Tag Archives: Loss

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How Grief Walking Saved Me

How “Grief Walking” Saved Me

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Walking, or “grief walking” as I call it, saved me when I was grieving. Somehow it opened up the door to my emotions. Every feeling I had tried to push down or avoid came rising to the surface. I found myself crying and walking. I didn’t care who saw me. I walked. Then I walked some more. Unknowingly I was walking myself towards healing. My grief journey had truly begun.

BENEFITS OF WALKING WHEN YOUR ARE GRIEVING

Since grief is an energy-depleting emotion, walking outside can help to replenish your energy. It can refresh and rejuvenate you. It doesn’t even have to be a long walk. Go around the block. Go to the end of your street. Stand in your driveway. Sit on your front porch. Every little bit of time you spend walking will help you to feel better. It can improve sleep, increase energy, and improve the overall quality of your life. The best thing about it is that you can walk anywhere and at anytime.

Promotes Feelings of Calmness – Grief can send your world into a tailspin. Studies have shown that walking helps to promote feelings of calmness by helping you to be more grounded. Being grounded fills you with a sense of stability which leads to feeling emotionally calm.

Decreases Health Risks – Grief can contribute to toxins lodging in your cells, soft tissues, and muscles, overwhelming your entire immune system. The impact of not eliminating these toxins can leave you more susceptible to illness. The American Diabetes Association says walking lowers your blood sugar levels and your overall risk for diabetes. Researchers at the University of Boulder Colorado and the University of Tennessee found that regular walking lowered blood pressure by as much as 11 points and may reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%.

Improves Your Mood – Grief can overwhelm your mind in many ways. Research shows that regular walking releases natural pain­killing endorphins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise. This actually modifies your nervous system so much that you’ll experience a decrease in anger which can be a side-effect of grief.

Increases Your Metabolism – You may feel like you are in a constant state of fatigue when you are grieving. Daily walking increases your metabolism by burning extra calories and by increasing your energy levels.

Strengthen Bones and Muscles – Walking strengthens your bones and muscles to improve your balance. This can be a real benefit when you are grieving. Having good balance helps you to avoid accidents. If you are like me, you may already have a hard enough time just walking or going up/down stairs when things are normal. Add the effects of grieving, and you can become an accident waiting to happen. Walking a few times a week can help you remain coordinated and avoid a nasty injury.

Improves Sleep – Disrupted sleep can be a huge issue when you are grieving. An easy-paced, late night stroll can relax your body and clear your mind so you can fall asleep.

Boosts Immune Functions – Grievers are more susceptible to illness. Walking can provide protection during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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Helping Our Children Grieve

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How can we better understand childhood loss in order to help our children with grief? As a society we haven’t done a very good job. We encourage children to express joy when they are happy; but we discourage them from expressing their sadness when they are unhappy. These mixed messages have contributed to most of us growing into adults who try to cover up our heartbreak. We walk around pretending we are okay; or worse yet, we turn to short term energy-relieving behaviors (like alcohol, drugs, shopping, anger, etc.) to “numb the pain.” These behaviors do little to help address our grief in the long run.

MOST COMMON CHILDHOOD LOSSES 

The Grief Recovery Method® lists the following as the most common losses experienced by a child:

Death of a pet

Death of a grandparent

Major move

Divorce of parents

Death of a parent

How can we better help our children grow into adults who can deal with these losses? It may be hard for many of us to change, but our children need us to take the lead when it comes to loss. We have to learn to replace our old behaviors with new ones when it comes to grief. This means we need to look long and hard about how we deal with and react to loss in our own lives. If we can do that, our children have more of chance of being successful in their own lives. The book When Children Grieve states, “Establishing a foundation for effectively dealing with loss can be one of the greatest gifts you give you child.”

WAYS TO HELP A GRIEVING CHILD

Here are six ways you can help a child who is grieving:

Allow all emotions to be expressed, without judgment, criticism, or analysis.

Avoid the trap of asking a child what is wrong since he or she will automatically say, “Nothing.”

Adults – Go first. Telling the truth about your own grief will make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings.

Remember the reaction a child has is unique to them. If you have more than one child, respect that each of their reactions will probably be different.

Acknowledge your child’s emotions before addressing the facts.  Listen with your heart and not your head. If your child brings up the same issue over and over again, it means they are not being heard.

Make sure your verbal and non-verbal communications match. Children may respond incorrectly to their loss if they feel you are teaching them to “do as I say, not as I do.”

Our children look up to us. They tend to do as we do. It’s important that as adults, we communicate accurately about our emotions so that our children can see, copy and learn. Helping them will ensure they can more effectively deal with grief and loss events throughout their lives.

If you are interested in learning more, watch our FREE WEBINAR Helping Children Grieve presented by The Grief Reiki Academy.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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Pet Loss

Why Pet Loss Is So Hard

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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. These are a few reasons why pet loss can be so hard.

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.

HOW OTHERS REACT

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.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

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.

DEALING WITH PET LOSS WEBINAR

The WEBINAR from The Grief Reiki® Academy will:

– Discover how society treats grieving pet owners.

– Better understand why it is so hard to lose a pet.

– Learn what to say and do (and what not to say and do) for a grieving pet owner.

Bottom line, grieve for your furry friend. Be sad.

Remember the time you spent with them. Hold them in your heart forever.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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