Sunday Pause: Sunday Pause P.S. on Grief, anniversaries, furry friends & links 6/11

Jun 11, 2023 | Newsletter, Sunday Pause Mailing

Your comments and messages from last week’s Sunday Pause were refreshingly meaningful and validating. Thank you! There’s more to expand on in future Pauses, and it’s never too late to comment. I included the list of 11 ways I care for my grieving parts again and hope you can begin to generate your own. I added a children’s book that one of our community members reminded me of—sampling our grief in whatever portion we’re able. Yes to children’s books, and time with children!

If you missed June 4’s reflection on my recent Grief Retreat with IFS Lead Trainer (and my therapist of 14 years), Ann Sinko, you may read it here.

I seem to emerge from one season of grief, to be handed soon-after yet another chapter. Erik and I have joked about waiting for Ordinary Time to arrive for decades. Someday, perhaps. Or maybe not. Our work is to respond to what is given us with as much gentleness and grace as we can. oof.

I had no idea that while tending to my grieving parts at the retreat in Texas, one of our 19 year old cats, Lilli, was quietly entering her final week of life. I came home pretty raw from the retreat to just a few days with our now feeble, 5# sweet, furry girl. She’s been in kidney failure for years (standard for older cats), but we’ve managed to keep her stable, thankfully. I never imagined May 19 would be our last morning with her, with just an hour to say goodbye.

Here she is cuddling with her nearly siamese-twin-of-a-brother, Loki, as Infinicat, and at her final vet appointment as he licks and comfort her. These two have been inseparable for over 19 years. The goldfish was her favorite toy that she’d carry around at night squawking and disturbing our sleep–a sound I never thought I’d miss until now. My sadness over her loss continues to surprise and touch me at unexpected times throughout each day. She, her brother and other animals have been lifelines to me as comforting, non-verbal companions during endless days healing from injuries, illness and emotional hardships.

May we cherish our furry family members while they are in our care, and hold onto all the unconditional love and companionship they so readily give us. We’re so lucky to have them, and it hurts so to say goodbye.

Lilli’s passing is bittersweet, as I welcome the 13th anniversary of my brain injury tomorrow, June 12. This traumatic event has impacted the course of my life and my career in beautiful and painful ways. I find anniversaries a fascinating milestone to track. Some years we want to forget them. Other years we want to celebrate and tell the world. Some years forgetting anniversaires means healing. Other years forgetting them means something completely different.

The first anniversary of my injury a close friend encouraged me to do something I hadn’t been able to yet do post-injury. I decided to get on my road bike and ride a hilly two hour loop I hadn’t yet had the stamina to try. I had to take breaks every 20 minutes or so–to stop moving and lay horizontal on the ground to reboot. But I finished the loop with a renewed sense of courage and confidence.

Over the years, since the injury happened while biking, I try to mark the day with a bike ride. I’ve learned that in order to reclaim my agency from a traumatic event, I have to gently, in my own time and on my own terms, step towards the fear, step into it and get back into the saddle. Even if that “just” means a ride around the block like it did for months after I first got hurt.

Erik and I are headed out shortly off the grid where we’ll enjoy a rare backcountry mountain bike ride in Idaho with a close friend and his/my borrowed timeshare border collie, Bridger. I’ll still have to take breaks, but each year post-injury I’m less scared and more healed. Riding and pushing myself out of my comfort zone physically and neurologically is one of the best remedies for healing and renewed confidence.

Get back on the saddle. Step into your fears. Then celebrate!

The Mountain Bike photo was a few years ago on June 12 outside of Moab, UT, where I’ll be back in August for our IFS River Journey.

I adopted Wonder Woman as my patron saint early in my injury recovery and have channeled her during scary moments for my brain over the years, as well as celebratory healing leaps after milestone events. The leaps capture a moment of weightlessness and freedom I dream of embodying longer than a millisecond! I keep leaping because I can. I have no idea how long this will be possible (due to my robust case of rheumatoid arthritis). This was on my last day in Austin and still being able to leap makes all my parts smile.

Do what you have to do to keep going. These photos encourage me and I hope they can encourage you, too.

Finally, I assembled a few resources for you, in what one reader said feels like a Care Package when she opens it. I love that. Yes, my care package for you and your parts.

Thanks for reading, for being honest with your grief and holding it with love, curiosity and compassion—as you’re able, in whatever size morsel can be swallowed. Crumbs are fine!


Take a listen to Tami Simon interviewing Dick Schwartz and Elizabeth Gilbert on Sounds True.

I thought Liz did an amazing job speaking about her experience with IFS. My favorite part was the last 10 minute when she very thoughtfully and Self-led-ly describes why she declined doing a demo with Dick for the interview. It was beautiful to hear her awareness and care for her parts.

Gottmans promoting IFS!

Comforting Songs for Grieving parts:
Heather Houston Surrender

Also, Heather is hosting her Sister’s in Harmony Annual IN PERSON Singing retreat in the Redwood Forest near Santa Cruz, CA, 7/6-9 if you’re in need of healing energy, song, connection and movement with the most amazing collection of women, join them (and me if I’m able to make it I hope I hope!)

Ruth Moody from the Wailin’ Jennys (her voice is soo soothing) Nothing without Love.