Tag: "love"

Gifts, Gratitude and Growth

Gifts, Gratitude and Growth

Newtown was the recipient of the outpouring of loving support from thousands around the country and the world.  This piece appeared in the Newtown Bee as a way to say, thank you!

Here is the link: Gifts, Gratitude and Growth

images-2“I wanted to offer my thoughts to the community, not in my role as a member of the Distribution Committee for the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Fund, but as a neighbor and friend.  We will be crossing some significant milestones in the days and weeks ahead in closing the first important phase of that Fund.  This offers us a time to reflect on what this fund is.

 

What strikes me most is that this fund is a gift.  It is not a federal entitlement enacted by statute.  It is not an insurance policy recipients have paid into.  It is a wonderful gift offered through the love and kindness of many thousands of young children who gathered their pennies as they cried for our terrible loss, teens who washed cars and held fund drives, of parents, whether they acted from their homes or their corporate and foundation board rooms, who felt some of the heartbreak of our parents here and reached out to say that their hearts broke too.  They wanted to say that they are with us, to do something to be of help.

 

2266757626_3e61f9573fIt is important to not lose sight of this healing fact: this fund is a gift of love from many people.   Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the work on the committee has been the sordid and impossible task of trying to assign a dollar amount to people’s anguish.  It is impossible to do in any satisfactory way.  The stark reality is that there is no such thing as a compensation for these terrible losses and the ongoing consequences to the families and the whole community.  To hold on to the notion that these funds could somehow substitute for these bitter losses is tragic folly.  We all see that.

 

There is a touching and tender mercy in knowing that this fund is actually a gift.  It being a gift offers us an opportunity for growth that a government entitlement or an Unknown-1insurance policy wouldn’t.  Knowing it is a gift of loving generosity, it can be received with loving gratitude.  In that view, it offers a comforting balm and an opportunity to unite us in compassion.  This gift of love ties us to a community of caring friends across the country and the world.  When viewed as an entitlement, which it is not, or an insurance claim, which it is not, the seeds of bitterness are sown as these funds can never satisfy as a compensation for the losses that were and are still being sustained here.   But, a gift of love can be healing.

 

With that in mind, we acknowledge with heartfelt loving gratitude this gift that is an expression of the loving generosity of so many.  We humbly acknowledge that this gift carries with it a moral obligation to keep alive the spirit of loving kindness that created it.  And there is plenty to be proud of in this regard.

 

A very special thing is happening in our town.  All of those who have so generously given of themselves for our benefit can feel a part of a wonderful process stirring here.  They will find a town that has sustained a tremendous and very cruel blow.  From the families who lost precious loved ones in an unspeakable way, to the teachers and students who witnessed the horrors of that day, the first responders and in expanding circles reaching out to the whole community, they will find here a people who have committed themselves to the best of our humanity.  They will find a community that rejects being assigned the role of victim or survivor or casualty.  Instead, they will find a community that has grown closer through heartbreak.  And from that very heartbreak, we have become a community that has committed itself to becoming a role model of compassion, resilience and service to others.  In ways we never expected, we have become a community that shines a light of hope and renewal in a dark time.

 

gratitude-4521At a time in our country when a number of serious crises have led to an anxiety that feeds despair and extremism, Newtown is showing that there is a better way.  We can reach for the “better angels of our nature” as Lincoln called another generation to after our nation’s most devastating ordeal.  We can seize on our compassion and generosity of heart in times of great loss and become more instead of less.   We can take added comfort and strength from the bonds of unity that result.  Our hearts are indeed filled with grief, but we can choose to suffer successfully and become more.

 

307681_4602101649190_1206300442_n In the final analysis, grief is a form of love.  It is love’s anguish for the absence of the beloved.  The task of grief is to find a way to honor that love in a new way.  This is impossible and our growth is undermined when anger or fear impede the course of love in their harmful ways.  This is where the gift of love that this fund represents offers its healing and opportunity for growth.   The response that honors the love this gift represents, the response that transmutes the heat of the fire of anguish into the light of personal growth and unity with others, is gratitude.

 

 

 

 

Healing Grief: a larger love

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Healing the Hurt at the Holidays: WEBINAR

Healing the Hurt at the Holidays: WEBINAR

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar spot now at:
Healing the Hurt at the Holidays: WEBINAR

Many of you have been folIowing the discussion on Facebook, this blog and YouTube about having to cope with grief as the holidays approach.

I hope the holidays are shaping up well for you. But, the holidays can be quite difficult if you’ve lost a loved one. I’ve gotten several requests to offer some help to those who are going through a difficult time as the holidays approach. So, I’ve put this free webinar together as a place for us to meet and share strength as the holidays approach.

Grief is a pure form of love. The work of grief is to find new ways to express the love for the ones who have gone, and over time, to turn the heat of the pain of loss into the light of wisdom, kindness and compassion.

Don’t suffer the pain of the heat of grief needlessly. Join us to find the best form of that light in your own life, and invite a family member or friends who needs this help, too.

We’ll share a presentation, questions and answers and suggestions on practical steps to take to best honor those who are gone and share ways to live your life with more heart and vitality. To protect your privacy, no names of participants will be divulged. You can sit and listen and not say a word, if you’d like. It will be an audio webinar, so no video of you will be taken. You can use the speaker on your computer or use your phone as your speaker. It’s actually very easy.

When you sign up by computer you’ll placed on the participant list. You’ll get a reminder of the webinar by e-mail and a link to use to join the webinar on Thursday evening, 8:00 EST. WWhen you click on that link Thursdays evening, you’ll be asked which would you like to use, your computer or your phone. Just follow the very simple directions and you’re in!

Be sure to let me know what you’d like us to include in our discussion by e-mailing at letshealthehurt@gmail.com.

Feel free to recommend this to a family member or friend. Forward this link for them to sign up for this free webinar: Healing the Hurt at the Holidays:WEBINAR But, please hurry as space is limited by the online webinar service.

See you Thursday,

John

Title: The Resilient Life: healing grief during the holidays
Date: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Time: 8:00 PM – 9:00 AM EST
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

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Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
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Let's Heal the Hurt: The Heart Opens

Let’s Heal the Hurt: The Heart Opens


Grief is a pure form of your love. The depth of the pain of your grief is a sign of the depth of your love for the one who is gone. So, it’s important for you to honor the pain. But, the heat of your pain must be transformed into the light of wisdom and growth. This is the work of grief.

The work of grief, the object of grief, is to harvest the fruits of your love, to allow your love to take its most refined and mature form. This means taking the best of the love you have for the one who has gone and finding new ways to express it. This begins with gratitude for the great gift of your love as well as finding an expression of this love in service to others who also hurt.

Grief forces us to live in the moment, even if that moment is painful. Gratitude is also a pure form of love. if you can find a way to be grateful for the gift of love in your life, the pain of your grief can begin to take a new form.

Over time, the pain of your love and your gratitude will cause a tenderness in your heart. In healthy grief, the pain slowly turns to kindness and compassion for the suffering of others. While it is perfectly normal to experience them in the short term, in unhealthy grief, the pain of grief turns to bitterness and alienation. Be mindful of these taking hold.

If you have found a way to work through your own grief, consider helping someone else by writing your experience here.

Let's Heal the Hurt: Pain and Powerlessness

Let’s Heal the Hurt: Pain and Powerlessness

Our grief is a proof of our love. There are valuable gifts contained in the pain and powerlessness, if we look.

If you’ve weathered the pain of a terrible loss, perhaps you can help someone else who is now in the same position. If you feel comfortable doing so, comment below on how you handled this terrible pain. What did you do? What helped you? What wisdom did you gain? Thanks!

Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you can follow the conversation.

Let's Heal the Hurt: Helping a Loved One

Let’s Heal the Hurt: Helping a Loved One

What is helpful when we want to help a loved one who is grieving? What is a common mistake and is not helpful? This brief video begins the discussion.

This is one in a series of brief videos on healthy ways to deal with grief. Be sure to watch the other videos for the upcoming webcast that will then be archived on this website. If you have weathered the loss of a loved one, please feel free to share what you did and what you learned so you can help someone else going through the same thing now. And thanks!

Let's Heal the Hurt: Love Takes a New Form: p.2

Let’s Heal the Hurt: Love Takes a New Form: p.2

When my Mom passed away 5 years ago, I gave one of her eulogies. This video talks about the approach I used.

Grief is an opportunity to have love come to fruition. Love is always changing in form. The reasons we are attracted to someone grows into a new form when we marry. That form grows and changes when we become parents and launch careers. Throughout life, love grows and changes form. When a loved one dies, we have an opportunity to be witness to love coming to full fruition. It’s an important part of our relationship with the person we love who is no longer with us.

An important part of grief is finding a way to keep the best qualities of our loved one alive in our own life after they have gone. It’s important not to suffer the pain of grief in vain. As we said in an earlier video, we need to be sure that the heat of the pain of grief produces the light of wisdom and growth. Finding a way to keep the best of a loved one alive in our own words and acts towards others is one of the ways to do so.

I’m looking in to how to best provide a webinar next week on grief so we can explore these topcis in much more depth. These short videos are intended to get the heart and mind moving, not to be the ultimate answers to a topic as big as life (and death) itself.

Be sure to subscribe below to my blog to get notices when new posts appear.

How have you seen the best of a loved one who has passed on carried forward by your acts, or the acts of someone else?

Let's Heal the Hurt: Love Takes a New Form

Let’s Heal the Hurt: Love Takes a New Form

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that grief is something to “get over,” as if it were a cold! Grief is finding a new form for love.

Don’t suffer needlessly! Be sure to capture the gift hidden in your own grief. The “heat” of the fire of grief has to be turned into the “light” of wisom and growth.

Let's Heal the Hurt: Intro

Let’s Heal the Hurt: Intro


The Holidays are the best of time of year for many of us. But, for many others, especially those who grieve the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be particularly painful. This is the first in a series of brief videos on how you can approach your own grief during the holidays, and how to help someone else who has lost a loved one.

Here are the other videos in this series:

2.) Let’s Heal the Hurt: Love Takes a New Form

3.) Let’s Heal the Hurt: Love Takes a New Form: part 2

4.) Let’s Heal the Hurt: Helping a Loved One

5.) Let’s Heal the Hurt: Pain and Powerlessness

6.) Let’s Heal the Hurt: The Heart Opens

If you’ve weathered this before in your own life, help someone else by telling your story below. Feel free to suggest other topics for more videos in comments below or write me at letshealthehurt@gmail.com.

Compassion and What Sue Remembers

Compassion and What Sue Remembers

Click here if you missed the last post on Post-Partisan America.

I knew I wanted to meet Sue Dunne after I met her son, CJ.

His Dad and I had an interview scheduled in his office on a Saturday morning in mid-town Manhattan.  Jimmy Dunne’s story is quite moving and inspiring.  He has gotten a lot of attention for his handling of the reconstruction and phenomenal growth of Sandler O’Neill & Partners after 9/11 and the firm’s loss of 66 people that day in the South Tower.   I told a small part of Jimmy’s story in a previous post.  But, it was meeting CJ that showed me that this was a family story.

Our coffee cups were pretty close to this big.

Sue and I met in the Dunne’s lovely home on the East River in Manhattan.  She greeted me at the door with an enormous cup of coffee in her hands.  A few seconds later, I had one in mine, too.   (She offered me some coconut milk to go with it.  Ordinarily, I would have said “no.”  But, I thought, “What the heck,” and accepted.  It was delicious.  Try it if you get a chance.  You’ll like it.)

The conversation naturally flowed while we settled into the living room.  We turned the exchange to CJ and his Dad and the reason for my coming to see her.   “Like his Dad, CJ has a lot of presence, especially for a 16 year old.   There was something else that was there, too.   He has an ease with adults that is refreshing and a sense of deep confidence.  I liked him.  He showed a genuine interest in the life of his Dad and a sense of grit and heart and desire for excellence that was striking for his age.  He’s still young, but these are great signs for the future.”

I finished plugging in and turning on my computer to record our conversation as I continued,

“These are the same qualities I saw in his Dad, but with a different flavor.  So, I figured the difference had to come from his Mom.   I know that most stories of success are really family stories.  So, seeing CJ and interviewing Jimmy, I knew I needed to speak to you to get a better picture of Jimmy and that time around 9/11.”

We jumped right into the deep end of our conversation talking about the days immediately after 9/11, when Jimmy, now the only surviving Principal of the three that directed the firm at Sandler O’Neill, had to come up with a way to support the families of those killed that day and, in parallel to this, rescue the firm from collapse.

Entire departments of the firm were depopulated.  All of the records of their business dealings were gone.  They had to reconstruct who their clients were and the contacts developed by now deceased colleagues, establish what the contractual arrangements were, rebuild their information technology support, find qualified replacements for those lost and a host of other crises, while also tending to the human calamity they faced and the unspeakable loss to the families of their loved ones.

Bereft families had to tend to immediate issues about insurance, house payments, what to do about kids in college and a thousand family issues couples struggle with together.  Many families turned to Jimmy to help them figure these matters out.  All the while, the steady cadence of memorial services and funerals continued for months along with the utterly exhausting shock of it all.

Sandler O’Neill decided to extend payment of salaries to the families of the deceased.  A foundation was established to provide for the families’ health insurance and kids’ educations.

Sandler was the first firm on Wall Street to do this.  The conventional wisdom at the time and the best advice of experts was that firms should not do this for the families.  That it would undermine the capitalization of the firms, thereby weakening their business positions and their reputations for financial stability in the market.  Jimmy, with absolutely no guarantee of success, did it anyway.  Sandler O’Neill and Jimmy Dunne became the role models for the rest of Wall Street and earned the well-deserved esteem they wear today.

“I was trying to support my husband any way I could.”  Sue began with a raw tenderness for old and dear friends who had passed away, some friends whom Jimmy had known since his teens.  “Jimmy needed me.  I needed to go out to our friends.  My days were spent going to funerals.”

“It was a Wall of Black!  9/11 was just black.  It was just the darkest of the dark.”  Sue said of that time.

In that blackness, Sue described a surprising respite.  It was what she felt while at the memorial services and funerals.

“The feeling was so peaceful.  Going to those funerals with people feeling the same way.  We were able to share their lives.  You got to hear about their lives from people who really loved them.  You never wanted to leave.  It was safe in there.  You heard so many wonderful things about people you loved very much.”

We talked about the challenges of raising kids through all of this.  I recalled my experience in the Balkans during and after the war there.   When given the chance, kids would want to draw a picture over and over of their experience of what happened.  Of course, this is the effort of a child with limited language skills to try to understand what they had experienced.  The issue becomes one of helping the child find words to not only describe what happened, but to have a way to give meaning to the loss in a way that frees up their motivation to build their future in a positive way and not paralyze them with fear or rage.

“I spent the first 3 months going to funerals.  I wanted to get out there and let them know we were there for them.  Trying to do what we could…  We needed to get out and support them as much as we could.”

I thought, this was a real sign of who this woman is.  She didn’t have to “get out and support them,”  but she “needed to.”  This is the heart of a leader, the heart of a caring friend.

“I was delighted I could go.  It was a privilege.  It was hard for me to stop.   I loved being there supporting the families.”

I asked Sue about any lessons she picked up from those days.  Was there a way to summarize what she learned for CJ or another teenager?  What would she say?

“It sounds so simple, like such a cliche, but it’s important to live your life to the fullest all the time.  Be there.  Show up!”

“You don’t want to be in the position where you say to yourself  ‘I really should have showed up more for this person.’  Or, sit there and blame others.  Or, sit there and blame Muslims.  It’s about helping other people.  Getting going with your life.”

This is the mystery and the beauty that’s so often found after such a terrible event.  Sue found a great comfort learning about and appreciating the humanity of those who were lost. These memorials were a straight path to the pure uncovered love that people felt for those lost.  Being present for this kind of sharing exposed the link that connects us all, a link that is often hidden by the turmoil of our day. In a time of crisis, some people help us see that link by their care, their presence. Sue showed up not only for Jimmy and her kids, but very personally for scores of families.  Sue remembers the love.

The next post explores getting clear on the Prize and the Price to, like Sue, make a choice from our Compassionate Identity.

Related Posts:

A wonderful story from the Balkans:  “Compassion, Fantastic Coffee and My Shock

Sue’s husband, Jimmy, is talked about in this post:  “Resilience and Leadership: Jimmy Dunne.”

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