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New school? Kids may be grieving...

Posted on August 31, 2015 at 6:56 PM Comments comments (2537)
Kids are back to school but if this is a new school, your child may be grieving for their old friends, the old neighborhood. Remember in the movie Inside Out how what happened when Sadness was excluded from the little girl's emotions?  Things fell apart rapidly, she didn't thrive at home or at school.  Her parents made her feel she had to be their "happy girl" and she was burdened with having to smile all the time, making her parents think she was ok when inside she was sad and not at all happy with her new home or school.  This is all too common, unfortunately.  When kids aren't allowed to express their full range of emotions, their future wellbeing and happiness is at stake.   I know because it happened to me.

At the age of 11 years, in London, I was awarded a scholarship to a college track school out of my neighborhood.  My parents were elated and proud.  I had to wear an expensive uniform, ride there on a bus and be in class with students whose families didn't look or sound like mine or others in my neighborhood.  I felt out of place and lost.  My parents complained about the cost of the uniform and bragged about my new school placement to their friends.  How could I tell them I felt so lost and sad?

Despite the high academic grades necessary to get my placement at this new school, once I was there, by my second year, my grades were only average and then began sliding down.  It wasn't so much the work itself as my inability to speak honestly to my parents and teachers about how I felt about fitting in,how embarrassed I was to ask for help with subjects like math which were now too challenging and beyond my parents to help me with.  By now I couldn't feel that I was sad, I just felt very very uncomforable.

I began hanging out with boys after school, going to clubs on weekends, soon I started drinking a litle beer, then wine, then hard liquor.  It became more important for me to "have fun" than do homework. I began to lie about where I was and what I was doing.  I forged excuse notes at school and nearly got expelled. By the age of 15 I began to run off the rails seriously.  I couldn't wait to get out of school and away from home. I didn't care about future planning for a career. I skimmed through classes without studying and it's a miracle I made it through to college at all.  Even classes I enjoyed, like art, I neglected in favor of having fun.  I needed something to make me feel ok, because deep down, I didn't feel ok at all.  My suppressed emotions were building and needed an outlet. When I was dancing and drinking and playing around with boys and later older men, I was distracted from the pain of my inner struggles about fitting in, belonging and for a while I felt relief. It never lasted.

My emotional growth became seriously stunted.  I married too young, got bored at work easily, was never satisfied and never happy.  Years later, after 3 failed marriages, the death of my mother threw me into the pit of despair and I felt like ending it all, except that I had two children whom I dearly loved and didn't want them to suffer as they would if I had taken my own life. 

By a miracle a friend referred me to the Grief Recovery Institute, and I began a journey of self discovery that revealed how early suppression of sadness and grief had steered me down the wrong path.  I was way along that path and thought I couldn't find a turnaround.  But to my surprise, little by little, one page at a time in the Grief Recovery Handbook, doing the assignments and talking about my history of loss with another woman in the Grief Recovery Program, a new perspective emerged. 

Today, I'm smiling most of the time. Naturally and without forcing it, as I used to have to.   Today, when I feel sad, I let it come out.  I try to understand the reason for it, which sometimes isn't immediately obvious  and then I allow myself to be with it, talk about it with another trusted person.  When there's no backlog, no heavy sack of accumulated sadness, the pain dissipates so much faster.  The Grief Recovery Method helped me clear the backlog and see what self destructive habits I had developed to cope with my grief in the past.  I no longer have to suffer as I used to. 

My emotional flexibility is in good shape these days and I am so grateful I found out what was preventing me from the natural state of happiness that is our birthright, regardless of social status, education, health or wealth.   Unresolved grief had accumulated like plaque in the arteries, reducing my flow of joy.   It doesn't have to be that way.  

Tell them how you, too, miss the old neighborhood and how it was for you if you had to move as a kid.  Show them it's ok to feel sad and that you'll let them cry if they have to.  Teach them that tears are not bad, they are the natural expression of grief and sadness and boys and girls both big and little are entitled to let them flow freely.  Let them see you sad, let them see you cry.  Don't make the mistake of hiding your grief away in order to "protect" them.  They will learn then that grief is something to hide and bear alone, which is one of those myths about grief that bring us trouble later in life.

Instead, let their tears and grief flow now so they will develop emotional resilience and enjoy a much happier life. 

COMPANIONS ALONG THE WAY

Posted on July 9, 2013 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (337)
Last night I had the privilege of sitting in a circle with a number of courageous people each with a unique story of loss.  Tears flowed, of course, but laughter too.  Eyes rolled as we recognized how others' well meaning comments fall flat, such as "time heals everything, you just need more time".  If that were true, there's be few problems in our world, but we know that just isn't so.  "Time wounds all heels" may be closer to the truth, for indeed it is wounding when time passes and the pain of grief just won't go away.  And why does it not?

There are myriad reasons but one is that others are uncomfortable when we just won't stop crying, when we don't seem to be "getting over it" in what they consider a reasonable amount of time. They feel they have failed as a friend, perhaps, and that they can't cope with your ongoing grief.  So they may gradually fall away.  Sometimes they justify this as "giving you space to heal", whereas what we may really need is yet another cup of tea and yes, yet another walk in the woods with a friend who just listens with no judgment and who lets us ride the waves as they keep coming for as long as they need to.  Such friends are rare indeed and so we often isolate and decide not to "bother" others. And this harms us terribly.

While there is no set time-line for recovery from grief, the time tested Grief Recovery Method provides us with a structured and time limited framework on which to build the foundation to move forward.  Every time we complete one of the simple homework assignments we lay another paving stone in the path of recovery and over a period of only seven weeks we begin to feel things shifting and lifting and hope returns.

This takes courage and commitment, and I salute all those who have shown their willingness to do the work, in the good company of like minded souls as together we move forward to the light at the end of a tunnel that has sometimes been years in the making. 

It is never too late to recover and never too soon to start.   Please let me know how I can guide you, either by joining one of our workshops or in one on one sessions.   Fill out the request for contact and I will respond immediately.  Remember, a broken heart can be healed and it is my privilege to assist you in this precious work.



The Sun in Shining, do you care?

Posted on August 15, 2011 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (320)
www.northbaygriefrecovery.com, in home grief recovery services, grief recovery services, grief recovery services in marin county californiaThe sun may be shining today, but do you care?  I mean, really, could you give a darn?  Sometimes, there are days when unresolved grief stalks us and nothing is right, friends, weather, even small gifts offered with love, just amount to a blah, so what !  And you don't even feel guilty, maybe you feel indifferent, numb. How well I remember the feeling.

  I remember NOT calling friends for fear I would become a burden.  After all, that divorce was over and done with by now, and my mother died in her mid-80's, a good age to go, I was long-divorced from the father of my two children so what if he died unexpectedly, why would I still feel anything for him?  And so on.  Are you nodding because you know what I'm talking about?  Good.

Why good?  Because you have admitted there is something off with this grieving business, and you may be good and ready to get past it, finally.

So welcome with an open heart from me to you, for there is hope of recovery from your broken heart and it will not take thousands of dollars or hours on a therapy couch.  Now, you may well need the benefit of therapy, I certainly did, and got it.  But with unresolved grief clouding the sunshine in your life, you may be spinning your wheels in traditional counseling or even well-meaning grief groups, which can be a great comfort and definitely have their place, I'm not saying stop going or don't even try to go.  I AM saying that the process of grief recovery is different because it puts your loss into the general context of your life as a whole, and gives you specific assignments which move you through the pain.

Do NOT go into the neighborhood of grief by yourself.  It's unsafe and you could get hurt.  Grief Recovery provides a map and in a few weeks, you may well care that the sun is shining, you may actually feel like handing out a few bouquets, actually notice how the roses smell and really CARE, once again.

I am here to support you on this journey.  Please join me.



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