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Let Love Heal

Glimmers April 10, 2018

“Grief, our ally and companion, reminds us of a central truth that is hidden in our tears and fears: The one whom we grieve loved us – we are lovable.” Lisa Irish, Grieving – the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss   


Dear Friends,

Wet snow is falling upon the purple crocuses surrounded by new green grass and on the tiny red leaf buds on my neighbor’s tree. Spring in New England is like that, we enjoy the promise of new life while the reminders of winter’s cold are still in our midst. A real life example of non-dual, or unitive thinking – we are challenged to live with the both/and of Spring: 60 degrees and sunny one day, then cold, wet snow the next.

I’m coming back to earth following a grace-filled Book Launch for my new book, Grieving – the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss, and now I return to daily tasks of making dinner, working at the computer, and swimming laps at the YMCA. Life carries both joy and sorrow, excitement and mundane, hope and despair. As we move through our lives, we hopefully learn to accept the both/and of our lives instead of avoiding emotional challenges and the pain. We are invited into unitive consciousness, a concept I incorporate into my understanding of grief.

This Glimmer’s opening quote sets the stage…. when we are lost in the emptiness and confusion of loss, filled with anguish and sadness, it’s easy to lose our grounding. It’s easy to focus on the pain and become disconnected with the love. Grief, our trusted resource for navigating the Land of Loss, takes us by the hand, gently but firmly, and helps us return to the center of our hearts. And that, dear friends, is where loss and love co-exist. Our loved one’s legacy is the precious reminder of their love. If we can add the awareness, that we are in fact lovable, to the mix of grief’s emotions; we will find the pathway to the Land of Hope. Each of us, you included, is a reflection of Love in this world. Look in the mirror and know that you are loved and you are lovable!

Blessings on this new and beautiful day!


Guest Blog on Grief and Memoir

Book Updates March 19, 2018

Emergence From The Land of Loss: The Sacred Art of Grieving by Author Lisa Irish

Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler with Lisa Irish/@lisairishlight

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” ~Vivekananda, a Hindu mystic


Photo Credit: dreamstimefree

I am happy to feature my IWWG sister, Lisa Irish in this guest post about her new book, Grieving -The Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss, due to be published on April 3, 2018 by Skylight Paths.  Lisa and I first met in a memoir writing workshop at an IWWG  summer conference several years ago and shared an immediate bond, sharing hope through our stories. Today she will explore how her own journey through the Land of Loss “led her home”.

Welcome, Lisa!

Author Lisa Irish

Emergence From the Land of Loss: The Sacred Art of Grieving

I had a memory yesterday.

It tiptoed passed the have-to-dos,

slid passed the want-to-dos,

and landed here.

Right here,

in the space that I am occupying in this present moment.

Uncertain images filled my vision –

lights and shadows, mostly.

Warmth expanded through my body,

my thoughts calmed.  

I saw smiles,

a golden glow threaded its way into my heart.

I was remembering.


I do not have a clear catalogue of memories, instead I hold tightly to very few that have been told and retold. New memories rarely appear, but when they do, I receive them as gift. They arrive as sensations or emotions, often without distinct storylines. Trauma came into my life when I was eighteen months old. To survive, the memories were set aside, the connections with my childhood frayed and faded away.


When I started out as a writer, I was ready to step into memoir. I attended the International Women’s Writing Guild conference and entered the magical world of self-expression. Other conferences, writing classes and a creative journaling practice helped me believe that I was a writer. The fire within called out: Write your story!  Everything in me focused on that call, it was a thirst I could not quench. The commitment to writing memoir was interrupted, I thought, when I received a contract to write a self-help book, Grieving – the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss.  But the first, second and third drafts were written from a deep place of knowing, of remembering what loss and grief feel like. “The book wrote me,” a friend suggested and this process stirred up my memories, some long forgotten. The paths through the Land of Loss led me home.


I share all of this with you, dear readers, because as memoirists we rely on these “shimmering images,” as Lisa Dale Norton calls them. We may describe the events of our lives with detail and shading, but our truth is heard through the heartbeat of these selected images. We write and work out the narrative, while the essence of our story speaks, revealing insight and healing. The moment of warmth and love that enveloped me in yesterday’s flood of sensations, came from a deep place I’ve protected all of these years. The memories were not lost, they were there…waiting…for me to return to them.


Memories play an interesting role for grievers, as well. Sometimes they are painful – the table where she sat with her husband every night screams of his absence and she is unable to savor their favorite time of day. Sometimes grievers cling to their memories with clenched hands, fearful of forgetting the sound of her voice or his passion for football. For some, memories become faint or distant. They are pushed out of daily life, sometimes intentionally, other times unconsciously. There is a consequence, though, if we avoid the difficult images. We are complex beings. We cannot send painful memories to the land of not-remembering and selectively retain the sweet, happier moments with a loved one. If a mother avoids everything that is a reminder of her daughter’s death, for example, she may pack away the tender moments of her daughter’s life.  Grievers, and all of us, benefit from experiencing all of our memories and feeling all of our feelings. Our memories hold the depths of who we are, as well as the connection we have with others. They set the scene of our personal narrative and reveal the path we are to travel in the Land of Loss.


I was recently asked about my work in loss and grief, “What drew you to bereavement ministry, Lisa?” Well, I answered, my story began with a series of losses that I’ve spent a lifetime trying to understand. And, I continued, the opportunity for this ministry was placed before me during my work as a hospital chaplain, it just was a good fit. But, as I reflect further, dear readers, I realize that the great gift I receive when I support those who are grieving is to witness their vulnerability. Their pain has stripped away their defenses, their hearts are broken. Loss has demanded that they return to the core of who they are, as they learn to reshape their lives.


Isn’t that our quest in memoir? Aren’t we seeking the core, the essence, the truth of who we are? Grievers, writers, and perhaps all human beings are called to search our inner landscape. Loss demands this journey. Those of us who write memoir have a bit more detachment, but we too are compelled to travel inward, to experience our vulnerability. I would suggest that is our gift to the world, as we bravely explore our story. Our process shines a light on the path of self-awareness and invites that same consciousness to those around us.

Memoir, at its best, reveals the grace embedded in the human story. Each memory, long held or newly emerged, is a doorway to healing and hope.


Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons


Thank you, Lisa for sharing your spiritual journey through your own Land of Loss to healing and hope. Your words shed a healing light on grief and its power to transform us. My favorite lines are: “Memoir, at its best, reveals the grace embedded in the human story. Each memory, long held or newly emerged, is a doorway to healing and hope.” You have inspired me to write about why writing is my spiritual practice which I will post next week.

 I’m looking forward to reading Grieving-The Sacred Art (preordered!).


Book Synopsis:

For most people, the pain of loss dominates their experience of grief. Grief then becomes something to be avoided or completed as quickly as possible. In her new book, Lisa Irish presents grief as our “ally” in the Land of Loss and offers pathways and resources to navigate the confusing and challenging terrain. She explores “conscious grieving,” as she gathers the wisdom of bereavement experts, spiritual leaders and everyday people walking their own individual paths. Lisa encourages us to let seeds of hope find their way into our grieving hearts, to allow self-compassion during the journey, and to trust grief’s healing process. Grieving – The Sacred Art makes a space for love in our sadness and leads us into a Land of Hope.

Amazon Preorder link


Endorsements and Praise:

“Lisa Irish shows us that grief is our ally in the Land of Loss, and indeed her book becomes our ally as well. Her insightful study and creative descriptions of grieving tap into our own experiences of loss. The roadmap is wise, but sensitive – grounded in hope – and reminds us to rest in God’s healing love.” ~Richard Rohr, OFM, The Center for Action and Contemplation

“There is a path from darkness into light. It is long and lonely. Lisa Irish has assembled a community of companions for this journey whose wisdom and whispers of encouragement lift the most broken among us. This book is a hand stretched out, an arm around the shoulder—it is tender, strong, reliable. Of all the books on grief, this is the one I would offer to a fellow soul on that bewildering journey through loss.”  ~Jan Phillips, author No Ordinary Time  

“A beautiful work of the heart.  Lisa Irish speaks not only from a professional knowledge of loss, but from her own lived experience. Her exercises, meditations and rituals offer valuable counsel, and her understanding of the vulnerability of the journey is key. “The heart initially begs for certainty,” she tells us, then goes on to show how the pathway through loss evolves, opening the door to a greater love that we may each find in our own way and time.” ~Paula D’Arcy, author of Gift of the Red Bird and Stars at Night.  


Author Bio:

Lisa Irish, MEd, MA has been offering retreats and presentations for over twenty-five years. As the bereavement coordinator for Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Hospital of St Raphael in New Haven, CT, she ministered to grieving individuals, groups and community organizations. A chaplain and spiritual director, Lisa’s writing creates connection and insight for her readers. Her work has been published by Abbey Press in the Elf-help book, Grieving with a Grateful Heart and several CareNotes; Open to Hope, an online grief forum.

Author Contact Information:


Twitter @lisairishlight

Facebook:Lisa Irish


How about you? Do Lisa’s words help you see grief in a new way? Do you feel grief can be a pathway to healing? 

We’d love to hear from you. Please join in the conversation below~


Next Week:

Monday, 3/26/18:

“Why Memoir Writing is My Spiritual Practice: A Reflection”

March 2018 Newsletter: Updates, Memoir Musings and Max Moments:

” Finding Hope ”

If you are interested in receiving this monthly newsletter in your inbox, please sign up in the right side bar. I’d love to have you along!

The sweet pain of remembering…

Glimmers March 2, 2018

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, March 1, was my father’s birthday. If he were alive today he would be 93, instead he died at age 36. I lived a full and connected day yesterday, in honor of him. And, I’m coming to realize, because of him. My personal journey of grief through the losses in my early life led me on a path of healing that has brought me to this moment…right now…with each of you in my heart.

The following is an edited excerpt from my new book, Grieving – the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss. It includes one of the many stories I present about folks who sought help with their grief. This one is different, though, because it’s part my story. I share it to illustrate love’s healing presence in our lives, even in times of challenge.

Anne’s father died when she was eleven. Her life changed, as a result, but she found happiness and fulfillment in relationships and career. Anne married and raised a family, gratefully using her father’s name for her first son. Years passed, her children grew up and started their own lives. One cold February, the date of March 1st kept returning to her mind. Anne searched her memory but could not remember the significance of March 1st, so she let the date become a part of her prayer. Anne trusted the arrival of this date in her thoughts and waited to learn its importance. One morning, sitting at her desk at work, Anne was flooded with a depth of sadness that was inescapable…and she remembered. March 1st, this very day, was her father’s birthday. She let the tears fall, breathed through the pressure in her chest and remembered the emptiness. At the same time, Anne experienced a kindling of warmth and tenderness as she remembered love. She gave herself permission to receive this moment, even though it was attached to sadness. She did not dwell on forgetting her father’s birthday, but chose to be grateful for this powerful reminder of love. As the waves of feeling passed through her, Anne stayed aware of the sweet love that touched her little girl heart.

For Anne, this unexpected experience was indeed Love’s reminder. She surrendered to it and focused on the gift of that moment. Perhaps the years between the loss and healing helped, a more recent loss has other elements. Certainly grace appeared on that March day, and shows up in our lives as well. But our attitude toward love and grief is a significant piece in our healing and in our surrendering.   With Surrender’s help, we come to understand that our capacity to love is a part of who we are. It does not die. It is woven through our story, enhanced or inhibited by our unique nature and, ultimately, it is experienced in the present moment. Our relationships, in life and in memories, have gifted us with experiences of love… as long as we live, love lives on in us.

Friends, thank you for being on this road with me. I am so grateful for your interest and engagement in my Glimmers. I hope you’ll look into the book on Amazon  or Barnes and Noble and explore my ideas about conscious grieving. Your well being matters, so keep taking care of yourself! If you’re near by, send me an email – I’d love to see you at our April 8th Book Launch! In the meantime, “This one’s for you, Dad. Your love is still with me, it shines through the confusion of life and lights the path before me.”

with a grateful heart,

Two Months and Counting….

Book Updates February 8, 2018

April 8, 2018, two months from today!

Family and friends will gather to welcome the “birth” of my new book, “Grieving – the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss.” This will be a celebration and homecoming, as we share the good news…hope is in our midst!

Join me in a countdown, as the days and weeks go by, of a goal achieved…a dream realized…a healing found.

You can preorder “Grieving – the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss” online now.  Skylight Paths, an imprint of Turner Publishing, has set April 3, 2018 as the release date on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound   

Join the Community of Hope!

Join the Celebration!


Own the Light Within You

Glimmers February 6, 2018


We must remember that to own the light is not to deny the darkness,

but to allow it to be transformed.” Doris Klein, CSA

Dear Friends,

It’s so easy to sit in the darkness of our own making….

            to “stew,” over and over again, about what didn’t happen

            to replay, with painful detail, what should have happened 

            to fear, a familiar place, that things will never change

The darkness of our wounds, wrongs and worries can wrap us up, hands bound, and deposit us on cold cement steps that go nowhere. And there we sit….sometimes wriggling a hand free to reach out for help, sometimes pulling away the layers of doubt that keep us bound. The darkness waits as we go through the usual routine of stepping over the the remnants of a particular encounter, watches as we try to pack away all the evidence of our deepest feelings, wonders when we will return to the realm of hopelessness. As it happens, the more we deny the darkness of our lives – be it loss, fear, anger, loneliness, shame – the more likely our return to the empty space within.

But there is hope. There is light in the darkness.

Doris Klein’s words are a wise response to normal, human struggles: “We must remember that to own the light is not to deny the darkness, but to allow it to be transformed.”* Ahhhh, a way through…our human journey is not simply choosing good over bad, light over dark. We are called to transformation. We are invited to shine the light of Love, that also lives in our hearts, upon our places of pain. This is not easy, “it takes courage,” she adds, “to be faithful to this transformative process.”*

Where do we find such courage to face the intimate stories of our lives that we keep hidden away? How do we shine Love’s light into the depths of who we are? For me, dear friends, the real question is, how do we not? This one life that we’ve been given is precious. It is filled with potential, like the crocus bulb waiting for winter’s cold to pass. She rests deep within the earth until the warmth of the sun’s light reaches down – coaxing, warming, inviting – until she says yes. We, too, hold much beauty in the depths of who we are. Love’s light is reaching out to us all the time, our task is to open our arms and surrender…to say “yes” to Love and allow it to transform our lives. “As we take the brave steps deeper into our healing, we move into an acceptance that changes us. We live out of our vulnerability and encounter a certain tenderness that becomes our strength. We shift away from control to empowerment, away from isolation into love.”+

Be brave! Let this one precious life of yours become a testament to Love.

peace on this day, Lisa


*Doris Klein, CSA, Journey of a Soul, (Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward, 2000) 112.

+Lisa Irish, Grieving – the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss, (Nashville, TN: Skylight Paths, 2018) 116.

I’ve had an epiphany!

Glimmers January 6, 2018

Dear Friends,

Today is a special day in my world, its the 4th anniversary of  these Glimmers. I took a chance, four years ago, and said “yes” to the idea of sharing my little light with you. I didn’t expect it in the beginning, but as I’ve heard from so many of you over the years, I experienced a precious connection. When we share the gift of hope with one another, hope is enriched, enlivened, expanded. We are encouraged, perhaps, to share our light with others…one to the next…letting hope shine forth in the world around us.

May the enlightenment of Epiphany reach across time and space into our hearts, breaking them open to receive the light we need. May we see our own broken and fearful places as a source of wisdom and wholeness. May we allow Love to heal our hearts, as we share that healing Love with the world. Blessings on this Epiphany of 2018,

I share here the Glimmer from 2014 as an anthem of hope for us all.               


I write this message as the sun goes down on January 5th, 2014. The sky is hovering between grey and snowy white as it awaits the deep darkness that will soon come. Snow is all around the house on this cold Connecticut evening, but even the snow will be covered by the blanket of night.

I am in a place of expectant waiting as I think of you, because I know tomorrow is January 6, the Feast of Epiphany. I know the darkness will be pierced by the bright light of the dawn. I know the gift of Epiphany that brings light into our tender souls.

In Christian tradition, Epiphany celebrates the arrival of three kings or wise men to the manger of baby Jesus. This moment brings the birth of Christ to the larger world. Thomas Keating, OCSO, suggests that Epiphany might be called “enlightenment” in other religions. He says,

“Epiphany is the inward realization and consciousness of being identified with who we really are. We are not our false selves or egos. Kiss them goodbye. ….the most important aspect in life is the epiphany or revelation of God that is going on all the time in the details of life.” *

All the time…God is revealed in the faces I see at the grocery store. All the time…God is revealed in my car’s full tank of gas, my husband’s surprise gift on a cold winter day. All the time…God is even revealed in my impatience with a telemarketer, because I’m invited to respond as my best self to this other human being. God is indeed in the details of life as I have the opportunity, again and again, to discover and share Love.

Christmas provides a helpful context so we can see Love being born into our world. On Epiphany, Love breaks through convention and hierarchy. The streams of light brings a king to his knee and elevates the hearts of all who stop to wonder.

Can we pause, look deep within and see the flicker of Love in our hearts? It’s there. It may be wounded or wandering, it may be strong and steady, On this Epiphany, let us embrace the revelation, once again, that we each carry a divine spark. We “house” the Divine in our hearts. Together, let us nurture the light of Love and learn from it. Together, let us open ourselves to the unending source of Love

*Contemplative Outreach News, Vol. 30, Number 1, December 2013

Love to you, Lisa