Yes, Indeed, Let’s Talk
This truly is a brilliant way to have us talking about Mental Health which affects so many and what better way to bring a topic that has been in the shadows for so long out and shed light upon it?
Let’s come together to find ways to help each other cope with depression or schizophrenia and the myriad of other symptoms our Mental Health professionals deal with daily.
One way is to talk about it so that the stigma of having a mental disorder is lessened. There are so many people suffering because they don’t want to Talk about It out of fear and shame. Time for less judgment.
Clearly more needs to be done but this is a great way to create awareness.
Long-standing Grief & Depression
Another awareness I’d like to create is how grief can add a person to this ever-growing list for those requiring professional help. Grief if not dealt with can result in severe depression or suicide. It can sap a person’s life for years after the death occurred. Grieving is a full body response weakening the immune system and causing health issues.
Not everyone grieving will end up with severe depression or with the symptoms outlined above. However, that is yet another topic to be discussed and explored.
As science advances unlocking the knowledge to help explain why some mental health issues occur can we then take steps to help prevent the onset.
Mindfulness, breathing, exercise, walking or journaling are some of the tools being used. Reframing and working on mindset are yet others. Eating healthy and getting more sleep. Learning to relax and taking days off our electronic devices are just some examples of techniques being implemented or suggested.
Giving our brains a chance to daydream and take time out is another.
However, nothing is ever quite as simplistic and if you feel you grieving and have been for a while please seek professional help.
Regardless of grief, reach out to someone you know and talk to them about what you are noticing. A simple kindness, someone to speak to can make the world of difference.
Please let’s talk……..
As a grief coach, I am available. Please Chose life and Chose you because we are all here to make a difference in someone’s life.
The river of life flows through us all
Then when a death occurs, we get to fall
into Grief’s Abyss, a dark unfamiliar place
Down into the valley where we all must face
How to cope with all the changes
when the familiar landscape rearranges
Gone are the roads and highways once traveled
as our lives become unraveled
We’ve taken a wrong turn; we’re not meant to be here
We look around us and go into fear
as our compass resets and the road on the map shows
we must follow this path along where the river flows
Through a forest of Grief, this pathway we see
widens and intersects—which to take so we’ll be free?
One road leads to the flatlands, which go on for miles
there is nothing of interest it seems that will bring back smiles
The other has a roundabout with three roads just around a bend
Guilt, anger, and acceptance; oh, when will this journey end
Choose one, for the only way through is to openly mourn
So many people have traveled here long before you were born
Each has found his or her own way out and you will too
You will leave this land behind to face life anew
The climb back is steep; let me lead the way
I know you doubt, “How does she know?” I hear you say
For I have traveled through here some time ago
I got to claim my prize, Grief’s Gifts and I’m now in life’s flow
A review of your journey will show where you’ve been
glimpses of your growth, goals, and purpose all seen
We are all here to welcome you back for we know you are worthy
You’ve been gone for a while on your own a Hero’s journey
Whenever we get back into the river of life that flows through us all,
We’ll take comfort—we have our map and are ready if we fall
into Grief’s Abyss for we know
The Wheels of Samsara turn; the cycle of life continues
….It is the loss of what is loved
With any loss change can be expected. Any change whether good or bad will affect how you are feeling. It is important to know that with loss, there is a period of grief that can be anticipated. It may mean your hopes and dreams are dashed and there lies a death. However, as the events from last week in the US unfold – change is a certainty. With uncertainty it is normal for fear to enter the picture.
No one relates changes to the process of mourning and grief – letting the old go. This is what is happening and it would appear that I am not alone with my feelings of grief. There appears to be a collective force gathering and they have been making their voices heard. Will this grief grow, possibly, until these confusing, emotions being experienced are recognized as grief – grieving the loss of what was. For most experiencing these emotions they just want to be soothed and comforted.
Resistance to what is
It is normal to feel resistance to change, why because the familiar is your security blanket. Imagine a small child who has lost its soother or favorite blanket – they become upset and are only comforted when Mom or Dad step in. It is no wonder we are seeing this acting out now for there is no one out there to give us our blanket back.
Alas, as adults there is no voice of reason or comfort coming to alleviate those fears.
Just as a hurt animal lashes out, a survival mechanism kicking in to protect. I guess it is a human one also. Judging with what is happening in America right now.
Who is there to calm our fear?
Yes, I am talking about the US election but only for context here. The country is both elated and in despair – love and fear are polar opposites. What we see is a great country imploding if the leaders can’t bring the two divides together. Who and where are the mediators, the voices of reason?
Remember the death of Princess Diana, the British and the world was visibly upset and in mourning. It took the Queen, the mother, the soother to step in, to steer and support those grieving. They then had one thing in common – their collective grief and it was given a voice.
Recognizing grief emotions
The feelings of shock were felt around the world recently after month upon month of denial. The collective shock is wearing off, having done its job (to protect). We are waking up to face what has been lost. Anger is now surfacing in face of what can’t be changed and blame is rising. The collective fear is rampant – fear always arises when the known is unknown (good fear is there to keep you safe and aware). Guilt and shame can arise and be thrown into the mix or emotions, their job is to alert us to what we may or may not have done – nothing more (not as punishment).
It is possible that these emotions will cycle around and around until the courage to look and understand what is being felt is found. Despair and depression are likely candidates to follow or worse Apathy –where caring ceases.
This is what grieving is about in response to a a loss.
What an opportunity for all who are grieving, to reach out, come together and for mutual support and guidance. To explore and come together with a common understanding of what it is that has been lost. To discover what would make you feel secure again and take back your security blanket. You can and will, once you have acknowledged and understand what your grief is about. This then is an opportunity to learn and grow and take your own power back; to find your own inner peace through acceptance. This is how you can make changes for the better.
What will you choose?
This is a process and you will get there if you allow yourself to go through the grief, for now is a time of mourning. A time for reflection not action. That will come once your head has cleared and clarity returns. It can start with you. Let love return not fear.
When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.
Acknowledging and Forgiving
We have reached that part in our journey; for it is possibly time for you, too, to accept the person has died. If we can’t yet accept it, we can at least acknowledge that it has happened and the person is not coming back. With acknowledgement we, too, must note we are being changed by grief. When we look back, which we will do in the next chapter, you will see just how much change and growth you have experienced. The old life you had, with its certain routines with your loved one, has now gone. That path has reached its end. With acknowledgement, you can now choose your new path and start to rebuild your life.
Acceptance versus Resistance
By not accepting our grief, we are, in fact, holding on to something that we cannot change. We become resistant. We hold on tighter and stop the natural flow of the grieving process. Instead of resisting it, we need to ask ourselves why we are avoiding it. Why and what purpose is this serving? It is in the asking where the answers can surface. The answer could be fear and guilt or fear of the future and what your life will be without the person, or guilt that you did not love the person enough because you associate moving on through grief with a lack of genuine love for the deceased.
Letting go off Resistance
It is not the person you are letting go of; it is all the negative thinking that goes with holding on to the grief. Imagine if you will that it is you who has died. Would you not want the person to move on and find happiness and joy for their life once again? Of course, you would; so why should you feel guilty about trying to move past the sadness?
It is completely the opposite; by letting go, you are actually showing greater love. You have trust and faith that your loved one will live on in your memories and they will not be forgotten. Letting go is letting go of the resistance. This is what keeps us stuck and prevents us from growing. Evolution has made us this way. We need to adapt to our ever-changing environment or we will become extinct and die, too.
Breathing through your Pain
We need to learn to breathe through our pain and not resist it. An old adage says, “what we resist persists.”How true it is. Birthing mothers receive instruction on how to breathe deeply and slowly and how to pant through the pain. When the contractions are at their strongest, the mother can use her breathing to go with each one and be in tune with the natural flow and rhythms of birth. To go against the flow with each contraction would only make them more painful. Just like a woman giving birth, if we resist the pain, it will persist and intensify. So, breathe through your resistance to find out what truly is holding you back.
Acts of Surrender can Free you
Acceptance and letting go of the resistance are actually acts of surrender. You are no longer fighting the flow of wanting to swim upstream. You can become peaceful in that moment. The fight to hold on has ceased. The act of surrender can free up all that energy that was being used to hold on. You will feel lighter and freer in doing so. Will you try it?
Acts of Forgiveness Heals
Sometimes you can accept things, but, at times, there is still something holding you back. It is called forgiveness. During our lives, the person who died may have said or done something that hurt us and now that they have left, there is no opportunity for them to apologize or for us to forgive them. Maybe they did not apologize because they never realized they hurt us. I know for many of you, perhaps forgiving them will not be acceptable to you, but for you to have closure, know forgiveness is part of the healing process. It is much harder to forgive someone for a transgression than to ask for an apology. I can ask because I know what it feels like to finally forgive someone. It also feels amazing to apologize for something that I may have done or said to them. It is like wiping the slate clean. It removes any traces of old, stuck pain which can then free you.
Acts of Choice – sets you on a New Path
Forgiveness is another way in which we can make peace with the past. We have all said or done things that we wish we had not. The good news is that it is never too late to forgive or apologize. The best part is that you never have to say it in person. By choosing to forgive another is another way of letting go of what you think should or should not have happened. It does not mean that you condone their behaviour or actions. It means that you are no longer going to remain a victim, a victim to your thoughts or beliefs. Forgiveness is a decision to let go of anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge. Forgiveness can assist you in not holding on. For holding on to grudges can lead to strokes, kidney disease, heart failure and even death.
I got to see this firsthand. My dad held onto grudges. He had kidney problems and did die of heart failure and cancer. For that reason alone, I am choosing to forgive on a daily basis!
Practicing Forgiveness in 10 Words
I am using the Hawaiian Forgiveness Prayer Ho’oponopono. For more information on this simple prayer’s power, please see Joe Vitale’s book that he co-authored with Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len called Zero Limits.
There are four phases to it:
Please forgive me
I love you
You can say them in any order, but Vitale believes in saying them silently to the Divine (of your understanding) is the best way.
Do you want to be right or Happy?
Perhaps if Dad had realized the powerful hold his grudges had on him and the damage they were doing to his body, he may have opted to forgive everyone. Again, do you want to be right or be happy?
Remember these words
“Father forgive them, for they know what they do” – Happy Easter
Searching for happiness is a common theme these days. A whole industry has been built around this desire. Could this be this answer? Underlying the loss of happiness could grief be lurking? Many of us, myself included are searching for happiness. Happiness is our birthright and a natural emotion. Just watch a young child. They may laugh and end up crying all within a short time space. Children know how to release their emotions and when they do, happiness returns. It is the grownups who shut them down.
Loss comes in many packages and many unrecognized losses go undetected because of unawareness. It is known that when there is a death in the family grief will enter and happiness will leave for a time. Did you know that many other losses can have the same effect?
Here is a list of just some of the many losses you may have had over time and unwittingly stuffed down any emotions you felt. With each loss, a piece of happiness may have been removed. It may not have been convenient, the loss you felt was trivial, one not recognized by our society or even frowned upon. There are many reasons to discount.
How many losses can you add to your list?
(not listed in order of importance):
Loss of a relationship
Death of a child
Left country of origin, with loss of family and friends
Death of family member or friend
Death of a colleague
Large layoffs in company – you get to keep your job
Loss of baby before term
I feel certain you can add others.
A 3 day workshop addressing Grief
I recently attended a 3 day workshop on grief and many in our group also didn’t recognize that these losses can result in feelings of grief. Many in our group had come to the workshop, not because they were going through grief themselves but to learn more from a career perspective. What they and myself learned was that we all could add many of the above to our list. The exercise we did allowed us to see these losses in different stages of our own lives. If it can happen in a group of 22, can you imagine how many people throughout the world have unexamined grief due to a loss (es)?
Our emotions are energy and if not released can get stuck and may cause depressions or other illnesses within the body. One counsellor reported that under PTSD, drug and alcohol addictions, grief was the underlying cause.
I have learned that Grief requires much inner work, where as mourning is the outer such as wailing, crying or sobbing. Stuffing in emotions is certainly not the answer and neither is trying logically thinking our way out.
Please take time today to recognize what you may be silently grieving and do your inner and outer work. You will be so happy you did, for happiness is sure to return. Unsure how to do this. Connect with grief organizations and they will be happy to assist you.
There is so much unresolved grief out there. Connect with them or connect with me for a 1:1 at reconnect-from-grief.com
In the meantime, don’t fear your emotions, you will find they are your best friends and guidance.
Grieve well my friends – until Happiness returns
Here is a link to the Bereavement Families of Ottawa www.bfo-ottawa.org