Everything is Attitude — Recipes for Life — Bereavement
Hosts: Rosemary Altea and Al Pisano with guest and friend, Dr. Joseph Rella.
Rosemary Altea is a Spiritual Medium and Healer, and Al is an Educator and student of Rosemary’s.
Joe shares his story.
Joe (Doc) tells us about his wife Jackie, who had contracted breast cancer. She received treatment and seemed okay. Without warning, in August 2016 his wife passed. Joe found her on the floor, dead.
Joe felt a tremendous shock. He felt as if he was concussed.
Joe had lost his north star — his constant. Joe had a consultation with Rosemary after his wife passed. At that time he learned about his wife’s miscarriage — their daughter named Emily.
Joe and Jackie have seven grandchildren and four sons.
Joe had a wonderful wife, life and children. It wasn’t all perfect, and they went through a lot.
Joe has a wonderful sense of humor throughout the interview.
He comes across as a person with a great attitude and something very special to his children.
His shock has receded but is still there in some ways. Joe is reminded of Jackie in the faces of his grandchildren, and the youngest uses words that his wife would have used. Jackie is influencing or has a connection with their granddaughter according to Rosemary.
After Joe was starting to get to a better place he was diagnosed with a stage 4 tumor. He wondered how he would respond if he had cancer when his wife learned about hers.
For about three days he was in terror and wasn’t sleeping. It was on his mind then he needed to see an oncologist.
He was worried about his children — financially. He started to plan and felt relief.
Jackie came to him when he was in between sleep and awake and said, “Don’t be worried. I’ll be here waiting for you.” In this dream, she showed him a view of him looking down upon himself as he was in a hospital bed. She showed him that he would turn toward Jackie, and she would come to hug him and then his arm would drop. The children would be crying, but he would be with Jackie.
After that, he saw the oncologist at Sloan Kettering. They said we can’t operate because it’s in the lymph system. The plan is to contain it, shrink it, start chemotherapy. It has not grown or spread. If I didn’t know I had cancer, I wouldn’t know. I do get some fatigue.
The oncologist said they cut the chemo drugs in half (maintenance). Joe congratulated her. She said it’s you — the way you have handled this in the beginning; I don’t see this — the response.
I am not feeling distressed. I know the only thing I can control is my response.
“When you worry you suffer twice.”
Win-win — the longer I live is great. I live with my son and grandchildren. I will retire next year. I plan to be a full-time Papa without any interruptions, without a watch.
Rosemary said, “ Your attitude is to be as positive as you can be, take life and live it to the fullest that you possibly can.” He said I know
“Eventually something is going to kill me.” I said to the Oncologist. “I’m not asking for a prediction. If I have to worry about all those possibilities I would not get out of bed in the morning. I don’t choose to sacrifice the present if I worry about what I will die from. I don’t have time to think about really bad things.”
Rosemary addresses the real feelings Joe must be having. So many have suffered tremendous loss. Joe, you were married for more than 40 years. You have always been two people as one. It must feel as though you’ve lost a limb — even worse. Others are going through bereavement. No person’s loss is less or more than others. Joe agrees.
Rosemary talks about society and how we handle death and dying.
“ There is no real education in our western culture on death and dying. It happens to all of us. We don’t educate our children on death and dying. We educate them about the reproductive system.”
What do we do when we lose someone? The more connected with them, the worse it is. The emptiness, the void, the loss, the pain — and we have not had one drop of education to help us deal in the bereavement state.
Al tried to help Joe and Rosemary connect after Jackie died. Rosemary did have a consultation with Joe. He was hopeful for the connection but had no reservations.
Al said Joe doesn’t have expectations. He goes in open-minded and open-hearted.
Rosemary asked, “Do you think you are still grieving? Do you need any help from us? What would your advice be if someone suffered a bereavement; a loss?”
Joe responded, “on some level; I am still in grief, I miss her company. What has mitigated is I talk with her now when I have a cup of coffee. I tell her what is going to happen today. I talk to her in the car. Now I answer for her.”
“After Jackie passed I also had a hip replacement; cataract replacement came afterward.”
“When you are trying to navigate without your north star you, you lose your way. What got me out of it was something my grandmother said,
We are going to laugh a little, cry a little and we are going to get on with it.”
Joe shared other things he plans on doing with his family before he dies.
“I plan on writing a story of our history from my perspective.”
“You learn to laugh at the holidays. Jackie told me she is alright in a dream. I am okay, don’t be sad,” she said. “I take her at her word.”
I would suggest laughing, crying and eventually, the crying gets less. That sense of hopelessness recedes because I know I will see her again.
Rosemary asked Joe to share three actions others can take to help with their bereavement or grief.
1. Don’t run away from the hurt — embrace it — leave pictures up. Jackie is smiling in all of them. His grandchild picks them up and kisses them. Continue to embrace that person.
2. Continue to tell stories. Grandma Jackie is in heaven, talk about them to your children, grandchildren, family, friends. (At first, I couldn’t get a sentence out without crying.) I am not going to live in a perpetual wake. The wake is an invention of the funeral industry. It doesn’t matter if you cry — get it out anyway. Don’t let the emotions silence you. The impulse would be to stop crying. Rosemary asked if he had worried if he cried what it would do to the rest of the family. Would they be upset? “I had to cry.”
3. When you cry in front of your family, you permit them to cry. You open up your heart. You need to express your grief. You say it’s okay to cry. If you don’t do that, everyone is walking on eggshells.
4. When you celebrate — there are no strings, it started with crying, and now we laugh until we cry. You are treating the departed as if they are still part of the family — which they are. “Remember when Mom said that?”
5. Revising history is okay. We minimize the bad times and highlight the good times as we remember. This is remembering their best self.
6. Talk to them when you go to bed, believe they are there when you feel something. I didn’t have a choice in her leaving; I do have a choice in how I respond now. The other night I felt her palm on my back. We do have a choice in attitude.
7. Everyone will get to a place where they are comfortable when they can. I have to understand each of my sons had a different relationship with their Mother than I did. Each of them will feel grief differently. I might feel better; the others might not be there yet.
8. Reassure others how much that person loved them.
The consultation with Rosemary helped. Joe was open to the signs. He knew it wasn’t his imagination. It gives confidence; You know you are experiencing these things.
9. Write down everything and anything that happened — pay attention to the signs. They provide confirmation. Go back and read it.
10. A consultation with Rosemary helps provide peace, relief, confidence.
11. I know there is something after this (life). I’d like to learn more about this and how to be more in tune with this.
I read a book several years ago by Albert Ellis — How To Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything-yes, Anything.
I learned a lot in that book. Rosemary said, “You inspire me, Joe. I know it’s not easy for some people. I really do think people can be inspired by you.”
With Doc’s positive attitude even while all around him his world seemed to crash, Al wanted to be sure we all understood the breadth and depth of Joe’s grief.
Al emphasized how much grief Joe felt but still, “you made it through and you have a wonderful perspective and attitude. You can handle it with the right attitude even if its challenging.”
Rosemary reminded her listeners, “We can’t control what happens to us. We think we can. The future can turn like this. (snapping her fingers) What we can be in control of is the attitude toward whatever life throws at us.” Joe quoted a few lines from the books he read that have helped him keep a positive attitude:
I believe love is stronger than death. The dance continues with the beloved, you just have to learn some new steps. That sustains me. The dance isn’t over. Joe Rella
Rosemary ended the interview by saying, “Love is larger than death. Love can help us to survive all. If you don’t have anyone — Learn to love yourself. When you love yourself, others will be drawn to you. Your energy starts to change and becomes more positive.”
Someone asked how can you be sure you will see Jackie again? Joe responded, “How can I be certain the sun will come up tomorrow?”
Rosemary and Al are always searching for someone with the tools to help all of their listeners keep a positive attitude. If you want to be on their weekly show, email everythingisattitude.com.