Grief, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 7 – I Am the One Dying

To begin this chapter I share a dream I had some years previous that had I never shared with anyone before it found its way into my memoir, ๐‚๐จ๐ฐ๐›๐จ๐ฒ๐ฌ ๐€๐ซ๐ž ๐๐จ๐ญ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐‚๐ซ๐ฒ. I am still quite honestly surprised that I shared the dream unedited. ๐Ÿ˜‰

“I do not understand?” he questioned her, fighting to quell his surprise and rage that was growing.

“No, you do not,” she stated simply, still not looking at him as they continued to walk.

The words hung in the air as she paused before taking a breath. He watched her as she continued to look straight ahead, staring off into the distance as she calmly added in a tone of finality,

“I am the one dying.”

CHAPTER 7, I AM THE ONE DYING, PAGE 71 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

Thus ended the dream from which I awoke my heart pounding. There is much more detail to the dream that is revealed in my memoir. If you haven’t purchased my book, go buy a print or e-book copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes (shameless self-promotion! ๐Ÿ˜‰).

Have you ever had a dream from which you wonder at it’s meaning, even as you know there is truth spoken in the dream? Luka’s comment in the dream that she was the one dying definitely spoke a truth that I was unwilling to acknowledge while she was alive. I often found myself denying the truth and unwilling to face the reality of her illness.

Yet, I hope I am wiser now and realizing that we are all traveling different roads. Our roads will parallel and cross over others at times but ultimately we each must journey alone into the alone.

The words hung in the air as she paused before taking a breath. He watched her as she continued to look straight ahead, staring off into the distance as she calmly added in a tone of finality, “๐™„ ๐™–๐™ข ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™™๐™ฎ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ.”

CHAPTER 7, I AM THE ONE DYING, PAGE 71 – MARK W. SCHUTTER, Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry

Why is it such surprising news when we know that each one of us will face dying, both our own and that of ones we love.

God, Life, Writing

What Would You Say?

“A YOUNG AND OLD VERSION”

If you had a chance to go back in time and talk to your younger self what would you say?

What sage advice have you gained over the years that you could share?

Would you attempt to smooth the way and make life easier for yourself?

Would you give encouragement despite the hard times that are to come?

What would you tell your younger self is most important in life?

If you could go back in time and talk with your younger self would you? And what would you say? #WickedQuestions

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all theseย thingsย God will bring thee into judgment. ~Ecclesiastes 11:9

Again, I ask you what would you say?

God, Grief, memoir

Revisiting Chapter 6 – To Love What’s Leaving

We are all dying day by day, but following the diagnosis, I instinctively knew death would find her, statistically, probably before me, and it happened much sooner than I had ever imagined.

CHAPTER 6, TO LOVE WHAT’S LEAVING, PAGE 61 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

Rereading this chapter now I struggle to come up with any coherent meaning to it. We were both denying the reality of her illness I guess, or at the very least the seriousness. However, we were also continuing to live in the face of it. An odd juxtaposition to me even now. It is hard loving someone who is dying, but as Stephen Jenkinson says in his book Die Wise, loving someone is not inevitable, loving someone who will die is.

We go through our days sometimes blissfully unaware that we are all dying a little our days on this earth numbered. And that is okay, even when the reality that time is limited smacks you in the face. You go on and in the daily rhythms of a ‘normal’ life you find some peace and satisfaction regardless of what others might tell you. You must find your own path, ask Jesus to reveal it to you and ask him to walk with you. He will and that is what matters.

To Love What’s Leaving – What is Your Experience?

I did not understand the grief. My heart was broken and yet, I never wanted it to mend. – Chapter 6, To Love What’s Leaving, Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry #Memoir #WritersLife #Grief

Read my thoughts on the first five chapters of my memoir, links below, and watch for the next one in the series โ€“ Chapter 7, I Am the One Dying

You can order your print copies and the e-book today, and one or two or threeโ€ฆ as a gift for some else who is struggling.ย PAY IT FORWARD!

  • You can also contact me here on my website using theย contact formย to purchase signed copies. God bless! ๐Ÿ‘Š
Grief, memoir, Writing

What Grief Are You Still Carrying?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ~Matthew 5:4

Hello friends!

Been absent for awhile just allowing the mud to settle if you will so I can see a little bit more clearly. Spending time with God in prayer and just being silent.

Lots of grief coming up lately that has been heavy on my heart. Both from the past and the current situation.

I am realizing more and more that after almost 29 years I am still carrying my grief. And really that’s ok. My grief and longing over what was lost and might have been can, and does, exist right alongside my joy and peace.

I mourn and I am comforted. I grieve and I am blessed.

What are your thoughts? ๐Ÿค”

What grief are you still carrying? Tell my I am listening. #WickedQuestions

And if you stayed with me and read this far thank you. If you would leave me a comment or even just a ๐Ÿ‘Š, ๐Ÿ‘, โค or whatever so I know I am not alone.

Thanks again and I pray each of you is blessed. ๐Ÿ™

PS – You can still get a copy of my memoir, ๐˜พ๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™—๐™ค๐™ฎ๐™จ ๐˜ผ๐™ง๐™š ๐™‰๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™Ž๐™ช๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™จ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐˜พ๐™ง๐™ฎ, either print or e-book at the following:

Thanks for the support and a review on Amazon or Goodreads is always appreciated! ๐Ÿ‘Š

God, Life, Writing

Death has always been a big deal!

Photo taken at Old West Village – Cody, Wyoming

Death has always been a big deal! #Grief #Trauma #LifeAfter

There are hundreds of bible verses about death, promising a blessed hope after this life. We joke, we ignore, and we trivialize death at every turn. If our physical death is inevitable for each of us why do we so often refuse to acknowledge it?

For centuries throughout history, death has always been a big deal… after a person has died. Ornate ceremonies and trappings to celebrate the life of the one who has died. Fancy carriages like the one above, now hearses, that carry the dead body towards a final resting place. Coffins that are spectacular in their craftmanship that only serve to rot in the ground or burn up in the fire.

  • And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. ~Ecclesiastes 12:7
  • For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. ~Romans 14:8
  • And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? ~John 11:26
  • The last enemy to be destroyed is death. ~1 Corinthians 15:26
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ~Matthew 5:4

These are only but a few of the many bible verses about death. It is coming for all of us. Do you believe in the one who conquered death?

The only one who died and rose again was and is Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16

Have you placed your trust and faith in him? Death is coming for us all, what then?

Jesus said to him, โ€œI am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~John 14:6

Grief, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 4 – Still Miles to Walk

In Chapter 3 – Walking Away in my memoir Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry, I talked about the moments when we have to walk away from all we’ve ever known. And that brings us to the next chapter, wholly unprepared I found myself on this journey walking a road less traveled and it had only just begun.

Chapter 4, Still Miles to Walk

And the Best Thing You Can Do with Death Is to Ride off from It?

This chapter focuses on the many things that take place immediately following a death. All the logistical and practical things that you, as the surviving spouse are expected to take care of starting with funeral arrangements. So many decisions must be made all the while dealing with the shock and grief of your loss.

At the beginning of the chapter I list the following quote from Stephen Jenkinson in his book Die Wise, A Manifesto of Serenity and Soul,

Dying is not what happens to you. Dying is what you do.

I agree with this and would also rephrase it from a different perspective,

Moving forward after someone you love dies is not what happens to you. Moving forward is what you do.

You immediately realize there are still miles to walk and you have no map of the path nor the ultimate destination. Maybe because there is no end to this walk?

Ever since Luka had been diagnosed the first time, through all the treatments, her dying, and right up to this point as the funeral ended, I had been making this up as I went along. And I still didn’t know what to do.

CHAPTER 4, STILL MILES TO WALK, PAGE 49 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

I learned the hard way that there were still so many unknowns on this path as I walked through my own valley of the shadows. My legs moved on their own much of the time, my mind numb but reeling from the enormity of the moments before me. Knowing that nothing would ever be the same again and I could never turn around and walk the path back to where it began.

Chapter 4, Still Miles to Walk – Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry

What are you thoughts? What is your experience following the death of a loved one? Have you read my memoir? Did it spark anything in you?

Read my thoughts on the first three chapters of my memoir, links below, and watch for the next one in the series – Chapter 5, Death is Only the Beginning

PS – Have a nice day and saddle up! ๐Ÿค 

Grief, Life, memoir

Do You Allow Your Trauma to Define You?

New podcast interview – RELEASING TRAUMA, a survivor’s podcast

I was blessed recently to have a conversation with Tracey from Releasing Trauma, a survivor’s podcast. We talked about grief, loss, healing and life after, especially from a man’s perspective and the expectations placed on men after trauma.

Two questions:

  • What advice would you give to someone going through trauma and grief?
  • What would you do differently in your own grief journey knowing what you know now?

Let me know in the comments and go give the episode a listen.

If you haven’t go give a listen to my conversation last week with Meghan on Judging Meghan.

Available on Apple and all major podcast platforms.

Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry
Grief, Life, memoir, Writing

Revisiting Chapter 3 – Walking Away

Sometimes you have to walk away…

Chapter 3 began taking shape in my mind following a conversation with my therapist. As usual we were discussing Luka’s death and the impacts on me, when I mentioned that in the moments after she died. I spoke about remembering standing by her bedside where she lay. Thinking to myself, there was nothing else I could do. I had to and needed to walk away. Yet, I stayed for several moments by her bedside.

I knew I needed to walk away. To turn from this lifeless body that lay in front of me that had held my whole world. There was nothing left for me to do for her.

I recall my therapist staring at me in silence for several seconds before he spoke softly. “It’s interesting in all my experience you are the first person to talk about that. I mean we talk about the death and then we jump to the funeral proceedings and all the logistical things around death. No one has ever mentioned before, those moments immediately following someone dying and what those left behind have to do.”

I swallowed hard and responded, “Yeah, her death was peaceful and calm but then what? I stood there, knowing she was dead and then realizing that was it. I had to turn away from everything I knew and walk away, leaving her there alone. That was hard.”

I don’t recall if I thought about all those things that would never be again or just the among of willpower it took to move my feet and leave her behind. Our time together in the physical world was done.

“Time together was the only thing, just being with her, sitting talking, watching movies, and holding her hand, so many things that I now believe may have helped her breathe a little easier in those moments.”

CHAPTER 3, WALKING AWAY, PAGE 40 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

There would be no more talks, no more movies, no more time together. Only the memories of what once was. I still carry those memories, nothing can take them away, although the edges of my memory may have frayed and faded a bit. That is just time eroding what once was. I was heading towards my 29th birthday…

“I was lost at sea with on wind in my sails. I had the freedom to do, to be, to go anywhere I wanted, and I did not want that freedom. I was free to walk away. How do you reconcile that?”

CHAPTER 3. WALKING AWAY, PAGE 42 – MARK W. SCHUTTER

Here are links to my thoughts and revisits of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Order your copy today, and one or two or threeโ€ฆ as a gift for some else who is struggling, 

You can also contact me here on my website to purchase signed copies.

PAY IT FORWARD!

Adventure, Life, Writing

2022 Is Here, Are You Lost Yet?

The calendar has turned over to 2022, whether we welcome in the new year or not it is now here. It is indifferent to our feelings, our wants, our desires, and our needs. Time marches on as the hands on the clocks tick endlessly on until the batteries run down and the motor stops.

Is this a metaphor for our lives? Our lives move on, whether we do or not, until our batteries run down until we are faced with our own deaths and our life’s ending.

With everything going on in our world today, we can often feel lost. Maybe we need to intentionally get lost? Turn off the electronics and away from the incessant noise of social media and the news.

3 Tips – Get, Go, and Grab!

  • Get outside into nature, put on a coat and hat if its cold, and turn off the notifications on your phone. Trust me you’ll be okay. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Go somewhere you’ve never been before and really look at what is in front of you. Especially if you don’t know where you are. ๐Ÿ˜Ž
  • Grab someone you love and hold them tight. Feel their breathing and listen for there heartbeat. That is what’s important. ๐Ÿ˜š

Here’s to a great tomorrow!

Grief, memoir, Stories

Revisiting Chapter 2 – A Far Better Place

Alone into the Alone

A far better placeโ€”the phrase echoes through my mind, and my faith tells me to believe in this. As a Christian don’t the words of our God tell us there is a far better place?


Yet I ask, what does that mean, and how do we know? We don’t know I often want to scream back. Instead, I and nod in a feinted attempt at agreement, holding onto hope, that there is a far better place.

An interesting chapter and maybe the most philosophical of the entire book, as I ask the questions that many have asked before me. The theological questions of life after death, what happens to us, is there a heaven and if so isn’t there a hell? Even atheists and agnostics with no faith in a god or a higher power have asked the question, wondering what is there after we die?

The last paragraph of chapter 1 of my memoir Cowboys Are Not Supposed to Cry speaks of Luka’s belief in a far better place. (You can read my thoughts and revisit of chapter 1 here.)

Luka was the one facing her own mortality, not me. She was the one who must venture alone into the alone, not me. I wonder even now what thoughts ran through her mind that she did not share with me. Or worse still those thoughts she did share and I have long forgotten. Her words tossed aside as if they were of no more importance than a scrap of garbage. What are you supposed to do with that?

Believe… in life after otherwise what’s the point?

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes