Welcome to Lost & Found: Finding Your Way

Welcome to Lost and Found: Finding Your Way, a new column that will be a mixture of the practical and spiritual components of grief recovery. As the majority of the readers of this site, I, too, have experienced great loss. However, this great loss has been the impetus for seeking and finding a renewed passion for life. Those two sides of the same coin will be the overriding theme of this blog.

If you have lost a loved one, I would like to offer my condolences to you. You are about to, or have already started to, take a journey that will make you examine your very existence. It is hard for a person who has never lost a mate, or another close relative or friend, to understand the depth to which one's soul may sink. It is as if a part of you has been ripped away, and you are left with a gaping wound. Kind and well-meaning words, thoughts, and deeds do not always help lessen the intensity of the pain. In fact, you may even shun them, for you want to feel the searing ache in your heart -- just so you know you can still feel something.

What it is hard to realize at the inception of your loss is that this will be a defining moment in your life. You will either decide to just survive by going through the motions of life without the emotions, or you will decide to thrive. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” The important fact here is that the decision is yours to make. You can decide to move forward in your life, or you can decide to wallow in sadness forever.

Please do not misinterpret my words. You should allow yourself to grieve for all that you have lost, including future joys that your loved one will be missing. However, over time you must learn to put your grief in perspective and let it work for you rather than be its slave.

You have learned a very important lesson -- just how short and precious life can be. You can now have a new appreciation of your friends and family and of how important it is to make each day meaningful.

Hopefully, this blog, as well as the other resources on Legacy.com, can provide support by letting you know that you are not alone in your feelings. I believe it is alright for a person to be greedy and take all the help that is offered when tragedy strikes. However, this same person is morally obligated to turn around and offer help to the next person down the line. Just think what a beautiful world we could create if everyone were to hold hands!

It is through this blog and the books I’ve written that I offer my hand to you in an attempt to, perhaps, change your perspective a couple of degrees to the positive. I welcome your thoughts and comments and will gladly write on a topic of a reader’s choice. Please email me at LNGerst@LNGerst.com with any requests.

Ellen Gerst is a Life Coach specializing in grief and relationships and the author of several books on grief, including "A Practical Guide to Widow/erhood," born out of Ellen's own experiences as a young widow; 101 Tips and Thoughts on Coping with Grief, an easy-to read reference guide filled with suggestions for every day use on moving through the grief journey; and "Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story." "Love After Loss" is a blueprint on how to use her successful method to redesign your life to include a new love connection after the loss of a partner. Connect with Ellen on Facebook at Love After Loss (for daily relationship tips) and on Thin Threads of Grief & Renewal (for inspirational coping with grief thoughts). Click for more information on grief related services and books..

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Comment by Ericka Bryant on August 28, 2009 at 5:00pm
Beautifully put, both of you. Ellen, I believe I'll run out and purchase your book. I lost my husband, aged 36, in a freak accident on July 4, 2008. I was with that precious creature when he died. We had been married nearly 10 years.

It's funny but I still catch myself thinking things like, "Oh, Caleb would love that! I have to call him..." and the like. And I now measure time by whether something took place before or after he died. It's strange...

I am moving on--working, going to school, I have new roommates moving in, etc., but my life and my perspective is forever changed.

For what it's worth, and I'm sure many of your readers feel the same, my life will always be richer for the time I spent here with Caleb.

Peace be with us all.
Comment by Ellen Gerst on August 11, 2009 at 7:46pm
Thanks for sharing, Sue. As tough as it is, you sound like you are making a lot of progress on your journey, and I applaud you for your accomplishments. You make a good point – that is – differentiating between a defining moment and actually defining who you are (or are meant to be). I believe the loss of a loved one sets you upon a different path than you might have thought you were going to follow in life, but it is then up to the individual to determine how she/he will walk down that path. Ellen G
Comment by sue on August 11, 2009 at 5:27pm
I have said that I didn't want the sudden passing over of my husband to define me but it is a defining moment. I pride myself on being a survivor but this gig is and has been a really tough one. May22, 2008, the day my reality changed forever but this is a journey and I know in my heart I was always meant to have this experience. sue p

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