How can I Support Someone Grieving?

That’s a really good question, and I’m so glad that you asked. (wink)

When someone’s heart has been broken, we want to help. It’s human nature and let’s face it, you are a really good human! The problem is that we don’t know what to say or what to do. How would we? We have not supported this friend through this experience before, we’re all new at this and doing the best that we can.

– Show up. Call, text, email, drop a card in the mail. Let the one you care about know that you care. Grief doesn’t heal or go away after a few days. Keep reminding them that you care, that they matter.

– Please be patient. Shock often sets in almost immediately and can last days, weeks or even months. For some, it means that focus takes a walk and memory seems to be on an extended vacation. The one grieving may not be able to process what she is reading or hearing and may need to have things repeated, more than once. He may not remember what you told him a few moments ago. Please, take a deep breath and remember this is someone you care about.

– What do we hear or say? Just call me if you need anything. And we mean it, we really do. But can I let you in on a secret? The one who is experiencing grief may be too overwhelmed to make that call even if they are able to focus enough to determine what they actually need.  This was certainly true for me. What I did find helpful were very specific offers. So here are a few suggestions to give you an idea.

– Ask if you can mow the grass.
– Call and say that you are going to the store for milk and eggs, ask if they have a meal for supper or would they like some tea.
– Headed out for a walk? Invite the one you care about to join you.
– Offer to take the dog for a walk or the children to the park. Ask if they would prefer to join you or have a bit of quiet time.

I think you get the idea. Specifics make it easier for the one who is experiencing grief to focus for a moment and discern what they want or need.

– Say their name! Say the name of the one that is missed. Tell a story about them, something that touched your heart or made you smile. Ask the one who is grieving to share a bit more. This is a gift that will always be cherished.

– Be the back-up. When a day or event is coming up that you expect may be difficult, offer to be their reinforcement. If there is an event coming up and your loved one is considering attending, let them know that you will be there for them. Shoulder to shoulder, it matters. Talk ahead of time about what sort of signal they can give you to let you know they need to have a break or even to leave. In short, be their safety net.

– Take a deep breath if the person you are supporting is unkind or short-tempered with you. Count to 3, or 5 or 137 before responding. What does your heart tell you they intend to convey to you? This does not mean that it’s necessary for you to be a doormat! As gently as possible, in a calm and quiet tone, respond from your heart. Kindness always matters.

– Notice language. If in doubt, ask. When my son died, I realized how many people were terrified of the word suicide. Because the word is so strongly stigmatized some would whisper or avoid saying the word. For me, that was not a concern, but it might be for others. Terminology can land quite painfully for some, please be sensitive. Again, thinking about losing my son to suicide, some would use the phrase ‘committed suicide’ this never bothered me at all. But I do know and care about folks who are deeply offended by that phrase. Notice, be aware and if in doubt, simply ask what is okay.

You are going to make mistakes. Forgive yourself. The one you are supporting is going to make mistakes. Forgive them. Remember that we are all doing the best we can and let that be enough. What matters most is that you care enough to let the person grieving know that they matter to someone. That they are loved. Bless you, for sharing your heart.

Namaste,
Sandy

Grief and Healing. What do the Words Mean to You?

I only speak one verbal language, English of the American variety. The truth is that I looooove words! I find language, the nuances, the various ways that we use words to express a variety of meanings to be absolutely fascinating.

Something that I realize more and more is that phrases and words may not mean the same thing to you and me. While I find some words or phrases to be helpful others may find them hurtful. The reverse is also true.

For example, the phrase ‘You never get over it.’ I’ve been assured by more than one rather brilliant professional with all of the appropriate letters after their names that assures me they are licensed counselors, that phrase is true. Hands down, no discussion, it’s true for everyone who is experiencing grief due to death.

Each time I explained that I find the phrase absolutely terrifying! For me, it feels as though I am being told that I will suffer, hurt and never laugh again and that neither will anyone of those I love who have also experienced grief.  Ever. It feels final. A bit like being shackled and tossed to the back of a dark cave. As I said, a horrible feeling – for me.

At the same time, I realize full well that many are comforted by that phrase as they are reminded that it’s perfectly natural to have difficult moments, hours or even days long after the one they love has died.

The same phrase, but very different responses.

I often read websites or books that tell us what to say and what not to say to someone we are endeavoring to support through grief. As I read those books and those websites, I greatly appreciate the kind assistance that is offered. At the same time, again and again, I find myself wanting to suggest that those are not hard and fast rules. What feels good today may be painful tomorrow… or not.

* Forgiveness
* Healing
* Life after death

To offer just a few. I know how each feels for me, what the meaning is for me. At the same time, I am very aware that they may land differently for you.

I offer this thought, or perhaps a suggested exercise. When you are speaking about your own grief or with someone about theirs, ask how these phrases and words feel to them. Discuss what feels helpful for you and be open to hearing what is true for them in their own experience.

Yes, we share a common language. But the most helpful conversations are when we feel welcome and supported to understand one another.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

Grief to Healing

Grief is a noun. Sometimes I think about the word grief and I feel almost as though the word describes a thing, a place, a state of being. Grief. I wonder what it would look like if I could visualize it…

You’ve experienced a profound loss. It may be a person, a relationship, a financial situation or a myriad of other experiences. When we experience loss when we are faced with a profound change in our status of being. We may well feel as though we are victims. Fair enough. You are now in Grief. I visualize a sign-post designating this place.

Depending on many factors, we may spend quite a lot of time in that place without much movement at all. This is not unusual and may well be what we need at that time and possibly for a while. That’s alright, it’s where we are when we begin.

At some point, we begin movement. Healing. It can happen incredibly slowly or more quickly than we expect. We process our thoughts and emotions, we make strides along that path, through grief into healing. We are taking action. Up ahead is a new sign-post, it clearly says Survivor.

Grieving is a verb. An action word. Safe, healthy, productive grieving is taking place. So very important! As the pain is released, it makes room for healing to happen.

The Victim is now taking action, walking the path, moving forward to that new situation. The Victim is transformed into a Survivor. When I think of a survivor, I easily call to mind the image of someone who has been through something that has changed life as they knew it. They are changed, forever. The person is now a Survivor.

How would it be to deliberately continue to process thoughts, emotions, all of the aspects of grief? To continue walking that path, through grief into healing? Up ahead there is another sign-post you know.

Keep doing the work! Each step you take toward that new sign-post is an important gift of self-love that you give to yourself. And you deserve it!

Processing the hurt, finding out who you are now. Learning to love yourself in new ways and to integrate your experience. Celebrating all that you treasure from your past, appreciating your now and looking forward with joy to your future. You are evolving with every step, you are growing, you are healing.

You are a Thriver! Of course, I want to share the definition of thriver with you.

To grow vigorously; flourish.
To be successful or make steady progress; prosper.

This is you and me as well. We all begin at that same place, regardless of how we got there. Grief. As we do the work, we walk the path, together. We move at whatever pace is right for each of us. But each of us has within ourselves the ability to be a Thriver.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

 

 

Grief – What is it Anyway?


What is grief? Grief is the feeling that we experience when we have a loss. Deep sorrow and hurt. It may be accompanied by shock, lack of focus, loss of energy, feelings of overwhelm. We quite naturally think about feelings of grief when we experience loss of a loved one to death. It’s important to be aware that many other experiences in our lives can bring on the feeling of grief.

  • Divorce
  • Loss of job/career
  • Loss of home
  • End of a friendship or other caring relationship
  • Saying goodbye to a beloved pet
  • Financial or economic loss

There are of course many other experiences which can bring about feelings of grief, I think you get the idea.

All of these experiences matter and deserve our attention. At some point in our lives, we are all likely to experience grief in one form or another. While grief due to loss can deeply hurt, it is absolutely possible to grieve or mourn in safe healthy ways which support your healing.

This is important, so I’m going to repeat it.

Feeling deep sorrow and pain after loss results in grief, but that grief CAN evolve, transition and heal. You do not need to feel deep pain every day, all day long for the rest of your life. Healing is possible. And I believe that healing is quite natural.

As I focus on coaching clients through grief, I am particularly focused on those who are grieving the death of a loved one. Grief is NOT a life sentence. Our relationship with our loved one can continue, in a new way to be sure, but it does not need to end with that last breath.

I’ve heard it said many times that we don’t get over a loss. I simply disagree, I believe it is possible. I believe that I have healed from several losses. Each and every one of these people remains in my heart today and always will. However, I no longer feel the deep pain when I think of them. Today I feel love and appreciation for having them in my life.

This didn’t happen in the blink of an eye, but it did happen. And I am deeply grateful.

Are you ready to transition your relationship with the one you have lost? Are you ready to begin healing your pain and grief?

I’m ready when you are. Let’s begin today.

Namaste, Sandy

Frustration – What’s It All About Anyway?

Frustration – ugh!!

Image result for free smiley frustration

We all get wound up, ticked off, ready to blow our top… I can’t think of other cliche’s at the moment, but you get the idea. Frustration is a part of life.

Yep, it happens to me too. I’m a wee bit of a recovering Control Freak. Not nearly as controlling as I was in the past, but not totally over it either. I guess you could say that I’m in process. Ah, that feels better.

Come closer, settle in and I’ll tell you my story.

If you’re reading this blog, you likely know I have a website. www.SandyWalden.com. If you’ve visited the site recently, you are likely aware that it is in need of an update. An amazing, brilliant young man offered to re-do the site for me. But I decided that I needed to build the new site myself. This would enable me to update and change it as often as I had the inclination.

I did a search on Udemy.com, a site that I strongly recommend for amazing courses. I found one that promised to teach me to build my own WordPress site. The instructor is terrific. Clear and interesting. But I still found it p-a-i-n-f-u-l in the extreme to sit down and just do what I’m being told. I became grumpy, irritable, frustrated whenever this topic came up in a discussion. So, I decided to just ignore it for a while. Cause yeah, that will surely help.

Yesterday I felt as though it was once again time to tackle this project. Once again, I found myself frustrated beyond belief. This time I asked myself some questions.

Q – Why do I resist doing this work?

A – I really don’t want to do it alone!

Hmmm, that was a bit of a revelation. So, I sent out a message asking for someone to work with me on this project. Felt closer, still not quite right, but closer.

I received some very helpful suggestions and I decided to sleep on it. When I woke this morning, I had absolute clarity. I want a new website. I don’t want to build it myself. I do want to be able to make changes at a whim, all on my own. Now this feels good. I mean, really good.

Clarity is the antidote for frustration. At least in this particular instance. When we know what we are really feeling it can help us to discern what it is that we truly want and need. Sometimes it takes me a while to release the belief that I need to do everything on my own. To determine how much control I really want and need, and just what that might look like. As I said, it’s a process.

This morning, frustration has left the building. I find myself grateful for the irritation and grumpiness because without those feelings I would not have been able to get to clarity. And that my friends, feels so much better.

Stay tuned, the new site will no doubt be showing up very soon.

Image result for free smiley frustration

Namaste,

Sandy

 

Energy and the Penny Wall

What you are looking at – if you are looking at the picture here, is a Penny Wall. Well, that’s what I’m calling it anyway.

A few days ago my friend and fellow Serenity Community member, Andrea Lange asked me if I had ever stuck a penny to the wall using only my energy. While I’ve had some interesting experiences in my life I had to admit that up until then I had never thought of sticking pennies to the wall. Have you?

So, I asked her what we were using to adhere these pennies, some shiny, some dull to this wall in the hall between our offices. Her response shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. Energy and Intention. Do you dig that or what!?

Okay, I thought I would give it a try. Picking up a penny, I pressed it against the wall as hard as I could. As soon as I removed my finger the apparently un-energized penny fell to the floor with a quiet but very distinct thud. Oh. Maybe there’s more to this than I had considered. Andrea only chuckled a little bit; she’s a very kind and gentle woman. We chatted a bit more. Andrea’s instructions were simple, she asked me to intend that the penny easily sticks to the wall. See, feel and believe that my energy was flowing through me, through the penny and into the wall. Know it would stay there if that was my intention.

On the second try, my penny stuck. I was so excited I’m sure many of you heard me shout and perhaps felt the earth shake a bit as I jumped up and down in absolute glee. To say I was absolutely delighted by the energetic penny would be something of an understatement. Andrea stuck her penny to the wall and we both went home.

The next day our pennies were still stuck to the wall. Oh, this was getting even better! So, as I saw clients during the day, I invited them to stick their pennies to the wall. Following the instructions Andrea had shared I encouraged them to use their energy, their intention to feel, see and know the pennies would adhere, easily and totally effortlessly. I should have been taking pictures of the looks in the eyes as one person after another easily placed their penny on the wall.

All of this has a point you know. It’s a visual example of what we can and do accomplish each and every day with our intentions, using our energy. We move through life, thinking one thing and another. Having expectations that are positive or perhaps less than happy. Each of these thoughts, intentions, worries, fears, and expectations has an effect on our lives. The Penny Wall makes that pretty clear.

I think I’m going to take some fabulous colored pencils into the office and ask clients to sign and date their pennies as they put them on the wall. Just a little reminder that our energy, our thoughts, our intentions create our world.

I’m not speaking specifically about life coaching, Reiki, meditation or any other form of energy work today. In fact, I’m talking about all of these things and more. I encourage you to simply take a moment to think about how you would like your life to unfold today. What would make you happy? Allow your thoughts and feelings to flow easily, what feels good to you? Take one more look at the Penny Wall. When I tried to attach my penny using force it fell to the floor. When I gently held it to the wall and asked for it to stay, it did.

No nagging here. The coach is going for another cup of coffee and an apple. I just wanted to share my energy and intention with you. I intend to have a fabulous day; perhaps I’ll put another penny on the wall. If you would like to add yours, come on by. There is plenty for everyone.

Namaste,

Sandy