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I wanted to share this with you because the speeches in it got me thinking for the better. It was exactly what I was needing. This goes so much deeper than equestrianism. Even if you're not into horses, just listen.. & Yes, I made this video, but I do not own the clips or audio.

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Posts tagged grief

12 Tips on Helping a Friend in Mourning



beingthereHaving a high level of emotional intelligence is more valuable than being the smartest in the class when is comes to comforting others who are hurting.  Feel from the heart rather than think from the brain. Listening is more important than talking in efforts of simply filling the awkward space of silence. Here is a valuable list of tips that will assist you on delivering empathy, compassion and comfort to your friends who are grieving and mourning. Kudos to you for “being there” for your friend.
 
1) Please don’t say “I am sorry” or “I know how you feel”
“I am sorry” makes me feel like I have to say “it’s okay” and obligated to console you.  It’s not okay.  It won’t be okay for a while and that’s okay.
 
“I know how you feel” hurts me.  How could you possibly know how I feel?  My loss is unique. My loved one is unique. So my grief is unique. 
 
2) Please say their name – Speaking his/her name and hearing my loved one’s name is comforting to me.  It lets me know you remember him/her.  Not saying their name is like avoiding the elephant in the room.  Talking about my loved one, sharing stories, and speaking of the death are all ways to help me cope and bring me comfort.
 
3) When I ask “why” and talk about “what if’s”, answers and solutions are not necessarily what I am seeking. Questioning, pondering and contemplation is a way for me to process my grief out loud and begin my mourning. It is not a cue for you to feel you must answer or fix the situation.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is sit with me, hold my hand and listen.  BE there for moral support while I try to make sense of my loss.
 
4) Please recognize I am grieving AND mourning.  My grief is what I feel inside, the roller coaster of emotions. My  mourning is how I can express my emotions on the outside.  I may yell and scream, cry, sleep, repeat, and tell my story over and over.  Please be patient with me and don’t get sick of me, I am NOT stuck.  It’s not only okay for me to feel and express all these emotions, it’s it NECESSARY.
 
5) Please remember me and don’t avoid me.  I may turn you down when you ask to come see me or invite me out. Please continue to ask me more than once to join you for coffee or the movies.  I may decline invites. Do not give up on me and avoid me.  Eventually I will have the strength and energy to join you.
 
6) Please acknowledge that I am in a time warp as my world has stopped while your world and everyone else’s is still going.  I am currently in slow motion.  I am grieving as fast as I can, working on processing the loss as my heart and head are still disconnected.  I ask for patience and understanding.
 
7) Please don’t judge me.  You are not living my journey.  I understand you are concerned about how I am sleeping and eating.  You may be tired of hearing me blubber my story.  You may feel I am not where I am supposed to be on my journey.  Instead of judging me, and possibly urging me to ‘get over it’ or ‘get on with my life’, practice kindness, be my friend.
 
8) Please forgive me if I say or do something to hurt you or don’t return phone calls.  I am not myself right now.  My emotions are all over the place and I can’t think straight.  I can be frustrated, pissed, sad, and scared all at once with no warning.  My focus and concentration is depleted.  I need patience and understanding.  I may feel and express harsh emotions. Please do not get angry with me. I may not remember you called, please call me again.
 
9) Please don’t “SHOULD” on me.  Try not to tell me what I “should” be doing or what I “need” to take care of. Be my friend and don’t try to fix me.
 
10)  Please don’t compare my loss.  It hurts and diminishes the significance of my loved one and raw emotional circumstance.  My loss is all I can see, hear, feel and breathe right now.  I don’t have the capability to think about someone else’s losses, stresses, and misfortunes right now.
 
11)  Please don’t say, “Call me if you need anything”.  I have little capability to recognize what I need.  I have little to no energy to pick up the phone and reach out for help.  My head is cluttered and I am not thinking straight most of the time.  If you would like to help, bring me a meal or take the kids for the afternoon. Send me a card to let me know you are thinking of me.  Leave a voice mail or a text message. Pick up some groceries and toilet paper. Mow my grass.  Come sit with me and be my friend.
 
12)  Please don’t say, “At Least”.  At least you had ‘X’ amount of years together.  At least he/she is in a better place. At least he/she is out of pain.  Saying things like this only hurts more and diminishes the significance of my loved one, the love we shared.  I wanted more years! The best place was here with me! I do not have the capacity to see or hear the silver lining. I am hurting, I miss my loved one and I want (need) to feel this pain.

I hope this article brought you some insight and comfort.  I wish you peace and joy in your hearts and love and happiness in your souls.

CynthiaGossman/Emotional Wellness & Balance Center
A Happy You A Happy Life

18 Things NOT To Say To Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One



It is very important to both the griever and the friends to read this article. When someone is hurting, most of us only want to comfort them. However, in our efforts of doing so, quite the opposite can happen.  Be aware of traditional cliches and the possibility of offending your family or friend.  Read on and learn my top 18 things NOT to say to someone who is grieving.

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1.  “I know how you feel” – even if you have had a similar loss, you really do not know. As each person is unique and individual so is the grief journey.
 
2.  “It’s just God’s plan/will” – some griever’s feel very disconnected from their faith, mad at their God and even feel like they are being punished and saying this could make things much worse; some griever’s may have a different belief system than you. 
 
3.  “Just look at all the things you have to be thankful for” TIMING people. I am the first one to be positive and find the silver lining and TIMING is so important. This can be very hurtful and detrimental to the healing process. A griever must FEEL to HEAL. Distracting or redirecting them prompts them to NOT FEEL the sadness.
 
4.  “He’s in a better place now” – Griever’s at the time feel the ‘best’ place for their loved one was with them. Especially if the death was premature and/or unexpected.  
 
5.  “God needed another angel” – This may build more fear into a griever’s mind as they may begin to think that other loved ones are going to die because God needs more angels. 
 
6.  “You’ve still got your other children/siblings or parent”. – Each relationship between people is special, unique and individual. Comparing relationships is not a good thing.
 
7.   “Don’t cry — crying only upsets you” – The griever is upset already as grief is what we are feeling on the inside. Crying is a form of love and release. It will help relieve the upsets and cleanse at the same time.
 
8.  “God will never give you more than you can handle” – PRESSURE! When a griever is feeling like they just can’t take one more thing and then THIS is said to them, they can really begin to question their faith and purpose. 
 
9.  “Get a hold of yourself” – Oh boy, does this add pressure to the griever who is already feeling out of control. 
 
10.  “It’s time to get on with your life” – This implies you, the friend, is uncomfortable seeing the griever in the state of grief and mourning. It’s a very selfish thing to say to a griever. Until you walk a mile in their shoes. . . 
 
11.  “You are so strong” “you can handle this” , or “You must be strong for the kids” – This can give the griever a false sense of carrying the weight of the world all alone on their shoulders. It can mislead the griever into judging themselves of having to have it all together and deter them from reaching out for help and asking for help.
 
12.  “You’ll get over it in time” – Nope, a griever doesn’t ‘get over it’.  A griever learns to live with the loss and integrate life, loss and love.
 
13.  “You’ll be okay in a year” – Putting a specific linear time component will set the griever up for unrealistic expectations. The grieving/mourning process does not run on a linear time table.
 
14.  “Time heals all wounds” – A griever may perceive this as a specific amount of time on a linear time table. Not possible to say ‘how much’ time until the wound is healed. 2 months, a year, 10 years? This could set a griever up for a never ending expectation.
 
15.  “He/She is ALWAYS with you” – This may seem very comforting, but the fact of the matter is many grievers are going through a biological feeling of loss and it’s very difficult to fathom that when indeed they cannot speak to or hold their loved one.
 
16.  “At least you had ‘X’ amount of time with him/her” – NEVER does an empathic response begin with ‘AT LEAST’. 
 
17.  “You’re the man of the house now” – This adds unnecessary pressure, guilt, and can affect self-esteem. 
 
18.  “You’ll find someone else” – Most grievers are NOT wanting to jump right back on the horse and ‘replace’ their loved one. That diminishes the value of the love shared and the person who died.
STAY TUNED FOR MY NEXT BLOG ON “The BEST Things To Say To Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One”
 
If you or someone you know is struggling with the grief and mourning process after losing a loved one and is yearning for JOY restoration, please contact me.  I’ve been there.  I can help.  You need not travel this journey alone.
 
Love and JOY,
Cynthia 

Please Be Patient With Me and Stay My Friend



my_idea_of_a_good_friend3-250x160What I cannot do while I grieve…
 
I cannot ‘get over it’ or ‘buck up’ – I know it may be very uncomfortable for you to see me this way.  I am grieving and mourning and my emotions are all over the place.  My loss is all I see right now with no peripheral vision.  Please be patient with me and stay my friend.
 
I cannot ‘go back to my old self’ – That self has been changed forever. There will be some characteristics and traits that will journey with me.  Everything that defined who I was before this loss has been altered, shattered and changed.  Please be patient with me and stay my friend.
 
I cannot ‘believe this was God’s will” – Right now I am in too much pain.  I am confused.  I am frustrated.  I am searching for answers.  I am trying to make sense.  I am asking ‘why’ and ‘what if’ and saying ‘if only’.  Please be patient with me and stay my friend.
 
I cannot ‘be strong’ – Some days it takes every ounce of energy to just get out of bed or get the kids dressed or on the bus. I am not being weak when I cry or don’t answer the phone every time you call.  I like it when you leave a message as I feel less alone.  Please be patient with me and stay my friend.
 
What I CAN do while I grieve…
 
I can go towards the pain and mourn.  You will find me listening to music that makes me cry.  You will find me reminiscing through pictures and I will cry.  You will find me talking about my loved one and I will cry.  You will find me telling my story many times and it will make me cry.  You see the connection between my heart and head has been severed.  My heart if feeling everything my head can’t fathom.  Thank you for being patient with me and staying my friend.
 
I can ‘be’ and ‘suspend’.  You may get frustrated with me for not accepting all of your invitations to do things.  You may be frustrated that I am not grieving the way you see fit.  You may think I am doing it all wrong.  Thank you for being patient with me and staying my friend.
 
I can honor my loved one.  I can create a scrapbook, plant a garden, keep a memory trunk, make a quilt from their clothing, celebrate their birthday, have a special ornament for the tree, release balloons, write poetry, write a book, simply say their name in conversations.  Thank you for being patient with me and staying my friend.
 
I can try new things.  You may not agree with me in my choices and you may have your own opinion on what’s right or wrong; however, it’s up to me to learn again.  My feet have to test the waters.  I have to make mistakes to learn.  Thank you for being patient with me and staying my friend.
 
I can find things to do that are therapeutic.  I can get a massage.  I can garden. I can journal.  I can read.  I can listen to music. I can plug into new circles of friends.  I can reach out for help.  Thank you for being patient with me and staying my friend.
Love and Joy,
Cynthia Gossman
You need not grieve alone. Contact me for more information. Cynthia@CynthiaGossman.com
 
Copyright – Cynthia Gossman, Grief and Relationship Coach, Life After Loss Healing Solutions, LLC

Circle the Date



circlethedate

Throughout the years, I have been blessed by walking with so many on their journey of loss, grief and mourning and helping them reach the path of healing. I have also been blessed with a voice to advocate for the griever and educate the non-grievers/companions on how to help their friends and loved ones who are hurting.  Here’s one of my favorite tips:

Circle the date of the loss on the calendar in every month for a year. Life resumes normalcy quick after the funeral for friends and companions, yet the griever’s life has come to a complete stop, is in slow motion, and time is greatly distorted. While the griever is chartering unknown territory, the pain, lonesomeness, confusion, and so much more slaps ‘doses of reality’ of the death in their face over and over.

A few months down the road when everyone else is back living their own lives (the out of town company has gone back home, the food and meals aren’t being dropped off anymore, the phone calls/texts are few and far between, the flourish of cards and condolences are not arriving in the mailbox anymore) the griever is often left feeling even more lost and alone.

When we (the companion to the griever) ‘remember’, it brings tremendous comfort to the griever. So, Circle the date and let that be a gentle reminder to you to send a ‘thinking of you’ card, invite them out for lunch, or swing by for a cup of coffee.  Disconnection is transparent and your act of love and kindness by ‘remembering’ will bring a sense of connection and diminish the feelings of isolation.

Love and JOY,
Cynthia

Grief Has No Gender



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Men and women grieve differently, not because of gender, but because of the masculine/feminine parts of the brain and societal conditioning/stigmas. In all actuality, EVERYONE grieves differently. One’s grief is as unique as the relationship with the loved one.

The masculine part of the brain tends to process grief with action, doing, fixing, like going out and building the temple. Little to no conversation is necessary sometimes.

The feminine part of the brain tends to process grief with nurturing, comforting, connecting, like sitting inside the temple and ‘kumbayah’ing’ with others over a meal, talking, crying, expressing emotion.

Neither one is better than the other and the action makes for good mourning.  All men and women have both masculine and feminine parts in their brain. Therefore, a man may feel absolutely comfortable sitting in the knitting circle and expressing emotions just as much as a woman may feel more solace going out to the shed and building a new swing set.  Society has prevented individuals from grieving and mourning effectively by conditions, stigmas, and conformity. Our society is ill equipped to assist in the healing process due to rules and roles of what the griever should or shouldn’t do or how to express oneself as well as what the gender should or shouldn’t be allowed to express.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky. A griever cannot THINK (brain) grief away. A griever must FEEL (heart) their grief and express it outward by mourning. There is a huge gap between the brain and the heart. Due to an ill-equipped society that tends to focus on THINKING for solutions, a griever is hindered, shunned, even shamed on FEELING towards healing.

Regardless of the gender role, rules and regulations society has placed expectations on others, all individuals have emotions. Through the healthy healing process of both grieving and mourning, a griever can eventually let go of the pain while keeping precious memories.

Love and JOY,
Cynthia

Emotional Wellness & Balance Center
www.CynthiaGossman.com

Amygdala Hijack vs. Grief Burst



brain-heart-charactersCGCC Emotional Wellness and Balance Center

You and I have five realms of health: Mental, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, and Social.  When your emotional realm is hijacked the other four realms are affected, compromised, and even shut down depending on our existing supply of coping skills, belief systems and how we were taught to react. So that means when your emotional health is attacked, your mental health, physical health, spiritual health as well as your social health are all compromised.

The amygdala is an area in your brain that processes your emotions and your ‘fight or flight’ mechanisms. It is a great little part of the brain to have. It alerts you when danger arises and keeps you safe. It also can allow you to feel the miraculous love and joys in life.  Did you know that your amygdala has a default programming?  It all began when you were a little wee one.  Watching your parents, grandparents, leaders and coaches created your default programming of your morals, beliefs and values. Since then your amygdala has been conditioned and groomed how to cope (react or respond) according to how you saw others cope.

Grief comes from the heart.  It is a form of love.  Grief cannot be reasoned or thought out.  Grief must be felt.

You must work on creating harmony between your brain and your heart.

Question, as you are reading this, are you aware (key word, aware) of how you react or respond, hence how you cope with life’s adversities? How’s your default coping mechanisms working for you?  There’s no right or wrong emotional defaults; However, there are healthy and unhealthy defaults.

AH and GB Definitions:

First let me explain what an amygdala hijack is. When the amygdala is hijacked, it hijacks ALL of the oxygen from other parts of the brain and shuts down the cerebral cortex frontal lobe that contains your rational thinking and problem solving.  You can become irrational, impulsive, dangerous at times, mean, and angry.

Now let me explain what a grief burst is. When you are grieving the loss of a loved one, your heart is broken and shattered because you are missing that loved one because you LOVED that person. All of your emotions are all over the place intertwined with one another.  You can burst into uncontrollable tears, sobbing, even collapse to the ground.

All emotions are either love based or fear based
Love Based – Happy, Joy, Kindness, Gentle, Grateful,
Fear Based – Angry, Disgusted, Hate, Betrayal, Guilt, Regret

Most amygdala hijacks are triggered by data collected and stored in our brains that are attached to memories, habits, rituals and conditions related to a particular incident or circumstance in the past that can be associated with hurt and anger.

Most grief bursts are triggered the same – by data collected and stored in our brains that are linked to memories, habits, rituals and conditions related to a particular incident or circumstance in the past that can be associated with happiness and joy.

Are AH and GB love based or fear based?

  • AH is fear based, usually no love involved at all, pure anger, hatred, betrayal – all fear based.
  • GB may contain fearful emotions but the base is LOVE.  If you didn’t LOVE that person, you wouldn’t be grieving and experiencing grief bursts.

Are AH and GB learned behaviors?

  • AH responses that are learned behaviors may include flipping people off and other hand gestures, colorful not-so-nice language spewing from our mouths, tantrums, destruction of property, slamming doors, hateful and attacking words.  You get the picture.  These are learned behaviors. We saw influential people in our life act that way more than once and our brain believed that was the way to react.
  • Grief bursts are not necessarily learned behaviors like amygdala hijacks are.  Grief bursts are usually weeping, sobbing, (yes screaming but in a much different way), cocooning in a fetal position.  Due to our societal stigmas from many generations past, people who have grief bursts are very uncomfortable with them and think they are wrong because we were not exposed to this healthy way of processing emotions.  Grief will demand your attention with no forewarning or predictability and usually at the most inopportune time – grocery store, bank, the middle of an important meeting, school, etc.)

What are the results of AH and GB?

  1. AH tend to be unhealthy and destroy people.  (Training is available to help rewire the defaults to healthier defaults)
  2. GB tend to be seen as unhealthy but are truly one of the healthiest behaviors a person can  honor in order to heal. (Coaching is available to assist the healing process)
  1. AH creates more stress and toxicity
  2. GB releases stress and toxicity and encourages healing.

 Amazing how society is more accepting of angry outbursts that come from an AH but is very uncomfortable with GB that portray love.

How to Stop the Insanity!

In the middle of the hijack or grief burst may not be the best time to learn the fundamentals of a new way to cope emotionally.  However, after the hijack and/or grief burst has passed, taking time to reflect is a vital step in managing your emotions better.

  1. What can I do in the moment of an amygdala hijack or grief burst?
  2. What skills can I learn and practice to help future AH and GB?
  3. How can I cope better emotionally?

To learn the answers to these questions and more, contact CG Coaching & Consulting Emotional Wellness and Balance Center today.

cynthia@cynthiagossman.com or 757-635-5379 or visit www.cynthiagossman.com

 

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