A Review of Grandmothers’ 10 Commandments

woman with happy emoticonEvery grandmother knows the Do’s and Don’ts, the sacred commandments that keep us out of trouble when relating to the parents of our precious grandchildren. Why then do we need to carry a roll of duck tape in our purse? Because we know how hard it is to hold our tongue still and keep that mouth ‘shut!’

But do we always know when we break a commandment? Not always but we find out quickly when we do. After all, we only mean well and want to share our wisdom to spare those parents from making the mistakes we made, the later regrets. Or, we just want to make their life easier at times. Those are our intentions, at least most of the time.

When I read “The 10 Commandments for Grandmothers!” by Lisa Carpenter, I realized that I should have a copy in every room to remind me of my grandma role and not to slip into the parent role again. Whether I am a visiting grandmother of three grandkids and a grandmother-in-residence of another set of three, they remind us to stay within our grandma boundaries.

Honor the father and mother of your grandchildren for in most cases, they really are trying their hardest to do right by the children.
Thou shall not murder the dietary and bedtime guidelines set forth by the grandchild’s parents. At least not often. And only when chocolate or a request for just one more bedtime story is involved.”

I read the commandments smiling and feeling reassured that I am not the only grandmother who is running out of duck tape. That’s why I share them here. Actually, I suggest that Lisa rename the title to “The 10 [Happiness] Commandments” because they protect us from causing relationship harm in our  families. Would you agree?

I encourage you to read “The 10 Commandments for Grandparents” and print them for your quick reference. I did!

Are Our Kids Too Busy and Stressed to Play?

This is a MUST read article by Omid Safi, a Weekly Columnist: “The Disease of Being Busy” my daughter-in-law shared recently. It is insightful and hits a painful truth of our time.

“I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.” Sounds familiar?

Over-stressed parents and many grandparents, over-scheduled kids . . .

Omid shares an episode only too familiar in many homes:

. . . we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”

“Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored?”

Really, I urge you to read this article and you will understand why I send out a call to all grandmothers: Let’s sneak in every moment we can grab to play, frolic, giggle, be crazy with the grandkids to have some heart-felt silly fun!

Have all the FUN you can give and get!!

Pet Loss – The Devastion and The Healing After

300x180“When your heart is broken after the death of your beloved pet, it is hard to find hope or to adjust to daily life without your animal friend.”  That’s how I felt after the loss of my little Dachshund Turby I mentioned in the last post.

A capture of this book description Healing Pet Loss: Practical Steps for Coping and Comforting Messages from Animals and Spirit Guides (Healing Pet Loss Series) by Marianne Soucy caught my attention as I was searching to find some guidance. This Book was written to help heal your heart, bring comfort, inspiration, and suggestions for coping with situations surrounding pet loss.

I had not expected such amazing comfort and spirited uplift reading Marianne’s reassuring words. She has a gift to use her spiritual wisdom in providing concrete steps that help in the healing. It was even uplifting. I wish I had prepared myself better while my dog was failing and his death nearing.

We anticipate intense sadness but not an emotional conflict or guilt that might surprise you as it can different from losing a close family member or friend. This is why I want to share some insights I gained from various sources to help you when facing a loss of your pet or when comforting others.

To lose a pet is most devastating!

Whether the loss is sudden or the result of an illness or debilitating condition, it is a hard reality, often overwhelming. The impact could be even  greater than the loss of a family member or friend.

“How could the loss hurt even more than the death of my grandmother? Am I the only one who feels this way?” I asked myself while feeling guilty, confused and embarrassed.

A moving article: The Death of Pet Can Hurt as Much as the Loss of a Relative by Joe Yonan, the Washington Post’s Food and Travel editor, reassured me that I was not alone in feeling the conflicts. Yonan wrote:

I’m no stranger to death. I was a mess of anger and confusion when my father, suffering the aftermath of a stroke, took his last gasps one day in 1995, his children gathered around his hospital bed. And three years later, the death of my sweet, beloved sister Bonny after a withering battle with brain cancer was nothing short of heartbreaking. Yet somehow, and much to my distress, the death of my dog seems even harder. I haven’t felt grief quite like this since, well, the death of my previous dog five years ago.

In his further search to better understand his emotions, Yonan found that multiple studies revealed different answers to reactions of the death of a companion animal: “. . .  it can be ‘just as devastating as the loss of a human significant other,’ not quite as severe, ‘far more intense’ or, well, just about the same.”

The Healing

You can’t sleep, you can’t stop crying. You are so scared that tomorrow no one will understand why you are such a mess and that someone might think she was ‘just a dog’. All you want is your best buddy back.  You may find yourself very alone.

It takes time to heal. Experienced veterinarians understand that pet owners’ grief vary widely in intensity and longevity. Complex emotions are natural reactions to the known stages of grief that may involve  guilt, denial, anger and depression, though not necessarily in that order.

You will find many coping strategies in the literature. I summarized a few to point out reassuring directions and understanding to support the natural healing process:

  1. Feel the pain and celebrate the love you shared. Have a loving conversation of all the memories together with your pet. Write a journal or letter. And allow your tears to flow.
  2. Seek support from people who have experienced the loss of their loving pet and know what it feels like. They will be most understanding.
  3. Avoid people who never had a pet. Or, if they did, they were not closely connected. Though well-intentioned, they might think that losing a pet cannot be such a big deal and urge you to: “get over it!”  Such well-meaning support will only enhance your loneliness.
  4. Understand that intense and often conflicting emotions during your initial grief is natural and normal. If it becomes unbearable or you just can’t get a handle on your emotions, seek support from your vet, or a counselor who specializes in grieving pet owners, or contact a Pet Loss Support Hotline.

Realize that losing a pet and the healing process that follows is also a loving and deeply spiritual journey of a fun life you shared and can celebrate. Each time I envision Turby’s happily wagging tail and his bright and big brown eyes begging for that special treat, I smile.

Here are a few additional resources I found most helpful:

The death of pet can hurt as much as the loss of a relative by Joe Yonan

Pet Grief Recovery – The Stages of Grief

Coping with a Dog’s Death   (Cesars Way)

Read more:

The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, Inc. (APLB)

American Veterinary Medical Association: Pet Loss Support Hotlines

Coping with the loss of a pet explains well the stages of grieving, though they may vary with each individual.

A wonderful resource to seek comfort and reassurance to help healing after a pet loss. It offers a newsletter, blog, articles all about grief and stories


Walking or Running for Meg: A Community Mourns!

crop 400x200Throughout the years we grandparents accumulate a rich repertoire of life experience: highest  joys and deepest sorrows; gains and losses.  We learn to deal with harsh realities in life that make us stronger, more resilient, and wiser.  But we never get used to tragic events that touch our core: FAMILY – families of our children and grandchildren. Such events force us to stop, reflect, and deal with emotions that overwhelm us.

A shock wave traveled fast through our small community in Virginia:  “Meg Cross Menzies was tragically killed by a drunk driver while out for her morning run on January 13, 2014. Meg was an avid runner, member of the Richmond Road Runners Club, and Boston marathoner, she was a member of the running family nationwide.” She was a mother of three young beautiful children. [Read more…]

3 Important Considerations Before Emergency Travel Abroad

Hauptmarkt_TrierThis is not a post about preparing for travel at your leisure, nor will I cover what and how to pack. Most travel agencies offer comprehensive tips and guidelines.

An emergency trip with a short window of planning prompted me to share my experience with you.

One phone call and all plans for the month change. It was a call from my sister in Germany. Her husband, my brother-in-law, had passed away. We were closely connected. I felt that I needed to see my sister, her family and my siblings. We are four, three in our seventies and one trying to catch up with the senior crowd. We have not been together for over five years.  [Read more…]

A Fun Day With the Grandchildren at Mount Vernon

320px-MTVernonseenfromtheriverEvery grandparent knows that the grandchildren LOVE to go and visit places.  But they may not know how much we enjoy to explore with them parks and historical sites. Visit a historical park and you will be in grandparent company.

Nearly 60% of grandparents travel with their grandchildren: day trips or longer travel tours. And summer time is high season of grandparent travel with the kids.

It was a beautiful warm day. On short notice Ally and Alissa packed lunch for the three of us and off we drove to explore a living-history plantation: Mount Vernon in Alexandria, VA, the home of George Washington for over 40 years during the mid 1700s.  It is close to Washington, DC – our Capital everyone wishes to visit at least once.  [Read more…]