Archive for the ‘The Effects of Tragic Loss’ Category

Leap:  to spring free from

Faith:  strong belief or trust that someone or something exists or that something is true

A painting of my daughter as an angel by Ariane

A painting of my daughter as an angel by Ariane

We are all on our way somewhere.  We come to this earth with a divine plan, a plan to experience, change and spiritually transform.   We are given enough free will to make choices that can change our course at times and delay the lessons we are here to learn.  Ultimately our divine plan is carried out and we are free to return home to a place where our spirits soar.  Carrying out that plan is no easy task.

Loss is the greatest catalyst for change and that can come in many forms.  Loss is not the ending of something precious, it is the birth of love and wisdom that we are all seeking.  It prompts us to be in the moment, realize what we truly value in life and connect with who we truly are.  We are in too much pain to pretend.  We lose the energy to play games with people, so we don’t pretend to be something we are not.  We question what life is all about, so we look around with a new set of eyes.  Words that held important definitions in our lives no longer make sense, so we speak less often but in a more meaningful way.  Our plan for happiness and security disappears, so we begin to take life in the moment and have no energy to do much more than let life happen and trust the next moments.  We are no longer filled with plans, beliefs and motives so moments of truth can easily be recognized by the way our body feels, not what we think.  Moments of truth become who we are, not just what we fleetingly think.  We move from our head to our hearts and live our life with purpose and dignity.

Here are five ways I used the loss of my daughter as a portal for personal transformation and spiritual enlightenment:

  1. I stopped fighting or being afraid of my feelings and use them as a valuable part of my learning to live in the moment again with love for myself and a purpose in life.  If I don’t let them flow through me, they will return like a tidal wave when I least expect it.
  2. I surround myself with people who let me be who I am each day, even if I change from hour to hour in my moods and willingness to participate in life.
  3. I get rid of anything in my life that doesn’t make me feel warm and safe.
  4. I keep a journal of what is real to me each day, how I see life continuing around me and the lessons I learn.
  5. I ask someone for help or sit still asking the spiritual realm for help when I felt overwhelmed and broken.  I let people know what I need and don’t judge myself.
  6. I do something physically, like taking a walk, riding a bike, cutting the grass. It is amazing how physical activity can serve as a pain killer.

Learning to trust and hear my daughter Joann in a form other than physical has been a hard challenge but one I will take until the end.  Do angels really exist? I have no concrete proof to hand you demonstrating that validity. I have moments of pure peace, freedom from earthly perceptions, walking on the clouds when a miracle happens and amazing moments that only an angel could orchestrate.

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Everyone in American suffered a loss yesterday and feelings will abound throughout our country of fear, anger and spiritual questions. The only hope I have for anyone is that there is a positive transformation that can occur but it takes time and the gut wrenching experiences of voicing and facing all of those emotions. Any loss is hard but one out of the blue and with no meaning except self-fullment for the criminal is unbearable.  If you have anything you wish to add to my post, please share with me below in the comments.


A perfect stranger stole my daughter’s life from her in a way that was the antithesis of how she lived. No one should have to bury a child but many of us do. Along with my loss, it seemed that future dreams and the security of old age became faded dreams. My life transformed from multi-dimensional introspection to a flat line existence. No reasoning or advice could ease my pain or comfort my broken heart. It was a time when everything familiar and proven from the past failed. My belief systems shattered and truth challenged me every day to find its meaning in my decisions. I lost my sense of spiritual existence. Earthly experiences became all that I knew.

The grief of losing Joann was heavy and carried no understanding. My child had given me strength and refuge while adding meaning and purpose to my life. The healing process involved a gamut of heart-wrenching emotions. Some days I was brave enough to walk through that valley of sorrow, gaining strength and clarity. Those days allowed me to connect with my daughter in powerful ways. On other days I attempted to walk around my sorrow or bury it, but the pain would seem to grow and eventually overwhelm me. I became unresponsive and lived completely superficially while just waiting to die.

When I was informed that my child was dead, it felt like a shotgun blast through my heart. My reality bled out upon impact and I ascended into an unfamiliar consciousness. Angels became my paramedics and they carried me to the emergency room that handles bleeding souls. I received an anesthetic called shock, as my relationship with Joann seemed to halt and even go in reverse. Past memories served as the only evidence of her life. I observed humanity, as they frantically attempted to find a comforting answer that ensured that this would never happen again, but I personally had no interest in the future. My focus was on trying to figure out if I could have done anything to save my child. I desperately wanted to make the world just as it was the few seconds before I heard those piercing words. My life had transformed from thriving to surviving.

To survive Joann’s death I eventually had to come out of my pain and see if I could fly. The love for my son Cayce gave me tenacity and perseverance to resume my quest for spiritual empowerment. This would not come instantly though. My other option was to give up and fall into a dark and dangerous existence, striking out at others like the man who killed Joann. My love for Cayce created this positive spiritual choice.

-Payment for Passage

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When you leave this earth, you will not be asked, “Did you do something saintly?”  You will be asked, “Did you live life as yourself?”

I know this is true – an angel told me in my bedroom one morning. In my quest to find my daughter who was murdered in some form of existence, she began to communicate with me in the only way that evolves anyone on earth – soul to soul.

If you wish to read the rest of our conversation, read Chapter 8 in Payment for Passage.

It is hard to survive the loss of someone dear to you, and especially disorienting to your spiritual life is the loss of a child. That is something that never enters your realm of fears ahead of time. Fears can cause problems in your life if taken to the extreme, but they can also be useful in taking care of yourself and bring into your awareness possible challenges….at least you may be prepared to meet some hard life experiences.

I didn’t know where or how to begin but I knew I didn’t want to stay in the place I found myself after Joann died. I made a promise to myself to search and find Joann. Living with that mission each day, I found myself getting stronger and stronger and eventually recognizing signs of her presence still actively in my life.

I would love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below and share with me a loss that turned your world upside down but eventually presented you with an awareness you wouldn’t have received any other way.

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The last picture I took of Joann before she died.

Unknowingly, with only a few days remaining in her life, Joann called me the evening of 9/11/2001. She asked if the terrorism threat from other countries should worry us. My words to her still haunt me.  I replied that evil immediately around us, in our own country, was a greater threat.

My words manifested on October 7, 2001.  I listened to the news broadcasts of our bombing Afghanistan in response to 9/11 that Sunday afternoon.  As I painted my porch steps in Tennessee,   a man recently released from prison was waiting inside Joann’s cabin in Georgia.  Our strengthening security on the borders to protect the homeland aided in capturing him as he tried to cross into Canada in her vehicle. Ironically, he was charged with terrorism and murder.

That conversation revisits me every 9/11 and reminds that the anniversary of my child’s death is right around the corner. Each year is different, but always a very vulnerable day for me. I make plans to do something comforting.  I end the day with “Thank you , Joann, for chosing me to be your mother. I love you.”

“Do you have an anniversary for a loss in your life that you would like to share?  How do you take care of yourself?  I would love to hear from you.

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“I let go of my plans for a perfect existence and trusted the process. I learned that this was the only perfection.” -Payment for Passagerelax

A requirement for living a peaceful life is actually the easiest thing you can do: let go and let life happen. You certainly have choices in any situation, but there is no way you can completely control the result of any experience. This, however, becomes the hardest thing to do when someone or something meaningful is taken away from you without warning or your decision. In a split second your life suddenly feels out of control. I am very familiar with the process of learning to trust life again. I rarely have fearful moments anymore but when I do, I remind myself that life only happens in the moment and when I am willing to open my heart, truth provides answers to my questions and solutions to my problems.

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Joann’s brother winning a State Title in biking. Joann loved her brother!

Living life is an inside job. When everything is filtered out of an experience except your own presence, what you encountered during that timeframe was due to your perception of yourself and life. How do you see yourself? What one word would you use to describe your life up until this moment in time?

TODAY I HONOR MY WORTH, BELIEVING THAT EVERYTHING AROUND ME HAS PURPOSE AND BEAUTY. My limitless sense of self is not a place; it is my perception, therefore my life. I recognize the face in the mirror as me and know the value of my existence.
– Payment for Passage

Self-doubt is the largest obstacle in my journey toward peace and happiness. After my daughter’s death, I learned as I observed my interactions with people that what I receive from someone has a lot to do with the projection of how I see myself. After all, nothing in my life happens by accident; everyone I meet is a teacher in some way about me. That is my purpose on earth – to see who I truly am and embrace my soul as I walk through each moment.

A tool I use in my spiritual toolbox often is: The less I doubt myself, the less I will get criticism from others. The more I celebrate and appreciate myself, the more people observe and respond to the loving spirit that I truly am.

You can experience my entire journey and the ways I transformed from self-doubt and pity to strength, happiness and the ability to be myself in every experience with joy in Payment for Passage. If you are interested, sign up with your email address for a free chapter today.

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“What a tragedy if fear keeps you from being yourself on earth
………and as a result you do not truly exist.
Being in the moment and emotionally present
throughout your journey determines whether
you are killing time or living a rewarding life.”
Payment from Passage

Does the unknown excite or frighten you?

This answer goes a long way in determining how you survive a tragic loss…When something or someone you depended on is suddenly gone, there are empty moments and uncertain futures.  Nothing you believed before has the same meaning or significance. Our life is redirected and often we are too disoriented to know what to do next.  Only if we are brave enough to travel without knowing our destination, will we break through the pain and find meaning for life again.

When my daughter was murdered my belief systems shattered and  I lost any sense of spiritual existence.  Earthly experiences became all that I knew…it felt like me against the world.   One day out of desperation, I made a list with three columns.  In the first column I listed everything/body remaining in my life I depended on for my happiness and well-being.  In the second column I wrote what I needed from each to be happy.  In the third column I wrote how I could give that to myself if they leave my life.  I added to it each time a source of happiness appeared in my life.  After months I realized the most important column was the third one and the only loss I couldn’t survive was my loss of self.  It was a great step toward nurturing and healing for me.  I treated myself like I thought I needed to be treated by others.

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