Disenfranchised Losses

Last evening I met with two friends on Zoom to catch up. All three of us had lots to say about many things but as so often happens now, we spoke of Covid, vaccines and with caution – some of the disenfranchised losses that we  experienced due to the virus and its varients.  According to Kenneth J Doka,  a grief expert, disenfranchised grief is made up of the disappointments and losses that are hard to acknowledge, when worse things are happening to others.

It could be things like: a missed graduation or a 100th Birthday party; no more sports for our teenagers; not getting to see our grandchildren or the once in a lifetime trip cancelled. There are other things like not being able to help a dear friend who is ill or a parent who died in long term care without us.  And so much more. The slippery slope happens when we look around and see the truly heartbreaking loss experienced by some of our friends and family, and we feel like we have no right to complain. It is a bit like the conundrum between caregivers and the person they are caring for. The caregiver often feels like they can’t complain because X has cancer or some other serious illness.

This is why we must avoid unnecessary comparisons of all kinds.  When we compare  pain, loss, treatments, disease, or wealth and status…there is no end to it. The bottom line is, we all have sorrows and joys in our lives and we meet them where we are, with who we are, and with what we know. We get to acknowledge our own suffering, without the requirement of fitting it into a graph.

Sometimes We Need to Wallow

For instance, my teenage granddaughter was grumpy, miserable and very discouraged this week. With all the bad news of going into a full blown lock down once again and schools closing, she was fed up.  Her parents weren’t thrilled with her attitude, but on second thought they got it, when she said, “don’t you see, I just need to wallow for awhile.” It reminded me of when she was a little girl and had a little pink cloth that she held whenever she was sad. She once said to an older cousin who babysat her, “I know you don’t want me to cry but I need to cry for awhile.” A few minutes later she said, “I’m done now,” and hopped down from her chair and started playing.

There are times when we all need a pink cloth and a little wallowing time. We don’t need to worry that we are turning into the whiner or complainer. We are simply acknowledging that life currently feels the pits. Be careful of the expression, “at least.” I don’t find it helpful and it risks being dismissive of the person who is suffering. That person might even be you.  We are allowed our own wallowing time, and when we are ready, we get back up and move along, with an awareness that we also have things to appreciate.

We All Need Dreams

One of my friends suggested that when we go through difficult times we all need to have something to look forward to. She thanks her visa card with every purchase, because she is accumulating points to fly out west in August, to see her beloved family. Her visa card now brings her joy because she thinks ahead to that trip. Of course, the trip may be cancelled because of Covid.  Still, she has the joy of planning it now.

While  firmly planted in the present, it is  good to have some dreams. Something to plan. Something to work towards, especially when the situation we find ourselves in can be discouraging.  We mostly do our best to recognize the privileges we have, and when the time comes where we need to wallow for a bit, we meet that unwanted guest at the door and allow the visit. It won’t be permanent. We were made to handle this universality of loss. It comes right along with all the love, joy, meaning, purpose and adventures of a full life. Never forget that we have what it takes and we have each other, whoever those beautiful others are in your life.


Note 1:) “When sad cry; walk; read; reach out to others; help others; and don’t forget humour” Jim Button

Note 2:) I send spring greetings to you all: stay safe, enjoy the unfolding of spring and find ways to enjoy each other’s company, whether together or apart.

Note 3:) Thank you for coming by. It will be April when we meet again. Warmest wishes, Trudy



The Season of Hope and Beauty

My heart gets all fluttery as I observe and live these early spring days. I spotted the first snowdrops on Sunday morning, returning from a delightful walk with my grandson. We took a new route, with few pedestrians, so were able to remove our masks for part of the time. We both felt a little lazy before we went outdoors, and, no surprise, we returned full of energy.snowdrops

Everyday there is a new arrival. I heard from a teacher that her lawn is covered in snowdrops and as she put it, “the scent is heavenly.” Truthfully, I had no ideas snowdrops had a scent but will soon correct that. This morning I see the outdoor table and chairs are set up on my daughter’s back deck, which allowed me to imagine all the lovely meals and laughter that will occur around that table.

To pay attention to the awe of the ordinary gives us a chance each day to experience joy, beauty, meaning and relief, which are welcome in all kinds of times. This never means ignoring reality nor does it mean effortlessness. But we may come to see that it is worth the extra effort, to notice, and to create and to celebrate those moments of today’s surprise.

So, I recommend today we live with outstretched arms. Raise a glass to something you want to celebrate. There are so many options: milestones along the way; one pain free hour; beginnings and endings; making music;  a new baby…I have a list a mile long. Make your own.  Celebrate your life. It doesn’t have to be perfect. (no such thing) Relish your life, right now today. Take a moment or a few to acknowledge you are alive.  Keep on finding lots of ways to enjoy your life and those who are in it. Do not wait until everything is perfect or back to so-called normal. work with what you have right now and make today a good day.

Another special gift that I discovered today is this poem

April Prayer

Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple’s branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal, every signal
every call a miracle and the switchboard
is lighting up and the operators are
standing by in the pledge drive we’ve
all been listening to: Go make the call.

April Prayer” by Stuart Kestenbaum, from Prayers & Run-on Sentences. © Deerbrook Editions, 2007.

Recording of poem

I recommend that you read this twice, once out loud. I also recorded it for you as poetry needs to be read out loud. It’s a funny think but at the end of this poem, when I am reading by myself,  I laugh out loud. I picture the call going out to every little seedling and bud that it is there time to shine – get up and be your best self, and of course we become the beneficiaries of all that life and beauty.


Note 1:) I stumbled on this quote yesterday and it made me smile because of course there may be a teeny, tiny kernel of truth in it. “No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement. ” Florida Scott Maxwell (Playright, Author, Jungian Psychologist – she wrote her first and I believe only book at 82 years old)

Note 2:) I think we all need more joy, celebrations, tolerance  and kindness in our lives. At the same time we can step up and take more risks. Of course, when we do that (take more risks) we will have failures. The good news is that we become the people who know how to get back up. We cultivate resilience. We don’t just celebrate success. We celebrate starting again, just like spring we hear the call to get out there and bloom away.

Note 3:) I am writing my blog early in the day, from now on, so no more late nights. I hope I stick to this new spring resolution. I am sending armloads of beautiful spring wishes. Watch for them when you are out for a stroll. With much appreciation for you taking the time to stop by. I hope you have many joyful moments this last week of March. Warmly, Trudy




Spring is Close at Hand

Spring is Close at Hand

I am very excited that spring is three days away. It is a rather artificial construct when you attempt to match the date to the weather. I have witnessed snow storms and deep cold on the first day of spring but this year all signs point to blue sky, sunshine, and plus ten celsius. (50 degrees Fahrenheit) For my Floridian readers this is a stay indoors temperature but for this snowbird it is a reason to celebrate. My spirit cannot resist the allure of spring.

Throughout my lifetime spring has always represented beauty and hope. It is no coincidence that the bright yellow daffodil is an icon of cancer. After a bleak and  desolate winter for some of my dear friends, the promise of spring is a promise of resilience, strength, courage and perseverance. A reason to get up in the morning, even when surrounded by a crowd of sorrows.

So for today I wish only to celebrate the constancy of spring. No matter what has gone on, spring arrives and with it the telltale signs of life: the tiny sprout, a spot of colour, the melting snow, the lightness of my step, the choice of boots or shoes, the impossible sweet surge of joy when the sun warms my face. And the smiling eyes of passerby’s, twinkling still above their masks.

Daffodil’s Return by Bliss Carmen

WHAT matter if the sun be lost?

What matter though the sky be gray?

There’s joy enough about the house,

For Daffodil comes home to-day.

There’s news of swallows on the air,

There’s word of April on the way,

They’re calling flowers within the street,

And Daffodil comes home to-day.

O who would care what fate may bring,

Or what the years may take away!

There’s life enough within the hour,

For Daffodil comes home to-day.


Note 1:) Poet and essayist (William) Bliss Carman was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in 1861. He studied at the University of New Brunswick,  University of Edinburgh and Harvard University. He settled in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 1909, where he spent most of his life and achieved international fame.

Note 2:) A game I play with my grandchildren is using the flashlight of our attention to spot the signs of spring. Who will see the first snowdrop or the spindley shoot on the south facing sidewalks. What about the bird sounds. The first leaf or bud and the many shades of green unfolding. Each day is different as more and more living things appear. Wondrous Spring.

Note 3:) I wish for you a spring in your step and may none of us sleep walk through spring. Imagine each day as the first day and go exploring. Many thanks for coming by here. I deeply appreciate your generous gift of time. Warmly, Trudy






A Shout Out to a Maligned Medical Procedure

Never had I intended to write about a Colonoscopy and especially did not plan to get up on my soap box to praise its virtues.  But here I am!

As I rested on the  gurney this afternoon, waiting my turn, I thought a lot about how truly grateful I was to get this procedure. A rather strange turn around considering the day before I swore, “this is it; never again.”

The truth is the prep is shitty. (how could I resist) I find it extremely difficult, and the nurse said to me, “We can land Perseverance on Mars but we can’t find a better way to do the prep.” That old line is used for many things, but we are human beings, and some things that help us are frankly, unpleasant. I am sure you know that.

But that darn colonoscopy seems so primitive and raw and even embarrassing. And it must be painful! Certainly not something to talk about or write about in a blog post. But as I changed my mind today after swearing off this procedure, yesterday, I will tell you one simple truth. The Colonoscopy is a life saver. That is the bottom line, pun intended.

Here is my sales pitch.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer—if you are screened for hidden warning signs while you are still healthy. Screening finds precancerous growths on the colon wall, called polyps, which the doctor can then remove. The main benefit of a colonoscopy is that it helps detect early signs of cancer and allows the doctor to remove polyps which can turn cancerous. Harvard Medical School

The National Cancer Institute notes that colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the USA, and in Canada colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death.

For me personally, I have had three of these procedures spaced five years apart and each time I have precancerous polyps and they are removed. Not all polyps are precancerous, but my oncologist was constantly on her soapbox about this inelegant, amazing and life saving  procedure. And I am grateful to her.

Screening guidelines are available in every health region and maybe YOU don’t need to ever have one. But many do and should, yet they avoid it for all the reasons mentioned earlier.

I want to tell you that the colonoscopy itself is a cake-walk. It is quick, pain free, and any polyps are removed on the spot and sent to the lab. The medical teams are usually friendly and skillful at putting you at ease. The light sedative helps so you feel nothing. (optional) Most people only have it once every ten years and usually between the ages of 50-75, unless you have symptoms or family history and then it begins younger and can go longer.

The prep is what people dislike. It is unpleasant but manageable, and absolutely worth it.

So back to that gurney today. My wonderful Nurse inserted my IV in one try, which was remarkable for my small and rolling veins. The Anesthetist was excellent and encouraging, and my Surgeon  was vigilant, personable and funny. I’m sure there is lots of gallows humour in that clinic.

I meet many people who will not consider a Colonoscopy, which is 100% their business. However, if you are avoiding it out of incorrect information, you may want to reconsider. It just might save your life.

Maybe I can write a Haiku?  (5,7,5 syllables)


inelegant procedure

yet, saves many lives


Note: 1) “Life is choices, and they are relentless. No sooner have you made one choice than another is upon you.” ― Atul Gawande, MD, author of Being Mortal

Note 2:) Spring is making headway in Ottawa and daylight savings time is this weekend. Birds are singing and I have my appointment to remove my snow tires on the 31st. What joy!

Note 3:) Warmest greetings to you all, and “live your life large,” as Jim Button, put it tonight in an outstanding talk at Wellspring Calgary. Thanks so much for coming by here and I will see you next week. Warmly, Trudy

PS I think I have discovered the problem as to why my posts aren’t publishing and being delivered. If I am right you will get this soon. Whew!


Blog - Sing while there is voice left

Sing While There is Voice Left – it may require a risk #2

(Speaking of risks and oops. Something technical happened tonight and my blog post would not send, so trying again.)


I have a few powerful mantras that have been with me most of my adult life. When I first began this blog almost three years ago this was my first post and is often a signature statement. And when I look back to the young 20 year old girl, who dashed to the book store every two weeks in Place Ville Marie, to buy books over clothes I don’t really see much difference 55 years later. Furthurmore, my interest is still captivated by the sages, the world’s wisdom, poetry, truth, beauty and the serious matter of life and death. And especially how wondrous and tenuous our ordinary everyday lives are and how easy it is to take them for granted.

Perhaps because of Covid-19 and all that has transpired this past year, my attention is turning to the call of the bird: Sing While There is Voice Left. And considering what that might mean now.

Here is my old post:

Sing While There is Voice Left

I read a book, as a young 20 year old living in Montreal, called Sing While There is Voice Left.  A French theologian wrote this book and I remember nothing  about it, except the title.  It has stuck with me my entire life.

I hear sing as a synonym for those things I consider important to do. Like writing this blog, as an example, or facilitating workshops for people living with illness; taking photos; spending time with my Grandchildren; saying thanks; walking, talking and cycling with my family and friends or having a nap in a hammock (when was the last time??) Even more important, remembering when I say good bye to anyone that these may be my last words.

Sing while there’s voice left reminded me to take that cycling trip with my kids and ride in a hot air balloon with my Mother; move to Ottawa to help care for my youngest grandchildren, and  seven years later, create this website and write this blog, while I have the chance.


This maxim  is embedded in my operating system. And it reminds me of what is important,even when the world is turned upside down. In those times, with effort, I  turn my attention to also include small joys where light filters in. I notice small ways, where I can contribute. And I take small steps towards changing what can be changed and accepting what can’t be changed.

We all have things, unique to each of us, that we want to do, learn, attempt and consider important. In fact, I think we all have things that only we (as in each of us) can do. This very moment is the time to begin. Conditions will never be perfect so we may as well take advantage of imperfect conditions to get started, while we can. What do we have to lose? One foot in front of the other.

What would you most regret not having done, if life was shorter than expected? What word gifts did you not give away, while you had the chance? I suggest we don’t save all our best songs and words for funerals. Why not spend them with abandon so that in the end nothing is left unsaid. Of course, that may require a few risks.

I wonder what “Sing While There is Voice Left might mean to you? It would be fun to know, and when we say it out loud to another we significantly up our chances of taking action. Good luck.


Note 1:) Some of you already know that for me, “sing” means doing a walking trip in Japan. And  spring 2022 it might happen. Closer to home one more cycling trip in Quebec, which will require some heavy lifting on my part to regain strength and stamina but it is a “song” worth working for.

Note 2:) I know my banner photo is not exactly seasonal but I love this bird singing its heart out in the foothills of the Rockies.

Note 3:) I hope many of you are getting your first vaccine and that we continue to do the smart things required of us as we make our way down this road.

Note 4:) If you need some inspiration, here is a beautiful video with Brother David Steindl-Rast called A Grateful Day. About six minutes and because of the photography best watched on your computer or tablet instead of a phone.

Note 5:) Finally I say good-bye. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I consider it an honour. Warmest wishes, Trudy