Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Why Do I Bother?

I try very hard to do whatever I am doing with ethics and passion. Sometimes, though, that has to be balanced with realism. Watching out for burnout is also important.

My cousin challenged me to push the system this week and I told her, “Girlfriend, are you kidding me? I do almost every week of my life!” She is younger than me and in graduate school. She is fired up to fix this broken world and all of its broken systems and I will be her loudest cheerleader! There is no way I am going to damper her enthusiasm by suggesting she get a helmet so she doesn’t get concussions from beating her head on the wall.

Besides, what if she is one that can actually make it happen?

I had a client tell me in her frustration with the mental health system that had failed her, that we (mental health professionals) all needed to march to Albany and demand change from the higher-ups. (She is much younger than me!) I told her that I am just the type of person to do that. And I would if I thought it would help but I truly don’t think it would. The brokenness starts at the top and then trickles down.

On a much smaller scale, I had a frustrating weekend with another job. I did my usual OCD arrangements with several different parties. I had everything organized and the details mapped out. I group texted all the parties involved and told them all the particulars. I even did a call out for specific details that related to specific people.

Then over the next two to three days, I just started getting the questions. Hey! What’s the plan? I just copied and pasted the text and sent it again to him.

Hey! I was looking at the contract and this isn’t supposed to happen. Oh, well look at the text and the part that is particularly spelled out and tagged with your name about that. It absolutely is supposed to happen.

On and on.

Not a big deal in the picture of life. But when you are already exhausted and worn out, you go the extra mile and do an excellent job, and others aren’t even bothering to read the texts, it gets aggravating. While I’m doing the actual job, I’m being interrupted. And when I’m tapped out, things feel more annoying than usual.

I’ve tried many times in my life to say, “Screw it. Why should I try so hard when other people don’t do their jobs?” But I can’t. Thanks to my upbringing, I have to give it my best anyway.

Thanks a lot, Dad.


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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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Control

Photo Courtesy of Author

Yes, I’m a bit OCD, but I feel like I put it to great use. First, there is my organizing business. Second, my house is in pretty good order. After dealing with a leaking roof, we took our already fairly organized storage rooms and made them even better.

There are worse vises to have, right?

I did see an online post that said, “You call it OCD. I call it put it back in its damn place.” Well, there was a harsher word than damn, but I cleaned it up for you. At any rate, it makes me feel better. Seriously, what’s wrong with being organized?

As the months keep going by, there is more and more that seems out of our control. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t think our world is a bit of a mess right now. Most of the time, there is nothing we can do about it. That’s why so many folks struggle with heightened anxiety.

Why not control what little we can?

I went away overnight to a friend’s cottage. I actually invited myself because I was desperate to escape for 24 hours. At one point, she and her friend went shopping and I stayed home.

It took about ten minutes and then the crying started. (This bodes well for the silent retreat I want to take soon.) I couldn’t describe it. The only phrase that came to mind repeatedly was, “I’m just not well.” I’m a depression veteran so I recognize it when it hits. There is some added dynamic I can’t pinpoint so I just credit the pandemic.

I’m not well. I’m not myself. I’m discombobulated. Thanks 2020.

A friend sent me a video that gently reminded me to access the greatest Power of all. It was talking about how “it depends on whose hand it is in.” You put a nail in your hand and it’s a tool. You put a nail in Jesus’ hand and we know that’s a different story entirely.

The ending message was to put your worries in God’s hands.

I’ve been trying to envision that regularly. I see God’s hands as these ginormous things. I hobble right into them like I’m trying to climb out of a pool. I figure to heck with putting my worries in God’s hands. I’m just plopping my whole body in there.

My entire self feels broken down and exhausted right now. God’s hands are big enough to handle it. Right?


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Eleventh Hour

Back in November, my siblings and I started a conversation with my dad about the possibility of downsizing into a smaller place. We were meeting with him once a month and cleaning things out a little at a time. Things kept progressively increasing in effort until the last two months which have been in full-court press.

Now it’s time. He is moving tomorrow. All these months of preparation and there is less than 24 hours to go. The weird thing is, it has been an especially long, long week. If you have ever quit a job and had a hard time finishing out those last few days of work, you know what I mean.

No matter how much I sleep or nap, I don’t feel refreshed. Tuesday was the last real packing day I was going to spend with him, and on Monday afternoon my feet started feeling like lead. I swear it hurt to lift them and walk. Yesterday I got weepy. We went to a neurologist appointment for Dad in the morning which led to a couple of follow-up phone calls I had to make and that did it. I started crying on the way home. There was no way I could make two phone calls that required my brain to be sharp. So I napped. That didn’t help, but I did manage to get the phone calls done. Of course I did. It’s me. But I was in desperate need of cheerleaders to tell me to just keep going. I had five sessions that night as well.

Today is the last day before the big move. Cry number one was at 8:30 am. I had to call Dad and tell him that I broke his favorite fireman statue. I had loaded my car on Tuesday (which didn’t make sense to him to begin with) and I couldn’t pack it full because Frankie has hockey camp all week and he has a very large equipment bag. Things shifted and a box fell on the statue and broke off both of the poor guy’s arms. Now Dad can sometimes be a typical dad of his generation and not great when it comes to emotions. But he was stellar today. He told me not to cry. It was an accident and he knew I didn’t do it on purpose. He just didn’t want me to cry anymore.

I went home and started on some neglected yard work. I know most people think my yard is always fine, but I can’t help seeing what I see. I know what it is SUPPOSED to look like in order to maintain it properly. I also know it wasn’t important in comparison which is why I was behind. I started to prioritize it this morning and started to feel good about the potential progress I could make.

That is until I realized I had forgotten my psychiatrist’s appointment. I mean, I just don’t do things like that. And of all docs, you never stand up a psychiatrist. Only God knows how much that fine will be. I called and left a message and got there as fast as I could but I was 24 minutes late. She said nope. Can’t get in now until September. Sob session number two with the receptionist. Now I know there is no one to blame but myself but I was pissed off anyway. I’m scattered and not on my game because I am helping a thousand other people, not because I’m sunbathing at the beach. The appointments are only five to ten minutes. She COULD have fit me in, she CHOSE not to. Yep, my fault but I allowed myself to be angry with them anyway.

At any rate, I just had some ice cream with a friend and I’m feeling like all is right with the world again. If I can manage not to have any more crying jags, I may be able to finish my list for today. I may even be able to write up the list for tomorrow of all the things I don’t want to forget to do while I am directing the movers. Empty the fridge, disconnect the TV and all the parts, pack up the DISH for return, remember the little rocking chair that Dad has decided is REALLY important to him so we’re going to try to fit it, finish marking the items for sale over the weekend, blah, blah, blah.

It’s the eleventh hour. Overall, I have to say we have all done a pretty fine job. This might just be the most organized move in history. Most importantly, I feel closer to Dad than I have in years. He comforted me today. I felt his compassion for me. I will savor that for a long time.

If you are bored this weekend, come check out the moving sale. The more you guys buy, the less that has to be dragged into boxes. By this time next week, maybe we will be signing the papers to sell the house. Wish us luck!