Tag Archives: grief

Light and Shadow

Today is my birthday. And for yet another year, I find myself both crying and laughing. Life is indeed both beautiful and awfully brutal. I texted a friend asking whether I could perhaps have one birthday not affiliated with grief.

Some news arrived this morning and again this afternoon that threw me into yet another cycle of grief. As though the Universe has a really sick and twisted sense of humor, and would like to see how much of it I can hold.

Enough. I am very skilled and adept at navigating grief; even for me…this is a LOT to hold.

And at the same time, I had the chance to see my nieces, nephews, sisters, brother, and parents on video chats. Which brought me so much joy. I’ve also been texting with friends who are making me laugh.

Life is both light and shadow. It is  both darkness and light; at the same time. As much as today has been unexpectedly challenging, it has also been full of beautiful messages and laughter.

Living brings both intensely bitter and exquisitely sweet experiences. It is only up to each of us to navigate as best as we can. That’s the invitation: to feel all of it.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Light and Shadow”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression




It is very true that people just tell me things and share their stories, regardless of where I am or what I’m doing. Everyone has a story, and most people simply want to be witnessed.

Most of us aren’t looking for solutions or problem solving; we simply want to be seen. I have many superpowers, but the ability to witness other people is high on the list.

Right now, people everywhere are starved for connection, and I am continuing to witness people and their stories literally everywhere I go, including at home.

I’m not anti-social, but I have lived here for more than twelve years and have had more conversations with neighbors in the past month than in several years. We are all stuck at home and not going anywhere other than stir crazy…which is a special level of hell even for introverts.

It’s always fascinating to hear how other people perceive of either me, or my life experiences. In a recent conversation, a long-time neighbor shared that they had watched my separation and divorce unfold, noting how my ex’s behavior was rather inappropriate.

I didn’t realize this person had been watching. In a way, it was validating to hear him share his perception of how my ex chose to behave toward me. Sometimes we aren’t even aware who is witnessing us and our stories.

As a writer and ghostwriter, I help people tell their stories; and I certainly have many of my own. It’s true that I cannot stop talking, but at the same time…I cannot stop listening. People and their stories are truly fascinating when we stop and simply pay attention to them.

This same neighbor shared some of his very personal stories that include massive grief and trauma. Everyone has a past, some of us are just more willing to show up and have it witnessed.

I am a natural listener and witness to the stories that people have to share. Even while supposedly being told to stay home, humans have a deep and intense desire to simply be seen. Some family members are horrified at choices I’m making, and while they’re welcome to their own opinions; I’m not willing to stop showing up for my own life.

Witnessing my own journey through this life experience, and sharing that through written expression is part of why I am here. Staying home, staying in bed, or opting out of witnessing and allowing myself to experience this life are simply not options.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Witnessing”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression

Canaries in the Coal Mines

This is one of my favorite metaphors of what it’s like to be a highly sensitive human, and it is written about by Glennon Doyle in her book Love Warrior. Being an intensely sensitive person is like being one of the canaries in the coal mine to alert miners to danger. We are the first to feel things, and we feel them more intensely than most.

Except in our country (and many others) where those of us who are highly sensitive are told that we are crazy. We’re recognizing danger and speaking up about it only to be ignored. Marginalized. Refused.

There are a lot of highly sensitive people in my life, and we have fascinating conversations about this. Right now, the world is experiencing deep levels of trauma and grief. Those of us who are highly sensitive and intuitive can feel it.

I spent a very long time denying my sensitivity. One of the most beautiful gifts of the past several years has been remembering and reclaiming that sensitivity. Those of us who are highly sensitive can feel things we cannot explain. We read between all of the lines.

We’re not crazy for speaking up about what we sense and feel without explanation; we’re proclaiming that we can see broken and outdated structures for which it’s time to re-write the playbook.

We’re screaming that there are outdated, toxic, and harmful aspects to “traditional” systems that need to go. Standing on the deck of the Titanic yelling warnings about the iceberg while everyone just wants to keep dancing.

The world right now is in a state of chaos and there are patriarchal structures falling down. It is not our duty to fix them; it’s our invitation to build new ones from the ashes. Perhaps with more collaboration and creativity rather than competition and scarcity.

With more reciprocal conversation and less dictation. With more compassion and kindness than greed. Those of us who are highly sensitive humans are holding a lot right now. Many of us are feeling exhausted.

But perhaps at the same time, feeling a bit of relief that our message is in some ways finally being heard. We’ve been saying for quite a while that the world cannot continue to do things as they’ve always been done.

It is time for change and creating new structures founded upon different values than the ones which are crumbling were built. The United States was founded upon values of violence and de-humanization. It is time for that to change.

What we’re witnessing right now on the world stage is a global time-out; the planet has finally had enough and sent us all to our rooms to think about what we’ve done.

If you have highly sensitive people in your life, check in on them. We’re witnessing a tremendous amount of grief and it is really heavy to hold space for that. Many of us have also been holding our personal grief on top of that, which only adds to the exhaustion.

Maybe it is finally time that the message those of us highly sensitive people have been trying to send is starting to be received: we cannot continue doing things the way they have always been done.

Also, taking time for rest and reflection aren’t weak…they’re essential.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Canaries in the Coal Mines”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression

Physical Experience of Stress

When I experience stress, it manifests in several ways but the most distinct is a complete loss of appetite. Sleep gets severely disrupted too, but I can mitigate that aspect to some extent thanks to a flexible schedule. Don’t ask when and at what time I’ve slept in the past day; it’s been “interesting.”

The loss of appetite is by far the worst physical manifestation of stress for me. For the third time in several years, I am once again negotiating with myself when it comes to food. And yes, I am one of the annoying people who can totally forget to eat.

The most severe episode of this loss of appetite was probably while separated/divorcing. At the time, a friend observed that the “divorce diet is very real” and many close to me expressed legitimate concern at the amount of weight I lost. Weight I’ve certainly regained but didn’t really have to lose at the time.

Then a year ago, post-trauma I had absolutely no desire to eat. Even though I had people constantly bringing me food, I physically did not want to eat any of it.

The month of March this year was intense with multiple layers of grief and I once again found myself without any desire to eat. Which short-term is fine, but longer-term can get problematic.

During each of these times I end up playing a game of negotiation with myself. Which typically looks like rationalizing that eating what’s considered “junk food” is acceptable. Because eating something is better than eating nothing.

So once again, I’m back to eating crap that I don’t even want, just to eat something at all. This is not enjoyable nor do I seek it out. It’s simply how I physically respond to intense stress, or grief and trauma.

I actually like to eat and enjoy food, but when I’m stressed I have no desire for it. While unhappily married, every time he’d start a fight I knew that if I hadn’t eaten dinner yet it was a case of “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

It was about this time a year ago that I forced myself to keep eating in the interest of physically healing. Intellectually I understand that my body needs nourishment, even when I don’t want it.

Each one of us responds differently to stress, but it’s helpful to know our typical responses. I’m aware of my own and know that sometimes, negotiating with myself when it comes to food is just how I need to handle that phase.

There is a LOT going on in the world right now and in addition to my personal grief and trauma, I can feel the collective energy of grief and trauma. That’s a lot to hold and feel. I do safeguard myself from taking on too much of it, but it’s almost impossible to not be aware of it at some level.

For me personally, right now…I’m back to negotiating with myself and allowing permission to acknowledge that eating something is better than nothing. While also understanding that this won’t last forever; nothing ever does.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Physical Experience of Stress”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression




I would sincerely like to ask 2020: what the actual fuck are you doing?

January felt like a long year. Then February felt like an even longer year. March showed up and I have no words.

I spent the first half of March holding space for my personal grief. Then I spent the second half of March witnessing (and feeling) trauma and grief on a global scale. As someone who is highly skilled at navigating grief, all I can say is that it was a lot.

One of the things about grief that I struggle with the most is that it is non-linear in nature. There is no map, and the experience of it often does not make logical sense. There were many days when I allowed myself to crawl back into bed; because I needed to.

Grief is awful. It is heavy and dark and unpredictable. While the immense crying that I did in early March has subsided, I’m still crying and allowing myself to feel unpleasant emotions.

There is also a part of me that is highly pissed off right now that much of April appears to be canceled as well. For the second year in a row my birthday month is being subdued and I do NOT like it.

In an ironic twist, last March I was mad that I wasn’t being left alone, this year I am currently fed up with being alone. The universe has quite a sense of humor. Although it surprises many people, I am a huge introvert; which means time alone is required.

I love being alone and enjoy my own company, just as much as I appreciate quality time with the people in my life. Even I am so done with this quarantine bs. The other day I snapped at the cat (in a very unkind tone of voice) to socially distance from me. And was immediately horrified at what I’d said.

None of us escapes grief and right now we’re experiencing it on a global scale. Which honestly sucks. It’s awful and uncertain and messy as hell. It is also non-negotiable, and unfortunately, the only way out is through.

Grief and I are intimately acquainted, and as of March 2020, it seems we meet yet again. Fuck.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Grief”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression

Retracing Steps

I have a long relationship with the greenway at Four Mile Creek here in Charlotte. Over the years, I’ve walked countless steps along that path, both alone and with others. That greenway has been a silent witness to so many conversations, and it continues to be a place of healing and retreat for me.

Many of my friends also have flexible schedules, and I love the ones who will date me during the week. Walking dates bring the dual benefits of conversation and movement, and that greenway is a favorite destination.

I was back there today with a friend who’s known me for a long time, one I’ve walked that pathway with so many times. We’ve both left a lot of words there and today was no exception.

It’s healing to create new memories in places that already hold so many memories for me. I’ve been doing that since initiating divorce; intentionally creating new memories for myself.

Retracing familiar steps reminds me of how much I’ve changed, how far I’ve come over the years, and how much I appreciate the people in my life. The friend I was with today has been privy to a lot of my very personal stories; she’s one of a few who witnessed some of my fury on Thanksgiving day 2015 as my divorce was beginning.

There’s a deep sense of trust in having known each other for so long…we have license to say things to each other that many people wouldn’t get away with. Retracing steps along a familiar path while having brilliant conversation with a trusted friend is truly quality time well spent.

It’s also a helpful counterbalance to the aggravation of dealing with ridiculous drivers in parking lots the past few days; I’ve not had enough sleep to deal with people’s driving stupidity.

Creating new memories in familiar spaces has been a theme for a long time, and the trend continues. Retracing steps isn’t nostalgic, it can be healing and therapeutic; either alone or with trusted friends.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Retracing Steps”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression


Haunted by Words

Without question, I am haunted by words and notice them everywhere. I have no idea what it is with me and Virgo, but I continue to be stunned. The last Virgo new moon found me signing up for an online course that turned out to be exceptional; which led to my recent New Orleans experience. I am definitely the one most surprised by all of those experiences…and the fact that I said “yes” to them.

The current Virgo full moon finds me navigating beyond a trauma anniversary. Some words I’ve received describing the current energies include: Love and Grief, Surrender, and Strength. Which has me thinking: Well. Fuck me. Especially regarding surrender, which is decidedly not my default setting.

Feeling emotions is exhausting on so many levels. Blend that with erratic sleep and no appetite; good times. For a few days, I was so overwhelmed I could not focus enough to read. That alone is an exceptionally rare occurrence.

Juxtaposition is a favorite word that I have a history with and the two latest books I’ve been reading have brought me both laughter and tears; in juxtaposition with one another.

It’s been forever since I’ve read any writing by David Sedaris and I’d forgotten how much I adore his work. One of his latest books Calypso had me laughing throughout, even with regard to the heavier topics he addressed; mortality, suicide, and alcoholism to name a few. It is brilliantly written and includes hilarious essays on life.

The book I just started, The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger had me crying from the start with resonance and recognition. It is not a light read as it’s the author’s very explicit memoir including her experience during the Holocaust; but it’s powerful. In her introduction, she explains that there is no measuring scale or comparison for grief and trauma. I completely agree.

Countless people have prefaced and minimized their own experiences in relation to mine. I always push back with, “It is not a competition.” No one is giving out trophies for experiencing more trauma, and diminishing our experiences dilutes the healing power of sharing our stories. There is no damn scorecard…we are all walking wounded to some degree.

Certainly the words grief and trauma continue to be frequent topics of conversation. Neither are words I shy away from and some of the richest, deepest conversations I’ve experienced have included both. Often with reverence, but just as often with laughter. No one escapes some form of grief and trauma, it’s only a matter of how willing we are to talk about them openly. Clearly, I’m highly willing.

Probably two of my favorite words from the past year were said once again by a guest on a recent podcast recording: yin and yang. This life includes both light and darkness, and no matter where I go lately that theme follows me. Unsure of how I’d feel during that recording, hearing those words was somehow a reassuring touchstone that I was exactly where I needed to be.

Words are powerful and I’ve found that when they continue to show up, they are important indicators. Not always easy indicators to follow, but always important for growth, healing, and change; regardless of what we’re experiencing (or have experienced) in our lives.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Haunted by Words”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression



Revisiting Parking Lots

After three days of crying, I emerged back into my daily life to consider my calendar and realized I would be going to revisit parking lots where I’ve been on dates with men.

Waiting for my real estate friend lunch date, I ended up waiting in the parking lot. The last time I was there, I paid for the Lyft ride of the man I was with. Ladies, I’m going to suggest that if a date requires you to pay for their ride home…perhaps don’t go on another date with them. Or maybe that’s just how I respond to that experience.

In sharing that story with my friend, she asked if I thought he’d planned it intentionally. Which is a totally dark and messed up possibility; that I don’t think is true, I think he legitimately was just not the best planner. It’s shocking we’re no longer in contact.

Then on my wine date with a writer friend, I ended up across the street from another parking lot outside the bar where I dated someone, once upon a time. Ah, memories; and the curse of having a good memory.

Yet it was healing and helpful for me to be in both places while creating new memories. In fact, the second parking lot was much more fun than the first and wasn’t a bad memory at all.

This has been quite an emotional week. But it hasn’t been all bad or awful; it’s been what it’s been. I swear the journey of healing and transformation at times feels like a waking nightmare.

Before parting ways, my writer friend insisted on telling me some of the most beautiful words I have ever received. She shared her perspective on how I have chosen to navigate the past year of my life. Coming from someone that I did not know one year ago; her words and the intent behind them made me cry….and I allowed myself to do so.

Life is messy, and painful, and sometimes absurdly incomprehensible. It is also brilliantly beautiful. Maybe one day I will write some version of my “tales from parking lots” because I have a lot of stories to share. Some make me sad, others bring me joy. Both are valid emotions, and ones I choose to allow myself to experience.

Since being assaulted in a parking lot, I am often asked whether I get triggered by them. The answer is usually no. I’m much more aware of my surroundings than ever before, but I don’t avoid walking through them alone or with other people. I’ve had some very sweet friends try and insist on my not walking alone, but the truth is that I am still not afraid to do so.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Revisiting Parking Lots”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression

Reflections on Trauma and Healing

Reflecting on a year ago, once again everything has changed. These are my thoughts on the aftermath of trauma, grief and healing. In early March of last year I was physically assaulted, and within moments, my life changed. And it would continue changing in unpredictable ways.

Traumatic events illuminate things. Relationships, connections, even our own patterns can be brought up for what is often an uncomfortable review or awareness.

Some of the people that were closest to me a year ago are gone; while I assume they’re alive and well, they are no longer in my life. Other connections that were close but more peripheral have amplified in unexpected ways. Even more brand new connections continue to arrive.

One major lesson of last year’s trauma: I cannot and, more importantly, will not take ownership of how anyone else experiences, responds to, or behaves toward me.

Some of those previous “close” people removed themselves. It was very clear that they did so, and I still see them on social media at times. Which to this day brings up feelings of pain. Pain that includes the awareness that I was cut out intentionally, plus an illumination of the deceptive nature of some communication.

On the flip side…allowing such people to go cleared space for much more magic to arrive. Through and beyond a very traumatic experience, I’ve been meeting more new people than ever before. I’ve also been doing things so very new, but also undeniably aligned with me; the thrill of that is indescribable. My calendar being cleared led the way to magical experiences and more autonomy than ever before.

In moments and weeks right after the trauma, I was absolutely flooded with support and well wishes. I was also brought endings and decisions that I never thought I would make. It was and has been both excruciating and beautiful; it was what it was.

Remembering any of that time is not fun. But it is meaningful to reflect. I choose to remember the good while still honoring the fact that there were many moments of crying on the floor; allowing myself to feel all of it.

A theme that emerged in the middle of all of the trauma was unapologetic sovereignty. Un-fucking-apologetic Sovereignty within and of my own life. That (and how I expressed it) pissed some people off. Yet I always get to choose where and with whom I spend my time, energy and attention; I don’t choose to spend any of it with those who judge me.

I’m very grateful for those who surrounded and sent me love during those absolutely ridiculous days in March of last year. I’m also grateful for all of the endings that took place. I’m even more grateful and appreciative of those I’ve since met, deepened a bond with, or who have continued to reach out.

New possibilities and potential continue to unfold all around me. I can be grateful for where I’ve been, while also grateful that I’m no longer there.

One of the most startling realizations while reflecting is that I do not miss the life I left behind. I love the one that I am now living. I have and continue to learn quite a lot about myself and trust my intuition more than ever before. The traumatic experience and losses were awful; their gifts are priceless.

“Dear strong woman, you are not intimidating. They are intimidated. There is a difference.”  ~Charles Orlando. This reminder is important…and so very true.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Reflections on Trauma and Healing”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression


The Reality of Forgiveness and Healing

Any journey of forgiveness or healing have some things in common. Most notably, both are non-linear and unpredictable. The saying that “the best way out is through” also applies to both experiences.

I have a lot of experience with forgiveness and healing in a variety of contexts. Years worth of experience. Yet I still encounter new expressions of both journeys and new experiences with deeper levels of both. And while I’m very familiar with them, I wouldn’t exactly say either is comfortable.

From where I was staying in New Orleans to the mastermind retreat I attended, Lake Ponchartrain lies in between. In order to get where I was going, I ended up on the bridge that crosses that lake; the experience of which I found very similar to navigating both forgiveness and healing.

Calling this road a bridge is misleading, it could qualify as its own zip code it’s so long. There is a very long time when land simply isn’t visible. You can’t see where you’ve been and can’t see where you’re going; I found it highly anxiety inducing. The first time I drove that bridge I didn’t relax my grip on the steering wheel until I was back on land. I seriously considered taking the long way around on the way back, but reminded myself that the best way out is just through.

This bridge and experience were an interesting parallel to something that came up within the retreat: the awareness that I hadn’t fully forgiven a particular person. I thought that I had forgiven them, but it turns out I was still holding on to some resentment toward them.

In fact, my internal reaction to reading words about forgiveness on the page was….Ugh! I don’t want to go back here again. And it surprised me to realize I still had forgiveness work to do within myself related to this person.

Forgiveness and healing are much like grief in their unpredictable and swirling processes. Maybe familiarity with all three journeys is why I engage in conversations about them so willingly with anyone from friends to strangers.

Forgiveness, healing, grief are processes. There is no map and there is no magic pill in order to get to the other side. Much like my experience of driving that bridge…the best way out is through and even when it’s wildly uncomfortable; I can choose to breathe, relax, and trust the process as it unfolds.

Maybe all are journeys of progress rather than perfection. Journeys that get, if not easy, more possible by leaning toward willingness. This person I’d been unknowingly resentful of may or may not ever know about my journey of forgiving them. But that’s the point of forgiveness: it’s not about their peace, it is about mine.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “The Reality of Forgiveness and Healing”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, joyful integrity and creative expression