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Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare

How My Daughter's Death Taught Me
The Meaning of Life

 

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CHAPTER SEVEN: DEAR ELISABETH

Knowing the seriousness of my relationship with Bob, you suggested he attend one of your workshops to have a better understanding of the work I wanted to do later on. That was quite an eye opener for him! Bob had never experienced the death of someone he was close to. His maternal grandparents had died when he was young, but he had not attended their funerals. He soon discovered that many losses occur in life that are not death related. He learned that it was healthy to express one's pain. In his family of origin, emotions were rarely expressed. Because of your workshop, he came away with a clearer idea of how grief work helped me and how I wanted to help others

Elisabeth, having Bob participate has helped him and helped me. His support has been invaluable to me. My long journey through undergrad courses in psychology and then a master's degree, followed by a doctorate, took a total of ten years. I was building my practice during the day and attending courses in the evenings and weekends, not to mention taking time from our relationship to study. I can't think of too many spouses who would have been as patient.

At the same time, I was involved with the Marin County chapter of The Compassionate Friends by reaching out to newly bereaved parents, facilitating meetings, and writing the newsletter. I also worked as a volunteer at the Marin Suicide Prevention and Grief Counseling Center, working on the hot lines and doing volunteer counseling for the bereaved. Every minute was filled, yet I can honestly say that I don't remember Bob ever once complaining. He has supported me in being as committed to my work as I want to be.

About six months after Kristen's death, Michel met you after one of your lectures. It was a wonderful visit. He liked you immediately, and when you asked to have a private talk with him, I knew you wanted to support Michel as well. I don't know what you talked about — that was between the two of you, and it didn't matter. I was greatly relieved when you told me that Michel was finding his own way through grief and might come out the stronger for it. This was my deepest hope, and it has come true. Elisabeth, because of you, I was able to be there for Michel, write this book, and become a psychologist.

Do you remember Shirley, who came to Shanti Nilaya when I did? She died shortly afterward of cancer, but before her death, she wrote this poem about you.

Elisabeth

A tiny flash of blue, a spark of light,
Quietly and without hesitation
She moves about her work.
She sees what is not always visible,
She hears what is sometimes said only in silence.
She reaches to take the hand that trembles
And the closed fist that is professing to need no one.
She touches and pauses until her touch is felt.
Her eyes soften as the hand steadies
Or the fist opens, letting others in.
Her stay is brief,
But lives are richer for her having been.
Her soft message is clear to all who listen.
Those whom she touched now have a gift
With which they must touch others.
Her spark of light is, thus, eternal.
She is indeed an instrument of His peace.

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