|Posted on September 29, 2016 at 10:55 PM||comments (1)|
Back in the Day
It’s been 25 years. The bereavement landscape was very different back then. The death, dying and grief section in my hometown book store housed about a dozen dusty books. Bereavement Magazine read more like a newsletter than a publication. The two-and- a-half-hour round trip to attend a Compassionate Friends meeting was too stressful to endure alone. Making a call to “just to talk” had to be scheduled to take advantage of weekend rates and avoid long distance charges. The idea of actually having “face time” with a caller was still on the drawing board. Imagine, listening to a static ridden message on your voicemail machine because you were too overcome with despair or sheer exhaustion to answer the phone. It was different back in the day.
Many of you cannot imagine a grief world without a Facebook page to memorialize your loved one, a website to create a foundation or a search engine to find grief resources. No profile page, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter account to post your current status about a sweet memory, a dream visit, an angry rant or a cry for help. No instant notification alert from “friends” who like, love or feel sad about your current status. Grievers didn’t have these options back in the day. Since then, the internet has given rise to a network society of grievers who need only log-on to receive support. For many the cyber world is a viable path for healing.
The first time I posted on a bereavement message board, I had to wait 48 hours for my message to be reviewed and posted, and the reply came at least a day or two later. I felt like I was waiting for a letter to arrive in the mailbox. I simply asked if anyone was dreaming about their child. The first responses were assuring yet heartbreaking. Within a month’s time, the message threads grew long and detailed resembling a journal entry with stories from parents yearning to talk to someone “like them”. Despite the long intervals, it felt more intimate, people seemed more respectful and considerate in their replies.
In retrospect, it was the end of the era of “letter writing” when long-term correspondence was thoughtful, informative and descriptive between senders. Receiving a letter in the mailbox was an honor because it meant someone remembered me. They were thinking about me and my well-being long before I read their words. Even a vacation post-card (perhaps the equivalent of an instant message now) conveyed as much with a scribbled, “Wish you were here!”
As a young girl, I learned the art of proper letter writing from my mother, the 1SG of Communication in our Army family. Mom was a stickler about crossed out words, incomplete sentences and messy handwriting but her diligence sharpened my writing and self-editing skills. I proofread everything to be sure I’d written what I really meant before sealing the envelope.
Growing up in a military family, we had more address changes than I want to remember. Now, I have two email addresses attached to umpteen log-ins for a gazillion personal accounts. Back in the day, overseas “Air Mail” delivery took two weeks and with the turnaround time it would be four to six weeks before we received a reply. Compare that with a two-second email or instant message and you can see why I was easily enticed by the allure of electronic mail.
Instant messaging delivers a thought or a rant in less time than it takes to type it and sender’s remorse sets in…or not. My mother would be horrified by the ease in which people communicate today posting memes and status updates containing vulgar language and explosive sermons to voice their “truth”. I am as well, and I’m often dismayed as I become ambivalent about the value of the tool to communicate effectively. It seems we take for granted the click of a like button (and more recent additions of the sad, angry or wow emoticon) not so mindful of its full meaning but assuring ourselves that we’ve “connected”. Lightning speed brings instant contact but is it a real connection?
While I’m fortunate to have Facebook friends who are respectful and thoughtful in their postings on my page, others are not so fortunate. I cringe when I read inflammatory or judgmental comments and opinions from friends. Especially on pages designed for bereavement support. It doesn’t feel supportive, helpful or loving. There are no boundaries anymore. Seriously, some thoughts are better left on the keyboard.
Why aren’t we editing ourselves? Why aren’t we thinking twice about what we post and how the recipient might perceive it? Are we posting with integrity to inform and influence or posting a provocative meme to shame, demean or feel superior? Have we substituted emoticons, memes and gifs for meaningful interaction because we’re too busy or detached to be present to our own imagery and metaphors of loss and grief… joy and peace?
I don’t have the answer but writing about it gives me some perspective and keeps me from going down the rabbit hole. Perhaps, because I delve so deeply in my inner world of symbols and imagery, the digital world appears too superficial. So, I’m a middle-aged baby-boomer and I’ve adapted to using social media in the present bereavement landscape to stay connected using this digital blog. I use it for marketing my dream work business, presenting workshops and correspondence with clients. There’s no getting around it. One has to remain current if I want to reach you and make a difference.
Forgive me if I’m whining, I really do appreciate technology. However, I’d rather be face to face with you listening intently with an open heart or engaged in a healthy, passionate discussion. Emoticons, caps, exclamations and hashtags can never replace a tender look, a warm touch or sitting in silence and being present to a moment of grace. Those are the connections I yearn for these days. To paraphrase one of my favorite artists, Joe Walsh…I’m just an analog girl living in a digital world.
Copyright 2016 Carla F. Blowey/Dreaming Kevin
|Posted on August 8, 2016 at 8:40 PM||comments (0)|
For so long now, it's been just Kevin and me on the conference circuit. We know the routine and the need to be flexible - shifting and adjusting for what is most needed at the time, and always having a back up plan. There is also the added gift of a synchronicity or two reminding me that my work has purpose and meaning, and that I am never alone.
This year, my daughter, Amber joined me as a first-time presenter for the sibling program at the 2016 Compassionate Friends Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. I couldn't have been more excited to have Amber with us and introduce her to my friends and colleagues.
Once we registered, we learned that Amber's workshop was not scheduled in a room with a projector, even though she had requested it. I should have known it wouldn't be so easy. After 15 years as a presenter for TCF, I thought I'd blazed a trail for Amber and hoped as "first-timer" she could present her workshop without a glitch. Needless to say, if it involves anything with computers, technology or scheduling at a TCF conference and it has my name on it, there will be a glitch! (I say that with humor and a wink to Alan)
My heart sank. I knew how important the visual piece would be to her presentation. Amber had written an insightful talk for the sibling workshop titled, A Year of Firsts, and paired it with a slideshow of photos from her childhood beginning at the age of eight-and-a half to illustrate her own year of "firsts" without Kevin. It was personal and interactive, and my experience told me it would make a tremendous impact on the sibling attendees.
Putting up a brave front, Amber's eyes brimmed with tears conveying her deep disappointment. All her enthusiasm and focus was obliterated by one glitch in the program. As a special education teacher working with students with autism, Amber has an innate skill-set of flexibility, compassion and calm that is admirable and inspiring. But this class was different - these were her people and she didn't want to let them down.
I immediately shifted into Fix-It Mom mode connecting her with the appropriate people. Adam, the tech man for the conference did the best he could with what he didn't have. I'd been down this road too many times and it didn't look good. It was time for a back-up plan.
While Amber was attending a workshop, I went back to the room to consider the options. It was evident there was only one - create three rows of half circles and set up my laptop with the larger screen for a more intimate viewing. It could work!
Later, Amber and I returned to the room where I enthusiastically laid out the plan! Amber wasn't buying it and broke down in tears. My heart went out to her. I remembered my first time and the immense pressure I felt to give my peers hope and something worthwhile to take home. I hugged her and said something about being flexible and open to what it could be.
Intuitively, I knew that something bigger was in play. It wouldn't matter how many times she rearranged the room or what size screen she used. Amber was being asked to let go and trust that she would be given everything she needed when she needed it most. In an act of faith, Amber would have to surrender all that she had planned to make space for grace to enter the room. There was nothing more I was supposed to do but be present to Amber and lift her up.
On cue, the first sibling bravely walked through the door, alone and expectant. "Grace" was nine-years-old, open and already seasoned in her grief.
Unassuming, Amber instinctively connected with her nine-year-old counterpart in grief. With great empathy, Amber created a space of trust and respect for Grace to be at ease. Reaching out, they met on common ground and began to fill the empty space between them with story-telling and imagery. They were a generation apart and yet "sisters' who shared an understanding beyond their years.
No longer needed, I slipped out unnoticed by the other siblings filing into the room. It was another "first" for me. I knew this time I couldn't back as planned to "check" on Amber as I had throughout our 25 year journey. Witnessing synchronicity in action was magical. It filled my heart with joy to know that my girl was not alone.
It's all about that back up plan. Plan B is about being present to the greater plan so that grace can move freely for transformative healing to occur.
|Posted on June 30, 2016 at 7:40 PM||comments (0)|
I couldn’t have been more excited for them. In the weeks prior, I told Kathy they would absolutely lose their minds over this precious gift! It would be unlike anything they had ever experienced. The due date was squeezed between a run of notable June birthdays and special events. I lifted them in prayer daily, waiting for the announcement to come by text or social media. Finally, the photo popped up first thing in the morning on my newsfeed and the pics started downloading on my phone.
It took my breath away and my heart soared knowing the indescribable joy of welcoming the next generation. Swaddled in a nursery blanket, his newborn face filled the screen. Michael, one of Kevin’s best buddies, married now, had become a father for the first time.
As the sands of time shifted to accommodate this milestone, I felt myself losing ground. This time, after so many years of “firsts”, it was not the tides of grief nor the sandy grit of envy that brought me to my knees. Swept under by a rogue wave of emotion, tears rushed to the shores of my cheeks in recognition of a knowing deep within my soul.
I am certain, that in a final send off and blessing, Kevin kissed the forehead of Sawyer James just moments before he dropped from heaven into the arms of his parents.
|Posted on June 5, 2016 at 6:35 PM||comments (0)|
I've wanted to blog about dreaming for a long while and one thing or another (life!) has distracted me from creating this page and sticking with it. I want to do it but I don't want to do it every day! I'd rather write when the spirit moves me to do so - when its relevant and needed. Goodness, it's taken me this long just to come up with a title. I'm still feeling distracted and haven't written anything other than this rambling excuse!
That said, I really do love the title...Dreaming the Way to Healing.
Until I get my thoughts together and form something intelligible, for a while I'll post some past musings from the Dream Light Connection newsletter.
TRANSFORMING OUR PAIN - Dream Light Connection Newsletter, Spring 2014
"I dreamed I was cleaning and sorting again. Ugh. I heard someone come in and looked up. It was my mom carrying Kevin (he was about two-years old). She handed him to me and I realized his clothes were soaking wet. I said, "Oh honey! We need to change your clothes!" I stripped him down and dried him off. As I was him close, I had a lucid thought that Kevin's appearance was about the book." January 26, 2014
As I recall the dream and write this, I can feel all my "motherly" emotions and love for my baby. That felt good in the dream, as it does now...the remembering.
If this was your dream, you might have stopped there, satisfied with reliving the memory of being a mother again. You might have internalized those warm feelings and gone on with your day.
I could have too, except for that ending about the lucid thought nudging me on to go deeper. It's a significant break in the flow of the dream urging me to become conscious and awakened to a higher thought. This is an important marker in the dream, indicating that I am willing to see something more.
I had the dream in January, the month of the 23rd anniversary of Kevin's death. My mother-in-law (and Kevin's grandmother) died a few weeks before the holidays. It was an emotionally charged time cleaning and sorting through her belongings. I found several of Grandma's personal notes tucked away in drawers and boxes expressing her unbearable sorrow about her beloved grandson. Grandma's unspoken grief of 23 years triggered memories and my own grief - reconciled long ago but animated once again.
As an experienced dream worker, I recognize Kevin's appearance in my dream as being symbolic of my past self - "soaking wet" from the tides of grief. Clearly, this is not a "dream visit". In "changing" Kevin's wet clothing (my drenched emotions), I realize my innate need and desire for healing yet another layer of this trauma. I mindfully changed my "grief clothing" and that point is a profound transition in the dream to a higher consciousness.
"I had a lucid thought that Kevin's appearance was about the book."
I see that the dream was affirming my choice to awaken and see more. The depth of my dream work these past two years enabled me to develop Dreaming Kevin's principal message from hope to transformative healing. I could not have accomplished that without wearing my grief clothes again, soaked in tears. In the process, there were moments I had to revisit and emotions I had to wear again. The dream shows me that the protective mother within me instinctively knew when to strip down, bare it all, and dry off. I love the handing off between my mother and me - a symbolic transfer of the naked issue at hand.
I love the influence of dream work and its power to transform our pain. Are you willing to change your clothes?
Dreams & Blessings,
Copyright 2014 Carla Blowey All rights reserved