Sep 29, 2017 3:21 PM
I tell clients to honor their grief and that confuses them.
“Why should I honor my anger, hurt, and my sadness? I want it to go away! I want to stop hurting!”
When you honor your grief, you are honoring the importance of your lost loved one. You are saying, “You matter! Our relationship matters! That you existed matters! That you are physically gone from my life matters!”
Your tears, sobs, and even your laughs in the context of your grief are honorable.
Sep 24, 2017 3:05 PM
Many clients and even therapists believe that if something is therapeutic, it means it feels good. The truth is that sometimes it feels good and other times, it feels shitty. If something is therapeutic, it means that it aids in healing and sometimes that hurts! Have you ever heard of a bone needing to be “rebroken” so it can heal properly? Have you ever had stitches or surgery? Healing fucking hurts!!!
A lot of people think that their loved ones in therapy with me are spending an hour and good money to be complimented, to be told about how right they are and how wrong their loved ones are, or to talk to me while I sit passively nodding my head with smiles and “mm hmm’s.”
Here is a reality check for you. If your loved one is in therapy with me, they have one of the most confrontational and challenging therapists I know. It is true that my clients feel safe in their therapy. Feeling safe is my ultimate concern for my clients. I tell my clients often that while they should always feel safe, they will often feel uncomfortable. I also tell them that if we work together long enough and if they and I are doing our jobs right, I will probably piss them off. My clients hear me say things like,
- What do you need today?
- Your presence matters. Your absence matters. What you do matters. What you say matters. You matter.
- What do you need right now?
- I’m feeling protective of you right now.
- What do you need from me?
- When you allow yourself to show your hurt in here, you help me to understand how hurt you are.
- What do you need? (Are you noticing a pattern here?)
- I hate that you are hurting so much.
- I am pissed that that happened to you.
- Even if you smile or laugh in here, I promise I won’t forget how much you are suffering.
- What is preventing you from getting your needs met?
- Trust in your process, be patient with your timeline, be kind to yourself.
- Can you work to get your needs met in here?
My clients also hear me say things like,
- What gives you the right to tell other people how to feel?
- You don’t get to decide how _____ does life.
- It is none of your business what they are saying about you.
- How do you expect to get your needs met when you haven’t made them clear to anyone?
- ______ is not responsible for your emotions; you are.
- ______ is entitled to his experiences even if you don’t agree with or understand them.
- I am beginning to resent your frequent tardiness to your sessions.
- What are you avoiding?
- What are you doing right now?
- How does what you are saying have anything to do with what I just asked you?
- Talk to me about your anger with me right now.
Despite what stigma has taught society, THERAPY IS NOT FOR THE WEAK! My clients are so strong and brave! When I was leaving the clinic and had my clients meet their new therapists, what I heard my clients say the most to their new therapists were things like, "I need you to call me out on my shit like Nicki does," "Don't let me stay comfortable," "Push me out of my comfort zone like Nicki does." Therapy with me is rough at times. It is often uncomfortable, confrontational, challenging, brutally honest, and incredibly therapeutic.
Aug 31, 2017 9:29 AM
A quick video to help determine if you are acting in a way that is caring for yourself or if you acting in a way that is selfish as this is a frequent topic in therapy. Hope it helps!
Aug 13, 2017 5:03 PM
Image Credit: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-NfiBW4gtbho/Ui0oPfsC3HI/AAAAAAAAAOY/PLXXwwZ8HFk/s1600/keep+calm.png
Our family just learned about the death of a remarkable young man and his death is so tragic, so untimely, and just overall, heartbreaking. I'm now thinking a lot about the many deaths I have heard about as a therapist who specializes in grief. Of all the thoughts I am having, the one that speaks loudest right now is how sad it is that so many people are so unsupported in their grief when they hear about the death of an ex-partner.
Grief is the felt experience in response to a significant loss. Consider all the possible variables in this statement and know that grief is a completely personal experience. “The felt experience” includes so much that listing it all here would be ridiculous. People DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES if the loss is significant or not. If someone says the loss is significant, there is no questioning it! That the person said it means that it is, even if you do not agree.
Mourning is the collective behaviors someone does in grief including, but not limited to crying, praying and rituals. We mourn in an effort to process and heal from the loss. Everyone grieves and mourns differently. There is much validity in the "Stages of Grief" that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying however, many say that model is outdated and I refer to "The Tasks of Grief" proposed by William Worden in his 2009 book Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy.
What???? TASKS??? What do you mean I have tasks to do, especially now while I'm grieving??!! Yes, you have tasks to do and completion of those tasks is called “Grief Work.” As the title states, grief work is work and can be seemingly impossible work at times. There are 4 tasks we must complete in our grief work and we NEED supportive people in our lives while we grieve.
Everyone needs to go through the tasks in their own personal way!!! I tell my clients something my professor in school told me daily (From whom or where he got this, I don’t have a clue); “Trust in your process. Be patient with your timeline. Be kind to yourself.” This is so important that I never get sick of saying this to people!! It helped me in my grief when my professor said it to me repeatedly and it can help In the grief work of others. While we need to trust in our own grief process and be patient our own timeline, WE NEED TO DO THAT FOR OTHERS AS WELL EVEN WHEN THEIR PROCESS AND TIMELINE DIFFER FROM OUR OWN!!
All too often, people are not fully supported when they are grieving an ex. Insecure current partners get in the way of the healthy grief process that everyone deserves to experience and work through.
Image Credit: https://photos.gograph.com/thumbs/CSP/CSP649/k6494026.jpg
Jealousy absolutely has its place and never is its place in a loved one grieving a death!!! JEALOUSY ALWAYS INVOLVES MORE THAN 2 PEOPLE AND IS A RESPONSE TO A REAL OR IMAGINED THREAT THAT ANOTHER PERSON WILL TAKE OUR MATE! Jealousy is adaptive, folks!! When appropriately experienced, it motivates us to become a more attractive mate to our current partner and at times, it may lead to physical aggression or even violence to keep the outsider from taking our mate!!! Think about it! If the person died, there is NO WAY that person will take your mate from you (all spiritual and life-after-death beliefs aside)!!
When a current partner gets angry, resentful, and does and says hurtful things to their partner who is grieving an ex, it is nonsense!!! It simply does not make sense! Your partner is hurting because of his/her humanness, ability to love, and the importance of ALL relationships! Their grief and mourning DO NOT mean that they love the deceased person more than they love you, that they would rather be with that person, or that you are no longer the most important person in your mate’s life! IT DOES mean that your mate is human, is able to love deeply, and values their relationships, even the past ones.
If you find yourself feeling angry, hurt, resentful, scared, or jealous about your mate’s grief and mourning over the death of an ex, it means that you have wounds that need to heal yourself. Please invest in healing those wounds so that you can be at peace while you help heal your partner in his/her grief.