Living Your Grief Your Way

There is a twin paradox in being human. First, no one can live your life for you – no one can face what is Yours to face or feel what is yours to feel – and no one can make it alone. Second, in living your one life, you are here to love and lose. No one knows why. It is just so, if you commit to living, you will inevitably know loss and grief.

Loss and grief is a condition of life. Your life is composed of an infinite number of changes. Each change involves a loss. Each loss must be dealt with before you move on to the next. Sometimes the losses are minor, like the tree you love swinging in falling over, or the playground equipment being removed. Your best friend may move away. You come to the end of the school year and have to say goodbye to your favourite teacher.

As time goes on you learn that change and the loss of your normal is constant. Sometimes the new normal is way better, sometimes it is worse. You learn that some losses are okay and others take time to adjust to.

Sooner or later in your life you encounter more devastating losses. A close friendship ends, your first romantic relationship ends, a much loved family pet dies, a close family member dies.


This is when you discover the pain of losses that hurt deeply.

Most of the time you learn that having relationships has a cost.

But in life you don’t necessarily learn how to grieve.


You learn how to grieve from the people around you growing up.

If your father told you to not be so stupid at being upset because your pet died you may well believe it is not okay to be upset at the death of an animal. Even though it is perfectly normal to grieve the loss of a pet.

If your mother lost the job she loved and she put on a brave face and never appeared to be upset, then you may believe it is normal to get over the loss of a job and not normal to get upset or grieve over it.

If your grandmother died and you never saw your parents cry. If they even remained dry eyed at the funeral. If they never mentioned her again and never seemed to be upset. Then you may have the idea that it is not normal to be upset and cry and want to talk about the person who has died.

If you heard the adults around you criticising someone who was crying about losing their spouse and judging them because the funeral was over and it was time they “got over it” then you would likely learn it was not okay to grieve beyond the funeral.

If you were devastated by the end of a friendship and the people around you told you to buck up and come out and enjoy yourself. If you were never allowed time to process the emotions around that friendship you would get the message that you are not supposed to grieve friendships.


During your lifetime there are myriad ways people will communicate to you that grief is unhealthy and you have to get on with things and not experience the emotions and disruption of grief.

Don’t listen to them!

I have lost count of the number of people who come to see me thinking there is something wrong with them because they lost their loved one, job, pet, moved to a new area, had their house burgled, had their car stolen and so on and they are “taking too long” to get over the event. Because they are expected to get over it in a matter of days.


The reality is, other people get bored with your grief.

Other people are uncomfortable with the emotions around your grief.

The messages you get to end the grief are about other people’s comfort, not your own.

You are born to live in relationships and the ending of those will hurt. You are born to form connections with the things you do, the things you own and the end/loss of those will hurt.

You are also born to live your own life in your own way.

So the next time you lose someone or something live your life and live your grief in the way you need to. Not in the way other people feel comfortable having you live.


If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with living your life and living your grief in the way you need to, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

3 Steps to Transform Life’s Problems

One of the biggest problems encountered in life is the things that happen to interrupt the smooth path through life.

The job you don’t get, the “no” you get when you want to do something really important to you, the friend you fall out with, the family member who hurts you.

All these things, and more, can really upset your equilibrium.


The reaction that usually happens is to be upset and to protest.

Protest is something that is seen all the time.

The person who acts out with road rage, the person who gets angry at delays in a queue, your upset and howls of protest when something happens to you.

It is natural when something happens to block your forward progression in life to protest, to push against what has happened. Then to keep going forward in the same direction.

But that is not always helpful.

And it does not resolve the hurt at what has happened.


When obstructions come, there are two choices. It may not seem that way, because you most likely saw others use only one way, were taught only one way, when you were growing up.

You can protest, sure.

But you can also transform the situation.


If you protest you push back against the situation. Then you ignore it and keep going on the same path.

And you carry the hurt and anger at the obstruction. It rankles and the situation is rarely resolved satisfactorily.

And next time you protest even more.

It is hard if you have had a lot of hurt in your life. Unfair things happening in your childhood. Hurts that were never acknowledged.

It all hurts.

And you protest and want something better.


I want you to try something now.

I want you to put your hands together and push them hard together. Take your time. Push hard and spend time observing what sensations you are noticing in your body.

What does it feel like in your body?

Now push hard against the wall. Again take your time. Push hard. Spend time observing the sensations in your body.

What does that feel like in your body?

Now stop.


I want you to reach out for something that is just beyond your reach, so you have to reach, really stretch yourself out.

Take your time. Reach, stretch out. Spend time observing the sensations in your body.

What does that feel like in your body?


Most people will report that pushing against their hands or the wall feels like they are closing in on themself. Shutting themselves off.

Most people will then report that reaching out to grab something just out of reach feels like opening up.


Pushing your hands together or the wall away from you is what happens when you protest.

It closes you up. Restricts you. Feels awful.


Reaching out is what happens when you seek transformation.

It opens you up. Feels freeing. Opens your mind to possibilities.


When a problem presents itself you can choose to protest. To feel the unfairness of what is happening. To fight it. To close yourself up and push through.

Or you can choose to stop and explore what is happening for you inside.

What thoughts are you experiencing?

What emotions are you feeling?

What sensations can you notice in your body?

Those three questions will help you to truly explore what is happening.


You may be surprised at the experience.

Some people have told me that when they explore their thoughts, feelings and body sensations they are surprised to observe they are feeling relief.

Others observe pain, but find that if they are curious and stop fighting the feelings they can find a solution. This does not necessarily resolve the problem, but it does allow them to discover a way to transform the situation.

Others realise the anger they feel is not about the current situation but something that happened in childhood


What is the alternative when you want to protest?

It is so surrender to these feelings. It is to reach out and feel the opening up of your body and mind. It allows you to transform the situation into something that you can grow from. It allows you to understand the past hurts that impact on the current situation and maybe be able to untangle some of that old pain.

It also reduces your pain. Once you surrender to something, although it may still hurt, it will hurt less then if you protest and remain closed.


So the next time you encounter a difficulty in life, choose transformation. In order to transform the situation try this:

  1. Stop and allow yourself to just be with what has happened.
  2. Allow yourself to explore what you are thinking, feeling, and the sensations in your body. Address the thoughts that come up. Allow yourself compassion when old hurts are uncovered. You may find yourself surprised at the emotions you are feeling. You may recognise some of those body sensations again. They are vital clues to warn your when things are getting overwhelming and you may need time to calm yourself.
  3. Surrender to what is happening. Reach out to it. Pull towards it. Allow yourself to be open to new possibilities.

You won’t always be able to do this. There are times when things are so disruptive you need recovery time, but it will allow you to process many things. And with practice, you will be able to transform more and more disruptive things.


If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you transform the big problems in your life, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

There is no such thing as “stages” of grief

In the 1970s the work of Elisabeth Kubler Ross became very popular in bereavement circles. Her initial book was the result of research into the way people managed psychologically with their own death.

In the book Elisabeth described stages people went through. Here is where semantics became a problem. Stages tend to be perceived as something sequential that has to be worked through from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on. But Elisabeth never intended this to be a rigid progression of experiences. She observed that people would move backwards and forwards through these experiences.

It didn’t take long for her work to be adapted to not just the dying but those who were grieving the loss of a loved one. The research had never looked at the experiences of the loved ones of those who were dying, just those who were dying. So there were problems with applying this model to the grieving.


But the idea of stages and the need to process death has become pervasive and generally people consider this is what they have to do and become distressed if they feel they are not moving through these stages properly. Some less well educated practitioners in the medical and mental health fields can also fall for this perception and label people who come to see them as being defective because they aren’t moving through these stages properly.

I have lost count of the number of people referred to me because a medical or mental health practitioner has considered they are not progressing properly through their extremely recent grief. A lot of people are sent to me less than a month after the loss! I would not expect anyone that early after the grief event to be making any arbitrary “progress”.


Lets have a discussion about grief. Maybe I can help you dispel some of the myths about grief.


• Deep or violent sorrow or keen regret

• Emotional suffering that is experienced after a loss. Hard to be put into words although there is a strong need to put it into words so that it can be expressed and shared.

• The personal experience of a loss

• Mourning is a process that occurs after and as a result of a loss

• Mourning is an expression of grief

• Mourning is psychologically referred to as mental and emotional “work” that occurs after the loss of a significant person through death. Or any loss actually.

• Automatic reaction to the loss of someone or something to which you are attached.


• Shock

• Emotional release

• Sadness

• Depression

• Isolation

• Anger

• Hostility

• Idealisation

• Confusion

• Guilt

• Relief

• Gradual letting go of what you have lost

• Gradual return to what you consider a more “normal” life

• Be able to acknowledge reality

• Establish a new way of living

• Your own unique way of grieving

• And many more


There are a lot of theories about this normal process and they have influenced how mental health workers approach grief. These are summarised into four different theoretical areas:

  1. Emotional sickness to be avoided (!!!!)
  2. Psychological reality to face and accept
  3. Process of psychological growth and transition to a better life
  4. Set of developmental tasks to be fulfilled.


The first theory that influences how members of society perceive death, and also how many mental health practitioners perceive death, is so wrong. Death is a normal part of life and it is normal to be sad, disoriented and preoccupied by your reaction to death or the loss of anything important in your life.

Reality to face and accept (mmm)The second theory is okay. Yes, losing someone or something we love and have a deep attachment to is devastating and does need to be processed in order to move on. So the reality of what has happened does need to be accepted eventually and we do need to face this reality. Although our brains usually protect us from full on facing the reality by offering up distractions so we don’t overload our brains.


The third theory is better. We do grow psychologically as a result of processing grief. I am not sure that it is fair to say you transition to a better life. Can life without your loved one actually be better? Maybe you just transition to a life without them that can be fulfilling and meaningful.


The fourth theory is very task oriented. That puts a lot of pressure on people to feel they have a checklist of tasks to complete in order to grieve “successfully”.


Another way of approaching grief is to consider that a mental health practitioner use theories, skills and their own intuition to help the grieving person learn to live their entire life effectively.


Most people find it helpful to perceive their grief as a time to:

  1. Accept the reality of what they have lost
  2. Work through the pain of their grief
  3. Adjust to an environment without the person or object they have lost
  4. Develop a new way of being that allows them to be with the pain of their loss but also be able to continue living. This often involves finding a new meaning in their life


Sometimes you do need to talk. After all, I earlier mentioned that one definition of grief is that it is something that needs to be expressed and shared.

Maybe you can find that space to do that.

Often it is difficult. It is hard to discuss your grief with people who also loved this person. That can make it hard for you to say what you need to say.

Sometimes well meaning friends will say what they think are helpful things to say:

• It’s all for the best

• You should be over it by now

• Your loved on wouldn’t want to see you this way

• You must be strong for your children, your mother, your father etc.

• Best not to talk about it, just get over it and move on with life.

• The sooner you forget the better

• And so on.


So you may find you need to talk to someone who will listen and let you express what you need to. Someone who will tell you that you are not going mad. Someone who will tell you that you aren’t getting over things too slowly. Someone who will know how to help you if you do find yourself stuck.

On those occasions you need to see a grief trained practitioner.


I am trained in working with grief. if you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: