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Hope that Sustains

When I write or speak about picking up the pieces of our lives, I share my own personal life experiences of hope as well as examples from scripture and science.

Throughout the Bible, we read stories of God interacting with His people where faith, hope, and trust are played out. Within science, we know that the thoughts we dwell on will have an impact on us mentally, physically and spiritually.

Hope can change the chemistry in the body.

Hope says there is the possibility of something good happening.  It is not only a belief but a feeling that “something desirable” might happen.   Without hope, we give up or find ourselves repeating the words made popular in a song of the ’60s that said, “Is this all there is”?

Hope encourages 

When we are encouraged, we gain confidence.  Within confidence, we find courage.

Hope motivates 

With encouragement, we become motivated – motivated to look for solutions to tough problems and difficult life situations.

Hope energizes 

When we are feeling helpless and hopeless, our energy is drained and depression settles into every cell and fiber of our body rendering us at times almost catatonic.  Hope can change that in an instant. Hope allows us to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t do.

Hope expects 

When we feel hopeful, we expect a different outcome.  We don’t worry about whether the earth will keep rotating; the sun will come up in the morning or go down at night.  When the sun is hidden in clouds, we know it still exists and takes for granted that it is there.

Hope played out in our lives expects that tomorrow has the possibility to be brighter than today, that our pain will recede, and that we can experience joy again.  Hope says that when the world is all dark and we think we have been locked in a prison of despair, that we can place our expectation on a God who we can call upon in our time of need and trouble.  We can go to Him anytime and anywhere.

Hope believes

When our expectation is placed on God, we believe that He exists, that He loves us, and that He will never leave us or desert us.  He will give us the strength to endure.  Hope believes God’s word that tells us He cares about us personally, and that His love is so great, He is willing to die for us.  In fact He did – on the cross at Easter and rose again.

Hope never gives up

Hope doesn’t quit.  When we are exhausted and think we can’t do anything more, we hear God whispering to us, “I am there with you. Try again – one more time”.   We feel His arms carry us.  We hear his promises in our ear and feel His strength flow into us. He intervenes in our lives.

Hope is surrender

Hope relies on something greater than ourselves.  When we surrender to the knowledge that we do not know it all, will never know it all and we need God in order to survive, we begin to experience hope.  We recognize that we are not sufficient unto ourselves.

Sometimes in that surrender, we are asked to let go and allow.  The focus is no longer making something happen, but surrendering to what is happening and adjusting our responses. In that surrender, we find peace in acceptance. Hope than reveals itself in looking for blessings in all things.

The Easter story is that revealing of hope for us that there is life after death – a new life that goes beyond the grave; a hope of salvation made possible by God.  The Christmas story is where it all begins. Within our tragedies lies new hope and new life as well.

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

Love – Hope – Peace

In reflecting the events of this past year, there were times to celebrate but also times when horrendous acts resulted in the deaths of innocent people.  Too often, the stories of the later were played over and over again in the media, and we would watch trying to understand; to make sense of it all.

What drives people to such extreme measures of killing others and self?  For many, it is the pain of mental illness or drugs along with a continued focus on resentment and hatred that create an ongoing inner turmoil.

In reflection, we have the opportunity to look at ourselves and how we have chosen to live our lives.  Do we reach out to those who are struggling?  Do we care enough to listen and offer compassion? While we can’t solve all problems, we can be an instrument of love, hope, and peace to all we encounter.

Love – Hope – Peace

 

We speak to these themes each Christmas in our Christmas card mantras. Peace is thought of as a potential outcome of a battlefield somewhere between countries or cultures. We view hope as something we want but have become jaded about.  And love: well, we have been rejected and hurt too many times to trust or love anyone anymore.

Love, hope and peace begin in our hearts.  It cannot start anywhere else.  But how are we to love that person who has taken advantage of us, hurt us, used and abused us?  We don’t get that ability from our culture or love songs or peace rallies.  A love that can bring hope and peace to our hearts starts with God and that little baby in the manager.  It is what agnostics, atheists and those who want to be in complete control of their lives fear above all else – that there might be some truth to the Christmas story.

Perhaps the most important healing component we have for our lives is love. True love is the only weapon against the assault of hate. Without love, we are lost.  Without love, there is no hope for us as a people on this earth.  A love that risks all – embraces all – gives all – endures all. That is what we received when a helpless, vulnerable baby boy was born so many years ago. What parent wouldn’t willingly sacrifice their own life for that of their child?  God, our heavenly Father demonstrated that for us, His children, when He gave His only Son to die for us that we might live.

As we pray for comfort for families who have lost loved ones this past year, let us remember the thousands of families whose lives are torn apart by hate, hurt, pain, greed, isolation, bitterness, and revenge.

Love, hope and peace are only hollow words unless they are followed by positive personal action. It’s a time for humility and honesty and openness.

Marlene Anderson

If you have a story of hope and endurance and faith that you would like to share with others, please let me know so we can post them on upcoming blogs.

 

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

True Blue

Yesterday I attended a memorial for a friend of mine whose son had died.  Family is so precious and we want to always remember them.

So, I decided to re-post a blog I did in remembrance of my son who died the day after Thanksgiving in 2009.

We continue to remember his bright smile, his humorous quips, and his incredible drawing and art. And we can’t help but smile and laugh as we think about him.

You are never forgotten, Don.  From me, your sister and your brother, we post again some of your incredible art, pictures of you growing up and the recording of the song written for and about you by your friend, David Abramson.

 

 

True Blue

(for Don Anderson)

Every now and then

The phone would ring

And he would ask me simply

How is everything?

And though I seldom called him

His kinship kept its hue

He was true

True blue

The first time I met him

He was doodling

And again with phantom pen

As he lay fading

From the dawn of the Don

To the midnight gone

He was true

True blue

 

And sometimes we would wonder

What’s in store for him

Whether charcoal clouds would sully

The good lines in him

But even his demons and dragons

Had a wink in the way that he drew

He was true

True blue

 

When we shared a dinner

I now recall

His kind defense of others

He made room for all

His friends were a colorful gumbo

A spicy and marvelous stew

And we still

Love you

 

And so we arise from the mourning

With the wiser smiles we’ve Donned

And the love

Lives on

And the love

Lives on

(c) (c) David Abramson, Feb. 6th, 2010

 

David was Don’s friend and he wrote this song for Don after he died.  The song in many ways represent the feelings of so many of his friends in California where he worked and lived.  They loved him.

And so do we – his remaining family members.

Don died, November 27, 2009

We all still love you – you will always be a part of our lives.

 

Some pictures of him and family.

Don - early drawingBob and Don

 

 

He was drawing as soon as he could hold a pencil

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don and his brother Bob

 

 

Disney Land

 

 

Don and I at Disneyland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eliz and DonHis Sister, Elizabeth and him enjoying one of their many rollicking laughs – both Bob and Elizabeth adored their brother Don.

 

 

 

 

Our 40th anniversary - 1

 

 

He came to help us celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  He had been working in Santa Monica for many years as a Conceptual Creative Artist

 

 

 

 

 

Some of his creative talent – Throughout his grade school and high school years he was sketching and would absolutely amaze people who came to visit as he would complete a sketch in about 15 minutes.

Don's scanned art 009Don's scanned art 001

 

Don's scanned art 008

 

Don's scanned art 007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of his monsters and creatures

Don - Monster - 43

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misc 13 jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concept Design - 1 jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commissioned to create the designs that would be used for the Crayola Anniversary Bus tourDon - Crayola bus - 1 - Don designed bus and set

 

 

Illustrations - 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrations - 3 jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are boxes and boxes and files and files of his work.  There are video’s of short stories he wrote, produced and directed.  The pictures above don’t begin to give credit to the huge repertoire of art and accomplishments before pancreatic cancer took his life.

You are always with us.

Love you,

Mom, Elizabeth and Bob                 

Giving Thanks

 

I have so much to be thankful for this year and every year. How often we focus on the not so good instead of all the good things in our lives?  We don’t need to wait for Thanksgiving to be thankful and grateful.  Finding those kernels of blessings and gratitude are essential every day in helping us survive the fast pace, disappointments and huge learning curves.

 

I want to especially thank everyone who has helped me with my writing career enabling me to blog and write and speak, for their encouragement, helpful critiques, and suggestions.  I have learned a lot with still a lot to learn, especially technology. But that technology enables me to blog and hopefully, start podcasting. It is exciting to be able to share both my training and life experiences and the Love of God. In the upcoming months, I will be focusing on ways to “Pick up the Pieces” and take that next step when losses and life have knocked us down.

 

As we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, I hope you will enjoy your time together with family and friends, catching up with what they have been doing, and letting them know how special they are.  Share the love you have been given. I thank God that we can get together as a family and share.

 

Marlene Anderson

 

Let me know if you have any special interests or topics you might want me to blog about.

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

Anger is good when….

My last several posts have focused on anger – what it reveals about us – its good qualities and its potentially destructive impact on families and relationships when it is out of control.

Years ago, I created a handout on anger that was part of a class I was helping develop and write. The following is an edited version of that handout that helps summarize in a small way this complicated and complex emotion.

 

ANGER IS GOOD WHEN:

  • It helps us make constructive changes
  • It allows us to communicate how we feel
  • It enables us to be assertive
  • It helps us establish safe, personal boundaries
  • It gives us a sense of control versus helplessness
  • It serves to establish the rights of self and others
  • It starts the process of problem-solving
  • ANGER IS BAD WHEN:
  • It uses our energy negatively
  • It keeps us from honestly listening
  • It prevents rational thinking and discussion
  • It turns into aggression
  • It threatens and intimidates others
  • It puts us and others into a defense/attack mode

ANGER IS DESTRUCTIVE WHEN:

  • It becomes a habit
  • It becomes a quick fix to our frustrations
  • Its intensity does not fit the occasion
  • It lasts too long
  • It is used to hide other emotions and our insecurity
  • It keeps us from thinking clearly and productively

WE CHOOSE ANGER’S:

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Duration
  • Direction
  • Honesty

We can replace divisiveness and anger by choosing to put our focus on working together to find solutions for our everyday conflicts. We can focus on what we have in common and use our time together in discovery and enjoying the things we like to do together. We can create a mindset where people are more important than positions and where we can use our energy to work on those things we agree on.

Marlene Anderson

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

 

It’s okay to be angry – its not okay to be aggressive

If you have known someone or lived with someone who has an anger problem, you might think there’s nothing good or redeeming about feeling angry.

Yet anger is a normal, natural emotion and has a purpose – it is part of our survival system.

Anger and aggressive behavior are not always synonymous.  You can feel angry without becoming aggressive.

We often have mixed feelings about this potentially explosive emotion.  If we think anger is bad, we won’t know what to do when we feel angry.  If we think being angry automatically leads to uncontrollable behavior, we might want to deny it or carefully hide it behind acceptable cultural masks. But it doesn’t just go away.  The thoughts associated with it need to be acknowledged and dealt with.

We have received mixed messages about anger. In the past, men, traditionally, were excused to show outward expressions of anger, while women traditionally were told it was unacceptable. Today, however, women are given cultural license to show both anger and aggressive behavior.

 

But does acting out in response to anger through aggressive behavior accomplish the goals or outcomes we want?

 

Whether you are a man or a woman, understanding your feelings of anger and how to express it appropriately is crucial.  The inability to do so can result in hostility, silent rage or passive-aggressive behavior.

 

We need to own our emotions, know what is fueling them and assert ourselves responsibly.

 

How do we distinguish between assertive behavior, passive-aggressive behavior, and aggressive behavior?

 

Anger triggers powerful body changes and like fear helps a person prepare to fight when threatened.  Anger can quickly escalate to physical aggression, abuse or destruction of property.

When anger becomes rage we see hostility.  A hostile person will explode over seemingly simple things. Responses are blown out of proportion to the event that triggered them.  Hostile language includes yelling and screaming, in your face, sarcasm, and expletive words (obscenity or profanity).  Anger spews out like acid on unsuspecting victims.  An angry, hostile person does not hear or listen rationally.

 

People who exhibit aggressive behavior

  • Talk in an aggressive tone and behave aggressively and compulsively
  • Get their needs met at the expense of other people
  • Do not respect the rights of others
  • Overinflate their own abilities, etc. to cover up insecurities
  • Feel people don’t care about them; therefore they do not need to be concerned about others

 

Passive-aggressive individuals use subtleties, manipulation and veiled hostility instead of being openly hostile.  They are difficult to be around and use subterfuge and deceptive ploys in their interactions with people.

 

Passive-aggressive individuals will typically

  • Have difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings and often “stuff” those feelings
  • Deny conflicts when they occur
  • Ignore their own needs over other people’s
  • Manipulate others to get their needs met
  • Allow others to make decisions and choices for them

An angry, hostile person does not hear or listen rationally. You can not have a rational conversation with someone who is enraged.  If you are the recipient of anger and abuse on a daily basis from a partner or spouse please seek help from a trained counselor. You will not be able to change or fix that person’s anger problem simply by being more accommodating.

Become Assertive

We think of aggressive behavior as someone who is out of control, in your face, with no interest in your feelings or concerns.  When people are assertive, of the other hand, they focus on the problem or conflict, define their position of why they think a certain way and are willing to listen to your ideas as well.

People who are assertive

  • Promote equality in relationships
  • Are able to express feelings honestly and comfortably
  • Can act in their own best interest
  • Exercise their rights while preserving the rights of others
  • Will stand up for themselves

Assertiveness is determined by what we deem is appropriate for each situation.  We are not born with this skill – it is learned.

Marlene Anderson

 

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

Has Anger become a Problem for you

Anger has enormous energy.  That energy can be a motivational force or a destructive one. When managed and expressed appropriately it helps us make important changes. When allowed to run wild, it can ruin lives – yours and others around you.

People with an ongoing, underlying anger problem will find themselves constantly stressed.  Everything is an irritation and they feel resentful and taken advantage of.  Only the things that are going wrong is noticed; the good things are blocked. As bitterness sets in, enjoyment of life disappears.

And yet anger is just an emotion.  It gives us information like all emotions.  It is neither good nor bad on its own.  Anger lets us know when we have been threatened in some way. It helps us survive, build appropriate boundaries and put in place preventive measures.

Anger can become a habit

If you find yourself constantly on the defensive, easily annoyed and quick to anger, you may want to ask yourself if there is a larger problem. Are anger and dissatisfaction your first and typical response to everyday problems? What makes you angry? When we understand our emotional responses, we are able to reframe and choose more constructive alternative ones.

It’s what we do with our anger that becomes the problem, not the anger itself. It isn’t about self-control, but rather about developing a more thoughtful and problem-solving mindset. What outcomes do I want?  Will anger accomplish that or solve my problems?

Each of us is responsible for our actions so it is important to pay attention to what our emotions are telling us.  Developing positive working relationships with others goes a long way in finding solutions. That requires active listening, understanding, and a willingness to work together.

Check it out

If you feel you might have a problem with anger, here’s a quick way to gather some data. For one week jot down every time you feel angry, annoyed or irritated. What was happening that made you feel that way? Did irritations and annoyances quickly escalate? What other ways could you have responded?

Keeping a record for a short time helps us discover patterns.  Be honest when doing this. It is for your benefit. Is there a pattern between events, your emotional responses and the thoughts you had at the time? What was going through your mind?  Our thoughts occur so rapidly we are hardly aware of them.  But they give us a clue about why we are responding like we are.

Now, go back and reflect on the positive experiences you had during that same week. What made you feel happy, contented or satisfied?  When did you laugh and feel good about yourself and others? Was there an equal amount of good times? Discovering your patterns is the first step in changing habits that are hurtful to you, replacing them with habits that provide the long-term outcomes we want.

 

If you think you have an anger problem here are some things you can do:

First, STOP

  • stop avoiding your problems
  • stop rationalizing your behavior
  • stop ignoring, stuffing or pushing your feelings away
  • stop medicating with drugs or alcohol to dull the pain of emotional conflict and accompanying fear and anxiety

Second, allow yourself to feel your emotions.  Ask yourself:

  • why do I always feel so angry?
  • What is my anger telling me?
  • What can I learn about myself in this process of understanding my emotional responses?

Third, before you immediately respond with anger to problems, ask instead:

  • What specifically is the problem I am facing? This is different than the symptoms of the problem
  • What is my part in the problem?
  • How does my response hurt or help me find solutions?
  • Wat positive problem-solving strategies can I bring to this situation to bring about a positive conclusion?

Connected to our anger we also find fear, guilt, and pain. These are usually buried.  Work through early childhood wounding to healing.  Seek out a good professional trained therapist to help uncover long-held issues that need processing.

Early childhood perceptions and interpretations can continue to shape and color our world negatively until challenged and explored. When we allow early experiences to define how we react today, we can miss out on a lot of happiness in life.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

 

Anger – what it reveals to us

Anger, like all our emotions, has a purpose. It helps us survive and motivates us to take action and make important changes.  It protects us when life threatens us psychologically or physically.

 

Left unchecked, however, it becomes toxic and explosive.  When we react without restraint to its powerful surge of energy, we not only inflict pain on others but ourselves.  It is up to each of us to examine the reasons associated with our anger, discover the underlying issues that perpetuate it on an ongoing basis and set up a plan to become responsible for our behaviors when angry.

 

Over my career as a teacher and therapist, I have acquired and read many books written by psychology professionals who have taken major issues, clarified their underlying causes and provided strategies for constructive and positive solutions. I share three books that I feel touched on the core of anger, why we get caught up in its passion often to the detriment of its outcome.

 

“The Dance of Anger,” is a woman’s guide to changing the patterns of intimate relationships written by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. Although written many years ago, it is timeless in its understanding of a major problem we all face.  Dr. Lerner describes patterns of behavior, the emotion of anger and ways to identify, understand and resolve problems surrounding an ongoing anger problem. She especially writes to those areas where contention and anger often arise in our lives: marriage, families of origin, mother and daughter.

 

“Beyond Anger, A guide for Men” is its counterpart written by Thomas J. Harbin, Ph.D. that speaks to a problem many men face today. While women often stuff their anger, become passive-aggressive or use it to manipulate, men’s anger often turns into a rage that when triggered seems to have no bounds.  Part one of the book describes how anger can become a central problem in men’s lives.  Part two has action plans to deal with unwanted anger.

 

 

“Anger: Deal with it, Heal with it, Stop it from Killing You” by Bill DeFoore, Ph.D.speaks to both therapy and self-help.  There is much we can do on our own by reading and becoming familiar with problems we may have. But there are times when we need a licensed therapist to help sort out the knots and tangles of our lives. Problems can be hard to identify at times and harder to resolve on our own. A good place to start is becoming familiar with what you recognize as a problem.

Whether you struggle with your own quick angry reaction to events or personally know someone who continues to flash anger in your face, this book gives valuable information on the overall subject of anger. All of us will come in contact with excessive anger at some time.  How do you deal with it?  How do you respond to it?

Bill DeFoore’s book is easy to read and gives a good description of many aspects associated with anger, such as:

  • it is used as a protective shield
  • it won’t remain buried
  • Breaking free from passivity
  • anger that has turned into rage
  • Protecting our inner child
  • The role of anger
  • Some faces of anger: the raging bull or the wild man

But even more important than its descriptive tenets, De Foore offers healthy ways to release our anger.

Anger out of control is a problem.  Anger that is buried eventually explodes.  Anger can become a habit and also addictive.  Anger used appropriately helps us right wrongs, set necessary boundaries in place to live life honestly and responsibly.

Marlene Anderson

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To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

You Got to Be Kidding

Adversity a blessing?  You got to be kidding! Who would even consider such a thing?  Who wants difficulties?  And how can misfortunes or hard times ever be considered a blessing?

And yet, when I am honest with myself, it is precisely in those times of difficulties and adversity where I have grown, learned I could do more than I thought I could, and developed emotional, mental and spiritual muscles.

It is where I learned to face my vulnerabilities head-on, where I chose to take charge of my life, not backed away or sidestepped or became a victim.

Adversity challenges us.

Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and take some risks? Am I ready to acknowledge my limitations and celebrate my strengths?  Am I ready to put in the effort and hard work to become capable and confident?

 

When I am in the middle of difficult times, I do not consider it a blessing.  It is only later, when I look back, that I can see that I have been blessed by the struggle and challenge.

 

Here are some things I learned through adversity.  Perhaps you can identify with some of them.

I learned that

  • I can put in place an “ I can do it” mindset to use in any and all situations
  • I can stretch my capability far beyond what I ever thought I was capable of
  • I have learned grace and forgiveness and humility
  • I learned there are always solutions to our problems if we are willing to search for them
  • I have learned to make tough choices based on principles and core values
  • I am never alone – God is always there with me even when I don’t feel His presence
  • I have learned gratitude for the simple things in life: love, friendship, loyalty, and the ability to work
  • I have learned only I can be in charge of my life – and only I can give that power away

 

May you find blessings in your challenges and struggles.

Marlene Anderson

 

If you enjoyed this blog post, share with your friends.

Sign up today to receive the entire series:  http://eepurl.com/baaiQ1

To Receive a Free Consultation for putting together a Personal Plan of Action for yourself,  fill out the contact form beside this blog or send me an e-mail.  I am also available for speaking engagements, retreats or teaching workshops for your church, clubs or women’s groups on a variety of topics that affect our lives.

 

 

Working through our losses

Throughout life, we will experience losses that drastically change our way of living. It isn’t the momentary losses of car keys or misplaced important papers; but life-altering events such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a childhood, our dreams, and expectations. An injury or chronic illness is losing life as we knew it. Life will not be the same.

 

Losses come in all sizes and packages; some with the normal progression of age – some with the unexpected telephone call in the middle of the night. Some began early in life when day after day we are yelled at or hit by an alcoholic parent leaving us feeling angry and worthless.  Later in life, the depth of those early losses become more evident and we are required to process and grieve them.

Losses:

How do we recognize them? How do we survive and move past them?  How do we grieve them? How do we rise above them?

 

Here are some suggestions to work through losses, either current or from the past:

 

  • Grieving losses requires honesty, courage and a willingness to work through the pain, uncertainty, and vulnerability. We will experience a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. This is a time to reach out to others and accept the love and support of those who want to offer assistance.  While we want and need time alone to process, we also need to know we are not alone.

 

  • What unanswered questions, injustice or results of bad choices are you struggling with? At some point, we are required to come to terms with what has happened because there are no satisfactory answers. Coming to terms is an understanding that we might never have the answers to “why” or “what if.”  It is an acceptance that lets us put to rest what has happened so we can move forward.

 

  • Writing letters of goodbye can articulate what is in our heart and soul and help resolve and integrate our losses. Much like journaling but more direct, writing to our losses creates a way to speak to subjective things such as loss of dreams, lifestyle, and expectations we hold for life. Writing takes it out of the head, illuminating both thoughts and feelings. Write as you would any letter.  Dear (dream, career, health, etc.) I remember what you meant to me, what I wanted, etc.

 

  • Write a letter to your loved one who died. Tell them what they meant to you, the good times you spent together, how you are keeping your memories alive, what is the hardest part for you now, etc.

 

  • Sometimes words cannot express what we are feeling. Art gives us the opportunity to say through fabric or clay or wood or paints what cannot be expressed adequately otherwise.  Make a wall hanging or quilt or mold clay into a memorial of some kind.  There are many art therapy classes available.

 

  • It takes courage to survive a loss, to face our fears, pain, and anxieties about the future.  Create a new narrative that focuses on possibilities.  “I will be okay – I can make it.  God will see me through this.  I lost the love of my life, but I can move on and the memories will give me comfort and purpose moving forward.  I’m okay; I am discovering more about myself and my abilities. When I reach out, my friends support me.

 

  • Focusing on what we can do instead of focusing on what we no longer have, allows us to explore and try new things.  We no longer see ourselves as a victim, but a capable person able to create a new reality that holds both purpose and meaning. It is grabbing hold of hope and making it work for us, believing we can do this.

 

  • Write a letter to yourself as if you were your best friend.  In that letter put down all the things you are proud of, your accomplishments and strengths and why you believe you will not only survive but live again.

 

  • We need other people.  It is difficult to step out of our comfort zone.  But by reaching out, we can join new social groups who share a commonality with us. Include times of laughter and fun together as you encourage and support each other’s company.

 

  • Grieving major losses is a spiritual journey.  As a Christian, God has been an integral part of my life who gave me the hope, strength, and comfort I needed in my darkest hours. When everything seemed at its worst, I found God’s outstretched hand reaching out to me, ready to embrace me with tenderness and understanding. We have a God, who not only understands and consoles but gives us the strength we need to move forward.

Marlene Anderson

 

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