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Wordless Grief — The Body Remembers

By Martha Carr, Psy.D., LMFT

It’s 11:38 pm and I am jolted awake by an earthquake. It’s so rough it feels like I am thrown straight up in the air, taking me out of slumber instantly. My brain scrambles to figure out what is happening and, while I am still moving, my right arm instinctively and spontaneously reaches out, grabbing for Richard. For 42 years he slept to the right of me. The bed is empty of course. It’s been empty for four years. It takes me a few seconds to reconcile the two realities – the one in which he is still there and the one in which he is gone. My heart breaks a little again as consciousness brings me into the actuality of my life.

A Thanksgiving Gratitude Journal

Download the Gratitude Calendar

As Thanksgiving approaches you may wonder what you have to be grateful for. If you have recently lost your spouse or another loved one, this may be the first significant holiday you’ve spent without them. Your grief may be so fresh that it’s hard to feel anything else. If some time has passed since your loved one died, this is still going to be a strange, perhaps surreal holiday season. The pandemic is raging anew, even while there is hope on the horizon for a vaccine. But that is in the future — this is now. What is there to be grateful for this very day? Discovering — or rediscovering — gratitude can actually be a simple and thoughtful process, beginning with a Gratitude Journal. Download this Gratitude Calendar — created by HOPE therapist Lori Oberman — and use it daily as inspiration for your Gratitude Journal. Day by day you may discover the healing power of gratitude — an especially miraculous gift at this time of the year. Wishing you all the blessings of this season — All of us at HOPE Connection.

Self Compassion

By Andy Smallman

Andy Smallman is a long-time educator, advocate for healthy human development and founding director of the Puget Sound Community School.

People who have experienced the death of a loved one understand what it means to feel as if one’s walls are closing in. The more recent the death, the more significant this feeling often is, although emotional reminders of the loved one sometimes surprise us years later by how powerful the feelings are.

Empathy vs. Sympathy

There is a reason that the word Connection is part of our name — Hope Connection. You could easily make the case that Connection is, in its own way, just as important as Hope.

Nowhere is the power of connection more apparent than in the difference between two seemingly similar emotions: Empathy and sympathy. Dr. Brene Brown has a wonderful video where she explores the difference between the two emotions, which she says “are not just two different approaches to confronting the emotional challenges of others; they are diametrically opposite responses in many important ways. Sympathy places another’s problems at a distance from us, places us in a position of superiority, and ‘drives separation.’ Empathy, on the other hand, requires that one internalize the feelings of another. That shared experience drives interpersonal connection.”

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.

Shoulder Taps

Do you ever get an intuitive feeling, a little voice in your head, that tells you to do something, say something, that is completely out of your comfort zone? Have you ever acted on that feeling? Maybe you should, says Bill Hart, in this short but compelling video — Shoulder Taps.

Living Life In The Improv Zone

Skim through any adult education bulletin and you will see every kind of subject imaginable with a couple exceptions. It is next to impossible to find a listing for a course in Improvisation. This is not a big surprise. Unless you are an actor, you probably would flee from a class where you are in the spotlight without a clue of what will be happening or how you are supposed to respond.

Smaller Footprints

“The belongings she has collected during her lifetime are her footprints left behind.”

The thought of going through your loved one’s possessions, acquired over the course of their lifetime, can be daunting and emotionally overwhelming. The thought of letting go of these acquired belongings may feel like you are erasing their footprints. How does one stay connected, while also letting go?

A Moment’s Peace — Through Laughter Yoga

Using humor as a tool to cope with grief is closely associated with another movement: laughter yoga. A medical doctor from India, Dr. Madan Kataria, developed the practice of laugher yoga and it has spread across 100 countries. Adherents say that the scientifically proven benefits range from reducing blood pressure to strengthening the immune system. You can learn all about the techniques at the Laughter Yoga University.