Eldercare: Emotions & Changes in a Parent's Health
Hey! Welcome back to the Heart Healing From Loss Podcast. I'm Wendy Sloneker, and I have Trish Throop of Eldercare Consulting, LLC right here digitally. So safe with me. We are more than six feet apart, but it feels like we are much closer thanks to audio technology.
And I feel close to you guys too, out in the audience. Thank you for spending your time with us.
Okay. So tonight is a little bit of a, a new topic. I haven't really talked a lot in this podcast in other episodes about ... wow! Parents! When they start to do what parents do, which is age and Trish, you've been working around people's parents, but you started with your own parent.
Could you tell us a little bit about that? ... And by the way, welcome!
Thank you, Wendy. It's so good to be here.
Yeah, this is a big topic that a lot of families jumping into and really aren't prepared for.
And that's exactly what happened to me.
At the time I was a vice president of a major organization. I was traveling around 12 different states. And so I was rarely in Seattle and I got a call. I got the dreaded call, so to speak from my mother saying, Trish, I'm done here in Ohio. I think I need to move into assisted living. And I don't want to do it here. I want to come to Seattle and I'm thinking I'll be there within a month. Oh my gosh. My jaw dropped to the floor.
It was, I was thrilled to have her here. We'd been asking her to come for years, but all of a sudden I realized there was a ton of work to be done. And I didn't even know where to begin. I didn't know the questions to ask. I just could figure out, okay. She was going to move to Seattle. She would need housing. She would need doctors. She would need assistance.
And I had no clue what that meant.
Right. And this was back in when was this? Like 11 years ago? 12 years ago.
Yes, exactly. It was about 12 years ago and I knew that I didn't have the time. As I said, I was traveling, working at a very high level and I started looking around for someone to help me. Cause I thought, oh, I can't be the first person to go through this. Right. But I couldn't find anyone. And so I was stuck doing all this work on airplanes and trying to figure things out, how to move her, how to, you know, how do you move a household of things to Seattle from Ohio? All these things started coming up and I just had to make time for it. And I, I learned along the way, but I also, you know, made huge errors as one does when you don't have anyone to help guide you. And I thought there's gotta be a better way. And so I stopped my job and with the nonprofit started taking classes, started talking to people and before you know it, I was setting up my own business realizing after realizing how much I enjoyed what I was doing. Uh, gosh,
That's like, that's kind of how you like would love for it to go. Is like I made some mistakes along the way. And we figured it out and now like, wow, I really like doing this. Like, that's a lovely epiphany to have if he can have it.
Absolutely. It was fun. You know, when I looked back, I thought, oh my gosh, what am I doing? But I'm crazy. I'm crazy. I shouldn't be doing all this, but you know, I will never regret the time that I got to spend with my mother and the lessons I learned along the way were invaluable. And I still refer back to those days when working with clients now, it's like, oh yeah, I had to do that with my mom kind of things.
Right. So was it helpful that like the call came from your mom? Cause I'm guessing that some calls don't come from those parents, like some calls will come from like a sibling or something saying, Hey, you know, dad fell again and, or, you know, he's in the hospital, it's a hip thing or it's a, you know, like you had states to traverse across.
But that's pretty minor when you exactly, as you're saying, so very often the call comes from the hospital, we've got your mom, your units. Right, right. And you're like, oh, and you have days. If you're lucky to get things in place and you know, are you hopping on an airplane? Are you, you know, driving
Across town five times a week now, are you, yeah, my mom took care of my, her dad for a long time. And it was like, if he wanted a haircut, she was like driving 30 minutes and packing in the grocery store and doing a couple of other errands just because she was, you know, 30 minutes away on a good day. Yeah. So, right. So like, if we go back to that call from your mom, like, did you have any feelings around like, oh, she's aging? Or when did that sort of time hit you that like, oh wow, mom's getting older. And like, I'm starting to really see it and feel it now. Cause that's something that nobody wants to do. But I imagine that that happened.
That's a great question. A couple of years prior to the phone call, we started talking about she was living in her own home and you know, we realized that she wasn't maybe driving as well as we had thought that she might be "was she eating appropriately?" Her friends weren't able to drive. And so she wasn't out getting social interaction as, and my mother was, uh, a huge socialites socializing person. She thrived on being around other people. And we started getting worried about that. And nobody lived in Ohio. We lived in three different states across the country. And so we didn't have eyes on her. Right. So we had lots of conversations. She refused at every step, which believe me is very common. I'm sure a lot of your listeners know that. And so it was about working with her on a slow and steady process of trying to get her to admit the challenges she was facing. And that's never
Come to that herself.
Yeah. We were very lucky, very lucky. Very few older adults will come and say, Hey, I don't think I can drive anymore. Or I think I should not be living in a home my own home anymore. That is incredibly rare. Right. People want to stay at home. They, they want their independence taking the car away is probably the worst thing in the world to
Them. Is that what you've really noticed is like, right. Well, it's like an admission in some ways of like, oh yeah, my eyes, my brain, my limbs and response time. That's hard.
I wish it was that usually it's much more about the, uh, the police have called their spin an accident. There are scratches and dents in the car, uh, neighbors have called and said, Hey, we don't think that Ethel should be out on the road anymore. Yeah. Very, very few adults will admit, get to that, get to that point where they admit it themselves.
Right. Oh, that's gotta be hard for like kids to sort of take in because that's also a social pressure as well. Right. Like, oh, somebody is calling me about my mom and or my dad or my whoever like, oh, like somebody else's noticing I'm not there. Sometimes that can be really painful and a pressure around like, shoot, what else is going on?
No, that's absolutely true, Wendy, is that there's that? Oh gosh. Did I not have my eyes on the ball? Uh, did I not see what, you know, when I was visiting, was I not paying attention to what they were eating, how they were driving all of these things of guilt. And I'll tell you that there's a myriad of feelings that pop up throughout this process. And it's very natural, but it's scary as all get out.
Wow. I would love to talk a little bit more about what those feelings are just to like give everyone who's listening just a little bit of a heads up at like, Hey, normal and natural, which is something we talk about in grief anyway. But in terms of like parents and dynamics with parents are like different for everyone, right? So like that's a whole other thing to consider, but I'd love to hear about some of the the feelings that go on as, as things progress. So if you have like a hypothetical story or two I'd love to hear.
Yes. I would say that any feeling coming up during this is completely natural. Yes. I have a million stories, uh, because I think we have to remember that not everybody grew up in the Brady bunch. This was not everybody had this perfect functional family in reality. Most of us did not. And I've had everything from the, the doting, loving, caring, uh, siblings who are all gathered together to do the best for mom and or dad or the aunt or the cousin. But I've also had the son that got the phone call from his sisters, who said, we're done, we're done caring for mom. It's your turn. And he had no interest in caring for his mother. He called me and said, I'll pay the bills. I just never want to speak to, or see her again. You know, and you have to validate that, that not everybody had a good childhood. And I was impressed that he was willing to do the I'll pay for it. I'll make sure that she's safe. But, uh, he was not interested in having any relationship with her. Right. So I stepped in and took care of all the logistics and the details for her, but he didn't have to, he was still dealing with a lot of its own trauma and I wanted give him the space to do that.
Right. Right. Well, and that's like, nice in terms of like, just being clear about what the need is and what the boundary is too, because that's what that sounds like is like, Hey, here's where I am. And like, this is probably where I'm staying is like, that's just more than reasonable because it's so clear.
Right. And it's not always that clear for most people. You know, the boundary issue is a very real one. I see a lot of ho you know, adult children, family members, who all of a sudden, they find themselves deep within caring for this other adult. And it wasn't something they planned. They've got a full family, they've got a job, they've got their own lives to lead. And the boundaries have just been pushed aside completely. And a lot of times I get phone calls from adult children who are calling and I just stop. And I say, oh my gosh, you've done so much. We need to help you step back a little bit. And they just break down, completely break down because they're at their wits end. And that's so normal that we just keep trying to go and go and go and go and do everything that's needed. But there's a breaking point.
And this is hard work like caregiving, even in just the planning and the logistics and the setup, like there's the emotional side, but like the parents may or may not be down with, or agreeable amenable to this change. It could be that, you know, dynamics between some siblings are great with one parent and not within, you know, like it's, it's the gamut. And so what I'm here to say is like, caregiving is hard and essential and, and like, we're not really prepared how to do it other than, oh, shoot. Uh, I didn't see this coming. Although, you know, everybody around me in the world has, you know, there are old people in the world, there are people who are aging in the world. That's probably one of them.
We would never say...
No, you're absolutely to like, have it be, yeah,
The caregiving is overwhelming, uh, can be overwhelming. I think it's just a basic that adult children are just overwhelmed with everything that is going on. So yes, caregiving is overwhelming as it is for just the basics of adult children, dealing with these issues, something you mentioned about, you know, just the, of caregiving and all that. It's also expensive. It's expensive in time, energy knowledge, but also finances and not all families have those finances to bring in caregivers, somebody to give them a break, to relieve them of some of those duties. Respite. Yeah. And that's important for sure.
Thank you so much for mentioning the other currencies of value, which is like, you know, this is the blood, sweat, and tears part of, of what that job entails, especially for someone that you, you know, is in your family. You know, whether or not you have a smoother and easy dynamic, that is a challenge, then it's just a challenge. And there, the cost is more than financial. So thank you so much for saying,
Yeah. I also talked to my adult children about those boundaries that we referred to earlier of what I really would love to do is be able to take their, to do list their tasks off their list, take them on myself so that I can do the logistics. I can do the details, but nobody else can be that loving, caring daughter, son, cousin, uncle only. They can do that. And if they are totally taken over by all the logistics, the anger, the, the fears, the concerns, there's no room for them to come over and say, Hey, dad, tell me about the time, you know, and have those things. And the older adults absolutely need that component. And I can try that, but it's never going to have the same effect as those adult family members. Right.
Right. It's a bigger impact. There's more meaning there. Right. Right. So if I'm hearing you correctly, like caregiving is like the, kind of the unspoken job that is often assumed by some adult children. And then there's no room for them to be the, the adult child, right. Like the son, the daughter, the, you know, stepdaughter or whatever. But those are different roles. Those are different roles.
Right. Right. I think you were asking about some of the other feelings and we've talked about being overwhelmed and, you know, that's kind of the go-to, but we're also seeing so much of fear and concern. I want to do the best for my parent. But I also have fear of losing my parent. You know, maybe they're, they're really ill and I'm afraid of their death, uh, rejection, a lot people, you know, if I tell dad that he can't drive anymore, he's not going to speak to me again. You know, I don't want to make them angry. I don't want to make other people in the family angry. What if I make a wrong decision? I don't want to be the bad guy. You know, I don't want to be the one to tell dad that he can't drive. I don't want to tell mom that she has to move uni. Right. And usually hard. Yeah. It's really hard. And usually what happens is, as you well know, if you have that fear and that concern pretty quickly, it turns into anger. They start resenting.
My, yeah. My fuse gets real short. Yeah. When like, stuff like that happens when I'm concerned or worried and fearful about any. I mean, we, we lived through 20, 20 so far, so I've had some practice, but, but that's like natural. Like that's like the steam release part of that pressure system that gets built up and built up and built up.
Not only do they get there, they're angry because of all of that. But they also are angry at other siblings. Why didn't they do something? Why aren't they stepping up? Why do I have to do all of this? You know, I'm here just because I live nearby. Why do I have to do everything? And why can't George help out financially? Or why can't they say, thank you every once in a while. There's a lot of that, but also angry at the parent anger at the parent that why didn't they listen to my, my warnings earlier? You know, I told them, I told them they were going to have to move. You know, I said that they, oh, I begged dad to go and fill out the will or do the power of attorney. And they just went and listened to me. You know, all these kinds of things that anger just starts popping up all over the place.
Right. Well, and that has to do with so many other feelings too. Right. So if it's like, if there, if that adult child is seeing things coming and they're saying it out loud, then they're, it's like, oh, they're not being heard. So that could be like a loss of voice, a loss of respect. They are not hearing me. They don't, I understand that they don't want to hear me, but that's my brain. That's not my heart. Right. So like losses are happening all along the way. And then there's like, now we're in this big mess. And I saw it coming. I did what I could do about saying something, but they couldn't hear me. That's painful. That's very painful. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Because, oh, right. It's already hard. It's already hard shoot. So I love to hear just a few suggestions or ideas. It could be based on stories that you've had. Again, these are all normal feelings that are coming up. We don't know how to do this. We don't know how to do this. So could you give some ideas or suggestions around like, Hey, if your parents are aging or you're starting to notice or be concerned, what, what can our listeners do or recommend to their friends and family?
Excellent question. And yeah, I go through this a lot with my, just as my clients are coming on board. There's several things that I check in on some of the first things I would recommend any person that is anticipating having to deal with someone else's health or, you know, care in the future, get them in front of a lawyer, get them in front of a lawyer to fill out some very basic information. There are three documents that I focus on a power of attorney. So that's, so you can help with their finances and their healthcare decisions. Then something called a healthcare directive, which is kind of like a living will. And it says things like, oh, I want to be resuscitated. I want to have intravenous food, things like that, those details. And then the last one is a will or a trust depending on your situation. And what I try to tell everybody I talked to is that these are not related to age. We all, anybody over the age of 18 should have these three documents in place. Lawyers are great. They usually do all three documents for one flat fee. You can go online and download these documents if you want. I personally always like to go through a lawyer, but everybody is different and finances are different, but get these in place as quickly as possible. And they can always be changed. They can always be updated, but get a baseline in.
Good. Oh, excellent. I gotta tell you when when Jennifer and I did ours, uh, our, our three documents, it felt liberating. It, there was like a, like a pressure. I didn't know I had around this stuff, like, oh, I actually know what the plan is. You're such an adult. Wow. Thanks. But there's like, I wasn't expecting, I think the field liberated and I enjoyed that feeling. Yeah.
Yeah. And just a quick aside, we ask that everybody update those every 10 years. I tried to do it on my zero birthdays, 40 50 when I hit 60, just kind of to get those things updated.
Oh, that's a great point. Thank you. Awesome. What else, what else do you check in around?
I think this is a great time to also check in with your siblings. If there are siblings or other family members share family members, but it could also be just other stakeholders. You know, it could be partners of the alien or presumed alien parent, cousin, whatever. Uh, it could be close friends that live around them, get their insight and agree that you all try to work together.
Ooh. Yeah, yeah. The baseline.
Right. Just so that you won't be in that situation alone. Also talk about it with your own family. If you have a spouse or partner kids talk about what will happen when granddad isn't doing so well. Right. You know, are we thinking about moving them into the house? Are we, you know, what if he moves lives somewhere else? Where are we, how are we going to do that? Start having those conversations amongst each other, as well as with the older adult so that you start understanding their preferences. And they started understanding that you're concerned
Without it being a confrontation, right. More of a conversation.
It's so much easier to do it now, rather than in the house.
Oh gosh. Yeah. That's a lot of other painful things going on and scary,
So scary. So having those conversations ahead of time, as much as possible, and you know, I'm sure you've got things and there's tons of things on the internet and I can provide, you know, starting points of how to start those conversations. Right. So that you're not just like, oh gosh, which 1:00 AM I going to? Y'all know, what am I going to say? Talk to your parent and starting to take on that role of a parent, right. To your parents. Right.
Oh my gosh. Yeah. Do you find it like helpful to ask other people who have been through, like, can you find a friend who's been through this with their parent can like, are there podcasts or resources, just so like, Hey, I'm okay with like making my own mistakes, but if I don't have to, and it doesn't like, come at my mom's expense or my dad's expense, like I, I would like to just preserve as much
And you know, no matter what help you get, you're still gonna make mistakes. And that's okay. You know, every situation is different. There's new challenges pop up every day. But yes, if you have somebody, a friend that you can at least call and say, oh my gosh, they're driving me crazy. You know? Or what did you do in this situation? A lot of places, there are a lot of resources I should say that have support groups for adult children to come and talk about these things. Uh, there are professionals like myself that can help guide you. Uh, there are books about how to deal a lot dealing with if your parent has dementia, because that's such a unique situation for every family. But yeah. Trying to find that support where you can getting those answers where you can, and at some point you just have to kind of trust that you're doing the best you can.
Right. Right. That's the whole point is doing the best we can. Aren't we all trying that? Yeah.
I'd love to think that.
For sure. Yeah. For sure. What am I forgetting to ask you about that you are, let's just popping into your mind?
Probably just something, if you don't think mom and dad or whoever are needing your help yet next time you visit, I would check in with the neighbors. Okay. Hey, I'm just going to go over and speak to Mrs. Wigglebottom. Uh, because all of a sudden you find out that they've been the ones taking the trash in and out every week. They're the ones that mom calls and says, Hey, I can't get this jar open. Or, uh, George fell, can you help me pick them up? Uh, all, all of us, you know, walk around the car, see if there are a dance. These are things that I encourage people just start looking. You might not find anything. And gosh, I hope you don't, but should you, then your eyes are a little more awake,
Right? And if you do go over to like say a neighbor's house and you don't know them, is it like maybe helpful to offer your contact information?
Absolutely. Yes. Got a business card, drop it off, you know, bring over a box of chocolates or some flowers or something and just say, Hey, I I'm visiting from out of town. And I'm just checking in. I just thought if you ever thought that I needed to know something here, feel free to give me a call. Plus you want their information for the day that mom doesn't answer the phone and it's been 48 hours. You want to be able to calm this wiggle bottom and say, Hey, have you seen my mom? Can you pop over and knock on the door? That type of thing.
Right. Plus you just want to say hi, Mrs. Weipa bottom. Yeah. Like just for fun, just for fun. Just to say the name out loud. Oh Trish. Thank you so much, Trish with elder care consulting, LLC. Thank you. I, I know there's way more for us to talk about. Will you come back for another episode with
Me? I did delight and thank you so much, Wendy. This has been so wonderful. I'm so,
So glad I'm going to include your website information in the show notes. And so it's, uh, what is your website? Just out loud for the folks who are listening?
Yeah. Eldercarenorthwest.com. Of course I'm based here in Seattle, but I actually work with families all across the country. So feel free to give a call.
Trish! Such a total delight. Thank you so much for helping me and helping us. Really. I appreciate your time here.
So thank you. Well, thank you for all you do for everybody out there.
Thank you. Thank you. And speaking of everybody out there, thank you for joining us, such a treat. We are going to see you on the next episode. I don't know what it's going to be about, but it's going to be good. Thank you. And talk to you soon.
Where does grief reside in the body?
Now I'm not necessarily talking about the brain. We rely on the brain for a lot of good things, but where we're going is somewhere below the neck. Join me. Won't you?
I've brought Chad Kelderman on as our expert body worker. He's been working in SOMA bodywork techniques in massage, and he's going to be able to explain a lot better than I am, but he's the one that I knew I had to talk to about grief and the body. Chad! Welcome!
Thank you, Wendy.
I'm delighted that you are here. Now tell me a little bit, if you would, about some of body work and why it may be -- from your perspective-- a really good topic to talk about around grief.
SOMA bodywork is in the category of what is called structural integration that came from Ida Rolf. There are many modalities under that umbrella. SOMA bodywork is, in all of its glory, Sora SOMA neuromuscular integration. It is an 11-session series that progressively works through the fascia in your body and unglues you or unsticks and realigns you into what your body knows. What it really wants to be. You can experience it as 11 sessions or you can get some "first aid" as I affectionately call it in all our a la carte of treatment sessions. So that's what it is. In a nutshell, I have worked with many, many people over the 20 years. I've been doing this with people who have been grieving about a number of things.
And I think how I would sum that up would be grief, in my own sort of personal experience of it over the years, is pretty intangible.
It's like this non-linear amorphous energy field that is just like knocked you upside the head when you least expect it. And it's really hard to pin down, I think, ultimately. But the body is something I could actually touch. It is scientifically proven that whatever trauma has not been completely processed gets stored in the body, in the connective tissue. So that's where I come in. I start to help unglue you (in the connective tissue) so you can continue to process it.
Awesome. And you do that with a physical manipulation, like, it involves a massage table?
It involves a really gentle, genuine environment. And it's, it's a lot like getting on a table for a massage, but it's very different from a relaxation massage or a sports massage, if you will.
If you walk into my studio, it looks like a place where you might get a massage because more people know what that is.
But as far as the technique used, there's no like a massage involves a lot of rubbing and technical words in massage, but there's none of that in structural SOMA bodywork.
I am using my finger pads, my knuckles, my elbows, my forearms to slowly really sink into the plasticity of the connective tissue that holds it all together. And, unglue it. So it's a more slow, steady, sinking into the tissue rather than a rubbing.
Gotcha. Okay. That's helpful. So if we could sort of paint a little picture of... well, will you do a little picture painting scenario with me up, and then I'd love for you to just jump right in... sound good? All right.
So let's imagine that somebody has experienced a loss of a relationship. So somebody went through a breakup. This may have been a while ago, let's say it was five years ago. And since then, what else has happened is there's been a job change and a move... a geographic move.
Let's say they moved to a new city inside the same state. And they also bought a house and they left the place where they had been growing up. Now already, you may be sensing that there may be a couple of things going on that are pretty big.
These are large life experiences. Would you agree?
I think you almost left nothing out. Yeah. That was almost all the big life experiences. Yeah.
Okay. So let's, let's also add that there, like a puppy came on the scene and so that's a joyful thing and, you know, 'cause good things do happen as well.
So, there's a, a little baby puppy running around and sleep may be ... affected... in a way or all the ways.
So where in this person's body, may they be feeling differences or some of that gumminess or stuckness that you were describing? Because let's agree to agree, that these could be considered losses or loss events, although there is some excitement to them and some joy to them as well.
Absolutely. So, one of the great things about humanity and why we are still around this long is that we are brilliant adapters.
So, a person who has experienced all of the things you describe, in every single one of those bullet points, if you will, the body is recalibrating and trying to figure out how to keep moving forward.
And in process of that, there is perhaps mostly unconscious areas of bracing and holding and buckling down that are happening in the body. I would guess around the rib cage, around the waist, probably around the lateral hips and most certainly at the base of the skull and the upper trapezius muscles, just like I'm bracing, I'm going to keep going because this is part of my identity. And we have to keep going.
One thing: Where are the lateral hips?
Oh, you know, find your waist and, and the lateral hips would be below that. So the top of your hip bones, and then often where low back pain shows up a lot of the time.
When it comes to the body and feeling stuck, it's really just trying to protect ourselves.
Is this why?
If we have been through a lot --let's say 2020-- if we've been through a lot, we may be feeling tired or generally, or stiff and sore after. Yeah?
I mean, especially I noticed that toward the end of 2020, especially ending up leading up to the election. Yeah. More and more people were coming in, anxious, angry, fearful, and a lot of shortening of it's like, if you, if you're a draw string and you're like cinching up the, the, the gunny sack, it's like that sort of around the rib cage and the neck and the hip. The shoulder girdle and the pelvic girdle kind of go hand in hand, they're very much interwoven. So a lot of tightness around those areas in the body, as a result of those emotions and mental states.
Mm. Yeah. So, I imagine with all this coming in, part of what you talk about a lot in your work that you do is about releasing. So what can release be like or look like?
I imagine a fair amount is definitely physical, but there's probably some emotional releases as well.
Absolutely. I guess one of the things I would recommend to people who are experiencing some kind of loss, whatever that is, you know, from a death or from a loss of a relationship, or even from a loss of a long-term job, or fill-in-the-blank kind of loss, even if it's like coming to terms with a part of yourself that you're having to really let go of to become happier. There's a grief in that too.
One of the simplest things is your breath. Really slowing down to, to breathe and feel where your breath is touching you from the inside out where it's not touching you feeling into your volume.
I mean, Chinese medicine talks about grief is.... how is it in the lungs? One of the things I do, because it's a sense it's a feedback loop is, I'll suggest to people put your hands on your sternum and just kind of feel really, as you breathe, feel your sternum rise and fall.
I remember when I was working with someone, when I was going through an intense period of grief. And I got this very clear image of my entire body being wrapped into a tight gauze. Like, I could kind of see out of it through the mesh.
And all I wanted to do was to just like breathe big enough so that it would, I would start to hear the fabric of the gauze popping, you know, that's how, that's how constrained I was.
So it's like the more you can tune into the physical body and like even holding yourself and touching yourself while you're breathing, the more you can really simply just acknowledge that what you're feeling. Does that make sense?
It does. And it's about sort of being in touch with what else is going on in the body and not just what's going on up in the brain.
And for some people who, particularly people who kind of get stuck in their heads. And I resemble that... I'm putting on something more right brain. Like put on some music that you really connect with and just breathe and begin to allow your body to move to the music and kind of explore where that's going and kind of give yourself permission before you start.
As in, "I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen, but I'm going to put this music on and I'm going to breathe and I'm going to allow my body to flow."
And you might end up going into a completely convulsive fit of tears or anger, or like, allow yourself to be that five-year-old boy or girl, and just like throw yourself under the bed and wail and scream. And, Oh my God, that can be the best thing in the world.
But because you're a grownup, you're given the message that that's just not okay. You should be over that. But I have to tell you that, on my table, over the years, I have contained and worked with some cathartic releases that were pretty darn powerful.
And afterwards, I remember one client, she said, I went to PCC, which is a co-op in town. And she said, I got the email a couple hours later. She goes, I have never seen the brightest colors in the produce department, the smells that were coming from the produce. I don't recall ever smelling produce like that.
Aw, Aw. Well, it sounds to me like, there's some, like when there's a release of that capacity, that there's more capacity. There's just more room inside. There's more noticing there's more... more good stuff can get in as well. Is that being your experience? That's been my personal experience.
The more you release, then the more you're able to sort of take in from the world around you and feel more connected. And one with the relationships you're in and everything.
Right, right. So, what's interesting about your work and my work is that a lot of what can happen, physically, what I'm hearing and correct me if I'm wrong, because I'm not the expert on your work is that there's a lot that the body's carrying that the subconscious may be aware of. Would that be true?
Absolutely. Many neuroscientists think that the connective tissue houses, the unconscious.
Wow. That's fascinating because in my work, it's more about what's getting noticed or what, noticing what we're bringing around. And so we do release work in a verbal way, but sometimes words are really hard to come up with, especially emotional words when we're talking about grief.
So, I'm envisioning that it could be an exciting thing to have body work at the same time as grief recovery.
Right. Absolutely. Because I feel that a lot of times things get stirred up and we start to talk about things that happen in my work.
And then a person can then take that and go to someone like you and say, "This just got stirred up. I need some help figuring out where to take it, how to process it, contain it, whatever."
Right. I mean, I don't always have the time to fully help them process it in the course of a session.
Right. Right. And there may be more than one thing that comes up in a session.
Exactly. I'm pushing a button, essentially. And then they're like, "Oh, hello, this just got turned back on."
And then I go, "Okay, go see Wendy now and talk it through or work it through."
So, Chad, tell me a little bit about like one of the common things that people are afraid of in terms of feeling their feelings.
And especially if they may feel like they're going to cry, well, they may be really concerned that once they start crying, they will not stop.
And so you having some years with people on the table, like emotional responses are going to happen on the daily. If you're pushing the buttons, something's probably going to happen.
You know, where those buttons are. So could you talk a little bit about setting expectations and... Is it normal?
It's totally normal. And of course, as you can expect, there is a wide range of emotional reactions.
So on one end, someone will say to me, "Wow. I just got overcome with sadness suddenly." And they're not quite sure what to do with it. And I'll say something like, "All right, cool, breathe with it. You don't have to understand why your body's processing something right now. You don't necessarily have to go and try to figure out how to label it with your left brain. You just have to just, you know, trust that something is moving through you."
Now, they just got released to the point where I had someone today who has just come from a session where she had a coaching kind of session. Whereas she had realized that some big thing that she was having to let go of like some big thing, like her marriage and like, "Oh my God, everything."
"I thought my, what I thought was going to happen is just not going to happen. And I have to let that go because if I keep holding onto it, there will never be a space created for something new."
Right? So during our session, we were really working on where that was being... where she was feeling that in her body.
So then there's the other extreme of... I was working with a woman and I was working around her waist and sort of dropping into her deep abdominal muscles. And as she was talking, I was feeling I'm kind of tuned into trauma at this point. And I just said something I'm saying to myself, I'm feeling fear. I'm feeling something resisting. And I just asked, "Have you ever experienced any trauma in this part of your body?"
And she started to tell me about an abortion she had, and she never told anyone else... she only told her one other person about, but she had so much shame because of what her father would have done. It was around her father relationship.
And that, that saying that out loud, led her into this really convulsive, cathartic release, where like I could tell she had no control over the shaking and the tremors in her body.
And all I did was I just kept my hands on her body because this wasn't the first time this happened. And then just like, "this is okay, this is okay. This is how this is coming out of you right now."
And we just stayed with it and stayed with it and stayed with it and eventually calmed down. And she was able to find words. This took about 10 minutes. And she said, "You know, I said that to anybody else out loud, except for a good friend. And she was the person I referred to earlier about going to PCC later and suddenly she could smell. And her, her vision was different. Wow. Kind of a reset. Yeah. Yeah. Like something deep. Finally she had sat down like, "I've forgiven that part of me."
Wow. So it's someone like that who I would, I, you know, now 10 years later would say, "Okay, so this is something you really need to nourish, nurture and, and have someone to support you in that process. And that's where someone like you would come in."
Got it. Amazing. Well, and it's really just sort of like sharing a beautiful blend of the verbal and nonverbal or the conscious and unconscious coming into consciousness, right?
Like that's really just kind of a dance. And sometimes we just really have no control over how, how things get released or whether or not words will come it's okay.
And I have to say that over the years, you know, and having experienced so much grief myself, you don't know how it's going to come out when it's going to hit you.
And it's often when the body gets for me anyway, when the body gets, manipulated in some way, whether it's someone working on me and the bodywork session, or whether it's an intense feeling of joy and laughter that then moves the body in a way that suddenly I'm now in crying now. But it is, it is often connected with some physical stimulation, some physical catalyst.
Do you think that ever happens with people who like have a different workout?
Absolutely. Absolutely. I think when some, when somebody, especially, I know if someone who hadn't worked out for a long time and suddenly, and something happened in their life and they realize I need to start working out, I need to be healthy or I might die. And they just like bit off, more than they could chew actually. And they were like physically sick and nauseous and throwing up and like really processing something deep that they've been holding onto. And they were an addict. And, and so that level of a physical workout, um, really got to a level in their tissue where they were holding onto something and they didn't realize they didn't go into it thinking, I need to release that. Uh-hh, they were overtaken by it and then realized after the fact, "wow, I had that to release. I had no idea, you know."
Right, right. I mean, amazing... amazing unintentional and still a possibility.
Right. Unintentional on a conscious level. I would say something inside of them was saying, I need to work out. I need to get healthier, you know, some energy, whatever we call it. And it was him giving them that impulse. But you know, the brain is always catching up to the body. Let's just face it. Right. You know?
Right. I was just reading something about how there are so many more messages go from the heart to the brain than the brain, to the heart that, you know, it's really an undiscussed area that I to study, but like yeah. And the body, I find, is going to win.
Speaker 2: (24:05)
There's this great book, which I'm sure you're aware of called The Body Keeps the Score and it's about trauma and heart and connecting with those things.
It's exactly what the title says. Yeah. Okay. So Chad, I would love to help our audience out with, you know, a couple of things that they can do if they feel like they have some brain fog or some grief, or they're just not feeling right, or, well, what can they do to take care of their bodies?
Either while they're waiting to get into work with you or another body worker or waiting to start their Grief Recovery Method learning.
Yeah. I've mentioned already the simplest thing you can do. I mean, especially if you're continuing to have your life and your job and everything, and you don't have a lot of time, you know, five minutes of just sitting, closing your eyes, feeling your butt in the seat, or wherever you are... lying down on the floor, feeling the weight of your body on the floor and just breathing, feeling.
If you're lying on the floor, feeling the parts of your body that are touching the floor, where your breath is going in your body, just noticing... no judgment... just noticing and just being with all of those sensations, all of the energy that is coursing through you for like 5 minutes and, and because the practice of acknowledging that something is actually happening and where you are right now is a big part of grief and, and processing grief because it's really, we have an impulse which is pretty primal to keep going and to survive.
And I think, and we don't the brain doesn't differentiate between present time and past times of needing to survive.
So, when you're, when you're faced with something big, like grief, it's really important to allow yourself, to give yourself permission... to stop and feel.
And the very simplest thing you can hang on to is your breath.
I would say all of this, as I said, is, is to really connect with what's actually happening in your body. Just noticing, "Where am I holding tension? Where is the breath preventing me from, from expanding my ribs?"
You know, the shock and grief could really pull us into old stories about our lives.
When we, when we, when we experience intense grief, we often can regress into old behavior patterns or old physical movement patterns. It's all the same thing. And to really breathe is what's happening right now and, and touching your chest or touching, putting your hands on your cheeks, sometimes that for some people can be really comforting and help them feel I'm here right now. This is what's happening right now.
I think I mentioned before putting on music. Music can be something that, that can connect with something nonintellectual for lack of a better term, where you can really connect and flow into a rhythm that is primal. And especially if you pick music that you really dig and you really connect to that can get you out of it and really connect with a deeper energy where grief lives.
So, if they feel self-conscious about that, or if they don't have a lot of space... close the doors in the bathroom...
Close the doors in the bathroom, you know, if you don't have a lot of time, you know, if you're in your cubicle at work and you get hit over the side of the head with like grief from a recent loss, you know, you just close your eyes, feel the chair under you take a good 8 breaths. And I would also suggest breathing on account, like breathe in for 8 counts and out for 8 counts.
That sounds simple, but it's not, if you're not used to breathe, we tend to breathe very shallowly. So if you have to breathe on a steady 8 count and exhale on a steady 8 count, and you do that 8 times, you'll be in a different state at the end of that.
Yeah. Yeah. For sure.
And you can do that and you can look like you're looking at your computer
Totally well. And even like a small amount of time, if it's like a 30 seconds or a 2 minute song, like if it's the right song it's going to move you, you don't have to move to it necessarily.
Right. And if you're in the bathroom and there's tile and it's cold sometimes like putting your face against the now it's, COVID so like sterilize it first, but wipe it down and then wipe yourself down. But I was like, put your hands on something cold, but your tech, some people really respond to different textures.
What if it's rough? What if it's sandpaper? What if it's, you know, bubbly? And plastic-y, what if it's smooth? What if it's leather? What if it's, you know, different? Disrupt your normal texture world and it's about disrupting your normal pattern to face what's actually happening.
Amazing, amazing. So how do I do it? I have a lot of rocks around and things that are handmade. So on my desk, I have this bunny that was knitted by a fantastic person. And so it's about the size of a very puffy business card. And I kind of squeeze it. I squeezed the bunny and then in a gentle way, and then I have some glass buttons on my desk because it all just, they have bumps on them because the glass has been dropped onto another bit of glass. So it's very nubby. And sometimes I just look at, you know, I looked for a pencil and I like press the pointy end. Cause it's pointy. It can be really simple. And it bears mentioning to gently just notice the pointy part.
Because people do cut themselves. That's not what we're doing.
No, no. I'm just kinda like bouncing the pad of my fingertip on a pointy pencil or knitting needle or pen. Like it doesn't, it doesn't have to be pointy for you. It can be just a tip of an object.
Explore different objects that are right with you... when you're quiet in your room and you're overwhelmed with a wave of grief, you know, is it maybe it's as simple as, you know, the cold cotton of your comforter or flipping the pillow over or, you know, grabbing the fuzzy, you know, I don't know the fuzzy, um, teddy bear that you've kept from your childhood and nuzzling your face into that.
Putting on socks, taking off socks. It can be just a change.
I changed getting up from your computer, walking and looking at the thing out the window, the farthest thing you can see and, you know, let your eyes adjust to the farthest thing you can see and take it in and enjoy it.
Yeah. That's, that's a good one to breathe in, Chad. Oh, my total delight to have you on this episode. Thank you so much for sharing about your expertise of the body, the emotions, the subconscious, your work, especially as it pertains and revolves around grief. We've just sort of gotten started on a really great conversation that I would like to continue in another episode, won't you join me (again), please?
The tip of the iceberg has happened.
Yeah! If folks are close to the Seattle area and feel like they would like to see you and get on your table, what exactly should they be doing?
They can explore my website: somabodywork.net. They can call me and their contact information is on that website. What many people do is email me, which is also on the website, Chad@SOMA bodywork.net, usually because SOMA for most people anyway, is they have questions. There's usually an initial sort of either email exchange or phone conversation to deal with that.
Great. Take a look at some of Chad's videos on that website too. They may answer a couple of questions, but definitely don't be shy about reaching out. You can tell how friendly he is just from this episode.
Oh, thank you.
Thank you so much for being with us.
Those links are going to be in the show notes. Don't you fret or worry when you are in a safe place and you're not driving and you're not working out. The link will be in the notes for you, dear listener. Thank you so much for joining and I'll be seeing you again....Well, talking to you anyway on Heart Healing From Loss. Thanks so much.
Nikole's experience of the Grief Recovery Method®
Wendy Sloneker, Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist®
So continuing on from the previous podcast where you were talking about what you were looking to get out of working the Grief Recovery Method® with me, I am not remembering what those things were off hand. Do you happen to recall what you weren't looking to get out of this work together?
I believe I was touching on wanting to figure out how to get some tools to work with grief.
Being able to handle grief and loss better... and kind of feeling out how that showed up in my life. As well as feeling like I needed to do the work to take that next step in whatever my life is going to hold.
I didn't a hundred percent know what we would be touching on.
I don't know how to say it, but we don't really want to talk about loss. Nobody really wants to bring it up. If you lost a shoe or if you lost a loved one or your phone, right? That's aggravating. Like nobody really wants to have that conversation. You don't really go up to someone and say, you know, I lost this thing once. We may have that conversation one time, but it's not something that we come back to. It's not something that we celebrate.
And through working together, I've learned that there are a lot of things that I can experience and that they could be related to a loss that I didn't even acknowledge.
See, no, it was there in my memories, but it was something that wasn't brought to the forefront.
It (grief) was something I was kind of ignoring or maybe I was carrying around and I didn't realize. And so there are all these little things held together and I don't want to say that we're all full of losses, right?
Because that doesn't sound very positive, but loss is a part of life. And being able to handle that as well as being able to handle the things that we get excited about, the things that we celebrate, it almost kind of makes it be like, okay, we can work through this.
For future losses
It's not going to be this paralysis.
It will be sad. It will be hard. It will be difficult.
And now I have tools that I can take that next step with that I can say, I can get to completeness. I can move forward. Instead of being sort of in this stagnant island, surrounded by this lake of my own making that I don't even know how to get across.
This is where I think some people... and myself, I have experienced this as well... but I also see some people around me sitting on that island and they don't want to get off... or they do, but they don't know how to.
These tools help build that bridge across that stagnant, stinky lake. You've made it. Thank you.
What did you work through?
We did burnout in my business and that included personal relationships.
What shocked me was it (this work around loss) also included concepts. So we talked about money. We talked about paid work and relationships. I never would have expected that we would have worked on that, in working together as a part of loss. And it's definitely something that I've had some experiences in. It really helped me to work through with the tools that I got from this program.
Thank you. Nikole, you’ve just freshly finished the third main, or major loss event with me just moments ago. So, I'm wondering like in what's your initial take, and what was it like when you worked through that first loss event? When you got complete with that first loss that we worked on together in my sessions? (we usually can manage to work on at least three or four during the course of an eight session program) So tell me about the other side now that you've gotten complete with a couple of losses… what’s different? How is it different?
I've seen it show up after we worked together and I do the exercises, I feel lighter and being able to walk away from some of that pain and some of that hurt is really nice.
Next, is that I find it showing up in my life in ways that maybe I didn't expect such as being able to release things (possessions) I was holding onto that don't really serve me. (Things that) don't really give me good energy. Or things running me that I wasn't paying attention to that could drag me down that could, that were not helping me move forward, which is really important and a goal that I have.
And I didn't realize that it could be connected with suppressing some emotions that were uncomfortable and related to losses that I had experienced or things that I wanted to be better, different, more awesome.
So when you say that, is it like a physical thing? Is it emotional? Like the things you surround yourself with that like maybe aren't serving you, does that include some physical things? Does that sort of like include relationships? What types of things have you noticed around you that you've been, it sounds like more to let go of more easily?
The emotional release, definitely in our sessions, super helpful. Being able to have those conversations with my husband or my sister, those really help and have improved those relationships.
But the things that I've released, have mostly been physical, that physical things I didn't even realize I was holding on to, or I kept putting in the like Goodwill pile, but I’d pull it out before I gave it away.
For some reason I just couldn't leave. And after doing the work and being like, I don't want to let this person thing concept hurt me anymore. I don't want that in my life. Nope. It doesn't matter how much money I put into it. It doesn't need to be here. And I found a better way of releasing it. And I didn't kind of realize how those were happening at the same time as the worst we were doing.
And it's also helped me show more compassion. I'm not an uncompassionate person. I am a compassionate person. But when there's a loss, a lot of times I don't know what to say. “I'm sorry”?
The book talks about that, butwe're super awkward... and now I feel better about acknowledging losses and that it's okay. You want to talk about it. You have emotions, you can share whatever you want to, and I will hear your emotions and share that it must be hard. And I use that a lot to just acknowledge that it's okay to have those emotions myself, with my husband, and with my family.
Wow. Were you expecting that at all? I mean, that sounds like you have more capacity just around other people's pain or suffering or loss, which is hard. It's hard to witness that in itself, but it sounds like you feel a little more comfortable if that should come up.
Is that what I'm hearing?
Yeah. I feel a little bit more confidence that I could not fall apart. If something was to happen, I have to experience whatever that next big loss will be... or that small loss... I can acknowledge it and process it and work through that to release some pain. And it might be a continuous process.
Of course, there's not, I'm not saying that there's a, that you've taught me the magic solution to not have to feel pain. But it's a way of dealing with it and processing it.
Around others as well
So then when other people are sharing their emotions or their pain, instead of me coming back with a logical response… which I realized I was doing all the time… It isn't really supporting them in what they're experiencing.
I get to come back with, "I hear you. And that, that must be really frustrating. That must be really hard. That must be a challenge." And it gives them space to feel heard and acknowledged instead of “well, if you feel that way, why are you doing it? Why don't you stop doing it? Why don't you do something different? This doesn't make sense. You signed up for that. You paid for this and stuff and you don't even think about it.” It wasn't like I was intentionally trying to be mean, it was just something that was like, “well, if you are complaining about it that much, then just stop doing it.”
That good old brain that brain's going to figure it out.
The tools helped me know better. And then now, I feel like I can do better.
And this is weird, but there's not that panic sensation of like, “Uh-oh, you're, you're expressing something about like a divorce or about someone who died. And I don't know what to tell you. And I don't know what to say.”
I just take a moment.
These are more tools to help myself as well as to be more present for other people and be like “It's okay.”
Wow. That, that sounds awesome, frankly. I'm glad that you have that. I'm glad that you feel that… That's brilliant.
Looking back, I think I've become more aware of my own loss feelings, my own emotions. As regards loss, something that’s like another limb that I was really ignoring.
And, and now I feel like I can acknowledge it because it's not that scary thing, and acknowledging loss with others… And then being able to move forward in a way that I feel more confident. In my business, in my personal life, in my professional life, in working with others.
What would you share with someone who is considering working with me?
If someone was considering working with you, I would tell them that just because maybe they haven't had a loss recently doesn't mean that you can't help them.
I was a little bit leery about “why am I doing this? I haven't had a major death recently.”
I had the thought, “Well, I should only do this work, if I had had a major death or someone close to me had passed away.”
And I was grieving a lot from that.
But you can still help someone with the grief work that you do because we've all experienced loss in different ways.
I love that you say that every last is unique, every person's experience is unique. It gave me the space to acknowledge that it might be something silly or small and yet it's still hurt. And that was okay. And that I could work through that with you.
So those were incredibly important and it was more than just, “I've had a death recently. I'm grieving.” I think that this could be useful for anyone, regardless of what is going on in their life at the moment.
Were you surprised to identify so much in the first part of the book? There's a lot more education (at first) and then we transitioned to sort of application… were you surprised at all by the possibility of having 40+ different types of losses that could occur in your life?
I was shocked by that and then I was better able to go, “Oh, that, and then that and that, Oh gosh, that was a lot.”
What was your response?
I've experienced so many things that I haven't classified as a loss, that just hurt, but I swept it under the rug or I moved on or I pasted a smile on my face, all those things that we expect other people to do when they are experiencing loss.
And sometimes it's something that's really hard to talk about. Sometimes it's really hard and you're pasting that smile on your face and you feel like nobody gets it.
That's how I was with burnout there. I had people around me who were trying to support me, but they didn't really know what to do. And I'm sure that they had experienced some level of burnout before, but nobody really wanted to acknowledge it... like it was catching or something.
And so instead, allowing myself the capacity to feel those emotions without it, maybe my life was going to fall apart. And giving other people the space to experience the emotions that they have, the happiness, as well as the pain and making it okay.
Right. If you were going to be talking - and you touched on this a little bit earlier - but if somebody was really afraid of how they were going to feel while like exploring their grief or exploring their loss, either in a program like this or in a group or something like that...
If they were really afraid of how they would feel, because they don't know how they're going to show up and feel… Is there anything you'd like to share with that person?
Yeah, I think that is definitely a fear that you could absolutely have. Definitely legitimate. Absolutely. And I think that the best way to address that, the best way to feel that is by seeing what your connection is with Wendy.
Because Wendy is the held space and had the capacity for me, that whatever I experienced was fine. Whether I got upset, whether I cried, whether I was emotional… whether I broke down in tears, whether I was angry, and she had the open capacity, she was, she called herself a heart with ears.
And it just made it really simple... and I didn't have to judge what I was feeling.
I could just let it happen as it did. And I think that the reason that I was able to be in that honest space was because of the energy that Wendy had and that she held that space for me to be there.
So my feedback would be that it's it's because of you Wendy that I was able to work through that and be okay with my own experience. I could respond very... I don't want to say “spastically,” but that's the only word... but like uncontrolled, I can respond and you made it a safe space.
Okay. If I had an uncontrolled moment, it wasn't going to derail everything, and then you didn't give judgment. You didn't analyze, we didn't have to go through it bit by bit of what I said, we're able to, you heard me, I felt heard and we did the exercise and then we were able to come and you gave me a virtual hug and then we could move on.
So instead of making it this, “we need to now analyze” And I think that that could be some of the fears people might have.
So you held the space for me to be present and honest with where I was at. And that was perfect and amazing.
And so if someone's concerned about that, that's okay. Maybe this space, someone to work with you in a very safe space so that you can feel those emotions maybe for the first time.
And Wendy is that safe person.
Thank you, Nikole. Thank you. Is there anything else you'd like to share that I am forgetting to ask about?
There is some, some time and an investment time, investment and financial investment involved in it. I can speak to the time investment and I was a little bit leery of 8weeks as well. That's a lot. It was a long time. And I found that working with you for an hour, hour and a half was perfect.
That was fine. I was able to meet the commitments I wasn't overwhelmed with, “I can't do this.”
And then there was one week when I reached out to you and I said, I just haven't gotten everything done. And you were really flexible, which I so appreciate.
And you were like, “let's just move it to next week. Let's do touch base. Let's whatever-it-was that I needed.”
So, not only were you supporting me emotionally, but you're also allowing the flexibility to say, “I understand that life can happen and we can move through that.”
If someone is considering the time commitment that they would need to do to work with you is worth it. And that for the amount that they commit, the results they can get out of it are astronomical.
Last question. Do you feel capable and confident in the Grief Recovery Method® to go ahead and repeat it as other losses occur?
Yes. Yes. I feel like you helped me do that and practice it so that I could confidently do that on my own and have the support system that if I get stuck, I can reach out and be like, “Hey, what does this look like? And I'm in my stuff. And can we just kind of get 10 minutes of your time and go through this real quick?”
Oh, Nikole, thank you so much. I appreciate you being so candid with me. Certainly with me, but also with all the listeners. So thank you, as a fellow griever, and for those who are listening in.
Thank you so much for just really willing to speak up about your experience.
And thanks so much for tuning in again. I appreciate you being here.
If you have questions about what it would be like to go through the Grief Recovery Method® to achieve heart healing from loss, well that's maybe a great entry point for a Connection Call, which is free and which is also 30 minutes.
So you'll see more about that on my website and I'll include a link.
Thank you and goodbye for now.
We are more familiar with loss than we think we are.
Especially since the pandemic broke last year.
There are more than 40 loss events that may be experienced over the course of a life.
Did you know this? It's kind of mind-blowing.
In our society, we have a better understanding of how to go after a gain and what to do with a "win", than we are with what to do with a loss... or with feelings of grief, for that matter.
Often we don't know how to "be" with our own feelings of loss... or others's feelings of loss when something devastating, tragic, or even disappointing happens.
There are tools, there is a method
The truth is, we aren't taught or given the direction, tools, or even the emotionally helpful communications to help us navigate losses... or be there with real emotional support for others either.
The right tools and education just haven't been that widely available over the last 4 decades... but there are effective, evidence-based, repeatable tools to learn. I've learned the tools myself, and have been trained to share them with others. That's all that I've been doing since May of 2020.
When you look at the list of losses...
Please bear in mind, not everyone may experience all the kinds of losses in the following list.
(This is definitely not a Bingo Card...)
Browse this list to help you identify and clarify specific losses and how they may have affected you in your life, including in your relationships.
While you scan the list, remember that feelings of grief are normal and natural when we experience losses of every kind. Also, conflicting feelings may arise when familiar patterns or behaviors end or change.
Take a look... what have you experienced in your life so far?
This list shares very nearly 50 loss events that can happen in a life. The feelings of grief and loss may include myriad other feelings and symptoms as you navigate and process the loss/es.
The Grief Recovery Method (which I teach) may be applied to all of the above loss events in order to move beyond the pain, loneliness, and isolation that arise when a loss (or losses) occur.
Schedule your Connection Call with me today.
Transcript from Podcast Episode 5 with Nikole Stansfield
Wendy Sloneker, Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist®
Hi there, Wendy Sloneker from Heart Healing from Loss. I'd like to introduce a friend of mine who is just about ready to take her first step into Session One of the Grief Recovery Method® with me… It’s Nikole Stanfield.
Nikole Stanfield, getting ready to learn - and work - the Grief Recovery Method®
Hey, Wendy. I'm really excited to get started.
I think that it was really important for me to realize that I didn't have to have a death happen really recently in order for me to get value out of what you're doing.
There's a part of it that I don't a hundred percent know exactly what we're going to be doing.
I know we'll be walking through that.
I think it was really cool that you said that there are lots of different types of loss and grief that we can experience from losing a job, or a client, or a relationship. Even if that person's still alive.
As we were talking about, I lost a friendship a couple of years ago and I was releasing some items (possessions) recently that brought up that friendship. So, I still have some unresolved grief. I don't know. I'm sure (this work will) give me the right tools to deal with it.
I also wanted to share what I'm looking to get out of the program.
An opportunity to learn some tools. Because grief will happen again.
I have some older people in my life that I care about a lot and when they pass that will be hard. I have small dogs in my life. Grief is a part of life. So having those tools (will be) super helpful in my toolkit, and also being able to process some of those things that I might still be holding on to so that I can move forward.
I don't have all the words to describe it, but I feel like this is an opportunity to really identify and shed some emotional weight that I might be carrying around that I might not know about and be able to process it so that I can take that next step, whatever that is on top of just the stress of 2020 and everything being crazy right now and processing that, right?
So, some tools for releasing some emotional….I don't want to use “baggage”... but things I'm carrying around. As well as some prompting to release some physical (tangible) stuff in my life so that I can make room for whatever that next step is.
So that's what I'm looking to get out of it.
Where I'm at right now is...
I feel a little torn between where I'm currently at, what I'm doing, that's successful and is bringing in money, uh, in my life and where I want to be, where I want to go, what that next path is that I want to step into.
And right now it feels a little stressful, a little overwhelming with the choices that we've currently made. So how this all relates to grief, I have no idea, but I know that by the time that I'm done, I will have some insights that are like, “Oh wow. I was carrying that around my grandma passing three years ago. And now I've released something about that.”
That helps me take that next step to saying what I want to do next and not be in the holding pattern that I kind of feel like I am right now.
Thank you for sharing that with me and with, with everyone watching this video. Thank you very much for being willing to just share what it is you're looking for.
Could I ask a question or two just to further clarify. Thank you. So I'm wondering if you'd be open to, you had mentioned identifying something that you would release.
I'm wondering if you're open to feeling lighter around that, like more spacious or having more capacity inside in order to make those choices about where it is that you want to go in your next step.
Um, are you asking for my feedback or are you going to lead me through something? Just want to clarify?
Yeah. I'm just wondering if lightness is part of what you're looking for in like a feeling of lighter. Because if you're talking about carrying around to me, that feels a little heavy, heavier, maybe it's just, I mean, there are things that I just discovered that I'm carrying around that I had no idea I was still carrying it around. So I'm like, “Oh, I know what to do with that. I'm going to take these steps for them.”
So yes, I have a tendency to hold on to things because I'm worried that I might need them. And, um, I'm working, I've done the KonMari method before and then working through it again. And there are things of value that if I don't have a good place for them to go, it's really hard for me to release them.
And I recently had a laptop that I had that I was working on when I burned out in 2018 and had a lot of emotional turmoil and lost some relationships and a lot of ups and downs. And I hadn't released it for two years and I've turned it on maybe twice in that time. So, but still holding onto it out of a fear of, I might need it.
And I recently released it. And the initial feeling that I felt was just like, exhaustion of just like, “Oh, I let it go.”
And this past week I've lived without it. And I have not been upset about letting it go or wanted it back or anything like that. It feels great to just be like, “Oh, I'm so glad that's gone.”
So definitely I feel like I have some more to release before I can really be like, I am so like, this is awesome. Um, there's definitely some things that other things I'm holding onto and I'm continuing to try to process those things. So having some more tools to do some emotional work, I think can only be beneficial for me.
And then I just have one other question and that is regarding the timing we are currently at the time of this video. You're taking this step and looking into new tools around grief and emotional work before the new year.
Now, could you talk a little bit about that just in terms of some people really enjoy waiting for a new fresh start.
And this is definitely an action step that is taking place in the late days of a year. Um, a pretty big year called 2020 would be. Would you mind talking about like, Hey, why? You know, one curious question is why aren't you waiting? And another is just like, tell me more about your timing.
Um, in regards to timing, I think my, my best answer is that it feels right.
That's kind of like a “whew” answer. I get that.
So a little bit more clarity around that is that I've gone through this year and started off the year of, “Oh, I'm going to take this business that I have, and, and it's gonna, I'm going to make it happen this year.”
And then 2020 happened and everything just sort of fell apart. And then getting to a point this year where I was like, “I'm not going to focus on that.”
And then realizing, well, asking... what do I want to focus on? And as I'm ending the year, it gives me an opportunity to say, maybe there's something that I'm holding on to that is holding you back.
That isn't setting me up to take this next step because I'm taking too much time to look behind me. Unconsciously, maybe consciously, I don't know, but I know that in the past, when I've done work like this, um, whether it's personal development work, that's kind of how I view it.
It's focused on grief, but I see it as personal development work and it can only help me.
And I've uncovered a lot of things when I've done stuff in the past in regards to the new year, why am I not waiting?
I don't really make resolutions. Maybe I make one thing that I want to focus on in the year and in, after like on new year's day, it's like, Oh, yay. It's a new year. That's really cool. But I don't feel like it's a, Oh, I failed because I didn't make all my goals last year. I use more as a reflection of what happened last year.
What am I looking towards this year? And it's more, um, focused inwardly. I do have some goals that I've written down and that I've accomplished this year and that's really awesome physical goals and financial goals. And, and those things are great.
But it just seems like a timeline of reflection than necessarily I need to lay out my first quarter financial goals and the things that I will accomplish by this time, because quite frankly, most of us forget them. Or, don't do them. And aren't as motivated a month later.
So why put all that pressure on myself and in the end, it's something that we've put meaning and time around?
It doesn't really mean anything. Things are going to go forward, whether I'm I'm not making resolutions or I am making resolutions. So it's feels like this is a great time of the year to reflect, get new skills and empower myself to take that next step.
Nikole, thank you.
It’s kind of a long winded answer…
It's kind of awesome.
Yeah. It's a new perspective… and I don't know that everyone has that. There are probably some people who definitely have that, who will feel kind of... aligned, right?
And this may give other folks some more to work with similar to just having more tools.
So thank you for leading this conversation around what is right for you, and what feels right for you, in terms of taking this next step around releasing and moving beyond the pain of loss.
I'm excited. It's going to be good.
Yay! Thanks, Nikole!
Winter tips for when you're grieving during the holidays
Thanks for joining me. On today's podcast, we're going to be talking about grief and “good enough.” I have two small actionable tips, ideas, suggestions… call them what you will ...
They are tools that I use frequently... And most especially during the holiday season.
What are they for?
It's a way of gauging what's going on inside without having a long, long period of time going through lots and lots of feelings without having an end result in mind. So this is a way to take sort of an inner gauge, help you through the holidays to help you decide whether or not you're really actually interested in going through maybe a holiday gathering or call whether or not you could be doing something else. I'll also have a couple of ideas, um, or maybe just one big one about, uh, what to do when you find yourself just staring out the window. And when we're in grief, oftentimes we time gets real different emotions, get real different, and there may be some numbness that goes on. I have some, idea on how to reframe exactly what that is.
And so stay tuned for that.
I'm so glad you're here.
Let's get started
For the next couple of weeks. We at this time of recording are in a space of between the Thanksgiving holiday and the United States and the onslaught of the winter holiday season, uh, which kind of started in Halloween time. So it's not fair, but it is what's happening. And, uh, it's also a particularly tough year, 2020.
So the next few podcasts that we share together, the time we share together is really gonna be about small things, reminders, tasks, ideas, suggestions, and they're going to be presented in a way that is number one, gentle number two, maybe a little bit humorous and number three, practical and actionable as in instantly actionable without it being a big, scary, potential inner journey. Okay. So these for today, when I want to talk about are a couple of ways of checking in.
Now, if you're a person who is suffering from grief, um, either due to loss of a loved one due to death or a loss of health, perhaps, maybe even loss of a pet, perhaps you've experienced loss of a job, perhaps you have multiple losses, like most of us in the world and the grief, well, it seems to be hanging around.
You feel like your inner capacity is being taken up by all these things that have happened, that you don't know how to deal with.
Number one, you're right... that emotional pain does sort of stay with us because we either replay what happened, what it was that happened. Plus, we don't know how to process it.
Not to worry what I have is a method (The Grief Recovery Method), but I also have a couple of suggestions for what to do if you haven't learned the method... yet.
So this is going to be a good thing for everybody. These are suggestions that I try to remember myself and practice. Here's what they are. If you're scared of checking in, because you're not sure how you're going to feel, and you don't know, you don't know what to do, but you just don't want to feel this bad, or the heaviness, or a blues season.
Does it feel like it's getting bluer and bluer? Maybe you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? These kinds of things.
Tip 1: Identify where can you lower the bar
One thing that I would ask you to ask yourself is, “Hey, where can I lower the bar?”
In our society, we are kind of cattle prodded into always being on the lookout for being the best; being the most excellent; the most. For everything to be either “massive” or “epic”.
There are a couple of the words that I really don't enjoy in marketing and they are “massive”, and the other one is “epic.”
So what if for some things like if you find that you're just constantly reminding yourself to be the best live your best life, make it appear to be THE most amazing best Christmas ever. These kinds of things. That's a lot of pressure. And, you know, I would suggest that maybe lowering the bar on expert expectations might be something to consider.
How do I do that?
How do I do that? If I'm always rooting for kind of the A+ in my mind, what would a B- look like, just for today?
What would it look like to be slightly above average?
Heck, average is not bad when it comes to things like taking a shower, brushing your teeth well, checking in with a friend... it doesn't have to be the most epic, the most amazing, the most everything.
And for me, when I am feeling the pressure to be all the things and do all the things in a way that looks really great and leaves me feeling empty, I need to look at where I can... just for myself... lower the bar.
So, shooting for a B minus might actually be more sustainable in the long run when it comes to a couple of things that you may or may not have on your list.
Do you have to have the most amazing napkins and napkin folding ever for this year’s Zoom, holiday gathering?
Maybe not. Maybe not.
I'm asking since I don't know. But this is something that I use. Like, how can I shoot for a B minus that feels good around this aspect? Or task. I'm not saying for your whole life, I'm saying for today for right now. And especially when you're feeling a lot of pressure… or, maybe some overwhelm, maybe some anxiety and you're judging yourself. Cause that's, that's so inspiring and motivating in a gentle way... Not at all.
So that's one way of sort of checking in and asking like, Hey, I'm feeling a lot of pressure. Where can I shoot for a B-? I'm not gonna say things like “lighten up” or “relax” or things like that, because that just really makes me feel like I can't do it.
And it makes the veins in my forehead pop out from tension and increased...irritation.
So where can I shoot for a B minus? And maybe even just asking the question will feel a little bit better for you inside. It does sometimes for me, sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes it does, but it's a gentle enough question. It's a fast enough question.
It's just another tool that you can pick up and say, Hey, where's my B- or some really hard days. How about a D+? D+ is still a total pass. Give yourself a lot of generous room around what that D+ could look like.
And if you can play with it all the better.
If you can laugh at it all the better. It's about feeling better and not about doing more, especially in, you know, an already kind of loaded season when it comes to retail, family, past experience, and maybe the year that we've all been trying to sort of wrap our heads around and our hearts around.
Okay, are you ready for the next one?
What’s your percent?
Here it is. And this is one that my partner and I practice when we can't decide what it is that we really want to or need to be doing next. She came up with it or she passed it onto me. So all credit goes to Jennifer, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
And I love it when we played this game, it's called
“What's your emotional inner percent?”
Let me give you an example:
Let's say that we're in a time of holiday and somebody invites us to a Zoom happy hour and the person is not very close, even like just kind of a passing acquaintance who's looking to load their Zoom room. They do exist. These people do exist.
And Jennifer and I will sort of look at each other if we're kind of stumped and like ask “what's your percent?” like how much are you wanting or feeling like doing this thing?
And it could be going to the hardware store. It could be going into the grocery store. It could be going to a Zoom happy hour or another Zoom meeting.
You don't have to have a person to play with (either). You can also ask yourself, “What's my percent?”
And the key here, if you can, is to not to think about it too hard. So usually how we play it is if it (both of our numbers) adds up to a hundred (as in, 100%), we may talk about what that would look like to go ahead.
And so, if I'm at 8% and she's at 41%, then that's 49%... and we’re probably not going... we're just not into it.
But that's a way of sort of checking in below your neck without thinking about what you should be doing, what you need to be doing, all these sorts of things to discover the “how do I do that?” in terms of checking in, identifying, assessing… especially if you’re grieving or feeling off.
A small practice, step by step
And that's kind of on a project by project or a task by task basis, really relying on something inside of you to let you know how interested you are in moving forward with a partner, going out, staying in… try conducting this test (or you could call it “playing this little game,” too).
When you can’t figure it out
So these can be used all year round, but these are also really important reminders and tools that you can pick up during the holiday when you don't feel like you don't feel really like you're equipped to make decisions.
When we're in grief and we're suffering from loss, our focus and attention is already hampered. It's impaired. This is the nature of it. If you're, you know, suffering from grief and really in it, you may just find yourself staring out a window and not knowing why that is when you have “all these other things to be doing.”
Here's my extra little bonus for today.
It could be that staring out that window is the best thing you could be doing to sort of just give yourself a break.
So if you find yourself staring out the window or you're just staring at the TV without really watching it, you're reading the same paragraph over and over that you're not really comprehending in a book or in anything else that you might be reading...
It's okay, this is normal and natural in grief. And again, nobody needs to have died or passed away in order for you to be experiencing a feeling of loss. Heartbreak is it's a thing that we don't talk about very much in society... but we do talk about it here.
So I'm going to invite you back for the next podcast episode or to go ahead and review some of the other ones if you haven't heard those already, you're always invited.
And if you're ready to do something different, so you get a different result, so you feel different, then ask me about working one-to-one through the steps of the Grief Recovery Method.
I’m thinking of you. And I'll be back with more suggestions and ideas and tools for you to put in your emotional heart healing, toolbox.
Wendy Sloneker, Heart Healing from Loss. So glad you joined me today for this short little podcast, and I'm looking forward to the next. Here we go.
Food, Grief, Loss, and Freedom
Plus, the holidays are right around the corner. Let's get into it! Welcome to Episode 3!
Wendy Sloneker: Host
Hi, welcome back. I'm so glad you are here with us tonight, back on the heart healing from loss podcast tonight, I have something really special for you and it's actually someone who's really special. Her name is Catherine Dickson, and I met her just a little while ago. She is a holistic health coach and she and I have a lot in common around food and grief and freedom.
So tonight is going to be pretty exciting, just our conversation about what she's up to and how she helps women with food freedom, and also where that all intersects around grief and loss and healing. hHealing is what we're all about. So I'd like to take this minute to just welcome Catherine Dickson to the podcast.
Hello Wendy. I'm so happy to be here.
Thank you so much. It's really like, I wish you could see the smiles on both of our faces. We are just kind of grinning and being excited to just be here and talk with each other.
So here, we're here and this timing is kind of auspicious too. I do want to check in… we're going to be talking… I'm going to prep you Catherine, because I have a question that I haven't told you about and it has to do, we'll save it for later, but I want to plant the seed and that is we're in kind of like the fourth quarter, which, and we're running up close to like the holidays, the winter holiday season, which are largely food related.
For some they're focused, and for others, they may be obsessed. So I do check in around that, but first of all, I'd love to hear just a little bit about you and your story and how you got into the practice that you have right now.
Absolutely, absolutely. Yes. This time of year is kind of like the super bowl for me because it's just, there's so much, there's so much happening for all of my clients. And so it's, it's important to really hold space for that. Um, but well, as far as my story is concerned, I kind of came to the holistic health coaching world by a pretty circuitous route. I am from Louisiana.
And I mentioned that because I grew up most of my life being super unhealthy and it was very much that whole concept of the laissez Labon tone relay, let the good times roll. It's all about food all the time. I mean everything. And so that was most of my life. And up until I was, um, about seven years ago, I just was living there and just decided, you know what? This is just not, this is not the life that I want to be living.
I want to be, I want more venture. I want to feel healthier. I want to live somewhere beautiful where you can spend time outside. And so I picked everything up and just moved to Seattle, kind of on a whim and just was hell-bent and determined to change my life. So at that time I was not free from food. I was, I have was still struggling with bingeing and, you know, coping with food all the time. I was, you know, desperately wanted to lose weight. Didn't know how to do it in a way that felt good. It was just always on the kind of the yo-yo dieting spectrum.
And so I ended up meeting this young perky girl who was a personal trainer, and I thought, you know what, I'm going to give this one more try, let's see how this goes. I've come all the way up here. And let's, let's do it and ended up working with her. And I lost about 130 pounds through diet and exercise, but
It was a big old journey. And I mean, it's so emotional and there was such a transformation both inside and outside in that was absolutely incredible. And I learned how to take care of myself and actually eat healthy food. And, um, you know, what a concept and, and, and really fell in love with, um, the, the strength training part and feeling empowered by that.
So that made me decide that I wanted to go become a personal trainer. So I went and I got my dream job working at that same gym and went through that whole process of transformation. And then really pretty quickly realized this is not enough. This is not it because even having done that, even having dieted and, and, and gone through that whole process, my relationship with food was still not great and not healthy. I had just gone in the complete other direction.
And so I realized I've got to change my relationship with food. It's not just about what you eat, and it's not just about the diet or the weight loss. If you don't change from the inside out the outside, it doesn't really matter because it'll, it'll, it'll shift and change, and you're just kind of miserable. So
I ended up feeling, “Yeah, I am miserable. I am still thinking about food all the time. I still want to eat the sheet cake.” I just didn't get to be mad about it. You know what I mean? And so it was just, it was just this whole, long transformation and years of life, just finally coming to this place of going, okay.
So if this is not working what's next, and that led me ultimately into health coaching, it led me to, uh, changing my own relationship with food, learning how to actually do that. And that was the, that's been the most empowering thing I've ever done.
And so it was, it is a law, it was a long process in a beautiful journey, but I feel like every piece had to happen in order for this to really, for me to be where I am today. So it ultimately was a beautiful journey.
Yeah, for sure. Well, and what I'm hearing is like you lifting weights on the outside, like the actual dumbbells and stuff, but then you also lifted some inside-weights around, what that relationship was. Does that sound cogent?
Absolutely. All the yes. Yes. Oh my gosh. The outside stuff is the easy part. Right? That's the easy stuff you gotta deal with. You have to, you have to do that all from the inside out a hundred percent in order for it to really feel good to you.
Right. And true. So tell me, I would love to hear a little bit about like, like what that freedom kind of feels like. I have that from a grief standpoint of moving beyond pain and like having more capacity for joy and for like curiosity and, Oh, I am actually interested in something else or someone else or anything else. Right. So I'm wondering if that kind of freedom feels like how that may compare or differ at all.
What, what does food freedom feel like as compared with what I've shared about like freedom from pain after grief and loss?
Oh, I think there's quite a few similarities with that. I mean, in freedom is the best word for it because it's just this, you, you, you come, you go through life each day with the ability to choose, the ability to feel.
It's just, it's more, it's an expansive feeling, right? Because you, you get to decide, do I want to have this or this, but there's not this constant ridicule and thought that, you know, those negative thoughts and belief systems that are just that cloud that hangs over you like grief or loss, right. That just, you feel like you're just being followed around by this dark cloud. It's the same thing with food, because you're constantly thinking about, you know, how do you look? How are people perceiving you? What should you be eating? What shouldn't you be eating? It's this constant just fog.
And so being able to just let food be food again, and food still gets to be delicious. You get to still have the things that you enjoy, but there's just less drama. There's just less, there's just less negativity. And you're just able to operate from a place of just your inner compass. You're in tune with that and you know what you want when you want.
And you know, when, when enough is enough and what enough looks like, and that may change from day to day.
That sounds fantastic. I, I have, uh, I got to tell you, I'm, I'm with a lot of the folks who are, you know, grievers and folks who are experiencing loss, because food is a comfort for me. And it looks different with different relationships, right?
So, for some relationships, when I am seeking comfort, it is sourdough bread. And for others, like if it's like world events that I just feel bad about, then okay, it's chocolate time. So it, you know, like these are just sort of cues. And I know I'm not alone because food is one of those things that when people are feeling loss and wanting comfort, it’s that “let's avoid pain and seek pleasure” thing.
We go to food. We are sort of trained for that in terms of, you know, as we're growing up, if we're feeling bad or have our feelings hurt, then adults in many of our lives have suggested and taught us to not feel bad. Number one, don't feel how you're feeling. And why don't you replace that feeling with something that's going to make you feel different, like, um, some bacon or maybe a cookie or something like that. So we learn to replace those feelings with different feelings. Is this kind of who comes into your door in your practice?
Absolutely. Wendy. Absolutely. I mean, my gosh, it is just, but you're so spot on that, you know, this starts at childhood, this starts as a baby. This is, oh, well, you know, they're crying. So they must be hungry. Obviously let's feed them something. Right. And it's it you're in, in with the parents when they, you know, food is happiness. Food is love. Food is comfort. Food is safety.
And when you have a parent who is not as in touch with their own emotions, right, how are they able to properly teach a child to experience that as well? Right. It's much easier to just give somebody, give a child a cookie and make them be quiet.
And so, yes, I completely agree. And most people don't think about that. They forget about that period of life because as kiddos, what else do you have to cope with? Right. It's as adults, we have all these options and different things that we can do where kids just don't have that freedom. That the one thing that they can do is let me go to the pantry and grab a piece of candy, because that feels good. So I think that it's really teaching adults how to shift those patterns that they have had their entire life, right.
They were learned from the previous generation, right. This is like the best that we have. And when, you know, kids are non-verbal, you know, like, okay, well, you do have to eat, looks like I'm going to, you know, I can't handle the screaming or the crying or the, you know, I don't know what else to do. So here it is. So that, you know, it's really interesting. And it's also heartbreaking.
So I'm curious. Hey, are there things that you know of or share about that are choices around like, okay, if in that moment, it's, you know, feeling this feeling or eating this thing or choosing something else, how do you help? Like, what is your approach around navigating that?
Oh yeah. Well, it's very, it's very specific to the person because I don't think that just handing out a pile of coping mechanisms is very valuable to antibody, right? Because obviously food is the well-worn path for if you cope with food, if food is your, your happiness, your sadness, and your everything in between, that is a, that, that is, it works for you. It works well. And it feels good for the most part, right?
Until it doesn't, it's reliable, it's easy to access. It doesn't take a lot of effort. Right? So the thing about it is, is that you have to really figure out and dig deep into understanding what feelings and what needs are you actually trying to meet. You have to tune into that before you can get anywhere, because just telling someone to go take a bubble bath. Well, if that's not fulfilling the need that they're trying to meet in the moment with the Cheetos, it's not going to work.
Right. And so you have to, you have to really look at, so one of the things that I start with is I have them start playing with the idea of actually identifying feelings. Let's build some awareness around our day, what's happening in our life. What are we? And I often have to give them a list because most people really struggle to identify name beyond just the most normal feelings.
What's really, what's really here. So we really have to look at it and go, like, what are you actually feeling? What do you know, does any of this resonate with you? And then we also look at what did you love to do as a kid? What were some of those activities that you enjoyed? What are things you've done over the years that you find that you're naturally gravitating towards before you became an adult and you were, you know, just, um, you have all these responsibilities and you forget, you lose touch with so many of those fun things.
And it's helping, it's helping adults get back into touch, maybe with some of those things that they really enjoyed, those creative activities, those, you know, if they really wanted to be outside and, and helping them reconnect, oftentimes with the things they liked as a child or something that's relatively similar that often will help them be able to, that's often one of the more strong coping mechanisms than some of the cookie cutter ones that we come up with. So it's, and it's a lot of trial and error. And so oftentimes I recommend that somebody have a few options and let's go down the list and let's try a couple, let's see what's working today. And if none of them are working and it's back to food, that's okay too. We're still learning something.
Right, right. Gosh, do you find that, um, that, I mean, having a few options is a brilliant idea because every day is different, right? Every single day is different. The body is different. The mind is different. Things are happening in our world at rapid, you know, rates of speed and frequency. And so, you know, and I'm thinking now about sort of like, okay, I have this day and I've tried these three things and it's still not working. So like, I imagine there's a lot of encouragement on your part as well. Like, this is the process.
Oh yeah. I mean, will you have to exercise so much? Self-compassion when you're going through this process. And a lot of times, you know, I'm often telling women, and I remember doing this myself, sitting there with the giant bag of popcorn, eating
And yet, and going, this is my choice, you know? I mean, it's just this moment of like, you have to do that. You have to,
Yeah. You have to let your in and you have to be compassionate because this is something you've been doing your entire life. You're not going to be able to undo it with a few, with a few new coping mechanisms immediately. It's a process. And it's, it's about learning how to literally self-sooth in a different way. And, and that pattern is, it's a slow one to shift, but once you do, it feels so good. It's so good.
It's kind of like the insides just open up, right. Similar to that grief, freedom, right? Like, wow. You know, in a way where your pants still fit.
Oh, I love it. Yes.
Sure. Going in now I'm curious about like, who's coming in and when people come into your practice to talk about food, freedom, do you often find grief kind of in there, things that have been disappointing or that they wish had happened or things that did happen that they wish didn't happen? Are there some, um, things that go through there as well?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. That was for sure. One of the things that I got so excited about when we met was just, as you were talking about all the different levels of grief and loss and what that really means, and really reminding people that grief is so not just this one dimensional, I, you know, even, I, I remember being surprised in that first conversation we had of just like, Oh yeah, you're right. This isn't just about losing a loved one. This is about so much more than that. And so, yes, I think that grief is so closely tied to all of this because there are these so many unmet expectations in life. There's this, um, I follow a life coach. She calls them "expectation hangovers" where it's basically, you fit something was going to go the way you thought. And then it didn't because that's life, right?
Love that. And so it's life doesn't go with the quite the way you wanted it to. And I'll just all of the pain and the hurt and the trauma that everyone goes through in life. It's, it's almost impossible to get of this thing unscathed. And so, you know, we all have these traumas in, and for women particularly, which is primarily who I serve, it's traumas related to their body and in relationship and with other women and in life. And there's just so much, we hold so much grief and more often than not, most of the women that come to me are holding it in their body specifically, they're holding it so magically. And that is the easiest way to quiet it and suppress it. And, and Sue that is just through stuffing. It literally stuffing it down again and again, in a grand cause that just feels the easiest. And it's the easiest way to know now.
Right. Right. Well, and like fast, right. Uh, in this day and age, like fast and speed is kind of demanded by, you know, external things. But also we take that on like, Oh, like I, I tend to put a fair amount of pressure on myself around like getting things done. And it's, you know, it's a lot more convenient to, uh, you know, go with the sourdough than it is to like slow down, feel my feelings, but it's something that I need to learn and process, otherwise that feelings just going to come back louder. Do you find that, was that part of your experience?
Oh my goodness. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think the more, one of the biggest things, the best things you can, you can do all of us. And what I had to do is just learn to be quiet, learn, to sit, still learn to slow down. And that is such a challenge for everyone. But for women specifically, I think because we do our expectations of ourselves are sky high. We would never expect that of our, our daughters or our best friends. Right. But for ourselves, we can do anything all day, every day, never stop. Right. And so you're right. I think learning how to really listen to yourself and learn really here, what do I need in this moment and stopping long enough to prepare your food and do all of that. It is a, it is such a process to learn how to do it. But I will say that for me specifically, when I finally got it and that light switch turned on of like, Oh, this helps every other area of my life. If I will just stop and make my own dinner, it's amazing how that will translate to other areas. Because once you start loving yourself in one way, it really starts to seep into all of the other ways too, which is so beautiful and just really fascinating to see how that happened. It just, it will literally infect you in such a great way.
It's just the best infection ever.
Exactly. But I hear you and sometimes life is slow and you have to set your self up for success. And so that's one of the things that I do is this beyond just talking about it, you do have to get into the practical, right. And look at okay. If I am really busy, but I want to feed myself well and with foods that are good. Okay. What can I do? How can I help myself with that?
So it's about solutions. It's about solutions that work in ways that we cannot see coming in some ways that that's amazing. I think that's so well efficient. Like for the folks who are still like, no, I really need to do it fast. And with lots of pressure, there's an efficiency to it. Right. I want to say that, but there's also like, Oh, there's added like benefits going on there too, that we can't forecast other than feeling better.
Totally. Wendy, do you, do you notice sometimes that with your, with your clients as well, that moving fast is a coping mechanism in and of itself. Right. And yeah. And so that's what I find quite a bit is it's and that's something that I've experienced myself. Is this moving fast, keeps me from having to think too hard about what's going on or feel anything.
Right. You're so right. Thank you for saying that because it's actually one of the major myths it's when someone's going through grief, especially a death. It's recommended by many around and sometimes directed to just keep busy, just ignore it, go down the checklist, don't feel your feelings like, and it's, you know, it really diminishes what's actually happening or what has just happened.
You know, grief and losing a loved one deserves to be honored with grief. That's a big deal. That's something we're wired for. That's something that is normal and natural: when we experience a loss, it's grief.
And so I really think that we just aren't, we aren't trained in how to deal with that. So that's why the recommendation of, well, keep busy, keep busy. And so we end up carrying around because we're stuffing all these feelings in with food or under alcohol, or, you know, sometimes Netflix or something else that isn't addressing the actual problem. So it gets different, but it doesn't actually heal. Do you agree?
Oh, I couldn't agree more for sure. Yeah.
Wow. So in light of where we are in the holidays... they're fast approaching. The candy holiday is coming up and then it's going to be the bird holiday coming up, and then like a bunch of holidays in December that each have their own like marked cuisine.
So tell me about how, how would you encourage folks listening in -- in this audience, yours, mine, and new friends -- How would you like to encourage them to approach the holidays around food choices and freedom?
Hmm. That's such a good question. I think that, that, it's the biggest thing I will say is to not, not make it such a big deal.
So it's a huge deal to someone that's really struggling with food, but let yourself have the things. So what I always say to every, everybody is pick and choose your moments.
You don't have to eat everything all the time. It's this, isn't this permission slip to just go nuts and, and treat your body like garbage. It's more of listen to your body. And if you have that favorite, you know, dish those favorite dishes at Thanksgiving, and that just really let yourself eat those things, listen to yourself that day. Because a lot of times we overeat on Thanksgiving one, because it's what we're told to do. Right. But two, because we're stressed being in that triggering environment with our families and right.
I mean, we're sitting there and we don't want to deal with XYZ. And so the easiest way is just comfort, comfort, comfort, just throwing it back because it's just, it's sometimes can be hard to be around the people that we love now. Sometimes it's, we're around the people that we love and we all just, we food is, is love for the family and we all just eat until we're dying, you know, kind of a thing. But it's really what I always tell, tell my clients is just, just do a little check-in throughout the day and just see every, you know, I've even set alarms on my phone in years past, if just these, every couple of hours, she's kind of like a little, little reminder of, Hey, how am I doing?
Or every time I go to the bathroom and I need to look in the mirror, am I okay?
Everything going okay. And you know, am I, am I happy with what I'm having? Am I, you know, am I feeling like I'm overdoing? Do I need to pull back and really just play with your boundaries a little bit and just, but really it's about paying attention. And, and as far as Halloween is concerned, I always tell any of my only my people just eat the candy you love the most.
Eat what you love. If don't settle for the sad candy that your kids didn't want, because you're going to end up, you're going to eat all of the Twizzlers and then you're going to make it to through the, through the Kit-Kats. And then you're going to round your round, your way around to the milk does, which is what you wanted in the first place. Right? So just let yourself go straight there, beeline to the thing you love the most and enjoy it, savor it. And then you move, you get to move on, right. You to move on, right?
The conscious choice, like might actually satisfy, like having the conscious choice. Right? Absolutely. And then you don't also have to feel bad about the other, like 16 pieces of candy you ate that you didn't really want.
You didn't ever want them. Absolutely. You want get, eat, go with what you want, eat the best thing. First. Always, always, always don't settle for the sad stuff. No, no. You know, no sad candy. No. And, and, and, you know, if you, if you like the, the, the, you don't have to make all of your holiday dishes, the healthier version, if you don't want to just enjoy what you have. And then, but what we do is that what you're not allowed to do is you're not allowed to be ugly to yourself about it. So what we say, what I always say is, look, I know you're going to be it's okay. This is what, you know, this is your, your inner critic is trying to help. They're trying to protect you. But what we do is we learn how to talk to her appropriately. So that, that next day, post Thanksgiving, we're not raking ourselves over the coals for our life choices. We're just, it's Friday now. We're moving on. So that's really important too.
That is fantastic. That's fantastic! Thank you so much. It's like, I think that gentleness and that encouragement as self-talk is some of the biggest, like, cause we're always listening… we're always listening. That's a big deal. Oh, I'm so pleased to talk to you, Catherine. Thank you so much for being here with me and with us for this time. Do you want to come back? Yeah? Okay! Awesome!
Thanks. I so enjoyed it.
It's red. Okay. Awesome. Well, thank you again. Please, would you let people know how you would like to be contacted? If this is resonating with you and you really want to get in touch with Catherine? -And, I highly recommend it - Catherine, how would they do that?
Okay, perfect. Thank you. So my website is riseholistichealth.com and my Instagram is the holistic biscuit. So either of those are great. You can find me there and I would love to chat with anybody who needs a little help with food freedom.
Brilliant. Definitely get in touch with Catherine and ask her about her Biscuit Movement because it's lots of fun. Lots of fun. Thank you again, Catherine. I'm so looking forward to more shared experiences around food and grief and freedom.
Agreed. Agreed. Thank you, Wendy.
Sometimes we may be aware of what it is we're feeling, and sometimes not, especially with feelings that are less than our favorites.
I'm Wendy Sloneker. I am a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®.
I'm an educator and I teach people and help them to move beyond the pain that comes from grief and loss. We do this with an action-based program. It's evidence-based as well and proven based on cognitive behavioral modalities.
Let's jump into...How to identify unresolved grief.
It can be tricky. It can be like that feeling of heaviness that just comes around, or “the blues”, or just having kind of a low energy day. And it could be that grief is there.
Try these on
What I have are three different sort of prompts to help you distinguish whether or not you are experiencing some sort of unresolved grief. You ready? Okay.
Seasonal blues or tough anniversaries? First thing to take a look for... and just scan internally... when it comes to relationships or maybe anniversaries… we're going into the fall and winter times now… it's October at the time of this recording up in Seattle.
So it could be that there's some just seasonal blues kind of coming on, sure.
Did you want something to be different?
If so, what was it? What did you want to be different? What had you hoped for about it?
These are prompts and thoughts that we, we actually don't spend a lot of time on, unless we're in the case of where we're sort of talking about what happened without putting emotional words to it.
So we might say this happened... and then this happened… and then this happened and we'll get sort of stuck in a rut sometimes when we're talking about negative things (circumstances, situations, or dynamics) that happened... or things that happened that we interpreted as negative.
So what, what was it that you had wanted or hoped for different? Sometimes grief can be lying under that or feelings of loss, emotional incompleteness.
Ready for the next one? Okay.
So to recap, unresolved grief may be lying under your unfulfilled hopes, dreams, or wishes; things that you had wanted to be different or better or more are the things that we look for when we try to identify what’s going on inside. And we take just a glance back over our lives to look for them.
When I'm working with my clients, in order to identify what kinds of losses have been experienced and what is still left that is incomplete and painful.
What’s the point?
The whole point of going through grief recovery is to move beyond pain that comes from loss.
Now, when I'm not saying is, you know, we're going to tackle the whole “being sad thing” as a human being. Like we are wired to do this, to experience happiness as well as sadness.
So we're not going to get rid of “the sad”, but we're going to work to move beyond the pain.
And we do that with a proven method, as I mentioned earlier.
That's the work that there is to be done. It's not widely known. There's lots and lots of ground to cover in terms of getting to the helpful side of grief recovery. Plus, getting to a point where you are able to more-easily accept what those losses were and clearly identify what you had wanted to be different or better or more of the hopes, dreams, and wishes that you wanted to be fulfilled.
One more thought about sadness and pain. I want you to consider the possibility, even if it's a 0.0002% possibility that feelings of sadness are different from feelings of pain.
That you can have (experience) sad separately from pain.
They are not necessarily always paired together. All I ask is that you consider it.
What else do I have to share with you? I have a few things:
In the even shorter term. I have something else that's exciting. And in the next episode, I'll be inviting a guest, my first ever guest on the podcast. It's Catherine Dixon from Rise Holistic Health.
We're going to be talking about grief and food freedom. (Episode 3)
And how it relates to grief and loss.
So a lot of times, I don't know if you knew this or not, but a lot of times food (and sometimes drink) gets picked up and used as forms of comfort or in a way to replace the loss or give the illusion that something is happening when we’re grieving. Many times it’s because we really need to feel different from this pain that we're feeling around grief or loss.
So we're going to be bringing on this expert, fantastic person, Catherine Dixon, again from Rise Holistic Health in the next episode. I really hope you join me as we talk about grief, loss, food, and freedom.
Okay, I'll see you then.
Again, this is Wendy Sloneker from HeartHealingfromLoss.com.
So glad you joined me and I hope you were able to identify something valuable for you
...and that you experienced a new perspective around unresolved grief in this episode.
Thanks again. Talk with you soon.
When it comes to feeling grief and loss: Death is not required
What else I'd love for you to know is that when it comes to feelings of loss and grief, death is not required.
Nobody has to die in order for you to just feel those natural feelings of heaviness, loss, concern, worry. These are things that just happen in our bodies. And, uh, it's also something that we are ill-equipped to handle as a society we know about acquiring and getting and leveraging. What we don't know is about when things leave or die or are let go of.
So we are going to focus on heart healing from loss, just like it says in the title, and grief, just to reiterate is the normal and natural and incredibly powerful emotion.
Okay, great. What else is it? Okay. It's sometimes known as the conflicting feelings caused by the end or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.
So something can change and that can inspire feelings of loss or heaviness, a sense of sadness, a sense of, “Ooh, what's going to happen now?”
Maybe even uncertainty can cause feelings, of grief, of feeling a loss. So that's when patterns change when they stop, that can also be a loss.
What do I mean by that? Well, it's 2020. So we're experiencing changes in patterns of behavior. That's a change in commute. That's a change in a job that could be a change in the job flow. That could be a change in the business that you're in.
And that's just the workfront.
What else are we talking about? Change-wise, we're talking about school. School's not held the same way this year. I've been talking with parents who have been going into these schools, which are empty in order to pick up books. And they are crying in the parking lot because it is silent in these big educational buildings where they are just ready to hear laughing and lots of kids and lots of hustle and bustle.
It's not there this year. That is a change. It is a small change in the big picture, but I gotta tell you when it comes to grief and loss, according to the studies I’m reading, it all adds up and... it gets real heavy.
So if you're feeling heaviness and loss, and you're concerned that like, “Wow, why am I feeling this? When nobody I know has died, you may not know of anyone who's died from the coronavirus directly?”
You still may be feeling grief and loss… it’s entirely natural and normal. And you're in the right place.
You're in the right place.
So what else can be “counted?” (I'm air quoting, there.) What else can be counted as a loss? I don't know if you knew this or not, but there are 40 different kinds of loss events that can happen in our lives.
They can certainly include death. It could also be a divorce or a breakup. It could be the death of a pet. It could be a move. Moving is a big emotional change. Talk about your entire center of where you live... It gets different. Whether it's from an apartment to a house, even in a happy situation, there are still losses to be counted. Starting school marriage could indicate some form of loss. Graduation denotes the end of your schooling.
Although it's a happy event too. I mean, that's an achievement, but there is a change in, you know, if you're going onto another school, it's a change of curriculum. It's a change of space. It's probably a change of your schedule.
Major health changes are another form of loss. Do you know anybody who's ever experienced a loss of health? So maybe you break your leg and it gets to be a temporary thing, but that is a big change. If you're a runner, you may be grieving the loss of running for a while. Even if you know, in your brain, it's temporary and your leg is healing.
These are the kinds of losses we are talking about. And we'll continue to talk about because what's not happening is a conversation. I understand. It's scary to think about going inside and, and feeling those emotions that aren't super fun.
These are not the top 10 emotions to feel and... it's dark in there. I don't want to go in there. Certainly not by myself.
Well. that's why I'm here. And we're just going to walk together. It's a gentle approach and let's just keep the conversation open. Sound good? Okay.
So in today's conversation, what I'd love to talk about are some of the feelings that are produced when you experienced the loss of a loved one. What else? Some of the feelings that are produced when you experience the loss of a less-than-loved one. I also want to share just a little bit about what is not required when it comes to loss. First, before dig into that juicy, juicy stuff, what I want to sorta clue in on is just some terms, gentle easy terms. So we're all on the same page when we're talking about grief and loss. Let's go,
All right. So the feelings...
Sometimes it's hard to even understand and know what your feelings are. So I'm going to just break it down with a couple of examples... Check-in, and see if these resonate at all with you. Okay. Ready?
The death of a loved one can produce emotions that can be described as the feeling of reaching out for someone who has always been there only to find that when we need them one more time, they are no longer there. I'm going to read that just one more time:
“The feeling of reaching out for someone who has always been there only to find that when we need them one more time, they are no longer there.”
Now, these feelings could come as a result of a death. They could also be a result of an estrangement, an argument, a breakup. What else, what else in your life could this be relevant to? Because that's what we're talking about. It doesn't have to be a husband/wife thing. It doesn't have to be a death per se, although it, you know, it could be in your life. And in your experience.
Part of grief, and recovery from grief, or recovery from feelings of loss, is about really coming to understand what the emotions are. So that's what this conversation is about.
It's, it's about trying to help determine or discern what it actually is that you're feeling. So that's about emotions that come up with a loved one.
What if you're working with, or smack in the middle of experiencing, a less than loved one? A loss around a less than loved one? Perhaps you had a parent or guardian who's like, you just really wanted it to be a different relationship. You longed for something different, or better, or more... sometimes, you wished for less of certain behaviors that you experienced with this person that can also summon emotions of grief as well.
And that feeling is one, maybe, one of reaching out for someone who has never been there for you. And still isn't like that whole longing of “please, be there for me,” inviting them aching for just the response that you want or need, and still not available.
In fact, if they have moved across the country or now they passed on... whatever it is, it's that, that feeling of wanting and still not being able to receive what it is you want from them.
Totally normal. Totally normal and natural to experience emotions of loss around this thing is we just don't know this. We haven't been taught this. These are the words that are needed in the world is that this is normal. This is natural. And there's a way through, Hey, before we get too much, further ahead, I do want to touch a little bit on conflicting feelings. They are totally around grief and loss as well. So let me share a little example. Let's say somebody that you love dies after a long-suffering illness, they've been in pain, they've experienced the loss of mobility, loss of health, a loss of independence all along the way.
And let's say this has happened for... two or three years. So it's been a long go of it. And they've been incrementally losing their faculties, losing just kind of their personality a little bit on the way they're grieving their own loss of health.
And let's say that you're really close to them and you're standing by and you're watching this and it's hard, and you're showing up and you're watching this and it's really hard... and it's getting harder. And then you have the diagnosis or the prognosis that says X number of days, weeks, or months to live.
There may be conflicting feelings that come up that are normal and natural. This is the thing: we want people that we love to not be in pain. We want them to be joyful and present and loving their life and in their bodies and that's not always available. And so when we see deterioration or a loss, or incremental losses, these are really challenging.
I’ve got to take my hat off to the caregivers here. Whether you're taking care of a client or a child or a spouse, this is hard. And so conflicting feelings of feeling a sense of relief that your loved one's suffering is near over. When you get that prognosis that is a part of grieving. This is something that people often talk about, beating themselves up about and feeling guilty about when it is a part of their grieving process, totally normal and natural.
And these things aren't talked about, it's the same sort of thing with divorce. There may be conflicting feelings there too. When you know, it's the right thing to do to part ways as partners, you know, whether kids are involved or not, you may have conflicting feelings because it's still a loss.
And when we go back to that definition of what grief is, it's “the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern or behavior familiar pattern or behavior”, that could totally include marriage or steady relationship.
So there may be conflicting feelings there too, yes, even though, you know it's the right thing to do, and you're going to be best for both of you. It still does count as a loss and grief may come up and conflicting feelings are just part of the bag. That's part of the bargain.
This being said, there are a couple of things that are not required when it comes to grief and loss.
Do you know what they are? Can you guess what I'm going to say?
1. Tears, or crying are not required. You can feel all the feelings and not feel tears coming on. There are several people that I've talked to who are just like, I didn't do it. I didn't, I didn't cry. And I feel bad cause I'm, I'm not sure if I did it right. I want to tell you, you did. You did it right. If tears don't come, you don't have to make them come or wait for them to come. You can just say, “Hey, that's, that's not what this is about. It's not about performing.”
It's just not. And so go with what feels right. And natural. Every relationship is totally different.
I was at my grandmother's funeral and she had an open casket there. And that was not something that was usual in our family. And I saw her and I just didn't feel it. I must've been about 12 years old and I did not feel moved to tears. I loved my grandmother. I didn't cry. I don't know why, but that's, that's what was real for me.
So if that is real for you, just go with it. You know, grieving and loss are hard enough. You do not have to pressure or judge yourself about how you are behaving. Like, feeling is plenty good enough.
What else is not required?
2. Death, actually, is not required. There's plenty of change in and around what's going on in the world for you to incur feelings of grief and loss.
It's hard enough. Like you don't have to diminish your feelings of sadness or heaviness or any of those things with what is going on just in the world around us right now, it already feels bad enough.
It's okay if nobody has died in your world. Maybe that's something to be grateful for and still honor the feelings that you have around sadness because it's real.
And it's there and normal to feel. Do we love feeling these like harder feelings? No, we don't. But feeling them is the gateway through them, getting done, and them being complete.
And it, you know, it honors what's going on around you. It's real.
3. Anger is not required during grief or loss. Anger, of course, it totally may come up. If it comes up, I recommend you go with that too. But if it doesn't come up, it’s absolutely okay.
Here’s an example: I had, I talked about this in Episode 0: it was about my dog, Otter. He was a beloved boy who was also an old man dog at the very end. I was not angry that it was time for him to go. It just didn't come up. And this could happen around losses with people too. This could happen with other kinds of losses.
Anger is not required in a grieving process. It's just not.
But the 5 Stages say so...
Maybe you have heard of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's work around the 5 Stages of Death. The five stages that were actually assigned toward people who were dying, or who had received a prognosis of dying. And those were the stages that they go through in their process.
Well, what's happened is that people have adopted the 5 stages for those grieving and in grief (but not necessarily dying) The 5 stages are denial. anger, bargaining... then, there's the other two, depression and acceptance.
She did not ascribe it to grief as a process for us, the grievers. Her work of identifying the stages was for people who were dying.
Grief in our case is not a linear thing. This is kind of like the squiggly-wiggly road that goes from point A to point B. And sometimes it feels really messy and uncertain. That's why I'm here.
There is a way through, and I work in grief recovery. And if you want to talk more about it, please definitely reach out to me. But until then anger and death and crying or tears are not required to experience grief or loss.
Thanks again for joining me today. This is Wendy Slonaker from Heart Healing from Loss. I'm a certified Grief Recovery Method specialist and an end of life doula. For more information, please go to my website, hearthealingfromloss.com and definitely reach out if you'd like to have a call with me and we can talk about what it might be like to move forward through your grief experience and process.
Thanks again. And we'll see you on the next episode.
Grief & Loss: Why would we talk about thaaaat?
This is actually my natural state. I'm not super caffeinated right now. So, truly, when you talk to me and see me, this is what you're going to get.
Yes, Even though we're talking about what is traditionally known as a heavy topic, I am not going to come to you with this kind of podcast. It's just not who I am.
So if you are looking for a more, uh, lower-toned experience, I totally respect it, but it's just not going to be here.
What will be here in this podcast are stories about grief and loss and healing from grief and loss.
Largely, what I offer is an education about not only grief and loss, but also about methods for healing.
After you've experienced a loss event...
It's often called a loss event, what you may not know is that there are about 40 different kinds of loss events that can happen to a person over the course of life. It can be death, it can be divorce, it can be a big, bad breakup. These are the common ones that we think of when we think about grieving or heartbreak or things like that. It's breakups, it's the death of loved ones or pets who are our loved ones.
However, other big losses that make the list of 40 also include moving and graduating. There are loss anniversaries that people grieve. There are holidays that people grieve.
Lives have been impacted by myriad changes.
And so what I want to share is that even though it's not talked about very often... or very well… that's part of what this podcast is here to do is to talk about it and to offer some education, to offer some options and some stories I'm also going to be bringing in some guests.
So hooray, not just one person talking!
In Episode 0: A little bit of my story.
Why would somebody go into this kind of industry that is filled with sad things and topics? And the only thing I can share is, it's not all sad all the time. The reason that I went into this well, and it's not even a reason... like, really here's what happened.
I started studying about end-of-life types of work in terms of doula work. So I don't know if you knew this or not, but there is such a thing as an end-of-life doula, which is a companion for the last days.
And they work in tandem with hospice and things like that. So I got a certificate to do this kind of work, to just show up. I really feel like people are really scared of dying. And there are a lot of people who are dying really scared and many times alone. And then I just think that's unnecessary. So that's what I went in with.
And then 2020 happened... To everyone. And all of a sudden it was this, like, there was a lot of loss and change going on... And change can instigate feelings of loss.
And... This is normal. We don't know this is normal though... Because nobody talks about it. But it's normal and it's happening... Globally.
Right? So here we all are.
And I remember running into this awesome person named Rebecca Mullins, who is a Grief Recovery practitioner here in the same city where I live (Seattle). And so she told me about what she was doing around something called the Grief Recovery Method, which is an evidence-based method, a repeatable method to help you get complete with the pain that comes from loss.
And I thought, “Shoot, if that could really work, maybe that's something that would help me.”
And so I tried it, I learned it online. And then, uh, and then it, it kinda, I started feeling a little bit better. It was making room by just getting complete with relationships and it's different from, “getting closure”.
This is an emotional thing. What's going on when it comes to grief and loss is about heartbreak.
My brain has not been broken: it is not an intellectual thing.
This is a hard thing.
Making the trek from head to heart
So like making the, the path or the little journey that feels like about 25 miles in very hot weather or very chilly weather, like from my brain to my heart, which is pretty much like maybe 14 inches... but it feels like... 25 miles.
That's, that's what I work with. That's what I go through.
And, you know, coming from a place of heaviness and coming from a place of loss.
I will tell you about how I felt when I had a loss of my soulmate, who was a dog. His name was Otto. He was a little wiener dog. And I rescued him with my partner at the time. He must have been about one and a half, three years old… hard to tell cause he was a little rescue and this little boy had some baggage... cute as a button, red as a penny, and just a honey.
And we connected and bonded. He was with me. I was with him, I think it was 15 years. And the sweet little boy…. he does, what one animals do. He does what we do... He got to be an old man and he was grumpy a lot, but I just loved him even more.
And so he had developed a Cushing's disease, which happens a lot in dachshunds, and he needed some medication. So we went there and got medication and he developed diabetes. And he was just not the same dog. His quality of life changed... he was not a happy dog. He was maybe interested in eating, but it really started falling off. Once we started giving him insulin shots to maintain his diabetes, which came from the medication from Cushing's disease. So, so what happened was, I had an insight and intuition around, “Hey, he's not happy being here anymore in this body.
And I took him to the vet. He had been to this vet for a long, long time. And the vet knew him. He knew Otto. And, probably one of the biggest, pieces that I've found in terms of “I did really right for myself and for him by being there” when Otto died really, truly like that was, I had never shown up for a death like that where, you know, I was there, he was in my arms and I was talking to him. I did not want him to be alone.
Even though the vet knew him, I really needed to be there to let him know that it was okay. And so he died. And this was probably 7 years ago, 8 years ago. And you can tell by my voice that, wow, that loss is still totally there.
And, and I just loved this dog. Right? So loss is loss a hundred percent and we don't know how to deal with it when he died.
And I came home, things just really didn't make sense for a long time. Like, I felt numb. I didn't know how I felt, things didn't make sense.
I had a loss of focus.
I didn't know what to do next. I had very short term thinking, and I couldn't always articulate it. Right?
Like, I didn't always know how I felt.
So it was really hard for me to answer, like, “how are you doing?”
No. Probably not very good. Right? So I really get it.
And that dog gave me so much joy. When I think about him, my heart is not broken. When I think about him, I remember just like snuggling up with him and bringing him to the beach at Ocean Shores and how he fell asleep on this pink blanket.
And he looked so stinking cute with his little back feet, tucked up against his body and his front paws just covered up. Like, he's just my heart dog. And I still have an emotional relationship with him, even though I don't have a physical relationship. He's died, but I'm alive. And I have that emotional relationship with him.
So there's value. Right?
And I can talk about him and yeah, I just love that dog. And there's so much love in, in the memories and also in the things that we lose and the people that we lose that, you know, what the Grief Recovery Method has shared with me is about, is about talking with people and things and change that's happened that have happened without coming totally apart.
Like, my capacity for happiness and joy has increased because I got to have that dog. I still have an emotional relationship with this dog. There are many things I experience in days and weeks and months that make me think of him because he's my little buddy. And... at the same time he is, he has died.
So this grief and loss is a part of life.
And I want the conversation for all of us. So I do have an invitation for you. And that is what, what have you experienced that you are confused by stuck with, I'm wondering about grief and loss.
I am not a clinical person. I am not a practitioner. I am not a therapist.
I'm an educator... and I'm interested.
So if you have questions that you would like me to answer on a future podcast, or if you want to contact me directly, you are totally invited to do exactly that. My website is WendySloneker.com and you can find all my contact information there as well as my text-friendly mobile. And if you have questions for a future podcast, please share them with me.
This is for everyone.
Thank you so much for joining me.
Reach out if you feel inspired and ready for a Discovery Call with me.
Want to? :)