Grieving & The 5 Stages

Originally posted on April 21, 2015 and updated today, April 16, 2019.

The Process:

Sad, down, low energy, not my chipper self, these all describe several inner feelings I have experienced lately. I have asked myself questions like,

What are these sad feelings about?

What is going on for me that I feel so off lately?

I know my feelings are like a signal that something deeper is going on, but what was it?

Why?

After a few weeks of pondering, I came to this conclusion: GRIEF.

So what was I grieving over after all? Well, I have experienced some loss recently. A few weeks ago, I lost my paternal grandmother to pneumonia then days later a dear friend of mine had a miscarriage which triggered my own miscarriage feelings all over again. Then I noticed that several of my clients were also experiencing the loss of a friend or spouse way too soon. So I said, “It has got to be that I am grieving over all these losses.”

And grief can feel SO HEAVY! Ughhhhh!

Grieving is a process not a one-time event. The process involves becoming aware of the loss, labeling it and then giving yourself permission to experience all the different emotions involved around it such as deep sadness, anger, uncertainty, fear, guilt, etc. It can also affect you physically (i.e. difficulty sleeping, nausea, weight changes). Grief can sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing especially if you are not aware that it may be grief. It can happen over the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a dream or expectation, and major life transitions such as moving, getting married, or having children. Losing your pet counts too, especially when you consider them like a child to you.

It can help to seek out support persons or groups, use your coping skills, and talk with a professional counselor about your grief.

If grief is affecting your everyday life to where you no longer can keep up with your daily responsibilities, then it may be time for you to get some professional help.

I really connect well (and hope you can too) with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s explanation of the stages we go through while grieving. What is important to note is that these five stages do not necessarily happen in linear, one right after the other, order. You can bounce back and forth many times throughout the process. You may also experience more than one stage at a time. Here is how Kubler-Ross organized the grief stages:

5 Stages of Grief:

1. In her first step of shock/denial, it is as if the loss feels so unreal that it is hard to believe that it really happened. You might say something like, “No, this can’t be! This doesn’t make any sense! This could not have happened!” or “I can’t believe this.”

2. In her second stage of anger, you may have intense angry feelings and ask yourself, “Why is this happening?! Who did this?” You may blame yourself, the person you lost, or someone else. You may feel angry at the person you lost or angry at yourself for not doing something differently.

3. The next stage is bargaining. In this stage, you say something like, “If only I could have ________ back, then I would do ____________ differently.” or “I will do anything to have __________ back.”

4. In her fourth stage of depression, you may feel an overwhelming sense of sadness, have low energy, and low motivation to move forward (much like I was noticing in myself). You may even have moments of intense despair when you wish you were dead just like your loved one.

5. Finally, her last stage centers around acceptance in that we come to a place of peace with what has happened. We accept the reality of the loss or transition. It can take several months and possibly years to get to that place of peace and understanding, but don’t give up hope. Healing and acceptance can and does happen.

Remember, these 5 stages do not necessarily happen one right after the other. Typically, you may experience several stages at the same time or bounce between them in no particular order. These stages are the normal grief process. You are not alone!

Who or what are you grieving today? Give yourself lots of permission to have your feelings.

Until the next story…Bethie

Dreams from My Inner Children...

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I got this letter in the mail today. I wrote it or rather my inner children, Little Bethie and Teen Bethie, wrote it to me about 6 months ago while I was attending the Dream Big Conference in Tennessee. I spent time there at a retreat to get more clear about my BIG DREAMS and how to pursue them.

As I read the letter I had forgotton about, tears poured down. I am remembering today what my inner children are asking of me. Here is it is:

“October 30, 2018…Dear Adult Beth,

This is little Bethie and teen Bethie here to share some love, encouragement, and guidance to you.

First, we want to thank you Beth for truly hearing us. We have a voice now. We missed you for a long time, but understand the pain. Thank you for labeling the favoritism and abuse that we endured and survived long ago.

We have a message for you…actually lots of wisdom to share. We continue to want to be heard. We have a story to share with the world. Others need to hear this story. The stories we have and you have as an adult have a purpose and need to be shared. Please let others know about us through writing and counseling and speaking. God has alot of big things in store for all of us and our family. Please others need to know about us. We want you to be our voice to the world. Tell others about us please. We can’t say this enough. And there will be other stories, more stories to come. More will be revealed. Please hear and trust us, love us, continue to talk to us like you have in the photos, we really like it!" And have fun too with music, quilting, sewing, your/our kids and Adam [my husband]. We want you to enjoy life like we couldn’t. You are our lifeline. And we will continue to sit with Jesus on the beach on the throne no longer being harmed but safe. We love you Adult Beth…go get em’ Rock on!“

While I am putting the quilting and sewing on the back burner for now, I am beginning my dream of writing. It is a small beginning here on these daily blog posts, but it is a beginning never the less. I have a story to share and I am sharing it here in my tiny little corner of the world… on my blog. There is probably not many people reading my posts right now, but I am ok with that. There is a purpose here and I am following it. I am writing. I am a Writer. I am not sure yet where this will lead me, this small beginning, but I am hopeful, excited, and forever curious about what will happen next.

What is your BIG DREAM? What is one step you can take today to pursue it?

Until the next time…Bethie

Grieving My Mama

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Yesterday, I wrote about my super creative grandmother, Mama Kathlyn. And she is still on my mind today so I wanted to write some more about her here in this space as a part of my grieving process.

I really miss her. I continue to grieve her loss and that is ok. Grief is a process and not a one time event. I think I grieve her loss even more this year now that I have come out of the denial of my abusive past. I hadn’t realized until the last few months just how safe and special my grandmother was for me during that abusive time growing up.

Ruby was her first name, but she always went by Kathlyn. I wonder why she chose her middle name to go by. I wish I could have asked her. There are so many other questions I wish I could have asked her knowing what I do now. I suspect I am remembering her at this time because our bodies never lie. My body is reminding me that she passed away 4 years ago this month…close to Easter time, her favorite time of the year.

A silent moment for Mama…tears.

So, I am going to continue to think about her today, remember her comfort and peace, and use my gratitude to thank her for all those wonderful memories which I wrote about in yesterday’s post.

I think of her every time the wind chimes sing in the breeze from the backyard tree. The chimes are pictured above. The beautiful thing is that the tree that these chimes hang from is completely dead except for the chimes that bring this tree a bit of life.

Until tomorrow…Bethie

Creative Mama Kathlyn

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I was born a creator and a creation by the Creator. I always had this creative spark in me from day one on that beautiful Monday, May 4th back in 1981. That was the day, I, Little Bethie came into this big spacious world. Creative Bethie.

However, some things happened in my childhood that squashed my creative energy along the way. That is another story in and of itself for another day.

With much support, I am finding that creative energy again. It is returning to me…

Recently, through a meditation and some guidance from an energetic sage in my life, an unveiling from my yesteryears occurred. In my formative stages, my paternal grandmother laid a creative root system for me that had been hidden away in my subconscious for all these years… until now.

As I went through this meditation, I was able to go back to being 3 or 4 years old. I visualized walking through the halls and rooms of my grandparents home. Several memories came whirling back…

Her name was Kathlyn (pronounced Cat-lynn). I called her Mama (pronounced Maw-Maw).

In my tears, the first thing I remembered was that I felt safe, nurtured, and valuable while in her precious care. I felt creative, relaxed, and always wanted to explore inside and outside her home. She granted me much permission and encouraged my exploration. Mama had time for me. She taught me how to sew and cross stitch things like pillows and how to embroider aprons. I won a 1st place ribbon at the Dixie Classic Fair one year because I entered a pillow she taught me how to make.

Her and my grandfather (Papa, pronounced Paw-Paw) had a fragrant smelling garden that they tended to and ate from. And OH my, Mama’s fried chicken, apple pie, and peach cobbler. Not only the taste of these amazing foods, but the smell of them filling the air around me fueled my joy. I will cook bacon and vegetables sometimes in my own kitchen and suddenly it smells like Mama’s kitchen. It just takes me back. So comforting! For breakfast we could have at times plain Cheerios with honey or some bacon, eggs, and biscuits. I can just smell and taste it now as I write. Oh how I miss her food.

Papa even spent some time with me ‘teaching me how to play the piano’ with his knuckles. I can still play that little song on the piano that he taught me with his strong, manly warn hands.

I would spend the night at their house sometimes and in the room that I stayed in was a big wardrobe and I would wonder…Would this wardrobe lead me to a different land like in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?

At other times, I would sneak into Mama and Papa’s room to look at her jewelry and make-up and trying it on.

Mama loved to sing and her favorite song was the hymn “Morning has Broken.” She loved Easter time. We would die eggs, have egg hunts with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. My cousin Alison and I would laugh and giggle the day away.

She also loved flowers and she wrote poems about those precious flowers. She was a water color artist hanging her works of art around her home. Mama was a carefree, creative artist. I remember the colors, the smells, the textures, the sounds of the birds outside, the wind chimes, and most importantly the time she made for me to teach me so many wonderful things.

There were the quilts she handcrafted. The poodle skirt she made me for a dance I had. I have several treasures in my home today that she gave and passed down to me.

I remember going to magical places with Mama and Papa like Shatley Springs and drinking the magical healing water that allegedly brings health and restoration to the body. And then there was the Pollirosa Restaurant and Dance Hall which unfortunately has closed.

I could go on and on about the memories I have of my time spent with Mama and Papa, but I will stop there for now. I am reminded of her often these days especially when the wind chime rings in our yard. The picture above is of a quilt she made that I still have today.

Thanks for reading my tribute to Creative Mama Kathlyn!

Who was a safe person for you growing up? What was it like to be with that person or pet?

Until the next story…Bethie

How My Minimalism Journey Continues... Part 4

Part 4 & The Final Post in this Series: The Next Steps…

Today, I have much less clutter in our house. AND it feels OH so good! There are still some areas to work on such as simplifying the groceries and mealtimes as well as our clothes. But it is a process, a journey and not a destination. I can take as much time as I need. I can let go of the rush. Less doing, more being.

Professionally, my next venture will be combining my love of minimalism with my love of experiential therapy through some sort of video sessions. I am going to use my creativity to find the intersection of these loves of mine. I am not sure what this will look like yet, but I am excited to see how this all will unfold for me in the coming weeks and months. As I have updates, I will let you know.

How can you use your creativity today? Is it time to start something new?

Until the next story…Bethie

How My Minimalism Journey Began... Part 3

Part 3: Current Times

Shortly after our foster children left in March 2017, I came across a Facebook post about a TOY DETOX online course given by Denaye Barahona of Simple Families. I knew we were getting ready to move soon and the toys were taking over our current house. I NEEDED this course and took it. It was LIFE CHANGING! I felt lighter. My daughter began to focus better on the fewer toys she had and was able to start flourishing in her creativity. It felt like I was on to something here.

After the toy detox, I decided to continue to clean out items around the house. I was motivated from the toy detox and the fact that we were moving. We had a yard sale and sold several items we no longer needed as well as those toys. Whatever remained went to the thrift store donation. Again, I felt lighter. I could breathe better. I felt free.

Then, about a year ago, I came across The Minimalists and heard about their back story on becoming minimalists. I was hooked! I watched their documentary and read their book, Everything That Remains. My motivation to de-clutter continued.

And now, after the birth of my second child, I am here again continuing to remove the excess. Less truly is more for me. I am realizing that all the gadgets I had with my first child (i.e. a swing, a crib bumper, a formal changing table, toys galore) I don’t need with my son. In fact, he is growing so fast that he only wears a few clothes and then he is onto the next size, so he doesn’t even need a lot of clothes.

Over these last few months, I came back around to Denaye’s work from an email she sent describing exactly how I currently felt: OVERWHELMED as a parent. I decided to take her week long Mental Unload online course this time. It helped me get really centered and clear about my priorities. She is teaching me about simplicity in parenting and how to de-clutter my mind so I can focus on those priorities.

So my minimalism journey continues. My husband and I hope to de-clutter our debt in the years to come so that we can live debt free and teach that to our children. I will continue to de-clutter whatever I need to in order to put my self-care, my marriage, my parenting, and my family first. I am tired of the stuff and the anxiety and depression that come with it. I am also tired of allowing the stuff to cover up whatever emotional challenges I might have going on underneath.

Are you tired of your stuff? What is your CLUTTER covering up underneath?

Until Part 4…Bethie

How My Minimalism Journey Began... Part 2

Part 2: The Later Years

The next big part of life that I started to de-clutter was right before and right after I got married. I de-cluttered my debt right before I got married and was thankfully able to enter into marriage debt free. The theme of our wedding was SIMPLE yet elegant. After marriage began, I de-cluttered my husband’s old open accounts (from the credit report) by closing them. I also began to let go of items in his/our house to make it more like our own place. In addition, each time we move, I clean out stuff we just don’t use. Moving is a time to start fresh.

Then, a few years ago after a series of events, my husband and I came to the realization that our marriage was going down a heavy, downward spiral. We had tried to ‘fix’ our marriage and the grief of our miscarriages by adding more children through foster parenting. This was not a healthy decision for us. At the time, we were also undergoing a house renovation, carrying two houses financially, had several bank accounts open due to the renovation, both working in our respective practices, parenting our daughter, and life was just in complete OVERWHELM! It knew it was time to simplify and MINIMIZE yet again. I keep coming back to minimalism.

Being in this spiral, we knew something had to change. We decided to go on a couples retreat at Onsite Workshops. Here we got really clear that we could no longer be foster parents. While we had good intentions, we were doing it for all the wrong reasons. It was not a good fit. And so this began a journey back to simplifying our lives again. We came home from that retreat and made a loving plan for our two foster sons. They were moved to a new placement two weeks later and have recently been adopted by that sweet family. They are in the best, right place for them.

We had gotten caught back into the swirl of stuff as a way of dealing with our grief and to manage the stress of a home renovation. It was NOT WORKING!

What is the CLUTTER covering up in your life? What is just not working for you?

Until Part 3…Bethie

How My Minimalism Journey Began... Part 1

Part 1: My Childhood

Over the last few years, I have become more interested in MINIMALISM.

Honestly, I think my desire to live in such a state of simplicity has been around since my childhood years. As I think back to that time, I always had a tendency toward de-cluttering. I can remember cleaning out our kitchen junk drawer growing up and organizing it AND my parents never asked me to do this. I did it of my own free will. I loved it and noticed that I always felt lighter afterwards. I kept my room pretty organized too growing up. My childhood bedroom was a place of safety and comfort, so it makes sense to me that I kept it so orderly. I believe that the de-cluttering and organizing became like a coping skill for me.

I even remember my mom having little trinkets and nick-nacks around the house like in window seals and wondering, “Why do we have these?”

By practicing minimalism, I have found peace, clarity, focus, and ease in my life. I am finding that I can stay more present with my family and that I am freed up to use my creativity in fun, new ways. Whereas the more clutter I have, the more stress I have and the less I can concentrate on my priorities. I even find now that when I enter into a space that has a lot of stuff that I start feeling immediately overwhelmed almost as if I can’t breathe. It makes me want to run outside for air.

What are your thoughts on minimalism?

Until Part 2….Bethie

Linger A Little Longer

I have been meditating and doing this quite a bit lately…lingering….a…little…longer…

Along with lingering, I have been slowing down, minimizing, clearing the clutter both from my mind and with stuff around the house that we just don’t need. I am working on cutting our the crap in my life, the junk, the NOISE. I am finding more white space on my calendar. Letting go of the obligations and the fluff and the shiny new objects that I don’t really need or want.

Lingering…when was the last time you just lingered a little longer?

I find myself lingering just a few more moments in the hot shower. Lingering just a few more moments with my son on the floor for his tummy time. Lingering just a moment more with my daughter as I look at her eyes and here her story of the moment. Lingering in the sunshine just a little bit longer. I am lingering a little longer. Letting go of the rush, the frantic, the “I musts do this or that” in my life. I am finding peace and rest in this place of lingering. It helps me stay a little more present in the moment. Do I have it all figured out….NO! Do I stay present in the lingering perfectly…NEVER! But, I am beginning this practice, this new journey of lingering.

Here’s to lingering…cheers!

Bethie

5 Ways to Clear Up Miscommunication

Originally posted on May 18, 2015…revamped April 5, 2019…

What to write? What would be important and helpful for others to hear about? After some thinking and asking around, it hit me, miscommunication in relationships! Oh how this happens to us all, right!? I also thought this might be a relevant topic as my husband and I are finishing up a marriage series at church. 

Here is an example from my own life. How can you relate? 

My husband and I recently had this major miscommunication. It was on one of those days that we both had really good intentions (I mean don’t we always) where we had a date night planned and I was practicing some really good self-care earlier in the day. First, I went to get a massage, then off to go shopping for some new outfits to impress the hubby. My husband had planned a pedicure for me in the late afternoon while he was getting a massage (he was practicing good self-care too), then we would go to dinner together. 

Well, before I knew it time got away from me while I was shopping so I texted my husband and told him that instead of us riding together, I would meet him at the spa so neither of us would be late to our appointments. So I did as I said. I went to the spa and arrived while he was getting his massage. My first clue that we had had a miscommunication was that the front desk receptionist did not have me down for my pedicure appointment (strange I thought, but figured that maybe the staff who booked the appointment just forgot to put my name down), but they did have an opening for my specific appointment time. 

I went on back to get my pedicure, thoroughly enjoying it, then about the time my husband was to be done with his massage, I began to watch out for him. Nothing (my second clue), I did not see him so I thought oh maybe he is out in the waiting area of the spa. I finished my pedicure, went to the waiting area, NO SIGN of him (third clue). I was starting to fume. Where was he, what has happened!? From the waiting room, I called him (which was a big no no at the spa, no phones aloud) and he answered. He asked me if I was okay, told me that he had called me and my mom who was in town (who also became worried), and that he was worried sick about my whereabouts. I asked him where he was and why wasn’t he here. Turns out, we ended up at two different locations of the same spa. Then the blame game began. He said “Well if we rode together in the first place, you would not have needed to know which location we were going to.” I said “If you would have just told me which location in the first place (to which I was closer to when I was shopping) then we would not have had this miscommunication.”

We were on two completely different pages yet thinking we were on the same page!

What have I learned about communication from this experience and over the several years I have been married? While I write these tips from the perspective of my marriage, they can be helpful for any relationship, friendship, etc.

  • Ask questions and be clear/specific when giving information with your spouse or partner.

  • Summarize what you heard the other say. “What I heard you say was _________.”

  • Use ‘I’ rather than ‘you’ statements. For example, “Babe, I felt embarrassed when I ended up at the other spa location.” Rather than “You make me embarrassed. when ______.” The later causes the other person to become defensive which can escalate any conflict.

  • Check in with your partner every once in a while via text or a phone call. Connect with one another on a regular basis. Have date nights regularly!

  • Let your spouse or partner know what you need. Do you need them to listen to you as you talk? Do you need them to help you brainstorm ways to fix a problem? What is it that you need from them?

After hashing through this conflict, we still had our date night even though it would have been easier not too. At the end of the day, I love my husband and I am committed to keeping our marriage communication lines open. We look back on this conflict and chuckle at it now. We both learned alot that day and really each day we are married.

P.S. In wanting to be completely honest with my readers, I did have my husband read over this blog post before I sent it out into the world. Just in case you were wondering, he gave the green light to publish it!

Until the next time…Bethie