A Gift of Gratitude For You-(Gift Inside)

 

So Thanksgiving is in just a few days, and what better time to warm our hearts with stories of gratitude than now.

I am over the moon excited to share with you our new e-book, A Gift of Gratitude, a community book project, just released on Amazon. A book of authors sharing their thoughts and experiences with matters of thankfulness.

With help from fantastic editor Donna Kozik, this book has become a fabulous melting pot of gold, offering appreciation, love, perspective, smiles and hope.  I am so honored to be a part.

As a special gift for all our loyal readers and supporters, A Gift of Gratitude is free all this week! So all you need to do is purchase it for free and it’s yours to download and read on whatever device you’d like.

Here is the Amazon link.    http://bit.ly/gratitude–book

Do you know someone who could use a little uplifting this holiday season?  Heartwarming and soul touching, this is the perfect gift! Did I mention this inspirational book also contains the favorite causes of all the authors? How cool!  I’m a big fan of philanthropy and always love hearing about how people give back to organizations dear to their heart.

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What are you waiting for? Go get it while it’s still free and enjoy!

http://bit.ly/gratitude–book 

With that, I pray you all have a Thanksgiving filled love, family and friends. As you gather around the table or reflect on your own, may we all take a moment and remember everything we have to be grateful for.

On the journey with you,

Daphne

 

P.S. Stayed tuned next week for another special announcement!

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One Amazing Thing You Can Do to Heal a Broken Heart

After my daughter died, you could say the world ended. It was that simple. My life had come to the lowest point ever imagined. I was surrounded by complete darkness.There was no purpose, no meaning left, so why continue living?   She was only five. Suddenly, nothing mattered anymore.  I had failed. Failed to protect my most prized possession. Failed horribly as a mother.  I was at the bottom of the food chain.  My future had been destroyed, or so I believed.

And now, for the rest of my life, I will be a grieving mother. A frightening thought and a tough pill to swallow.

Over the last ten years, I have gained wisdom far beyond my years. I was forced to grow up before my time, facing my fears and tragedies head on.  Diving deep into my faith was the only answer. No one could help me or give me the magic potion to fix this pain, despite my longing to do so.  My eyes were opened to a whole new world that I never knew existed. I was desperate to fast forward through this horrifying heartbreak.

What You Should Know About Grief

Grief.  It was real and so very debilitating in the first few years, causing physical ailments and poor self-worth. Yet as time went on, it presented me with an incredible sense of humility and oddly, breathed new life into me.

I was different.  Different than before the accident happened and ever so different than my friends whom I had known for years.  I now attended support group meetings for bereaved parents, a foreign land, however, I found comfort knowing that these mothers understood what I was going through. We gained our strength together by sharing our stories and our children, both the happy and the sad, the good and the bad. They had been there.  They got it. They appeared so strong but were also weak like me.  And for the first time, I felt a tiny shimmer of hope igniting inside me.

This is where things began to change.

It had been eighteen months since my daughter Lydia had passed away and I was asked to join the board of my local chapter of The Compassionate Friends. Exploring ways to encourage and support our members, every week I saw new hurting parents join our table, revealing their own loss and heartbreak.  Little did I know, this is where my heart would remain for the next five years.

It ignited in me an unyielding passion to serve others, and soon I found myself hosting birthday parties for underprivileged children, feeding the homeless under the bridge and volunteering at church. It was amazing.

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I hadn’t really volunteered much before except at my children’s school, and in college at the fire department. What I didn’t know is that volunteering not only produces a positive impact on others, but it impacts you, by transforming your heart and mind.  Any type of volunteering when you are giving of yourself and your time, helping others and your community, can’t help sow seeds of love and kindness.

One Amazing Thing You Can Do to Heal a Broken Heart

Here are a few ways that volunteering helped heal my broken heart and can help you too.

Volunteering helped me take my mind off my own circumstances. Grief is sneaky, it likes to haunt you and keep you feeling down and hopeless.  However, volunteering kept me occupied and made my heart empathize with others going through life challenges, realizing we are all in this together.   All the while, it quietly boosted my confidence and stirred up joy that was buried in my heart.

Volunteering gives perspective. When we are in the deep throes of hurt and sorrow, we feel like we have experienced the end of the world.  When in all reality, life could always be worse. Not to diminish the pain and tragedy we all go through, however, seeing the struggles of others, makes one understand that everyone suffers in life, some more than others and makes you thankful for what you do have.

Volunteering makes you focus on what really matters in life. It can help you view life in an eternal perspective, reaching far beyond this life on earth and help you see where and how you can make a difference.  It provides you a sense of your purpose. You are living and doing to make others feel loved. To let them know they matter.  From helping feed the homeless to impromptu conversations at the hospital with strangers or in the grocery line, there are others who could use a little hope and encouragement. And you are placed in their path for a reason.  Live in awareness and don’t miss an opportunity to be a blessing to others.

Volunteering unites people.  We are all unique individuals, emotional beings with tender hearts. It’s important for us to emotionally connect with others and let them know they are not alone.  Forming new friendships also helps boost your own moral and aids in depleting that feeling of loneliness accompanied by grief.  Giving back makes you feel part of something bigger than you.

Volunteering humbles you. It has made me tremendously grateful. Volunteering showed me the things in life I had taken for granted while offering me understanding and presented me with a renewed compassion for others. Serving others also provides an opportunity for self-reflection and meaning.  With this, I learned to appreciate each new day and all the gifts I had been given in life, realizing that I was not more important that anyone else in life.  That we are all equal.

Volunteering is a rewarding venture that provides fulfillment like nothing else.  It gives you an internal change. A transformation of the heart.  Giving back fills a void and satisfies that deep hunger for life that is hidden inside us.

 

Thank you to HavingTime for publishing my writing.

 

Kind Words and the Impact of an Extraordinary Nurse

These stories never get old.  Sharing one dear to my heart in honor of National  Nurses Week.

Hearing of parents mourning the loss of their children due to sudden and traumatic ways, brings back vivid memories to me, knowing the helpless feeling all too well.    The devastating losses of others, is was a strong reminder about how fragile life is. My heart just breaks knowing that dark and hopeless pain that newly grieving families experience.   Grief is a such lonely feeling.

There are no words for the unimaginable. Never in a million years would I have dreamed this would have happened to my daughter or my family, forever changing our lives. No one would ever be the same.

It made me think back to those early days after losing Lydia and what helped me through. Who did God place in my life at the right time?  Eight years ago, it never even occurred to me that I could lose a child. I mean, I always knew about life and death, but such accidents and tragedies didn’t happen to people like me, or people I know.  It just didn’t happen.

Well, news flash. It DOES happen and we never know when, where, or sometimes why.  There is no way to prepare for the heartbreak and devastation that accompanies loss.  In hindsight, I clearly see God’s workers; angels that were placed in my life at the right moments.

One being a special nurse who was by my side at the hospital that life changing day- July 16, 2008.  The day my life was forever divided into before and after.

A few months after the accident, I returned to work.  Waiting for me in my mailbox, was a pretty baby blue envelope addressed with my name on it.  My heart was apprehensive and cautious as I opened it and read the first few words…

”I am so sorry for your loss.  My heart broke for you that day and I will never forget you and the pain you and your family are going thru. That day changed my life, my nursing approach and my realization that life is not fair.“  

It was from one of the ER nurses that was with me. Although I do not remember who she was, she was there. She remembered me. She treated my injuries, listened to my horrible screams when I received the news, and cared enough to send that card.

Immediately, the tears of sorrow began.  For the next few months, I would open it up first thing when I arrived at work daily reading those words which would resonate within me the entire day.

This letter I kept in my purse for five years. Yes- five years, reading it at just the right moments when I needed to feel that someone cared and that it mattered.

It was those times where I wanted to give up but needed some encouragement and hear that someone else’s life was impacted by my loss-my daughter’s death.  Now, having been working on writing my memoir, it came to me a few months ago.

I need to write to this woman to thank her for her compassion and simple words that meant so much and kept me going when I struggled to continue.

Not speaking to her or seeing her since that horrific day, I knew I must contact her to let her know how much that card had meant and still means to me to this day.

So I wrote a letter to her, thanking her for her compassion and told her of the immense impact her thoughtfulness and kind words had on me.

I didn’t know if she still lived at return address that was on the envelope, after all five years is a long time. Well, after about six weeks, I received an email from her. She had gotten my letter, however, it was not an easy journey.  She had moved a couple of years earlier and due to the kindness of the others, the letter was forwarded to her at her new residence.

She was so happy to hear from me and stated that she often wondered how I was doing. Her life was different now, but she was doing well.  She was pleased to hear of the amazing blessings that have come into my life since then, which showed her the power a little hope can bring.

Maybe we will meet again one day, but for now, we will exchange kind words, holiday cards and life stories.  I am so thankful that she will be contributing to my memoir by sharing her experience with me that devastating day.  After reading her recent email which illustrated my daughter’s death from her point of view, a nurse tending to a mother’s tragedy-it pierced my heart and was difficult to read, yet filled my soul with God’s love.   Here’s a brief excerpt of her words

“I will NEVER forget the horrifying sound of Daphne crying over the loss of her daughter Lydia. Still to this day, I cry when I think of it. It broke my heart! I still remember her wheeling out to go home from the ED and her head was down and I felt such pain and sorrow for her.  I mailed Daphne a card shortly after. I had never done that before to a patient. Maybe it is because I had never been so moved emotionally before like I was with Daphne. I was a newer mom with a 1 year old. I had fertility issues and wanted my child so badly and went thru a lot to have her. I kept thinking that I could never live with the pain I somehow felt she was living with, by the loss of her daughter. “

While we may never realize, it’s pretty incredible how our experiences can impact others. Hearing her side put everything into perspective.  It wasn’t only about me.

I cannot emphasize enough, the  importance of people like this extraordinary nurse.  Please pray for those who are the first responders, the officers at the scene, paramedics, firemen, emergency room workers, chaplains and more. For these are truly God’s workers who serve others with all their heart. The situations they face day after day, is no small feat. Heroes they are so deserving of our gratitude.

Consider the power and impact that a few words can make in someone’s life. Go the extra mile. Take the time to send that card, email, or quick note.  It could be the difference they have been waiting for and forever change the course of their life.