Friday, August 13, 2010

5 Ways to Cope with Grief

By : Jane Angeles
Date : March 27, 2010

Healing is a choice. That’s what I realized after facing seven deaths in the family, occurring within a span of three years.

Today, four years from that series of seven, I write seated in the chapel pews of a funeral home where my close aunt’s body lies in state. She is the 8th family member to pass on.
Having this experience I can attest to the social scientists’ observation of Filipinos way of dealing with the loss of a loved one through intrinsic faith and sense of community.
This is how I cope with grief:
1. Be still. The world seems to stand still when your loved one dies. You are overwhelmed with questions of future uncertainties. It is important to process what happened. Be at peace. Do not blame anybody for your loss or make abrupt decisions that you will regret later. Realize that you are bursting with mixed emotions. Draw from your inner strength. Constructively express your feelings, anger and frustrations through a talk with your close friends and with God. Meditate on the lessons you are learning.

2. Open your doors to offers of help. A newly bereaved person is usually in the state of shock or disorientation. There are well meaning relatives and friends that will offer their help and comfort. Sometimes their mere quiet presence, crying with them, a hug or touch will ease your pain. There will be concerned people that may unintentionally say insensitive remarks or give unsolicited advice. I recall an offensive comment from a visitor at my husband’s wake. The person said, “You are still young and you can still re-marry” – he was unaware of my grieving heart shouting, “Nobody can ever take my husband’s place in my heart!”. Maybe these comments arise from the fact that our friends have not gone through the same loss of a loved one. Their comments could be coming from a genuine concern to make us feel better, through their own perspectives and set of experiences.

3. Talk it over. Talking repeatedly about the incidence of death to all the visitors in a funeral wake (Filipinos’ standard duration is 4 to 7 days), will start the desensitizing and healing process of the bereaved. Also learn to cherish memories. Tell your listening friends about your feelings. Listen as well to other people who may have stories to tell about their good memories. Realizing that there are other people who are also grieving your loved one’s death will make you feel “you are not alone” in your battle of pain due to loss.

4. Accept the reality. No matter how hard you wail, it will never bring him back. The world will still revolve; therefore your world should too. Accept that you are not in control and believe in the One who is. All things will pass away. Everything will end at the appointed time. What matters is that good memories should be invested, and relationships restored with those that are left behind.

5. Journal your journey. Writing about the travails of going through bereavement is a tried and tested therapy for healing. All the steps we took were in the past, and only through recording can we review, study the patterns, find conclusions and discover some life insights to apply. Look forward to your next journey.

Each individual has his distinct way of coping with grief. All individuals will need others’ help in healing. Do your part in restoring your soul. Healing is a choice.

Keep the Faith, Keep the Dream Alive

By: Jane Angeles

How does one keep the faith in a shattered world? This was my question when faced with seven deaths in the family, occurring within a period of three years.

Everything was bright and sunny when my family migrated from Tondo to Laguna in the year 2000. Our dream of building our own home after staying with my in-laws in Tondo for 10 years had finally come into reality. My husband and I personally selected and jointly decided on every detail of our new home furnishings and interior design down to the last nail. To add to our excitement, I gave birth to our third child while our new house was being constructed. I was married to a faithful, responsible and godly husband for eleven years. We were blessed with three wonderful children.

I was also well loved by my in laws. My husband’s grandma even gave me the family’s antique furniture she had carved herself. My mother in law’s old singer machine, which survived World War 2, was also handed over to me instead of to my husband’s siblings.

On weekends, we visited my family in Bulacan where we usually danced, sang and laughed at my siblings, cousins and nieces’ antics.

I thought my joy was complete, especially because my dream of seeing most of my family members and in-laws accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior had also been fulfilled during this same period.

All was well, until a year later, what seemed to be a “death toll” happened in our family. It started with the death of my mother in-law’s brother due to high blood pressure. After a few months, my grandma in-law who was 98, expired while asleep.

My 8 year old daughter, Yana was stricken by great grandma’s death because she was her companion during great grandma’s sudden but peaceful death. My husband comforted Yana and told her that we would all meet in heaven, in what bodily form he didn’t know yet. But if ever he became a spirit, he would whisper in Yana’s ears when she gets to heaven “welcome home darling”. As if he had a premonition, my husband followed grandma to heaven only four months later because of a fatal plane crash on November 11, 2002. The pain and confusion led me to my knees and I placed my full trust in God, He is above all things and in Him all things hold together. He gave me and my children a verse to hold on, that is from the faith chapter of Hebrews 11, verse 40 “God has planned something better for you, so that together with you will it be made perfect”.

My siblings and nieces comforted me and stayed with me through the Christmas season of 2002. During Christmas and until New Year’s Eve, my brother’s one year old daughter was having unexplained discomfort. In January 2003, my youngest niece was diagnosed with cancer. My brother who was in constant worry was confined in the hospital ICU due to diabetic complications. At the ICU we held hands, prayed, sang and still made puns at each other. He eventually got healed, but after a year of chemo therapy, my then two year old niece succumbed to cancer.

While we were having the cancer ordeal in my siblings’ camp, my mother in-law was silently going through depression. She couldn’t accept the death of my husband - a child should not die before the parent. My loving mother in law passed on a few months after my husband’s death due to heart failure.

Within the year 2003, Miguel, my then 12 year old son was longing for a father. He was looking up to his older cousin in-law, father of three young boys and husband of my niece. One day my son told me that he envies his cousin-in-law’s family because they have a dad. I told Miguel that God is the Father of the fatherless and His grace is sufficient. A few days after our conversation, his cousin in law passed away due to heart attack. It was a very strong message that at a young age, Miguel understood.

The last death in the series of seven was my husband’s brother in law who died from lung problem. He accepted the Lord Jesus while attending the wake of his son in law. He died before the end of year 2003.

Through this trial, I have kept the faith and I have kept my hope. Emmanuel Ten puts it clearly “As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.

Only when I was faced with my mortality and vulnerability did I fully yield and surrender my life to God. This was how I kept the faith and I will continue to dream and live on until my Lord calls me home.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Women are Born Leaders

Interesting blog post from Nick Fontanilla about the growing influence of women "...women will, in more ways than one, change the contour of individual, political and economic power in the world...let me emphasize, however, that the growing influence and power of women versus men is not the issue. The major issue is that while before, they were not so actively participating in economic activities, they are, in the future, expected to contribute more to expand the pie and not just merely share in the pie. Despite the attendant social cost, the participation of women in economic activities should bring positive results.".

Someone gave me a key chain for a Christmas gift with a statement: "women are born leaders". How appropriate, I even attached it to my car key (note, I just learned and earned a driver's license this year!)-- I "drive"! Yeah!

Women are really born leaders, in a different sense of the word.

Leaders are resourceful - who doesn't have a mom who made ends meet given the scare family resources?

Leaders are peace makers - doesn't mom manage the chaotic household and softens the stubborn kids?

Leaders take control - doesn't a solo mom take on the responsibility of providing for her kids' needs when there is no husband to lean on?

Leaders are visionaries - doesn't a mom know a child's need or concerns even before they say it?

Leaders have followers - don't you see moms with kids trailing their walk in the mall? Or kids (and even dads) yield when mom says "No!"

Leaders are influencers - doesn't a wife manipulate, este, motivate the husband or children to achieve their best potential?

Last but not the least...

Leaders are servants - whoever has the servant's hands has the TRUE leader's heart,
whoever is the least is the first.

A woman who is humble enough to submit to authority or her husband is the true leader. rock!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Indulging kids with gifts

What will you do if your little boy gives you the “puppy eyes look” begging you to buy him his favorite expensive, “not so good for him” PSP toy for Christmas? Did he negotiate that it will be your year round - Christmas, New Year, birthday, valentine’s, graduation- all occasions’ gift for him? And if he ever got the toy, will he ever look you in the eye - even glance at you, or his eyes will just be glued on the PSP screen? Wouldn’t it be better if you just allow him to enjoy his outdoor basketball games and you enjoy his “puppy smell” at end of the day?

Will your heart thump double time when you hear your child softly moan about the travails of the school day, when his peers make fun of his old modeled, second hand mobile phone unit? Have you deprived him of self esteem? Or will this be a golden opportunity to teach him to draw from his inner strength rather than rely on external, material motivations.

What kind of mom will you be to your teenager if you did not provide him a new laptop because his old one was too bulky, too slow, chipped off (due to his carelessness) – and because of this he was left behind in submitting his school projects? If you give in, aren’t you passing off a magic moment for lessons on accountability, resourcefulness and perseverance?

Uh - oh…how about your reputation? What would your colleagues in the technology industry say if your children maintain outdated gadgets? You know that you need to keep your children up to date with the trends!

All too often, we interfere with our children’s character development and tend to give in to emotional blackmails – all due to our good intentions as parents. This is where we should know when is enough and what is best for our children – social acceptance or character building.

Of course, as parents we know that if we spare the rod, we spoil the child. Who wouldn’t want to bring up a responsible adult?

However, our optimum desire is for our kids to like us! We want our kids to have what we didn’t get enough of. Easy to endorse “tough love”, but for parents working long hours, we want to make up for our absence by fulfilling our kids’ every passing fancy. And most of the time we come home late, too tired to haggle and negotiate, that at the end of the day we just nod like robots to their caprices.

I know of many broken-hearted solo moms with meager income, go into deeper debt just so their kids don’t feel stressed and overburdened – only to be disappointed by side long glances and ingratitude.

I am not spared from this same ditch. When I get to this situation, I ask myself, “Am I doing this for my child or for myself?”

I am also reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, as a guiding principle:
Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial.
Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive.
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

This Christmas season we will be sheltering two orphaned children, I hope our family learns the value of eternal gifts.

And be reminded of God’s tough, sacrificial love expressed through His only Son, His amazing gift for us all.

“Overindulging is a form of child neglect.” It keeps kids from learning basic lessons of life, or thinking beyond their own needs, partly because their parents never let them understood sacrifice or hardship. (Refer to Bredehoft studies on "The Consequences of an Effortless Childhood").

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wacky Anniversay Gifts

This is my very first attempt at blogging and while tinkering with my dashboard, realized TODAY is my wedding anniversary with Ompong - it would have been our 18th year!

God is awesome! He had and has always been my faithful comforter and the fullness of my joy. He is always at the right timing -- allowing circumstances to work together for the good of those who love Him, whom He called according to His purpose. I am privileged to be gifted with widowhood so I can comfort those who are going through the same journey.

Ompong and I celebrated our ten years together with special dates and gifts. The first year of course was the most romantic and extravagant. I received a very expensive gift - a diamond studded ring! It was actually a post engagement gift because I never had an engagement ring.

The succeeding years got more interesting:
  • 2nd - 1993 - We ate at Binondo Chinatown for my favorite authentic chinese food - at T.Pinpin (pronounced as Te-pin-pin)

  • 3rd - 1994 - I was 8 months pregnant with my second baby, we went to a girlie bar (my friend said Ompong must have paid corkage so I would be allowed entry to the bar)

  • 4th - 1995 - We went to Villa Escudero - we ran....and ran....shhh...secret!

  • 5th - 1996 -Allowed me (so long as he went along) to go on a two-hour hiking in the hills of Majayjay, Laguna. When we went to the stream, I slipped face down on a big boulder and I heard him say "Naku! Honey ko!" he was so worried that I got hurt. How sweet...

  • 6th - 1997 - He gave me a guitar, because he wanted me to go back to my passion since childhood. Ompong and I used to play the guitar together, up until my old guitar was broken by my kid.

  • 7th - 1998 - We attended the CCF couple's retreat and my husband committed our family to serve the Lord Jesus Christ

  • 8th - 1999 - Finally, he decided to move out of my in-laws' house (where we stayed since we got married) and we started amortizing for a beautiful home in a quaint place somewhere in the suburbs, the one that I really loved

  • 9th - 2000 - Ompong never ran out of antics, he gifted me with "buntot ng butiki (lizard's tail)! Did you know that the lizard's tail moves even if it's not connected to the body?! Eeeeyeeew! I was (and still am) afraid of "butiki"! He had fun running after me around the house...after that he gave me a bouquet of spring flowers - my favorite

  • 10th - 2001 - Every Friday since 1998, we dated and ate out in authentic restaurants. He decided to give me asian cuisine recipe books so we could learn start cooking our own dish while bonding during weekends...and so he started to cook for me he-he, I don't cook!
Our adventure was disrupted by a Laoag International Airlines flight 585 plane crash on an eventful morning of November 11, 2002. He would have brought me and my kids to Cebu to celebrate our eleventh anniversary.

December 21st had never been the same since then. I've allowed myself to get drowned with the Christmas rush, parties, shopping, workplace and children's concerns -- because I couldn't and wouldn't allow my emotions be buried with Ompong.

Today, after seven years, God allowed Ompong to smile at me, gifting me with this blogpost.

Happy Anniversary Ompong!

You are with Christ, Christ is in Me, therefore we are still together...I hope you can gift me with a new partner :) Joke lang!

Missing Ompong

This year marks my husband's seventh year of passing on to be with our Creator, leaving me three lovable and God-fearing children.

For the past years, I have struggled with giving him up and accepting a "single' status. I have always felt married to him. In fact I still carry his last name: Angeles.

He has always been alive in my dreams; we talked and goofed around, doing the same fun things when he was alive...but my dream suddenly crumbles when my mind knocks me off with reality. There was a time that I hugged his part of the bed only to realize it was empty.

In times when I fixed our files, I'd say, "Ah, I will ask Ompong where he filed this document..." because he was the organized one and I was the spontaneous.

During a full moon where we used to go out of our room's view deck, I miss holding his hand, wrapped up in his arms while looking at the big, round, shining moon. I miss telling him that his bald head looked like the moon! And he'd just kissed me " are my star". Actually my little girl was his star, daddy's little girl. My eldest son was our family's "Sun" shine, and my youngest jolly son, as our "Rainbow" -- and me? I am Mother Earth -- where everyone of them revolves around -- as my husband quipped.