Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief



I had a spiritual direction session with Ellen yesterday. As usual, she impressed and amazed me. She always says things like “But you do all the work, Darcy” and I remind her that she is the one that challenges me, says things in certain ways that get me to think, and puts things into perspective. I almost always walk away from her office with more clarity and peace than when I walked in. She has a sign on her door that says “Hokey Pokey Clinic, where you can turn yourself around.” I love it!

Yesterday I walked away with a new therapeutic intervention that I can’t wait to try with a client when the appropriate time to use it arises. It was so simple and yet so brilliant. And of all things, it involved a nickel.

I was struggling with a decision I had to make. With all my conscious mind, the choices truly seemed equally plausible. So my mind wasn’t making it clear. When people would say, “What does your heart tell you?” I realized that my heart was failing me as well. I am usually pretty in tune with my instincts, but this time I was not getting any direction with that either. For all intents and purposes, I just couldn’t figure it out.

We did the usual therapeutic things. We talked about how the pressure to decide things was purely internal for me. There were no outside forces that were pressing me to figure things out. It was just my usual over-analyzing, intensely feeling self that was keeping me awake at night and feeling anxious through the day. We discussed my self-concept and all that stuff. It appeared during the first half of the session, that I needed to be comfortable with not making a decision. I sat with that for a while and “tried on” being okay with it. I was surprised by my ability to do it.

Later on though, things shifted again. As we continued to process things, Ellen said she remembered a powerful intervention she saw at a lecture she attended. She left the room and came back with a nickel.

She said when things are truly equal, you really can just toss a coin. Either decision would be fine and no matter where the coin lands, it will be okay. So she said “Heads will mean this, tails will mean this,” and she tossed it in the air. Before she revealed the coin, she looked at me and said “Tell me what you are thinking in this exact moment.” And I blurted out without hesitating what I thought my decision should be.

It was really amazing. It was an emotional shift. When that coin was up in the air, I couldn’t believe the flood of thoughts that went through my mind in those seconds. If it was heads, how would I feel? If it was tails, how would I respond? And suddenly, after hours of pondering, it was clear what I should do. And by the way, the actual coin toss showed the same decision I blurted out. I know it’s just chance, but it felt like confirmation anyway.

Brilliant. I love spiritual direction and therapy and figuring out the human mind and heart. It’s fascinating!

Author: Help for Healing

My name is Darcy Thiel. What people say they appreciate most about me is my genuine nature. I utilize my professional and personal experiences to increase my understanding and compassion to help others. My career has many faces, so let me tell you about a few. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State and am a couple and family therapist. As an Adult Planning Specialist and End of Life Doula, I take my experiences with my parents’ and husband's illnesses and passing to help others navigate the crazy, complicated medical world we live in. This dovetails with the books I have written. Bitter and Sweet: A Family’s Journey with Cancer, the prequel to Life After Death, on This Side of Heaven is an honest and raw perspective on coping with the diagnosis and subsequent loss of Tim, my spouse. I have done extensive speaking on the above topics through live audiences, radio shows, and an occasional TV spot. For more information, see my websites at,, or Copyright Help for Healing by Darcy Thiel © 2012-2019. All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Nickels

  1. I wonder, does anyone ever ask how it feels to alter your life by being the wrong side of a coin?

    • Do you have a story to share? Write away…

    • Please keep in mind, that in the last 45 Super Bowls, the team that has lost the opening coin toss has a record of 22 wins to 23 losses. So there is a fine line of being a winner or loser with coin flips. For all you know this flip could have just been for a practice game. Keep playing “the game” and I’m sure you’ll come out on top as the winner.

  2. Hope your decision makes you very happy, Darcy! Love you!

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