Sunday, November 22, 2020

Free 30 minute Initial Consultation for Grief Coaching

My biggest hope through my artwork and advocacy is to create more awareness on the process of grief and mourning in an avoidance culture. As a Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist, I focus on unresolved grief from death, divorce, and other losses for better reconciliation. I don't want you to hold on to your broken heart or to do it alone like I did. 

_Grief Defined:_

Grief and mourning are often confused or used interchangeably. Grief is the internal feelings of loss, while mourning is the outward expression of internal grief. Grief can arise from any change in a normal pattern and is the normal, natural and PAINFUL emotional reactions to loss or change of ANY kind. 

Some examples include:


Divorce or end of a relationship

Loss of a career

Loss of trust

Loss of faith

Loss of safety

Loss of health

Loss of a sense of self or identity

Loss from a combination of these elements

_The Problem_

For many people even though grief is normal & natural, the vast majority of what we learn in our society about dealing with loss is not normal, not natural or helpful. We learn more about how to mend a broken arm, then we do about how to support people grieving. Your feelings are normal and natural. The problem is that we have been socialized to believe that these feelings are abnormal and unnatural.

How I can help to heal your broken heart:

I facilitate online one-on-one 7 -1 1/5 hour-sessions on the Grief Recovery Method® Educational Program.

We will:

Create a safe environment in which to look at old beliefs about dealing with loss

Discover what losses have affected your life 

Develop new tools surrounding loss

Take new actions to move forward with unresolved losses while honoring your grief

The Grief Recovery Method® Educational Outreach Program is not an occasional, drop-in support group. For the safety and success of all participants, commitment and attendance is essential. 


The fee for the online one-on-one 7 -1 1/2 hours sessions is $1,000. 

                                    until the end of December - Pay what you can afford.


- Sign up for a free 30 minute Initial Consultation for grief coaching.

In this call or zoom meetup, we will be talking specifically about what you have been through, how it is impacting you, and whether we are a good fit for the Grief Recovery Method program and/or any of my art & grief workshops.

I'll be here went you are ready.


Transforming conflict and loss through creativity & collaboration 

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 to register for your spot. 

Only 10 spots available.

Only 8 spots available.

Only 7 spots available.

Only 3 spots available.

Only 2 spots available

Can one recover from loss?


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


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, a fractured 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 are 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 and my siblings. I 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 I 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.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Myths about Grief - Twelve Labors of Hercules

by Hans Sebald Beham, Engraving, 1545

I got some notes wondering what working with me, art, and grief might look like. I thought I would share one of my biggest Aha's with grief. Before I begin, I want to say I am not a clinical therapist and any of the tools I bring up are for educational purposes only. You might be reading this because you are struggling with grief and I hope this gives you an idea how I work with my own and how I can work with you.

Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end or any change in a normal pattern.  It is the normal, natural and PAINFUL emotional reactions to loss or change of ANY kind. While mourning is the ability to externally express this loss. A person can experience multiple losses over the course of a lifetime, such as: a death, a move, an illness, disability and many others. This can include happy things like a marriage, graduation or new job. Largely it is a loss of some aspect of self or identity. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2002, our avoidance of grief and the conflicts it creates costs U.S. companies more than $75 billion annually.

Grief and mourning are a process and a unique journey. 

There is no quick fix. Creating a new sense of self often involves experimenting a bit. Looking at examples from art history can sharpen the inherent ability to “see” as humans while unlocking our potential for change. Linking the eye, hand, heart and head can provide discovery. While understanding the key to recovery from unresolved grief is action.

Myths about Grief - from the The Grief Recovery Method®

1.Time heals. 

Time does not heal, action within time does. People have waited 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years to feel better.

2. Grieve alone. 

Often this advice is subtly implied,“Give your mom her space” or “He just needs a few minutes alone in the other room.” A societal norm is that sad feelings should be hidden or experienced alone.

3. Be strong. 

Usually the Griever is asked to be strong for others. “You have to be strong for your... [e.g. wife]” or “Be strong for your children.” “Pull up your boot straps."

4. Don’t feel bad. 

This is usually followed by an intellectually true statement but is not helpful at all to the Griever, “Don’t feel bad, his suffering is over.” or “Don’t feel bad, at least you knew her as long as you did.”

5. Replace the loss. 

This is common with pet loss or the end of a romantic relationship. “On Tuesday we’ll get you a new dog” or “There are plenty of fish in the sea. You just have to get out there and date again.” Most likely there has been no action taken to grieve over the loss of the pet or relationship, just an attempt at not feeling the emotions attached to the loss.

6. Keep busy.

“If I just keep busy then I won’t have time to think about the loss.” Many people spend their whole lives with this mentality and never get a chance to grieve and complete what was unresolved with loss. Mostly, they are left even more tired.

None of these ideas lead us to the actions of discovering and completing the unfinished emotions that accrue in all losses.

After I learned about these myths, the images from art history of Hercules working through the the Twelve Labors came to my mind. The Twelve Labors of Hercules are: killing Lernaean Hydra, wrestling with Nemean Lion, destroying the Ceryneian Hind, killing the Erymanthian Boar, capturing the Stymphalian Birds, taking down the Cretan Bull, stealing the Mares of Diomedes, finding the Girdle of Hippolyta, releasing the Cattle of Geryon, collecting the Apples of the Hesperides, dragging Cerberus from the underworld, and the humiliation at the The Stables of Augeas. At times in my grief, I felt like I was wrestling a lion, a Hydra then only to move onto Cerberus. How about you?

by Hans Sebald Beham, Engraving, 1545

by Hans Sebald Beham, Engraving, 1545

by Hans Sebald Beham, Engraving, 1545

by Hans Sebald Beham, Engraving, 1545

by Hans Sebald Beham, Engraving, 1545

by Hans Sebald Beham, Engraving, 1545

Now, take a moment to look over the these engravings.
Draw the basic shapes noting black, white and grey also. Just a sketch.
Think about how these myths have impacted your own grief?
Write a short sentence about what you see, notice or what it evokes for you.

The Labors of Hercules
are some of the most famous tales from Greek mythology. Hercules would undertake these Labors as an act of penance for the grief he carried. As a young man, Hercules assisted King Creon of Thebes in his war with the Minyans. Later, he married Creon's daughter, Megara.
Despite being a son of Zeus, Hercules was not favoured by all of the gods & goddess. Hera, Zeus’ wife had a special hatred for her husband’s son. Hera would persecute Hercules whenever she had the chance and sent the goddess Madness to Thebes. Overtaken by Madness, Heracles kills his own children and possibly his wife. For his "crimes," Hercules is banished from Thebes, and travels to Delphi to consult with the Oracle about how to atone for his actions. The proclamation from the Oracle at Delphi was that Hercules must enter into a period of servitude with King Eurystheus, and perform any task requested hence the Twelve Labors.

We have a long tradition of the griever fighting the Lion, the Hydra, the Hind, the Boar, the Birds, the Bull, the Mares, retrieving the Girdles?, finding Apples and Cattle, and lastly dragging Cerberus back to the underworld, and even feeling humiliation, shame and isolation at the The Stables of Augeas. This myth shows the weight and labor of grief. 

I can tell you, it's never to soon or too late to recover from the pain of grief and it doesn't have to be a relentless burden. Art history, my artist practice and The Grief Recovery Method® have provided me with tools to work with my own grief and I want to share them with you.

I'll be here when you're ready.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Ring Theory: a grief tool for understanding your place in crisis, conflict or loss.

Kathe Kollwitz, In Memoriam Karl Liebnecht

The world is grieving in a huge way right now for so many different things… But let’s zero in on one big one today... Black lives and black bodies.

The black community is grieving, and they have every right to. How can you be a good support to these grievers? If you are an ally or support person, this is not about you in this moment and DO NOT turn to these grievers to make yourself feel better. Suck it up buttercup! (More resources for understanding privilege and systemic racism at the end of this post.)

After my own losses, many people wanted me or my siblings to comfort them. Just writing that just now sounds crazy! They wanted me to be strong, educate them, and be compassionate for them so they could grieve and move on. While my family and I were, well, GRIEVING. This only left us extra tired and lonely. Honestly, I was angry at people who put my mother’s grief for my father and brother behind their own.

One of the best tools any ally can understand about grief is Ring Theory. This concept was written about by psychologist Susan Silk and her friend Barry Goldman. This simple tool will help determine what part you play in the loss, conflict or crisis.

This is just the basic gest of Ring Theory:

1. Draw a circle. In this circle, write the name of the person or people at the center of the event.

2. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In this ring, put the name of the person next closest to the event.

3. In each larger ring, put the next closest people involved in the event.

The rules are as follows:

1. Anyone in the center of the ring can say anything they want to anyone, anywhere. Kvetching, moaning, complaining, whining, cursing and fist in the air like Bender from The Breakfast Club.

2. This is KEY. Everyone else can use the above list also, but only to people in a larger ring!

3. If you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours or someone closer to the center of circle your role is to HELP, LISTEN, and COMFORT ONLY. Before you open your mouth, think is this going to provide comfort and support. If the answer is no. Let it go. People in the center need comfort and support not your advice or opinion. Things of comfort sound like: “Tell me what happened?” “Can I bring you dinner?” “How can I support you?” Then you really listen, and you commit to doing what you say you will do. You sit right in that moment with them and you hold that vessel of safety so they can take a breath, feel safe and supported. Most of the time people just want to be heard and acknowledged. By doing this their grief will begin to shift.

4.  Don’t change the subject to you and your feelings, advice or this is a bummer. Just don’t be that person. And if you do, then maybe you should admit you’re the wrong person to be here in this moment without more tools on board to help. Fair enough, own that. But if you are the only person there close your mouth, open your heart, and just LISTEN.

5.  If you are anywhere in the circle and you want to scream, cry, complain, whine, or feel the feels, totally cool. Just DO IT with someone in the bigger ring!

The whole point of this ring is to provide comfort to those inside the circle and ripple the dumping to the outside of the circle so everyone along the way is heard and can heal while finding collaborative solutions.

This is just a start for understanding privilege and systemic racism:

White Fragility – Robin Diangelo

Good Talk – Mira Jacob

So, you want to talk about race – Ijeoma Olou

Me and white supremacy – Layla F. Saad

Friday, May 29, 2020

In this time of great loss...

"Pieta" Michelangelo
1499, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Italy  High Renaissance

Learning to see like an artist can enhance creative solutions to the problems of everyday life, especially during loss or conflict. Looking at examples from art history can sharpen the inherent ability to "see" as humans while unlocking our potential for change.

For 8 weeks, you'll develop skills for noticing elements in art that engages the senses surrounding loss.  I will share rich examples from the art world, simple drawing exercises, creative writing, journaling, and artistic prompts to allow participates to "see" and explore grief differently. Through looking at these images you will find examples of comfort, pain, and inspiration. We will discuss these elements to develop your visual language, perception, and knowledge of art history. Then each week you will have the opportunity to create and share your own reflection while taking away possible inspiration for your own artwork or artist practice.

Send a note to with your questions or requests and I'll get you signed up.

Please indicate which option you would like to sign up for:

1. 8 week E-course on your own:

At this time, I feel it is important that people have these TOOLS! Pay what you can afford! Seriously, take me up on this... there are great tools, wonderful artwork and history to be discovered. I often charge around $145.00 for this e-course.

2. 8 week Zoom course with me:

8 weekly one-on-one meetings for about an hour. This is $655.00. I provide content, conversation and coaching. You provide your own snacks, open-mind and heart. Also, during COVID, let me know if you want to add one thoughtful and really supportive friend and I will reduce the price to $500.00 each. I believe grievers need community.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Where did 2019 go...

As you can see the blog in 2019 seemed to drop off the edge of the planet...

This amazing collaborator and friend
 Beverly Soasey 
died unexpectedly on September 16, 2018, 
due to a rare, aggressive form of cancer.
She loved to travel and was away on an
artist residence in France when she got the news.
 She has been a huge loss to her family and the community. 

I miss her smile, laugh, grace and abundant creativity.

This is a great video if you want to hang out with her for a moment.

After her loss, I felt I needed to cancel the shows and 
plans we had made for the coming year.
But the studio was not quiet.

It seemed I could hear her pushing me to not be idle...