I’ve been studying Love lately. Both how it relates to me personally and to my work as a coach. I work with people who are going through a dark time in their lives – what was once their joy (a loving intimate relationship) is now their deepest despair. In exploring their loss and pain, the question inevitably comes to love: “How will I ever feel safe to love again?”Read more
I’m writing this at the end of 2016, which carried the sad news of the death of Carrie Fisher. She left us all too soon at the age of 60 – and what was tragically to follow a few days later was the death of her mother, Debbie Reynolds.
This led me to ponder the question, “Can you really die of a broken heart?” It certainly seems to be so given these events.Read more
Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows that dogs teach us valuable lessons about life. They seem to know how to be present, to forgive, to love, to protect what’s important, to play and enjoy the simple things in life. If you pay attention to a dog’s approach to life, they can also teach you about resilience, the ability to adapt to and recover from challenges like loss and grief.
I’ve been a dog owner for most of my life, and it’s certainly true that their companionship means everything to me when I’m feeling discouraged, sad, or lonely. If dogs could talk to you, they would share some wise words about how to take care of yourself when you are grieving the loss of your loved one. They are great listeners, helpers, and loyal friends.
When you are grieving a loss, what you need most is a best friend, which dogs are certainly famous for being.
So, my dog (Cotton) told me that he’d like to write to all of you today who are grieving the loss of your partner/spouse/best friend. He has lots to share and has been waiting for his chance to love on you.Read more
Stories of loss and grief are part of the fabric of my work. A young woman mourns the loss of her first trimester pregnancy and the baby she will never know. A man shares about the loss of a colleague for which he secretly held a flame of unrequited love. Another woman tells about her boyfriend’s sudden illness and death on the eve of their engagement.
Most people are able to share their stories of grief openly. Some are not. When a secret relationship (or one that others don’t know about or understand) ends and you feel that there’s no one to talk to about your loss, you carry it alone. This grief becomes complicated by other issues heaped on top of your sorrow – guilt, fear, resentment, depression. Often what happens in these situations is that the person shuts down and fails to grieve.Read more
We all experience pressures in our lives. We feel pressured to perform, to conform, to please others. We experience financial pressures, social pressures, career and professional pressures - pressures in relationships, (marriages, partnerships, parenting, etc.). We want to pin the blame for pressure we feel on outer situations, circumstances, and/or people. We think we need to take our power back from these external forces. And, this accurate – when we are experiencing pressure, it’s a signal that we have an opportunity to call our energy and power back to ourselves. We just get confused on how to do that.Read more
What is a community? The definition of the word is a group of people who have a common characteristic, history, interest, location. It comes from the latin, communis or communitas. It implies unity or uniting.
There is a community that is beneath the radar in our society that we all have an opportunity to do a better job of serving. This is the community of people who are grieving a significant loss in their lives.Read more
Once you have already done the first step of the process, which is collecting the stuff, you’re ready for Part 2. For more information on the collecting phase of dealing with stuff, please click here.
I hope you’ve given yourself some time to reflect on your partner’s belongings, and what they mean to you. I know it may seem daunting to say goodbye to the stuff, to turn the page on this chapter of your life, particularly when so many of the things hold a story or memory for you.
In doing the reflections of the earlier phase of collecting – examining the questions, “What does it mean to let go of this stuff?” and “What is this stuff’s value to me?” – you created the space to get ready for the next phase of sorting and purging the items you have decided to let go of. Well done.
And it bears repeating that you, and only you, are the one who gets to decide when the time is right for you to go on to this next phase – sorting and purging.Read more
Stuff. Things. Possessions. Here you are living with it. It was his/her stuff. Clothes, papers, toiletries, books, etc. In the midst of everything you’ve dealt with in grieving the loss of your partner, it’s another everyday reminder that they are gone. The books they will not be finishing, shoes they won’t wear anymore, the subscription to the magazine related to their hobby or career, woodworking tools they will never hold again. You trip over it every time you walk through the garage to take out the garbage, paw around it to find what you need when you open the closet. It sits there, sometimes comforting you, sometimes chastising you, often overwhelming you. You close the door, turn a blind eye to it. “I’ll deal with this stuff when I’m ready,” you tell yourself.Read more
I don’t think anyone enjoys the feeling of vulnerability. We don’t like asking for help as we have been conditioned to see that as a sign of weakness. Being judged as “needy” seems to be the ultimate insult as we like to think of ourselves as able to stand on our own two feet, as being self-sufficient. We take up sayings like, “It’s better to be a giver than a receiver.” Giving is an act of a generous heart and it also gives us a sense of control. Receiving can be really uncomfortable as it goes against the rules we have inside. We don’t want to be seen as takers or as victims.Read more
There are times when I feel I must apologize for my fellow human beings when my clients share what people have said to them or some of the thoughtless ways they have been treated at their time of loss. I believe that people mean well. It’s just that most of us don’t have a very comfortable relationship with strong emotions like grief, anger, or hopelessness. When feelings like this are expressed in our midst, we will tend to gloss over it or try to shut it down entirely.
Learning to tolerate other’s reactions to your grief can be one of the most painful, yet necessary tasks of rebuilding your life after loss.Read more