Practicing self-Reiki really helped me when I was grieving the deaths of my loved ones. I truly believe it really helped to keep me in better health during those times . Do I have any way to scientifically prove it? Not really other than I felt calmer, slept better and didn’t get sick during those two very difficult periods in my life. Maybe that is proof enough self-Reiki worked for me.
SELF-REIKI AT HOME
So how did I do it? First of all, I got myself into a routine. Having a routine made it second nature. I didn’t have to make myself remember. It just happened. This makes it a no-brainer when you are grieving and can barely remember what day it is. I just made sure I practiced self-Reiki every morning when I was in the shower. It only took 5 – 10 minutes. I used one particular symbol and drew it in the air from my head to my feet. I then drew the symbol to cover my whole body. I finished up by giving thanks for the beautiful day ahead. Over time, it became a matter of habit. This helped me to start my days in a better place both emotionally and physically.
SELF-REIKI AT WORK
Once I got to work however, it became another story. I don’t know about you but it is really tough to work when you are grieving. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like crying for no reason. I also seemed to be on a very short fuse. Most employers don’t give much bereavement time. In fact, if it’s a friend who has died, you really don’t get any bereavement time at all. So I went to work and tried to get through the day but the grief was always with me.
During those moments when it hit the hardest, I would go into my office and close the door. I would place my right hand over my heart and my left hand over my stomach. I would take a few deep breaths. I would send myself Reiki to stay calm and balanced. If I couldn’t escape completely, I would at least try to walk outside for 5 minutes. Just being in the fresh air can relax and rejuvenate you. Both of these techniques kept me from falling apart at work when I couldn’t get through the day.
Again, practicing self-Reiki didn’t take all my sadness away when I was grieving but it did help me find a place of peace within myself. This place of peace helped me to move forward on my grief journey one step-at-a-time.
It’s that time of year again when children are heading off to college. It may be the first time a son or daughter is leaving home. For parents facing an “empty nest”, life can become a huge grieving event. It can be devastating but in some ways, also liberating. The deep sense of missing your child can be overwhelming. Maybe this is even surprising. Never thought you’d miss not having to step over the pile of dirty clothes in the hallway did you? Never thought you’d long for the laughter of high school girls gathering in your living room to watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette on Monday nights? Just driving by the track or soccer field where you spent most of your weekends now brings you to tears. It feels like your life has been swept out from under you. Of course it is not surprising you are hurting when you have been fully integrated into your child’s life for the last 18 years. Now what are you supposed to do? Spend time with your spouse? Take up underwater basket weaving? Take that long awaited trip to Europe?
As parents, we should look at the empty nest syndrome as an opportunity to complete this chapter in our life, embrace it and move forward. Face your grief. Be sad. Don’t isolate yourself but participate in life. Re-discover what you like to do. Find your identity. Remember you are not broken just sad and that is perfectly normal and healthy.
Our gut reaction may be to try to “suck it up” and pretend like everything is ok. We smile when we are asked how we are doing. “Just fine” comes out of our mouth even when we don’t feel that way. When asked about our college student we try not to tear up. Everything is “great” we say while gritting our teeth. We may avoid going out so we don’t run into anyone who may ask about them. That would certainly bring on the tears. In reality, these responses are only hurting us. They are masking what we are really feeling. Sadness. Pain. Loneliness.
Even worse, we pretend everything is “fine” when we talk to our college student. Wouldn’t want to upset them. They probably don’t care anyway. Too much fun in college. We’re sure they don’t even miss us. So we call, but not too much. We text, but only occasionally. We make sure we don’t leave tearful voicemails on their cell phones. When we haven’t heard from them for a few days, we try not to panic. We plan a trip so we can go see them, then count the days until it happens. Deep down we are still sad and hurting.
CHILDREN GRIEVE TOO
As hard as it is for us, we forget it is also hard for our child. They too go through a sense of loss once they leave home. Home – the place they couldn’t wait leave – now becomes a place they begin to miss terribly. No more home cooked meals. No more Mom or Dad bugging them to make their beds. No hugs just because. They try to be strong. They grieve alone. Wouldn’t want to other kids to see they are homesick. Not cool. They don’t let us know because they know how sad we are already.
From a grief recovery perspective it is best for everyone to face their grief. It is ok to be sad whether you are the “empty nest” parent or the child away at college. Sharing your grief as a family brings healing. Talk about it. Know that it is ok. In fact that it is even better if you grieve together. My daughter gave me the biggest HUG when I finally saw her six weeks after she became a college freshman. Schools plan those Parent Weekends at six weeks for a reason. It’s about the time that college freshman really begin to miss their families. That HUG from my daughter told me everything I needed to know.
If you aren’t an empty nester but are a friend of one, listen and be supportive. Hand them a kleenex when you are at lunch and let those few tears roll down their cheek. Don’t try to intellectualize with them, just listen with your heart. They just need to talk about how they are feeling – not be fixed.
The same goes for the college student who may be also be facing a grieving event by moving away from home. As a parent, let them express how they feel. Listen and don’t try to fix them. Allow them to share their sadness. Then when you see them on Parent’s Weekend, just give them the BIGGEST HUG you can muster. That will say it all.
Words can’t describe how it feels to lose a pet. For many, a furry friend is a beloved member of their family. For others, their pet is the only family they have. Often when a pet passes away, people resort to incorrect mechanisms to deal with the grief. Sometimes they even attempt to replace the pet immediately. Unfortunately, there is little effective guidance for grieving pet owners. As a result, many pet grievers either isolate themselves or pretend like “everything is fine” for fear of being judged or criticized – especially by non-pet owners.
Another problem is that friends and family don’t know what to say to someone who lost their pet. Oftentimes they resort to statements that are not helpful at all to the griever like:
“It was only a dog (cat, fish, lizard, etc).”
“Don’t feel bad you can always get another dog (cat, fish, lizard, etc).”
“Just give it time and you won’t remember your dog (cat, fish, lizard, etc) anymore.”
In fact these statements are not useful at all. They are almost cruel. They actually break a grieving pet owner’s heart into a million more pieces. This is why many grieving pet owners often choose not to share their pain with anyone. Non-pet owners just wouldn’t understand the special bond they shared with their pet. They wouldn’t understand the feeling of unconditional love they received on a daily basis. It’s just too hard to explain so pet grievers find it easier to just bottle it up inside.
My first real experience with the death of a pet was when I was about 11 years old. We were living in England and had “adopted” a local cat and her kittens who were wandering around our neighborhood. One of the kittens was completely black. I fell in love with him. I called him Blackie. Blackie went everywhere with me. He had a collar and a leash and we would walk around the neighborhood, go to the park, and ride together in the car. We were inseparable. Then one day my parents told me that Blackie was sick and wasn’t going to get better. Not get better? How was that possible? He was just a kitten and hadn’t even gone through one of his nine lives yet. This couldn’t be happening. I had no idea he was sick. I was completely devastated.
After my parents told me Blackie was going to die, I remember sitting with him in the living room. I just held him while the saddest song from the Disney movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” played on the record player. I played that song over and over again. I just held Blackie while listening to the sad music. I cried and cried. I didn’t understand how he got sick or why he was sick (my parents told me he had feline leukemia). The next day he was gone. I just knew my heart was broken.
Here is the song “Hushabye Mountain” I played to Blackie over and over again (Note: This is more proof that time doesn’t heal grief because I cried just like I was 11 years old again while posting this video):
The heartbreak and pain stuck with me for a long time. Having other cats around didn’t make it easier. In fact it didn’t help. It just made me miss him even more. The others cats weren’t my Blackie. Blackie was my cat. Blackie was my best friend. I could talk to him about everything. My school. My sister. My parents. My friends. He listened and just cuddled up to me as if to say it would all be okay. I felt so alone.
Now that I think about it, I am glad I allowed myself to openly grieve for Blackie. From what I can remember, my family was supportive. They didn’t make me feel like I was doing something wrong or that I needed to get over it. They let me play Hushabye Mountain over and over again. I am very thankful for this because their support helped set the stage for how I would face loss and grief over the years.
Here are some things we need to keep in mind when losing a pet:
In any household in which a pet has died, it is important to remember that each family member will have a different reaction to the loss. Each relationship to the pet was unique, so each person’s grief will be unique to them. This needs to be respected and honored. Never compare your reaction to that of another family member.
Talk openly and honestly about the loss. Trying to hide your feelings will only make it confusing – especially if you have children.
Don’t turn to short-term energy relieving behaviors (STERBs) – anger, alcohol, drugs, shopping, etc.- to deal with the loss. These only make you feel better for a little while and don’t help you to “complete” the relationship you had with your pet – i.e. face your grief.
Remember that although your pet is no longer here physically, we continue to have an emotional and spiritual relationship with them. These aspects of the relationship need to be “complete” so memories of your pet don’t turn painful.
Being in pain over the death of your pet is not an expression of love. Completing what was left unfinished (especially if your pet died tragically – hit by a car, etc.), will get you out of the pain. You will still have sad and happy memories, but those memories will no longer turn painful.
Never use the word “guilt” or say that you “feel guilty.” Guilt implies intent to harm, and most pet owners would never do anything maliciously to harm their pet. A better descriptor would be “unresolved grief” – things you wish you had or hadn’t done with your pet. Unresolved grief is very different from guilt.
Think of those things you wish you could apologize for (“I am sorry I yelled at you when I got home from a bad day at work”), forgive (“I forgive you for ripping up my favorite pair of shoes”) or wished you had said to your pet (“I loved how you used to greet me when I came home. It was the best feeling in the world”).
If you are having a difficult time, you are not alone. The Grief Recovery Method®, through their Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss, offers a structured action plan to help grieving pet owners discover and complete what was left emotionally unfinished and ultimately, have fond memories of your beloved pet not turn painful.