Posts filed under loss

Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

 

Are you in the midst of grief?

 

Do you wonder if you’ll ever enjoy life again?

 

You may feel like you’re going "crazy" or "losing it." You’re not!  You’re grieving the death of special person you dearly love. 

 

```We grieve because we love and this is normal.

Normal grief throws ones life into chaos, mentally, emotionally physically and spiritually. It is painful and harder then you thought it would be. Finding out what is normal will help you hang on to hope and know that healing will come.

Here are some normal reactions to grief & loss:

  • mixed up bundle of emotions
  • forgetfulness
  • numbness
  • time distortion
  • hopelessness
  • deep ache in your soul
  • disorganization & confusion
  • trouble concentrating
  • fatigue
  • changes in appetite
  • sleep disruption
  • anxious, sad, apathy, fearful, teary, angry
  • lack of motivation
  • little or no zest for life
  • questioning existence, life & death
  • physical pain
  • feeling like you're going "crazy"

This is a time to be gentle with yourselfTake one step at a time and allow yourself to heal. There is no “quick fix” or microwave solution. It takes time and effort to heal. 

The loss of a loved one is not an event it is a process, a journey. 

You do not have to do this journey alone and I don’t recommend that you do. Seek out help from others. Attend a grief support group. Maybe some counseling will be the route to take. I can come alongside you as your travel through your grief journey and offer resources along the way. Contact me at (559) 577-3994 to see if counseling might be right for you.

Posted on February 23, 2016 and filed under grief, suicide loss, loss.

5 Minutes Can Make a Difference

5 Minutes a Day Can Make A Huge Difference

You Can't Live Without This - 5 minutes a day can make a HUGE difference. 

Busy schedules, fast paced life, the unexpected  - keeps you in "ON" mode all the time. Stressed, distressed, living in survival mode,  just trying to make it through the day.  If that's you, you’re not alone and believe me, I can relate. There was a time (and to be truthful, there still are times) when I was in total survival mode, just trying to keep my head above water . . . sometimes not doing very well at that!  As a single mom, only parent(widowed), with 3 active children, I felt I was running from one event to the next, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, practices, games, meets, school, meetings, juggling a ton of things except the balls were all tumbling down. Costco became my best friend for food with their easy frozen prepared meals. Funny thing, I use to make almost everything by scratch wanting the best for my family. But that was before . . .


Then, one day, my body said stop. I felt physically ill, nauseated, all my joints screamed with pain and were swollen. I had little to no energy. I was sinking below the surface. It was time to make some changes.

It is possible for you to make changes that will help you right now. What I didn’t know back then, is you can train your brain to let go of the stresses, be calm and transform. 

Neuroplasticity is a fairly recent word in neuroscience. Basically it means the brain can change. Good news since not too many years ago, we were told the brain could not change. So what does that mean for you and I? We can change and get unstuck. Here’s  a technique called Quick Coherence from Heart Math that starts the positive change in motion. 

5 Minutes a Day Makes a Difference

  1. Set aside 5 minutes a day - right now put a time on your calendar or on your phone.
  2. Find a place a free of distractions (just for 5 minutes). Try your bedroom, your car, your yard, somewhere convenient with few distractions. It you don’t make it easy, it probably won’t happen.
  3. Place your hand over your heart (near the center of your chest/sternum). Picture your heart as you breathe into it and breathe out of it for the 5 minutes.
  4. Bonus Step Think of someone, something or an event that is positive. NO negative attachments to it. For me it's my dog, Nicky, who is always happy to great me.

This simple exercise allows your heart and brain to work congruently to gain calmness internally It has cumulative effects as you continue to do this exercise. Here’s a resource for further information. http://www.heartmath.com/quick-coherence-technique/   

For helpful tips

A Matter of Life and Death

 

I remember . . . as a senior in high school during lunch time, a classmate, (someone I had known since kindergarten) had come back drunk and upset.  He was mumbling and confronting some other guys. One couldn’t really understand what he was saying. The bell rang and we all went back to class, all except this classmate. We later learned he had gone home and taken his life not long after we saw him. Mind boggling - what was so bad that he would want to end it all? Why? Was there anything any of us could have said or done? We didn’t know. The questions lingered loudly within each of us.

How about you? What comes up for you? What memory or thought? Or maybe you don't linger on it and instead -  quickly toss it out of your thoughts. Most of us have close contacts to someone who has experienced a loved one’s death by suicide.

 

Sucide has become an epidemic.

 

Suicide has become an epidemic! There are 35,000 completed suicides per year in the United Stated  with known attempts numbering 650,000 per year. 90% of people who die by suicide have a treatable mental illness.  Most people give some indications that are thinking of taking their life. Although some people do keep it highly concealed giving no indication of their intent. 

We all need to be aware of signs and how to seek help. Severe major depression and bi-polar disorders are two of the main mental illnesses associated with suicide. Adding substance abuse to the mental illness increases chances of suicide. 

Many people who have attempted suicide state they were initially angry at loved ones for intervening but also state they were intent on carrying out their death and are now thankful the intervening took place. 

 

Be aware of signs that could indicate your loved one is having suicidal thoughts. Click here for list of signs.

riends and family can be hesitant to intervene or impose. Your friend or family member may get mad, but as long as they're breathing there is hope. Many people who have attempted suicide said they were initially angry at loved ones for intervening, but also state they were intent on carrying out their death and are now thankful the intervening took place. 

 

 Here's some tips for family and friends.

1. Be Open, Direct, Ask Questions.

Talk about suicide.Have a dialogue with the person. Ask the person if they're thinking of taking their life. Talking about suicide does not put the idea in a person's head. Instead, it creates an opportunity for your loved one to speak about what they're experiencing and opens the door for seeking help. 
       "Do you ever feel so badly you think about suicide?"
       "Have you ever thought you would be better off dead?"
      

2. Ask about a Plan

If a person has thought about the way they would take their life, the greater probability of them carrying it out. By asking these questions, you will be able to assess if the person is in immediate danger.
        "Have you thought about a way you would take your life?"
        "Have you thought about when and where you would do it?" 
      

3. Seek Help

Never keep a plan a secret. If you think a life is in danger, try to convince the person to go to the doctor, a professional counselor and tell the family to enlist a 24 hour watch on the person and call the police or 9-1-1. Do not leave the person alone. This is not the time to worry about losing the person's trust or friendship. It's better to lose a friendship and trust than attend a funeral.  Most of the time, they will thank you for saving their life. 

4. Educate Yourself

The more you know the better you'll be able to notice warning signs. There are multiple online sites with valuable information.  Go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org,  American Association of Suicidology,  suicidology.org andAssociation Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org) for education and valuable resources. Contact a local survivors of suicide (SOS) organization, mental health professional or clinic for resources in your area.  

5. Be Aware.  

Notice if your loved one has shown any of the warning signs. Pay attention to their lifestyle, changes in mood and behavior, a renewed sense of happiness and calm after a period of distress.  A state of calm or happiness after distress may indicate the person has decided to carry out their plan to take their life. Educate yourself. Contact suicidepreventiononlifeline.org or Call 1-800-273-8255. This is a resource for you and the person you're concerned about. 

6.  LIsten with your Heart  

Do not try to talk someone out of their self hatred or hopeless thoughts. It will not work. Don't minimize their problems or shame them. Contradicting what someone feels does not change their feelings. Trying to convince someone with mental illness and/or suicidal thoughts that it's not that bad only increases their pain and prevents them from sharing what's going on inside them. Reassure them help is available, they can feel better and their thoughts are temporary.

7. Find Help Together

If loved one is not in immediate danger, assist the person in finding a professional counselor and a doctor. Help make the phone call or attend the first session. This is a time to follow through and not worry about being intrusive. Assure the person they can get help, heal, feel better.


Suicide is preventable. The majority of people with suicide attempts and completion gave some indications through statements, behavior or social media. YOUR ACTIONS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  if you would like to talk and receive additional information, contact me at  patty@counselingfresno.org or (559) 577 3994. 

Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Posted on October 1, 2015 and filed under loss, grief.

4 Quick Tips to Handle the Unexpected

Before I knew I it, I was hanging partially upside down with only a lap belt that kept me from falling. 

This was not the pleasant ride on a path that I had expected.

It began as a nice Saturday in the mountains where my husband had taken me for a drive. Oh yeah, another part I should add, it was a ride in his four wheel drive vehicle up mountain rock paths. We went through a forest of evergreen trees, through a stream trickling water, up a waterfall pathway (no water) and onto other marked trails. Then the unexpected happened, we were slung off the path before we realized what happened, rolling over and stopped by a tree. I thanked God for the tree; otherwise we would have kept rolling. 

 

As a therapist, I help others deal with hurts and pain, including, “the unexpected”.

 

Here’s some quick tips that help.

1. Stay Put and Hang On

When life is out of control, you’re thrown off your normal path, it can be best to stay put (at least temporarily). Ride out whatever is going on; hang on to the familiar. Ground yourself with what is right in front of you. The unexpected can alert your brain to go in reactionary mode causing you to do and say things you may regret and make the situation worse.  Have you ever overreacted to a situation? . . .Yeah, met too. By staying put, you send the message to the fight/flight part of your brain to calm down. This will allow your brain to get or stay calm and respond with clarity rather than react. 

 In my story, I hung on to the overhead handles that I knew had been placed there to help brace myself, to keep me from banging my head or  . . . who knows whatever else.

2. Check Yourself

It’s important to realize in what ways your’e okay.

It’s important to pause for a moment (or two), take a breath and see how you are doing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Are there some self needs that you can tend to or  areas where you need help. As important as it is to tend to your needs, it’s important to realize in what ways you are okay. It will help you to stay calm.

For us that meant literally checking in with ourselves and with each other to see if we were physically and emotionally ok. We were able to breathe a sigh of relief and look to what was next.

it’s important to realize in what ways you’re okay.

3. Reach Out for Help  

Seek the help of those around you whether it’s friends, family,  helpful people/organizations or a therapist, counselor, pastor, other professional.  You may not know the answers or which direction to go, but others can offer valuable resources, point you in the right direction and give practical help. We are meant for relationships, community and connectedness. Help is available. You need to ask and accept it. I know it’s not always easy, but others are more than willing to help . . . it’s actually a blessing for them. (Research shows we have a feel good chemical released in our brains - oxytocin- when we help others)   

Needless to say, hanging at an angle on the high side of a vehicle tipped over, we weren’t sure what to do next.  Thankfully, people came running to help us and give us direction. I was instructed to climb out a window which meant unbuckling the only strap holding me from falling downward and climb against gravity. Putting one foot and another on the internal roll bar, I climbed up, went out the window and had to fall toward a man who assured that he would catch me. 

 

4. Keep Moving Forward 

Here’s where you put one foot in front of the other to keep going and not become stuck. The unexpected has a way of causing paralysis. If you stay put for too long, your brain can become stuck, frozen in fear, unable to move at all. That’s why it’s vital to do something to keep going. I don’t expect you to climb a mountain, but do something that is familiar, something “normal” like talk to a friend, go to the store, do a task around the house or yard, go for coffee. It will calm your brain to know you can function and the hyper-alert signal will decrease.The longer you stay stuck the harder it is to move on any path.

Keep Moving Forward

To finish the story, our vehicle was pulled back over with the help of others using winches on their vehicles. Other than cosmetic damage and a lot of fluids being lost, our vehicle was still drivable. So . . . we kept going, not along the same path, but we still kept going. I must admit I was a little hesitant to go on a harder rock climb, but my husband went to keep from fear from settling in. I joined him as we went along the rest of the trails and enjoying the day. As a therapist I knew to keep checking in with myself, breathe deeply and assure myself we were fine (Extra tip on ways to keep your brain from staying in fight/flight mode or being hyper-aroused).

 

Posted on July 21, 2015 and filed under anxiety, loss, trauma, stuck.