How you become the person that knows what to say – facing adversity, grief and crisis

I decided to go for a walk today. In my headphones, the podcast ‘On Being’ where the host was interviewing Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, and Adam Grant, professor of psychology.They talked about Sheryl’s loss of her husband Dave and how that triggered the creations of their book and non-profit organization ‘Option B’. Tears were streaming down my face as I was listening to the interview (leaving the people I passed on the way looking very puzzled indeed), having experienced a lot of what they were talking about first hand after losing my first daughter Ingrid.

 

I work with disaster on a daily basis, as I have the honour of being invited to the most painful parts of peoples lives, be it a heart ripping divorce or separation; the loss of a job and with it, financial safety and loss of identity; a devastating medical diagnosis; crushed hopes and dreams; fears of failure; or carrying stories of guilt and shame that consumes your energy and robs you of joy.

 

It is, in my humble opinion, the most soul baring and brave act a person can engage in, to open up about their grief, loss and sense of feeling completely lost. The willingness to heal from disaster and devastation; to start building resilience muscles; to find a new “normal”; and to aim for post-traumatic growth instead of post-traumatic stress is indeed an act of bravery. But, as with everything in life, a little help from a friend will make this journey a lot easier.

Adversity, grief and loss come with the package of being human, and if you want to engage in relationships with people you most certainly will bump into someone going though a life crisis at some point. Yet we live in a society that doesn’t want to talk about adversity. When disaster strikes, it often leads to a whole host of everyday awkward moments, leaving the affected person feeling even more isolated and weird; or as Sheryl pointed out in the interview “I felt like a ghost (that everyone avoided).”

 

Often when we meet a co-worker, a neighbour or a friend that has gone though something devastating, it’s like they are being followed by a big elephant that no one wants to address. Rather than being the “idiot” that said the “wrong thing”, many of us opt for the far less scary option of saying nothing.

 

So how do you become the person who knows what to say and do? 

 

Here are a few things to think about:

 

  • Realise and acknowledge how dramatically their life has changed. There won’t be a “going back to normal”, there will only be a “building a new normal, or finding Option B.”

 

  • Your friend might not be able to focus completely on work or anything else for a long time, so don’t expect them to jump right back up and behave like they always used to behave before the crisis hit them. Instead, try to evaluate how much he/she is able to handle and offer to share the workload.

 

  • Stop and ask how they are doing, as in “How are you feeling today? Know that I’m here to listen.”, and then really live up to that promise even if it is uncomfortable!

 

  • Meet up for a coffee break or go out for lunch. Don’t avoid them just because you feel uncomfortable.

 

  • Ask him/her what they need right now. Offer practical help, such as grocery shopping, cooking, helping out with the kids, make sure that bills are being paid and appointments are being kept or re-scheduled.

 

  • Offer your support and concern. There are no magic words, but at least say something like “I’m so sorry for your loss.”, “I know you must be suffering right now, I’m here for you.” or at least “I have no idea what to say.”

 

  • Not everyone wants to talk about private matters at work or at the schoolyard, so respect their privacy if they don’t want to talk, but make sure they know that you are there for them should they want to talk.

 

  • If the person has lost a loved one, talk about the memories and mention the name of the person or animal that died. You don’t have to be scared of thinking that you might remind them of their loss. They are acutely aware of it, all the time.

 

  • Caring co-workers, neighbours, and friends can be a significant source of support and healing to a person going though a life crisis. Don’t downplay your your actions or think that what you say or do won’t matter as you “aren’t that close”. It might well be that what you are able to provide might be a hugely important part in the affected persons life and and play a role in their ability to heal. If a person feels acknowledged in their pain, suffering and grief, they will have a much better chance of emotional healing sooner.

 

  • Remember that the person’s life will be changed FOREVER, not just the first couple of months. There is no time limit on grief.

 

  • Be yourself and keep the relationship you had with the person before the life crisis occurred. There is nothing more devastating than when friends, neighbours or co-workers “disappear” or avoid you after a significant crisis.

 

Also, make sure you listen to the podcast I was mentioning in the beginning: https://onbeing.org/programs/sheryl-sandberg-and-adam-grant-resilience-after-unimaginable-loss/

 

Don’t wait for a life crisis to hit in your own life before you know how to be there for others, like I did.

8 tips on how to support a family in grief

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Ten years ago I was on the most devastating journey of my entire life.

Two days before we flew back to Sweden for the Christmas holidays, we had received the most devastating news a parent can get; Ingrid had a terminal genetic disease and had about 5 more months to live.

Now we had to face our families and friends and tell them that Ingrid, only three months old, would be leaving us again. I can’t begin to describe how awful I felt, and how it pained me to see our friends and family having to cope with the news. But they did, and they stood by us like the rocks they are.

It also made me think….

How would I have reacted as the friend?

What would I have done for a family in that situation?

Would I have known what to do or say at all, had it been a friend telling me the same news?

The answer was no.

Below I have listed 8 helpful things you could do if you have friends or family that have experienced loss this year.

1 – Respect that they might not want to participate in the holiday celebrations this year, maybe it’s just too much for them. Ask what they want and need instead, and if there is anything you can do to accommodate their wishes.

2 – Offer to help with practical tasks, like cooking and cleaning. After a loss there is just no energy for the everyday routines.

3 – Invite the family for dinner so they don’t have the pressure of hosting holiday events themselves. There is no energy for those either, believe me.

4 – Respect that the family might want to be left alone. Check in with them form time to time to let them know that you are there for them, but don’t try and activate them and “get them out of the house”.

5 – If the family has children, offer to take them out for activities so the parents can have some alone time.

6 – Help them remember. One of the biggest fears after a loss is that the person who died will be forgotten. Give the family an opportunity to talk about what has happened, share memories, and give space for tears.

7 – Have patience. Don’t get annoyed or frustrated because they want to repeat the same stories over and over again. It’s not because they are stuck or refusing to “get over it”, this is an important step for the healing journey.

8 – Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT avoid a family in grief. There is nothing more painful than seeing friends and relatives disappear after a loss, just because they didn’t know what to say or do. It’s better to say “I have no idea what you are going though, but I’m here for you.”, than disappearing from their lives because you didn’t feel comfortable.

 

Should you have any questions on how to support a family in grief, do not hesitate to contact me! That’s why I’m here. 

The five stages of grief

You expect to quit a job, not get fired from it.

You expect to be married to your partner for the rest of your life, not end up filing for divorce.

You expect to fall pregnant with ease, not to have to go through numerous rounds of fertility treatments and miscarriages along the way.

You expect to bring up a healthy child, not to have to choose the music for her funeral.

You expect to have your family around for support and love, not to be alienated from them.

You expect to live a long and healthy life, not to be diagnosed with some awful disease.

Reality very seldom lives up to the expectations you have for it, so when life hands you disappointments, losses and grief you are often caught off guard. There was no class in school to teach you about emotional resilience, and the word grief is mainly associated with death, so you don’t even recognize when you are grieving for reasons other than someone dying.

Grief, by definition, is the natural response to any type of loss or major change in life. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone is gone. Normally we think of death, divorce, maybe losing a pet or moving far away from home, but there are also subtle losses like losing your self-esteem or self-confidence, losing your health or wellbeing, or experiencing a financial change. It can be the loss of a job or the loss of a role like the “stay-at-home mum” when your kids move away from home. Grief and loss events are part of life; there is unfortunately no way around that.

Let’s take a closer look at the five stages of grief established by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. 

First, let me point out the misconceptions about these five stages. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months, but there is no linear quality to these stages. The stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours, and we tend to flip in and out, back and forth among the different stages.

1. Denial. The world becomes meaningless and overwhelming; life no longer makes sense. You are in a state of shock and numbness and you are just trying to find a way to cope and get through the day. Denial doesn’t mean that you “forget” what has happened; it’s simply nature’s way of pacing the grief experience by only letting in as much as you can handle at that point.

2. Anger. Anger actually forces you to feel something again. It replaces the numbness; gives you structure and even if it’s really uncomfortable to show your anger, it’s an important part of the healing process.

3. Bargaining. This is where all the “What if…” and “If only…” statements appear. You want life returned to what it was. You want to go back in time and change the outcome. Guilt is often a companion in the bargaining stage, as you question whether you could have stopped the event from happening, whether an illness, accident, getting fired from a job or being left by your partner.

4. Depression. The feeling of grief enters on a deeper level, deeper than you ever imagined possible, and it feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. The loss of life as you knew it is depressing, and it’s completely normal to be feeling this way. There is nothing to fix or medicate away; more importantly, you should find support to deal with it in a healthy way if you feel that you are stuck in this depression stage for too long. It can be through friends, loved ones, colleagues, or professional help.

5. Acceptance. Acceptance is often confused with being “OK” with what has happened, but this is not really the case. Of course you will never feel “OK” with losing a loved one, your safety, or your health. It has more to do with the realization that life will never be the same again. There will always be a “before” and an “after.” Acceptance is more about learning to live with it. It means that you have to readjust, reorganize roles, and refocus your goals and dreams in life. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you can replace what has been lost; it means that you are given the chance of finding new meaning and joy in life.

It might sound almost impossible to reach the stage of acceptance, but that is where you take back your power over your emotional wellbeing. Instead of repeating the question “Why did this happen?” (trust me, you will never get a decent answer to that question) start asking yourself the following questions:

What am I learning from this experience? In what way can it inspire me to change my life for the better?

So who am I to tell you to accept and let go?

On the 16th of December 2006, we were given the diagnosis for our three-month old daughter Ingrid, and it was bad. Spinal muscular atrophy type 1, a deadly genetic disease that we had never, ever heard of, just smashed our lives to pieces. The doctor explained that most babies with this disease live to the age of eight months, so we were given a maximum of five more months to be with our child.

It felt like my life had ended. Not only did I lose my child, but I also lost the hopes and dreams of us being a little family and watching her grow up. I lost trust in life and my ability to have a healthy child. I lost my role as a mother, as I no longer had physical proof of a child. I lost my social life, as I no longer joined the mummy groups I had attended with Ingrid.

In my case, my ability to accept and let go of the emotional pain opened up a new path of helping others in healing their hearts and trusting life again. Grief is complex, but by healing your emotional pain you can open up for a life filled with love, connection, joy and possibilities. If I could, you can, too.

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could. ― Louise ErdrichThe Painted Drum LP

By Karin Andersson Hagelin

Karin Andersson Hagelin is a certified EFT Tapping practitioner and Grief Recovery Specialist®, running her coaching practice via Skype or in person in Zurich. She is of Swedish origin but has been living in Zürich since 2005. To find out more, connect with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/karinanderssonhagelin), Instagram (instagram.com/karin_lifecrisis_coach) or visit her website.

This article was first featured in Mothering Matters, October 2015

How to use EFT tapping with children

My soon-to-be-seven-year-old daughter had decided that it would be a fabulous idea to grab one of the bed mattresses and use it a sledge to speed down the stairs. Instead of gracefully sliding down, she was flung off the mattress mid-way down and crash-landed at the bottom of the stairs, screaming from shock and pain. Both her elbows and knees were badly bruised and she had a small cut on her hip.

The number one First Aid in our household is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), or Tapping, a fabulous technique I picked up as I was searching for something that would resolve trauma and grief in my work as a Grief Recovery Specialist. Little did I know how useful it would be in my own life!

I sat with my daughter on the stairs, gently EFT tapping the top of my daughter’s head and on her chest (two of the official eight tapping points, more on that later), while she tearfully told me the whole story of what happened. We sat like that for a few minutes, talking, tapping and hugging. Then all of a sudden she looked up at me and said, “Thanks Mum, now I feel a lot better!” and rushed off.

In pre-EFT times, a drama like that would have kept going for up to an hour or more. EFT also comes in handy when my kids are worried or upset about something, sad about what someone has said or done in school, upset with Mummy or Daddy, or too restless to fall asleep.

We use EFT for working on the emotions of the parents as well! We have found that it is fantastic for calming down an angry Mummy! There are occasions when “normal” Mum has been replaced by a screaming, slightly hysterical lunatic (I hate to admit it, but this happens to me every now and then), and tapping comes to the rescue! It is so ingrained in my kids that they actually just look at me and say calmly, “Mum, why don’t you go tap for a while?” Clever kids!

 

So what does EFT actually do?

Emotional Freedom Techniques is a type of meridian tapping that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology with startling results. You could say that it’s like acupuncture without the needles.

Simply explained, EFT helps the body’s stress response (fight-or-flight response) to stop, and it re-balances the emotional and hormonal states in the body. You only need to try it out for a couple of minutes and you will notice how the body relaxes. Why don’t you give it a go right now?

Start by thinking about something that recently upset you, notice the feelings in your body and give the level of frustration/anger/sadness a number on a scale from zero to 10. Write the number down on a piece of paper.

Then start tapping lightly on the side of your hand known as the karate chop point (see diagram below), and breathe. Just tap, breathe, and notice what happens in your body as you are thinking about the situation or issue you chose. It could be anything from physical pain, irritation, frustration, sadness, worry or the feeling of not being in control over a life situation. Continue tapping seven or eight times on each point as seen on the below picture. The tapping pressure is the same as if you would “drum” your fingers on a flat surface.

Do two rounds of tapping, then go back and focus on the situation or issue again and give it a number again. How upsetting does it make you to think about it now? Has it gone up or down? If it has gone up, continue tapping for a few more rounds until you feel more relaxed.

Remember to focus on the negative feeling – that’s the point of it all, even if it feels really odd. We have been trained to only think positively, repressing and pushing all the “bad feelings” further and further down.

We pass this “coping strategy” on to our children as they mirror how we, the parents, handle our emotions. My belief is that children learn from what they see and not from what they are told. I always start by teaching EFT tapping to the parents so they have access to the tool and start using it in their everyday lives. I recommend tapping on the top of the head and collarbone points as they are easily accessible and give a soothing effect immediately.

Let’s use an example from my own life again. I was out on the balcony emptying a huge flowerpot, which slipped out of my hands and onto my big toe. I was barefoot, so it felt like I had broken my toe! My first reaction was to get to the sofa, put my foot high and start tapping, crying and cursing (a lot). My daughter came to the rescue, putting a little band aid on it, bless her!  I kept tapping for about 15 minutes, as that was all the time I could allow myself to lie down. I was alone with two kids at home, one due for dance class in less than an hour. Even as a certified EFT practitioner, I must admit that I was very sceptical whether EFT would indeed heal a badly bruised toe. I mean, surely not! Well, 30 minutes later I was on my kick-bike heading for dance class with NO PAIN in my toe.  And it stayed pain free. To this day I refer to that event whenever one of my kids gets hurt and refuses EFT as a first aid treatment. They then immediately ask me to start tapping!

Here is what Gary Craig, the founder of EFT, says on the topic of EFT for children:

As the child tells the story s/he is clearly “tuned into” the problem. Thus tapping on the EFT points is likely to resolve the issues or, at the very least, lighten their impacts on the child.

This is critical for children because they are constantly picking up “stuff” from parents, teachers, peers, television and so on. These inputs go on daily and accumulate over the years to fill what we adults often call our “emotional garbage bags.” If these inputs go unresolved, of course, they form unnecessary “limits” and thwart the attainment of our true potentials. These unnecessary fears, guilts, griefs and traumas often have a thunderous effect on our “adult realities” and cost us dearly in both our personal peace and our pocketbooks…. (Gary Craig, www.emofree.com)

By Karin Hagelin Andersson

Karin Andersson Hagelin is a trained EFT Tapping practitioner & Grief Recovery Specialist®, running her coaching practice via Skype or in person . She is of Swedish origin but has been living in Zürich since 2005. To find out more, like her on Facebook or visit her website www.hagelingriefrecovery.com.

This article was originally featured in Mothering Matters, February 2015

 

 

 

How to make a Vision Board

It has arrived, the new year. 2016. A fresh beginning with lots of hope, ideas, and “this year I’m going to…”

I don’t do new year’s resolutions any longer, instead I make a vision board and find a theme for the year. In the video below I’m going to take you through my own vision board process for 2016.

I also go within and ask myself what I need more of in my life, and find a word that can represent all of these wishes, as it’s easier to remember one key word ;-).

This year the word GRACE came up strong.

Grace, to me, means the willingness to give to myself what I already give to others in bucket loads, namely love, kindness and compassion. When I can give it to myself unconditionally, I can also give it to others in a more authentic, powerful way.

It means listening and trusting the guidance we are receiving. I have micro managed and questioned my inner guidance for way too long now.

It also means letting go of my need to control everything and trust that the Universe has my back. It means surrendering fully to the idea that all is well and that there is no need to push, force or demand a certain outcome.

So this year I finally surrender to grace.

What will your word be?

Much love,
Karin

Have you had enough yet?

First I have to confess that I’ve had enough…Enough is enough article LinkedIn 13-8 2015

…of sabotaging for myself.

…of hiding my true self because of what others might think of me.

…of putting off extreme self-care routines because I’m “too busy”.

The list could go on and on.

Sounds familiar?
What have you had enough of?

Have you had enough of letting your fear / limiting beliefs / pain / grief (insert any other annoying issues here____) keep you stuck from moving forward?

Have you had enough of not addressing that nagging feeling that you are here for a greater purpose?

Have you had enough of compromising the potential life you could be leading because you fear what could happen if you followed your heart?

Enough is enough!

I truly want to support you in any way I can in order for you to to wake up to your fullest potential; to what makes your heart sing; to what brings the world joy an peace; to living your legacy!

What I don’t want for you is that you wake up “too late” and regret that you didn’t live the life you wished you had. I think this top regret of the dying says it all:

“#1 I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” The top five regrets of the dying by Bronnie Ware

 

I’ve witnessed clients tap away fears, phobias, physical pain and emotional blocks that had kept them hostage for years, and I’m equally blown away every time I see it happen!

By all means choose the coach, method, therapy or group that feels right for you. I’m just one of many that offer tools and expertice in this field. What I want you to take away from reading this article is to take the action needed for you to get on the path to living a life true to yourself. Promise?

 

Discovery workshop: EFT tapping – 5 May 2015

What would you like to let go of?

EFT 5th of May 2015Being an entrepreneur myself I’ve had to face many fears and limiting beliefs about myself and the world. EFT tapping has been the number one technique for me to get over these hurdles, and it’s something I’m now helping my clients to do as well. In this talk I will teach you what it is, how it works and how to use it. You will walk away from this talk empowered with this powerful tool at your fingertips!

You will learn:

  • more about what EFT tapping is
  • how it works
  • what you can use it for in your everyday life
  • I will also be giving 1-2 in-depth demonstrations with participants, and where you will have the opportunity to try it out yourself.

EFT Tapping (also known as Emotional Freedom Technique) is a powerful tool for improving your life on multiple levels; mental, emotional and physical. EFT has been proven to quickly and effectively address issues including reducing anxiety,  fear and pain. It is also very effective in managing weight control, financial abundance, stress relief  and more.

When: 5th of May, 2015 – start: 19:00 – 21:00

Where: Skutan, Kurvenstrasse 1, 8006 Zürich

Investment: 60 CHF per person, including light snacks and material

Only 5 spots available, so first come first served!

BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE

X-mas stress or X-mas stillness, it’s actually your choice

Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed about the fact that Christmas is in 24 days time (or 23 if you are Swedish like me ) ?

Why? What’s triggering that stress? What NEEDS to happen this month that makes you feel oh so overwhelmed?

Just stop and ask yourself, “What is making me feel so STRESSED about the fact that it’s DECEMBER?”?

As the Christmas lights are now covering Zürich in a magical glow, it has also made me think…

I’ve noticed that shops are being open later than usual, and EVEN on Sundays which is normally unheard of here (even voted against!). I see stressed out people rushing through town, eyes darting from one shopping window to the next, and I’m wondering when the Christmas month started to be the equivalent of “shop until you drop” or “fit as much in to the calendar as possible” as if the year end would be the end oIMG_7445f the World as well?

Is it the fact that we see our Facebook , Instagram or Pinterest feed flooded with other peoples home baked bread, home made candy and gorgeous Christmas decorations as if cut out of a homes styling magazine? “Keeping up with the Joneses” has become some sort of modern malady, always chasing for more, bigger, prettier and better. Always posting, sharing and commenting, which is absolutely fine if it didn’t leave you feeling even more disempowered, overwhelmed and stressed out. When do people have time? Why does everyone else seem to afford X, Y, Z…?

And where does it take us? Into more stress, overwhelm, worry, debt, mortgage payments, spiralling into even more financial and emotional stress.

So what can you do about it?

The last time I checked we were all equipped with free will, so we do have a choice even if it doesn’t feel that way many times. I get it, you don’t want to disappoint the kids, the neighbours, the colleagues, the extended family… But at what price?

So what if there was a way to ease the pressure this year? What if you could actually choose to ENJOY December instead of feeling stressed out about the whole thing? December is here whether you like it or not, so why not make a conscious choice of how you want to experience it?

What if you had a magic wand and you could wish freely how you would like to feel and do this Christmas? How would it look like? How would it feel? How would your body feel? How would your family interact with each other? After all it’s Christmas soon and we get to wish 😉

Dare to DREAM BIG, and TELL ME about it! I’m actually researching how I can be of help during the Christmas Stress so you are actually doing me a favour if you leave a comment below!

Thank you!