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Speaking from the Heart

One of my New Year’s resolutions was that I was not going to take the easy road and write any of my January articles for publications about New Year’s resolutions. Writing about the turning of one year into another takes very little creativity and certainly I can do better than that. As I sat and stared at my computer for nearly an hour without a single good idea for a topic, I decided to go back to basics.

I took a trip back in time to my creative writing class in college. My professor, Mrs. English (seriously, this was her name) would often advise us that when you feel stuck and lack creative ideas, pick a subject that you know something about. So, I am heeding her advice for this article and writing about something that I know a lot about … football.

Football is a game that I love. Professional or college, it doesn’t matter; I simply enjoy watching this sport. As I write this column, the NFL playoffs are getting ready to begin with a doubleheader today and tomorrow. On Monday night, Alabama and Clemson will battle it out for the NCAA championship to decide the top team in college football. When I am watching football, I can truly escape from the rest of the world for a little while.

Perhaps you are wondering what on earth football has to do with grief.  In my world … everything.  Over the years, football was able to give me a much needed reprieve from the constant focus of my loss. I came to look at things I enjoy such as football, playing golf and following current events as a beautiful distraction.  These things became my coping mechanism, the soft place I could rest and relax to take a break from the hard work of processing my grief.

Grief is an exhausting journey that requires navigation down our own unique path through a valley which we have never been without a compass to guide us. We each make progress at our own pace and arrive where we are supposed to be in our own way.  While the work is difficult, we must also recognize that we need times of rest to reenergize and refresh ourselves for what lies ahead.

My hope for each of you is that you consider if there is an activity or hobby that you can participate in that takes you away from the daily struggle of grieving.  My wife has taken up running, I have a friend who finds solace in gardening and another who took art classes and began painting. Each of them has found these endeavors to be very rewarding and beneficial in allowing them to have a place where they can shift gears and refocus their energy.

Our grief is part of who we are and will always be there, right below the surface waiting for us. As we grow in our grief we learn that it can be a great catalyst for change; it can also direct our lives into areas we never imagined we would go. The good news is we don’t have to live in the valley of our grief every moment of every day … grief can coexist with laughter, enjoyment, entertainment and stimulating activities. Well, I have to run; kick off is just moments away and I haven’t made the popcorn yet.

Thanks for the honor of serving as your Executive Director,

Alan

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen
alan@compassionatefriends.org
877-969-0010 ext. 308

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