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

 

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

 

 

“F” word #3 – Familiarity

The following article was written by one of the co-founders of The Grief Recovery Method (GRM), Russell Friedman, on October 27, 1993.  You can find this article on GRM’s blog.   This is the last of three articles he wrote.  

In our posts dated April 14 and April 21, Russell explored the impact of forgiveness and fear might have on our hearts, our minds, and our bodies. In this last article, he focuses on our stuck patterns of familiarity to guide our recovery from significant emotional loss.

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What you practice is what you get good at! The Grief Recovery Handbook makes constant reference to the fact that you must grieve and complete your relationship to your pain. Lacking grief recovery skills, grievers often begin to identify themselves by the pain they have experienced. In a relatively short time, the griever becomes familiar with that painful identity. The griever may also develop a very strong loyalty to the now familiar pain. No one wants to give up things they own or feel very familiar with.

What you practice is what you get good at!

In a society that does not encourage or support effective grief recovery actions, it is typical for grievers to find themselves isolating from friends, family, and co-workers. In an attempt to escape the very real sense of being judged or criticized for having the normal feelings caused by loss, the griever may begin to avoid all people or events that might lead to having to defend their feelings or to act as if they were recovered. The griever becomes very familiar with and loyal to the isolation that seems to protect them.

What you practice is what you get good at!

We have been taught, incorrectly, that grievers want and need to be alone. We have been taught, incorrectly, that grievers do not want to talk about the losses they have experienced. The griever, caught between the treatment they receive from well intentioned friends and their own fears, begins to become very familiar with being alone.

What you practice is what you get good at!

So far we have identified pain, isolation, and loneliness as highly probable areas of familiarity for grieving people. It is tragic when a griever, already struggling with the normal and natural emotions caused by loss, is further limited by some habits that do not enhance or encourage completion and recovery from significant emotional loss.

Familiar is not necessarily good, it is only familiar. Comfortable is not necessarily good, it is often just familiar. The old cliché, “better the devil I know then the devil I don’t know,” almost explains our loyalty to the familiarity of pain, isolation, and loneliness. Change can be difficult and awkward at the best of times, and it is clearly difficult for grieving people for whom the whole universe may seem upside down.

It is essential that we begin to become familiar with actions, skills, and behaviors that will lead to successful recovery from significant emotional losses. It does not require any more energy to practice helpful things than unhelpful ones. The Grief Recovery Handbook is an excellent source for appropriate and effective grief recovery tools that can lead to completion of familiar behaviors or beliefs that are not helping us improve our lives. In a prior article we said, “Familiarity can create a powerful illusion that change is not necessary, that growth is not possible.”  You must fight off the illusion of comfort caused by familiarity. It is not your nature to live a life of pain, isolation, and loneliness. It is your nature to be loving and lovable, trusting and trustable. Practicing the principles of grief recovery will help you become familiar with your natural ability to be happy.

What you practice is what you get good at!

If you found this article helpful information, we suggest you consider reading the other two articles in this series:

Exploring the “F” Words – Forgiveness

Exploring the “F” Words – Fear

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

“F” word #2 – Fear

The following article was written by one of the co-founders of The Grief Recovery Method (GRM), Russell Friedman, on September 17, 1993.  You can find this article on GRM’s blog.   This is the second of three articles he wrote.  They will be posted here on the next few Saturdays.

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In our post dated April 14, Russell explored the impact that lack of forgiveness might have on our hearts, our minds, and our bodies. In this one he focuses on our emotional microscope on the possible consequences of using FEAR to guide our recovery from significant emotional loss.

Retained FEAR is cumulative and cumulatively negative. If the griever does not feel safe enough to communicate about their fears, then the fears themselves appear to be real and begin to define and limit the griever. In a play on that old phrase, “you are what you eat” and “you create what you fear.”

Fear is one of the most normal emotional responses to loss. The fear of the unknown, the fear of the unfamiliar, and the fear of adapting to a dramatic change in all of our familiar habits, behaviors, and feelings.

Fear is one of the most common emotional responses to loss. For example, when a spouse dies: How can I go on without them? Or, after a divorce: Where will I find another mate as wonderful, as beautiful?

Those fears are normal and natural responses to the end of long-term relationships. If acknowledged and allowed, those fears and the thoughts and feelings they generate, can be completed and diminish without serious aftermath. As we learn to acknowledge and complete our relationship to our fear, we can then move on to the more important task of grieving and completing the relationship that ended or changed.

But, if we have been socialized to believe fear is unnatural or bad, then we tend to bury our fears to avoid feeling judged by our fellows who seem to want us to feel better very quickly after a loss.

There is also danger that we may have been socialized to express fear indirectly as anger. While there is often some unexpressed anger attached to incomplete relationships, we usually discover that it accounts for a very small percentage of unresolved grief. It is also important not to confuse Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s “stages of dying,” which includes anger, with the totally unique responses that follow a loss.

An even larger danger looms when we develop relationships with and loyalties to our fears. We believe them as if they were real. We defend them with our lives, and to some extent, it is, indeed, our lives that we are gambling with. As we develop a fierce relationship with our fears, we lose sight of our original objective, which was to grieve and complete the relationship that has ended or changed. It is as if we have shifted all of our energy to the fear so we do not have to deal with the painful emotions caused by the loss.

Reminders of loved ones who have died, or relationships that have ended will often take us on a rocket ride to the PAST, where we are liable to dig up a little regret. After thinking about that regret for a while, we might rocket out to the FUTURE, where we will generate some worry or FEAR. The point is that those fears we generate, while they feel totally real, are often the result of some out-of-the-moment adventures. It may be helpful to remember this little phrase: “My feelings are real, but they do not necessarily represent current reality.”

While FEAR is often the emotional response to loss, in our society, ISOLATION is frequently the behavioral reaction to the fear. If isolation is the problem, then participation is a major part of the solution. Fight your way through the fear so that you will not isolate further. Recovery from significant emotional loss is not achieved alone.

This article on Fear was written by Russell Friedman on September 17, 1993.

august 16The article on forgiveness was written by Russell Friedman on September 17, 1993

Hugs, Cee

email: cee@cee-chris.com

 

Losses in the Aging Process

Our dear friend and mentor, Cari Dawson, graces us once again with her words of wisdom.  We go through tremendous losses as we age, and those seem to accelerate with every passing year.  Since I’m only eight years younger than Cari, I can align quite easily with what she is saying.  And it’s about time someone said it!

I have been a Grief Recovery Specialist for nearly twenty three years. The loss of a grandchild was the catalyst for me, an event that started me on this life-saving work so that I could help others. My loss history is lengthy: I’ve lost parents, a 2-year-old niece and a 25-year-old nephew, a brother, other family members, pets, jobs, lifestyles, husbands, friends, trust, and patients. Now, as I move deeper into my mid-seventies, I am becoming more acutely aware of the losses associated with aging.

The most obvious loss in aging is the fact of limited time on earth. It becomes more real that gravity is chipping away at us. There are subtle and not so subtle clues that we are disappearing. One of my friends talks about the invisibility in this elderly period of life as we are embedded in a culture of youth. “When people talk to me, I don’t feel like they see me.” Others say they don’t recognize the person in their mirror. “Who is that old lady? I don’t feel like what I am seeing.”  Friends complain that their lives are narrowing, that doctor visits are crowding their calendars. Some are losing their joints and other body parts.  They are getting hips and knees replaced, cataracts removed, hearing aids fitted, open heart surgery. Almost all of us have arthritic changes, we lose flexibility and dexterity, we lose cadence when we reach for words that don’t come as easily as they used to. We are generally slowing down. We adapt to the gradual losses, but as I am wont to say hoping to lighten up with dark humor, “None of us is getting out of here alive.”

And we often experience a loss of dignity. I personally encountered such a loss during annual well visits with my Primary Care Physician (PCP).  Although I have managed to reach this point in life with only occasional use of prescription drugs like antibiotics and I remain in excellent physical and mental health, I am a firm believer in preventative care, routine tests and lab work. Twice in the last several years, I have felt humiliated when unsolicited, my PCP’s office performed memory tests involving my retrieving three unrelated words (sunset-chair-banana) said earlier in the visit by the health care provider. Part of this test included a request to draw an image of a clock at 11:00. I was tempted to draw the image digitally rather than as the face of a clock with hands and numbers! At a time in my life when I intentionally enter into contemplative meditation and practice letting go, I felt like I was being graded on my ability to remain linear and dualistic to please government (Medicare) and health care professionals. I doubt if the health care provider understood that I felt like a fungible commodity instead of a human being.

Putting this into perspective, I understand that tests for dementia can be a necessary and good thing, but I wonder if the health care provider considers the context of the patient (other than chronological age) before launching into such tests. For example, the first time this test was administered, I had been in the throes of grief over multiple significant losses (which happens frequently as we grow older) and was experiencing disorientation and detachment from the dualism of this world. I was in no frame of mind to remember three unrelated words and I felt that having to draw a clock with the big hand on 12 and the little hand on 11 was demeaning and counterproductive. In fact, the loss of respect and dignity compounded my losses and my grief. Am I losing my mind too?  My identity?  Am I just some thing to be charted rather than a mature woman with feelings?

On the other hand, there are so many joys of life at this stage!  Balance is the most important aspect of our lives as we age. Although I continue to work—see and counsel clients— and volunteer, it is done with utmost concern for balance and my priorities which facilitate my journey to wholeness:  contemplation, spending time with close friends and family, enjoying my furry friend, reading, and working out at the gym.  I have become more acutely aware of the clock that is ticking away and ironically and interestingly, it has given me more peace of mind and focus knowing what I thought I knew all along: that my time here is running out.

I marvel as I reflect upon a long journey from a small town Ohio Valley high school girl of seventeen whose highest aspiration was to be a secretary and housewife, to multiple and diverse careers and paths, to where I am now in my mid-seventies contentment. I hear the clock ticking like a heartbeat. It’s a good reminder to live in the present, to see the beauty in Life, to taste, touch and feel it, to grieve the inevitable losses and know it is all good.

Cari D. Dawson, MTS, MA, JD, www.transitionscelebrant.com

Cari’s previous post was about grieving the loss of a pet.

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

Didn’t know before…

I know for me, forgiving myself is one of the hardest things to do.

The definition of forgive is “to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake”.

My illness has caused a lot of damage in our lives.  We’ve lost our home, cars, jobs, friends, everything… almost.  I wonder at times how I didn’t lose Chris.  Chronic illness effects every part of your world.  I blame myself for all of it and I struggle to forgive myself.

Is it right to blame myself?  Chris says no, because I didn’t do anything to cause my illness.  But it’s hard not to feel responsible. It’s hard for me to forgive me.

I am learning through my training as a Grief Recovery Method Specialist that I was only judging myself for a lack of knowledge and experience in new or different situations, none of which needs forgiveness.  There is nothing for me to forgive because I did nothing wrong.  I didn’t set out to create an “offense, flaw or mistake” as the definition of forgiveness states.

Sometimes we just have to let ourselves off the hook, to let go of the past.  Sometimes things just happen.  It’s no one’s fault.  It just is.

I’m learning to love myself more, and that feels good.  It makes me smile.

Hugs, Cee

email: cee@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

Incompleteness

Before I got sick with Lymes Disease, I had a lot of hopes, dreams and expectations for myself, especially when it came to physical activity.   Before I met Chris, I was a runner.  I played tennis and was actually fairly active.  Shortly after we got together, we would camp and hike at 10,000 ft elevation nearly every weekend in the spring to early fall.  When we were not camping, we would be planning the next hike or traveling.  We even would camp in the winter on the eastern plains of Colorado in the snow and wind.

In 2001, I woke up from my 40-day coma unable to move nearly any muscle in my entire body.  I couldn’t hold a pencil, talk or lift my hands.  Since the doctors at that time didn’t know why I was so deathly ill, they said I should regain the use of my body.  What they didn’t tell me was it would take many years to get my body back to a functioning level, to where I was prior to getting sick.  The hope of camping at altitude and hiking every weekend was not in my future, at least not for a few of years, as long as I stayed healthy and worked on getting my body back in shape.  So I lived the next 16 years expecting and hoping and dreaming I would be able to be physical once again.  But my body failed me time and time again as Lymes Disease kept flaring up.

When we suffer a loss of any kind, no one ever tells us that we have to change or adapt our hopes, dreams and exceptions for ourselves.  The Grief Recovery Method teaches us to look at these hopes, dreams and exceptions.  Once we can examine them, we can make the changes that need to be addressed.

It’s easy to understand how the death of a loved one changes dreams, hopes and expectations for that relationship.  The person is gone, and all your future changes in an instant.

It’s easy to understand how divorce does the same thing in your life.  You had planned to spend a lifetime with this person.  “To death do us part”.  And yet here you are, sitting with your lawyers, dividing up your stuff, battling over custody and visitation rights for the kids.  So long,  Hopes.  Bye bye, Dreams.  See ya, Expectations.

What you are feeling is grief.

How did your hopes, dreams and expectations change with your loss?

(Coming soon… how “better, different and more” figure into your grief equation.)

Hugs, Cee

email: cee@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)