Resiliency is the strongest attribute we can develop and possess that will help us to be successful during the social distancing and quarantine during COVID-19. Resiliency allows us to feel a sense of capability and strength during difficult times. Resiliency protects us from vulnerability, and vulnerability can make the process of managing this pandemic much more difficult.
Dr Bruce Perry studies stress and resilience and recently put out an education on the Neurosequential Network on how to maintain resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. His suggestions are below, with suggestions added in brackets:
Have daily structure (daily routine like bathing, getting dressed, movement)
Eat with others (even if over video or phone)
Limit media exposure to what is happening in the world
Exercise regularly (stretching, yoga, walking, home workouts)
Reach out to others (call, write letters, video call, send photos, etc)
Help others (get their groceries for them, or mow their lawn, say hello from a distance)
Engage in sleep hygiene (regular sleep pattern and ways to develop good sleep)
Have a positive, future focused view of the world, others and yourself (this is not forever, things will be different)
Conduct meaningful work in your days (do anything that has meaning for you)
Secure income (apply for EI or emergency funding, work from home, organize finances)
Secure housing (talk with the bank or your landlord if you need financial help to keep your housing secured if you are struggling with financial changes at this time)
Keep cultural connections (watch meetings online, continue with cultural practices)
Mainstream culture & ethnicity (stay connected with your community as you are able)
Safe and stable family (take breaks from each other, breathe when feeling emotions rising)
Safe and stable community (join local activities such as making masks of medical staff, cheer at 7pm, put hearts on your windows for others to see)
An important way to build and keep resilience is to develop a lifestyle that can be predictable, moderate and controllable to manage the impact of stress from the world.
If you are struggling with gaining or maintaining any of these aspects, please reach out to others who may be able to assist you, or feel free to connect with me on my ‘Contact Me’ page for support.
Source from: https://www.neurosequential.com/covid-19-resources
It’s been a while since my last post- yikes! I have to stay, I did a few things at that time…
1. When I posted last about using extended health benefits for counselling, I so appreciated your calls about how to use your benefits! Hearing from folks about what their benefits look like and how to make the most of them was heartwarming. I’m glad this was helpful for you.
2. I also reviewed my previous posts and really was excited to create another vision board. On my vision board I really prioritized more time with people and less on the computer- and that’s exactly what I did!
Now, with how the world is, I felt drawn to come back to blogging to send all of you information I have been gathering to help us all during this COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that the next few posts are helpful for you in navigating through this worldly experience.
If anyone is like me out there, you may have already cleaned to bathroom, did the laundry, swept the floors and washed the dishes. Now what? Netflix for 8 hours? It’s week 2 of social distancing and there’s only so many times to see Netflix asking if you are still watching, or wash the same cup.
At this time, we have been told that we have weeks if not months of social distancing, so why not have a plan or at least a list of suggestions of things to do when feeling lost on what to do next?
Here is a list of ideas I’d like to offer you to help you do well as we go through the next while supporting the efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
Go for a walk
Kick the ball in the yard or local park
Do a free workout at home
Do a free yoga session at home
Sit in the sunshine
Mow the lawn
Sweep the porch
Rearrange the furniture if your house
Read a book or magazine
Learn something new
Sew, knit, crochet
Do a puzzle
Play a board game
Play a card game
Have a dance party in your house
Make a fort in your living room
Do a face mask
Massage your hands or feet with lotion
Paint your nails
Practice a new hair style
Do your taxes
Take a free online course
Take an online tour of the world and space
Watch a live animal camera
Watch an online concert
Organize a shelving unit
Organize your clothing drawers
Clean your closet(s)
Change over clothing in closet
Clean out the ‘junk drawer’
Organize the dry food cupboards
Clean out the fridge
Clean the oven
Paint a wall
Frame some photos
Make something new
Do a craft
Colour a colouring book
Send a letter to someone
Make something for someone else
Bake, or cook
Have a bath or long shower
Call a friend or family member
Video chat with a loved one, or group of loved ones
Play online games with others
Look at old photos
Organize photos for a photo book
Listen to a podcast
Clean up your email inbox
Make a vision board
Watch some inspiring videos, like a TedTalk
Give yourself compassion
Play brain games
Play an instrument
Journal your experience
Learn a language
Now this is just a small list of things to do while in quarantine or social distancing. Have any ideas of your own? Feel free to add in the comments below! Struggling with remaining home? I offer video and phone sessions to connect with you at home! Feel free to visit my ‘Contact Me’ page or give me a call!
New Year = new benefits banks available! Do you have Extended Health Benefits? Are you aware of how much you have allotted to you towards counselling? The beginning of the New Year can be a great time to work towards those new years goals you have set for yourself- especially when it comes to self-care and support – through counselling. It can be completed in 3 steps:
- Check with your Extended Health Benefits to see how much funding you have available towards counselling
- Check to see which types of professionals your Extended Health Benefits cover- many cover Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCCs), but some state that they only cover Registered Social Workers (RSW) and/or Registered Psychologists (R.Psych). Don’t worry if you don’t have coverage for a RCC- see below on how to get coverage!
- Find the counsellor you want to invest yourself with and give them a call for a consult or to schedule an appointment! Check out my Contact Me page to make your next step in scheduling an appointment with me!
- Once you have attended your first session, apply to your Extended Health Program for reimbursement of your payment!
Which Extended Health Programs currently cover RCCs (like me)?
*Victim’s Assistance Services (call 604-660-3888 or toll free in BC at 1-866-660-3888 to enroll with CVAP)
* ICBC (if involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident causing anxiety and trauma you may get approval for counselling)
*= Companies require prior approval for funded counselling
So what happens if your Extended Health Benefits don’t cover RCCs (like me)? First is to contact your employer, Human Resources Department, or insurance company directly to request a small change to the plan’s coverage. This isn’t difficult, doesn’t cost the employer anything, and at the same time increases your employee benefits (your benefits working for your needs). Employers already pay for your benefits package and want you to use them and therefore like to increase the amount of benefits that their employees can access. Asking for a change in your plan also does not cost the employer any additional fee! RCCs are also less expensive than Registered Psychologists- therefore allowing your dollars to go further! Please use the link below to access a document with the information you will need to put into your own letter when making this request.
So why not take advantage of the benefits that are waiting for you at the beginning of each new year? To get started on your next step, visit my Contact Me page to schedule your first appointment.
How do you get through the holidays while grieving? As 2018 is coming to an end, the Holiday Season approaches. In previous years, this might have been a time full of joy and excitement, gathering and festivities. This can be much different however when experiencing grief. The holiday season may instead be very overwhelming- perhaps even a dreaded nightmare. When someone has died in our life, it can take a great deal of time to adjust, and the first few years can be the hardest. My hope is that this list of activities and suggestions might be helpful for those of you who are dealing with your grief this holiday season, or for others who are supporting someone who is grieving.
For those who are grieving:
- Make plans. Even if you feel as though you don’t want to, it is much easier to cancel on your plans last minute, than wish you had somewhere to go and you don’t. See if you can connect with someone close to you to make plans, with both of you knowing that if you are not feeling up to it, you may cancel last minute, and that’s ok.
- Acknowledge the person who is missing from the holidays. Perhaps this is talking about them over the holiday meals, talking with others who knew them, or having a photo or item of theirs present during this time. Some people have saved that person’s seat at the table, or even placed a framed photo of them in their spot to keep their presence known.
- Make their favourite meal. The holiday times tend to be filled with shared meals, and making your loved one’s favourite meal can be one way of bringing them to the festivities, and creating a space to remember them.
- Go to their favourite place. Perhaps there was somewhere your person loved to be, or that reminds you of them. Maybe it is where their body or ashes lay, or where they loved to go when they were living. It can even be where you remember them in the home.
- Play their favourite music, movie or tv show. Sometimes bringing out their favourite forms of entertainment can connect us to memories and to them.
- Take time to think about them. Sometimes this is just what the mind, body and soul ordered. Time taken to just sit and think about them can remind us that the person who died, lived; and they mattered to you. Spending purposeful time thinking about them is very important in the grieving process, and doing so over the holidays can help to manage this season without them.
For those who are supporting someone who is grieving:
- Make plans with the person who is grieving. They might be hesitant or even insistent that they don’t want to- I encourage you to offer an open invitation nonetheless.
- Talk about the person who died. It can be hard for the grieving to bring up the person who died for many reasons. Perhaps they think no one wants to talk about it, fear that they might cry, or that others have moved forward with their lives. Starting the conversation can be very welcoming and can give permission to the grieving to talk about the person who died.
- Offer to go with, or remind the grieving to go to their loved one’s favourite place, or where they lay. It might be comforting to have you attend, or to receive the reminder of where they can go to connect with their loved one.
- Overall, meet the grieving where they are at. You may have many very helpful, heartwarming and open ideas to help them with the grief they may be feeling, but we as supporters cannot tell the grieving how to grieve – they are the ones who tell us how they are grieving and we need to listen to them.
Thank you for visiting my site and for connecting with me through my email list!
It has been quite the year so far! In order to keep doing what I love to do (in life and through my practice of course!), I must spend time recharging- taking in some fresh air, sunshine and nature itself! I will be back soon to continue to support you. Therefore, I apologize for any delay in connecting with you, and responding to your contacts. I will be away November 7-26, 2018. If you are interested in services, please feel free to send contact through my Contact Me page, or through email.
I look forward to my return and to see you soon.
Take good care,
Teenage years… full of exploration and self development, as well as more trials and tribulations that one may think they can get through. During this time, who we are as independent individuals is constantly revolving and changing until we find out who it is we want to be. For most, this can have a natural progression, winding its way to a more solidified sense of self coming into our mid 20’s. However, this can be severely stinted or halted if there is a significant death in the teen’s life during this developmental period. If a parent, sibling or significant friend dies during this stage of life, the stability and space to grow can be temporarily paused due to the impact of the loss. As someone in the teen’s life, you may see them regress to the last stage of development, you might see some acting out, or you might see the teen isolate or become quieter than before. As we are all humans, all expressions of grief will be different. One thing that has been prevalent in the work I have done with teens is honouring that their grieving process is slow. Because of the chaotic nature of the teen years, and the desire to fit in, teens have this innate ability to hold their grief for roughly two years (Yes, you read that correctly – TWO YEARS!). For those around the teen who has suffered the loss, behaviours or responses months or years down the road may seem abnormal or unexplainable to how they were functioning prior to the death. To help our teens during this time, the best thing anyone can do is love them and support them as best as possible. Keep them connected to those that love them, acknowledge that they are trying their best given the circumstances, and encourage them to connect with others in a healthy manner. In the event you are a teen or are someone supporting a teen who has suffered a loss, and are wanting some support, please visit my contact page to schedule an appointment.
Have you tried journaling before? What about having a pen pal, writing To Do lists, or writing a long text/email to someone in your life? Do you organize your thoughts by writing things down in order to get them out of your head? Well what if I told you that if you wrote a grief letter, that it might help when trying to get all of those thoughts out of your head? Now grief letters can be used in many scenarios in our life. The most obvious is after someone in our life dies, but they are also incredibly helpful after a break-up, separation, or difficult time in a relationship (even with your work colleagues!). Let me tell you how this work… First thing to know: the letters do not need to be seen by anyone but yourself. Once the are completed, it is your choice as to what you choose to do with them. You can throw them out, shred them, burn them, crumple them up in a ball and throw them around the house, or leave them for anyone day. Second, there are two parts to writing grief letters. The first letter is addressed to the person you are needing to talk to, or are experiencing difficulties with. My suggestion here is that when you go to write it, be in a space without distraction. Be on your own, get comfortable, and spend some time doing it. There are no rules here. It can be as long or as short as you need; grammar doesn’t count, and through out the English teacher in your head. This letter is not to be judged for format, it is just meant to be a place for you to get your thoughts down on paper. Now comes the best part – start writing! Say what it is that you need to the person in your life that you are struggling with. When you are done. Take a moment. Breathe. This may have been quite emotional and taken a lot of energy. Now, when you are ready (this may be at the same time, maybe later in the day, or another day entirely), you begin your second part of the letter. The second letter is to yourself. Now this letter is addressed to you from yourself – to say all that you need to about what is going on, and exactly how you need to say it. I encourage everyone of my clients to be kind here and to speak to yourself as though you were someone you love, because we can be particularly hard on ourselves – harder than we would be to anyone else in this world. When you are done this letter, you have finished the activity. Like before, I encourage you to take a breath and a moment to just pause. See how you feel, maybe talk to someone about it, or put it away and do something you enjoy to help create space. But be proud of yourself because this was A LOT of work! But it might have been enough to help you in your time of need for clarity. If you have experienced moments like these and feel that writing a grief letter might be helpful for you, I invite you to try it yourself, or connect with me to schedule an appointment, so I can be there to help you with your needs, and to help talk about the process once you have completed the letters.
So, what’s up with the 50-minute therapy hour? You have decided to go to counselling. You have called the clinician, scheduled an appointment, and go for your first appointment. During this time, you discover that your appointments are 50 minutes but it is called a therapy hour. How does this happen? An our is 60 minutes long but the therapy session is only 50 minutes… so what has happened the other 10 minutes? Well my hope here is that I can explain this process and help you understand a little more on why you are allotted a 50-minute counselling hour. Counselling sessions are scheduled in 50 minutes because of a few reasons
- We are human and sometimes run behind schedule. Yes – this happens regularly. Someone comes in for a session a few minutes late, or the appointment requires a few more moments of attention, or the session takes the full 50 minutes and now the client and clinician are just booking their next appointment. By having a 50-minute session, these things that cause us to run a few minutes behind allow for space for it to be done, without interfering with the next appointment.
- Each appointment with clients needs to be charted for legal and ethical reasons. While these are very minimal and short notes, there needs to be notes nonetheless. By having a 50-minute session with clients, it allows for the clinician to complete the client notes while the session is still fresh and present, ensuring more accurate notes as opposed to writing notes hours later.
- Time to clear the mind. As clinicians, we hear a lot of stories from clients daily and we make sure to keep each story connected to each client. To allow for this to happen however, we need to take a breath and organize our thoughts, clear our minds, and be ready for the next session.
- Basic human needs need to be met. Clinicians, just like you, are humans who need bathroom breaks and snacks. I can promise you that I, in particular, am not going to be on my A-game if I am needing to use the washroom during our entire appointment or having my stomach growing, and interrupting our time together.
- Time to make you a cup of tea! In my practice I enjoy offering each of my clients a cup of tea or glass of water for our session. I know I need something to drink over the period of an hour, and think that you might want that too! So, during those 10 minutes, it also allows me times to out the kettle on and have it boiled and ready for your appointment!
All in all, even though the counselling hour seems a bit strange that it is only 50 minutes, those 10 minutes in between sessions are vital for counsellors to have in order to keep each session running smoothly. It allows for clients to finish up what they came to talk about, for notes to be taken, clinicians to clear their minds, have clinicians meet their basic needs, and to keep a warm cup of tea available. Please understand that during our time together, I am making sure that I am able to be present for you during our time together and am utilizing the minutes wisely to keep me present. If you have any questions about the 50-minute hour, or would like to schedule one for yourself, please visit my contact me page to connect.
Support networks, who needs them, right? The answer here is we all do. We all need a network of people in our lives to help us in various ways. Here are just some examples throughout the life course: When we are infants, we needed caregivers to feed us, clothe us, and house us. We needed friends in elementary school to teach us how to share, interact and learn valuable life lessons (like sharing, compromise and working together). In high school we needed teachers to help us learn and develop or brain capacities, and we needed family and friends to help us feel connected, supported and worthy. As adults, we need some kind of employment to support our financial and basic needs (shelter, food, water, and safety), we need close, personal relationships to feel connection, worthiness and belonging, and we need a sense of hope and purpose to continue living. So, what happens when you are feeling that you are needing some support as a pick-me-up when you are struggling? If you haven’t noticed the similarities throughout the lifespan so far, let me give you a BIG hint- it’s people. We need people in our lives throughout our lifetime. We are incredibly social creatures who are not meant to travel this life on our own. So, who is in your support network? Who can you turn to when you are needing help in any way? Now, let me interrupt myself here and share that you CANNOT have one person who is there for absolutely all of your needs. We all need a lot of different kinds of help in life and they cannot all possibly come from one specific person. Why? It is too much pressure, work, responsibility and reliability on one person. Plus, what happens for you when that person is not available in your time of need, or (please forbid) that person has died and cannot be there any longer to support you in the ways that you need? We all need a lot of people in our lives for support. Think of it as a wheel. In the center is you, and around you are a list of situations and needs reaching out like arms from you. Watch a movie with, go for a walk with, travel with, talk on the phone with, cry with, sit in silence with, play a game or sport with, go shopping with, talk about your fears and concerns with, brain storm with, talk about your emotions with, talk about work with, etc., etc. etc. On the wheel, my hope is that you have numerous people that fit throughout the needs. Some people might repeat themselves on the list, you may even have multiple people on the same lie, and there might even be people missing from some lines because you haven’t realized that you don’t yet have someone to fill that need. This is all normal! Until we really look at our needs and the relationships we have, and maybe even the situations we have been in (maybe there are topics on the wheel you have yet to experience so you might not yet know who would be the person you turn to), we won’t know how much we are leaning on one (or a few) specific people to fulfill all of our needs. So, to try and avoid feeling a void later in life, when those people we lean maybe a little too much on are no longer available, why not look at what your support network looks like now and try to work on growing it in a way that you feel fills your needs best? If this is something you are interested, and would like support with, or to talk about further, please visit my contact me page to connect.
Are you interested in starting counselling or therapy? Have you been feeling like there is a need for a change in your life and you would like someone to support you with that? Wondering how you even get started?
If you have had any of these thoughts then you are in the right place! Here are some of the things I encourage others to do before starting therapy:
- Know what you want to work on or what your goals are
Your first session in therapy will most likely be around setting goals – your therapist will be asking you questions about what brings you to counselling in order to h=better understand what is troubling you and what it is that you want to work on. By coming in with an idea of what it is that brings you to counselling, and what you want the end result to look like, the better developed your sessions will be with your therapist.
- Decide if you are paying privately or want to go through your extended health benefits
Finances are always important to consider when thinking about counselling. It will cost on average, between $110-$120 per session with a Registered Clinical Counsellor in BC, and $160+ per session for a Registered Psychologist. Counselling is absolutely an invest in yourself, but you need to decide for yourself, how you would like to go about doing it. I encourage each person who contacts me to check with their Extend Health Coverage through work or other funding, to see what is available to them for funded counselling, especially if finances are a consideration. If you are paying privately, make sure you also discuss your financial limits with your prospective counsellor in regards to the number of sessions you are willing to pay for and over what period of time. This conversation can help structure your counselling sessions to a time frame that works for you, while not putting additional strain on your finances.
- Do your research to find possible counsellors
Not every counsellor is able to support every issue – each of us has strengths in particular areas that makes us better equipped to support you in your needs. Do your homework here. Look up counsellors in your area and who specialise in the topics you are most wanting to discuss. Finding a counsellor who has experience and knowledge in particular areas might be better able to support you and understand your struggles over a counsellor who has not experienced support others with that concern. My example here to help highlight this is that if you are an adult who is struggling with work stress, attending to a counsellor who specialises in children with developmental abilities might not be the best match. Do your research by searching those in your area and with one or more of the topics you want to address. Then check out their websites and online presence to see if you think they might be a good fi for you. Then give them a call or send an email to further discuss.
- Find a good fit
Just as we judge how we feel with others in our lives, you also need to judge how you feel with your counsellor. Once you have narrowed down the options for potential counsellors in your area, who specialize in what you are looking for, give them a call or send them an email (if available) and connect. Get a sense of who they are and if you feel that you would want to develop a professional relationship with them. Remember, your first impression here is what might set one counsellor a part from the rest. Go with the candidate that feels the best for you. Most counsellors will give you a free 15-minute phone consultation to help you determine if it is a good fit.
- Recognize that Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither were you
Just like building a city, therapy is not going to solve the issue in the first session. Therapy can take a bit of time – you need to feel comfortable enough to share what is weighing on your heart and body, and you need to take time to practice the suggestions and concepts discussed in session. This here is where I would like to remind you to make sure that you are aware of the timeline/number of sessions you and your therapist agreed up at the beginning of your therapy. If you have a limited number of sessions, you may not be getting at the route of the issue but instead building strategies and tools to help you cope with the issue that brought you into counselling. Likewise, when you have time to spend working on the issue, you will have to first develop strategies to help you when you and your counsellor begin to work at the root of the issue, so that you can manage out in the wold in between sessions. This will all take time, but be patient with yourself. You are doing all the hard work.
- Only go because you want to
Counselling will only work if you want it to. Being forced to come to counselling when you are not open to it does not allow for change to occur. I believe that we will only change things when we want to, and not when we don’t. The resistance in the room may prevent good work from happening. If you are not the one who wants to be in the counselling room, perhaps taking sometime first, to determine what it is that you would like, would be a good option. If you would like support in deciding on what you would like, counselling may be beneficial as a very brief support.
- Know that things only change when you work at them
Just because you have decided to go to counselling, does not mean that the hard work is done. While the counselling session may indeed be a lot of work, and perhaps takes a lot out of you, it is the content of your sessions that will need to be contemplated, reviewed, tried and reassessed throughout the time in between your sessions and after. Just as you have to work hard in your job to grow, learn and move forward, so too is the perspective in counselling. But you know you can do it, it is part of the reason why you came to counselling – to make a change for the better in your life. Believe in yourself that the hard work is worth it and you will see the results.
If you are interested in beginning counselling, please feel free to contact me. I am happy to provide a 15-minute free consultation over the phone to help you determine if I am the right fit for you.
What an experience I was granted this weekend! I was honoured that Josh Black, one of the leading academic researchers in the area of dreams in bereavement, and PhD student at Brock University, presented on his research in grief dreams in Chilliwack, BC! Josh contacted me back in November and shared who he was, gave a brief overview of his current research, and asked me to attend his lecture to learn more. I found this mesmerizing, of course! How could I not attend and learn from someone who has learned so much from individuals experiencing such an unknown common event?
So, what are grief dreams anyways? Grief dreams are dreams that some people have after someone they know dies. In this dream, their person may show up as a symbol, or as their real self, or they might not be in it at all, but there is a dream about loss. Josh shared that he has had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of people who are grieving the loss of their loved ones and beloved pets, and to speak about the dreams they have after someone in their life has died. He discovered that up to 85% of people who are grieving have experienced grief dreams, and that those dreams can be experienced as positive, negative, or both, and that some people never experience a grief dream (and both are completely normal!).
I have the honour and pleasure of exploring and understanding what the grief dreams of my clients have meant for them time and time again. During this training however, I was able to gather more tools and information to better support each of my clients, especially with dreams that cause distress. I was even given the opportunity to try these tips and tricks on my own grief dreams, giving increased meaning and insight as to how helpful they can be! Thanks to Josh Black, I feel even more excited to support clients with yet another option for them in our time together! If you have experienced grief dreams, and would like to explore them further, please feel free to visit my contact me page to connect and schedule an appointment.
To check out more of Josh Black’s research, listen to his podcast, or to join his Facebook page, where you can share your grief story with hundreds of others, please take a look at his website at www.griefdreams.ca
There can be stigma and judgement around counselling – and all therapists know it exists. There may be a fear of judgement from others, a feeling of failure that might be associated to asking for help, or there can be fears around engaging with a stranger to talk about your current struggles, amongst many more reasons. I want to join with you to help change this stigma and the judgement around counselling. We are innately social beings who need love and connection with others. We are meant to live in communities and to feel healthy bonds between those closest to us in our lives. However, this might not always mean that we can connect and share what is bothering us so deeply with those around us. This might be for fear or judgement, rejection, hurt, or something we cannot pinpoint but somehow doesn’t feel right. Sometimes we might just need someone who does not live within our daily lives to help dissect and work through that which we find troubling at the time. My hope is that the concept of speaking with and connecting to a qualified professional can be encouraged and praised amongst ourselves and throughout our society. What a place we might live in if everyone grew up learning that seeking support for all aspects of our lives was praised and encouraged! It is socially acceptable to seek medical attention when we break an arm or leg, so why can’t it be the same when we feel that something is not right within our thoughts and feelings? I believe that if this shift were to change, we all might be able to ask for help a little bit sooner, and hopefully before we feel as though our lives are in crisis. Should you find yourself wanting to change the stigma around counselling in your life, or want to begin counselling, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help remove the stigma and you find the connection you are looking for.
I believe it is an honour to witness a death. To sit with a being at the end of it’s life.
Especially with humans, towards the end of life there is a hope that we will be able to say goodbye to the ones we love and to those who have supported us. I have heard often from those who did not have the chance to say goodbye that they wish they could have had the chance to share their appreciation and to express their love. I have also heard time and time again from those who had time to say goodbye, that there is never enough said, but that they were happy to have been there with their person when they died.
I was given the honour of sitting with an individual as they died, not long ago. There was time to sit with family and friends, to share in memories, and to say what could be said. It was joyful and heartbreaking for all. To sit with this individual, for everyone to say their goodbyes, and to witness this individual’s last breath – it was honouring and humbling, to say the least. I was grateful to have spent time with this individual in their journey of life, and to have bared witness to this individual’s death. Witnessing this individual’s life as it left the body, I will forever remember and appreciate.
If you have sat with someone during their death, or wished you could have, and need to talk to someone, I invite you to visit my contact me page to schedule an appointment.
In the society and culture in which I live, there seems to be this belief that one should not speak ill of the dead; as though death now makes the behaviours and aspects of the deceased null and void. This societal belief, and expression from others, can make grief complicated and prolonged for those who were wronged by the individual who died. I have had the honour of working with clients who struggled to mourn the death of their person because they did not have anything good to say about them, other than they were related. By not allowing someone to speak honestly about the relationship they had with the deceased, discredits the life that the living individual experienced. I try to drive home the understanding that just because someone died, does not mean they are now God, or were so when they were alive. To mourn the death of a person, means to be honest and open about your relationship with them to be able to work through the things that cannot be said, the answers that will no longer be received, and the relationship that can no longer be changed. If you are struggling with the death of someone who you hold anger or difficult emotions towards, please visit my contact me page to schedule an appointment.
I have always had a passion for the ‘big questions’; such as how did we get here, what is my purpose, or what happens after we die? I have found a nice spot to sit with these wonders and find out why I felt the need to ask the ‘Big Questions’ in the first place. My curiosity and passion with existential discussion has always been a passion of mine in my own search to meaning and purpose. Now having the space to witness clients ask themselves some big questions has been honouring and enlightening. I have listened and supported them to understand why they are asking themselves these questions, what possibilities they are contemplating, and how they change once they have come to a place where they are content with their answer (or at least content with the purpose on why they asked the question to begin with). One lengthy contemplation I had for a while was trying to balance my desire to have children for all their gifts and love that comes with the process and their simple state of being, but also knowing that there is guaranteed suffering that cannot be avoided, that I cannot prevent. I struggled for some time trying to make the right decision for me- to have children or not to have children. It wasn’t until a wise friend helped me rephrase the question by stating: ‘Knowing what I know now, am I accepting of my parent’s decision to bring me into this world, and would I change it given the opportunity’? This was a PROFOUND moment in my existential self discussion. For the first time, I felt content and acceptance in my thoughts about the topic. I had come to a place where I felt that the answer I had was enough and the original question no longer served a purpose in my current state, and I was able to move forward in my life with peace. Should you be struggling with an existential topic that is impacting your life, please contact me for an appointment; it would be my honour to sit with you to discuss.
The changing of seasons can be a powerful place; the start of new beginnings, or the ending of others. It is a place where we can look at ourselves and the world differently. Perhaps this might be just in terms of wardrobe, activities, or morning ritual, or maybe it means moving, creating a new self, starting a new year, or making a new change. I see these times of change as moments that allow us to be in a different place from where we last were. The change of a season can be glorious, exciting, stressful, uneasy, and even lonely. I remember particularly the changing from summer to fall used to mean the beginning of school, and then end of summer freedom or full-time work; but sometimes it meant being in a new, and potentially unfamiliar situation where it felt like significant adaptation and personal growth was needed. I believe it is in these moments that we have the potential to grow and to becomes better versions of ourselves. To be tested and pushed to go from a place of comfort and familiarity, to a place of new, unknown and wonder. To quote actress, singer, and director, Selena Gomez, ‘But people are put into your life for seasons, for different reason, and to teach you lessons’. If you are finding yourself in a place where you are experiencing change, and feel that you could use some support, please feel free to visit my contact page to schedule an appointment.
The Power of Play
The action of playing has a powerful impact every time we engage in it. It allows laughter and joy, quiet and peace, a joining and an independence. Play gives us space to process what our minds are thinking by creating a bit of distance. This distance allows us to step a step back – look at what is happening – and absorb all that we can at that time. This absorption may be something wonderful and supportive, it could create distance form that which is troubling you (such as the loss of a person, the current stress in your life), or it could help you create strategies on how to get through the tough time you may currently be experiencing. In my practice, and life, I believe in power of play to support emotional regulation, and to relieve unwanted tension. Therefore, I keep things to play with (such as slinkies, putty, balls, colouring books and paint) to help with processing and self-soothing. So please, help yourself to a toy in the office while you come for your session; try and experience the power of play.
With the use of technology now, we are able to get up-to-date information of what is happening around the world through the news, but also through social media. For some, this immediate access to information is very important and enjoyable; for others, it can be overwhelming and bombarding. Public transit ads, social media videos, articles, posts, the television and newspapers continually informing the world of current events and past reminders. The devastation in the world can become so much that it may be impacting your ability to enjoy life, or to live in the moment. Maybe the news even brings concerns forward that you weren’t aware of, or thought had been dealt with or forgotten. Finding balance again can seem difficult or maybe you don’t know where to start. If you find yourself looking for some support on this matter, please visit my contact me page to schedule an appointment.
As we grow up there are (hopefully) adults in our lives who help raise us. They are our caregivers; supporting us with our needs as we grow until we become sufficient enough to do it ourselves. Sometimes, as our caregivers get older, they may end up needing support from us; we then, might become their caregivers. We may need to pay bills for them, buy their groceries, take them to appointments… and we might even need to dress them, bathe them, and help them toilet. For some, it my become a complete role reversal… but perhaps with more pressure or burdens. For example, you may have your own children to raise, or a job to attend to, or your own health concerns that need to be addressed. Depending on the level of care needs for the ageing adult, and the amount of responsibilities and needs of the caregiver, this transition (although new and challenging) may be manageable for a period off time. For others however, the number of requirements needed for the ageing adult and in the caregiver’s personal life, can be overwhelming and unmanageable. Self care and responsibilities may be slipping or put on the bottom of the ‘to do list’. It is at this point where caregiver burnout lives; in amidst the chaos and struggle, making the caregiver overwhelmed with guilt and feeling as though they cannot manage any longer. If you are a caregiver in an part of the process and are looking for some support, please contact me for an appointment. Remember the flight attendant’s instructions: you need to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping anyone else; this ensures everyone’s safety and survival.
Sometimes the hardest part about grieving the loss of someone or something, is needing something from someone close to you and not getting it. Whether that is a hug, a conversation, help… anything. We can get frustrated in needing something from the person next to us and not getting it, EVEN IF we may feel that we are expressing ourselves outwardly. Here’s the thing, no one is a mind reader. No matter how many looks or bodily movements we make, it doesn’t mean the person with you understands what you want and need. Countless times I have heard clients say ‘why doesn’t my partner hug me/talk with me about it/ let me sit by myself/etc.?’ Sometimes this can be so frustrating for my clients, that they report fighting and having angry outbursts that they did not want or mean to have. Every time I hear this, my first question is, ‘Have you asked for what you want? Actually said it to that person?’. More times than not, no one has asked. They have ASSUMED that the other person should know what they want because of the way they are behaving. When this happens, I will continually remind my clients that no one around them is a mind reader, no matter how well they might know us. Therefore, it is imperative that when you want something, I strongly encourage you to ask for it. Worst case scenario: they say no, and you have to look for that support elsewhere. If you yourself are feeling stuck in this position, I encourage you to try this yourself, and if you would like some support in this matter, please feel free to visit my contact me page to make an appointment, as I would very much appreciate the opportunity to help you move through this as you feel comfortable.
Some days, getting out of the house when it is wet and cold just does not seem like a good idea. Some days, you might not feel like talking to others, or just want to relax in front of the TV and watch a movie. Some days, you might feel like you need to have a good cry. Should you find yourself in any of these moments, here is a list of movies that highlight what the loss of a loved one feels like. I hope that in those moments, you feel comforted; you are not alone.
- Still Alice
- Sophie’s choice
- Steel Magnolias
- Terms of Endearment
- PS I love you
- The Notebook
- The Bucket List
- Step Mom
- The Kite Runner
- The Descendants
- The Lovely Bones
- Patch Adams
- Seven Pounds
- My Sister’s Keeper
- The Five People You Meet in Heaven
- City of Angels
- Tuesdays with Morrie
- Lorenzo’s Oil
- My Girl
- Sister Cities
- Little Piece of Heaven
- Six Feet Under (TV series)
- My Little Princess
This just a small, varied list of movies that cover different types of death and of loss that I have seen and have loved. I hope that you find one that suits you well and brings comfort and normalcy to what you are currently experiencing.
Should you have any movies that you enjoyed that focus on loss, please feel free to let me know for the next time a list is posted. I am always looking to add to the list to help clients along their journey. Please send any comments, questions or suggestions through my Contact Me page.
Have you heard of a vision board? Have you utilized them? If you haven’t heard of a vision board before, let me introduce you to them. Vision boards are a visualization tool used to remind yourself of the goals you have set out for the year. Typically, they are created at the end of December/beginning of January, or at the beginning of a big change. They are used to set new goals, a new vision, or update the purpose of what it is that you want to achieve in the upcoming year. The vision board can be made from whatever it is that you want; it is an expression of yourself through cuts outs, print outs, drawings, or written words. The idea is to complete it, and hang it somewhere you will see every day, and let it stay there for the year. It is the hope that you will see it, even if you do not read it, daily. It is the hope that what you have put on your board will consciously, or subconsciously, remind you of the goals you have put out for yourself. Then, at the end of the year, when it is time to make a new one, you are able to look at it and reflect back to see what your year has been like. What did you achieve? What is still growing? What do you want to change? What do you want to stay the same? I find vision boards to be incredibly helpful and empowering. I have been completing them for the past 3 years, and have found them to be the most powerful reminder of what it is that I have accomplished in the past year, and a constant reminder of what it is that I want to achieve this coming year. If you would like to make a vision board, I encourage you to do it. If you are looking for guidance and support in this, to get you started, please feel free to visit my Contact Me page to schedule an appointment. I would be delighted to discuss and accompany you in your fist vision board development.
You may notice that throughout my website and blog posts, that I will repeatedly use the terms ‘death’, ‘dead’, and ‘dying’. This is not to remind you of the impact you may be currently feeling, but to help normalize the use of those words. I believe that using words or phrases that are used frequently in our current society might ‘soften the blow’ for others, but I do not want to minimize what has happened in your life. Too many times in our society do we use words or phrases that lighten the impact of things that have impacted us greatly, in hopes of sparing others of our pain. Your pains, your loss, your fears do not need to be softened for me. I want to talk about the impact you are feeling, the grief and mourning you are experiencing, and at times, the unbearable pain that you feel.
Additionally, in our current society, we have taken these words out of our language to help ‘ease the pain’ to children and teens. However, as you can read in my post ‘Talking with Children and Teens about death and the loss of someone in their life’, it is very important to use the proper terms when talking about death and dying, as to not to confuse or create fear in our little ones who might not understand what ‘gone’ or ‘has passed away’ mean. If you are curious about my perspective, or would like help with the upcoming or past death, please connect with me through my contact me page to request an appointment, as I would very much appreciate the opportunity to support you or answer any questions, comments or concerns you may have.
Through my work, I have noticed that there becomes this sense of loss after the death ceremony (funeral, burial, celebration, etc.) has ended – as though there is nothing left to do and now each person must sit and experience their grief. Waiting, hoping, that they can get through the next year, and find a way to live without the person now that they have died. It is not about waiting for the year to pass, struggling to get through the painful memories and feelings. It is through turning towards your grief and expressing it to the world that will aid in the journey of life without your person. I hope that some, any of the ideas posted in this blog will help you and your loved ones to honour, acknowledge, and remember your person as you heal your heart and soul. Remember that you do not have to go this journey alone. Please feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment.
The experience we have as human beings after the loss of someone in our lives can, at times, feel unbearable. This is true for both a physical death and a death of a relationship. The relief comes in knowing that those feelings will not last forever; we cannot cry forever, and our hearts will not be broken forever. It is my hope that something, anything in this blog will help alleviate your suffering for a moment; to give you a moment of support, clarity, and relief. Remember that you do not have to go this journey alone. Please feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment.
As our world becomes further integrated and mixed, so do our traditions and options. In the past we may have experienced one or two different types of services, but today – we have a multitude of options that may represent our person more appropriately. Having these conversations before the death of your person can help to alleviate the planning after the death while grieving. It is my hope that something, anything from this blog may help you and those around you plan a service. Remember that you do not have to go this journey alone. Please feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment.
How do you say goodbye to those you love? How do you come to terms knowing that you will no longer be? How do you reconcile the ‘I wish I had’s…’ and the ‘I wish I could have changed…’? As you proceed through the end of your days, I want to thank you for the life that you have lived, and hope that something, anything from this blog may help you come to a place of peace before your passing. Remember that you do not have to go this journey alone. Please feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment.
Knowing that someone in your life is going to die can be an emotionally draining time – your life sits in suspension, waiting. This can feel quite lonely and isolating but it doesn’t have to be. My hope is that something, anything from this blog may help you and support you during this strenuous time. Remember that you do not have to go this journey alone. Please feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment.