endless HOPE…

endless HOPE…


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#14 – Angels in the Storm

If you’ve just started reading, you may want to read “Our Story”, then posts #1-13. Welcome, there’s endless HOPE…

Journal Entry Tues Dec 31, 2013 – Hmmm, interesting, finally making it to post #14, just as we’re about to ring in the New Year 2014!  Heading out to a late night movie after hubby gets home from late shift…that will be our family’s big excitement tonight. 2014 – so many possibilities, so much potential, so many options, so many things I could do, say, accomplish…or avoid, procrastinate from, or miss out on…in my laziness. I must get focused and “seize the year”! If I could do anything at all right now, I’d love to take a month off, stay home and battle through the ups and downs of writing this story out, to catch it up to current day.  Ya, probably not going to get to do that, so will just continue here by rattling off whatever random thoughts come out…a few things will come together…hopefully…

Even if I do somehow catch up by writing about the last 2 years, there will still be much to learn and much that will unfold every week – more triggers, more memories, but also more opportunities to help others, more chances to see the redemption that is coming from persevering through. It has been miraculous to me, and I’ve felt so honored to have been put in contact with several newly grieving parents, whether directly, or them being referred to my blog. I was relaying this to someone the other day and they brought to my attention that it is special – a ministry of sorts that is emerging maybe – that I’m able to relate to others with loss, to have a different level of compassion that has developed through my loss. There is a connection that comes, aside from our regular compassion we would have for any sad situation, when we can actually relate. Even though our circumstances are different and I can’t truly say “I understand how you feel”, there is credibility that seems to be formed in shared pain – or rather in the survival of it, the healing from it, and the increasing occurrences of thriving after it.

This is the mystery of good coming from bad – or “all things working together for good”. It seems baffling, mind-blowing, ridiculous at best, doesn’t it? How can it be that ALL things work for good? How can something horrific like loss, abuse, or crime work together for good? In the middle of the storm or nightmare we most often cannot see it. In that moment it’s not the regular human reaction to say, “wow, now I can help someone else survive or recover from this same kind of pain in the future”. If we are stuck in the middle of a huge and deadly tornado, we can’t see our way out, we can’t see how big it is, and we don’t know if we will survive. After making it through however, later in life when we see our neighbor just getting overtaken by the same type of tornado, we can be there for them when they come out from the worst of it, and reassure them that they can rebuild their life – we are credible, living proof, that it’s possible! Is the rotten circumstance or “storm of life” good in itself? Absolutely not! Would we wish it to happen if we could do it all over again? No, never! But…since it has happened, what can we find, take, learn, create?  What is that something – something positive that in turn is almost like taking revenge (if you feel the need for that) on tragedy, evil, disappointment itself?  There is always at least one thing to be gained, in spite of a loss.  Depending on whether the glass is looking half full or half empty at the moment may impact if we can see the thing to be gained…but it is there.  When I cannot see it, someone a few steps ahead of me in their journey often can.  Then, when it becomes clearer to me, I then can show that small speck of beauty to someone else…turns out there is a miniscule diamond hiding in the glass.

That reminds me of a remarkable interaction two years ago…just a month after our son Brandon passed.  I was speaking at a women’s conference, being interviewed in front of a few hundred people…it was about Life’s Journey…and I had the honor of telling a bit of our story so far at that time.  It had been the darkest month of my life to date, by a million miles, and yet even within minutes after the emergency personnel told us there was nothing more they could do, there were the tiniest little shimmers, fleeting maybe, but they felt like blessings nonetheless.  At that conference I told of those first recollections, things like the compassion and emotion I felt from those personnel, the personal connection, their sadness with us, their tears…it was so very precious to me in my greatest time of need to have these “angels” there and to not feel like our son was just a number, or that dealing with us was just business.  (Tears well up now thinking of it all).  At the end of the conference session, several people approached me to chat, hug, share briefly of their loss, and I was just there to connect and to encourage them, best I knew how so far, still in my numb state.  Later however another woman approached me, to this day I don’t really know who she is, but I think she said her name was Wendy.  She smiled at me knowingly, with genuine compassion, and recounted that she had been through something similar many, many years ago, when they lost a son just a bit older.  The part that impacted me so heavily from our very short conversation was her wonderous statement, after a disclaimer not to take this wrong or think she is minimizing the greatness of their loss.  She said something like “I want to let you know we have had such an exciting life”, and her eyes twinkled.  Wow, that blew my mind at that moment, but I have thought of it often and am seeing more and more how it could be true, I don’t think she was fibbing.  Thank you Wendy, whoever you are…I think it was in your eye’s twinkle that I saw a glimpse, assurance even, living proof that there really can be endless HOPE…and that I have lots of time ahead to make the most of.

Happy New Year – that might feel like a stretch from where you are sitting right now, but be encouraged that it is possible to survive, heal, begin to thrive again, and share the reflection off the gem you’ve found…to help light someone else’s way who’s following behind you in the journey.  We all have the ability to be an angel in someone else’s storm…it doesn’t take much light to glow in utter darkness, when we have even just a flicker of…endless HOPE…

<3

Janine Kurtz


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#13 – Grief & Gratitude

If you have just found this blog, Welcome to Endless Hope…you may want to begin by reading “Our Story” in the top right…

Journal Entry Tues Dec 17,2013 – Well, it’s been 5 weeks since I’ve even ventured in here…so busy and so many things swirling in my head that I have hardly known where to pickup again. First shock is another 400 pages read on this blog in the past month…even with no new posts…so thank you to whoever is out there sharing the hope while I’ve been bogged down. :)

Tonight I’m letting myself off the hook, not pressuring myself to write the next part of our story…but rather just what might be a short musing…compilation of some thoughts during my drive home from work tonight.  (Hmmm, post #13…lucky #13 :)

On Saturday I had the honor of attending the memorial for a little 5-year-old girl from our city that passed away from a form of meningitis last weekend. I didn’t know the family, but felt drawn to the situation after hearing a 10 second mention of it on the traffic radio station. I’ll tell you more about that amazing and divine appointment later, but suffice it to say it was such a sad yet inspiring event to be a part of. It again reminded me of the incredible strength of the human spirit, the unfathomable losses in life, and the power and beauty of community support. A gathering of people, with such great and tragic loss…yet there is a feeling of hope and life in the room…like healthy grief…and it gives me great relief and just that little hint that these folks will come out ok…with time.

I don’t know how to express it, but will just ramble and it may become clear…
As I drove tonight, I wondered what these thoughts could be best recapped as…
Is it Grief & Gratefulness?
Is it Gratefulness in Grief?
Is it The Bitter Sweet of Grief & Gratitude?

How is it that in everyday life sometimes I (had to edit out “we” and remember to only speak for myself) can be grateful and can see the positive everywhere, but more often in my life I have found myself with a complaining attitude…dissatisfied and ungrateful. Why is it hard to recognize the good and be thankful for it at times? How is it that there can be two completely different perspectives on the same situation? How is it that we can “choose” our attitude or perspective?

So far it seems to me that experiences really can shape perspective. If a completely carefree life is lived, with no problems of any kind, then the first little hangnail encountered is a BIG DEAL! If a leg is then broken, suddenly it becomes the worst circumstance to date, so the next time a hangnail comes around hopefully it’s put in perspective: “hey this is nothing compared to that broken leg”. On the flip side maybe no more perspective has been gained yet, and instead out comes: “oh man, bad things just keep happening to me, first that hangnail, then the leg, now ANOTHER hangnail.” It seems ridiculous, but I suppose it’s true at times. I know I can get pretty upset about truly trivial things when I’m caught up – how about you?

Another example… Maybe before fully realizing there are people living in true poverty, the phrase “I’m starving” could be loosely used after feeling a 3rd hunger pang in 10 minutes. After being heavily affected by a documentary or going to work locally or overseas with those less fortunate, likely that phrase would lose its appeal or be quickly corrected after popping out by default.

Maybe it IS all about perspective. Until something negative is experienced, maybe another positive experience can’t be fully understood. So with circumstances of life, maybe “good” things can’t be recognized and appreciated as much until there is “bad” to compare it to.

Ok enough of the blah-blah-blah, impersonal theory…for me, as far as physical pain, my “ultimate” perspective and benchmark is childbirth (sorry for those that don’t want to hear about that – no further details coming I assure you).  If ever I have pain and the doctor or chiropractor is trying to get me to gauge it 1-10 or mild/moderate/severe, I tend to default to using my old benchmark, which is pretty drastic, so I tend to downplay all current pain.  They end up clarifying with me and tell me I’m not allowed to compare it to childbirth or we won’t get anywhere! If they had asked me about that same pain pre-kids though, I would have automatically scored it much higher on their scale because, compared to what I’d experienced so far, that pain was probably truly “painful”. (hey kids I love you and it was all worth it of course!)

Questions: How is perspective gained, how is it changed, how is maturity of perspective attained?
Why is it that so much is demanded of this thing called “Life”? Why is it expected to be good, perfect, and better “forever”…right after this current “thing/problem” blows over…never to present problems again?

I know for me as I look back on my life, I have always had much to be grateful for, but spent little time feeling that gratitude, and much more time whining with either my inside or outside voice.  I spent too much time waiting to skip ahead to the next day, week, event or phase of life, instead of being “in the moment”, appreciating the bits of rare beauty hidden in it. Is it only deep tragedy and loss that can smack me upside the head and make me realize what I have, or had? Maybe sometimes it is.

Does tragedy and grief have a silver lining? That might be a stretch or utterly ridiculous, but maybe rather it is shaping my perspective and correcting my vision…not rose colored glasses, but the ability to see the positive in small happenings and circumstances that I would have never taken notice of before.

Like that memorial on Saturday, unconsciously I think my mind compared it to a few others I had attended in the past 2 years…including our Brandon’s. I had felt a range of atmosphere’s over that time frame, from hope, support, and celebration of a life, to darkness, anger, despair and justice seeking. Neither are right or wrong reactions to death, they just are the natural outpourings of humanity in crisis. At the same time it can feel promising when you see someone with hope, and sometimes very worrisome when all hope seems absent. I am feeling grateful that this young family with the fresh loss is surrounded by a close-knit bunch of school & neighborhood friends – I am grateful for their openness – it inspires me and gives me hope that they’ll be ok.

My husband is reading this book he was given “The Gift of Pain” – pretty incredible. So here’s another facet that comes to mind…Gratitude that we do Grieve. Pain is there to let us know something is wrong, missing, lost. Pain or grief is a sign that we have feelings, strong feelings…feelings that need to be felt and gone through in the process to healing. If we have no sense or feeling, we can end up damaging the wounded spot even more because we are not taking care to protect that place and let it mend. Emotions and feelings are natural and fine…it’s important to draw them out and deal with them…to talk about things. Bring wounds out in the open, in a safe place with wise protection around them, but then let the cleaning and healing process take place. The fear of the pain and the pain itself while dealing with issues will be tough at times, but in the long run the avoidance of pain, or desensitization to it is not the answer to healing. It’s strange to say that pain is a gift, but I think I’m starting to understand that it somehow is.

Final thoughts:
Grief is because we love, care, miss a relationship – it’s ok and healthy. We don’t grieve things we care nothing about.
Let’s be wise and be avid learners of healthy perspective, through the circumstances of our lives and others.
Personally, I want to have an attitude of gratitude, even in the midst of the grievances in life, big and small

My desire more and more is to be “present” or “in the moment”, taking time to stop and smell the roses.  Even if it seems there are none…sometimes there might actually be one rose hidden among the thorns when we tap into that little thing called…endless Hope…

<3
Janine Kurtz

p.s. that was NOT a short musing after all…thanks to any of you who stuck it out with me to the end :)