Category Archives: Grief

Dealing With Loss

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photo-camera-219958_150In the past decade, Americans have endured such ruin and bereavement that it compares to the years of the Great Depression under the failed policies of Hoover¹. People have lost their jobs, their savings, their homes, their cars, plus in many cases, their self-confidence. And there’s still an additional one in three Americans on the verge of financial ruin.²

American author and Social Worker Virginia Satir wrote: Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is.

Well, unless you’re rich, the way it is sucks. It’s a good thing that we’re Americans because there are days that it’s only that spirit that has kept us going. It’s that tenacity found in our heritage that stirs the fight to endure. That and are own guts.

Psychologist and Business Consultant Dr. Kathryn D. Cramer says: People who suffer a loss must reinvent their lives.

Really? You think?

That reinvention isn’t a choice, it’s survival. It’s motivated by a resentment that isn’t often able to let go of the whys, the regrets, the anger, and the pressing sadness.

No one wants to grieve this crap. No one looks forward to Friday because they plan on grieving over the weekend. Grieving involves sadness, regret, heartbreak, weeping, suffering, and pain. Who wants to experience all that, at the same time, for a period of time?

It’s not only loss that requires change, it’s reality. It’s not optional. Something 793c70f5-805c-4b35-8655-785a91de8436-mediumisn’t the way it used to be and will never exist again. Something isn’t the way it should be and never will be again. The purpose of grieving is to adjust to the change in life that reality demands. It’s to bring us to the point of making necessary changes so we can adjust in healthy ways, even if we resent having to do so.

Think about it.

¹http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/12/bush200712

²http://www.marketwatch.com/story/1-in-3-americans-on-verge-of-financial-ruin-2015-02-23

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014 Dr. Sandy Nelson E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

What are you doing to have happiness?

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What are you doing to have happiness? Notice the question is not: Are you waiting for someone to stop doing or start doing something so you’ll be happy? Or: What situation do you need in place before your happiness can arrive? The question also isn’t: Who are you depending on to make you happy?

IMG_0830Some people are easily soared into joyful spirits. What’s their secret? Some people always seem to be in happy or good moods. But exactly what is happiness? Is this disposition genetic or dependent on specific neurotransmitters in the brain? Is there an unhappiness gene distributed to a select population? Scientists are searching for answers to these questions which means they still do not know what specifically causes depression, or for that matter—happiness.

Previously called Melancholia, depression has been recognized as a common condition for more than three thousand years with documentation noted from the 2nd century. Some experts think that depression is the result of learned experiences. Others say it’s all about brain chemistry. And then there are those who believe it’s all in the genes. I think a state of clinical depression can be a combination of these factors.

Similar to other disorders, there’s evidence to support that depression can run in families like diabetes or heart disease. So if a parent or grandparent experienced episodes of clinical depression that increases the likelihood at some point you will experience clinical depression. A depressed state of mind can also be a learned behavior acquired during childhood, just like negativity or anxiety.

IMG_0080 - CopyA tendency to be down in the dumps may have described some of the adults surrounding you in childhood. If as a child, you watched adults react to life mostly with sadness and despair; then today you may be more likely to display those same behaviors when things go awry. The body experiences many sorts of problems when its needed nutrients are in deficient supply. And Clinical Depression can be the result when the levels of serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine are at a shortage in the brain or off balance.

Everyone knows what depression feels like because all of us at one time have experienced its character traits of hopelessness, tearful hours, helplessness, sleep disturbances, eating changes, heartache, consuming sadness, and an inability to function. For most of us these episodes are not chronic, last a day or two; and usually result from life events. Most of us are able to adjust to the changes in life that are usually uninvited and demanding. We pout for a time, rebel at reality, express our frustration, but then accept “what is” and move on to tomorrow. But for those individuals who have learned to be depressed, experience a neurotransmitter deficiency in the brain, or are genetically predisposed to depression, snapping out of it is like trying to awake from a coma. For these persons a state of depression sags their enthusiasm, interrupts their ability to function, keeps them tearful, and often not wanting to wake up.

sun28 - CopyThe full extent of depressed individuals in our neighborhood, in our churches, in our offices, in our friends and family is unknown because the menacing stigma towards mental health remains strong in our culture. Ignorant people judge mental conditions as being the equivalent of being crazy, so many people do not seek treatment for depression. They suffer quietly because of the fear of rejection they would otherwise experience if more folks knew their struggles. The stigma can trigger attempts to self-medicate. Alcohol abuse or other substance abuse could be efforts to block the chronic emotional pain. Other actions could also mask a deep on-going sadness: obsessive shopping, compulsive gambling, or sex addiction.

This accounts for the strong isolation depressed individuals experience. Our culture still believes on some level that we shouldn’t need help or support for the problems or events that pre-empt our plans and land us in despair. There’s still the idea that it’s a weakness to seek counsel or take medication for mental conditions. On the contrary, it takes strength and wisdom to seek help, and I respect those individuals who do so.

IMG_0682Just like the common cold, the symptoms of depression are generally the same for everyone, but the same can’t be said about happiness. Scientists know more about the state of depression than they do about the state of joy. Taking into consideration that happiness is the most important goal in the lives of people, experts can’t even agree on an explanation for it. What is happiness? Is it being in a good mood? Is it having fun? Is it securing the approval of other people? Lots of money? No worries? What is happiness for you? Americans might say that happiness is a consistent state of well-being, void of stress, worry, frustration, and disappointment. This definition, of course, is not realistic, or is it?

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ABOUT THIS POST BY CLICKING ON THE ABOVE LINK “LEAVE A REPLY”

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Divorce is a death, ready?

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Divorce is a death. It’s the death of a marriage and the death of a family union that impacts many relationships within the family core. Emotional pain, sadness, and uncertainties vibrate through every family member with rippling effects extending to the children.
divorce3Divorce is a crippling experience for adults, and a very, very long nightmare for children. Children do not possess the coping skills and problem-solving skills that even we, as adults, struggle to locate within us. Take the worry, fear, and hurt that an estranged husband or wife experience, and multiply that times 50–that”s the impact on children in a divorce situation. Even when children say they’re fine with it, they’re not fine. Children will think in some way they’re the reason mom and dad are divorcing–that’s it’s their fault.
The following info is a set of rules I’ve written for divorcing or separating parents to assist in healthy adult behavior and reduce the nightmare for their children.

THE DIVORCE BILL OF RIGHTS AND WRONGS

Do not tell the other what to do, or how to parent

Neither of you are in a position to expect or request the other to parent in a specific manner. Each of you have control over the parent you are only. You may not approve of the parenting style of the other, but unless the parenting method presents a physical or emotional harm to your children that can be substantiated in a court of law, you have no right to attempt to control the other’s method of parenting, or control the other’s life.

Do not fight in front of the children

Your children do not belong in your divorce. Upset feelings must be addressed divorceprivately with each other, alone. Never insult or bad mouth the mother or father of your children in their presence. It deeply hurts your children; it shames them. You will be tempted to do tell your children that their mother or father is a loser, or worse. DON’T DO IT. Your children love and need both their parent’s regardless of your opinion.

Do not place your children in a surrogate adult position

Adult responsibilities belong to adults. Don’t request your children to fill the role of your ex-spouse. Boys should never be expected or encouraged to be the man of the house. Girls should never be expected or encouraged to be the lady of the house. If your children are assuming adult responsibilities that your ex performed, stop them. It’s your job. You’re the adult.

Do not punish the children for the situation

If you think you’re worried, devastated, and upset, your children are 50 times more worried, devastated, and upset. Refrain from taking out your frustration on them. They need your reassurance and encouragement. Remember, they are living in a situation that resulted from their parent’s choices and decisions. They had no say or control over whether their parent’s would divorce or remain married.

Do not place your children in a position of having to choose one parent over the other

divorce2Children are not weapons or tools to use to get back at your ex; nor are they pawns for manipulating or punishing your ex. If you need your children to love you more than their other parent, that’s an unhealthy issue that your’s, not theirs. Your children love and need both of their parent’s. Encourage that and never interfere with the relationship with their other parent. Never ask or demand that your children side with or against a parent.

Do not lose self-control

If you feel compelled to yell, scream, rant and rave at your ex, do so where your children can’t hear or see you. Your children are learning from you, and you want them to learn self-control and healthy, correct ways to handle anger, right?

Do not dodge responsibility

Your thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and behavior are your responsibility; and belong to no one else. Stop blaming. Stop complaining. The situation may be unfair and not of your choosing, but it’s here. How you deal with it is your responsibility now. You own your life and your choices. Seek adult support. Wise people seek help. It takes about two years to recover from a broken relationship.

Do not get lost

Whether you want to be or not, you’re a role model and mentor to your children. They are watching you. Your children are learning from our words, divorce1moods, attitude, body language, behavior and priorities. They are learning whether a family has value, how to treat each other, how to resolve conflict, and how to handle disappointment, hurt, and frustration. They are learning how to, or how not to, endure and survive. They are learning what’s really important in life, about honor, and what self-respect is. They’re learning all this from watching you and listening to what you say. Keep your head up, remain in self-control, and display integrity.

Do not refuse to keep new rules

Follow any and all rulings of the court. New and appropriate boundaries need to be implemented and respected. There are privileges your ex no longer has and privileges you no longer have. You have no right to know or ask anything about the other unless its about your children. Honor new boundaries and treat your ex with courtesy regardless of how you are treated.
Feel free to contact me for any support and guidance you may need.
Think about it. In caring, Sandy
©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Do you curse yourself for screwing-up?

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The highly successful Brian Tracy wrote, “Always choose the future over the past. What do we do now?” That’s good advise, I think, when it comes to solving problems. But it does little to release those of us tortured by past regrets and mistakes.
Some of my bad choices from many years ago caused painful and damaging IMG_0578(2)consequences for other people. Those are the regrets that can haunt me the most. Those memories sting and I placed myself in an emotional jail where I inflicted suffering upon myself as punishment for hurting people I care about. My thoughts would persistently remind me that I was unworthy, marred, screwed-up, or whatever the word of the day was.
It took time for me to heal with soul-searching therapy. I understand how other people live fully in the past and why they speak about regrets and degrade themselves for mistakes from years ago. I get why their current happiness isn’t possible because of this or that occurred last month or last year.
I’m here to tell you, from experience, that as long as you cling to the mistakes of yesterday, you make another mistake today. When you’re busy mentally IMG_0885torturing yourself, you’re unable to focus to learn from, and understand the mistake so you can become wiser, so you can grow, so you can help others through their pain. Making a mistake is not a crime. Passing judgment on yourself along with a sentence to an emotional punishing prison for penance, doesn’t work. There’s nothing you can do to alter your actions of yesterday, but you can choose differently right now. No amount of self-punishment will alter what happened. But you can make amends where possible. You can remember that you’re not perfect. Mistakes happen.
“People screw up. People screw up a lot. We allow our own selfishness to overpower us at times. It happens. But you can’t allow that to tear you down. You can’t keep dwelling on your past choices, and your past actions, or else you’ll never learn from them.”¹
Give your past regrets meaning today, not punishment, by seeing them as turning points in your life, not condemning moments.
Thanks for your time and comments. –Dr. Sandy
¹Nicole Sobon, Deprogrammed

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Do you use what happens to you?

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“The art of life isn’t controlling what happens, which is impossible; it’s using what happens.”¹ 

The events in our lives change us.  They’re supposed to. They’re intended to make us stronger, better and wiser; but I can personally attest that there’s a journey one takes into the fifth ring of hell before arriving at that point of view. 

IMG_0354It’s a journey through hurt, disappointment, confusion, loss, and injury that takes some people a long time to travel through, and some individuals get stuck on the way.  I was one of those individuals.  It was effortless to allow the unfairness of life to engulf me with no comfort.  Somehow, it appeared rational that I was entitled to moan awhile and be excused from life because of the loss and pain, both physically and emotionally, I had endured. I started to believe that the God of life had overlooked me and I was destined to be crippled and unworthy. There is no happiness to be found on the Injured Reserve list in life; only persistent defeat and depression. The more I sat on the sidelines, the more pessimistic, blaming, and self-righteous I became. 

Believe me, whatever painful event that happened to me or you isn’t anything special. Pain is universal. It’s global. It’s everywhere. But what you do after getting marred in life can be special. When you rise above the hardship instead of allowing yourself to be pulled down into an abyss of despair, then you’re in a position to see the happiness that is waiting for you. Today, don’t cry “Why Me?” Instead, use what happened to you to become stronger, better, and wiser. Press on! –Dr. Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

¹Moving Beyond Words: Essays on Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles by Gloria Steinem

At least once a day I resist reality. How about you?

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“It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another—it is one damn thing over and over,” wrote Edna St. Vincent Millay.*

IMG_0888Whenever we resist the realities of life, we are headed for despair. That’s where you will find me at least a few minutes once a day. In my visit to despair I try to reason with the timing death of loved ones, the change that every loss demands, the sadness of missing family and friends, and the unwanted adjustments forced on me. And, perhaps like you, there are changes in life I resent.

Life is faithful to present to us everyday a host of disappointments that need submission, mistakes that need correction, interruptions that require patience, losses that need acceptance, and problems that need solutions.

If we accept this reality of life, we’ll experience a happier existence and less time in despair. Life does not care if we are angry at it or not; it’s not altered by our rebellion or hissy fit. It’s unmoved by self-pity or our definition of common sense. Life yields to no reality other than its own which means the more we need to stick together to get through it! –Dr. Sandy

* Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay