The Mourner's Book of Hope

The Mourner's Book of Hope

by Alan D. Wolfelt


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781879651654
Publisher: Companion Press
Publication date: 10/01/2010
Series: Mourner's Book of Series
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,223,960
Product dimensions: 6.04(w) x 7.38(h) x 0.78(d)

About the Author

Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD, is a speaker, a grief counselor, and director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition. He is the author of Healing Your Grieving Heart, The Journey through Grief, and Understanding Your Grief. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Read an Excerpt

The Mourner's Book of Hope

By Alan D. Wolfelt

Center for Loss and Life Transition

Copyright © 2010 Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-879651-65-4


Day 1

Know That You Will Survive

Beginnings are scary. Endings are usually sad, but it's what's in the middle that counts. So, when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will!

~ Hope Floats

It may be difficult for you to believe right now, but you will survive this. I know that you will survive because we all have the capacity to mourn in ways that integrate loss into our lives. Just as a physical wound on your body heals when you give it proper care and attention, when you take time to care for and attend to the painful emotional and spiritual wounds that are present in your life, you will find hope and healing.

Let yourself whisper these hope-filled words, "I will survive." Take the words in and just hold them in your mind and heart for a moment. They are there to offer reassurance when you question whether or not you can keep going. Let these words carry you through the next breath, the next moment, the next hour, the next day, for as long as you need to be carried.

One way to bring hope into your life right now is to gently remind yourself that you will survive somehow, someway. You don't have to know exactly how or why or when, but know that you will make it through to the other side of this. Begin each day by reminding yourself that you will survive. Gently remind yourself ...

The future is going to feel brighter because the darkness will soften as I move through my grief;

• These raw emotions that I'm feeling right now will lessen as long as I allow myself to feel the pain when is surfaces; and

I Find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.

~ Dalai Lama

I will not always feel this way because each of us has the capacity to heal. I have the capacity to befriend my grief and integrate this profound loss into my life.

Gently bring hope for survival into your life each day. As you do this, your broken heart will begin to heal. Your healed heart will be able to feel love, joy, and happiness again. Your mind will find some of the answers it is seeking, and those answers will be enough. You can gather enough energy to get through the next hour or day, and that energy will be a gentle reminder that your divine spark is preparing to be reignited.

Let hope in somehow, somewhere ... and believe that you will survive.

When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."

~ Unknown

Personal Reflection on Hope

How will I remind myself each day that I WILL survive this?

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Day 2

Keep Your Heart Open

The inability to open up to hope is what blocks trust, and blocked trust is the reason for blighted dreams.

~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Naturally, it may be difficult for you to open your heart right now. Your heart may be so filled with pain that opening it feels impossible. But living with an open heart is one way to allow hope to come into your life.

When someone we love dies, our heart and mind are initially flooded with emotion. We cannot believe that the person we love will not physically be part of our everyday life any longer. At times the hurt runs so deep that we want to put up walls and protect our vulnerable heart.

We want to protect our heart from being flooded. Because we are so overwhelmed with grief, it feels as if there is no room to take in anything more. We are vulnerable, and we naturally want to protect our heart from feeling any more loss or pain. When someone we love dies, we often fear losing more things that are precious to us.

Protecting your heart by taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for yourself when you are grieving the death of someone loved. Eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest are among the ways you can take care of yourself right now.

Protecting your heart by retreating from the support and love of others, on the other hand, is not something that will help you heal. Your body, mind, and emotional self may want to build walls and guard against loving and receiving love from others right now. Holding love at arm's length means you may be missing out on the opportunity to have loving support, genuine caring, and authentic warmth at a time when you need them the most.

Love comes to those who still hope even though they've been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they've been betrayed, to those who still love even though they've been hurt before.

~ Unknown

Perhaps it is helpful to remind yourself that your heart is your "well of reception." It is moved entirely by what it has perceived. Authentic mourning is an opportunity to embrace your open heart in ways that allow for and encourage your eventual healing.

This loss is a reminder that love is precious. It is something you want to experience as much and as often as possible. Love never dies. Even the love you feel for the person who died still exists. Over time you will transform that love into loving memory and carry it with you for the rest of your life.

Don't turn away from the support or love others have to offer, even in the face of fear. Keep your heart open to love, and hope will find its way in, no matter how overwhelmed by grief you may feel.

To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

~ Unknown

Personal Reflection on Hope

Is my heart open or closed right now? What am I doing to keep my heart open to love in the face of this painful loss?

__________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________

Day 3

Befriend Hope

If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all Learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.

~ Lance Armstrong

What is hope? It is an expectation of a good that is yet to be. It is an inner knowing that the future holds positive things. It is trust that no matter the current circumstances, the days to come will reveal a renewed capacity to allow joy and happiness into your soul.

Befriending hope will lift your spirits. To befriend literally means you are making an effort to "become friends" with hope. Imagine what it would be like to have hope as a friend rather than a distant relative or a partner that you have lost touch with.

We often do not think of hope as something concrete, so you may question whether or not it's even possible to really befriend it. I assure you it is, and it is an important part of your healing process to find ways to make friends with it. When we are encountering a difficult life loss, we need friends and constant companions to help us through. Hope can be one of your compassionate companions on this journey.

Befriending hope is no different than what you've done to cultivate other relationships in your life. You cultivate a relationship with hope by believing it has value, making time for it, and spending time nurturing and maintaining it by communicating with it on a regular basis. If it will help you, you can make hope something concrete; let something physical represent hope as you develop your relationship with it. What represents hope for you? It can be a hope rock that you carry with you. It can be the flowers you plant in your garden and spend time with each weekend caring for and communing with. Hope can be found in this book that you sit with each night before you go to sleep. It can be a quote, a photo, or a song that touches you deeply. It can be a sanctuary you enjoy or an activity like driving in the mountains or a place you are able to sit quietly with hope.

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.

~ Lin Yutang

Find something that resonates with you and use it to help you begin the process of inviting hope into your life and befriending it with open arms. Whatever you choose, let it be something that when you see it, hear it, touch it, or sit with it ... it is hope for you.

Hope is the dream of a waking man.

~ Aristotle

The present is the ever-moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Personal Reflection on Hope

In what specific ways am I befriending hope? Set a time to meet a friend to explore the role that hope is playing in your transformative journey.

__________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________

Day 4

Understand That Time Does Not Heal All Wounds

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.

~ Samuel Smiles

Throughout this journey, others will do their best to offer comfort and support to you. Even the most caring people may turn to you during this time and say things like, "Don't worry, in time you'll feel better" and "You'll get through this in time" or the classic cliche, "Time heals all wounds." Though these words are uttered with the best of intentions, they are platitudes or trite expressions, offered as hope and reassurance that the pain of grief will subside ... in time.

The pain and hurt you carry right now will not last forever, that is true. But it's not the amount of time that goes by that will bring hope and heal your grieving heart. In order for you to authentically heal from this loss, you must find ways to integrate the loss into your life. Time alone does not lead to healing. In reality, grief waits on welcome, not on time.

It is what you DO with the time you have and with the pain that surfaces that will inspire hope, healing, and transformation in your life. As you allow yourself to feel the pain in small ways then allow it to retreat until you are ready for the next wave (feel your grief in "doses"), giving yourself permission to search for meaning, you will integrate this loss and reconcile it into your life. To reconcile is to experience a renewed sense of energy and confidence, an ability to fully acknowledge the reality of the death, and a capacity to become reenrolled in the activities of living.

Hope is a renewable option: If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.

~ Barbara Kingsolver

You will slowly, with no rewards for speed, come to reconcile your grief. Beyond an intellectual working through of the death, there is also an emotional and spiritual working through. What has been understood in your "head" will be joined by your "heart."

Remember, time will not heal your wound. What you actively do with your grief over time is what will bring hope and healing to you.

Hope is not a feeling; it is something you do.

~ Katherine Paterson

Were it not for hope, the heart would break.

~ Scottish Proverb

Personal Reflection on Hope

How am I using my time to actively integrate this loss into my life?

__________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________

Day 5

Ask Questions

Remember the brown leaf falling with certainty from the tallest of trees. Hope is the wind that catches it, carries it, tenders it and finally delivers it to rest beside the acorn.

~ David Bailey

We never know how high we are till we We never know how high we are till we are called to rise; and then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the sky.

~ Emily Dickinson

Asking questions is an important part of your grief journey Thoughts and beliefs that you've carried with you your entire lifetime may now be in question. Death makes us question beliefs that have helped us to feel safe, secure, and steady as we walked through the world. Part of our grief work involves redefining certain aspects of our selves and our ways of being in the world.

You go through this redefining of things because some of your long-held beliefs no longer fit into your experience in the world. For example, you may have always felt that "life is fair," but this unfair death has you questioning this truism. Perhaps you have always believed that you can handle anything that comes your way, but coping with this situation feels unbearable at times. You may be questioning long-held beliefs or commitments to the religion that you've practiced since you were a child. As you think about the inevitability of death, you may find yourself questioning the meaning and purpose of your own life.

At times, you may feel stuck in a dark place of sadness with no way out. Life is drained of its meaning, and you may be feeling dispirited and joyless. You may feel abandoned in a world full of chaos and confusion. You may question if laughter will ever again be possible. The turmoil reflected in your instinctive questions is anchored in spiritual pain. You have been uprooted from what is comfortable and familiar in your everyday life. You are surrounded by unknowns that naturally elicit questions as you strive to discover new patterns in your life. Your questions are part of your struggle to come to terms with what has happened to you.

I must encounter my questions, my doubts, my fears. There is richness in these domains. As I explore them, I don't reinforce my tensions but instead release them. In this way, I transcend my grief and discover new life beyond anything my heart could ever have comprehended.

~ Alan D. Wolfelt

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning

~ Albert Einstein

Don't believe the advice that others may give you about questions: "You will never find the answers, so there is no point in asking the questions." Your questions are important right now. They bring you hope that it is possible to grow through grief. Questions are necessary in helping you discover how you are going to look at the world, at relationships, and at yourself from this point forward. They are an opportunity to look more closely at the way you are living and the way you want to live the rest of your life.

Take this opportunity to question and redefine your life. You are undergoing a transformation right now, and part of this involves establishing a set of beliefs that help you operate and function well in the world. A new you is unfolding, and asking questions is an important part of that unfolding process. Allow yourself to ponder questions that will help you grow and develop a deeper understanding of how you want your life to be from here forward. Consider the following questions as a way to help you work on redefining certain aspects of yourself and your life right now:

Why did this happen?

Why not? Why this way?

What does my future hold?

What is important to me?

Am I spending my time doing things that are important to me in the company of people I lose?

Do the people in my life know that I love them?

Why am I here? What is my purpose?

Is my life fulfilling?

When Life feels unfair, how do I handle it?

How do I want to handle it?

Personal Reflection on Hope

What are my most pressing questions as I encounter this journey into grief? Who can sit and be present to me in ways that support my need to explore these questions?

__________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________

Day 6

Consciously Choose Hope

Hope is always available to us. When we feel defeated, we need only take a deep breath and say, "Yes," and hope will reppear.

~ Monroe Forester

Hope is not something that will just passively float into your life. Instead, hope will enter when you create ways to consciously bring it into your day. Just as we all have the capacity to heal, we all have the capacity to choose hope and to consciously cultivate it at any given moment. The door you open to hope each day will dramatically influence the quality of the life you live.

Consciously cultivating hope means deliberately focusing on it — paying attention to it, inviting it into a given moment and letting yourself feel it as it enters. You can consciously choose to focus on hope any time you desire. There are countless ways to consciously cultivate and choose hope.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

Write the word "hope." Place the word somewhere that is visible to you (such as your mirror, to remind you of the importance of giving hope your attention).

• Carry or wear something that has the word "hope" on ita hope rock, a keychain, or a piece of jewelry, for example.

• Surround yourself with others who are hope-filled rather than those who are hope-deprived or are experiencing hopelessness related to things going on in their own lives.

• Sit and quietly focus your attention on something that represents hope to you — a candle, a quote, or a photograph of something hopeful, for example.


Excerpted from The Mourner's Book of Hope by Alan D. Wolfelt. Copyright © 2010 Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of Center for Loss and Life Transition.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Page,
Day 1 - Know That You Will Survive,
Day 2 - Keep Your Heart Open,
Day 3 - Befriend Hope,
Day 4 - Understand That Time Does Not Heal All Wounds,
Day 5 - Ask Questions,
Day 6 - Consciously Choose Hope,
Day 7 - Sit in the Quietness of Hope,
Day 8 - Move Toward Your Pain,
Day 9 - Borrow Hope If You Need To,
Day 10 - Know That There Are No Rewards for Speed,
Day 11 - Share Your Story,
Day 12 - Don't Just Grieve, Mourn,
Day 13 - Slow Down,
Day 14 - Come Back to the Present Moment,
Day 15 - Sit In Your Wound,
Day 16 - Recognize You Are the Keeper of Your Life Force,
Day 17 - Reignite Your Divine Spark,
Day 18 - Move From Head to Heart,
Day 19 - Look for Open Doors,
Day 20 - Allow Yourself To Surrender,
Day 21 - Carry the Light Of Hope,
Day 22 - Seek Solitude,
Day 23 - Practice Gratitude,
Day 24 - Listen to and Feel Hope,
Day 25 - Touch the Hand of Hope,
Day 26 - Embrace Transformation,
Day 27 - Celebrate Life,
Day 28 - Be Open to Possibilities,
Day 29 - Spread Your Wings,
Day 30 - Rediscover Happiness,
Closing Thougts - Embrace an Attitude of Hope as You Continue Your Journey,

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