Have you felt like you’ve been on a rollercoaster ride, emotionally, lately?
My kids are now home due to COVID. So, aside from that, and all the other things come with life, work, and business, I’m tired. And, I know I’m not alone.
One thing that I’ve found that has helped me not to lose my marbles lately is taking at least 45 minutes every morning for myself. Every weekday, I do a workout. Periodically, I give myself Reiki. One day this week, I also journaled. The point is, taking time for my body, my heart, and my mindset has dramatically kept me from lashing out in frustration.
How often, though, do we go about our day without making our body, heart, and mindset a priority? How often do we lax on our self-awareness and go about our day mindlessly? A lot.
I recall many times throughout my life, where the littlest things would set me off. This response is not uncommon to us when we feel as if we’re on an emotional rollercoaster. So, how do you suppose this quick-to-anger, being easily poked by the bear – way of being is impacting your life, work, and business if you have one?
Back when I had my first business, I was struggling in a lot of ways emotionally. I was having physical symptoms, including unexplained body aches, headaches, and hair loss. Also, I had or have never been diagnosed with anxiety. However, since having a better understanding of our energy, I look back in hindsight and recognize that the physical angst I would often feel was anxiety. Even today, when my thoughts start to tailspin around overwhelm (which I’ve come to learn is due to lack of prioritizing) and the future, I begin to have episodes of heart arrhythmia and feel like I could jump out of my skin. Again, I don’t know if this is what anxiety feels like to those diagnosed, but this is when I know I am out of energetic balance.
I’ve come to understand that grief and energy go hand-in-hand. I do feel that is why Reiki found me after going through the grief recovery program and starting to unravel the years of emotional dis-ease I had carried.
When I look back on the years when I first joined the workforce at 14 and onward, I recognize (with new awareness) what emotional dis-ease (i.e., grief) has cost me. There were many jobs I never applied at because I didn’t feel like I had a snowball’s chance in you know what of getting the job. I also got so scared about the future, finances, and all the things when it came to college. I spent a weekend in a dorm when I turned 18 to pack the car and leave before ever giving myself a chance. I gave up on myself before I even tried. And, all because of fear and money.
I did not trust myself. I did not understand intuition and how to tap into it. I always looked to the external for affirmation that I was doing the right thing or looking for permission or just someone to tell me what to do. It was this confusion, and yet, also a knowing that I could do hard things that led me to join the military. If money was the problem in attending college, well then, I found my solution. What I didn’t realize was that I still had to pay that money upfront (which, I believe, is still the case).
I’ve learned to become resourceful through struggle, but I’ve also learned how to be resilient. That said, it’s taken me decades to dig in and tap into how to utilize my resourcefulness and resiliency. You see, when we’re emotionally suffering, it’s often difficult to see potential and possibility – in ourselves. Our minds become a fog of illusion that we’re okay and fine. However, if we take a birds-eye view of our life, we often see that we have blocks that keep us repeating the same self-sabotaging behaviors. Or, we become hyper-focused on performance, results, and outcomes – all the while neglecting ourselves and those we love (hello, burnout)!
Below is a rundown list of all the ways, I believe, emotional dis-ease creates blocks and hinders our progress in life and business. These are ways I self-identify with, and I am sure there are many more I haven’t thought of that I could add. If this list resonates with you, I’d love to hear from you! I’m curious if there are others I haven’t included that you found to be true for you?
The Ways Emotional Dis-Ease Impacts Life & Business
questioning/second-guessing every decision or difficulty making decisions
seeking outside validation/affirmation
unable to see other perspectives
lack of discernment
money drama – money comes, money goes // lack of growth in account or savings
quick to anger
difficulty connecting with others
feeling like others are out to get you // victim mindset
lack of self-awareness or not conscious of your physical body // desire to “numb-out.”
The more of these that resonate with you, the more likely you’ve got some emotional weeds in your heart garden that need some tending and pulling. With each weed we pull, we’re clearing out space for more beauty to enter and unfold in our lives.
There is hope on the other side of all of this. I’ve been having some wonderful conversations with some incredible healing hearts for my podcast, Grieving Voices. And, these guests have proven this to me over and over. There’s no such thing as joy or sorrow – the two co-exist within a matter of moments of each other. However, when the scales tip further one way than the other in a way that doesn’t sit right with you, then you have a choice to do something about it.
There is no timeline for healing emotional dis-ease. However, how much time are you willing to give sorrow? How much of your life are you ready to gamble? We all reach a point where we get sick of our own crap. My friend, that’s when the magic happens. That fire in your belly for wanting more for yourself and your loved ones – it’s the stuff that dreams are made of, and we often give up on our dreams before we give ourselves a chance. We often don’t think there’s hope.
Take your life by the horns, my friend. It’s waiting for you. Will there always be painful and challenging things that put a boulder in your way? Of course. Life isn’t a fairy tale or movie. But, why write the final chapter before you’ve lived all the chapters in-between? Resiliency is learned through experience and growth, a by-product of suffering. I don’t care which way you slice it. It’s just some people are more willing to allow the unfolding than others. Fear and resistance keep the rest stuck in the past.
The future will not be found in the past. It took me 30+ years to discover this. That said, our pain often becomes our message. And, maybe that’s just a part of my walk here on earth. I don’t know. As a podcast guest stated recently, “I feel more awake now than ever.” And you know what, this woman lost her 17-month-old son suddenly. A loss I cannot even fathom. So, please don’t take it from me; tune in to the podcast and hear the stories of hope for yourself—just incredible stories I am honored to share with listeners. I feel so inspired by their faith and trust in what is possible for them. And, for a time (like myself), they didn’t see it for themselves, either.
There are gifts of grief (i.e., emotional dis-ease/suffering). Get empowered by what is possible, regain emotional control of your life (and body), and watch that list above fade into the rearview.
P.S. Need a lifeline of hope? Reach out to me. Here to serve and create more healing ripples in the world.
Carrying grief is exhausting. It ripples into every corner of your life, dimming our light and brightness along the way.
Grief is a burden we all shoulder, and despite the passage of time and positive thinking, we are unable to bury it or wish it away.
And many of us do not even realize this load on our shoulders; causing us to snap at our loved ones and reach for food, alcohol, and other crutches to numb and pacify ourselves for a short time.
Grief is not spoken about and because of this, we don’t even realize how it is preventing us from living the life we desire to lead.
Have a listen to my guest appearance on Michelle’s Podcast in preparation for this workshop. This is a great conversation where ample examples are given of the different ways grief presents itself.
My beautiful friend, Michelle Marsh (Aromonosis Coach + Facilitator, Podcaster, Writer, and Natural Living Advocate) is bringing me into her community to hold a Grief Healing Aromanosis Experience. With her expertise in the area of hypnosis, aromatherapy, and holistic wellness, and mine in all things grief + reiki, we are bringing our hearts together to facilitate this very special healing workshop.
Is this workshop for you? If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you may already identify yourself as a griever. If not, I encourage you to check out my podcast, Grieving Voices, where I offer bite-sized, weekly grief education.
Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss or any change from what is familiar in life. It is the emotional response to change. It can be defined as a feeling associated with the things we wish might have been different, better, or more in any relationship. Whether it is with a person, a pet, a job, an educational experience, or even a place of residence doesn’t matter. Grief can be a result of unmet hopes, dreams, and expectations in any relationship as well.
The Ways Grief Manifests
Some people find that the confusing feelings that grief generates interfere with sleep, while others find it challenging to get up and function after waking up.
Some people find that they feel sad or cry over things that never seemed to bother them before.
Many find themselves longing for that relationship lost, and others find, especially when they discover that friends seem to be able to offer little meaningful help, that they lose some of their ability to trust others.
Some find themselves easily irritated, while others do not have the energy to feel much of anything.
For some, the memories leading up to and including the moment of loss overshadow all of their fond memories of that relationship.
Simply stated, grief can be overwhelming! Just as overwhelming can be the labels that are put on grievers and the advice that they are given.
To gain FREE access to the LIVE workshop, enter your details below and I will send you the Zoom link on Monday, September 14th. The workshop will be at 7:00 AM CST on Tuesday, September 15th, 2020. My friend, Michelle, is located in Australia, where it will be evening. No worries – by signing up, you’ll receive the recording! However, if you can make it LIVE, it is highly recommended. 😉
GRIEF HEALING EXPERIENCE
Please join me, Victoria, and Michelle Marsh of MichelleMarsh.com.au, as we take you through a grief healing experience. You get the best of both worlds; an Adv. Certified Grief Specialist + Reiki Master, along with Michelle, an Aromonosis Coach + Facilitator + Holistic Wellness Advocate as your guides.
You may also want to receive, The Unleashed Letters, a weekly e-publication where Victoria shares content not shared anywhere else + her deepest, darkest secrets. Okay, not quite, but you do get to see "behind the curtain" of her heart, to speak.
Awesome, friend! You're in! On Monday, Sept. 14th, you will receive the Zoom link to join us LIVE on Tuesday, Sept. 15th at 7 AM CST!
Your privacy is taken seriously, because, I hate spam, too.
You can learn more about Michelle and her Aromanosis Membership HERE. For questions about the Aromanosis Membership, email Michelle directly.
If your days have been feeling as though they’re all running together – know that today is FRIDAY! Woohoo! I hope you can find some joy this weekend.
If you feel like every person you cross paths with is cranky, rude, or negative – know that their emotional gunk isn’t yours. But, it may help you feel better to continue to be you. Don’t dim your positivity for the sake of making the other person feel comfortable. I’ve been on the other side of this. I’m sure you have, too. You’re in a cranky mood, and someone you speak to is just full of smiles and joy and, you wonder to yourself: “How can you be so damn happy all of the time?” And, you know what? It’s more of a reflection of ourselves. We can project our joy onto others, or we can project our pain.
And, I realize that’s the difficulty. I’ve written about telling the emotional truth about ourselves many times before. Yet, here I am saying that if you’re feeling negative, not to mention the emotional truth about yourself- not to project it onto others. However, there’s a difference between telling the emotional truth and treating others poorly because we feel – emotionally deficient.
We will not always be happy – about our life situation, the state of the world, a decision that’s been made, our health, the weather – you name it. However, if we can acknowledge, within ourselves, that which isn’t working, feeling right, or aligning our soul with joy, and meet that hurt within us with compassion, then we are more equipped to share the truth – without mistreating others in the process.
As we start to work through our emotional stuff (and continue to do so), we are less affected by others’ emotional dis-ease. And, I can tell you, I am much quicker to recognize now (because I keep applying grief recovery to my life) when I am a projector of the negative. I have learned that that’s when it’s time to step out of my head and into my heart, and know where there’s emotional work to do. As a result, this makes me a happier person – in my skin and to be around.
Life is for learning. When you feel like you’ve messed up – apologize. When you feel like you’re at your breaking point – step away, take a break, and hit the reset button. Ask yourself what you can do in the situation rather than focusing on what is out of your hands (I’ve been doing my darndest to put this one into practice as of late).
We are in community with each other whether we like it or not. So, rather than fret over others whom you can’t change, fret over a situation that’s frustrating the, you know what, out of you, and being frustrated with yourself – hit reset. Sometimes, we need to be alone – not in community with others, to do just that. When we’re in each other’s spaces, we’re also in each other’s energy. You’re doing the best you can steeping in everyone’s energy. But the most important person’s energy you need to pay attention to – is your own.
I know it’s not easy these days to manage our own energy either. I had been struggling with this, too. And, you know – I gave myself Reiki. True story. I gave myself Reiki before bed a few nights recently, and despite having fewer hours of sleep, I had better quality sleep. Another thing that feels like a reset at the end of the day? A shower. Yup. Sounds silly, as the majority of the people I know typically shower in the morning. However, I prefer to shower at night. You literally wash away the stress of the day down the drain and crawl into bed, feeling refreshed (and reset).
So today, I want you to pat yourself on the back that yes, you are doing the best you can. And, I hope this helps you to reflect on your energy and the energy of those around you. How is the energy of others affecting you? How is your energy affecting those around you, too? When I feel good, I influence those around me to feel better, also.
Even if it may seem annoying to others who project their pain on others (because they’re not tapped into their energy and their impact it has) – work on a reset for YOU. This reset is the best thing you can do this Friday and throughout the weekend, before the start of a new week.
Set the intention today for a fantastic weekend, regardless of the chaos that may be ensuing around you. Turn off the phone if you need to. Get a hotel room or an Airbnb by yourself for a night, if you need to. Take a drive on the backroads, or in the country, and photograph what you find along the way. Take a lawn chair and sit by the lake (or the ocean) and steep in the stillness.
Reset for your energy (and your mindset), so you can continue to do the best you can! And, if you need help with an emotional reset for life, reach out to me. I know the program that’s perfect for doing just that. 😉
P.S. Are you looking for support for a grieving child in your care? I am looking for four participants to walk through the NEW online group program, Helping Children with Loss. We meet on Zoom only four times – once a week, for no more than 2 1/2 hours each time. And know that there’s lots of material to cover. You won’t be a silent listener (bored out of your mind) as I lecture each week for four weeks. It’s participatory and engaging content, where you interact with others in the group, and learn some new skills and tools to utilize for the rest of your life. This program is prevention, so whether you’re a parent, daycare provider, social worker, school faculty, a child therapist looking for more knowledge around grief specifically, or work in the foster care/adoption system – this program is for you – the adult. The first group will be offered at a discounted rate, which will allow me to make sure all of my systems and processes are correctly in place and that there aren’t any hiccups—interested in learning more? Please email me at [email protected] or message via the Contact tab.
I look forward to sharing this amazing program with you – for the better of the child(ren) in your life!
In this episode, we dig into why this is and, you will learn:
How grief cuts us off from our intuition
Impact of belief systems
The root of unhappiness
8 unhelpful, often hurtful, ways society responds to grievers
Next week, the six myths of grief (and misinformation) will be revealed.
Are you wanting more content like this? Head on over to Instagram or Facebook where I share more info just like this, and say hello!
Victoria Volk 0:08 This is Victoria of the unleash tart calm and you’re listening to grieving voices, a podcast for hurting hearts who desire to be heard. Or anyone who wants to learn how to better support loved ones experiencing loss as a 30 plus year griever. In advanced grief recovery methods specialist, I know how badly the conversation around grief needs to change. Through this podcast, I aim to educate gravers and non Grievers alike, spread hope and inspire compassion towards those hurting. Lastly, by providing my heart with the ears and this platform, Grievers had the opportunity to share their wisdom and stories of loss and resiliency. How about we talk about grief like we talked about the weather. Let’s get started.
Hey there, welcome to this week’s episode where I will be talking about why and how grief keeps us stuck. If you didn’t catch last week’s episode, I discussed really define grief in probably a definition that you’ve likely never heard. So if you miss that episode, go back to that. And this is the second episode of a, what I think what will be a 10 part series we will see. I there’s so much I would love to share. So, it may be more than that, but I’m planning 10 episodes of education around grief.
So let’s get started talking about how and why grief gets us stuck, or keeps us stuck rather. In our brain is our intellect like our mind is our intellect. And if we think about like I often think about like my own intuition is like just not necessarily in my brain. Not in my mind, but kind of like, this intangible force that’s kind of out there in a way like it’s, it’s like it’s the deepest connection to my spirit that I feel – is when I feel like I am fully tapped in to my intuition. Now you might be thinking, what in the world does this have to do with grief? And I’ll get to that, but more than you may think. So, we have our intellect, we have our intuition. And then we have within our whole our hearts, our grief energy, right, within our bodies is this emotional energy that we tend to store. Because as you’ll learn as I as this series goes on, we either implode or we explode as a result of our emotional energy.
For today’s episode, I’m talking about how grief actually cuts us off from our ability to tap into our own spirit and our own intuition to this force that opens us up to our, our potential. Really, by the time we are 15 years old, we have received more than 20,000 messages of how to deal with grief. And you know, the reason why I’m so passionate about this work is and why I’m so passionate about education around grief is that it touches us all, first of all, and it starts in childhood; caregivers, parents – it starts with us at home, to send the messages that are positive and supportive and to be open to allowing children to fully express themselves. And, not labeling those emotions or whatever as bad or negative or what have you. Because all feelings are valid. All feelings are valid. So, if we consider that, we experience loss, on average statistically, every nine to 13 years; we are bound for grief like, we are born into this world as impending grievers. Right? We – there’s going to be grief. And because all relationships are unique, our feelings around the relationships are unique. You know, it’s our recovery is also unique.
Getting back to like the intellect aspect, and how we try to, first of all, you cannot heal the heart with the brain. Because if we think about our minds and our intellect, we are always right. Like, we always feel like we are always right. Because we have this belief system that has been ingrained in us, by the time we are 15. By the age of two to three, we’ve received 75% of the messages and information about grief. And by 15, we’ve received the remaining 20. And so we got 95% logic, right this, this internal logic and belief system, and then there’s this like 5% that is our intuition and our spirit force, like the guidance system that is within us, but when we resort to our intellect and logic, it’s this automatic critical response. And we’re always going to feel that we are always right. And so when it comes to grief, we will intellectually look in the past and 10% maybe fun memories 90% maybe regret. And if we’re not in the present moment, we might be in the future, right? 10% we might be planning 90% we might be worrying.
Unhappiness comes from an attempt to be in any moment, other than the present moment. That is what emotional jail is. If we are unable to live in the present moment, and that’s what grief kind of steals from us. It just it either keeps us in the past, ruminating and stewing on the stories, mostly with regret, and other other feelings that get wrapped in with grief or we’re looking to the future. With worry of what’s to come of, what if this? What if that we receive more education about simple first aid than we do about death, divorce and any other emotional loss?
There over 8 million Grievers every year, and 14 million pets die every year. And we have been taught how to acquire things, but not what to do when we lose them. My point overarching message in this podcast episode is that grief is about a broken heart, not a broken brain. So we cannot heal the heart with the head. Because it’s the wrong tool for the job. It’s like trying to paint with a hammer. It just it makes a mess. We need to stop these intellectual connections from overpowering our emotional truth. Right? It comes back to that – to the, to our brain box, to our, our minds, our belief system, our logic. And so when we translate this to – why is this keeping me stuck? When you’re focusing on the intellectual and you try and talk to others, you try to communicate about your grief to others; you’re communicating to another griever. They have their own belief system. They have their own automatic critical response. They have been cut off themselves from their own intuition because of their grief. They have received their own messages by the age of 15. They’re stuck in their own past of regret or fond memories, and worry of the future and likely are not living in the present moment either. And so we have these expectations of how another will respond to us. But expectations are planned disappointments.
What we get back as feedback instead are these intellectual responses that aren’t helpful and unintentionally, are hurtful because they don’t understand what to say. They’re afraid of our feelings. They try to change the subject. They intellectualize. They don’t hear us. They don’t want to talk about death; also professional distortions, you know, where medically you go in – you’re having some issues, feeling depressed. They want to give you a pill. I can speak to that, you know, when I had postpartum – let’s, let’s give you a pill. It’s grief.
And then there are those two that just want us to keep our faith right? But faith and feelings are two different things. Grievers need to be heard. They don’t need to be fixed. But because of all the messages that we receive in our childhood. Because of the education we receive about everything else other than grief. Because we have our own intellect, in our own grieving experiences that we haven’t dealt with many of us, is it any surprise then that we approach others in their grief, with logic and with our own lens of what we see in their grief? You know, we try to relate but that, trying to relate, only likely creates more pain for the person.
We cannot hold space and be there for somebody grieving if we have not allowed ourselves to grieve either. The capacity at which we are able to hold space and be a heart with yours is a direct reflection of our own inner work that we have done for our grief experiences. In my experience with grief, 30 plus years, I only in the last year, have felt this inner knowing that I am on the path that I’m, I’m supposed to be on. I feel like the next steps are literally shown to me, as I’ve been working through my grief and the various relationships that have felt incomplete for me or have been emotionally incomplete. For me, it’s allowed me to fully tap into my spirit, my intuition, my force, if you will. That’s, I think, when you really know you’re starting to heal. But, it’s just the beginning, right? Because this work doesn’t end because we always will have loss in our lives.
I hope this episode shed some light on why you may be stuck in your grief. Hopefully you gleaned some nuggets that will get you thinking. Because having an awareness around our emotional truth is when we realize that something needs to change. So I thank you for listening today. Next week, I will start to dive into the myths of grief. There are six of them. I have not decided yet if each one will get its own episode I yeah, not sure yet. So we’ll see. But I hope you tune in for that. Until next time, take care from my heart to yours. Thank you for listening.
If you liked this episode, please share it because sharing is caring. And until next time, give and share compassion by being hurt with yours and if you’re hurting know that What you’re feeling is normal and natural. Much love, my friend.
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. – C.S. Lewis
As I was looking for an image for this week’s blog post, this one “spoke” to me, and I knew it was the one to drive the message home. You see, grief isn’t just in the run-down parts of town or a part of the child with the torn and tattered clothing. A grieving child could be sitting alone, watching other kids play from afar as they sit alone, feeling excluded.
Grief can look like the child with the “cool” clothes, the beautiful home, and on the “right” side of the tracks. How you see this little girl in the image, surrounded by shambles, could be exactly how she feels on the inside while living, presumably, her “best” life.
Adults often fail to see the sadness behind a child’s eyes. Or, if they do, they turn away from it because they’re uncomfortable and don’t know what to say or what to do about it. Today, this post is for you. And, I’m going to draw out today’s message from my own life.
I grew up in a lower-class home. My dad worked at a cement plant, and mom worked as a dietary aid in a nursing home. Although we lived in a new house, it didn’t look like any of my friend’s homes. We had an unfinished basement, small bedrooms (one of which I shared with my older sister), and little furniture and furnishings. We had just enough of what we needed, no extra, and definitely no excess of anything. However, we had many happy times and memories. It didn’t matter to me that so and so had a bigger house (with air conditioning), newer cars, their own rooms, new clothes, or anything else I did not. But, I recognized it. Growing up, getting my ears pierced, a new dress, and often, a home-cooked meal, were a treat. And, when I got older, I realized how “cheaply” that new home had been built, with its drafty windows, cheap siding, and weak foundation.
Then, death (and trauma) walked into my life. And everything changed. My sense of security, safety, and trust was gone. These are all of the components that make a house a home. And I didn’t feel safe. I didn’t feel secure. And, my ability to trust people would create such a divide in my life between sadness and joy, that it would take me another 30+ years to repair.
All the while, I was the quiet one – unless I was crying. I became a people-pleaser. And, I learned that crying in front of others makes them uncomfortable or angry, so it’s best to cry alone. And, I did – a lot. I’d hide in the kitchen cupboard to cry. I’d fall asleep crying under my bed. I’d squeeze into the linen closet to be alone to cry. I was such a sad child, and I had no way to express it – to anyone. Nobody knew what to do with me. I was a misunderstood problem. I felt like this little girl, in the photo, feeling like I might as well had been in a house of shambles. The world around me felt like this.
My saving grace was my sister, one reliable friend, and that same friends’ mom – who always welcomed me into her home as if I was one of her own. In their home, I felt safe. And, in their home, I ate with a family.
Economic status, social class, and appearances can all be deceiving.
Grief does not always stick out like a sore thumb. In fact, it’s in the “underbelly” of nearly every home across America (and the world). It does not show up as one particular, specific way either.
If we were to look at each other as the grievers we all are, there would be a lot more compassion to go around in this world. If we were to look at the “problem child” as a griever, it would change how you interact with them, don’t you think? Anger is a mask for grief. Many children are wearing it, too—I happened to wear mine well into my 30’s. I was an angry teen, and I had every right to be angry. And shocker, angry children become angry adults. There was so much change in my life, in a short time, and I did not have a way to express what I was experiencing safely. I know, without a doubt in my mind, many other children grow up this way, too. The adults in our lives don’t know what to do, what to say, or how to offer support.
We venture into adulthood with the wounds of the past. These wounds trickle into every aspect of our lives. – Victoria V.
As an adult, do you…
have a hard time trusting people? Perhaps you were sexually abused as a child; your mom/dad abandoned you, or you grew up in the foster care system?
have a difficult time making decisions? Were you allowed to make your own choices growing up, or did everything you say or do aim to please others and keep others happy/keep the peace?
find yourself bouncing from one relationship to the next? Did you grow up with an example of how healthy relationships should look? Were you abused by an adult male as a child/teen/young adult or grow up without a dad? Or, if you’re male, did someone other than your biological mother raise you?
feel stuck in your life, know you’re not living to your full potential, and feel like life is on auto-pilot? What happened to you? What are the losses (related or unrelated to death) you’ve experienced throughout your life?
Recognizing grief in our children is prevention. Once grieving children become adults, there’s no way to know how grief will impact their lives. This blog post today is my plea to you to open your eyes and your mind that grief is society’s pandemic – always has been and forever will be. Unless we educate ourselves, and the adult caregivers/caretakers work on repairing their hurts.
Grief makes us feel like we don’t have choices in our lives. And we do. It took me so very long to learn this. So long, that I have grief around that knowledge. However, doing this work and making grief education my priority is how I’m channeling the emotional energy I have around that fact. Not to mention, utilizing the tools I’ve learned to process all that I cannot change in the past. So, today – I can live fully and wholeheartedly – unleashed.
How to Help a Grieving Child You Know
Go first. For a child to trust you and to feel comfortable opening up, you must share first. And, you must tell the emotional truth about yourself, too. Do not give promises you cannot keep, give replies that you don’t know as fact, and dismiss the fear the child shares.
Validate. Validate. Validate. By not criticizing, analyzing, or judging what the child shares, you are validating the feelings they share. When you do criticize, analyze, or judge, you’re sending the message that what they’re feeling is wrong, incorrect, or unimportant.
Think before you speak. Before you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, you won’t know how to answer, take some time to think, in advance, about the questions that may come up. When thinking about the situation the child is in (if you know), consider the questions, in advance, that may be asked, and how you would answer those questions. For example, going back to school, your child may be concerned their teacher will contract Covid-19 and die. So, they ask you if their teacher is going to get sick and die. How will you answer that? Likewise, they may be concerned they’ll bring Covid-19 home and give it to you, their parent/caretaker, and ask if you’re going to get sick and die? And all of the other questions that will come along with that scenario. And there are many. Whether you are a teacher, parent, foster parent, caregiver, babysitter, aunt, grandma/grandpa, etc., think about what is going on in the life of the child and get everyone that child interacts with, on the same page with how to reply to Covid-19 (or whatever the situation is). But, don’t forget about telling the emotional truth.
Listen with your heart. Often, the things that make children fearful or sad don’t make much sense to the adult brain. And, the feelings of the child don’t have to make sense to you. Step out of your head and into your heart when communicating with a child (whether they’re 4, 12, or 18). Instead, ask questions to understand rather than to respond. Try to figure out what the root of the fear, sadness, or anger is. Sometimes, it’s about the least obvious thing.
Help the child find choices. Grief robs us of the feeling of having choices. I felt, for many years, that my life was going to be one filled with sadness for the rest of my life. I didn’t feel empowered, I definitely didn’t feel supported, and this led to me struggling well into adulthood. In the scenario of Covid-19 (and potential of getting sick), where a concerned child questions you (the parent), you could share how you’re doing all the right things to prevent that. You don’t know how it will affect you, but thank them for loving you and being concerned and tell them you love them, too—expressing that you take care of yourself so you can take care of them – then demonstrating that if that’s what you share. Honestly, my kids are the reason I give two craps about exercising or taking care of myself. Few people actually love exercising. However, if our motivation isn’t relying on the scale, pants-size, and instead, is given a more significant meaning in our lives (like staying alive long enough to see your kids have kids), then nothing else will motivate us. I don’t want my kids to grow up without a mother, so I get my yearly skin checks. I get my 5-year colonoscopy, and I do my best to maintain a healthy weight. It’s not for me – it’s for them. Because when you know what it’s like to grow up without a parent, your perspective on life and parenting changes. And, my kids were also why I sought something to help me emotionally be a better parent for them, too. I want them to grow up knowing that no matter what life throws at them, they always, always, have choices.
The obvious, participate in thein-person (once restrictions are lifted) or online four-week group program, Helping Children with Loss.
What do you think? Does this blog post resonate with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or message me!
Do you have a grieving child under your roof and struggle to help them? Right now, I am preparing for the launch of the Helping Children with Loss online group program. I am looking for eight participants to be the first to experience this fantastic 4-week program with me at a discounted rate. I want to make sure all of the online kinks are worked out, gain some comfort with delivering the material and start sharing this program at the end of this month. We meet weekly, once a week, for four weeks and typically on a weekday evening. However, I am open to a Sunday evening, too, as I realize schedules can be crazy with school starting soon.
If you’re interested, email me at [email protected] or use the contact form and put “HCWL program inquiry” in the subject line. Eight slots are the max! Parents can take the program together; however, each parent will pay the reduced rate. Email or message for more details. And, share this with someone you know. Again, the Helping Children with Loss Program is PREVENTION. In our current times, there is plenty of grief going around. If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, foster parent, foster program, lead a head start program, etc., I hope you thoughtfully consider this program. I am looking to share this with those programs I aforementioned, where an entire staff of eight could become educated on this topic and utilize this for CEU’s.
Take note of all of the feeling words in the tree of grief. How many you’ve experienced throughout your life?
I imagine you’ve experienced all of them throughout your life.
Recently on social media, I had a request to address the feeling of sadness, which was prompted by the reader referencing the blog post, How to Own Your Feelings, which was published back in May (Mental Health Awareness Month).
I needed some inspiration for this week anyway, so it was perfect timing. That said, if you ever want to learn more about a particular aspect of grief, or want me to dig more deeply into a topic already covered, please don’t hesitate to share with me! I’m open to all requests!
Why do we feel sadness or any number of feelings shown here in the tree word cloud image?
The root of sadness is, you guessed it, grief.
There is no timeline for grief. Often, when we hear this, we may think in terms of the long-term. However, what about short-term grief as well? You don’t have to be a (nearly) life-long griever like myself to identify yourself as a griever. And, there is ZERO SHAME in identifying yourself as a griever. When your life patterns have changed due to Covid-19, lose a home in a fire or a job (or don’t get hired for the dream job) – there’s grief as a result.
I’ve mentioned this definition (or description) of grief given to us by The Grief Recovery Institute many, many times. However, I’ll repeat it if you’ve never come across this definition before.
Grief is anything we wish would be different, better, or more. And, it’s also the net result of the loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations.
The words in the image fall under the umbrella of one word – GRIEF. In a nutshell, the root of all of these feelings is grief. And, when we start to look at all of these feelings as such, we can begin to apply new knowledge and tools to process them.
You may be thinking, “But, no one died; I’m not a griever.”
You do not have to experience the death of a loved one to experience grief. Go back and re-read that definition again.
You may feel hopeless, depressed, or anxious after being diagnosed with a chronic illness such as diabetes.
You may feel fear, stress, and anxiety about the future if, like many are this weekend, graduating from high school or are about to embark on a transition in life.
And, when you add in the fact that we are all in relationship with others, do you think that others may project their feelings onto us as well? Do you believe that we may struggle to have a relationship where we fully feel seen, heard, and not judged, criticized, or analyzed for the feelings we have?
All of this to say, this is why I am so passionate about education about grief. Relationships and lives depend on this education. That may sound dramatic; however, if I were to share some stats with you on child grief, as they relate to the A.C.E. Study, you’d be shocked. Or, the stats of addiction, homelessness, or broken homes – you would agree that grief is, and always has been, society’s pandemic.
We should all be concerned with grief because it is a social, economic, and health concern.
So, what do we do about this?
Acknowledge what we’re feeling to ourselves, so we can then tell the emotional truth to others.
Seek knowledge and tools on processing these feelings in ways that individually resonate.
Look at your belief system. What were you taught about these feelings? Did you learn that feeling sad was a bad thing? Or, that the only solution to depression is popping a pill? As a child who experienced trauma or loss, did you act out in anger and were applied the label as a “problem child?” We all know if we’re told something enough times, we start to believe it, right?
What behaviors are you participating in that is a way to distract yourself from these painful feelings? What behaviors do you want to change, so you can improve your life – emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually?
We all grieve something or someone; therefore, we are all grievers. When we start to look at each other in this way, we see each other differently, too. We recognize that, as humans, we do have a lot in common, regardless of the boxes we check on various applications we fill out.
Grief does not discriminate. And, heart to heart, we shouldn’t either.
Thank you for the suggestion, dear reader. At the beginning of this post, I almost wrote on a similar (but different) topic. So, next week come back for the blog post The Mind-Body Connection. I’ll have a personal story to share with you.
Until then, look out with eyes of compassion. We’re all struggling with something.
P.S. Next week, I will be receiving training for The Grief Recovery Institute’s new program they’re rolling out online – Helping Children with Loss. It’s a 4-week/session, online GROUP program. I am so excited to get trained and offer this program online. As a grieving child and now grief specialist, I know the importance of addressing grief in children. This program is PREVENTION. This program is perfect for parents/caretakers of grieving children, Foster programs, School administration, Head Start Programs, Military families, etc.. These are a few of the ways I would love to spread this program. If this is something you feel your children or children in your care need, please get in touch via the Contact tab.
P.P.S. Check out this blog post previously referenced. Scroll down, and you’ll find a FREE Feelings Chart to download – no details required. 🙂