How Bruno Mars Shaped My Grief Experience

By Julia Steier

Bruno Mars Super Bowl

My husband passed away the Monday before Thanksgiving. It was also the week of my ten-year high school reunion. I wasn’t thankful for anything, and I wasn’t going to rekindle friendships with anyone. Instead, I found myself talking to the moon, wishing my husband could hear me begging him for help, for guidance, and not to abandon me.

Like any willful widow, I started rummaging through my junk mail to find any missing emails that could’ve slipped away, a long lost note of him professing his love for me before the toxins from his liver cancer stole his mind and eventually his life. There had to be something, anything to hold me tight as the grief held me down and kicked me in the gut over and over again. A message from the other side hidden in-between the Gap special deals, Bank specials, and Livestrong articles. But there wasn’t anything except one new email that wasn’t like the other junk:  Do you want to go to the Super Bowl?

My phone blinked, and I fumbled it before I finally pick up.

“Did you get the Super Bowl email?” My assistant coach asked.

“Yeah. I just opened it.” I replied.

“So.”

“Let’s do it.” I cut her off.

Widow brain made a knee-jerk decision. Widow brain stopped having rational thoughts because all practicality and plans incinerated the day I signed the cremation forms. Was it real? A computer virus would be peanuts compared to the—pardon my crassness— the category 5 shit hurricane the universe provided for me.

“All right I hope this isn’t spam or a porn link,” she said. “I wrote them back asking if they were for real and” she stopped her train of thought for a second and then resumed. “Oh shit, it’s real. Okay, I’m filling out the application now. Call you back in a few.”

Two weeks later, we received confirmation: Drew University Women’s Lacrosse was going to the Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.

The first rehearsal was January 25th. Two months after my husband died.

Universe, you’re a real asshole.

News about the small liberal arts lacrosse team heading to the Super Bowl started to leak into the community. There was a buzz going around, and along with my misery. The young lacrosse coach rebounding after the tragedy, but these events, these things to look forward to offered me a lesson, and it became something I preach today to those going through unimaginable hardships: Your innate ability to find strength will be in the most unlikely places.

In this case, my junk mail. And one lacrosse team. And Bruno Mars.

Two months widowed and I was spending it inside a warehouse following a line of tape. The tape on the ground was to lead us to our rightful places, so on Super Bowl Sunday we aren’t completely lost in MetLife Stadium. We did a couple of trial runs of the introduction with Bruno Mars cranking on the loud speaker, and I couldn’t believe what was swirling around me. My players were giggling, laughing, and smiling along with my assistant coach. I’ve been widowed for two months, and I was enjoying myself with them by my side.

But my elation rested above an undercurrent of sadness and guilt. My husband died, and I shouldn’t be enjoying this. Right? Why am I smiling? I shouldn’t embrace this moment because he’s not here to enjoy it with me. But—but—but— I’m not dead.

A couple of days later, we were on the MetLife field for another rehearsal, and that’s when the enormity of this experience hit me. And when I got to see Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers for the first time my icy heart thumped. In an epiphany, I recognized the disastrous mornings of waking up alone were not so horrendous when there is something to look forward to.

Finally, it was Super Bowl Sunday. In the belly of MetLife, we were shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for the signal to go. We held our breath, and we got the green light, and like a cannonball, we shot out onto the field.

The cacophony from the crowd was deafening, and red dots flickered from the cameras. My players were shrieking and taking selfies. This was a once in a life time experience, and I got to share this with them; A group of young women who sent me messages and pictures days after my husband died. A team who didn’t understand the magnitude of my despair but held my hand, and silently reassured they’ll hold me up as I fall apart. And there we were, looking at the flashing bulbs like stars in the sky, and fireworks screaming the into the darkness to erupt in the most magnificent colorful glow.

I was alive. Breathing, thriving, enjoying, and then I wondering– Would this experience be here if my husband was?

I don’t know. I can exhaust myself wondering, but the reality is he’s not here. Racking my brain of would, could and should will never end well. But what I do know is because of him, and the desperate need to confirm my love wasn’t unrequited, I got this unbelievable experience. And meeting him, falling in love, getting married and experiencing the warmth of sharing a life with him, that too was an unbelievable experience. To love someone so much, that even after his death he continues to impact my life.

I am lucky.

I go through this pain and continue to search for him, and in my grief, I’ve found opportunities I never could have dreamed of.

And it led me to cross paths with Bruno Mars.

Bruno Mars Super Bowl

First Annual Widows of Hope 5K event a huge success! Thank you!

By Chasity Williams

Hope for Widows Foundation would like to thank all of our Summer 2017 participants and donors, who helped in making the First Annual Widows of Hope 5k event a huge success!!!! We even had the kids and furkids join in on the fun! It is so much appreciated and words cannot express the love and gratitude we have for each of you.

Also, a special heartfelt shout out of partnership and support from Kerry Phillips, Founder of Young, Widowed and Dating. This event would not be the success it was without her!

The following are awesome #WidowsofHope5k photos from some our particpants we we received! Great job, everyone!

You rock!!!

Hope for Widows Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and relies solely on volunteers to run the organization, moderate discussions and provide other assets that have been and continue to be so helpful for so many of our women in our Hope Sister community. Thank you for investing in our organization and in the widows we serve. The gracious donations will be supporting our Hope Sisters by the way of initiatives, programs, giveaways, helping families directly, events, website optimization and so much more! You are contributing to their healing process so that they can re-engage in life much easier. Thank you for your trust in us!!

We will continue to update you throughout the year with program announcements and special events. We have so much on the horizon as we continue to grow and evolve. We are just getting started!!!

If you are interested in staying up to date with future Hope For Widows Foundation events, partnerships, announcement’s and much more sign up on our mailing list here: Hope For Widows Foundation Mailing List 

Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, our Public Facebook Page and/or Twitter.

In Hope,
Hope For Widows Foundation Directors, Board Members and Advisory Board Members
We relate. We understand. We listen. We care.

 

Widow Goggles

By Zahra Khakoo

On my dresser sits 2 pairs of goggles.  The rose colored goggles I’ve worn my entire life and my new widow goggles.

Each morning,  since the last 2 years, I have to make a decision on which goggles to put on.  I want to wear my rose colored goggles, these have been good to me.  They have helped me live my life with a untrue optimism, cheerful, happy, and only seeing life in a positive light.  Living my life like I and my family are immortal and nothing bad is going to happen.

My rose colored goggles have showed me things like Happily Ever After, Till Death Do Us Part, Growing Old Together, Retiring Somewhere Hot,  Walking Our Daughter Down The Isle … All great things … All Lies.

My rose colored goggles showed me that I was invincible and even more so that my husband was invincible.  With my rose colored goggles on there was no Cancer, there was no Death and there was no Widow.

My rose colored goggles and I are not friends anymore.  They are that friend that always lies to you.  Gives you a hook for you to bite on and believe and once you have latched on and believe, they make you sink.  There is no such thing as Happily Ever After.  There is no such thing as Death Do Us Part.  There is no such thing as Growing Old Together.  We are definitely not invincible.  My rose colored goggles have been smashed and thrown out. I don’t need them anymore.

I now wear my Widow Goggles everyday.  With these on I can see clearly.  When I wear my Widow Goggles, I live each day to the fullest.  Like its gonna be my last day, because lets be honest we never really know when our last day is.  I know longer live life with the fear of death, but embracing death, and using it as a reminder to enjoy life.

With my Widow Goggles on I live for experiences.  I live to make memories.  Time is free, but its priceless.  You can’t own it, but you can use it.  You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.  And once you have lost it you can never get it back.  This is my new mantra.  This is how I live and I urge all of you to live.

My Widow Goggles have shown me that we have one life to live.  That life is not infinite.  Live each day to the fullest.  Live with gratitude and grace.  And remember that each day you wake up and have opened your eyes, it means that someone else didn’t open their eyes.  Someone else died and left behind a wife and a 5 year old little girl.  Someone else didn’t get to finish their wishes.  Someone else would give everything to be where you are and have just one more day.  Someone elses’ Rose Colored Goggles got smashed.

 

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Have You Considered Bereavement Yoga?

By Julia Steier

Bereavement Yoga

“You should really consider coming to Bereavement Yoga,” My grief counselor suggested. She hung on the word ‘really’ for an uncomfortable amount of time while grinning.

I finished explaining to her my mixed emotions about my upcoming move. My husband passed away ten weeks prior, and I was in the process of moving into a new apartment. A place where the memories didn’t haunt me, but more importantly it was as far away from the place he died.

I sniffled and nodded. I’ll be there for yoga class.

Bereavement Yoga Class

I showed up on Monday evening for my first bereavement yoga. When I approached the security guard to ask where the yoga room was, he stared at me like I had a booger hanging from my nose. As if I was back in high school, talking to a boy who was too socially stifled to answer. So I asked again. He shook his head and pointed up the escalator.

He glared at me as I ascended. I pursed my lips, and I waved at him. He glanced away. For some reason, being widowed made me feel like the letters w-i-d-o-w were written across my forehead for everyone to know. Realistically, that’s an absurdity to believe, but everywhere I went, I felt like my tragedies were tattooed to my body for everyone to see and judge.

The class didn’t start on time, which was okay because I was running minutes late. Trailing close behind me was my grief counselor who was heavy stepping and breathing deeply

“I’m so glad you came!” She brushed her hand across my shoulders like I was a kitten she adopted.

Bereavement yoga derailed my grief journey and led me to the life I am currently living today.

I had been visiting my grief counselor once every couple weeks, just like the widow communities encouraged. I wrote in my grief journal when full and agonizing memories ricochet through my skull. And before bed, I murmured my three gratitudes of the day: I’m grateful for my bed, I’m grateful for my family who still loves me, and I’m grateful for Bruno Mars.

I followed the suggestions, the books, the online resources, hell I even read a memoir written by a widow wearing stilettos, or something like that.

But when I stepped foot into that dark, musky room for 45 minutes of yoga, all sorts of bullshit started flying.

I followed a step behind my counselor. “Yeah, well…” my words drifted off when I locked eyes with a woman with coarse white hair, and cavernous crooked wrinkles around her eyes and streamed all the way down her face. I broke eye contact and stared at the floor, and then raised my eyes to see everyone was wide eyed and gazing at me.

I was the youngest by 50 years.

“I’m sorry for running late, everyone, grab a chair for breathing exercises,” the counselor said.

I walked over to grab my chair, and a cold, bony hand rests on top of mine. I saw a man who had a cataract in one eye which gave it a milky appearance. “The chairs are for those who can’t lay down on the ground,” he told me.

I was the only person laying on the floor for the next 45 minutes. But at least I had a blanket covering me. And a woman was kind enough to give me her extra bottle of water. It was relaxing.

But, I stopped going to grief counseling after that. And I didn’t return to bereavement yoga, although I considered one more time.

And I no longer paid attention to the grief rule book and suggestions.

My husband used to tell me all the time I was different. And I became different after he died, and I hated it. I struggled with wanting to be normal. To go back to a time where I felt like I belonged.

But everything has changed. And I needed to change too and accept there was no going back in time. There wasn’t anything I could do to rewind. All I had left of him was the lessons, love, and memories of a shattered life. But I wanted to make him proud of me, damnit. And if he could see me, I wanted him to think “yep, that’s my wife.” So, that’s what I did.

The love I shared with him gives me the strength to heal and the courage to chase a better life. His love, and his fight for his last breath, it humbles me because life cannot get any worse than watching my best friend, and true love consumed by something I can’t see. Those weeks watching him deteriorate, I felt weak, and I didn’t understand death was waiting for him. And I’m angry at myself for it, and I feel like a failure because of it.

But to become stronger, I needed to fail.

Because once we fail and accept those failures, that’s when we get stronger. That’s when new fibers form through the repetitions of life experiences.

Grief was changing me. And as it changed me, I felt it less. But it doesn’t minimize the love I have for him and what we had.

As others believe grief is like an ocean, I do not see the same thing. I won’t stand on a beach waiting for a wave to come or a storm to roll over me. Because why would I wait for a wave or storm to come? Wouldn’t it be in my best interest to do something so when the catastrophe arrives, I’m not standing on the beach unprotected?

I walked out of the yoga room realizing grief wasn’t the storm. I am the storm and see what I can do.

Never Did Say Good-bye

By khadija ali

As a widowed woman who is ten years out and considers herself a ‘veteran’, I thought I knew all there was to grief.

How arrogant of me.

I had grieved my husband’s death, or so I thought.

I was there when he took his last breath.

I was there when his casket was lowered in the ground.

Settled his estate.

Packed away his clothes.

Sold his car.

Bought jewelry to symbolize my love for him.

Raised his children.

But yet I’d never said good-bye.

I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

And so I apologized for the things I did and said.

I asked for forgiveness.

I forgave.

I wrote letters telling him of new developments. Talked to him about our kids. Asked his advise on life.

I watched for signs and confirmations.

I did all of the above.

But never said good-bye….

And then it came time ten years later to go to grief counseling.

I’d avoided doing this like the plague.

It represented finality, as if his death wasn’t sufficient enough.

But as I sat with my grief counselor last friday afternoon and she asked me what I wanted to end our session with;

I knew….

She asked me if I wanted to participate in a ritual called the ‘cosmic post’.

It was a place to write a letter to your loved one and ‘send it to them’.

A place to let go. Release. Express.

The ONE thing I had not done….

Was close the chapter of our time, our love, our marriage.

But Friday I was ready…

I cried as I sat in the chair writing.

I wrote. And paused. Cried. Released.

Wrote some more…

Tissue, pen, paper and tears.

I love you Ali,

I’ll always love you,

But it’s time.

Goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

Crystal Sound Healing For Grief

By Jill Hochman

Crystal Sound Healing

By Jill Hochman

Board Member, Hope for Widows Foundation

 

Have you ever heard about crystal singing bowls or crystal sound healing?  If you ever have the chance to listen to crystal bowls, you may find it so relaxing that you will never want it to stop,  I found it really helpful in dealing with my grief.

 

This is because our bodies are affected by vibrations.  Think about hearing a loud train whistle or the scream of a child.  Or, maybe the calming sound of the ocean or the purring of a cat.  We react to sounds because the human body is a network of vibrational fields and energy currents.  Like we learned in science classes, the vibrations can change the way something moves.  Vibrations can therefore change how we feel.

 

According to Elevia Melody in her blog about why crystal sound healing works, “Each individual resonates at his or her own vibration. Sound is an acoustical wave while color is an electromagnetic wave. The colors of the rainbow correspond to a specific musical note in the same way that each chakra (or energy center) of the body correlates with a specific tone and color. Although there is a tone and color that corresponds to each of the chakra centers, each part affects the totality. This is important to know since each crystal bowl will affect the whole body. You may feel the effects in one section of your body more deeply, but the vibrational sound will also travel throughout your entire energy field. The human body and the entire earth are made up of energy, vibrating at different frequencies. When out of rhythm, disease and disharmony result. Vibrational sound healing addresses these imbalances or blockages of the energy channels.”

 

 

Crystal singing bowls are made from different crystals.  They are different colors as you can see in the picture above.  The bowls are played by rubbing a type of wand around the top edge.  The notes of the crystal bowls are tuned to specific vibrational frequencies (notes) found within the human body.  Kind of like hearing relaxing music.  When the sound moves through the atmosphere and touches us, our cells to move with the sound wave. Depending on the notes, we can be put in harmony with the sound

wave or in disharmony.

 

The music from the bowls doesn’t really sound like music.  To me, it is more like notes moving with the wind.  When I go to a crystal sound bath, I lay comfortably in a room with other people while the bowls are played.  I also find crystal singing bowl music on YouTube.  Sometimes when it’s hard to sleep, I find a YouTube with the bowls and can fall asleep onto the sounds.  When my tears are falling during a grief wave, the sound from the bowls calms me.  If you want to hear them, try listening to Ashana who is a well known singing bowl musician at https://youtu.be/7JMm65BPEH4.

 

There are also several websites and bodies that discuss the benefits of music and sound.  The key to these benefits is with the vibrations.  An interesting video you can watch is on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/magneticsoundart/videos/633824320155750/.  It even discusses the growing use of crystal sound baths to help us heal from physical as well as emotional issues.  I love a sound bath and hope you can have an opportunity to try one sometime.

 

 

 

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