Time heals all wounds… Or does it? 5 things to ease the pain

One of those myths we keep on hearing about Grief is that time is supposed to heal all wounds.

Really?

My own take on this is that the intensity of the chock, grief and pain after a significant loss does indeed subside over time. However,  you only need to hear that certain song, quote or word; see that certain church, hospital, picture; celebrate the first Christmas without, anniversary without, birthday without… Or you start to imagine how life would have turned out had they still been in your life (you get the picture right?). All of a sudden the memory and the physical discomfort associated with it starts to flare up like a bad nightmare.

Before you know it you are fully re-living the stress, sadness, chock and heartbreak as if it was happening right this very second. It’s happened to me on several occasions, and it feels like I was transported back in time and put back in that very instant. And I have caught myself thinking, “but time is supposed to heal all wounds, so why am I still so overwhelmed, sad and stuck? What a load of BS!”

“The mistaken idea that after enough time passes something will magically change to make us whole again is preposterous. If we were dealing with any other human pain, no one would say – Just give it time.” from the Grief Recovery Handbook

Take care of your broken heartIf you broke your arm, no one would suggest you sit and wait until it heals, right? But if your HEART breaks, that’s one of the first “helpful tips” we get!

How many of you are still experiencing pain caused by a death, separation, pet loss, move or loss of faith that might have happened 20 years ago?

I often meet people that are dealing with “old” pain and grief dating back as far as childhood, and as soon as we start talking about it they are immediately experiencing the event with the same intensity as if it was indeed happening RIGHT NOW. Unless you are given the right tools and action steps (might it be thought therapy, coaching or any other technique), the old pain will still be stored in your memory and sometimes even in a body part, causing pain and discomfort.

I had pain in my right shoulder for many years after we lost our daughter. I just didn’t get why the pain was there until I got help to connect the dots, that my right shoulder was still carrying her. As her muscles were so weak,  she was CONSTANTLY hanging on my right shoulder. Not until I realised that and dealt with the pain of losing her did the pain go away!

So here are 5 things that you could do to ease the immediate pain:

1. Think about a loss that is still very painful.

2. Write down exactly how you feel about it, and if there is a physical pain that goes with that feeling.

3. Start writing down what is still bothering you about the situation.

4. Put all of your thoughts, apologies, forgiveness and other emotional statements you would like to tell this person in to a letter.

5. Imagine this person, or take out a photo and read the letter out loud adressed to this person. End with a clear GOODBYE.

I would still recommend to get in touch with a Grief Specialist or therapist if the pain is too great to face on your own.

You might also find this video helpful:

I’ve just left my thirties and this is how I feel about it!

IMG_5765I just turned 40 this week! I thought I would have a major 40-year crisis,  but on the contrary, I feel extremely happy, curious and excited about what this next decade is going to bring.  I truly feel that I’ve stepped in to the age of wisdom, peace and power! The busy 30ies are over.

I have a lot to thank my  5, 10,15, 20 and 30-something self for though. Without her resilience, determination and willingness to change I wouldn’t be here and embrace this new decade in the way I do now. Without her decisions, her courage and her eagerness to learn new things, I wouldn’t have entered my 40-ies in the radiant and excited way I do now.

ängel Ingrid och mammaIf you take the time and reflect on what gifts your younger self has equipped you with, you will start to notice how it all fits together. Life is indeed a tapestry being woven as you go along being busy with grocery shopping, cleaning and folding laundry. It is being woven as you make life changing connections, learn new things, take classes/courses/programs, read books and watch inspiring movies.

IMG_5768I feel somewhat lighter stepping in to this new decade, without all the “must do’s” of my 30-year old self -> “I have to have reached this position/salary bracket/travelled to…/fill in the blank… before I turn 40.” It’s stressful, fun, exciting, exhausting and confusing at the same time.

IMG_5766I see a lot of clients in their 40ies, as I believe it’s one of these big turning points in life.  It’s when you start evaluating your decisions, values, and beliefs. It’s when you start recognising where your limiting beliefs come from,  and the old wounds that has made you NOT pursue your deepest desires shows it’s ugly face.

I see it as an excellent time to be doing an emotional Spring Clean and start living your life in a way that makes you happy instead. This is the only life we will get and you might as well enjoy the ride and fulfil all your desires!

 

The day I lost my dad

It was September 2001.

The world was in turmoil after the 9/11 events in USA, and my dad was in hospital with end stage cancer.

Me and my (then) boyfriend (now husband) were on holiday in Spain as I got the call from my mum. “Dad is in a really bad state and you don’t have time to come back to Sweden.”, she said.

I went completely cold, then  paralysed with fear. I CAN’T BE ON HOLIDAY WHEN MY DAD IS DYING!

IMG_5696Somehow we managed to get to the airport in Malaga, get the last tickets on the flight to Madrid and onwards to Stockholm. I called my dad as we reached Madrid and he just thought I was being ridiculous for rushing home. During our last leg up to Stockholm, my dad got a lot worse and in order to stay conscious he got the phone book out and called ALL his friends and family to say good bye.

I can’t imagine how it must have felt for the people picking up the phone that day. I mean, what do you say when your friend calls to say goodbye FOREVER? But that was his way, his friends were so important to him and as he had decided that it indeed was the day to leave, he wanted to be nice (I guess) and let everyone have a chance to say their goodbyes.

We reached Arlanda Airport and rushed through the customs. All of a sudden I hear “Karin! HI!!”, and there was my father’s best (and oldest) friend’s daughter. She had been on the same flight as us, and ironically her father was the only person my dad didn’t manage to get hold of on the phone that day.

We stayed with my dad the whole night. I was lying beside him and we were telling stories, recalling memories, giggling and crying. All of a sudden I noticed a shift in his breathing. We gathered around the bed, said our goodbyes and he took his last breath.

broken heart

My heart broke, like it’s never been broken before. He was my mentor and my guide, and now I had to navigate the world without him. It was odd (and frankly, scary as hell), because he had always been there. And now he wasn’t. I just couldn’t understand how the world could continue without him in it. I saw people going about their daily business, bewildered. How could anyone still think it was important to go grocery shopping, go partying, go to work?

I hurt for two whole years, existing in a burnout blur that no doctor or therapist could help me heal from. No one seemed to be able to put the pieces together – the fact that grief and burnout had very similar symptoms. It was only when an ad caught my eye on the train one day – the Grief Recovery Method – it said. one of those light bulb moments – OMG, it was GRIEF I was suffering from! I immediately bought the book at once, but when it arrived I didn’t dare to read it. So it went in to hiding in my book shelf.

Instead of getting more help, I brushed it off and started changing the outer issues of my life. I left my job, enrolled in a university program, started a summer café and managed to heal in the best way I could. The pain and sadness was pushed deep within, only to surface on special occasions like birthdays and seasonal holidays.

And that’s the thing with people we lose early. They are not only missed because of the past we share, they are also missed because of all the things they won’t be there with us to experience! That has been one of the hardest things for me to get over.

I remember our wedding day, the day of days you want your whole family to be there. My mum had asked my dad before he passed away what advice he had for us when it came to getting married; “Well, they shall walk with their husbands ‘to be’ down the aisle. They are not my property to give away, so I wouldn’t be doing that.”, he said. Now that I was standing there, knowing what he had said, I felt less burdened but yet tremendously sad that he wasn’t there in person.

He had also expressed a wish to have grandchildren one day, so when I got pregnant with Ingrid my heart started aching again. He wouldn’t be there to see his first grandchild being born. But after we got Ingrid’s terminal diagnosis I felt so relieved that my father would be there to greet her and take care of her when the time came for her to leave.

IMG_1252Today they share their grave in Uppsala, which is both sad and reassuring in a weird combination. 

“We were going to have a baby, but we had an Angel instead”

Book: “We were going to have a baby, but we had an Angel instead”

Author: Pat Schwiebert.

About: A children’s book told from a young child’s perspective about the excitement and dreams of a coming baby, and the disappointment and sadness of a miscarriage. Beautiful ink and watercolour illustrations.

Karin’s point of view: I bought the book just to see who such a theme would be out in a children’s book. I must say that I’m impressed with Pat’s story telling and the pictures beautifully match it.

The loss of hopes and dreams

Swiss MountainsOn the 14th of May 2007 I did not only loose my child, I also lost all the hopes and dreams that I had painted up in my mind while she was growing in my belly.

To finally be a little family. To see her develop and grow. To experience her first tooth, her first birthday, her first steps, her first words, her first day of school, our family holidays. To see her experience and learn about the world. To see what her path would be in life and to be there to cheer her on, comfort her, encourage her and see her grow up to be an adult. To love her unconditionally.

All of that was also lost, and all of that I finally had the opportunity to express as I wrote her a letter. It made all the difference, so there is hope, people! You CAN survive, and you can even be happy again. I’m the perfect example.

“Our little angel is going to leave us”

This is a blog post I wrote on the Swedish Forum  Familjeliv.se on January 26, 2007:

Ingrid Eva Linnéa“On 18 September 2006 our little angle was born. She was perfect and we were so happy to have got such a pretty girl. At the 2-month check up the paediatrician discovered that she had wasn’t moving the way she should be, and we were referred to Children’s Hospital for further check-ups. On the 15th of December we were given the nightmare diagnosis that our little girl had spinal muscular atrophy type 1, and that most of these children die before the age of 1 year. So now we are sitting here waiting for the inevitable, that her muscles will become weaker and weaker. That she will no longer be able to eat by herself, and finally not being able to breathe any longer. HOW on Earth will I be able to handle this?? Is there someone who has something helpful to say? We are trying to be brave for her sake, but our hearts are right now breaking from all the grief. ”

If you know someone in a similar situation, please send them my link. It’s not about me, it’s about all those desperate parents that I might be able to offer a glimmer of hope. THANKS!

It took me nine years to face my grief

scared as hellIt took me NINE years to reach that point of exhaustion where I just said to myself “I really, really, really need to get help to finally let go of the all the pain and drama in my life”. By that time I had lost my dad, moved abroad and lost my first born daughter (in that exact order).

What would happen if I finally took charge of my emotional system? What would need to change? Who or what would I have to let go of in my life? What patterns, behaviours and thoughts would I have to change? What would I have to start doing or who would I have to start being if I got well, finally felt unstuck, started to live my purpose, quit that awful, life draining job? Who would I have to become if I let go of all the drama that defines me?

That’s a lot of scary stuff… I know, that’s why I waited for so long. But I refused to define myself as the bereaved mother, stuck in pain, guilt and sadness forever and ever. There had to be another way!

Only you will know when you have reached that crucial point when changing how you define yourself and your pain and drama is the only sustainable thing you can do in order to move forward. Why don’t you grab the opportunity and start getting clear for the new year NOW by redefining how you want to show up in the world? How you want to feel? What you want to contribute to?

There are a million-and-one techniques out there, I’m teaching ONE of them, but I encourage you to go out and investigate which one rings true to you. Only you know whats best for you.

What are you afraid of?

We all have them, FEARS that keep us at bay, playing small, not daring to live our dreams, and not “rock the boat”.

I grew up in Sweden the country where we actually have a LAW that states the following (taken from Wikipedia):

The Law of Jante is the idea that there is a pattern of group behaviour towards individuals within Scandinavian communities that negatively portrays and criticises individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate. … Generally used colloquially as a sociological term to negatively describe an attitude towards individuality and success common in Sweden and the rest of the Nordic countries, the term refers to a mentality that de-emphasizes individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while discouraging those who stand out as achievers.

So basically I was breast fed with this fear of sticking out, shine bright and follow my passion, because what would the others say?! That fear has deep roots and it takes time to release it, but it can be done. As long as you don’t give up on yourself and your dreams you will find a way to release those fears, one by one.

I sometimes sit here in my little office (which I’m so grateful to have, by the way) and feel like no one is appreciating what I’m doing, no one is reading what I’m putting out there and I might as well go back and get a “real” job. Yes, it’s true, and it takes an enormous amount of energy to engage in this self pity (because I know deep within that it’s not true at all). Energy that I could have spent on more fun, life loving activities like recording that corny Christmas video I had in mind for you all… 😉 And I’m tired, oh so tired, of letting those fears and “Law of Jante” run my life. So I’ve committed to start peeling them off, one after the other, starting TODAY.

Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to release those energy sucking fears and move on and actually LIVE the rock star life that you want to create? 

Isn’t it a perfect time to start doing that as we are approaching a new year?

Remember, the NUMBER ONE regret of the dying:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.” Author: Bronnie Ware

Don’t be one of those having that regret at the end of your life! 

The world needs you and your special talents, passions and love, so PLEASE go out in the world and share it with us before your time is up!

And if you need help to get started, just give me a shout! I have a bunch of free resources that you could start to check out 🙂

 

So it is Christmas…

IMG_3652We are now two weeks away from Christmas! A lot of us are  busy getting all the Christmas gifts, food shopping and family plans in order for the big holiday!

But for many this Christmas will be the first one celebrated….

  • without their loved one
  • without their beloved pet
  • without their partner (and maybe children) after a separation
  • after getting a devastating diagnosis
  • after losing their job
  • without celebrating with close family and friends after a big move

The empty seat at the dinner table is a massive reminder of who’s not there, and family rituals change due to the departure of a particular family member. Approximately 64’000 will have passed away before end of December 2013 in Switzerland. Around 280 of them will be children under 18 years old. A lot more will have gone through a separation of some kind. Even more will have received devastating news of some kind, but those big changes and reasons to feel lost and in grief are not as easy to spot on the statistical radar.

So I wanted to equip you all with some tools that could come in handy should you meet, or even be one of these grieving persons during the holidays.

What are the things to AVOID saying to a grieving person?

  •  Don’t say “I know how you feel”.

This one is a doozie and it seems to be comforting doesn’t it. Well it isn’t. You see when someone is in a pit of despair they have no idea how they feel so how the heck would you know? Just because your Mum died and their Mum died doesn’t mean it’s similar – this is because every person and every relationship is unique, so the pain is unique – and here’s the thing. This isn’t about you – it’s about them so stop changing the subject to you!

  • Don’t say “Be grateful you had them so long”

This is a well meaning attempt to get you to count your blessings but in truth it’s plain hurtful. No matter how long you had them you’re entitled to want them around now and yes you’re grateful but you still want more and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

  • Don’t say “You’ll find somebody else”

Well this may be true eventually but while I’m in deep pain missing the love of my life desperately it’s also completely irrelevant to how I feel NOW. So if you find yourself tempted to say this to anyone who has lost a partner through death or relationship breakdown; stop. Take a breath and think about someone or something important to you and say to yourself – “if you lost them don’t worry you can get another one”; register how that feels then say something else.

  • Don’t say “They’re in a better place.”

Now according to your belief system this may or may not be true. However it is also irrelevant to the person still here and grieving. It may give a slight comfort if they share that belief, it may cause acute discomfort if they don’t. Either way it’s also changing the subject again – away from their perfectly natural and valid pain and onto the person who isn’t there.

  • Don’t say ” So, he won’t be needing those golf clubs/concert tickets/other stuff”

I’m sure I don’t need to explain why this is a bad one – but mainly it’s because once again it’s about you (and your desire not to see those tickets wasted!) and not about the person in pain.

So what are GOOD and HELPFUL things to say?

The main thing is to be honest and sincere. Sometimes all that’s needed is a hug or a smile. Ask questions, be ready to really listen to the answers and don’t offer solutions – a griever wants to be heard not fixed.

Some helpful starters are:

  • I imagine that you feel like….

Starting a sentence with “I imagine” is unassertive and gives the griever a chance to correct you. For example you say “I imagine you feel like you’ve been hit by a train” and they say well more like my entire world has exploded. This has given them a chance to say quite unconfrontationally how they really feel. Saying “you must feel devastated” will be generating an internal “yah think!!!” even if it’s not said out loud.

  • What happened?

Give them a chance to tell their story – don’t interrupt – questions are about you not them

  • I don’t know what to say…

Is often the best thing to say when there really is nothing to say.

 

Source of above bullet points: blog article “Top five things you should never say to a bereaved person and a few that you should” by Carole Batchelor Certified Grief Recovery Specialist www.griefrecoverymethod.co.uk

 

 

Are you “daring greatly”?

Photo taken by Elin, 4 years oldHi all, I’m right now reading the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. The subtitle is “How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.” It’s fascinating stuff, and it has made me realise what is happening in the world right now. People are no longer looking for the “corporate” websites, where the text is like reading an annual report and without revealing anything about the people behind the company itself.

A new way of daring to be authentic is on the rise, and I only have to go to my own statistics to prove it. The minute I started to share my own stories and experiences I had a MASSIVE increase in readers! People want to know who you are and if you have what it takes to guide them thought whatever issue you need help with, be it coaching, medical assistance, web design or legal assistance. If you are about to take your PADI Scuba Diving certificate, you would WANT to know that the instructor has some experience to guide you in case something would happen under water, as your life might depend on it. So what problem or issue is it that you can guide your potential client or partner through? And how would you describe that on your website? Are you putting your story out there or are you using the corporate language to attract clients? What works for you? What would “people” say if you were more personal and authentic in presenting your business?

Those questions are some of which I’m currently working on myself and I would love to hear your input on the topic!