Grief Answers

How do I manage my anger / aggression?

I want to start out by saying that I am very sorry for your loss. I can see two parts to your statement and question, so I would like to help you by addressing both. The anger towards the world that you are experiencing could definitely be a response to the loss that you experienced because anger is a part of the grief and loss cycle. There could also be many other things contributing to the anger and sometimes it is helpful to determine the primary emotion that is causing that anger. Typically, anger is caused by emotions that trigger the anger, such as feeling depression, hurt, or anxiety because of a loss, for example. Identifying the triggers can also help by learning and knowing how to keep yourself calm once triggered. Once you understand where you are (even if it is years later) in the grief and loss cycle, you can begin to process that loss, which in turn, will help you heal from the loss. Wondering if you are next is also a normal thought process after experiencing loss. It is normal to think about death in general, whether it be your death or anyone else's, so I want to validate that for you. While nobody can tell you when it is that "time" because that is outside of everyone's control, there are a lot of things that are within your control that you can do to help yourself (and your son) stay healthy and be on top of both of your medical status. Those are the things that are important to focus on and spend energy on because you can do those things on your own and have control over it when everything else feels like it is out of your control. When having thoughts about your own death or timeframe on this planet, it can be helpful to challenge those anxious thoughts by asking yourself if there is evidence that shows they are true. While you may feel like there is evidence because of your past experience with loss at an early age, it could be helpful to ask yourself "What would friends or family think of this?" Processing those intrusive or distressing thoughts out loud can make a huge difference and help change them into something more positive if that is what you want to do. I really hope this helps answer your question!
Answered on 02/03/2023

How can one deal with the loss of multiple close relatives.

Thank you for reaching out for support and for submitting your question. I am sorry you are having a difficult time and am very sorry for the losses you have endured. Losing loved ones can be so hard and the resultant grief often feels overwhelming. Anyone who has experienced multiple losses of close loved ones face an increased risk and probability of experiencing complicated and prolonged grief. Such individuals may encounter depression, post traumatic stress, and/or other mental health distresses. There is also a heightened chance for unhealthy coping behaviors to develop including the misuse of substances such as drugs or alcohol. For some people the losses become too much and the sorrow feels too great. With all the loss you have faced, it is absolutely normally to feel almost as if you are paralyzed by it all. It truly is a lot to bear. It can lead you to feeling exhausted, overburdened, hopeless, and overwhelmingly devastated. You have found yourself in what is really an abnormally and unusually challenging situation. It can be challenging enough to simply deal with a singular loss. But with grief overload we suddenly find ourselves in a chaotic state in which we feel like it is a struggle to simply survive. Before you are able to fully mourn one loss, another one is dropped upon you. The grief from one event becomes somewhat delayed and can emerge unexpectedly later. All this grief can leave you feeling as if you just do not know where to even begin in order to achieve any sort of healing. It can rattle your confidence. The entire world around you suddenly feels so much more uncertain. Anxiety can increase. And as things continue to compound you find there is so much to contend with socially, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. It can feel lonely and isolating. While other people might be able to understand a single loss, they are not able to relate to the complexity you find yourself in – which makes things simply more difficult and distressing for you.You are in the midst of what is too much loss in a very brief period of time. And while your mom is still present and with you, the dynamic which has resulted is yet another sort of loss and another challenge with which you are forced to contend. It is as if everywhere you turn there is loss and change.   Grief is something which does not really have an end date as the love which is connected to the grief will never end. You will not forget but you can grow to become reconciled to the losses. There is hope and life can become good again. You will grow into a new reality. The feelings of loss won’t ever entirely leave but they will soften over time. Your grief will be unique. It will not follow any guidelines or rules. It won’t look like anyone else’s grief. Do not try to compare your grief with that of others and do not concern yourself with what the timeline for grief will be. You will grieve in your own way and it will all be at your own pace. Loss can bring so many differing emotions. We typically expect sadness. Yet there may also be waves of anger, guilt, confusion, disorganization, relief, and fear. The feelings might follow one another. One or more might be present at the same time. All are normal and all are okay. It is also normal to feel physically fatigued and low on energy. You brain could sometimes feel a bit foggy and it might at times be a struggle to concentrate. You are in survival mode. And it is natural for all of this to occur. Your mind and body are letting you know that you need some extra rest. Pay attention to the signals being sent. Try to lighten your schedule as needed and get some time to nurture yourself a bit more. Be mindful that ignoring grief will not make it go away. Expressing it and talking about it will help you move forward through and beyond it. Speak from your head as well as your heart. Let yourself feel the feelings. And seek out support. Seek people who will be understand and encouraging. People who will listen, who will allow you to feel all the feelings both happy and sad, both angry and confused. It can be challenging to ask for help sometimes, but it is important to not remain isolated as you go through all this. Surround yourself with caring relatives and supportive friends. Also, consider seeking out a support group. There are ones both in-person as well as online. Try one or the other, or even both. It will be another layer of help. And you will be able to open up about as much or as little as you prefer. Talking through the pain will not make it go away. But it is helpful to let things out. Another thing which you might want to carefully consider is reaching out and scheduling a time to speak with a therapist. It might help more than you think it could. A therapist can be there to stand beside you as you walk through this. They will offer support and help you move forward. You do not have to go through this alone.
Answered on 02/02/2023

How can I get past the effect of my dad passing?

Hi Kt, I am so sorry to read that your dad passed in November, this I can see from what you write is very raw for you, it has not been very long and I imagine each day feels like such a challenge. You also suspect that your hasband is cheating on you, which is probably adding to the deep sadness and confusion you may be experiencing? Your questioning how you may get passed the effect your dads passing is having on you? Many may tell you that time is a healer - but I have found over the years of working with many clients that actually time infact does not heal our pain this remains the same but what does happen is your life 'will' grow bigger around the grief you feel. This has helped many of my clients understand how we may still live a happy and fullfilled life without our dear ones with us, so grieving a loss doesn't get easier or smaller but our lives grow bigger and become fuller around the grief. But of course there is a process we need to do to help us through the loss and pain we feel when we lose someone so dear.  I don't want it to sound so clinical because it really isn't easy to do. But I hope by explaining how we grieve loss, will perhaps give you reassurance that what you are feeling and experiencing is what happens and help you to heal your pain. I Imagine you feel like there is a huge hole in your world which was, until recently, filled with someone you loved, cherished, trusted, admired and as you say, was your rock! You write you moved closer to your dad, I hope you were able to spend precious time together enjoying each others company? I wonder if the grieving you are experiencing is being made much harder for you because of the suspicions you have regarding your husband and I guess maybe you are feeling quite alone in your pain?   There are 5 stages we need to go through when experiencing grief, there is no order to how we do each stage and it may be that we revisit some to, but let me help you have better understanding of each stage so-as you may acknowledge them as you go through them. Denial- this may show itself as shock, maybe total disbelief, forgetting when you wake that they have passed. Anger- you have irrational thoughts of why your loved one passed, you may experience jealousy or resentment towards others who still have their loved ones. Bargaining- this may be praying to make the situation change, talking in unrealistic ways of how you could change what has happened 'If only' often people are desperate to stop the pain. Depression- Feeling helpless, deep sadness, you may become withdrawn, and avoid situations, gatherings and/or work, you may feel you want to hide away.  Acceptance- This will come and you will find peace and no longer resent the reality that is. I hope you find your peace Kt. I also hope you find your way through the doubts and suspicions you are having about your husband. Please know we are here to help by offering support, a space to express how you are feeling and a compassionate ear to really hear you.
Answered on 02/02/2023

Why is it hard for me to get over my grandpa's death?

It sounds like your grandfather was a very special man who has a very special place in your heart. Thank you for describing some of those memories on here with me. I know you had mentioned your eyes were tearing up even writing this, and that is okay and very normal. There is a large part of your heart that is in pain after losing someone so special. It is so important to feel those emotions and work through them. That is part of the grieving process which sounds like you have not been able to fully embrace the process due to several different reasons. Some of which sounds like you are trying to take care of your mom and sister's feelings. What I would ask you to think about though is, what is wrong with your mother or sister seeing you cry? What does crying resemble in this situation? I would imagine the tears come from a place of pain, hurt, and sadness because you are not able to physically see or talk to your grandfather anymore and he was such an important part of your life. You are dealing with a multitude of emotions. Some may stem from how everything progressed after your grandfather died and how you were told. I would imagine you hold onto some anger and resentment because you were not told of this news instantly and then you could not be there to say goodbye in person. I would imagine there is confusion as to why that was the path your parents chose and why they chose to wait to tell you knowing how close he was to you. Did you ever have a chance to talk to your parents about what happened or any of your feelings relating to how it all progressed?  It sounds like you are at a place where you are ready to start down this journey of grieving your grandfather's death and I think that is wonderful. It is necessary for continued growth and healing. There are many therapists here on this platform that can walk beside you on this journey. It will be hard, it will be uncomfortable at times, it may be exhausting, but it is needed and important for your health and wellbeing. It is beautiful to get to a place where you can honor your grandfather's life and be able to talk about him with others. Time doesn't remove the pain of the loss. Time allows for you to be able to learn how to live a life without him present and to remember all of the great things about him that made him so special. When you are ready to take the next step, a therapist will be here to offer support and encouragment through your grief journey. They will help you navigate the emotions and challenges of grief. You will move through this and it will be powerful. You deserve the time and support to allow yourself to feel these feelings and work through them. I wish you well on this grief journey. 
Answered on 01/31/2023

Can you give me some tools to deal with grief?

Our Mind... I wanted to start this out by calling this "our" mind because of our similarities in how we think about things. It seems that in my experience, no matter the culture, the area of the world you live in, or different upbringings, there is a similarity to being human, we are all controlled by our interpretation of events. Your interpretation, as fueled by the tragic experiences and chronic illnesses, is painting life a different color for you and it is time we start noticing it.  Death is inevitable, yet still very sad. Losing someone is difficult, especially when we don't even get to wrap our minds around it. You lost your mother, and depending on your outlook on the afterlife, that can be a permanent loss. Often in these times, hope is found in spirituality, beliefs of heaven, and how we have eternal souls that never die. I have my beliefs, and it allows me to speak from a place of peace, but depending on your outlook, you might not see the same thing. It's cruel when we feel someone was taken from us, and then it is difficult to live with that loss, among other things.  Your chronic illnesses are a lot too. The fact that they are chronic tells me that you are accustomed to living a certain way, and maybe in times like these, they became that much more apparent.  Look, these things you mention, the things you notice and think, they are all very real. Strength is not found in the unreal, but in what has happened and how we feel about it, not in how we sometimes think we SHOULD feel about life. Often when working with people I notice an underlying belief when they are suffering, I notice there is this measurement they compare to, something else they SHOULD be feeling, they think. On the contrary, pain is really the only guarantee in life, and yet we have been told, and we believed the lie that it shouldn't be. We have more negative emotions than positive ones, and when stressful situations occur, we are equipped to deal with them because of the negative emotions. However, angst isn't about the emotions, but our pressure to get over them, to feel happy, that there should be some alternative life for us. Your life is the one that you have been given, and it can be the greatest life there is, with the loss, with the pain, unless you choose not to see it that way. Unless you let grief and the negative consume you.  Much of life is spent in our heads. Do not walk through this situation interpreting these events as something that detriment you. You have the choice with what you do with life; no matter how hard it gets, you can choose to see the good, the beneficial, or at least the positive things. You have the choice not to give up your thoughts to the circumstance. The emotions will come and go; let them pass. Let grief hit you like a wave; it will pass. It is the thoughts and our belief that this will never end, or the expectation to be better, that actually plagues us. Otherwise, what is wrong with the way you are handling things now?  Remember, you have thoughts; they are provoked by circumstance. You are not these thoughts. You can practice noticing them so they can float on by, and you can find purpose and value in all this. I am not saying that is the goal, but it may be the way to transcend all the inevitable pain. Talk things out, get heard, and have the person you are talking with listen. You can fall in love with life again if you see the parts you can control and take hold of them. 
Answered on 01/24/2023

How do I cope with my current situation?

Hello Emma! Thank you for your message, you are brave to ask these questions! I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Losing a parent is a significant loss and very painful. Grief and loss can be a slow process of healing and growth. I have worked with many people who were working through grief and loss, and sometimes people need to slow down and work through the emotions and thoughts with a therapist. Grief counseling can be one on one or in a grief support group setting. A therapist will help you understand your grief and process these thoughts and emotions to find a sense of peace about the loss.  If there is an experience of trauma or a complicated conflictual relationship with your mother connected to this loss, a therapist will help you process the thoughts and feelings associated with these aspects of loss. To answer your question about the anxiety and panic attacks connected to the relationship you are in, I think that would be a good thing to get some support from a therapist as well. A therapist can help you understand anxiety more fully, learn coping skills for anxiety when it happens, and process healthy and unhealthy relationship qualities for you and your mental health. Some things a therapist might want to consider with you is what do you like about this person you have the relationship with, why is it long distance, is long distance healthy for you, why is he not responding to your messages and why are you having the response you are having to the lack of response.  Two years is a significant amount of time and for him to still not be replying to you brings up some questions for me in terms of what is the commitment level for you both in this relationship and do these periods of not responding to you follow a fight or conflict? If I was working with you I would start with some of these previous details about the relationship and listening to what is important to you before offering much advice or direction. I would also suggest you talk with him about this pattern of behavior and let that inform what you think is healthy or unhealthy for you in this relationship. If you have the chance to talk in person, during a calm moment (not in the middle of a conflict), I think that could be helpful conversation for you both. If you would like to explore these topics with me, feel free to message me!
Answered on 01/23/2023

What are some good methods or techniques for managing previous traumas and grief?

Thank you for submitting a question. I am sorry that you are struggling with these difficulties right now. We have a tendency in life to want to put things in neat little boxes and have timelines we can check off. This sort of compartmentalization can work wonderfully and be beneficial in some circumstances. Yet, when it comes to challenging emotions like grief it is not the most effective way to go about things. We want so desperately to want to know how long the grief will last. We want to know how to properly process and sort it. We want a guide showing us the way through it and we would especially like, in many cases, to know where to find someone who can be responsible for successfully navigating us through it.  There is a well-known psychologist who devoted much time to studying and educating about the topic of grief - Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. She completed research about dying, death, and bereavement. Her work is helpful to consider in terms of grief in general as well as in regard to death and illness. One aspect of her efforts includes the identification of stages we might encounter – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You may experience one or all of them. You might go through them as outlined, or in an order unique to you. You may experience one, move to another, and then go back to the original. There are certain commonalties in grief. But we are all so very individual and unique. And the situations which bring us grief also look so very different. How we move through it all through will be a path that won’t look like anyone else’s. Essentially, we can’t ever compare ourselves and our reactions to anybody else. It might be helpful to you to look into her work more. Grief is never linear. It is more like a maze or labyrinth full of twists, turns, and dead ends. It can be like swimming in the ocean. You feel like you make it a good way out until suddenly a wave crashes over you, pressing you down and pushing you backwards. Grief comes with breakthroughs and setbacks. There are feelings, triggers, barriers, and resolutions. It is messy, unexpected, and unpredictable. Typically, grief will diminish over time – although it likely will never entirely go away. And here is something you might not know – because so much can vary from person to person, some individuals do experience grief feeling harder in the second year. What?!?! You would think “by that point surely I will have gotten over it!” You mention that you are two and a half years from the first crisis. Logically, our brain will think “I made it through year one, it’s all going to get easier from her.” Sometimes. Maybe. But not for everyone. Again, grief is not black and white. It’s very grey. Why might it get more challenging in year 2 or even 3? You might have expected it would get so much better. But a new year doesn’t necessarily mean that will happen. And simply putting the pressure on ourselves (setting a timeline) can equate to self-judgment and stress – which will contribute to making us feel worse. Also, over time you might become less patient with yourself (you “should” feel better) and/or others might not check in on you as much (the support that perhaps came right at the onset is perhaps absent now). Many people actually find the second year of grief actually feels harder. That is common and normal.You note that are other tough circumstances and difficulties have taken place. This all adds more complexity. You had one enormous event to contend with, and then before you could really properly deal with that and adjust, more kept coming at you. This can mean you are dealing with a more complicated grief scenario. Whenever there are multiple situations, grief takes longer. You have the added element of a current sickness with your loved one. It truly is a lot. You have both the past and varying events you are trying to recoup from – and that becomes far more difficult and overwhelming as you are now in the midst of a new, active trauma. It is normal to want to set it all aside as it simply feels like too much. And it is entirely to be expected that you would struggle to open up without encountering what you rightfully explain as a “complete breakdown.” First, there will not be a right or wrong way to feel. And while it might seem easier to ignore the feelings (they are painful) avoiding them won’t make them go away. You are still going to hurt whether you pay attention to the emotions or do your best to stuff them down. This could be a good time to consider seeking support. You mention not talking about this with friends. You don’t have to talk about any more details than you’d like, but even just spending more time with friends and family will be helpful. Just having someone to sit with helps us feel connected. Working with a therapist, too, could be a good option. They will help you work through the experiences in a way that is gentle and suited to wherever you are at. Try your best to take good care of yourself. Be mindful about getting some exercise and eating well. Try to commit to some good sleep habits. Think about what things in life bring you pleasure and try to work more of those into your schedule. Are there hobbies you enjoy? Maybe you can schedule a walk with a friend? Perhaps find a good book and enjoy it while taking a hot bath? Make stress reduction a top priority. Here is a simple exercise for in-the-moment when you might be feeling especially overwhelmed. Sit in a chair with your feet firmly grounded. Close your mouth and put your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Breathe in and out through your nose. Keep your breathing calm and quiet. Then, look around the room and find four objects that are blue or white (or any color you’d like). Your question indicates you have quite a bit going on. You do not have to endure all this on your own. Seek out a therapist and get some support. A therapist can be there with you even if you want to just sit quietly and not say a word – because again, even just having another human present with us can make a difference.
Answered on 01/23/2023

What is one of the best methods to handle feeling as if you’re not meeting expectations?

Hi Cindy! I am so grateful to see that you are reaching out for support at this time. It sounds like you are seeking out methods in which you can explore your feelings. Based on what you wrote in your question, I can see why you would be inquiring about ways in which to best manage your feelings. There are numerous therapeutic modalities and counseling interventions that can assist you in attaining your goal of handling the emotional experiences that you have been having lately. My hope is that I can inform you about these various interventions as well as help you in coming up with novel ways to better understand your feelings as well as manage them effectively. First and foremost, I want to give you my sincere condolences for your recent losses. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to lose your brother and father around the same time last year. It sounds like you went through a lot at one time having them both pass away two months apart. How are you doing with managing this sense of loss now? Where would you say that you are at in the grieving process? It may be helpful for you to take some time to check out the stages of grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The five stages of grief, according to Kübler-Ross, include shock, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. Grief can be a circular process and is not necessarily linear. For example, an individual who is experiencing grief may go through more than one stage at a time as well as shift from one stage to another. There are free resources and worksheets online by Therapist Aid that could aid you in organizing your thoughts and concerns regarding where you are at in the grieving process. In addition to reviewing the stages of grief and loss, I would like to encourage you to participate in a therapeutic writing exercise. If you have time and are willing to try, you can utilize therapeutic journaling and writing as a means to foster a sense of relaxation as well as process your experiences and express your feelings. There are countless journaling prompts on the BetterHelp platform. It could benefit you to write in your journal on a daily or weekly basis. Keeping track of your emotions in a feelings diary can be helpful for both short term and long term reflection. In addition to daily journaling, you could incorporate ad libs into your writing. An interesting concept that I came up with when someone that I loved passed away is to create an ad lib about the bereaved person. Essentially, you could fill in the blanks for the following statements as well as come up with your own outlined sentences, as well: "The person I lost is (name). I love how this person would (verb) with (noun/ adjective). My favorite memories with (name) was when (describe memories). The qualities that I admired most about (name) were their (adjectives). If I could tell one thing to (name) it would be (insert thought/ feeling). (Name) will be known for their (adjective/ noun)." Therapeutic art making is another way in which you can engage in self exploration and express your feelings. The benefits of art therapy can be eye opening, healing and incredibly inspiring. Gather your choice of art supplies and paint, draw, color, weave or sculpt your feelings. A well known art therapy directive derived from the Drawing Diagnostic Series (DDS) developed by Barry Cohen is: "Draw your feelings in lines, shapes and colors." As for art supplies, the DDS directive specifically calls for colored chalk pastels and 18 x 24 inch drawing paper. For more information on the benefits of art therapy, please check out the website for the American Art Therapy Association:  I believe that you are so brave to reach out for support at this time. I want to remind you that your feelings, thoughts and experiences are truly valid. Whether they are positive, neutral or even negative, your experiences are so important. As I mentioned before, you can survey your experiences through therapeutic journaling and art making. As another coping skill, I would like to recommend that you try out some mindfulness based techniques. Take some time to practice the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skill of mindfulness. Mindfulness essentially means being present in the moment. In addition to fully being present in this moment in time, another aspect of mindfulness includes relieving feelings of anxiety, stress and focusing on the here and now. Try to incorporate a sensory grounding exercise such as recognizing five things that you see, four things that you feel, three things you hear, two things you can smell and one thing that you can taste. Regarding your concerns about meeting expectations and feeling like a failure in your line of work, I would like to encourage you to address this in one on one counseling sessions. The therapy process can give you an opportunity to explore more about your core beliefs as well as your reasons for feeling this way. On BetterHelp, you can request to be matched with a licensed therapist who is trained and specializes in career counseling. For now, I would like to recommend that you combat the negative thoughts you have as well as challenge unrealistic expectations through positive self talk. Simply remind yourself that you are not a failure and that you are doing the best that you can. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies can be beneficial for you to assay. Thank you again, Cindy, for your time asking this really great question on the BetterHelp platform. I sincerely hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey now and in the future. Take good care and have a good day!
Answered on 01/23/2023

How can you forget and forgive the abandonment of your father when you are an adult?

Forgiveness is for You Your view on forgiveness is that it seems to be for your father when forgiveness is really about your peace. Forgiveness isn't a necessity, though, especially not today. True forgiveness takes time and learning to be able to sit with the reality of what he has done and how it has affected you. It will come up at odd times. So, how do you forgive? You start to love the person you are as a result of the circumstance.  I want to take a second to validate your feelings and experiences and the results of your childhood. This validation is critical for you to know you are heard. Being heard is what your father did not give you as a child and what you can do for your childhood self now. You today can allow the thoughts and emotions that were developed early in life when they come up. You can show you respect your childhood self and the pain of it all but allow the hurt to exist. Don't be the disconnected parent to your childhood self who discounts emotions. Find a way to find gratitude for who you are and how you turned out because of that kid, and how they responded to the circumstance they were put in.  Your dad contributed to your formation of self. If you like yourself, then you can be grateful for the pain and hurt you endured. You can forgive then, naturally, because you aren't mad for what you've been given because even though it hurt, you are better now because of it. If you don't accept or like yourself and all parts, even that six-year-old who wants to cry, then it will be difficult to forgive because it's easy to blame him for this less-than version of what you might have thought you could be. Self-acceptance is critical to move forward because without accepting all parts of you, you will always struggle with a self-disdain, and any forgiveness will be falsified. Find the most inadequate part of you and learn to sit with that person because they are you and have contributed to the person you are, which is what parents are tasked with. As for abandonment, that is something that will be difficult to overcome because you were abandoned, and you know, you were. Your father left you with people that was neither mom nor dad. However, it is not beneficial for what that child went through to indulge that abandonment to be a victim. Remember, you aren't forgiving and moving forward for him or even you today, but as the responsible caregiver to your six-year-old self that tells you all the horrible things he experienced. His service was not in vain, for you will take his experience and grow from it. Thank your childhood self, for your pain because it helped you grow. That abandonment the child felt, that isn't going anywhere because that child will remind you. You can thank him and go forth with a sense of peace your father may never know. 
Answered on 01/23/2023

Is resolving familiar situations essential, or are some things beyond repair?

Dear Beau Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of your mother and for the distress and upset that the preparations for her funeral are causing you and your family at this sad time.  I wish that we had an easy solution to solve conflict.  Sometimes, unfortunately a loss in a family will bring out the worst in people. From working with people before and after the event of a loss, this has meant that I have experience of hearing about and also seeing behavior that has run along the whole scale of behaviors, both good and bad.  Often when families struggle to cope with the death of the loved one, individuals of the family can end up fighting or disagreeing with one another, this can seem like a secondary loss.  This is due to the loss of potential support network of others but this loss can also be an additional source of stress. You are not alone, many others can relate to family discord following the death of a lost one.  Reaching out for support outside of the family can often be of benefit to gain some perspective and respite from the issues being experienced within the family. If conflict is something that you avoid, the reaction you mention is to be expected and is perfectly normal.  This is caused by our primitive brain that kicks in to keep us from the worst of danger and is known as our flight, fight or freeze response. Unfortunately there is little detail given in your question in relation to what the issues are other than the funeral.  What other issues the families may have had before the loss may be exaggerated as additional stress causes our brain function to be less rational and we tend to think more on impulse and with more of the emotionally influenced parts.  These are the parts that struggle with reasoning, memory and the longer term thinking.  Due to this, when groups under emotional stress interact conflicts are more likely to arise. We all react and behave differently to bereavement and loss, each of us grieve in different ways and on different timescales too.  This too can cause conflict within families as the expectations of those around us are different and not the same as ours.  There are no right or wrong ways to grieve, just ours which are unique to us and each loss that we experience in life.  If retreating is what you need right now, then that is ok. Best regards, Louise
(Diploma, in, Counselling, (Integrative), Diploma, in, Hypnotherapy, Counsellor)
Answered on 01/22/2023

How to stop overthinking, randomly thinking about how I will cope when one of my parents passed away?

Thank you for submitting your question and I am sorry that you are experience this challenge. It is a normal thing to encounter fear, sadness, and worry when we have thoughts about our parents someday passing away. We love them and we cannot bring ourselves to imagine life without them in it. It is never something anyone wants to dwell on. There can be many aspects to the fear. You might worry about them suffering. When they pass, it means the loss of a part of the history of your family. It is the end of a bond that cannot be replaced or matched. If you have children, it is the loss you will witness for them. And it is truly does bring us personally one step closer to our own death. In your case, you are feeling like it has become too much to manage and too frequent. It can certainly be the case for some individuals to have ever increasing anxiety over these sorts of thoughts. The more they think about it, the worse they begin to feel. The symptoms experienced can include panic attacks, disruptions in sleeping and/or eating, muscles aches and tension, headaches, rapid heartbeat, and an increase in disruptive, negative, and illogical thoughts. The fact that you have the self-knowledge and insight to clearly articulate and understand your struggle is already a tremendous, positive step forward. Many people feel doubt and fear without ever really being able to speak about what the problem actually is. The fear of losing parents, the separation, is real and hard. That you recognize what is happening for you is a great foundational point – for we are better able to address an issue if we understand it more. Sometimes, the fear of losing a loved one such as a parent is accompanied by others fears. We may not be conscious to them. And the fear of losing the parent can even mask the underlying hidden worry. For example, there might be a fear of being alone and/or of suddenly having to do all things by yourself. If this happens to be the case, then recognizing and admitting these fears can help us deal with them. We can seek and gain support to develop a new way of being in the world on our own. We can come to a place where we feel more confident about being solely responsible for managing our own lives. You wonder about how you can put an end to all this excess worry. To begin, it is helpful to accept that we cannot entirely put an end to worry and anxiety. In fact, when we push strongly against these emotions, we sometimes find that they simply get bigger and stronger. So, to some degree we want to come to a place wherein we accept that feeling these feelings is normal and we will be okay. But what to do otherwise, especially when the feelings are simply too much? Get very clear about what your specific concerns are. What, for example, will be the worst thing which could happen if you lost your parents? Would it be that you would need a new place to live? Would it be that you would not have them to talk to anymore?  Think about what some possible solutions might be. In the case of the latter, are there other relatives you could lean in to? You might fear being alone – but you will be able to develop new relationships with other people. It won’t be the same, surely. But there will be some ways that will help you address each scenario. Recognize that you are resilient. Probably more than you might realize. The thing about life which is true for us all is that there always come loss. You maybe have already had some losses in life. And you have managed to come through okay. This does not negate the pain and grief from losing loved ones such as our parents. But you know that you will come through it. Life will look different. It will take time to heal and move forward. But move forward you will – and that might require some support and patience, which is okay. Try you best to bring yourself back into the present. We cannot change the past. And we can never control or know the future. We do know death is inevitable. But even then, we don’t know when it will come or what it might look like – or how it will leave us feeling. There is just one thing we can be sure of and only one thing we have some semblance of control over – the current moment. That said, cherish every single moment you still may have with your parents. Talk to them when you can. And visit when possible. Hold their hand and really focus on the moment at hand. Keep the time together positive and enjoyable. Walk down memory lane – perhaps create a scrapbook or memory journal together. Tell them you love them. Offer to help. Let them know how much you care for them and how important they are to you. Leverage your worry and fears to be more present than ever with them. Death is simply part of life. And it can rob of us enjoying and embracing the precious gift we have of our own lives in this moment. The death of parents is not easy. But there are ways to cope. When the time does come, you might want and need to seek out added support. That is normal and can be of great benefit. If you find these thoughts continue to distress you and are continuing to be disruptive to your daily life, then consider reaching out to work with a therapist in the near future. A therapist can work with you individually to talk through your thoughts and to help you develop strategies to better manage them.
Answered on 01/22/2023

How do you start healing after a death?

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be a difficult and painful process. It is important to remember that everyone grieves differently, and there is no "right" way to grieve. Some ways to cope with your loss include:  Allowing yourself to feel a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, and guilt.    Talking to friends and family about your loved one and your feelings. Joining a support group for people who have lost a loved one. Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising. Seeking professional help if you are struggling to cope with your loss. Creating a memorial or finding a way to honor your loved one. Give yourself time to grieve, it's a process that takes time and is different for everyone. Write down your feelings. Keeping a journal can help you process your emotions and make sense of your thoughts. Engage in activities that bring you pleasure. When you're ready, try to do things that you enjoy, such as hobbies, to help you feel more connected to life. It's also important to remind yourself that it's okay to not be okay and to reach out for support when you need it. Remember that it's natural to feel a wide range of emotions and it's important to give yourself time to grieve. Coping with emotions after a loss can be challenging, but the above steps can help to manage your feelings. Remember that everyone grieves differently and there is no "right" way to grieve. It is important to give yourself time to grieve and to be kind and compassionate towards yourself. The length of time it takes to grieve a loved one can vary greatly from person to person. Some people may start to feel better in a matter of weeks or months, while others may take years to fully process their loss. There are several different models of grief that have been proposed by experts in the field.  Understanding some of the models may help you with your grief. Some of the most well-known models include: The Kubler-Ross model, also known as the "five stages of grief," which proposes that people go through five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The Dual Process Model, which proposes that people experience two parallel processes of grief: loss-oriented coping and restoration-oriented coping. The Grief Recovery Method, which focuses on the actions that one can take to move through the grief process. The Trauma model, which suggests that grief can be triggered by traumatic events, and can lead to a range of psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Continuum model, which states that grief is not a series of stages but a continuous process that can be triggered by anniversaries, holidays, or other reminders of the person who died. It's important to remember that these models are not mutually exclusive and can overlap in many ways, and that everyone's experience of grief is unique. Take Care
Answered on 01/22/2023

Grief and monumental life changes.

Hi LO, It makes sense that you feel alone. Losing your parents at any time in your life can cause you to feel like an orphan. Our parents are our anchors to the world. We have never known a time that they were not present. Your parents knew you all of your life; they were present for all of your accomplishments, challenges and heartaches. They were the witnesses to your life. Now without them you may feel adrift trying to find how to anchor yourself to this complex world without their presence, trying to learn how to navigate without the support your parents may have provided.  Grief can cause a number of reactions. Psychologically you may be experiencing a combination of anger, guilt, shame, anxiety, sadness, and despair. You may be struggling with sleep, eating, overeating, or taking care of other physiological needs. In addition, you may be having trouble motivating yourself to engage in your typical activities, increasing difficulty with parenting and addressing your financial needs. And through all of this you may be experiencing a preoccupation with thoughts about your parents; feeling the loss of their absence. Everything you are experiencing is a natural response while you are going through the process of grief.   Everyone's grief process is individual. Sure, there will be some commonalities amongst people who have grieved or are grieving, but your process is individual and unique. Therefore it is very important that you allow yourself to grieve in your own way. Do not discount your process or allow others' expectations of how you "should" grieve interrupt that process. Respect your unique process.  Be flexible with yourself. Let yourself talk about your emotions if you are feeling the need. However, if you don't feel like talking, give yourself permission to set boundaries with others by asking others to respect your time until you are ready to open up about your emotions. Open up when you feel ready.  Allow yourself to talk about your parents and encourage others to do the same. Your parents are still important to your life. They have passed but they are not gone from your heart, mind and life. It is okay to keep the memory of them alive.  Remember grieving is a long process. Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to cry when you need to cry. It is okay to feel like you are struggling. It is okay to give yourself time to rest and let your heart heal. It is okay to lean on others and ask for support. If others are not able to be the support you need, join a grief support group, engage in therapy, or ask friends to show up for you.  A resource that you may find helpful is . They provide information regarding grief and  in-person, as well as, online groups. Building your support system, creating a safe place and soft landings that will embrace you as you are and where you are is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. Others have been through what you are going through. Let them in. They will help you navigate this new world absent your parents. Don't hesitate to invite others to wrap their support around you. 
Answered on 01/21/2023

Life shattered and no one around. How to be happy again?

Dear Ale, I am so deeply sorry for the losses that you have experienced in such a short amount of time.  You were hit so hard with the loss of your young relative but you were not given the time and space to even touch that deep wound because of the awful way that your fiance broke up with you in that deep painful grief.  Because of that horrible break up, you were not given the time and space to really sit with the thoughts, feelings and reality of losing your young relative in a tragic way.  That emotion is, no doubt, stirring in your body, along with the deep pains of the horrific way that your fiancee broke up with you and the reality of how your mother has treated you in the past and present.   Your body is telling you all of these deep painful realities through emotional distress and doubting reality, intense panic attacks, mentally fragile, being in pain and deeply unhappy.   I am glad that you are reaching out for some guidance as to what to do next.   First of all, please know that you will move through this one small step at a time. It may not feel that way some days or all days right now because of the depth of emotional pain.  And in time, you will move through and come to a different place in your life in the future.  Secondly, it makes sense why you are in such deep pain and struggling to move through it.  You were happy with your intimate partner.  Your life was stable, you had a job.  You trusted your mother's intentions towards you.  You still have your connection with your young relative. And when even one of those things are shattered or changed drastically, it is deeply painful.  But you have had all of them change deeply.  That hurts so much.  So know that how your body has responded to this reality is very normal.  You are going to suffer some deep emotional distress because of this pain and real life realities and struggles.  Third, you are asking what to do next in order to move towards happiness.  You are going to have to go through a season of grieving and struggling with those deep painful feelings until you are going to land in happiness again.  That is normal and part of the journey of having to move through such deep pain such as yours.  And that is not bad or wrong or something that has to hold you down.  You can seek to find small tiny glimpses of beauty while you are also hurting deeply.   So, to answer that question of "How to be happy again?" 1. I want to point out that moving towards happy is a matter of being with, embracing and seeking to let the unhappy realities be a part of the right now.  You need to feel the depths of pain that you are feeling.  And in that, seeking to then comfort and be compassionate towards your pain.  How do you do with feeling the pain that you have right now?  Do you allow the tears to come when they want to come?  Do you let out the screams of anger, rage and deep disappointment? Do you punch your pillow when the energy of the reality of your situation wants to come out of you?  Are you holding all that in?  In order to move towards happiness, you have to move through the sad, hurt, angry, shock, confusion, struggle and then you will have moments of happiness, like you have had in the past.   So how are you doing with embracing and feeling the hard, heavy and painful emotions? THEN, in those emotions, we need to have compassion and care.  Just like if someone you care about was hurting, you would seek to show them deep and caring compassion.  You would bring them some soup.  You would lend them a listening ear.  You would sit by them and show compassion by your face and time.  So, you need to do that for yourself.  You need to wrap yourself up in a blanket when you need to cry.  You need to make yourself a nice warm cup of tea when your emotions are heavy and painful.  You need to light a candle to honor the pain that you are feeling.   How are you doing with showing compassion and care for your pain? 2. In order to do our pain well, we have to have others in our spaces to witness our pain.  You had said that you are deeply alone because of the break up, realizing your mother's usual reactions to you.  So I would invite you to reach out to people that can hold space for your pain.  If you are struggling to think of someone, you can also reach out to support groups.  You can find these on facebook, other social media venues.  You can find them at medical clinics and community centers.  Find a place where you can sit with your grief with others who are willing to just be with you.   3. Lastly, I would encourage you to seek out therapy if you are not feeling a sense of positive forward movement with the above steps on your own for a few weeks.  If you are doing the above things but not seeing yourself have some forward traction in a few weeks, please reach out for some counseling for grief and loss as well as learning how to set and keep wise boundaries with your mother and any one else that shows unhealthy interpersonal actions with you.  Please know that one of the biggest predictors of change in therapy is when the clients feels connected to their therapist and feels they have a good relationship.  So please make sure that you are feeling connected to your therapist.  I wish you the best of luck.  I hope you can seek to care well for yourself during this season of loss and pain.   I am proud of you for reaching out for some guidance and I hope that it was helpful!Paula
Answered on 01/20/2023

how can I accept my mum's new partner?

I would first like to start with validating all of the emotions that you are experiencing. When we have lost a parent the flood of things that we feel and experience is huge and heavy and comes with the need for us to have time to process through it all and really come to terms with new dynamics that will naturally occur within our family system. It is imperative that we remember that what we feel is valid and reasonable, but what has to be looked at and addressed is how we allow those feelings to manifest in our lives. We want to keep hold of and feel all the things that come, without projecting that onto the other people in our lives, who are also feeling and grieving in their own unique ways. While you lost a dad, your mother lost a husband and her own grieving process is not going to progress the same. You lost someone in a role that is never meant to be replaced, and I really hate to pick that word as it is not even replacing but allowing ourselves to move forward. Your mom is likely in a place of forward movement where she can experience love and companionship again, and while it will never 'replace' your dad in any way, it is allowing her to continue to find happiness within her own life.    For this particular situation that idea of replacement is key to look at. This person cannot and will not ever replace your dad, they are coming into your family in a new and unique role that is specific to that person. Sometimes it can be beneficial to work to take the time to get to know this person on a more personal level, versus knowing them only as someone your parent is romantically engaged with. When we can see them on a personal level and be able to learn who they are, likes, dislikes and find some kind of common ground, then it is easier to interact. This person likely makes your mother very happy, if she is allowing them in your life and so making sure to keep that piece in mind as well. She has experienced a significant loss also, but she also is in a place to deserve to find ways to keep moving forward with her own life and be happy. This does not in any way mean she is forgetting your dad, but that she is continuing to live with his memory while not feeling stuck in a place of grief.    It is important to also remember that this person is dating your mom, so naturally they all will want to have a full relationship with you also, but that it is something that happens only within your comfort level. This person does not have to take on a specific role in your life, there are no rules or requirements there. You are able to have clear boundaries that things that are too close to a 'dad' role are off limits for you as you are not in a place where that is something that is comfortable or appropriate. When we can keep that bit of control over how the interactions exist and the closeness to ourselves that we allow then we can feel a bit less elevated by the situation as a whole.    This process will likely have its ups and downs, but working to just communicate with your family the concerns you have and also be open minded that this person again is creating a new space, not trying to fill one that will forever belong to your father. I wish you all the best along this transition.
Answered on 01/18/2023

How do I let go?

Thank you for your question. And I am sorry you are struggling and experiencing some difficulties right now. The question of how to let go of the past entails several different things including understanding valuable lessons, coming to accept those things beyond our control, and, in some cases, too, perhaps taking some accountability. Additionally, we might need external help and support. It is a normal, natural human tendency to wonder about how to best let the past go. We may find ourselves believing that the present pain and upset we are enduring will forever be influenced by and linked to everything that’s come before. Yet, even when our current anguish is, in fact, related to the past and those previous experiences, we can relinquish the pain by beginning to turn our attention more and more towards today. It is truly possible to let go of what is weighing on you. You may still forever hold the memories, but the hurt doesn’t have to be so heavy on your mind and heart. Loving friends and family might urge you to just “let go.” You are completely normal if that feels like a task which is easier said than done. But . . . . just because it’s not easy, does not mean you are stuck! A critical step in releasing the past is to begin appreciating what you have here and now, who you are here and now. An attachment to what was can be a source of suffering – as you are experiencing. Practice being more mindful of the present. The present is really the only thing which matters and it is all we can control. The past is a memory and all its contents can never be changed. The future is just a guess, it’s an unknown that just dwells in your imagination. But the present is right here now waiting for you to act. Engage more with your life right now – not yesterday, not even later on tonight. But now. It’s easy to lose sight of one important fact - one of the best ways to let go of the past is to stop living in it. That is a deliberate, conscious choice we can make – one we can keep purposefully and intentionally making until it just becomes natural. That said, developing a plan of personal growth for yourself can be an incredibly powerful thing. Improving and learning is both a way to distract from ruminating on the past, as well as it’s an empowering way to form a life you look forward to waking up to each day. What might growth look like for you? That’s going to vary from person to person. Are there dreams you have? How do you want to be remembered someday? What skills do you have which could benefit others – giving back and serving is one very good way to add value and give yourself new purpose and meaning. No matter what, you always have something that can help others. And one of the great secrets to living well is to give generously – even if all you have some days is a smile. It can be a good way to improve your life and it will help you move on from the past. Even if you have little more to give than a listening ear to someone who needs to talk – you always have a gift to give no matter how broken you might feel. And as you give, you will feel more productive and you will begin to heal.Another idea is to seek out supportive, positive people. We tend to become who we surround ourselves with. If you are around people, places, and things which keep pulling you into the past, then seek out those individuals who will help pull you forward. Find others who are dedicated to growth and to progress. Maybe take a class. Find them at a local church. Further, gratitude is a powerful tool. It sounds like you have a rich past with many things you can be grateful for. Turn your attention toward today. What are the things in your present life which you can express gratitude for? Consider getting yourself a journal and keeping track of them. Every little thing matters. Perhaps you saw a beautiful bird outside the window. I often see squirrels in my backyard, chasing each other – it always makes me laugh and that is thus a moment to be grateful for. Or maybe you have warm socks to keep your toes cozy. Perhaps you have nice eyes. Maybe you are grateful for the refreshing glass of cool water you are able to drink when you are thirsty. Bring yourself into today and see all the things around you which you can count as blessings. Decide that letting go of the past is “must” for you. Think about anything from the past you could be holding onto. Are there hurts or regrets you have? Do you need to offer forgiveness to anyone? And then spend time reflecting on the reasons for moving on – how can life change if you move on? If you continue to have a difficult time letting go, then don’t hesitate to seek out support. A therapist can work with you to help you explore what your unique challenges are. And they can help you develop coping skills which will assist you in moving forward.
Answered on 01/17/2023

How do you know when you are past your grieving stage and ready to start living life again?

Hi - thank you for reaching out with your question.  I am so sorry to hear about your losses, and in such a short period of time - that must be incredibly difficult.  I am proud of you for asking for support with trying to figure things out.  Grief can be so unpredictable and this makes things difficult to figure out which stage of grief you are in, how long you will be there, and what to do now.  Let's start off with the stages of grief just as a review so you know what they are and what they may look/feel like.  These are noted by Kubler Ross, although you may find that other sources split some of these up into more detailed stages. Stages of Grief: Denial and Shock - During this phase, you may experience numbness, questions, fear, blame.  Things may feel like you are in a movie or dream.  Depending on the circumstances, you may be confused or simply be unable to function for a period of time due to the incredible amount of shock.  It is during this phase that people lean on others in their family, friend group or community to help with things like cooking, cleaning and comfort. Anger  - During this phase, you may experience irritability, frustration, anxiety, embarrassment, uneasiness.  You may ask yourself "why" and potentially even may be angry at the person who died, someone else, or yourself.  It is during this phase that you are feeling intense emotion for many reasons.  It is difficult to be in this phase and feel your feelings without pushing others away, and it will be important to be mindful of how your anger may impact others in your life, as well as your own outlook on things. Depression and/or Detachment - During this phase, you may feel isolated and alone.  You might feel overwhelmed, have a lack of energy or feel helpless.  You may not feel like doing things you did before the death of your loved one.  It will be difficult, but very important, to stay connected to others - even when it is hard.  You are not alone in your grief, and these feelings will not last forever. Bargaining - During this phase, you may want to reach out to others to express your thoughts/feelings and to tell your story.  You may feel the need to try to figure out what you could have done differently.  You may try to make meaning out of the situation and may be challenged to do so.  Acceptance - During this phase, you may find yourself feeling okay without the person - having more of the days/weeks where you are finding that you can manage things.  It could be easy to feel guilty for this, but remember that acceptance of the person's death does not mean you did anything wrong.  It is a natural part of the grief process, and an important one.  You may find yourself finding new ways to honor the person you lost, and identifying traditions or rituals to remember them by as you move forward.  Moving forward is okay, and it will happen at your own pace, and that's okay. The difficult thing about this process is that it is not a step-by-step model.  You may not go from steps 1-5 in order.  You may spend longer in one phase than another, and may spend a very short amount of time in another phase.  You may cycle back and it may seem that you are going backwards.  But you aren't, and this is important to remember.  When a death occurs of any kind, there is a process that our brains, emotions, thoughts and bodies go through to adjust.  There is someone important that isn't there anymore.  There are routines which they were a part of, and memories which will no longer be made.  This is hard, and unfortunately there isn't a checklist where once you go through everything you are done.  With multiple people in your life having passed away, you may find yourself in one stage of grief for your best friend, and another stage of grief for your boyfriend.  It may help to continue talking with your support system, or a professional, so that you can be sure you aren't getting stuck.  You will find that with time and support, you will be able to handle triggers of memories of the person and the stages of grief in a much more manageable way.  You will be able to return to your life's tasks, duties, habits, relationships, etc.  The important part is that you allow yourself all the time you need in each stage, that you recognize that healing from grief is fluid, and that you continue to allow yourself to move through grief towards healing as you are able and ready.  But like a scar that has healed over, you may find from time to time that you revisit some of these stages of grief, although it won't always hurt this much and feel as strong as it does now.   I hope this has helped, and please reach out to a professional should you feel that you are getting stuck or that your functioning is being significantly impacted (sleep, eating habits, job/school performance, desire to interact with others, etc).
Answered on 01/15/2023

How do I get over my past?

The past is a tricky one. It will always be there but it can never be changed. Dwelling on things could have/ should have been causes only heartache and disappointment in our present. Instead, I offer you to look at such events and learn from them - what would you do differently next time? How can you better yourself knowing what you know now? The decisions made in the past felt like the right thing to do in that moment so please don't torture yourself about things you cannot change. You mention regret in regards to where you could be and where you should be. It's difficult to look at the things we could have in life but I think it's important to look at exactly where you are now. How did you get there? What have you achieved? If you would like to be somewhere else then what do you need to do to get there? Can you put achievable goals into place to get to where you want to be?  'I need to be the man my wife and kids need' what does that look like to you? What are you doing at the moment that is making you feel like you are not what they need? It sounds like you're going through a really tough time emotionally, you are questioning yourself which seems to be causing a lot of grief for yourself so I would like to offer some comfort in asking,  are you being too hard on yourself? It's easy to look at all the things that we're doing wrong and to criticise ourselves but please look at all the things you're doing right! Are you children clothed, fed, warm, safe, loved? Then you're doing a darn good job in my books. It seems like you have recognised a need for change with who you are as a husband and as a father. That is the first step to change. Now you need to look at where you think you need to make changes and begin that process - small steps.   Please be kinder to yourself, I hope you're ok. 
Answered on 01/15/2023

My brother just passed away from cancer and I already have undiagnosed anxiety/depression, advice?

Dealing with the sudden death and grief of a loved one is a challenge that requires the ability to truly allow yourself to process. Sometimes, there can be triggers that can bring about more anxiety and depression with or without treatment. The goal in therapy is to assist in processing this, understanding healthy ways to come to terms with loss and aid in finding appropriate coping skills that can help make the process less debilitating. We often put up a defense unknowingly at times when a trauma is too much to bear. I'd like to help resolve some of that by finding ways that cope.  Trauma can be triggered from so many things as well: a smell, a thought, a phrase, resemblance and the list can go on. In finding out what your triggers are and how they can impact your anxiety and depression is a great tool for you to understand and know when to apply the coping skills discussed in therapy to get through. With grief there are multiple stages as well. It can take some time to truly process, but with patience and consistency as well as the lack of judgement it can be easier to work through.  Recalling memories or expressing the thoughts of what you would have like to say or hope that your loved one understood can help resolve the unanswered questions, racing thoughts and doubts that can arise after losing a loved one. Having a strong support system can also be beneficial as you can process the grief together with those that have also been affected by the loss. It can also be hard to find the words to describe the feelings that can come up. With therapy, there can be a new perspective or way to tackle the underlying feelings and thoughts and help bring you to a space of acceptance and healing. When those memories or thoughts come up for you, let's find ways to get through them. The goal is to be at a space mentally where you can navigate through without being impacted negatively with the thoughts and feelings that can come up thereafter. 
Answered on 01/12/2023

How is the best way to manage grief from losing a pet?

To begin, I am truly sorry for your loss. The loss of a pet tends to be a quite painful experience. You aren’t just merely losing a “pet,” but rather you are losing a constant companion who has offered you unconditional love along with comfort. This loss can be comparable to, and sometimes even more difficult than the loss of a human whom we love. We form intense and strong bonds with our pets, who offer us uncritical and enduring devotion. How could we not grow to deeply love our pets when they provide us with often unmatched loyalty and affection? You love them. And they love you back, so devoutly. As with all loss, healing will require time as well as patience. Your constant feeling of grief at this time is entirely normal and to be expected. Know that grief can be experienced as both an emotional as well as a physical experience. This can definitely be an overwhelming, full-body ordeal. Typically, grief begins as an acute challenge, and over time we enter into a more integrated phase. This is a devastating and difficult loss. You had a real, meaningful bond with your dog. It absolutely is going to hurt. Grief can be a complex thing. We can experience waves of emotions. One minute we seem to be managing okay. The next we are curled up and sobbing. It will take some time to begin to feel more normal. That’s typical. How long will it take? You’re on your own unique timeline. Nobody can determine this for you. Don’t compare your grief to anyone else. Some individuals may undergo intense grief for a few months. For others, it might go on for a couple of years. But no matter what, the intensity will subside over time. It might not feel that way now, but it will. Do your best to be patient with yourself. Things aren’t going to shift overnight. You will likely always have grief over losing your pet, but the sharpness of the pain will subside with time. In cases where we are faced with making the decision to euthanize our loving companion, grief can become a bit more complicated. We might experience additional feelings of guilt and even some doubt. However, it also is an opportunity wherein we are given the chance to prepare and to say our last goodbye. And we can give ourselves some grace, realizing that we are offering our beloved pet an honorable passing and that what we are doing is genuinely minimizing and ending any suffering they might be experiencing. This could be a good time to reach out to friends and family. Allow people a chance to support you through this. It will benefit you. And it will be a blessing to them – people actually feel good when they know they’ve been able to help someone else. There are different ways you can ask for assistance. You might ask a friend to just sit with you while you tell some memories. Maybe you ask them to go for a walk with you, perhaps at a time when you would take your dog out for a walk. This can be very beneficial as your normal routine with your pet is now disrupted and is apt to cause a surge of sadness and loneliness – enlisting a friend to walk with you will get you out of your house and give you what is likely to be much needed companionship. Or maybe even just ask a friend to send you a daily text message – it could be something like “hey, just saying hello and making sure you’re doing okay and have taken time eat today.” Think about what you might need and then consider who could ask. Sometimes, it helps a lot to tell our stories as it gives us a chance to process our thoughts and emotions. Naming and speaking about our feelings tends to help. If that feels like too much, you could also consider writing things down as a way to help process and get things out of your head. Express your grief in whatever way feels right for you personally. Don’t ignore the pain, find ways to being to let it out. Talk to a friend. Journal. Seek out others who have lost a pet and explain experiences with them. Another option could include taking care of someone else’s pet. You likely aren’t ready to consider a new pet but caring for another animal could reduce some of the sadness particularly as it will keep you occupied and prevent you getting stuck in your own head, ruminating over the situation (and if this feels like too much, that’s okay). Alternatively, finding other ways to be of help could be beneficial. How might you serve someone else during this time? If nothing else, focusing on someone else and their needs gives you a bit of mental break. An additional idea is to try to find ways to introduce some little joys into your life. A simple little pleasure is a way to help us better tolerate the pain. It can be a great start to making you feel a bit better and to take your mind off things even for just a short bit. Plan to have coffee with a friend. Get your nails done. None of things takes away the grief, but it introduces some little bits of distraction and happiness to assist you in coping. It also is a way of making sure you are taking care of yourself. Dealing with grief is a challenge, and some days will be harder than others. If you find it’s too difficult to manage on your own, then reach out to a therapist. Grief can sometimes make it hard to function in our daily lives. If it begins to feel like you’re lost in a fog you can’t seem to get away from, then seek support. Again, please accept my sincerest condolences. This is really a heartbreaking and hard thing to go through. It is going to hurt but you’re going to come through it. Be compassionate and patient with yourself. Let your emotions out. And find support from others, be it loved ones or a therapist.
Answered on 01/11/2023