Stages Of Grief

Most people believe that the ‘Stages of Grief’ apply only to the death of a loved one, but this is far from true. It’s also a misnomer to think that the stages go in order, are progressive, or that you will ever actually be done.

We grieve for lost dreams, for job changes, relationship changes. We even grieve for changes in life that we deem a good thing. Graduating is a great word as well as a great example of a change that holds both the long sought goal of finishing something, but also the sadness that it is over. Done.

As a therapist, I cannot emphasize more strongly that each gain carries with it, losses.

To complete these transitions successfully, I believe that it’s essential to acknowledge the loss as well as the gain. In fact societies have created what are often called “Rites Of Passage” to assist us through these complex transitions. Examples include birthdays, graduations, wedding ceremonies, and of course funerals. These Rites of Passage are usually a public event, and have the potential of using the strength of a community to assist us through the change.
Some transitions, though, seem more isolating – divorce, a miscarriage, cancer, a break-up. With no cultural “Rite of Passage” in place, it often feels like we are alone

Yet, with knowledge of the grief steps, we can at least name the stage we’re going through as a way to help us make sense of the tumultuousness of our experiences. For example, I was diagnosed with breast cancer twmonth ago. My first response was shock (denial) followed by sadness and tears (depression). I felt like everything was going to fall apart. I didn’t want this to be my reality (anger)… “no…no no no…”, but alas, reality said “ cancer.” My mind argued with the next steps (bargaining), being mastectomy. I argued with the entire medical field! I said, “why do people jump to mastectomy with out checking lymph nodes first!” As if I were an expert they forgot about.

The next day I woke up ok! Sort of happy even. (Acceptance). I joked with myself, husband and friends that, “ yay! My boobies were too big anyway! Now I get a makeover!” Ha Ha Ha. Not true acceptance, more like another layer of denial.

Sadness isn’t the only stage of grief

The Stages of Grief

  • Denial/shock
    Most people report an almost out-of-body response to traumatic losses (shock). They also report speaking in the present tense about someone who is gone (denial).
  • Bargaining – Bargaining is when we plead with our God to back- up so the truth of the loss can change. It can sound like, “take me instead…”, or, “what if I…” I always envision the Superman movie, where Superman is capable of going backwards and saving Louise Lane, despite the fact that she was killed.
  • Anger – The anger stage can be towards self, others, even God. “why me/ him/ her??“; “This isn’t fair/ not the way it’s supposed to go!”. It can also show up randomly, like being mad at society, the internet, the utility bill.
  • Depression – This describes the feeling of hopelessness after a loss. Questions like “can I go on”, “I don’t know how I can get through this”, or even, “I KNOW I can’t get through this “.
  • Acceptance – acceptance doesn’t mean everything is ok in your world regarding the loss, or that you are now happy. It’s an amazing acknowledgment that you CAN get through this, and somehow you WILL get through it.

These stages are not necessarily experienced in order. In fact, you can triple-cycle through all of them in a matter of minutes. The thing to know, however, is that whatever craziness you feel in this intense process will change. And if you accept the experience, you will flow from one stage to another, even if over and over, until your process is willing to let you go. We can’t force it though. Observe it for a bit of sanctuary.

Having A Bad Day

There are days I cannot take part in life. The supply of available curse words is insufficient to meet my demands. If you’re having a bad day, …

Having A Bad Day

Our Entire Country is at Stake

First, he groped women because “as a celebrity, we can do whatever we want”. He admitted he lusted for his own daughter.

He made international deals that have padded his and his friends $$ pockets, while destroying our world wide reputation. He has used our military to aid the Russian president in destroying neighboring countries in a massively egocentric desire to recreate the USSR.

He has sold off sacred native lands for oil.

He has incited racists, homophobes, womanizers, and mass shootings.

Now…

In 2020, he ignored the warnings of the covid19 pandemic, plummeting our country into crisis with more per capita deaths than anywhere else on the entire planet.

And now he wants the uninsured working class to get back to work, despite the risks. Because economic growth is more important than lives.

When American’s witnessed the murder of George Floyd, we became sick with grief and were outraged.

His solution? He wants all departments of the armed military forces to squash the protesters who are sick of police brutality, especially against the blacks. He had these forces use rubber bullets and tear gas so he could cross the street for a photo op.

Are we going towards a fascist regime? The END of America? A policed country? My own husband believes that the country will finally crash and become a Dictatorship.

I disagree.

I’m proud of our protesters who risk their lives to say we are not going to be quiet anymore. And if you think our country is going to be intimidated by more police brutality, think again.

The response to clear racial profiling by our police forces has been intense, I know. But as my son observed:

“This is what the END of the Rope looks like.”

I know I simply can not stay silent knowing that we are in a real crisis— and it has to end.

Please don’t forget:

November is far away, but we have to remember who put us here. Yes. It’s the man posing as our President.

We have to vote against him with whoever will end his reign.

I’m not for or against the Republican Party, but I am against this individual — who has, nearly single handily, worked to destroy our country’s values as a fair and open society, with respect and true consideration for all living beings.

I want to see our country as progressive leaders again.

Notes

* at “stake” : a risky action where things of value can be gained or lost. 

* Fascists- Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) “is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy.”

Getting Clear With the Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh

I know I could use a reminder of what really matters…

We do our best when we remember that we are all connected… Let’s remember to look at our judgements with some detachment, and dare to ask ourselves, “Is It True?

The Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh developed the “Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism” in the mid-1960’, at a time when the Vietnam War was escalating and the teachings of the Buddha were desperately needed to combat the hatred, violence, and divisiveness enveloping his country.

Today, there are thousands worldwide who regularly recite the Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism which remain uniquely applicable to contemporary moral dilemmas. These are guidelines for anyone wishing to live mindfully.

“By developing peace and serenity through ethical and conscientious living, we can help our society make the transition from one based on greed and consumerism to one in which thoughtfulness and compassionate action are of the deepest value.”. – Fred Eppsteiner

 The Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism

  1. Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means — they are not absolute truth.
  2. Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment in order to be open and able to hear others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
  3. Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.
  4. Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes to suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering. Awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.
  5. Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life to profit, accumulate wealth or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.
  6. Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your hatred.
  7. Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing — both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.
  8. Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
  9. Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.
  10. Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.
  11. Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realize your ideals of compassion.
  12. Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.
  13. Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.
  14. Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of the Way. (For brothers and sisters who are not monks and nuns:) Sexual expression should not take place without love and commitment. In sexual relationships, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.

Question — Which of these will help you right now?

Edited fromInterbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism”