Helping Parents Heal…

Australia and New Zealand Parents

Helping Parents Heal Inaugural Online Meeting for Parents

Helping Parents Heal is a wonderful organisation designed to allow parents whose children have transitioned to support each other. Unlike many bereavement support organisations, members share knowledge about signs, after death contacts, mediums and other methods of direct communication with their children. HPH meetings are uplifting, inspiring and enlightening.

When: 19th December

Where: Online Zoom – by putting this link into your browser Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/6123708172

Or email karynjarvie@ozemail.com.au

When:

4.30 Perth
6.00 pm Darwin
6.30 pm Brisbane
7.00 pm Adelaide
7.30 pm Hobart
7.30 pm Melbourne
7.30 pm Sydney
9.30 pm Christchurch
9.30 pm Wellington

Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars across mobile, desktop, and room systems. Zoom Rooms is the original software-based conference…
ZOOM.US

being present…

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
— Lao Tzu

 

An easy way to stay in the present and take control over the thousand little thoughts that bombard our brains on a daily basis is to adopt an effortless technique called breath focus.

Breath focus will enable you to make for yourself a state of calmness amidst turbulent times.   One can do it anywhere, in line in the supermarket, waiting for a plane, train or bus, in the quiet and amidst the bustle of a city street.

I particularly love doing my breath focus in the shower.  There is something magical about having a focused shower.  You already know where the soap goes;  you do not need to think about it.  A perfect time to practice breath focus, under the soothing flow of shower.

So, what is breath focus?  It merely is paying attention to the breath.  Being an observer to this most basic of all our functions that we take for granted.

Imagine if you will that you are in your shower, you absentmindedly reach for and start soaping yourself, your mind is wandering to a thousand different thoughts.   Now, while you are in the imaginary shower with the warm water cascading over you bring your attention to your breath is it in or out, continue to search for your breath.

Now you have located your breath consciously decide to work with it.  Start by taking a deep breath and as you do notice the feeling of your expanded chest.  Note how far you can stretch your ribcage.

Now exhale, this time put your mind to your stomach and as you exhale notice it deflating, notice it relaxing, notice it becoming soft.

Notice your breath as it passes your nose, is it warm?  Notice the speed, the pressure.  Now push the breath all the way out, out, out.

Now repeat, as you breathe in pay attention to every tiny part of your in breath all the in and all the way down.

Repeat, until no thought enters but those of you following the breath.

Congratulations you have just meditated.  Move on with your day in a calm and relaxed manner and when you remember it be present to the breath.

 

 

waterfall

Skillsets of Resilient People

 

How to Bounce Back from Adversity

Everything in life is in constant movement and change. Nothing ever stops. The only constant is change itself.

Through our life, we experience change in many forms, from key development milestones, as we witness our bodies growing and ageing, to life-changing shifts such as having children or losing loved ones. In between is a myriad of other episodic life moments, where we experience the effect of change cast over a backdrop of a moving culture, a fluctuating economy and a constantly shifting environmental landscape.

Change can be hard to deal with, especially when it is dropped down on you in the most unexpected and abrupt ways. You can suddenly lose balance, disconnect from your inner resources and feel unable to respond adequately to changing circumstances. In short, you enter into a crisis.

This is what the typical life crisis is made of–the inability to respond adequately to change. It is when your inner world–beliefs, emotions and attitudes–do not reflect the outer world as it changes. Anxiety and stress often stem from this inability to deal emotionally with change. Ironically the wrong response to change is often stagnation.

Resilience and adaptability to change are extremely important life skills, often associated with emotional intelligence and a healthy attitude or perspective towards the self and life in general.

Here are eight ways to help you not only adapt to change, and deal with crises, but actually thrive in it.

Stress and changeStress often stems from an inability to deal emotionally with change.

1. Embracing Change with Excitement and Curiosity

What is the first emotion you feel when you suddenly face an unexpected change that doesn’t have a known outcome? (basically you don’t yet know whether it’s good or bad). For most people, fear or anxiety is the first thing that comes up. Fear of the unknown is one of the deepest and most pervasive of fears. If you let this fear overcome you, it starts creating negative thought patterns and other unwanted self-sabotaging patterns.

Positive people usually get immediately excited about the prospect of change because their view on life is, in general, an optimistic one and therefore they expect that good things will happen more often than bad. They might initially hesitate for a while but then cheer themselves up and end up looking forward to it. They embrace change. They get curious. Curiosity is an important trait to have because it engenders movement and the power to get out of a comfort zone.

2. Avoiding Patterns that Create Stagnation

People who are most likely to deal effectively with change implicitly know that life is in constant movement and they cannot stop and gather moss. They need to move and circulate the energy around, whether it’s the energy of their thoughts, money, body, work, etc. This is a secret very few people know and follow consciously.

Stagnation goes against life because life is–by its own nature–movement. When they face unexpected change, they make an effort to flow with it and keep themselves from getting stagnant. By stagnation, I mean following the same thought patterns and doing the same things. So these people think sideways, try new things, follow new paths or divert their attention away from the same patterns.

Comfort zoneCuriosity engenders movement and the power to get out of a comfort zone.

3. Being Emotionally Response-Able

They own and take response-ability of how they are affected by a situation. Resilient people know that how they respond emotionally to life is everything. Experience is not something that happens to them but something they make out of a situation.

This simple but basic attitude changes everything and most certainly, it helps you deal with any form of change and disruption. When you are emotionally responsible you do not blame life or others. You try to find new ways to look at things and people. In fact, people who are emotionally intelligent find it instinctive to quickly change the energy of a situation, or people around them, by first changing how they feel about it. They know that responding negatively or falling victim to their own emotions is not helpful and will ultimately stop them from moving forward and adapting to change.

4. Keeping Perspective

Perspective is key because it can change your feelings, attitude and will. Give two people the same situation and they will respond to it differently, if their perspective is different. Difficulty can become a useful challenge and an opportunity to learn. Disappointment can become a life lesson that teaches more about self mastery.

Everything can be turned around with the right perspective. Successful people will always look for the right perspective to get a better angle on an apparent problem. A sudden change can be turned into a springboard that helps you leap forward, if seen from the right perspective.

The right perspectiveEverything can be turned around with the right perspective.

5. Knowing and Respecting One’s Fears

We often hear the cliché of facing one’s own fears. I think this is sometimes interpreted as being confrontational or aggressive. Successful people don’t bust their fears. Nobody really does. They understand them more, and respect them for what they are, but make it a point not to be controlled by them.

In fact, mentally strong people are ones who have a healthy internal dialogue. They do not push their fears away and they don’t fight or resist them either. They are just more conscious of which of those fears are holding them back, and understanding them. They befriend them, they talk to them and they might even give them names. In the end, they dance to the music of life by recognizing their fears and overcoming them (not fighting them) through self love, courage and faith.

6. Keeping the Faith in One’s Self

The last point above brings me to the following. To successfully deal with the currents of life, you have to most of all keep faith in yourself. Know that you have all the resources needed to deal with any life situation. Do not be sidetracked by your mind that tries to make you believe you are inadequate or that you need something from somewhere, or someone, to solve a problem. You don’t.

People who successfully deal with change and crisis, time after time, believe that they always have the resources to push through. They do not look outwards for answers–they look inwards. They have faith that they will always look into themselves and summon up the courage, the ideas, the will, the attitude, the answer. They believe that they are connected to a creative life force that they can always tap into, without any consensus from anyone.

Befriend your fearMentally strong people befriend their fears and try to understand them.

7. Self Love

Self love’ is always misjudged by many because it sounds selfish or narcissistic. It certainly isn’t. Quite the contrary, self-love is the key to opening up to the world, and others, with kindness and compassion. Self-love means being open to yourself. You allow yourself to be human, to err, lose and find yourself again. Most of all, it means not to be harsh to yourself by criticizing or judging all the time. This would only create a negative internal dialogue that would generate more negative thought patterns.

As mentioned earlier on, successful people have a healthy internal dialogue. They communicate with their subconscious and their feelings/emotions in a positive way–lovingly and accepting. They don’t judge themselves; they just learn and move on. So when the going gets tough and the world around you changes too quickly, the first step is to love yourself more.

8. Trusting Life

This is very close to the first point, where I mentioned that resilient people are optimistic about change and unknown circumstances. They do not cocoon themselves in but open up their arms and trust the flow of life. They are, in general, optimistic because they choose to believe that life is supportive and not conspiring against them.

If bad things happen, they change perspective, take emotional responsibility and move on; but they do not lose trust in life because they know that once their attitude and perspective is good, life will respond and support them all the way.

 

Adapted from an article by Gilbert Ross on Friday November 24th, 2017

COMMENTARY: BATTLE FOR THE MIND


 

Victor Zammit is the author of the Friday Report, a weekly report that has been printed every Friday for the past 18 years.  This weeks report can be found at this link.            http://victorzammit.com/November24th2017

 

Over the last five years we have seen the closed minded skeptics getting fewer and fewer, while orthodox religions are also losing numerical support.

Collectively we are going through an expansion of the mind unseen in human history. Fewer people are accepting traditional creation stories and religious beliefs. At the same time they are refusing to accept the materialist explanation that everything in the universe came by chance. 

Fundamentalists and other traditional religious believers blame the reduction in the number of their followers on the evils of materialism. However people are saying that they are not finding traditional religious information convincing and relevant.

This is why objective, repeatable afterlife research is more important than ever. People are opening their minds, seeking a new understanding of who we are, and our place in the universe. People are looking for the TRUTH and the TRUTH about the afterlife sets us free from fear of death and despair about life.

Gratitude…

Today I have a short story for you…

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which read, “I am blind, please help.”

There were only a few coins in the hat – spare change from folks as they hurried past.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words.

Then he put the sign back in the boy’s hand so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy.

That afternoon, the man who had changed the sign returned to see how things were.

The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”

The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.” I wrote, “Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it.”

Both signs spoke the truth. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind, while the second sign conveyed to everyone walking by how grateful they should be to see…


When your life seems full of troubles, it seems difficult to maintain an attitude of gratitude, doesn’t it? All we see are our problems, like a blackened storm cloud casting a dark shadow over our lives.

And the times when everything just seems to be going smoothly? We often take these precious moments for granted too, don’t we? Caught up in the bliss, comfort, and familiarity of it all, we can simply forget to be thankful.

So what, then, is gratitude?

Simply put, gratitude is a habit. It’s a way of looking at the world and all the good things in it with a feeling of appreciation, regardless of whether or not your current situation is to your liking.

Gratitude is a heart-centered approach to being at peace with yourself and with all you have. When you practice this feeling of gratitude, it attracts even MORE things into your life for which to be grateful.

Go ahead, try it out right now. What or who do you have in your life to be thankful for? 🙂

 

 

 

 

Nick Ortner

Holiday hints from James Van Praagh

“You are fettered,” said Scrooge, trembling. “Tell me why?”
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

 

Stressing at the thought of spending time with your extended family over the holidays? For many, the dynamic can be disappointingly predictable. Family situations tend to trigger emotions – an

offhand comment from a parent or sibling can cause a cascade of painful memories, insecurities and emotions. This year, I urge you to treat these trigger points as opportunities to break dysfunctional behavior patterns that (like Jacob Marley’s chains) hold you back from approaching the holidays – and every day – with joy and love.

Experience your own holiday breakthrough with these four simple steps:

1) Manage Your Expectations. Thoughts and words are powerful things, so don’t set yourself up for failure by imagining what could go wrong. If you anticipate that your sister will make a snarky comment about your outfit or your father will grumble that the turkey you slaved over is dry, the law of attraction will deliver those things right to you. Instead, imagine how you want things to go – you’re more likely to attract a good result! But don’t expect one day to heal the wounds of a lifetime. That leads us to step 2.

2) Stay in the moment and take things at face value. If a friend or relative is being polite and helpful today, don’t look back to a time when they were not. Also, don’t take things personally. A friend asked me for advice one year because she was considering “uninviting” her favorite cousin and her husband from Thanksgiving dinner because the husband’s behavior was “offensive.” When I asked her to describe the behavior, she explained that he didn’t engage in conversation, ate very little, and never complimented the food. I advised her to try not taking anything he did personally – assume he wasn’t hungry, was shy, had food allergies, whatever it took to coexist with him so she could continue to share the space with her cousin. After the day was over, she called me and said “Everything went fine! We ignored the fact that Bill was quiet and didn’t eat much, and just let him be. After a while he actually seemed comfortable, and after dinner he opened up to us more than he ever had before.”

3) Ask yourself – “What is the lesson here?” Create a new tradition for yourself and declare Thanksgiving the time to give gratitude for lessons your family has taught you. If Dad can’t help himself from criticizing your choice of careers, be thankful that his actins have forced you to be strong in your determination to live your own life. If your sister acts like a spoiled brat, silently thank her for teaching you how be an adult and take the high road.

4) Remember to push the pause button. Without anticipating them, be mindful of your triggers. If they occur, hit the pause button. Stop, take a few breaths, and look at the entire situation. See it for what it is and ask yourself how to use this OPPORTUNITY to break a past behavioral pattern. Don’t react the way you always have. Instead pause, look for the lesson, and send that person your love and compassion.

With mindfulness, unconditional love and the intention of breaking old patterns you can fill this season with light – and I know you’ll enjoy watching friends and family experiencing the ripple effect of your love and compassion!

Grief and Holiday seasons…

“Holidays are time spent with loved ones” was imprinted on our psyche from a young age. Holidays mark the passage of time in our lives. They are part of the milestones we share with each other and they generally represent time spent with family. They bring meaning to certain days and we bring much meaning back to them. But since holidays are for being with those we love the most, how on earth can anyone be expected to cope with them when a loved one has died? For many people, this is the hardest part of grieving, when we miss our loved ones even more than usual.How can you celebrate togetherness when there is none? When you have lost someone special, your world losses its celebratory qualities. Holidays only magnify the loss. The sadness feels sadder and the loneliness goes deeper. The need for support may be the greatest during the holidays. Pretending you don’t hurt and or it is not a harder time of the year is just not the truth for you. If it wasn’t harder you probably wouldn’t be here. You can and will get through the holidays. Rather than avoiding the feelings of grief, lean into them. It is not the grief you want to avoid, it is the pain. Grief is the way out of the pain. There are a number of ways to incorporate your loved one and your loss into the holidays.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, New Years

These are the biggest and usually most challenging of all. You can and will get through the Holidays. Rather than avoiding the feelings of grief, lean into them. It is not the grief you want to avoid, it is the pain. Grief is the way out of the pain. Grief is our internal feelings and mourning is our external expressions.

Ways to externalize the loss – give it a time and a place
  •  A prayer before the Holiday dinner, about your loved one.
  •  Light a candle for your loved one.
  •  Create an online tribute for them.
  •  Share a favorite story about your loved one.
  •  Have everyone tell a funny story about your loved one.
  •  At your place of worship remember them in a prayer.
  •  Chat online about them.
Ways to Cope

Have a Plan A/Plan B – Plan A is you go to the Thanksgiving, Christmas Day or Christmas Eve dinner with family and friends. If it doesn’t feel right, have your plan B ready. Plan B may be a movie you both liked or a photo album to look through or a special place you went to together. Many people find that when they have Plan B in place, just knowing it is there is enough.

Cancel the Holiday all together. Yes, you can cancel the Holiday. If you are going through the motions and feeling nothing, cancel them. Take a year off. They will come around again. For others, staying involved with the Holidays is a symbol of life continuing. Let the Holiday routine give you a framework during these tough times.

Try the Holidays in a new way. Grief has a unique way of giving us the permission to really evaluate what parts of the Holidays you enjoy and what parts you don’t. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to handle the Holidays in grief. You have to decide what is right for you and do it. You have every right to change your mind, even a few times. Friends and family members may not have a clue how to help you through the Holidays and you may not either.

It is very natural to feel you may never enjoy the Holidays again. They will certainly never be the same as they were. However, in time, most people are able to find meaning again in the traditions as a new form of the Holiday Spirit grows inside of them. Even without grief, our friends and relatives often think they know how our Holidays should look, what “the family” should and shouldn’t do.

Do’s and Don’ts
  • Do be gentle with yourself and protect yourself.
  • Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss.
  • Do allow time for the feelings.
  • Don’t keep feelings bottled up. If you have 500 tears to cry don’t stop at 250.
  • Do allow others to help. We all need help at certain times in our lives.
  • Don’t ask if you can help or should help a friend in grief. Just help. Find ways; invite them to group events or just out for coffee.
  • Do, in grief, pay extra attention to the children. Children are too often the forgotten grievers.
 Valentines Day

Valentines Day is a day to honor our spouse, girlfriend / boyfriend or anyone we are romantically involved with in the present. The past can represent a hole in your heart where your loved one used to be.

Tips
  • Write a love letter
  • Smile a smile for them
  • Light a red candle
  • Tell someone about them.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Mother and Fathers Day are often thought of as an invisible sad day of mourning while many people are rushing around trying to get that perfect gift or make sure they remember to send mom / dad a card. There are over one hundred million Americans that for them, this is a sad day. Either because they have a mother or father who has died or a child has died.

Tips
  • Find ways to honor and remember your mother/ father or both.Think of ways to honor your child.
  • Light a candle
  • Say a prayer
  • Donate time or money in their name.
  • Do something you loved to do together on that day.

It isn’t as important how you remember, you honor them by the fact that you remember.

Just Remember

Holidays are clearly some of the roughest terrain we navigate after a loss. The ways we handle them are as individual as we are. What is vitally important is that we be present for the loss in whatever form the holidays do or don’t take. These holidays are part of the journey to be felt fully. They are usually very sad, but sometimes we may catch ourselves doing okay, and we may even have a brief moment of laughter. You don’t have to be a victim of the pain or the past. When the past calls, let it go to voice mail…it has nothing to say. You don’t have to be haunted by the pain or the past. You can remember and honor the love. Whatever you experience, just remember that sadness is allowed because death, as they say, doesn’t take a holiday.

Even without grief, our friends and relatives often think they know how our holidays should look, what the family should and shouldn’t do. Now more than ever, be gentle with yourself. Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss.

Article from grieve.com

Summary:

It is your grief, your choice, be kind to yourself, do what feels right for you. emkarblogis-1

The Spiritual Nature of Animals

ANIMAS: An excerpt from THE SPIRITUAL NATURE OF ANIMALS by Karlene Stange, DVM

Author Karlene Stange’s spiritual journey began during her work as an ambulatory veterinarian, driving her pickup truck through southwestern Colorado, attending to animals in need of medical care. She has experienced the challenges, sorrows, and joys of working with creatures great and small, and she feels a powerful kinship with these beautiful beings beyond flesh and fur and feathers. Her book, The Spiritual Nature of Animals: A Country Vet Explores the Wisdom, Compassion, and Souls of Animals, chronicles her spiritual path working with animals, through the lenses of various teachings of religious and cultural traditions, as well as her own encounters with the magnificent Rocky Mountain terrain and the quirky characters — both animal and human — who inhabit it.

We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from The Spiritual Nature of Animals, in which Dr. Stange shares how her spiritual journey working with animals began.

 

I set out to understand the spiritual nature of animals, and in so doing, I discovered my own. Creatures great and small dragged me down a rabbit hole and through sacred tunnels into a world of dragons, shamans, gurus, lamas, monks, nuns, demons, priests, rabbis, preachers, scientists, clairvoyants, channels, mystics, animal communicators, and spiritual teachers. Those adepts schooled me and gave me refuge from the drama and trauma overburdening me. They introduced me to the anima — what Jungian psychology refers to as the animating principle present in all living beings.

Anima is the Latin root of the word animal. It means soul, breath, and life. Veterinarians share a personal relationship with the anima; we watch it drain from a body only to meet it again as a newborn foal or pup. Yet veterinary education rarely mentions it. We learn detailed information about bones, blood, and the other physical components, but little is said of the nonphysical aspect — the animas of animals. I now believe it is the most important part.

Firemen do not enter burning buildings or ascend to the tops of tall trees to grab a hunk of meat known as a “cat.” They rescue a beloved family member, a companion. The incorporeal light in an animal’s eyes reaches into our hearts. It touches us more deeply than any physical thing. We humans have the capacity to connect with the spiritual nature of animals; it makes us happy.

I wanted to be an animal doctor before I knew the word veterinarian. As a young girl in Wisconsin, I remember attending a stallion showing. The handler enumerated the attributes of the handsome gray Arabian stud as I stared at a gray-haired man in the audience. He appeared humble and placid and wore a vest monogrammed with the veterinary emblem. I learned that he was the local large-animal veterinarian. Although I did not know him, something about his wise yet nonjudgmental demeanor attracted me, and I longed to be like him. I had yet to learn how the fires of veterinary practice would burn and melt me before forging me into the person I aspired to become.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the suicide rate for veterinarians is four times higher than the national average. This may be due in part to the gory wounds and difficult procedures, the death and euthanasia, and the stress of long hours treating emergencies, but it may also be because of something I call “compassion overwhelm.” We care too much. We tend to be compulsive overachievers who sacrifice our lives for the job, as did the cattle practitioner I read about once in the AVMA obituaries who drowned trying to save a calf stuck in a muddy pond. Or perhaps suicide appeals to us because of our familiarity with death.

No matter the reasons, my experience convinces me that an understanding of the spiritual nature of animals benefits the mental and emotional health of veterinarians and animal-loving people who anguish over the suffering of pets and wildlife. Furthermore, veterinary clients may harbor strong religious beliefs that influence their decisions, and we must show them respect and speak to them with wisdom. I hope the insights shared here provide comfort to those who live with, tend to, and love animals. Perhaps, once they learn of their beneficial qualities, some may even come to see and appreciate the simple beauty of maggots and other parts of nature we often abhor.

My goal, then, is to explore the world’s religious, spiritual, philosophical, and scientific teachings about the nonphysical makeup of animals for the highest good of animal care, the human-animal bond, and the well-being of all concerned.

Each chapter explores a different religious belief system and offers three main approaches to the material. First, each chapter begins with a description of that belief system. In order for the reader to fully comprehend the tenets of Hinduism, Judaism, shamanism, and so on, the vocabulary must first be defined. Therefore, each chapter includes some history and definitions followed by an investigation into the religion’s beliefs regarding animals. Then, throughout, I provide stories from my veterinary practice, offering further illustration of the concepts for contemplation. The third element explores the unfolding of my own spiritual growth — a concept I learned in the process — and how it changed me.

The struggle inside me first started in the 1990s and early 2000s when I practiced large- and small-animal ambulatory medicine out of a pickup truck in a rural mountain community in southwestern Colorado. Horses, llamas, alpacas, dogs, and cats were my primary patients, along with other wild and domestic flying, swimming, and crawling creatures. I drove day and night to attend to animals in beautiful places around Durango, Colorado, where the Animas River carves the landscape.

The majority of my time spent researching spiritual teachings took place on the job in a pickup truck where the only way to learn was from audiotapes. Time off included further seeking by reading, praying, attending church services, meditating, chanting, going on a vision quest, attending retreats with a Tibetan lama and Buddhist nuns, questioning psychics and shamans, pursuing an animal communication apprenticeship, and conducting interviews with experts in numerous fields of spirituality.

During this period, I drove an average of a hundred miles or more a day. Fortunately, the scenery made that part of the job a pleasure, although the dirt routes on winding, mountainous terrain were often treacherous. The views of snow-covered peaks and enchanted valleys, tall ponderosa forests, and aspen groves soothed my stressed mind. Guardian angels held the wheel as I watched a bald eagle circling above or stared at an osprey sitting on a snag next to the Animas River. The occasional coyote made me giggle as he scooted across a field, looking over his shoulder as though trouble were on his tail. A bobcat, a bachelor band of elk, or a family of deer crossing the road at times caused me to hit the brakes. Drives to ranches were adventures into fantasylands of hidden canyons and mysterious ravines where cell phone service was lost. A tourist once told me, “You live in a postcard.” To which I replied, “And I drive each day in the mud, dust, and snow that keep everyone else from living here.”

My home is in La Plata County, a community full of colorful characters: ranchers whose families have lived here for generations, Native Americans, mountain hermits, Hispanics, and nonlocal people who moved to the country from cities. The stories I share about these people are true; at least, this is the truth as I remember it. Only the names of people, animals, and some places have been changed to protect privacy. One group of folks who live here, not found in cities, are cattlemen who breed livestock in small family-run operations. Their relationship with the animals they raise for income is often misunderstood. Humans and beasts depend on one another; one does not survive without the other. The rural life itself is foreign to many. The jobs of the mobile large-animal doctor intertwines with the country ranch life, and both involve hard physical work caring for beasts that can be dangerous. The veterinary workforce has evolved to focus more on pets in cities, and a shortage of rural veterinarians creates challenges for folks living in the country.

 

As a child, Karlene Stange, DVM, author of The Spiritual Nature of Animals, wanted to be an “animal doctor” before she knew the word “veterinarian.” Today she incorporates acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy into her Rocky Mountain practice. She often speaks at conferences and lives in Durango, Colorado. You can find out more about her work at www.animasanimals.com.

Excerpted from the book The Spiritual Nature of Animals. Copyright © 2017 by Karlene Stange.

from “They Shall be Comforted”

Maurice Barbanell (1902-1981) was an accomplished journalist and superb medium for the Teachings of Silver Birch.  The description of “life after life” in his book “They Shall Be Comforted” is well worth sharing.

is (2)

If you are currently grieving the passing of a loved one, you are urged to read this extract.

One day after “death” you will be the same individual as you were one day before it, except that you will have discarded your physical body.    You will express yourself through your etheric body, which is a replica of the physical one.    It does not, however, reproduce any of its imperfections.

All disease and infirmities will be left behind.    The deaf will hear.   The dumb will speak. The blind will see.   The cripple will be a cripple no longer.

You must try and understand that life in the spirit world is not dreamy or nebulous.   It is full of activity.     It is just as real as the life that each one of us lives here.     We are accustomed to thinking of the material world as being real and solid, although actually, this is not so, as the science of physics proves.    The things of the mind, or the spirit, seem to us shadowy and vague, but to those who live on the Other Side, the mental is the real and the physical is the shadow.

This doubtless will be hard for you to grasp, but you will find a perfect analogy if you think of your dreams.     When you dream, all the things that you encounter are real at the time of their happening. They only become dreams when you wake up.    If you never woke up, and dreaming was the perpetual state of your existence, then that state would become your reality.

The spirit world is round and about us.    Some people see it and hear it because they can tune into its vibrations.     It is not situated in some far-off continent.     It is a part of the universe, blending and intermingling with the physical world.

You must dismiss from your mind the old-fashioned theological idea that, after “death,” there is an undisturbed eternal sleep.      There may be, at first, a short time of rest to enable the newly-arrived spirit to adjust himself to his new life.   This usually takes a little time. Then he meets those who have preceded him.   Families are reunited.    Old associations are re-established.    Friendships are renewed.

I know the question you will ask is, “How will I be able to recognise those who have gone before?”   This is not a real difficulty.   They will know you, having watched over you and kept in constant touch with you.   Then, because the spirit world is a place where thought is the reality, they will be able to show themselves to you as you knew them.

There is, however, one great factor always operating in the spirit world – the unalterable law of attraction.   Only those of like spiritual qualities can meet on the same plane in the new life. The husband and wife, who were only held together on earth by a legal tie, and between whom no real love existed, will not be together in spirit life.

Sometimes, people are puzzled because they learn that there are houses on the Other Side.    You must remember, though, these are not houses made of bricks and mortar but constructed out of thought.    This applies also to the clothing that is worn.

The instinct to clothe oneself is deeply rooted and has become habitual. No one would dream of walking through the streets unclothed.    This habit is part of our mental make-up.    That is why it persists on the Other Side where mental states are the reality.

“What about food?” you may ask. “Do they eat?”

As long as there is a desire for food, this mental desire is mentally satisfied.    As long as the individual craves for food and drink, he can obtain the illusion of what he requires – and it satisfies him.   You may call this material if you like, but it is far more sane and logical than pearly gates and golden harps!

In the spirit world, there are no language difficulties.   All people of all nations speak the same language – thought.    There are no words to be mouthed, for ideas are conveyed telepathically, from one person to another.     Words, after all, are but clumsy substitutions for thoughts.    They are artificial means by which we communicate our ideas to one another.   But words can never adequately express the thoughts one is trying to convey.

One day, when the human race has evolved,  language will be abolished.   We will have learnt how to send our ideas to each other telepathically.    Then, many of our international difficulties will disappear.

In the spirit world, each person’s thoughts are known and cannot be hidden.   There can be no deception of pretence.   Every individual is known for what he is.   He cannot deceive anybody, for lying is impossible.

“What about age?” you may ask. “What happens to old people who pass on?”

Physical age and mental growth do not proceed at the same rate.   We rashly judge a man’s mentality by the age of his physical body here.   On the Other Side of life, it is the mind which survives, and mental growth consists of progress towards maturity.   Little children will grow older.   The old people grow younger in spirit.

What work do they do?   Each person seeks to express his natural bent.   In this earthly life of ours, there are thousands of singers who have never sung; actors who have never acted; painters who have never painted; poets who have never written a line of poetry; musicians who have never composed a note of music.   All these talents have never had an opportunity of being expressed, because through economic circumstances usually, the owners had to follow some other occupation to secure their bread and butter.

On the Other Side, they can express their talents.   There are no square pegs in round holes in that world.   For them, life is one continuous road of progress, each person striving to eliminate the dross from his nature and perfecting his own being. In that striving for perfection, there is no limit.   It goes on for eternity.

The spirit world will not be so unfamiliar as we think because … most of us visit it in our sleep state.   Unfortunately, few of us remember what transpires.   When, however, we pass on, the law of association of ideas will recall our nocturnal experiences.

Of course, it takes some time for the newly arrived spirit to acclimatise himself to the conditions of life on the Other Side.   This process of awakening differs according to the knowledge of spirit life that the “dead” man had before his passing.   The more ignorant he was, the longer it will take him to familiarise himself with his new conditions.

Then, too, those who were trained in very orthodox ideas, with rigid conceptions of after-“death” states, experience a great difficulty, because the next stage of life being a mental one, they live in the mental world they have created, until they have evolved sufficiently to dispel this illusion.

When we pass on, we do not enter Heaven through “pearly gates”, neither do we descend to Hell through lakes of “fire and brimstone”.    Nor do we sleep forever.

Each one of us naturally gravitates to the spiritual sphere for which we are fitted, according to the life we have lived and the character we have evolved here.   We cannot occupy a higher sphere than the spiritual status we have reached, nor will we desire to occupy a lower one.    Automatically, we shall go just to that plane of spirit life for which we are fitted.   We shall not be able to pretend that we are better or worse, for stripped of our physical body we shall be revealed and known for what we are.

People who have lived normal lives will not find anything to disappoint them when they arrive in the spirit world.   It is the selfish man who has to face great difficulties, due to these earthly habits which act as a barrier to be overcome by progress before he is fitted to associate with those he loves.   If by virtue of life he has lived upon earth, he has cut himself off from those who love him, that will be his hell.

What is heaven?   It is the reward of a life wisely spent on earth, for it will mean that automatically we reach those we love … heaven and hell are mental states.   Of course, those who dwell on a higher plane can, if they so desire, visit spirits on relatively lower spheres.   This they often do.   But it is impossible for those on lower planes to visit those on higher.

In many cases, those who “die” go through a difficult period of stress, due to the fact they cannot reach the ones they love on earth.   When they have awakened to an understanding of their new life, they naturally return to their loved ones to try to tell them of their survival.    They find it hard to understand that while they can see the earthly members of their families, the bereaved are unable to sense the presence of those for whom they are mourning.

This is a very poignant sorrow that thousands of spirits experience. They do all they can to attract the attention of earthly friends, but too often they fail and have to leave them disconsolate.

By some law which we do not understand, those on the Other Side know a little beforehand when somebody is going to pass from this world.   They make the necessary preparations to greet them and to help them with their passing.    This explains the fact that on hundreds of occasions people before they “die” have named “dead” relatives they said they could see in the room.   Sometimes these spirit relatives have been seen by those in attendance on the “dying” person.

Clairvoyants who have witnessed the “death” of an individual tell us that they see a replica of the physical body gradually rise, connected for a while by a thread (it is what the Bible describes as the “silver cord”) which is attached to a vicinity near the brain. When the thread is snapped, “death” takes place.   This etheric body is then seen to rise upwards until it disappears from view.

The one thing that brings the greatest sorrow to those who have passed on is our excessive grief.   This, curiously enough, acts as a deterrent to their getting close to us. They do not like the constant visits to the graveyard as they know they are not there. Most Spiritualists make a habit of placing flowers near the photograph of the one who has passed on, particularly remembering anniversaries.   This serves to perpetuate the idea that the spirit is constantly in the home.

Spiritualist also indulge in the habit of mentally communicating with those who have passed on by sending them messages, treating them as if they were actually present in the room.    I know that these messages are received, for again and again I have heard spirit return thanks for this communion and give evidence that he has received it by repeating to the medium some of the ideas expressed.

Spirit life is not a state of vagueness or eternal sleep, but one of activity and labour. Idleness and unemployment do not exist there.    There is plenty for all to do, although I know it is difficult for us who are immersed in material affairs to appreciate the activities of the spiritual world.

Apart from labour, there is the opportunity for recreation and enjoyment.   There are means of education and instruction in all branches of life – in just that particular form of knowledge which the spirit desires.

Of course, many of them are engaged in tasks which mean co-operation with people in this world.    Some of them are hard at work helping to make communication between the two worlds easier.

Others, attracted by people in our world who are following similar lines of research, industry, art or reform, naturally return to inspire those efforts, although often people in this world are unconscious of spirit interest.

(from “They Shall Be Comforted” by Maurice Barbanell,

published by the Psychic Book Club, London. Not dated.)

8 Suggestions for Therapists working with bereaved parents

©DAVE ROBERTS
My niece at a Hospice Butterfly Release (2013)

Working with a parent whose child has died can present unique challenges for a therapist on two levels:

 

1) A therapist who is also a mother or father finds themselves confronted with a parent’s worst nightmare. Unless acknowledged in clinical supervision, he/she may have difficulty being objective when working with surviving parents and family members.

 

2) The discovery that short-term or solution focused therapies falls short in addressing the ongoing challenges faced by parents after the death of their children.

 

I am a Licensed Master Social Worker, a retired addiction professional and a parent who has experienced the death of a child. My daughter Jeannine died on March 1, 2003, at the age of 18, due to a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

The re-examination of my personal priorities and values following Jeannine’s death, extended to the therapeutic approaches that I used with chemically dependent individuals. Prior to Jeannine’s death, I typically employed the stage theory of grief with substance users who experienced loss due to death. Stage theory was all that I knew.

 

My own experience after catastrophic loss taught me that grief didn’t progress in a series of linear, predictable stages. If grief wasn’t linear for me, then I couldn’t expect it to be for my clients.

 

Based on what I have discovered about myself today, I want to share 8 suggestions for therapists working with bereaved parents. I also believe that what follows applies to all individuals who have experienced loss due to death:

  • Focus on being a companion on the journey: It is important for therapists to bear witness to a parent’s path after the death of their child. Stories of relationships with their children need to be honoured. Through storytelling, therapists get to know the deceased child through the eyes of the parent.
  • Be prepared to witness parents’ experiences with after-death communication:  Many parents that I have companioned, routinely share instances where they have sensed the presence of their children. Since Jeannine’s death, I have received many signs of her presence. It is important for therapists to ask parents what thoughts they experienced prior to receiving the communication. The signs that parents receive from their children are usually a result of what transpires in the present. Some therapists may be sceptical of the existence of after death communication. Regardless of beliefs, it is important to reserve judgment and listen. I was one of those sceptics ……until my daughter died. Two very good books on this topic are: Hello From Heaven by Bill and Judy Guggenheim and Visions of the Bereaved by Kay Witmer Woods.
  • Recognise each parent’s right to grieve as he/she sees fit: Each parent’s expression of pain is unique. Empower parents to grieve in a way that is meaningful for them and effectively facilitates mourning after their children die. Any healthy expression of grief should be honoured
  • Emphasise the importance of ongoing support: Usually support groups composed of individuals who have experienced a similar type of loss (i.e. child, spouse) are the most effective. In my experience, effective therapy plus meaningful peer support is a powerful combination to help bereaved parents work through their grief.
  • Being aware of language: Avoid the use of the terms “closure “and “moving on” in therapy. Bereaved parents learn to navigate grief by maintaining ongoing bonds with their loved ones. It is through remembering and honouring the existence of their children, for as long as they live, that facilitates meaningful lives after loss.
  • Recognise that the sadness of loss is not the same as clinical depression: With grief work and ongoing support, sadness lessens and become more manageable over time. Many grieving individuals with whom I have worked, didn’t have a history of mental health challenges. Medicating grief for these individuals may delay the work that is needed to effectively negotiate it. However, if a therapist is working with bereaved parents with pre-existing emotional health or substance use issues, continued management of mental health symptoms and/or maintenance of sobriety for grief work to be effective, needs to be emphasised.
  • Helping bereaved parents recognise that they are much more: For purposes of clarity, I have used the term bereaved parents throughout this piece. It is crucial that therapists help parents discover that their identities extend beyond being bereaved. With the help of others and my desire to see the experience of loss differently, I began acknowledging my other skills as a parent to my two surviving children and as a teacher, friend and husband. Don’t allow parents to buy into the illusion that being bereaved is the totality of their identity.
  • Emphasise self-care: Though I have discovered that bereavement support is extremely fulfilling, continually attending to the energy of parents who have experienced the death of a child, can be extremely draining. It is crucial for therapists to routinely empower parents to do what nourishes their souls, in the aftermath of the death of their children. As a therapist empowers bereaved parents to fulfil their needs, he/she must be mindful of doing the same with respect to his/her needs.

 

Dave Roberts, Contributor Huffington Post, Adjunct Professor of Psychology-Utica College, Writer and speaker with specialities in grief and loss, spirituality and addiction.