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.

Our Eulogy to Mum

Our Eulogy to Mum

Elizabeth Miller Purdon delighted all who knew or met her. For those who knew her well could say looking back over her long life, that she had loved, she had made a difference and she mattered. She lived by simple rules and lived her life by example.

These two guided her:

“If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it”

“Put a smile on your face, no one wants your troubles for they have plenty of their own”

True Grit

She rarely complained about the life she had had nor as her health slipped in her advanced years.  Instead, she lifted her spirits and those around her with her cheery disposition. I believe that is why she was so loved. She was a fighter, resilient, and a warrior woman but most of all was her big heart.

Family was so important to her and she strove to give her “girls” everything she had not. Mum did have a big family until the age of 6. Her mum died, her dad unable to cope with the two youngest, mum and her brother Jimmy discovered an orphanage was to became their home. She did lose touch with her brother but he did come to find her along with his best friend. The best friend later became our Dad.

The Past Remained There

Mum never spoke about her past, preferring to keep it locked away in her own personal vault. Her past being too awful to share so she didn’t. She could have become angry and bitter instead she chose to be happy and to share her big heart and not close it down.

She lived “the law of attraction” long before it was known. If you want something you have to give it to another first. She became a children’s nurse and loved the sick unwanted children in her care, and they loved her back.

It’s Never Too Late

Mum was fiercely independent and went out to work at a time when women were considered homemakers. She would return to school, teaching us “that it is never too late”. Her new career ended after many years when the car industry collapsed in Coventry but that didn’t deter her, she found a new passion.

She turned her love of children, telling stories and crafts into a new position – it was to help single mums with young children to sew and learn to interact with their children.  Mum was even featured on the BBC telling her beloved stories to children as they acted it out with the characters from the book she had lovingly made.

Another Country and New Life

Mum was selected to come to Canada as a young child but fate intervened and she never did get to go but it had stirred a longing in her heart. This longing would be passed onto me for when I came to Canada the restlessness I had always felt inside had gone. Ever courageous, mum and dad immigrated to Ottawa after dad retired.

They were always hopeful my sister and her family would join us but circumstances intervened and that didn’t happen. She never said if she regretted that decision but I know it was hard for them both to have their children in different continents.

Memory Loss Takes Over

As she advanced into older age she could be heard telling anyone that

“She had been there, done that I wrote the book.”

Mum also claimed other’s accolades as her own. Again, saying

“She taught them everything she knew.”

These two would become her social graces as she slipped more and more into Alzheimer’s. Mum was amazingly good at covering up her memory deficits and only those close to her would know.  She would ask about each grandchild and we would patiently and lovingly answer her questions over and over.

“How is their love life” she would ask us.  However, there were times when she would ask the person themselves and at times this didn’t always go down well.

Using Age to Her Advantage

If she forgot something or couldn’t do it, she would say “I’m nearly 90 you know”.

Mum drove us all crazy with her refusal to wear her hearing aids and missed out on many conversations. It was sad watching her world became ever smaller. She did delight us and the staff by actually agreeing to wear them and for about two weeks life was pretty good until the hearing aids went missing. Never to be found!

Holding Hand after 60’s Years

Mum and dad could be seen walking to the mall hand in hand – everyone remarked “how sweet” mum would reply, “no, not at all,  it was necessary – we hold each other up”. When Dad died, mum agreed to using a walking stick. How about a walker we would suggest. “Oh, no they were for old people”.

Mum lived her life and when met with challenges she accepted them with grace and turned them around.

End of an Era

The good Lord as she called her maker came to get her on Halloween, a perfect time. A time for children, treats and fun – which is what she was all about.

She was the heart and the pull to home. This will be felt no more. No more tales to tell her grandchildren, no more “hows your love life” heard.

The little women with a big heart is now silent. We will all miss you mum and nan.

There is Life After Death Do You Agree?

There is Life After Death Do You Agree?

Life After Death? 

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.

Seeking Help

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?

Pixaby; ParentRapAfter 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 anne@reconnect-from-grief.com and let’s connect.

Good Grief It’s Christmas Time

12 Helpful Tips to Help You Cope

Good Grief its Christmas time indeed. I’ve prepared these 12 tips to help you survive the holiday season. This is the last thing you want to be facing when you are grieving. I’m sure you just want to pull the covers up and go back to sleep until it is all over.  Even worse, the stores are in full-blown Christmas, mode.  Happy, smiling people on TV commercials every five minutes with familiar Carols on every radio station, it’s impossible to ignore the season. The countdown is on to party time, bright lights and having fun.

Normally, you too would be among friends and family enjoying the frantic beauty of the season. This year you are dreading the season, especially now you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one. My heart goes out to you. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one at this time of year.  Both my parents passed away in November. Even though it’s extremely difficult, you can survive the holidays. In this guide, I’ve listed several things that helped me to cope with my losses and it’s my hope these tips will help you, too.

1. Accept Where You Are. Just for now

If you’re experiencing grief, late November until the beginning of a new year can be very difficult. It’s a challenge for everyone to navigate, especially when you are grieving, it can feel like climbing a mountain. You may have noticed that your energy is low and it’s hard to get enthusiastic about anything during the holidays.

Everything seems like such a chore. You may find it’s hard to stay focused. These are all normal feelings for anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one. You may already dread facing the biggest holiday in the calendar year without that special someone. If you had your wish, you might just hibernate until Groundhog Day in February.

While hibernation may not be possible, choosing to skip the season with all the emotional triggers and potential pitfalls could be an option for you.

It is great that you have at least noticed your emotional state and for now, perhaps you could accept these feelings just for the moment? By not accepting how you are feeling and pushing through anyway, you may experience even more pain and anguish.

Just know it’s natural to have thoughts like “I have to be brave” or “It’s expected of me. I always host”, or “The house always looks so wonderful, how can I not participate this year?” These thoughts can send your flying into planning mode and then you may totally exhaust yourself long before the big day. You may even create arguments with family members or friends because you are frustrated, hurting and overwhelmed.

Grief work is exhausting and its main function is to stop us in our tracks so that we’ll take the time to deal with our emotions and reflect on our loss. In today’s fast-paced world this is a lovely dream but often it’s far from our reality.

Grief is about a broken heart and not a broken head. This is why we can, at times, push through using the sheer power of our minds. Your heart hasn’t caught up to your head. Your heart needs time to process. Your heart isn’t in the task so you will find yourself pushing yourself using sheer mind power – and this is exhausting. Instead of muscling through, stop, take a deep breath and settle your mind.

You may still be outwardly mourning and please know this is normal, most especially if your loss is a recent one. You want things to remain the same because there is comfort in routine. The feeling you are experiencing could be fear which can cause your resistance to the many inner changes brought about by a loss. Just know that by resisting you are holding on to the past, which is only natural. After all, who really enjoys change? However, accepting that there will be many changes may be helpful. Perhaps guilt is holding you back.

If you feel it doesn’t seem right that you should be enjoying yourself or even laughing and having fun when you’re loved one has just passed away please know this is normal. Many in grief have expressed the same sentiment. But if you think about it, wouldn’t your loved one want you to laugh and have fun? It is hard on the body to be constantly sad and grieving. Laughter is a way of balancing the body’s emotions. Give yourself this gift. Laugh when you feel like laughing. It will release some of the tension along with some natural endorphins.

Regardless of where you are in your grief process, perhaps this is the right moment to sit down and relax. Start by taking a few deep breaths in and out. Begin by sitting for at least five minutes. Find a quiet place with no distractions. This will bring your mind into the present moment and once it is focused there you can start to think more logically and plan how Christmas will look like for you and your family this year

2. Make your Christmas Season Plans

Have your calendar handy and look ahead at how you would like the holiday season to unfold. Armed with this information, you can move through the season with less pain and anguish.

If you always host Christmas dinner, decide if you want to continue to do so. Perhaps ask another family member take over just for this year. If that is too much change, then start by discussing your thoughts with other family members. They may be having similar thoughts and this way you can support each other through this tender time.

Consider Scaling Back

You may decide to scale down the decorations. Perhaps you would still enjoy this activity but on a much smaller scale. Decide if it will make you feel better or worse. Try to be honest with yourself and don’t feel guilty about whatever choice you make. You may decide to hold a decorating afternoon with a few family members a few weeks before Christmas day to help you from getting too overwhelmed or tired.

Once you have a better idea of what you would like, you will be able to start taking small action steps each day to make it a reality. You will know once you begin, just how much energy and desire you actually have. Know it is okay to tell the family if you are unable to do the tasks you thought you could do. Ask for help.

Should you decide to host, you could ask some family members to come early on Christmas day to help you with the meal preparation. Even better you could ask who would be willing to cook certain items of the meal. It may be hard to give up control of the meal this way but it is just for this year. Accept the additional help.

The hardest decision of all will be whether or not to set a place at the table where your loved one used to sit. Again it is much better to decide what you would prefer before the day. Discuss this concern with your family. Doing so will put you and your family members at ease. If you chose not to set a place, you may want to mention the deceased by name before the start of your dinner.

Your family may hold back from wanting to mention the person for fear of upsetting you. Don’t worry – mention them, it will be such a relief to you and your guests. The unspoken has now been spoken and everyone including you can relax.

3. Choose a New Tradition

As you plan for the holiday season, take time to recall if there was a specific thing you did with the person who has died. It may be this thought that is holding you back from wanting to make plans. Perhaps it was the tree you chose together or decorating the tree together. Recognizing the activity that made it special for you and your loved one will help you avoid a potential trigger point.

Allow yourself to feel this emotion and when you have finished, decide if there is a new tradition you could now create for yourself. Perhaps you could buy a readily dressed tree. This could help save you much time and energy.

Speaking from personal experience, going to the Candlelight service on Christmas Eve with my family was the tradition that held the most emotion. The year my Dad died I found the idea of attending the service just too emotional for me so we didn’t go.

Instead, we spent time relaxing rather than rushing our supper in order to get to the service. It turned out to be enjoyable and much more relaxing for us. We created a new tradition. So give yourself permission to try something different instead, something that will work for you.

4. Ask for Help

Much of this has already been covered however it bears repeating. When you are in grief, your energy is not optimal and you may find most things, even thinking, can exhaust you, especially if the loss is recent. Even after many years, the holidays can still hold emotional triggers so be kind to yourself, recognize your limitations and ask for help.

It is such a gift to those who have already volunteered when you do call on them for help. This is the perfect opportunity to do so. Make sure you ask them well ahead of time so as not to be disappointed. The holidays are a busy time for most of us, so, it is important to make your plans early in order to see just what help you need and who could potentially help you.

Accept and allow yourself to be helped. Receive it with an open heart. Too often we close people down by shutting out their offers of help. Give yourself an early gift and them also. Remember it isn’t always better to give. I am certain you have given help so many times that you have built up a giving balance by now – it is time to redeem it. Just for this year anyway.

5. Avoid the Sugar Highs and Lows

If you decide to attend Christmas parties over the holidays, please be careful with the sugary treats and alcohol (sugar). This is hard to do at the best of times but when you’re grieving you are already on an emotional roller coaster and adding more sugar, or alcohol, to your diet could make your emotions worse. Where your emotions are concerned, you do not need the additional sugar rush to help you peak on the highs or lows because you are already doing so. Mourning has enough ups and downs.

Instead, make sure you eat throughout the day and please do not think that by not eating during the day you can enjoy more food later. When a person is grieving the body needs fuel to keep you going so don’t shortchange yourself. If you aren’t able to eat much because you just are not hungry, be sure to go easy if you have a glass of wine or a cocktail. It is not a good idea to have alcohol on an empty tummy.

Remember to eat something before you have a drink. Make sure to keep your body hydrated by drinking water. In grief, the body requires more fluid due to all the tears that are flowing. If you do decide to drink alcohol, have a glass of water in between.

6. Remove the Pasted Happy Face

You may unknowingly put on a Happy Face to help yourself feel better or to help put others at ease. Please don’t force it. It doesn’t serve you but instead prevents you from truly feeling your emotions. A Happy Face is a mask and in many instances, people around you can tell what you are feeling just by your body language. Your face and body are giving two different messages. Being authentic and true to yourself will help you move through your grief process more easily. Masking your feelings only lengthens the process.

Remember:  the only way through grief is to feel it. When others ask you how you are it is much better to let them know you are not doing well. Be honest. There’s no need to elaborate but if they press you, it’s okay to let them know right now isn’t a good time and suggest another time, after the holidays, to talk.  On the other hand, if you feel like talking, express yourself. This way you’re acknowledging what you are feeling and not discounting what is going on inside.

I have found by recognizing what is coming up for me, acknowledging it and giving myself permission to cry later or tomorrow works nicely. This way I can schedule in some time by journaling or reflecting and allowing my emotions to bubble up. This is all part of good self-care

7. Decide to Speak About the Deceased?

The thought of mentioning the deceased’s name can be upsetting and you may not be comfortable doing so. Your family members and guests may be uncomfortable as well and not know how to deal with the subject. Speaking about the person first will help to put you and everyone else more at ease. You will be addressing the “elephant in the room”.

Acknowledge the deceased person and invite others to do the same. You may find you will hear more stories that you were not aware of and be happier for the sharing. It could be emotional, to begin with, however, it will help you the more times you can talk about your loss. My mum and I were never good at this and in the beginning, we both avoided mentioning Dad. As upsetting as it was for us, I am sure had we decided to talk about him we would have better comforted each other, instead of being mindful of not upsetting the other.

If you chose not to speak about your loss you may find yourself feeling ill at ease and on edge in case, their name is mentioned in the conversation. It is so much more freeing to share and allow yourself to be supported.

8. Going to Parties

This may be a good year to cut down on the number of parties you attend. As mentioned earlier, your energy levels will be lower than normal. This is why planning out what you would like to do this season will help you with these decisions. It’s ok to cancel; your hostess will understand. Do not feel obliged to attend because you agreed to months ago.

Decide if smaller parties would be more manageable. In my grief, I couldn’t attend the larger parties as the mere thought of large gatherings was too overwhelming. But smaller gatherings were more manageable and it felt good to go as it was a nice change of pace.

Often in grief, we can get caught up in the guilt of “I can’t enjoy myself right now. It isn’t right”. Sometimes a change of scenery and pace can do a world of good for boosting the spirits. If you decide to attend one or two perhaps by thinking ahead you could plan your exit strategy should you feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable.

You may decide to only spend a couple of hours and have a friend make sure to check on you at a specified time. Make sure to bring separate cars or book a taxi if needed. Speak to the hostess before the party and let her know you will attend but may need to leave early and coming to find her to thank her may not be an option. This way you can safely leave with no guilt.

9. Christmas Shopping

Christmas shopping is challenging enough even if you’re not grieving. Perhaps you are the organized one who shops all year for the perfect gift for your family and friends. However, too many of us, myself included, leave it to the last month or moment. This is another great opportunity to add shopping for gifts to your list of growing activities.

You may feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of it so if this is the case perhaps online shopping could be your answer. This way you are not using your precious energy to battle the crowds or parking lots.  Thank yourself for being aware of your feelings, take deep breaths. Have a cup of tea and start to plan your list of who you would like to buy for and what the gift idea may be. Go to your computer and start your shopping in peace.

Perhaps decide that you will take this opportunity to cut back and simplify your gift giving. This is what we did as a family when my Dad died. We introduced the idea of secret Santa and put a price limit on the gift. Our children are all young adults however, they are either starting out on their own or still at school so they never seem to have sufficient funds. This way we all only had one gift to buy, cutting down the stress financially and mentally thinking of and then purchasing the perfect gift for everyone.

One Christmas we decided to each name a charity and send money to them instead of gift giving. It is still lovely to have the gifts under the tree so we do both but keep it simple. I hope this will give you a few ideas.

10. Self-Care

You now have your plan, or at least, a much better idea of what action you can take each day. Don’t forget to add one action item in there for yourself. Self-care is so important and something we all need to focus on especially during times of grief.

Take time each day to do something fun for yourself. This can be as simple as a five-minute breathing exercise before your day begins, taking a walk in nature, reflecting over a cup of tea or coffee or all of the above. Scheduling in time to see your hairdresser, have a massage or pedicure can also do wonders for you.

When you are grieving, your energy is low and you will need to take care of your emotions. The urge to do nothing is always strong, however, it is essential to practice self-care each day together with some action steps. These simple actions will help you gain some control over your life and that will help to reinvigorate your confidence as you complete them.

Balance in everyday life is always a good way to live, however not easy to accomplish. This is even harder when you are grieving and are a part of the workforce. Finding ways to take care of yourself is even more essential and will help you better deal with your stress levels.

Ensure you practice doing something for yourself each day. You may feel you do not have the time, however, everyone needs a break. Take two minutes for yourself, close your eyes and slow your breathing down by taking three or four deep breaths. This alone can help you balance your stress. You may find you are more alert after you have taken a little time out.

11. Water is your friend

Drink plenty of water. This is so important especially in the early days when tears and weeping are more constant. Weeping takes more fluid from your body than you may realize. Our bodies work well on six to eight glasses of water and waiting until your thirsty is a sure sign you are dehydrated. Instead of reaching for more coffee, why not put the kettle on and have a cup of hot lemon water if you are not a fan of cold water.

If you need a sugar fix, add honey to the lemon water. Hot water with a slice of ginger can help warm you up. If you workout, you may need to add additional water just to keep your body working optimally. It is not only our bodies that require water our brains do as well. In grief, our brains can feel foggy so by not drinking enough, you could be adding to the brain fog.

Our brains cannot retain water so need a ready supply in the body to function optimally. Remember to drink and as a reminder, have a glass of water around your work area.

12. Give Yourself Permission

Congratulations! You have made it, you have your plan and you know what your holiday season and Christmas Day will look like. You have your list of who to call for help and you also have an idea of which holiday parties you would like to attend. The presents have been decided or you have a clearer idea of what your gift giving will be this year.

Now is the time to leave guilt and judgment at the door and give yourself permission to laugh and enjoy the season with your friends and family members. You will be relaxed and may even be looking forward to it instead of dreading it. You will have your wobbly moments but with your plan, you will have a way to take care of these moments. By planning ahead, you can be comfortable and relaxed knowing everything you have chosen for this year is taken care of and in good order.

One last thing:  something may not go according to plan. Relax, let go and enjoy the imperfect but perfect situation and laugh. You can’t control everything.

Happy Holidays to all

3 Acts to Practicing Forgiveness

3 Acts to Practicing Forgiveness

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When we are no longer able to change a situation,

we are challenged to change ourselves.
Viktor Frankl

Acknowledging and Forgiving
We have reached that part in our journey; for it is possibly time for you, too, to accept the person has died. If we can’t yet accept it, we can at least acknowledge that it has happened and the person is not coming back. With acknowledgement we, too, must note we are being changed by grief. When we look back, which we will do in the next chapter, you will see just how much change and growth you have experienced. The old life you had, with its certain routines with your loved one, has now gone. That path has reached its end. With acknowledgement, you can now choose your new path and start to rebuild your life.

Acceptance versus Resistance
By not accepting our grief, we are, in fact, holding on to something that we cannot change. We become resistant. We hold on tighter and stop the natural flow of the grieving process. Instead of resisting it, we need to ask ourselves why we are avoiding it. Why and what purpose is this serving? It is in the asking where the answers can surface. The answer could be fear and guilt or fear of the future and what your life will be without the person, or guilt that you did not love the person enough because you associate moving on through grief with a lack of genuine love for the deceased.

Resistance

Letting go off Resistance
It is not the person you are letting go of; it is all the negative thinking that goes with holding on to the grief. Imagine if you will that it is you who has died. Would you not want the person to move on and find happiness and joy for their life once again? Of course, you would; so why should you feel guilty about trying to move past the sadness?

It is completely the opposite; by letting go, you are actually showing greater love. You have trust and faith that your loved one will live on in your memories and they will not be forgotten. Letting go is letting go of the resistance. This is what keeps us stuck and prevents us from growing. Evolution has made us this way. We need to adapt to our ever-changing environment or we will become extinct and die, too.

Breathing through your Pain
We need to learn to breathe through our pain and not resist it. An old adage says, “what we resist persists.”How true it is. Birthing mothers receive instruction on how to breathe deeply and slowly and how to pant through the pain. When the contractions are at their strongest, the mother can use her breathing to go with each one and be in tune with the natural flow and rhythms of birth. To go against the flow with each contraction would only make them more painful. Just like a woman giving birth, if we resist the pain, it will persist and intensify. So, breathe through your resistance to find out what truly is holding you back.

Acts of Surrender can Free you
Acceptance and letting go of the resistance are actually acts of surrender. You are no longer fighting the flow of wanting to swim upstream. You can become peaceful in that moment. The fight to hold on has ceased. The act of surrender can free up all that energy that was being used to hold on. You will feel lighter and freer in doing so. Will you try it?

Acts of Forgiveness Heals
Sometimes you can accept things, but, at times, there is still something holding you back. It is called forgiveness. During our lives, the person who died may have said or done something that hurt us and now that they have left, there is no opportunity for them to apologize or for us to forgive them. Maybe they did not apologize because they never realized they hurt us. I know for many of you, perhaps forgiving them will not be acceptable to you, but for you to have closure, know forgiveness is part of the healing process. It is much harder to forgive someone for a transgression than to ask for an apology. I can ask because I know what it feels like to finally forgive someone. It also feels amazing to apologize for something that I may have done or said to them. It is like wiping the slate clean. It removes any traces of old, stuck pain which can then free you.

Acts of Choice – sets you on a New Path
Forgiveness is another way in which we can make peace with the past. We have all said or done things that we wish we had not. The good news is that it is never too late to forgive or apologize. The best part is that you never have to say it in person. By choosing to forgive another is another way of letting go of what you think should or should not have happened. It does not mean that you condone their behaviour or actions. It means that you are no longer going to remain a victim, a victim to your thoughts or beliefs. Forgiveness is a decision to let go of anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge. Forgiveness can assist you in not holding on. For holding on to grudges can lead to strokes, kidney disease, heart failure and even death.

I got to see this firsthand. My dad held onto grudges. He had kidney problems and did die of heart failure and cancer. For that reason alone, I am choosing to forgive on a daily basis!

Practicing Forgiveness in 10 Words
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I am using the Hawaiian Forgiveness Prayer Ho’oponopono. For more information on this simple prayer’s power, please see Joe Vitale’s book that he co-authored with Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len called Zero Limits.

There are four phases to it:
I’m sorry
Please forgive me
Thank you
I love you

You can say them in any order, but Vitale believes in saying them silently to the Divine (of your understanding) is the best way.

Do you want to be right or Happy?

Perhaps if Dad had realized the powerful hold his grudges had on him and the damage they were doing to his body, he may have opted to forgive everyone. Again, do you want to be right or be happy?

Remember these words
“Father forgive them, for they know what they do” – Happy Easter

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