My Why audio version of this blog available here.
At the end of all our Silent Why 101 loss episodes we ask our guests the same last question - What’s your Herman?
And if you don’t listen regularly to those episodes you’ll be wondering what on earth I’m talking about. And you’d have every right to, it doesn’t make any earthly sense except in the context of our podcast. It’s not some fad you missed or a new sick word the kids invented, we just made it up. Something unique for our podcast, for our guests and for our listeners. I’m not going to go into the full explanation here because there’s a very short blog and podcast episode already produced on that called ‘What’s your Herman?’
In a very short summary, your Herman is something you want to share with the world. It’s something you’ve nurtured, dwelt on, considered and clung to and is something you want to pass on to others, something that will outlive you and bless those that come after you. It might be something you’ve learnt, read, seen, heard, said or experienced, it could be anything.
The name Herman was taken from the friendship cake (as you’ll hear/read in the Herman podcast episode) but it actually means ‘soldier’ or ‘army’.
So far on our mission of trying to find 101 different losses we’ve reached the mid-thirties and our army of Hermans is growing nicely. Every time Chris and I do a summary episode of the previous 10 losses we play all the Hermans together and it’s become known as the ‘Hermontage’.
Five months ago I did a blog called Hermontage where I played a load of the Hermans for you to listen to and hopefully encourage you, and as we’ve had a load more since then, I thought I’d share another bunch with you now.
I read a couple of quotes recently from Richard Stallman, an American free software movement activist and programmer, and he said this:
Sharing knowledge is the most fundamental act of friendship. Because it is a way you can give something without losing something. Richard Stallman
Sharing is good, and with digital technology, sharing is easy. Richard Stallman
‘Sharing is caring’ as I often heard my Auntie Anthea say as I was growing up. And Richard is right, with all the flaws of digital technology, the one thing it’s made very easy is sharing. Sharing good things, positive stories, hope and encouragement is easier than ever, you can even do it from the toilet! (although my grandma would have thought that a very vulgar thing to say!) But it’s true.
I know what I have given you... I do not know what you have received. Antonio Porchia
All we can do is give what we have, we cannot know, control or understand how others receive it. Many a time on the podcast I’ve heard people say they were given advice or words in the moment of their deepest grief that they did not want to hear, or were hurt by, only to find years later they were true, helpful or healing at a later date.
The right word fitly spoken is a precious rarity. John Boyle O'Reilly
And sometimes the best thing we can give or share with others is just ourselves.
The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause. Mark Twain
And I see this so often shown in a great TV program or film. The right pause can make all the difference in dialogue, responses and showing we care about someone.
So my hope when I do these Hermontage blogs/episodes is that at least one of the Herman’s will stand out to you individually, bless you, encourage you, motivate you, illuminate your situation, comfort you in your loss or assist you as you draw alongside others.
If you pray or meditate, take a second before they start to prepare yourself and ask for something to stand out that can help you today, in your situation right now, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing or wherever you’re going.
So, here we go, The Silent Why’s Hermontage…
My Herman is courage. I am not a courageous person. And in Rob's death, I've been forced to face the thing that I feared the most. And so the thing over time that I've realised I needed to nurture, if I was to live again, was courage. It's something that I'm proud to say, is thriving. I'm not as bold as I hope to be someday, or brave as I think I could be, but it's something that's growing inside of me, and I'm grateful for it.
Well, from my point of view it is being involved in a campaign to try and make things safer, public safety ahead of people's personal interest, I feel that if I and others hadn't decided to do this, that things would have got worse in terms of gun violence in this country.
Believing that everything is an opportunity, it might be a challenge, but it's an opportunity, isn't it? To help others or to learn something, because I believe nothing is really wasted in God's economy. And anything that happens to us can be used if we're willing to help other people. So I guess my Herman is that everything is an opportunity, or privilege even to find that opportunity.
Mine would be a phrase; "Все познаётся в сравнении". And the literal translation is 'everything is discovered or understood, in comparison, or in relation to other things'. Whatever condition you're in, there are many people who have it worse, and many people who have it much better than you, there is a spectrum there. So it definitely has helped me through hard times. Yes, we've lost something here, but compared to families who have also lost this and have additional issues, we're in an even better state, it's the calibration that I've taken from my mum, and I'll probably pass on as well.
It is really hard to maintain a belief that whatever your thing is, that you want to do, that you can somehow do that. How many people give up on their dreams, that require risk, and require attention and nurturing? There's this idea of fostering a sense of possibility, that no matter what I need to do this thing, just to always have a presence in the idea that - it can happen,
Hope. If you don't have hope, then you're going to wither away, linked with faith and love, but also a sense of humour, and to be able to laugh. And of course, I've also got down here, live, carry on living, get out there, live, and dance.
Claire Sandys (a.k.a. me!):
Ultimately, you have to let go. It doesn't mean it won't hurt, but if you don't let go of the pain and the guilt and the regret and the frustration and annoyance of the situation, I think it has the possibility to just eat your life and dominate you. And you know, nothing is worth that. It is hard, but you have to keep letting go, and it might be over and over again, and you have to keep doing it. You have to keep making that decision to let go of the bad stuff and remember the good.
For me, it's a sense of optimism, I don't give people platitudes, but I really am an optimist, and believe that we can learn and we can be better. And we can increase our intentional drives. As long as we can think that tomorrow is going to be a better day, I can run further, I can go harder, I can be better. It's a genuine sense of optimism.
It's the courage to go deep with the hard questions and to trust that as we go deep there are treasures and answers that can be found, that it's not going to take you down this spiral of increasing despair, but that as we move past the superficial and have the courage to dig deep, that that's where you build a foundation of rock. And you sweep away the sand that you've been standing on and you find that 'oh yeah, I went deep and I found a foundation'. Then when storms come, there's a different kind of steadfastness and peace that can be found even when it's still a storm. The storm is very real still, but there's a foundation that you have.
Truly value what you have, and focusing your mind on the things that you do have actually puts everything into perspective. that you just have value in things more. That became something that I try to do on a daily basis and not really complain about small things, but focus on things that are really important.
What makes your heart sing? Don't do things just for the sake of doing them. If it doesn't make your heart sing, if there's a mismatch, if you're a square peg in a round hole, why are you doing it? If you're feeling a bit uncertain, what makes your heart sing - have the courage to jump in.
I remember having this epiphany that I realised that when one is like really enveloped in grief and depression that you have to remember that the light is still up there, that light of hope, healing, wholeness, it's not very far away. It's still there. It hasn't gone away. It is still a wonderful life, despite the difficulties that you go through. That's my Herman.
Be willing to share your blessings. The only riches that last are the ones that are given away. David Khalil