FEBRUARY 19, 2018
Today is Presidents’ Day, one of those artificial Monday “holidays” which replaced Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays and ended up somewhere in between.
I wish that school kids could study Washington and Lincoln in the in-depth way students studied them when I was in school. They – and all of us – could learn something about true leadership as well as the ability to deal with challenges and grief. For the record, they were both God-fearing men who prayed in adversity and saw God’s hand in the destiny of both our country and our people.
For purposes of the study of coping with grief, let’s look at two specific situations in the lives of these great Presidents. First, the winter that George Washington spent at Valley Forge was an exercise in adversity and patience. Washington ached for his soldiers dealing with snow and cold and lack of adequate warmth and provisions, and his grief over their pain was tangible.
But Washington knew that if they could get through this time, they could be victorious and see the implementation of the dream which would become the United States. The fact that he held them together and saw it through is a testimony to endurance in the face of hardship, an endurance which would hold together the highly diverse group of men who would come up with the Constitution and establish the country.
Second, let’s join Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. Of course, we know the “Address” -- or should – but do we realize the pain behind those words? Lincoln knew great grief in his personal life, but on November 19, 1863, his grief was for fallen soldiers and a nation anything but united at that point. Yet his speech expresses hope.
Where do grief and pain lead us? Do we mire into the despair, or do we reach for handholds and hope? Two of our greatest Presidents remind us that forward-looking people can find the hope and share it with others for outcomes which overcome the darkness.
FEBRUARY 14, 2018
This blog will mostly be devoted to subjects and insights related to grief, healing, religious belief, organ donation, and relationships.
But today is Valentine’s Day – obviously a relationship day -- and I want to introduce you to a very special man and share what he means as far as my life, my thoughts, and this blog are concerned.
My husband Doug is an old-fashioned cowboy who values not only horses and Montana’s wide open spaces but also integrity and honesty. He is honest about everything, and that includes love. He has been strong and steady throughout our relationship, someone I have always been able to rely on. I call him my “rock.”
When our son died tragically, Doug was in extreme pain and still is. But he handled grief in the way he has always handled things, with directness and awareness of everything and everyone around him. He can ride our son’s horse and drive our son’s pickup and feel close to him surrounded by things they both understood and valued.
Maybe that seems simplistic, but it works. And it brings me to reflect on the fact that sometimes we make experiences and emotions far more complicated than they need to be. Miring ourselves in angst does not help with healing. No one can escape some contemplation when hurting, but we can remind ourselves to focus on the important things and escape some of the extraneous details.
My wish for every reader is that you can deal with Valentine’s Day and the rest of life with some of those simple cowboy values that Doug embodies. Understanding what we are feeling, accepting that, and moving on can be so valuable. Add some time in nature, enjoying the beauty around us and seeing God’s hand in creation and sustaining Love – and life can be so good.