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grief breakdown

Grief Breaks Down

“I thought,” she said passionately. “‘Mother f%*kr, I can’t even kill myself because my life insurance lapsed!'” Then we burst into laughter.

It was after one of those breaking points. We were talking about an incident of the week prior. We were on the phone, she lives hundreds of miles away from me, when she announced that her car had just died in the middle of the busy road. Now long time friends, we regularly peer coach and deep dive into life difficulties, too often in brutal honesty. Often in deep pains. Joyfully in witness to absurdity that is Circling Life.

I’ve witnessed and coached and shared her grief through her former husband’s suicide and a divorce and a move across the states. She has pushed and held me through my own unfolding to find my true self through grief, trauma, energy healing, and losses as I support others in the same. This wasn’t the first side-of-the-road cry. Yet, this was especially significant as a moment of one of her own coaching mantras: What if a breakdown is a breakthrough? In fear of financial lack and prospects as she changes career direction, (what, another change and transition and loss transpired from the origins of her grief journey?) the additional cost of car tow and repair is the proverbial straw on her camel that carries her. A call from the car center a bit later revealed her confession of a storm of tears and spewed anger in public breakdown shown up with all sorts of woulda, coulda, shoulda regrets and pain for a deceased ex-husband. If only… Plus, another $500 out the window.

Again?

Does it end or go away? Who deserves this? Apparently, in the midst, the thought arises that she “can’t even kill herself because the life insurance lapsed!” Thank goodness for being a responsible mother to her kids!

Accountability and sense of Responsibility* can often get us through the next few minutes. In between there is the moment of recognition that life is what happens now and those stories are old stories still in shift. They rise again. In between these two conversations was the call the day after as she explained she had came face-to-face with the visceral emptiness of being utterly alone regardless of my long supportive stand in knowing. Even though she has people and family in town whom to call. In spite of her being in the lobby of a car dealership. Grief pain is a soloist journey. It appears when when it does. The space between her own breaths. “I really got it,” she said in grounded quiet. “I got what you say about the space that is my own deep emptiness alone. That, in the void, no one is here with me except me.”

I get this, too!

I have a personal history of cars stopping when I am in anxiety! I left two vehicles on the road once-upon-a-crisis on my way to see my husband Dave in the hospital. I am never without AAA car rescue.

More and more I recognize the energetic distractions that arise from our own excess energy as car batteries, alternators (her situation), or starters suddenly cease. One is forced to slow down. To become present. To deal with what is now. To ask for help. Or decide to help yourself. To figure out the next step. And how to get there. To review what happened or learn from what occurred soon after. It requires compassion for self to turn around the lashing of blame or the feeling as a victim. Thoughts of “if only” magic is a story designed to make the pain disappear. Minds return to yesterday for want of safety and familiarity today, whether that life was real or true. We are all raised on fairy tales of “happily ever after” in a foggy notion for how happiness actually feels. Perhaps happiness is the message to love what is right in front of you.

Instead of an external break down of things around us, the stoppage can manifest as a lack of energy on the body that shows up as depression, exhaustion, caregiver fatigue, illness or thoughts to crawl into a hole and die. It is a different vehicle and usually the phenomenon is of a slowing down into a stop, almost imperceptible until there is an obvious cease of connection to the environment of people and places.

Either way, here we are…. the ask for help and how to create movement in life. Like the Type of Death*, which can be sudden or lingering, it influences what actions you make in response. Your type of break effects your perspective. Your brain will dictate to fight, flight or freeze.

Stop in the moment then look forward.

As a coach, I have multiple perspectives of grief gained through personal experiences, client care and academics. There are simple (not always easy) practices available to support our responses and growth through loss, what we tell our self and how we hear what others say. For me, the only place to start is to understand your Here. Whether you are standing in the middle of a dangerous median or need lifting out of the hole of despair, we can all use some safe perspective and guidance. For most, grief is a doable journey along life’s path. When ignored or procrastinated those paper straws build up and the burden can become a break of the camel’s back.

When grief and loss are acknowledged as ongoing human experiences that shape us, life returns to center more quickly. Even for those in those very difficult unexpected loss or the grief associated with a chosen change. Even when there are fleeting destructive thoughts. Back into movement and flow. Into a presence for life as you know now. Recovery. The other side.

These days, the buzz in media for grief and life is a trend to be resilient. Resilience is built upon applying examined experience. It makes sense then, if circumstances of life stops you in your track, you are being asked to examine the experience. Long enough to gather your energy.

* * *

A few days later… After words. The trouble wasn’t the alternator and it didn’t cost $500. The diagnosis was: “We can’t find anything. We don’t know what happened. Something shut down the program and it needed a full recalibration. $199.” Recalibration! No, I didn’t make this up! This story is shared with permission, laughter and love.

 

*Type of Death and Responsibility are two of ten initial Influencers for Navigating Grief. Influencers are identifiable universal aspects of loss and carry weight not judgment as you move through your individual grief. They can hinder or support you in grief and loss awareness. For example, Responsibilities in you life can get in the way, such as you have to work more hours to provide for the family and therefore put grief on the back burner. Responsibility can also be your saving grace as dedication to family or purpose though work helps keep you active, connecting, and out of the hole of depression. 

5 Minute Coach’s Corner: Metaphors of Break Down

Simple questions and metaphors to shine a light on “Who are you now?” after loss.

When the outside world is a mirror to your state of challenge what is the metaphor? New sciences are showing that thought and language are activators to move energy and create action into result. If true, then what happens to or around us can be a reflection of our state of being. Agree or not, the concept is interesting to apply as a metaphor of life.

  • In the story shared here what might it mean to you to have the car break down?
  • What might be the significance of a battery vs an alternator vs a starter as the metaphor?
  • Can you think of a time in your life when the inconvenience of something breaking or an interruption was perhaps a response to the situation at hand? It usually is prefaced with, it was not a good time for… to happen.
  • With hindsight, was the moment and the outcome different? How does the passage of time change the story?
  • In this scenario, what was thought to be an alternator turned out to be a need of re-calibration. What happened to the metaphor now?

Navigating Grief Newsletter. March 31, 2018

Paradise Ridge Winery CA Love

Sustainability of Happiness

Once again, at least for my moda operandi in life and work, I have written half a dozen stories in my head and I sit here with a whole new thought to share!

Having just returned from time with my ailing 89 year-old stepfather at the side of his hospital bed in the apartment I last saw my mother alive… Well, you can imagine ghosts of grief rattling around my thoughts. The time was more palatable than painful. I felt the aching reminiscent of caring for Dave, unanswered questions for my mother, wonder and awe for what lies ahead for my stepdad, and also delightful memories all rolled into one long weekend.  Yet, I want to focus on what is ahead. The HOPEHang On Possibilities Exist – is the future view I prefer to reside. Read more

Top Ten Steps for Grief

Ten Actionable Steps Through Grief

Grief is work. Moving through grief means taking the necessary steps to reclaim your changed life in its new formation.

I didn’t wake up the day after my husband Dave died and know which way to go, who I was or what the next days, weeks and months would bring. I was sick, tired and broken. I was alone. Because I was knowledgeable about grief, hospice, and all the theories, the outside world could see me as strong and able. Ironically, that may have made me feel even more alone. But I was strong. I am strong. And it was difficult still. Read more

Grief mind body spirit

The Holistic Journey Through Grief

The work of grief is the work of life.  It is a holistic journey.

Mind. Body. Spirit.

Grief is universal. How far you walk along the grief journey is up to you as an individual. Superficially, grief is about accepting or assimilating the change of loss. Yes, that’s really big on its own! Grief is the transition. That’s often enough for most people: wrapping your heart and your mind around the emptiness. Yet, for many, the longing persists to understand more deeply about the loss that won’t go away.

Mind is one step of grief.

If standing in loss becomes your badge for life, grief becomes stuck and acknowledged, but not a journey. However, when you examine and share the heartbreak of loss and change, grief fades away to an often positive path that opens ahead.

Deeper work into grief is about the change, the transformation that occurs during the examination of that relationship for which you loved and lost, its impact on who you are today, how you operate in the world now and the so-called meaning of life. This is the topic of discussions, books, poetry, philosophers and movies since time began!

Examination comes from Reading. Writing. Thinking. Talking.

Body is one step of grief.

Transformation is about self-love. Understanding. Accepting not only the loss, but all the crevices of humans being. Grief comes in waves of feelings and memories for behaviors, regrets, gratitudes, criticisms, and all the other emotions. Grief is stored in the mind, body, and heart. Past, present and future collide.

Self-love appears in how we care for (or don’t care for) our body. Where does grief land in your body? And how much have you carried with you for long before this loss? Since mind and body are inextricably woven, loving attention to your mental or physical health will elevate both.

Feeling means to Listen. Breathe. Notice. Release.

Spirit is one step of grief.

Even deeper comes the ultimate work that falls under the heading of faith, meditation, spirituality, God.

What happens after one dies and how you stay connected to your loved one cannot be ignored. Religion, God, The Universe, Life Force, Afterlife… in grief, one critical component is to confront your deep held beliefs. Do your beliefs match up to the feelings and thoughts of your grief experience right now?

How can you look at loss without questions about the afterlife? It is impossible. Not having answers for one’s self about spirit can be an area of stuck grief. What you know to be “right” is deeply and profoundly personal. Whether through religions, rituals, traditions, or philosophy, you will meet this path on the grief journey. You may not be able to articulate or explain this part of your journey fully as the spiritual path is not necessarily an intellectual exercise.

Experience the stillness of Being. Knowing. Embracing. Expanding.

Mind. Body. Spirit.

Nobody wants to hear that grief is work. Who willingly takes on such potential angst, examination and pain? Yet, all your angst, examination and pain are already inherent in the process of your loss that is known as grief.  Choosing to discover what you need to know about grief consciously will make the process have purpose and create meaning out of loss and propel you forward into your best life. Death is a catalyst of change thrust upon you.

The order and aspect for your Mind-Body-Spirit work of grief —what makes itself known to you— varies. If you come to your loss with deep faith, this may sustain you, or could rock your world when you question the unfairness of loss. If your health has degraded significantly, your first step may be to acknowledge your own bodily needs for living. Perhaps you are someone who feels so much, you can’t even think about the loss, much less assimilate the very real changes happening around you. Grief is individual.

Work is a dirty four letter word. We reject it. We avoid it. We love to hate it. But when you think about it, work brings accomplishment, self-esteem, value and even community into our lives.

We do get through grief when we work at it, consciously. Grief doesn’t resolve on its own no matter how much time passes. You never forget the loss, the person for whom you mourn. Getting through is never about forgetting; the other side of grief is inclusive. Feeling great is not a betrayal, but a testament to love: The love for the one you miss and the love that was given to you.

Grief isn’t easy. Grief isn’t pretty.  But neither is what you are experiencing right now. As you choose to “do something” about your grief, which is your work, you walk your path to a new wholeness. Your definition for how you are whole is likely to change. But it may surprise you to find that on the other side of grief you have become more through loss rather than become less when Navigating Grief.

The Real Cost of Grief

The Real Cost of Grief

Grief appears as all sorts of emotions, and whether acknowledged it or not, may be actively defining who you are in the world right now. When you repeat the same thoughts without moving through to answers or a new perspective, grief makes you stuck. How many of these statements or questions below have you known at one time or another since your loss? Read more