Tag: grief recovery

The value of connection

caraheart

Heart Art by Cara Mathia

This morning I went for a long walk at stupid o’clock because I’m fed-up of waking up too early and trying to get back to sleep, it doesn’t work.

So I thought I’d make better use of my time by exercising even if it was still dark outside. I met no one except a walker with a very ugly dog. Maybe it was the only time she felt all right to take the doggy out after all it was only 5.30am and she seemed surprised to see me!

I found as I walked I had space in my head to dwell on things I don’t normally dwell on. I thought about my granddaughter and Easter. We had been on Facetime the previous evening and we were talking about all sorts of things. How it was test week at school and how she didn’t like tests because she would get stuck sometimes.

Then we remembered that Easter was coming soon and she immediately started to tell me of the many Easter hunts she had experienced. Right down to the smallest detail of exactly where the tiny chocolates had been hidden in the garden by her granddad. She recalled so many lovely times with him in a perfectly natural and happy way.

It was clear that she still has a close connection to him even though he died when she was only six and she will be nine this year. She wasn’t sad, she was happy remembering him. It was a breath of fresh air to me. Children are so uninhibited and natural when they aren’t told how to feel about death. She just gets it somehow.

She was the same when I told her that the photo of her “Baba” fell from the shelf all by itself. She immediately said that he, Baba, had “floated up” and knocked it off. Makes me smile when I hear about the way she sees life. I love her explanations.

Back to my walk… As I stomped my way along the muddy fields and paths I was thinking how this word “connection” has run through my life in so many different ways. It is possible that it was simply this word alone that had attracted me to Kristie West’s work. Her definition of grief is G.R.I.E.F.

G. is for Gratitude

R. is for real Connection

I. is for Inspiration

E. is for Expression

F. is for Freedom

Real connection, that is what Carys and I had when she and I talked about her happy memories of her granddad and of hunting for chocolate Easter eggs in the garden.

There are a variety of ways in which to be connected to someone who has died without the need for any religious or spiritual beliefs. It could be by memory, by stories, by feeling. But the thing is if we really want to feel a genuine on going connection we have to be free from the pain of grief. Otherwise we wouldn’t want to go there, we wouldn’t be able to because as humans we are programmed to avoid pain, we turn away from pain, we would do anything not to feel pain of any kind if we could avoid it.

As the sun began to rise over the golf course I was remembering the first travel company we had which was called Travel Connexions. Then when that company folded we began another and called it East-West Connect because we did a lot of business in the Far East and India. Later we became Connect Consultancy as the business morphed more into Public Relations. And parallel to that I had my own separate business in the exercise world and called it Connect Studio.

On reflection it looks like I have pursued connection in one way or another all my life. But what does connection mean in the context of a death and why might it be of value? What I mean by connection is being joined in some way to that person even though they are dead. The reason it is important is because with such a connection we can continue to feel their presence. Why would anyone not want that?

Because I am lucky enough to have healed the pain of grief I can feel Mark’s presence in my life whenever I want. Not a day goes by without me thinking about, talking to and asking for advice from him just like I did when he was alive.

Plus I have the added benefit of grandchildren who are the living thread of connection that continue the family line forward to the next generation and beyond.

I am forever grateful.

With love

Josephine x

To find out more simply send me a message and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours. J

 

18/03/2016 More

The timing of death

bigstock_Woman_Contemplating_Her_Life_1133566

The other day I was reminded of how lots of people feel about the timing of a death. It was when a friend mentioned that she had lost any trust that she would be taken care of now that she had been diagnosed with a rare condition. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to recover and then die from her illness because she feels so let down by life and the universe. She thinks this way because someone she loved and adored died not so long ago. He had suffered from cancer and had tried every cure in the book but died anyway.

Understandably this death seemed wrong to her and she felt that it should never have happened. Her belief in her own healing was shattered because someone she loved had died at the “wrong time”.

Everyone finds death very upsetting, even devastating especially when it’s someone we love, no matter how old or young that person is. Some deaths are violent some are peaceful and they are always distressing. Death is also unpredictable. We don’t know when it will happen we only know that it will happen. (Unless we plan it of course and a tiny proportion of people do that).

Why is it we find the timing of death so hard to accept?

Is it because the whole idea of death is so difficult to grasp?

This remains true even when we have nursed someone through their illness and have been with them when they are in their final days and hours and minutes and seconds. It is very likely that we are left with the feeling or the belief that the timing was wrong. That our loved one should not have died right then. That this event was meant to happen at another time, later of course, sometime in the future, just not now.

This is not always the case, not everyone feels this way, especially when someone is old and frail, or suffering in pain. In those cases it is much easier to accept that death had to happen when it happened. But when someone we love dies young or in childhood or in the prime of life our reaction is often that this wasn’t right that death happened at the wrong time. How often do we hear “gone too soon, tragically struck down in the prime of life” etc.?

Grief is always difficult and it is made much harder to deal with when we hold to the belief that the person we love died at the wrong time. Thinking this way only serves to exacerbate our pain and make healing difficult.

We can never bring our loved one back even though we would like to do that. When I was in the midst of grief I can remember pleading for my husband to come back even though rationally I knew that this was impossible. I couldn’t accept that he had died when he died. I wanted him to die later when he was older. I was the one who should have died first. But actually this was not about him it was about me, and my fear of living life without him.

But it is possible to see what was good and positive about the time that he died. The obvious one is that he was no longer in the pain that had become unbearable.

He also didn’t have to worry anymore that his brain was no longer working. He found that aspect of his illness particularly difficult to bear as he had had a brilliant mind.

He didn’t have to deal with the stressful high profile court case that he was involved in that was going on at that time. Happily there was a successful conviction several months after his death.

He didn’t have to grow old. I’m positive he would not have enjoyed old age. So he will always be remembered as a vibrant good-looking guy.

He died before me, which is what he wanted.

In his last moments he experienced unconditional love and trust.

And there is so much more that was just plain good.

I mention these things not to diminish the impact of his death but to show that there is always another side and to honour the timing of his death and the way he died. After all who am I to say that his death should have been different from what it was? Everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be. Nothing is all bad nor all good. And death is no different. We are simply not encouraged to see it this way.

Because I was fortunate enough to explore his death and all the circumstances surrounding it in a whole and complete way I can now recognise that actually he was not only born on the perfect day but he also died on the perfect day. As a result of this I experience so much peace and serenity, which is in sharp contrast to how I felt before. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: “Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Recovering from grief is about being able to look at things in a totally different way and some of the things we can begin to look at are the year, month, day, hour, minute and second the person we loved died.

You may be very surprised at what you discover.

With love

Josephine x

 

15/03/2016 More

Panic attacks after a death in your life?

panicattackWhen someone we love dies we grieve and grief is made up of many negative reactions and emotions. Panic attacks can be one of those reactions which are perhaps not so common, but I know that some people experience them because I was one of those people.

When I was in deep grief I suddenly developed strange and worrying symptoms which included shortness of breath and shaking uncontrollably. These episodes can also include feeling confused or disorientated, rapid heartbeats, dry mouth, sweating, dizziness and chest pain. The symptoms of a panic attack normally peak within 10 minutes. Most episodes (attacks) will last for between five minutes and half an hour.

I found myself unable to function during these episodes and would end up in a heap on the floor choking, sobbing violently and feeling confused as to what was happening.

If you are experiencing symptoms that sound like you could be having panic attacks I am in complete sympathy and empathy with you so I have gathered the following information to help you:

Professor Paul Salkovskis, a psychologist at King’s College London, says it’s important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you: “Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening,” he says: “It’s important not to restrict your movements and daily activities.”
He goes on to say: “During an attack you experience a whole range of frightening symptoms, and worrying thoughts may go through your mind. Many people have a sense of impending disaster, and think they’re going to faint, lose control or even die,” says Salkovskis. “You need to tell yourself that this is not going to happen and the symptoms you’re experiencing are caused by anxiety.” He says don’t look for distractions: “Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, don’t leave the situation until the anxiety has subsided. Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing’s going to happen. As the anxiety begins to pass, start to focus on your surroundings and continue to do what you were doing before. If you’re having a short, sudden panic attack it can be helpful to have someone with you, reassuring you that it will pass and the symptoms are nothing to worry about,” says Salkovskis. “There’s no quick fix, but if your attacks are happening time after time, seek medical help.”

Personally I didn’t feel the need to seek medical help as these episodes didn’t continue for very long and literally just stopped one day. The reason was probably because I decided to get proactive and discovered a way to completely recover from my grief.

Remember panic attacks aren’t  permanent. They pass, and are not a symptom of any underlying serious condition.

29/09/2015 More