Grief And Loss Counseling Category

To Bear Witness

My own experience with loss, is the key to my ability to "Bear Witness".  I have been considered an excellent therapist while working with women and their families for the last 15+ years. I have been tasked with speaking to hospice conventions and training mental health first responders. I thought myself to be "right up there" with the best professionals concerning these topics. I always knew, my faith was a strong component to my ability to reach a woman in pain. I did not know until, I, myself, endured a completely, unexpected and unimaginable loss God had a deeper plan for me. It was after integrating this great loss, God showed me His plan. I am not a "miracle worker". Your pain will not be transformed after a set period of time. A person's loss and her ability to mourn, "grieving outloud", is a grossly painful and very natural part of this life. I call my practice, Somewhere In Between, because once we suffer the loss, we are in that place. We yearn for the past, but can neve...

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Doing something else while waiting!

If there is anything that this winter has taught us, it is patience. It seems it has either been really cold or really snowy all winter long. For some of us, this is fine. I am not one of those people! And I do not love the extreme heat either. However, a bit of warmth and clear ground never hurt anyone, right? The type of winter we've had has really tried the patience of many people. But what really is the definition of 'patience?' According to Wikipedia, this is it: 'the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.' But how do we do this? The best answer that I know is diversion! Yes, diversion! The computer is a great example. You can have multiple windows open, work on each one just a bit at a time and get a lot done (or you can open one window and get "angry or upset." while waiting for the website to process). Other examples might be doing indoor projects while waiting for warmer weather. Reading a good book while waiting for a bus o...

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Grieving - A Soft Opening of the Heart

Originally puplished August 30, 2012 on Soul-Spirit Integration's website

Anodea Judith names grief as the “demon of the heart chakra1”. She states that the frequent disappointment of our striving for love and connection — with others and the world at large —results in loss of hope, and perpetual, suppressed grief. This grief turns in on itself, hardens the heart to protect it from more pain and leaves us bitter, hopeless, and even more isolated.

In the western world we live in a society that is uncomfortable witnessing the pain of loss. We medicate our feelings of sadness and pain with pills, alcohol, or extreme activity. We have learned that to be well means to be happy at all cost and grief is not a happy feeling — thus it must be ‘bad’. An article in The Lancet2 discusses the increasing trend to medicalize grief as depression. Instead of allowing an individual to go through his or her grieving process in his or her own way, society incre...

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Beach time & Quilting: Real World Advice on Coping with Depression & Loneliness, Part I

I so often write about dealing with depression, loneliness, hopelessness, and other difficult, dark times. I do this because we all go through challenging periods, but many of us rarely talk with our friends and loved ones about how we cope and find our way. Usually, I’ll write about the suggestions I give to clients, the ways my clients cope, or advice from other clinicians. This time, though, I’m doing something different, with the hope that this will be helpful as well.

I wrote the following status update on my personal Facebook profile: I want to write a blog post on how people get themselves through times where they are lonely, depressed, and or hopeless…but I want to write about what real people do, not my suggestions. So, I’d love to hear what you do for yourself in such times. You can message me for anonymity’s sake, or feel free to post here as well. I won’t mention your name in the blog post though.

What I received were some very heartfe...

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Staying Sane in the Face of Infertility

In a recent Washington Post column a woman having trouble with conception finds herself jealous of a friend’s pregnancy announcement. The advice given in the column sounds simple, but is there a tried and true way to stay positive in the face of infertility? The simple answer is “no”. However, there are many ways to stay sane in this life crisis. By acknowledging and processing the emotions and developing coping skills while also getting adequate help you can keep the rest of your life from getting swallowed by the abyss of infertility.

First of all, it is possible to have intense sadness for yourself while being truly happy for a pregnant friend. These two emotions can exist together but be extremely confusing. After congratulations are given, in a non-public arena be honest with your friend about your torn feelings. If you just start avoiding or isolating yourself with no explanation, your friendship is sure to suffer. Simple and private is best, such as “Whi...

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Avoiding the Traps of Depression

Imagine yourself walking along in the woods of life when you step on what looks like fallen leaves and find yourself falling into a deep hole in the ground. You are unable to get out of the deep, dark, damp, and unbelievably sad pit in the ground. This trap isolates you from those you care about; the hobbies and work you love; and good nutrition and ability to exercise. Due to this trap, you are unable to think positive thoughts and gloom continually runs through your head because all hope is gone. There is no way out and it is easy to slip into the darkness within this pit of despair.

Not everyone experiences the trap of depression like in the metaphor above, but the commonality lies in the fact that depression has traps that can worsen the symptoms of depression. The traps preserve the awful cycle of pain and hopelessness. If you are currently experiencing depression, all of these behaviors can deepen your misery.

AVOIDANCE OF SOCIAL SITUATIONS: When feeling depressed it is easier ...

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Signs of Depression in Adults

Signs of Depression in Adults

PLEASE NOTE: this list is NOT intended to diagnose or treat you. See a licensed mental health provider or medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Most people get “the blues” sometimes that last a day or two. However, Major Depressive Disorder is a SERIOUS and often FATAL illness that occurs in approximately 6.7 percent of US adults. Medications can be helpful, but come with side effects that many people cannot tolerate. Medications will NOT cure the mistaken belief system causing the depression.

Without talk therapy to both uncover the root cause of the depression and learn ways to manage it, depression can persist despite medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, can help you uncover the beliefs you carry about life without even knowing it. These beliefs often contribute to depression below your level of awareness. Once uncovered, I can help you face and refute the irrational thoughts and replace them with healthy, ...

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Getting Through the Holiday Blues

By Matt W. Sandford, LMHC

It seems like a wonderful time of year. People get excited for time with their families, to enjoy holiday traditions and make new memories. But – I think it’s actually just as common for people to not look forward to this time of year. If you are one of those who don’t you may feel like you are the odd ball, thinking that most people can’t identify with your perspective. And so, like those many who can identify with you, you keep those feelings and thoughts to yourself and put on a pretend face. Maybe you have found someone with whom you can commiserate, and if so, you may end up mocking those who seem naively upbeat. It’s a common way of coping with our hurts, by mocking folks who don’t really get it, and elevating our own higher sense of clarity and realism. Problem is, it really doesn’t help you to cope or get through the time in a healthy and fulfilling manner. There really is a difference in how you get through t...

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Transforming Our Losses


    "No one ever told me grief would felt so much like fear." - C.S.Lewis


There are times that we do not want to know but have to hear, we do not want it to happen but have to endure, we do not want people we love to leave us, but have to let go.  Grief is a natural response to many losses that we suffer by simply being human. Loss is change, and one thing I know for sure is that over time “things” will change. Grief is a necessary process and unfortunately narrowly defined by society. Grief is designed to assist us through times of change. Some of us may blame ourselves for our losses or perhaps it is just bad luck, “Why me?”         Grief is not just about death. We tend to minimize and deny our grief by saying at least he is not dead or things could be worse. These facts are valid and it could be worse but things are also probably bad enough just are they are. 


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Life's Certainties

I'll bet you know the old saying: There are only two certainties in life; Death and taxes? I would like to add a third certainty and that is, change. Change is an integral part of life. Summer turns to Fall and then to Winter and everywhere except New England, to Spring. Our bodies changes so much that every seven years we physically become an entirely new person. Rivers and oceans change via the tide amongst many other things.The trick to understanding change is to learn to accept it. Is this easy? not always. Is it effective? Yes! In situations where change is slow, we have time to gradually adjust. When change happens quickly, we must adjust faster. But adjust we must. Because change is an unavoidable part of life.

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