Sunday, January 15, 2006

Grief - The greatest sadness or biggest opportunity for change? Part 3

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Which group are you in?

Life is a work in progress and it’s so important to allow yourself the opportunity to stop and appreciate how far you’ve come.

To demonstrate this concept of a “work in progress”, in the book “On Grief and Grieving” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler write,

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.”

This one paragraph is an empowering way of looking at your grief. It completely removes the pressure of having to be “over it” within a certain period of time.

So now, instead of being in the second group where you have no idea of how long the grieving process will last for, or group three where you think it might just be a few years, you can be in group one. In group one you now know what to expect –the grief will be a part of you forever - and from this base you can then set an outcome for how you would like your life to be.
You can think about that right now. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and imagine your life the way you would like it to be. However much you can imagine right now is right where you need to be. It could be that you want to be able to talk about your child without bursting in to tears, or you want to feel a sense of peace again in the morning when you wake up, or even that you’d like to write a book about your child so that others may learn from your experience. In thinking about an outcome, you are taking a step forward and that’s a good thing.

How can an NLP practitioner help you?

Imagine you have decided to go interstate. Depending on how far you have to go and the amount of time you have available to travel you decide whether you will drive, go by train (if the train goes where you want to go) or fly. You decide to fly because you want to get to your destination quickly, with a minimum of fuss and have more time to enjoy being at your destination. So you log on to one of the travel websites to book a flight. First you enter your origin (where you are right now) and then your destination (where you want to go) and then you choose which airline you want to fly with.
This process seems so obvious when booking a trip, yet in our own lives we often don’t even think of applying this type of process.

An NLP practitioner will look at each situation individually. The common element is grief, but how does that grief affect you? This is the first step – defining the problem. Once this is clear then the next step is to decide where you would like to be, how you would like your life to look – this is the destination.

Once you are clear on the origin and the destination, the NLP practitioner will work with you to create a plan on how you can get from where you are to where you want to be. Throughout this process a variety of techniques will be used to create and support new ways of thinking and new behaviours that are empowering and provide you with more choice in your life.
Imagine a life where through your grief you are able to experience joy again, while still honouring the memory of your child.

© 2005 – Helena Denley

Following the unexpected death of her daughter Isabella, Helena felt she needed more than what the traditional forms of bereavement care offered her. After extensive research into various alternative modalities, she discovered the power of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
Helena is now a Master Practitioner of NLP, Ericksonian Hypnosis and Neurological Re-patterning™, as well as a Master Results Coach.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Grief - The greatest sadness or biggest opportunity for change? Part 2

Read Part 1 first

What is NLP?

NLP was initially created in the early 1970’s by Richard Bandler (whose background was in mathematics and gestalt therapy) and John Grinder (whose background was in linguistics). They began modeling and duplicating the amazing results of a few top communicators and therapists. Some of the first therapists they studied included Hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, Gestalt therapist Fritz Perls and Family therapist Virginia Satir.

A simple explanation of NLP is that it is the relationship between the mind (neuro) and language (linguistic) and how the combination of the two affects our body and behaviour (programming).

For any person that truly desires a change in their life it’s important to understand that our mindset is crucial in achieving our goals. Lets take a simple example like cooking. If you hate it, what are you thinking about – perhaps it takes up too much time, you feel like a slave etc. If you love it, what are you thinking about – the opportunity to create amazing food, the enjoyment of sharing a meal with your family. It’s the same task yet your past experiences with it and your current feeling about it will determine whether you hate it or love it – in short, your mindset determines your outcome.

What is your desired outcome?

How would you like to be able to:
  • Remember the happy times you had with your child;
  • Discover what is important to you about your child, your life, your relationships with others;
  • Create a life where you honour your child and feel happy again; or
  • Be aware of the sadness and allow the strong emotions to diminish into a place where you can live your life again.
When we know what our desired outcomes are for the future, we are able to go the distance and the journey becomes more effortless because we know where we’re headed and we will do whatever it takes to get there. When your child dies, suddenly your picture of the future with your child is ripped away and you don’t know what to focus on – all you know is that you want your child back, healthy and happy. The pain and the loss are overwhelming and your journey now becomes anything but effortless.

When a child dies, there can be feelings of denial, sadness, anger, guilt, fear, relief, anxiety, abandonment or a sense of aloneness. These feelings can be very strong and can leave people confused and unable to manage everyday life. You may even begin to question the meaning of your own life after losing your child. In looking for answers you may feel very isolated from others who do not seem to understand or be able to help.

The importance of knowing where you’re headed

A study was once done on three groups of army personnel who were in relatively the same physical condition and were required to run the exact same ten-mile course. The first group was told they would be running ten miles and along the way they had one-mile markers. The second group was never told how far they would have to run and they had no markers. The last group was told they only had to run five miles. When they reached their five-mile mark, they were told they had five more to go – very cruel indeed. They weren’t being asked for anything more physically rigorous than the other groups, yet their expectations were completely different.

It isn’t difficult to imagine which group performed the best. The entire first group crossed the finish line, some with energy to spare. Several people from the second group did not make it. Having no idea what would be required of them or how to pace themselves, they were unprepared for the long haul. The third group did fine until they reached what they thought was the end, only to be told they still had a long way to go. Several of them dropped out.

Continue to Part 3

Friday, January 13, 2006

Grief - The greatest sadness or biggest opportunity for change? Part 1

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1882 children (under the age of 15) died in 2002. Just imagine how many grieving relatives this leaves behind each year.

What is Grief?

Grief has different meanings for different people depending on your experience of it. It’s not just a series of events or stages or timelines – it’s actually the natural process associated with death and dying. Unfortunately, our society puts a great deal of pressure on us to get over our loss, to get through the grief quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

The important thing to understand about grief is that it is part of the human experience. For all of us who have lost someone close, our experience of grief is as real and as unique as the person we lost. People think they want to avoid the grief – in reality it is the pain of loss that we really want to avoid. The feeling of loss is inevitable because someone we loved and had a deep bond with is no longer physically here. Grief is the healing process that will eventually bring comfort to our pain.

My own personal grief

My experience with grief started at an early age and as I sit here now, writing this article, the tears well up as the pictures come flooding back. As you read this, the memories of your loss may start rising up to the surface for you too and that’s a good thing because it means a little bit more of the pain is being released and you are healing.

In October 2005 it was three years since my daughter Isabella passed away - she was only 13 1/2 months old. In some ways it seems like only last week that she was still here and in other ways, it seems like a lifetime ago.

During this time there were days when I was sad beyond anything I could have imagined – I just wanted Isabella back and I couldn’t understand why this had happened to me. I’ve spent a lot of time reading – about health, death and everything in between. I’ve been to bereavement groups and I’ve talked to counselors. I searched for anything that would increase my understanding of all these events and take away the enormous sadness and pain that I felt.

I look back on everything that has happened, from Isabella first becoming un-well, to her unexpected death, and the events that have taken place since then, and I realise how much I have changed and grown.

Where does your journey begin?

When you begin your own journey through grief, you may consider counseling and/or be-reavement groups. Counseling and bereavement groups are beneficial in that they provide a safe environment to express the pain of loss in the early days. For some, this form of therapy is exactly what is needed to pass through the various stages of grief. For others, talking to a counselor or to a group of bereaved parents isn’t enough. If that is the case – where do you go?

Other common suggestions for self care during the grieving process include:
  • Journaling – writing can sometimes provide an outlet for strong feelings rather than keeping them bottled up inside;
  • Reading and learning about death and the grief process;
  • Eating well, exercising and resting – provides you with nutrients, stress relief and replenishment;
  • Allowing yourself time and space to experience your emotions – they may be painful but they will allow you to progress through your grieving; and
  • Avoiding major changes – e.g. moving house, changing jobs or changes to your marital status – these can add to the burden of grief.
And then there is a new area of practice that is gaining increased popularity because of its amazing results – Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). The fact that you are reading this article now means that you are ready for a new way to look at the events in your life.

Continue to Part 2