Reiki Master Diane Lynn Gelinas, M.S.W., C.H.
|104 Douglas Drive, Candia, NH 03034|
|DLGelinas@aol.com or Debtwise@aol.com|
A Story of Hope, Courage and Inspiration
If you have taken a class with me you may have heard me tell the story of "Chief Joseph and the New York Executive." This is a story I wrote years ago with the message of how we can turn tragedy and despair into healing and love.
I have had the privilege recently to have a student in one of my classes who is a true life example of this. With his permission I have summarized his journey below in this month's newsletter. It is excerpts from three papers he wrote about his experiences. The second half of this summary below contains his experiences a few months after he started to seeing someone to help him navigate his journey of grief. If you have, or are currently experiencing a difficult time in your life, I know Ron's message will help heal, inspire and deeply move you.
"My son, Miguel, was born just before my 18th birthday. Miguel looked like his mother mostly, but had many of my traits. He was also a gay man, who was afraid of people finding out and hating him. He hid his sexuality from me, and from his grandmother who had raised him since his mother's death in a motorcycle accident when he was only 2 years old. I was unable to take care for him as I was in the same accident. I was left in a coma for some time and was badly injured. Miguel was a loving and caring young man, who loved to make people happy, make them laugh and just see people smile and be serene.
In the later part of 2000, he found out that he was HIV Positive and from what I have been told he went into a major depression, used drugs and drank a lot. He shut himself off from most of the family and I rarely heard from him.
On the night of May 23rd, 2001, Miguel at age 20, put a double barrel sawed-off shotgun to this throat - aimed upwards toward his head and pulled the trigger. He left a note that said he was, "Lost." There were three letters that he had written before he killed himself, one to his grandmother, one to his brother, and one to me. The note he left for me to this day breaks my heart.
I had a lot of guilt in me because of the accident that left him alone, and because of my former drug use and excessive drinking. Since then, and mostly because of Miguel's death, I have tried to be there for the rest of my family. I have become much more a family oriented person. I value my friends more; I listen more and really hear what people are saying to me now. I have to admit, I have thought about suicide since that day, many times, but I realize that it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
I had a traumatic event happen again just recently that has reaffirmed my dedication to loving and caring for my family and friends deeply. On July 29th, 2007 my partner was savagely and brutally attacked and Gay-Bashed. He had a knife held to his throat while he was being beaten by two men, inside our car. I came back in time to see my partner get out of our car and walk toward me - pouring out blood. He came close to being killed that night, and I came close to losing the man that I love and who is a family member to me. That attack brought back many memories of my son's death and how I feel like I failed him.
Part Two (written two month later)
"Let me start by saying this has been the best learning and healing that I have experienced. It hasn't been that long that I have been seeing my Doctor, but I am feeling better and am able to communicate with my partner about issues much better. I mentioned that I started to write a letter to my son in one of my classes and my Doctor suggested that I continue to do this and write about why I was not able to be there as much as I would have liked to be. She also suggested I write about how I felt about the letter that he left for me. I told Miguel that even though I was not able to be there in person that every single day I thought about him and his brother. I told him how much I loved him and how badly I missed him back then and now. At the end of the letter I said that I loved him and that I always would. I forgave him for taking his own life and I apologized for not being the father that he needed and wanted. I did the best that I could at the time. After all, I was only 18 when I became a widower, lost a child and was almost killed myself.
We then took the letter and put it in a plastic water bottle and we walked down to the Connecticut River. At the river, I burned the letter in a bowl and then poured the ashes into the bottle. I put the top on the bottle and then prayed as I let the bottle go into the water and start to float away. I felt some relief and sadness all at the same time, but I felt better, like I was lighter. In some way I feel Miguel will get that message and that he will also feel better, and that makes me feel better.
On my last visit to the Doctor I had written more of my original letter. This time we went back down to the river and burned the five pages that I had just written and instead of putting the ashes into a bottle, we poured the ashes into a balloon. We inflated the balloon, I wrote Miguel's name on it and set it free. We watched as it rose toward the sky and floated away. I said a silent prayer. It was an experience that I had not expected nor anticipated. I felt such relief and peace afterwards. I still have that peace.
I have also done some meditation that both you and the Doctor have recommended and I was invited to visit my friend's Uncle in a sweat lodge. This is an experience I will never forget. We sat there in the darkness except for the light from the fire in the middle, so totally silent, and calm. We closed our eyes and he started to chant and took hold of my hand. He had told me to focus on my son and what I would like to say to him. I did that, and after some time he told me to speak to my son without opening my eyes. I said all the things that I wanted to say to Miguel, and I felt like he was there listening to me. Afterwards we sat there in silence and then he started to chant again. It was so calm and quiet, peaceful and relaxing. Damn, I felt so much better afterward, like I was lighter, free, less stressed and less conflicted that I have been in a very long time.
I am still continuing to see my Doctor and my friend's Uncle has invited me to return. I am feeling so much better and have learned so much from both this people, that I can't even begin to explain it all. I have not felt this good in a long time."
Note: Ron shared this story in a formal presentation a few months ago to a group of students and he included information about Suicide prevention. His story deeply moved everyone that day and had the ripple effect of preventing a suicide due to the information he shared. With the encouragement of others he now sees that his purpose in life is to help others through their journey of grief. He is pursuing speaking engagements in high schools and continues to reach out to others as well as seek more healing for himself.
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