The sadness is a sign in the midst of the darkness to stop and grieve.
The sadness is a sign in the midst of the darkness to stop and grieve.
Nothing bad comes from grieving.  It's "just" the roadwork of life
Nothing bad comes from grieving. It's "just" the roadwork of life
Grief is "odd" in that it looms up like a mountain and has a beautfy all its own in the midst of the sadness
Grief is "odd" in that it looms up like a mountain and has a beautfy all its own in the midst of the sadness
She continues to send me feathers
She continues to send me feathers
Believe it or not, if we don''t fight it, grief can be the sweetness in the darkness
Believe it or not, if we don''t fight it, grief can be the sweetness in the darkness


My maternal grandmother (I called her Nana) was the first person I had the opportunity to literally walk to death’s door. I was sixteen. I sat with her and held her hand and talked into her ear for the last forty eight hours of her life. It was my first, first-hand experience with death. It gave me a "familiarity" with death and "prepared" me for the deaths of other loved ones. It allowed me, even as a somewhat macho sixteen-year old, to feel the sadness of losing someone so dear to me and gave me a roadmap, so to speak, for grieving future life losses. And with each successive loss, I was able, through some miracle of the universe, to keep opening myself up more and more to the feelings of loss till my grief for the loss of my first wife became almost unbearable. And now, my avoidance of funerals lets me know that I have probably begun to close those emotional doors.

But because of these first hand experiences with death, it is easy, and perhaps smug of me, to think that I have it down when it comes to grieving. And, as a therapist, I always encourage and support others to go the distance with grief and not to fight it and not to set a time table where you wake up one morning and say to yourself, "Okay, self, time to move on!"

But then, as I started this reflection on Challenge Five, I was caught off guard when losses I had not previously considered losses or losses, that I did not consider worth grieving, began popping into my awareness.

One such loss is my business. I have had a successful private practice in marriage family therapy since 1982, until my practice became vulnerable to whatever it is that is going on with our economy.

The last two years have been extremely challenging. On at least three separate occasions, I gave serious consideration to closing down the practice. After each consideration, I became more determined that the end of my practice was a loss I was not willing to experience or grieve. But until now, I never thought of the experience of keeping the practice going with decreased income, a lack of cash flow and credit, an abundance of phone calls from creditors, questions marks from family when there is little or no food in the refrigerator or cupboard, or when the cable is turned off, as LOSS. Of course, that’s exactly what it is. Not only a loss of funds, but a loss of my image of being the kind of person who can pull it off. On any given day, I’m not pulling it off. It is not necessarily a terrible thing, and I am learning how to stretch my image of what being successful looks like, but the fact of the matter still remains, on the days that the office is empty and the phone is not ringing, I am LOSING.

I always tell others, a la Elizabeth Kubler Ross, that grieving is a PHYSIOlogical process, not a psychological one. It’s not about having a strong mental constitution. Our bodies are going to go through certain stages when we lose, and we have little or no control over those stages. And if we try to control the process or avoid it, grief, itself, will eventually take us down and kick us in the butt. So, in putting together this blog, I am finally realizing that I am grieving the loss of my practice as it once was. I am probably in denial, in depression, with a splash of anger. My practice has been picking up, so I am also rationalization that it is all going to be okay, and so it might be. In the meantime, after beginning this challenge, I’ve decided to let the grief bubble up freely. And to be honest, like most folks, I’m still fighting it!

I’ve also begun looking at the loss of my eyesight and how I avoid "seeing" how much eyesight I have lost, and hearing as well. I am not writing any of this for sympathy or advice, but simply to trigger for you, yourself, a willingness to look at the disguised losses in your own life.

Loss and grieving is just a part of living, and perhaps the more we grieve, the more we can live. Perhaps the more we grieve our losses, our capacity to take in an abundance increases.

The more we fight grief, the more we live in survival mode which is not living at all. It is surviving. But I’m "up" for living. How about you? Take a chance and let some of your grief out. Good grief, just DO IT!

After I had "hubbed" to this point in this reflection, I attended an exquisite Christmas concert presented by the Redlands Community Chorus who sounded like the Roger Wagner Chorale of old. Sitting behind me was Dorothy, who had lost her husband, Jim, several years ago. I loved Jim. We sat next to each other in choir and had many many many laughs. Jim was/is an interesting man and talented musician. He played the double bass and had a history with the Tommy Dorsey Band. So he was full of riveting stories if you like Big Band music.

My sweet wife talked at length with Dorothy before the concert started and said many poignant and consoling things. Thank God for Dianna because when I saw Dorothy, I instinctively avoided talking to her. I acknowledged her, but did not speak to her.

As soon as I saw Dorothy, it was instant. I was so surprised. The sadness whelmed up inside me, and I was afraid I would begin loudly and uncontrollably blubbering. When the concert was over, I turned around and told Dorothy that I really wanted to talk to her, but.... And it all just came pouring out. Thinking about Jim triggered memories of Roberta (, and Dorothy pulled me into her arms and just held me while I cried. She went on to tell me that she hasn’t been able to cry but began to tear up as she held me. So maybe sharing our grief can be a gift..

And then I looked down at my left pocket of my hoody sweat shirt, There was a tiny feather poking out. I have no idea how the feather got there. I had not seen it previously in the evening, but there it was. So writing this reflection opened me up even further to the grief that still sloshes around in my body and soul, and the feather is like a little tap on the shoulder from The Lady who had asked me several days before she passed to get her a feather. As life would have it, I happened to have one, so I hung the feather from the ceiling for her to look at, and she has been sending me feathers ever since. You can read the details in my son’s hub.

Our encounter with Dorothy was Saturday evening (December 12). On Monday morning, Dianna and I attended the funeral of Emmy, who was like her second Mom. Wouldn’t you know it, as we entered the church vestibule, there on the tile floor rested a beautiful turquoise blue feather. Where in the heck did that come from?

It was a very painful day for Dianna, and she sobbed and sobbed during the service. The feather brought some solace.

I had no idea when I thought about this challenge to grieve, that grief would come rapping or perhaps pounding on the door, but so it has.

We all have many losses to grieve and because our society seems so hell bent on moving on, I encourage all of us to support each other in grieving, and there is no time table for grieving. Perhaps it continues for a lifetime.

More by this Author


    A fictional account of what may happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Sometimes truth and fiction work well together and perhaps give us a better glimpse into reality than the so-called facts.


    For the stick in the mud, let’s-get-it-on-and-over-with type, (probably a guy!) spending any amount of time exploring this question could be hard and as boring and perhaps as frustrating as foreplay. So I...

Comments 17 comments

Cathy profile image

Cathy 7 years ago from Oregon, USA

Beautiful. I'll keep it mind to allow others in to my grief since I take it all on like some silent martyr.

anjalichugh profile image

anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York

I'm deeply touched. I've been living with this conflict for a long time....whether to grieve or not. You're right.. we keep telling ourselves that we should move on but that hurt...agony...heart rending memories don't go away...they simply remain buried somewhere deep inside, surfacing when least expected. There's nothing much we can do. Finally it comes down to accepting whatever comes our way. That's the saddest part about human life. No matter how strong humans claim to be, there are countless things which are and never will be under the control of human species. Thx so much for sharing your thoughts here.

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 7 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thanks, Cathy and Anjalichugh. Actually, sobbing and grieving and screaming and hollering over our grief may actually rebalance our brain chemistry, may help with some bilateral (left and right brain) integration, so that actually we end up regaining "control" so to speak, of at least our brain!! Nevertheless, the pain of it all, often appears HUGE and the biggest "thing" anyone would want to avoid. So it's one of those back and forth kind of deals. Ambivalence, I think, they call it! Thanks so much for reading and commenting

palmerlarryray profile image

palmerlarryray 7 years ago from Macon, Missouri

You are an amazing person Vern. I am always astonished at the way you find so much beauty in life. Even in loss, there are beautiful moments if a person is willing to see them. I hope you continue to receive feathers for many many years to come.

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 7 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thanks so much for your support and your comments. It's wonderful to receive support from another guy.

palmerlarryray profile image

palmerlarryray 7 years ago from Macon, Missouri

Well, Vern, I will tell you. A few years ago, I would have rather drank myself into oblivion than share any kind of emotion with anybody. Time and maturity have taught me that life is too short to try being an island. If you can't take the time to show support and caring for another person, you're just too busy and need to slow down. I've seen enough death, destruction and pain for 10 lifetimes but I have also shared some of the most beautiful experiences once I learned to look for them. The lesson I have gleaned: Face the pain, It's worth the ride.

Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

OMG! This feather thing keeps coming up for me. After my dad died, I wrote a novel called Feathers. Maybe I need to edit it. Feathers are a symbol of life after death to more than just me evidently.

Wonderful and thoughtful hub. Thanks so much for sharing your intimate lessons.

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 7 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Storytellersrus, get your novel up on Amazon, using Create Space. There is also a book, "Feathers Brush My Heart" by--well it escapes me at the moment. But you can find it on Amazon. It is a collection of stories of women's experiences after their mothers have passed. Anywho, thanks for reading and commenting.

David R Bradley profile image

David R Bradley 7 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

It seems that the wisdom of my Nana has flowed quite nicely into you. As I read this I reflected on the grief that I carry and how much of it I have yet to take... hmmmmm, I sense a Hub of my own here... OK, with that being said, I'll leave this thought with another thought/quote from Dan Millman that I read this morning before reading this Hub. " can control your efforts, not outcomes. Do your best; Let God handle the rest."

terri 6 years ago

Dear Vern, Your personal story touched me so. I remember how painful it was for me when I lost or actually was asked to leave my own business in a soured partnership. i really think some things we never get over and time does have a way of being able to help us talk with strength that almost resembles detachment. not so but maybe that is 'grace'.

I watch as people quit when they are at the top so they never have to experience the way down. Singers that sort of disappear. Actors that quit sitcoms...Each one of us has the potential to be at the top of our game and some will never reach for it but Vern you still are at the top of your game because what you are experiencing on your way down you have been able to share that with those of us that will need your loving hand to hold us up when we feel that what we did in our life as a career was all of who we are.

You Vern Bradley are a fine wine and you may not see as many clients but whom you see you touch much more profoundly. love Terri wish i drank

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thank you so much for your support and it gives me a little extra knudge to keep on truckin. I intend to write another blog on grief here soon, in the next week. This is the time of year that it always hits me and always unbeknowns to me. I have to stop and say to myself, Oh yea, it's the months of March through June. It's anniversary time for me with respect to my Grandfather, my namessake, my Mom, and my first wife. Sometimes, I would love to move on, but somehow the grief process itself says something like, "You're not ready!" Anywho, thanks again for the wonder filled comment. And I know this time, you're not my sister!

Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 6 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much for this hub! Grief isn't something our society likes to talk about, but it's something we all experience. It is hard. I feel as though I should be more of an expert on it than I am with some of the experiences I've had, but I'm not. I think one of the things that's important is to acknowledge it. But recognizing the process is important and I've gained so many insights from the grieving process. I hope you are doing better. The weak economy is affecting everyone, but I keep thinking that even though it's really hard and it feels like "no one understands my situation," I'm working on my writing more. I've always wanted to be an author and I don't know if I'd be pursuing that dream if the economy were better.

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Hi Elefanza

THANK YOU for giving life to an old hub! I reread it myself just now and cried my little eyes out! My business is still going. Still a bumpy road but a lot of wonder filled events on the horizon that will continue to support the business growing. God, I like to call God "my Senior Partner" (a la Wayne Dyer) has been very instrumental in my life and continues to keep nudging me forward.

NOW, HERE IS AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF FEEDBACK. "I have always wanted to be an author." NEVER write such a misleading statement ever again!!! Instead, "I enjoy so much, it is so exciting to be a writer and an author."

Have you read THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron. If not, it is a must read for you. You can see one of my books above in the Amazon capsule. Julia Cameron's book changed my life and my whole way of thinking about myself when it comes to my art which is mainly writing. So rest assured you ARE a writer and an author. There is something definitely WRITE about you!!

Take care

Thanks again for writing and following me


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 6 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

Hi again Vern,

Thank you so much for your encouraging comment! It means so much -- I literally jumped around the apartment for a good ten minutes, big dopey grin on face, loving life again. I hear ya on the bumpy road bit, yet it's worth it. Dream becoming reality in a way. I do enjoy writing so much. I love what I can learn and all the people I can interact with! I am definitely buying The Artist's Way. Sounds like just the book for me. THANK YOU!

You are very insightful, beautiful person (and an EXCELLENT writer)! I'm glad I decided to follow you! Hope you get back all the joy and light you radiate!



vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Elefanza, you will devour the Artist's Way and DO the morning pages. You will go wild with discovering the "magic" and spirituality of the morning pages. I am now writing my morning pages as if I am in the future. You will understand that more once you start them, and she explains clearly how to do them and what they are all about. Anywho, THANKS for following my hubs and I am looking forward to reading more of yours.


Sandy Scott 6 days ago

Thanks for posting Vern. I read the whole thing all the way through. It wa "compelling" reading. God Bless you for sharing so much of yourself with others.

vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 3 days ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thanks fro stopping by and reading Sandy. Appreciate your feedback.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article