Families can be the source of joy, comfort and connection, or they can be the source of sorrow, pain and no real solid connection.
We cannot change anyone other than ourselves, but we can change how we react to any given person, family or not.
If your family is difficult for you, then I imagine you have had your share of sorrow and grief. You have not gotten some of your needs met by your family, and you might never thyour needs and feelings acknowledged by them.
I hope that you have received support and kindness in your life from other people. They can be friends, religious/spiritual leaders, people in a support group, a counselor or some other family member.
So here come the holidays with all of the expectations, hopes, dreams, and perhaps worries and concerns. What can you change, what do you want to keep the same and what are your challenges? A few of my suggestions are:
1. Simplify, meaning that you keep things uncomplicated, inexpensive and real.
2. Make new traditions that work for you
3. Included friends who don’t have familiy near by
4. Remember to have fun and joy in the activities that you are involved in.
Your family may not be who you would have chosen if you had the ability to choose your family. You can do as little or as much with them as you choose. Please, do not let any one guilt trip you around areas of, how much time you spend with them, how much money you spend, what foods you choose to serve, and how much you chose to decoreate.
We have one life that we know about and it is in the here and now. Choose to be around good, kind, joyful people and if you choose to be alone, then make it work as well as you can for yourself.
You deserve to have a peaceful and contented life.
If you have experienced the death of a family member or close friend right around this time of year, it can bring up extra stress for you. There it is, lights, carols, music, presents to think about, food, get togethers, and there you are sad, lonely, upset and not really ready to be in the holiday spirit. So what can you do? Are you allowed to take care of yourself during this time of year without feeling you are bringing everyone around you down?
You can pretend for a short while that you are ok, but newly grieving folks cannot keep up the pretense for long. And the question is, why should you? Death is a part of life, but it is a hard part and losing someone you wanted to spend the rest of your life with whether it be a spouse, parent, child, sibling or friend is painful You did not have any say in this, sometimes you did not even get to say goodbye, I love you.
So, what can you do?
* Get plenty of rest
*Visit with family or friends that understand how you are feeling, keep the numbers low.
*Start new traditions that feel ok for you. If you want a tree have one, if it is too much, let it go, light a candle for the departed one.
*Talk to someone who understands grieving. There are grief counselors and grief groups, especially around the time of the holidays.
*Allow yourself to feel your sadness and know that you won’t always feel this alone.
You will experience people who will say things that hurt or irritate you. These folks want you to feel better and they don’t always know what to say that will be helpful. Or they ignore your loss and pretend that everything is ok. They want you to be the way you use to be before your loss.
Well, you are different now, you have experienced profound loss and it will take you awhile to feel in balance with life again.
Take your time, be respectful of this loss. Take care of your wounded heart.
It is hard to watch people you love suffer, whether it be from an illness, a bad relationship, financial woes, or addiction issues. It is difficult to see someone struggling in their life, and it is also difficult to stay clear of our own need to help that person. There is also the issue of feeling guilty. If the person we love fails to resolve their issues, and they continue to do poorly, we struggle with the sense that perhaps we should do more for them.
It is important to figure out what you can do for your family member or friend, and what he or she needs to do on their own.
It is crucial to distinguish from helping , from being co-dependent. Co-dependency means you help someone to the point of harming yourself and/or you help someone and enable them to continue their unhealthy behavior.
WHAT IS CO-DEPENDENCY?
Ask yourself these questions to help you figure out if you are really being helpful.
1. When asked to help, can you do it without resentment?
2. Are you jumping in to help before you are ever asked?
3. Are you being asked to do something he or she can really do for themselves?
4. Are you taking care of your own health during this time of your family member’s or friend’s problem?
5. Are you able to delegate or simplify tasks so you have time for your own important relationships?
You might have to work harder than you normally do when a family member or friend needs extra help or support. It helps if you can keep things in perspective and balance.
Remember, you want to be a helpful, loving family member or friend, but you don’t want to risk hurting yourself, risking your own good health in order to keep someone else.
Do you feel butterflies in your stomach? Are you feeling stressed? Do you struggle with fear that seems to be taking over your life? You might be experiencing anxiety.
Anxiety is a feeling, a symptom that lets you know that all is not well with your body, mind and spirit. Its symptoms can feel physical and also at the same time create emotional turmoil.
Physical symptoms can be shallow breathing, racing pulse, trouble catching your breath. When you are feeling this type of anxiety it might feel difficult to calm down, be present and to concentrate on any given task.
Taking time to pay attention to what is going on in your life is crucial to help alleviate some of these symptoms. Breathing helps to feel more grounded, connected and feeling more calm, listening to peaceful music, mediation tapes and participating in regular exercise can also be very helpful.
Another symptom that is not usually talked about in connection with anxiety is boredom. Boredom can disguise what is truly going on and take your mind off of being anxious. It really can be anxiety that is making you feel antsy, roaming aroun looking for something to do.
When people struggle with the big questions of life, such as, what is the meaning of life? Is there a higher power, and does God really exist? Not knowing the answers can create feelings of anxiety. People who are sure of the answers might not experience as many symptoms of anxiety as those who question and don’t feel clear within themselves about the answers.
It can be helpful to slow down in your life, pay attention to what is going in your life and inside of you. If it feels as though you need more than self-introspection, it may be time to get professional help. Talking to a trained professional can be very helpful and useful in figuring out why you are being plagued with these symptoms. Finding a therapist who you can trust can help you figure out what makes sense to you and what direction you might want to go in. All of this can lead to more feelings of peace and less feelings of anxiety.
Halloween is now past which means, before you know it, Thanksgiving, Chanukah and then Christmas will be here. So it is time to talk about losses and how to deal with the holidays that are just around the corner. There are different losses that we all have to deal with over our lifetime. There is death of a family member, a dear friend. The loss of an important relationship, a loss of a job, having health issues, loss of a beloved pet can impact how you feel about the holidays coming. If these losses happened around the holidays or recently, you are having to cope with grief while others that you know are getting ready to have parties, go to parties and get togethers.
What can you do around this time of year with all of the hoopla around you? You can honor your feelings and pay attention to what you need to do. You might want to start some new traditions around this time of year, you could keep it more simple, you might not want to go to all the parties or maybe you do want company but smaller amounts of people around you. Perhaps lighting a special candle for the person who is no longer in your life might feel comforting. Because you know, you are going to miss that person or situation whether you talk about them or your situation or you don’t, it is inside of you.
There is no right or wrong way to how you feel. If you pretend to be all right when you are not, that might feel totally wrong and yet you might feel that you don’t want to bring anyone else down.
If you can share how you are feeling and what you are needing from a few close people, that could be helpful. Local hospice bereavement departments usually have talks and groups about how to deal with the holidays. Look around you, there might by something that could be helpful for you.
Talking, sharing, writing, these are activities that can bring some comfort to your sore heart. Take care.
We are humans who have physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. When one level is off, we do not feel at our best.
So here are my nine tips on to help you feel happier and healthier!
1, Eat lots of fresh vegetables and some fruit, and protein
2. Please cut by back on sugar, it is known to do lots of bad things to our bodies and our mood.
3. Laugh and be delighted by movies, nature, friends, comics, whatever helps you to be in that happy state.
4. Exercise, 3-4 times a week. Choose something that you like or tolerate so you can stick to it. It helps your body and your mood.
5. Get enough sleep. Go to bed if you can, before midnight, that is where the better sleep lives.
6. Have time by yourself, even if it is only an hour a week, to re-charge and also to be in tune with yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings.
7. Social time with family and friends where you share with each other and have not only good connecting time but some fun.
8. Even during hard times, find at least one thing to feel grateful for. You will be surprised how much that helps you feel better.
9. Pray or meditate even for a few minutes a day. You can do this even if you do not have a religion. You can just close your eyes and be peaceful and it will surprise you over time how much better you will feel and think.
We all will have days that are easier and days that try our patience, but if we try to incorporate some of these things as much as possible, they will be helpful to you over the long term.
When you are an adult having your mom and or dad die can feel like a wake up call. Here are some of my thoughts on losing a parent.
1. Whether you had a good relationship or were estranged from your parent, their death will impact you.
2. If you had a good relationship then you will miss them, their presence their support, their essence. If you had a difficult relationship, you may grieve the fact that you will never be able to improve this important relationship and it can hit you and create unexpected grief.
3. The loss of a parent when you are an adult is the least recognized of all the losses. Losing your parent means alot to you but other people may not recognize how hard it is on you.
4. You are now the adult in the family system and you may become more aware of your motality.
5. The person who knew you the longest is now gone and that can feel strange.
6. You might be having some regrets. Maybe you wish you had spent more time together, had phoned more, told them that you loved them and now it is too late. Having regrets is part of the grieving process.
7. Be extra careful, grief can make you goofy and forgetful and your heart may feel achy.
8. Love does not go away when the loved one dies, the love stays within you and it takes time to adjust to that person no longer being there.
9. Be kind to yourself, grieving is hard on the body, heart and mind.
You may need alone time or sometimes you may need to talk to someone. A good friend, family member, a grief counselor or someone from your religious community who will listen is a good choice.
Grief can hit you like a wave in the ocean and over time you will learn how to ride that wave. Take care.
When you experience a death or loss of a relationship, you have emotions welling up, you are forgetful, you cry unexpectedly, you may even feel like you are losing it, what you are experiencing is grief. Grief can feel like a huge wave threatening to knock you down. It feels horrible and dificult, and every day may feel challenging. You start to wonder, when will this crazy ride be over and will I really be able to survive this.
Grieving has no magical middle and ending. What does happen is that it begins over time to be less intense. We are all different in the way we handle our emotional life. Some people shut down, some people ride the roller coaster ride of grief with an outpouring of feelings.
Time is an important factor in helping us to deal with grief. Over and over I have heard clients say that even though they still feel their losses, it is not as intense. They have told me that they are slowly beginning to come back to their lives.
What helps individuals with these intense feelings? Again, it de pends on what kind of person you are. Are you intensely private? Do you do well sharing with people? If you are a very private person, but need to talk to someone, talking to a grief counselor can be helpful. A grief counselor will help to normalize what feels abnormal and be a willing listener to what you need to say. If you learn by interacting with others, a grief group can be very useful. You get to share your story, your pain, and you get to hear how others have dealt with their losses which may help you feel less alone.
If you feel stuck, just know that you don’t have to walk this path completely alone, you are entitled to have professional help. Being supported can help the healing process in unexpected ways.
If you are looking at this page, there is a good chance that you or someone you care about has had a major loss in their life. I want to share with you, some observations about grief and grieving the loss of a loved one. I have over 20 years of experience working with grief and I have learned alot from Hospice and from my clients.
1. There is no way to get around the fact that when a family member or a close friend dies, you are in for a roller coaster ride. Your emotions will be all over the place and you will not know when the grief, the pain will hit you.
2. Your grieving process will not be like anyone else’s. You might feel intense feelings for longer or shorter than another family member or friend.
3. How you grieve is not wrong. Some people need to be quiet, stay home. Some people need to talk and be with others. Some people will fall into pieces from the first minute that they hear the news, some people will start their grieving process a year or so down the road. But come it will.
4. People will try to comfort you by saying things that might help or possibly hurt or annoy you greatly. They want you to be ok but you are not.
5. You need time and you need to be allowed to take whatever time you need to get back on track. You lost someone dear to your heart and it hurts
6. All people no matter how rich and famous, how lucky or unlucky will suffer loss in their life time. It is how life is set up.
7. It is important not to make major changes in your life until you are thinking more clearly.
8. If you have the energy, tell people what you are needing. Have them help you with chores, food and whatever else you may need.
9. After a few weeks or months, people will go back to their lives and not be as available, perhaps then it will be time to get extra support from a group or a grief counselor.
This I know to be true, love and connections are important and when they are disrupted by death, the grieving process is intense.
What does it mean to grow older? How do we all handle the challenges that will face us? All of us human beings will either grow old or we will die at a younger age. Yet, we rarely talk about what this means to us individually and collectively. The body starts to slow down and refuses to move in the way it used to move when we were younger. We don’t have the same energy and ability to keep going as we once did.
There are benefits and challenges to aging.
We know there are benefits to this process, but because the body no longer looks or acts as it once did, we have a difficult time acknowledging this slow down.
In other societies, seniors are given a status that our society fails to give. Our worth is tied up with our productivity. So when we retire, our value goes down. Males seem to suffer more from this change than females. Perhaps this is no longer true. In the past males were the breadwinnders. They have been valued as the ones who earn more money. This has been changing as families are changing and there are more women at the head of their families. But women have also traditionally been more available for friendships and creating communities that are satisfying on an emotional level.
So what do we need to do, in order to not only survive but thrive? I feel it is important to start facing the challenges of aging way before we reach our 80′s. We need to make decisions to be more connected with family, friends, community, a religious or spiritual practice and we need to keep moving our bodies and using our minds. If we are open and hones, and we make plans we we are still healthy, then even though we might have some difficulties awaiting us, we will be more prepared. Hopefully this will increase our enjoyment of our daily lives.
As we age, we are more able to be ourselves, to accept our strengths and weaknesses. Accept what we have accomplished and understand that we might never do all that we had hope to do and that is okay!