You Can Heal Your Heart

You Can Heal Your Heart

In You Can Heal Your Heart, self-empowerment luminary Louise Hay and renowned grief and loss expert David Kessler have come together to start a conversation on healing after loss. Louise and David discuss the emotions and thoughts that occur when a relationship leaves you broken-hearted, a marriage ends in divorce, or a loved one dies. They will also help you develop great self-awareness and compassion, providing you with the courage and tools to face many other types of losses and challenges, such as saying good-bye to a beloved pet, losing your job, coming to terms with a life-threatening illness or disease, and much more.

With a perfect blend of Louise's affirmations and teachings on the power of your thoughts and David's many years of working with those in grief, this remarkable book will inspire an extraordinary new way of thinking, bringing profound love and joy into your life. You will not only learn how to harness the power of your grief to help you grow and find peace, but you will also discover that, yes, you can heal your heart.

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Louise Hay

Louise Hay

Louise Hay, the author of the international bestseller You Can Heal Your Life, is a metaphysical lecturer and teacher with more than 50 million books sold worldwide. For more than 30 years, she has helped people throughout the world discover and implement the full potential of their own creative powers for personal growth and self-healing.

David Kessler

David Kessler

David Kessler is one of the most well-known experts and lecturers on grief and loss, is the co-author of the bestsellers On Grief and Grieving and Life Lessons with the legendary Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. He is also the author of the #1 best-selling hospice book The Needs of the Dying, which received praise from Mother Teresa; as well as Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms. David's work has been featured on CNN, NBC, PBS, and Entertainment Tonight; and he has been a frequent guest on The Dr. Oz Show, a contributing writer for Oprah.com, Sharecare.com, and Anderson Cooper 360°. He is also the founder of Grief.com.

Read an Excerpt


Message from Lousie and David

We wrote this book to explore how we grieve and find healing after enduring any type of loss, such as a breakup, divorce, or death. Grieving is challenging, but it is our thoughts that often add suffering to our pain. We hope that this book will expand your awareness and thinking around loss to include love and understanding. Our intention is for you to feel your grief fully without getting stuck in the sorrow and suffering.

Grief is not a condition to be cured but a natural part of life. Spirit does not know loss; it knows that every story begins and every story ends, yet love is eternal. Our hope is that the words on these pages offer you comfort and peace throughout your journey. No book, however, should be used to replace professional help if that is needed. We wish you much love and healing.

Louise and David


From the Preface

by David Kessler

I've been working in the field of grief for most of my life. I've been fortunate to write four books on the subject, including two with the legendary Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the renowned psychiatrist and author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying. During my lectures, I'm continually asked, "Does this grief work apply to divorce?" Even at parties, the newly single person will find me and ask, "Can you help me? I've just gone through a breakup and heard you know a lot about grief."

It's always a reminder that the work I do applies to the ending of relationships and marriages as well as the end of life. The truth is that loss is loss and grief is grief, no matter what it's about or what caused it. I can't count the times I've heard people talk harshly about themselves during a breakup or when a marriage has ended, and I've often thought back to my friend Louise Hay, author of the international bestseller You Can Heal Your Life, who always says, "Pay attention to your thinking."


In order to launch my latest book, Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms, I was invited to speak at a Hay House conference. Although my book was being released by Louise's publishing company, I hadn't seen her in years, and I was looking forward to spending some time with her. We'd planned to have lunch right after my presentation.

A few minutes after I'd begun, I could feel something happen in the audience, and I noticed people turning to one another and whispering. I had no idea what was going on, so I just continued speaking. Then it hit me: Louise had walked in and sat down. Despite her efforts to be unnoticed, she just carries that kind of energetic force with her.

At lunch, she and I caught up on mutual friends and what was new, and then she said, "David, I've been thinking about it, and I want you to be with me when I die."

"I would be honored," I replied immediately. Since I am a death and grief expert, it's not unusual for me to get asked things like that. Most people don't want to die alone; they want to know that their lives and deaths will be witnessed by someone who is comfortable with the end of life. To that end, the acclaimed actor Anthony Perkins asked me to be with him when he died. Best-selling author Marianne Williamson asked me to be with her and her father when he passed. And I was there when my mentor Elisabeth Kubler- Ross took her last breath.

Then I asked, "Is there anything going on? Something about your health that I should know about?"

"No," she replied. "I'm 82, healthy as I can be, and I'm living my life fully. I just want to make sure that when the time comes, I live my dying fully."

That is Louise.

During the conference, she was scheduled to screen a documentary called Doors Opening, which told the story of her famous Hayrides, weekly Wednesday night meetings for people with AIDS and their loved ones in the 1980s. This was where Louise Hay's world and mine first came together. On the rare occasion that she missed a Wednesday night, I'd fill in for her. And what a thrilling ride it was!

Picture 350 or so attendees, mostly men (and some women) with AIDS. Those were the early days of the epidemic, before treatments became available. For the most part, these people were dealing with a catastrophic event in their lives. And there was Louise, sitting in the midst of it all, not seeing it as catastrophic, but as a life-changing opportunity. During the meetings, she invited a healing energy into the room. Yet she also made it perfectly clear that this was not a pity party—there was no room to be a victim. Rather, these meetings provided a chance to achieve deeper healing: a healing of the soul.

My mind flooded with memories as I recalled those inspiring, magical evenings. Now, more than 25 years later, Louise and I were once again in a room together, reflecting on those days and the profound impact it had on our lives. When the documentary began, after a brief introduction, Louise grabbed my hand, and we started to walk down the aisle. Our plan was to talk and catch up more and then return when the film was over to conduct a question-and-answer session with the audience. We were halfway to the door when she paused.

"Oh, look," Louise said. "There's Tom on the screen." Tom was an original Hayride member who had long since died.

"Everyone is so young," I said.

"Let's sit for a couple of minutes," she whispered as she pulled me into the back row.

We ended up watching the whole documentary. Afterward we got up, composed ourselves, walked onto the stage, and the questions began: "What is sickness?" "If thoughts can create healing, why do we take medicine?" "Why do we die?" "What is death?"

Every answer that Louise provided gave information and insight into what illnesses are. Then she would give me a nod to interject my thoughts, as if we were playing tennis and she was volleying the ball to me. Our 10-minute Q&A lasted 45 minutes and probably could have gone on for another few hours. And just when I thought the talk was over, Louise proudly announced to everyone, "Oh, I've arranged for David Kessler to be with me when I die." The audience applauded. What I thought had been a private request, Louise was now sharing with the world. That was an example of her power, honesty, and openness.

That evening, Reid Tracy, the president and CEO of Hay House, told me, "Louise and I were talking about the two of you doing something together. You share a common history and can offer a lot of wisdom. We think you should write a book together." I could only imagine Louise Hay sharing her insights on healing regarding one of life's greatest challenges—whether it's coming to terms with the end of a relationship through divorce or a breakup, facing the death of a loved one, or enduring the many other types of loss, such as the loss of a beloved pet or even a beloved job. Louise's wise words, Pay attention to your thinking, flashed through my mind once again. What if she and I wrote a book together that incorporated her affirmations and knowledge about how our thinking can heal ourselves, with my years of experience in helping others cope with grief and loss?

I thought about how many people a book like this could help. I also thought about what it would be like to work so closely with Louise on such an important topic. It turns out that our collaboration on this book was as seamless as our Q&A session at the conference—adding our own insights picked up over the years while also completing and complementing each other's thoughts on various subjects.

And so our journey together began.


Introduction

A broken heart is also an open heart. Whatever the circumstances, when you love someone and your time together ends, you will naturally feel pain. The pain of losing a person you love is part of life, part of this journey, but suffering doesn't have to be. Although it's natural to forget your power after you lose a loved one, the truth is that after a breakup, divorce, or death, there remains an ability within you to create a new reality.

Let's be clear here: We're asking you to change your thinking after a loss occurs—not to avoid the pain of grief, but to keep moving through it. We want your thoughts to live in a place where you remember your loved one only with love, not with sadness or regret. Even after the worst breakup, the meanest divorce, and the most tragic death, it is possible to achieve this over time. That doesn't mean that you deny or run away from the pain. Instead, you let yourself experience it and then allow a new life to unfold—one where you hold the love dear, not the sorrow.

Here's where our real work begins. There are three main areas we'll be focusing on throughout this book:

1. Helping You Feel Your Feelings

If you're reading this book, then you're most likely hurting—and that's something we don't wish to take away from you. But this time can be a vital window, not only to heal your pain, but, if you feel each of your feelings fully, to also begin to release it. One of the biggest problems is that you might try to push aside or ignore your feelings. You judge them as wrong, too little, or too much. You carry a lot of bottled-up emotions, and anger is often one that is suppressed. In order for it to heal, however, it must be released.

We're not speaking only about anger associated with death, but about anytime we feel anger. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the renowned grief expert who identified the Five Stages of Grief, said that we could feel anger, let it pass through us, and be done with it in a few minutes. She went on to say that any anger we feel over 15 minutes is old anger.

Of course anger is only one of the emotions that arise. When a relationship ends, when divorce happens, and even when a death occurs, we are left with so many feelings. Feeling them is the first step toward healing.

2. Allowing Old Wounds to Come Up for Healing

Your loss will also be a window into your old wounds, and like it or not, they are going to come forth. Some of them you may not be aware of. When you're going through a breakup, for example, you may think, I knew he wasn't going to stay. In a divorce, you may believe that I don't deserve love, or when a loved one dies that, Bad things always happen to me. These are negative thoughts that stretch beyond the current loss.

It's certainly helpful to take advantage of grief as a time to reflect on the past with tenderness—but to relive it over and over is painful and nonproductive. That's what you tend to do when you just go back without an intention of healing.

Where did these negative thoughts originate? The answer is that they originated in the past and weren't healed with love. Together we'll shine a light on those old wounds and negative thought processes and begin the healing process with love and compassion.

3. Changing Distorted Thinking about Relationships, Love, and Life

When you grieve any loss, you apply your current thinking, which, at its best, is often distorted. What do we mean by that? It is when your beliefs are colored by the wounds of childhood and shaped by hurts from past relationships. Distorted thinking is often molded by your parents and others in your life who did the best they could, but also carried their own distorted thinking from their childhoods. All of this worked together to form the current self-talk in your mind as you think your same old thoughts over and over again. Then you bring this old thinking, the negative self-talk, to your new loss.

This is why human beings so often talk to ourselves without love and tenderness after we've just lost someone we cared for deeply. We blame ourselves, we throw a pity party, and we even feel that we deserve the pain we're now experiencing. How do we break the cycle? Read on to learn about the importance of positive affirmations and their powerful effect on distorted thinking.

The Power of Affirmations to Heal Grief

Affirmations are statements that reinforce a positive or negative belief. We want to raise your awareness of the negative ones you might use and gently invite new, positive ones into your life. In your thinking, you're always affirming something. Unfortunately, when your thinking is distorted, you're usually repeating negative affirmations.

We're going to lovingly introduce positive affirmations to your grief and your life. These positive statements may feel untrue when you first use them. Let them in anyway. You may be afraid that we're trying to take away your grief or diminish it in some way, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Your grief is yours to feel, but positive affirmations can take away your suffering as well as heal some of your old pain and negative thought patterns. Your negative affirmations are untrue, yet you have no trouble feeling those. Many people unconsciously repeat negative affirmations, being so cruel to themselves when they're hurting. One of the main goals we hope to accomplish in this book is finding a way to change that repetitive negative thinking for good.

As you read the positive affirmations in the upcoming chapters, be sure to apply them to your own experiences. Apply them to your thought patterns—your beliefs, how you view the world—using them to undo your limited, negative thinking. Some affirmations may resolve your old wounds from the past to help you process your current ones so that you can finally fully heal with love.

The Gift of Life after Loss

We're sure you know how to end a relationship. You know how to end a marriage. You even know how to end a life. But do you know how to complete a relationship or a marriage? Do you know how to complete a life? This is another aspect we hope to teach you as we journey together. There are unexpected gifts to be found in life after loss.

These may seem like new concepts to you, but the truth is that not all relationships are meant to last. Some will last a month, others a year, some a decade. You'll feel pain when you believe the one-year relationship should have lasted five years. You feel pain because you think the 10-year relationship should have lasted 25 years. The same is true of marriages. Can you think of a marriage as a success when it ends in divorce? Well, it can be. It can be perfect for the experience that you and your spouse needed.

Even when life ends, there is a rhythm. It is sad, of course, because you want more time with your loved one—that's only natural. But there are only two requirements for a complete life: a birth day and a death day. That's it. We all arrive in the middle of the movie, and we leave in the middle of it. We want to hold on to the connection to our loved one who died; we want to keep our memories . . . and we can eventually release the pain.

Our ultimate wish is for you to discover that no matter what you're facing, you can heal your heart. You deserve a loving, peaceful life. Let's begin this healing process together.

Louise and David