Labels Don’t Define They Limit

Labels Don’t Define They Limit

"Too often we identify with our labels but labels limit us they are not who we truly are"

Labels Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Who you are is not defined by your name or even what you do in life for you are much more. Too often your self- worth is tightly tied to that of your work role or relationship label.

These are jigsaw parts adding colour and meaning to the whole of who you think you are. You wear many roles and hats but they aren’t who you are either.

The Sum of the Whole

It’s through your roles and relationships that form the sum of your experiences that shape you.  The cycle of life continues as you grow older and change,  0ften adding new labels as you evolve into the next stage of your life.

Your name is used first to identify who you are and the clan you belong to. You become a son or daughter, sister or brother, girlfriend or boyfriend showing the world more of who you are.  Then you marry and a  new label of husband or wife is given, followed next by mother or father.

No Longer Five

I’m no longer a girl but my age puts me in the category of senior or elder but underneath I’m still me.  The same me I was at 5. Somehow I got buried under the weight of the labels I used to define me or hide behind.  Doing so gave me a false sense of self-worth.

It isn’t until death or major loss occurs, the great equalizer and it doesn’t matter which label was used it doesn’t stop the cycle of life from occurring.  Underneath we are all too human and with any loss, grief pays a visit and stays for a while, perhaps even a long while.   It is during this time that we have an opportunity to shake off our labels as we are brought to our knees, for truly what do they matter?

A Crisis in Identity

We call out “Who am I” when the label no longer fits.

An identity crisis occurs when we allow our self-worth to be defined by labels.  It is so important that we take care not to do so as our labels can easily be taken away.

Relationships can define us but we can become lost in them.  Often meshing and melding with “others” in our lives to fit in. We do this also to be loved and feel loved.  Each time we do so another piece of us is lost.

When someone or something is taken from us we hurt, we’re upset and a temper tantrum at the injustice is thrown.  It is now we must learn how to live our lives without the person and our label attaching us.   This is your opportunity to rediscover the YOU underneath.  The one that got buried living life.

You may feel broken and worn down by this experience but there is a part of you that is always whole, is always you.  It is simply waiting to be discovered again, dusted off and brought out into the sunlight to play and to dream again.

This is how grief coaching helps you find YOU after a loss.

If you’re ready to explore – please message me and let’s talk.  Your life is waiting for you but needs your participation.

Type A Paralysis

Type A Paralysis

I pulled this inspirational card today and it spoke volumes to me.  I’m the perfect example of perfectionism.  So much so I get into perfectionism paralysis!

It was no wonder that when it came my time to grieve, I’d worry if was I doing it right!

“There is no right way, I was told.  Everyone’s journey is unique and we get over our grief when we do”.

Ok, my nursing background kicked in and I thought.  I cannot imagine a doctor telling a patient that.  How helpful would that be to the person with cancer or heart disease?

No, indeed they wouldn’t, instead, they outline the prognosis and the journey they have evidence in seeing for patients with the same diagnosis.  Then they give helpful information for what they can do to help the person heal or suggest potential cures for them.  They are offering them HOPE.

This indeed is what I do, I offer, my clients Hope that they can heal their heartache and move through their grief. I offer helpful information and assist them to plan their own healing journey.

It isn’t about forgetting their loved one, or that they didn’t love them enough if they heal.  It’s about showing them what is possible when they work through their grief with guidance and support.

If you are curious about what grief coaching can do for you, please connect with me.

Healing from your grief is about moving your loved one into your heart and out of your head.

 

Summer went out in a Tornado

How was your Summer?  I do hope you were able to get away for some downtime and recharge?  It certainly was a hot one……..

A Friday Night to Remember

The last breath of Summer left us during the storm last Friday evening ushered out by 6 Tornado’s here in the Ottawa region.  The result of the storm plunged many into chaos as the power went out in homes.  across the region.  This was a small inconvenience compared to the people whose homes were destroyed by the storm.  The winds tore off rooftops, downed trees, and power lines, scattering debris over roads impeding travel and rescue efforts.

Neighborhoods Destroyed

It would take several days for the extent of the damage to reach the public’s awareness.  When it did, those watching were totally stunned and shocked by the devastation in many areas around our region. I’m certain there were a few hands over mouths as they took in the pictures they were seeing.  Trees on top of cars, rooftops gone leaving their contents visible and exposed.  Large trees on top of family dwellings.  Large power poles snapped in half downing the wires they were carrying.  One main power station feeding so many homes in the area was just another casualty of the tornado.

Grieving Enters

I couldn’t help thinking of how this external event could be linked to grief.  A death happens and throws everything into chaos. The once familiar becomes unfamiliar and how we mourn for what was.  A similar picture was unfolding.  Many were looking forward to TGIF, cooking super and relaxing at the end of the workweek, except for many there was no power and for others, there was no longer a home.

How quickly we can take people and places for granted.  In a blink of an eye, it can be taken from us and we are truly powerless.

The Clean-Up Begins

It is not just the homes that will need rebuilding or tearing down but the clearing of so many damaged trees.  The landscape is forever changed.  Everyday living last week meant restocking of fridges, and freezers after throwing out wasted food.  The rebuilding of their lives begins.  How did people cope knowing they would soon have to return to work?  How could you possibly be productive when your life is in chaos?

When a death occurs, you remain busy, stoic powering through the endless tasks and then when it is over you discover you’re not coping well, you are in mourning.  This is what those individuals affected by such loss will be experiencing.  The effects are not always apparent in the early days, however, once the shock and busyness wear off many will require close monitoring.  For signs of PTSD, severe stress and mourning.  This is when they will need support.  After the army of volunteers have left leaving them to cope on their own.

Reach out and Support

Just as first responders were there helping, grief counselors were also present.  Advising those affected to speak about what happened and to ensure they take care of themselves.  Good advice, however, when you are extremely stressed as they will be, it is hard to settle down.  Sleep when you are extremely stressed is normally the first to be disrupted and is so needed.  They may be unable to relax and feel agitated.  Making decisions may even prove a challenge.

If you know someone affected by the events of last week, please take time and invite them for coffee with you.   Take time to allow them to share their story with you.  No need to fix, just listen and acknowledge what they say.   This simple act can be healing.  Please don’t talk about your experience or share stories of someone you know.  This is not helpful.  Just listen.  If you don’t know what to say “say that”.   The important step is to allow them to talk and share.

I do hope you and your family were all safe and your power was restored quickly?

Take Time to Prepare

Truly how prepared are we for life’s challenges?

It takes something like mother nature to show us just how unprepared we may be.  Especially for those big events such as a death or loss that challenge us and stop us in our tracks. Much like the storm did.

This made me reflect on my mission to help others to not fear death and the grieving process that follows on its heels.  As a grief guide and coach, I am here to support and can help you understand the process so you will be prepared and know what to do.

Just as many people, I’m certain will be preparing to ensure they have certain supplies in place. Perhaps including a generator, definitely stocking up on candles or flashlights. A battery radio was recommended so you could be updated for the next time the lights go out!

 

Mother’s Day – How Will You Celebrate It?

Mother’s Day – How Will You Celebrate It?

Remembering Previous Mother’s Day

In the past for Mother’s Day, I would drive over and pick up mum.  We would then have lunch and chat up a storm.  When the conversation began to repeat we would get back into the car and drive to visit a nursery on the outskirts of town to buy plants and fun things for the garden.  I would treat her and buy her favorite flowers for her window boxes and balcony pots.  Mum, in turn, would buy me something special for my garden.

We had carried out this ritual for years until I discovered mum’s memory wasn’t as good as it once was.  I began to notice that she would become agitated and combative when we went out for lunch.  So, I decided to cut out lunch with a suggestion that we celebrate Mother’s Day when the weather became warmer.  That worked well, we would still go to the nursery and then I’d bring her home for a cuppa tea.  Mum loved her garden and had always enjoyed pottering around.  It was no surprise when they moved to an apartment, flower pots and planters were installed immediately on their balcony.  It was lovely to see the enjoyment this activity gave her right up until she died.

Three Years Later after Mum’s Death

It has now been 3 years since this ritual of ours ended and now I often think of those special times spent together.  The first few years were rather hard and certainly rather teary but this year, although sad it is with fond memories as I plan to purchase a planter of pansies to take to where she is buried.  I will spend a few moments in quiet reflection as I sort the pot out and place it where I believe she’d approve.  I’m certain I will sense her smiling and looking down.  Grateful that I still remembered.

Never too old Adult Orphans still feel the Loss of Mom’s

Are you an orphaned adult like myself?  Then you will relate.  Regardless how old you are when mom’s death occurs.  You never feel old enough or prepared enough to cope with life without that important person in your life. Perhaps your mom is ill and you are now her caregiver and you have scaled back on Mother’s Day.  You may even be planning to forget about the day because for you it is too painful.  Whatever is in your heart to do, know it is right for you and do it anyway – however, whatever it is, do it guilt free.  Your heart will heal if you allow and the memories of Mom will bring you joy instead of heartache.  If you struggle with your grief, or you feel you aren’t able to move on, please connect with me

Traditional Funerals or Celebration of Life?

Traditional Funerals or Celebration of Life?

What will you Choose?

Will it be a traditional funeral or a celebration of life? That would depend on the person, or the family especially if the person died suddenly leaving no instructions. There are those brave souls who prefer to plan well ahead and will organize every detail for when their time comes.

For those less brave, they will prefer to defer it instead for fear it may bring death closer to them. What about those souls, who are conscious of the expense for a more traditional funeral? So will settle instead for a less expensive option. Or cost isn’t the factor; they believe they are protecting their loved ones from the ritual & pain of mourning?

We forget the importance of Rituals

It seems, that in our haste to move on and quickly move through our grief, we don’t see how these rituals help with the healing process. We may consider them”old-fashioned and stuffy.” However, many do serve a purpose as they help you to accept death. They also create space to feel supported during your time of grief. These rituals help create a container for you to mourn with your tribe and your community.

As we move on or rush through these essential rituals, what are we teaching future generations? How will they know what to do or deal with their grief if we are unwilling to show them? Often the guest of honour is not present at their funeral. Gone are the days when the guests lay in the front parlour for all to see. Children were usually present perhaps running around the casket, peering in and asking their questions. The adults would openly mourn and wail as they allowed their grief to flow. These parlours today have been replaced, and the task handed over to the funeral homes. Some people are even bypassing them, as they are opting for cremation with their remains scattered elsewhere. The celebrations of life are carried out in restaurants or other non-traditional spaces.

What will your choice be? There are indeed many options.  Will it be the traditional route, one that has worked for centuries?  Or something less traditional?

Bypassing Emotions

Personally, I find moving directly to a celebration of the person’s life can avoid your emotions. It doesn’t take into account the need to reflect or what your feelings are about the death. We need this time to process and is part of the grieving process. It is important to celebrate the contributions a person has made while here on this earth. Just not over tea and cake or wine and cheese with little reference to the person.

As a Society, already death averse, is this just another way for us not to feel or be with our heartache? We are condensing everything into a few hours. Is that the value we placed on the deceased?

Funeral & Celebration of Life

I’m in that delightful age bracket when scheduling a funeral or celebration of life into my agenda has become the norm. There was a time when it didn’t appear with the same frequency as now. Now I speak from a vantage point of experiencing these different funeral events. Certainly, one way to support the family is to go to the visitation and show you are there for them. Talk about a deceased person and listening will show you care. Whether you attend a service at a church or funeral home you show the family they are supported by their community. These rituals create that container for grief to be held and allow mourning to begin.

My Experience with Celebrations of Life

A few years ago, at one celebration I attended, it was a mix of old and new combined. There were many friends and family members eager to share their stories of the person they lost all too soon to cancer. Everyone’s story was moving and filled with joy, and at times tinged with bittersweet moments. Or laughter. Each speaker allowed you to share in their journey with the deceased.

After a short while of listening, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. It was interesting to note, how everyone was crying quietly, dabbing their eyes politely as if this shouldn’t be happening. The grief in the room was palpable, and I wanted to sob out loud. I was uncertain that if I did so, would others join in or would they look at me strangely? This wasn’t my relative but a person who had touched my life, so I did not feel it was my place to behave this way.

It isn’t Polite to Cry in Public

Besides my mum’s voice had entered my head “Anne, it isn’t polite to cry loudly in public” That was enough to shut myself down. I could no longer respectively allow my emotions free range. I would deal with them later at home.

With so much grief now being felt but never acknowledged, the family continued with their Agenda ending the moment with a singer. This was the transition moment. We were then invited to join them for a celebration of the person’s life over a cup of tea and cake.

I then wondered how people could switch in an instance from pain to celebration in minutes. They had done a great job in creating the container for our collective grief, but this grief needed more. Perhaps an opportunity for quiet reflection, composing ourselves before joining the celebrations.

In our death-averse and ever-so-polite society, crying in front of strangers just isn’t done. I often wondered if the family was still in shock and going through the motions. Or did they have ample opportunity to mourn before being surrounded by family and friends so that they could now take a pause and start celebrating?

Don’t get me wrong, I welcome a proper celebration, however, immediately after death I think it is missing the point. I believe this is the end step of mourning, not the beginning. Two rituals are missing from the equation. This now leads to yet another discussion – another blog in the making!

Let me know your thoughts – drop me an email at anne@understandinggrief.com

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