Healthy Grieving

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Healthy Grieving
Sarah sat in my office crying her eyes out. She had lost her husband 18 months ago and still missed him every day. She wrote in her journal and had attended two rounds of a support group. Still, she frequently felt overwhelmed by the intensity of her pain, and she often felt exhausted. She wondered aloud if she was going crazy.

Much of what I do as a grief counselor is simply to help normalize my client’s experience. There is a wide range of what might be considered “healthy grief.” Often, just understanding what is ‘normal’ provides significant relief.

The following experiences are all part of a healthy grief response.

Time doesn’t seem to heal:
We like to believe that time heals all wounds, but guess what? It doesn’t. To begin with, it takes time plus “grief work” to stimulate healing. Second, the wound created by loss will never completely heal, not really. I explained to Sarah that grief is more like ocean waves — with big waves that knock you down as well as gentle lapping waves that ebb and flow. Even over time, the waves of sadness will occasionally lap on your shore.

Grief feels intense:
Feeling the intense emotions of grief is extremely painful. In general, we prefer to avoid these feelings. We might numb ourselves with alcohol and drugs, overly busy schedules, or television. However, the only way through these emotions is to allow yourself to feel them in their full force. One way to tolerate the intensity is to express the feelings — express them in words, in poetry, in artwork, in quilts, in ceremonies, in rituals, in music, etc. Healthy grieving finds a variety of modes of expression.

The second year feels harder than the first:
Sarah believed that since she had rounded the one-year anniversary that life without her husband would be easier. Instead, she discovered an intensification of her sadness and sorrow. Is something wrong with me? she wondered. I explained that it’s not uncommon for the second year of grief to be even more painful than the first. Why? Because the first year is often a blur — a fog of shock, disbelief and even denial. By the second year, the loss is truly beginning to sink in and that is painful.

I feel like a different person:
When someone you love leaves the planet, you are no longer quite the same person. Wishing to return to your old self is an exercise in defeat. Instead, recognize that you are growing into a new self. This new self will integrate love, loss and change. But I also remind grievers to remember that they became different people for having loved their dear one in the first place. Life is always about change and integration.

I still talk to my loved one:
Sarah was concerned because she talked to Jim every day, out loud, which often made her cry. I assured her that this was not only natural but healthy as well. It’s important to keep the connection alive. Just because the person’s form has left this planet doesn’t mean that the relationship is over. It’s healthy to stay connected to your loved one.

Good things have come out of my grief:
As I listened to Sarah, I assessed that she hadn’t simply shut herself off from life. She was still working in her chosen career and actively engaged with friendships and her children. In fact, she had begun a community project — an annual golf drive — to create a scholarship in her husband’s name. As I wrote in my book, Transcending Loss, creating new projects inspired by the loss of a loved one is one avenue for meaning making.

Sarah came to see that her grief was a normal reaction to the body-blow experience of losing her beloved husband. She was registering it physically, psychologically and spiritually. She was also feeling it, expressing it and reaching out to others because of it.

Because loss is a natural part of living, so too is grief a natural process that we need to understand. Most of us will be on that path sooner or later. Knowing some of the elements of healthy grieving sheds light on the process, illuminating the human journey.

Right Place, Right Time
Every now and again, you get a reminder that you are exactly where you should be. This happened to me just recently, and I am so grateful for that reminder.

I was scheduled to go do a radio show in LA last week, and I was just so exhausted and overwhelmed with a busy workweek that I just wanted to relax instead. But I had this scheduled for over a week, and knew that in the end, I would be happy that I drove out there to do the show and get a chance to keep on my path of raising awareness about addiction. So, I pulled it together and went — and thank God I did.

I found out that a close friend of my family’s was struggling with addiction and needed help. She was out by LA, and since I was going there anyway, I offered to help in any way I could. I would do anything for my family, and for those that are close to my family, so I was prepared to do whatever was asked of me. I ended up holding a one-on-one intervention with this family friend, and was able to get her to accept treatment. By the next day, she was in a rehab facility and has since been working on getting sober.

I spent many years of my life hanging around people who were no good for me. The saying really is true that “you are only as good as the company you keep.” I say this because when I was using and getting into trouble, I was hardly doing anything good for myself — never mind for others. Now that I am sober, I have a whole new lifestyle, filled with people that are good influences and inspirational overall. I truly believe that my new surroundings have allowed me to make a positive impact on myself and others, as evidenced by my most recent efforts. I thrive off of helping people, and it serves as another one of my natural highs.

Above all else, I think this whole experience of not wanting to go out to LA in the first place, but seeing how beneficial it really was, was a message from God that I am exactly where I need to be. I was put in this position for a reason, and by the grace of God, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. To me, nothing is better than getting that unexplainable reassurance that I am exactly where I am supposed to be!

What Is Your Soul’s Work in the World?
Imagine if you were asked this question when you were very young, all the way up until today. How different do you think your life and work would be? I truly believe if I’d been asked this question for most of my life, I’d be much further down the path of my soul’s work in this world and fully immersed in my truth and purpose.

I would have made more art, just for the sake of making art.
I never would have stopped writing poetry.
I would have started several nonprofits by now.
I wouldn’t have wasted time on a design business I didn’t love.
I would have still become a designer, but I would’ve known it was a tool vs. a calling.
I would have traveled more.
I never would have bought my house in a city I didn’t love.
I never would have stayed in relationships that didn’t serve me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for my life and all that I’ve experienced. Really, truly. Even those painful years where I was completely lost and off track! Those years made me who I am right now and allowed me to step into the work I’m doing with amazing souls I adore. The above simply illustrates my point today.

What if we asked ourselves, friends, children, lovers and employees, “what is your soul work? What is the work you feel called to do in this world? What tugs at your heart and soul? What do you feel compelled at your core to create?”

Do you think, maybe, our lives (and the world) would look a little different?

Instead we ask each other what we do for a living… or worse yet, how do we intend to make a decent living so we can buy into the lifestyle of the masses? How do we intend to fall in line with what society expects of us? Where will we go to college? What acceptable and respectable line of work will we study? What great corporate and “secure” job will we find after? How will we continue to climb the ladder?

Nevermind your passions… they’re simply hobbies.
Nevermind your callings… they’re unrealistic.
Nevermind your soul’s work… this is the real world.

Choosing security, respect and the path more frequently traveled over the work you feel called to do at your core is a disservice to yourself and the world.

It takes painters, poets, innovators, musicians, coaches, athletes, entrepreneurs, authors, artists, and world changers and strips them of their contributions. It takes men and women who are built for greatness (whether that’s parenting a child, starting a business, painting and sewing, or leading a revolution) and redirects them into a life they don’t love. And by redirecting them into a life they don’t love, it slowly drains their soul, dimming another much needed light in this world.

This isn’t to say that the corporate jobs and respected careers aren’t of service. They most certainly are! There are passionate, innovative, world changing individuals in every field out there. This is about knowing your soul’s work… the work you, and only you, are meant to do in this world. If you’re like most people (including me at one point) and have lost sight of what your soul work is, you’re not alone. It’s not too late.

To you I say…

Follow your passions… they’re your path to fulfillment.
Heed your callings… you’re here for a reason.
Honor your soul’s work… this world needs your greatness.

Start today by asking yourself, “what is my soul’s work? What do I feel called to create? How do I want to be of service in this world?”

There’s no right answer except for the one that lights your soul on fire. It doesn’t have to make sense right away, it just has to excite you at your core. I promise, no matter what your soul’s work looks like, you have everything you need inside of you to do it. Sometimes you just need a little guidance, some tools, or a little experience… but you’re built for it. Grab your journal or head outside for a walk in nature and start exploring this question for yourself. Ask your friends and family as well!

Stephenie Zamora is the founder of www.stepheniezamora.com, a full-service, life-purpose development, design and branding boutique. Through her Mastery program, she merges the worlds of personal development and branding to help men and women build passion-based lives and businesses they love. Click here to access her free Foundations for Unshakable Joy video training series and learn the unexpected trick to transforming your life with one single question!

Connect with Stephenie on Facebook and Twitter!

For more by Stephenie Zamora, click here.

Sanctuary or Escape? What Are You Creating With Your Spiritual Practice?
Sanctuary: a sacred place, a place of refuge where we connect to the deepest part of ourselves. It is the gateway to peace, neutrality, clarity and transformation. How do we find it? Some of us wander in the woods, some listen to music, garden, groom the dog, clean the kitchen, practice yoga or meditate, go to temples, go into an altered state of consciousness or create a sacred space in our home. There are many forms of sanctuary, yet few of us have it; we settle for escape instead.

Needing sanctuary doesn’t imply that we should isolate from people. On the contrary, to be emotionally healthy and make sound choices, we need connection to others. We need to feel love, so that we may feel both more calm and yet emboldened to be more honest or courageous. We need input, so that we may see options to which we are blind. And we need feedback, so that we can see our own thinking and behaviors more clearly.

But we also need a quiet, sacred place and/or a process through which we may connect deeply to our inner being and to higher consciousness, a place or process that allows us to think more clearly, be guided and free ourselves from other people’s agendas, fears, anger and thoughts. And more to the point, a place or process through which to free ourselves from our own agendas, fears, anger and thoughts. In other words, we need sanctuary from our own minds, guts, opinions and emotions, as well as sanctuary from our reactions to the mind, guts, opinions and emotions of others.

What is the difference between seeking sanctuary and seeking escape? When we seek sanctuary, we are going actually toward something: deeper peace and self-awareness. But when we’re stressed, most of us automatically think in terms of getting away from something, the identified source of our stress. For example, we feel we’ve just got to get out of the house or away from our kids or partner, or we need a break from work or some other activity. We are aware of some discomfort. We may even recognize we are overloaded, tired, frustrated or stressed, and we intuitively recognize we need an interruption of a normal routine for some purpose. But what is that purpose? Some of us are conscious enough to say that we need time for ourselves, to get centered or to think. But even that articulation may not be clear enough, because we may have not yet understood that what we are trying to get away from is ourselves — our own conflicted, unresolved or negative feelings.

Let’s look at some examples of this. People typically say, “I just have to get away from that nagging bitch,” or “The kids are driving me nuts,” or “The stress of work is getting to me, and I need a break.” But if we begin to understand sanctuary as the gateway to deeper connection and clarity, we could completely shift our articulation and our perspective. So instead of saying “I just have to get away from that nagging bitch,” we could say, “I notice that I am getting anxious or angry and am reacting to what my partner is saying. I need sanctuary to admit my reactivity, get distance from it and examine it, so that I can return to the conversation with some thoughts about what I’m feeling and why.” Or instead of saying, “The stress of work is getting to me, and I need a break,” we could say, “I notice that I feel drained by work. I must have a lot of mixed feelings about my job now, and I need to get clear as to what’s going on with me.”

So now, let’s fine-tune our definition of sanctuary. Sanctuary is a place and/or process that helps us achieve peace from our inner turmoil, so that we can become clear and divinely guided. Of course, there are times when we need to get away from someone or something in order to experience that sanctuary, and sometimes we may need to get away from a situation permanently. Maybe a saint can achieve sanctuary in the midst of a bunch of fighting toddlers or an angry spouse or an obnoxious boss. But most of us aren’t saints — at least not yet — and we need to identify the places and processes that can offer us the most chance to find the peace and courage we need to recognize how we are reacting, why and what to do about it.

The forms of sanctuary can be very different for different people. In fact, the same place or process can be used for sanctuary or escape. I’ll share two examples. Sometimes talking to a friend is a way to find sanctuary. I feel love and that gives me the safety and willingness to accept the input and feedback that feed my self-awareness. But sometimes talking to that friend can be a way of revving up my negative feelings, egging me on to become even more self-justifying and negative.

Sometimes going into the woods is a way to disconnect from the stimuli triggering my reactivity and to connect to the eternal, so I can examine myself more deeply, so that I may confront and overcome my reactivity. That is sanctuary. On the other hand, sometimes going to the woods is a way to escape the stimuli triggering my reactivity, so that I don’t have to examine that reactivity and I don’t have to change.

We all need sanctuary, because we need peace, neutrality and the strength to face ourselves to change. But how do we create sanctuary without moving to a mountain top, where most of us would end up dying of boredom, loneliness, cold or starvation? The most important quality of a sanctuary is its function as a focus for our minds and attention. In this way, we are interrupting our thoughts and detaching from our feelings. For example, we can place a statue in the corner of the room and turn to it in times of stress, even projecting onto it the wisdom that comes through us when we’re detached. We can immerse ourselves in music and allow our higher consciousness to work when our minds are distracted. We can go hiking and focus on not tripping, or we can sit and listen to a stream. We can talk to a friend, whose love can help us overcome the fear of being alone and whose awareness can help us become more objective.

Each of these offers us a way to find refuge from our roiling guts and our agitated minds. And they also allow us to detach from the thoughts and emotions of the people around us, whose upsets and agendas can also be severely impacting our peace of mind.

In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with one more thought about sanctuary. In the silence, I hear the Source, and in the sanctuary I find the silence. Until next time, may you pursue ever-more effective forms of sanctuary! I will.

If you are interested in creating more sanctuary in your life, watch my video for this month, where we talk about “How to Create Sanctuary in Our Lives,” and one of my alter egos, the “Guru,” will show us how! If you have been listening to my online radio show, InsideOut, you will probably have heard the “Guru.” He sounds and looks a lot like me, but I have no idea what he’s going to say, even though it comes out of my mouth. So watch the video and let’s see what surprising things we can all learn about creating more sanctuary in our lives.

Beth Green is an internationally known spiritual teacher and intuitive counselor, founder of The Stream Center for The New Spirituality and host of InsideOut, an internet radio program combining entertainment and enlightenment. See her personal website, http://bethgreen.org, for more information about the show, her community, workshops, counseling, books and Consciousness Boot Camp, an ongoing program she leads live both online and in person.

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