Grief on Vacation

Grief on Vacation

Grief doesn’t take vacations.  Even if you do.

After spending the first part of January on a beach vacation I met a lot of amazing people, and a lot of those people were grieving. 

There was grief over health, loss of a loved one, divorce and someone who was carrying a lot of heavy stuff from their job.

Vacations can help us heal in many ways. 

 

Normal

What even is that? 

  • Nothing is normal after you have lost someone you love. 
  • Nothing is normal after a relationship has ended. 
  • Nothing is normal when you or someone else is healing their physical body. 

Nothing looks, feels, seems, is, or feels like it will ever be normal again.

Taking yourself on vacation or retreating from the tangle of “not normal” can be a way to distract ourselves from feeling overwhelmed while  being literally removed from our home base, we can begin to breathe.

A few months after my husband died I went away.  I went far far away from my normal to a country where nothing was familiar and I didn’t speak the language.  Some may have perceived my ‘get away’ as ‘running away’, however I intended and experienced the opposite.

Sitting in a cafe drinking a coffee and people watching was profoundly liberating.  I could not eavesdrop on other table’s conversations, I could blur out my vision to observe the bustle of everyone else’s normal and best part I began to breathe.

It was quasi meditative in the sense that I quickly found the skill to block out the rest of the world, and rather than empty my mind of thoughts I could actually tune into the thoughts that I was having.  I began to reacquaint myself with what was running through my mind that I hadn’t been afforded the luxury of.

Being able to sift through what felt like a jumble was a game changer.  I was able to open up my mind and heart to all the feelings and thoughts I was having about my recent loss.  I was able to allow myself the space to feel.

 

 

Perspective

So many well intended comments, adages, metaphors, advise and suggestions come after loss.  It is not uncommon for those who are on the receiving end to smile politely and nod. 

I am a firm believer in “take what you want and leave the rest”, and that can be hard to practice with so much coming at you.  All that had changed and all that had stayed the same gets flooded by all the other stuff other people are sharing with you.

I had summed up what I was feeling in a Feng Shui analogy:

It is good Feng Shui energy to have a fish in a bowl, it is another thing to feel like you are the fish in the bowl.

And that was my perspective.

It felt as if we were in a spotlight that relentlessly followed us during our zigs and zags as we moved forward.  Again whether real or not, that was my perspective on things.

Grief can dull our senses and feelings and it can heighten them to acute levels.  Its the yin and yang, dark and light, love and loss all the contrasts that we spinning amid.

Taking the trip, spending time with a friend, wandering around the sights, hacking my way through language exchanges brought to light a very important understanding.

I can not take a vacation from my grief, because whether I am home or away, grief is not a separate from who I am.

 

 

The significance of recognizing that grief was another part of me was a perspective shifter. 

Getting aligned with the understanding that it wasn’t neat and tidy as in — either you are grieving or you are not — and therefore that perspective that I was the fish in the bowl became less powerful, because I too understood that I was perpetuating that feeling onto myself to a great degree.

Feeling the Feels

Grief can make you guard yourself from feeling anything other than grief.   While in your home environment that energy is hard to shift, because of your literal surroundings.

Which is EXHAUSTING, in my opinion.

On vacation, surrounded by others who are there to also recharge from their lives, and in a different ecosystem you can be a part of something other than your grief. 

  • People are laughing and your laughter may come easier.
  • Smiles are natural and yours may not feel as forced.
  • Conversations with others can happen or not.

During a break, communing with other vacationers, we can go with and adapt to the ebb and flow at a resort, that isn’t as organically experienced at home. 

And that is the thing.

Everyone you meet on vacation is on vacation.  You don’t know what their story is and what they too may be taking a breather from.

That is the beauty and ease about taking yourself out of your normal, to broaden your perspective and to be in an environment that is safe for you to feel happy, to laugh, chat, nap, cry, really to do whatever your vacation looks like for you.

I remember feeling guilty for laughing, for genuinely being in the moment and having a laugh. 

I observed that in my daughters, during that time as well; it was like we weren’t supposed to feel anything but grief (which at times was self-imposed – hence being the fish). 

Navigating your new surroundings on vacation and new people requires you to engage in a different way.  You get to be, do and have your unique experience as is everyone else.

Returning Home

The positive effects of a vacation may feel as if they recede at lightning speed when its time to return home to real life.  As daunting as it may seem to plunge back into the day to day, I invite you to pause and consider the possibility that a re-calibration has taken place. 

Does that mean you have all the answers to the questions?  No.

Does that mean you have shed the heaviness of grief?  No.

What it does mean is that you have gifted yourself a temporary reprieve which may in fact convert into you feeling more grounded to take whatever next steps are in front of you.

 

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When the words are stuck

When the words are stuck

You know they want to say something.

You can sense they are hurting and that the words they want to say are hurting them by staying inside.

You want to say something.  You want to have the right words and say them with the right voice to invite them to say what they want to say.

You want them to feel what they are feelingl, while at the same time wanting to take away their pain.

Its a conundrum.


You would think that with my own personal experience that I would be able to do just that.  You would think that with my training in grief and loss, that I would be prepared to do just that.  Maybe you don’t think that, but I do.

I should know.  I should be able to.  I should be the one with the combination of nouns, pronouns, verbs and other language tools to unlock someone else’s stuck words.

Because I should know.


How Grief Feels

Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss. It is marked by conflicting emotions that result from the change in a familiar pattern of behavior. But from the standpoint of the grieving person, this is how grief may feel. Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who has always been there, only to find when we need them one more time, they are no longer there. Adapting to the absence of a loved one is difficult enough. But the first holiday season, with its constant reminders of holiday joy and tradition, can be especially painful.At the Grief Recovery Institute we’ve talked with thousands of people who’ve told us they wished they could jump from late October right to mid-January. We’ve heard the same sentiment from people enduring their first holiday season following a divorce. It’s normal to worry that you won’t be able to handle the pain of that first holiday season, whether the missing loved one is a spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, or child. You may even think you’d rather skip holiday gatherings. Those feelings and fears are not illogical or irrational. They represent a normal, healthy range of emotions about painful loss and our society’s limited ability to talk openly and honestly about grief.

The Grief Recovery Method Blog, “Uh Oh Its that time again.  Grief and the Holidays”

Whether it is the first, second or the upteenth year without your loved one, the holidays can be a challenging and emotional time.

And I agree and concur that society has created normalcy around not talking about it, about not broaching the subject.  Those of us who have experienced loss may also perpetuate that taboo as well.

Because it may not feel safe to express the words that we are holding inside, or not feel safe to invite another to release the words they are holding within.

We may feel that by saying nothing is safer and that we are being kind and compassionate by not saying the words or hearing theirs.


The Impasse

It would be perfectly understandable, and socially acceptable to keep those words stuck.  To not ask or invite the person who you feel is holding those words inside to share.

Or you can take a deep breath and ask them, “Are you okay?”, and be ready and open to listen.

You get to choose.

And so do they.  They get to choose whether to share how they are feeling, they get to choose to decline.

 

Testimonial: Life Reclamation Project – Grief from previous marriage

There are times in your life when those around you can see what you need more clearly than you can.
I recently had one of those times and thankfully Sherry was my person. She saw the grief that I was still holding onto from my first marriage and knew that going through the grief process was what would allow me to experience life in a more vibrant and full way.
Although the process is not for the faint of heart, it is one that I believe is responsible for my life unfolding like the wings of a butterfly as she exits her cocoon. Without even realizing it, I had been protecting myself from past hurts. And still denying myself the fullness of the love in front of me.
With an overabundance of grace and compassion and love, Sherry held my hand as I looked at the truths of the past in a way that allowed me to forgive and to finally let go.
I am already seeing the effects of our work together. The self-confidence and worthiness that I was stripped of so long ago are being restored. And all because Sherry created a safe environment for me to process and ask questions and speak my truth in a way that I had not been able to before. 
~D.K.

What is the best thing you learned or gained from working with me?

The best thing I gained was seeing the patterns I was repeating from my parents, which I believe allowed me to heal my past as well as stop the patterns from being passed down to another generation.

How will you apply it or How will it change &/or improve your life?

Being able to process the grief and the pain is going to allow me to live my life in a much fuller and more vibrant way. It is going to allow me to love and nurture myself in the most beautiful of ways.

On a personal note, how did I as your coach make you feel during the process/our time together?

You made me feel safe and protected. Heard. Valued. Understood.

Testimonial: Grief Recovery Coaching

Describe how things were feeling and going for you before we started working together?

I was carrying a massive amount of grief from the death of 3 family members and a massive break-up with a long term boyfriend. I didn’t know where to go from there in an emotional sense which I found also affected my physical health and well-being as well. I dragged myself to and from work and School and found my motivation and usual zest for life was nowhere to be found. At the time, I didn’t know what kind of help I was seeking, but Sherry came into my life at coincidentally the most perfect time.

What happened for you during the process?

Sherry made me address things inside me I wasn’t even sure I had going on. She made me recognize my grief, not only from losing my family members but also the grief I was carrying after my breakup. But what is grief? I really had no idea either until Sherry shared with my her own experiences and made me recognize that this process and idea of grief is different for all us yet. Sometimes it takes someone else, another point of view, to open your eyes to exactly how those things are affecting you personally.

My intention is to help people feel lighter after doing the grief recovery work, does that describe you and your experience?

Absolutely. Although grief is emotional, I physically felt like I was carrying blocks of cement on my back and shoulders everyday. My body was physically falling apart as well, from the stress of these so called “weights”. Sherry really made me realize how the body and mind truly coincide; and once those feelings of grief are properly addressed, it’s truly miraculous how those heavy feelings start to slowly become less and less.

Why do you think this happened?

By facing grief and addressing that it is indeed what is weighing you down. I believe a large part of this is recognizing in the first place what exactly it is doing to the body and mind.

How would you describe how you feel now?

Although I feel my anxiety, grief and overall feelings of sadness and depression come in waves, I feel Sherry gave me the tools to deal with them first hand. And I always know she is there for me if I need a reminder of those things.

~Erin H.

Suicide Prevention Day, is everyday – Video Podcast

Suicide Prevention Day, is everyday – Video Podcast

This post has been one of the most impactful and influential to me regarding suicide and the language we use about it.

The content is as relevant today as when it was written in 2013.

Eternal Gratitude and Credit to Joel Kobren for sharing on www.attemptsurvivors.com

Illnesses that no one saw coming

This is an excellent article on what not to say to someone who is suicidal.

 

Gratitude and Credit to www.speakingofsuicide.com

 

10 Things Not to say to a Suicidal Person

Graduation [be] Present

Graduation [be] Present

Regardless of when you graduated, you may be familiar with that loaded of all loaded questions…

 

 

“Now What?”

 

I suspect more than a few people who are graduating are asking that question tirelessly.  With of course some other good ones like.

 

  • What am I going to do with my life?
  • Am I doing the right thing?
  • What if I hate it?
  • What if I fail?
  • What if I succeed?
  • What have I done?
  • What if I’m wrong?
  • What if I should have listened to… and did what they said?
  • Maybe I should do what that person is doing?
  • I shoulda…
  • I coulda…
  • I woulda…
  • I wonder if the circus is hiring?
  • Etc.

 

My eldest is a few days away from walking across the stage in her cap and gown.  I’m so excited for her because this is BIG.  There is no do-over when it comes to this particular ceremony.

 

She is excited too with equal parts scared.  And she is not alone.

 

The significance of any milestone is the fact that it marks the end of or accomplishment of something, while simultaneously marking the start of something new.

[Click to Tweet]

 

When it comes to completing high school think for a moment of all the things that are no longer going to be the same.

 

Regardless of how long a student attends a certain school the consistency of going to school for 12 years, 5 days a week, 10 months of the year ends.  The comfort of seeing familiar faces in their community, the other sights, sounds and smells (it is high school after all), is no longer their day to day, the normal order of things in their world stops as they know it.

 

The core of their existence, their friends, teachers, lockers, and routine changes and the “Now what” question gets even more traction and momentum.

In my opinion, depending on the intonation with which you ask that question, “Now what?”,it can be an invitation to throw open the door of possibility WIDE OPEN, and not always feel like the tentative turning of the handle.

 

To coin a phrase, “The world is your oyster”, can sound divine to some and others can be thinking “Ewwww oysters, what does that even mean?”.  Its all perspective.  And perspective is close cousins to focus.

When my daughter shared with me this morning that she and others were feeling off kilter with the upcoming graduation and all that implies about their future selves, this is how I responded. [Sharing with her permission]

 

 

It can be so easy to get caught up in the future energy that we forget to be HERE.

 

Being HERE in this moment.

 

Being PRESENT.

 

When we focus on trying to figure it all out at once we can miss the good stuff happening now.

 

This is for anybody, who is trying to create a future, no matter what door we are about to close or what door we are about to open.

 

Watch my video [3 min] here…

 

 

 

Last year I wrote,  “Graduation & Grief“, from a observation standpoint after attending my friend’s daughter’s High School graduation, from the community me and the girls had lived.  This year I am seeing and feeling this from an altogether different perspective.

 

And hey, If you are asking your own self, “Now what?” or are thinking about joining the circus,  why not book your Discovery Session with me and let’s have a chat, before you head to the big top! 🙂