Surviving Grief: Push Back or Pull Towards

I have written a lot about the experience of grief. About the spinning out of control feeling, especially in the early days of grief.

I have already written a lot about the juggling of grief and living you have to do.

And I have written about finding meaning in that grief.

One thing I haven’t written about is the choices you have.

The Choices in Grief

This is not something to be doing in that acute phase when your body is still in fight, flight or freeze. This is something for later when you feel more in control of your brain.

This choice is about choosing how you are going to react to your grief.

The Choices

When bad things, such as grief, happen you protest. Not surprising. I don’t know of anyone who happily accepts awful things happening. Most people are shocked, devastated, and confused.

At the point of being able to gain control of your brain and make choices you will have two choices to make.

The Protest: Pushing Back

You can continue protesting, in other words push back against the pain.


“It shouldn’t be happening.”

“I don’t want this.”

“I want things to be normal again.”

“I hate this.”

And so on.

Transform: Pulling Towards

Or you can consider what your needs are in this situation.
You can acknowledge your thoughts, feelings and sensations.
You can surrender to them and accept the pull towards feeling the experience of your grief. Through this decision you can transform the situation and proceed with your life.

It is not easy to do, but it is possible.

A Constant Series of Choices

You will find that on any given day you will have numerous occasions when you need to make that choice. It is not a one off, but a constant series of choices.

In a way, making the choice over every step of the way is easier than trying to make the choice over the entire process.

It does require a lot of effort, hence the exhaustion many people experience in grief. Sometimes you may protest and push back instead. Other times you will pull towards and transform your experience.

There will be times when you will need the support of others who will allow you to be with your experience and make your choices without pressure.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with pushing back and pulling forward, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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:

The Sinister Adult Behaviour of Friendship Bullying.

Today I am writing about behaviour that is commonly assumed to only exist in childhood but continues to exist into adulthood.

I am referring to what is termed Friendship Bullying.

What Is Friendship Bullying?

It is defined as:

• Not allowing someone to join a group

• Leaving someone out of a group

• Refusing to share friends

• Refusing to work with a workmate

• Refusing to sit next to someone

• Eye rolling

• Laughing at someone

• Sarcasm

It is often accompanied by the equally toxic Manipulating Behaviours

What are Manipulating Behaviours?

These are defined as:

• Giving someone the silent treatment

• Forcing a friend/fellow group member to pick sides

• Trying to stop people from being friends with the target person

• Relaying gossip/rumours about the target person to others.

• Informing the target of the gossip with the intention to hurt them.

What Does Friendship Bullying Look Like in Reality?

A classic example is a small community. Someone new moves into the community and the dominant person in the community doesn’t like them.

The dominant person then excludes that person from being part of the group within the community.

The dominant person and those who support them, spread lies as gossip about the excluded person.

The dominant person makes it clear, often without explicitly saying it, but implying it with their stories, that those in the group must not be friends with the excluded person. The consequence is that people are frightened to speak or in any way show friendliness towards the excluded person. They are frightened they will be excluded too if they don’t do as the dominant person wants.

Others within the group may hear the lies told as gossip and portrayed as “truth” and judge the excluded person as not worth knowing.

The excluded person is mocked, laughed at when things go wrong for them, denied the normal support of a community for each other.

The group don’t talk to the excluded person.

Members of the group may decide to tell the excluded person the lies about them to inflict further pain on them.

Horrifying Isn’t It? You Think It Doesn’t Happen In Your Community?

This type of behaviour is extremely toxic.

The group become the “in” group who set out to exclude this person as being a member of the “out” group. This deliberate isolation is cruel, unjust and extremely toxic. The excluded person is often someone who has done nothing wrong, just as the bullied child in the playground has done nothing wrong.
It is not acceptable to treat another person like that. We humans are social and excluding someone from the group is abusive and unsafe for the victim of this abuse.

Sadly, over the course of my life I have seen this happen time and again. Like most people I have occasionally been the victim of this behaviour.

That is the horror of it. Most people have been abused this way. Sadly most people have also been caught up in this toxicity and unwittingly perpetuated the abuse.

Do You Do This?

In reality, you probably do. So much of this behaviour is unwitting. Unless you pay careful attention to what you are doing it is easy to slip into the fitting in behaviour we all use to be part of a group.

One of the most obvious toxic groups is where racist attitudes consign a person to the “out” group.

The dominant person in a group is often so skilled at manipulation that you can be manipulated without realising it.

Not all groups are like this. I am a member of several friend groups of affirming, all inclusive, people. But I also see around me groups that are toxic and exclude others. I don’t belong to those groups. I learned a long time ago to spot them and avoid them.

You Are A Member Of A Toxic Group. What Do You Do?

Sometimes you may be aware you are a member of a toxic group and remain in the group. Maybe you remain because you like the people in the group and try to avoid the toxic behaviour.

Maybe you remain in the group because you are frightened of speaking out and being excluded by the group, becoming a member of an “out” group.

Maybe you feel these are your only friends and if you are cast out of the group you will be without friends.

Maybe you have learned to fear the consequences of speaking out, especially if you rely on the group for emotional support.

It is highly likely that things that happened to you in childhood make it hard for you to resist these toxic groups. Maybe you really would like to get out of such a group but past traumas are making it hard for you to take that step.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with finding the friends that feed your soul or what to do if you are being bullied, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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:

What is Prolonged Grief Disorder and Do I Have It?

If you have ever experienced the loss of someone or something that was important to you, then you will know that grieving a loss is never simple.

For starters, grief hurts. A lot.

You will think your pain is settling down then something will trigger a memory and you are caught up in that pain again.

There will always be pain.

There will never be a time that it doesn’t hurt.

But for most people you learn to live with that pain and still function.

It is when grief continues and you can’t function well that grief can be considered to have become stuck and may need help to be able to function well in life.

This is what is known as Prolonged Grief Disorder.

Who Gets Prolonged Grief Disorder?

Anyone can suffer from Prolonged Grief Disorder.

Some people are more vulnerable to being affected this way. If you were particularly close to the person you are grieving, you will be more likely to be affected.

If you suffered from depression before experiencing this grief that may make you more susceptible.

If the death was sudden, traumatic or due to suicide it can also be more likely to happen.

It is important to acknowledge that Prolonged Grief Disorder is not just something that happens when someone dies, it can also happen with a job loss, the loss of a house, the loss of a country, the loss of a body part, the loss of a relationship, and so on.

Is There Anything I Can Do To Prevent This Happening?

It is really important that you give yourself space to acknowledge what has happened and allow yourself time to experience those feelings.

Don’t be pressured by other people to “get over it”. Don’t allow the expectations of others to force you to push your feelings aside and not process them.

Do recognise you will hurt for a long time. It is likely that before you are finished the worst part of grieving you will be fed up with being so sad. That is a good sign. It means you are getting ready to learn how to live with this pain.

Be willing to get help. See a counsellor, join a support group, use the support of understanding friends and family. Be prepared to experience your grief.

How Do I Know If I Have Prolonged Grief Disorder?

The first thing to remember is that no attempt is made to diagnose Prolonged Grief Disorder until at least 12 months has elapsed since your bereavement.

I have had people come to see me who are struggling to process the death of a loved one over a year ago, but then tell me another close family member only died a few months ago. If you have two major bereavements that close together, expect to be dramatically affected. You are not suffering from Prolonged Grief Disorder. You most likely need support, but you are not suffering from Prolonged Grief Disorder.

This is the criteria for an official diagnosis of Prolonged Grief Disorder:

• The bereavement occurred at least 12 months ago.

• You need the above plus at least three of the points below.

• You have lost your sense of who you are,

• You struggle to believe the person is dead,

• You avoid reminders that the person is dead,

• You are still experiencing intense emotional pain (sorrow, anger, bitterness for example) related to the death,

• You are having trouble getting back to work or social involvement,

• You feel emotionally numb,

• You feel your life is meaningless,

• You feel intensely lonely or feel totally detached from life.

If you feel this may be you then it is helpful to see a specialist grief counsellor.

What About My Children?

Children will grieve differently to adults. How they grieve will depend on their developmental stage and each new developmental stage will include a new period of processing more grief.

Another issue for children is the reaching of life stages where the one who has died may have been expected to be present. This is a fresh reminder of their absence and will include a new period of processing more grief.

Teenagers are included in this as their brains are still developing.

What you may see in children is:

• They may wait for their loved one to come back. This is particularly so with small children who have trouble understanding the concept of death.

• They may be frightened other people in their life may die too. With the death of someone in their life their sense of safety is disrupted and will take time and possibly assistance to regain.

• They may develop separation anxiety and not want other people to be away from them.

• They may think they just have to complete some task in order for their loved one to be alive again. This is known as magical thinking. Children can find it hard to understand that things happen in life and they cannot control them.

• Acting out behaviours that may not appear to be related to the loss. You may expect your child to cry or be sad. But what if they become angry and combative? Or they adopt destructive behaviours? Or they act like they don’t care about anything? There are many different behaviours you may see as your child tries to process these unfamiliar and overwhelming emotions.

If your child/teen is exhibiting behaviour that may suggest they are not coping with their loss it is helpful to arrange an appointment with a specialist child counsellor. Later teens are okay with a specialist grief counsellor but I would recommend a specialist for your younger children.

How To Treat Prolonged Grief Disorder.

There are many different therapies that work well with Prolonged Grief Disorder. In my work I use talk therapy, sand play, painting, movement, journalling, writing, poetry, therapeutic cards to name a few.

Please note that there is no medication treatment for this disorder. You need to process what has happened and medications do not facilitate that.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief, whether prolonged or not, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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:

Why Is Your Body So Important In Trauma Treatment?

For many years, it has been known amongst Trauma Practitioners that the body plays an important role in trauma.

For decades, the mind and emotions were focused on as the areas where trauma impacted. But research over the past decades has changed that.

Somatic Therapy

Somatic Therapy, as practiced by therapists such as Pat Ogden is one area of work in the way we hold our bodies as having an impact on our mood as well as holding uncompleted defensive actions from our past.

Peter Levine, with his breakthrough book “Waking the Tiger” works to release trauma from the body where it is trapped in incomplete movements.

Bessel van der Kolk, with his book “The Body Keeps the Score” is another who has presented the evidence that trauma is stored in the body.

The Impact Of Your Body Posture On Your Mood.

More recent research has shown that your posture and the way you hold your body has a major impact on how you feel and how shifts in posture can release stress.

Big expansive poses such as the so-called power poses are empowering and stress relieving. Power poses include standing with your arms outstretched or on your hips, or sitting with your arms outstretched and leaning back.

The opposite of these poses, ones that trap stress hormones in the body include any posture where you hold yourself as small as possible. These include hunching forward and crossing your arms and legs slumping with your shoulders hunched forward and your head hanging down.

Body Poses That Empower

Poses that open up your vulnerable front, such as the power poses empower you whereas poses that close up your vulnerable front, disempower you.

Bessel van der Kolk often mentions in his lectures the impact of taking a person who is sitting slumped in front of him and directing them to sit up and pull their shoulders back. He reports that the person’s mood immediately lifts.

It is worth remembering the importance of posture when you are feeling stressed, or nervous about meeting certain people. Stand up, pull your shoulders back, gaze ahead, don’t look down. You will find your ability to remain calm will increase and your mood will improve.

Trauma Stuck In The Body Needs To Be Released

As for trauma stored in your body. That trauma needs to be released. I mentioned earlier how Pat Ogden and Peter Levine work with completing uncompleted defensive actions from the past. This is very helpful. I use this approach often when working with people. Being able to complete defensive actions that were not able to be used when the original trauma happened is very powerful.

It is also helpful to adopt practices to help you release the trauma. There are many different practices, although the one most often used is Yoga, which is a particularly well-known approach and there are Yoga practitioners who work with releasing trauma. Movement therapy can also be helpful.

Mindfulness can be used to feel into parts of the body and work with the movements those parts need to complete as well as the trauma those parts need to release.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with releasing trauma from your body, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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:

Denial And Saying Goodbye: Two Difficult Aspects Of Grief To Navigate.

In learning to live with the loss of someone you love, two of the most difficult aspects of that loss are often the ones people get stuck in.

The first is being able to accept the reality of your loss. This is often referred to as Denial of the loss, but it is a misnomer.

The second is being able to reach a point of acceptance, often referred to as the Good Bye.


When I use the word denial, I am not referring to you refusing to accept your loved one is dead. Denial is referring to the sense of unreality around the death.

The death of anyone you love is incredibly hard to conceptualise. Your brain just can’t handle the enormity of what has happened.

Additionally, your brain is still hard wired to connection with the person who is dead. How can you comprehend that person’s death if your brain is still searching for that connection?

What Denial Feels Like

When you are trying to comprehend the death of someone you are quite likely to feel numb. You may be paralysed with shock.

You may feel the world has lost all meaning. You may feel overwhelmed. You may feel life is not making sense.

Earlier I talked about the enormity of what your brain has to take on. This protects you from overwhelming emotions and allows them to be titrated as you are able to cope with them.

A Personal Experience

I remember the unreality of my grandmother dying. It was the first time I had encountered death and I couldn’t get my 12 year old mind around it.

I remember asking myself what death meant. From my perspective it would mean she would never ring us again. There would never be the jokes about how loud she was on the phone (a result of a husband with very poor hearing). It would also mean I would never be able to visit her again, or hear her talk, or see her. It would no longer be Nanna and Pa. It would just be my grandfather on his own. I felt like a massive hole had opened in my life and I didn’t know how to fill it.

When You Aren’t There To Say Goodbye

When my grandfather died I was 19 and had seen a lot of death as a student nurse. I wasn’t there when he died and could only comprehend he was dead when I went to see his body. I just needed to see him.

Everyone has their way of comprehending the death of someone they love. It is a lot to get your head around.

Accepting Means Letting Go

In all my years as a nurse, and as a counsellor, I have never met anyone who didn’t want to believe. They struggled to comprehend, most definitely, but they never denied the loss.

However, some people struggle to let go of the one who has died. They hold on to the person’s possessions, they avoid places that remind them of the person who died, they refuse to visit the grave or release their ashes.

These can all be signs of being stuck in denial. This comes under the term Prolonged Grief. It is where the grief process gets stuck in one area. This is when professional grief counselling is important.

How To Look After Yourself

If you find yourself in the awful situation of losing someone you love, be gentle with yourself. Don’t rush to acknowledge the grief and run on as though nothing has happened.

Allow yourself time to sit with the reality of what has happened and let that reality slowly sink in.

Be ready to let go of their belongings at a time that is right for you. Some rush to do it, others hold on to them for a long time. Be okay with taking your time to attend to those tasks.

Be prepared for the fresh grief as you attend to the handing over of belongings, visiting the grave site, spreading the ashes and all the other tasks that need to be attended to when someone dies.

Be ready to open your connection to your loss and face your feelings about it. Don’t hesitate to seek help if you need someone with you at those stages.

Acceptance: The Act Of Saying Goodbye.

It can be very hard accepting the death of a loved one when their death was particularly traumatic for you.

I have seen many people stuck in the horror of the pain experienced by their love one. For others the stuckness comes at the speed with which the person went from living to dead.

Their age also is a factor and your relationship to them. I have spoken to many parents trying to comprehend the death of their child because that death is out of the natural order of things. You are supposed to bury your parents and your children are supposed to bury you. But when it happens out of order with you burying your child, that is so hard to comprehend.

If the one you love died a long way away and you weren’t able to see them before they died, or you couldn’t be at the funeral, then it is hard accepting the death. Not only that, it is hard to comprehend the fact of their death when all you have is words spoken over a telephone or contained in an email.

A Personal Experience

When my husband’s Aunt died we were living on the other side of the world. I found a days old email in an unused email account stating she had died. It was a shock to both of us. We never knew when she was buried. It took years to learn what caused her death. It was hard for my husband to understand she had died.

It wasn’t just this Aunt. When he was a child another Aunt died. His parents decided he was too young to see her before she died or attend her funeral. He was about 10 at the time. He grieved for the fact he never had the chance to say goodbye.

Many years later another Aunt died and he was in a position to go to the funeral. We decided he would go and grieve for the Aunt who died when he was a child, for the Aunt who died when we were living overseas and this Aunt who had just died. It was an important opportunity for him to accept and say goodbye to all these women who had meant so much to him in life.

When Death Is Difficult

Another way the good bye can be delayed can be when the person who dies has died a difficult death. I have worked with many people who are stuck in the pain their loved one suffered. Acceptance of the death can be hard because the one left behind finds their death too traumatic to accept.

When a death is traumatic like that it can be very hard to move past those painful last hours. I often find helping the person to switch their focus to their earlier life with the person can be really helpful. Remembering the happy times, before the trauma of their death, can switch the focus to the person and their life, rather than the moments of their death.

When someone dies, you are saying goodbye to every moment you had together, not just the moment of their death. When you are caught up in their death, it can be hard to remember that.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with any aspect of your grief, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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:

People Pleasing, The Destructive Behaviour That Should Be Rejected

Most people are taught as children to have good manners, do as you are told and don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Oh and if you can’t hurt anyone’s feelings then you have to accept that your feelings may get hurt, but that is okay because they don’t matter.


What is deemed good manners often involves other people invading your personal boundaries. And if you follow that code, you aren’t allowed to set boundaries. And that is wrong.

The Downside Of People Pleasing

When you people please, not only do you get hurt but you don’t get a chance to do what you want to do because someone else frequently steps over your boundaries and prevents you from being who you want to be.

Sometimes people learn to people please because of the family environment they grow up in. When there is trauma you learn to do whatever keeps you safe. So you people please.

Narcissistic parents cause a lot of harm by making you responsible for making them happy. So you constantly second guess what you need to do to make them happy.

Becoming Addicted To Being Liked Because Your Truth Says You Don’t Matter

People pleasers can also become addicted to being liked by others and may even learn manipulative behaviours as well as people pleasing.

Behind people pleasing is the message that you and your needs don’t matter. That the things you want to do and the person you want to be is unimportant.

People Pleasing And Healthy Boundaries Can’t Co-exist

One of the problems with people pleasing to everyone is that you set boundaries with people that are very small and people don’t necessarily know they are encroaching on your boundaries. Inevitably you reach a point where you explode with frustration and anger. The other person may be shocked and surprised, not having realised they had encroached on a boundary.

Remember, you set boundaries and you only have to gently ask a healthy person not to do that if you want to set a boundary. If you say nothing then you have given permission to that person to breach that boundary.

An Example Of When People Pleasing Became An Issue

A classic example I saw years ago was when I was working in an office. One of the other team members would walk past the desk of another team member and constantly take her pencils and pens to use. The team member said nothing.

Privately she would complain to the rest of us about it. When it was suggested to her that she ask the other person to stop borrowing her pencils and pens she replied she couldn’t possibly. That would mean she wasn’t being a good team member.

One day she needed to write something down and discovered she had no writing implements on her desk. She went to the other person and exploded in anger. The other person was shocked. She had no idea her borrowing of pens/pencils was a problem.

That is the risk of people pleasing.

The Risks of People Pleasing

The team member in my example stayed up at night running over in her mind the way she should have spoken to the other staff member.

She fantasised about telling this team member not to take her pens and pencils. She became irritable and short fused and often snapped at her family and fellow team members. But never to the one she was actually angry with.

Over time she became resentful of this other team member. Far from being a good team member she had become an ineffective team member because she wouldn’t set boundaries. Her hidden anger and resentment, coupled with her irritability, was causing problems in the team. This reflected badly on her, not the other team member.

Over a period of time, it resulted in an outburst at the most unpredictable moment. Her reaction was out of proportion to the issue at the time.

The Cost of Not Valuing Yourself Enough To Set Boundaries

Not valuing yourself will rob you of your self confidence and self worth. It will destroy your sense of who you are. It destroys your relationships with others because you are constantly looking over your shoulder, second guessing people and modifying your behaviour to keep others happy.

How Do I Change From People Pleasing To Setting Healthy Boundaries?

Learn to say no.

Learn it is acceptable to ask someone not to take something of yours, or rearrange your plans to suit themself, and to consider your needs when making a decision.

Learn to understand who you are. Learn your values, boundaries, and worth.

Learn to say no to what you don’t want to do and yes to what you do want to do.

If the fear of speaking up for yourself and setting a boundary becomes too great to overcome then seeking help from a counsellor can be helpful.

Can I Help?

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your people pleasing, please contact me on 0409396608 or

I can guide you through the roots of your people pleasing and help you heal the pain there. Then I can help you learn your values, where you want your boundaries to be and to see yourself as worthwhile.

It takes a lot of courage and strength to learn that you are worthwhile, it is okay to love yourself, you are not responsible for other people’s disappointment and you can say no.

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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:

Why Imagination—Not Resilience—Might Help You Heal From Heartbreak

One of the buzz words you will likely hear spoken around disasters and traumas is resilience. It is particularly popular in schools where teachers speak enthusiastically about developing resilience in children. Sadly, teachers have so much they had to teach children that adding resilience to the mix is really difficult.

Resilience Is Not Always Enough

What researchers have found is that maintaining resilience is virtually impossible. Resilience is defined as a consistent ability to adapt to difficult situations and return to normal.

This is fine if you have gaps between your difficult situations that allow you to adapt. As for returning to normal. Once something, anything, happens it changes you and you can’t go back, only forward.

Resilience requires great mental toughness. Something that goes out the window with massive difficulties. Facing a life changing crisis is more likely to leave you feeling weak and disempowered.

Mental Toughness Leaves When Facing Heartbreak

If you have been through a disaster or major trauma, or you have faced a devastating grief, mental toughness is one thing that will be in short supply.

You are scared, tired, overwhelmed, not knowing what to do next.

Resilience goes out the window here and suggesting to a person in that situation that they are resilient and will cope, or that they need to learn resilience is soul destroying.

You Can Only Ever Go Forward, Never Back

In grief, as in disasters and major traumas, life altering events occur. There is no going back to what you were. You are in uncharted territory.

You won’t bounce back. You won’t get over it. You won’t go back to what was there before. To how you were before.

Learning To Be A New Person

What you do need to do is learn how to be a new person. The new person who has suffered a loss and has been changed by what has happened to them.

You won’t bounce back, you will likely limp slowly over the finish line, long after the race organisers have packed up and gone home.

Imagination, The Hero Of Healing

What is more likely to help you in grief is your imagination. That right brain side. The creativity that allows you to find solutions to life’s problems. The side that allows you to imagine things. The side that is curious, open and allows you to adapt.

The right side of your brain allows you to imagine the future. It allows you to look at the future from different angles. It allows you to perceive your blackness and despair as something temporary and malleable. As something you can change. As a future with potential.

Imagination Brings Your Conscious Brain Back On Line

There is a method of using imagination to reimagine past events in an effort to heal the past trauma. This uses the concept that imagining things stimulates the cognitive part of our brains that is usually taken off line in unsafe situations, such as grief and trauma.

Researchers have discovered that if you are able understand what matters to you most right now then you can use your imagination to discover what is possible for you to do in the present moment.

Imagining What You Are Able To Do

Your imagination actually helps you to imagine what you are able to do in this moment. Not what you “should” be doing, but what you are able to do.

The interesting thing about imagination is that it can find slight suggestions of hope that you can use to help you through this time of heartbreak.

People who have used their imagination to get through grief have found that imagining something as simple as getting out of bed, having a shower, eating breakfast, getting dressed, going out of the house. Have helped them actually do those things that had seemed so impossible.

Imagination Helps You Get Back Into The World

As the people moved out of the deepest parts of the crisis they were able to imagination things that led them out more into the world.

Over time, these people were able to use their imaginations to discover the new them and the new life without the one they loved so much.

Your Imagination Will Never Remove Your Pain, But…

You can never imagine away your pain. That would be impossible. But you can imagine small gaps in your suffering that can allow other things to happen. Moments of laughter, connection with others and compassion for yourself and others.

You can imagine so much more. Maybe a conversation with a stranger that becomes amazingly soothing and even healing. Peace when you suddenly see a beautiful flower. The feeling of support when someone gives you a hug.

Imagination allows you to discover that your life is not all pain, that there are still things in your life that are not pain.

Find Your Way Out Of The Pain

When you are in such pain that you can’t see a way out, imagination can allow you to make a choice that will help you see there are gaps in that pain. This is wonderfully helpful for you in being able to cope.

You can imagine choices in what you will do, in where you will go, in whether life is all darkness, or there is light there.

Using your imagination allows you to imagine meaning in the loss of your loved one.

Making a Choice Between Hardness or Imagination and Possibilities

Yes, you can survive the depths of grief by becoming hard, or you can use your imagination to find those gaps in your grief where you can use your curiosity and be able to live with the uncertainty of your life as it will become. You can even use your imagination to stop being afraid of your suffering.

The Role of Mindfulness

To use your imagination it can be helpful to use mindfulness to access that area of your brain.

Mindfulness is a practice that is best used regularly, preferably daily. It can be just 5 minutes. You can do it quietly without anyone else noticing. Although it is best done somewhere away from others, many people practice on public transport on the way to or from work because that is when they have the best opportunity to snatch 5 minutes.

A Helpful Mindfulness Practice

• Sit quietly, preferably somewhere where you will not be disturbed. This is really helpful when you first learn to do mindfulness.

• If you can, close your eyes so that you can focus better. Alternatively you can soften your focus or look down into your lap.

• Take a deep slow breath in to your tummy.

• Release that breath slowly.

• Continue to breath deeply, in and out.

• As you breathe in, notice the feeling of the air entering your nose, you tummy and chest expanding.

• As you breathe out, notice the feeling of the air leaving your nose and your tummy and chest contracting.

• As you breathe in, breathe in peace.

• As you breathe out, breathe out tension.

• Breathing in peace

• Breathing out Tension.

• Once you are settled into this rhythm, and you feel the tension has been released from your body, breathe in say to yourself:

• “Who I was before this time of suffering cannot be resurrected.”

• Continue to say this for a few breaths.

• Now when breathing in say a word of something you are determined to experience while experiencing this hardship. The word may be peace, growth, connection, surprise, reconciliation or any other word that expresses what you are determined to experience in your recovery.

• Now use this word as you continue to breathe in.

• Imagine what it would feel like to be that word, not in the future but now. Find somewhere in your current life where you can feel that word now.

This may seem hard at first, and it will be. But with commitment to practice regularly you can find a way to move forward with your life and your healing from heartbreak.

Can I Help?

Sometimes, when going through experiences that are hard to live through, it can be helpful to get help from a counsellor. If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your heartbreak, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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:

Finding Meaning in Grief

I often write about the importance of finding meaning in your grief.

You may well wonder how you do that, or even if it is necessary.

The first thing to note is that finding meaning is necessary and most people intuitively seek out that meaning. Sometimes finding that meaning is not easy or your intuition has not kicked in to prompt and guide you into this important step.

As to how you do it, the aim of this blog is to try to guide you into a place where you can seek meaning.

The Vital First Steps

A vital part of finding meaning in your grief is to acknowledge that your grief will never end. Yes it will most likely lessen in intensity over the years, but it will never end.

Another aspect of finding meaning is allowing yourself to be in this place where you have understood your grief will never end but you allow yourself to be fully open to the emotions you are experiencing. It is only then that you can start the exploration to find meaning in your grief.

Why Meaning?

Finding meaning in your grief will allow you to take your grief and transform it into something deeper, richer and more fulfilling. It will allow you to find more to this experience than just pain.

The loss of losing something is a terrible wound that often paralyses you. The way forward out of that place of paralysis is through finding meaning. Meaning gives you the power to find that path forward.

Finding meaning in your grief is also a way to make sense of what has happened.

People who can find meaning in their grief tend to have an easier time grieving than those who are unable to find meaning.

Those who cannot find meaning often find themselves stuck in their grief. They can turn to addictions to cope. They may become an angry person. They may isolate themselves from others because they fear losing others. They may become obsessed with what they have lost and lose their purpose and direction in life. They may become depressed. They may become bitter.

Meaning Empowers You After the Disempowerment of Loss

When something important is lost and you are grappling with grief the initial search for meaning can be sidetracked into finding someone responsible for what has happened. You can see this after a natural disaster when people try to blame some level of government for what has happened, when in reality the disaster is what happened and governments were as powerless as the victims to prevent what happened.

Assigning blame for a loss can make people feel some sense of power in a situation of total powerlessness. But this is counterproductive. In most cases there is no one to blame. And even if there is, focusing on blame blocks finding meaning in your grief.

So what is meaning?

People who have experienced loss and report finding meaning in the grief have reported their meaning as:

•    Feeling grateful for the time they had with their loved one,

•    Finding a way to commemorate and honour their loved one,

•    Realising how brief life is and how valuable it is – this has led to them making a major change in life

•    Realising they can’t help their own situation but can help others. For example, establishing a foundation to support those in similar situations.

•    Finding a way to sustain their love for what was lost while moving forward with a life you now realise is precious.

•    Learning new ways of living.

Where Do I find Meaning?

Meaning can be found in many aspects of your loss.

•    You may find it in the death of your loved one. You may find it in the loss you experience. You may find it in the event that led to your loss. You may find it in the life of the person you loved. Or you may find it in your own life. 

•    You may find it in an exploration of what life means to you.

•    You may find it in the rituals you observe around your loss.

•    You may find it in the connections you form after your loss. 

•    You may find it in gratitude for the gift of life and relationships.

•    You may find it in the realisation that life matters and so do relationships and that making being with those you love is your highest priority.

Finding Meaning is Not Easy

One grief expert, David Kessler, wrote about losing his 21 year old son to a drug overdose. He struggled with his grief. A friend and colleague Diane Gray told him “I know you’re drowning. You’ll keep sinking for a while, but there will come a point when you’ll hit bottom. Then you’ll have a decision to make. Do you stay there or push off and start to rise again?”

This is the important thing to remember. Meaning is not something you acquire within moments of your loss. It is not something that comes to you a day or so later. It is something you develop after a long time of acute grief at what you have lost.

Many people who come to see me have been in acute grief for a while and find themselves wanting to lift their heads out of the mire of grief just for a few moments. This is when they often decide that they don’t want what they lost to be meaningless. They don’t want their life or that of the person they lost to be meaningless. They want to live. They want to remember the good that they had before their loss. They want to move forward in life and learn how to live life, remember and feel the pain of loss.

A Guide to Your Search for Meaning

Here are some thoughts that may guide you in understanding meaning:

•    Meaning is both relative and personal. There is no such thing as one size fits all. The meaning others find will not necessarily be the meaning you find.

•    Meaning takes time. A lot of time. You may not find it until months or even years after your loss.

•    Meaning doesn’t require understanding. You don’t have to understand why your loss happened in order to find meaning.

•    Meaning is never greater than what you lost. What you gain in finding meaning will never be better than what you lost.

•    Despite what you may be told, loss is not some sort of test. It is also not a gift or blessing. It is not a punishment either. Loss just is what happens in your life. You have no control over it. Meaning, however, you make happen. Meaning you have control over. 

•    Only you can find your own meaning.

•    Meaningful connections will heal painful memories.

•    Meaning will mature and develop as time goes by.

Can I Help?

Sometimes moving forward in grief and finding meaning is hard to do. There are times when you may need help with finding meaning. This is where seeing a grief counsellor can help.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief and finding meaning, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with helpful 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: