7th, and his birthday came up – November 1st — I was generally down and was still tearful just about every day. I was also writing about him every day and so that was on the one hand very cathartic and healing but on the other hand also very hard and painful. It wasn’t until a few weeks after the anniversary of John’s passing that I was hit with a huge tidal wave, tsunami of grief. That was when I was in New York and I wrote that entry for my book called In Between Worlds (which is posted on this blog somewhere either in August or July). It was another major dark night of the soul and I struggled with my old familiar existential pain: not wanting to be here anymore and wanting to be with John; I couldn’t bear another minute without seeing him or being with him. Somehow this passed and I moved through it. I continued to write and pour my heart out to John on the page. The a few weeks later I finished my first draft and had a MAJOR breakthrough that same day while I was at a Lady Gaga show….this is something I will for sure have to write about.

I have been wave free for around 4 months now. My last major wave of grief came at the end of May – about a year and a half after John’s passing. During that spell I purged a lot of stuff (and it was also thanks to watching Lady Gaga’s Alejandro video – – go figure – she must have some sort of key to my freedom – using the darkness as the doorway…) and was able to let go of a good chunk of my old self and of my fixation on understanding everything.

Everyone’s grieving process is different and so the exact timing of the waves of grief is different for everyone, but anniversaries and birthdays are especially hard times for most everyone. And our bodies also have a memory of the trauma and the anniversary of the trauma, so you might also experience some forms of lethargy, fatigue, or even illness. Once again, it varies from person to person. As the anniversary of John’s passing is soon approaching, I am noticing I am starting to feel some tremors of sadness and vulnerability; the raw realness of loss is fluttering through my system…slowly…something is coming…and something will be released…

Speaking of trauma- to skip to Kate’s last questions — I was just at a training for EMDR this morning, so it’s synchronistic that Kate asked about this. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and is a modality of therapy that is usually used to treat trauma. And make no mistake about it — learning that a loved one has killed themself is a huge trauma. Our normal functioning of our brains and nervous system are interrupted and we are not processing information in the healthy way. Our bodies go into fight or flight mode and everything including thinking and appetite are disrupted. So EMDR therapy uses certain techniques – like tapping or using a specific eye movement technique — to help the reintegrate the pathways from different parts of the brain that have been interrupted.

WHile I personally have never done this quite of therapy work for myself, nor have I worked with any clients in this way, I have heard some amazing stories about how powerful and transformative this work can be.

Now about whether I think it was John’s destiny to kill himself and do I think it’s anyone’s destiny to kill themself ~ Yes I do think it was John’s destiny to kill himself. I also think it was both our destinies to experience this and that we decided to go through this before we got here and became John and Sarah. And we also decided to do this because he and I are now working together. He is on one side in spirit form and I am on the other side in human form. I tune in to him and he talks to me all the time (while sitting with clients or while writing…and at the grocery store, on the dance floor ,or wherever). It seems like we decided that this would be a stronger arrangement (what was I thinking???) for our work in the world. And since he now is one of my spirit guides, I guess it makes my connection to my guide all the more powerful that I’ve met and loved him in the flesh versus having guides whom I’ve never consciously met or seen. So yes it was his destiny – and he, in many ways, was hard-wired to self-destruct at a certain age, as he had suffered from childhood abuse, sexual abuse, childhood epilepsy, and narcolepsy. The man did all he could with the hand he was dealt: he was a state champion football quarterback in high school, ditto for weight lifting, ditto for track and field, drama, and choir. He was as gifted as he was cursed, and he had the biggest, kindest most loving heart of anyone I have ever seen or know (and I’m not the only one who says that: at his funeral the pastor and many others literally compared him to Jesus — it was pretty shocking). If John could have made his life work I know he would have because he tried and tried so hard, but it wasn’t his path to live longer than 30. It was his destiny to change all of our lives with his suicide. In one of my sessions with a medium, Felix- we talked about this, and what came up was that as scary and as weird as this may sound to some, in many ways his suicide was a sacrifice for the spiritual growth of others ( I will post this too after I transcribe it). His life on Earth was done. I feel that he was so loving and lived every moment so fully and with so much warmth and love that he fulfilled his purpose here in such a short amount of time. His life was about teaching  love. In this, he has been my greatest teacher. I still learn about love from him every single day.

Kate, I can’t say for sure about the destiny of your loved one, and I’m glad that you are mulling these questions over, as only you can really know what the purpose and meaning of all of this is in your life. But while I would never encourage anyone to take their life, I can see how some people have such huge burdens and no matter what they do or what you try to do to help them, their suicide somehow always feels like it’s lurking around the corner. It’s like they are programmed to self-destruct. The hard truth about surviving a loved one’s suicide and about work as a psychologist with suicide is that for some people – if they want to kill themselves they are going to do it no matter what. And yes, there are spiritual reasons for a person wanting to kill themselves and spiritual truths to be learned through living through someone else’s suicide. When someone very dear to you passes over from suicide it most definitely changes your destiny – and that is your destiny. The hard part is getting aligned with it and getting out of the darkness. And that’s where the spiritual growth and the healing and all other spiritual work comes in. And that too is part of your destiny.

I hope this helps…..please always feel free to write or ask me anything. I’m more than happy to answer what I know — and of course my answers may or may not be a right fit for everyone.

*** Sending strength and love ***

know yourself, love yourself

September 22, 2010

Love this Quote

September 19, 2010

Reaching your potential as a human being is more than an ideal. It’s the ultimate goal. The wonders we’re capable of have nothing to do with the measurement of mankind, the lists of what’s in and what’s out, who’s hot and who’s not. I’m talking about the real deal: Whose life did you touch? Who did you love and who loved you back?

— Oprah

Transpersonal Suicide

September 14, 2010

I’m sorry I’ve been a little out of commission these days- I was visiting with family and friends in New York and am also getting adjusted to my new internship placement.

One thing that’s very exciting for me is that an article that I have been working on for three years – from before John passed over — has finally been published! It’s called:

Understanding the Motivation for Suicide from a Transpersonal Perspective: Research and Clinical Approaches

The article is about how some people make suicide attempts because they are looking to move from this earthly form of life into another more spiritual, heavenly realm that is reported to exist in the afterlife. Suicide is therefore not a movement to die, rather a desire for life to be different: utopianic, blissful, and more in alignment with spiritual ideals.  This was at the heart of John’s suicide.

The surprising thing is– there is NO scholarly literature within the fields of psychology or suicidology that discusses this. Some researchers are beginning to circle around these ideas. but no one has officially made the connection between suicide and a spiritual longing for home. So in the article I provide some overview of the literature already available and then some other literature that informs my ideas and is as close as I could find in order to help construct my point. I am excited that now these ideas are officially OUT there and other psychologists can access them! It seems that as the world is shifting, our understanding about suicide needs to shift so that we can better help those who are longing for something better and feel they have no other options than to die. How can we bring the transcendent that we envision and have trace memories of, down into our everyday mundane lives and become so fully embodied and aligned with our life purpose that we no longer seek death as our salvation?

The article is, of course, dedicated to my beloved John with the big blue eyes.

arguing with fate

September 6, 2010

How do I describe the anguish of loving someone so fully, with all your heart and all your soul — that you would literally die to be with them, only to have it not work out the way you had hoped? It’s like hot, seething lava that spreads from my chest down into my gut filling me with longing and frustration; pain bubbling through my bloodstream, making me want to scream. Why didn’t it work out? Why couldn’t we just be together, peacefully, easily? If only it could have.

I see an image of two lovers, one standing on the shore of one continent, and the other standing on the shore of another. They stand gazing at each other as their respective land masses drift apart and the ocean between them grows larger and larger. This image floating in my mind’s eye has haunted me since I was a teenager. I guess it’s one of the blueprints of my life, perhaps it was a premonition of things to come. *Exhale*

It’s taken me a long time to come to this kind of understanding and acceptance, but these days I’m a big believer in fate, destiny, and “meant to be.” Like, if it was meant to be, then it would be – and things always have a way of working out for the best. I know this can sometimes come across as harsh or overly simplistic, but the wise part of me truly believes this. I trust this, I know this. For whatever reason, John and I were not meant to be as romantic partners in this lifetime. Maybe some greater love is coming for me down the pipeline, I don’t know. Maybe all will be uncovered in time. I don’t know. Maybe it will all make perfect sense in hindsight, or all will revealed when I cross over and have my big “after party.” Who knows? And that doesn’t mean that I can’t still feel the tortured, angsty, anguish of my unfulfilled love. I can still argue with my fate, can’t I? And I can still lose, every time.

Back when I was a teenager, this song inspired my vision of two lovers being torn apart. It’s beautiful, tragic, haunting:best listened to with lights off and great for releasing healing tears. The more we cry, the more we heal.

Ah to be human and to love ….

It was a very dark and lonely road. Sometimes I would fly into rages of grief or anger and throw dishes or whatever I could find against the kitchen wall and then collapse in desperation and the futility of it all. I like to get a little crazy (like the song says) and take myself on an emotional trip, to really give life to my feelings.

Like last week for instance, I was feeling a strangely heavy kind of grief about finishing my book about John. I knew and felt that the tides were changing and that for my own sake I have to start letting go. I can’t keep looking back. If I want a gloriously happy life for myself (and I do – and so does John) I know that holding on to all that has happened and keeping John frozen or waxed in the past as I once knew him, is not going to be in my best interest. With the completion of the book, it felt like the time was right. Now letting go is not easy. People say “oh you need to let go” or “just surrender,” well yeah…but how? It’s so much easier said then done. It’s a process, and for me it takes work, acknowldgement, and actually doing something about it (like dancing, writing, beaching). I was at a pretty pivotal point. So I went out and bought some freshly made goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, crusty bread, chocolate, and wine from a local and well-loved Italian grocery in Santa Monica. I packed it all up and had myself a nice picnic on the beach. I brought flowers and one of my favorite pictures of John and I sent them off into the ocean. Then I got drunk on wine and cried, laughed, and went  a little crazy while listening to my ipod. I find it’s important to indulge our emotions every once in a while, within reason, and as long as we are safe from causing ourselves or anyone else harm; kind of like throwing a tantrum but not subjecting anyone else to it.

But back to last year ~ after my emotional bouts of rage and grief, I noticed an odd nothing kind of feeling take over me. It was like my brain and body did not have any more juices or capacity to experience those feelings anymore; they were maxed out. So for a few days after my fits I wouldn’t feel any pain. I knew I was still grieving and I knew I should feel pain and sadness, but I couldn’t. It was like being in standby mode. At first I could only be in standby mode for a few days and then the grief would come barreling over me all over again. I would feel it, go back down into hell, and mourn and grieve. Then another standby mode to over and this time it would last longer than the previous one. Then the next wave of grief hit me and was then followed by another standby mode. This continued on until my standby modes became more my norm than the grief.  It was during these periods of being on hold from the grief that I began to grow stronger and feel better. Soon, during the stanby modes I was able to start feeling positive emotions again, and all of the work I had been doing in therapy, my meditative practices, and with a shaman, had the space to really integrate and take effect in my being.

This ebb and flow still continues now, but in very tiny ways. My new way of perceiving and experiencing the world is now my main way of being. And now it’s the significant markers, like the end of the creative process of my book, that any residual grief comes bubbling up to the surface. I imagine this will continue going on until my system has completely purged itself of all the grief, my old beliefs, and my old way of being. It could take months, years, or the rest of my life. Maybe the purging is a return to the innocence within, the origin of it all. This reminds me of a line from John’s suicide letter in which he wrote:

Somehow I have to believe that there is some original innocence within that transcends all.

I know everyone’s grieving and healing process is different; feels different, looks different, and gets resolved in different ways and at different paces. But I hope that some of my experiences might reflect different parts of your journey.

I’m sending support, healing, support, and love for all those reading this in darkness. We are linked together.