A perspective on life and loss

Recent political developments in the United States have caused quite a stir across the globe.  Social media is flooded with comments and rantings from both sides of the political spectrum. I myself have contributed to this “animated” discussion. But when someone (be it a friend or a family member) passes away in the middle of all the histrionics, everything screeches to a halt. It’s amazing how quickly we re-align our priorities…. because, at the end of the day, it’s family and friends that really count the most.

There will be other elections. Other presidents. What is done in one term can be undone in another. So, let’s chill out and focus on what really matters.

This post is dedicated to all of our loved ones who have gone too soon. And to the families and friends who are left behind to grieve their loss.

I love the poetry and writings of Kahlil Gibran and I always take the wisdom of his words to heart.

I hope you do, too.

On Death
by Kahlil Gibran

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Say “No” to Hate


Picture via pixabay.com

“Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change. Kiss slowly, forgive quickly, play hard, take chances, give everything, and have no regrets. Life is too short to be anything but happy!” – Unknown

Just the other day, I went online to research urological treatment options for cats and I came across a vet med site where other cat owners shared their advice and experiences. As I read down the endless list of back-and-forth comments,  I was appalled.  A subject as benign as “cats with bladder issues” unleashed a barrage of hateful commentary. Rather than giving constructive advice, empathy or encouragement, there were nasty comments like “You gave your cat that medication? You’re an idiot and an irresponsible cat owner!”  And that was one of the nicer comments. These people didn’t even know each other, but were quick to pass judgment – all behind the shield of anonymity, of course.

It never ceases to amaze me how many haters there are out there. Blogs and social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn seem to be a breeding ground for these angry people, emboldened by the name “Anonymous.”  Amazingly, I’ve only had one hater comment on this blog – since its inception in October 2011.  I never published the comment, because my policy is to never give a hater any public platform to spew their hate.  Criticism is fine. Venom is not. Sarcasm and dark humor is okay. Crass and ignorant commentary is not okay.

Apparently, hate is not relegated to social media.  Just look at the ridiculous nastiness and vulgarity displayed during the recent GOP presidential debates. Opportunistic presidential nominees are feeding off the anger of  a nation, as the world watches with amazement and disgust.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being angry.  But when anger becomes rage and gives birth to a population of serial haters, then we’ve got a problem, folks. Anger, when properly channeled, can bring about positive change.  Rage is a different animal altogether.  It just festers. It becomes malignant.

The fact of the matter is, Life is too short.

Who in their right mind would choose rage and hate over happiness and love?  Yes, I said “choose.”  It’s all about choice.

Say “No” to hate.  It simply takes up too much energy.  It gives you frown lines and makes you bitter.  It’s like a dark, murky cloud that follows you around everywhere.

I firmly believe that a positive attitude attracts good energy.  So, I say “Yes” to love.  And I’d rather have a face riddled with laugh lines, than frown lines – any day.


Heather  (not “Anonymous”)

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 7 of 7: Celebrate Life


“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumblebee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”

Ashley Smith

As we reach the end of the first week of January, I wanted to finish off my 7 New Year’s Revelations on a jazzy note. Despite all of the ups and downs, dramas and drollery…. life is precious and meant to be celebrated.  Gain wisdom and strength from the difficult times and focus on the beauty of  everything – from the simple to the sublime.

Take the time to eat dinner by candlelight and talk with those you love – without glancing at your smartphone! In fact, put the damned smartphone on the charger and turn it off for rest of the night! Communicate with actual spoken words, rather than texts. Put your favorite music on … nice and loud…. and dance around the house! Kiss that special person in your life… long and slow.  Don’t rush through a meal… savour the taste of  good food and libation. Don’t guzzle a drink… sip it slowly.  You’re not going to turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight… so take your time.

And, remember….. the best is yet to come.

“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”

Mary Ann Radmacher

Some Book Recommendations:

Rites of Passage: Celebrating Life’s Changes – by Kathleen Wall & Gary Ferguson


Life, Love, Laughter: Celebrating Your Existence  – by Osho


Loving Life After Sixty: Celebrating the Autumn of Your Life by Tom Paugh




Photo via flickr.com


For My Love


“It was the time when they loved each other best, without hurry or excess, when both were most conscious of and grateful for their incredible victories over adversity. Life would still present them with other mortal trails, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were on the other shore.” 
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera

heatherfromthegrove’s poetry spotlight for today: “Love One Another” by Khalil Gibran


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@ heatherfromthegrove!


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Love One Another

by Khalil Gibran


Khalil Gibran born on January 6, 1883 in Lebanon – renowned Lebanese-American poet, philosopher and artist who emigrated to America with his family in 1895, settling in Boston’s culturally diverse South End.  Although he became popularly known in North America for his compilation of inspirational philosophical essays (written in poetic prose) , The Prophet, he was also a very accomplished artist, schooled (in Paris) in drawing and watercolors.  Favoring symbolism and romanticism over realism, Gibran showcased his work at his first exhibition in 1905 (Boston), where he met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, a respected headmistress.  He and Haskell formed an intimate, lifelong friendship and she played a pivotal role in his life, becoming his editor and confidante. Khalil Gibran, who never became a naturalized American citizen (in deference to his Lebanese roots), died in New York City, on April 10,1931 — at the age of forty-eight.  The cause of his death was a combination of cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis.  His request to be buried in his homeland of Lebanon was respected and fulfilled by his devoted friend, Mary Elizabeth.

Love One Another is an extract from his magnum opus, The Prophet. Beginning with the simple commandment of “Love One Another”, he writes philosophically about the sanctity of marital love while also acknowledging the importance of maintaining one’s individual spirit.  He writes poetically about the necessity to let love grow and evolve, just as we do.  If love is rigid and unchanging, the bonds of love will break down. In very eloquent and poetic language, he drives home the point that two people should complement each other, yet maintain and respect their separate identities.

Poem via poemhunter.com.

Image via write-brained.com

New Year’s Revelation No. 1 of 7: Love without Reservations, Conditions or Expectations


To love without condition, to talk without intention, listen without judging, to give without reason and to care without expectation.  This is the art of a true relationship”

~ Anonymous

It’s a new day and a new year, ladies and gentlemen! Yesterday is history. We can’t rewrite it, but we can learn from it. Today begins a new chapter in each of our lives. Embrace it with an open mind and a loving heart.

Love. It’s a simple word, really. Yet, sometimes we misuse it and, far too often, we (intentionally or unintentionally) misinterpret its meaning.

 Love — an over-used word?

How many times a day so we say “I love you” — to our children, as they go off to school each morning or to our significant others, and even to a family member, at the end of a phone call? I know, the premise behind the declaration is that we want our loved ones to know that they are loved. But, doesn’t the constant, repetitious utterance of the phrase somehow dilute its meaning? We say “I love you” just as often (and almost as automatically) as we say “Hi, how are you?” — to which the equally automatic response is “Fine, thanks. And you?”

Shouldn’t we savor the phrase and use it in moments that give it more meaning? Isn’t it more important to show someone that we love him/her, rather than tell him/her constantly? Incidentally, I do not mean to infer that giving someone a gift is necessarily a demonstration of love. Actions have far more impact than gifts. For example, when a mother of four is juggling multiple school/extracurricular activities schedules, keeping the house in tip-top shape, preparing home-cooked meals and managing to work from home … her husband could show his love by surprising her with breakfast in bed and taking the kids out on an excursion each Saturday, so his wife could have some quiet time to herself.

Let me share a personal story with you. Back in the first half of 2005, my mother was a permanent resident in a chronic care hospital. She was dying of cancer. Now, my mother and I always shared a special bond. I knew that she loved me and vice versa. But, one particular day stood out for me … and I weep, as I write this. She began to have bouts of dementia and she, along with some of the other patients (they all had similar illnesses) would often be seated in their wheelchairs in the lounge at certain times of the day. Many would dose off and others, like my Mum, would simply stare into space – expressionless. This one day, I visited her during one of these lounging hours. I got out of the elevator and saw her immediately, noting that her eyes had a far away look in them. When I was about ten feet closer to her, she focused her gaze on me and then, immediately, her eyes lit up. She smiled, giggled and clasped her hands in joy. And then, she said my name: “Heather!” We embraced. I stayed with her for hours and hours, just holding her hand and gazing at her, trying to memorize her face and that moment in time. No one had to hit me over the head with a bat, to tell me that my mother loved me. Just the way she looked at me, said it all.

That’s what I mean when I say “show” someone you love them. When a dear friend calls you on the phone, respond with a smile in your voice because you’re happy to hear from her. It makes a world of difference.

Love — its meaning is not that complicated, is it?

Love is not — should not — be complicated. It is what it is. We needn’t ascribe conditions, restrictions, expectations to it. That is not truly love. Some people are afraid to love because they fear getting hurt. Well, here’s a reality check: they will get hurt, we all do. However, that should not prevent us from loving. You see, only the people you love deeply have the power to hurt you, and vice versa. If someone says something negative about you, the impact of the criticism would not sting even a little compared to the hurt you would feel if the words were uttered by someone you love.

This is why we should honor the people who we love and who love us in return. It is so important to try not to abuse friendships and relationships. I say “try” because we are, after all human. We make mistakes. We say things before we think and can’t take the words back. What we can do, is say (and really mean it): “I’m sorry.”

Which leads us to another can of worms. Forgiveness. Aye, there’s the rub. True, it’s easier to love than to forgive. But, if we truly love, we must forgive. After all, isn’t that what loving without conditions, restrictions and expectations is all about? When a teenage child screams “I hate you!” with venom and blazing eyes at her parent, it feels like the blade of a knife. But, she’s your child and you love her, no matter what. You forgive her (and pray that this hateful rebellious phase will pass quickly!).

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”
~ Robert Muller

I chose “Love” to kick off the first of my 7 New Year’s Revelations this year because it is the most powerful human emotion (the other, of course, is hate … but I will not be touching that one).

So, dear readers, my wish for you, in 2013, is that you love well and with abandon (not to be confused with promiscuity!! ).


 Image via charmedyoga.com.