September 28, 2020
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Losing Your Independence

March 30th, 2020 by judytalks

The world wide pandemic that hit our planet has threatened our very lives, and sent us into confinement. Our health,  jobs and social life have been thrown into chaos, and it’s hard to determine, from day to day, which is worse:  What we know or what we don’t know. We know leaders everywhere are struggling to cope with it, and citizens are trying to adapt to new rules about staying home indefinitely.  We also know there is an abundance of information that can change in a matter of hours.

What Is Happening?

What do we call the situation we’re in?  We’re experiencing a deep and confusing sense of loss. When you lose something you love or need for your well being, you suffer that loss. Combined with fear and anxiety, our emotions are taking a beating.

Those initial feelings are compounded with incessant questions about our preparedness for dealing with this monster.

How is it spread? What are the symptoms? Have I touched something that’s contaminated? Did I wash my hands long enough?

What exactly have we lost? Essentially we’ve lost that sense of independence, of feeling secure wherever we go and who we’re with. Routine, everyday habits, social gatherings, and job-related issues for those who work away from home, are now jeopardized or completely gone.

The immediate effects of loss are uncertainty and confusion. Whatever was in place in our daily lives has been wiped out. It’s like going down a long, narrow flight of stairs without a railing. If it’s also dark and you’re carrying something, it’s even more distressing.

You can no longer take things for granted. Those positive, dependable measures are no longer in place. Though “home” may be your favorite place in the world, being confined 24/7 for an indefinite time creates a brand new situation.

Trying to re-adjust and manage under the circumstances becomes difficult and usually annoying. Add to that, there’s a sense of  abandonment, and you begin to feel angry. Everything was going well, your routine was in place, and you felt secure.

What Can We Do?

I know how important it is to take charge of your life when you’ve been dealt a crushing blow. I’m a grief facilitator, writer and survivor. One of the most difficult tasks, when you are in a state of grief or loss, is to be assertive, and take back your  life. Putting the ball in your court is necessary and effective. Doing it is another matter. It requires making a complete turnaround from wondering what’s going on, to deciding what is actually happening in YOUR life, not the entire world’s.

What’s Happening In My World

I am in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with my daughter and son-in-law. Through I have lived in Arizona most of the last 18 years, I came here from Texas. Eventually, I’ll be returning to Arizona. Right n0w, the three of us are staying put as much as possible. Daughter Jennifer is a substitute teacher. Her job stopped when the schools closed. Son-in-law Jim brought work and supplies home yesterday, and he’ll be home bound until further notice. I’ve been here since December 17, 2019, when I came for Christmas and was invited to “stay as long as you like”. I may be here for quite awhile.

Though we’re aware that the numbers keep going up for those infected and at home, those hospitalized and for fatalities, we are relatively safe. Our job is to avoid contact, shop prudently and wash hands, wash hands, wash hands. We also are disinfecting anything that comes into the house – newspapers, grocery bags, boxes, shoes – ANYTHING.

It’s critical now that all of us find ways to stay optimistic and focused. Take an online class (Jennifer is learning French), do home maintenance or repairs that you can manage, stay in touch with friends and loved ones through apps or face time, and read some good books. And while you’re at it, project over the next few weeks and months what you’ll do when this is slowing down and it’s safe to venture out. Now that we know what it’s like to be really cooped up, plan a way to celebrate freedom. Losing your independence is beyond a learning experience; it can be a motivating factor to cherish the times when you’re in control of your life.

What Are You Doing?

Sharing stories is a great way to connect. It’s also a way for offering ideas and solutions to problems you’ve solved.

Have an interesting incident you’d like to share? Got a funny story? An innovative way to stay sane? Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions or share a story.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Judy

 

 

Grief Shared

May 15th, 2015 by judytalks

In the immediate aftermath of grief, friends and family may surround you with comfort and support. Everyone calls, many visit, and you walk the necessary steps through this awfulness that has happened. Cards and phone calls are sent to notify people, services are planned, legal issues are addressed for follow-up, and financial settlements have been discussed. A few weeks have gone by, and now is when most of those people begin to withdraw. There doesn’t seem to be much more for anyone to do, except to stay in touch and wish you well.

It’s at this point that grievers may wonder if sharing their grief with others in mourning would help ease the pain. Everyone’s heard about grief groups. Whereas years ago, they were few and far between, today they abound. They may be held in community centers, churches, offices, or even homes. Some are basically open-ended with a general plan and a facilitator, while others use a printed program that focuses on one specific issue each week. These issues may include emotions, such as fear, sadness, or anger, or they may include practical problems, such as handling the money, finding legal counsel, or getting your car fixed. The question is, “How will this really help me?”.

Looking for an appropriate group can be daunting. At a time when your emotions are unpredictable and you often feel fatigued, checking out numerous groups may seem overwhelming. Here’s where asking for help comes in. People who have been in a group can give you insight as to the format and also the benefits they derived. Plus any drawbacks. The funeral director, clergy, and community centers will probably also have pertinent information about several groups for you to consider.

If you wish to find a group, take a minute to jot down what you hope to gain from your relationship with others who gather regularly to express their loss. Decide what kind of openness and comfort would be acceptable, and what you would not like to experience. Then call the leader and ask questions. The leader should be non-intrusive and should maintain a non-judgmental atmosphere. Ground rules are discussed and agreed upon. Leaders may be psychologists, therapists, facilitators, or grief counselors. Some groups are led by non-professionals and can be very beneficial, but it’s important that confidentiality be enforced and trust understood.

What can you expect in the way of benefits from a grief group?

1.   First of all, you can say anything (within reason) without alarming anyone. Sometimes you can’t do this with friends and family.

2.  You will have a place to go and a specific time to meet on a regular basis. Looking forward to certain things helps to regulate your life.

3. The leader will be a resource person for you if you need to address other issues.

4. You will probably connect with 1 or 2 other people, maybe more, and have friends you can count on after your group work is finished.

5.  A person who has suffered a loss can go to a group anytime. It doesn’t have to be immediate. People have been known to seek a group months or years after losing someone.

It’s said that shared grief helps ease the pain and anguish of losing a loved one. For each person, their grief is unique and is borne individually. You may derive great comfort, learn something beneficial, or simply enjoy not being alone all the time. Give yourself every opportunity to explore the options available.

I wish you well,

Judy

Learning to Like Your Own Company

February 26th, 2013 by judytalks

Learning to like living alone usually involves learning to like your own company. It’s funny how we think of ourselves as independent, yet prioritize being with groups and having relationships.

Certainly we need both. But being completely comfortable with just yourself seems hard to manage. The tendency is to feel that something is missing. However, being alone and being lonely aren’t the same thing.

Take a minute to ponder about the things you really like to do just by yourself. A quiet environment, no interruptions, and the opportunity to focus on some self-indulgence. Whether it be pampering yourself, working at a creative craft, or just reading a good book, you have no one to answer to, no one to cater to, just simple time alone.

How we regard the presence of others in our lives impacts even decisions we make. Often, a final choice rests on how it will affect others. This is certainly important, but how the choice will affect you should be paramount.

Critical events cast us into the role of “aloneness”, usually with little preparation for the feeling of loss, let alone managing liking our own company. However, the survivors I’ve known have done marvelously well with time alone, strengthened by regularly scheduled meetings with those groups and individuals who share interests and affection for one another.

Ask yourself what others like about you. Make a short list of things you never get to, because they require blocks of time and concentration. Then start to like your own company.

Let me know how it goes,

Judy

Home Front

September 6th, 2012 by judytalks

My excellent adventure ended when I returned home on August 27. I was happy to see that everything was still up and running, though I had been gone for 2 months.

Flying Solo, the group I started in April, had been aptly managed by its members, who continued to meet, and even had a short list of topics to discuss and research. I couldn’t ask for more!

This group is beginning to branch out to other communities and so I’m busy preparing workshops to answer both general and specific questions that single people have about handling pesky situations. The support and information from a group does wonders to help navigate the muddy waters of finding honest repair people to figuring out options for transportation when needed.

Fall is on its way, though it’s still hot here, but I’m always geared up to “go to work” when summer vacation is over. What projects do you have on your to-do list? Let me know.

Best wishes,
Judy

Vacations Are For Clarity

August 15th, 2012 by judytalks

My vacation is nearly over and it has been wonderful. But I have to add one more reason to get away for awhile. Vacations are for reflection. Have you noticed how differently you think about things when you’re away from home? A change of scenery and experience and meeting new people is relaxing, and generates a different perspective.

I left on my adventure with ideas in my head about my various grief activities. My personal involvement has grown through group leadership and participation, while my writing has slowed down. My first thought was to reverse that situation. I changed my mind after I encountered people everywhere I visited who had a story to tell about loss.

Face to face sharing and personal response has no equal. The gift of listening is comfort itself, wrapped inside the support of a touch of the hand and a smile. There are incomparabe riches for both parties when you trust someone with your deepest emotions.

So, upon reflecting, I plan to enlarge my group involvement, while keeping up with the writing, also my passion. My heart is telling me to do this.

Happy rest of the summer,

Judy

Knowledge is Gold

July 8th, 2012 by judytalks

What is your approach to problem-solving? Do you gather information you may need ahead of time, just in case? Do you wait for a snafu and then ask people for advice? Or perhaps the time to deal with a calamity is when it happens and you tear your hair looking for answers.

Most of us come predisposed to follow one or another of these problem-solving methods. Whether or not there’s an ideal way is not the question; how you manage and get through the crisis is what’s important.

Accidents, critical illness and death strike when you least expect it. The devastation it causes to mind, body, and spirit makes gathering information more than difficult. You simply clutch at straws, unable to think straight anymore. That we manage at all is remarkable, but it’s not necessary to heap more distress and anxiety on ourselves.

Knowledge really is gold. Start to accumulate information on the effects of crisis, trauma, illness, and death that ultimately hit all of us. There is an abundance of books and articles on websites, social media, author and grief sites. Store up some gold for yourself to spend when you need comfort and support. And, while you’re at it, encourage those you love to do the same.

Judy

Closure – Mixed Emotions

June 15th, 2012 by judytalks

What feelings do you have when something meaningful in your life comes to a close? Do you ever feel that there is a permanent end to an event or phase of your life? I contemplated this thought as we finished this season at the grieving center where I am a facilitator. Those families that close their participation will probably never completely be “finished” with their grief. And the families returning will use this break to enjoy summer vacations, but thoughts of their loved ones will still be present.

What is it that we want or expect from “closure”? Answers to questions may never come. Relief from pain is never complete. The ideal answer seems to be that we can put some things in life to rest , so we may rest. Saying goodbye allows you to start saying hello to the new ideas, possibilities, and people you encounter. It’s hard to move forward when you’re dragging a huge sack of rocks behind you.

We have a closing ceremony for those leaving, to acknowledge the work they’ve done and the healing that has taken place. Why not devise you own small ceremony for those hard to let go of things? Sound silly? If it’s crowding out room for new beginnings, give it a proper send-off and express gratitude that it’s done. Living in the moment is the attitude of choice for many. I’m trying to make it mine consistently.

Wishing you the best,
Judy

Recovery – Acknowledgement

June 9th, 2012 by judytalks

Whenever I Google the word Recovery I get websites about ships at the bottom of the ocean or addiction programs for rehab. The kind of recovery I write and talk about has to do with the loss of someone or something dear to you. It’s something irreplaceable that causes you deep grief and sadness.
When you lose something that can’t be replaced, there’s more than sadness. The range of emotions runs from anger and confusion to a sense that you’ve lost yourself. Nothing is the same, nor will it ever be.
Recovery takes time and it requires a choice on your part. The beginning of healing is the acknowledgement that life can and must go on. Until you reach that point, you may remain in a state of isolation from other things and people who were dear to you. Reconnecting is also painful, because it seems that you must let go of the person or thing you have lost. But, in reality, you take it with you, forever a keepsake you may revisit any time.

I wish you well,

Judy

The Year In Review

January 11th, 2012 by judytalks

I looked back over my posts of the past year and realized I set some important goals, particularly about learning and giving more. I have certainly learned much in 2011, not just about the grieving community, but about managing loss in whatever size and shape it appears.

Loss and change are household words for almost everyone. They characterized America, challenged problem-solving skills, and drove fear into the hearts of all ages.

My family was certainly not spared, but we have not only survived, but begun to thrive in some important areas of life. No, no one’s making a lot of money, but we supported, commiserated, and advised one another as the economic axe fell a few times.

I’m old enough to know that life’s a bumpy road, so you better have a strong stomach. What inspires me is the growth of neighborliness, the determination to reinvent the wheel, and the charm of people laughing at what is clearly a headache in their daily lives.

I wrote a great deal in 2011, including Kindle downloads, articles, blog posts, and outlines for more of the same. The grieving community is looking for information to understand and ease the pain of losses of all kinds. I hope to continue meeting those needs.

Learn More Write More Give More
It connects and fulfills.

To a satisfying New Year,
Judy

Life-giving Nutrients

September 18th, 2011 by judytalks

What nourishes you? What keeps you healthy, helps you to grow, and piques your sense of satisfaction?

Food for mind, body, and spirit are different in kind but have similar components. What you take in should nourish you, do you no harm, leave you feeling well, and satisfy your hunger.

We have some control over what we feed our bodies. We can make choices from an abundance of foods, some of which will not meet the criteria mentioned. But what about nourishing your mind and spirit?

There’s a saying, “Do you eat to live or live to eat?” Hopefully, you do both. There’s health and joy in that.

I take great care to eat only foods that are good for me. Staying well is mandatory. But lately I’ve given thought to what I allow to seep into my mind and spirit. Junk food abounds. Empty calories, toxic ideas, corrosive opinions, and just plain “spoiled food” surrounds us day and night. Time to take control over what I feed myself.

It’s hard to stop eating potato chips when you crave salt. It’s also hard to stop watching junk TV when you want to relax. It’s difficult to walk away from conversations that give you a belly ache instead of inspiration. Reading, always a great pleasure for me, should also meet your standards for quality. When you realize you’re always hungry for intellectual stimulation or a soothing of the soul, it’s probably time for a change.

I’m composing a “diet” especially designed to nourish my mind and spirit as carefully as I choose foods for my body. My hunger for health and well-being in all aspects of life is not being fed. Time to act. I can make better choices. No more junk food. Period!

Be well,

Judy

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