Creating A Safe Grieving Space

Going through grief is one of the most challenging times in someone's life. You may be experiencing a range of thoughts and emotions that are difficult to cope with. By creating a Safe Grieving Space, you allow yourself to feel comforted in an area that is safe to process hurtful thoughts and feelings. Find an area in your house where you can process your grief. You can create a space where you feel relaxed with pictures, candles, flowers, scents, pillows or anything meaningful that can help guide you through your grief process.

Once you have created your space, dedicate 10-15 minutes a day to process through your thoughts and feelings. This will help you move along your grieving journey and help you find inner peace. You may be thinking, what should I do in my Safe Grieving Space? A couple of suggestions to get you started is do some deep breathing, meditation, or praying. Play some light music and journal about your thoughts and feelings towards your loved one's passing. You may also take this time to look at old pictures or keepsakes, or maybe you can take this time to create a Memory Book.

The goal is for you to create a safe grieving space that makes you feel comfortable and really make it your own. Allow yourself to be in touch with your inner thoughts and feelings and try to make peace with your loss.

Finding Peace During The Holidays When Your Loved One Has Passed

One of the biggest challenges of grief is allowing yourself to enjoy the holidays when a loved one has passed away. You may be thinking "the holidays are not going to be the same," "how are we going to keep our traditions the same?" These are all thoughts that individuals have when they have lost someone important to them.  You may be asking yourself, does it ever get easier during the holidays when a love one has passed away? Whether this is your first or fifth year without a loved one during the holidays, each year presents new emotions and challenges. 

Accepting that your love one won't be with you during the holidays is a difficult task, but they would want you to be able to find peace and enjoy yourself. One important thing is to give yourself permission to change traditions. If your loved one use to have a holiday at their house, it is okay for another family member to have the holiday. Don't isolate yourself at home because you can't have the same tradition you use to. Identify your thoughts and feelings about having the holiday at someone else's house and try your hardest to make peace with the change.

Be honest with your friends and family about the challenges you are experiencing in regards to your loved one being gone during the holidays. If they are aware of what you are experiencing they will be more understanding of your thoughts and feelings.   

Involve your passed love one during your holiday celebration. Create a piece of them (picture, basket, candle, stocking, ornament, etc) and have a moment where you can talk about the loved one. This will help you feel like they are with you and also keep their memory alive. You can talk about your favorite memories of them during the holidays.

Have an escape plan. As hard as it is, push yourself to go to a holiday party you are invited to, but have a plan to leave if you are having a difficult time. It is okay to feel sad about your loved one not being there for a holiday they use to be at. Communicate with your friends and family before the holiday and let them know that you are going to do your best to stay at the event, but if it becomes too difficult you will need to leave.

Give yourself time and the ability to feel joy and happiness during the holidays. It takes time to accept that your loved one is not around for the holidays. The grief and mourning process takes time and it is okay. It doesn't make you less strong to experience these emotions. Sometimes people feel bad for experiencing joy and happiness during the holidays when a loved one has passed. Your loved one would want you to move on with your life and enjoy the holidays. As challenging as the holidays can be, be mindful of your thoughts and feelings and identify your limits. You can only do so much.

If you feel like you are struggling with grief and are unsure of how to cope with the challenges of your loved one's passing, contact a counselor. Life Balance Counseling in Schaumburg has a Certified Grief Counselor on staff. Please feel free to call our office at 888.234.7628 or contact us online.

Understanding The Stages Of Grief & Loss

Grief and loss is a very difficult time for children, teens, adults and families. All people grieve differently and go through the stages of grief in a different order. Some people might not experience a specific emotion (anger or sadness) that they feel they should be feeling. Everyone grieves at their own pace and you have to let it run its course. Some people are re-triggered during certain times of the year (holidays),  by listening to a particular song, movie, or anything that reminds you of your loved one. It is okay to feel this way during these times. Just because it has been 5 years since a love one passed away, doesn't mean you shouldn't still go through phases where you grieve.

Being educated about the stages of grief can help you understand the emotions you are experiencing. What you are experiencing is very real and can be challenging to cope with at times. The goal is for you to be mindful about the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing and learn the tools to help you healthfully manage your thoughts and feelings.

Stages of Grief (Kubler-Ross)

1. Denial & Isolation: The first reaction is to isolate yourself and deny the fact that a love one has passed away. It is difficult to experience such deep emotions so our defense mechanism is to numb the pain by denying the reality of our loss.

2. Anger: As denial starts to wear off, some individuals may start to feel angry that the loved one is not around. They may feel angry at the deceased depending on their life's circumstances. It is okay to feel angry but you have to be able to identify when your anger is out of control and negatively impacting your life and relationships.

3. Bargaining: Feelings of helplessness and vulnerability start impacting our thoughts. We may think, "if we had gotten medical attention sooner then the person wouldn't be gone," or "if I was a better daughter, my dad wouldn't have passed away." Some individuals may try to make a deal with a higher power to bargain that they don't let your love one pass away or ask them to trade places with the deceased.

4. Depression: feelings of sadness and regrets in relation to the loss. Wishing you had more time with your loved one may cause feelings of sadness. Having moments of crying when thinking about your loved one is all a normal grief reaction.

5. Acceptance: reaching this stage is a blessing in the grieving process. Not everyone reaches this stage and may get stuck in the denial, anger or depression stages. Death can be one of the most challenging things to accept. Accepting that your loved one is gone comes with various emotions. Some people feel guilty that they have accepted the death. The goal of the grieving process is to keep the good memories of the deceased alive.

Coping with loss varies for each individual and is a difficult process. Reach out to your family and friends if you need their support. If you feel like you are struggling with grief and loss challenges, Life Balance Counseling in Schaumburg can help. To learn more information about grief counseling, click here. Please call our office at 888.234.7628.

Pet Loss: How To Help Your Child Cope With Grief

Losing a loved one is a challenging experience for adults and often times can be very confusing for children because they are unsure of the various emotions they are experiencing. The loss of a pet may be your child's first experience with grief and is a great opportunity for parents to teach their child/children healthy ways to cope with grief.

A child may feel confused, sad, angry, or guilty and blame themselves for their pets death. A child may feel scared that other people or animals they love may leave them and may feel anxious or worried. Some parents feel they need to protect their child/children from experiencing their feelings. Parents may tell their child that the pet ran away or went to sleep to make their child feel better. Tell your child in an age appropriate manner of what happened to the family pet and help them learn to cope with their thoughts an feelings during this confusing time. It is better to be honest with children and allow them to experience grief in their own way with your guidance.

When it comes to the loss of a family pet, how do we help children cope with their thoughts and feelings?

  • Parents need to express their own grief and loss of the pet. Don't hide your own thoughts and feelings towards the loss of your pet. Model your thoughts and feelings and the healthy ways you cope with grief. 
  • Let your child express their grief. Let your child feel their emotions and offer them support and guidance during the process. Don't tell them not to cry. It is okay if they feel the need to cry.
  • Educate your child about grief and loss and reassure your child. Help your child understand that the death of their pet was not their fault. Reassure them that other people they love are not going to die and talk to them about their feelings and concerns.
  • Allow your child/children to be a part of the memorial for the pet. This helps the child/children learn about closure and honoring the pet. This will help the child process their thoughts and feelings towards their loss.
  • Have your child write a letter or draw a picture for their pet. This is a helpful way for your child to say their goodbyes and get their feelings out about their loss.

If you feel like your child/children is struggling with their thoughts and feelings in relation to a pet loss, contact a Licensed Counselor and discuss ways to help your child cope with their loss. 
At Life Balance Counseling in Schaumburg we have a Certified Grief Counselor that can help. Feel free to contact us at 888.234.7628 for any help and guidance.