Thursday, May 29, 2014

Come On Over

Dear Resilient Readers:

I am excited to tell you that is open for business and I am now posting on this new site.
As I mentioned previously, I recently took a blogging class and discovered that Blogger had outlived itself and I needed to transition to WordPress as a publishing tool.  Let me tell you, it has been quite a learning experience and I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I initiated this change.
But I can now report that it's all good and I'm rebuilding the site and adding pieces almost every day. 
For my fabulous readers who received my posts by email, I expect to have a new gadget for email signup added soon to  This BlogSpot address and site will continue to exist but I won't be posting new content to it anymore.
When you get a chance, come on over to and check it out!
I'll see you there!  Let me know what you think!
Thank you for all of your positive support.  It has really meant a lot to me!

Mary Kate

Friday, May 2, 2014

My Patient Readers

Dear Patient Readers:

For over three years, I have been using Blogger to communicate with you and for me the process of posting Cry Laugh Heal to the internet was working out nicely.
From the beginning, my goal was to try and help others who lost loved ones and were searching for resources that could help them find a way to carry on without their precious person.  At Cry Laugh Heal, I  write about my experiences with loss and resilience but always with others in mind.  I draw strength from the stories of other people and I'm sure you do too.  It's about support.  No one should ever feel alone and without hope.
So when I recently discovered that my blog was difficult to find from a teckie-internet-google-search engine kind of way, I was told I needed to change to another software and thus also change the look of Cry Laugh Heal. 
It has been one big frustration after another and I am writing to apologize for the inconvenience of technological problems on my blog site.  If you have recently logged on to, you discovered for yourself that the site is changing.  I didn't know that you would be able to see the ever changing look of Cry Laugh Heal but there it is.

It has been very difficult for me to navigate this process and find someone to help me transfer more than three years of blog posts and pictures from Blogger to Word Press and then take the Word Press content and work it into a new template but I finally found a great tech guy.  Unfortunately, it's taking longer than I thought.

I miss my writing routine and communicating with all of you on a regular basis but I am also excited for the new Cry Laugh Heal site to be born.  In the meantime, I am tweeting at @crylaughheal and I have a Facebook page that can be found at  You are welcome to join me there and I hope you do!!

Here's to a new and improved Cry Laugh Heal that I hope will see the light of day very soon and give you the helping hand you may be looking for as you work through your loss and embrace your new journey.


Mary Kate

Thursday, April 24, 2014

South Korea Ferry Disaster

When the unimaginable happens, it is common to ask "Why?" "What if?" "What next?"

Watching the media repeatedly air stories about incredible disasters and accidents, it is understandable that after about a week of constant exposure to the never ending details of these stories that people begin to feel detached and almost numb to the tragedies that have occurred.
I'm not saying that the depth of the tragedy isn't felt by others because it is and many immediately respond with aid and help.  I think it's more that the disasters are overwhelming, just too much to take in or process. Two recent tragedies, the sinking of a South Korean ferry killing over a hundred people and the missing Malaysian Airlines flight which disappeared about a month ago over possibly the Indian Ocean while carrying 239 passengers and crew members, are the kind of disasters which instantly spring to mind as incidents that can cause media burnout. 
But when the media moves the focus of the story from the bigger explanation of how the accident happened to the more intimate personal story of those victimized by these accidents, the fragility of life and our connections to each other immediately comes to the fore.

Our common bond of vulnerability is exposed.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran a touching story about a South Korean husband, Choi in-soo, and his painful efforts to try and understand the raw reality of losing his wife, Choi Soon-bok, in last week's ferry accident.  This is the kind of story that hits me.  When the person is still in shock and at the same time is trying to describe how it feels to discover that a loved one has died and they will never see that person again.

We all hold on to the last precious moments.  The last picture. The last text message.  The last voice message. The last email.

"I'm sorry I'm traveling without you," Mrs. Choi told her husband by phone when the ferry departed on Tuesday evening.  "That was the last I heard from her," Mr. Choi said. 
Here is the link to the Wall Street Journal story: 

Choi in-soo shows a photo of
his wife, Choi Soo-bok, on his smartphone.
Kwanwoo Jun/The Wall Street Journal

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Listening to Easter

All about me are signs of renewal.  Easter is here and with it are the always hopeful signs of rebirth: the arrival of a new season of Spring, Christ's Resurrection, plants and flowers bursting forth in bloom and the feeling of being refreshed; of being given the opportunity to start over.
I still make and hide an Easter basket for my young adult son full of chocolates and jelly beans and multi-colored Peeps.  It's a tradition that we both enjoy and these days I laugh as he searches through the house for his hidden basket as I watch and say "hot", "cold" or "warm" depending on where he is in relation to the basket that has sometimes been hidden in places such as the shower, the dryer and the stove.

As my Easter unfolds, the Easter basket search always takes me back to my rambunctious childhood and also to the Easters when my husband was alive.  I know that Easter, and other holidays, are times of great celebration but also are emotionally difficult for those who have just lost loved ones.
I know of a woman who just lost her husband last month to cancer after a long and tough fight.  She has two young sons and my thoughts are with them today.  I know that her family and friends will do their best to make sure she and her boys are included in Easter activities but sadly there is no getting around the pain they all are feeling.
I think people are aware of others who are dealing with feelings of grief during the traditional holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas but holidays in general, whether it is Passover, Easter, Memorial Day or the 4th of July, all tend to carry their own little hidden emotional minefields.  Grieving is stressful all by itself and then when you add the pressure and expectations of holidays, it can add up to unexpected meltdowns because it hard to escape the old sights and sounds associated with these special days.
I found these helpful tips from the Hospice Foundation of America and thought they might be good to share:
-- Be aware than an approaching holiday might be a difficult time for you.  The additional stress may affect you emotionally, cognitively and physically; this is a normal reaction.
--Take care not to drink alcohol (a central nervous system depressant) in excess, overeat (which brings fatigue), or overwork.
--Recognize that holidays won't be the same.  If you try to keep everything as it was, you'll be disappointed.  Doing things a bit differently can acknowledge the change while preserving continuity with the past.
--Be careful not to isolate yourself.  It's alright to take time for yourself but don't cut yourself off from the support of family and friends.
--Talk over your plans.  Decide what you want to do and what can be avoided.

Do what is comfortable for you.  May you find what works for you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Respect The Tech

I recently took an excellent class at a writer's center in suburban Maryland and learned that my blog, Cry Laugh Heal, needs a technological overhaul.
Today's title, "Respect The Tech" is wise advice from my savvy and humorous teacher, Mary T. McCarthy, who currently is an editor at Splice Today (, and founded and writes for her own popular humor website called Pajamas and Coffee (  She's the mother of four children and I'm not sure where she finds the time or energy but she also has a book coming out this summer called "The Scarlet Letter Society".  Whew! McCarthy is one busy and very smart dynamo.
Basically "respect the tech" means to get your blog or website set up correctly and technologically right.  And if you personally can't get it right, then you must find someone you can trust to keep you on the tech straight and narrow.  The tech is too important to be ignored.  Take it from me, ignoring it brings unwelcome consequences.  I didn't mean to ignore it, I just got overwhelmed by it and other things going on in my life and I thought everything would be okay. NOT!
I think I was spending so much time on the writing and the writing and the writing that I took my eye off the tech.  I am now trying to catch up as best I can and I hope you will be patient with my project currently under construction.

The software I have been using is woefully out of date and there are many, many updates that need to be installed.  Patience and calm are my current watchwords as I transition from one site to another and I must admit that I am learning a lot which is a good thing right?
I'm not going to go on and on and about what I need to do but I would like to give my wonderful readers a heads up that change is in the making and I am busy trying to make sure that all is in place before I launch a new and improved Cry Laugh Heal.

Any feedback you want to send me is definitely welcome.

Thank you!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

This I Believe -- Book Excerpt

"This I Believe" is a fantastic book that keeps on giving inspiration to me.
I recently discovered this book quite by accident.  I was in Richmond, Virginia with my son and his girlfriend and we came upon a local non-profit that was giving away books for free.  I couldn't believe it.  Free. Books.
Free books are irresistible to me.  This would be similar to offering the editor of Vogue free clothes and accessories.  A room of tables full of all kinds of books just waiting for someone to come along and adopt them and take them home.  Where do I start?  I immediately wondered how many I would be able to carry to the car.
Early in my book grab, I found "This I Believe" and I snatched it up right away because the subtitle of the book said it was about "The personal philosophies of remarkable men and women"  and is also based on the NPR series of the same name.  "This I Believe" features 80 essayists, some famous and some unknown, writing to complete the thought that begins the book's title.
I decided I didn't want to read the essays in order; that jumping around from famous to unknown and back again would make the book more interesting.  One essay, titled "The Making of Poems" caught my eye because beautifully written poetry expands my viewpoint of the world.  Quickly, I found that the essay is really about resilience, one of my favorite topics to explore and talk to others about for never ending periods of time.
I love to find out how a person has pulled themselves back together after a personal crisis and what has kept them going.  What fuels their inner strength?  How did they learn so much from the pain in their life?  I think the answer is as varied as the billions of people making up Planet Earth but in this case, let's focus on author Gregory Orr's resilience and his remarkable essay which begins here:
The Making of Poems
By Gregory Orr
I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions, and traumatic events that come with being alive.
When I was twelve years old, I was responsible for the death of my younger brother in a hunting accident.  I held the rifle that killed him.  In a single moment, my world changed forever.  I felt grief, terror, shame, and despair more deeply than I could ever have imagined.  In the aftermath, no one in my shattered family could speak to me about my brother's death, and their silence left me alone with all my agonizing emotions.  And under those emotions, something even more terrible : a knowledge that all the easy meanings I had lived by until then had been suddenly and utterly abolished.
One consequence of traumatic violence is that it isolates its victims.  It can cut us off from other people, cutting us off from our own emotional lives until we go numb and move through the world as if only half alive.  As a young person, I found something to set against my growing sense of isolation and numbness: the making of poems.
When I write a poem, I process experience.  I take what's inside of me -- the raw, chaotic material of feeling or memory -- and translate it into words and then shape those words into the rhythmical language we call a poem.  This process brings me a kind of wild joy.  Before, I was powerless and passive in the face of my confusion, but now I am active: the powerful shaper of my experience.  I am transforming it into a lucid meaning.
Because poems are meanings, and even the saddest poems I write is proof that I want to survive.  And therefore it represents an affirmation of life in all its complexities and contradictions.
An additional miracle comes to me as the maker of poems: Because poems can be shared between poet and audience, they also become a further triumph over human isolation.
Whenever I read a poem that moves me, I know I'm not alone in the world.  I feel a connection to the person who wrote it, knowing that he or she has gone through something similar to what I've experienced, or felt something like what I have felt.  And their poem gives me hope and courage, because I know that they survived, that their life force was strong enough to turn experience into words and shape it into meaning and then bring it toward me to share.  The gift of their poem enters deeply into me and helps me live and believe in living.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Seeing Clearly

"Give yourself the gift of time in coming to answers for your life. . . .
It takes time, and a lot of introspection and soul-searching,
to get clear about what you really want to manifest in your life."
                                       ~Author David Emerald