Paralysis of Analysis

Grief can fill our head questions, questions, questions: “What’s going to happen to me? What do I do now? Why am I feeling this way?!” … and on and on and on. It is also normal to start analyzing every detail of our loss, trying to find some missing piece that will “Ah ha!” us into magically feeling better.  I get it.  I’ve been there!

Unfortunately, these endless questions and in-depth analysis can keep us from healing. Many professionals out there, including myself, call this “the paralysis of analysis”. Well, surprise, surprise! The next song up in the Uprooting Grief lyric queue is “Paralysis of Analysis.” I wrote this around 2011, while I was trying to find my path and purpose and unknowingly carrying around TONS of unresolved grief.

Once again, if you like resonate with these words, please comment or share! We all have to navigate this crazy journey of life, and I have found through my work with grievers that we really do share similar emotions and experiences. Let’s keep the connections going! ❤

Paralysis of Analysis

Click here for more information on Grief Recovery and how it may help you!

On The Fence

Grief can often feel like a double-edged sword or catch-22.  We look one way, and don’t see a solution.  We look the other way, and can’t seem to find one there either.  It can seem like an overwhelming battle at times–one that feels like it will never end!

I have recently been inspired to take a new approach to my blog writing.  I have dreamed of being a singer/songwriter since I was a little girl, and now I am going to take this opportunity to share some of my song lyrics with you!  MANY of these songs were written during times of grief and loss for me.  It was the safest way I knew how to express myself.

Below is my next song, “On The Fence”.  If you like these lyrics, please feel free to comment on them or share them!  I very much want to reach and connect with as many hurting people as possible. ❤

Please reach out to me here if you relate to this song and are ready to find healing and freedom from your pain!

How Do I Hurt?

When I launched Uprooting Grief nearly 3 years ago, I intended to regularly write an informational blog.  Recently, I have been inspired to take a different approach to my blog writing–I will be re-imagining my dream of music and songwriting by sharing some of my songs and lyrics!

In 2013, I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Music with a Vocal Performance focus from the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles.  I worked very hard for years afterward trying to build a career for myself in music.  During that time, I also carried with me tons of unresolved grief and even reached the point of giving up on my music dream altogether.

While I have decided to pursue a different career path at this time in my life, music and singing will always be an important part of me.  Many of the songs I will shared were written in the depths of my grief and personal struggles.  Some have music and melodies attached to them, and others have not yet been turned into songs.

Below I have included my first composition, “How Do I Hurt?”

How Do I Hurt


If you were moved by these lyrics, please comment with your thoughts.  I would love to know how it resonates with you!

Also, if you are ready to complete the pain, isolation, and loneliness you have been feeling after your loss or losses, it would be my honor and joy to walk you through The Grief Recovery Method®.  Click here to get in contact with me about scheduling your first Grief Recovery session.  Healing, relief, and a fuller life are yours for the taking.  You deserve it!

I Got Laid Off…

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I got laid off Tuesday, and am still experiencing a bit of numbness and shock.  After finishing up an introductory session with a new Uprooting Grief client that morning, I noticed I had a missed call and unread voicemail.  Turns out, the Human Resources manager at the company I worked for called to let me know that sadly, I was a part of the most recent group of personnel cuts.  I felt a tightening in my gut and a pain in my chest as the words sunk in.  I was, and still am, experiencing feelings of grief.

The company I worked for was Fanatics, the sports apparel warehouse located in North Las Vegas.  My youngest brother is currently employed there full-time and recruited my brother, Mom, and I to work with him for the holiday peak season.  As soon as I joined the Fanatics team, 4 out of five Hertberg’s worked there.  On my second day, I met my current boyfriend and we immediately began pursuing a romantic relationship.

The first two weeks were a painful adjustment.  Working four, very physically-active, 10-hour days in a row, shift starting at 6:30 in the morning, brought with it intense, full-body aches and pains as well as sleep deprivation and gastrointestinal issues.  I had never pushed my wounded, healing body that hard before.  It was immensely stressful.

Soon thereafter, peak season went into full-swing and I was required to work 50- and 60-hour weeks.  Sustaining that pace of working and living for over two months pushed me  beyond my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits.  On top of that, I arrived at work everyday before sunrise and left after sunset, had an abundance of holiday events going on outside of work, including a very important extended-family reunion, my gastrointestinal issues continued to get worse, and my budding new relationship needed nurturing.  Now, looking at it all written-down, I am amazed I didn’t completely lose my mind!

Near the end of peak season, my family and I were shocked and devastated when my oldest brother got laid off.  I really enjoyed working alongside my family, and he in particular was greatly loved and valued by all who worked there.  The next day, my side-swept cumulative grief and exhaustion of the last few months and holiday season, on top of watching my brother get let go, lead to an overwhelming and intense emotional release.  I would use the phrase “nervous breakdown” to paint a better picture of what was happening with me, but I hate using those words for the simple fact that grievers, myself included, are not broken and don’t need to be fixed.

The Grief Recovery Handbook® defines grief as the normal and natural reaction to loss.  It is also the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.  Death and divorce seem like the most obvious losses, but there are more than 40 life events that can produce feelings of grief.  Unresolved grief is almost always about things we wish we’d said or done differently, better, or more.  It is also about the unrealized hopes, dreams, and expectations we had for the relationship.

I believe it is very important for me to practice what I preach.  Since first taking the Grief Recovery 8-Week Support Group Class back in 2014, I have the used The Grief Recovery Method® over a dozen times to work through various losses.  For the next part of this blog, I’m not going to teach you how to use The Grief Recovery Method®, nor am I going to follow it completely, but I am going to use it as a guide to help me express some of what has been emotionally unresolved within me since being let go from Fanatics.  I hope these expressions of my heart connect with yours in some way.

There are three main things I need to forgive Fanatics for:

  1. I need to forgive Fanatics for requiring me, my family, and friends to work a brutal schedule of overtime without sunlight for days on end.  I felt sad that I had to participate in holiday events outside work exhausted and worn down. I felt angry so much was being asked of me and my family members.  I felt embarrassed with how much I struggled to maintain a positive attitude and physical health.  I felt scared of what might happen to me and my relationships as a result of working so hard.
  2. I need to forgive Fanatics for laying off my brother.  I felt devastated when I heard he would no longer be working with us.  He had worked incredibly hard and was so loved by all his coworkers.  I felt angry that he was not valued more by the company and that once again, he would stress over looking for new work.  I felt scared that my work wouldn’t be enough to keep me employed, especially since my brother was such a superstar employee.
  3. I need to forgive Fanatics for laying me off.  I feel angry that I wasn’t valued enough to be kept on as a full-time employee.  I feel scared wondering how long it will be until I have steady income again.  I feel sad that I will no longer see my new friends every week.  I feel embarrassed that I wasn’t able to measure up to the type of permanent worker they were looking for.

I also need to apologize for a few things:

  1. I wish I had done a better job taking care of myself outside of work, so I could perform at my best while at work.
  2. I need to apologize for resenting Fanatics when they decided to layoff my brother; even when he and I knew we both were hired as seasonal employees.
  3. I need to apologize to my coworkers and new friends for failing to show them my appreciation and love before it was too late.

Thirdly, I need to express my appreciation:

  1. I need to thank Fanatics for giving me the opportunity to make some very good money over the holiday season.  I really appreciated the gifts they handed out, as well as the savings I was able to build because of the mandatory overtime I worked.
  2. I also need to thank Fanatics for the new family it gave me.  I will always fondly remember and respect the friends I made and the coworkers who worked through the peak season trenches with me.  Of those new friends and family, I am most thankful to Fanatics for introducing me to my wonderful boyfriend.
  3. Most importantly, I need to thank Fanatics for the great opportunity to work alongside my family.  My bonds with them are stronger and deeper because of it.

Finally, I need to say goodbye to any hopes, dreams, and expectations I had for my future with Fanatics.

  1. I hoped to get hired on as a full-time employee, and dig deeper into building loving relationships with my coworkers and superiors.
  2. I dreamed of climbing the ladder of leadership with the company, building a career, and hopefully utilizing my MBA to serve sports fans around the country.
  3. If I were to be laid off from my seasonal position, I expected that I would have the dignity of being let go face-to-face, that I might have a chance to say goodbye to my friends and exchange contact information.

 


 

Moving forward from this loss, I have decided to work towards alleviating another source of grief in my life.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt as though my decision to work hourly jobs has been based on fear.  I feel like I haven’t given God the chance to provide for me by pursuing my Uprooting Grief practice full-time.  In recent reflections, I found that if I didn’t step out boldly and give my Uprooting Grief practice the chance to succeed, I would greatly regret it.  I believe I would disappoint and sadden the people who have loved and invested in me, wanting success for me and healing for those I will help.

So, as of now, I have decided to dedicate my efforts to building my Uprooting Grief practice and serving grievers in the Las Vegas community.  I know there are many, many hurting people who desperately want to get their life back, and I want to be there for them when they want and need some guidance.  I hope that you will partner with me to bring hope and healing to our community.   There are a few small things you can do to help me get the word out:

  1. You can share this blog, or any of my other blogs on this website, on your social media pages, through email, etc.
  2. You can let your loved ones know that this 8-week support class is available to help them when times get rough, and that they can 100% expect to feel better after completing it.
  3. Finally, you can like my Facebook page and stay up-to-date on upcoming group classes and special events.

I would also love to hear how you think I can use Grief Recovery to bring healing to our community!  I am only one, small person, and I can’t reach everyone.  But if I can help one despairing person recover and find joy in their life again, all the hard work I’ve done to heal my pain will have been worth it.

Who Is Responsible? Personal Thoughts On The #MeToo And #Kavanaugh Cases

Women vs Men

 

I hesitate to say anything in response to the #MeToo movement and the #Kavanaugh hearings, but I feel my viewpoint and feelings are important and need to be put into the pile of “thoughts”.

 

While I am not yet going to disclose the details of my experience, because I do not feel ready nor do I feel it will truly benefit anyone yet, I am going to say that I have experienced sexual trauma. One of the fall-outs of my experience was a deep feeling of war between men and women. I wanted to have power over men and feel superior to them.  A very common result of having a victim mentality.  As a result, I manipulated and used them, without much regard for their feelings, needs, or desires.  Sound familiar?

 

As a heterosexual female, this feeling, urge, reaction, whatever you want to call it, hurt me far more than it did me any good. I dream of having a family one day, and treating men like they owe me something has not exactly made for the healthiest and happiest of relationships.

 

I also fell into the other side of post-traumatic thinking and believing that it was my fault. This belief has been the one I have clung to and internalized the most in recent years. There were many things I could have done to help myself, and I was too scared to do many of them. I struggle with being my own abuser and shamer now.

 

In the last few years though, I have begun to find another path of thinking and believing. I started to listen to men share their stories of why they acted the way they did and how greatly they struggled with shame, fear, and a desperate sense of emptiness and disconnection. I found a great deal of freedom and healing when I realized that many of them felt similarly to how I did.

 

Then, the war stopped. It was no longer a matter of us vs. them (women vs. men). So many of these men were just as sexually broken as me and other women I have shared experiences with. My eyes were opened. This was far more than simple accountability and injustice, this was an epidemic of sexual sickness and spiritual brokenness. Almost no man or woman left unaffected.

 

So, when I see all the conflicting posts supporting one side or the other (Men need to learn their lesson! …. Boys will be boys! …. Making mountains out of molehills! …. Down with the patriarchy! … etc.) it does not help me to maintain the healthy and healing thought patterns and beliefs I have worked so hard to find. In all of these sexual assault cases, no one wins and everyone is left with wounds–whether seemingly deserved or not.

 

I don’t want to hate men, and I certainly don’t want to fall back into a victim mentality and sense of entitlement. I don’t want to reawaken the terrifying rage I have inside towards myself and the persons that traumatized me. I don’t want to live everyday like I am fighting a war anymore. None of that actually helps me heal. What does help me heal and find peace is working toward a solution for both sides.

 

Alleged male sex offenders, as well as convicted sex offenders, need healing just as badly as the people they have victimized.  If a woman accused you of a sexual offense, wouldn’t you want to be treated as “innocent until proven guilty” and not immediately made out to be the enemy of womankind? Imagine what it must feel like to carry around the weight, condemnation, and shame of being labeled an abuser. Wouldn’t you want to still be seen and treated like a human being? Wouldn’t you want to believe that redemption and forgiveness are available to you too? Wouldn’t you want to know that it were possible to have healthy relationships with women again and that you weren’t “damaged goods”?

 

Obviously, I am not advocating that people (men and women) NOT be held responsible for their actions and face appropriate consequences. What I AM advocating for is rehabilitation, forgiveness, understanding, compassion, and freedom for ALL who have been affected by this epidemic of sexual and spiritual brokenness–whether abused or abuser.

 

Let’s be real: Every single one of us has been abusive to someone in some way–verbally, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, sexually. None of us are without blame. That is the reality of the human condition. We all have fallen short, and the best news of all, is that we can all heal and grow no matter what we have or have not done in the past. We don’t need anyone else to be condemned, we don’t need anyone else to validate our pain, and we don’t need to go to war with our abuser(s)/accuser(s) in order to find that healing.

 

My healing didn’t truly start until I realized that becoming restored to a sense of wholeness had absolutely nothing to do with anyone else’s thoughts, decisions, or actions.  It was all about me, my thoughts, my decisions, and my actions.  While I may not be responsible for the loss and trauma I experienced, I alone am responsible for recovering from it and healing.

Emotional Weight-Lifting

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There is no doubt about it, grief is heavy.  The Grief Recovery Handbook® defines grief as the conflicting mass of emotions following a significant emotional loss.  I don’t know about you, but I can certainly recall many times my grief has felt like a ton-weighing mass taking up space in my gut and head.  It still baffles me how emotions can feel so heavy!

As I have used The Grief Recovery Method® to unravel the mass of grief inside me, I have discovered that one emotion in particular weighs much heavier on my mind and gut than others.  That emotion is regret.  Nothing can take me down or break my heart like regret.  Why?  Because regret is all about me.  No one outside myself can do or say something that I feel regret over.  Regret is 100% about my actions or inactions.

What behaviors and such have I found bring me regret?  I regret the compliments I never gave, the boundaries I didn’t lay, the chances I didn’t take, and the pain my shortcomings caused.  I regret not showing more appreciation for a person’s kindness, not making more time for my loved ones, not owning up to my wrongs, and for wasting time and energy on things that don’t matter.  Most of all though, I regret not loving and caring for myself better.  I regret all those nights I went to bed without brushing my teeth, the sunscreen I didn’t wear, the rest I didn’t prioritize, and the pints of ice cream I binged on.  The thing that hurts the most about not better loving and taking care of myself is that I feel I failed to honor the people who love and care for me.

One of my favorite motivational quotes is, “Discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons” – Jim Rohn.  I love this so much because I have experienced the validity of its practical application.  Sucking up my laziness or pride and taking disciplined action does require some discomfort and effort, but it is nothing compared to the discomfort of avoiding the action and later feeling regret.  Even thought the emotions of regret can be soul-crushing, I do believe they contain an important silver-lining.  Once I was able to recognize the behaviors and attitudes, or lack thereof, that brought me regret, I could make the decision NOT to do those things again.  Nothing has been a more effective motivator for changing my harmful behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes than the pain of regret.  If that isn’t a silver-lining, I don’t know what is!

So how do any of us really learn and grow?  The pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of change.  Sadly though, somewhere in our lives, the majority of us have learned that pain is bad and must be numbed or relieved at all costs.  One needs to look no further than the endless advertisements on television for pain-relieving goods and services.  I think it’s pretty safe to say that we humans are not big fans of pain (masochists being the exception).  Seems like we would much prefer comfort, denial, or self-righteousness.  You may think that’s pretty harsh, but I know it is true.  I actually find it funny that so many people spend endless energy campaigning for change, yet when that change comes, they run as far from the pain and discomfort as possible!  I’m chuckling to myself just thinking about it!  Humans are nothing if not humorous.

If you can find the courage to look at yourself, face your regrets, and embrace the resulting growing pains, I know that you will find yourself stronger, more confident, and wiser than before.  Fears will disappear and a new fire for life will burn inside you–at least that’s what I have experienced.  When you are ready, Uprooting Grief and The Grief Recovery Method® will provide you a safe and supportive environment where you can use the correct information and tools needed to make your personal transformation a reality.  I have not seen the process fail yet!  So, I do hope you will take a deep breath, stop resisting the beneficial growing pains found in facing your regrets, and get excited for how awesome you are going to be when you come out the other side. ❤

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

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If you have ever traveled on an airplane, at the beginning of the flight, you have probably heard stewards say something along these lines:

“If an unexpected change in cabin pressure occurs, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead compartments. Please put your oxygen mask on first, then proceed to help others with theirs.”

For many of us, including myself, these instructions seem counter-intuitive.  We may feel like we want to help others first, and then tend to our own needs afterwards.  We may even feel like “putting on our oxygen mask first” is selfish and morally wrong.  I truly believed this and behaved accordingly most of my life.  The result was going around feeling drained and empty.  Thankfully, I have recovered from this belief!

There is great value and wisdom to be found in the statement “put your oxygen mask on first”.  Why?  Because if you’re not fully functioning, you aren’t going to be able to give a person in need the full care they deserve.  For example… Take firefighters.  No firefighter in their right mind would run into a burning building full of smoke without protective gear and his or her oxygen tank; and I believe one would be hard-pressed to find a firefighter carrying their oxygen tank unsecured, into a burning building, planning to put it on later!  The thought just seems absurd!  A community needs their firefighters to perform at their best, which means they need to have mental and physical strength–neither of which are possible without oxygen.  I mean…seriously.  If I were trapped in a burning building, I would certainly hope there were strong, healthy, mentally sound people coming for me!

I really like how Jesus teaches this principle in the Bible.  Matthew 7:5 reads, “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”  Reflecting on these past four years I see I had quite a few metaphorical wood shards in my eye, especially before finding Grief Recovery and becoming certified.

If you have read my bio, you know that I have been dealt more than my fair share of loss.  As a student in my first Grief Recovery class, I learned that grief takes up a ton of emotional energy, and that it is cumulative and cumulatively negative.  Once I learned this, my misery made sense.  So many dots connected.  The losses I had accumulated brought me to complete and profound exhaustion.  For years it was like I had been dragging around a bag of boulders.  Obviously, the tools and information I learned growing up for dealing with loss weren’t working.  I found there was an enormous amount of grief I needed to unpack.  Thank God Grief Recovery gave me the information and tools I did need that very first class!

Shortly after beginning my Grief Recovery practice in May 2016, I experienced a string of losses that just wrecked me.  It was one after the other, after the other, after the other from about June 2016 until recently.  Car accidents, financial hardship, job losses, romantic breakup, health issues, injuries, two moves, and having my hometown rocked by the mass shooting of October 1st, 2017.  Even now, I am bracing myself for some impending family losses.  Needless to say, I felt like I was drowning for a long time. Somehow, during that time, I managed to pull off two Grief Recovery support groups.  I decided afterwards that I needed to take a hiatus in order to stabilize. I felt like God was sending me a loud and clear message that I needed to “put my oxygen mask on” first.

Since then, I have used The Grief Recovery Method to work through more than a dozen losses.  Each time, the grief fog lifts a little more, I see a bit clearer, walk a little lighter, and find more room in my heart for love.  I wish I could say that I have healed all my grief, found a handsome prince, inherited a castle, and am living happily ever after, but unfortunately, that’s not how life works.  We humans all share one thing in common, the experience of loss, and I am no exception.  Losses will continue to happen throughout our lives.  It is inevitable.

Using the tools of Grief Recovery, in combination with other tools I’ve acquired, to work through the losses of these last two years, has prepared me well to begin comforting and guiding grievers in the Las Vegas community.  If I hadn’t done the work and put my metaphorical oxygen mask on first (it was a lot of work!), re-launching this practice would not have been possible.  I learned so much about grief, self-care, priorities, relationships, spirituality, leadership, and other things pertaining to the world of recovery while searching for my own.  Now, because of my experiences, painful as they may have been, I feel stronger, smarter, wiser, and more confident than ever.

I cannot express how thankful I am to the Grief Recovery program for the healing and opportunities it has given me.  I have seen my students heal and transform before my eyes, and it is miraculously rewarding.  I promise to continue the practice of  “putting my oxygen mask on first” so that I might show others both how to recover from loss, and help others who need to.

 

 

Reflections On A Life-Changing Journey

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I first encountered Grief Recovery when my mentor D took the class about three years ago.  D had survived some of the most heartbreaking things a person can experience and was determined to heal and finally move forward, no matter what the cost.   As you can imagine, working through her heartbreak was quite hard for her.  One day, I remember her calling and telling me that she was headed to the hospital because she thought she was having a heart attack!  That’s how devastating her grief was.  However, in spite of the pain, D finished the class courageously.

Before Grief Recovery, I remember D being a woman tortured by nightmares, painful memories, and bipolar-like mania and depression.  After Grief Recovery, it was obvious that the storm inside her had subsided.  In the years since, D has continued to face more devastating losses and hardship.  Amazingly though, despite her ongoing struggles, she has continued to morph into a more grounded, fearless, loving, confident, and resilient woman.  She truly is a warrior and diamond in the rough!

Shortly after D finished her class, a few of our mutual friends decided to take it too.  They started Grief Recovery filled with fear and despair, and right before my eyes, changed into people full of confidence and hope.  It was, and still is, amazing!  Oddly enough though, even after witnessing such change in my friends, I didn’t think Grief Recovery was something that could, or would apply to me and my struggles.  I finally decided to take a class myself about a year later, but it took some really crappy circumstances to get me there.  In hindsight, I’m sure it was all part of a greater, divinely-orchestrated purpose.

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In February 2014, I was hit by a car riding my bicycle and rushed to the ER.  A few weeks later, I was cleared to go back to work, and the same day I returned, my boss decided to cut my hours from full-time to part-time.  I was barely making ends meet as it was, and not only had I just painfully injured my leg and missed more than two full weeks of work, but I ended up receiving only one day’s worth of disability pay because I hadn’t been employed long enough to receive any more.  Needless to say, I felt cripplingly overwhelmed.

Once I was cleared to work again, I also started seeing a chiropractor for my leg.  At the end of one of my chiropractic visits, I found a flyer for a Grief Recovery class.  The class was going to start a few weeks later and take place at the office!  Talk about divine timing!  I was so desperate for help and relief that I decided to check it out, even though I had some reservations.  I didn’t think I could achieve the results I had seen in my friends, but I decided to commit to attending every class and doing the work.

As the final class concluded, my teacher informed the other students and I that we were going to celebrate our achievement the following week with a group dinner.  During the dinner, my classmates, teacher, invited guests, and I all ate good food and enjoyed each others’ company.  Once everyone was finished with their meals, my teacher stood up and recognized us with certificates for completing the class.  Then, she invited us to share a bit about our experience.  I walked into that dinner still skeptical, because I had not yet had any huge revelations or experienced a radical transformation, but when my turn came to share, I stood up, and burst into tears.  I felt free and relieved in an indescribable way.  It seemed as though, all at once, the profundity of what Grief Recovery had done for me manifested in front of my eyes.

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Before becoming equipped with the correct information and tools needed to successfully overcome my grief, I saw myself through the lens of my pain and devastation.  Seeing myself through that lens led me to believe that I was a broken, lesser, person who deserved to suffer, and that I had to pretend to be normal in order to receive love and care.  Grief Recovery, however, taught me that I was, in fact, truly a normal person having normal and natural reactions to my losses.  So, when I stood up to share, I felt like a real and unpretentious human being for the first time.

Once the anger, sadness, and fear left my heart, a greater hope and love than I’d ever experienced filled the empty space.  I realized that Grief Recovery had given my heart a voice and helped me know how to communicate what was most important to me.  As my heart began to speak, I started uncovering the truth about myself.  That night at the dinner, the pieces I’d discovered fell into place, and I found a game-changing truth.  All that critical judgment, isolation, and pain that had been distorting my internal lens finally cleared away, and what I saw was a strong, loving, smart, and beautiful woman.

———

There was no way I could have predicted or prepared for what happened to me during that first celebration dinner.  It was like my eyes, ears, and heart opened after being shut for years.  Nothing in my life has been the same since.  Just over a week ago, I hosted a celebration dinner for the students of my pilot Grief Recovery class.  I was excited to hear them share their experiences, and hopeful that they might have had life-changing transformations similar to mine.  What happened instead was that I, once again, left changed.

The Grief Recovery Method® teaches that the only person who knows exactly how you feel after your loss is you!  Everyone grieves differently, because every person is unique and individual.  If you are to discover and become complete with your emotional losses, it is essential that you understand and accept this about yourself and others.  In fact, this truth is so essential to Grief Recovery, that at the beginning of each class, all students and the teacher make a commitment to be their unique, individual selves.

Well, this fact of life couldn’t have been made any clearer to me than during my celebration dinner last week.  While I was hoping, and somewhat expecting, my students to be completely changed like I was, they ended up having their own unique and individual transformations.  One of my students shared that Grief Recovery revealed to him the origins of some of his behaviors and thought patterns.  Another student shared that he now better understands how to help others and give them the dignity and respect they deserve.  One of my female students shared that she had been blind to the amount of strong, painful emotion she was keeping stored inside her, and that Grief Recovery helped her to clear it out.

None of my students burst into sobs of relief, and none of them expressed sentiments similar to mine.  Their experiences, and what they took away were unique to them.  Looking back, I am thankful they didn’t come away with the same results I did.  I’m glad they stayed true to the unique individuals they are, because, in doing so, I found out a bit more about myself!  I realized that my job as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist® and teacher of the Grief Recovery Method® is to listen to and learn about my students so that I can better guide them towards finding their emotional truths.  I realized that I need to sit back and relax in awe and wonder, because being a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist® entrusts me with the great privilege of hearing a person’s heart speak, possibly for the first time, and then honoring it for being brave.

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I am so, so thankful for the opportunity to walk alongside others on their Grief Recovery journeys.  This is the greatest job in the world, and one I hope to never take lightly.  As much as Grief Recovery has the power to transform and heal those who participate in the class, it also transforms and heals the teachers just as much.  If you are interested in receiving the life-changing tools Grief Recovery has to offer, I welcome and encourage you to attend an informational meeting being held at Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral on August 31st at 7pm.  You can also enroll in my upcoming 8-week class here.  Come and experience the greatness of Grief Recovery.  I guarantee you will be glad you did!

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The Pain and Harmfulness of Judgment

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Whether we are having a great experience, or a really painful one, our first instinct is to usually go talk to someone about it.  We form our beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world around us through our relational experiences.  We are meant to be in relationship with others.  Unfortunately, for many of us, including myself, there was a time, or many times, when our honesty and vulnerability was met with painful judgment.

Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario involving a girl named Theresa.  Her story is an example of how judgment can make the grieving experience more painful, and in turn, harm the griever.  Some of you may relate to this, others may not, and either way is ok!

Theresa had a hard decision to make.  On the one hand, she really loved her boyfriend Sean.  She connected with him deeply.  He had experienced many hardships and struggles growing up, and she felt immense compassion and understanding for him as a result.  She herself had experienced similar heartbreak and loss.  However, Sean couldn’t seem to take responsibility for his actions.  He was drinking too much, skipping out on his work shifts, and being irresponsible with his money.  There were even a few times Sean was unable to pay his part of the bills, because he had spent all his money drinking at bars.

Theresa worked full-time and was barely able to make ends meet as it was.  She could no longer afford to cover Sean’s part of the bills, and no matter how many times she talked to him about how his irresponsibility was hurting her, and how she loved him and wanted to help him make good decisions, his behavior wouldn’t change.  If anything, he just ended up drinking more.

One day, Theresa decided that she could no longer continue being Sean’s girlfriend.  She was being treated unfairly and felt taken advantage of.  While she had great compassion and understanding for Sean, she realized that it was not good for either of them to continue enabling his bad behavior by covering his part of the bills.  When she told Sean that she was leaving him, he lashed out at her in anger and rage.  He told her that she didn’t really love him, and tried to make her feel guilty about leaving him to deal with his life and pain alone.

As you might imagine, Theresa was devastated.  She felt relief and pride that she had stood up for herself and done the right thing by both of them, but she also felt immense fear, humiliation, and sadness.  Theresa really loved Sean, and knew that underneath all his pain, there was a loving, generous, strong, funny, smart man.  She was worried for his well-being, and a bit humiliated that she had allowed herself to be treated poorly for so long.  Her friends weren’t entirely helpful either.  For a while now, they had told her that she needed to “dump that loser”.  They didn’t seem to understand or respect how much Theresa loved him and was feeling conflicted.

After the breakup, Theresa went to her friends to talk about how she was feeling.  She was met with comments like, “I can’t believe you stayed with that loser for so long”, “I don’t feel bad for you, you did this to yourself”, and “Don’t worry, there are plenty more fish in the sea.”  As you can imagine, Theresa felt like she had  been kicked when she was down.  She felt like her friends didn’t really care about her.  They didn’t really listen to what she was saying, and instead, they passed judgment on her with comments that made her feel even worse about herself and her situation.

From that point forward, Theresa stopped talking to her friends when she was struggling and in pain.  She didn’t want to open herself up to be judged again by people she thought she could trust and be comforted by.  Out of self-protection, Theresa learned that it wasn’t safe for her to talk honestly and vulnerably about her pain and struggles.  Her relationship with her friends became strained after her breakup, and she was left feeling more alone and down than ever.

Theresa’s friends certainly did not give Theresa what she needed to heal from her loss.  While they may have meant well, the comments they made to Theresa while she was grieving her breakup were not helpful.  Instead, they left Theresa feeling unheard and more humiliated about herself.


How many of you can relate to how Theresa felt?  Have you ever tried to share honestly about how you were feeling only to be met with unhelpful comments that left you feeling judged and alone?


The Grief Recovery Handbook® teaches us that grief is the most powerful of all the emotions, because it is a mass of conflicting feelings happening all at once resulting from a significant emotional loss.  Just experiencing grief alone can be overwhelming, so experiencing judgment from loved ones on top of the grief can be incredibly devastating.

In my Uprooting Grief classes, where I teach The Grief Recovery Method®, all of my participants and I make four commitments to each other at the beginning of each class.  These commitments are:

  1. Total honesty
  2. Individuality and Uniqueness
  3. Absolute Confidentiality
  4. NO judging, minimizing, comparing, or fixing

Those of us who have been trained as Certified Grief Recovery Specialists® by The Grief Recovery Institute®, myself included, understand and honor the fragility of grievers’ hearts.  We do not take lightly the fact that we are trusted to help hurting people walk through some of the most painful and sensitive experiences of their lives.  We want you to be free from the pain, isolation, and loneliness that came from your significant emotional loss(es), and that is why we commit to fiercely protecting you, and ourselves, by agreeing to honor the four commitments listed above.

It takes a great deal of courage to vulnerably open up to another person and share our deepest hurts.  Every single person grieves differently, and for a hurting griever to achieve emotional completeness and healing, they must be able to trust that their truth will be kept confidential and free from judgment, minimizing, comparison, or fixing;  and, as relational beings, it is crucial that our truths be received and heard by someone who will respect our need for confidentiality and affirm us for the unique grievers we are.  In fact, it is necessary that we be listened to with dignity and respect.

I don’t know about you, but I want to heal from the pain of my losses.  I want to be able to share freely and honestly, knowing that what I share will not be broadcast to the world through gossip, and that I will not be judged, compared, minimized, or fixed by the person with whom I share the most sensitive parts of my heart.  Isn’t this what we all want and need?


If you have a friend, family member, or anyone else come to you looking to talk about their pain and loss, PLEASE DO NOT judge them.  Try to picture a heart with ears, and listen to them with the dignity and respect they deserve without analysis or comment.

Some of the most helpful comments to make to someone who is hurting are:

“I can’t imagine what this is like for you.” – Because you can’t!  You are NOT them.

“I don’t know what to say.” – Often times, it is better to say nothing at all than to say something that may judge, minimize, compare, analyze, or be perceived as “fixing”.

Some of the most UNHELPFUL comments to make to someone who is hurting are:

“I know how you feel.” – No, you most certainly do not.  You are NOT them!

“Just get over it.” – Telling someone how to deal with their emotions is not only insensitive, but completely invalidating.  How would you feel if someone said this to you while you were hurting?  How would you feel if they told you what to do?  This comment in particular has an undertone of judgment to it.  It sends a message to the griever that their emotions are wrong and invalid.


I hope that this blog has opened your eyes to how judgment can be incredibly harmful to a grieving person.  If you have experienced judgment yourself, I encourage you to speak some kind words to yourself, and to allow yourself to experience your feelings, because they are normal and natural.  Do not judge yourself for your feelings, because that is very harmful too.  The last person you need judging you for being a normal and natural person is yourself!  It only adds to your pain, and you don’t deserve that.  You are beautiful and wonderful exactly as you are, a unique individual full of value and possibility.

Finally, if you are hurting, and need someone to talk to about your loss and grief, please reach out to a safe person and talk to them.  If you don’t feel like you have any safe people in your life, please feel free to reach out to me, and I promise to honor your truth and listen with dignity and respect.  Together, we can help each other heal from our grief.  Together, we can sow seeds of honesty, respect, and love.

I love you all!  I hope you have a wonderful day FREE of any painful and harmful judgment!  ❤ ❤ ❤

-Jennifer

The Struggle Is Real

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Went to get in my car this morning, when I realized…BAM!  I locked my keys in my apartment. 😱😩

It has been an emotional few days.  Little things here and there have triggered old feelings and memories.  Now, this seems likes it wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary for daily life, but when lot of little things trigger strong emotions in me, I tend to get flooded, and then I lose focus during the present moment.

How can I best describe this “flooded” experience?  I think I finally explained it best to my boyfriend last night.  Each little trigger I experience produces conflicting feelings in me.  I drove past an ex-boyfriend’s house a couple days ago while I was working, and immediately felt a flood of conflicting emotions–or what we in the Grief Recovery world like to call grief!  That, in and of itself, took some effort to try to sort through.  I was angry, I was sad, and there were definitely feelings of fondness that arose too.

On top of that, a friend asked me to reach out to someone who was really hurting and considering doing something drastic and permanent.  I was immediately full of compassion and wanted to help, but felt very conflicted.  Should I reach out and try to help?  The person didn’t even know me.  I was very familiar with their situation, for I had gone through something similar myself.  I was really hoping they would be open to my offer of compassion and care.  As of now, I still have not heard back from this person.  I am scared, angry, sad, and feel a bit humiliated.  It’s hard to put yourself out there to help someone, and then feel like they don’t want what you’re offering.  It’s especially hard when you believe that you could save them a great deal of heartache if they were only open to hearing you out.  Unfortunately, I have no control over their decisions, only my actions and reactions.

A few other things happened that triggered emotional reactions in me.  Altogether, I became “flooded” when I had numerous triggers occurring with conflicting emotions for each one.  I lost my focus in the present moment because all my emotions were blending together.  Too many conflicting emotions from too many significant events were happening at the same time, and I was really struggling to figure out which emotion properly belonged to each trigger.  This is the best way I can describe what my “flooded” experiences are like.  I find myself yawning uncontrollably when this happens. 😂😩

I feel incredibly fortunate though, to have the clarity of knowing exactly what is going on in my mind and my heart when I get “flooded” like this.  I feel even more fortunate to have the tools to help me properly find and express these unsaid things that are filling my head and heart with conflicting emotions (unresolved grief).  I am not perfect, but everyday I get better and better at sorting through and completing each trigger when it happens.

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the fridge, forgetting why you were there? Ever found yourself misplacing everyday important things?

Unresolved grief, or undelivered communications of an emotional nature, can cause us to lose present-moment focus.  It’s hard for our minds and bodies to be connected in the moment when our minds are off remembering the past or worrying about the future.

Week 3 of Grief Recovery happened last night.  The discussions were so honest and potent.  I’m so proud of everyone taking my class.  It is not easy work for them, nor me.  Sometimes things they say and do, trigger emotions in me, and I really want to be as present as possible for them.  They are applying themselves fully to each task, sharing truthfully from their hearts, and listening to each other with dignity and respect.  My heart wants nothing more than to help them get the most out of the work they are doing.  I really want to be able to fully listen and understand what their hearts are saying, and I want them to trust that I will lead them safely to healing and completion.  When I get flooded, like I have been the last few days, I get scared that I won’t be able to give them that present and focused leader they need and hope for.  I guess I need to be better at laughing at my own humanity, and more accepting of the truth that I too have more work to do.

I can’t wait to see what future weeks of our Grief Recovery classes will bring and produce…but to start, I should really get my keys back first! 😂

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