From Scarcity to Abundance – Healing after loss

heather edwards grief loss wellness“How do you want to die?” These are the haunting words spoken by her doctor after being diagnosed with stage four cancer. Three months after her passing, I’ve turned toward and through my grief seeking peace.

Grief takes time. It can feel overwhelming and eternal. But it eventually changes. The cloud lifts. Clarity and lightness return.

Our love for those who have passed before us never dies and perhaps that’s what keeps us moving forward. They’re never really gone. They live on in memories, moments, and a felt sense of connection to them.

While sitting on the edge of loss and wholeness, I’m struck by the flood of ideas about cultivating a robust authentic life. It’s an integration of real science from multiple areas of psychology, neuroscience, trauma treatment, somatics, and mindfulness.

It takes effort to embody them sometimes. But that’s natural, too. From time to time, we are all challenged by real trauma and loss that interrupts our natural flow toward health and happiness. So today’s blog is a free association about the science behind wellbeing. Take a moment with each concept and consider ways to incorporate it into your everyday life.

Love

Abundance

Passion

Connection

Meaning

Movement

Wellness

Happiness

Authenticity

Showing up

Trust

Courage

Mind body

Engagement

Purpose

Flow

Yoga

Gratitude

Relationships

Silence

Meditation

Nature

Stillness

Reflection

Mindfulness

Notice

Observe

Let go

Drop in

Presence

Groundedness

Openness

Non-judgement

Hear

Sense

Experience

Positivity

Light

Choose

Imagine

Act as if

Family

Friends

Support

Animals

Sunsets

Music

Nutrition

Wholeheartedness

Boundaries

Yes

No

Truth

This moment

Vulnerability

Freedom

Breathe

Love


Since our bodies and minds naturally move toward wholeness, healing, and wellness a concerted effort can only accelerate the process. I’m not suggesting ignoring or numbing the painful feelings. That’s part of the hard work. It’s necessary to feel them. It makes the other side of those feelings more joyful when they’re reached. The contrast, the conflict, and the competition of emotions beckons us to examine them and welcome them.

heather edwards grief loss happinessIn the words of Rumi…

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,

translation by Coleman Barks

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.

Psychology Today: The Horror of Addiction

You found out that a loved one is addicted. You feel desperate, scared, and helpless.

Your family is in a state of shock. Nobody knows what to do. The media stories of overdoses, death, and failed attempts at recovery flood your mind. You’re terrified that your friend, brother, or wife will be the next statistic. Suddenly, nothing matters more than knowing your loved one is safe, healthy, and drug free.

We’ve all heard of tough love. What this means is being real about the situation. Confront the problem, and your loved one. If you’ve been enabling the drug abuse in any way, it’s time to stop. You may be unaware of the ways in which you’ve actually sustained the problem through your acts of love and kindness. You may have exercised patience, provided money, or looked the other way when behaviors seemed unusual. The process of addiction is a gradual one and can be unnoticed on a conscious level. Now that this information is unavoidable, do something different.

Deal With Denial:

Get treatment for your loved one. This requires willingness on the part of the addict to participate and invest in recovery. Often there is denial,anger, or blaming that occurs before an acceptance of the need for help. Stand your ground. Share your feelings about how the addiction has negatively impacted you and your relationship. Suggest that your loved one try substance abuse treatment for the sake of their own well being, and the well being of those who care for him.

Educate Yourself:

There are many levels of care and support in chemical dependency treatment. Find out about those. Begin with Detox, Rehabilitation, Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient Treatment, Outpatient Counseling, and finally AA/NA and Sponsors for support. Find providers of treatments that mesh with your loved one’s philosophies on life and spirituality, and recovery and well-being. 12 Step Programs are not the only game in town anymore. With a broadening spirituality in our culture, there are broadened approaches to recovery that are non-faith, non-religious, and empowerment based instead of disease based and the higher power model.

Get Support:

You need support too. Find a group to join. Al-Anon and Alateen groups provide “a program of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics, whether or not the alcoholic recognizes the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help.” Start counseling to process the changes in your life as a result of the addiction. It affects entire family systems. You need to know how to adapt to create the most supportive environment for sustained recovery and recognize triggers and cues of potential relapse.

The Action Plan:

Encourage her to get evaluated and begin a program. Stay involved as much as she will allow. Often, treatment facilities have family activities that provide education and support. This eases the burden of uncertainty and shifts the focus from fear and anger to hope and understanding. Most of all, it reminds you that you are not alone. Many people suffer the consequences of addiction in this world of easy access prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and alcohol.

Keep Perspective:

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.”

Believe in a positive outcome and continue to hold your ground.