Grief and Joy

We’re five days into June and I’m still trying to catch up after last week’s laptop melt down.  Should we talk about what happens to us when our electronics die on us?

Before that event, I was writing a post about grief and joy.  When I’m helping people work through the death of a loved one, they are often surprised when I warn them that there will be times when we will laugh together.  In the depths of their pain, they don’t believe it to be possible.  But it is, and it does happen.

Just as we have to allow ourselves to feel the pain of loss, so we also have to be willing to feel the lightness of laughter when it comes.  Staying sad won’t bring anyone back into your life.  But as we take those steps to recovery, smiling, laughing, enjoying life once again are natural outcomes.  And let’s be honest, isn’t that why we’re all here?  To go beyond the loss?

I thought about this topic the other night when some laughter rang out during our support group.  No one gasped, or looked guilty, or stopped the laughter.  We had been tackling some heavy subjects, and it felt good to step back, take a deep breath and crack a joke.

Even if you can’t reach high enough to embrace joy and laughter, you can try for happiness, or calm, or just a quiet moment.  Little changes can add up to big relief.

The other reason why I thought about the topic is the arrival of June’s newsletter from the Action For Happiness group in England.  They included a graphic (click here to download) with some wonderful ideas for bringing joy into your life and the lives of others during June.  I thought I would share it with you.  If you are up to it, find something that you can share with everyone in your world.

Smile.  Hug someone you love.  Lift your face up to the sun.  Find happiness again.

Many blessings and lots of cyber hugs!

Chris

 

Isolation

When I went through the certification training to teach the Grief Recovery Method, I had a personal moment of enlightenment.  I discovered that living with loss forced me into isolation.  And with each successive loss in my life, isolation become more and more my modus operandi, my way of living life.

I thought I was so clever to analyze the patterns of loss and come up with that revelation, until the instructor pointed out that he had written that on the white board for us during the very first day of class.  His comment had gone right over my head, until I stumbled across it by accident while doing my homework.

I didn’t come up with that on my own, but I did live it for decades without realizing it.  Now I hear people in my groups come to the same clarity of understanding.  Isolation is the most common trait of grieving people.  Why?  Because grieving people make us uncomfortable so we tell them to get over it, to move on, to get busy, to get a life, to get over it.  It doesn’t matter if the griever is dealing with death, divorce, or any of the other seventy-two losses we have on our list, people don’t want to hear it.  It makes them uncomfortable to see how close their lives are to that kind of pain.

So grievers end up shunned by society, pushed away by their co-workers who need them to be normal and pulling their weight, ignored by all the people who are busy getting on with things.  They learn to live a life of “less than” the way they were before their loss.

What I also learned in my Grief Recovery training is that there are ways of breaking out of isolation.  We can   see this trait in ourselves and change how we respond to loss and life.

Have you ever felt isolated?  Can you trace that feeling back to a loss in your life?

Hugs!

Chris

 

I can’t hear you any more

Something I hear quite often from the grieving parents and children I work with is that they can’t remember what their loved one sounded like.  They have plenty of pictures and other mementos, but they are missing a voice.  I’ve seen children become quite upset by that, as if their parent will be truly gone only when they are no longer heard.

A voice.  Something we take for granted until we no longer hear it saying, “I love you.”  Or telling a story or joke.  Or helping you talk through a troubling time in your life.  Or giving you encouragement when you need it the most.

The quality of a voice.  How it sounds when a person is getting sleepy, or excited, or happy or sad.

If you would like to have a voice to remember, here is a wonderful article on “Grief and Oral History” to get you started.  Or you can visit StoryCorps for some good ideas of recording your own family’s voices.  Start now before your world becomes too silent.

Many hugs!

Chris

 

 

 

Take a Laughter Break

When we work through our losses it can feel like our lives can be too heavy to endure and we often find ourselves overwhelmed with our day to day life.  One way Chris and I have found to help on those days is to take a laughter break and just be gentle with ourselves.

Since I had a chronic illness for well over 30 years, Chris and I have found ways of relieving some of the daily stress.  One thing we do the hour or two before we go to sleep at night, we don’t watch the TV news since it is usually violent or depressing.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there were at least one news station that reported all the good things people do or the funny things that happen in the world?  That would be worth watching at nights.  We also don’t watch any violent TV shows either.  We watch lighthearted shows or comedies.  When we go to bed we are fairly content and it helps us get a peaceful night’s rest.

The saying goes “laughter is the best medicine”.  Laughter gives us a break from our pain.  Laughing at something even for 30 seconds goes a long ways to healing our hearts.  Having the ability to laugh tells me that even if I am feeling sad or I am stuck in grief, I’m capable of feeling happy and healthy.  That 30 seconds of laughter will soon last for an entire minute.

Here is one of my favorite comedians.  I hope you enjoy your laugh break for the day.

This is my entry to WordPress Daily prompt of Laughter.

Hugs, Cee

email: cee@cee-chris.com

 

 

Baby Steps

It’s taken years, but Cee has convinced me that taking baby steps is much better than trying to quantum leap over life’s challenges.  She’s so smart!  Baby steps, to me, were things people did when they were sick or feeble.  Not so!  There is a wonderful advantage to breaking things down into tiny steps instead of trying to take the world by storm.

I was reminded of this today as I listened to an inspirational audio.  The young woman who was speaking asked the listener to relax, and take a few deep breaths, then remember something or someone who brought you joy or made you feel good.  Then she said that if the thing you brought to mind was something big, like a person, you were to break it down into something easier to appreciate.  Break it down into baby steps.  Think of the person and what you appreciate about them.  A smile?  A silly sense of humor?  A caring touch?  A good hug?  She said that the small things will stay with you longer.  I liked that idea of baby stepping through appreciation.

As I went through my day, I practiced baby stepping through appreciation.  I loved the smell of the fresh air after a gentle rain.  I noticed that some or our irises have opened, and I truly appreciated their beauty.  It’s been a fun day of baby steps.

The energy generated by those baby steps of appreciation sent ripples out to other people.  When I stopped for coffee, the barista recognized me, asked my name and introduced herself.  Merissa, you have a beautiful smile.  Thank you for asking my name.

In the next store, the young man who was checking me out kidded me that I must really like him because I always come through when he’s on duty.  He introduced himself as well, and I will be sure to greet Jacob by name from now on.  Cee reminded me that I had previously pointed out his “You Matter” silicon band, and mentioned that I, too, wear one for suicide prevention.  Thank you, Jacob, for brightening my day.

No matter where we are in loss and the feelings of grief, we can still take time to pause and take a baby step back to stability, to happiness, to wellbeing.  Focus on the little things, one after the other.  Baby steps will keep you moving forward, at least a little bit at a time.

(About the picture… I found a lot of pictures of human babies taking little steps, and they were cute pictures, but there was something about this duckling that made me giggle, so I just had to use it.)

Many hugs and a big smile,

Chris

 

 

 

 

 

Tranquility of Mind

Yesterday I was reading something and the author used the word “recollection”.  That word struck a chord in me, so I had to look it up.  Merriam-Webster says recollection means “tranquility of mind”.  That’s how I feel when I think of my history now.  I can recollect my losses and I no longer feel the pain or emotions of loss and grief.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite of it.

Chris has always been amazed that I have fond memories of childhood.  My childhood was not the sort to leave anyone with fond memories.  I was very sick as a child.  I was molested as a child.  I should be still living in the pain of my past, but I’m not.

That’s what I like about doing your own grief work.  You can change your past, and by doing so, change your future.  Yes, I still remember the bad times I had as a child, but I processed those.  I even showed you how I figured out how to process as a very young child, by writing my story of my dog’s death.

This photo Chris took of me about 15 years ago when we were visiting Oregon for the first time. Photo taken at Agate Beach, Oregon.

This is the promise of the grief work that we do ourselves and that we teach people to do:  you can own your entire life and be proud of your life.  It’s yours.  Every experience you’ve had is what makes you the person you are, strong, compassionate, loving.  To do your grief work, you have to let the love back in.

You don’t have to just live in the good and deny the bad.  It’s all there.  There’s no shame, no regret.  The pain disappears.  The memories are still there, but your recollection will be “tranquility of mind”.

I guarantee it.

Hugs, Cee

email: cee@cee-chris.com

 

 

The Circle Game

I heard Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game” playing the other day and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.  (The song and lyrics links are below.)  It speaks so much to loss and grief.  It’s a poignant song about a young boy growing to manhood and how his hopes and dreams are changed by the losses he encounters going through life.

We’re captive on a carousel of time…

The song’s chorus talks about going round and round, and being captives on a carousel of time.  Isn’t that how grief works?  We never quite get over it.  We just experience one loss after another, some small, some big, but always adding to our load, stuck on a seemingly never ending carousel of time.

We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came….

And how often does that happen?  We spend too much time in the past, living with painful memories, having trouble moving forward.

Cee and I tell you that we are Certified Grief Recovery Specialists but we haven’t really explained much about the Grief Recovery Method (GRM).  It’s a practical and proven way to break that never ending circle, to get you off the carousel of time.

How can I explain GRM in a nutshell?  We start by giving you a better understanding of loss and the part it’s played in your life.  We talk about how the world deals with grief, and the ineffectiveness of what we refer to as grief myths.  Then we help you chart the losses in your life, so that you can see how they’ve influenced your beliefs, attitudes and behaviors all these years.  We work together to unravel your relationships, one at a time,  that you would like to complete with a person, living or dead.  Your grief generally stems from having unfulfilled hopes, dreams and expectations, and communication with someone that was never voiced.  There are things you still need to say to that person so that you can get some peace.  We help you say them, and bear witness to that.

What does all that accomplish?  It gets us out of the circle game.

(Joni Mitchell is a very talented Canadian singer, songwriter and artist.  She’s been a favorite of mine since high school.  —  Chris)

The Circle Game

by Joni Mitchell, L.A. Express

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when you’re older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Songwriters: Joni Mitchell, 1966

The Circle Game lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing

More Losses!

We’ve revised our Loss List.  We thought we were doing a good job with our 47 items until I found someone else who had 64 losses on their list.  No, this isn’t a case of loss list envy.  It’s important because grief is our reaction to loss, and if you’re ever going to move beyond the things that hold you back in life, you need to recognize and understand the impact your losses have had on your life.

So what are we adding?

  1. Estrangement from family.  I can’t believe we never had this on our list.  This is a huge issue with so many families, and for so many reasons.
  2. Entering or leaving military service.  This is another I can’t believe we forgot, since I’m a veteran.
  3. KIA.  We list MIA (Missing In Action) and POW (Prisoner Of War), but don’t have KIA (Killed In Action), so we will rectify that oversight as well.
  4. Grieving someone you didn’t know at all (like a celebrity).  Remember when Princess Diana was killed?  Or the shock we felt when Robin Williams died by suicide?  Or, if you’re from my era, when President Kennedy was assassinated?  True, these events didn’t have the impact of more personal losses, but they touched your life story.
  5. Grieving someone you only knew online (cyber loss).  We can make some good friends on line, and we feel the loss when they are no longer with us.
  6. Getting clean and the loss of drugs.  We know that sinking into addiction is a loss, but so is getting clean and sober.
  7. Death of the partner in an extra-marital affair.  This is one thing you will probably have to grieve alone.
  8. Grieving someone you can’t remember (ex. a parent who died when you were an infant).  Yes, this is a real thing.  I’ve worked with children who have problems with this.
  9. Grieving someone who died before you were born (an older sibling who died before you were born).

So that’s just a preview.  There will be other additions.  More things to come to get you thinking and remembering.

Lots of hugs,

Chris

Changing Expectations

Cee had a revelation a few days ago.  We had a great day, with plenty of physical activity, time spent cleaning up the house, planning the future and working on our business.  And we were astonished by that.

We shouldn’t have been.

She discovered that we have come to expect bad days, low achievement days, sitting in limbo days, because that is all we have known for fifteen years.  Lyme disease, and the grief that came with it, reduced the quality of our lives to barely breathing.  We were couch potatoes, not by choice but by the control Lymes had over both of us.

We don’t have to live that way any more but no one told us to change our expectations.

Drat these lives for not coming with instruction manuals.

Here’s the thing… when the circumstances of our lives change, we have to adjust our expectations, too.  Sometimes that is painfully obvious, like with the death of a spouse.   With something like a disease or illness, that isn’t always so obvious.  Cee came out of a debilitating coma with the expectation that life would return to normal, but it didn’t.

But what do we do when there are good things in our lives?  Do we think to change expectations?  Probably not.  We’ve become hard-wired the other way.  So when, like in Cee’s case, you are getting healthier and more able to move, what do you do with it?  Do you even recognize that there is an opportunity for new expectations?

Nobody ever tells you that when a life pattern changes, you have to change your expectations, but you DO have to change.  Expectations come from your heart, not from your head.  You might know that something isn’t going to happen like it used to, but that comes from your head.  Your head is telling you one thing, and your heart is saying another. You have to get the two of them in alignment with each other again.

Bad things are going to happen.  Good things are going to happen.  That’s what life is all about.

Can you think of a time your heart held onto old expectations, old dreams, good or bad, even when you head was telling you not to?  Did you adjust your expectations or not?

Lots of virtual hugs,

Chris

Chris@Cee-Chris.com

Better, Different, More

When we talk about Hopes, Dreams and Expectations, we are also quantifying them in our minds.  With any relationship, with any loss, we are always thinking of what we could have done, could have had that might have been Better, Different or More.

Here’s an example:  Almost everyone has had a change in jobs at one point in their lives.  We either move on to another job, or have lost a job, or changed careers.  But whatever the reason, we are always hoping the new position will be better than, different from or more than we had the last time.

Changing jobs, even if it is a promotion, is still a loss of the familiar, of companions and colleagues, of a certain route to work, or pattern in your day.  A loss of one set of hopes, dreams and expectations comes while another set takes its place with the new job.

When we think of that in terms of our deeply personal relationships, like our families, the idea of “Better, Different, More” becomes critical.  If we have a loss of one of them, our grief makes us even more aware of what has changed, and where we had unfulfilled wishes of what we wanted to have be better, different or more.  While we hold onto those expectations, we won’t find peace.

Think of all the important relationships in your life.  Take a moment to reflect on how you can make them better, or different, or more.  Don’t wait for a loss of someone.  Hug them now.  Thank them now.  Take the time to rejoice in the role they play in your life, how they add to it.

Lots of virtual hugs,

Chris

Chris@Cee-Chris.com

Why does the Grief Recovery Method work?

I thought I’d take a few minutes to answer some questions we’ve been getting.

What is the Grief Recovery Method and why does it work?

We have the following information on all of our pages on the right hand side of the screen, but I thought it would be good to post it here, too.

Because grief is such a misunderstood and little talked about topic, it may be easier to start by saying what the Grief Recovery Method isn’t:

It’s not counseling
It’s not therapy
It’s not an alternative treatment

While any of the above routes may be of some little or great benefit, they mainly offer a path to discovery of the thoughts and feelings you have around the loss in your life. The Grief Recovery Institute maintains that discovery is not the same as recovery.

The Grief Recovery Method is an action plan. It is a series of small steps that when taken, in order, by the griever, it leads to the completion of the unresolved business linked to the loss.

What do you do as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist?

We teach the Grief Recovery Method and guide you through it.  We start by giving you a broader understanding of grief, what it is, how it influences your life and how you’ve been trained to handle grief by your upbringing and society, then talk about grief myths (like “time heals all wounds”).  Once you have a better understanding of all that, you’re ready to start working on unresolved grief in your life.  This is a real class.  You will have a textbook, reading and homework assignments.

Every week we explain the steps you’ll take in your homework assignments but you decide which grief event you’re going to work on.  I like that part of it.  Cee and I just act like tour guides, helping you see the patterns in your life, but you control the process and do the work.  It’s all about YOU.

Can I just get the book and do it myself?

Yes, you can, but I have this story to share with you.

When I started working with grieving children nine years ago, I wanted to know everything about grief that I could.  I had read extensively, and the Grief Recovery Method Handbook was the book I found the most valuable.  I now have three different editions of it in my bookcase.  But for all of that, I didn’t make a lot of progress with the Method.  I think the problem with doing it on your own is that we have all become such experts at stuffing grief, we can’t call our bluff when we’re avoiding things that are important.  We stuffed all those feelings for a reason.  We’ve kept them buried for years, and quite effectively so.  We aren’t going to be turning those impulses off in an instant just because we’re reading a really helpful book.

So working with another person is better, provided it’s someone you can be comfortable with and can trust.  A word of caution, however.  You can’t do this work with someone who is involved in your grief.  That’s why I’m not helping Cee work through her unresolved issues around her illness.  I was there.  I’m a big part of that story.  We each have grief because of it.  There is magic in saying things out loud to a compassionate, non-judgmental listener who isn’t normally a part of your story.

The best thing is to work with a trained Grief Recovery Specialist.  We’ve gone through some intense training to be able to do this work.  We have our own support system set up and plenty of resources for when people ask us difficult questions or when we come across unusual situations, like chronic illness and the many layers of losses that come with that kind of prolonged illness.  We also have ongoing educational opportunities and an impressive library of audio and video instruction.

Keep those questions coming!

Lots of virtual hugs,

Chris and Cee

 

Update on Cee’s Chronic Illness Work

This is a follow up article from my Loss:  Cee’s Chronic Illness article.

Me in the hospital, 17 years ago today.

My first Grief Recovery Method teacher wouldn’t touch any of my health issues during class because I was told that my health issues were too complex.  My teacher did suggest I start by doing a chart on my health.  I put together a timeline and chart that covered any type of illness that I had over my entire lifetime, not just Lymes Disease or when I was hospitalized and in a long coma, but also when I had severe bronchitis as a child.  On this chart I included some of the highlights of my life, like when we moved away from Minnesota when I was a child, graduations, when Chris and I got together, etc.  It was easier for me to correlate events with illnesses.  The timeline and chart gave me a good basis to look for patterns.

The one big pattern I found was:

Lyme disease —> No control over body —> brought up childhood issues

What stood out for me for the fifteen years I struggled with Lyme disease is that I had no control over my own body.  Someone (mostly Chris) had to do everything for me.  I was so weak after the coma that I couldn’t even speak or write, feed myself or wash my face.  I got better and could start doing the routine things of daily life, but I still have moments where I need help with things.

But I saw there was a pattern in my earlier life, when my father molested me.  Despite years of working on incest issues, I found out that no control over my body as an adult threw me back into no control over my body as a child.

So when I met with Cari Dawson this past week so she could work with me on my illness loss issues, I told her my revelation.  We continued to talk for a half hour about my dad and incest issues.  So my homework assignment from her was to do a relationship chart regarding my father.

But I’m finding out that loss of health isn’t that complex.  It’s just one more layer.  I’m learning that the work needs to begin with what is on your mind right now because that appears to be vital.  All losses in our life are connected in some ways.  One thing I’m really learning is that grief is cumulative and negatively cumulative.

Hugs, Cee

cee@cee-chris.com

 

 

 

Faceless Grief

When I think back to when I was deepest in grief, one of the things that struck me was that I became a nonentity.   I had retreated into my own world, trying desperately to slow down time so things would make sense.  People would whizz by me on their way to work or shopping, but it was as if I were standing still, frozen, paralyzed by my broken heart and my fear of what was coming at me next.  I was in a fog.  I was faceless to all of them, those normal people out in the world.  I couldn’t respond fast enough, think fast enough, react fast enough, and so they ignored me.  I had no face, no energy, no presence.

Cee chose the photo out of her archives and blurred the face.  She wanted to show how she has felt during the times in her life when she was working through loss.  She says she felt like even though she was there with other people, she wasn’t part of them.  Like she was separated from them by a thick pane of invisible glass.  Everyone else looked so normal, but she wasn’t there.

How have you felt when you were working through loss and the grief that comes with it?

Chris and Cee

Chris@Cee-Chris.com

Cee@Cee-Chris.com

(Written in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt, Faceless)

Listen to Chris’ Story

Cee and I were tossing around ideas for this post and she suggested that I write the story of how I became involved with the Grief Recovery Method and why I’m so passionate about it.  I thought that it would be better if you HEARD it from me instead of just reading it on the page.  So here you go…

Hugs and blessings,

Chris

 

Loss: Chronic Illness

Cee and I have uncovered a lot of new ideas as we’ve been doing our Grief Recovery work.  We’ve had some huge “Aha!” moments.  But we haven’t started doing a deep dive into the “elephant in the room”, her journey through Lyme disease and the impact it has had on our lives.  That is going to be an epic saga, I think.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done a lot of processing of it through the years.  We couldn’t be the happy, sane, caring people we are if we hadn’t.  But chronic illness has huge ramifications, with many layers of losses.

So what is a chronic illness?  A chronic illness is a health condition or disease that is persistent in its effects or a disease that comes with time. The term chronic is often used if the condition lasts longer than 3 months.  Examples of chronic illnesses are:  heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, COPD (lungs), lupus, MS, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and our not-so-favorite, Lyme disease.  These conditions are just the tip of an ever growing iceberg, and often bring with them depression, anxiety, insomnia and a host of related problems.

Chronic illness affects the person with the illness, and also the family members who provide care or live with them.  In general, here are some of the most common losses:

  • mental and emotional wellbeing
  • physical comfort
  • a clear mind, because brain fog is normal with chronic illness
  • personal dignity and physical privacy, as people are always examining you
  • control over your body
  • financial stability
  • the feeling of having a future.  When it’s a struggle to make it through today, tomorrow doesn’t matter any more.
  • friends, as they give up on someone who is always cancelling on them at the last minute
  • independence
  • happiness, as pain and physical struggles replace it in life
  • fitting in, as you park in the handicap spot, or need a walker, or have visible scars on your body, or wear a head scarf to cover your bald head
  • the security of having loved ones in your life.  If you suffer from illness, there is the chance your spouse/child/parent will give up and walk out.  If you care for someone with an illness, there is the fear of death of your loved one, sometimes coupled with the guilt at hoping the end will come peacefully and quickly.

Cee will be applying the new techniques we have learned with the Grief Recovery Method to resolve some of these losses.  I will be working on my related ones as a caregiver at the same time.  We’ll be talking about how it feels, and what it means to get some resolution around these losses.

It’s going to be an interesting adventure.  If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic illness, please join this blog and participate in the discussions we’ll be having.  Feel free to share your own story in the comments below, but please be safe when you do so.  Remember that you are sharing with a lot of people, almost all of whom you don’t know.  Or email us privately.  We will never disclose any communication we have from you without your prior consent.  We treat your privacy as a sacred trust.

Much love and very gentle virtual hugs to all of you,

Chris and Cee

chris@cee-chris.com

cee@cee-chris.com

Still Stuck!

(Note:  I’m trying something new, and adding a podcast to this post.  The audio content is different from the written content, so I hope that you will enjoy both.  Please give me some feedback!)

Here is a link to my original Feeling Stuck post.

m4a type of file- if the won’t play for you, try the mp3 version

mp3 type of file

A friend of mine is going through a divorce, something I would imagine many of you can identify with, unfortunately.  She has a little boy in elementary school and is worried about the effect this will have on him.  She’s also worried about being able to keep the house they’ve been living in.  It’s too large for just the two of them, and a bit more money than she feels comfortable with spending every month.  That’s also something that I’m sure many of you can identify with.  What if they have to move?  What if he has to change schools?

Let’s count up this little boy’s losses:

  • loss of a constant father figure
  • loss of a loving, cohesive family
  • loss of a home, if they have to move
  • loss of friends, if they have to move
  • loss of school, if they have to move
  • loss of a comfortable and familiar routine (due to shared custody, lots of sleeping in Dad’s new place, etc.)
  • maybe even loss of grandparents, if they get too involved in choosing sides
  • loss of a healthy image of Mom, maybe blaming Mom for what happened
  • loss of a healthy image of Dad, maybe putting Dad on a pedestal
  • loss of self-worth since so many children of divorce, in trying to understand what happened, blame themselves for what the adults in their lives do
  • loss of safety, due in part with Dad not being there to protect them, and in part due to the anger and stress that is always in the air.
  • loss of Mom, who is into her own grief about the loss of her husband, her anger, regret and fear of the future.

I’m sure there are others I’m not thinking of, but you’re getting the idea, I’m sure.

And since Mom is in her own grief, no matter how much she tries to shield her son from that, he still feels that something has changed.  He probably won’t really understand what has changed, but his mother feels different to him.  Children can’t rationally think through these difficult issues.  They just feel funny in their bodies, like having a stomach ache.

Can you see how the losses build and feed into each other?  You might think I’m nitpicking, but I’m not.  And the sad thing is that Mom has probably never been taught any effective way of dealing with all of this, and is completely unprepared to help her son.

What does he take out of it?  Not to trust parents?  That he’s so bad his dad didn’t want to be around him any more?  That marriage stinks and he never wants to get married?  Or have kids?

Wow.  Do you see the chain reactions, and the ricochets?  Like a giant, crazy pinball game.

Still more to come….

Chris

 

 

 

The Scary G Word

There is a word I use all the time that scares people.  I wish I could say it right now, but I’m afraid that if I even hint at it you will run away.  I know, because I’ve seen people freak out when I say it.  I watch them turn pale and get those deer-in-the-headlight eyes.  I can see that they’re looking for an escape route.  But I have to say it, so here goes.  Stay calm and keep reading.  It’s not nearly as scary as you think. Continue reading The Scary G Word