Finding grace, tact and empowerment

We have all had the experience where we have been annoyed, offended, hurt, saddened or angered by another. How can we handle the situation and ourselves so that we exercise, grace, tact, and possibly even advocate for change in the world?
Together, let’s explore some strategies which we can adopt to both heal our hearts and move forward in the best manner possible.
Judgment.
It is simply not necessary to introduce judgment into everything. To understand someone’s intention you’d have to fully understand them. How can we possibly know what is in the heart and mind of another? Many times, we and others act without forethought, without conscious intention. Sometimes, our emotions overtake us. A lot of the time, we barely even know ourselves! Broken people hurt other people. Can we really judge them for that?
If, for example, someone is ill, do we judge them for being ill? Do we hold their illness against them? No, of course not! It wasn’t that person’s choice to become ill.
By the same token, perhaps, that person we are so quick to judge hasn’t made a conscious decision to be where they are. Maybe, they themselves don’t even know how or why they ended up where they are. Can we blame people for not knowing what they don’t know?

Boundaries.
If you can’t handle yourself in the company of a person, then it is necessary for you to enact a boundary for the well-being of both yourself and that other person. If you can’t keep your emotions in check, it may be best to distance yourself until you have found some healing for yourself.
We want to spend time with people who motivate us to be our best selves, because we want to bring our best selves to the world.
We do not need to keep people who have harmed us in our lives. We can set boundaries. We can’t possibly have time and energy for all people anyway. We must, however, ensure that we make time for ourselves in our own lives, we must engage in self-care. Self-care is particularly important when we are hurting.
Vengeance.
We have all heard the saying that “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” and it is true: Hate breeds hate. Hate will not heal. It will not heal you, and it will not heal them.
If a person is broken, that person needs healing. They need your love more than they need your hate. Hate will not break a negative cycle, but love may make a difference. Even if you don’t know how to love a person, don’t treat them with hate. Treating them with hate chances them also losing the ability to love themselves.
People who don’t love themselves are often volatile and at risk of poor choices and behavior. Don’t make the problem worse. Don’t treat people the way they have treated you. Treat them the way you wish to be treated instead. Don’t become that which you hate.

Expectations.
Don’t give with expectation. Don’t help someone expecting them to return the favor. Don’t expect them to change. If you have helped leave it at that. Your intention was to help. Your intention is not the outcome.
You’ve done your part. More than that, you haven’t added to the problem. That’s quite something all in itself!
Compassion.
It is easy to love people who are easy to love. The real challenge is to love those who have hurt or harmed you. Love and compassion are not circumstantial. You don’t have to understand people in order to love them. You don’t even have to like them or agree with their actions.
Remember the human beneath. We do not know what may be tormenting a person’s soul.
You can love others with a compassionate heart. Never underestimate the power of kindness and compassion.
Forgiveness.
Don’t carry the darkness of hate in your heart. It will harm you. That anger will seep into every aspect of your life. It will taint everything.
Instead, work through your emotions. Find forgiveness and let go. Don’t hang on to things. Don’t bring the past into the present. When we bring the past with us, we diminish our presence in the moment.
Learn to let go. Forgiveness is for you, not them. Forgiveness does not mean you condone or agree with what someone has done. Don’t replay that which has hurt you over and over again. Don’t torment yourself further. You deserve peace.
Remember, you have the power to make a difference. Your very words and actions can effect change.

Don’t be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution instead.  Be defined by love in all you say and do.

conifer daylight environment evergreen
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Akiroq Brost – inspirational writer

 

When a sibling dies

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland
It has been said that “death ends a life, it does not end a relationship.

This statement is perhaps especially true when a sibling dies in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood.  An untimely death whose ripple effects may continue long after the farewell at the funeral or graveside.

Sibling relationships have attributes in common with all interpersonal relationships.  They also have specific unique features that reflect a special bond.

It has been suggested that siblings are likely to spend more of their lifespans with each other than with any other family member.

Siblings may use each other as significant influences, ‘benchmarks’ in the development of self- identity and understanding of the world.  Siblings play a crucial role in the development of identity.  Their relationships help define one another.

Consequently when a sibling dies, the surviving child or adolescent loses many things…a playmate, a confidante, a role model, and a friend…even someone to argue with and someone with whom they can  ‘gang up’ against parents.

Perhaps someone to grow old with, look after aging parents together.  They lose a shared history and future, a feeling of connectedness and shared activities.

The identity of siblings is frequently so intricately connected with the death of a sibling it may feel like the death of a part of themselves.  The grief of young people may at times be minimised, overlooked or misinterpreted.

The familiar pattern of their lives as for adults is forever changed.  They may feel inexpressively lonely and lost.  They may also feel regret and guilt, as adults sometimes do, wishing they had done things differently.

Life views may be challenged, e.g. that only old people die, that adults can always make things better and keep everyone safe.  It can be very unsettling for young folk and they, like adults, need time and help to relearn their new world.

How each child or adolescent responds to the death of a sibling will be influenced by a range of factors, including their age, their gender, previous experience of loss, the reactions of adults around them, individual personality, the nature of the death and the nature of the relationship they experienced with the child who has died.

It is difficult, in the early months, to feel connected to someone who is no longer physically present.  There may be for older children and adolescents, an expressed fear of ‘forgetting’.  The permanence of a ‘heart connection’ seems less than a physical presence, a person that can be touched and loved, played with and kissed.  Children and adolescents, like adults, may like to surround themselves with photos or mementos to trigger and reinforce the strength of memories.

“Eventually and gradually, there is a growing knowledge that those who have died are, always have been, and always will be a part of who we are, that no-one can take from us what we carry within.” (Dianne McKissock)

In years past, it was thought that we need to ‘leave things/people behind’, and ‘get on with our lives’.  Nothing could be further from the natural inclinations of most bereaved people, for whom ‘leaving behind’ is a most painful concept.

Current understandings about grief and the task of readjusting to a world forever changed, place more emphasis on the natural human tendency to want to stay connected in some way, to take those who have died with us into our tomorrows, albeit in a different way.

It is now more widely accepted that maintaining an ongoing connection and relationship with the person who is died is often an integral part of a healthy and successful readjustment.

For years following the death, many siblings may report that they continue to actively miss their deceased brother or sister and often experience renewed and intense grief on occasions that would be considered significant in their lives together (e.g. graduation, births, weddings, retirement, special birthdays).  Surviving siblings continually renegotiate their ‘relationship’ with their deceased sibling as they navigate successive developmental and life stages.

The whole family is heartbroken and disrupted by the death of a child.  The family, as individuals and as a unit, must restructure and readjust.  How parents model managing their grief will influence how surviving children manage.

Open communication, a sense of togetherness and parental support is crucial as is the help received from extended family and friends.

The impact of a child’s death is pervasive.  As with adults, not all children and adolescents react in the same way.

Some points to consider:

  • Children are less likely to be able to describe their emotions and/or reactions.  They show their hurt in other ways, e.g. crying, withdrawing, seeking attention, misbehaving, complaining of aches and pains, picking fights, arguing, having nightmares.
  • Age and development significantly influence a young person’s ability to understand death.  Adults with all their life experience and complete development will frequently feel overwhelmed by the enormity and finality of death.  It, therefore, can become puzzling and confusing for children.
  • A sense of normalcy is lost.  Bereaved children may feel very different from their peers:  the family may feel different.
  • At times children may feel that the child who has died was the preferred or favourite child, mainly as they observe parents become preoccupied or all consumed by their grief.
  • Sometimes the child who dies is idealised, their admirable qualities emphasised and surviving siblings may feel inadequate in comparison.
  • Often the rest of the world asks how the parents are doing, not recognising or validating the grief of surviving children.  Siblings work through their pain in bits and pieces.  Play, school and continuing normal activities are powerful tools that help children and adolescents manage by moderating their grief, allowing them a chance ‘to be normal’.
  • Children and adolescents will reprocess the death and its impact over time as they mature and develop.
  • Some siblings are not verbal in expressing their thoughts and feelings.  They may choose not to talk much about their sibling who has died.  Sometimes, protectively, they may choose not to talk to parents and may turn to others instead.
  • Life for adults, ‘sibling’ memories may be triggered by places, objects and songs.  It is important to prepare siblings for these experiences and let them know this is normal.  It may even be useful to share your own parental triggers.
  • Many children report thinking about their sibling at special family times.  It may be helpful to anticipate this beforehand and talk about these important life events and the absence everyone feels.
  • Children may be encouraged to carry their sibling’s photograph or other small link that brings a touch of comfort.
  • Many children continue to talk to their sibling quietly internally.
  • Some prefer to start journals.

There are no right or wrong, “set’ ways to foster a sense of connectedness.  Rather an atmosphere of tolerance, encouragement and open communication are most likely to enable bereaved siblings to find personal and special ways to stay connected to their brother or sisters.

It is important to note that as this is a process that changes and evolves over a lifetime as do the needs of the grieving child.

A child who dies remains an integral part of an individual’s and a family’s past and present.  The bond in future will of course be different with change and the challenge for survivors is how to be and act in a world without those we love by our side in the physical.

grayscale photo of baby feet with father and mother hands in heart signs
Thanks to my good friend and colleague Vera Russell.

Supporting Grieving Adolescents

fantastic-wallpaper-with-butterflieMany bereaved families may have surviving adolescent children who are mourning the loss of their brother or sister.

This is often new territory both for the teenager and also for the parents trying to work out our best to care for them especially when they are feeling so emotionally depleted.

Some things to think about:

1. Grief is not always visible

Grief is not just the outward display of emotion. It is also the thoughts and behaviours that we experience in response to the death of someone we love.
As adolescents are in the process of becoming more independent of their parents and other important adults, they may at times feel reluctant to show feelings or talk about their thoughts as it can reinforce a sense of dependence and vulnerability. They may also choose to inhibit some of their thoughts and feelings out of a desire to protect their families. They may also prefer to share their experiences with their peer group.

Strategy: Be available

It is when we are listened to and heard is when we feel most understood. Create a home environment where open communication is encouraged. Convey to them that it is okay to have the thoughts and feelings that they may have and that you will be available should they decide to let you know what is going on with them.
As with adults, at the beginning of grief, it is sometimes very difficult to communicate what we are thinking and feeling…it is no less difficult for adolescents who have less life experience than adults and who, when they are feeling vulnerable may find it difficult to put things into words.

2. Don’t try to “fix” the pain associated with grief

It is difficult and uncomfortable for parents to witness the pain of their children. They usually want life to be okay for their children and are pained by what they see and uncomfortable about the helplessness it can create in them. This means that we may want to take away or fix the pain of those we love. This may take the form of avoiding conversation about the person who has died or distracting them from thinking or feeling their pain. While this may be momentarily effective, it can result in the adolescent hiding their grief or withdrawing or expressing their grief in destructive ways.

Strategy: Talk about the loss

Invite the adolescent to talk about the person who died. Encourage questions. Should the teenager not want to talk, respect this. Offer others that they may speak with about their feelings.
Always answer questions honestly and clearly. If you do not know the answer to something, say so. Share your memories, thoughts, beliefs and don’t expect that your teenager will always see things as you do.

3) Understand that grief does not proceed in orderly predictable stages.

Young people grieve in doses. Like with adults, their grief is more likely to go in waves. Sometimes adolescents may have outbursts of grief after a period when they have seemed perfectly okay. Know that this is normal. Their grief like yours, may at times seem unpredictable. They are no better at grieving or making sense of the world than adults. The difference is that they may seem unaffected for periods of time and a burst of emotion can catch parents unawares.

Strategy: Allow for adjustment

Because grief does not proceed in an orderly fashion, teenagers need to be allowed leeway as they adjust to a life forever changed. Providing a secure, consistent environment with predictable routines is important. This helps to generate a renewed feeling of safety and security. Be aware of any danger signs such as violence, drug and alcohol abuse, risk-taking behaviour or dramatic changes in personality. Seek help when necessary.

4) Model Healthy Grief

Like all of us, adolescents learn from those around them. They will pick up implicit and explicit messages from those around them on how to grieve. This is how they think they should behave or are expected to behave. They take their cues from important grown-ups in their lives (even if they do not look like they are paying attention).

Strategy: Mourn together

Be aware of the messages that they may be receiving from those around them about how to grieve and offer alternatives when appropriate.
The more adolescents observe healthy communication and the appropriate expression of the many feelings associated with loss, the more likely they may understand, accept and manage the breadth of emotions and thoughts they may have.

Try as much as possible to consider what things might look like from their perspective. Give thought to the closeness of the relationship your teenager shared with their brother or sister. Acknowledge the deep loss it is for them too.

When you can, in the midst of your grief, set aside time, attention and availability for the adolescent. That does not necessarily mean talking about the death but maybe just time spent together doing something that is fun and thereby communicating that they matter and they too are important.

Finally, remember that this is new for all of you and that there will be some trial and error as families become better able to take care of each other.

A mother’s tale of growth after the death of her son…

The below writing is a heartfelt story from a mother who has buried her child; I include her story in its entirety simply because her message is so very important.  Apart from some grammatical errors, nothing has been changed.

 

A Story from Elise and her beloved son Luke who now resides in the realm of spirit.

I wrote the following FB post a few months after two incredible experiences that shifted my grief journey into a much lighter, grateful, and peaceful place.   Last August I did a type of grief therapy called Repair & Reattachment Grief Therapy with Rochelle Wright, she wrote a book about it with Craig Hogan.   (I know, without a doubt. I was lead to her by my Luke, but that is a whole other story); it re-framed all of the terrible memories of my son’s last hours on earth.   The bad memories are completely gone and replaced with amazing new memories of me with my boy.

Then only a month later, I attended the Afterlife Research and Education Symposium (again, a ton of signs lead me there including Rochelle asking to talk about Luke and me in her presentation at the conference).   Both the therapy and the conference were the first time I had travelled anywhere since Luke passed.   I had a ton of anxiety about travelling and leaving my young son and while it had been over 2.5 years and I almost cancelled both trips right before, but I was completely pushed to go by Luke/Spirit.

It turned out to be completely life-changing for me. I think learning all we can about the afterlife and becoming truly grateful for our earth experiences can shift us into a life filled with supernatural miracles instead of just human suffering. May you find comfort if you choose to read further. I am so thankful for my sweet, beautiful boy who was my teacher then and continues to be now. ❤️

 

I have been mulling some things over the past couple months and thought I would write it out hoping it may help someone else. I have had quite an intense shift in my perspective which has made my life and my grief journey so much better. In mid-September, I attended the Afterlife Research and Education Symposium in Scottsdale, Arizona.

 

For the first time, I was surrounded by people (a lot of them…over 500) who believe that our deceased loved ones still exist and are interacting with us with signs and messages of love.   Yes, they have shed their physical bodies, but their Spirits are alive and well on “the other side.” Spiritual signs are not new to me.   I experience so many spiritual communications between myself with my boy Luke in my daily life.

 

I kind of feel like a “weirdo” for thinking this which is quite odd to me because many people and most religions do believe in life after death but seem not to have much to say about the people who have transitioned over. It was very comforting for me to be in a place where I felt like I belonged and where the atmosphere radiated loving energy.

Most of the people at this conference had lost someone incredibly important to them which lead them to seek out learning more about the afterlife, and I met several sweet grieving mothers while there.   One conversation, in particular, did get me thinking because I was a bit surprised at what I said.   I sat down about 10 minutes early before the presentations on Saturday afternoon began.  Another young woman sitting next to me struck up a conversation. She asked me what brought me to the conference and I told her that my oldest son was in Spirit and of course her immediate reaction was sadness and response of “I am so sorry.”

I nodded and said thank you and then shocked myself by saying “Actually I am not sorry and let me explain why.” This writing may come out clumsy, so I apologize in advance but know it is all from my heart.   I will no longer say I am sorry about my beautiful boy Luke anymore and I will not let the moment of his physical death overshadow the amazing 5+ years he had on earth and the beautiful eternity he is experiencing now.

He was, and still is, my biggest blessing and I am not sorry about that at all. His life and “death” catapulted me into intense learning, growth, and transformation and I am not sorry about that. I had learned so much and am still learning and, even more important, yearn to learn which wasn’t even a concept in my life when Luke was still here physically.

The millions of beautiful moments I had with him while he was here on earth and the connection we continue to have completely trumped the moment of his physical death.

Yes, I still feel intense sadness that I do not get to talk with him and hold him and watch him grow up here on earth. I will never deny my longing to have him physically here, but my gratitude that he was mine in the first place and is mine forever makes it all worthwhile.  I have realized that I never fully comprehended what being thankful meant before.

I am so incredibly thankful for my beautiful sweet boy and all that he has taught me and continued to teach me. I am so thankful he chose me to be his Mama, and he gave me the gift of telling me that fact a week before his unexpected passing.   I am so blessed with such a special little boy with a supernatural understanding of Heaven, to the point where I know for a fact he came from Heaven and then went back again.

He was pure love and joy in human form, and his amazing soul still can shine his light down on me which gives me the energy to keep going. Yes, he left his earthly life earlier than what I would have liked, but I know God called him Home because his work here completed and that it is only because of him (in both physical presence and his spirit presence) that I am growing into the person I am now.

I may not yet know what I am here to accomplish, but I do know that it will be revealed in time and that Luke is with me every step of the way.   I still feel his incredible love and am surrounded by it and reminded of it daily. His signs of love reaffirm his existence, and I am so lucky that I know without a doubt that I will be with my boy again one day.

I used to wish for that day to come soon but I no longer do. I used to think that there was absolutely no way I could survive “x” number of years without my Luke but now know after surviving almost three years now and learning all that I have, that I can survive and WILL SURVIVE because my soul knows I still have work to do and lessons to learn.

I am letting my life unfold instead of trying to control everything as I did in the past. I know I will be lead to the places I need to go and to the people I need to meet for my continued healing and the healing of others. I am keeping myself open to whatever crosses my path and know that even when “bad” things happen, blessings can still abound.

I will always try to find the bit of good in what seems bad and to see the potential for growth in everything that occurs. Everyone has their journey and lessons to learn, and I am grateful to be able to share with you all that I have learned so far.

Sending blessings and love out to Facebook land today!

 

 

 

 

 

http://afterlifeinstitute.org/

#LovefromLuke
#ShiningLightParent
#StillRightHere

Photo by Lora Denton Photography ~ Sept. 2017