What is this blog about?

There is no such thing as an expert on the topic of Life. We all have had our battles, our suffering, and our questions. Despite the uniqueness of our personal obstacles, we have endured them. We have endured them well enough to advise those behind us as to how to do the same. I have done the research on your behalf regarding the multitude of reasons why wisdom exists. My mission is to utilize the voices of the world's greatest thinkers and heroes to compose a guideline of life's wisdom so that you don't have to experience those trials alone.

If you have any questions, please tweet them to me @JoeSielski or email me at JJSielskiJr@comcast.net

(Please title your email with the word "Wisdom" so I know it will be for this blog.)

I will do my best to try and answer every question as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thanks.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Day to Honor Grief

Life happens, and things happen to us. Sometimes we appreciate these things and other times we don't. Things and people enter our lives; things and people also leave our lives. It is in those moments of loss that we can experience feelings of being lost ourselves within a world that once seemed so familiar. These feelings of grief can usher in later feelings such as anger, guilt, or a lack of self-worth. This surge of melancholic thinking is a trap the mind plays and can leave even the strongest individuals in a struggle to stay balanced. Allow me to describe a method for addressing those feelings without allowing them to cripple you in moments of vulnerability. Take a moment to breathe and prepare yourself to use your imagination.

 Try to create for yourself a box. This box needs only to be imagined. Then fill this box with every thing and every thought about your grieving experience, specifically those pesky negative ones. Consider faces, items, songs and locations; then cram them all into that little box. Now take that box and put it onto an imaginary shelf. This way, you can continue with your standard routines and practices, but without the torment of your grief. According to psychologists, this is known as compartmentalizing one's grief. If only the healing process was this simple, but it's not. Now for the most important part of all: rather than ignoring that box, approach it and open it. Approach it and open it regularly. Little by little, over the course of time, pull out some of those emotions and experience them again. Actively listen to those songs that might recall your anxiety, don't avoid them or deny their existence. Choose to visit those places that remind you of what or who you lost. Challenge yourself to genuinely feel those emotions in their entirety. If you must cry, then cry; if you need to feel angry, be angry. This imagined box will allow for a safe zone where one can grieve so that the emotions don't transform and become damaging. When you are finished, wrap the box back up and tuck it away again. Take back the control of your emotions so that they don't take control over you. In general, we are encouraged to distract ourselves away from those poor thoughts. We return to work and to our routines in an attempt to bring a sense of normalcy back into our lives. Eventually the inevitable will occur; certain songs may play, certain dates may pass, certain things will remind us of that which we lost. Such events can catch us off-guard. This might feel as though that box falls off the shelf, crashes to the ground and shatters. It is in these moments that grief is the most challenging, but this does not make for an excuse to avoid life. This is why it is valuable to seek out those totems that remind us of our grief and regularly bring them forward. This will help to alleviate the pain from their sting. It is still your charge to feel those emotions nonetheless. Now remember, forgiveness is the act of accepting that one's history is unchangeable. Therefore a crucial facet of grieving is the act of accepting that all expectations of the future can no longer be, for instance: holidays without a loved one, etc. The past will always be with you, since you cannot be with it.

 Let me digress to explain why the symbolism of an emotional box is valid. That imaginary box exists to help you. It exists to help you manage your standard routines while partitioning that negativity away from your daily life. This process keeps you attentive and educated through the journey of grief. By addressing and then accepting the new understanding of your future, you establish that valuable sense of control over your emotions. That box also serves to be a reminder, to remind yourself to constantly address the emotional contents within it, even if just for a brief moment. In other words, actively approach and inspect those emotions you stuffed away into it. “I will think about this. I will question it and determine why it makes me feel bad. I will process it. I will confide in myself in spite of it and therefore, I will let it go.” This is not advice about how to forget your past. People have value, celebrate them. But release yourself from all those emotions of regret, doubt or guilt that could be attached to your grieving. Replace them with feelings of gratitude and hope. In what ways can you look back and be grateful for what you had lost? In what ways can you use this loss as a platform upon which you can construct a more hopeful future? This will allow you freedom from your own anxieties. Also, this will become the harbinger of peace that welcomes joy back into your life. The goal throughout this process is to figure out a way in which to re-discover happiness. It begins with a choice.

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter arises was oftentimes filled with your tears. How can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain."
--  Kahlil Gibran

In loving memory of Dr. Ron Kershner 
Sept. 19, 1949-Nov. 16, 2015

Thank you for blessing our tribe of a family.
There is no algorithm that could ever quantify the
amount of respect I have for you.
Your love, your humor, your knowledge are but a memory now.
Though your transition may leave a hole in our hearts,
 we are whole for knowing you.
You are one with God.


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