Posts Tagged ‘grief’

My Interview with Author Mirabai Starr

April 27, 2017

Mirabai Starr

It was a privilege to interview author, teacher and speaker Mirabai Starr about her poignant and beautifully written book, Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, which chronicles her most significant life experiences, and in particular the tragic loss of her teenage daughter, Jenny.

This beautifully written book spoke directly to my heart. Mirabai’s transparency and willingness to be emotionally naked and vulnerable are astonishing. Her openness to share her journey of grief and loss is undoubtedly a gift to those who are struggling with unimaginable losses.

I was so very impressed with the quality of the writing as well. Dozens of times throughout the book, with just a few perfectly expressed and arranged words, Mirabai conveys an emotional power and depth that is nothing short of stunning.

Her message is clear and powerful: even when the world is not large enough to contain your grief, and even though you will never again be who you once were, know that healing is possible, and that joy patiently waits on the other side of sorrow.

Click here to visit Mirabai’s website.

Click on the audio player below to listen to my 24-minute interview with Mirabai:


Hi, Mirabai, thanks so much for joining us today.
Hi, Phil. Thanks for having me. I’m delighted to be with you.

My pleasure. Allow me to introduce you. Mirabai Starr writes creative nonfiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialogue. A certified bereavement counselor, Mirabai helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. Her newest book, Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, received the Spirituality and Practice Best Books of 2015 Award. Mirabai, tell us about this book, Caravan of No Despair.
Well, the book started . . . The seed idea came from the coalescing or the cataclysm, actually, of two events in my life. One was the release of my first book, which was a translation of Dark Night of the Soul by the 16th-century Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross, and on the very day that that book was released, that I received my first advanced copy, my fourteen-year-old daughter, Jenny, was killed in a car accident. In fact, the two events coincided so closely that it still blows my mind almost fifteen years later. The UPS . . . we lived rurally in Taos, New Mexico, so UPS had just . . . no, it was FedEx . . . had just delivered the first advance copy of my first book and it was sitting on the table unopened. Jenny had been missing since the night before when she took off with my car. Half an hour after the book was delivered, the police came to the door to inform me that they had found her and that she was gone, that she was dead.

It took me a long time, Phil, to integrate those two things. I mean it became clear to me pretty early on that what I had understood about the Dark Night of the Soul when I was translating that mystical masterpiece by John of the Cross was inadequate for (more…)

Sarah and Mrs. Z: A Teacher’s Story

April 25, 2012

We are all messengers; the way we live our lives, and how we show up in the world, are messages that we broadcast every minute of every day. Lou Zywicki Prudhomme, a high school teacher from Carlton, Minnesota, thought her message of encouragement and hope hadn’t made much of an impact on her students, until a chance encounter came at just the right time to provide her with encouragement and hope in her own hour of need. This story from the April 2012 issue of Guideposts moved me to tears. I trust it will touch your heart as well.

A reunion with a once-troubled former student helps a teacher deal with her grief

Lou Zywicki Prudhomme

I published an article in Guideposts magazine a little over six years ago: Sarah’s Story, about a troubled eleventh grader in the English class I taught at a vocational high school in Duluth, Minnesota. Sarah was one of the angriest students I had ever taught. But I knew that her anger was simply a defense she’d built up against her deeper feelings of fear and hurt.

Sarah had grown up in an abusive home and had then lived on the streets before entering foster care. Even then she remained disruptive and confrontational—with her fellow students and especially with me, whom she saw as just another authority figure who couldn’t be trusted. She seemed to have no interest in her future.

I was at a loss. I was proud of my teaching, but I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to reach Sarah. Lord, I’d prayed, help me find the key to Sarah’s heart.

Then one day I stumbled onto something that I hoped would grab her attention, a Northern (more…)

Wings of Love

February 23, 2012

My friend Paul Streitz posted this on his blog today. Its’s such a wonderful story that I wanted to share it here.

My dad called me this morning to tell me he had gone for a drive last night to think about my mother, who had passed away in June. Partly because my mom’s heritage was American Indian, she highly valued bald eagles. She and my dad would often go for a drive to see if they could spot any, with only occasional success. Last night, after driving for a while, my father popped in the CD I had made for him shortly after my mom died; all that was on it were the two songs they had dedicated to each other. As soon as the song that my mom had dedicated to my dad began playing, a bald (more…)

A Hug From Richard

January 12, 2012

In her book, Heart Prints; Walking on Holy Ground, Julie Ireland Keene starts off a chapter titled “The Faces of Angels Among Us” with a heartwarming story about her son who died far too young. All the elements line up so perfectly that it would be a stretch to attribute it all to coincidence. You make the call.


The wise words of Rumi: “Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment” apply to an experience I had several years ago that remains vivid, consoling, and bewildering. For quite some time I had been focused on releasing the grief concerning my son Richard’s sudden death at age nine. For far too long I had carried the hundred pound weight on my heart and with the help of my dear friend Ione along with spiritual teachers such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Stephen Levine, Ram Dass and others, I made great progress. I took care of my unfinished business with him, dealt with guilt over not being a perfect parent, and was able to see the wonderful gift of having this dear loving soul in my life for nine years.

I had always dreamed of Richard in his nine year old earth suit. However, after I had gone through the process of releasing the pain but keeping him close in love, I had a dream of him as a (more…)

It Is God’s Kindness to Terrify You

October 21, 2011

The moment you recognize the blessings inherent in your suffering, the greater your capacity to transcend your anguish, even as grief and pain threaten to consume you.

Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.
Leigh Hunt

No matter how lost, scared, vulnerable, or powerless you feel, you can treat this very moment as a portal to peace, wisdom, and healing.

This place where you are right now, God (more…)

Weep With Your Whole Heart

October 16, 2011

Suffering cannot be compartmentalized. Refuse to deal with your pain and you poison every aspect of your life.

When you deny emotional pain, everything you do or think as well as your relationships become contaminated with it. You broadcast it, so to speak, as the energy you emanate, and others will pick it up subliminally.
Eckhart Tolle

Ignore your suffering, numb it with distractions and addictions, and the sentry (more…)

Where There Is Sunshine, There Is Also Shade

September 22, 2011

Grief will not be ignored. Turn in any direction and grief is there, fencing you in. Only when you give grief your full attention will it give up its gifts.

Mourning is not forgetting. . . . It is an undoing. Every minute tie has to be untied and something permanent and valuable recovered and assimilated from the dust.
Margery Allingham

While you did not consciously choose to suffer, you have (more…)

The Other Side of Pain

September 20, 2011

No two people suffer alike or for the same reasons. What causes heartbreak in one person may spur nothing but wistfulness and gratitude in another.

Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a king’s loss of a crown are events of the same size.
Mark Twain

View suffering as an enemy and you distance yourself from the (more…)

No Winter Lasts Forever

September 19, 2011

The moment you recognize the blessings inherent in your suffering, the greater your capacity to transcend your anguish, even as grief and pain threaten to consume you.

Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.
Leigh Hunt

As inspirational author and speaker Andy Andrews humorously (more…)

Of Dragons and Princesses

September 6, 2011

Every staggering loss you have endured has played a major role in shaping who you are. Pain and purpose walk hand in hand.

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.
Rainer Maria Rilke

By simple virtue of enduring what must (more…)

The Schoolmaster of Life

August 5, 2011

The road to salvation is by no means a linear path; adversity and triumph melt into one another until they are all but indistinguishable.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Kahlil Gibran

Thus, while you do not necessarily rejoice whenever life steers you into a ditch, you (more…)

A Cry From the Depths

March 6, 2010

An abiding faith in the perfection of God’s plan may be of little comfort when your body is wracked with unbearable pain or when the world is not large enough to contain your grief.

When we lose God, it is not God who is lost.

But it is the light of that faith, no matter how dimly it flickers in the darkness of your despair, that carries with it the promise of a better day.

However long the night, the dawn will break.
African proverb

In the throes of despair, the idea that time will heal your pain (more…)

I Believe In the Sun

December 23, 2009

The concept of forgiveness is harder to swallow when applied to shockingly brutal individual acts and crimes against humanity.

I believe in the sun—even when it does not shine; I believe in love—even when it is not shown; I believe in God—even when He does not speak.
Scratched into a basement wall by a Holocaust victim

People with malicious intentions may exercise their free will by hurting others. God will not directly interfere because, by definition, free will cannot be interfered with. Consequently, God’s plan for each of us must weather continual course corrections; in extreme cases, our life’s plan must be rewritten. Even then, however, karmic forces are at work and angels hover near.

When you mix free will you get certain deviants. . . . You think that just because there is an absence of good, for instance, that evil exists. This is not so. In fact, things are far more intricate.
Lena Lees

It is insensitive at best and cruel at worst to suggest to those who have suffered horrifically that there may be even a modicum of meaning behind unspeakable crimes. And yet, even as we honor another’s grief, it (more…)

You Are Weeping For That Which Has Been Your Delight

October 27, 2009

stone-statue-of-grieving-womanGrief, whether for the loss of a relationship, a loved one, or our health, is a necessary bridge between life as we knew it and the “new normal.” Yet, immersed in sorrow, we fear that we may never again drink deeply of the cup of life.

Grief is often tinged with regret. We dream of traveling back to happier times and making the most of second chances. Spare yourself such anguish; beginning today, make the most of your first chances.

When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.
Maurice Maeterlinck

Our own suffering can give us insight into (more…)

How One Mother Transcended Her Grief

October 20, 2008

Liz Wencl

On September 20, 2003, Kim Wencl‘s worst nightmare came true: her twenty-year-old daughter, Liz, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, died of smoke inhalation from an early morning fire at the Dinkytown duplex where she lived just a few blocks from the U. Two of her roommates also perished.

Kim left the comment below on my post about the Awareness Release Technique. I’ve gotten to know Kim over the last couple months and I am astonished at how courageously she has coped with her unimaginable loss.

messages_from_beyond_cover1Kim wrote about her story in the book True Stories of Messages From Beyond by Julie Aydlott and Friends.

Two years after Liz died, Kim received a very special letter from her daughter. Click here to read about that incredible experience.

Kim granted permission for me to share her story in this way. I believe that Kim’s words will be of great comfort and inspiration to others who are dealing with loss of any kind.

Reading your blog entry today on Awareness Relief Technique has made me realize that I unknowingly used that technique when dealing with the intense grief over the death of my 20 yr old daughter Liz. It defiintely works! You have to feel the pain and acknowledge it before it will leave. That’s why people who just “suck it up” or choose to “soldier through” after a tramatic event in their lives will have issues with those emotions and feelings for the rest of their lives — or until they are forced or choose to go back and re-live them and actually feel the pain and then let it go. (more…)