Q&A series: How do I explain to my Children?

Helping Children Grieve – Children and teens of all ages feel the loss of someone important in their lives. See how you can model handling grief and provide age-appropriate activities designed to help you communicate. Take back the time you have with your children. Most of these ideas are tech-free. Easy and inexpensive, they will bring healing to the whole family. 

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If someone significant in your child’s life dies, it is important to realize that children grieve differently than adults. How we help them depends, in large part, on the age of the child. It might be a parent or grandparent loss, another family member or even the death of a friend or classmate. No matter how young or how old a child or teenager is, the loss will be felt, and there are ways to help.

Tell your child what he or she can understand. Honesty is the best policy here because often classmates or adults will mention something within a child’s hearing that is shocking news. Babies and toddlers may just need extra hugs, for while they will miss the person who died, they are too young to understand what death means. Children do not need explicit details or lengthy conversations. This article, “10 Questions Children Ask about Death and Dying” may help you prepare.

The news is best given by the person who is closest to the child. Calm explanations for a loved one’s absence may need to be repeated at different times, always with reassurances that the child is loved and will be taken care of. Hugs and continuing support for all ages will help, but some older children or teens may prefer to talk to friends, write in a journal or connect with other kids going through the same emotions. (See Kidsaid link below.) Give your child time, and let them know you are there whenever you are needed.

Modeling ways to handle grief yourself can go far in teaching children and teens that it is okay to cry, okay to play, okay to take care of self. Follow these suggestions yourself. Find support, and make sure you have private time when you need it. It’s fine to let activities continue if your child wants to participate. If you need more time before resuming your normal routine, ask a trusted friend for help in getting your child to school, birthday parties or sports activities.

You and your family can get through this time of grief and mourning. Your life has changed with the loss of someone dear to you, but you will become stronger as time goes on. You will be able to face the challenges ahead.

Here are a few resources:
The Dougy Center (The National Center for Grieving Children and Families)
www.dougycenter.org

Childmind (Coping with a Parent’s Suicide; also teacher and Spanish resources)
www.childmind.org

​Kidsaid.com (from GriefNet.org and a place where kids can get support and interact with each other)
http://www.kidsaid.com/index.html

Jan McDaniel creates projects for survivors of traumatic loss through Way For Hope. A former journalist and educator, Jan never expected her personal grief to lead to writing about suicide for people all over the world, but that is exactly what happened. Her greatest tragedy became a hope-filled mission to help others through the devastation that follows this kind of traumatic loss.

Thanks Mom!

I’m pretty lucky; I’ve got an amazing mom!

My mom married young and it’s probably a good thing she did. She’s had an awful lot of life to pack into her years of being a mom and she shows no sign of slowing down.

My mom made it very clear when we were growing up that she had very high expectations for all of us. Her expectations didn’t relate to jobs or what she expected us to earn in the way of finances. It had to do with the way we were expected to treat one another and anyone else we happened to come across. Heaven forbid if you were caught bad-mouthing someone or being nasty just because you could. While my mom gave the best hugs in the world, there was no escaping her gaze and tongue when we were out of line. As she always managed to be very eloquent there was never any doubting just what needed to be adjusted in our attitude. And then it was over, never one to hold a grudge, when something was fixed it was over. Whew! I’ve always wondered why more people don’t operate that way.

When I was growing up, my house was where everyone gathered. My parents had finished the basement of the small ranch house we lived in. There was a fireplace, jukebox, and a ping-pong table. All were welcome and my mom made sure you knew it. You were fed if she thought you looked hungry, scolded if you were out of line and hugged…well, just because she thought you should be. I won’t go into the times friends were handed sweatshirts because my slender mom was always cold, if she was cold you needed a sweatshirt. There was no point in trying to escape any of it, my mom would hang out with us and she knew what you needed, regardless of whether you knew it or not.

When I got married and had children of my own, my parents became the chief baby-sitters. My kids loved it! There is nothing they wouldn’t do for my parents. One of my sons is coming to visit next month and he has already made arrangements with my mom for doing a few yard chores. He can’t wait to hang with Grandma!

Now my mom is a great-grandmother. Those lucky little girls are learning all about being chased for a hug, playing in the dirt in the backyard and curling up in Grandma’s lap for a nap. Knowing it’s the safest place in the world to be.

My mom has been a great role-model and I suspect she will continue to be for quite a few years to come. While she retired a few years ago, she shows no sign of slowing down…I think she may have revved it up a bit, she’s on the go all the time, busier than ever.

Thanks, mom for all that you taught me. When I make my own boys crazy I point to you and tell them it’s all because of you, someone has got to take responsibility!

You’re the best and we love you,
Sandy

Smile to Feel Better

One of my favorite movies is ‘Mary Poppins’, I’ve watched it countless times and I always tried to get my kids to watch it with me while they were growing up. Of that entire movie, my favorite scene, hands down is the scene where Uncle Albert is floating around near the ceiling laughing. You see his laughter has literally lifted him up! As the main characters watch him, they begin laughing, it’s so contagious that very soon they are all hanging out near the ceiling, telling awful jokes and having a jolly time. It makes me smile and begin laughing even to think about it. Of course, the song they sign is ‘I love to laugh’.

I’ve got to agree! I love to laugh, it makes me feel fabulous. Sometimes I swear that my mind is absolutely determined to make me smile no matter where I try to take it. For example, the other day I was participating in a group meditation. The atmosphere was quiet and peaceful. The woman who was leading the meditation had a calm, soothing voice. I was expecting an ” ohmmmmm’ experience. Didn’t happen. Instead, I had a really tough time repressing outright laughter. I kept seeing cartoon characters, speeding along, hopping and even poking out from the trees. It was absolutely delightful! I’ve never had so much fun during a meditation, I could hardly wait for the next time.

While it’s true that I smile, giggle, chuckle or even belly laugh when I’m happy, I also try to do one or more of those things when I’m not happy. Invariably it lifts me up, somewhat like Uncle Albert. It seems that I simply cannot stay depressed, angry or horribly sad if I smile just a little bit.

I’m not trying to say that a smile will take me from a wrenching sob to euphoria, but it will help me to feel incrementally better when I’m ready to make that first shift. If I need to express that sadness or grief than I stay away from old Abbott and Costello movies or Donald Duck cartoons. They change my mood very quickly.

So, what does this have to do with Reiki or holistic life coaching? Actually ,it goes directly to something I chat with each and every Reiki or coaching client about, and we do it during every single Reiki or coaching appointment. It goes right to self-care.

I am responsible for taking the best care of me. No one else can ensure that I eat right, exercise enough or de-stress so that the top of my head doesn’t come off. That’s my job. I’m the only person who knows when I need to have some quiet time, take a nap or visit friends. I expect my husband to respect what I tell him I need, but it’s my job to take care of me first.

Part of taking the best care of me is getting Reiki on a regular basis, speaking to other life coaches supports me as well. But everyday I need to laugh. It’s an absolute necessity for me. If I’m feeling low it lifts me up, if I already feel good, it helps me to feel terrific.

I raised my boys with the message that no matter how low they felt, a smile would make them feel better. In fact, I do recall that there is actual research that supports that theory. Love that!

So, for this week, I encourage you to give it a whirl. What have you got to lose but the blues? My favorite thought when I’m trying to muster a grin? I think of a sweet four year old child, trying to tell a knock-knock joke. Invariably they burst out laughing before they deliver the punch line. Just thinking of their gales of laughter always brings a smile to my face as well. Go ahead, give it a try. I bet you’re smiling already.

Namaste,

Sandy

Frustration

DSCF0524The theory is that as a holistic life coach and Reiki master, I won’t experience frustration. Yeah, right.

There is a situation with someone in my family that could easily drive me nuts. The particulars are not really all that important. Regarding most issues, I only add my thoughts if they are solicited. This is really a hard and fast rule regarding my children, especially since they are all grown and have every right to make their own decisions. When I keep my opinion to myself until it’s actually asked for, they give it more weight, take it more seriously and actually ask for it quite often.

So, why am I having such a hard time keeping my yap shut this time? This person is simply dragging his feet, refusing to act on a matter that could affect his finances for the rest of his life, and not in a good way. It’s not that he doesn’t have options, he does and they are readily available. He’s simply not taking any action.

If I were my own life coaching client how would I handle this as my coach? Well, I’d probably start by asking a few direct questions.

Q – What is it that you think you can resolve by constantly bringing up this
situation.
A – I would like to motivate him to take positive steps toward resolving this
situation.
Q – Do you have the ability to change the outcome of this situation?
A – No
Q – Is it your responsibility to handle this situation?
A – No
Q – Have you expressed your concern in a calm, rational manner to the person
involved?
A – Yes
Q – What is likely to be the affect on your relationship if you keep bringing this
up this subject?
A – He will stop asking for my advice regarding other situations.
Q – In general, is he responsible? Does he handle his finances and other ‘grown up’
responsibilities well?
A – Yes, he’s generally very responsible.

That last one just wrapped up the question and answer session done for me. The fact is that he is a generally responsible young man, and even if he weren’t, my forcing my opinion on him will not assist him to learn more responsibility.

The truth is that I am the one bringing on my own frustration. I have explored options with him, shown him the benefits and the drawbacks, now it’s up to him to make the decision that is right for him.

I truly have no way of knowing what is in his mind and heart. And it’s none of my business even if I did. It’s time to trust, back off and relax. Sometimes we need to allow others to make mistakes on their own. If he makes a mistake regarding this situation it will be something that he has to deal with, but it may well prevent him from making a much larger mistake in the future.

So, having worked through this, I feel the frustration melting away. I will trust him to make the right decision for his highest good. I have asked him if he minds my sending Reiki to him to help him to make the decision that will serve him the best and then let it go. He’s agreed and I feel as though I am doing what I can to assist him without interfering.

Truly, that’s the only option I have anyway.

My wish for you is that you are able to take positive action steps to change situations that are yours to change. And that you are able to relinquish those that were never yours to begin with.

Warmly,
Sandy

Wonderful, Wonderful Day

Saturday, May 2nd was the date for our first Reiki Healing Circle for Special Needs Children and their families and caregivers.

To begin with the weather was lovely. Here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin you don’t know what to expect in early May. Even a snowstorm is a possibility, but instead we were blessed with a day that was sunny, warm and just delightful.

The purpose of this free monthly event is to offer Reiki to special needs children, their families and their caregivers. As co-founder of this event I’ve been blogging about it frequently, posting to social networking sites and emailing people that I know. I felt sure that all of these wonderful contacts would bring in the Reiki practitioners and families to make this a success. That’s just what happened. I started getting a call here, an email there from people I had never met, we had a connection and it was wonderful.

Reiki is energy healing; as such it is not limited by distance or space. Meaning that Reiki practitioners did not have to be in the room to send Reiki to these families. Likewise, while families were certainly welcome to attend in person, they did not need to attend to receive Reiki.

In the end, there were thirteen Reiki practitioners in attendance. One Reiki level I, 4 level II practitioners and 9 Reiki masters. Several others could not be in attendance but set the intention for all of these families to receive Reiki and ‘sent’ from their distant locations. Two families with special needs children were able to attend in person, we sent distant Reiki to 3 other families. The love and energy in that room was awesome to say the least. I didn’t want to leave. Finally I did need to move on with my day, but I have to say, the feeling of love, caring and Reiki energy stayed with me for the rest of the day and the next as well.

I would like to offer my most sincere thanks to the families who attended. Please know that each and every one of you will be sent Reiki from now on with love and gratitude. To my Reiki friends, new and old I send my love and gratitude. I knew you wouldn’t let me down, that you would step up to the plate for these deserving families, but I could not have dreamed of the response that was received.

I know each and every one of us participated in this event with the desire to give back to our community. We wanted to offer what we could to these very special families. But I have to say, I think we got at least as much as we gave. The hugs I received from these families were worth every second that I’ve devoted the past several weeks. In fact, just thinking about it allows me to feel small arms around my neck even now and brings tears of joy. I know I got the better end of this deal and can’t wait to participate in this event every month.

If there’s a lesson here for the holistic life coach, it’s simply that when we give from the heart, we always get much more in return. I feel humbled, honored and blessed to have been able to share the wonderful gift of Reiki with these families and with my Reiki friends. I’d say that I got an awful lot in return for my time.

Wishing you a week spent giving to others, you’ll enjoy fabulous gifts in return.

With love,
Sandy