Grief Answers

What do I do now?

Hi there, I'm so sorry to hear of your wife's recent passing. It sounds like she was indeed the center of your universe, and the feelings you describe are certainly understandable and shared by many, if not most people who have lost a loved one. You've mentioned that you had been off your medication for a few months before recently starting a new medication, and you're having a hard time differentiating whether your feelings are your own, a response to the new meds, side effects of the new meds, or side effects of being off of the old meds. Those might be questions best directed to the provider that manages your meds. Nevertheless, I can understand how -- regardless of the medication-specifics -- you would have a difficult time sorting out what might be grief-related and what might be medication-related. I can only speak to the "grief-related" aspect of what you're seeking answers to. While there are many relevant factors that could impact the response given to your specific situation and which remain unknown due to this particular Q & A format (as opposed to individual therapy, in which a response would be offered after getting to know you and your belief systems and values a bit more), it may be of help to know that many, if not most people feel very lost when someone close to them dies. Even if we realize that we've built our world around that person, we still may not realize the extent to which their life intersected and intermingled with our own until they're no longer with us. The spaces they once filled in our days are then brought to the cold, clear light of day, and are not the same as they once were, which leaves us feeling quite empty and directionless. It is a painful state to be aware of, and at the same time it is also a very normal (and important) part of the grief process. Over time as you necessarily develop new ways of being in the world, these feelings will shift and fade. This is, of course, not to say that you will no longer notice your wife's absence -- you most certainly will -- the intense feelings you're describing will just start to "soften" a bit as you grow more familiar with the changes brought on by your wife's passing. Sometimes it helps for people going through the grief process to think of it as making a kind of "patchwork quilt." You have memories of your life before your wife, memories made with your wife, and you will have memories built since your wife's passing. All of these are part of the "quilt" of your own life experience, and as you continue to grow and heal over time, these experiences will become "sown together" in a coherent "whole" of understanding -- your life's story, in essence. However, that process takes time, and right now, your loss is still very new; as such, your "way through" is to feel the feelings and process the loss, which necessarily involves "feeling lost." In the awareness that you feel lost, you will develop the ability to find a new way. It's often very helpful to have a social support network that you can call on if you need some companionship or someone to talk to, particularly while you're going through this early stage. In this process, it may also be helpful to consider the possibility that your relationship with your wife may not have ended along with her physical existence, but instead that your relationship with her has changed. You may not be able to experience her presence with your five senses as you once did, but you can still relate to and connect with her spirit. The way in which you might choose to continue to make her spirit a part of your life can be the subject of much creativity and individualism. For example, your ongoing relationship with her might take the form of journaling (written, audio, or video); rituals to honor her and/or your relationship; continuing with some of the activities the two of you shared; and continuing to do the hard work it takes to maintain your sobriety, health and job.  It sounds as though the two of you worked very hard to get you to a healthy, balanced place, and continuing to live your life in the manner you had been while she was sharing the same physical space with you could be a way in which you can continue to share your life with her and honor her memory while also taking care of you. I wish you the very best on your journey of healing and growth.    
(M.A., LMFT)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I function?

Hello Jillian,    Thank you for reaching out and asking your question. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your loved ones. This is such a hard experience for you. You lost two people that are very important to you within a short span of time. There is a lot of grief that you are going through and haven't been able to process fully because just as you were grieving the loss of your dad you lost your son. This leads to compounded grief that can be difficult to process without support.    First, let me clarify that you are not a lost cause. What you are going through right now is normal to experience. The loss of one loved one is tough; losing two people is even harder. I’m sorry that your attempts to get support from local counselors have not been successful. Many therapists are overwhelmed with clients right now, but it still does not make it ok for them to not respond to you. The appropriate thing is for them to let you know they not accepting new clients. Their lack of response has nothing to do with you. I’m glad you reached out and hope that you feel comfortable to speak with a professional through here.    After the loss of a loved one many people experience shock, numbness, denial, anger, sadness, and despair. These feelings are normal to have and are part of the grieving process. Most people experience these feelings in different degrees and in no particular order. The intensity of these feelings dimmish with time, but in your case, they can be tough to process with two losses so close together. Family and friends can be there to support and listen to you, but with time they are ready for you to move on while you may not feel ready. This is where working with a trained professional can help you. It’s important that you speak about what you are thinking and feeling so that you can process your grief and learn skills that can help you cope with some of the intense feelings you are having.  There isn’t a specific timeline of how you process your grief, so it’s important that you get support at your pace. Without support your grief can become problematic and lead to other struggles like depression or anxiety, so I encourage you to reach out to a professional for help.
Answered on 01/20/2022

I recently lost my father and I want to know how do I grieve?

Here are some suggestions for coping with the loss of a parent    Recognize the scope of your loss. Coping with the loss of a parent means learning to live without a person you have known for your whole life who may have played a formative role in your growth and development. Parents have shared in important moments in your life and have been invested in your well-being.  Allow yourself to grieve. After the loss of a parent you may feel angry, upset, numb, depressed and anxious, all of which can be intense and unfamiliar. All of these feelings are appropriate given the scale of the loss. Grief is a uniquely individual experience and different people, even within the same family, will process loss and express emotion in different ways at different times.  Give yourself time. Understand that there are no fixed timelines for the grief process and that patience is important. Acknowledge and embrace emotion without feeling that you need to “get over” your feelings or move on. When it feels comfortable to do so, find the time to reflect on the past and hold onto memories.  Pay attention to your health. Feelings may be magnified on birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other holidays. Think about how you want to honor your parent on these days. Create new rituals or support old traditions with family members and/or friends, and mark or observe the day in ways that can bring comfort to you.  Plan for special days when you may need more support. Feelings may be magnified on birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other holidays. Think about how you want to honor your parent on these days. Create new rituals or support old traditions with family members and/or friends, and mark or observe the day in ways that can bring comfort to you.  Hold on to your memories and begin a new legacy. Though death separates you from a parent physically, your emotional connection continues to exist and grow through memory. Think about your parent’s strengths and the impact that they had on your life and the lives of others. You may wish to honor your parent’s memory by volunteering for cancer organizations or involving yourself in a cause that your parent felt passionately about. Consider creative outlets and keep memories present through mindfulness, writing, drawing, collaging or creating slideshows. Commemorating and honoring your parent—through activities or projects of any size—can help you cope with the grieving process and heal.    Know that your emotions will change. Grief is tied to sadness. But you’ll likely go through a variety of emotions.You may go through these stages of grief:  Denial. You may feel numb or shocked. This is your brain’s way of dealing with the overwhelming news.  Anger. As you come to terms with the loss, your emotions may turn into anger. You may direct it toward other people, the parent who died, or a higher power.  Bargaining. You may feel guilty, and think “if only ...” and “what if ...” This puts off the reality of your loss.  Depression. As the loss sinks in, you feel sad. You may cry and have trouble sleeping and eating.  Acceptance. You’ve accepted the reality. While you’re still upset, you’re moving on with your life.  Most of the time, you won’t go through these stages in order. You may jump from one to the other or experience more than one a time.   
(Ed., S, LPC-S)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to get over an ex boyfriend

Hello and welcome to the platform. Often we engage in relationships with the sole intention of being lifetime partners; however, that becomes a difficult journey. As I usually say, there are three things we must grief in order to live a life worth living: (1) death; (2) divorce; and (3) breakup. Breakups are just difficult to get over as do anything of the above. The other obstacle is that when we delve into a relationship, we enter with all the intention of forming a bond that is unbreakable. Our souls are married through our spirit, emotions, mental, and physical plains. Emotions typically runs really deep as do the spiritual connection we gain through the process. One way of overcoming a breakup is first identifying what was the most prominent emotions you had to deal with during this breakup. For example, if betrayal was the intense emotions, then focusing on the betrayal with all of its aspects (meaning the complete truth of the story) you are on the upward Ed to healing. There are moments when people say time heal all wounds; however, time without purpose is almost meaningless. So, the meaning you want to make in the healing process is to ask what was the truth about the relationship? Was the relationship healthy? Were we able to help each other live on purpose and to our higher self? Were we able to enjoy each other even when we were not at our best self? Were we able to engage each other to express ourselves openly, honestly, and willingly? This is what it looks like to sit with time during this journey. After this is done, it is best to focus on your healing your soul. The way to do so is to examine the mental space. What does that look like? Well, consider what was the negative and limiting beliefs (cognitive appraisal) you made about yourself during and after the breakup. This could be things like, "I am unworthy, insignificant, or no body will ever love me" type of statements. Endulge in the idea of not judging yourself in this moment. This means observing and describing only what is true and factual. Do not engage in the emotional bank for you will quickly enter an unhealthy place.  Hope this helps you in overcoming the breakup.  Respectfully;  
Answered on 01/20/2022

How is the best way to deal with grieve and trust issues from the past.

Thanks so much for sharing this and I am sorry for your loss.  I can only imagine this so I won't say I understand.   I do however understand losing someone very important and influential in life.  You didn't share what your relationship was with your mother or how long it has been, but I am sorry for your loss. As the anniversary of her passing has come and gone, it may not feel any easier to grief this monumental loss. I want to begin by stating…nothing is wrong with how you’re feeling. Grief comes in waves and those waves are not always linear. Grief typically refers to the loss of a loved one through death, and mourning involves the outward expression of that loss. Which one may you be? I’m sure you’ve at least heard of the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). You may not entertain all of the stages, but it might be beneficial to you to be aware of where you currently are. Ask yourself, what has placed you in that stage? A person, a place, an experience, a thought…? How long have you been there? How has that particular stage been difficult and/or strengthening? Based on what you’ve stated, it appears that you may be experiencing prolonged grief as this refers to a reaction to loss that lasts more than one year that can cause close relationships to suffer, disrupting personal beliefs, and resulting in the bereaved experiencing ongoing longing for their deceased loved one. Although there’s not a time-limit with grief/bereavement, it’s important to have a healthy support system. It doesn’t have to be large, as you’ve mentioned having trust issues from the past. I wonder if there are at least 2 - 3 people (friends, acquaintances, family etc) who you feel you could confide in to speak with about how you’ve been dealing. These would be individuals who can be a listening ear. If not, what are some groups you could be apart of? These groups could involve hobbies you like to keep yourself busy or gatherings that promote others to discuss grief in an accepting environment.  Know that grief/mourning is not forever. Just as there’s a such thing as seasons changing, so are our lives ever changing. It may not feel that you can get through this difficult time however that doesn’t mean it has to be today or tomorrow. You’re allowed to take everyday a day at a time without rushing through it. Take it at your own pace. The potential worse thing you could do is isolate from the world around you. This keeps your stationary and without growth or movement. You may not be able to place your trust in others, but i wonder who can lean and depend on you through similar/differing stories and causes. In closing I would encourage you to seek therapy with someone.  If money is tight right now, I encourage you to look at a local college or uninversity.  They generally have counseling departments that are open to the public and they operate on a sliding scale.  Because of this, you might be able to see someone for FREE!  It's certainly worth checking into.  Take care of yourself and I wish you very well!
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Do things get better?

Hello Annie, and thank you for reaching out for help with regards to the distress you are experiencing as a result of the losses you have experienced over the past year. I am truly sorry for you’re loss of your mother, as well as of your long term relationship. Losing anyone, especially a parent, is a truly traumatic and difficult experience. Not to add the loss of a romantic partner with whom you have been in said relationship for such a lengthy period of time. Understandably, your feelings may be overwhelming and too difficult to push through at times, thus resulting in the feeling that you weren’t good enough or any number of other negative thoughts and emotions. You can only do so much, and your body needs more rest now in order to process the losses that you’ve experienced.   There’s no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a parent, but perhaps these strategies can offer some additional tips and ideas of what to do in your mourning and grief as you continue to acknowledge your loss.   1) Know that what you feel is valid. Sadness is common after the loss of a parent, but it’s also normal for other feelings to take over. You may not feel sad, and that’s OK, too. Perhaps you only feel numb, or relieved they’re no longer in pain. Grief opens the gate to a flood of complicated, often conflicting emotions. Your relationship with your parent might have had plenty of challenges, but it still represented an important key to your identity. They created you and became your first anchor in the world. After such a significant loss, it’s only natural to struggle or experience difficulties coming to terms with your distress. You might experience: anger or frustration; guilt, perhaps for not contacting them frequently or not being present for their death; shock and emotional numbness; confusion, disbelief, or a sense of unreality; hopelessness or despair; physical pain; mental health symptoms, including depression or thoughts of suicide; and even relief that they’re no longer in pain. No matter how the loss hits you, remember this: Your feelings are valid, even if they don’t line up with what others think you “should” feel.   2) Let yourself fully experience the loss (no matter how long it takes). People react to grief in different ways, but it’s important to let yourself feel all of your feelings. There’s no single right way to grieve, no set amount of time after which you can automatically expect to feel better, no stages or steps of grief to check off a list. This in itself can be difficult to accept. Denying your feelings may seem like a route toward faster healing. You might also get the message that others expect you to bury your grief and move on before you’ve come to terms with your loss. Remind yourself grief is a difficult process as well as a painful one. Try to not let the opinions of others sway you. Some people work through grief in a short time and move forward with the remnants of their sadness safely tucked away. Others need more time and support, no matter how expected the death was. If your parent passed after a long illness, you may have had more time to prepare, but no amount of preparation makes your grief any less significant when it hits. You might still feel stunned and disbelieving, especially if you held out hope for their recovery to the very end. The unexpected death of a parent still in middle age, on the other hand, may force you to confront your own mortality, a battle that can also complicate grief.   3) Take care of your well-being. Grief often has a significant impact on daily life: Your state of mind might change rapidly, without warning; You might notice sleep problems, more or less of an appetite, irritability, poor concentration, or increased alcohol or substance use; You might find it tough to work, take care of household tasks, or see to your own basic needs; and/or the need to wrap up your parent’s affairs may leave you overwhelmed, particularly if you have to handle this task alone. Some people find comfort in the distraction of work, but try to avoid forcing yourself to return before you feel ready, if possible. People often throw themselves into work, taking on more than they can comfortably handle to avoid scaling the ever-present wall of painful emotions. Finding a balance is key. Some distraction can be healthy, provided you still make time to address your feelings. It might seem difficult, even inconsiderate, to dedicate time to self-care, but prioritizing your health becomes even more important as you recover from your loss. Keep these tips in mind: Get enough sleep. Set aside 7 to 9 hours each night for sleep; Avoid skipping meals. If you don’t feel hungry, choose nutritious snacks and small meals of mood-boosting foods; Hydrate. Drink plenty of water; Keep moving. Stay active to energize yourself and help raise your spirits. Even a daily walk can help; Aim for moderation. If you drink alcohol, try to stay within recommended guidelines. It’s understandable to want to numb your pain, but increased alcohol use can have health consequences; Reset. Rest and recharge with fulfilling hobbies, such as gardening, reading, art, or music; Be mindful. Meditating or keeping a grief journal can help you process emotions; Speak up. Talk to your healthcare provider about any new physical or mental health symptoms. Reach out to friends and other loved ones for support.   4) Share memories. Talking to family members and other loved ones about what your parent meant to you and sharing stories can help keep their memory alive. If you have children, you might tell stories about their grandparent or carry on family traditions that were important in your childhood. It might feel painful at first to reminisce, but you may find that your grief begins to ease as the stories start flowing. If you feel unable to openly talk about your parent for the moment, it can also help to collect photographs of special times or write them a letter expressing your grief about their passing. Not everyone has positive memories of their parents, of course. And people often avoid sharing negative memories about people who’ve passed. If they abused, neglected, or hurt you in any way, you may wonder whether there’s any point to dredging up that old pain. If you’ve never discussed or processed what happened, however, you might find it even harder to heal and move forward after their death. Opening up to a therapist or someone else you trust can help lighten the load.   5) Do something in their memory. Many people find that specific actions can help honor a deceased parent and offer a measure of comfort. You might consider: creating a small home memorial with photos and mementos; planting their favorite tree or flower in your backyard, adopting their pet or plants; continuing work they found meaningful, like volunteering or other community service; and/or donating to their preferred charity or organization.   6) Forgive them. Upon hearing the news that an estranged parent has passed away, you might feel lost, numb, angry, or surprised by your grief. You might even feel cheated of the opportunity to address past trauma or unresolved hurt. Life doesn’t always give us the answers we seek or the solutions we crave. Sometimes you just have to accept inadequate conclusions, however unfinished or painful they feel. Knowing you can no longer address the past might leave you feeling as if you’re doomed to carry that hurt forever. Instead of clutching tight to any lingering bitterness, try viewing this as an opportunity to let go of the past and move forward — for your sake. Some things are truly difficult to forgive, but harboring resentment only harms you, since there’s no one left to receive it. A letter can help you express things previously left unsaid and take the first steps toward processing the painful and complex feelings left after their death. Working with a therapist can also help you begin to heal the pain of the past.   7) Let others comfort you. Friends and loved ones may not know exactly what to say if they haven’t faced the same type of loss, but their presence can still help you feel less alone. It’s normal to need time to mourn privately, but at the same time, completely isolating yourself generally doesn’t help. The companionship and support of those closest to you can help keep you from being overwhelmed by your loss. Beyond providing a supportive presence, friends can also help out with meals, child care, or handling errands. Just be sure to let others know what you need. If you want to talk about your parent, you might ask if they’re able to listen. If you’d like a break from thinking about their death, you might ask them to join you in a distracting activity, whether that’s playing a game, watching a movie, or working on a project around the house.   8) Embrace family relationships. You might notice family relationships begin to change after your parent’s death. Your remaining parent, if still living, may now look to you and your siblings for support. Your siblings, if you have any, are facing the same loss. Their unique relationship with your parent can mean they experience the loss differently than you do, too. Research suggests the death of a parent often negatively affects closeness between adult siblings. It’s not unusual for siblings to experience conflict or slowly drift apart, particularly if you disagreed over your parent’s end-of-life care. Yet family bonds can provide comfort during grief. You’ve experienced the same loss, even though that person meant something different to each of you. If you cherish your family relationships, make an effort to strengthen those bonds and draw closer together. This might mean reaching out more often than in the past or inviting them more regularly to visit and participate in family gatherings. It can also mean listening with empathy when a sibling who had a difficult relationship with your parent now finds it hard to come to terms with their conflicting emotions.   9) Consider grief support groups. Friends and loved ones may offer comfort, but a grief support group can fulfill a different kind of social need by connecting you to others who have experienced similar losses. It’s not uncommon to feel irritated or frustrated when people in your life who haven’t experienced loss attempt to console you or express messages of concern. No matter how kind or well intentioned their words are, they simply don’t understand what you’re going through. In a support group, you can find a shared understanding, along with validation of the emotions you feel unable to express to anyone else.   10) Talk to a therapist. There’s no shame in needing extra support as you begin processing your parent’s death. In fact, many counselors specialize in providing grief support. A therapist can offer validation and guidance as you begin working through the complex emotions that tend to accompany grief. Grief counselors can also teach coping strategies you can use as you begin adjusting to life without your parent. Therapy also offers a safe space to unpack any guilt, anger, resentment, or other lingering emotions around a deceased parent’s toxic or hurtful behavior, and to achieve some level of closure. If you want to forgive your parent but feel unsure how to begin, a therapist can provide compassionate support.   The bottom line is that grief after a parent’s death can drain you and leave you reeling, no matter what kind of relationship you had. Remember, grieving is a normal, healthy process, one that looks different for everyone. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, embracing patience as you take the time you need to work through your loss.   And then, there’s the loss of the relationship on top of the loss of the parent, something clinicians may refer to as a form of “complicated grief.” As for the relationship, letting go and moving on is the worst part of a relationship cycle. It can make you feel a lot of negative emotions including sadness, loneliness, depression, and a lot more. The bottom line is that the end of a relationship can be one’s greatest source of unhappiness, at least for the time being, and even for a prolonged period of time after the fact. Here are some tips to help you to grieve the relationship and move on from it so that you can let go of the past, reconnect with people, and move forward in your future to develop perhaps another relationship with someone that might even be better than the one you had with her.    1. Cry a river if you must.  You are allowed to cry and feel pain. You can even grieve if you need to. A failed relationship is not something you should shove off quickly. Crying gives your mind and body instant relief, as it is your body’s way of releasing stress. It will be harder for you to move on if you don’t let your emotions out. It is important to recognize your feelings and work through them so they don’t become bottled up inside and multiply. Allow yourself to explore and feel the loss of what could have been. Try to identify your triggers when you are going through this process, and work through them. Eventually, you may pick up on some patterns of things that excite your emotions, and then make the appropriate efforts to avoid those triggers. When you have finished crying, take a mental note of how you feel. You will probably find that you feel less emotional. And while you may not feel joy right away, you will likely feel calmer, less anxious, and ready to move forward, despite your problems. Try to hold onto this feeling and allow yourself to cry when you need to.   2. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. You need to understand yourself better, and the best way to do this is to acknowledge your emotions. Acknowledge them by associating them with a feeling, and then try to understand it. Your thoughts and feelings are a part of you, and they are there for a reason. Acknowledging your feelings is more than just thinking “This is how I feel right now.” It’s about allowing yourself to experience and feel the emotion and then considering what course of action you will take to help dissipate that pain. When you acknowledge your feelings in this way, it will help both your mind and body to relax. It will help a lot if you write down your thoughts in a journal so you can acquire a better perspective about what happened.    3. Realize that you can’t do anything about it anymore.  After the breakup or the loss of a loved one, you will feel powerless, but that’s okay. You have to accept that things happened and you can’t do anything anymore to change them. All you can do now is figure out how to be happy again. The more you fight the fact that the relationship is over, the worse you will feel. If you continue to resist the breakup, you will not be able to heal or move on. However, if you can learn to accept the breakup with grace, you will begin to heal and gain emotional strength, which will eventually lead to happiness. If you can accept your circumstances, you will feel empowered to create the life that you want. You need to uncover the beliefs, thoughts, and activities that will help you accept this difficult situation.   4. If you can’t forgive the person yet, at least forgive yourself. It can certainly be hard to forgive, especially if it was the other person’s fault that the relationship ended in the first place. But of course, there will also be times when you feel guilty about not being able to prevent things from happening. In that case, you need to forgive yourself first and understand that things were out of your control. To forgive yourself for any role you may have played in the breakup, or for anything you may have done that ultimately pushed your partner away, it is helpful to keep in mind that we are all doing what we feel is right in any given moment. Whatever you did (or didn’t do) seemed like the best course of action at the time. If you had known that what you were doing would cause pain to you or your partner, you likely wouldn’t have done it. And even if you knew you were causing harm at the time, you were likely unaware of how much you would regret it later. Remember what you learned from your actions, but let go of everything else.   5. When you’re ready, give yourself permission to heal. Everything has to be clear before you start moving on. Ask yourself, “Am I ready to move on?” Unless and until you’ve finally decided that you want to let go and move on, you wouldn’t be able to do so. Once you’re ready, set aside time every day for self-care. Do something you enjoy, like going for a run, doing some gardening, or meditating. This will help you engage in self-care that will be conducive to your healing. Then, surround yourself with people who are supportive of your healing and who make you feel good about your future. Make sure to listen to your intuition and your body, and do the things that feel right to you. Make a conscious effort to move on with your life during this time as well.   6. Learn to accept that this person was important to you, but the past is past. Just because it ended doesn’t mean that it was never real. You can love somebody for a long while, and that love may come to an end, but that is still real and genuine love. You won’t be able to complete the rest of the steps if you don’t get through this one. Your past isn’t meant to be forgotten. In a lot of ways, your past is actually meant to be celebrated. You can look back at what you have learned, how you have grown, how other people have shaped you, and what you have become today, which is all-important. Don’t hold onto it, but simply remember it. Accept what it taught you, and how it can help you in the future. Hold its lessons and positive memories close and allow that to build you into a better person.    7. Stop the blaming and let go of the anger. Most people tend to start off by blaming someone else for their own pain. Your ex did something wrong, or they betrayed you in some way. You want an apology. You want them to recognize their wrongdoing. But the problem with blaming your ex is that it leaves you powerless. When you don’t get the apology or recognition from them that you want, you’re left with anger and no feelings of the resolution, which hurts you more than it hurts the other person. These feelings are legitimate, and you have to allow yourself to feel them. But then you have to move on. Holding on to feelings of anger and resentment is exhausting. They contribute to the physical pain you are feeling. If you keep on feeling these negative emotions, they will have a detrimental effect on your health.    8. Forget the past and focus on the present. Stop torturing yourself with the “what ifs?” and “if only” statements. See the beauty in your immediate surroundings and appreciate what life still has to offer. Practice mindfulness by accepting the current moment without judgment and not living in the past or the future. Focusing on the present moment can also help you cultivate gratitude for the things in your life that are going well. It can help you see that this relationship was a part of you, but it did not define you. You may have wonderful friends, family, a career, hobbies, pets, or other things that truly make you who you are.   9. Look forward to what the future may bring. Everything happens for a reason, and your relationship could have ended because there is a new, happier one waiting for you in the future. The breakup could be a blessing in disguise. Life is preparing you for the years to come. The possibilities for your future are limitless. Take this time for yourself and make a plan for what you want your future to look like. Put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your life and be selfish about how you spend your time, and who you spend it with. This can help you shape a future that holds a lot of new opportunities.   10. Learn from this experience. As this was a major event in your life, make sure that you learn something from it. That way, if the time comes that you experience it again (hopefully not!), you’ll know how to handle things better. Take note of the coping skills that really work for you and help you feel empowered. Find the things in your life that truly bring you happiness or allow you to get away from any negativity that surrounds you. Keep these tips in mind in the future if you find yourself in a similar situation.   11. Open your heart to possible new relationships. Many people decide to close their doors after a significant heartbreak. Don’t be that kind of person. It’s not easy to trust again and fall in love, but you need to try. While you don’t necessarily want to jump right into a new relationship, keep yourself open to the possibility of moving on with someone else. You may not realize that you are fully over your ex until you find yourself happy again with someone new.   12. Find comfort in the company of your family and friends. Your significant other may have left you, but your true friends and family never will. When everything else fails, there’s no other way to feel safe but to go home. Make things simple again by spending your time with the people who have known you the longest. Not only can these people help comfort you, but they will also remind you of who you are and where you came from. They will regrind you and help you start fresh.   13. Take time to love yourself Never underestimate the power of self-love. I am not talking about self-love to the point of narcissism. But we all need to love ourselves before others can love us back. A little bit of self-love and pampering are great ways to both lift the funk of a failed relationship and give you the mental clarity to find yourself a new and better relationship in the ashes of your old relationship.   Getting over someone you love deeply and moving on with your life is not a process you can accomplish overnight. It’s not easy, and never will be. But you need to keep fighting. No matter how difficult it is or how painful it may feel, you need to stand your ground and push yourself to be better. Amidst all the struggles, you are still destined to be the happier human you deserve to be. You just have to figure out how, and you have to be ready. Hopefully, the tips and guidelines I have provided can help you to get over that person you love deeply. If you want to learn how to love yourself more, and how to invest in yourself to be a better person, do whatever it is that feels right for you. Celebrate life even after the most painful heartbreak. I wish you all the best in your journey of healing and moving forward and if there’s anything else I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
(LMHC, MCAP, TIRF)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do you deal with a really bad news ?

Hello! I am glad that you reached out. I am so sorry to hear about your grandfather having cancer. Knowing that a loved one has an illness can be very scary and also difficult to manage the emotions that come along with it. I encourage you to seek professional support so that you are not alone during this difficult time. Therapy can assist you with having a safe place to process your grief and emotions. It can also assist you with having healthy coping strategies to cope during this emotionally difficult time. Therapy can be an effective treatment for a host of mental and emotional problems, including reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. Talking about your thoughts and feelings with a supportive person can often make you feel better. It can be very healing, in and of itself, to voice your worries or talk about something that’s weighing on your mind. And it feels good to be listened to—to know that someone else cares about you and wants to help. While it can be very helpful to talk about your problems to close friends and family members, sometimes you need help that the people around you aren’t able to provide. When you need extra support, an outside perspective, or some expert guidance, talking to a therapist or counselor can help. While the support of friends and family is important, therapy is different. Therapists are professionally-trained listeners who can help you get to the root of your problems, overcome emotional challenges, and make positive changes in your life. You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental health problem to benefit from therapy. Many people in therapy seek help for everyday concerns: relationship problems, job stress, or self-doubt, for example. Others turn to therapy during difficult times, such as a divorce. But in order to reap its benefits, it’s important to choose the right therapist—someone you trust who makes you feel cared for and has the experience to help you make changes for the better in your life. A good therapist helps you become stronger and more self-aware. Finding the right therapist will probably take some time and work, but it’s worth the effort. The connection you have with your therapist is essential. You need someone who you can trust—someone you feel comfortable talking to about difficult subjects and intimate secrets, someone who will be a partner in your recovery. Therapy won’t be effective unless you have this bond, so take some time at the beginning to find the right person. It’s okay to shop around and ask questions when interviewing potential therapists. The good thing about Betterhelp is that you have so many qualified therapist to choose from. As you start to address your fears and concerns you are more likely to reduce negative emotions, increase coping skills and be on a path to a healthier future. I wish you the best on finding professional support during this difficult time!
Answered on 01/20/2022

What should I do?

Hi Ne, Well you're doing a whole lot. Working a full time job, being in school full time, and having a child--and a one year old at that--there is a whole lot going on in your life to begin with. Then, to have to deal with abuse from the child's father and the passing of your own father--that is so much to have to try to cope with while you're also juggling a ton. I can't tell you exactly what you should do. I do believe though that we often can't do our best caring for others, or being the best student we can be, or being the best employee that we can be, without taking care of ourselves. To be honest, with your schedule, unless you have a lot of support present, I doubt you're adequately caring for yourself. So, that would be my first suggestion--prioritize self-care. Taking care of yourself has to be just as important as your school and your work, or even more important. Part of self-care involves setting boundaries. I don't know your situation and I don't want to assume that it would be simple for you to just cut back on school or work--I'd imagine you would have thought of that yourself if it was feasible, but I do encourage you to explore whether there are ways you can find more time to take care of yourself, and if you can't, seeing what limits you may be able to set with all of these life responsibilities. Again, I know that's easier said that done. Also, take a look at what you are doing each day for yourself--are you getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, getting some exercise, finding some time to relax--I know that with a one year old and with your schedule finding time for yourself is hard, but again, this needs to be a priority. You said that you "have been" abused by your child's father, so I can't tell whether this abuse is still occurring or what place he has in your life and child's life right now. The most important thing is safety, and someone who is physically abusive is likely to continue to be and often the violence will escalate. If you are in any danger, there is free help available. I don't know where you live, but you can always find support online, often from survivors of domestic violence.  The part of your message that concerns me the most is that your statement that you want to know how to "forgive and forget". By saying that, it sounds like you not just accepting what has happened is the problem. Given that you have a one year old, I'd imagine that the abuse, if not still occurring, has happened recently. You don't have to forgive, and you certainly don't have to forget, what has happened to still cope with it. You may have experieneced a great deal of trauma, and therapy can be an excellent solution to addressing it. Again, it's not something that you just need to forget about or be OK with--you can work with through it, and by doing so it will lose its power over your life. Similarly, you recently lost your father, and I don't know what your relationship with him was like, but I'm sure that is affecting you as well. There is grief counseling available (you can get counseling on here or even a lot of local hospice facilities will offer grief counseling), and I encourage you to look into that, especially if you have limited healthy support available. So, I'm sorry I can't be more specific with what you should do, but I think the three big things are to prioritize self-care, reach out for support (therapy can be really helpful), and challenge your thinking that it's your job to just get over what has happened to you.  One last thing: be proud of yourself. You're doing a lot, and I'm sure it's hard. It can get better. Try to give yourself credit for what you're doing well. You may not be getting the appreciation you deserve from others, but you can give it to yourself. Just let me know if I can help or if you have any other questions. Nick 
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Hi. Is it possible for you to help me give a sh@$ again?

Thank you for your vulnerability and for having the courage and awareness to recognize you are feeling withdrawn, experiencing anxious and depressive symptoms. It will be helpful to remain present, have a routine and schedule incorporate time for relaxation, exercise and feel a sense of connection in your community. Coping with current events ( Pandemic ) can cause a sense of disconnection from others and from the best version of yourself. It will be helpful to do things that connect you with others (support  Groups, social events, meet-up groups ) This way your need for love, belonging, and esteem are met. As we go through the different stages of life we learn different facets of ourselves in interactions with others and when you are disconnected from relationships it impacts your mood and the pandemic has caused isolation and fear of the unknown. To alleviate those feelings having a routine helps you to feel a sense of control over the things that you have control over and alleviates anxious feelings. When you think to far back you feel the depressive symptoms and thinking too far ahead makes you feel the anxious symptoms. Remaining present and in the moment helps you to make the best of every day and have an attitude of gratitude. Recognizing that your feelings are not always an accurate representation of reality and engaging in activities and behaviors that have helped you cope in the past will illicit the positive emotions you want to experience. Feeling anger and irritability is a secondary emotion remaining vulnerable and prioritizing the underlying need will help you to reach out , connect with other's experience sadness connect with others and your authentic self. Please journal to further explore and make an appt with a psychiatrist if the feelings of sadness, irritability, and mood continue more than two weeks. I appreciate you reaching out asking for help and investing in your self-care. You are at the developmental stage according to Erciskon stages of development of generativity vs stagnation this is why you want to feel a sense of community and belonging and why it is impactful for you when the children in your neighborhood seem to avoid walking in front of your home. You care and want to make a difference in your daily life, neighborhood and community.  
Answered on 01/20/2022

I was curious if you all accept Medicaid?

Your first question, "I was curious if you all accept Medicaid?" is and the answer to that is that I do not believe the platform is eligible to accept Medicaid. There are lists of state specific Medicaid providers that can usually be found with an internet search. I hope that you are able to utilize that resource if possible, to reduce any cost associated with therapy.  To respond to the other piece of your question, is that to say that I am so sorry that you are navigating such big losses. It seems that there is a lot in your life that is adding to significant amounts of uncertainty and I am also sensing high levels of active grieving. That is incredibly hard. The question "What can I do?" seems simple, but the answer is rather complex. When we are actively grieving and also managing feelings of fear, worry and overwhelm, one of the most important things to do is to surround ourselves with supportive people, but it seems that you might have lost several people that you could count on, including your best friend. I am curious about the anxiety that it is giving you, but understand it is difficult to sum up the way your anxiety is manifesting or impacting you and your current level of functioning. One of the treatment modalities I use is called Interpersonal Neurobiology and the father of IPNB is named Dr. Dan Siegel and he has a technique called, "Name it to Tame it." Essentially, our brain will help send calming enzymes when we name the emotion we are struggling with out loud. When we do that and we say it like, "I feel scared" or "I feel overwhelmed or sad, etc." our brain will regulate itself, typically within 90 seconds. This is such a simple technique, I almost always feel silly suggesting it, but there is research to support it being an effective technique to help us grow our capacity to navigate challenging emotions. In addition to this technique, I would also encourage mindfulness practice and journaling. I will say that each of the techniques are evidence based, but in addition to practing psychoeducation techniques, like mentioned above, psychotherapy is incredibly effective to help reduce the experience of emotional and behavioral distress that often accompany loss. I would encourage you to seek therapy to help navigate the many layers of challenges you have expressed in your initial question.    I wish you well on your healing journey... 
(LPC-S, RPT-S)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What is the best way to heal?

Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" kind of answer, The biggest thing for you may be the unnecessary feelings of guily, shame, etc that you continue to carry around. The unprocessessed grief you continue to hold makes everything in your life heavier to carry and harder to deal with. How much do you truly love yourself as you are? Do you gravitate towards narcississtic men because you don't feel as if you deserve better? Self-love and letting go is where you'll definitely need to start. <3   DBT Therapy may be the best fit for you. It teaches mindfulness and being in the here and now. You can't live in the past because no matter how much you want to change it, none of us are time travelers. It is what it is. The only thing you can do is live in the present and make tomorrow better. We also need to process your feelings. Do you feel guilty feeling the way you feel? Do you feel like everyone expects you to be a certain way? You mention "shutting down". I would like to know more on that because maybe, its not as bad as you think. Sure, days on end, not leaving the house or participating in daily living skills is problematic. But getting overwhelmed and taking time for yourself to process chaos around you and your feelings and emotions is totally fine. We all need time for ourselves and taking time to process is better than exploding. But, I would definitely need more information on that.  I would like to know more about your past that caused the abandonment issues and more into what happens for you with that. Also, I would like to discuss your "communication problems". For that one, you may be the one that ends up being the effective communicator but you may be communicating with people that don't communicate well back.  I worry mainly for you that you put all this on yourself due to past issues and that you take blame for it all when in reality, its the environment around you.    
(LICSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

I can’t seem to get passed my last relationship and I want to understand why

Thank you for your question. I can understand how difficult the grief process must be for you. When a break-up occurs, you go through the five stages of grief much like losing a person to death. These include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is not a linear process, and you may think you are making progress in moving forward only to regress to an earlier stage in the process. It is important to not judge yourself for how long the process takes, as there is no time-frame that can be placed upon grief and you have enough to process around the grief of the relationship that judging how you should feel emotionally at this stage in the process adds more complexity to moving through the process. Working through grief requires reflection. Avoidance of processing the feelings will prolong the grief process as well. The only way to move through grief is to let go of any false hope. For example, if you have maintained any form of contact or are holding onto the possibility that it will work out in the future will prolong the grief process. Also, if you move too quickly into another relationship, that will prolong the grief process because you are not taking the time to fully process your feelings about the loss and your desire to move on conflicts with your actual ability to move forward. Without knowing the specifics related to the ending of the relationship, I want to give you some tips that might help you through the process. I would encourage you to consider what your thoughts are around the end of the relationship. Our thoughts have a strong impact on our emotions. For example, if you question why you stayed in the relationship so long when you look back now on the relationship and the trauma caused by it, you may have increased regret and self-blame. It is important for you to realize that with new information, we can look back and make sense of a situation in a way we could not when we are living through the experience. I encourage you to trust that you did what you thought was best at the time, even though you might do something different now. Also, if you ponder why you were treated as you were as you mention possible trauma associated with the relationship, remember that others treat others often as they treat themselves, and it is important to detach your sense of worth from how you were treated.  It is important you do not internalize that you deserve to be treated as you were. When we have a lower self-concept, we can be more likely to internalize feedback from others and tolerate more than we should in regards to how we are treated. The final specific piece of feedback along these lines is to try to stay connected to why you are better off now than you were while in the relationship. If we reflect too much on what we are missing in no longer being in the relationship, we will live in regret and have greater difficulty moving forward. Lastly, the way in which you and your partner parted ways at the end of the relationship can impact how easy it is to move forward. If there was not satisfactory closure, you may have a hard time making sense of what happened and moving forward. You may never obtain closure from  your partner, but I encourage you to consider what closure may have been helpful in assisting you in moving forward. Try to give yourself the closure you need to move forward. Consider what lessons you learned from the relationship that will strengthen your ability to develop a healthy relationship in the future. When we see the growth that can come from the ending of the relationship, we no longer live in regret and recognize that the relationship was not a waste of time and continues to provide value and insight as you move forward in future relationships. As I said previously, these are some general tips without knowing specifics of your situation. If you are not doing so already, I encourage you to consider pursuing therapy to continue to work through your concerns in moving through the grief process, as outside input can be valuable in normalizing your experience and receiving guidance in moving forward. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

I don't see how women will accept me any longer.

Hi, I can understand your concern and questions. When faced with medical issues and changes in our bodies, it can be very frightening because it can be difficult to seperate "us" or who we are from our physical bodies. I'm glad that you're not sick and this is benign. While still serious, taking the time to fully appreciate a non-cancer diagnosis is important as well. I would suggest a couple of things. First, write down all of your questions as they come into your mind. Be sure to take the list of questions with you when you see the surgeon. The doctor will be sharing information with you, there may be scheduling needs for follow up visits, and possible insurance verifications. There will be so much information presented TO YOU.  It is just as, if not more important, to have your questions answered at this time so you feel confident ahead of the procedure.   While you feel broken about not being able to produce ejaculate, this may not be the case. You're making an assumption that because you cannot produce sperm that makes you less of a man. Were you planning/hoping to have children? If so, be sure to discuss with your doctor how to go about preseving your sperm for future use.  If you were not planning on having children, being with a partner who is not able to produce ejaculate could be a bonus. There are millions of men who cannot produce ejaculate who are in healthy relationships and who are considered just as attractive to their partners and any other. Being able to ejaculate is not what makes you a man~ it's a byproduct of being a man. What makes you attractive is how you behave, your intelligence, humor, all of the things that make up your personality.  As you've just started seeing a woman and you like her, be honest with her. Explain that you're dealing with a medical issue and will be unavailalbe for a while. I'm sure you don't want to ghost her or leave her with the wrong impression. However, you don't have to share personal details at this point either. Right now, for very valid reasons, you're focused on what you've lost. Whenever possible, focus on what you have; you're not sick, you're not homeless, you have access to medical care, etc. Try to at least once a day, focus or notice something you're grateful for.  I wish you the very best in the procedure and along this journey. Take care, Susie  
(MS, LPC, CCTP)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I cope with losing my mom

Hello, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How do I cope with losing my mom? I am so glad you reached out on here for some support and guidance with what you are struggling with right now.   Losing a parent can be so painful and I am sorry you are hurting and feeling all alone.   I want to encourage you to reach out to a grief counselor, someone who can guide your though the griefing process and teach you some effective coping skills so that you can push through these painful times.   I also think that a counselor would be able to help you figure out what you might be able to do to build up your support group.  Maybe to explore if there are any opportunities for you to form or reform connections with your siblings. I will share some information about the griefing process as well as some self-help tools that may also be of some benefit.   How To Deal with Grief After Losing Someone You Love We all know that death is a part of life, but that doesn't make it any easier when a loved one passes away. In these fragile parts of our lives, it can be difficult to figure out how to deal with our feelings. There are numerous factors that will determine the severity of sadness and grief that a person will feel. For example, the emotions you feel following losing a parent will most likely be more severe than the ones you will feel when losing a friend or family member who was not as close to you. Grief is about the relationship. What are the Stages of Grief? According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, there are 5 main stages of grief, although not all people experience all stages of grief. There is no "correct" order to the stages and many people even experience feelings and thoughts related to each phase at the same time. These stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When we first learn of the loss of a loved one, it is common to be in denial. This doesn't necessarily mean that you will refuse to believe of the death, but rather have thoughts that this can't be true. You may find haven within your own mind and choose to pretend your loved one is on an extended vacation or that it was all just a bad dream. This is typically a brief reaction, although thoughts that they cannot actually be gone could be thoughts you have from time to time over a long period. Another common grief reaction is anger. Once you are no longer able to ignore the situation, you will want someone to blame. If the passing was due to a medical condition, you might blame the doctors in charge of caring for them. In a car accident, you may blame the other driver, even if your loved one was the party at fault. It is common to feel anger at the person who is gone for different reasons. It is even common to be angry with yourself. Another phase of anger is bargaining. This is an example of the "if onlys" that you might consider. If only you had stayed a little longer at Christmas or spoken to your loved one more on the phone. When you are considering all the "what ifs", you are bargaining or taking on more than your fair share of responsibility for what happened. The truth of the matter is, your brain is looking for relief from the pain you are experiencing. Depression is the grief reaction that we probably associate the most with loss. There are two main forms of depression that are commonly seen as a result of grief. It is a deep sadness that can last for a long period of time. It is natural to feel empty after a deep loss, and it is important to let others know about how you are doing. The final stage of grief is acceptance. Acceptance is not about forgetting; it is about letting go of all the pain associated with loss. When you feel acceptance, you are able to think about the loved one who is no longer with you and experience positive emotions related to them as well. You may still feel sad and miss the person from time to time, but you are also able to look to the future with hope. Let Yourself Feel All too often, we suffer for much longer than needed because we ignore our emotions during the bereavement process. This could be because it seems that it would be too difficult to deal with the emotions we are feeling, or it could be because we don't have enough positive support or other ways to cope with grief. If you make it your goal and mission to learn how to get over grief that you feel, you will be able to get fully in touch with your emotions so that you can work through them in a healthy manner. We are supposed to have feelings in response to grief, and it is important to normalize them. This will not be an easy or quick feat but remind yourself that all good things take time. You deserve to live a life full of happiness and peace. Don't let the grief that you carry around take that away from you. Seek out Support Grief is possibly one of the most difficult experiences that we must go through in our lives, but we haven't been great at supporting one another through the grief process as a whole. It's important to find the right kind of help. Your first and most apparent option for this would be to seek out the help of friends or family members. It is likely that they are already aware of your situation and are more than willing to help you through this tough time. Reach out to them in your time of need and accept help when it is offered. Even though your mind might trick you into thinking that this causes you to be a burden, don't listen to it. We all go through tough times and the people around us want to help hold us up. Your friends and family will want to be there for you, and you would be doing yourself an extreme disservice if you choose not to take advantage of that. If you are uncomfortable including people close to you in your healing process, you could do a quick google search with the query "grief support groups near me" or "grief counseling near me". These are two wonderful options that you can use to help you on your journey to learn how to deal with grief. A  grief counselor is someone that is specially trained to help people that are in the same situation as you are in now. These are individuals who have chosen to dedicate their lives to the job and are more than happy to help you through this. Put your trust in them and trust the process as well. You will thank yourself later! Keep a Journal Many people find it very healing and therapeutic to keep a grief journal. This can be a spiral or an online blog that you keep to jot down anything you want. Even though this will likely be in the same form as a diary, it does not have to keep that shape. You can use your journal to keep logs of how you are feeling, to commemorate memories that you have of the person you lost, or to write letters to this person. Try to Avoid Major Changes In the wake of the loss of your loved one, it is normal to feel like your life has been completely turned on its head. The life that you will live from there on out will be vastly different than the one you had before and that will require some adjusting to. Major life changes such as starting a new job or moving to a new location might seem like just the thing to do, but it can be detrimental to your healing process. You want to make sure you don't take for granted the comfort that you feel from the things that stay constant in your life. The reason it is so important to shy away from major changes like these is that it is imperative that you give yourself plenty of brain space to adapt to your new way of living. Even the slightest change in your life can make it all seem much too overwhelming, which will only delay you on your journey to learning how to deal with grief. You will be able to make other changes after you have processed your grief. Accept that Life is for the Living Although we can all agree that life would be much more pleasant without grief, the truth is that death is a part of life. This is not the first or last time that you will lose someone you love. You don't need to worry about ever forgetting about this important person in your life that you loved. Living the best life you can, though, demands that you don't let your grief take your life away. Your loved one would not want you to stay stuck forever, so try to let go of any guilt that you have when you find yourself enjoying life. We are meant to feel all the emotions, the good, the bad, the painful.   There is hope.  Recovery is possible!   You are not alone in this process, there is help for you. I wish you much hope!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

Need advise

Hi! First let me say that it's couragous of you to write in and share such personal and important information about yourself and what you are going through right now.  I'm so sorry for the death of your mother....that had to be so hard...no matter how it happened or how long ago.... it's probably still very, very difficult I imagine.   I don't know what else is happening in your life right now or what has happened in your past; however from what you have told me regarding the death of your mother , I can say that grief and loss can effect us quite deeply and significantly and result in feelings of depression and deep sadness and other emotions. It can also result in a lack of desire to do what you might have normally done day-to-day before she died as well as a lack of motivation to socialize or really do much of anything.  It can effect sleep and all aspects of our lives.... so see if you can be patient with yourself as you go through the grieving process.  It's can be extremely difficult and sad! The grieving process takes time and so being patient and kind to yourself is really important.  Treating yourself with compassion and doing things that feel soothing and comforting can be helpful as can journaling and really going one step at a time through it all.   You said you don't want to talk to anyone and I am not sure if that meant you don't want to talk to a therapist or if that meant anyone at all.  Sometimes when us humans are in pain we want to hide away from the world and not do anything or speak to anyone...and....that is OK for a time.....sometimes we need that...and if it continues for a long time it can then be very isolating and not really self nurturing or healing....... so it might be good for you to also reach out to people you trust or people who know what you might be going through or others who are also missing and grieving your mother so that you can talk with them or just be with them. Reaching out for therapy can be extremely helpful too as the therapist can support you through it all and help you find ways to support your grieving and yourself and once again  find that "normal" you are wanting back. I hope this helps you in some way and again...I am so sorry for the loss of your Mother.  Christina Polizzo, MSW, LCSW.  
(MSW, LCSW, Polizzo)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I deal with the physical fatigue response to grief?

Hello Shannon, I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. Grief is so complicated and when we mix in other stressors, it becomes even more difficult. The first thing to address might be to identify and/or learn some coping skills for the amount of stress that you are under. When our stress gets to a level that our brain and body deem too much, it then relies on some sort of coping mechanism, and it sounds like your coping mechanism is to 'shut down'. Shutting down is your body's way of protecting yourself from further emotional pain. It is similiar to when we encounter severe physical pain and we go into shock (a period where we feel nothing). Our body can be amazing in that way. However, when you are trying to pick up the pieces after a loss and increase your work load, that mechanism is not going to be very helpful. There are a few things you may be able to try to reduce your stress and deal with your loss.  Find local support groups (often times local churches run grief and loss groups) Begin therapy (which will provide a safe space for you to share your thoughts and feelings without the judgement that the outside world can often have) Take moments throughout the day for self care (these don't have to be anything major, especially for someone that has a jam packed schedule.) Take 5 minutes to sit with your eyes closed and take deep breaths. Walk a lap around your office building. Message a friend on your lunch break. Take moments to remember a really happy memory with your husband. Don't feel pressured to talk to coworkers or peers about what is going on for you. While it's nice to have people check in, sometimes it becomes more of a stressor to answer than it really helping you. You can always say, I appreciate you asking but I'd prefer not to talk about it right now.  Accept tangible help if you need it (accept a meal, a donation, a coffee from a friend). Don't feel like you need to be strong and independent every moment of your life.  Look into a financial educator - someone that can help you look over the finances and help direct you to get out of debt, make ends meet, set financial goals. You don't have to be a millionaire to use a financial advisor. They are most helpful for people that don't have a lot of money but are looking for help to become financially stable. This is a great way to set financial goals.  Ask your doctor for help (if you feel you need to go this route) to help short term with depression, anxiety or sleep. Many doctors will prescribe short term medications to help you get through a difficult time. Sleep is super important because if you aren't sleeping, all other aspects of your life with suffer.  These are just a few ideas on where to start. I hope you find them helpful and again, so sorry to hear about your loss. Wishing you the best.   
(LCSW, CCTP)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What strategy can you recommend for grief related to fertility?

Thank you so much for reaching out to us. I think you had explained your situation perfectly when you talked about "loss of expectations". This is not something many people understand unless they are in certain circumstances. One thing I want to assure you is that it is perfectly appropriate to have feelings of "grief and loss". Remember. Although there are 5 stages to grief and loss (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance) There is no set time frame for moving through these stages, there is no set pattern for progressing through these stages and, even though you may, at some time, feel you are done grieving, there may be triggers that lead you back to grief. I am not trying to paint a "bleak" picture, but I want you know that however you need to work through this, is is ok. There are no expectations. Heal in whatever what you need to heal.    When you feel the time is right, you may want to explore other options, in regards to having children in your home. If your heart has the desire to raise and love children, there are ways to make this ocurr,    The most important thing, for you, right now is support. What does your support system look like? Do you have friends or family that you can reach out to if needed? There are also support groups, on-line, and in person that are available and that can be beneficial in order to assist you with processesing this diagnosis. Do you journal? This is also a wonderful tool to help with processing.    In regards, to your depression, I am wondering if this has affected your eating or sleeping patters, or if this has led to isolation. It is important to try to assure that you are obtaining an adquate amount of sleep, that you are eating healthy and are taking time for self-care. I am wondering if you have talked, to your physician, regading your depression? He may have options, regarding temporary medications or counseling. If you need assistance, with locating a physician, or counselor, you can contact your insurance company customer service representative. The phone number can be located on the back of your insurance card. The customer service representative can provide you with in-network providers that are accepting new patients. There are also on-line phyisican or counselor options if you are more comfortable with an on-line format.    I hope this information helps. If you need anything, in the future, absolutely feel free to reach out to us again!  I wish you the best of luck in all that is to come. Alicia
(LCSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How can I cope with a death of a sibling.

Hi Hope,  Thank you for your question. Grief is never easy. It is not a narrow or linear process, and there is not one way specifically to grieve. I think the most important thing for you to do is to be gentle on yourself and not judge yourself for any of the feelings that are arising. Allow yourself to experience your emotions and do not evaluate if those emotions are warranted or valid, as they are just in the fact that they exist.  Often when someone is grieving, they need to know they are not alone, as grief is often about feelings of disconnection. You might consider joining a grief support group, so you feel connected to those who are dealing with similar struggles. There is likely a grief support group in your area, as they are fairly common. Others can often inadvertently invalidate our experiences, so being amongst other poeple with similar struggles, will ensure a safe place to process your feelings. Also, recognize when you are feeling lonely since that is a frequent feeling when grief occurs. Find ways to enhance and increase connections in and outside of the grief support group as well.  The other piece I would encourae you to consider is if there is any blame you have for the loss or thoughts about how you could have been more present/prevented this loss. I think we often want to gain control through blame after a loss occurs, but it is important for you to not take responsibility for the loss, as it was not predictable that it would have occurred and you would not have been able to prevent it from happening. I would encourage you to consider how you can honor their memory. You can begin to think about their positive memories. Perhaps you want to write a letter to each of them sharing your feelings to obtain closure regarding the feelings you are experiencing regarding their loss. Obviously, they would not receive the letters, but it would help you connect to your feelings and feel more connected to their spirit. Consider how their spirit lives on and how you want to continue to honor their spirit. Turn your thoughts into a celebration of life verses a mourning of a loss. This will help you look back with fondness as you process your feelings. Consider how the family members also had a quality life while they were alive to reduce regret or resentment over them potentially being too young to die. This is very general and broad feedback. In order to get specific feedback for what is upsetting you and how to work through the grief, I recommend therapy. I can understand how you would not want to speak to family about it, as they would potentially struggle to be an objective source of support, although perhaps speaking to them would be helpful in that you are all connected to a sharing of a bond with the deceased. Either way, seeking therapy can be helpful to receive support as you navigate the grief process with an objective party. I am sorry for your loss, and you have done the right thing by reaching out to receive support during this trying time.   
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to manage self-destructive behaviour?

I'm so sorry you are experiencing such a difficult time in your life.  I am Christina Gilkey, a licensed clinical social worker and I hope the information I am about to share will be helpful to you.  After a breakup (which is a "loss") it is very normal to go through a grieving process and to feel lost.  Your life as you knew it is not one you currently recognize because a major component is now missing.  I would imagine many of your future plans and goals had your former partner as a central figure within the structure of those visions.  Now that vision has changed.  The thing we hope to get you focused on is the recovery process.  This is where you begin to heal and recognize your plans and goals are still your plans and goals.  They look different without your ex-partner but the foundation is still there.  Why are you going to school?  Why was school relevant to you?  Are those reasons still foundationally solid to helping you accomplish your mission in life?  Are you still planning the same career path?  I ask you these things to help you refocus on the fact that you're able to continue moving forward.  You just took a detour but you will still arrive at your destination.   In terms of drinking alcohol more, that is a normal coping mechanism of choice for dulling pain after the loss of an important relationship.  I can think of at least 50 songs that have been written about drinking away our sorrows after a breakup. The problem is, drinking alcohol is not a healthy coping mechanism. Through the process of grief, we actually experience a period of sadness/depression.  Alcohol is chemically a depressant so it only makes our sadness feel worse.  When we wake up the next day sober (and sometimes hungover), the grief is still there.  I want to encourage you to find a healthier coping mechanism.  Look for one that helps take away the immediate pain and also lessens the pain each day so we can begin to heal.  Some options might be turning on some music & dancing (happy music only :-)), doing your schoolwork at a coffee shop, with a study group or in the library,  learning a new hobby (dance class, gardening, baking, bike riding, rock climbing, etc.).  Not only can you find a new hobby but you then you can also seek out likeminded people who also participate in the hobby through group chats, IG accounts or FB.  Socialization with active people can be very helpful in our healing process and helping to not feel so alone.  Lastly, you mentioned you are sleeping with someone to reduce the feeling of being alone. The first encouragement I have is to make sure you are using protection to ensure you are staying safe from STD's and also to ensure you don't get caught up in an unwanted pregancy during this already painful & stressful time. Does the person make you feel wanted at times other than when you are sleeping together?  Does the person make you laugh, smile?  Are you  spending time together other than just having sex? OR Is the person part of the explanation for drinking more and not focusing on school? Weigh the pros and cons of giving of your time, effort, energy and body to someone who isn't supporting your healing or growth.  If you take time to focus on the other suggestions, you will have less time to seek solace in this person and more time for healing and growing.  Take some time to sit with feeling alone, determine what benefits there are to alone time.  Who knows, you might find out you enjoy it. :-)  Allow yourself some grace for going through the grief process, it's hard to lose someone we love.  I truly hope my response to your question has been helpful and if you try the suggestions and still find yourself engaging in unhealthy behaviors, please reach out to a counselor to get more personalized support.  
(MSSW, MSCFT, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I accept the idea that my loved ones might die

I'm very sorry for your loss - I want to first talk about your response to your Grandmother's death and your mother's response through what is called the 'Stages of Grief'.  This is where I strongly tell my patients to be very gentle and patient with themselves and give themselves time, plenty of time, to heal.  Depending on the model you follow, there are several stages of grief.  For this response, we will say that there are 5 stages, some will expand and say there are 7.  I also want to say that these can be used for any type of loss - loss of a loved one, a pet, a separation, a divorce, etc.   So where someone feels that it applies to them, it is appropriate.  One might lose a job that they have been in for 20 years or retire, they might go through the Stages of Grief.   The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; these stages were developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.   Originally, the idea would be the patient would go through these in the order that is listed and in a certain time frame - throw that thought out the window.  More research has shown that stages are individual to each person and each circumstance.  There is a trend that you will complete an initial loop in 6 months, but then cycle back around again in 18 months.  Again, this is an "average" and not to say it happens exactly for each person, just to be used as a guide.   Denial is a defense mechanism - it is our bodies and brains way of protecting us from the flood of emotion.  This is when you might hear someone make comments such as, "No, this is not true!!".  This stage allows us to absorb  information slowly and protect ourselves.   Anger helps us feel less vulnerable.  This is where one will start to feel isolated - in most cultures we start to increase the number of family and friends to surround the one who is grieving.  Bargaining is the attempt to alleviate the pain of the loss or pending loss.  This is a natural occurrence that happens - this is when someone will start making comments, "God, if you let this person live, I will become a better person." Or, "Please bring this back and take me."  During this stage comes the feeling of acceptance and helplessness.  Some start to seek out help from a higher power or focus on their own faults.   Depression is the feeling of loss.  You might start to see the decrease of anxiety and panic, but you are starting to see withdrawing behaviors (not wanting to be around family or friends for support).   This is where most Therapists start seeing patients - patients have felt "stuck" in this stage.  This is the stage that most people have had to return to work, care for children, return to school and they have noticed a decrease in performance or expectations.   Acceptance is the final stage, but it doesn't mean that you can not cycle back to other stages.  Acceptance means we understand the loss and no longer resisting the reality.  The use of defense mechanisms like denial, is no longer protecting ourselves.   As stated, sometimes people can cycle back around into different stages for various reasons.   In regards to starting to think about the loss of your parents or loved ones in the future, this is a natural defense mechanism.  You are attempting to protect yourself from grief and loss after witnessing what your own mother and yourself went through after losing your grandmother, unfortunately it is not possible.  You will have the appropriate response to loss and it is healthy.  I'm sure it is hard to watch your mother mourn the loss of her mother, but I'm sure she is thankful that she has your there and present.  Just being in the same room with someone is very helpful.  There are no perfect words to say.   I hope this was helpful.   Karen Drake, LISW-S
(LISW-S)
Answered on 01/20/2022