Do you believe that you are forever going to feel sad, isolated, or in your current circumstances?
Do you believe that others have their lives figured out and don’t understand how you feel?
Does it feel true that who you thought you were has been upheaved and that you’ve been shaken at your foundation?
Six years ago, I embarked on a path of some deep excavation. It’s often been painful, but I have found that the excavating hasn’t been nearly as painful as the emotional dis-ease I had been feeling. With each passing year, I’ve learned how to be more conscious of my thought process, actions, and it’s gotten a lot easier to recognize when I start down an emotional tailspin. It’s gotten so much easier to snap out of it, too. Whereas, years ago, circumstances and my internal emotional climate would have derailed me for weeks. When you’ve had your entire life to form your beliefs and behaviors through experience and circumstances, it becomes a project of rewiring your brain and creating new connections.
I held those beliefs I shared previously. I felt I was destined to feel crazy for the rest of my life. Back then, it was a program that helped me snap out of it. In 2014, I discovered Tony Robbins. Through his work and the inner-work, I started to get sick of my own self. I started to learn new ways of BE-ING. I started to ask myself deeper (and better) questions.
Finding our way to our best selves, the heart of who we’ve always been isn’t a complicated process. But, it does take time, and it does take commitment to yourself. When I say it takes time, you don’t have to spend hours a day every day of the week. Starting small is still a start. Whether you incorporate one thing into your daily life, such as journaling, meditation, yoga, a daily walk (to think and let your mind go or listen to insightful/inspiring podcasts), or a simple breathing practice (which is actually more challenging than meditation for me), another option is to add in a regular Reiki Guided Healing Meditation session (followed by receiving reiki). This is a powerful session (60 or 90 minutes) that takes you to a depth of self that you have likely never experienced. And, after next weekend, I’ll be able to offer an even more elevated Reiki session after I complete my Usui Karuna Holy Fire Certification.
If you’d like to dig into the depths of heart even more deeply (and with an end date of the work you’ll do that is proven to provide results), we can work together online. You may feel that grief recovery isn’t for you. However, ask yourself how many losses you’ve had.
Do you want to discover losses that may be holding you back in your life? Below, I have a questionnaire that will help you discover what may be keeping you tied to the past. I provided this document at speaking events, and it helps understand how grief isn’t just about death. You’ll receive the download immediately!
Grief isn't just about death. This questionnaire helps you discover the losses you may have long buried or have attempted to forget.
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I want you to feel hope, more than anything. For years, I had lost it, and I know the impact that had on my spirit. There is help, and there are resources out there. Know that you are worth the investment in yourself.
What is emotional freedom, feeling aligned inside, and having a deeper understanding of your past, so the same beliefs and behavior patterns don’t repeat themselves – worth to you?
Carrying grief is exhausting. It ripples into every corner of your life, dimming our light and brightness along the way.
Grief is a burden we all shoulder, and despite the passage of time and positive thinking, we are unable to bury it or wish it away.
And many of us do not even realize this load on our shoulders; causing us to snap at our loved ones and reach for food, alcohol, and other crutches to numb and pacify ourselves for a short time.
Grief is not spoken about and because of this, we don’t even realize how it is preventing us from living the life we desire to lead.
Have a listen to my guest appearance on Michelle’s Podcast in preparation for this workshop. This is a great conversation where ample examples are given of the different ways grief presents itself.
My beautiful friend, Michelle Marsh (Aromonosis Coach + Facilitator, Podcaster, Writer, and Natural Living Advocate) is bringing me into her community to hold a Grief Healing Aromanosis Experience. With her expertise in the area of hypnosis, aromatherapy, and holistic wellness, and mine in all things grief + reiki, we are bringing our hearts together to facilitate this very special healing workshop.
Is this workshop for you? If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you may already identify yourself as a griever. If not, I encourage you to check out my podcast, Grieving Voices, where I offer bite-sized, weekly grief education.
Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss or any change from what is familiar in life. It is the emotional response to change. It can be defined as a feeling associated with the things we wish might have been different, better, or more in any relationship. Whether it is with a person, a pet, a job, an educational experience, or even a place of residence doesn’t matter. Grief can be a result of unmet hopes, dreams, and expectations in any relationship as well.
The Ways Grief Manifests
Some people find that the confusing feelings that grief generates interfere with sleep, while others find it challenging to get up and function after waking up.
Some people find that they feel sad or cry over things that never seemed to bother them before.
Many find themselves longing for that relationship lost, and others find, especially when they discover that friends seem to be able to offer little meaningful help, that they lose some of their ability to trust others.
Some find themselves easily irritated, while others do not have the energy to feel much of anything.
For some, the memories leading up to and including the moment of loss overshadow all of their fond memories of that relationship.
Simply stated, grief can be overwhelming! Just as overwhelming can be the labels that are put on grievers and the advice that they are given.
To gain FREE access to the LIVE workshop, enter your details below and I will send you the Zoom link on Monday, September 14th. The workshop will be at 7:00 AM CST on Tuesday, September 15th, 2020. My friend, Michelle, is located in Australia, where it will be evening. No worries – by signing up, you’ll receive the recording! However, if you can make it LIVE, it is highly recommended. 😉
GRIEF HEALING EXPERIENCE
Please join me, Victoria, and Michelle Marsh of MichelleMarsh.com.au, as we take you through a grief healing experience. You get the best of both worlds; an Adv. Certified Grief Specialist + Reiki Master, along with Michelle, an Aromonosis Coach + Facilitator + Holistic Wellness Advocate as your guides.
You may also want to receive, The Unleashed Letters, a weekly e-publication where Victoria shares content not shared anywhere else + her deepest, darkest secrets. Okay, not quite, but you do get to see "behind the curtain" of her heart, to speak.
Awesome, friend! You're in! On Monday, Sept. 14th, you will receive the Zoom link to join us LIVE on Tuesday, Sept. 15th at 7 AM CST!
Your privacy is taken seriously, because, I hate spam, too.
You can learn more about Michelle and her Aromanosis Membership HERE. For questions about the Aromanosis Membership, email Michelle directly.
Sunday, August 30th is National Grief Awareness Day.
I thought I would share, in today’s post, the different types of grieving events.
In 1967, Dr. Thomas Holmes and Dr. Richard Rahe, both psychiatrists, researched the medical records of 5000 patients to look at the correlation between their levels of emotional stress and their illnesses. They created the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, also known as the Holmes Rahe Stress Scale, which was used as a scoring mechanism to rate the various stress indicators as part of their study. This list, commonly known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, is considered a definitive ranking system.
Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior; the normal and natural reaction to any change that occurs in life.
While it may be helpful in the therapeutic setting to use a numerical ranking scale in looking at stressors related to their impact on medical conditions, this serves no purpose when used in the context of those events that can result in grief. It’s also important to remember that each individual grieves at 100% for their particular loss. There is no need or value to rate one grief-generating event as having more impactful than another since the grief that each person feels is based on his or her own unique situation.
We have all been in situations where we have heard someone say, “you may think your situation is bad, but mine is even worse!” Comparing losses does nothing to help with recovery. To suggest to Griever A that his or her loss is less significant than that of Grievers B only creates more emotional pain for Griever A, in that they may feel the need to further internalize their feelings since they have been told they are of lesser value. Our focus, in grief recovery, has always been that grievers are far better served in taking recovery actions, rather than in arguing over who is hurting the most!
Below you will find the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale for Adults. Some events, such as marriage, may bring to mind more memories of joy than pain. In this case, we need to remember that there is grief associated with changes from normal behavior patterns, of which there can be many in moving from “single” to “married.”
Death of a spouse
Death of a close family member
Personal injury or illness
Dismissal from work
Change in health of family member
Gain a new family member
Change in financial state
Death of a close friend
Change to a different line of work
Change in frequency of arguments
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
Change in responsibilities at work
Child leaving home
Trouble with in-laws
Outstanding personal achievement
Spouse starts or stops work
Begin or end school
Change in living conditions
Revision of personal habits
Trouble with boss
Change in working hours or conditions
Change in residence
Change in schools
Change in recreation
Change in church activities
Change in social activities
Minor mortgage or loan
Change in sleeping habits
Change in number of family reunions
Change in eating habits
Minor violation of law
Loss of Trust, Loss of Approval, Loss of Safety and Loss of Control of my body
The greatest value to this listing is in helping people understand that grief is not just about death. Stress and stressful events come in many packages, which is true for grief as well.
A slightly modified version of this Stress Scale was created for those over 55, to reflect those life events that come with aging. In many ways, this scale is similar to the one for adults, but it likewise fails to mention the same stressors and grief causing events that are noted above.
Yet another version of this scale was developed for, so-called, “Non-Adults.” Just as is the case with the “Adult Scale,” there are many additions that could be made to this list for grieving experiences for children, based on their unique relationships and level of development. This list also fails to include elements of child abuse on any level, sexual matters, bullying, and cyberbullying or such things as loss of Safety, Approval, Faith or personal control.
Death of parent
Divorce of parents
Acquiring a visible deformity
Fathering a child
Jail sentence of a parent for over one year
Marital separation of parents
Death of a brother or sister
Change in acceptance by peers
Unplanned pregnancy of sister
Discovery of being an adopted child
Marriage of parent to step-parent
Death of a close friend
Having a visible congenital deformity
Serious illness requiring hospitalization
Failure of a grade in school
Not making an extracurricular activity
Hospitalization of a parent
Jail sentence of a parent for over 30 days
Breaking up with boyfriend or girlfriend
Beginning to date
Suspension from school
Becoming involved with drugs or alcohol
Birth of a brother or sister
Increase in arguments between parents
Loss of job by parent
Outstanding personal achievement
Change in parent’s financial status
Accepted at college of choice
Being a senior in high school
Hospitalization of a sibling
Increased absence of a parent from home
Brother or sister leaving home
Addition of third adult to family
Becoming a full-fledged member of a church
A decrease in arguments between parents
A decrease in arguments with parents
Mother or father beginning work
A very important point to remember is that it is one thing to realize that these are events that can bring stress and grief into your life, and quite another thing to take action. Most people carry around a great deal of grief that they hold inside. Unlike a broken arm or leg that is made obvious by a cast, a broken heart is far less easy to see. As with a broken limb, we take action to heal the wound…action is also needed to heal a broken heart; time alone doesn’t heal a wound, action within time is required.
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale was first utilized in looking at the strong correlation between the stressors that impact people’s lives and their actual medical issues. People under stress are more prone to a variety of medical complications. Reducing your stress/grief can have a positive impact on your physical well being.
Our focus, at the Grief Recovery Institute, is in moving beyond the emotional pain of loss. The Grief Recovery Method is a proven, step-by-step process for accomplishing this. It’s designed to help people deal not only with past and current issues regarding the stress of grief, but also to provide the tools to deal with future issues, as they develop.
As previously stated, the value of these lists is in reminding everyone that there are many life events that potentially cause grief. Society most often thinks of grief as death-related. However, as I hope you can see now, it’s a far broader topic than just being about death. And, if you really think about it, grief is everywhere. Most people you encounter in your daily life have lost someone or something; they grieve something or someone. Whether there is a relationship they wish would be/could’ve been different, better, or more, or grieve the loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations for the relationship – these things cause dis-ease in our hearts. It’s often, not until it’s one loss too many when we realize we’re not okay. And, you know what, that’s okay. The sad, angry, conflicting feelings all have value. Those feelings are your indicator that there is healing that needs to be done. And, when you’re ready…you know where to find me.
P.S. On June 30th, 2020, my podcast Grieving Voices launched! So far, I’ve shared eight educational episodes, and very soon, I will be sharing conversations with other grievers. Be a fly on the wall of our conversation, as grievers give voice to their losses, what they wish would have been there for them, how they wish others would have responded or said – all with the goal of educating all of us on how to better support grievers. And, in doing so, bring normalcy to what we experience in grief. It’s time we talk about grief like we talk about the weather!
P.P.S. Monday, August 31st is National Overdose Awareness Day. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with substance abuse, check out the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website. Their National Helpline Number is: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
*Portions of this post are adapted from The Grief Recovery Institute Blog
If your days have been feeling as though they’re all running together – know that today is FRIDAY! Woohoo! I hope you can find some joy this weekend.
If you feel like every person you cross paths with is cranky, rude, or negative – know that their emotional gunk isn’t yours. But, it may help you feel better to continue to be you. Don’t dim your positivity for the sake of making the other person feel comfortable. I’ve been on the other side of this. I’m sure you have, too. You’re in a cranky mood, and someone you speak to is just full of smiles and joy and, you wonder to yourself: “How can you be so damn happy all of the time?” And, you know what? It’s more of a reflection of ourselves. We can project our joy onto others, or we can project our pain.
And, I realize that’s the difficulty. I’ve written about telling the emotional truth about ourselves many times before. Yet, here I am saying that if you’re feeling negative, not to mention the emotional truth about yourself- not to project it onto others. However, there’s a difference between telling the emotional truth and treating others poorly because we feel – emotionally deficient.
We will not always be happy – about our life situation, the state of the world, a decision that’s been made, our health, the weather – you name it. However, if we can acknowledge, within ourselves, that which isn’t working, feeling right, or aligning our soul with joy, and meet that hurt within us with compassion, then we are more equipped to share the truth – without mistreating others in the process.
As we start to work through our emotional stuff (and continue to do so), we are less affected by others’ emotional dis-ease. And, I can tell you, I am much quicker to recognize now (because I keep applying grief recovery to my life) when I am a projector of the negative. I have learned that that’s when it’s time to step out of my head and into my heart, and know where there’s emotional work to do. As a result, this makes me a happier person – in my skin and to be around.
Life is for learning. When you feel like you’ve messed up – apologize. When you feel like you’re at your breaking point – step away, take a break, and hit the reset button. Ask yourself what you can do in the situation rather than focusing on what is out of your hands (I’ve been doing my darndest to put this one into practice as of late).
We are in community with each other whether we like it or not. So, rather than fret over others whom you can’t change, fret over a situation that’s frustrating the, you know what, out of you, and being frustrated with yourself – hit reset. Sometimes, we need to be alone – not in community with others, to do just that. When we’re in each other’s spaces, we’re also in each other’s energy. You’re doing the best you can steeping in everyone’s energy. But the most important person’s energy you need to pay attention to – is your own.
I know it’s not easy these days to manage our own energy either. I had been struggling with this, too. And, you know – I gave myself Reiki. True story. I gave myself Reiki before bed a few nights recently, and despite having fewer hours of sleep, I had better quality sleep. Another thing that feels like a reset at the end of the day? A shower. Yup. Sounds silly, as the majority of the people I know typically shower in the morning. However, I prefer to shower at night. You literally wash away the stress of the day down the drain and crawl into bed, feeling refreshed (and reset).
So today, I want you to pat yourself on the back that yes, you are doing the best you can. And, I hope this helps you to reflect on your energy and the energy of those around you. How is the energy of others affecting you? How is your energy affecting those around you, too? When I feel good, I influence those around me to feel better, also.
Even if it may seem annoying to others who project their pain on others (because they’re not tapped into their energy and their impact it has) – work on a reset for YOU. This reset is the best thing you can do this Friday and throughout the weekend, before the start of a new week.
Set the intention today for a fantastic weekend, regardless of the chaos that may be ensuing around you. Turn off the phone if you need to. Get a hotel room or an Airbnb by yourself for a night, if you need to. Take a drive on the backroads, or in the country, and photograph what you find along the way. Take a lawn chair and sit by the lake (or the ocean) and steep in the stillness.
Reset for your energy (and your mindset), so you can continue to do the best you can! And, if you need help with an emotional reset for life, reach out to me. I know the program that’s perfect for doing just that. 😉
P.S. Are you looking for support for a grieving child in your care? I am looking for four participants to walk through the NEW online group program, Helping Children with Loss. We meet on Zoom only four times – once a week, for no more than 2 1/2 hours each time. And know that there’s lots of material to cover. You won’t be a silent listener (bored out of your mind) as I lecture each week for four weeks. It’s participatory and engaging content, where you interact with others in the group, and learn some new skills and tools to utilize for the rest of your life. This program is prevention, so whether you’re a parent, daycare provider, social worker, school faculty, a child therapist looking for more knowledge around grief specifically, or work in the foster care/adoption system – this program is for you – the adult. The first group will be offered at a discounted rate, which will allow me to make sure all of my systems and processes are correctly in place and that there aren’t any hiccups—interested in learning more? Please email me at [email protected] or message via the Contact tab.
I look forward to sharing this amazing program with you – for the better of the child(ren) in your life!
The body always talks. Our bodies are our alarm system to something not being right. And, when experiencing grief, our bodies definitely talk to us. When we are feeling anxious or worried, our minds often swirl the same thought patterns over and over. In response, our bodies reply to those thought patterns. For every person, the symptoms will present differently, however, may be similar as well.
Common Physical Grief Symptoms
Since I started grief recovery work, there have been similarities in symptoms that clients have shared with me that were like my own. For example, when I had my “mid-life unraveling,” I was experiencing overall body aches, hair loss, weight loss, stomach/gut issues (often with bloat), fatigue, etc.. After going down numerous rabbit holes with my doctor, what came of all of that was that my body was “Epstein-Barr Reactive.” Meaning, the mono virus was reactivated in my body, however, blood work was showing that I did not have mono. Also, around those years, I ended up having three colon polyps removed.
Grief manifests in our bodies; no doubt about it. And, because most of us will not identify ourselves as grievers, we suffer from what we believe are “medical mysteries” with no explanation, and, begin to feel a little crazy in the process. Also, “traditional” doctors are not going to ask you about your emotional state, are they? They’re not going to ask you about your “loss history,” are they? So, the mind-body connection is rarely (if ever) made in a traditional doctor’s office, even though boat-loads of medical research point to how our minds and bodies are connected in amazing, brilliant ways.
The disconnect comes where our ego is. The disconnect comes from our inability to get out of our minds and into our hearts. And, there’s this assistance of resistance to that which is painful and traumatic. We simply don’t want to “re-live” or “re-hash” what we’ve experienced. I often hear this from those who are not ready to dig deep and work through the muck. And hey, that was me, too, for a very (very) long time. But, if you would be honest with yourself (as I wish I would have been years earlier), you would see that not “re-hashing” and sitting in the muck, is only keeping you stuck in various areas of your life, negatively impacting your health and relationships, and probably taking years off of your life.
That which we don’t acknowledge (or refuse to) festers like a sore that won’t heal. And, over time, we tend to pick at the scab. However, when we’ve picked just a bit too much and it starts to sting a bit; we retreat, pull back, and leave it well enough alone. Because picking away any more is just plain painful.
A Car Analogy
Over the past five years, I have learned a lot about how my body responds to stressors. I’ve learned what I need to feel recharged, not depleted, and balanced. It’s still something I am working towards because, kids, life, work, side -hustle all require mental, emotional, and physical energy. If we think of our bodies as a fuel tank, we start to think more about our bodies as the cars we drive. We take our cars in for oil changes, tune-up’s, balance the tires, keep the fluids filled, etc.. However, this same common sense care and maintenance goes out the window when we think about ourselves and self-care. We take better care of our autos than we do our one body that we don’t get a re-do with; we can’t trade our one body in for another newer, better-equipped model. Nope, one shot – one life.
So, just as we take great care in ensuring our automobile lasts for the long-haul, so too, we need to consider how we’re taking care of ourselves for the long-haul. What is your heart needing? What is your mind fighting your heart against today?
I recently heard a pretty probing question posed by the author Hal Elrod who wrote the book Miracle Morning on a podcast episode. He said: “Is my life a reflection of who I want to be or a reaction to those who I don’t want to upset?” I bring this question up because often it is our relationships with the living that often cause us the most grief. And, this grief manifests in our bodies. What we hold in, emotionally, will always come out in one of two ways; we either implode (health issues) or we explode (emotional outbursts/anger/relationship problems/etc.). If you answer that question and, you’re walking through life on eggshells; reacting to life and attempting to not upset anyone, what do you think that this doing to your heart? What do you think that is doing to you emotionally? It likely feels like an emotional rollercoaster, filled with highs, lows, and a lot of stressors in-between. And, we all know what stress does to us – mentally, emotionally, and physically, right?
Heart vs Mind
My body responds to stress with increased heart rate, negatively impacted sleep (even if I don’t realize it), dry mouth, burning sensation between my shoulder blades (where my tension goes), anxiousness, lack of concentration, an inability to focus, and gut symptoms. I know this now about myself. I didn’t understand this over five years ago. And, that is why I believe I was led to grief recovery and energy healing. My body knew exactly what I needed. My mind (ego), however, was the one holding me back, pulling the strings, and keeping me stuck.
Where are you feeling your emotions in your body? I encourage you to consider that grief may be the cause of your physical symptoms. Whether it be high blood pressure, an ulcer, body aches, fatigue, etc., consider that it may be grief. Reflect on the losses you’ve endured in your life that involve both the death of a loved one and the losses that don’t.
Have you lost trust in someone you deeply cared about?
Have you felt betrayed in your life?
Have you experienced financial ruin?
Lost your home in uncontrollable circumstances?
Suffered estrangement as a child (from a parent) or as an adult (in relationships)?
Has your life been a downward spiral of loss of health?
Are you a caregiver to someone who is terminally ill, cognitively declining, or is cognitively delayed?
Have you survived a physical attack or accident?
Have you had many accidents throughout your life, which often occur as a result of the cognitive consequences of grief (an inability to concentrate/focus)?
All of these situations (and many more) create grief in our lives that also manifest in our bodies. The body knows. And, our one body is always talking to us. I have become so attuned to this connection that I can often look at someone and, I know something is up. Both our body language, and our physical appearance tell a story without us having to say a word. We often wear our life stories like the clothes on our backs without us even realizing it. Kids are no different. The energy that surrounds us, and we take with us out into the world, tells the story.
Heal the story, and you begin to heal the body.
P.S. Do you have a child with a story that needs healing but you’re not sure how to help them? I am looking for 8 participants for an upcoming 4-week, online group program, Helping Children with Loss. We will meet on Zoom for one session per week for 4 weeks for approximately 2 1/2 hours, in the evening (day/time TBD and flexible). This is not a program for you, rather it is a program for you to learn tools and communication skills in how to help the child/children in your care work through and process loss. And, considering Covid-19 has touched every single one of us, there is no denying children need this, even if you think they’re doing just fine. Prior to Covid-19, has a loved one or a pet died? Maybe during Covid-19, a loved one died and they didn’t get to say goodbye? There is plenty of grief to go around these days and this program is prevention. I encourage you to consider it and get in touch with me via email to [email protected] The first group will be offered at a discount!
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. – C.S. Lewis
As I was looking for an image for this week’s blog post, this one “spoke” to me, and I knew it was the one to drive the message home. You see, grief isn’t just in the run-down parts of town or a part of the child with the torn and tattered clothing. A grieving child could be sitting alone, watching other kids play from afar as they sit alone, feeling excluded.
Grief can look like the child with the “cool” clothes, the beautiful home, and on the “right” side of the tracks. How you see this little girl in the image, surrounded by shambles, could be exactly how she feels on the inside while living, presumably, her “best” life.
Adults often fail to see the sadness behind a child’s eyes. Or, if they do, they turn away from it because they’re uncomfortable and don’t know what to say or what to do about it. Today, this post is for you. And, I’m going to draw out today’s message from my own life.
I grew up in a lower-class home. My dad worked at a cement plant, and mom worked as a dietary aid in a nursing home. Although we lived in a new house, it didn’t look like any of my friend’s homes. We had an unfinished basement, small bedrooms (one of which I shared with my older sister), and little furniture and furnishings. We had just enough of what we needed, no extra, and definitely no excess of anything. However, we had many happy times and memories. It didn’t matter to me that so and so had a bigger house (with air conditioning), newer cars, their own rooms, new clothes, or anything else I did not. But, I recognized it. Growing up, getting my ears pierced, a new dress, and often, a home-cooked meal, were a treat. And, when I got older, I realized how “cheaply” that new home had been built, with its drafty windows, cheap siding, and weak foundation.
Then, death (and trauma) walked into my life. And everything changed. My sense of security, safety, and trust was gone. These are all of the components that make a house a home. And I didn’t feel safe. I didn’t feel secure. And, my ability to trust people would create such a divide in my life between sadness and joy, that it would take me another 30+ years to repair.
All the while, I was the quiet one – unless I was crying. I became a people-pleaser. And, I learned that crying in front of others makes them uncomfortable or angry, so it’s best to cry alone. And, I did – a lot. I’d hide in the kitchen cupboard to cry. I’d fall asleep crying under my bed. I’d squeeze into the linen closet to be alone to cry. I was such a sad child, and I had no way to express it – to anyone. Nobody knew what to do with me. I was a misunderstood problem. I felt like this little girl, in the photo, feeling like I might as well had been in a house of shambles. The world around me felt like this.
My saving grace was my sister, one reliable friend, and that same friends’ mom – who always welcomed me into her home as if I was one of her own. In their home, I felt safe. And, in their home, I ate with a family.
Economic status, social class, and appearances can all be deceiving.
Grief does not always stick out like a sore thumb. In fact, it’s in the “underbelly” of nearly every home across America (and the world). It does not show up as one particular, specific way either.
If we were to look at each other as the grievers we all are, there would be a lot more compassion to go around in this world. If we were to look at the “problem child” as a griever, it would change how you interact with them, don’t you think? Anger is a mask for grief. Many children are wearing it, too—I happened to wear mine well into my 30’s. I was an angry teen, and I had every right to be angry. And shocker, angry children become angry adults. There was so much change in my life, in a short time, and I did not have a way to express what I was experiencing safely. I know, without a doubt in my mind, many other children grow up this way, too. The adults in our lives don’t know what to do, what to say, or how to offer support.
We venture into adulthood with the wounds of the past. These wounds trickle into every aspect of our lives. – Victoria V.
As an adult, do you…
have a hard time trusting people? Perhaps you were sexually abused as a child; your mom/dad abandoned you, or you grew up in the foster care system?
have a difficult time making decisions? Were you allowed to make your own choices growing up, or did everything you say or do aim to please others and keep others happy/keep the peace?
find yourself bouncing from one relationship to the next? Did you grow up with an example of how healthy relationships should look? Were you abused by an adult male as a child/teen/young adult or grow up without a dad? Or, if you’re male, did someone other than your biological mother raise you?
feel stuck in your life, know you’re not living to your full potential, and feel like life is on auto-pilot? What happened to you? What are the losses (related or unrelated to death) you’ve experienced throughout your life?
Recognizing grief in our children is prevention. Once grieving children become adults, there’s no way to know how grief will impact their lives. This blog post today is my plea to you to open your eyes and your mind that grief is society’s pandemic – always has been and forever will be. Unless we educate ourselves, and the adult caregivers/caretakers work on repairing their hurts.
Grief makes us feel like we don’t have choices in our lives. And we do. It took me so very long to learn this. So long, that I have grief around that knowledge. However, doing this work and making grief education my priority is how I’m channeling the emotional energy I have around that fact. Not to mention, utilizing the tools I’ve learned to process all that I cannot change in the past. So, today – I can live fully and wholeheartedly – unleashed.
How to Help a Grieving Child You Know
Go first. For a child to trust you and to feel comfortable opening up, you must share first. And, you must tell the emotional truth about yourself, too. Do not give promises you cannot keep, give replies that you don’t know as fact, and dismiss the fear the child shares.
Validate. Validate. Validate. By not criticizing, analyzing, or judging what the child shares, you are validating the feelings they share. When you do criticize, analyze, or judge, you’re sending the message that what they’re feeling is wrong, incorrect, or unimportant.
Think before you speak. Before you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, you won’t know how to answer, take some time to think, in advance, about the questions that may come up. When thinking about the situation the child is in (if you know), consider the questions, in advance, that may be asked, and how you would answer those questions. For example, going back to school, your child may be concerned their teacher will contract Covid-19 and die. So, they ask you if their teacher is going to get sick and die. How will you answer that? Likewise, they may be concerned they’ll bring Covid-19 home and give it to you, their parent/caretaker, and ask if you’re going to get sick and die? And all of the other questions that will come along with that scenario. And there are many. Whether you are a teacher, parent, foster parent, caregiver, babysitter, aunt, grandma/grandpa, etc., think about what is going on in the life of the child and get everyone that child interacts with, on the same page with how to reply to Covid-19 (or whatever the situation is). But, don’t forget about telling the emotional truth.
Listen with your heart. Often, the things that make children fearful or sad don’t make much sense to the adult brain. And, the feelings of the child don’t have to make sense to you. Step out of your head and into your heart when communicating with a child (whether they’re 4, 12, or 18). Instead, ask questions to understand rather than to respond. Try to figure out what the root of the fear, sadness, or anger is. Sometimes, it’s about the least obvious thing.
Help the child find choices. Grief robs us of the feeling of having choices. I felt, for many years, that my life was going to be one filled with sadness for the rest of my life. I didn’t feel empowered, I definitely didn’t feel supported, and this led to me struggling well into adulthood. In the scenario of Covid-19 (and potential of getting sick), where a concerned child questions you (the parent), you could share how you’re doing all the right things to prevent that. You don’t know how it will affect you, but thank them for loving you and being concerned and tell them you love them, too—expressing that you take care of yourself so you can take care of them – then demonstrating that if that’s what you share. Honestly, my kids are the reason I give two craps about exercising or taking care of myself. Few people actually love exercising. However, if our motivation isn’t relying on the scale, pants-size, and instead, is given a more significant meaning in our lives (like staying alive long enough to see your kids have kids), then nothing else will motivate us. I don’t want my kids to grow up without a mother, so I get my yearly skin checks. I get my 5-year colonoscopy, and I do my best to maintain a healthy weight. It’s not for me – it’s for them. Because when you know what it’s like to grow up without a parent, your perspective on life and parenting changes. And, my kids were also why I sought something to help me emotionally be a better parent for them, too. I want them to grow up knowing that no matter what life throws at them, they always, always, have choices.
The obvious, participate in thein-person (once restrictions are lifted) or online four-week group program, Helping Children with Loss.
What do you think? Does this blog post resonate with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or message me!
Do you have a grieving child under your roof and struggle to help them? Right now, I am preparing for the launch of the Helping Children with Loss online group program. I am looking for eight participants to be the first to experience this fantastic 4-week program with me at a discounted rate. I want to make sure all of the online kinks are worked out, gain some comfort with delivering the material and start sharing this program at the end of this month. We meet weekly, once a week, for four weeks and typically on a weekday evening. However, I am open to a Sunday evening, too, as I realize schedules can be crazy with school starting soon.
If you’re interested, email me at [email protected] or use the contact form and put “HCWL program inquiry” in the subject line. Eight slots are the max! Parents can take the program together; however, each parent will pay the reduced rate. Email or message for more details. And, share this with someone you know. Again, the Helping Children with Loss Program is PREVENTION. In our current times, there is plenty of grief going around. If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, foster parent, foster program, lead a head start program, etc., I hope you thoughtfully consider this program. I am looking to share this with those programs I aforementioned, where an entire staff of eight could become educated on this topic and utilize this for CEU’s.