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Guest Posts, healing, loss

The Gift Within The Pain.

October 24, 2013

I received the following email from Sue Lawrence Putnam.

Hi Jen, My daughter Clara Coleman attended your workshop at Kripalu last February and inspired me to read your Facebook Page – where I saw the story by Suzanne Rolph-McFalls. Her story opened my heart to be brave & write the story I am sending you below. Thank you for your courage and ability to inspire others and pass this gift along.


Jennifer Pastiloff‘s Facebook page:

Has anything in your life been hard or painful that you can now see the gift in? Love to hear…

Never, ever, EVER, would I place greater importance on a thing, any THING, than I did a living being.

I would never cease offering shelter from storms.

I would always share warmth.

I would always hug longer.

~ from: Blue Interior. By Suzanne Rolph-McFalls

Many years ago, I did the same thing:
I placed “things” before my living three year old daughter Heidi. She accidentally drowned nearby when I had sent her from the house so I could make it perfectly clean, without any distraction, to impress my soon-to-be arriving mother-in-law.

I, who had grown up in the generation when “THINGS go better with Coke”, had rebelled furiously against the material world. And I, who devotedly followed La Leche Leagues’ advice to forget & not notice the “dust bunnies”, so I could nurse my babies with a calm peace of mind and loving heart.

I rebelled so outrageously against the 50’s moms, who could almost eat off their kitchen floors because they were so spotlessly clean.

Ironically, I too was the perfect straight A+ student aiming to please and be loved for my hard school work, even receiving the DeCordova Medal of Honor for the most accomplished student.

But after that fateful day in 1976, when the irrigation pool on our organic farm had filled too high from the torrent of rain the night before, for my 3 year old to touch her little toes on the bottom – my life went from “before tragedy to after tragedy” – a shift only those who have been there can understand.

In hindsight, even the morning before it all happened, everything felt strange, off, uneasy, as if to say something’s up.

Being in the realm of “life before tragedy” it was a normal day and I didn’t take notice.
But now being in the realm of “after tragedy”, I am aware of the smallest detail, looking for warning signs, red flags; opening my heart to all that enters into my consciousness.

I remember that morning when little Heidi kept saying “Mama, mama, mama…..hug, hug, hug, uppie, uppie, uppie”, and I ignored her every need to feel loved.

I remember her older sister hiding out in her secret hiding place. I remember my unfaithful husband making a gourmet blintze breakfast for his “right hand female apprentice” in our kitchen, and not caring for me or my new baby nor my kids.

I was struggling to forage for enough raspberries in the patch to fill empty tummies and hearts.

I remember so many visitors and apprentices pouring into our small humble, dirty house for the usual lunch I prepared every day and watching the farm stand fill up with customers and rushing out with my wee baby on my back to cut them some lettuces for their fancy dinners in Blue Hill or thereabouts.

But did I remember to stop and breathe and find my heart and remember to hug my dear little Heidi when she needed me the most after all the people had left and everyone went back to work, including me ?


…. and never again will I put pressure to “look good” on the outside and place things before human beings.

Never will I play the part of the perfect person making everything “just so right” for everyone else but myself and my loved ones. Never again would I allow someone or something else decide how I was to be, nor go against my deepest gut feelings and not communicate how I was feeling.

In the end, I learned to:
“Listen to the Little Voices of Your Soul” ~Old Gypsy Saying.

~Sue Lawrence Putnam

**note from Jen: I will be at Kripalu again February 20-22, 2015. Click here to book or to find out more info. 

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the sunflowers!

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the sunflowers!

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  • Reply lynnhess October 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Sue, thank you so much for courageously sharing your story. You cracked my heart wide open. I had been letting some petty stuff get to me today, and you snapped me back to remembering what’s important. I’m so sorry about the loss of your sweet Heidi.

    And thank you, Jennifer, for sharing this!

  • Reply kennymatrix October 24, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    It’s simple, YOU are a gift to us all.



    • Reply Sue Putnam October 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks so much!
      It took so much courage to write this
      You both have touched MY heart!
      ~ Sue

  • Reply jane October 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Sue-I have no words to say-only a big love-filled hug. Thanks for sharing your words, your emotions, your gift of this experience.

    • Reply Sue Putnam October 24, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Jane…. it means so much to me what you say. It took me 37 years to write this story
      and I am so grateful to Jenn for sharing it here.

  • Reply Fernanda October 25, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Speechless and eye powering by your touching, heartbreak
    testimony. Thank you for sharing…Love and light right into to your soul.

  • Reply Sue Putnam November 24, 2013 at 7:34 am

    I had an epiphany recently after writing the story for Jennifer Pastiloff ~
    That the day I sent my daughter out side, there’d been a huge torrential rain the night before and I was not aware of it…. the kids had been playing near the ankle deep water of the irrigation pond just the day before …. little did I know it had filled up way over their heads…
    Freak accidents happen for no reason what-so-ever & the word blame is no longer in my vocabulary….
    And the “gift within the pain” is so much greater than the incident…
    It opened my heart wide and made me more aware moment to moment of life & all it’s glory.
    Thank you Jennifer for allowing me to write my story finally at last after 37 years of guilt and pain.

  • Reply Vanessa Ivy November 29, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Sue – I was so deeply touched by the vulnerability you dared show us with your well written story. . . I could feel the pain as I read and also felt your awakening. You are truly a courageous and beautiful woman and I am so glad to know you. Love and hugs to you dear Sue. . .

    • Reply Sue Putnam November 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Vanessa… thank you for caring…. you are so very kind to post what you say and feel.
      Big hugs to you too!

  • Reply Barbara Potter November 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. Love to you.

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