Takeaways & Reflections | We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know
SHOW NOTES SUMMARY:
When you find yourself the observer of a situation that brings up some emotional dis-ease for you, it may be helpful to say the following to yourself: “I don’t know what I don’t know.”
This helps me to feel better when I have felt wronged in some way or when I find myself raising an eyebrow at a situation that may or may not involve me.
Society isn’t short of judgment and criticism these days. I think there’s plenty of it to go around the world a few times. However, each of us can help change that and intentionally, instead, pause and take a moment to reflect and attempt to be empathetic, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.
Some may say we need to be more sympathetic, but even that can come across as pity. Maybe it’s just easier to say that sometimes, our opinions are best kept to ourselves.
Whether you believe in the afterlife or don’t, or think every mother should fight tooth and nail to keep their children with them, I hope this episode leads you to listen to both Episode 64 with Kristjana and 65 with Sirry because, they couldn’t be any more different but yet, the common theme comes down to how we don’t know what we don’t know.
Today, it’s a takeaways and reflections episode, about Episode 64: A Mother’s Heartache and Sacrifice with Kristjana Hillberg, and Episode 65: The Spirit World Walks Among Us with Sirry Berndsen. A perfect example of grief that hadn’t yet been represented on this podcast, which I do like to share all different types of losses, just to give people a different perspective. Because you may know somebody who has been in the situation, or you may know someone who is going through something similar, and maybe you want to support them. But you’re not sure how, or maybe it’s you, and you find yourself in that Griever’s story. Regardless of the loss, regardless of the story that comes to this podcast, we can all find a little bit of ourselves in the stories, especially if we’ve experienced a lot of loss in our lives. And through that stories, and the different perspectives that I bring to you is an opportunity for you to reflect on. Well, what would I do in that situation? How would I respond? What do I think about that? What do I believe about that? Those questions that help us really grow into who we want to be, who we desire to be, and maybe even have some more compassion towards those who have a different life experience that we may have judged, or had some criticism around. Because those are often too a result of our upbringings and our experiences. And we see other people’s situations through the lens of our own experience. So I do appreciate when people give me their time to share their stories with my listeners, because it is a service to us all, we can all learn something from each and every one of them.
A Mother’s Choice for What’s Best for Her Child
When I first heard about Kristjana’s story, I knew I wanted her on the podcast because she shares a very different perspective of divorce and child custody. As a mom, it’s natural for us to feel like we want our children to be with us. But for Kristjana, it wasn’t as simple as that. She was living five hours away from her husband, so that she could be with her daughter that she shared custody with from a previous relationship. And this worked fine for quite some time, over a year, until she found herself expecting with her new husband. And she knew that this decision was going to have to be made to either go be with her new husband, or in the same town or area as her daughter. And just think about that. What would you do? Now with that natural instinct of wanting your child to be with you? Kristjana had the emotional awareness and really tried to put herself in her daughter’s shoes and knew that there was so much love there for her in this large extended family with her father. And she felt tormented on pulling her away from that. But she also felt tormented or not having her daughter with her. So what would you do? I’ve never known anyone in the situation before Kristjana. Probably three to five years ago, if I would have heard of this situation, I probably would have passed along some judgment or criticism because that is a natural thing for us when we don’t find ourselves in that similar situation. For really, what would you do? When you know what’s best for your child, it’s not always the easy decision to make. And Kristjana by no means has an easy decision to make. And so she really put it off for quite some time. Until one day, the answer came to her, almost like a lightning bolt and washed over her in a moment of peace, She’s described it as she had realized what was best for her daughter. And in that moment, she felt peace with that decision. And she knew what she needed to do. And that was to leave her daughter behind and work on us shared custody arrangement that would be in the best interest for their daughter. And that would also serve and nurture her marriage as well, and new family to be, and not not necessarily a new family, because their daughter was very much going to be a part of that. It just would look different than what she imagined.
We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know
And so I really encourage you to listen to Kristjana’s episode, because aside from the difficult decision, and all the thought process that went into making that, and the unhelpful and hurtful things that people said to her. The helpful things that she learned along the way of what she needed for herself. We talked about boundaries, we talked about values, we talked about how she came into her own knowing of what was best for her and her family, regardless of what anybody thought of her or their situation. And here’s the thing, because no one knows your situation as well as you do. People hear stories, or they make assumptions, but no one really knows. Unless they ask. And so I think I’ve mentioned during the episode, and I try to remind myself of this is, I don’t know what I don’t know. And that is the message that applies to both the episodes that I’m talking about today, because whether we’re looking at someone else’s situation from the outside, or were trying to wrap our heads around, something like the afterlife, we don’t know what we don’t know. And we can have these thoughts and feelings about the afterlife, which become our beliefs, or which are our beliefs. But if we can be open to what we don’t know, we can allow ourselves to receive new information, we can allow ourselves to receive messages.
There Are Things That Death Cannot Touch: Love
And that’s what I loved about the episode with Sirry, in that she shared so many tips and ways that people who have lost a loved one can keep that relationship going in a positive way. Because regardless of what you believe, when someone dies, the relationship doesn’t end. There, you may have an unfinished business with that person. So even if that person is no longer on the physical plane, you still have a relationship with them in your heart, you still may have emotional residue from maybe an argument that you had right before that person passed, or maybe the relationship was less than loving throughout your life. And there were things that you could never communicate or never share, because you didn’t feel safe to. Or perhaps it was something that you knew was coming or the person was going through a terminal illness, and you knew it was coming and you had the time, the luxury of time. And you took advantage of that time to make it an impactful learning and deep experience with that person to help you gain insight into what they were feeling, what they were experiencing at the end of their life. But so many people too are afraid to ask those questions, those deep questions. They’re really thinking about that person, leaving them of no longer being there. And that gets in the way of this opportunity to have that deep connection with that person.
Those We Love Never Truly Leave Us
And Sirry had shared how helpful working with a medium has been for so many Grievers in her practice. And she’s also a certified grief recovery specialist as well, which really adds to her professionalism and to her ability to really help a griever have the best experience possible for connecting with their loved ones. I personally had a session with Sirry it was unexpectedly amazing. It was the only session I’ve ever had with a medium or of any kind. I learned a lot about with my children because not only was it a spiritual connection session, it was also intuitive guidance as well. And so I learned some things about my I practice as a Reiki professional. But her professionalism and her strong desire to help me as a griever, who had only recently in the last couple of years really addressed the relationships that have left me feeling conflicted in my life. It’s really hard, I think for many of us to wrap our heads around the idea that we are supported in ways that we can’t even imagine that our loved ones are truly watching over us, guiding us bringing things to our attention, if we only would pay attention. I remember as a kid, I’d be walking down the street in the winter, the snow would be falling and it was my favorite time to go for a walk. I hate the cold but there was something about it when you hear the church bells in the night, and you could hear him across town dead silent. I’d hear the church bells and the snow would be falling and I’d walk under the streetlight and I would go out, and that’s happened to me many, many times, or the light would just go out, it would happen when I’d be driving, a light would just go out a streetlight, and I don’t know, he could say I made it up in my mind, but I felt like that was my dad, he was watching out for me just making sure I knew getting my attention. Because the light coin out is going to get your attention, a street light at that will get your attention. And it did, it did many times.
We Are Not Immune To Grief
Talking with Sirry, I recognize that is something I can ask for. I can ask for that as a sign. I just really encourage you to listen to Sirry’s episode with an open mind and an open heart as you listen, even if you feel like that isn’t something that’s for you. I hope you listen to her tips to help you personally connect with someone who has your heart, but they’re not here. Both episodes offer so much wisdom through their stories. And I’m just really floored at the quality of people who I have drawn to this podcast, everyone has a story. And I don’t care if you’re a celebrity, or I just I don’t care who you are, we all put our pants on the same way, right? We all grieve someone or something and we are not immune to grief. Regardless of who we are, we will all meet death at some point. And stories like Kristjana’s and Sirry’s help bring another perspective that we all can learn from, as I mentioned before, and there’s so much more I could probably say, but honestly, it’s beautiful outside.
We’re having some unusually warm weather here in the Dakotas and my spirit is calling me to the outdoors. And so I will leave this episode there. All the goodness is in those two episodes. I just don’t know that I have anything else to add to the conversations because the tips were that good. It’s important for us to always remember that we don’t know what someone is going through the depth of it.We don’t know what we don’t know.
P.S. If you want to listen to more takeaways and reflections episodes you can click here. And if you find this helpful please share it because sharing is caring. And remember, when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. Much love.
Through the challenges and struggles of life, we often find our strength and learn what we’re capable of as we search for meaning in our pain.
This episode shares two stories of the tenacity it took to dig deep, while also acknowledging the need for help and support and seeking it for themselves.
Rachel battled with her husband for two years as he fought hard to beat his cancer, only to lose his fight to ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) in the end.
Eric battled the struggle of guilt after finding his daughter after she took her own life when she was 15.
Two very different stories but similar in how the human spirit is capable of finding strength through struggle.
It is my hope that Rachel and Eric’s stories, although very different experiences, help you to see yourself through their struggle. And that you, too, feel hopeful that you can find your strength on the other side of the struggle.
Today, I’m going to be talking about Episode 61 with Rachel Engstrom, Life as a Cancer Wife, Widow and Never a Mother-to-Be, and how she shares the story of her husband’s diagnosis and death two years later, as well as how she found her way to feeling better. And Episode 62 with Eric Hodgdon, Opening the Door to a Parent’s Worst Nightmare, and how he went from struggle to strength. He describes a defining moment that set him on a path of empowering and leading himself through his devastating and life-shattering loss.
Human Spirit is Stronger than Anything that Can Happen to It
When I’m hearing the stories of Grievers who come on my podcast, I try to put myself in their shoes and through their story, feel what might have been like to go through that experience. And what struck me about Rachel’s story is the time that from diagnosis until her husband passed away and still holding on to hope that entire time that he would go into remission, and he would be healthy again. But we never really know when our time is up, or when we’ll receive a diagnosis that could drag on for years and years. I know people who are on dialysis, or who have been on dialysis for many years for their kidneys. And it takes a toll on people’s mindset. This is where the human spirit is remarkable in adapting to our circumstances. Whether you’re a child who’s being abused, or an adult who’s going through a terminal illness, the human spirit learns to adapt. And I think we find our resourcefulness in times of struggle and challenge. And that’s just what Rachel and her husband did. They found their resourcefulness and had support come in to help them. Her parents had lived with them for quite some time during that period. And I just imagine that had they had kids at that time, that would have been even more helpful. And I think we get so scared to ask for help and support. In those times, we think we can do it all, or we should be doing it all, especially as mothers and nurtures, we think we should be doing it all. And I personally had many challenging times asking for help and support of others. I’m only learning now in my later years that support is really where it’s at. Whether it’s in grief, in our grief or in our businesses, just bringing on support in and help which I did this year which has been incredible. So I think that is probably one of the lessons that I’ve learned in my grief recovery and talking with other gravers and hearing their stories. It’s in the support that you find your own strength in a lot of ways because when you are able to take a break, when you are able to just step back for a moment that can help to recharge your own battery and tackle the next day. And that’s a huge takeaway in Rachel’s episode, and in many episodes. I wanted to highlight that it’s important to ask for support, and whatever that looks like for you.
Be Compassionate to Others
I love this one line to where a friend of hers had told her you can choose to be bitter or better. And that was kind of a turning point for her. She didn’t want to be bitter anymore, she wanted to be better. And after her husband’s passing, she started to pick up the pieces. And really wanted to find some meaning in her experience and it ended up writing the book: Wife, Widow, How I Navigated the Cancer World and How You Can Too. And I’ve talked to many Grievers who, through their stories, through their experiences, you want to find meaning for what you’ve gone through, you want to make something of it. And that’s been really a common thread. And also, among all of the guests that I’ve had, whether that’s helping others, or in a quiet way, it doesn’t have to be writing a book or it doesn’t have to be becoming a grief recovery specialist. It can just be a more compassionate friend, or spouse or what have you. Because I do believe that the more challenging experiences of our lives have makes us more compassionate people towards others. And after a year in of this podcast and listening to people’s stories, the other tip I would give to as the quickest turnaround to feeling better is to helping others. And that was really a turning point for me personally as well. And that’s been Rachel’s work as well. She’s really been an advocate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and, and really just cancer in general she’s really tried to raise awareness and money as well. So there are many people doing amazing things in this world because of the challenges they’ve experienced. And Rachel is one of them.
Heal Yourself First
There is another aspect of Rachel story I want to share in that what if someone with whom you are in a relationship with is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and you are, let’s say the significant other but it’s been a less than loving relationship. You’re probably going to experience a lot of conflicting feelings about that. There’s a part of you that feels like you should help that person, you should be there for them till death do you part, you would want the same for yourself, you would want that person to help you if it were you or support you if it was you that was diagnosed with a terminal illness. But truly, if it’s a less than loving relationship, I can see where during Rachel’s episode she had mentioned that one of the nurses had told her that 70% of marriages or couples separate during cancer. And that struck me but in all honesty, it doesn’t surprise me because I think there are a lot of less than loving relationships out there. I think there are many people who get into relationship who haven’t healed their own wounds. And so you have two people that come together with their wounds, not healed emotional wounds. The other person can be someone who’s either going to help you evolve and grow and challenge you to do that and maybe in hopefully you do that together. Or you can be like the child that picks the scab and you can do that for each other where it’s just kind of a toxic thing. It’s like you don’t know how to be with someone else.
As long as you have this wounded inner child in you. And we’re all walking wounded inner children, as adults, until we recognize that our past and the behaviors that we resort to as adults, and the problems we see in our lives, that are usually repetitive. We find ourselves in the same bad relationships or you find yourself with the same cycle of money issues time after time, or you find yourself abusing different substances, different stage of life. These are the things that are still there, when you get into relationship with someone, marry someone, unless you can recognize and have that awareness of what your issues are, and you work through them either together as a couple, to grow through it. Or you work on that beforehand, which I highly recommend. I would recommend to anybody who is thinking about getting married, to go through grief recovery. You know, they have these pre-marriage classes and things. But I think that the most significant thing that you can do for your future and your future life with someone is to work on your own crap. And that’s what grief recovery offers. It’s a gift to you. But you have to be willing to do the work, of course, and many people are not. And it’s just where you’re at at the time where you look for someone else to heal those wounds for you, you looked for someone else to give you the love that you should be giving yourself. And I could go on a tangent right now, but I’m not, I just wanted to highlight how can it be that in a terminal diagnosis, couples can just shatter. And I believe that’s why it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Be Your Best Advocate
There is such a level of intimacy and struggle for the person that is both the supporter and the caregiver, but also the person who is the one that is diagnosed. It’s reckoning, it’s an awakening. I’ve never been diagnosed with cancer, but I imagine it is a great awakener. And it’s grief, it is grief. Imagine the grief that it causes someone to just have learned while you have six months to live. It is capable of knocking the wind out of the sails and sinking the heart of even the strongest person you know. And I do think that how you’ve handled challenges in your life before that experience or before that diagnosis is a precursor to how you handle the harder stuff that comes your way. And maybe thinking about how you’ve done that in the past, how have you handled challenging parts of your life in the past. And do you want to be emotionally prepared? and I don’t even know that anything can really prepare you to be honest, I don’t think anything can. Nothing can for this life altering diagnosis, these changes, or these big losses that we experienced, like I’ll talk about next with Eric story, nothing can prepare you for that. But I do feel there are tools out there that can help to support you in discerning what it is you need and helping you to become your best advocate for yourself. And we will learn those things by digging deep into ourselves. And also I want to say that, the worst thing is always what happened to you because no matter what, you will always experience it at 100%. There are no half Grievers out there. So just keep that in mind. So please check out Rachel’s Episode 61: Life as a Cancer Wife, Widow and Never a Mother-to-Be because there’s so much more to her story than I even covered here today. But I do like to keep these takeaways episodes kind of brief, there is definitely more to his story. So I hope you take a listen.
Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare is Losing a Child
Now I’d like to share my takeaways from Episode 62 with Eric Hodgdon, Opening the Door to a Parent’s Worst Nightmare. In 2014, his 15 year-old daughter, Zoi, had taken her own life. And as he shared the story of how he learned about how that was done, I listened so intently. And I could visualize the story, I could visualize the moment as he was telling me, and it literally broke my heart. I have a 16 year-old, a 14 year-old, and a 12 year-old, and just even thinking about it makes my eyes welled up. I cannot imagine. That is why I titled his episode, which I struggled with, on what to title it, but it really came to me, that would be any parent’s worst nightmare. It would just be your worst nightmare. Doesn’t matter how it happened, but just stepping into your child’s bedroom, expecting them to be in their bed, asleep, or falling asleep. And just the unimaginable instead is what you find. It truly hurts my heart. So it was a difficult episode for me to listen back when I had to edit it. But it’s so important for me that I personally edit my episodes because well one, it’s usually a few months from editing. I’m usually a few months out in editing from when we initially record. And so I feel like I need to hear it again in order to freshen up on the story and avoid it to be able to articulate what it is that I felt when I first heard it. And to hear it a second time because I hear every Grievers story a second time when I go to edit. I walk away from editing, just amazed with the tenacity of the human spirit. We can endure so much more than I believe we give ourselves credit for. But in the moment, and the moment of that deep despair and sorrow. It’s really hard to see three? five? ten? years into the future, maybe even tomorrow. And this is why I’m loving in doing this podcast so much, that the people who come on this podcast brings hope to other Grievers. But here’s the thing, if you were listening to this podcast, that is you too. That is you because you can take so much more than I think you give yourself credit for. There comes a time where you can only take so much. And I think that’s when most people seek out help and support. And I’ll come back to the first part of this episode where I talked about support and help and how important it is. But for Eric, and for many gravers, it does take having this moment within ourselves, I meant for more than this. My life is more than this, more than this sorrow, more than this anger and more than this pain.
I want my life to be fruitful and thrive. I want to thrive and I want to make something out of this crap that I’ve been handed. I do think there are many of us that come to that place too. And unfortunately, there are many who stay in that place of sorrow and pain. And feel like this is just how it is. This is just what life is going to be. This is my new normal, they say now but it doesn’t have to be. You have so much power of choice. You don’t even probably realize it because grief does make us feel like we don’t have a choice. But we do. You do, you do have a choice. And that’s what Eric talks a lot about in his episode. There was a defining moment where you felt like he heard Zoi’s voice. He did. He said he heard Zoi’s voice. And she was in so many words, I’m just paraphrasing, but just like “snap out of it, Dad, snap out of it.”. And when we are so deep in it, it’s really hard for us to do that. Sometimes it’s a prayer that you just say out loud. And something happens within you, something turns within you, something flips.
We Thrive by Supporting Each Other
And that’s really when my life kind of flipped, when I finally surrendered. And I started to pray. To be honest, I hadn’t stepped in a church and many, many years. And it happens differently for everybody. It doesn’t happen for everybody, of course, because there are many Grievers out there who are still feeling hopeless. Again, that’s the premise of this whole podcast is to bring hope to people. I think it’s fitting that he titled his book, A Sherpa named Zoi. And it’s because of what he has learned about himself through her, and through that experience. And not to mention what he also learned about Zoi herself through stories that people shared with him after her passing. So we have an impact on people and we often just never realize it. And that was one of the things Eric and I talked about. And it’s so unfortunate that we don’t feel like we can share with other people while we’re alive and well, how much that person means to us, or how much impact they have in our lives, or they have had on our lives. And just feeling this gratitude and expressing it for what they bring to our lives and what they mean to us and being grateful for the connection itself, because we are beings that thrive on connection. And again, it comes back to the support and feeling supported. And there’s so many people who I know, that walk throughout their lives and don’t feel supported. And I can offer my support in a thousand different ways. But as a person, they don’t feel it within themselves. That’s a really unfortunate space to be in. And I think a lot of it comes down to trust. We also have to trust that we are supported. It has to come within us first before we can feel it from other people. And that’s what so many things, obviously, love, connection. If we’re feeling disconnected from ourselves, which often happens in grief, how can we then feel connected with others?
Continue Living for a Reason, Find Something to Live For
Feeling really begins when we start with self exploration, when it comes to grief. And I want to share a quote that Eric had shared during the podcast episode. And he said, “just because your loved one lost their life doesn’t mean your life is lost, too.” And I thought that was such a beautiful, poignant thing. And it’s true. And that’s easy for me to say that it’s true, because I haven’t lived that experience. So don’t take it from me take it from Eric, who’s lived it. He’s lived that experience. And many guests on this podcast have lived through terrible experiences. And if they would have settled for the fact that their life was lost too, their gifts that they could have given the world wouldn’t be out there. So let that settle in a minute. And just think about what your hopes and dreams were before grief, before the loss that you’ve endured. What were they before? They’re still there, there’s still life left to live. And I hope that Eric’s story gives you hope that it’s still possible to move forward. I hope Rachel story gives you hope that it’s still possible to create a life that you love, even if it’s the love you lost, even if it’s your child, Eric has become an amazing mentor and leader in helping others really find their own strength through their struggle.
P.S. I encourage you to check out Eric’s website, you can find it at erichodgdon.com. And I think just looking at his website, you’ll feel that he really made something out of this tragic, terrible loss that he’s experienced. And there are so many tips too that he walks through on our podcast episode. He talked about the pressure that teens feel today and shared tips around that, as well as being a parent of a teen. It really was a great, great conversation. So I hope you check it out. And I do hope, again, that you find hope in through their stories. Like Eric said, gratitude played a huge role in what he was experiencing when he was deep in his sorrow. And he had to constantly remind himself that gratitude of what is in my life right now. And so that is the question for you today, what is in your life right now that you can just feel so grateful for? of what is today in your life. And it was thanks to him that he shared about the Five Minute Journal, and I’ve now been using it for three months. I love it, I absolutely love it. It’s become part of my morning regimen. And I highly recommend it. And I do link to that in the show notes of Episode 62 of his episode, and I will link to it here as well. So and as well as to the episodes, both 61 and 62. You’ll also find in the show notes, and I, again, encourage you to listen to those.
P.S. I just want to share about an energy quiz that I’ve launched a little while back. And if you haven’t gone to my website, theunleashedheart.com, you can find a link for that either on the top banner, or it should pop up at some point. And it takes less than 90 seconds, it has 10 questions and at the end you’ll discover your energy type, and what to do with it, and how to nurture your energy type, what drains it, all of that stuff. I think it’s a very informative quiz, and the results are very informative. And I think it would be beneficial and helpful especially for Grievers who often feel their energy being drained. You’ll have a PDF that you can resource that you can use to figure out what nurtures and what drains your energy, what your energy type is. And I just am really proud of what I created with that. And so I would love for you to enjoy it as well. And it’s free. You’re not going to get any further emails from me. For my newsletter or anything like that, it’s you’re just getting the guide. And if you wish to join my newsletter, which is bi-weekly, every other Wednesday, which is filled with content not shared anywhere else. There is a link in the show notes to that, if you would like to join that. I would love to have you in my sacred space I call it it’s where I share things I don’t share elsewhere. So I’d be happy to have you. Until next time, take care and remember, when you unleash your heart you unleash your life. Much love
Grief can either suck the life right out of you or, it can build you into the most compassionate heart for others who will look to you to lean on for support in their grief.
They say grief shared is grief diminished, but many people find sharing their grief difficult. Some turn to writing as a way to express and soothe the soul like I had and like my guest, Faith shared, in episode 59. Or, they turn to others in support groups or friendships, only to be let down or disappointed, as my guest Sherrie was and talked about in episode 58.
There is one question I encourage you to ask yourself; one that I challenge you to ask yourself. If you have listened to episode 59, then you may already know what it is. If you haven’t, then listen to this week’s episode because I mention it again.
Also, this episode is dedicated to the founder of The Grief Recovery Method®, John James, who passed away on 8/10/2021, only three short months following his cancer diagnosis. GRM changed my life and, I will forever be grateful to James for creating this beautiful gift out of his own grief. What a gift to humankind he was and will continue to be to the many hurting hearts who feel led to doing the deep, inner-work through GRM. His legacy will endure; I do not doubt that. Love + Light, John. 💛
Today is the takeaways and reflections episode where I’ll be talking about Episode 58 with Sherrie Dunlevy, and Episode 59 with Faith Wilcox. Sherrie had lost her infant son 29 days after his birth, and also her beloved pet. And so she talks about each of those losses and the impact they had on her as well as her experience of going through grief recovery and how that changed her life. And Faith talks about the loss of her 13 year old daughter. She was diagnosed at the age of 13 and died 365 days later in her mother’s arms of cancer. And the curious thing about that is she didn’t know she had one year to live when she was diagnosed. But I think it’s an important question to ask ourselves, what would I do? If I knew I had one year to live?
People are Often Consumed with Their Own Grief
Starting with Sherrie’s episode, she brought up a very important topic that I want to bring up in this takeaway’s episode and she talked about her this desire that she had when she lost her son. She thought that time that followed, she was really struggling with why she felt abandoned, why people weren’t there for her that she thought would have been or should be. And she said she came up with a few reasons why this happened. One was it hit too close to home, that if it happened to them, thinking about that makes them sad, it’s just too sad for them. Another reason why she came up with why people abandoned her was they never had to deal with a situation like that before. And they just didn’t know what to say. Also, people really want to say something, but don’t know what to say, or afraid to say the wrong thing. And they want to help and they want to do something, but they just don’t know what to do. And so it’s easier to do or say nothing than the wrong thing. And one thing I would like to add to that is that, I think also too, people are often consumed with their own grief, consumed with what’s going on in their own lives. Maybe not even grief at the time, but just the just all. Especially women or head of households, you wear all the hats. For me personally, I can just say I have days where it’s just feel so scatterbrained, it’s hard to focus, my attention is pulled in many different directions and, and so trying to hold the capacity for compassion and empathy and trying to hold that space for somebody else. In a really trying difficult emotionally challenging time. I’m struggling in my own mind, I’m probably not the best suited person to sit with you during those days. But also I think it comes down to communication. If I am feeling that way if I am because here’s the thing, too, in that situation that would cause me grief is like a really want to be there for you, but I just can’t right now “this is what’s going on, this is how I’m feeling, this is what I’m experiencing”. You know, and I might feel like it’s nothing in comparison to what you’re feeling. You know, the person that just you know is going through a loss but all the same. How do you do to be there for somebody who you really want to be there for? and yet, just you don’t have the capacity to do it. And
How Can I Help?
I think it’s where we tend to complicate things, we overcomplicate things, and sometimes we think that we just need to do these big grandiose gestures, or these big expressions of our love and care. But sometimes it can just be as simple, “I don’t have the brain capacity today. I hope I do tomorrow. But in case I don’t, know that I’m sending you love, know that I’m sending you a hug“. Maybe you put that in a card, and you mail a card to that person? Or maybe you send them a fruit basket? It can be something small, a small gesture. Maybe if they have a pet, maybe it’s like, “Okay, I know, I need to disconnect a bit. I need to, like reboot my brain.” But maybe you don’t have a pet. Right? And so maybe that person that had a loss, has a pet. “Hey, can I walk your dog, it’d be good for me, it’d be good for your dog, and it would help you out.” Right? So I think sometimes we have to think outside the box, and maybe a little bit creatively about how we can be of service to other people when we really, really want to, but no, we’re just not there yet in full capacity, but still want to do a little something. And if you are feeling in full capacity, you know, mentally, emotionally, physically, all of those things where you can be there for other people, then it’s like, by all means balls to the wall, I mean, put all your effort and energy into that, because you wouldn’t be surprised how life-giving that can be for somebody else, and for you as the giver of your time and energy. And it doesn’t even have to be a financial expense to do anything special. I just encourage you to think about maybe what you would like, I think that’s also where we tend to overcomplicate things. It’s like, “what would I appreciate today? what would I really like? what would lift my spirits? Or what would be helpful to me today?” .And then do that thing for that person, or somebody else who is going through a challenging time, who don’t have to be grieving something. Just maybe it’s a challenging time, right? And, you know, all of this desire for Sherrie to find why people abandoned her is kind of what led to her writing her book, “How can I help?” your go-to guide for helping loved ones through life’s difficulties, and it is on Amazon. And I did link to her book in the show notes of her episode. So I do highly encourage you to check it out, and to listen to that episode in its entirety.
There’s a Clarity That Can Come From Grief
And I’m going to go through a few more things that Sherrie and I talked about. Next, I’d like to share just how contrast really shows us what we do want. And therefore, it’s a knowing of what we don’t want. And we had talked about during our episode about this post traumatic growth. And I had heard this term before, but I think it’s true in that when you go through something traumatic, or you have a really difficult, challenging experience, loss of a loved one or just natural disaster. Things like that we realize, what we don’t want, like, “this isn’t working for me, that’s not working”. How do you know we start to think about what we do want. And so there’s a clarity that can come from grief. It is a clarifier that brings us to our awareness, all that probably isn’t working in our lives, things that we would desire to change. Even if we don’t know how or what that looks like. You can feel it in your body. Your body responds to what isn’t working, if we just kind of tune in. We just take a moment to tune in to what our bodies are telling us because our bodies are always speaking to us, especially in grief. Especially with that post traumatic growth journey that all gravers go through
There is No Timeline to Grieve
And because there’s no timeline to grieve, I think that experience or how long that experience takes is very different for everybody. I think it also relies on how open we are to learning something new, to see in our lives and other people from a different perspective. I think one of the beautiful things about grief is it brings us more compassion, we become more compassionate people, I believe. And so it’s really leaning into that compassion for ourselves first. Because it’s really hard to give others compassion, when we don’t have it for ourselves. It comes back to that old thing. You can’t pour from an empty cup, right? I think that is one of the lessons that Sherrie had received in her grief, and what made her seek out grief recovery, help in the grief recovery method, and I just loved how she shared her experience in that, she said it has the most amazing tool, and it was the best gift that she had ever given herself. And I would wholeheartedly agree for myself personally. Grief recovery has been the gift that keeps on giving. I certified in March of 2019, in Austin, Texas, and I was just telling someone about it the other day. And I was telling this friend, there are pivotal moments in our lives. Times where we can think back and, and think well, that conversation or that bumping into that person or, being in the right place at the right time, or that choice I made or that decision. We can pick out these moments in our lives that are very pivotal to us, that really changed the trajectory of the rest of our lives, where we understand and are aware that had I not done that thing, my life would not be where it is today. A happenstance conversation, and I’ve had so many of those instances, just the perfect conversation at the perfect time, or hearing something exactly when I needed to hear it, or stumbling upon a resource or something that would inevitably change my life. And that was grief recovery, to be honest, which opened the doors and led to many other things such as Reiki and end of life doula and the clients that I’ve been working with in Reiki and what I’m learning starting to learn now to further my Reiki and deeper my practice there with crystals and sound healing.
We evolve with our grief, we are always evolving with our grief. It’s just truly sad to me, I feel sadness when I see people, especially online, often in the grief community, that feel like their life is destined to be how it is today. I was that person who thought my life was going to be how it was, and I was going to feel how I was going to feel for the rest of my life. You can’t see the label from inside the jar. Right? I mean, that’s another quote. But it’s so true, it’s really hard to see a path forward when you’ve tried something and it didn’t work or you’ve tried that thing and it didn’t work or or you constantly feel like you’re judged, criticized or analyzed. And that’s what grief recovery is absolutely different. The approach is different in its individual, because you’re an individual like it is individualized to you, because your grief is unique to you. I could go on and on on a tangent on that but grief shows us what needs to be healed, grief is a clarifier it and it will force you to evolve.
Grief is Like a Sinkhole
I think eventually, unless you are unwilling to surrender to what it has in store for you, the gift that it could give you and I can just see the eyes rolling because when you are deep in grief, you do not want to hear how there’s gifts in grief, you don’t want to hear that there is purpose to your suffering, like you just don’t want to hear that stuff. I didn’t want to hear that stuff. But eventually, there comes a point where you just get sick and tired of being sick and tired. And like my friend Sherrie said in her episode, and honestly, we had recorded that many months back. And I had never forgotten this phrase that she said, but when you lay you decay, and if that’s not true of so many other aspects of our lives, whether let’s say you have a cancer diagnosis. Of course, there are days where absolutely all you can do is lay. But if you just laid, right, if you just laid and you’d never got up and you never had a reason to get up, or you never tried to get up, you never even tried or, granted, there’s all kinds of scenarios and situations. This is a very blanket statement, but that statement lay or decay. It’s like our bodies are meant to move. And, I don’t I’m not even sure who said it. But a body in motion, stays in motion like the laws of physics or something. I’m not sure. I think you get the idea, though, of where I’m getting to, but we must stay in motion. And that’s true with grief too, or you do get stuck. It’s like you’re in a sinkhole. Grief is like a sinkhole, it’ll swallow you whole. If you let it ,grief will force you out of your comfort zone and bring change whether you like it or not. The more you fight these changes that grief will bring in, the more resistant you are to these changes, the more your suffering will persist. And that was no different in my grave.
Grief Recovery is About Addressing the Pain
I had many days where I cried more tears than I thought I could ever possibly cry. When you’re crying from sadness, it’s much different than when you’re crying from pain. Just like Sherrie had mentioned in her episode. She said you will someday at some point cry so much that you’ve cried enough from the pain. And I agree, I think there comes a point where you just run out of tears and crying from the sadness is much different. And I think it’s once you actually process that pain, and you work through that pain, what left is the sadness. That doesn’t go away. You know, grief recovery isn’t about getting over or putting behind you the person that passed away or the relationship that is less than loving, grief recovery is about addressing the pain. Any sadness you feel isn’t just going to go away, there’s still going to be that empty seat at the table. And just this week, as I’m recording this, on Tuesday, the founder of grief recovery passed away from cancer after three months of senses diagnosis. And for me personally, it’s a very sad loss. It’s a sad loss for all of us grief recovery specialists, I believe, because he founded something that is incredible, that has changed and impacted all of our lives. And I am in awe of the legacy that he has created and his left. And I feel deeply honored to be able to carry on his work and his creation of the grief recovery method in the work that I do with my clients. Again, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. And it was an incredible gift that he has given me. And so I dedicate this episode to John James, who created the grief recovery method out of his own pain in his own sorrow. And if you are interested in learning more about his story, I encourage you to pick up the book the grief recovery handbook. It is linked in the show notes. And if you don’t see the show notes, or don’t go to the show notes, you can also find the grief recovery handbook on Amazon. And I highly recommend it.
Voice Out Your Feelings
Moving on to Episode 59 with Faith Wilcox, she shared her story of her 13 year old daughter being diagnosed with cancer and actually passing away in her arms 365 days following her diagnosis. And this was over 20 years ago, she just recently published a book, which is also linked in the show notes for Episode 59. It’s called “Hope as a Bright Star”. And it was developed from her writings that she wrote at the bedside of her daughter, and what she had learned throughout that whole process of sitting with her daughter in that year, in and out of the hospital, chemo radiation treatments and also navigating being a parent to her daughter’s sister as well. And the dynamics of how you function as a family when you have such a sick child and you’re in and out of the hospital. And I can’t imagine what that’s like, I cannot even imagine. I resonated with what Faith had shared about how writing was such a pivotal healing tool for her. Because I too, have been writing since I was in my teens and I journaled, I wrote poetry. I found much comfort in expressing myself in that way. And I think for a lot of introverts or empathic people, we find that it is much easier for us to process our feelings. We often do internally, but it’s a great exercise in expression, to give your feelings a voice in some way. And so for me, it was always writing. And that was the case also for Faith. And she gives some tips for other parents at the bedside of a loved one, going through the same situation that she experienced.
What would you want to do if you only have one year left to live?
And I just thought when I was listening back and editing, I just thought to myself, like, had she known she had one year to live? Would she have made different choices? What would she have wanted to experience? I mean, what a good question to ask yourself to get some fire under your butt. You know, if you had one year to live, you were told today, you have one year to live? What would you want that year to look like? I don’t know about you. But I feel very overwhelmed by that question, to be honest. Because I feel like there’s so much more that I have to offer people and want to do in my life. I think grief in that question is a clarifier. I have a pretty long bucket list. I don’t know about you, but I do have a bucket list. And I seem to be adding to it year after year. But it is a daunting feeling isn’t it? To think if you were given only one year. Probably many of the things that you might have on your bucket list aren’t things that you would probably prioritize.
Maybe it’s putting your feet in the ocean or feeling the beach, sand in between your toes for the first time or swimming with dolphins. I’m reminded of a story of Jeffie which is shared by Elisabeth Kubler Ross and her book “The Wheel of Life” , a memoir for living and dying. But she shares the story of this little boy named Jeffie who is dying of cancer and was sick much of his young childhood and the last thing he wanted to do was more cancer treatment, more chemo and radiation and he just wanted to go home. And so his family took him home, and when they got home, the one thing he wanted to do was to ride his bike. And I’ll actually share this, you’ll hear the story of Jeffie brought up in a future episode, I had the privilege of having a conversation with Ken Ross, who is Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s son. And I brought up that story because I was moved to tears when I read it. But Elizabeth’s life is just one of many stories. She was actively doing her work, but it’s like the amount of work, the amount of accomplishments that she had in that time, is just, I’m in awe. So anyway, I was made to think of that story of Jeffie. When I thought of that question, what would you want to do if you had one year left to live and turns out with Jeffie, he knew intuitively, that he had but a few hours at most. In fact, he wanted to go home so he could die at home. That story was just though a beautiful example of just this little child, young child taking ownership of the kind of death he wanted to have. And I just think, imagine if we had that kind of authority, and took that authority to have that kind of conviction when we’re alive, right? not when we’re on our way out. And so again, it just comes back to that whole question. And my biggest takeaway from Faith’s episode is, how would I want my next year to be if I knew I had one year to live? And so that’s, that’s the question I want to leave you with today to truly ponder on, and think about, and what do you want your next year to be? Like? If you are grieving right now, what do you want your next year to be like.
P.S. In case you don’t know if it is something that you want to move forward working through your grief, I offer grief recovery, both online and in person, and both one on one and in a group. So if that’s something that is of interest to you, I encourage you to please reach out to me at Victoria at http://theunleashedheart.com or you can head to the show notes. And there will be some links to my social media there and you can send me a message. I highly encourage you to do that. If you have any questions or reservations about moving forward in your grief, because you got one life to live? And how about we make the most of it. Right? Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode, which as I mentioned, I’m dedicating to John James, the founder of the grief recovery method, and the grief recovery Institute. A program that has very much so changed my life and has been the gift to me that has kept on giving. If you would like to learn more about this amazing program, I encourage you again to reach out to me check out the show notes. And remember, when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. Much love.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.
Takeaways & Reflections | Does Everything Happen for a Reason?
SHOW NOTES SUMMARY:
Does everything happen for a reason?
How much of our lives is left to chance, and how much of it is a reflection of our choices?
I explore these questions in this week’s episode and more. Larry and Michelle shared their stories of love and loss and, although their stories of grief are vastly different, there are a few things incredibly similar in their stories: The willingness to love and be loved.
Listen to this week’s episode and reflect on the choices you’ve made, the chances you’ve taken, and the beautiful gifts that you’ve gained as a result.
Hi, there. Thank you for tuning in to grieving voices today. This is Episode 57, takeaways and reflections. And today I’m going to be talking about Episode 55 with Larry Indiviglia called Choice and Chance and, Episode 57 with Michel St. Jean Widows Don’t Sleep: Walking the Path of Cumulative Loss.
Making Choice to Take a Chance
As I was thinking about these two episodes, the one thought that came to my mind was, especially when talking about Larry’s episode is, his life by choice or is it by chance? And especially in grief, many people may say that everything happens for a reason. And as a griever, you don’t want to hear that. You don’t want to hear that there’s some reason why your loved one is no longer with you. That’s the last thing that you really want to hear. Have you ever thought about though how the moments that happen in your life, how they come to be? So much of what we experience is because we made a choice, because we chose something that had an impact and there’s cause and effect. So you make one choice, and this thing happens, you make another choice and this other thing happens. But like in Larry’s story, it really revolved around making the choice to take a chance. And for Larry it was taking a chance on love. But if you really think about it aren’t all of the losses we experience in our lives, due to making a choice to either commit to that person or move to that place or befriend that person, it all comes back to taking the chance, making the choice and taking the chance. And like I said, whether that be love or that be a friendship, or a move. We all make these choices. Larry shared how he took a chance on love and ended up having an eight month relationship with a woman who ultimately passed away of cancer. And he would do it all over again in a heartbeat. And I think for any Grievers out there, I’ll speak for myself, I would rather have had that experience of loving that person and being loved in return than never at all.
Freewill is Having the Ability to Choose
And especially as a parent, which is the greatest love I think anyone could ever possibly have the privilege of experiencing. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child, but I do feel for myself. And I think any parent would say this, that you would rather have had that child in your life than I’ve never had them in your life at all. If they were to pass away, if you were to lose them. Love in all its forms is a great teacher for us. And that’s where I think a lot of people can use the phrase, “everything happens for a reason“, and I struggle with that. I struggle with that phrase because I don’t feel like there has to be a reason for us to to grow or evolve. But I do feel like we are presented with experiences that shaped and challenged us, and it’s what we decide to do in those moments. It’s what we choose to do in those moments. It’s essentially what freewill is, having the ability to choose. And we can choose to grow from those experiences, or we can choose to lay in decay, like one of my future guests shares in her episode coming up, when you lay, you decay. I’ve never forgotten it when she said it. And so Larry shares his love and loss.
There are No Stages of Grief
And, as does my other guest, Michelle St. Jane, in Episode 56, she took a chance to fall in love, she first took a chance to leave her family of origin to go all by herself, I believe, 16-17 years old. And to see the world, she wanted to see the world, she ended up falling in love, again, took a chance, ended up getting married and having children with him. And he ended up passing away, very suddenly, and unexpectedly. And there was one part of her episode that really stuck out to me something she said, “I hear your heartbeat”. When she’s talking about her husband, she said, “I hear your heartbeat but you’re already gone”. It’s in the hospital realizing that, although he’s there, physically, His heart is beating. But he’s already gone. He was brain dead, he had an aneurysm in his lungs. And she had to make the choice to take him off life support. And raise a nine- month-old, a five-year-old, and a six-year-old on her own. And I know many women end up in this position, many husbands, and many significant others end up in this position of you know, of loss and then are having to raise children or even just carry on without children. It’s like, there’s no manual for that. There’s no manual for grief. And she said, “grief helps us to know the direction we want to go in”. And I completely agree if we’re open to it, but we have to be open to it. We have to be open to what it’s telling us, to what our bodies are telling us as we’re going through this emotional roller coaster. I do want to highlight one thing she said and she mentioned during her episode, she mentioned about the stages of grief and I just want to reiterate that there are no stages of grief.
I actually have Ken Ross, Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ son, who will be on my podcast coming up. And we’re going to tackle this very topic of the stages of grief because it’s as mother’s work that was misinterpreted about the stages. So anyway, I just want to reiterate that there are no stages. Her work was about terminal illness and these phases that people go through when they’re diagnosed. And that’s not saying that people don’t have anger and they don’t have denial and all these things in grief. There’s just not this linear path of grief in the form of stages. Another common thing that Michelle brought up during her episode that many Grievers experiences around the same time every year, when that loss occurred, you have these same familiar feelings that come out of the woodwork. They can appear out of nowhere seemingly, and she said every year or three days in October, when her husband had gone into coma. Even 25 years later, she said she still had those same angry thoughts and feelings and it was pulled back to the past. Again, every year, she had a choice to be pulled back to that past again. And eventually she did find a way to not find herself in that position again. But again, it comes back to making a choice, she had to make a choice to look at another October in a different way, experience October in a different way. And it was through this cumulative healing, all these different things she was doing that helped her find her way out of that rut every year.
Every Loss is Cumulative
And so I really encourage you to listen to her episode on how she managed to find her way through all those October’s and where she’s at today, because I think it’s a really great illustration of a woman who has endured many different types of losses, which are cumulative, every loss, it’s cumulative, it stacks up on each other. And we have an opportunity to learn from these things. And it’s not to say that happened for a reason, so you could learn these lessons. It’s just life, it’s just life, it seems like such a simplified thing to say, like this just life, like there are so many people I’ve met and come across who will say that death is just a part of life. Well, that’s life, right? And some of the people say that, truth be told, haven’t experienced a lot of loss or trauma either. And so, we have to be careful, because words matter. The words matter that we say, especially to Grievers and around Grievers, and about grief.
I want to circle back to Larry’s story about love and loss because there are many people who, if presented with that same situation would have turned the other way, would have walked away. And how about the love of his life who took a chance to go on a dating website knowing full well that she had cancer and taking a chance in doing that. Knowing her worth as a human being despite what she was going through with her health, that love was the answer, love was something that could carry her through her days, love was the antidote to what she was going to experience. And I commend, first of all, the awareness of knowing your own worth as a human being, because we’re all worthy of love, right? Regardless of what we’re experiencing, who we are on the outside what we look like, we’re all worthy of love, even if we have stage four cancer. And so I think it’s incredible that she found somebody who was willing to walk beside her in that. And so I commended Larry in that episode, because it takes a lot of personal commitment to stick beside somebody through their good days and their bad days when essentially you really don’t know each other really well. Right? It’s not like they were married for 15-20 years, and then she developed cancer diagnosis. So I just found the story itself pretty incredible that he was willing to go extra mile with her in the love that he wanted to give her, and she to him. I think it’s a beautiful thing.
To Love and Be Loved in Return
And if people who are going through something like that can find the worth in themselves, to take a chance on themselves, and then find someone to take a chance on them. I think it’s an absolutely beautiful thing but it makes you really think about if you’re not someone who is opening your heart to love. Why is that? I mean, there’s fear and rejection. And certainly I’m sure many people or she had people rejecting her, when once they found out she had cancer, or maybe that was what she led the conversation with. And they were like, I’m gone. Or maybe she gave them an out. Maybe upon meeting or talking, she said, “Hey, I just want to let you know I have stage four cancer, totally understand if you don’t want to, you know, walk with me through this“. I’m thinking back. And I’m just curious how many times that happened. But if you’re going through cancer right now, if you’re experiencing a diagnosis now, and you don’t have love in your life, maybe let this story inspire you to take a chance on yourself, to allow somebody to take a chance on you, too. One of the things that Larry said was “you can’t unconditionally love, if you don’t love yourself first“. And I do think it probably takes an incredible sense of self love, for someone to have that love to give someone that you kind of learn to know, through cancer. So, I encourage you to listen to that episode if you need a little inspiration in the love department. And even if you don’t, it could be friendship, too. You don’t have to walk away from a friendship if someone gets diagnosed with cancer because you’re scared, or because you’re fearful, you don’t know what to say. Just be honest about those things. “I don’t know what to say, I’m afraid what’s going to come up for me if I sit with you through this?“, Because that’s natural, that’s normal. Does it take a special person to sit with someone through the most trying and challenging times?, Of course it does. Is it especially challenging too during cancer treatments and all of these things that someone is going through, plus the emotional roller coaster for them? It is, absolutely it is. How beautiful of an experience it can be and what you could miss out on. Larry said “the ability to choose his hope for the future“. That is the hope, the fact that you have the ability to choose. And I’ve said it several times in my latest posts on Instagram but grief makes you feel like you don’t have a choice. But we always do, we always do. Because even doing nothing is making a choice. The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return. And I think that was a great message from Larry’s episode. And I will end it there.
P.S. I want to share that I have a new energy quiz. You can learn your energy type. And if you go to my website, https://www.theunleashedheart.com, the link is in the show notes. You will find a link to the energy quiz under the Reiki tab. So if you go under services, and then Reiki and then you’ll see energy type, just click there and to get started to find your energy type. It takes less than two minutes and you get a handy dandy document to download that helps you up level your energy and find also what nurtures and leaks too.
If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving a review or a five star rating. If you want to listen more inspiring grieving stories you can visit here. Or you can visit www.theunleashedheart.com for more information. If you have grieving stories that you wanted to share you can message me at [email protected] and you can also find me in Instagram and Facebook. If you liked this episode, please share it because sharing is caring. Until next time, when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life, much love.
Takeaways & Reflections | Coming Home To Ourselves
SHOW NOTES SUMMARY:
Generational learning and ancestral trauma run deep in families. It’s not even something I gave much thought to before becoming an Advanced Certified Grief Recovery Specialist.
In episode 37, Angela shared how the lessons her mom was taught were passed down generations, impacting her life ten-fold.
It takes courage to break the cycle of generational learning because it takes action and deep, internal work to address it.
In this week’s episode, I talk more about my takeaways and reflections from Angela’s episode and also from Shandra’s episode, where she shared about her memory loss.
I share today, my reflections about the impact of not connecting the dots of our grief to our behaviors and about what’s in a name.
Angela and Shandra both had to find their way back home to themselves, in ways that required each of them to address what they thought was the truth. They found what was true for themselves and, in my personal experience of having done the same, have felt more at home in my own skin than I ever have.
We are all just walking each other home (a quote I read not long ago). And, at the same time, finding our way back to ourselves, too.
And then Episode 38 with Shonda Shultz titled Who am I. Going through an end of life doula training program just completed my YouMap Certification and I will link to those in the show notes if you’re interested in learning more. But The conflicting feelings that would cause a child and it wasn’t just physical abuse. It was sexual abuse too. And that’s what really struck me in her story. Through this podcast, I’ve met so many incredible people with who have led really experienced lives and I use that word experience because For the most part, there are experiences that people don’t ask for. And so, I know I spoken to about children and resilience. And the one message that I would love to highlight that Angela said during her episode was that resilience should not be our natural state. And I could not agree more.
Children don’t ask to become resilient. It is something that is forced on children. So this idea that children bounce back and are resilient, is really sending the wrong message. If you’re find yourself saying that about a child, ask yourself what that child is going through. And see if there’s a way that you can help lift them up. And that was one thing too that Angela shared in that it seemed that everyone turned their back on her. There was no one for her to turn to no one became her advocate. No one stood up for her. And it wasn’t until she found herself. Knocking on death’s door. Dealing with addiction and attempting suicide. She found a therapist who really changed helped change her life. He’s still her therapist to this day. And it’s just a really rich conversation. I have so many notes here that I’m not even sure where to start.
Complex Trauma As a Child
Another aspect of our conversation that really struck me too is that she talked about use the term this, like this complex trauma as a child. And what she became good at as a child was this critical thinking and creativity was kind of looked at and viewed as an insult. As a child, she like that was not a good skill or asset or strength, really. And she realized that was also her superpower when she got older. Writing and creating and just being able to look at things critically. Because when you are bombarded with these stressors, coming at you each and every day, you’re constantly on alert. And you know, things don’t happen have to happen continuously either to have that sensation. Think of it like PTSD, you know, you just have to have one incident, and anything that reminds you of that or sparks that you can have that same physical reaction. So she ended up with this hyper-awareness. And she turned that into a craft and into an art form. in a beautiful way, she ended up getting her PhD in Creative Arts and becoming a professor and self published author as well. Actually, I don’t know if it was self published, I should take that back. I’m not sure if it was self published. I don’t think it was actually. But anyway, her book is called snakes and ladders and Sharon she shares her story I believe, from what she said very candidly in her book.
But everything that she has done since that time and since that experience has been about mothering herself. And I really had a picture in my mind as she was sharing about that because when you don’t feel like you grow up with the mother, like the mother that you wish you would have had. You do tend to like she did mother yourself. But it takes a long time to get there. We hope you get there to the point where you can mother yourself but for many children who grow up in circumstances like that where you’re abused by your mother or you know a parent experiences like that really set you up for failure. And like Angela said she should have been a monster. Based on her childhood experiences, she should have been a monster. The one thing too, that she shared was that when her mom ended up passing away, people said that she needed to make peace with her mom. And she didn’t go to the funeral, because she stated that she couldn’t have her truth there. And her mom had actually changed her name as well. But I thought that took so much courage, because how often do we do things to please others to make others feel more comfortable. And she just knew that was not something that was felt and in integrity with what her experience was.
How to Raise Children
She shares advice for parents and that if you want your child to one day care for you, raise them to be humans, how to be humans. You have to show them what care really is. And I love that part. I loved how she shared that as well. I think there’s just this overarching thought of I mean, that really causes me to reflect too, and just reviewing the notes again, let’s just imagine being a child and waking up every day, knowing and feeling secure, and loved. And it’s a really tragic and heartbreaking thought to know that so many children out there are not waking up feeling secure and loved, and hurting children become hurting adults. And I have seen this play out on this podcast in nearly every single episode, nearly every single interview, I’ve had these experiences from our childhood or from just our just our lives in general we can you can have an experience in your teen years, and it creeps up again in your 20s and 30s and 40s. You can have an experience in your 20s. And it creeps up again in your 40s and 50s and 60s.
These experiences that wound you on such a deep level, they don’t just go away. It says if there’s glass in this wound, and we often try to just cover it with a band aid and and let it go and hope it heals by itself and hope that we can forget about it. But that glass just festers in that wound. It is relentless, and it becomes infected and it gets to the point where you can’t ignore it anymore. And that’s a lot like grief. It’s a lot like trauma. We can’t just ignore these things. They do creep up in our lives and they impact every area of our lives. Whether you grow up to be in business, if you have, you know, your own business as an entrepreneur, you might have self worth issues. You might have money issues, you might have relationship issues, which then affect your business because everything affects everything. Everything touches everything. And because you are the common denominator in your life and in every relationship that you have. I was interviewed for a podcast today and I talked about this very thing and how these childhood experiences like Angela’s or like my own are like yours if you’re listening. We often don’t connect what is happening to us in adulthood to our past or to grief things that of the ways that we’ve lost people or things or what have you. These are many different kinds of grief and loss. But we have to address what it is that is leaving us feel this ease. And we often don’t connect the dots to grieve.
Honesty is the Antidote of Shame
I would just ask you to think about what your childhood is experiences were like, what has left you maybe a scar to try to heal. Or maybe you had a wound that just got reopened with another loss. That’s the thing to like we want to try and forget and bury and we can have another loss or another experience that kind of feels like it’s kind of opening up that wound again. That’s really essentially what happened to me. When it comes to grief, I’d be remiss to say that usually shame isn’t involved as well. And Angela, and I talked about that a little bit in her episode. And I have a note here, one of the things that I said during her episode is that honesty is the antidote for shame. When we can really become honest about where we are in our lives, what we’re feeling, where we want to be, what we feel we didn’t do, or could have done, or what others did, that have left us feeling emotionally incomplete, that have left us feeling shame, we can start to understand then the impact of shame. When there is grief, there’s often shame as well, they kind of go hand in hand, they don’t kind of they do. I also had asked her thoughts on being a survivor. Because what I hear sometimes, too, with Grievers, and you know, they’ve had a loved one that completed suicide, they might say they’re a suicide survivor.
Or if someone who can try attempted suicide, they might call themselves a suicide survivor, for example. And I wanted to hear what her thoughts were around that term. Because essentially, she survived a lot at the hands of her mother. And despite her experiences, like I said, she ended up getting her PhD, which I just still, it just blows my mind. But she said that she embraces it, she actually identifies with it. And I just really appreciated her perspective of the word because sometimes that can keep people stuck in their story of being a survivor. And it’s also often a way that people find comfort and other people who have had similar experiences, and who relate as a survivor as well. I guess it feels good for you. So be it. But I know for some who perhaps haven’t done as much personal work into their grief and trauma as Angela has for the past 20 years working with her therapist. That is a word that could easily keep you stuck. Just something to reflect on. And keep in mind.
Generational Pain | Generational Trauma
Another area of conversation that really I felt the energy from Angela in a concerned and passionate way was talking when she talked about this generational pain that had been passed down through the generations. And I actually have a note here that says, briefcase of pain is the phrase that came to my mind as she was sharing how her grandpa in World War Two was mistakenly told that his wife and baby whom his wife was pregnant with had died. And so he had stopped writing her. And they since he believed that he was now a grieving spouse husband, they put him in an office or training program and basically put him in an office with an abundance of booze available. And so he came home to a life that he thought he wasn’t going to have realizing that his wife was still alive that he had a child and they went on to have more children but something like that really changes you and and I imagine and I’m not sure if this is what she said in the episode, but because of all of that exposure to the alcohol that he had while serving in the military. I imagine that was something that I habit that he kept once he came home as well. I don’t know that for sure if she mentioned that, but just that trauma of thinking someone is has died, right. But there was a lot of family history that was found in this briefcase that she is not really fully dug into herself yet.
But she explained to how Sydney Australia had this. It’s has this history of killing these children like baby, there’s so many babies skeletons had been found in yard, she said she called them baby farms. She said that homeless and destitute kids from the US and the UK, to Australia, were sent to Australia to and farmed out for profit. And this was back on in 50 years ago. So the roots of that have penetrated generations after. And I think we see this playing out in among various different demographics, where this generational trauma is being passed down. And the one thing that Angela shared, and I made it a quote graphic because there was such an important point I felt that needs to be highlighted was that we don’t have to live out the histories that were given. Whether this is you know, teachings or generational learning from your parents or abuse or beliefs or what have you, or it goes back generations of generations of abuse, or again, belief systems, values, all of those things are generally passed down generations. But trauma can be too because it’s stored in the body. And again, we don’t have to live out the histories that were given. Whether they’re ancestral, or whether they’re just one generation back, and it was your parents telling you this, that or the other thing, you don’t have to become that. You don’t have to live that out. Angela was told she’d be dead by 16 with a needle in her arm. Instead, she got her PhD. She did not live out the history that she was given. But she very well could have. That could have been her story. Like she said she should have been a monster. So many amazing nuggets of wisdom from Angela’s episode. I hope you check it out.
The Accident that Saved Shandra’s Life
And moving on to Shandra’s episode. Who am I? We talked about her experience of not remembering much of her life, including her own daughter. And could you imagine walking away from a car accident? Like physically? You look okay, right? You look in the mirror and you’re okay. But something’s not right. You don’t recognize the people around you. That’s a loss. I can’t imagine I mean, the conflict that would stir up within yourself, amongst your relationships with others. Like she said, You know, people had trouble believing her. And the grief that must have caused. I mean, really think about that. If you went about your day tomorrow, and had an accident, and you could not remember, I just can’t imagine. It’s like you have these people around you who want you so desperately to remember. And like she said, like she shared in her episode, frequently asking her Don’t you remember? Don’t you remember? It’s like this, like taking a razor blade and just taking a little cut each time because that has to be painful. To know that no, I don’t remember. But I want to and the grief that holds. I just can’t imagine. And that’s why I really was excited to have Shandra on because it’s an experience that not a lot of people can share in the knowing of what that’s like. Not a lot of people do share in that experience, I should say, what was interesting about Shandra story too, is that she viewed her accident as the accident that saved her life.
Because that put her on the path to relapse, and she did not want that. And so that’s when she really looked to work on herself and understanding that I want something better. I want something more for my life and for myself and for my daughter. And out of that came with an interesting part of our conversation was about her changing her name. We identify so much with her name, don’t we? Some people don’t. And that’s part of why she changed her name if she didn’t identify with her name, her birth given name. And she had tried several iterations of it as I mean, I did too. I was Vicki for the longest time. And it wasn’t until I was got married that I went with Victoria. And honestly, like today, Victoria feels so much better. When I changed to Victoria, it did. And people had a hard time calling me Victoria. In fact, there are still people that I don’t know if they insist, or if it’s just out of habit, or, or what but they still call me Vicki. I don’t correct them. But in truth, if you know, I go by Victoria, why would you call me Vicki? Right? And that’s a point that Shandra brought up is that why do we have such a hard time calling people by the name that they wish to be called? It’s really common with the nicknames.
You know, I have a daughter, Alexandra. And to me, she’s Alexandra. But to friends and herself actually she goes by Alex, I need to have a conversation with her. Because does she prefer Alex over Alexandra? What feels better to her? Alex or Alexandra? I still need to have that conversation with her. In fact, and I intend to because I think it’s so important that if we’re not sure then we ask, even though I love her name, I think it’s beautiful. I love Alexandra. Maybe it’s not fitting her right now. And that needs to be okay with me. A lot of the times I’ll say that she’s actually dra dra our son, when he was starting to talk, he would call her dra dra, because he couldn’t say Alexandra and so it’s kind of stuck. So oftentimes she is dra dra.
Looking for Healing Modalities
Anyway, Shandra has talked a lot about like this inner work, this inner child work that she has been doing, and she said in 2020, she remembered after six years of her healing work, she remembered, that’s when she remembered everything. But it took her six years to get there. And it took a lot of different healing modalities as well. She had mentioned a case against a right cache a cache of records. I know I’m butchering that, but she also mentioned cranial sacral therapy, emotion code, which I’m familiar with Reiki, she mentioned parts work, the adult chair. And so if you haven’t listened to that episode, she does actually go a little bit more into depth on the parts work. I found that interesting. I was going to actually look that up because I had never heard of it before. And I’ll probably link to that in the show notes, as well as some other resources that I couldn’t fit into the show notes on her episode. But, you know, grief is cumulative, and it’s cumulatively negative. And I’ve said that so many times, but healing is to not negative, but healing is cumulative. And it’s cumulatively positive. Like shandra said, Don’t judge yourself. And don’t live in that feeling of judgment. Because you’re not where you want to be, or you’re not where you think you should be, or focus on things that bring you joy. And the good times.
She said that the one thing grief taught her was to live, and that the meaning of life is to live it. And I think, you know, going through the end of life doula program that I’m currently going through. Obviously, it’s all about death and facing our mortality and what it means to have a Good death, if you’ve never heard that that’s a possibility it is. Now granted, it’s you know, the, the work focuses on those who have had, who are going through a terminal illness, or a chronic disease that’s increasingly becoming debilitating for those who are going through that experience. Who there is the opportunity to have a good death. And in thinking about what kind of death you would want to have, you really think about what kind of life do you want to live. And so I’ve been doing some reflection on that, as I’ve been going through that program. And really all this is all you know, the common theme between Angelo’s episode, and Shandra’s episode, and so many other episodes that have, you know, shown up on this podcast is that there is a path to self discovery.
And regardless of what healing modality you choose, it likely just choose something, just choose something and find the support, or the guidance to help you. Like Angela had a therapist for over 20 years now, and surrounded herself with people who could support her the way that she needed to be. And then she actually practice boundaries around those who couldn’t. And I think that’s an important aspect of her share, as well as in her story is that even though her mother was alive, she had created boundaries as much as she could to make sure that she was looking after herself first. And in the case of Shandra, looking for those healing modalities to help her really discover who she was with quite literally. She said that it felt like she was coming home to herself. And that’s really something I resonate with, and really have felt for myself to be true these past two years as well.
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about the healing modalities that I have to offer, including grief recovery, or Reiki energy healing. And so if you have any questions on anything that I’ve shared today, or any services that I offer, please don’t hesitate to look me up on my website, there is the contact form at www.theunleashedheart.com. I do have free resources on there for eBooks about grief and loss, as well as an opt in for my bi-weekly newsletter that I send out every other Wednesday of every month. I used to have it weekly. But I feel like to make it the best it can be I needed a little bit of space and I needed some mental bandwidth as well to ensure that it is continues to be really good content. So check those resources out. And I will also link to some things in the show notes. And remember, when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. Much love.
Have you ever thought about how your body responds when you’re doing something you’d rather not do? When you say “yes” to something you wish you had said “no” to?
When you find the courage to say “no” to something or someone, do you feel guilt or shame if the other person responds to your “no” in an unkind way – when they don’t respect or honor your “no?”
Or, do you say “yes” because you’re a people-pleaser? Do you want to see everyone around you happy and don’t want to be the reason someone is angry, upset, or disappointed in you? Even if that means you are going against the grain of what your heart (and energetic body) wants you to do?
On the flip side of all of this, have you thought about what you feel when someone tells you “no? Are you honoring and respecting the “no’s” given to you?
Whether you are asked to change seats on a flight, take on more responsibilities at work, or join a committee, if it’s not feeling like a “heck yes,” there are two ways to approach your response that will serve you.
Make a “yes” okay with you.
Say “no,” which is a complete sentence. Period.
I have taken the first approach many times. I have said “yes” to things with good intentions and because I really wanted to, but then found out the “yes” wasn’t what I thought it would be. Have you found yourself in that situation? You feel like something will be no big deal, and then you realize the experience becomes quite the opposite. You do still have choices in that scenario. You can either find a way out of the situation and respectfully bow out or change how you feel about it. You may have to do some internal digging, but it is possible to make an unpleasant experience pleasant simply by shifting your perspective (making the “yes” okay with you).
I feel like I’ve become a master at that one. Most of my life has felt like test after test for learning how to shift my perspective (and energy) around how I feel about certain things. You may recognize these people (like me) when they say: “Well, at least…XXX.” I have always tried to think about a scenario or someone else who “has it worse” than I do. Especially in my younger years, I was also trying to minimize my own experience, which is also a common thing many grievers will do.
What does all of this have to do with grief?
What Happens When You’re Out of Alignment
Grief is sneaky in this way. It’s like a spider finding a crevice and creating this masterful web that seems to attract, not lunch, but rather scenarios that will continue to test and challenge you. It just seems to take us so damn long to get the memo. Meanwhile, all of these scenarios and experiences stack up. And, if you’re not committing to experiences or people that are in alignment with the energy you want to be in, then it’s easy to see how this kind of grief, of not honoring yourself, is self-inflicted.
What you may begin to experience, then, are anxiety attacks (or ever-present low-level anxiety), headaches, canker/cold sores, bowel issues, rashes, frequent colds/viral infections, body aches/pains, unexplained fatigue, adrenal fatigue, feelings of burnout, etc.
When this self-inflicted grief goes on long enough, you will eventually find yourself feeling like a victim – to life and, if it goes on long enough – your body. And, all because you are not honoring your needs and desires – of what would feel to be in alignment with who you are and who you desire to be.
More than two years ago, I would not have recognized the signs and signals my body would give me. I would not be aware of my energetic body response, and I definitely wouldn’t have paused long enough to tune into either of these things. Today, however, it’s a very different story.
Our body is always speaking to us. We only need to tune out and tune our antenna inward to know what we need to do. Then, follow that inner wisdom with action that aligns with our heart, mind, and spirit.
The day you can do this is the day that grief’s grip starts to loosen.
Love +light to you today. Thank you for reading. If this message speaks to you today, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Reach out to me on Instagram / FB or email me at [email protected] [dot] com 💛
P.S. I recently launched a FREE Energy Type Quiz! If you want to dive deeper into understanding your energy type and learn some tips, too, click HERE to get started! There’s a free guide to download as well!
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