This weekend, I went to the Canada Day celebration in my hometown.
It was a sweet little island festival featuring Elvis, Dolly and Patsy impersonators. It doesn't get much better than that!
The festival is held at "The Flats" - a flat grassy piece of land down by the river dabbled with campsites and little buildings for cooking, etc.
For as long as I can remember, I've been going there, helping set up various town events.
My papa made the structures.
My nana cooked the food.
My mom painted the signs.
My dad competed in the events.
My cousins, brother and I ran freely, all jacked up on cotton candy and LOVE.
These events are imprinted in the very fabric of my being.
The smells. The sounds. The sights. The quality of the air against my skin.
They all elicit deep memories of a happy childhood and a devoted family surrounded by a tight knit and supportive community.
The ‘before shot’.
Before addiction rampaged through. Before illness. And divorce. And death....
Chances are, if you’re grieving, you’ve heard the saying “you’ve got to feel it to heal it.” The problem is, feeling it can be terrifying.
Last night in my free Facebook group Healing Grief Holistically, I led a meditation class called Relax your Emotional Body that addressed this head on.
We focussed on becoming aware of and allowing our uncomfortable emotions so we could invite in healing.
And, even though I prefaced the meditation by saying it would be a loving and safe experience, participants were still scared. They said things like, “I’m afraid to allow my emotions. I’m afraid if I do, they’ll consume me or cannibalize me.”
I get it. I’ve been there and allowing your emotions can definitely feel scary. Which is why this is even more important.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Carl Jung. It says, “what we resist persists.” In this context, it means that when we resist...
Hi from Canada - eh! ;)
About a month ago we made a semi-spontaneous decision to spend the summer in my hometown on Vancouver Island. I've been homesick pretty much the entire time we've lived in Santa Barbara and a series of things came together to make it possible, so we just decided to go for it.
I'm beyond happy to be here and settle in for while.
That said, all the change has left me feeling a little overwhelmed and being 'home' has stirred some grief up to the surface.
Cue the grounding exercises.
When I notice myself feeling anxious, overwhelmed or unsettled, my go-to practice is grounding. With this, I’m always amazed at how simple it can be to bring myself back to center.
A few simple things to ground your energy:
The other day, I interviewed some women in this community as part of an effort to find ways to better serve.
One question I asked was: How do you fear your close friends and family would react if they knew how hard grief was for you?
They all had a list of answers that really coincided with one another.
The one response that really stood out was: I think they would think "gosh, it's been a while, why can't you just get over it?"
This answer was universal.
From a women who'd lost her husband 7 years ago.
A women who'd lost her sister 3 years ago.
And, woman who'd lost her mother 7 months ago.
It didn't matter how long it'd been. They all felt the same way.
And, if I'm being honest with myself, I often feel the same way too.
So what can you do about it?
Start by giving yourself a little love: What if whenever the thought, I should be over this by now popped up you said, I'm not over it, and that's okay. Take some of the...
If you're grieving, any kind of grief, I can almost guarantee that you've suffered from shoulda-coulda-woulda at some point along your journey.
I'll let you fill in the blanks:
The problem with this, is that it brings you out of the present moment. It brings you into the past and into the future where you are trying to re-write what actually happened. And, while doing that, it often puts your nervous system into a state of fight, flight or freeze - increasing your stress levels and decreasing your body's natural ability to heal.
Disclaimer: If you find yourself in shoulda-coulda-woulda, please know there is nothing wrong with you. This is a perfectly natural part of grieving. I've been there myself many, many times. So please be kind to yourself. Tell yourself that it's okay that...
I can remember the first time I said it.
It was just days after we brought him home from the hospital.
I was standing at the makeshift changing table finishing up a diaper change.
And he was crying.
I picked him up and snuggled him close into my heart.
And, to my deepest surprise, I said it.
The words I never thought I’d say.
From some very well meaning place, engrained deep inside my unconscious, the words bubbled up without me even thinking.
“Oh Baba, don’t cry.”
And, in that moment I experienced for the first time, the dreaded mom-guilt.
Holy, $h!t. I can’t believe I just said that.
“I’m so sorry, sweet boy. Mama didn’t mean that.”
“Let it out sweet boy. I hear you and I’m here for you - no matter what”
And, that moment, I made 2 vows.
One to him.
And, one to me.
To him, I vowed, I would do my best to never, ever say that again.
I mean, I wrote the book on this stuff.
Crying is a perfectly...
There have been a couple times in my life when sleep was an issue:
When Benito died, I can remember laying in bed for nights on end - not knowing when the last time I actually slept was.
I can remember laying there in a tight little ball crying in the dark stillness of the night - feeling all alone and like the pain was never ever going to end.
When my mom died, 13 months later, I can remember crying myself to sleep for hours thinking of him - and feeling guilty that I wasn’t thinking of her...
My point is, when your grieving, sleep can be really, really hard.
Here’s a simple tool, that will make it easier:
remember my first Valentine’s Day after he died.
I was living with my dad - cause that’s what you do when you become a widow at 24 and you’ve used up all your money (and then some) on living expenses when he was sick.
I tried not to think about it all day and stayed home in my pj’s - in my bedroom.
But when my dad came home from work he brought me a single red rose.
He gave it to me in the kitchen - when I came out of hiding for a glass of water.
A sweet gesture of fatherly love.
And, I lost it. I mean completely lost it.
I fell into my daddy’s arms and sobbed uncontrollably.
Poor guy - a natural stoic with a sensitive heart - probably didn’t know what hit him.
He held me. And, he didn’t say anything.
At the time, I kinda wished he did because I wanted out of my pain.
I wanted someone to change the subject.
To make a joke.
But he just stood there holding me while I cried uncontrollably into his shoulder.
Even though this is an...
Since having my baby, I've been living with Postpartum Anxiety which I believe has been exacerbated by my past experience with loss.
It's bad enough that find myself dreaming up all the ways that my baby might die. It's even worse that I have the past experience (and client experience) to tell me that it's actually a real possibility.
It has been perhaps the most challenging time of my life - and that's saying a lot! ;)
On the bright side -as my husband always says, I have the tools to manage my symptoms when they come up and the wisdom to know that just because I have anxiety doesn't mean I can't also have inner peace as it is the dark and the light that make the whole.
Here is one of my favourite tools for managing anxiety:
When my mom died, she was missing for several days.
The waiting game became more and more agonizing with each passing moment.
The past 2 days in Santa Barbara, I’ve been transported back there.
Grief is like that.
A spiral that continues to reveal itself even as the years go by.
Each time a search helicopter flies overhead (which has been non-stop)...
I feel it.
How it feels to wait.
Wanting so badly for the phone to ring.
Willing it to ring.
But when the phone actually does ring, wishing it wasn’t ringing.
Terrified of what might be revealed.
I feel my fingers shaking and my halted deep breaths as I answer.
And my disappointment - when it’s someone else.
And also my deep relief - when it’s someone else - because I’m not ready to know.
And, I think of you.
Those who are waiting.
And, those who have received the call.
And with each helicopter that flies overhead (which has been non-stop)...
I say a prayer.
I send love and light from that place deep inside...
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