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.
New Closed Facebook Support & Mentorship Group
Finding Life After Loss is an online support & mentorship group to show you the healing power of grief and the ways it reconnects you to your life. The purpose is for you to begin seeing and believing what is possible as you journey to find your new life after any loss.
By joining this group, you’ll have an opportunity to learn and understand the grieving process and how to navigate through it. Each month a different topic of information will be presented through our Facebook Live sessions to offer you this guidance.
With the knowledge you’ll gain, the guidance and the support you’ll receive within the group will soon have you finding your inner harmony and joy that is currently eluding you.
Your Membership Includes
Personal workbooks, tools, and tips are available within the Facebook group. You’ll also have an opportunity to practice the new information as we move through each topic presented. The information material is available in the membership area and can be downloaded before each session. These are yours to keep.
Within the group, there is an opportunity for live coaching during the Q & A’s and if you have any questions, these can be posted ahead of time or during our Q & A time together.
The Sessions Themselves
With each monthly Facebook session, you will obtain new knowledge and gain personal insights around the subject of grief and how to move on. Each session is 1 hr long and via Facebook Live. Two weeks later there will be a monthly Q & A session.
We will be discussing a different topic each month. A small sample of topics covered is listed below. If at any time you have questions or concerns about where you are in your journey or what is coming up for you, you may post in the group or directly to me. The site is monitored and I will be able to help you with your questions and concerns.
- Looking at Grief Through the Lens of Change
- Tools & Tips for Painful Thoughts
- Your grief Wheel – How Does it Work?
- Finding Balance – What it Means to You
- Understand the Neutral Zone
- Physiology of Grief & Its Effects
- The Critic Within & Its Sabotaging Ways
- New Beginnings – Working Towards
- Finding and Discovering Your New Life
- What Matters Most & Creating a Plan
Discover the Benefits
By joining and actively participating in the group, you will realize the many benefits which include but are not limited to:
- Understanding and belonging, friendships and feeling supported in the closed Facebook Group
- Learn how being supported and not isolating helps your healing journey
- Discover the grieving process and how it affects you, gives you the knowledge that helps to lessen your fear
- What grief and guilt are about and that they can diminish when you understand them better
- Discover how changing your thoughts and beliefs you can bring about healing sooner
- Find out how to lessen the resistance and allow for your healing journey
- Know what can hold you back and receive tools to show you how to move through sticky moments
- Connect to yourself fully through the exercises and tools you will receive
- Learn what your needs are and why it is important to ask or know how to get your needs met
- When you learn not to fear death you discover how to live a much fuller life
Who is This Group For?
If you have experienced a loss and are struggling to cope; you are not actively grieving but life feels dull and grey. You are unsure of what to do next? Your life has come to a crossroad. You have difficulty making decisions; frequently feel overwhelmed; perhaps are struggling at work or it no longer holds your interest. Activities that brought you joy no longer do. You’re tired of feeling drained or being constantly sick; family and friends are telling you it is time to move on; You know there must be more to life than this.
I have recognized and valued the support and mentorship I received when I experienced loss followed by the intense and sometimes distressing emotions and feelings that are lumped together in one-word Grief.
There is much misinformation circulating and being passed along that isn’t helpful and you’ll discover for yourself why it isn’t. Society has ill-prepared us for when death, divorce or other losses are experienced. Often it is this misinformation that can keep you stuck in your grief.
Through my health background in nursing and grief coaching I saw how the body is capable of miraculous healing, so why not in healing our grief also?
I believe no one need suffer for years endlessly isolated and made to feel like an outcast by family or friends because you are still grieving.
Here you will find like-minded supportive people as you navigate your journey through grief.
Interested and would like to join?
If you are ready and want to understand and discover a healthier way to move through your grieving time, please sign up now for this monthly online support & mentoring group Finding Your Life After Loss. You can do at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an opportunity for you to get support, be seen, be validated and acknowledged for who and where you are in your journey and be with like-minded people who are compassionate. This is a no-judgment zone.
Your investment is $47 monthly and you can cancel any time. You can join in at any time, the information is available together with the online video’s right on the Facebook group site. You can work at your own pace after the information has been presented.
Interested but are unsure whether this is right for you or you have further questions? Then please get in touch and we can discuss this further. Email me at email@example.com
I look forward to traveling with you as you journey and discover yourself and Your Life After Loss.
Thank you and here’s to your new beginnings, full of infinite possibilities that will take you to your independence and freedom.
12 Helpful Tips to Help You Cope
Good Grief its Christmas time indeed. I’ve prepared these 12 tips to help you survive the holiday season. This is the last thing you want to be facing when you are grieving. I’m sure you just want to pull the covers up and go back to sleep until it is all over. Even worse, the stores are in full-blown Christmas, mode. Happy, smiling people on TV commercials every five minutes with familiar Carols on every radio station, it’s impossible to ignore the season. The countdown is on to party time, bright lights and having fun.
Normally, you too would be among friends and family enjoying the frantic beauty of the season. This year you are dreading the season, especially now you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one. My heart goes out to you. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one at this time of year. Both my parents passed away in November. Even though it’s extremely difficult, you can survive the holidays. In this guide, I’ve listed several things that helped me to cope with my losses and it’s my hope these tips will help you, too.
1. Accept Where You Are. Just for now
If you’re experiencing grief, late November until the beginning of a new year can be very difficult. It’s a challenge for everyone to navigate, especially when you are grieving, it can feel like climbing a mountain. You may have noticed that your energy is low and it’s hard to get enthusiastic about anything during the holidays.
Everything seems like such a chore. You may find it’s hard to stay focused. These are all normal feelings for anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one. You may already dread facing the biggest holiday in the calendar year without that special someone. If you had your wish, you might just hibernate until Groundhog Day in February.
While hibernation may not be possible, choosing to skip the season with all the emotional triggers and potential pitfalls could be an option for you.
It is great that you have at least noticed your emotional state and for now, perhaps you could accept these feelings just for the moment? By not accepting how you are feeling and pushing through anyway, you may experience even more pain and anguish.
Just know it’s natural to have thoughts like “I have to be brave” or “It’s expected of me. I always host”, or “The house always looks so wonderful, how can I not participate this year?” These thoughts can send your flying into planning mode and then you may totally exhaust yourself long before the big day. You may even create arguments with family members or friends because you are frustrated, hurting and overwhelmed.
Grief work is exhausting and its main function is to stop us in our tracks so that we’ll take the time to deal with our emotions and reflect on our loss. In today’s fast-paced world this is a lovely dream but often it’s far from our reality.
Grief is about a broken heart and not a broken head. This is why we can, at times, push through using the sheer power of our minds. Your heart hasn’t caught up to your head. Your heart needs time to process. Your heart isn’t in the task so you will find yourself pushing yourself using sheer mind power – and this is exhausting. Instead of muscling through, stop, take a deep breath and settle your mind.
You may still be outwardly mourning and please know this is normal, most especially if your loss is a recent one. You want things to remain the same because there is comfort in routine. The feeling you are experiencing could be fear which can cause your resistance to the many inner changes brought about by a loss. Just know that by resisting you are holding on to the past, which is only natural. After all, who really enjoys change? However, accepting that there will be many changes may be helpful. Perhaps guilt is holding you back.
If you feel it doesn’t seem right that you should be enjoying yourself or even laughing and having fun when you’re loved one has just passed away please know this is normal. Many in grief have expressed the same sentiment. But if you think about it, wouldn’t your loved one want you to laugh and have fun? It is hard on the body to be constantly sad and grieving. Laughter is a way of balancing the body’s emotions. Give yourself this gift. Laugh when you feel like laughing. It will release some of the tension along with some natural endorphins.
Regardless of where you are in your grief process, perhaps this is the right moment to sit down and relax. Start by taking a few deep breaths in and out. Begin by sitting for at least five minutes. Find a quiet place with no distractions. This will bring your mind into the present moment and once it is focused there you can start to think more logically and plan how Christmas will look like for you and your family this year
2. Make your Christmas Season Plans
Have your calendar handy and look ahead at how you would like the holiday season to unfold. Armed with this information, you can move through the season with less pain and anguish.
If you always host Christmas dinner, decide if you want to continue to do so. Perhaps ask another family member take over just for this year. If that is too much change, then start by discussing your thoughts with other family members. They may be having similar thoughts and this way you can support each other through this tender time.
Consider Scaling Back
You may decide to scale down the decorations. Perhaps you would still enjoy this activity but on a much smaller scale. Decide if it will make you feel better or worse. Try to be honest with yourself and don’t feel guilty about whatever choice you make. You may decide to hold a decorating afternoon with a few family members a few weeks before Christmas day to help you from getting too overwhelmed or tired.
Once you have a better idea of what you would like, you will be able to start taking small action steps each day to make it a reality. You will know once you begin, just how much energy and desire you actually have. Know it is okay to tell the family if you are unable to do the tasks you thought you could do. Ask for help.
Should you decide to host, you could ask some family members to come early on Christmas day to help you with the meal preparation. Even better you could ask who would be willing to cook certain items of the meal. It may be hard to give up control of the meal this way but it is just for this year. Accept the additional help.
The hardest decision of all will be whether or not to set a place at the table where your loved one used to sit. Again it is much better to decide what you would prefer before the day. Discuss this concern with your family. Doing so will put you and your family members at ease. If you chose not to set a place, you may want to mention the deceased by name before the start of your dinner.
Your family may hold back from wanting to mention the person for fear of upsetting you. Don’t worry – mention them, it will be such a relief to you and your guests. The unspoken has now been spoken and everyone including you can relax.
3. Choose a New Tradition
As you plan for the holiday season, take time to recall if there was a specific thing you did with the person who has died. It may be this thought that is holding you back from wanting to make plans. Perhaps it was the tree you chose together or decorating the tree together. Recognizing the activity that made it special for you and your loved one will help you avoid a potential trigger point.
Allow yourself to feel this emotion and when you have finished, decide if there is a new tradition you could now create for yourself. Perhaps you could buy a readily dressed tree. This could help save you much time and energy.
Speaking from personal experience, going to the Candlelight service on Christmas Eve with my family was the tradition that held the most emotion. The year my Dad died I found the idea of attending the service just too emotional for me so we didn’t go.
Instead, we spent time relaxing rather than rushing our supper in order to get to the service. It turned out to be enjoyable and much more relaxing for us. We created a new tradition. So give yourself permission to try something different instead, something that will work for you.
4. Ask for Help
Much of this has already been covered however it bears repeating. When you are in grief, your energy is not optimal and you may find most things, even thinking, can exhaust you, especially if the loss is recent. Even after many years, the holidays can still hold emotional triggers so be kind to yourself, recognize your limitations and ask for help.
It is such a gift to those who have already volunteered when you do call on them for help. This is the perfect opportunity to do so. Make sure you ask them well ahead of time so as not to be disappointed. The holidays are a busy time for most of us, so, it is important to make your plans early in order to see just what help you need and who could potentially help you.
Accept and allow yourself to be helped. Receive it with an open heart. Too often we close people down by shutting out their offers of help. Give yourself an early gift and them also. Remember it isn’t always better to give. I am certain you have given help so many times that you have built up a giving balance by now – it is time to redeem it. Just for this year anyway.
5. Avoid the Sugar Highs and Lows
If you decide to attend Christmas parties over the holidays, please be careful with the sugary treats and alcohol (sugar). This is hard to do at the best of times but when you’re grieving you are already on an emotional roller coaster and adding more sugar, or alcohol, to your diet could make your emotions worse. Where your emotions are concerned, you do not need the additional sugar rush to help you peak on the highs or lows because you are already doing so. Mourning has enough ups and downs.
Instead, make sure you eat throughout the day and please do not think that by not eating during the day you can enjoy more food later. When a person is grieving the body needs fuel to keep you going so don’t shortchange yourself. If you aren’t able to eat much because you just are not hungry, be sure to go easy if you have a glass of wine or a cocktail. It is not a good idea to have alcohol on an empty tummy.
Remember to eat something before you have a drink. Make sure to keep your body hydrated by drinking water. In grief, the body requires more fluid due to all the tears that are flowing. If you do decide to drink alcohol, have a glass of water in between.
6. Remove the Pasted Happy Face
You may unknowingly put on a Happy Face to help yourself feel better or to help put others at ease. Please don’t force it. It doesn’t serve you but instead prevents you from truly feeling your emotions. A Happy Face is a mask and in many instances, people around you can tell what you are feeling just by your body language. Your face and body are giving two different messages. Being authentic and true to yourself will help you move through your grief process more easily. Masking your feelings only lengthens the process.
Remember: the only way through grief is to feel it. When others ask you how you are it is much better to let them know you are not doing well. Be honest. There’s no need to elaborate but if they press you, it’s okay to let them know right now isn’t a good time and suggest another time, after the holidays, to talk. On the other hand, if you feel like talking, express yourself. This way you’re acknowledging what you are feeling and not discounting what is going on inside.
I have found by recognizing what is coming up for me, acknowledging it and giving myself permission to cry later or tomorrow works nicely. This way I can schedule in some time by journaling or reflecting and allowing my emotions to bubble up. This is all part of good self-care
7. Decide to Speak About the Deceased?
The thought of mentioning the deceased’s name can be upsetting and you may not be comfortable doing so. Your family members and guests may be uncomfortable as well and not know how to deal with the subject. Speaking about the person first will help to put you and everyone else more at ease. You will be addressing the “elephant in the room”.
Acknowledge the deceased person and invite others to do the same. You may find you will hear more stories that you were not aware of and be happier for the sharing. It could be emotional, to begin with, however, it will help you the more times you can talk about your loss. My mum and I were never good at this and in the beginning, we both avoided mentioning Dad. As upsetting as it was for us, I am sure had we decided to talk about him we would have better comforted each other, instead of being mindful of not upsetting the other.
If you chose not to speak about your loss you may find yourself feeling ill at ease and on edge in case, their name is mentioned in the conversation. It is so much more freeing to share and allow yourself to be supported.
8. Going to Parties
This may be a good year to cut down on the number of parties you attend. As mentioned earlier, your energy levels will be lower than normal. This is why planning out what you would like to do this season will help you with these decisions. It’s ok to cancel; your hostess will understand. Do not feel obliged to attend because you agreed to months ago.
Decide if smaller parties would be more manageable. In my grief, I couldn’t attend the larger parties as the mere thought of large gatherings was too overwhelming. But smaller gatherings were more manageable and it felt good to go as it was a nice change of pace.
Often in grief, we can get caught up in the guilt of “I can’t enjoy myself right now. It isn’t right”. Sometimes a change of scenery and pace can do a world of good for boosting the spirits. If you decide to attend one or two perhaps by thinking ahead you could plan your exit strategy should you feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable.
You may decide to only spend a couple of hours and have a friend make sure to check on you at a specified time. Make sure to bring separate cars or book a taxi if needed. Speak to the hostess before the party and let her know you will attend but may need to leave early and coming to find her to thank her may not be an option. This way you can safely leave with no guilt.
9. Christmas Shopping
Christmas shopping is challenging enough even if you’re not grieving. Perhaps you are the organized one who shops all year for the perfect gift for your family and friends. However, too many of us, myself included, leave it to the last month or moment. This is another great opportunity to add shopping for gifts to your list of growing activities.
You may feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of it so if this is the case perhaps online shopping could be your answer. This way you are not using your precious energy to battle the crowds or parking lots. Thank yourself for being aware of your feelings, take deep breaths. Have a cup of tea and start to plan your list of who you would like to buy for and what the gift idea may be. Go to your computer and start your shopping in peace.
Perhaps decide that you will take this opportunity to cut back and simplify your gift giving. This is what we did as a family when my Dad died. We introduced the idea of secret Santa and put a price limit on the gift. Our children are all young adults however, they are either starting out on their own or still at school so they never seem to have sufficient funds. This way we all only had one gift to buy, cutting down the stress financially and mentally thinking of and then purchasing the perfect gift for everyone.
One Christmas we decided to each name a charity and send money to them instead of gift giving. It is still lovely to have the gifts under the tree so we do both but keep it simple. I hope this will give you a few ideas.
You now have your plan, or at least, a much better idea of what action you can take each day. Don’t forget to add one action item in there for yourself. Self-care is so important and something we all need to focus on especially during times of grief.
Take time each day to do something fun for yourself. This can be as simple as a five-minute breathing exercise before your day begins, taking a walk in nature, reflecting over a cup of tea or coffee or all of the above. Scheduling in time to see your hairdresser, have a massage or pedicure can also do wonders for you.
When you are grieving, your energy is low and you will need to take care of your emotions. The urge to do nothing is always strong, however, it is essential to practice self-care each day together with some action steps. These simple actions will help you gain some control over your life and that will help to reinvigorate your confidence as you complete them.
Balance in everyday life is always a good way to live, however not easy to accomplish. This is even harder when you are grieving and are a part of the workforce. Finding ways to take care of yourself is even more essential and will help you better deal with your stress levels.
Ensure you practice doing something for yourself each day. You may feel you do not have the time, however, everyone needs a break. Take two minutes for yourself, close your eyes and slow your breathing down by taking three or four deep breaths. This alone can help you balance your stress. You may find you are more alert after you have taken a little time out.
11. Water is your friend
Drink plenty of water. This is so important especially in the early days when tears and weeping are more constant. Weeping takes more fluid from your body than you may realize. Our bodies work well on six to eight glasses of water and waiting until your thirsty is a sure sign you are dehydrated. Instead of reaching for more coffee, why not put the kettle on and have a cup of hot lemon water if you are not a fan of cold water.
If you need a sugar fix, add honey to the lemon water. Hot water with a slice of ginger can help warm you up. If you workout, you may need to add additional water just to keep your body working optimally. It is not only our bodies that require water our brains do as well. In grief, our brains can feel foggy so by not drinking enough, you could be adding to the brain fog.
Our brains cannot retain water so need a ready supply in the body to function optimally. Remember to drink and as a reminder, have a glass of water around your work area.
12. Give Yourself Permission
Congratulations! You have made it, you have your plan and you know what your holiday season and Christmas Day will look like. You have your list of who to call for help and you also have an idea of which holiday parties you would like to attend. The presents have been decided or you have a clearer idea of what your gift giving will be this year.
Now is the time to leave guilt and judgment at the door and give yourself permission to laugh and enjoy the season with your friends and family members. You will be relaxed and may even be looking forward to it instead of dreading it. You will have your wobbly moments but with your plan, you will have a way to take care of these moments. By planning ahead, you can be comfortable and relaxed knowing everything you have chosen for this year is taken care of and in good order.
One last thing: something may not go according to plan. Relax, let go and enjoy the imperfect but perfect situation and laugh. You can’t control everything.
Happy Holidays to all
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