Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


2 Comments

3 Reasons Older Adults Are Cranky

My new aging client is keeping me extremely busy. She is also keeping me on my toes. Now I’m a tender heart, so even though I understand what is happening, I am still sensitive when she snaps at me. Thank goodness she has stopped firing me. However, I still got those calls when she is irate about something she thinks I did or didn’t do. I get it though. I can only try to imagine what it must be like to be in her shoes.

  1. Change is hard. Any person of any age should be able to admit that. There is no gain without loss. There is no beginning without an ending. Even the happiest change has an underlying sadness. Most older folks are not happy about the changes they are often forced to make.
  2. Speaking of shoes, I have probably donated over 50 pairs of shoes. I mean, these are expensive, classy shoes. Lots of them have never even been worn. Unfortunately, her feet are now permanently swollen so much that there are very few styles she can even wear. At home, she is just barefoot most of the time. Irreversible changes in your body can be heartbreaking.
  3. It is with great sadness that I throw out some of her things. She is sad as well but I feel like we should have a moment of silence, over and over again. The worst so far? Not one, but TWO novels she wrote. I discovered a ginormous stack of papers. One novel was over a thousand pages. Every one typed. Typed, not printed out of a computer. Two novels never published. Tossed into a recycling bin. I told her this generation doesn’t have to work that hard. We type into a computer that has a spell check. It’s so easy for us in comparison. God only knows how long it took her to write those novels. Took less than five seconds to toss them. How do you watch a lifetime of work get simply tossed?

I could go on and on. Working like this brings back lots and lots of memories of Dad. I remember the frustrations linked with sadness at what was happening with him. I am learning patience and increasing compassion every day. If you are in this situation with someone you care about, take lots and lots of deep breaths, and then try to understand what is underneath all that crankiness.


2 Comments

Drama Free

I have said before that as an author/writer, I have really grown to appreciate those that can write fiction. I can really only write about things that happen in my life. I have no idea how people make up characters and plots from their imaginations. When I have something on my heart, I can whip up a blog in a very short time. It usually just flows easily for me.

Because of my personality type, I am also drawn to the melancholy. That is why I could write a book about death/dying and then grief/loss. Sure, I added humor and hope to it. That is also my personality. But let’s face it, the topic falls on the sad side of the spectrum.

Lately, I have been experiencing a lot less drama than I usually do. Drama free is a bit misleading, because I don’t think life is ever completely free from it. But I have certainly decreased my daily intake of it. Now, of course that is a very positive thing that I am extremely grateful for. However, everything in life has its loss and its gains, no matter what. The downside for me, is that I find it harder to write on Thursdays. When I don’t have any gut wrenching things going on, the writing doesn’t flow very easily. In fact, I sit and stare at a blank screen for a while.

I asked Frankie what I should write about and he said he had no idea. I told him to try and he said he can’t because he doesn’t care about my blog. Then he blabbered off something about how he’s just being honest and honesty is the best policy. Damn teenagers.

There has been plenty of changes and stresses around lately, but it hasn’t really been mine. I’m totally involved, but it doesn’t belong to me. Big difference. We have been helping my dad clean his house out (simplify things), work on his finances, and discussing the possibility of moving to an apartment. I come home from his house with tons of things to do, both physically and mentally. My sister is moving south so she is packing, selling things, and making all kinds of preparations for a very big anticipated change as well. I try to help when I can and be as creative as I can about how to do that.

I’ve been super busy. And sometimes I get stressed out. But overall? Not much drama.

I feel like my blogs have been pretty un-inspiring lately. I am grateful to all you faithful readers who read them anyway. And for those of you who know and love me personally, you can actually be happy that I am writing boring stuff, because it’s the heartache that usually inspires me. So stretch yourself and be glad for blah reading, cause it means I am in a shortage of drama to write about. I like it!


1 Comment

Can People Really Change?

You know that old joke. How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb has to want to change. Yep. It’s true.

People talk about this a lot. I hear conversations and debates every so often on this topic and found myself in one just this week. Most people say that people don’t really change. Not really. At least not the core parts of themselves. Part of me agrees with that. But a bigger part of me has to disagree with that. I couldn’t be a therapist if I didn’t believe people could change. My biggest argument is always Tim. He changed significantly at the end of his life. It was facing a terminal illness that rocked our worlds, but he (we) definitely changed.

When it comes to being a significant other, I always thought it would be a really great honor to be the catalyst for someone else’s changes for the better. Have you ever heard people testify about how their partner’s patient love eventually broke through? I think I can think of some examples of couples I’ve helped changed for the better as a professional. That’s pretty humbling and amazing to witness. But as for the personal relationships? I’ve not experienced that one yet in my life.

I met a guy who knew himself pretty well and was very honest about what he was looking for. You do your thing, I will do mine. We can hang out. But no close relationship. Not interested, don’t expect it. I knew if I chose to date him, I would have no one to blame but myself if I got my heart broken. I did fall for him. I did get my heart broken, but it was a very short encounter. We stayed friends and we would have a drink and chat every once in a while. We would have the same kind of conversation about his philosophy of life and relationships. Two weeks after one such talk, I received a text that he was “officially with another.” We talked and he told me he fell hard for someone. Got swept off his feet. I had to admit, ouch! Someone broke through. It wasn’t me, but he changed. 

I met another guy who was also reserved and doubtful of ever being able to trust again. I was skeptical that his marriage was all he claimed it to be, but eventually when I met his family, they confirmed what a loving husband he had been for many years. His abrupt divorce was traumatic for him and he just never recovered. He changed. So could love open him up again? Change him back? I don’t know. I know that I wasn’t that person in his life. We also have remained friends and he has been dating someone new. His heart doesn’t seem to have melted though. Not such a big ouch, but still sad.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my friend’s boyfriend. Really nice guy. He told me that after his last significant loss, he developed a mindset of not wanting to be close to anyone again. He was going to be selfish, just do the things he wanted to do, not answer to anyone, blah, blah, blah. Then he met my friend. He told me without any embarrassment that she stripped that all away without even trying to. He loves her and she has changed his life. He changed. My friend is a great woman so he is absolutely right about her. I wonder how it makes her feel to be that kind of positive catalyst in someone’s life. I can only imagine how deeply satisfying that probably feels.

Now most men would say that is about power and control. Most men resist being influenced by women because their sense of independence is crucial to them. It’s brought up over and over again in the therapy room. In my opinion, it’s one of the biggest misunderstandings between genders of all time. Most women are not motivated by power or control. We just want connection. Intimacy. We love to see the men we love happy. There is nothing better than being the one that can put a smile on your lover’s face. Nothing. It is NOT about controlling their time, energy or finances. It is about being loved. Wanted. Chosen. CHOSEN. Desired.

I will continue to be proud of the work I do helping other couples. I don’t know if I will ever experience that kind of thing in my personal life. It may just not be what is meant to be for me. Maybe it’s just not my path. But I will keep looking for light bulbs that want to change and put my energy there (no pun intended). When I do that, I end up being the one that is changed for the better!Image


3 Comments

Things Are Changing

There’s been a new feeling in the air. In spite of the rain and wind, there is warmth in the air. In spite of how dark it is when you first wake up, there is light peeking through. I think it’s change. And for a change, the change is positive. The change is happier than usual.

I have a teenage client I’ve been working with. She has formed her identity around being angst-filled and not liking people. Sometimes she has glimpses of a different life. I keep challenging her to stop defining herself as unhappy and depressed. What would happen if she allowed herself to feel connected? What if she wallowed in that and opened up her heart? As crazy as it might sound, I think it’s frightening to her. Even though she would rather be happy (of course), it would be unfamiliar to her. She knows sadness and loneliness. She understands it.

I think I can relate to her. I am the lonely widow. I am accident-prone. I am the one who has unlucky, bizarre things happen to her. I am the one that love seems to pass over. If there is a difficult way to achieve something in life, I will find that way.

But what if I re-defined myself? What if all that is changing? What if those people close to my heart were able to smile and say things like “I’m so happy for you” or “I’m so glad things are working out”? I am actually having fun catching up with people and watching their surprised (but happy) expressions when I tell them things are going well.

I’ve been doing the usual speaking engagements, but it seems like I am lecturing more than ever for some reason. I’ve been changing up my speeches a little, winging it a little more which leads to shooting from the hip. But it also leads to my talking more just from my heart. I am walking out more energized and inspired. I talked to a philosophy class this week at a college and it was one of the best ever. They were actually required to read my book so I can’t tell you the rush I felt when I walked in the room and saw my book on some of their desks. And these men and women challenged me. They asked me questions no one has ever asked me. Some of their questions stopped me in my tracks. But I loved it!

I got an email this week from another college looking for me to lecture. The big thing about that, was they sought me out. It wasn’t Brigitte or I following up week after week trying to get our foot in the door. They sought us. That is a rush too.

I got another email this week from a college asking if I would be interested in teaching at their school. I know that is not entirely uncommon, and I hear that it is often a way for them to get cheap labor. But I don’t care. Teaching has never entered my mind and I was completely surprised and flattered to be asked. How cool is that?

Let a little love in your heart. I know it’s scary. I know it’s vulnerable. I know there are no guarantees that you won’t get hurt in the end. But try anyway. It’s an amazing feeling to be alive again.