Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Helping Children With Loss - Free Talk




Watching a child grieve and not know what to do is a profoundly difficult experience for parents, teachers, and caregivers. We are currently in an unprecedented time of grief, change, and resilience. On Oct 25th at 2 p.m. Pacific Standard, I will be presenting a one hour informational talk for adults on helping children with loss. There are tools for helping children develop a lifelong healthy response to loss. 

I hope you will join me to hear more. 


Email me at Beth@robinpress.com to register for your spot. 

Only 10 spots available.

Only 8 spots available.

Only 7 spots available.

Can one recover from loss?

 

A detail from an 18th-century oil painting depiction of the Dance of Death

WELLCOME IMAGES, LONDON/ CC BY 4.0


Can one recover from loss? 

Recovery means acquiring skills we should have been taught to allow us to deal with loss directly. Sadly, most of us have not been given the necessary information with which to make correct choices in response to a loss.

A year after my father, John, died my youngest brother, Jacob, died. He was a dancer, funny, handsome, and eager to start his adventure in the world. As a 24-year old dancer he was fit, strong and had grown to be fully alive in his body. As a child he tripped over his feet and now after studies in dance, he owned every part of himself. Except one.

At eighteen, he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

I’m one of five children in a tight knit family. The loss of my father was incredibly hard on each of us and our mother. Jacob was struggling with college, type 1 diabetes, and normal living before my father’s death. Yet after, in each of us there became a deep need to “seize the day” not matter what.

He struggled with his diabetes, graduated college, and then decide to move to NY city. Taking with him so many piled up losses over the last several years: loss of health, loss of community, moving, death, fracture family structure, loss of a sense of self, graduating again, and moving again. He avoided talking about diabetes, changes in his health or how it was progressing. These losses are hard enough as a griever, and then another level as a person with diabetes, large changes in a pattern can be really hard on the body.

Not to long after moving to NY city, he was found in his apartment dead. It is suspected his blood sugar was low causing hypoglycemia. He fell and may have hit his head. My mother, my brothers, and I went to claim his body in a NY city morgue. Looking at his lifeless body, I can tell you it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I do not regret being there as I loved him. I still love and miss him. We were left with the uncertainty of the events of his death to this day.

After that, I had a significant amount of emotional grief that I stuffed deep into myself.  I had to stay strong for my mom, my siblings, kept busy taking care of things, and stuffed the pain and loss into the depths of my being. Not even when I was alone would take it out and work through it. Then it became worst, a fond or beautiful memory of him would turn painful as all I could remember was that day in the morgue. I made a choice in that moment that I would look for tools and actions that would help me to celebrate, love, and remember Jacob while being able to let the grief, pain, and loss go. Even writing this, I’m remembering his smile, the curls in his hair as a little boy, his ability to make me laugh, and the way he could dance. That day in the morgue has become just a fact in his death and never overrides the memory of all the good stuff anymore.

Good tools and a series of small and thoughtful choices made by a griever can support recovery from loss. I found the Grief Recovery Method and my art practice invaluable in this process. With these tools and actions, recovery becomes the ability to feel better, to find new meaning for living, enjoying fond memories while also being able to work with ones that might not be. Most importantly, recovery is acknowledging that it is perfectly all right to feel sad from time to time and to talk about those feelings no matter how those around you react. Recovering from a loss is not as easy task. Taking the actions that lead to recovery will require your attention, open-mindedness, willingness, and courage.

 

Do you want to go deeper?

Recovery from loss is achieved by a series of small and correct choices made by the Griever.

Schedule your free 15-minute mini session with me here.

Sign up for my newsletter here.


I’ll be here when you are ready.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Identifying Short – Term Energy Relieving Behaviors or STERBS

 




Identifying short – term energy-relieving behaviors or Sterbs

Many people in our society use what is call STERBs or “Short term energy relieving behaviors” in an attempt to cover the feelings caused by unresolved emotions from grief. Some examples of Sterbs are alcohol, food, shopping, and exercise.

Being able to identify short term energy relievers is an important part of understanding how we replace grief. Grief is the change in any normal pattern and there are approximately 40 different types of specific losses. Death only being one of them. In this current season of upheaval our former normal patterns are completely gone with things like zoom fatigue, home schooling, inequities, and loneliness filling some of the voids. It is understandable that we are grieving. These losses produce an incredible amount of emotional energy that can be exhausting. And largely, we have been socialized to deal with sad, painful, and negative emotions incorrectly, leaving us to store this energy within our bodies and minds.

As a kid have you ever hurt yourself and been offered a cookie. You might have learned that feelings can be fixed with food. But really when the cookie is eaten the feelings are different, not better, and for a moment your distracted from the incident that created a sad emotional response. This distraction tactic has not created a completion of emotional pain caused by the event. The event and the feelings attached to it are now buried in your belly with a distraction cookie and are reinforced to not be revisited. “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” “Be strong.” “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” I have a stomach-ache thinking about it.

Short-term relief offered through consumption is an illusion for long term relief from pain caused by the loss. The “go to” western human coping mechanism for loss becomes to cover up, hide, or bury feelings with distractions. The consuming of these distractions becomes the habitual response to the emotional energy, rather than discovering the real source of the energy or complete the relationship affected by our loss.

Food and alcohol are obvious and typical short-term energy relieving behaviors. Yet, there are many, many other behaviors that have the same life-limiting and damaging consequences. This partial list if done for the wrong reason, can have a negative impact on grieving people:

·       Food

·       Alcohol/Drugs

·       Anger

·       Exercise

·       Fantasy (movies, TV, books, gaming, social media)

·       Isolation

·       Sex

·       Shopping (humorously called retail therapy)

·       Workaholism

    Most of these actions are not harmful in and of themselves. They become harmful when you engage in them for the wrong reason. In fact, short-term energy relievers can have the opposite effect: the shopping binge followed by remorse over the money spent. This can be further distraction from the real and original emotional event or loss.

While many short-term energy relievers are apparent, some are not. I can say I have worked with people who have come year after year to grief support groups or visit the grave site on an extremely regular basis years following a death looking for long term relief. The problem with these actions is it does not lead to a completion with the loss.

Feel free to connect with me for a 15 minute discussion to discover if you would like an opportunity to work with the Grief Recovery Method on how certain actions of your own maybe indirect ways of dealing with the feelings caused by loss.

I will be here when you are ready.