How does anyone find some sort of life after loss? Learn to live with grief?
You might be thinking, good for those who can, but healing is not possible for me.
My story is different.
My pain is greater.
They are just stronger than me.
I don’t have any support.
Nobody understands me.
I am just too broken, there’s no changing that.
I am just meant to live this way for the rest of my life.
These are the very thoughts, judgements, and self-sabotaging actions that keep many grieving parents stuck. Thinking that nothing can change for you turns into believing nothing can change for you, stuck in the endless cycle of pain and sadness.
Even though these emotions feel like they are just a part of you now, I promise, they don’t have to be.
They do not have to stay. This is how we suffer in grief rather than live with our grief.
I want to share a 3 step 'method ' I use to help work through and process my pain and grief, a...
You know exercise is going to help you feel better.
You want that movement to change your daily attitude, your energy levels, your outlook on life.
You know those pushes are good for you, but that doesn’t make it any easier to actually take that first step to build any new habit.
So how do you start something new for your well-being?
One step at a time.
You don’t have to dive in head-first. You can slowly move out of your safety zone step by step.
Maybe today it’s just putting on your gym clothes. That’s it.
Maybe tomorrow you put on your gym clothes, go to the gym, and walk on the treadmill for a few minutes. And that’s it.
What small step can you do today for your well-being, your new habit?
Maybe it’s coming up with ideas for a new habit.
Maybe it’s finding an accountability partner.
I know that even that one step can feel overwhelming, especially if it is something you've never done before. But...
Remember, we all need breaks from what fills our everyday to-do lists. The things that pull our attention in every single direction, requires our focus, and drains our energy - day in and day out.
Just writing that made me feel a bit dizzy!
So, it’s real. We have to recharge. Even shut off awhile.
Getting good at knowing your limitations on most days is essential. Your capacity is always changing just as your grief on a daily basis can change. So maybe TODAY is the day to take some time to rest for a bit. To reset and recharge.
To flat-out take a break.
This grief, the grief work, and the energy it takes, is no joke. Hard work means hard rest, whether emotional, physical, or mental... GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO REST!
How can you recharge your batteries? What does that look like for you?
Go all in and love on your family full time…
Enjoy the weather and get outside in nature…...
Holding those tiny fingers. I was so at peace at this moment.
A peace that took some hard work to find once again after Ari died.
Some THINGS don't get better, but I believe WE do.
Do you agree?
My before Ari life -- I was in a constant battle with myself. I wasn't at peace.
I wasn't good enough.
I sought approval from all of these superficial and external sources, what I felt I needed to tell me that I was enough.
My after Ari life -- I knew to my core that something needed to change. To honor her life, I needed to start honoring mine.
I thought back to this moment.
I remembered what it felt like to have my whole family together.
And at peace.
And I wanted that feeling back. And I have a feeling you do too. So I made a choice to work on me WITH my grief. To find my true self, no matter how hard it was and still is. Know without a doubt that you are enough.
And you are so...
I thought I'd share a few strategies that have worked for me when things in life after loss haven't gone "as planned."
I've been working on getting to neutral in as many aspects of my life as possible. Thus the continued journaling, breath-work, movement, yoga, stretching - all the things (by the way, if you need help in any of these areas, please let me know! All of these helpful modalities are included in the 4:13 Method!)
It's basically the idea that I know I can self-regulate so I don't get an emotional charge around the negative aspects of life; the things that don't go my way. And trying the best I can to remember that I am not in control of much other than my decisions, choices, and where I allow my energy to go. And I do my best to handle these instances with ease and grace from the get-go.
A lofty goal when grieving.
And since I'm not quite there yet, I've had to bring out some "tools" when things don't go the way I wish...
I will never hide my grief for I will never hide my love.
Grief is a gift.
Grief is your connection.
Grief is a reclaiming of your love.
But when someone grief shames you, it feels as if a part of your body is physically cut off.
Have you ever felt invalidated?
"Shouldn't you be past this by now?"
"Hasn't it been (insert time) already?"
We question ourselves. Of course. Who wouldn't?
"Am I not doing this right?"
"Should I be further along?"
"Is there something wrong with me?"
Truth? There is something wrong. But I don't blame one side or the other. No pointing fingers. No blame game.
When we look at both 'sides' we share a few commonalities.
1. No one is schooled in grief. Now there is common sense, but often our own insecurities and discomfort trumps or blocks that awareness.
2. Feelings of pressure to hold it together or fear of saying or doing the wrong thing prevent us from speaking our...
The definition of reflection is "to think deeply or carefully about".
What we spend time thinking about is paramount.
Our thoughts shape our attitudes and eventually our actions.
After the death of a child, it is extremely hard NOT to reflect on the experiences we will miss out on, the life events we will never get to witness.
It is difficult to think deeply or carefully about anything but what 'should have been".
But this is where guidance and support to understand that it is normal to think about the opportunities and life events that unfortunately will not be, but to not stop there.
Letting ourselves feel the bundle of emotions that arise with each thought, but then the importance of letting it go.
This in no way means we are forgetting about our child.
And we never will.
I think of Ari every single day, multiple times a day. I think of her strength to survive as long as she did. I think...
Always referred to like ocean waves or the tide... ebbing and flowing.
Imagine if, instead of fighting and resisting these waves in struggle, leading to exhaustion, we just float along? What if we allow the waves to carry us where we are meant to be? Where then might it take us?
Aren't you just the least bit curious?
I know life is not what we pictured, what we envisioned, since the death of our child. The waves came one right after another, barreling down and bringing unwanted change. So we fought and resisted each one, making us feel as if we were drowning, leaving us exhausted.
Change can be scary, yes. But change can also bring possibility.
One thing we can control is the change in the choices we make to live our after loss life.
I offer you to see change as possibility, to choose one wave at a time and just float, go with what comes, see where it takes you.
This is something I practice and encourage my clients to do...
Holidays bring our losses to the surface, magnify our emotions and all the things going on inside us. We're assaulted commercially with all things holiday, it’s in every store, on TV, in ads, it’s everywhere. We know it’s coming. How do we handle this?
First, know that it's okay to hurt and give yourself permission to do so.
Awareness is key! Acknowledge that the holidays will look different then what we pictured or are used to and most likely will bring a layer of challenge. Grief takes a phenomenal amount of energy. Understanding your capacity will help avoid breakdown.
Planning ahead and communicating with your people in advance, making sure everyone understands your boundaries and perhaps the need to change or avoid traditions and plans can greatly reduce the likelihood of having to do damage control. Remember, not everyone will be grieving the same way you are grieving and that the way others will want to spend the...
I'm heartbroken she is not here, but thankful she chose us.
Thanksgiving has always been a time to reflect for me - the highs and lows, the learning lessons, gains and losses, to spend time with family, talk about the things we are grateful for, some football, give back, and food lots and lots of food.
Since Ari's death, it has been different. As much as I tried to keep it similar for our living son, it is still different. I have figured out ways, supports, tools to come to terms with the grief storm that is bound to happen around the heightened emotional holidays.
But, just because it is different doesn't mean it has to be bad. I truly am heartbroken that Ari is not here with us, but I cannot express the gratitude I have that she chose me - chose us.
I'm grateful that we were able to meet her, spend 9 hours and 51 minutes with her, bathe her, read to her, kiss her beautiful face and lips, smell her baby scent, hold her precious hands, pray over her and get her...