Enhancing Love and Transforming Grief with SARK

by Amy L. Silva Rigtrup

The important relationship between love and grief has come up many times on The Silva Lining. Without love, we would not grieve as profoundly as we do, and without grief, we would not love as strongly as we do – because we all know that our time on this earth is limited. My incredible guest on this week's episode of The Silva Lining is an author who has joined me to discuss two books she has written about grief and love. 

SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) is a best-selling author and artist, with sixteen titles in print and well over two million books sold. She is here today to discuss her two most recent books; Succulent Wild Love, which she co-authored with the late Dr. John Waddell and Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity. She is also the founder and Creative Fountain of Planet SARK, a thriving business that creates innovative products and services to support empowered living. SARK lives and creates gladly in San Francisco, CA.  

I started reading SARK's books when I was 19 years old and can honestly say that she, through her words and art, is truly an integral part of who I am as a self-acclaimed Succulent Wild Woman, wife, mother, creative spirit and funeral director. Everything came full circle when I discovered that she had written Glad No Matter What. After literally inhaling it in two days, I took a chance and sent her a message. I asked, she answered, and here we are. 

CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast, dated 4/7/16

Most books I've read about grief were like road maps. What SARK has done with Glad No Matter What, is created a 3D Guide Map. Sure there are roads and signs with paths and directions, but there are also boundless opportunities to change the roads, meander off of them, carve out paths, roll down hills, conquer mountains, discover cozy caverns and build bridges. She understands grief and more importantly, the benefits that can come from feeling the feelings, embracing self-care, listening to your Inner Wise Self and allowing your soul to become open to the gifts and opportunities that can come from loss - whatever they may be.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is, "I know now that this healing happens in spirals and layers and not in steps like a ladder." 

Too often, we find ourselves "expected" to heal, get over or find closure in grief within a certain time frame and by an assumed set of steps. Like the anonymous old man's "shipwreck" analogy, (referenced one of my prior posts), grief is always with you. It's force, presence and influence may alter and shift, but usually without warning. The transformative work provided in SARK's book does not remove, diminish, replace or avoid the grief - in fact, the book has you bring the grief in and essentially place it lovingly on your lap where it can be seen, felt and acknowledged.

The other important element I want to note is that SARK also valiantly points out and includes grief and loss in all forms - life changes, breakups/divorce, pet loss as well as human and more. There are so many events or circumstances that can lead to grief and loss that aren't normally talked about or accepted in society. For instance, as a mother, I profoundly grieved the end of breastfeeding my youngest child - though I didn't realize what I was feeling at the time because "grief" wasn't something I ever associated with anything other than death before. 

Are we ready for love? SARK and John certainly were, and lucky for us all, they shared their wisdom. 

Together, Sark and Dr. John wrote Succulent Wild Love - a weaved tapestry of core teachings from each of their lives and past love experiences to center the book around The Six Powerful Habits of People in Succulent Wild Relationships:

  • They listen to their relationship mentor inside them - their Inner Wise Self, Higher Self, Holy Spirit - and take action.

  • They use their feelings both as a guide to know when the relationship is off track and to constructively evoke cooperation from others. 

  • They recognize inner critics and other negative dialogue in their head and don't put this criticism on their partner - or themselves.

  • They respect their own and their partner's boundaries.

  • They create "Joyfull Solutions" where no one needs to compromise or sacrifice.

  • They practice seeing the perfection in their partner and all the other people they're in relationships with.

This book resonated with me as a completely customizable guide to achieving unconditional love in any type of relationship(s) that are most significant in your life. "We all want to give and receive love without reservation, but few of us have learned how to do this on a consistent basis," write SARK and Dr. John. Regardless of spouse, partner, close friend, family member, these habits practiced can add foundation and meaningfulness to any relationships that are significant, but maybe weren't functioning at full love capacity. In my career, NOT doing relationship work like this on important relationships are some of the biggest regrets I see impacting grief. We are blessed with the core people in our lives - why not make the most out of our love?

On the day after submitting this book to the publisher, John was diagnosed with non-operable stage IV colon cancer. Having found Great Love and then ushered in front of Impending Grief within three short years, SARK and John turned to each other, and allowed the Six Powerful Habits they had just shared with the world to further strengthen their love. They even continued sharing throughout his treatments, on planetsark.com and with interviews. I urge you to listen to this podcast on Inspire Nation with host, Michael Sandler. It is such a joy to hear them talk about when they first met! Plus, you will hear John's explanation of his mindset with his cancer - as only he can explain it. What I will reiterate is that he expressed his belief that he would "come out of cancer whole"

Dr. John Waddell passed away in SARK's loving arms just one month ago. The fact that she is still able to be a beacon of light, radiating her energy and sharing her experiences in the midst of her grief is a testament to me of the love that was - and will always be - shared between her and John. Their individual whole-ness made them ready to find and love each other. Their Succulent Union allowed them each to remain whole by not having to sacrifice any part of themselves. This maintained whole-ness fueled the love even more. Of course SARK is still being a beacon - she's overflowing with love and John wouldn't have it any other way. Right now, in my heart of hearts, I know that wherever John is, he is indeed whole and dancing. 

Please visit PlanetSARK.com for amazing resources, information and inspiration.

Call the Inspiration Line anytime at (415) 546-3742 **I have it on speed dial - always lifts my spirits!**


Upcoming episodes:

April 14th - Funeral Director's Round Table #2: My guests will be three amazing male funeral directors - I'll be outnumbered this time!!

April 28th - Laura Eaton, President of the newly formed Nelly Strong Foundation, Inc. will be discussing all of the incredible events coming our way to bring this community together while providing natural and alternative remedies for those in need.

May 5th - I'll get Morbidly Legal with Atty. Steven Sabra

Tickets are still available for Havens Healing Hands Comedy Night Fundraiser. Please consider attending or donating to this worthy cause - 100% of proceeds helping provide Vitamin C IV Treatments to those with pediatric cancer. Anyone interested in donating items for the raffle, please message me. https://www.facebook.com/events/181381172236601/

The Silva Lining would like to thank our wonderful sponsor,

St. Anthony of Padua Credit Union - We are proud to be sponsored by such an incredible bank, that in an age of conglomerate banks treating people like numbers, maintains a relationship with its members based on trust, friendly service and loyalty. With competitive rates for savings accounts and various loans, St. Anthony of Padua can handle all of your financial needs. Convenient online banking and more information at www.stanthonyofpaduafcu.com