Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Gift Giving

I don’t know if you have ever heard of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, but it basically says that the millions of ways we show love boil down to five basic groups. One of them is “gifts”, which I scored a big, fat zero on it when I took the test.

I feel bad for the people whose love language is gifting if they have to interact with me. Some people are truly great at it. They give thoughtful, loving gifts that are personal and meaningful. It hurts them when they are unable to express love in their language.

I keep trying slowly take gifts out of Christmas. Besides my small efforts to be a pseudo-minimalist, I am also an organizer. As I get older, clutter has gone from something I don’t like to something I get completely anxious around.

Stuff, more stuff.

Americans are consumers, big time. Buying for people becomes so hard because frankly, almost everyone of any age has more than they can possibly use or need. But a couple of things happened this year that made me happy.

It started with my friend Nina. I arrived at an appointment with her and she handed me a wrapped gift. Oh no! We don’t normally exchange. I know you aren’t supposed to feel this way, but I thought I had better run out and get her something. Let’s face it. We all feel a sense of “obligation” to reciprocate.

When I opened it, we smiled and laughed and I thought about how I wish every gift was this way. A few years ago, I gave her a dress I was “done with” and she loved it. I had recently commented on a shirt she wore and there it was wrapped up and given to me. I absolutely loved it. No money. Just thoughtfulness. It felt great!

Then my friend mailed me a package with her mom’s coloring books. She died this year so the holidays were going to be tough for my friend and her family. I love to color. Not only did her memory pay forward to me, but I also shared them with a few clients who are trying new ways of coping while they are required to be alone. The passing on to me was passed on to several others as well.

My friend told me about her adult son listening to a family member who needed a certain kind of water bottle and put it on her Christmas list. He knew his family had a couple so he picked the best one and wrapped it up for her. She loved it.

Instead of “more,” what a lovely idea it is to “pass it on” instead. No extra money. No extra consumption. Just outright sharing. I think Christmas would be better across the country if this idea caught on.

LESS IS MORE!


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5 Pandemic Life Changes & How to Survive Them

Photo by Unsplash

Guest Blogger: Jennifer Scott

The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted everyone to a certain degree. Some people have lost much — jobs, friends, health, and loved ones. By now, we all know someone who has faced devastation in the wake of the coronavirus. Recovery is slow and hard, so I’ve put together resources to give you ideas on how to cope during the pandemic.

Virtual Learning

More and more kids are learning from home, which means more and more parents are teaching their kids. This can cause stress for your children, who will need a lot of time to adjust to this new normal — and for parents, who may not feel equipped to take on this new responsibility.

It’s important to reach out to your children’s teachers, principals, counselors, and other school leaders. They can help you manage your students’ workloads, set expectations, and even teach time management. Also, look to online resources. Many schools have Facebook groups for parents so they can support each other and connect at a time when social bonds are more important than ever.

Social Isolation

Many people are isolated from their friends and families during these strange and uncertain times. In order to help keep loved ones healthy and whole, they are sacrificing their own social needs. At times, it can feel an awful lot like grief. It can be very demoralizing and even depressing for some. Spend some quality virtual time with friends, whether FaceTiming during lunch or taking a socially distant stroll around the neighborhood.

This time of isolation can also be quite productive. Take it as an opportunity to work on organizing your house.

Remote Work

Employees are shifting to full-time telecommuting. While companies and individuals have had to adjust their workplace cultures and policies, households have also had to shift the way they live. Work-life balance is more important than ever.

The lines between your personal life and professional life will most certainly be blurred, and stress could boil over into other areas of your life. Try to keep your work isolated to one room of the house — or better yet, one with a door that closes. Make sure everyone has their own desk and computers, and private space where they can focus.

Death and Sickness

More than 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Many have recovered, while many have not. Still more are left with life-long conditions as a result of COVID-19.

Losing a loved one, especially in the circumstances around COVID, can be very traumatic. This process takes a serious toll on survivors before, during, and after a loved one’s death. Just remember you are not alone, even in these days of isolation. An end of life doula can provide the care and guidance that families need to come to terms with loss and grief, even with distance through telehealth sessions.

Health and Exercise

Few people can find the time and emotional bandwidth for health and exercise while facing a global health crisis. If that sounds familiar, pick a few small goals to work toward. Jog a few days a week or take the dog for daily walks. Sign up for an online yoga subscription to focus on strengthening the mind and body while still learning from the experts.

You can also consider ordering from a meal delivery service like Blue Apron or Sun Basket. Since grocery shopping can be a nightmare and eating outside unsafe, quarantine can be an excellent time to brush up on your healthy cooking skills.

This is a time for mourning, there is no doubt. And as we mourn and grieve our losses — from jobs to friends to family members — we need to pay attention to signs of our emotional health and well-being. If you think you may be struggling to deal with the challenges of the coronavirus, reach out to Darcy Thiel from Help for Healing you need. She specializes in grief counseling, organization, and is an End of Life Doula.


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Homecoming

One of my all-time favorite songs to play on the piano is The Homecoming. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve played it at my piano recital, as the background music for the memorial video for my niece, and at my dear friends’ mom’s funeral.

I got to thinking about when I used to teach piano. I started doing that when I lived in Chicago. I always had a recital for my students and when the parents asked me to play once, that was when I pulled out that piece.

After I moved back to Buffalo, I started teaching again. Yep, I made my son Frankie take lessons for a couple of years. He quit after that, but he has a love for music today that is incredible. He will deny piano or any of the choirs I directed had any influence on him, but I know better.

Anyhow, I digress. One of the best memories I have was teaching my only adult student while I was in Chicago, Liz. She became so much more than a student. In fact, she became a teacher to me of more important things than piano. She became a dear friend. Her family became dear friends.

She has a wonderful heart. So wonderful, that she let me move into her home when I was stuck with nowhere to go. I stayed there for several months, never paying a penny for rent. She even let me hold the next recital in her house.

I recently re-connected with her after years of no communication. I found out she has been struggling terribly for over three years since she lost her adoring husband, the love of her life. Then last year, her only son lost his beautiful wife from brain cancer. Such suffering only comes from loving so deeply.

She is hoping to come and visit when this COVID stuff lightens up. (Will it?) I told her how much I still appreciate the selfless kindness she showed me when I was in my twenties. Say some prayers for her as she tries to heal her hurting heart.