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Posts by Evelyn Pechter, Psy.D.

The Subtle Power Of Tradition

Have you ever heard something that speaks to you so deeply that you’re compelled to stop and think about it over and over? That was how I felt recently after listening to Rabbi Naomi Levy’s sermon at a Nashuva service online.

She spoke of her childhood, how she was the youngest of four siblings and the youngest of nine grandchildren. Her family lived on the ground floor. The family of an aunt and uncle lived above them and another aunt and uncle’s family lived next door. The grandparents lived next door to them. In 2nd grade, she was given a dress to wear for class photos. She went next door and saw a picture laying on the table of one of her cousins wearing the dress. She exclaimed, “Cindy is in my dress!” Her Aunt Leah said, “No, actually Cindy is wearing a dress that came from her sister Mimi and now from Cindy to you.”

The Visitor Who Demands Attention

When someone’s spouse or partner dies, people naturally reach out with unbridled sympathy. When someone’s parent dies, though, people can inadvertently couch their sympathy in ways that may not be helpful. Your mom died? That’s life!

There is one common denominator, though, to losing a spouse or a parent: your grief demands attention, now or later — your choice.

Is That Your Heart You’ve Been Ignoring?

Have you heard the phrase “Driven to distraction?” It’s a common reality for many. Grief brings worries, fears, anxiety, plus the pain of being alone. Being alone is one of the most difficult aspects of loss of a loved one. Now with the pandemic and physically needing to social distance, there is more alone time. With that is a craving of distractions to keep the mind busy. And understandably so. No one wants to feel the pain of grief and being alone.

Holidays and Holding Two Feelings — Grief and Gratitude

“There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this.” — N. Kazan There are indeed events that divide your life into “before and after.” And holidays often make you realize the significance of the event you’ve experienced. If you’re grieving, holidays —…

Me, Myself and… Who Am I?

Take a moment and ask yourself an important heartfelt question: What is my purpose?

There may even be many parts to that question. What links me to community? Who am I now? Where do I belong? What is important to me?

These are all very important questions, and perhaps until now you’ve been someone who knew yourself, or at least thought you did. Now your grief, the loss of your loved one, has zapped your confidence. As you begin the next step on your unexpected journey, you may not be sure who you are, nor what your purpose is or what that purpose could be. It’s not easy to see your evolving identity and purpose through the grief, yet creating or re-creating purpose is a worthy goal. If you are asking yourself questions about what your purpose is, perhaps you are also saying you want to find meaning in your life now.

Finding Your Voice Again

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Grief has a way of sapping confidence. With sapped confidence, you may not feel willing to speak what’s on your mind and in your heart. It’s too painful to speak.

Perhaps you are thinking you don’t want to burden anyone? Or that they won’t understand anyway so what’s the use. Then, without even realizing, little by little you give your voice to someone else. You let them speak for you and the way you feel. The confidence you once had seems so distant now.

My Parent Died – What Do I Do Now?

A few questions and answers

I didn’t have a good relationship with my mother. Now that she’s died, I’m confused — why do I feel the grief and guilt that I feel?

Relationships are often complicated, especially when there has been conflict. When a relationship is complicated, volatile, even abusive, there is a grief process that needs attention. Your grief is a way of expressing feelings that perhaps did not get that attention while your parent was alive. Perhaps the guilt you feel is a way of acknowledging that you would have liked a different relationship. In difficult relationships with parents, there is often a lot that was unsaid. In a grief group, you have the opportunity to process those unsaid words in a safe environment. You may find that you are not alone and more importantly you and your feelings find support.

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