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.