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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

To Love What Death Can Touch

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Ahhhhhhh...

This is just what it looks like—a long, relaxed verbalized sigh. According to neuroscientist Alex Korb, author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time , when your exhale is longer than your inhale it sends a message of safety to the brain. Repeat as often as feels good. If you want to read more here's a research article, Sighing reduces physiological tension.

To Love What Death Can Touch

It's been a tough few weeks for a lot of people, what with Hurricanes Henri, Ida and Nora, the horror in Afghanistan, and the wild fires out west. And heck--that's just if you are watching or reading the news. If you or your loved ones are experiencing any of those things it is, of course, a whole lot tougher. And if you are, dear reader, our thoughts and prayers are most certainly with you.

We come up against our own limits, our own mortality, and that of loved ones. We come up against the fact that humans can be quite power hungry, and quite cruel. It's no fun being a human being sometimes.

During those times, I've found that simple things, like "ahhhhhhh" (and other anti-anxiety tools), can offer short term support that gets me through the immediate trouble. And then if I remember to use them even when I am not super-stressed, they can help build resilience for the long haul.

Another tool that works for me, even--or perhaps especially--if life is sharing some of its difficulties with me on a personal level, is to remember that all of us are in the same boat as human beings, struggling to make sense of this rather crazy world. It helps me feel less alone, and more compassionate.

And it helps me to remember that many, many people are facing much more difficulty than I am. I try not to use this as a way to beat myself up, rather to remind myself not to take my many daily blessings for granted.

So, for instance, as Ida continues to cause problems across the eastern US, I try to remember to be grateful for basics, like a dry house with electricity and a roof.

Gratitude, not guilt.

But I don't want to overload my system with too much bad news if I don't have to, because that won't help anyone. So I usually try to limit screen time. And I try to find something I can do to help, like donate to groups that help after disasters. You've probably got your favorites already but here are a few that come to mind:

The Partnership. Disaster services with a focus on those with disabilities. "The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies [known as The Partnership, and formerly as PortLight] is the only U.S. disability-led organization with a focused mission on equal access, disability rights and full inclusion of people with disabilities, older adults, and people with access and functional needs before, during, and after disasters and emergencies."

CrowdSource Rescue "is a Houston-based non-profit that uses next-generation technology to quickly connect both professional first-responders and vetted volunteers with response cases immediately before, during, and after a disaster," mostly in the US but also internationally. "Started in the midst of Hurricane Harvey, CrowdSource Rescue has since helped connect over 13,000 professional and volunteer rescuers with over 50,000 people using its mapping and dispatching technology."

The Weather Channel offers a list of 16 charities for disaster relief. And a request that people donate money rather than material goods (water bottles, clothing), unless explicitly asked to donate the latter, because goods can become a pick-up and/or distribution nightmare.

I want to close with a poem I shared once before, which speaks to what it means to be a human being in the midst of loss--the difficulty, the hope, the holiness.

‘Tis a Fearful Thing

‘Tis a fearful thing to love what death can touch.

A fearful thing to love, to hope, to dream, to be –

to be, And oh, to lose. A thing for fools, this,

And a holy thing, a holy thing to love.

For your life has lived in me, your laugh once lifted me, your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

‘Tis a human thing, love, a holy thing, to love what death has touched.

by Yehuda HaLevi [Yeh-hoo-dah Hah-lev-ee]

11th century Jewish poet

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Ahhhhh, Radu Flovin, unSplash

Comforting hands, Alexandre Debieve, unSplash

Hurricane rescue, Crowd Source Rescue

Group in the field, Dim Hou, unSplash

Candles, Krysztof Maksimiuk, unSplash


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