Archive for January, 2012

I agree with the author… meds are not the only way through anxiety. Neither is CBT. Mindfulness is a wonderful tool to helping with anxiety-based problems. Another option, though most likely somewhat more expensive is biofeedback. I have several pieces of biofeedback equipment, some as simple as a digital thermometer for less than $20.00, that are a great adjunct to mindfulness or other kinds of meditation practice. Using these tools help you to understand and be more mindful of the physiological affects of your anxiety and your workign with it… kudos!

An article in Scientific American is entitled, Panic Attack Sufferers Are Unaware of Symptoms:

Panic attacks seem to come out of nowhere but research finds symptoms appear up to one hour before the sufferer is aware of the attack.

The conclusion of this article ends with a statement and a question:

The study authors note that this lack of awareness may explain
why meds work better for sufferers than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy does: How is the patient supposed to work on something that they are unaware is already in progress?

Why is it assumed that people need remain unaware of their physiological experience? This is exactly what meditation can attend to. It’s called “mindfulness” for a reason. It’s entirely possible to become aware of our bodies, minds and psyches.

This sort of knee-jerk conclusion that determines we are helpless in the face of all our physiology strips people of their inheritance…

View original post 316 more words

Read Full Post »

What a lovely expression of love… here we see a mother living with her loss, being touched by it, inviting it in, and healing. Some would want to call this complicated bereavement and I think that is utterly crazy on the part of the American Psychiatric Association. This is what living with loss is and it is beautiful. I honor all this love!!!!

Memory Bears by Bonnie

Two years after my son’s death, I am doing okay. There are times when I start to cry without even thinking about Jon. I find no explanation for it. Sometimes, I see or hear something that may bring a few tears and a melancholy moment, but when I tear up without any prompt, I am without any explanation.

It’s not something I worry about. I think grief has become part of me, as my son is part of me. Both are with me, as one goes with the other. I celebrate Jon’s life and I am proud he is my son. I say “is my son” because he didn’t stop being my son when he died. He is my son who died, too young, too soon.

View original post

Read Full Post »

What a great story of a tragedy and healing… Thank you for sharing this story with this community!

The Existential Addict

This has been a difficult time for me and for Kat’s family.  Knowing how many people read of Nathan and Kat gave us a sense of community – extended globally, touching the unknown who we now embrace as family. Your comments and support have been so important to us, and we will share them with Kat when she is old enough to understand. She still doesn’t really understand, and that is to be expected with her age. The first thing she tells people when she sees them is “My daddy died.” I’ve watched so many people squirm, search for comforting words in these most uncomfortable moments. Her grief comes in waves. Her tears flow longer for minor hurts than they did – as if any pain triggers the deep, gaping wound of loss. But she is only 5, so the weight of this has not crushed her – she laughs…

View original post 459 more words

Read Full Post »

We don’t get to hear a lot from men about their grief.  And I am sure that is for many reasons.  When we do, I think it is really important to listen, pay mindful attention, and try to understand what’s going on.  Much of bereavement literature and theory was based on work with widows.  We know that loss is so different, so personal, and to base our theories on one group for so long (and then not question that we did that) is a bit embarrassing and not really fair.

Robert Stolorow, traumatologist and psychoanalyst, shared this post on a blog project in Sept 2011.  I am sharing it here because later this week I will be looking at the different kinds of grievers. . .intuitive and instrumental. . . and to help understand the difference so that we can help provide appropriate care to the bereft.  Not everyone is going to cry.  Not everyone is going to run a marathon.  And we should ask them to do what is not in their souls to do.

I hope you enjoy this post.  I appreciate Dr. Stolorow for sharing his experience with being with healing and grieving.

Read Full Post »

I love Jon’s work and am grateful to all that he has done to help get mindfulness into mainstream medicine and psychology!

Ultimately, I see mindfulness as a love affair–with life, with reality and imagination, with the beauty of your own being, with your heart and body and mind, and with the world. — Jon Kabat-Zinn from Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment–and Your Life

Click here for a list of posts featuring Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work on Beyond Meds…he’s got great stuff!.

Here are a couple of other books of his that are popular. You really can’t go wrong:

●  Wherever You Go, There You Are

●  Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

●  Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness

View original post

Read Full Post »

So very happy that this post was shared. If you are new to meditation or if you haven’t tried it in awhile, do some fully embodied work… here is a wonderful blog about Progressive Muscle Relaxation!

Read Full Post »

Bertram's Blog

A couple of weeks ago I talked about The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief:

1. Trying to understand where he went.
2. Living without him
3. Dealing with continued grief bursts.
4. Finding something to look forward to rather than simply existing.
5. Handling the yearning.

There are other challenges, of course, some unique to each individual, but all the challenges are dealt with the same way: By continuing to feel the pain when it erupts rather than turning away from it to satisfy the concerns of those who don’t understand; by taking care of ourselves even when we don’t see the point; by trying new things.

In other words, we meet the challenges of the second year by living. It sounds simple, but nothing about grief for a life mate/soul mate is simple. By living, we begin to move away from our…

View original post 216 more words

Read Full Post »

Snow flake

Image via Wikipedia

One Day – an idea that will horrify you now – the misfortune will be a blessed

memory of a being who will never leave you.

But you are in a stage of unhappiness where it is impossible

for you to have faith in these reassurances.”

~~Marcel Proust

Last week, someone posted a question to my About page, questioning what I thought about the idea of “gifts” that come from loss.  Essentially, this is an area that I tread lightly in… for the person who is in the depths of their grief, gifts, meanings, messages, life lessons, etc is something that I do not talk about at that time.  I think it can almost be cruel… like when someone says to a grieving parent, “you’re young, you can have another…”  I can think of nothing else that could be more injuring to the memory of the person who died or to the aching heart of the bereft person.  And there have been times, where I can honestly say, yes, I’ve wanted to hit someone for foolish, hurtful words like these.  And I have to remember that we are just so uncomfortable with our own pain but to be present to another’s pain is a thousand-fold worse for so many people.

I’ve thought a lot about this topic during the past week and posted a reply to this “sister” blogger last night… I am sure that she will not be the only person to bring up this topic and so I decided to post my response here.  I am so grateful to her for asking her question and I hope that this will either comfort someone, help them understand another’s grief, or at the very least, get us thinking about our reactions to the grief of another person.  So, here is my reply:

I do not believe that there is any inherent purpose to death.  It is a function of being a human being and having these bodies that we do.  I don’t think there is any more inherent purpose than I believe that there is any inherent meaning.

The existentialists were split into two camps about this very topic… there were those who believed that there was no meaning in the world and were nihilistic.  There was another group who also did not believe that there was an inherent purpose, however, they did believe that we create our own meaning.  In this second group, I think of Viktor Frankl.  He once said, “For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”  And this is how I see the losses we endure.

I don’t believe that there was “a” purpose to my brother’s death.  There were three of us that were most affected by this loss and we all had different relationships to him and this loss.  We each had to find our own meaning and purpose to live with this loss.  I know that all three of us would prefer, in some ways that he was back in our lives, happily living.  But he wasn’t happily living while he was here and through his dying, our lives were changed.  And other people have been influenced by us.    And if he was alive, he would not be healthy.  Given that, I have to make sense out of this loss in order to live with it.  That is where the purpose comes into the picture.

I know that many people who are bereft, especially parents of young children, hate hearing that there is a purpose to the death of the person who they loved.  And I struggle when I hear people saying that to them.  If we come to that place, in our own lives, over our own losses, then great.  But I think we have to face that for most of us, if it was the choice between us gaining some gift (compassion, insight, greater love, etc.) and the person who we lost, I cannot think of anyone I have ever met that would choose the gift instead.

I also don’t think that finding meaning and purpose is a panacea or defense mechanism.  I think that when we find meaning and purpose, if we do, that it helps to guide our lives.  It gives us an ethic or viewpoint, a lens, that we see the world through and then act in accordance.  I don’t think we use that as a way to deny the pain, though I suppose it could be.  I think we have to find ways to re-create our lives and figure out how to live them without the physical presence the person we love because they are not coming back.

These are just the thoughts that have been swirling around in me for the past few days.  They are influenced by my philosophical and spiritual ideas and my experiences.  They are also informed by the hundreds of people who I worked with at hospice, those who seemed to struggle and soar after someone’s death and those that seemed to struggle for the rest of their lives.

May the merit of all the good we do go out into the world

and shine on all who are in need of light.

May the merit of our love

be an inspiration to all those who have never felt love.


Read Full Post »

Simple Notes on Sitting Meditation:

“Allow all the muscles in your body to relax. Don’t fight or struggle.   There are people who, after fifteen minutes of sitting meditation,   feel pain all over their body because they’re making an effort  to sit or striving to succeed in their sitting meditation. Just allow  yourself to be relaxed, as if you were sitting by the ocean.”

“To succeed in your sitting, release the tension in your body and  in your feelings. Get comfortable in your seated body. When you  begin to breathe in and out, enjoy the breathing in, the breathing  out. Give up any struggle and enjoy sitting and smiling. This is a  privileged moment, having the opportunity to sit quietly like this.  You are your own island. Nobody at this moment can ask you to do  anything. Nobody will disturb you, no one has the right to ask you  a question, or to ask you to go and wash the pots or clean the bathroom.   This is your precious opportunity to relax and be yourself.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Happiness:  Essential Mindfulness Practices

Read Full Post »

reflected sadness

Image via Wikipedia

Physical Reactions

  • Nausea
  • Tiredness and exhaustion
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia or
  • Tenseness, irritability
  • Headaches, Muscle Aches

I think we forget that we are physical beings that have been a physical relationship with another physical being that is no longer here.  I know that sounds really crazy… but it’s true.  I am not just a heart, not just emotions, not just a head/mind…  I am the totality of my physical body, my history, the epoch I find myself in, the things I ingest, etc., etc.

I learned part of this lesson when I was new to grief counseling and had set up several sessions where I had professionals come in to do some workshops with my clients on mind/body modalities.  The day the two massage therapists came, I was really excited.  I had a pretty large group and was excited to help my clients see that they needed to take care of themselves as they were grieving.

Less than 20 minutes into the presentation, the participants started to share. . . as I looked around at them, while listening to what they were saying, I realized that everyone in the group was grieving the loss of a spouse.  And I don’t think it would be too off base to say that most of these participants had not been really touched since their spouse died.  We spent the next 45 minutes talking about this very issue and what it was like for them.  What a gift this group gave to me!  And I think that’s what healing is, mutually opening our hearts and touching each other’s lives.

One reason that we can have physical manifestations during grief is because we’ve been a caregiver for someone who is aging, ill, and/or dying.  Caregivers can be amazing people who give their whole hearts, minds, and bodies to their caregiving, and in the process, neglect their own health.  I strongly encourage anyone who was a caregiver to get a physical when things have settled in the first few months after a loss.

Please hear, I am not suggesting going in for meds because of lack of sleep, anxiety, etc.  I am suggesting you have labs drawn, get your BP checked out, etc.  We may neglect an ache or a pain because we are up all night with our loved one and don’t want to get away to have ourselves checked out.

People who are early in grief also can be more susceptible to things like the flu.  Again, part of it is not being able to take good care of ourselves.  The other is that our immune systems are challenged and not as able to fight off infection.

A few things that are important during this time are water, sleep, some healthy food, and some exercise.  If you are too tired to cook for yourself, you may want to keep bowls of things like nuts or trail mix around the house.  Having things like cheese, hard-boiled eggs, grapes or other foods that take very little preparation can be very helpful.  And I am not suggesting joining a gym, just taking some short walks — 30 minutes a day that can be broken up into 10 minutes at a time.  Studies have actually shown that these lifestyle changes, for some, can be as effective as some medications.

Of course, this blog is only about information and you should always work with your provider to stay mindful of what you need medically, psychologically, spiritually, and nutritionally.

Remember that you are an embodied being… you have arms that once held someone, hands that once ruffled someone’s hair, shoulders that were there to capture your loved one’s tears and worries.  Take gentle care of yourself.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »