Does it Feel Heavy or Light?

Does it Feel Heavy or Light?

heavy or light

When there is a decision you need to make, how do you decide? Or, if there is something you know you need to let go of, how do you come to the decision to take action?

A simple question you could ask yourself is this: “Does it feel heavy or light?” But is that even so simple? I’m challenging this idea in today’s post, so we’ll see where it takes me.

Typically, I share my blog posts every Friday, but, this past week, I was swamped between work and prepping for a presentation. I gave my first presentation yesterday to a room of educators on the topic of grief in children and teens. After the presentation, I had some work that I needed to do and a blog post to write. But, I just didn’t have it in me. The night before, I had gotten very little sleep. I was wiped out and the week had caught up to me. Mid-week, it felt like I was also coming down with something – so far so good.

Someone had shared a photo on Instagram that posed this question: “Does it feel heavy or light?” And, it’s gotten me thinking.

Did doing this presentation feel heavy? Yes, but not in a way that gave me a feeling that I shouldn’t do it. In fact, it felt heavy because of the weight of importance I had given it. Did I feel light in the process of giving it? Yes – energized even! I was excited to share what I’ve learned about grief and, with children/teens, in particular. This talk was about prevention. Prevention is also what the 4-week Helping Children with Loss program is about, too.

Circling back to the initial question; what does heaviness feel like, anyway? I would describe it as this feeling of resistance, tension within the body, and an intuitive knowing that it’s not easy.

If you’ve thought about participating in my next Grief Recovery Group starting August 28th, perhaps it’s a feeling of heaviness that comes over you that I described?

And here’s where I take issue with this question. Sometimes, it’s the hardest things we ever do in our lives that are the very things needing to be done. Going through the method myself, I knew what to expect – somewhat, but I knew, going in, that what I was dealing with was feeling extremely heavy.

So, perhaps this question works to ask yourself if you should go out with your friends in the evening or if it’s a Sunday afternoon and Netflix sounds better than an online meeting.

A Follow-Up Question to Ask Yourself

When it comes to the big decisions in our lives, I don’t think it’s a simple question, such as described in the first paragraph, that will help you with your next step. Maybe the best next question is: “Why?”

I wanted to educate and make an impact, with my talk, to those educators. I wanted to spread the word about the Helping Children with Loss program. I wanted to challenge myself in a way I never before had. Finally, I wanted to see how I would feel about the possibility of doing more public speaking.

Had I only asked myself if doing this felt heavy or light, I wouldn’t have done it. Yesterday in my talk, I spoke about the thought and feeling process. First, we have a thought, which is followed by a feeling, which is then followed by either action – or inaction. But, it also depends on how we choose to label the thought -with either a positive or a negative. When I first considered doing this talk, I gave the idea a positive label.

Therefore, the feelings that followed were positive, too. And, the action that I took moved me in a positive direction to where I did follow through by doing the talk.

So, going back to if you’re asking yourself if you should join me in my next group, why does it feel light? Or, more likely, why does it feel heavy?

Having gone through it myself and witnessed others going through it as well, I already know your answer.

The better question to ask yourself now is why? Why are you resisting? Why are you not listening to your heart?

At the core, is the more significant, million-dollar question that’s the hardest to answer because of the overwhelm of it…


We’re taught how to acquire things but not what to do when we lose them. And we’re taught that wanting more for ourselves is somehow wrong and selfish.

Do you want to heal your heart? If so, why?

What are you waiting for? If not now – then when?

much love, victoria




P.S. If you’d like to register for the next group program in Wishek at the Wishek Senior Center starting Wednesday, August 18th at 7PM, please email me to do so at victoria [at] theunleashedheart [dot] com – or, get in touch if you have any questions. You can also message me on Facebook, too. 

The Impact of Grief on Productivity in the Workplace

The Impact of Grief on Productivity in the Workplace

impact of grief on productivity

Have you experienced the death of a loved one that is painful after several months – maybe even years?

First, know that you’re normal and there’s nothing wrong with you.

Also, I’ve mentioned it many times, but it’s worth repeating, we experience grief in more ways than the death of a loved one. Perhaps you have found yourself single again after a divorce? Whether you were married six years or twenty-six years, it still causes a change in or end of a pattern of behavior in your life, which, in turn, causes you to experience grief. Add in all of the unresolved communication, regardless of the circumstances, and it all boils down to grief.

So, how productive do you think you are when you clock into your 9-5 after you’ve either buried (or said goodbye) to the person you’ve shared your life with for an extended period of time?

Do you find yourself starting one thing, only finding yourself staring into space trying to remember your last thought, and feeling overwhelmed by life itself? The very thought of doing anything feels like a heavy burden and strenuous effort. You know your mental capacity isn’t what it used to be. And if you’re self-employed or are a stay-at-home/work-at-home parent, you find yourself in the same clothes more than one day and your personal hygiene is the last priority on your list.

Life itself feels like a struggle. It’s not day by day, it’s more like minute by minute.

Hanging on…you keep hanging on.

Grief infests every nook and cranny of our lives. We are at its mercy and our minds fight only what only our hearts can heal.

The impact of grief on our productivity is profound. We think stress is our problem. We think anxiety is our problem. But, I challenge you to consider that it is grief is often the root of both stress and anxiety.

Think about it, every thought and feeling has energy behind it. So, when we don’t know how to process our feelings and we have negative racing thoughts, there’s energy that fills our bodies. However, rather than being good, positive energy, it’s depleting, exhaustion-causing energy that radiates in our bodies, infests our hearts, and consumes our minds. If that energy has nowhere to go, it has no choice but to explode as angry/emotional outbursts, physical reactions (such as a racing heart), etc., or it implodes and we experience stress, anxiety/panic attacks, and illness. How productive do you think you are during these times? This is the fight or flight response that’s naturally within us to save us in a forest with bears, but, instead of running from bears, we’re running from our hearts calling for healing in cubicles, coffee shops, corporate elevators, or in our kitchens.

And guess what – this is completely normal and natural. You’re not crazy. You’re not losing your mind and there’s nothing wrong with you. A pill isn’t going to be your magic bullet and chase your emotions away. It may calm your mind but it’s not going to get the root of why you walked into your doctor’s office in the first place. And, I say this with respect – doctors don’t know how to mend broken hearts. They attempt to do what their education has taught them, which only reinforces what society tells all of us to do – do whatever is humanly possible to avoid your emotional suffering. Because, damn it, you just need to get over it already. And, before you know it, you’re let go from your job because you’ve exhausted all of your sick time. Or, you’ve grudgingly dragged yourself back to work and secretly know it’s too soon for you and you’re struggling to keep your head above water.

Grief in the workplace is an issue for all of us to look at and address in a healthier way because grief is a fact of life. While there many articles and books that have been published on the subject of grief, very little is available on how to deal with it in the workplace. This is unfortunate because grief can dramatically impact the work environment.

The Expense of Grief in the Workplace

In 2003, The Grief Recovery Institute conducted a study to quantify the financial impact of grief in the workplace. Recognizing that people grieve not only death, but other factors as well, we studied these hidden costs related to multiple losses:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Family Crisis
  • Financial Loss
  • Death of extended family, colleagues, and friends
  • Major lifestyle alterations
  • Pet loss Other losses

The resulting financial loss in productivity to businesses, in 2003, was calculated to be just over 75 billion dollars! The Grief Recovery Institute is currently in the process of revising and updating this study, but preliminary figures are coming in more than 100 billion dollars in lost productivity. That is an enormous figure by anyone’s standards.

How Can You Make a Difference?

Recognizing the cost is one thing, but it is quite another to offer any type of support. I’m going to approach this from two different perspectives: management and coworkers. While management sets policies to deal with workplace situation, it is the co-workers that these grievers deal with most on a daily basis.


Most larger corporations have policies in place to deal with a variety of workplace challenges. They normally have a policy setting the number of days of bereavement time off related to a death. The national standard, that is frequently mentioned, is three days, and then only if it is an immediate family member, such as a spouse, child, or parent. It is rare that they offer time away from work for any of the other grieving situations identified in the Grief Index.

While three days may allow for time to attend a service, it certainly is not enough time to recover from the emotional pain associated with a loss. The impact of the loss not only takes an emotional toll on an employee but also effects their focus and concentration, which can certainly influence their ability to do their job. Whatever their job involves, whether it be accounting, customer service or assembly line, a lack of focus and concentration negatively impact their performance.

Please understand that I’m not saying that people in management are only concerned with productivity and not the emotional well-being of their employees. At this point we are only discussing how an emotionally painful event can relate to productivity in the workplace. Adding another day or two of paid leave is not likely to make a noticeable change in this. There are other actions that can be part of the company policy that can make a difference.

Positive Actions Management Might Consider

  1. Since most grief generating experiences are unanticipated, it might be that this person receives a phone call that either takes them away from work or generates an immediate grieving response. In either of these situations, either a manager or someone in Human Resources who knows this individual need to inquire as to “what happened.” Knowing the answer to this question will give the best information as to how to make a difference.

This member of the management team should understand that they simply need to listen and not try to “fix” the situation. The Grief Recovery’s article, “Grief Support: Knowing What To Say And What To Avoid,” offers excellent guidelines on what they might say that will help, and those comments that might cause emotional damage. The greatest value at this point is in what can be offered to this new griever in relationship to workplace considerations. Depending on the situation possible actions might include:

  • Bereavement Leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Vacation Time
  • Redistribution of workload to accommodate reduced concentration or time away from work. (Depending on the role of that person in the company, it would be wise to stress to this employee that this action is temporary and is in no way a “demotion.”.)
  1. If this event will require the individual to be away from the job for any period of time, management are encouraged to ask if they might be allowed to share with other staff anything about this event. They need to explain that the reason for this question is simply to help the employee by allowing management to answer questions from concerned coworkers and thereby reduce the number of other people calling and asking what happened. Likely, this new griever will have enough to handle without fielding more calls from co-workers looking for the same information.

It would also be very positive for this company contact to keep in touch with this employee concerning how things are progressing. If the employee is away from work, this could be done via phone calls or emails. When appropriate, some of this information might then be shared with co-workers. If the grief event has not taken them away from work, these continued contacts can help insure that the griever and the management team have an open line of communication, from which they both can benefit.

  1. If this event is the death of a family member, there may be a standard policy in place to send flowers or a fruit basket as a means of offering support. For many, this is well received, but for some it may seem an empty gesture. A better policy might be to inquire if this employee would prefer flowers, a memorial donation or food for a family meal. This type of offer allows for customizing the gesture to that employee’s specific needs.
  2. If possible, it would serve the company well to offer an “in-service” for that employee’s co-workers on how to offer the best possible support when the griever returns to work. Advice, based on that previously mentioned article on what to say and what to avoid, could prove very helpful. It’s often the case that people have so little knowledge on this subject that they say things that add to a griever’s emotional pain after the loss, rather than reducing it.
  3. Most companies would rather retain a valuable employee, than lose them. Since The Grief Recovery Institute’s studies have shown that employees are often less productive when dealing with an emotional loss, this can create problems in the workplace. If a loss of productivity is noted, it would be wise for companies to have support resources available. This might be in the form or having an established relationship with a Grief Recovery Specialist (cough, cough, I know someone!) or having a staff member trained in grief support services.

Co-Worker Support

There are many ways that co-workers can provide support after a grief causing event. Primarily, they need to understand that grief is not just related to a death. Every major change in life can be a source of grief. Once again, that article, “Grief Support: Knowing What To Say And What To Avoid,” can be a very helpful tool in providing both verbal and non-verbal support.

While it is pointed out in the article that asking, “what happened?”, is a positive question in most situations, if this information has already been shared with them by management, it’s not something that everyone else needs to ask! It would be far better for these co-workers to begin a conversation with the comment, “The boss (or whoever) told us what happened, do you want to talk about it?” In asking this, co-workers are acknowledging the “event” and offering the griever the option of sharing more or simply expressing any feelings they might have about it.

That article points out that while there are many positive things that might be offered to help this new griever, any suggestions on how they should or should not feel about this event are things that need to be avoided. Likewise, if these co-workers have experienced similar losses, they need to understand that telling this new griever that they “know how they feel” is not helpful on any level, since we each respond differently to any given loss.

Another thing that should be avoided it talking about “The Stages of Grief.” While many people have heard about these so called stages, or grief process, they offer a griever no value in actually dealing with the emotional pain that they are experiencing after any loss. More than anything else, suggesting that they must go through these stages creates elements of confusion that often prevent them from taking valuable positive action to move beyond that pain.

Every work environment is different. Some people work for large corporations, while the vast majority of people work with just a few other employees. It’s difficult to create guidelines that will work in every situation. The goal is to point out a few basic things that can be used to the best advantage in as many situations as possible.

Perhaps the best thing that anyone can do, when dealing with grief in the workplace, is to offer the new griever information about The Grief Recovery Method as a means of taking grief recovery actions for themselves. This program is a step-by-step approach, an action based program, for dealing with the emotional pain associated with loss. It recognizes that people never “get over” a loss, but with the proper information, they can learn to survive and thrive in spite of it.

One Final Thought: Don’t Be “Captain Obvious”

Also, to show your support, it is a loving gesture to share my contact info in a [non-analytical, non-judgmental] way. A griever may react defensive, because, in society and more often in some communities, asking for help is looked down upon. If you share my info, simply say: “I see you are hurting. Here’s Victoria’s contact info; she is certified in grief recovery.” That’s it. Shut your lips after that. A griever doesn’t need to hear your reasons why you think they need help. They already know, in their hearts, without “Captain Obvious” showing up in their lives one more time. Don’t be “Captain Obvious.” 😉

much love, victoria



P.S. Did you hear? The next 8-Week Grief Recovery Program is starting in Wishek at the Senior Center beginning Wednesday, August 28th from 7-9 P.M. weekly. Woohoo!  A huge THANK YOU to the Senior Center for graciously allowing me to use their space to help more hurting hearts transform their pain into healing. Interested in registering? Email me at victoria [at] theunleashedheart [dot] com or message me on Facebook!


P.P.S. This morning, I was live on KFYR-TV ND Today where I shared the stage with one of my first group participants and had a conversation about grief recovery with Monica Hannan. I was told the clip will be shared on their website sometime today. I’m so excited to share about this on a bigger platform. Grief is normal and natural – it’s time we start treating it and talking about it like it is!

*A portion of this blog post is adapted from The Grief Recovery Method blog.

How GRM Differs from Traditional Grief Support Groups

How GRM Differs from Traditional Grief Support Groups

In the past several weeks, I’ve spoken with various mental health professionals, as well as church leaders, hospice workers, etc., who’ve shared their experiences with grief support groups with me. In some instances, they were the grief support group organizers and facilitators.

After sharing about what grief recovery is and how it moves a hurting heart from emotional stuck-ness to freedom, we discussed how the two support group options differ. In nearly all instances, those I spoke with expressed how the grief recovery method sounds different from traditional support groups they’re accustomed to – in a good way. Simply put – it is different.

So, I felt it was time I share how GRM (grief recovery method) differs from traditional grief support groups on the blog.

differences in grief support

As you can see, there are some differences that stand out. Above, are four of the main ones. I believe traditional grief support groups have their place. Typically, however, it’s the death of a loved one that brings someone to a grief support group because, in society, when people talk about grief, people assume someone must’ve died.

Considering there are more than forty losses one can experience, then I feel, people who may benefit from a grief support group, don’t look into it because perhaps their loss isn’t due to a death. Maybe an individual experiences bankruptcy and financial ruin. Or, perhaps the individual has been estranged from family and they feel alone. No one died, but that person is still a grieving heart with nowhere to turn.

Grief: Who Died?

So, just as people correlate grief to death, so too, people correlate grief support groups to death. That is actually an aspect of misinformation I share when I talk about grief. And, it’s something I want to reiterate that the grief recovery method is not only for those who’ve experienced the death of a loved one. There are many instances where someone will come to grief recovery and believe they will work on the death of a loved one, when in fact, they end up working on emotionally completing a relationship to someone living.

Living people in our lives cause us grief as well. Millions of adults everywhere are walking around with their hearts wounded from childhood. Grief starts in childhood and it accumulates and it’s accumulatively negative.

So, although grief support groups often help individuals after a loss in their lives due to death, help the griever not to isolate and to feel supported; what traditional grief support groups don’t do is help people to process their emotions and give all of their pain a voice in a healthy, well-formatted way. 

What the GRM Experience Looks Like

In grief recovery, we’re not meeting weekly for 8 weeks and sharing in a circle all of our pain and suffering; quite the opposite. Safety in sharing is the number one priority in grief recovery, so a bond of trust and confidentiality is established first before anyone shares (unless they choose to early on). From there, each week there is action required that work on giving all of the incomplete communications and feelings a voice. Traditional grief support groups do not do this for grievers. Yes, they are free. But, if being an entrepreneur for over 10 years has taught me anything it’s that people simply don’t value free. And, if the work that is required to become emotionally free were offered with traditional support groups, very very few would ever complete it. It is the personal investment in one’s self that aids in one’s ability to heal.

How Much is the Rest of Your Life Worth to You?

When you have a toothache, you go to the dentist. And, if you’re told you need a root canal, you have the root canal and you pay for it. When you break a leg, you go to the doctor to seek treatment – again, you pay for it. But yet, when your heart is broken, you apply bandaid after bandaid and hope to God that something eventually sticks. Or, worse – you do what society has taught you and you buck up, stuff it down, replace the loss, grieve alone, try your damndest to pretend you’re fine, try to be strong for yourself and others, keep yourself busy, and just accept that grief just takes time; it’ll get better – eventually. You just need to hold on for one more day. And, before you know it, that one more day becomes three decades. And, when you experience loss after loss during that time, finally there is one that causes you to reach your grieving heart’s breaking point. You realize therapy hasn’t helped, antidepressants make you feel like crap and don’t feel like what you need, other holistic approaches felt good for a time but life moves on around you and you can’t sit in meditation for 18 hours a day. And, although praying brings you solace, and you feel like you’ve given it all to God, you continue to find your eyes well up with tears, growing more emotionally and physically drained by the day. You continue to feel like a hamster on the wheel of life and you know if something doesn’t work soon, this life is over for you as you know it.


I’ve felt it.

There is hope. It’s grief R-E-C-O-V-E-R-Y. Recovery.

The word recovery has never sounded so good to me. And the word grief has never meant more to me than it does today. It’s taken on a whole new meaning for me, too. I bring people H-O-P-E. Hope.

Hope & Recovery. Two words I use to describe the Grief Recovery Method.

Does your grief support group give you that?

much love, victoria




P.S. Are you ready to start a new chapter in your life? One where you finally sit in the driver’s seat, roll the windows down, feel the breeze on your face, and see the past you in the rearview (along with the grief that kept you there). I’m working on locking in locations for groups to start in Wishek/Bismarck (hopefully late August/early Sept.). If you want to be sure not to miss the announcement, “Like” my FB Page, sign up for my weekly newsletter, or contact me via email at victoria [at] theunleashedheart [dot] com or phone at 701.336.7720. Spots are limited! 


How You Do One Thing is How You Do Everything

How You Do One Thing is How You Do Everything

how you do one thing is how you do everything

The perk of spending a lot of time behind the wheel in my day job is that I get a lot of open road time which equates to a lot of thinking/pondering/dreaming/planning/personal development time.

You may be scratching your head about the last one. Rightfully so; how can driving equate to personal development time, you ask? The answer: podcasts & audible books. I’m not particularly fond of Audible books because I am old-school; I like to doggy-ear the pages, highlight, and take notes. My books typically look used by the time I’m through them. However, I’ve gotten in the habit of listening to podcasts when I drive. I’ll usually listen to some feel-good music as I’m getting closer to home, but I can knock out a half-dozen podcast episodes in a day. But not just any podcast episodes; I like those that challenge my thinking, help me open my mind and heart in some way, and nurture the evolution of my very being.

As an entrepreneur, there’s a lot of noise out there. It can be challenging to discern who to listen to and what advice to take. First and foremost, there is no better advice in this world than that which we receive from our very own heart. That aside, I heard something recently on a podcast where the entrepreneur-host stated this: how you do one thing is how you do everything. 

I wanted to share that statement with you because I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Perhaps it will have you reflecting on the daily actions you take in your life, too. How you do one thing is how you do everything.

If we apply this to grief and all the ways we’ve learned to deal (or rather, not deal) with our emotional pain than knowing what I know about grief and the myths the overall majority of us learn, then it’s safe to say that we don’t deal very well with emotional suffering of any kind. That includes the roller-coaster of life we all ride in our marriages, in parenting, in our friendships, careers, etc..

Do you find yourself avoiding hard conversations? Do you tend to sleep in in the morning rather than get up, put on some tennis shoes and hit the gym or get out in nature for a walk? Have you given up on something important to you? Do you often feel bad about yourself?

I’ll be honest – the statement hit me hard. I’ve been struggling with tending to my physical body for the past couple of months. I’ve also not been doing the things that help me feel at peace at the start of my day. And, it got me thinking about how neglecting the things I believe are essential to my well-being translates to other areas of my life.

If I’m not taking care of me, what else am I not taking care of in my life? Where is my energy directed that leaves me with the feeling something is out of balance? When I get hyper-focused, I tend to zone out to the world around me, and I often neglect my well-being in the process. How can we regain balance again? We do this by addressing all facets of our lives and taking even small actions and setting even small goals each day. Like I said in this Instagram post, ya gotta decide. So, what’s stopping me? Well, the same person that’s stopping you. I am stopping me. You are stopping you. 

Grief Hardens Our Hearts

Reflecting on my life through grief recovery has connected so many dots for me. Grief steals so much more that goes beyond the initial loss (whether it’s a loved one, loss of trust/career/home, divorce, abuse (physical/emotional). And, grief experiences stacked on top of one another hardens our hearts over time. So, it makes total sense to me that how we grieve is how we live.

I’ve come a long way in my grief. I am more proud of the person I am today than I was before grief recovery because it’s begun to soften my heart. Also, for the first time, I feel a sense of self-worth and confidence that has changed me in other ways, too. I am bolder than ever and am not afraid to share what’s on my heart, including my struggles. And, right now, I struggle to find what feels good for me physically and then just doing it. I’ve heard it said that if you wait until your motivated to exercise, you’ll be waiting forever. Ain’t that the truth?! I guess it comes down to deciding then doing. And, for whatever reason, everything else but exercise has come to me more quickly – as far as making a decision and then doing.

A Few Q’s to Explore

  • How does the statement: how you do one thing is how you do everything resonate with you?
  • What is the first thing that pops into your mind?
  • In what areas of life do you feel you’re not meeting your potential, and how do you think that translates to other areas of your life?

Have a wonderful weekend! Go create some adventure; even if it’s in your backyard! Great advice for me – and you! Like I heard in a recent podcast interview where the guy dares you to go climb a tree! Even if you think you’re too old or too whatever – try it! I dare you to go play!

much love, victoria


Healing versus Recovery

Healing versus Recovery

healing versus recovery

A while back on Facebook (and Instagram), I shared the difference between grief and loss. Grief is the undelivered communications that keep you stuck and unable to feel joy when you think about the relationship. Loss is about the feelings of missing the relationship and feeling sad they’re gone.

Just as there are differences between grief and loss, there are differences between healing and recovery, too. 

Healing versus Recovery

We can experience healing and feel better for a time; however, recovery has long-term effects that healing may not. 

Recovery (grief recovery, in particular) encompasses all parts of ourselves; mental, physical, emotional, and may also include spiritual well-being, too. When we feel like we’re healing, we can feel better in these areas as well. However, you may have to utilize several modes of healing that target specific aspects (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual). Often, the feel-good feelings are experienced only as long as you are participating in those healing practices. Some modes of healing (like meditation) may have a longer-lasting positive influence. But again, they don’t have long-term effects unless you’re continually doing these types of activities in your daily life. For example, a massage feels fantastic for the hour you’re receiving it. It helps heal the muscle tissue and can have you feeling better for a few days afterward. However, once the feel-good feelings wear off, and you go back to your daily life, you’ll be ready for another massage.

Alternative Methods for Healing

Over the years, I’ve incorporated many different modes of healing into my life. For example, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), an alternative treatment for physical or emotional distress. It’s also referred to as tapping or psychological acupressure. People who use this technique believe tapping the body can create a balance in your energy system and treat pain. For me, it had helped to release emotional energy, especially at the beginning of 2014, when I first began to look for ways to help myself feel better.

In 2014, I also began using essential oils (for aromatherapy and overall health versus chemicals). Since then, I’ve created many different blends for all sorts of things. One mix I use religiously (especially when traveling) is a blend for those times I am having gut issues. I keep it in my purse at all times, actually, and yes – it does help me when I am experiencing bloating/gut ache. I recommend checking out this article that shares both sides of essential oils. Use at your discretion and take what you read with a grain of salt. Aside from personal use, I also use Young Living products for my home, like the Thieves cleaner, for example. Also, because I don’t burn candles for an aroma, and, although I do use wax melts, I like the flexibility of scents I have with essential oils, too. It’s all personal preference, but after five years, I still use them nearly daily.

Over the last few years, I’ve also incorporated meditation into my life. I’ve tried several different apps, including Headspace and Calm; however, my latest favorite is the Insight Timer. I also enjoy reading non-fiction in the arena of personal development and spiritual writings, too. On the topic of exercise, we know it’s good for us in all areas of life. It’s also been one of the areas I’ve often struggled to stay consistent with because I tend to get easily bored. I jump from one at-home program to the next, because, as I’m getting older, it’s become more challenging to find something I enjoy doing daily. I do like yoga, and at one point I could do a tripod headstand. However, I feel like it requires so much time. Or, maybe I see yogi’s doing yoga for an hour or more on the regular and feel overwhelmed by that level of commitment. Probably more of the latter.

When it comes to healing and looking for ways to improve our quality of life, ultimately, we must do what feels good, right? All of the things I’ve previously mentioned have been great at helping me to feel better (for a time), but they didn’t help me to recover.

8 Week Emotional Boot Camp

Grief recovery is a journey you take your heart on just as healing is a marathon and not a sprint. I think of grief recovery as a sprint; there isn’t anything else out there that can take you from feeling chained to the past and emotionally bogged down to emotional freedom. And, in eight weeks, as the Grief Recovery Method can. It may not feel good in the process, but anything good for us isn’t always a walk in the park. Remember my mention of exercise? Consider the Grief Recovery  Method your 8-week emotional boot camp. I’ve gone through army boot camp and truth be told – my life was changed by both experiences. However, it’s during The Grief Recovery Method, where I grew in ways I only wish I had known about sooner.

Are you ready for your 8-week emotional boot camp experience? Although you will be pushed and challenged in ways you can’t yet understand, I’m a lot kinder than a drill sergeant. At the end of the eight weeks, you’ll see the fruits of your labor – minus the 6-pack, of course.

Join me in my next boot camp…errr…Grief Recovery group. I’d love to have you! I’m looking for at least four brave souls who are ready to unleash themselves of their past hurt. Do you want to move forward in life feeling empowered with new tools for recovery (and healing) that no one can ever take from you? Once you learn this method, you will forever have it at your disposal.

What is your LIFE worth to YOU? What are YOU worth? Are you ready to UNLEASH your heart from your past?

We can begin early August in Wishek if you’re ready. I also want to start a group in the Bismarck/Mandan area if you or someone you know is ready to begin a new relationship to grief. Message me on Facebook or Instagram or email me at victoria [at] theunleashedheart [dot] com to get started!


The Consequences of Grief Stacking Up

The Consequences of Grief Stacking Up

consequences of grief

What is your first loss memory; the first time you experienced the death of a pet, loved one, or had to move away from friends/family, etc.? You may have also experienced an intangible loss, such as a loss of trust event as a child, too.

As adults, we don’t consider that the losses we experienced as young children (that cause grief) leave a lasting imprint on our hearts. However, they do. And the subsequent losses (that cause grief) we experience along the way is stacked on top of those previous losses.

Grief is cumulative and cumulatively negative, therefore, all of the undelivered communications you’ve accumulated in your life (and in your heart), creates a heaviness that only recovery alone can undo.

Ways Grief Stacks Up

When you’re young and you’ve lost your first pet, you’re likely taught that “it’s only a dog” and a dog can be replaced. But, what your parents don’t (or didn’t) understand was that to you, you felt like that dog was your only friend. And, you really can’t replace a beloved friend, can you?

When your family moves and you have to switch schools and forge new relationships, you’re also leaving old relationships behind. There may have been things, as a kid, you never got the chance to communicate to those you left behind. Or, perhaps there was a teacher who you felt close to, trusted, and who made you feel safe and you never got the chance to tell that teacher how much you appreciated them.

As a child, when you lose a loved one, adults may mistakenly make the assumption that, because you’re young, you don’t understand what’s going on – what it means when someone dies, etc.. So, there may be more grief experienced because, although  you do understand, you’re not allowed the space and time to share your feelings around the loss.

Growing up, into the teen years, there are more grief experiences as well. Today, kids are dealing with bullying in a way that allows bullies to bully nearly 24/7 online and from their phones. There are self-image issues that many teens face as well. There may be struggles and challenges at home that has a negative impact on their education, too.

And, we all know that adulthood is filled with grief experiences. As adults, we experience relationships that come and go, choose careers that aren’t in alignment with our desires and values, marriages that turn out to be not meant-to-be, and parenthood brings with it grief at times, too. Also, as we age, our parents also age. We may become parent caregivers while raising families of our own.

When you start losing loved ones time after time, is when all of the unresolved feelings you’ve experienced over your life begin to come to the surface. When this happens, eventually, there will be one loss where all the grief will become too much to bear. You’ll find yourself pulled back in time, emotionally, to a previous loss you likely never dealt with or recovered from fully.

You may begin to feel stuck in your life. You may find yourself in the same types of situations or relationships over and over and over. You may feel as though you’ve lost a part of yourself and you find yourself searching in all the wrong places. Or perhaps you feel full of despair, regret, resentment, anger; all the emotions that had burrowed a deep hole within you.

Where Grief Begins

Grief isn’t something that begins in adulthood. You don’t know grief, for the first time, when your parent dies when you’re forty-five, for example. Grief experiences occurred long before that; you just haven’t seen the behaviors you’ve exhibited in your life as stemming from grief.

Grief, in adulthood, looks like gambling, addiction (porn, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.), chronic pain, high blood pressure, shopping, food, excess exercise, ulcers, stress, workaholism, approval-seeking behavior, and the list goes on and on. These are examples of short-term energy relieving behaviors or STERBS (affecting our emotional health) and a few examples of how grief manifests in our bodies (affecting our physical health).

Childhood Grief

When it comes to grief in children, I want to first illustrate a point. Human emotions in infants go from happy to sad, or sad to happy, without any apparent external stimulus. Infants communicate all feelings (sometimes, at the top of their lungs). They never question themselves until we start teaching them and showing them to not feel bad. Adults train children to believe that having sad feelings and communicating about those feelings is not okay. To the child’s developing mind, it becomes a simple choice: happy feelings are good and get rewarded vs. sad feelings are bad and get punished.

Grief, in children, is generally expressed the same as adults following a loss, for example. Sleeping patterns may change, eating patterns may change, too, and there’s an inability to concentrate. The way a child responds to grief is often the same because, monkey see, monkey do. In the example of a death of a loved one, if the parent isn’t communicating their sadness with their children and sharing in the loss and instead of going to be alone to grieve and cry because all they know (and were taught by well-meaning but misinformed people) is to be strong. Is it any surprise that the grieving child will do the same and not talk about their feelings?

Although adults (and teens) exhibit short-term energy relieving behaviors, they didn’t develop overnight in the teen and adult years. STERBS are the result of years of being taught unhelpful ways to respond to grief and the misinformation passed on since childhood.

Societal Impact of Grief

The rates of obesity, suicide, addiction, etc. have all been on the rise. Meanwhile, life expectancy rates have been on the decline, consistently, the past three years. These rates hadn’t changed since 1915-1918; life expectancy, in the U.S., had been on the rise ever since, until recent years, as previously mentioned. Check out the video below for recent statistical data information and the reasons the CDC provides insight into why life expectancy is declining.

After watching that short video, what do you think is at the root of the addiction, obesity, and suicide rates? Perhaps, it’s grief? Sounds too simple, right? I think not. Grief is anything but simple.

Self-Evaluation & Awareness

Take a self-examination of the behaviors you fall back on when you’re feeling emotional. Do you seek solace in the fridge, pill or liquor bottle, or another person’s bed? Do you close up and shut down the world around you? Or, do you find yourself angry at the world, consumed with negativity and pessimism?

Awareness is what we need to know what needs to change.

We don’t get to where we are in our adult lives (emotionally, physically, or mentally) overnight, friend. We are a work-in-progress of some form of self-destruction in some way or another. However, it’s never too late to choose to become a work-in-progress toward healing and recovery.

much love from victoria




P.S. Are you interested in becoming a work-in-progress for healing and recovery? Message or email me to inquire about the evidence-based Grief Recovery Group Program.

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