Forever Connections!

What if I told you that we mothers have forever connections with our biological children, even if they have passed? There is actually scientific proof that we always carry cells from our children!

The research started when a few male cells were discovered in mothers who had carried male children. These cells were apparent whether the child was lost at any time pre-birth, or carried full term. Perhaps 1 out of every 1000 of her cells had a Y chromosome which is male DNA! Female offspring also share DNA with their mothers. However, female DNA within another female is more difficult to isolate and identify.

Fetal Cell Connections

The process of a mother and fetus sharing one another’s cells is called microchimerism. The cells of both the fetus and mother are genetically distinct. It appears that the fetal cells exist in order to promote the baby’s survival in utero. Things like food transfer to the fetus, blood flow, food cravings (for what the fetus needs) as well as eventual milk production are likely a few reasons for these cells. Bonding between mother and baby is another. Here is a resource for further information:

These fetal cells do not travel willy-nilly within in the mother’s body. The cells are quite specific: there are blood cells, brain cells, muscle cells, liver cells, heart cells, etc. Fetal cells travel to the specific organ, for example from the fetal heart to the mother’s heart!

I was smitten when I thought of some of my departed son’s heart cells potentially being within my body – even decades following his birth! Recalling my first paragraph statistics, the estimate of fetal cells was only 1 out of 1000. That seems like quite a small number. I, then, googled how many cells in a human heart alone. It contains an estimated 2 to 3 billion cardiac muscle cells, but that’s not all! That number is less than a third of the total heart related cells within that organ. The total is over 6 to 9 billion! Just think how many could be from our child or children, male or female!

Mother – Child Forever Connections

Once I conceived my topic for this writing, I dosed off for a brief moment. I jerked awake because it felt as if someone had poked my shoulder. No one else was visibly there. Had my son paid me a visit and nudged me? Were some of his fetal cells activating in my shoulder muscle? Perhaps time will tell.

When we miss our dear child, maybe we can sit and ponder the impact of having some of their cells serving our body now. I love to think of his cells beating in my heart, feeling his life force once again! May you be comforted with this knowledge.

Dreams and signs are a couple of other ways we may connect to our dearly departed children: MIRACLES AND DUETS and My Mother’s Day Guest.

Invitation to Creativity

Sometimes a fluke of nature can provide an invitation to creativity! The above photo shows two such examples. (If you are viewing this as a follower in your email, you may view the photo by clicking on my title, “Invitation to Creativity”.)

A number of years ago, some quite bizarre produce was growing off a nearby corner of our garden. To this day, we still do not know what these green globes of great girth were! The largest one was bigger than a basketball. As we didn’t even know if they were edible, I pondered what I could do with them. My open house at school was approaching, so these curiosities became a center piece in my art room. I decided I may as well adorn them with faces akin to what may be seen on fall pumpkins. It ended up being a topic of conversation. Perhaps seeing something unusual inspired others to question what they could do with other oddities.

A Second Invitation to Creativity

My photo also introduces another nudge to exercise one’s creative muscle. At the time, I didn’t have a poster of Jasper John’s painting entitled Flags, so I made a construction paper rendition to give my students a feel for the experience of his work. Here is a story which includes a visual of the actual painting Scroll down until you get to the gray painting with two flags, one of which is green, orange and black. Simply stare at the brightly colored flag for 30 seconds or so. Then, shift your sight to the gray flag. Your eyes will automatically “paint” the correct colors of the American flag!

Jasper Johns gave his viewers an interesting way to teach us about tricks our eyes can play on us. He gave me, as an art teacher, a fun segue to teaching about complementary colors. This trick of the eyes is known as an afterimage. Here is the science behind the phenomenon:

Your Invitation to Be Creative

The next time you see something out of the ordinary, ponder how you could use the situation as an opportunity for creativity. Perhaps another chance could come if a project is not working out as you thought it would, but with an ounce of creativity it could have the potential to be even better! Be a detective for the unusual, for a problem, for the mundane. Then, creativity may come to your rescue if you only invite it!

Here are two more posts on creativity to turn on your creative powers! ARTS A Bridge To Life and CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING

Power of the Imagination

What do you know about the power of the imagination? Most of us may consider it more of an asset when related to the arts. While an imagination is vital to any of the creative arts, there are other applications for it as well. Since I spent my career as an art teacher, I will start with art, then I will carry it to another related area!

With the arts, we could delve into it as an audience member or as an artist. Either way, we must decide which of the arts sounds appealing at the time. Interestingly, I happened to use the word “sounds” in my last sentence. In order to put on my creative hat, I chose to sit down to play piano and make some “sounds” for a while before I wrote. I had not done that for a while, so it felt very inspiring to plunk out a few bars on the keyboard.

We could choose visual, culinary, literary, theatrical, dance, musical, etc. Then, we may want to decide what mood we wish to assume. Do we want something moody, cheerful, soothing, or humorous? Are you aiming to change, match, enhance or improve your current mood?

Decide the method of delivery. Do you want to experience something prerecorded, or performed in a venue or on display elsewhere? Are you desiring to create something unique with you as the artist? What materials or tools are necessary? Your imagination is the limit!

Playing piano is one way I induce joy and kickstart my imagination. This was my springboard for inviting a positive mindset to do this very writing.

Power of the Imagination for Your Life!

Now, let’s think about how this could apply to our lives. Have you ever thought about your life being affected by the power of your imagination? Have you ever “listened” and internalized your words? What we say is actually creating our lives!

Think about words you have stated. Have you ever uttered the words, “I am tired?” I’m certain all of us have at one time or another. What about “I am afraid that blah, blah, blah will happen!” There, again, probably most of us have uttered something of the sort.

What if we could put in our order for a more joyful life? Try peppering your conversation (internal or external) with the words which you’d like to describe this desired feeling. Perhaps happy, satisfied, engaged, loving, could be some suggestions. Additionally, journaling some of these greatly anticipated feelings could help to create the life you want. Then, imagine you already feel the feeling!

In closing, I will share a bit of wisdom our son wrote before his passing. “I understand that the only person one can really change is you; yourself. I am asking you to try and change yourself for one day. At least 3 times tomorrow try and think of something that you love that literally makes your heart resonate to the point of your joyous tears. This feeling of love is reflected in your interactions with others and events, you will see this.”

It is amazing to me that our son was deep into his journey with pancreatic cancer when this was written. Yet, he chose joy! Even though there are a number of loved ones I am grieving, I can choose joy as well.

Remember, all our emotions are contagious, whether positive or negative. Isn’t the power of imagination awesome? Just imagine the joyful world we could create!

P.S. Following this writing, I needed to make a quick drive into town. When I returned to the car, and switched on the engine, a significant song played. It was the ending phrase of a song by the same artist whose recording played at our son’s wedding. It felt as if our son was giving his stamp of approval to this post!

Word Harvest and Express Joy! are a couple of related posts. You may enjoy reading about the benefits of positive language in

Here is the song:

Finding Peace in Grief

Finding peace in grief seems to be a common desire. A number of years ago, I read a few books authored by Dorothy Maclean (of the Findhorn Garden in Scotland). The most striking gem I gleaned from her wisdom was whom she called the Angel of Sorrow. Amazingly, she shared that this particular angel is also the Angel of Joy! At first, this seemed to be quite contradictory. Yet, with the passing of time, I’ve realized she may have discovered a profound truth.

We live in what is called a world of duality. This means everything has an opposite. Think of hot and cold. What temperature would you label hot? What would you call cold? It may depend upon a number of factors. Your choice for what temperature would be hot may be based upon where you live and the current season as well as your personal preferences.

Likewise, the opposites of joy and sorrow could be viewed upon similar scales, much as temperature and also dependent upon several factors. The pairing of joy and sorrow seems to align with peace and grief. Thus, we could have elements of both peace and grief within us simultaneously.

Could the arts bring joy to my sorrow?

Let’s think about the arts. Fascinatingly, the visual, literary and musical arts all work with composition. Each of these arts uses elements specific to that mode of art in creating a composition. Incidentally, many of the elements also work with a spectrum of opposites, such as light and dark, melancholic and joyful, or piano and forte (soft and loud)!

Since the arts can hold these opposites within, there is surely room for opposites of grief and peace within us!

It is no wonder that the arts are capable of engaging, changing, and maintaining positive emotions! The capacity of the arts to promote peace has actually become a focus in a Master of Music Education degree at the Elizabethtown College in the state of Pennsylvania: Peacebuilding is a laudable trait to be emulated by our world cultures. Here is an interview with Kevin Shorner-Johnson regarding his work with this program: ARTS AND SOCIETY – I.

Not only can working as an individual on arts form a sense of peace within oneself, but also working with others artistically can induce peace within a group. Just participating in a group of practicing or performing musicians can create a high within all involved! If you are lacking a group, simply sing along with a recorded piece of music! Let’s ponder. What if all of us could utilize the opportunity of the arts? How harmoniously peaceful our world could be! Perhaps it could help us in finding peace in grief.

As a side note, we must not neglect the grief within. All the arts are known for expressing emotion with so called positive and negative emotions alike. Sometimes beautifully solemn arts may invite us to sit with our pain, to feel it, to allow it an outlet through our tears. This acceptance and eventual release of grief can be another way to grow from trauma and create room for peace.

I close with an appropriate song for you. May you discover healing on whatever point you find yourself on the grief-peace scale. Perhaps this song may begin your peacebuilding journey!

Where Is Peace?

First of all, where exactly is peace? To a hurting person, it may be freedom from pain. To someone in a war torn area, it could be absence of war. For the hungry, it would be a satisfied belly. Another person may simply answer serenity. This is International Peace Day. It was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. In 2001, this day was designated as a period of non-violence and cease -fire. Let’s explore!

Could it be found within light, love and understanding?

Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.

George Bernard Shaw

Love is the vital essence that pervades and permeates, from the center to the circumference, the graduating circles of all thought and action. Love is the talisman of human weal and woe – the open sesame to every soul.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.

Albert Einstein

The welcoming forces of light, love and understanding can certainly open the doors to tranquility within our world. It may start as a warm, bright flicker within the heart. Eventually, it is passed from one person to another, a single community to another, a certain country to another until it encompasses the entire world!

This serenity takes work, internally as well as externally.

If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.

Lao Tzu

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

If you don’t know the guy on the other side of the world, love him anyway because he’s just like you. He has the same dreams, the same hopes and fears. It’s one world, pal. We’re all neighbors.

Frank Sinatra

Who has ever analyzed depression, anxiety and peace in regards to past, present and future? It just makes so much sense if we think about it. This feeling of goodwill certainly involves the golden rule of doing no harm and simply (or is it simple) treating one another as we would like to be treated.

How may we create peace?

Peace begins with a smile.

Mother Teresa

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts, differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.

The 14th Dali Lama

Finally, let’s all see what we can do to promote this peaceful feeling. One way that helps me is to THINK LIKE WATER. Being in nature can truly invite a sense of serenity. Awe and Wonder are other emotions which can help. It all starts within our hearts and blossoms out from there. Light, love and understanding are key. Work is certainly required, within ourselves as well as outwardly toward others. We must approach the world with a smile, ready to discover, dialogue and teach. Together, we can do this! Last of all, may peace be with you!

Is My Grief Normal?

A frequent question on many grief websites could be “Is my grief normal”. There are several factors which may make this determination. Some of the characteristics noted would be the relationship to oneself (child, spouse, parent, sibling, pet, etc.) as well as the length of time since their passing. Also, an important consideration is the cause of your loved one’s death.

The loss of a child is by far the most challenging type of bereavement, regardless of the age of the child. Just the fact that it is out of the so-called natural order of life makes it more difficult. Additionally, if the death was a result of a sudden or violent cause, it can be more burdensome.

Here is an article written by a mother who suddenly lost her 12 year old daughter. If you are feeling incapacitated, perhaps her ideas on resilience may prove helpful.

How can I help my grief be more normal?

The strategies within these quotes may help your grief to soften.

“There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.”

Henry Wordsworth

If we can verbalize or journal our sadness, it can become a very healing experience. Just as I was writing this Henry Wordsworth quote, a mourning dove cooed. I felt that was our son speaking to me via this particular type of bird, since he loved mourning doves! Sometimes noticing signs can make our relationship with our loved ones feel as if we are still “speaking” to one another! See OUR VISITOR or My Mother’s Day Guest. Additionally, it feels the timing of the mourning dove coo was confirmation that we must allow our grief out by speaking, whether by voice or pen.

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Mitch Albom “Tuesdays with Morrie”

As mentioned above, we can still speak with our loved ones, it is just our relationship is different. We still have a connection via our heart strings.

“I will not say: Do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Return of the King”

Allowing oneself to cry is an expression and an outlet for our grief. Speaking of expression, the arts (visual, musical, literary, etc.) are also a healthy way to communicate one’s feelings. See ARTS A Bridge To Life.

“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Needless to say, holding our loved one in our hearts is a given! We must find ways to treasure them in our hearts. Some possibilities may be to speak of what you remember, to memorialize them in photos, or to make charitable contributions in their memory. You may have many more ideas fitting to you and your loved ones’ experiences.

“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give.”

Francis Weller

Through a serendipitous event, I found a gratitude practice during one of the most difficult periods in my life – while our son was in hospice. Thankfulness is an effective strategy for any times of trial in our lives, especially while grieving. See Why Gratitude?.

More than likely, you will find that what is normal grieving for you may not be considered normal grieving for another. May you find peace and comfort in normalizing your grieving journey. If you’ve found this helpful, please consider following my blog!

Psychological Benefits of Art

Art has so many psychological benefits! It doesn’t matter whether we are engaging with the work of others or creating our own. The arts are a vital part of being a well rounded, healthy human. All the creative arts (visual, musical, literary, theatrical, culinary, dance, etc.) can invite an exploration of our inner selves. Whatever may be bothering us psychologically may come up for healing.

  • The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. Aristotle
  • Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Edgar Degas
  • Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing. Georgia O’Keeffe

The arts are psychologically healing!

The arts can actually become an element of healing. This practice can alter our interior landscape. It can be addictive in a healthy way. During my three decade K-8 visual arts teaching career, it seemed young students had an innate knowing that the arts are healing. (Sometimes adults, especially those with little arts exposure, don’t have this realization.) For more detail on what all the arts can do to achieve a healthy inner environment within our body, see ARTS A Bridge To Life. Here is a site on visual art therapy: . Art therapy can help with various kinds of trauma, including coping with grief. Creating art releases dopamine within our body. This is a natural feel good chemical formed within us.

  • Creativity is a drug I cannot live without. Cecil B. DeMille
  • Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. Twyla Tharp

Practicing the arts can be deep soul work!

When creating an artistic piece, it is virtually impossible to separate ourselves from our work. If we practice enough, we acquire our own signature style. Our work is virtually imprinted with our own soul!

  • Art is the stored honey of the human soul. Theodore Dreiser
  • To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. So do it. Kurt Vonnegut
  • Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. Henry Ward Beecher
  • Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye…it also includes the inner pictures of the soul. Edvard Munch
  • If I were called upon to define briefly the word Art, I should call it the reproduction of what the senses perceive in nature, seen through the veil of the soul. Paul Cezanne

Do yourself a favor and immerse yourself into one or more of the arts. You may be amazed to discover the psychological benefits of art!

Easing Grief

When we are in sorrow, sometimes we need something for easing our grief. Here is a photo essay to inspire your journey.

The only cure for grief is action.

G.H. Lewes

Here are some easy actions to consider.

Be Like Animals to Ease Grief

Baby Barn Swallows

When easing grief, if we are feeling extroverted, it is good to be with like minded grievers. Find the kind who lift you up into their nest and share stories or perhaps just listen and console.


If you are feeling like the silent type, perhaps you may retreat into your own shell for a while.

Cat Swinging

Go for a swing. If someone looks at you the wrong way – just give them the stink eye.

Cat on Grass Clippings

Sometimes just relaxing on grass clippings can do the trick. Being with animals is great for easing grief, too! Somehow, it seems that animals understand what we are experiencing.

Other Grief Easing Practices

Collapsed House of Cards

If things don’t go just right, it is okay to just allow a few things to slide.

Piano and Guitar

Play some music via a CD or an instrument. That can always enhance one’s mood. You may choose something lively, moody, relaxing or whatever feeling you desire. Peace Inducing Arts elaborates on some other fine arts to brighten our outlook and ease our grief.

Cross Stitched Rabbits

Find your spouse or a special friend for support. They may know exactly what you need.


Go sniff a flower – any flowers. The sense of smell can be a pick-me-up.

Victor the Gnome with Pine Cones

Make a craft project. You could even use pine cones. Going out for a walk in nature is relaxing. Perhaps if you can’t find any pine cones, Victor the Gnome may share with you!


Watch the sunset. Breathe deep. Tomorrow is another day.

Last of all, I welcome you to try as many of these as you desire. This article,, elaborates on other types of mind quieting practices as well. May you find a measure of peace and comfort as you ease your grief.

Changing Grief

Changing grief is a common dilemma for bereaved folks. Sometimes there are words of wisdom which tug at our hearts and ring of truth. These are some quotes on change which spoke to me in regards to grief.

When our son was initially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I explored many different avenues hoping to find something, anything which could help. This first quote speaks of this attitude which helped to sooth my anticipatory grief of his diagnosis.

  • Miracles happen every day, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you. Jon Bon Jovi

Changing Beginning Grief

In the beginning of grief, we want so desperately to undo the fact that our loved one is gone. These two quotes remind me of a better way.

  • The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates
  • You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. C.S. Lewis

Altering Our Lives with Grief Acceptance

One of the five stages of grief according to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is acceptance. Here is a site which explains the stages: These next quotes speak of acceptance.

  • We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. Carl Jung
  • Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience we suffer. Shunryu Suzuki

Other Causes of Grief

Grief may come not only from losing a loved one, but also from other causes. One such example would be a severe change in one’s health. This next person I quote could certainly have felt sorrow for her condition, however, she chose the higher road.

  • Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable. Helen Keller Here is a post with more of her quotes: Wisdom of Helen Keller

Searching for Grief Transformation

Sometimes during bereavement, we may search for help, not knowing where to look.

  • If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. Lau Tzu
  • I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me. Anna Quindlen

Last of All…

Lastly, in changing grief, we must move with it in an adaptable manner.

  • The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. Alan Watts
  • It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

If you found this helpful, feel free to further explore my site.

Your Grief Path

Your grief path is unique to you. There is no prescribed path to ease everyone’s grief. Your grief may be from any type of loss. It could be the passing of a loved one, the loss of one’s own health, or the loss of a relationship or even a former way of life. First, let’s explore how you may discover your own personal path.

There is pleasure in the pathless woods. Lord Byron

Part of how to find your path through grief is to discover or perhaps rediscover what brings you pleasure. Do you enjoy active or passive pursuits? Are you the creative type? Read EMPOWERED LIVING or ERASE GRIEF . Do you like exploring new things? Are you attracted to nature? Check out THINK LIKE WATER . Do you tend to be an extrovert or an introvert? Try to recall what brought you pleasure through different seasons of your life, whether in childhood, as a young adult or as an older one.

Once you’ve analyzed your tendencies, you are ready to map your own path. Recall those pleasant experiences and engage in some of them! Then, take notice how any of these activities or relaxations change your grieving.

Is Your Grief Path Complicated?

Next, it is important to consider the severity of your grief. Sometimes if grief seems to be unmanageable, we need to evaluate where we are on this journey. Here is a brief quiz to help you determine if you need to seek help from a licensed doctor in order to cope: . If you feel incapacitated in life, medical professionals can assist us to get back on the path to feeling like a fully functioning human.

Ease Your Grief Path

Another strategy which may help to ease your grief path involves your sense of smell. Essential oils have this potential. These oils may be diffused into the air, worn on jewelry or applied topically with a carrier oil. In reviewing several sites on essential oils, relaxing oils such as lavender or chamomile or rose are frequently mentioned. These oils can help to release emotions associated with grief. There must be something about the scent of rose. At times I’ve noticed that funeral homes have a faint scent of rose, presumably for that very reason. In fact, one time during my teaching career, I was wearing rose scented perfume or lotion at school. One of my former students turned up her nose and told me I smelled like the funeral home. (I couldn’t bring myself to wear that rose scent again…at least not around school children!)

Another consideration is using water to wash away those negative things. Toxins, in particular, may collect in our bodies. Check out WASH AWAY NEGATIVITY! I know I certainly feel much better and relaxed when I focus on these issues. Unquestionably, grief can be affected by clearing those toxins.

When I have gone for a massage during an active grieving stage, the massage is likely to trigger tears. There are certain parts of our bodies where we hold on to grief. Licensed Massage Therapists (LMT) know how to help release these stressors. It is a normal, natural and necessary process to cry.

Gratitude can undeniably affect our disposition as well as our grief process. Feeling thankful is likely to give us a more positive frame of mind, regardless of what is happening in our world. Here is Gratitude for Hard Times as a concluding post.

There is no right way to grieve; there is only your way to grieve and that is different for everyone.

Nathalie Himmelrich

Finally, may you find your path in the pathless woods to enable you to be your best self. While it may feel like a long and winding road, you will thank yourself for the journey.

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