Monday, December 31, 2018

A New Year

It’s New Year’s Eve…
I’m waiting your arrival
To ring in the new year.

We dated years ago and
Despite our differences
I loved you so.

Parting as the best of friends
We still get together
On Saturday nights
And Sunday afternoons
And New Year’s Eves
When there’s no one involved
With you and me.

Sometimes I think, maybe?
Maybe we could love again?
Maybe it would work this time?

It’s New Year’s Eve
The call comes in:
You won’t be coming after all.

It’s New Year’s Eve.
I understand.
Nothing’s New.

by Kate McGahan

Friday, December 28, 2018

Getting Through the Holidays: Anniversaries of the Heart

Every grieving mother knows how old her child would be today. You know how old I would be now and how long I’ve been gone. The heart remembers everything. You are connected to me by the love that we share, a love that tugs at your heartstrings at special times. You might find yourself thinking about me continuously one day. You just can’t get me out of your mind! Maybe you even have a dream of me or receive an extraordinary sign. You look at the calendar and realize that it is the anniversary of my passing or my birthday. The heart remembers everything. 

“One day without him…”
“He was still here this time last week.”
“I’ve made it through the first two weeks.”
“I can’t believe she’s been gone a month.”
“It’s been 2 months, 2 days, 7 hours, 35 minutes.”
“3 months have passed now.” 
“4 months.”
“5 months…152 days”
“I’m coming up on 6 months.”
“It’s my first holiday alone.”
 “This would have been her birthday.”

We’ve been through one round of all the anniversaries of the heart. 365 days of “first times.” Oh, but it’s still complicated isn’t it? Leaving the first year behind, it’s like we lose that too. The anniversaries will keep coming. There will be days when you just aren’t feeling so strong. Maybe you go a park or a restaurant where we used to go and even though you might have a new friend with you, you are filled with tears and memories of our days together. It’s okay. Let them come. Those were the days my friend… 

Creating new traditions is a very good way to move forward, to honor me and to honor the special days of the year. Sometimes you need to create new traditions for yourself when you are faced with loss---or if you are struggling with family issues and disappointments.

Anniversaries and holidays can be difficult at best when your life feels empty or incomplete. One of the things you can do for yourself during these times is to celebrate the life we shared. Do not mourn my loss. Celebrate my life. Create a lovely altar, light a candle. Say your prayers. Invite me to visit you. Talk to me. Tell me about your hopes and dreams. Reflect on the good times. Tell me you love me over and over again. Soak in the happy times of being blessed by someone in your life who loved you and who loves you still. Someone who taught you the meaning of love, not fear. Celebrate our love. Know that love never dies. 

When you are visiting people over the holidays who might not understand what you are going through, take something tangible and subtle with you; something that you can wear or hold in your hand when you are you are longing to be with me instead of them. It's okay to talk about it if it feels like the right thing to do for you. It’s okay to not want to talk about too. Just tell them that. It can also be quite handy to excuse yourself so you can go to bed early. That's okay to a point too. You have a very good reason and you are learning at last to take care of yourself. Balance the holiday and try to stay balanced within yourself as you move forward to the next anniversary without me. Balance is the key to all healing. Time and support will take care of the rest.

When you are surrounded by joy and celebration it can actually make you feel worse when you feel worse. If you want to avoid parties and celebrations altogether you can volunteer at a soup kitchen or some other charity event. It often helps one to feel better when they help people less fortunate. You can also opt to stay home, but I will be hoping that you will be willing to share the holiday with someone you love and trust. Someone who lets you be you. Go easy on yourself. 

The first of every month would loom ominously. She braced herself every time a new month approached. The August 1 anniversary was tough. Then a funny thing happened. December 1 arrived; sixteen months. The day came and went. On December 2 she realized she had not noticed. She felt guilty at first until she realized it was a sign of her healing. My life was the important thing and our relationship, now on new terms, was all that mattered. She forgot February 1 too! And March! She didn’t remember until after a whole week had passed! Who knew what would happen on April Fool’s Day? Well! She fooled me and remembered! This is how it will happen for you too, 
in your own time and in your own way. 

This post is an excerpt from our latest book, "Only Gone From Your Sight: A Personal Approach to Human Grief & Loss"  Currently available on Kindle and coming soon to Amazon in Paperback!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Natural Cycle of Life and Death -- and Life

An excerpt from our latest book, 

"Even the tiniest perennial grows only to die. It comes back again and again when the season and the time is right. Even annual flowers grow seeds as they grow so that they can drop the seeds of themselves and live again year after year, life after life." 

Nature continually reminds us of the natural cycles of life. If you were a flower, when the harshness of winter comes you would pull yourself deep inside to protect yourself from freezing, to prevent yourself from dying. You toughen up the outside, close yourself up and go deep within where you are always safe.

Then after quite a long while there comes a bit of warmth and a welcoming day brings with it the thaw. Spring comes and something inside of you stirs. You realize you’ve survived another winter. The ice melts away and you can feel the outside of yourself again. As the warmth so long gone from your life surrounds you, you decide maybe it’s worth blooming again for another season. Hope returns to your heart as you prepare for new life.

You begin to open again as the sun fuels your soul. Your energy returns. An infusion of life force comes to you, giving you more power than you have known since you went into hibernation. This power is the force that pushes you to develop your stems, to press through the soil, to stretch forth and reach towards the light again.

Sometimes Spring can make you an April fool, bringing a bluff! What you planned on, the rain that waters your roots so that you can grow again, turns unexpectedly to ice then snow and it finds you unsuspecting. You are vulnerable and alone, exposed and unprotected. Your tender life is threatened. In some seasons the storm will pass quickly and you will survive; other seasons you can be hurt so deeply that you must withdraw and retreat deep into your roots where you will take the remaining seasons off to rebuild yourself and prepare for the distant day when Spring returns and gives you another chance to thrive.

Despite everything in this year you have survived and in the next season you will grow hardy and beautiful, thriving for the harshness that once threatened you. The early blooms that sprouted, only to be frozen, pinched back by Nature Herself, are destined to return brighter and stronger than ever.

This is the YOU that has grown from the cold harsh winter of your loss. You are the flower that is destined to bloom again. You are the root. You are the bloom. You are the spirit; you are the soul that lives inside every living thing. With each passing season you become stronger and wiser. You go deeper and deeper within where your power can be found. Your roots reach further and further into the quiet nourishing protective earthy space that surrounds you. Look how far you’ve come from being the fragile shoot that first made itself known in the landscape of life!

Your colorful blooms will burst forth stretching now to the sky and you’ll show no fear because you know that no matter what happens you will adjust to the climate that surrounds you and you will be okay. It’s what you’ve learned.

And so it goes.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Book 6: "A Unique and Life-Changing Book"

Now Available on Kindle 
Coming Soon in Paperback !

Author Kate McGahan brings 35 years of clinical hospice experience and end of life social work into this uniquely powerful life --changing book! Kate offers her compassion, empathy and understanding which fill this healing book to the rim with substance, spirituality and love. Her empathy allows her to be the voice throughout the book of the one who is dying. This book was written to help the grieving reader to open their mind and heart to all the possibilities in the afterlife.
Learn to communicate with your loved one in new ways as you work together to get through the grief, keeping the powers of faith and love at the forefront. This book applies to anyone grieving the loss of a spouse, partner, parent, child, family member, pet or friend, no matter where they are in the dying process. Life is too short and too long to live under the cloud of heavy grief.
There is no “right way” to grieve. There is no “wrong way” to grieve. There is only YOUR way. Empower yourself with the guidance given in this book and you will find your way out of the grief and back into the power of a love that never dies. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Holidays and Grief

If you grieve the loss of someone you love, holidays can be especially difficult. As you rise to meet social obligations, try to keep your focus on the love in your heart, not the grief in your head. Try to keep it as positive as possible and know that you are blessed for having had such a great love in your life. All the love you ever gave is waiting for you on the Other Side; it's waiting for you when the time is just right. Keep the faith that love never dies.

Prayers to all over the upcoming holiday season. 

Find our books to heal your grief on Amazon Worldwide in Paperback and Kindle Unlimited 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Only Gone From Your Sight: For Humans. Coming December 2018.

Written in the style of "Only Gone From Your Sight: Jack McAfghan's Little Guide to Pet Loss & Grief," Book 6 shares material that applies to human beings but includes additional material related to planning, options for end of life care and encouragement and support to help humans with their loss of their human loved ones.   


Monday, November 5, 2018

Sacrificial Lamb: On Adoption

So often I wonder where I belong?
Those around me are open-armed.
They've cared for me and loved me so;
Ensured that I've not been harmed.

They adopted me from someone
Who, for one reason or another,
Couldn't care for me and gave me up
To another kind of mother

Who loved me as her own and he
Did just the very same.
My Dad gave me my role model,
My confidence, my name.

But who had this nose? These eyes? This hair?
These questions haunt me so!
And the biggest one of all is why
They had to let me go.

Were they too poor?
Were they too young?
To take care of their child?
Or to take care of each other?
Might they have reconciled?

These questions haunt me all the time!
What kind of life would I
Have had if Mommy kept me
And wound not have said goodbye?

Perhaps I would have been a prince
In some faraway place.
Perhaps a pauper on the streets,
My family a disgrace.

I lead two lives and when I take
The time to really ponder,
I look up in the endless sky
And cannot help but wonder

The infinite possibilities!
I try to visualize
How I'd feel, how I'd react
If I saw my mother's eyes.

The drive is there to seek the truth
Disappointing it may be.
Would I feel for this strange woman
Who gave my life to me?

My eyes refocus from the sky
I come back down to earth;
I look at what surrounds me now,
I think of what's it's worth.

Some people live their lifetimes
Never knowing they are loved.
Conceived by accident in youth,
Inevitably shoved

Aside for more important things
They learn to fret and worry.
Seeking love they find indifference
And they grow up in a hurry.

In the possibilities
Of the "what ifs" and the "whys"
I know that I've been blessed
When I come to realize

How very lucky I have been
To have had parents styled
To be conscious of their need
To want and love and child.

My parents chose to take me in
Their lives with welcomes warm.
No fear, no hesitation,
Simply glad that I was born!

So I feel I've always been a gift
Somehow I'll always know
That I'm considered precious
As I find my way and grow.

And through the years this strength will
See me through the darkest days.
Self confidence will guide me
As I share my loving ways.

From the book, "One Heart's Journey"
© 1999 by Kate McGahan 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Why Do Happy Memories Make Me Cry?

...All of a sudden I remember you and me
Watching the clowns on the Playa with the little kids
Wearing big monster mask heads
Answering silly questions
That made us laugh like kids ourselves.

Your arms were around me
As we watched and laughed.
It seemed a magical time, a magical place.

From this I know.
No matter what should happen
Though we may drift apart,
There are many things that will make us look back
And smile.

If this is true,
How come I'm crying as I write this?

"A butterfly lights beside us, like a sunbeam and for a brief moment its glory and beauty belong to our world... but then it flies on again and although we wish it could have stayed, we are so thankful to have seen it at all." Author Unknown

Friday, October 5, 2018

I Don't Know, 'I Don't Remember, I Don't Remember' : On Being Transparent About Sexual Abuse

By Kate McGahan LMSW

Along with the rest of the nation, I have been riveted on the Brett Kavanaugh/Christine Blasey-Ford testimony. Why all the hoopla? Aside from the deeply disturbing values and attitudes that are being consistently revealed in current politics, the story touches everyone who ever abused, was ever abused, ever did things beyond their control under the influence, ever forgot …ever remembered.

Last week Dr. Ford reminded me of what happened to me. She reminds me of what I tried to forget. It’s not like I forgot altogether what happened to me. Oh no. It’s that when it actually happened, I dissociated from myself because, quite simply, I didn’t want to be there. I wanted no part of it. So I “left”! Dissociation is a natural defense mechanism for those experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) whether it is due to wartime, devastating natural disaster or sexual, physical or emotional trauma. 

When he came looking for me that first night when I was ten, I was hiding from him. I had already learned that I did not like the way he treated me. He was just, well, “yucky.” Every night through my terrifying moments, he would find me, hiding. Behind curtains. Behind chairs. Under beds and tables. He always found me. I don’t know why I didn’t just run away from home altogether but there was something in the experience that paralyzed me like a deer in headlights.

I don’t know how many times over the years he did this, but it was many times. I never told anybody about it. This was the first person who taught me to Not Say No, to Not Tell Anyone, to try to continue loving someone even though they hurt, abuse and betray. He taught me how to deny the Here and Now, how to suppress my feelings until it became natural for me to stuff them away altogether. He taught me to expect that someone you come to love will probably come to hurt you. He taught me that family can betray you.


Once he found me and took me to his bedroom, I couldn’t hide my body anymore, so I hid the rest of me. I vacated. I dissociated. While his hands groped and his aged appendage shook as he spoke dirty words to my virgin ears, I exited the situation. My mind was able to whisk me away. I floated up out of the situation. Around the walls, covered with pink and blue wallpapered flowers. Up the wall to where the white painted molding met the yellowed ceiling. Most of the time I’d be “up there” somewhere but sometimes I would go even further. I would go through the ceiling and out into the freedom that was the rooftop and the sky. Despite what was happening I had already developed a faith in God and the angels and I believed that when I went “up there” I had a measure of safety that I didn’t have below. When we are traumatized, leaving the scene spiritually and psychologically is a safety measure. It’s By Design for one’s survival. It's no surprise that we cannot remember details when we are "not there." The circumstances at hand are too overwhelming to process and so we are designed to have an exit route and that route is called Dissociation.

When someone drinks or does drugs, they can exit too, through blackouts, drug “trips” that take them out of context with their own bodies, straight into an altered state. This is why most of them do it. They can't remember the details either, those that happened during their trip. They too are seeking an escape from something in their lives that they can’t bear. Some people can’t find their way back. They can be stuck in a confusing state of Dissociative Disorder, which is a disorder of identity. When you leave yourself behind this way, the day eventually can come when you find that you don’t know who you are at all. You don’t even know what you are. You have not lived life like a normal “person”.

When children are abused, they can lose sight of who and what they are. Now nearly fifty years later, I still do not know my worth, my value, my best qualities overshadowed and disguised by lifelong shame. This makes no sense to someone who has never experienced abuse, that a child can have such shame and guilt for the torrid acts of someone else, but it is the nature of a child to suffer guilt for such things beyond his or her control. Many suffer this for the rest of their lives. 

When you're young and your parents divorce, you always think it’s your fault. After all you are still somewhat ego-centric, as all young children are, and you think the world revolves around you, so therefore everything must have to do with you, for better or for worse. With various types of abuse, there is deep shame for being submissive, for not saying “no” to something that is deeply wrong. There is guilt for not being brave enough to tell anyone, not reporting the perpetrator. Perhaps even guilt for enjoying the experience despite the circumstance. Horrors! 

One of the specific problems for children who experience abuse of any kind is that as they grow, their brains are developing too. What goes in becomes a part of them. Walking. Talking. Tying Their Shoes. Reading, Writing, Arithmetic. Words of praise become a foundation for how they see themselves as they move forward into adulthood. Physical, Emotional, Sexual Abuse. These too become a foundation for how they see themselves and rate their poor self-worth as they move forward into adulthood. They never know why they don’t trust, they fear betrayal, they avoid intimacy. They throw themselves into dysfunctional relationships – after all, we attract what we feel and we will be like magnets drawing the same kind of people to us who will continue to hurt, harm, betray and abuse. In our ongoing insecurity, we can become addicted to pathways of escape: drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography or work. We further dull our awareness of who we are because we don’t like who we are and we must find some way to escape from our own lives. It’s just another kind of dissociation. There are so many ways to lose ourselves. Each one of these situations is actually another opportunity to Show Up differently, but still we tend to focus on losing ourselves instead of finding ourselves. 

...Until one day we are reminded and it all comes rushing back. It fills every sense that had forgotten until now. The groping, the gravely voice, the lumpy pillows, the wallpaper flowers, the stale smell of the room. You can’t say when, you don’t remember how often. You only remember the flowers, the ceiling, the man, the hands, the feeling of terror and powerlessness ---- only now there is no escape from it. You have finally admitted to yourself that this has happened and now what are you going to do with it? You can’t heal what you don’t feel and now fifty years later you feel it’s full effect. You feel the fury, knowing how it changed the way you came to live your life. You see it from the eyes of an adult now. You know now that you deserved more in life but look how you always settled for less.

Last night anchor woman Connie Chung came forward. God bless her. She has remembered too: the trusted family doctor who delivered her as a baby who came to assault her as a co-ed. In fifty years she never told anyone but her husband. She now reminds me of one I’d forgotten. Our small town family doctor who fondled my breasts during a procedural exam for college admission.
     “Is someone playing with these?” he asked me.
     “No.” was my shy but robotic answer. 
      How on earth does one answer this?
     “Aww, that’s too bad,” he replied as he gave a last fondle.
     Oh my God I forgot about this until now.

So many of us are caught in the process of unlearning the erroneous things that we’ve been taught, needing to rewind back to our innocence and to remember the love and respect we must inherently have first for ourselves. We must tell our story and once it's told, to learn what we can from it and try to forget the part that only deprives us of creating a better story for ourselves in this new day and age ....knowing that the challenges along the way are what gave us the strengths of empathy, compassion and appreciation for the good things in life. Nothing is ever all good or all bad. The key is in accepting it as part of our development and moving forward with the strength of character that we have developed. We are different people because of these things and when it comes to our own testimony of ourselves, we are innocent.  

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change; 

courage to change the things I can; 

and wisdom to know the difference.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

We've Led Parallel Lives: You've Been Abused Too

(Excerpt from the upcoming book, "It's All About You" by Kate McGahan)

Tonight I read about a man who had been fondled by a stranger for twenty minutes at the age of 8. This guy grew up carrying his pain with him through 32 years of marriage to a woman he never really knew. He had buried his wound and locked it up tight thinking that time would take it away… while all along the secret followed him and haunted him.  It returned in every intimate moment that should have brought him joy.

Are you him? Am I?  What happens when someone is repeatedly abused year after year by someone they are supposed to love? By someone who is a member of the family who teaches only betrayal? I don't know about you but I've tried to heal for many years. How? By continuing to choose to be with ears that didn't hear, kisses that bruised and left their mark, hugs that engulfed and smothered ...and hearts that betrayed. They wanted everything and always on their terms. I have continually avoided closeness, as if I could avoid being hurt any more than I have already been! As if avoiding intimacy could keep me safe…

Why is this so complicated? I don't know about you but sometimes the new love I feel brings up old pain. The more intimacy we share, the more pain comes up. 

Do we brush the pain aside for the sake of comfort in the moment or do we look it in the eye and strive to show up differently?  I am trying really hard to show up differently in my life.  It's so hard! One by one my fears are leaving me but the bigger they are the harder they fall. Dear God help me to keep surpassing my comfort zones until the day comes when I am no longer afraid.

I want to talk with you about your abuse. I want to know if you have healed. Maybe that is the reason you don't reach out to me?  Is that why you seem so distant sometimes? Is it why I am?

I have learned that trusting myself is prevention.
I have learned that trusting someone else is the cure. 
The right someone. 
The conditions are right. We can do this.
We are the wounded healers. We can do this one kiss at a time.

I am not big and strong like you but I would do 
Everything in my power to shelter you and keep you from harm.
I believe you would do the same for me.
We will make up for the lonely years when no one was there.
From now on it will be on our terms at the right time in the right place
With the right one... in the right way.

Who knows, perhaps our shared drama of abuse is the very thing
That made it possible at this exact time and place in our lives
For you to find me and for me to find you waiting for love to find us.
If this indeed is true, 
I would go through it all over again to be with you.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Gnarly: On Sexual Abuse

The issue of Senator Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Ford has brought up some old pain for some of us. The physical pain may leave but the emotional injury never quite goes away.

She thought this was going to be fun.....!  

His long life had been disappointing;
Few successes, broken dreams.
A defensive wife, a self-centered son;
Life was falling apart at the seams.

He had settled for a dull routine
Of smoking a pipe and sittting.
No one expected much out of him
And the lifestyle seemed befitting.

Every once in awhile he'd argue
Just to liven things up a little.
In order to feel superior
He enjoyed finding ways to belittle.

As the years passed he grew frailer.
With this, his pride took its toll.
He searched for roads to pleasure
And as he did, he lost sight of his soul.

One night he reached out his gnarly old hands
To the breast of a ten year old.
He exuded authority and power
Which gave him a sense of foothold.

She was shy and quiet and despite her shame
Complied with his demands.
He abused his power over the child;
She was helpless in his hands.

He abused this power for many years
Only thinking of his needs.
No worry of repercussions or the
Results of his misdeeds.

He chose her, a lone scapegoat,
Knowing she'd never let on to the scam.
He made her his whore and his sweetheart;
His lover, his Madame.

His imagination was rampant,
Took no note of her passivity;
And after awhile, he took it in stride
As another routine activity.

The dog was her saving grace. 
Neither one at the time would ever have dreamed
The problems this routine would make
To a girl who'd never dated a boy
But who'd already had her share of heartbreak.

She went into the world only to find
She held men in reserve, at a distance.
These gentle young men who saw all her strengths
Took her hand and would meet her resistance.

The next twenty years were spent healing
The deep scars she received in her teens.
Running from those who loved her the most
Yet seeking the man of her dreams.

She still is in search of the one man
Who is gentle and safe and kind.
Not willing to settle, unafraid to commit,
She now seeks a love unconfined.

Loyal to a fault, whoever wins her
If they care and they never betray,
Will find her healed and ready to give
And receive love in every way.

The girls in the family. So much sadness there.
What you don't allow yourself to feel, you cannot heal. 

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, in the U.S. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. When I began dealing with my own abuse in 1989 it was "only" 1 in 7 women. The abuse began when I was 10. I didn't reveal it until I was almost 30. It is the human nature of victims not to tell anyone. 
When I wrote this poem, I shared it with my psychotherapist who was helping me to change my life and to live it as a human being, not as a wounded victim. He asked me if he could share it with his sexual predators group because "they need to know the results of their behavior. It's how they learn to accept responsibility for what they've done and how they begin to heal their own wounds." 

It's a hard un-doing but if we don't tell, if we try to forget, if we don't allow ourselves to feel, if we don't share with someone we trust, we remain with a stronghold of sexual trauma for the rest of our lives. This is the true price we pay for having been abused. What we don't feel we can't heal. 

If you're still reading this, here's the irony!
I was abused by him from age 10 until age 15. One day we received a call. He had had accident while working on the lawnmower. The blade took off his right middle finger. Do we laugh or do we cry? 

I again stand in amazement of the universe and how karma works. Meanwhile, I continue to work on my healing. I know with statistics that you may be one who has been hurt too. Prayers going out to you. This will be another book that I will write one day.  Life is the school, love is the lesson....

"Gnarly" From the obscure book by Kate McGahan, 
Available at

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