It is very common these days to see articles written on how perfectionism is bad and holds you back from becoming your greatest self. Why it’s due to the fear of being judged rising up to stop you!
I’m known to be a perfectionist. Everything I do has to look right, sound right, and of course be right and that kind of mindset has indeed held me back in many respects.
I mean who wants to be judged or seen as wrong?
So it made perfect sense to me that I’d want to “grieve correctly”
With Loss Comes Grief
When my dad died, I for the first time experienced the heart wrenching, emotional turmoil, and chaos that grieving a loss will bring to your life. I needed to know how to grieve. No one had taught me. However, I didn’t have the language to ask for what I wanted to know.
Truthfully I needed to know that I wouldn’t feel this way forever, so what could I do in the meantime? The kindly psychologist I consulted with shared a few things:
Everyone’s grief is unique
You never get over your grief
It will take as long as it takes
My perfectionist brain couldn’t handle that information
Ok, granted I get it everyone’s grief has to be unique to them – tick
You never get over your grief” that I couldn’t believe was right! I’d feel this way forever?
Being told that it will take as long as it takes certainly wasn’t the answer I was looking for either.
Off I went on my own journey of discovery to find my own answers. If it hadn’t been for my desire to do “grief” correctly, I may never have had the adventures I had as I discovered my own way to heal and my way out of grief.
The 3 P’s
Not long into my search, I discovered the 3 P’s, (personalization, permanent, pervasive) by Martin Seligman, a renowned psychologist and this helped me begin to unpack my grief. Positive psychology and learning resilience are the tools Dr. Seligman is teaching about.
When we personalize the loss, we take on the belief that we are to blame and are somehow at fault. Pervasive is the belief that our grief will effect and spill over into every area of our lives. Permanent is the fear that how we are feeling in the moment will continue and we will always feel this way.
Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook) would go on to use the 3 P’s in her own healing journey after the death of her husband. She later gave a commencement speech to graduating students on how they could use them to navigate their own challenges.
My perfectionism was actually a good thing because it led me on an amazing journey. Six years later, I feel comfortable talking not only about my own journey into and out of grief but now I’m helping others become comfortable with their own grief.
So as a recovering perfectionist, I can say – it isn’t always a bad thing just don’t allow it to paralyze you but use it for good!
Whenever we’re faced with challenges in our lives, it can be easy to give up. Its a choice, it’s your willingness to work through them and heal. It is then your greatest gifts and passions show up. You don’t have to hit the proverbial “rock bottom” before deciding this isn’t working. It can be one event that triggers the need for some other direction in life to be taken.
In this interview with Sarah Roberts we cover…
How Sarah’s need for connection, to fit in led to addiction. Her recovery through healthy food and entering grief when her dad, mentor, and supporter died. Sarah Roberts, a TV host, and producer speaks openly and from the heart, about subjects many find hard to talk about.
In this open and candid interview with Sarah, we delved into these topics:
How and why her passion, cooking and creating using real, whole foods began.
Her purpose is Sarah’s successful One Bite at a Time (OBAAT) coaching helping others find freedom from food, sugar, alcohol, and body image issues that have kept them stuck.
Shame helped her create her own healthy life-style and how speaking about her own shame gives others permission to own their own.
We are wired for the need to connect and what this need is creating in our children in our social media reality
Sarah’s own journey with grief when her dad died suddenly. How she and her brother have coped differently over his passing
Her thoughts on the statement readily used in Society “you never get over your grief”
Good self-care is necessary especially when you are struggling with your appetite. Some suggestions of what foods to include in your diet and why.
To listen to this episode in the Let’s Talk About Grief Podcast – you can from Apple Podcast download it here
Grief is universal, but individually we all have our own unique way of handling our grief. Liz Ferrara DeStefano found very quickly after the death of her father, her own way was to create poetry. The words would come to and the poems were born.
Liza wonders if she did grieve enough, she feels she did, her heart no longer broken, admits she feels sad and does miss her Dad but the poetry helped her process her loss.
These are some of the topics we covered
How soon after your Dad’s death did you discover your creativity had been awakened?
What is it about this activity that worked so well for you?
Have your poems helped your family members?
How many poems have you written?
You are now a published author
Did you publish them as a legacy to your Dad or as part of your healing journey?
Liza’s poems not only helped her with her grief but have helped others she has shared or written them for. In creating her poems she feels she is connected to her Dad and this brings her comfort
It doesn’t always have to be painful or anguish but a quieter letting go, and into acceptance. When you listen to Liza’s story, you will find that family connection, closeness and supporting each other are what helped this family navigate their loss, their Dad, a husband, and grandfather. They are all changed in many ways and these changes have brought the family closer together.
Yes, indeed, there is life after A death. I’m sure you were curious to know if I was going to have some conclusive evidence to share with you. I’m pretty certain there is but that is not my topic for the moment. Let me explain…….
My Life Changed
November 17, 2011, began as a regular workday just like any other. I would drive to the office, say my hellos as I settled down to work. This began by me unlocking my computer and while I was waiting, the phone rang and I answered it. I then drove to the hospital to meet mum. Then two hours later we emerged, arm in arm numb and in shock. It was that one phone call, that would forever change our lives.
Once outside into a cool, overcast November day, pausing to see the traffic on the highway speeding by. With passers-by walking and talking all going about their business. To my mind, it seemed all wrong. Then this urge to scream “STOP, don’t’ you know my dad has just died bubbled up! It was confusing, their world got to continue while ours had stopped. I would swallow hard, being British and knowing how mum hated scenes I couldn’t create a fuss. Instead, I clutched her arm and stoically marched to the car. It was in that moment that I realized no one was coming to rescue us or take charge. We were on our own.
Our life from that moment on became one of business, no time to stop or think. Just endless To Do lists, “I’ll put the kettle on” would be mum’s mantra. I can’t even recall drinking any tea, but the kettle went on regardless.
Pivotal Moment #1
On the day of the funeral, it snowed, making everything look clean and fresh. Odd I recall thinking, it is only mid-November; had snow even been in the forecast? Perhaps this was a message from dad letting me know he was Ok and not to be sad. We were entering a new beginning for us all; a fresh clean page. I certainly found it comforting and it allowed me to get through that day.
After the Funeral
There was a certain comfort in returning to work, I had my routine back. My new routine would include a daily phone call to mum to see how she was. It was after the family returned to their own lives that I began to have trouble sleeping at night. I no longer had the multiple distractions, instead, I’d awake tired and restless for the day. Eventually, I sought medical help, thinking that perhaps sleeping tablets were the answer. This visit resulted in me being placed on medical leave. I felt so guilty and wondered if there was something wrong with me. Perhaps I was losing grip on reality or even malingering? A few of my colleagues had gone back to work after their parent’s funerals and appeared to be fine.
I would later seek the help of a psychologist to help me understand what was happening to me. It was the feelings of guilt that had me looking for answers. Unfortunately, this wasn’t helpful as he couldn’t understand why I was looking for help so soon. Good question – I was looking for answers that I didn’t have questions for. I just needed guidance to help with the guilt and ease the pain. I didn’t get any there. Apparently, everyone’s grief is different and it takes time. Even the books I read didn’t help much, as they also agreed you never get over grief? Rubbish, I thought and muddled along.
It didn’t take long for anger at feeling so helpless to show up. Finally, my boss, a surgeon gave me a clue. He called to see how I was doing, when I told him, his response was ”sounds like a reactionary depression”. A lightbulb moment, if there was a name for it, others must have experienced this as well. I was normal! My healing journey continued. It seems people can get so busy with all the arrangements that there is no time to grieve. This could result in your emotions getting blocked resulting in depression.
Many months later I found a coach to help me further. A friend had recommended her, she apparently could see spirits. How could I not go to her! She did healing sessions with angels and then we would look at my core value, my needs, and my beliefs. This work helped me connect me with me. Once I had a plan in my hand I began to feel hopeful and more myself.
My Healing Journey and Pivotal Market #2
Later that year I went on a retreat with my friend who is intuitive and works with flower essence. Interesting, believing I was healing, my friend would take me deeper into my grief. It seems music and art are a good way to release any lingering or deep-seated emotions. The exercise was to relax and listen to music as I was drawing. The music she chose was jazz. My dad had loved jazz and he was an artist as well, so a fitting exercise for me for sure. How could it not work?
After a few hours, I needed to move and went for a walk by the ravine behind her house. There is a bridge to cross and you can see a small stream that eventually flows into a pond. All was peaceful and still as I walked around. I heard all this commotion on the way back and saw it was the geese honking and flapping their wings. I wasn’t sure if they were practicing for flight or deciding who would lead. As I paused to observed they all took off and flew overhead. In that moment, I asked the geese to take my grief with them. I had decided it was time to let it go and return to the land of the living. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but that was the 1st anniversary of dad’s death. What a coincidence or was it?
Life Continues – Pivotal Market #3
A few months later I decided to retire. I realized that dad was not there to be disappointed by my decision to leave a good job with a pension. That was his belief that and it had worked well for him but not so for me. I retired and 4 days later my next career found me. I would become a grief coach.
There is Life After A Death
As part of my online study course, I received free tickets to an event in LA that my mentor hosted. My daughter, living in London agreed to go with me and we would meet in LA. It was on the last day of the event, after listening to death regrets stories and doing the exercises, I made a decision. I announced to the room that I wanted to go on to do the certification program. Life indeed was too short and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I had seen my parents put off things in their lives.
Coincidence at work again? For this would be the 2nd anniversary of my dad’s death. It felt right and that I was on the right track.
Remember when I said earlier that my world had stopped. Well, it had in a sense for that chapter in my book had come to a close. The next chapter in my new life without dad had yet to be written. Perhaps this was why I couldn’t make sense of my life. Now the next chapters were getting ready to be written.
The snow, the retreat, saying yes, was that Dad giving me comfort and helping me. I believe Yes, there is life after death and life after A death – I’m living proof of that.
Now, I am happy to say as a grief coach, I can help you find your life after a loss. If you’d like to find out more, please email [email protected] and let’s connect.
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