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There is No Vaccine for Grief Only Support

There is No Vaccine for Grief Only Support

 

even then that’s been difficult because of all the covid restrictions. 

 

Collective Grief

  No need to be reminded of how our world changed and shifted overnight and continued for 18 months plus!  For the majority of us, we were left alone with minimal or no support at all. 

Physical connection (or human touch) with our family, work, and/or friends had suddenly vanished.  They could only be accessed via the phone or online platforms.

No hugs, no office, familiar routines, retail therapy, get-togethers, concerts, live sporting events or trips. These were just a few of the pleasures we lost.

Suddenly, our world changed and became unfamiliar.  We were alone and left to figure out new ones with our friends and immediate households.

Collectively we experienced grief although for most it wasn’t recognized as such.  When you look at it there was an ending, the death of the life we once enjoyed.  The familiar had gone and all that was left with uncertainty.  

Modern Technology Allows us to Stay in Touch

  Not only did many families have to work from home, (those fortunate enough)  but also they became responsible for the online learning for their children.  Suddenly life became much more complex.

As if that wasn’t enough you may have experienced unexplained mood swings, temperamental emotions and shorter tempers. A slow build-up of frustrations with no escape, or minimal distractions available to help you cope. Worrisome for sure. 

These are all normal and likely you were experiencing grief for the loss of “normal” and these emotions are to be expected during times such as this.

Throughout this period of pandemic restrictions, we have lived life on a roller coaster of HOPE.  The anticipated and widespread availability of an anti-coronavirus vaccine and for life to return to its pre-pandemic normal times.

 

Individual Grief

  Fear, anxiety and distress were behind many of these emotions experienced during this time and were responsible for many of our behaviours.  Each time the death statistics for those who had died because of COVID, our fear level increased.

A famous quote says, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” In the case of the pandemic, we have witnessed millions of death.  Behind each death, there is a tragic story.  Each time someone died, and often alone these bereaved families experienced an unthinkable level of grief. 

This ‘pandemic grief’ experienced by them is likely to be more complicated than the pre-pandemic grief. In years to come, researchers and anthropologists will create a clearer picture of the impact this particular grief has had on those left behind.  For now, we can only offer support and to be there for them once restrictions are lifted.

 

Funerals became Virtual Events

 

Even holding funerals (or any celebrations of life) have become extremely complicated due to the restrictions placed on any sort of gathering. Therefore, funerals were attended virtually by many bereaved individuals through the screens of their computers. Even, the intimate family moments of life were experienced online.

Some families may decide to hold off a funeral until larger gatherings take place.  That way they can properly honour the deceased with the support of their families and community. But in their case, one question pops up in my mind: have they put their grief on hold too? 

When the funeral does take place, some who haven’t experienced a loss, may question the need to hold such a gathering after all this time?  It is well documented that support is still needed and appreciated in the years following a death.  Sometimes the 2nd or 3rd years can be just as difficult. Your support will be appreciated more because the casseroles and support given to families soon after the death occurs just weren’t available.  

Needs of Grief for Healing

 

The important role played by funerals in society can easily be disregarded by many people.  However, ceremonies and rituals are parts of our DNA, and rituals provide comfort during our tough times. The funeral, therefore, is the most significant ritual in our society, as it provides us with an opportunity to say a final goodbye.

It is public; it is traditional and is part of the mourning process.  An opportunity to express those thoughts and feelings about life, death, and our mutual affiliation with the deceased. In a memorial service, we can honour and celebrate the life of the deceased individual by sharing our collective stories.

We have an opportunity to remember the life of the deceased and recall how his (or her) life gave meaning to ours. In this manner, we are provided with much-needed support and allows us to realize that we are not alone in our difficult times.

Allan D. Wolfelt, Ph D., has recognized various needs, which are central to the healing process after we experience grief. We can find more about these needs in his book titled, Understanding Your Grief.’ 

 

Collective Grief Healing

 

The endurance of grief necessitates support from other people, and it is not a solo undertaking.  That’s why support for families is so critical. Also why we take time to call the bereaved families or visit them to listen to their stories over a cup of tea or coffee.

Please continue to bake your famous lasagna or chilli casserole and take it to them to show them that you care.  It may be a year later but don’t underestimate the healing presence brings to those grieving. 

During the pandemic, we’ve all witnessed how quickly our lives can change and how uncertain is life itself, especially without the familiar routines, This is how life is for many when their loved ones die. The unfamiliar situation becomes their reality of life.

With death or loss of our “normal lives”, grief will be experienced whether we realize it or not. 

There is no hierarchy in loss, all loss is felt and experienced for what it meant to the person.  Whenever there is an ending there will naturally be sadness.

 

Humans Need Connections & Touch

 

During our lockdown period, it was our physical connection and support that was missing.  It’s the human touch we thrive on.  The hug was an integral missing component during the pandemic period. We actually crave connections and physical touch.

Collectively we all need to heal from the Pandemic Grief by sharing our losses, and telling what this period meant to us. We must not compare our griefs: we must only listen to each other. 

Perhaps we will in our communities organize ” loss gatherings” so that other people witness our stories and we theirs. In this way, we can all collectively begin to heal the grief we’ve all experienced during this time.

Please do not grieve alone, or further isolate yourself: Reach out, as help is available.

If you’re ready and committed to heal your grief and live your life fully, I can help you. You can always connect with me at [email protected].

Unconditional Love of Mothers

Unconditional Love of Mothers

Mother Nature

We look to nature as being the perfect mother. She doesn’t love you because of what you do, but she loves unconditionally without judgment. She refuses to withhold her blessings from us just because we have wronged her in some way. Sometimes, Mother Nature is known as the Great Mother or Gaia, and she has given us a blueprint for what mothering is. Our mother has given us a safe have to live and thrive.

In the same way, our physical mothers adopt and show us the same unconditional love.

Spring Arrives

Throughout the season’s mother feeds us and provides beauty as she dresses her world in the colours of each season. Spring is when she colours our world alive with flowers, which burst through the once-frozen ground to begin their life cycle. In doing so bring new promise for more beautiful things to come.

Spring is the home of so many mothers! The birds and animals that enjoy this season are doing their best to prepare for when their babies come, building nests as a place where these offspring can thrive. Everywhere we look around us at springtime there’s evidence of motherhood.

It is against this backdrop that we hold our Mother’s Day in recognition for all they’ve given to us.

May’s Celebrations

In North America Mother’s Day is celebrated later than in Europe which is held in March. Probably because this is when their spring flowers begin to bloom. I mention this as I get to celebrate with the UK as my daughter lives there then again in May. I get the best of both worlds and double spoiling as it brings me connections with my female ancestors!

Now I’m the matriarch of the family the day is all mine. I no longer share it with mum physically as she died many years ago. Although the overwhelming grief and pain I felt at her death have softened and healed long ago. The feelings of sadness and nostalgia of the many mother’s days we did celebrate come to mind. I am both grateful and thankful we had mum in our lives as long as we did. It is never easy saying goodby to a parent regardless of your age. I can only begin to imagine what it was like to be an orphan as mum had been.

Mum never let herself be a victim to her circumstances and early life upbringing, Instead, she threw herself into creating a safe and loving world for my sister and me. A world she never had. Her family meant so much to her and was her greatest joy.

It’s during Mother’s Day, that my thoughts often go to her mum, my grandma Isabella, I only know her name. I wonder what she was like and would love to have known more. It is so sad that all those memories are no longer available, nothing was written down about their lives. Mum was only 5 when her mum died.

Family Constellations

It is through my study of this work that I’m aware of how our ancestors DNA lives on within us. I can find comfort in knowing I’m carrying a long line of women who’ve survived and thrived throughout the ages. How many women in my ancestral line never met their biological mother but were raised by adoptive parents, grandparents or relatives even friends. All of their values have been passed down regardless. For all of those women who gave themselves to create life.

Mothers therefore are complex many carrying the traumas from previous generation. None the less Mothers are the nurtures, the keepers of house and hearth. They represent creation and sacrifice, they’re the compassionate nurturing ones, tender and loyal.

Our mothers are our first teachers, they show us right from wrong and how to navigate life, keeping us safe throughout our lives with them. Our mothers give us our values they ignore our faults. She holds her grief and tears wanting to show her children how to laugh and to find joy.

As mother nature gives and demands little in return from us, it’s the same for mothers everywhere. Mother provides and helps her children grow and evolve allowing the next generation to thrive in ways not available to the previous ones.

For those who have had their mothers live into their elder years, it is difficult for them to live life without them. They’ve never known life without a mother by their side. When experiencing Mother’s Day they’re uncertain how they can survive Mother’s day.

My only suggestion as Mother’s Day approaches is for daughters whose mothers are very much in their lives that they cherish the time they have with each other. Also, ask questions about their ancestors as they spend time with their mothers and not wait as I did until it’s too late.

For those grieving their mother’s this year and are unsure what to do, I invite you to connect with the Great Mother, as so many have done in the past, or go out into nature, into the woods and let nature bring you solace as your mourn.

COVID Mother’s Day

This year because of COVID 19 lockdowns, there will be many, not able to celebrate the day in person with their adult children or their mothers. I’m going to take a leaf out of my mother’s book and instead of feeling sorry for myself, I plan to enjoy a walk in nature. I can be with our Great Mother and relish her wisdom and beauty. There I’ll celebrate all mothers in my lineage in remembrance of their lives, loves, sacrifices and losses as well as their joys and accomplishments because of them, I’m here. Thank you to all.

Talking About Death Now Saves Families Additional Grief Later

Talking About Death Now Saves Families Additional Grief Later

Unwelcome Conversations take courage, talking about death is never easy but necessary, it gets easier once you begin.

We plan for most things in our lives so why don’t we plan for our life’s end?  Perhaps its denial, too morbid, or it’s costly to implement.  Let’s imagine that you have already completed it.  How do you feel?  Lighter, freer, powerful knowing you’ve taken control, more relaxed, content knowing your exact wishes will be carried out and not left up to your family to figure out.

If you have aging parents you could open the conversation up with them.  It may be something they’re already thinking about but were unwilling to discuss for fear of upsetting you.  Opening up the conversation about your own thoughts and plans could create a meaningful conversation for both.

Thinking of our own life’s end isn’t something we readily consider until a terminal illness is given.  After all the medical treatment options have been exhausted, palliative care may be considered or even medical assistance in dying (MAID) may be an option in some extreme cases.

Use your beliefs and values to guide you

Your life values and/or religious beliefs will help determine your decision.  You’ll be asked many questions that may be difficult to answer when you are ill or in pain. There may come a time when you’re unable to speak for yourself and the decisions are left to your family to make.

They may un-wittingly choose the opposite of what you would have wanted.  They may forever blame themselves for not knowing or doing more.  Other family members could disagree resulting in feuds or legal battles.

Three Thoughts that Hold you Back

Denial  – There is nothing so certain as death or taxes and living in denial that you’ll “live forever”  so there is lots of time to plan later.    Wouldn’t you feel happier knowing that you had plans in place so that your physical, emotional, spiritual and practical needs are met?

Morbid – in the West, we live in a death adverse society.  Thinking about or talking about death can feel morbid.  No one has taught us how to deal or be with death comfortably.   However, thinking about your own death can help you appreciate all you have at this moment and help you live a fuller life.  Living life well means you’ve planned your life.

Costly – when you think of Lawyers and Funeral Homes, these are expensive, especially if you are unsure of what you want.  That’s why educating yourself in all areas of what you will want to put in place may be less costly.  You and/or your family will not be making decisions under pressure. 

Downloadable FREE Advanced Care Planning Kits

These are free and you can find out more here.  You don’t have to figure it all out on your own.  Navigating the medical and legal systems is complex enough, however, this guide will outline all the important topics you need to consider.  You could use this to begin the unwelcome conversation with your own family.

Take control over what’s important to you.  It’s easier to make decisions when you’re not in a challenging situation when they are much harder to make.

When imagining our own death, to die peacefully in our sleep would, of course, be the first choice. Regrettably, this isn’t what usually happens.  Most of us want to be free of pain and suffering and this is where medical treatment, ethical and moral decisions are required.

Take action today and download your Advanced Care Planning kit, you can always change your mind later but at least you and your family will know what you want at your end of life.

We all plan for birth why not death?

Finding Life After Loss

Finding Life After Loss

For certain it will happen, this year, maybe next but it will if you allow your grief to take you there.

Sometimes when you sit quietly, or even when you’re slowly waking from a dream, you can hear your Soul whispers.

You will get over your grief

A Gentle Voice Whispered

My darling what if …….

What if I were to tell you that you have death & grief all wrong?

You’ve had it all backwards all along

What if death of one was rebirth for another?

A portal into discovering undying love for self

What if all your meant to do is find meaning in their leaving?

Its purpose to help you evolve and grow

Yes, grief brings you to your knees

Cracks open your heart

Shatters the world as you knew it

Who says that death = pain forever or 

You must give up your life also?

Instead…….

Let go of control, allow grief to wash everything away that no longer works

Question those beliefs, are they even yours? 

Find new ones that fit your life and serve you better

Keep your heart wide open 

Please don’t close it or build another wall 

To keep you safe and others out

Release your guilt, blame and shame – they are not there to punish you

Allow your emotions to be brought back into balance

Ask why they are there and what they want

Examine their true cause

Guilt resets your moral compass

Blame allows anger and frustration to move out

Shame is a fear of not being connected and believing you’re not worthy

Take time to remember all the good things in your life

Reopen all the memories of the things you love

Allow them to fill you up with undying love for you

Allow the alchemy of grief to turn your pain into joy

That’s the gift and purpose of Grief

Author, Anne’s Soul

Bringing in the New

Bringing in the New

Before welcoming in any new beginnings, we need to take time to reflect, accept and let go of the old to create space for any new insight or ideas really to consider.

At times this is easier said than done. Often it can bring up fear, as we humans like the familiar and uncertainty aren’t welcomed. Anyone who has had a loved one die and is grieving that loss will know this.

This year has been about letting go of those familiar routines and moving into uncertainty. A year of not getting too attached to routines because they were quickly changed as we learned to live with COVID. This year was the year to discover just how resilient and creative you are in the face of adversity.

Grief’s Presence

When I look back I note all those hopes, dreams and plans everyone had for themselves all vanished. There were many of you experiencing all the emotions someone feels when they are grieving a death. These emotions may not have been so intense but they were present whether recognized or not. For many of you were bewildered by your emotions and didn’t know how to handle them.

For those grieving, it feels such an alone time and you may isolate regardless because you feel no one understands. My biggest hope now is for people to truly understand what it feels like to have lost something. Hopefully, they will have more compassion for those amongst us who are grieving the death of a loved one.

It is my sincere hope as we move forward everyone will have a new appreciation for grief and the emotions, feelings and thoughts it brings.

This year was even harder, for anyone grieving a death as the rituals, the supports from family, friends and community weren’t available to them and for them.

Not Your Usual Ritual

That’s why on this day, the eve of a new year, you’ll take time to reflect, to be with your grief. Invite and welcome in your emotions, they are after all your souls GPS, they are your guidance system.

Research tells us that we get to know ourselves by being in relationships, so when someone dies, that bond to their humanness isn’t there and you’ll mourn the connection.

There are ways you can give it to yourself. It is a belief that you have to look externally for others or things to bring you happiness or whatever you feel you need. However, you can source this from the external world but it is also sourced from you. You have everything you need within you to give yourself the love, acceptance, appreciation, to be seen and to be heard to you.

Take time now to determine what your needs are and brainstorm some ways you can give them to yourself.

Reflect, let go the old ways that no longer are helpful to you

Welcome to a brand new year..

To assist you here are some tools you might find helpful

Coming Into Stillness

12 Steps to Healing

If you find yourself struggling, feeling alone and unsupported, please reach out to me and we can book a Free conversation call [email protected]

2020 COVID Grief – How to Create Less Stress for the Holidays

2020 COVID Grief – How to Create Less Stress for the Holidays

What are your plans for this holiday season?

The holidays are among us. A time of year that’s known for its busy nature that can lead to quite the load of stress.  However, this year there is a different kind of stress due to COVID. We’re unable to have large family gatherings so our connection to others and support will be limited. Many grieving may feel isolated especially if they aren’t part of a “bubble”.

Instead of having several invitations to gatherings collecting on your counter, this year it may be to connect virtually.  Perhaps a long list of people you need to send holiday cards to awaits you. Then the daunting task of braving the shopping mall crowds to find the gifts for your loved ones.  All of this, on top of your normal everyday life, can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Use this year as an opportunity to simplify and let go of expectations of what the holidays should be. If you celebrate Christmas and you want it to be as it always was, then ask for help? When you’re grieving a loss you may not have the energy to do everything you used to do.  Please know this is normal and perfectly OK to not do what you feel you should do.  Give yourself permission to revisit what you’d like your holiday to look like.

A few Ideas to Simplify

You might enjoy writing and sending cards and you could use it as an opportunity to take your mind off your grief.   There are easier ways, you could consider sending electronic cards instead. Simplify your gift giving this year, draw names instead of gifts for everyone.

For some further helpful tip in navigating the holidays, you may find additional ideas here. (although written in non-COVID times, many are still applicable).

Here are some of my personal favourite ways to navigate this normally busy and stressful time of year. My hope is to make it a little less stressful for you and the season easier for you to navigate.   You can still create fond memories and perhaps your new activities will stand the test of time and be ones you decide to implement again.  

These secret weapons of mine include…

Put forth great effort to be present

For sure it’s difficult, I understand.  It’s almost a reflex to pick up our phones and scroll through Facebook or our email when we have a free moment – do you do the same?  One way I like to dodge this is to leave my electronics in another room.  Don’t even allow yourself the temptation to pick up your phone and disengage from you were planning on doing.  When I’m feeling particularly scatter-brained, what really helps ground me is focusing on my senses.  What do I smell?  What do I hear?  What do I feel? 

Stopping and thinking through what’s going on around you at that very moment really brings you into the present moment unlike anything else.  It’s a wonderful tool to use to dial in and be present – and is a great tool to use year-round, not just during the holidays!

Often when you’re grieving you can become so disconnected by being in the past and this exercise can help you in those moments.  Deep breathing is another way to connect you to yourself, breathing can also help to calm you down as it alerts your body that you’re safe. You may enjoy this short breathing meditation for those times when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Give up those expectations as I mentioned earlier 

A lot of the stress we put on ourselves this season lies in the notion that we expect things to be perfect.  That’d be lovely, of course.  Therefore, dropping the expectations of perfection will allow you to be prepared for when something may spring up.  Joy can be found in each situation. When things don’t go exactly as planned spend your energy finding gratitude in your circumstances and enjoy your time as much as possible.  Tis the season to be loving and caring but perhaps extend this to yourself first by simplifying.

Find time to move

It’s incredibly important to keep movement in your schedule, no matter how busy you may feel.  Even if it’s just a brisk walk after lunch or dinner. Make it a habit to bundle up in your favourite scarf and winter coat to go for a walk alone to clear your mind, or with someone, you enjoy being around.  Being outside with others providing your socially distancing and wearing a mask is acceptable and preferable during this time.  Having time outside in nature, breathing in the fresh air, while burning off some calories and keeping your heart rate is important self-care.

What are your favourite ways? 

  • How do you get some movement in during the cold months? 
  • What activities did you enjoy as a child?
  • Do you enjoy visiting new towns or being in nature?

For me, I enjoy taking walks in nature and I’m fortunate to have many that I can take a short drive to.  A good brisk walk helps clear my mind or I may take time to think about my loved ones who are no longer with me.  Walking is an opportunity for me to practice mindfulness and focus just for the walk on everything my eyes see.

Coming home and having hot chocolate, cheers me up knowing I’ve burnt a few calories so I can look forward to that guilt-free!

PS I’m holding additional Grief Movement Flow hours in the New Year. You can email at [email protected] to be added to the waitlist.

The benefits of grief movement help you get out of your head and stop the chatter and rumination as you move into your body. As you move back with awareness and connect to your breath and move your spine in gentle ways you begin to connect to yourself. During grief, it’s easy to tense up in a protection mode creating shallow breathing and rigidity along your spine. Through these gentle flow movements, you connect to your emotions and allow them to flow through causing your body to relax and your breath to deepen.

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