BW 092: Guilt in Grief, Unmet Expectations, and Lost Dreams for the Future (Grief Recovery Method Basics)

blog tips Apr 02, 2024
 

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The Transcript is below.


In this episode, I share basics that helped me: Break free from guilt and regret with my person Resolve unmet expectations and lost dreams for the future Feel a sense of completeness in my relationship Not feel like I was going crazy Communicate what I wanted to say to my person All credit goes to the Grief Recovery Institute and the evidence-based method that they've developed. Today, I'll define grief for you, identify some of the reasons that grief is misunderstood, identify ways that unresolved grief impacts you, discuss the sources of our grief, and identify ways to relieve some of the grief that we carry.

RECOMMENDATIONS: 

  • Validate and acknowledge the grief and the trauma, avoiding some of the myth statements that are common, and validating them with things like saying,  ''Oh, I can't imagine.  That must be really painful for you.''
  • identify and name the loss, tangible or intangible.
  • Help name the feelings. They'll tell you the story, but they want you to know how it feels.
  • Help them make choices as grievers.

Quote: 

''Grief is defined as the normal and natural reaction to change or loss of any kind. Grief by any other name is still grief. It might look like stress.

We might call it burnout, PTSD, complicated grief, or depression. Grief is the response to a change in or the end of any familiar pattern of behavior.''

 ''The third definition of grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who's always been there for you, only to find that when you need them one more time, they're not there.''

''Think about the analogy of carrying around an empty backpack.

You're born, congratulations, here's your backpack.  And as you grow up in life, you're picking up these big heavy rocks and you're putting them in the backpack.  Well, at some point the backpack's going to be too heavy to carry and it's going to become overwhelming and it's going to cause you to topple over.

that's really a similar way to how grief works.  Our rocks that we're carrying might include things like blankets and bottles,  abuse,  pets, moves,  divorce.  Death,  graduation,  job loss, financial loss,  illnesses,  floods, incarceration,  foster care and separation, violence, loss of an addiction, loss of stuff,  environmental or climate losses, estrangement, separation. At the end of the day, it's change.''

 ''We also have intangible losses in grief, things like safety. Security, trust, respect,  faith, expectations, dreams, hope, or just a sense of normal.''

 ''I was probably really good at, telling people I'm fine, telling people I'm going to be fine, telling people that  You know, I can get through this.

It's all going to be okay. And keeping a lot of my feelings inside and not feeling that I can be open with people or that really they would understand.''

 


The Brave Widow Community is a place where you can connect with other widows, find hope and healing, and begin to dream again for the future.  Learn more at bravewidow.com.  

Hey guys, I’m Emily Jones

I was widowed at age 37, one month shy of our 20 year wedding anniversary.  Nathan and I have four beautiful children together.  My world was turned completely upside down when I lost him.  With faith, community, and wisdom from others, I’ve been able to find hope, joy, and dream again for the future.  I want to help others do the same, too!

 

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Transcript: 

Grief Recovery Method Basics 
===

Emily Tanner: [00:00:00] Hey, hey, and welcome to episode number 92 of the brave widow show today. I want to talk to you about the grief recovery method. And for those of you who are listening and you're not watching on video, I'm holding up now a copy of the grief recovery handbook. It's a purple book by The Grief Recovery Institute and the authors are John James and Russell Friedman.

If you've listened to the show for very long, you know, I've talked about this book and this program many times.

and one of the reasons that I decided to become certified in delivering the grief recovery. method is because of how much it helped me in my grief recovery and in my healing process. I've shared often that in my grief and in my relationship with Nathan, there were just a lot of [00:01:00] unclosed loops. A lot of things I felt were left unsaid.

And I often find with grievers and, and widows that Even more than missing our person at times, there is this yearning for one more conversation, for some sort of closure or completion or a sense that things have been fulfilled. I also talk with a lot of grievers and widows who really struggle with guilt and regret.

And I've talked often about how guilt is not necessarily what you feel or should feel or how we should associate with that, but it is a result of us wishing that things were better, more or different either in our relationship or in the time that we had with them or in the time that we didn't spend with them or we didn't [00:02:00] have with our person.

So today I'm going to share just some overall information about the grief recovery method. I am recording this early in March, and by the time this podcast episode airs, it will be probably mid April by the time it actually gets published. So I'm leading my first cohort, my first group, uh, group of people through the grief recovery method.

We are almost halfway through. We've had about three sessions out of the eight group sessions so far. And my next cohort is going to start on April 30th. These are eight week sessions that last typically two hours. So it'll be on Tuesdays from 9 AM to 11 AM central. And if you would like to be part of that group, or, you know, someone who would like to be part of that group, then you can go to brave widow.

com slash grief. G R I E F to [00:03:00] either sign up for the next cohort or. If the timing isn't right, if you want to be able to attend one in the future, if by the time you check out the website, this cohort is already sold out, then you can sign up to be on the waiting list and hear about the next opportunity that these cohorts are going to happen.

These sessions are comprised of reading and writing assignments, so you do have homework in between, but not to worry. It's not anything excessive. It's really kept very simplistic, as we know that people who are grieving often are overwhelmed or easily distracted or struggling sometimes just to get through the day to day thing.

And then lastly, I'll share that the grief recovery method program is a very specific prescription of things that need to happen. So, with that being said, it's separate and apart from Brave Widow. It's not part of the Brave Widow community. Uh, [00:04:00] certainly there are extras that I can offer to folks that are already members of Brave Widow.

But this also means that because it is separate and because it is such a specific program, this is really open to anyone who's experiencing a loss or grief. And a lot of times we associate with loss of a family member or loss of just, A job or something that's a huge impact, but there are a multitude of life events that cause loss that cause us to grieve.

And I'm going to share some of those with you. In case you'd like to learn more and I would love for you to come and join me and one of our cohorts and moving through the grief recovery method. I would love for you to bring a friend or to recommend it to someone, you know, who could benefit from it. So, that being said, I am going to put out a disclaimer for today's episode that [00:05:00] the information I'm going to cover today.

Comes from the grief recovery method. It comes from the grief recovery Institute.

So with that being said, I want to share with you that the information that I'm sharing with you today comes directly from the grief recovery Institute. This isn't anything I've created on my own. This isn't unique thoughts or ideas that I've had. I'll weigh in and give my input as I move through some of this information on grief and on grief recovery, but the core content of the information and.

How it actually helps people. All credit goes to the Grief Recovery Institute and the method that they've developed. So, For today, I want to define grief for you, identify some of the reasons that grief is misunderstood, identify ways that unresolved grief impacts youth and adults, discuss the sources of their and our grief, [00:06:00] and identify ways to relieve some of the grief that we carry.

So let's define grief. Grief people very commonly as I'm talking with them associate grief with sadness, but let's see how the grief recovery institute defines it. Grief. Grief is defined as the normal and natural reaction to change or loss of any kind. Grief by any other name is still grief. It might look like stress.

We might call it burnout, PTSD, complicated grief, or depression. Grief is the response to a change in or the end of any familiar pattern of behavior. It's also about mixed emotions, graduation, moves, births, loss of addictions, and even death. The third definition of grief is the feeling of [00:07:00] reaching out for someone who's always been there for you, only to find that when you need them one more time, they're not there.

Or It could be reaching out for someone who's never been there for you, only to find that when you need them one more time, they're still not there. So what causes grief? As we go through life, we often find that grief and loss begins in childhood. This might be the loss of a pet. This might be a loss of a physical item.

It might be a change in our routine, as we mentioned, but at the end of the day, this often begins in childhood. Um, we're not taught how to deal with these rocks, these losses and this grief. And so it just continues to pile up more and more as we age. Think about the analogy of carrying around an empty backpack.

You're born, [00:08:00] congratulations, here's your backpack. And as you grow up in life, you're picking up these big heavy rocks and you're putting them in the backpack. Well, at some point the backpack's going to be too heavy to carry and it's going to become overwhelming and it's going to cause you to topple over.

And that's really a similar way to how grief works. Our rocks that we're carrying might include things like blankets and bottles, abuse, pets, moves, divorce. Death, graduation, job loss, financial loss, illnesses, floods, incarceration, foster care and separation, violence, loss of an addiction, loss of stuff, environmental or [00:09:00] climate losses, estrangement, separation.

At the end of the day, it's change. So what else can cause grief? Well, in grief, we not only have what we call tangible losses, where maybe you've lost a person or an item or something that feels really tangible. We also have intangible losses in grief, things like safety. Security, trust, respect, faith, expectations, dreams, hope, or just a sense of normal.

So what causes your grief? Well, this can be things that you see and hear. Things that you accept as normal. It could be youth, elders, and family stories. It could be your quote unquote doing all the right things and still feel like you're not [00:10:00] succeeding.

It really could be a variety of things.

Why is grief so misunderstood? Well, there are a ton of myths out there and a lot of information. And for my listeners who are widowed, You know these very well. These are the things that usually get under your skin. You get frustrated with because people say these things over and over to you again and instead of comforting you like often they're intended to comfort you, they really just rub you the wrong way.

So some of the myths in grief or misinformation and things people say is don't feel bad and This could be something, um, for example, the author shared a story of when they were a child, they lost a pet, their pet had died. And so their parent told them, well, don't feel bad about that. We'll just get you another one on [00:11:00] Saturday.

Well, that statement actually includes two myths or two pieces of information. Number one, don't feel bad. And number two, we'll just replace the loss. This is sometimes why people have a really hard time understanding as a widow. You can be grieving and missing your person and yet still love and accept and be excited about.

Another person in your life. Maybe your next boyfriend or you get remarried. People think there's just a switch that flips in your mind that magically you're not going to grieve your late spouse anymore. You're not going to be sad about that. And unfortunately, that's not correct. Another myth in grief is that we need to just grieve alone.

And maybe as a child, you've heard things like, Oh, go cry in your room. Oh, if you're going to cry and be upset [00:12:00] about this, you need to go somewhere else. And. Unfortunately, that doesn't help us, but becomes one of those things that we learn to isolate in order to be able to cope. We've also heard, and I know this is a particular one with widows, be strong.

I heard this one many times and I was told this, um, you know, your kids need you to be strong. You just need to keep, be strong for them. And all I desperately wanted was for someone to tell me, Hey, for the next five minutes, You don't have to be strong or you don't have to be strong for me. I know you are.

But you don't have to be another piece of misinformation is people may tell you to just keep busy, distract yourself, focus on other things, get out there and do stuff. Um, people will also say that it just takes time. [00:13:00] And that may be one of the biggest myths that people love to regurgitate to other people is time heals all wounds, or it just takes time, or, you know, time's going to make things feel better.

Another reason why grief is so misunderstood is because we have all of these short term energy relieving behaviors. And in the book, these are referred to as STERBS.

These are things that for the most part, when we're doing them in moderation, maybe they're perfectly healthy and normal activities. Things like shopping, food, alcohol, exercise, sleep. For the most part, if those are practiced in moderation, that's a good, healthy, like normal thing to do. But in grief, a lot of times we underutilize them or overutilize them.

Or we even dip into some [00:14:00] areas that can be dangerous. Things like sex, drugs, tattoos, looting, porn, gambling suicide, anger, cutting, or self harming. There are several different STERBs, these short term energy relieving behaviors, that in the short term distract us, in the short term make us feel a little better, but over time, as these things are compounded, really can have some negative long term effects.

Another reason why grief is so misunderstood is because of a concept they call in the book Academy Award Recovery. And, you know, this is one of those things I was probably really good at, telling people I'm fine, telling people I'm going to be fine, telling people that You know, I can get through this.

It's all going to be okay. And keeping a lot of my feelings inside and not feeling that I can be [00:15:00] open with people or that really they would understand. This could be things that you hear from a kid, like suck it up, don't cry, or I'll give you something to cry about. Put your big girl pants on. Kids are like sponges, and so they learn these things from us.

They learn how to incorrectly handle grief and loss from us. And by the time they turn 12 to 15, they've really kind of lost that bright eyed hopefulness of the world around them, and they've already started to experience some significant grief and loss.

These things become our belief system, and as we hold tight to those beliefs, even though they don't really work, and we resist anyone who tries to tell us differently, They can become generational belief systems too.

So some ways to relieve the grief that we carry. [00:16:00] Well, recovery comes by learning to make a series of small positive changes in our attitudes and then in our behaviors. It means getting better, not healed. And it's an ongoing process. It comes sooner with positive actions, taking care, and with appropriate support.

So think for a minute about what kind of support systems that you have.

So some ways to help relieve the grief that we carry. Well, number one is to validate and acknowledge the grief and the trauma, avoiding some of the myth statements that are common, and validating them with things like saying, Oh, I can't imagine. That must be really painful for you. The second way is to identify and name the loss, tangible or intangible.

Sometimes we like to sugarcoat things, we like to dance around the outside edges. We like [00:17:00] to make things sound not as bad or as difficult or as hard as at the end of the day they just actually are. Number three, help name the feelings. They'll tell you the story, but they want you to know how it feels.

And that's really an important key is not only someone sharing information with you or someone being open or you being open about it, but also connecting with that emotion and those feelings that go along with that. Give the other person a voice. You want to imagine yourself as a big heart with ears.

And a lot of times.

Help them make choices as grievers. We can feel very overwhelmed as widows. We've lost our thought partner. and helping us make choices and decisions can really go a long way. And lastly, you can [00:18:00] help someone identify the stimuli that's leading to some of the stirps. So what is causing them to indulge in shopping or in overeating or in the ability in the inability to get the right amount of sleep by helping them do those things.

You can help relieve some of the grief that people carry. So how does this grief recovery method work, parentheses, why does Emily keep recommending it? At the end of the day, it just works. There are three ways that people tend to learn either by seeing, hearing, or doing. And the grief recovery method involves storytelling, meaning that it's creating not only A connection between the information and what happened and awareness of that, but also to the emotion and the impact and the downstream things that have happened [00:19:00] as a result of that loss.

It gives a voice to undelivered communication. There are so many things that I wish I'd had the ability to tell Nathan. That I didn't matter what I did, I just never felt like there was any sort of completion there. The grief recovery method helps with that. It's based in health education theory. It is an action based program.

So it's not something you just watch and listen to it requires you to take action. It has been effective for 40 years Provided on six continents in over 20 languages and has thousands of grief recovery Specialists that are trained and certified it is now also It's evidence based. In fact, it's the only evidence based program in the world, and that was completed [00:20:00] by Kent State University, the College of Public Health, and published in the Journal of Health Education.

The authors also have some additional books such as helping children grieve and also how to relieve relieve some of the baggage that you have from your grief and loss and how to move forward in a new and healthy relationship. Again, this is John James and Russell Freedman, and they have a variety of resources, but I hope that this conversation today really helped expand your understanding and awareness of what grief is, why we struggle sometimes with completeness or feeling like we're able to move forward.

And thank you Really provides you an option and opportunity of what you can do to help move yourself forward and to help find some completeness in the relationship that you had with your person or in any of the other [00:21:00] losses. There are I think 40 types of losses that humans can experience and death of a loved one is one of those.

There are so many losses that we can experience here, on this planet. So again, I would love for you to join me in going through the grief recovery method program. If you want to sign up, it's brave widow. com slash grief. G R I E F. And. Again, this is separate from Brave Widow. So this is open to anyone that suffered a loss.

Specifically for this program and how I deliver it, it's for anyone ages 18 and above. I am not licensed to work with children under 18, specifically in this program, but anyone who's 18 and over, I would love for you to go through this. I would love for you to bring a friend And I cannot [00:22:00] say enough how much it personally helped me in feeling lighter and being free from guilt and regret and frustration and feeling a sense of completeness and love in the relationship that I had with my person.

Emily: Are you a widow who feels disconnected? Do you feel like you're stuck or even going backwards in your grief? Widowhood can be lonely and isolating, but it doesn't have to be. Join us in the Brave Widow membership community and connect. We teach widows how to find hope, heal their heart, and dream again for the future.

Find your purpose and create a life you love today. Go to bravewidow. com to get started.

 

BW 097: Do Comedy and Grief go Together?

May 14, 2024