Adulthood Sucks… or does it?

Heather Edwards AdulthoodLast Friday I was sitting in the dentist’s chair chuckling between tooth jabbings with the hygienist, Jessica. She told me she bought a T-shirt for her friend who’s fallen on hard times. It reads, “I’m not a gynecologist but I’ll take a look.”. We laughed and I replied that I just bought a T-shirt for my sister that reads, “Sorry I’m late. I didn’t want to come.”  We relished each other’s sense of humor & noted how serious adulthood can be, if you let it. And how extra important it is to be silly & have fun, and acknowledge emotional pain and indulge your dreams.

Later that day I attended another doctor appointment and then took a long drive out of state to a dear one’s funeral. It didn’t feel like a Friday. It felt like a very heavy, fearful, solemn day.

What I didn’t realize was that it was going to be one of the toughest weekends I’ve ever had. It was also one of the most beautiful. Family and friends laughed and cried together. We supported each other in our grief and loss. And we created new bonds and memories. We brunched, hiked, went through old photos, and shared past experiences.

We explored nature and our place in it. On a hiking trail we came across a quote on a bridge rail that read, “…the universe is wider than our views of it.”- Henry David Thoreau. It was profoundly relevant and comforting considering our reason for the trip.Heather Edwards Adulthood

Adulthood sucks, right? Not so. Yes, the longer we live the more loss, tragedy, and heartbreak we will see but, we choose where to focus our attention and energy. While remaining open and aware of life’s challenges, we can choose to notice the gifts and find strength in what brings us joy.

So in the face of sadness, anger, or loss what makes you experience gratitude? What shifts your energy from low to high, negative to positive, or sad to content?

What happened to that dream you had before life got so complicated? – The one where everything was perfect and you were sitting on a beach or mountaintop basking in the glow of the warm sunshine with your lover listening to the sounds of nature without a care in the world? It’s still there, somewhere beneath the chaos.

Heather Edwards AdulthoodEven though it may seem impossible or even irrelevant now, it’s more important than ever to pursue it. You may not know how to achieve the end goal but you can identify one way to get an inch closer today. What makes you feel joy?

Embrace your fearless inner kid and stop listening to the self defeating inner monologue. Take a moment to be still. Connect to your dreams. Find the silver lining.

Reclaim your life. Mourn those who pass, take responsibility for a mature life, and go play! -even if it means buying a funny teeshirt for a friend in need of a laugh.

The Butterfly: In a Time of Loss, a Symbol of Transcendence

heather edwards butterfly loss coach

heather edwards butterfly coachLoss. Heartbreak. Tragedy. Despair. It’s felt by millions everyday. Today, it hits my hometown.

Confused, saddened, enraged.

I’m moved by the heartfelt Facebook posts of friends, classmates, and neighbors memorializing the life and gifts of a friend, mother, sister, and role model passing on too soon.

Yesterday, she was murdered. Domestic Violence claimed her life. It’s a senseless, tragic misuse of power and control.

According to DomesticViolenceStatistics.org:

  • Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
  • Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  • Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

We can end the cycle of abuse. There is support for women and children in violent relationships.

Domestic violence is predictable and stoppable.

Know the signs. Know the resources available. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to help a friend in need.

heather edwards cycle of abuse

 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE or www.thehotline.org  Services are available 24/7 and are completely confidential. They are provided in 170+ languages.

Calling 911 is always an option for immediate intervention. Your local domestic violence agency offers resources for counseling, shelter, and legal support. Safety, privacy, child custody, and the emotional fallout are just a few of the ways these services can help.

Stop living in fear. You have power. Safety is a phone call away. Step up. Step out. Embrace courage, hope, and belief. A better life is waiting for you.

Abuse takes many forms – emotional, physical, sexual, and financial. If you feel afraid of your partner or avoidant of certain subjects; if you believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated; if you wonder if you’re the one who’s crazy; or if you feel helpless and numb to the pain and fear – then you are in an abusive relationship. Leave now. Get help.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It happens in heterosexual and same sex relationships, all ethnicities, religions, ages, and socio-economic levels. It is a crime. Everyone deserves to be safe. That includes you.

Today, I changed my Facebook background picture to a Butterfly. She’s gentle, fragile, beautiful. She’s a symbol of vulnerability, independence and transformation.

Transcending. Metamorphosis. Soul. Love. Rebirth. Divine Feminine. Purpose. The journey of freedom from the past to our new higher self.

For all those who have passed on too soon, she soars in honor of you in peace, harmony, and hope for a better tomorrow.

Psychology Today – When Children Grieve

griefThis article was originally published in Psychology Today on February 3, 2014.  It is written by Heather Edwards and Dr. Mark Banschick.

The holidays are over. But, sometimes events stop us in our tracks. Death never leaves us; it’s one reason why we so urgently celebrate Hanukah, Christmas and the New Year. We have this blessed life to live. So we grab it.

Our guest blogger, Heather Edwards, tells us another tale. It is a true story about a child who lost a classmate. How are we to help children grieve? And, what do they teach us in the process?

A Child’s Sadness:

On Christmas Day this year, my 7-year-old cousin Evan began to cry in the midst of family merriment. A sudden full body sobbing experience had overcome him. He looked up at me; face soaked with tears and exclaimed, “My friend died today.  She’s in heaven now.”  He tearfully explained that his classmate lost her battle against cancer during the early morning hours of Christmas Day.

Evan had many questions, and many tears. He wanted to know if she is still in pain. He wanted to know if people in heaven can open their eyes. He wanted to know what they do up there and if she was alone and scared. He said he was sad for her family because of all the presents they had for her to open today. Now they won’t be able to share that joy. He said he missed her. He said it’s not fair and that she should’ve lived to be 100 years old, not seven. I was struck by the openness and range of concerns coming from this little guy in my arms.

Children experience grief, too. It can be painful for parents to witness. Their mourning process is similar to ours, only not as seasoned, jaded, nor familiar. What is a parent to do?

Allow the Tears & Give Lots of Hugs:

Tears are healing. Each teardrop releases the hurt and sadness. It allows the emotional process of grief and loss to flow and ultimately to release its grip on the spirit. You don’t want your child feeling that he or she has to protect you from real feelings. Children need to know that it’s okay to cry during the experience of death and loss. And that sadness only means that they care and love and empathize with others. This is a beautiful thing.

Answer Their Questions:

Children have a wild and wonderful imagination. Since they don’t have a mature vocabulary to express themselves yet, they use imagery and play to test theories and express themselves.  Their ideas and questions are fresh and curious.  Do your best as an adult upon whom they rely to encourage and satisfy those curiosities. It helps them grow, understand, and accept the many challenges life presents.

Have patience. And, listen carefully to the concerns behind their questions.

Validate the Wide Range of Feelings:

Children are expressive.  A normal grieving process involves “Five Stages of Grief”, according to renown psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. During grief it’s natural to experience a series of emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Allow your child to feel sad, mad, confused, and cheated.  It’s normal and healthy to acknowledge, express, and let go of painful emotions.

Encourage Remembrance of Better Times:

Consider bringing your child back to good memories of their loved one.  Be sensitive when doing this because it may be too much at any given moment. Yet, these memories serve a purpose in balancing the good with the bad thoughts about loss. Depending on your religious or spiritual beliefs about the afterlife, give them hope about their friend wanting the best for them even though they can’t be here to share life with them.

Provide Structure and Reassurance:

Keep their life as normal as possible. Stick to their regular daily routines. School attendance, mealtimes, homework, bedtime, playtime or sports participation all need to continue with the same structure as always. Children need this to feel a sense of normalcy and safety in their own life. Regularity is one way of doing this.

I know that Evan will be okay. He has a loving family that only wants the best for him.  His openness about his hurt feelings for his classmate and her family demonstrate his ability to trust, empathize, and grieve. His curiosity about heaven and whether he will see his classmate again one day is evidence of his ability to love and connect with others.

He is a little guy with big heart.

I wish children didn’t have to experience loss. Since they do, it’s our job as grownups to structure and validate their experience, and give them lots of love and hugs. One day loss will make a little more sense to them. Until then, they need us to create a safe, loving world for them to live in.