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April 2024

April 2024
Dear EricsHouse Community,

Welcome to April 2024! It's National Poetry Month. When you experience an earth shattering loss, there are many pieces to examine, unpack, and rebuild. In this journey there are opportunities for exploration and discovery of what can provide comfort. Grief is a personal, individualized experience. It is very much a matter of the heart, mind, body, and spirit. A potential outlet of expression is poetry. Here at EricsHouse, we find the power of poetry and quotes to be very much present. Whether it’s reading poetry or writing your own, poems can connect us to deeper feelings. Oftentimes reading the words of others can allow us to inherently relate to many parts of the human experience. It can be insightful as you navigate your own grief. Pouring out your feelings on paper can be an incredibly helpful way of sharing and releasing.

The quote above invites readers to acknowledge the prevalence of the "and's" in life, loss, and grief. May we grant ourselves permission to hold spaces for many thoughts, feelings, and ideas that seemingly oppose. It is an "and" not an "or." 

Connect With Us:
Self-Discovery by Marianne Gouveia
Throughout my journey of grief, I continue to explore parts of myself, my identity, my beliefs, my values, and my priorities. Loss lays out entirely new ways of thinking about the mysteries of life and death. We are irrevocably changed and faced with restoring balance as we learn to integrate loss into our lives. Part of my self-discovery has been diving deep into who I am, how I want to spend my time, and examining my priorities, beliefs, and thoughts about living a life full of joy and happiness. Full of love.

This February marked 8 years without Eric. I will always miss his infectious belly laugh, kind soul, adventurous spirit, and loyal & fun nature. As each moment, day, month, and year go by I observe the movement in my grief journey. The devastation of losing Eric felt like a complete shattering of what I envisioned for myself and those I love. I have permitted myself to look at what pieces of life I want to keep and those pieces that simply don’t fit . 

An important reminder is there is no reward for speed in this journey. We all come to our own unique points of discovery as our journey’s unfold. Perhaps some questions to ask yourself in the process of self-discovery are: 

  • How has your view of yourself, your self-identity changed?

  • How has your loss changed your priorities? Do certain things feel trivial?

  • How do you choose to use your energy?  

  • How have your beliefs changed since your loss? 

  • Who has been a faithful companion in your grief?

I can openly observe my grief and how it has shifted over time. I often remind myself that it is not a linear process – I always say . . . backward, forward, up, down, around and around. No matter what direction I move, each step I take informs the next. I am much wiser every step of the way.  

As I allow myself to authentically mourn, I feel ever more connected to Eric. My relationship with him has certainly shifted from one of physical presence to spiritual presence, and one of memory. All those good times!

This journey and the questions we are left with are thought-provoking and intense. They require energy and time to ponder. We develop – we find our footing – over time. Grief will always be present because it reflects the love and bonds we share. Integration is the idea that how one responds and carries their grief will change. My wish for you is the hope of finding new meaning and purpose. Give yourself compassion, a pat on the back, and remind yourself of your own resilience as you open up to integration and the continued presence of grief in your life. After all, what is grief without love’s perseverance?

Much Love,
Marianne Gouveia
Founder and Chairman
Self-Forgiveness by Greg Eckerman
Our Men’s Retreat is coming up at the end of this month (April 26-28). I’ve asked the guys who will attend to consider one goal for the weekend. They chose self-forgiveness.  

Believe me, I’m no expert on self-forgiveness. Nonetheless, I have offered to put together a workshop activity centered on self-forgiveness.

So, I’ve done a little research of people who claim that expertise. The methods and approaches I’ve found thus far seem to center on specific acts requiring forgiveness. I didn’t think that adequately encompassed the breadth of our challenges.

While we surely have specific incidents we can call to mind that spark guilt, shame, or self-loathing, it seems that our self-forgiveness challenge is more systemic – forgive me for not being a better father, husband, brother, son...for not doing more.  

What do you do with that? I don’t think we’re open to accepting some sort of global pardon from ourselves for our inadequacies. It’s difficult to envision an exercise that could exercise those demons and stick. It’s going to take more than a mantra.

So I find myself back to the self-defined experts. Maybe this is like every other aspect of this difficult, frustrating, life-long journey. It starts with a single step – in any direction.

Maybe if we start with a single incident and imbue that moment with all of the burdens associated with the behavior it represents, we can limit our initial self-forgiveness efforts to that tiny drop in an ocean of guilt, shame, or self-loathing.  

Maybe if we can isolate that representative failure, try to put in a broader context of who we are and how deeply we love the one we’ve lost, we can work the process in that limited scope: 

  • Recall the offense
  • Express our remorse
  • Envision and enact atonement
  • Release ourselves

Maybe that initial kernel of self-forgiveness can become a stepping stone to a broader release.

For many of us, this is not a strictly logical process. While we know none of us is perfect, we also know we did the best we could with who we are and what we’ve survived in our lives. We also know that self-forgiveness requires that we go backward to enable moving forward. Without it, we are stuck in the past. Without it, we can never fully integrate our losses into who we hope to become – never reconcile ourselves to our new purpose.

Because I believe the real challenge in self-forgiveness is in finding a way to love ourselves in spite of all that has happened.

Wish us luck.
EricsHouse coins are a tangible way to hold space for the analogy of love and loss. None of us would ever willingly reduce the pain of our grief if it meant losing any of the love behind it.

EricsHouse facilitators, Greg Eckerman and Matthew Burg plus the Men’s support group members collaborated on designing this unique coin. A special thank you to all of them!

Two inches in diameter, these coins are substantial and tactile. One side has the infinity heart, symbolizing eternal love. It includes the phrases: “The only way past the pain is through it” and “You are not alone”. The other side has a stylized representation of Melancholy, a sculpture created by Albert Gyorgy, and the phrase: “The Greater the Love, The Greater the Pain”.

We are using the EricsHouse coin as a fundraiser to help us to continue providing integrative grief care support to loss survivors. Please let us know if you would like one for yourself or someone else on their own grief journey.