I have written many times about the notion of a “Limbic hijack,” when your emotions take over and your thinking gets pushed to the side. When that happens, we often succumb to “fight, flight, or freeze” responses. Fight relates to anger; flight relates to fear; freeze relates to grief. That was what I was going through last week when I sent out my Provision, Your Brain on Grief. I have received scores of condolences since that time and I have new appreciation for the power of empathy to soothe the Limbic system and to help us get back on track. What follows, then, is a selection of the things you wrote to me following the death of my mother. I can hardly thank you enough.
I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. Moving through grief is indeed one of life’s biggest challenges. There are moments of grace, as I am sure you have found, that take us through the pain and sadness. I am certain that you still feel your mother’s love & presence, just in different way.
I have just read what you said at your mother’s funeral and it is beautiful. She must have been very proud of you. I know it’s the cycle of life but it is so final when a dearly loved one leaves us. My mother died four years ago and it would have been cruel to wish that she should live with the invasive pain of cancer. But that does not minimise the sense of loss and longing.
We all grieve in different ways but until the last person who ever knew her passes away she will be alive in the hearts and minds of her family and friends. And indeed part of your mums DNA will be there in her offspring’s offspring. With love at this sad time.
Thank you for sharing the reflections you spoke at your mother’s funeral service. May God bless you and her and all her family. Your recent loss and experience brought back to me mine from just 2 months ago with that of my beloved Dad who died at age 86. Reading your Provision made the tears flow again.
I also officiated at my Dad’s memorial service and gave a tribute to him. All I can say is that for me it was the most important day of my life and felt that the words I said were the most important I have ever said and written — giving tribute and thanks to the most wonderful man who had been a son, a brother, a husband, a father, an uncle, a stepfather, a grandfather and step grandfather — and just 2 days after his death, a great grandfather.
The hardest thing I find about losing an aged parent is that, regardless how much we can know and expect it will happen one day, we are never quite prepared for that overwhelming feeling of emptiness and sadness when it happens. My thoughts are with you.
I read your meditation and I am sure it contributed to your mom’s soaring joy as she transitioned. What a beauty filled message of love, humor, appreciation, such an incredible richness! Thank you for sharing.
I was amazed and touched by not only the pain she managed but what fortitude and spirit. The same kind of life force I have been fortunate to witness in you. You are a very special person on this earth spreading such love and grace!!! Even though it meant you were not President of the United States. 🙂
I have appreciated being an observer and at times a participant in the great life you have created. What I have witnessed in your choice making and guidance at times, has provided me with hope, understanding, fortitude and the belief that we can lead handcrafted lives with our hearts at the center and spirit at the helm. May you find the soft heart places in your grief. Much love, many prayers sent your way.
Thank you for sharing your heart with us. My father passed away in July 2011, and my brain has not quite been the same since. My mother (85) is struggling with her grief, and many other thoughts. I am going to be printing and sharing your thoughts with her, as I know it will help her through this journey of going on without him. Sincerely, and with a mixture of sympathy and joy.
Your eulogy was lovely. Your mom sounded like a very loving and caring woman. You really captured why we grieve — because we loved them so much, we miss them so much. May your grandchild-to-be bring you lots of comfort. My prayers are with you and your family.
My sincere condolences. Your message touched my heart this morning as I am struggling with my 86-year-old mother’s decline of health and her loss of memory. I do not know how long I will have her with me to love and care for but I am entering into a grief process as I recognize the finality of this precious time with her. Thank you for sharing from your heart and may our gracious Lord wrap and keep you in His unfathomable love and grace.
Your meditation at your mother’s funeral was so beautiful, Bob. Thank you for sharing that with me (whom you have met only once, and that years ago) and with all your other readers. It was inspirational. Your mother would have been even prouder than she already was with the work of her son.
Mourning is a process, and a long one at that. Please know that there are people ‘out there’ on whom you can call (literally or figuratively) for support. With warm feelings and sympathy.
What a beautiful service to honour your mother. I am touched that you have chosen to share this with your readers. Many blessings to you and yours at this difficult time.
Thank you for sharing your intimate story. What a beautiful piece of work. I’m sorry that you no longer have your mother as an earthly presence, but I feel sure that her spirit will remain with you always. (And I can’t replace your mother in any other way, but I do read your work whenever it shows up in my mailbox.)
I read about your very sad news today. I hope you’re holding up OK. I just wanted to let you know you’re in my thoughts.
Thank you for sharing your heartfelt message about your mom’s life and passing. It was very touching. I feel like I’ve gotten to know her — and your family — in a new way.
Your Provision this morning was beautiful. Wow. I hope you all are doing well. What an inspiring story, in so many ways… thank you for sharing the love that clearly envelopes your family.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful celebration of your mother’s life — she certainly will live on in all of her endeared family members…. My deepest sympathy to all of you and my prayers that you be strengthened by her love and grace.
I have received your Provisions for many years now and I have forwarded many of them onto people that I thought needed those words at that time. You say the things we need to hear sometimes but are not sure of those words ourselves, you fill in the blanks.
I want you to know, at this time of your need and sorrow, I am positive many of your readers, including myself, are thinking of you, and your family. Your Mother sounds like a wonderful human being, and she passed those qualities into you. God Bless You at this difficult time.
Sending thanks for sharing this precious time and enduring time of life with us. It will live with you for ever, just like June Ann Tschannen. Take care of your soul. My mother died almost 3 years ago and her first great grandchild was born on the same day she died, two years later.. Duality of life, pain and joy in the same day.
Good afternoon! I wanted to send along my heartfelt empathy for your loss and for what I am sure is a difficult time for both you and your family. Please know you are both in my thoughts and prayers and if there is anything I can do please do not hesitate to let me know.
Thank you Bob…. I feel your heart so deeply in this piece….. my Dad passed in Cleveland last month and your story certainly resonates with me…. my house is also surrounded by fallen trees and tiny saplings… so it goes. Blessings to you my friend.
What a beautiful eulogy. What a privilege to share the family story with you. How magnificently heart wrenching for you. I understand how bottomless pain and loss can be — my mom died on Valentine’s Day (1995) and that day has forever changed in my life.
My life hit rock bottom after my mom died, I had no better friend or source of inspiration. When I would start to get down I knew I had to go and have a good cry to lift the sadness for a little while. Sometimes I still reach for the phone on Friday night wanting to call her. She is in my dreams frequently.
Your mom is a class act in every way. She knew how and when to live and die. I hope your dad can continue his life with love and meaning — how devastating for him.
Good Morning. I read the subject title of your email and looked forward to opening it — perhaps some more salve for my grief — and I did receive it — thank you. I recently ended a sweet relationship and while I know I am healing — there is still pain — and I truly appreciate your quotes about the happiness then surely creating the pain now — only sense.
I want to tell you about my mom — she too died on Valentine’s Day — and that was 27 years ago — right before my eldest was born — Long story — and yet there is a synchronicity that is existing as we speak. I send you love and joy for the mom you had and still have. She will never be missing from your heart and will become your greatest angel — mine surely is. Be well — and thank you for the little bit of healing that you’ve provided me this morning. Smiles….
My deepest sympathy in the loss of your mother. She would be so very proud of you, this is absolutely beautiful. I am sitting here at my desk in tears, heart full, ready to go to church and look up, give thanks and sing.
My condolences on the going home of your Mom. I know what it is like to lose a Mom. I lost my Mother in 2006 just five days after my birthday. She had heart related issues that she would not take care of. Then the following year my husband passed from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and heart issues, but I know that they are both with God now and at peace. God has seen things go well for me and at that I am grateful. I really enjoyed the testimony that you gave of your Mom; it was really touching.
These were such moving, thoughtful, insightful, meaningful words given for your mother and to all of our hearts. While I grieve with you, I am also deeply thankful for the life infused in you from your mother that has time and again overflowed like life-giving rivers onto my own life.
My heart aches for you guys — I do know how it feels, having gone through the same thing with my dad. I hope your dad is finding a way to go on. Love & hugs to you & your family.
Life is filled with joy, happiness and sorrow and it is only understanding the sorrow we really understand the significance of the joy which had come before. Please accept our greatest sympathy.
This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal with your readers. I lost my brother in October. He was only 55. His lymphoma was thought to be in remission, and unfortunately he was among the 1% of people who have a recurrence 2 years after remission is obtained. It came back in a virulent form that attacked his brain — he was gone in 3 weeks. I spoke at his funeral, here in Massachusetts. He leaves two precious daughters — both very accomplished and good people.
I also struggle with a different form of chronic grief — my youngest son has a progressive neuromuscular disease. He is in a wheelchair and cannot walk or talk. He functions like an infant but is 12 1/2 years old. My older son and my marriage have been profoundly affected by this. And yet, I see God’s purpose in all of this. And I am able to experience profound joy amidst the ongoing struggles. In fact, raising my disabled son has given me more joy than any other experience life has offered so far. He is a pure manifestation of God’s love. Well, just wanted to offer you these thoughts and, again, thank you for sharing so beautifully from the heart.
Sorry to hear about your loss. Moms are wonderful people. My Dad had a major stroke last year and we almost lost him. In a way, we did lose him. I sat by his side in hospital and he looked at me with curiosity, not recognising me but trusting my hand holding his outstretched hand requesting comfort. He is well now, but will never be the same. He can’t make speech properly anymore. But we are closer than ever, after a rift when I decided to cut the apron strings many years ago. Even though I lost my original pre-stroke dad, I have a wonderful feeling in my heart about a dad I can no longer really hear speaking to me. It’s nice to have love in our hearts about people we have lost. My thoughts are with you.
Nothing will make up for the Love of a Mother. I know that sadness will fill the hearts and the minds of those who had the pleasure of not only knowing but also sharing memorable moments with June. Her example of strength, wisdom, and love will always be present in our lives, despite the short time we knew her.
Thank you for sharing the story of June’s final experience. I wasn’t aware of the process of aiding a family member on to the next state of existence until handling my own grandmother’s death in early January. The conclusion I came to with it all was that it was absolutely perfect. She was surrounded by loved ones the entire last week of her life, she was supported in every way throughout the process, and she was able to share herself in various small moments that will be forever remembered. I am so grateful that it sounds like June’s experience — she was surrounded by all of her loved ones, fully supported, and able to share various moments that I have no doubt will be forever remembered by you all, with fondness and gratitude. How incredibly beautiful that is to hear.
Thanks for sharing the news so profoundly of your mother’s death on Valentine’s Day. I was praying for you and your mom and asked that she would be relieved of her pain and let go, but only ‘after’ her loved ones could give her love and their thoughts. Now I, too, will remember Valentines day a bit differently. May it bless you to always remember this day in this way. I have always been touched by the saying, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.” May your memories be healing.
When my brother died, it was very hard to leave my folks to return to home, but they had each other. When my mom died, saying goodbye to my dad at the airport was maybe the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. My mom really was everything to him, and I don’t believe he ever really recovered from that loss. My heart is with you and your family as you process and grow through this difficult time. The Lord’s mercies are new every morning, and He is always there for us. That is my reality, and I pray it will be for you also.
I am amazed how you managed to conduct an evocative coaching class so soon after your mother’s demise. Somehow, you made us more engaged and passionate about the classes by showing us how evocative coaching looks like in spirit and action. One of Stephen Covey’s 7 habits is “seek, and you will find.” When I came to evocative coaching, I was searching for the true embodiment of coaching and I must say that I have found it. Trials are meant for us to be stronger; a rough sea makes a good sailor. I pray that you will have the strength and faith during this trying time.
Sincere condolences to you and your family — my heart is with all of you. I’ve shared the following poem with many friends and family as we•ve gone through the loss of loved ones. I hope it may provide some small sense of comfort for you and yours.
“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush.
Of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.”
I just read your Provision; what a beautiful tribute to your mother. While I was reading the part about the trees at the end of your run, a poem I love by Mary Oliver came to mind. I am sending it off to you now and hope it brings some comfort during these challenging days.
In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver
“Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC, MCC (IAC)
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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