When a loved one dies- Grief Relief: how to make sense of your grief

HOW to When we plan to take a journey of some kind, we take time to prepare. We are savvy travellers, so we ensure that we have our navigation tools in hand, ensuring they work as they should. We then become familiar with them before we get on the road. The visit to the fuel station guarantees that we will complete our journey. If we don’t, there is a good chance of getting lost, taking a detour, or not getting to our intended destination at all. Now we have a goal, we have a plan, we are ready to begin our journey.

GOOD GRieF! 

I am a child of the 50s and have seen a lot of life. I’ve lived and worked in four countries and visited a whole lot of others. The journey through life, from the very beginning to end, make us who we are. I must have been about ten years old when my very favourite saying became ‘Good Grief Charlie Brown’! I would say it all the time, and it became somewhat of a trademark for me. It was my catchphrase. Although I didn’t know it, I struggled with dyslexia (not diagnosed until my late 40s). Dyslexia was unknown within the educational system at the time, so there was no provision for remedial teaching. Without the support I needed, I hadn’t read a book in full until my early 20s. Reading exhausted me, so I gave up in the first few pages, unable to comprehend the storyline or understand the words.

Thinking back, I seriously tried my hardest at school, but not everyone saw it that way. I could read a little bit, but not enough to keep up with my grades. My teachers reported to my parents that I was lazy, which would add to my overwhelming sense of failure. Tearfully I shouted, ‘I am trying, I just can’t read, I just can’t, and they would fire back at me ‘there’s no such word as can’t’ and told me to try harder. Finally, I was doing so badly that I had to repeat grade two twice. Then I failed in every year of primary school as well. To be expected, I had an awful time in high school, lasting there for only 6 months, leaving in favour of the workplace at the age of 15 years old.

Try as I might, I just didn’t get hold of what was going on in the classroom. I couldn’t follow the thread of ideas, and the bullies duly took advantage of my weakness. On several occasions, a group of boys and girls were waiting for me at the school gate and chased me all the way home after roughing me up. Growing up in Australian schools in the 1950s and 60s wasn’t easy. We had to be tough enough to be able to defend ourselves when needed. And it would always help, of course, if you were a fast runner. My inferiority heightened when my classmates and family devoured books like they were going out of fashion. They would tell me how easy it was to read, so why couldn’t I? Feeling very alone and misunderstood, I began to withdraw into myself. I never went to the school library except for a compulsory session in class. I did not understand why I had to attend the library when I couldn’t read properly. The whole system confused me. I quickly became overwhelmed by the hundreds of books housed on myriads of tall shelves. 

Then one day, while trying to avoid the bullies, I found myself wandering into the school library. It was there that I discovered a small booklet. It was brief enough that I managed to read it almost to the end. I loved that little book, with its cute cartoons on every page, which portrayed the adventures of Charlie Brown. I liked Charlie, he was an unusual little boy, and I found that I could relate to him, bless him. In Charlie, there was a small reflection of myself. Charlie was of short stature, ordinary, like me, and like me, he was sometimes misunderstood. Charlie had a habit of making silly mistakes, he would say stupid things and do things out of the ordinary, and that is when his friends would exclaim, Good Grief, Charlie Brown! I definitely could relate to good ole’ Charlie. 

NOTHING GOOD ABOUT GRIEF

I suffered my first real experience of grief when I split from my fiancé of three years. I was still saying good grief, but now I knew that grief had nothing GOOD about it. In the end, my favourite little motto became a thing of the past -sorry, Charlie. Whether it is death, divorce, a job loss, or anything else that causes us to grieve, all are difficult to cope with. Whatever the circumstances, grief forces us to say goodbye to someone or something. 

Grieving is such a personal and individual thing; we all experience it in our own way. But what is expected is that it makes us sad. I remember the sorrow I felt when I left my home country, Australia, creating a new home overseas. The anguish of saying goodbye to dear friends as I moved away due to work commitments. Because of my ministry, I moved around frequently, so sadness became a familiar companion. I was living 15,000 miles away in the UK. When my mother, who lived in Australia, died. I felt sad when I couldn’t be with her in her last days. The sorrow deepened because I couldn’t help my sisters to care for our aged Dad. – there’s nothing good about grief. 

HOW TO MAKE SENSE OF YOUR GRIEF

I share some of my stories, so you know that you are not alone in this. I want you to see that there is someone out there who can empathise. My purpose is to help you understand your sad feelings and learn to manage them to live a happy and fulfilling life. But, unfortunately, no actual language exists that clearly expresses the reality of the deep pain of grief. 

In 1976 I came to faith in Christ, began attending church, and was told by well-meaning people that all my problems had ended. I believed them. They assured me that because I had found a trouble-free life! It wasn’t long before I found out that this idea was terribly dishonest. Then the problems began, and I was convinced that something was wrong with me. This wasn’t supposed to happen! Discouraged and very confused, I believed that I must have done something wrong. It was my fault somehow. I already had low self-esteem, and this only compounded my sense of helplessness and hopelessness. 

My God encounter was genuine. I hung on tightly to that experience as the turmoil swirled around me. I began to research God’s word for myself and found the truth of the matter. What I was told was a lie, things do go wrong for people of faith, and bad things happen to good people – that is OK, that’s life!

 Every human being on the planet lives through sorrow in different ways and measures and always will. You can imagine my relief to find this was nothing unusual and that there was nothing wrong with me. Many teachings in the Scriptures point out that we will have troubles in this life, especially if we follow Christ closely as his disciples, don’t be surprised by what you are experiencing – God is with you. 

 Bereavement affects everyone in different ways, and it’s possible to experience any range of emotions. There is no right or wrong way to feel.

To make sense of your grief and what you are feeling- here is a few easy tips.

  1. Accept you are not alone; the experience of grief is common to everyone.
  2. Accept you will have troubles; life is full of happiness and sorrow.
  3. Observe how your feelings impact on your thoughts.
  4. Observe how your thoughts impact upon your physical body.
  5. Observe how your feelings’ thoughts and body impact your actions and behaviours.
  6. Do you feel sad or depressed?
  7. Do you feel shock or disbelief?
  8. Do you feel numb or in denial of some kind?

If you need support as you journey through your grief. I am Professionally trained with a Master of Arts in Counselling. Let’s Talk – contact me and see what the next step is right for you. 

If you want some ideas and tools to relieve and manage stress, check out the course in the top menu.

Please like, subscribe, share, and click on my social media if this post was helpful.

I would love to hear from you in our comments section below. 

 If you feel you would like further support, please contact me. Details of How to get in touch with me are found in the top menu.

How I started Journaling Mindfully and the struggles I encountered -Part One

Being Mindful means being more intentional in your choices to good mindfulness habits. As I have pointed out in my past blogs, there are also many additional physical and emotional benefits to a  Mindfulness practices

 Mindfulness practices have been researched extensively and shown to: 

· Decrease stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

· Reduce rumination and overthinking. 

· Help maintains owering levels of the stress . Improve relationship happiness. (Yaaa)

· Improve memory, concentration, and performance. 

· Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Improve sleep. (nite, nite)

· Just as exercise habits will change your body, mindfulness habits will literally reshape your mind. (renews your mind)

· Protects against mental illness and provides natural pain relief. 

· With the repetition and consistency, mindfulness creates changes in your brain function and structure. (always a plus)

Probably one of the easiest ways to start your Mindfulness journey is through journaling. The act of reflective journaling is a way of practising Mindfulness, and It is Free!

 Mindfulness journaling is used as an intervention method because it lowers depressive symptoms, anxiety and overwhelm. Mindfulness is so easy to implement. It can be practised anywhere, and only requires your time and consistency.

Despite the ease of implementing Mindfulness, like any new habit, it can be overwhelming for beginners. Where should you start? Should you implement a daily meditation session, mindful eating, mindful exercise, or mindful walking? The answer is you should start small, with one thing at a time. Then when it becomes a Well Habit, you can move to the next thing.

In this post, I share with you how and why I started with reflective mindful journaling, and how I struggled with it at first. This is not about journaling for organising but for self awareness. This is not the whole story but a snippet from my new book about Holistic Living, which features Mindfulness and issues around mental health. I am in the process of writing it. It will be published and made available to you later in the year – so keep a lookout for that! If you struggle to make self-care a priority or do not know how to start your mindfulness journey, check out my course, which will be available in the Summer of 2021- subscribe free to this blog to get updates on this! Maybe you are at the beginning to start a habit. Regardless of where you are on your journey, I hope you will find something useful here- if so, please let me know down in the comments. 

My Struggles

I have been on this planet for a long time now in my 66 years of life. Like you dear reader, I have experienced trauma, joys and much sorrow. I am also very dyslexic, so I shied away from anything to do with writing as much I could. Through the years, I tried journaling but never was consistent with it. Due to my dyslexia, writing caused me GREAT anxiety and overwhelm. So, I would abort my efforts only after a few weeks.

Then I discovered Mindfulness, and everything changed for me. All my life, I have enjoyed practising holistic living but never really ventured into mindfulness territory. I was always busy, busy, busy, and stopping to be mindful of what I was doing seemed almost a waste of my time. 

Then one day, I escaped a very abusive marriage which caused me to be physically ill, developing bodily weakness and I became susceptible to colds and flu. The lifestyle of abuse I was under wreaked my immune system, making me feel like an old lady before my time – not only in my body but in my mind as well. I spend over a year with women’s aid and had weekly counselling. I was still working full time, and no one knew what I was going through. I am the ‘stiff upper lip type of person, which has served me well because I ‘just got on with things’ despite the circumstances. However, although I didn’t want to let that go of my stiff upper lip attitude, I had to acknowledge that being busy, busy, busy, was hindering my recovery.

Then I had an accident that ripped my shoulder, and two of the main tendons snapped. I lost the use of my arm for three months. The divorce went through, now living alone, I was trying to manage one-handed which was not easy. I prayed and cried and repeated that – a lot! I didn’t have a strategy for recovery, I was becoming an invalid and thought of taking early retirement. I lamented about my situation as I crawled up the stairs on my hands and knees. I was so weak. Of course, my tendency to ‘get on with it’ kicked in. I couldn’t allow my life to down the gurgler- or my Lord Jesus would not allow that to happen either. So, I accepted that I had to slow down. I had physically slowed down because I lost the use of my arm. I could not drive and took over 3 months off work. However, my mind was still in work mode; it had not slowed me down permanently at all. So, I surfed the web, bought books to study, researched the mind and its workings, and discovered Mindfulness. From then on, I began to practise mindful journaling and approached everything I did intentionally, including my faith. But it didn’t last. I could not grasp ‘the mindful thing’, and as my shoulder healed, I began to drive again and returned to work.

Then- 

That very same year, I was involved in two car accidents. Neither of them were my fault- thankfully! The first one happened when a bike slammed into the passage side of my car, causing me whiplash and many emotional and financial problems, which added to the trauma. It wiped out the whole side of my car, which was in the workshop for 10 days. After I got my car back, then only three days later, I was sitting at a 6-way roundabout ready to enter the motorway – WHEN – bammm!!!!

A humungous lorry slammed into the back of my newly repaired car- wiping out the back end, sending me into shock! The driver said he didn’t see me- (I didn’t believe it). Everyone was stopped, including me as we gave way to our right, and the guy didn’t see me! Anyway, my car ended up in the same shop, and I then became very ill.

 I obviously didn’t the message slowing down message through my head. Was this God speaking to me? Who knows, This situation was was what caused me to make a vow to myself and God, to slow down physically and mentally (after all I was no spring chicken any more). I asked God to help me to get a grip on this mindfulness thing because I knew that this would be my way to the lasting healing of life.

 So over time, with starts and stops, I began reflective journaling. I did it for six months straight – Amazing! I would sit down at 6am, with coffee in hand and pray, read scripture and then journal. I enjoy it, I found it helped me to get out of bed, looking forward to putting pen to paper. Its was a struggle, but happily I can tell you that the habit continues till today. the journaling habit gave me the confidence to write two books during the COVID lockdown, and I regularly write blog posts, one of which you are reading.

Well, dear reader, this is part of my mindfulness journey, I hope you enjoyed it and was of some help to you. My next post is part two; lookout for that. In that post, I will outline a few basic steps to get you started on your mindfulness journaling journey.

If you are struggling as I have, you’re in good company – just keep going!

Thank you for visiting me here, I hope this post was helpful? Then please like, subscribe or  leave a comment with any questions you may have!

 If feel you would like further support, please contact me. Details of How to get in touch is found in the top menu on my home page.

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I look forward your visit to my next blog post!

Paula Rose Parish

Dyslexia – a Reveal

Hope. Faith. Love Fosters a sense of community. All Blog posts are there for your encouragement and to share with others. You will find all kinds of topics relevant to everyday life.

This is a post Written by Amanda J Smith. As a Dyslexic,  I have resonated with it and those who are Dyslexic or who have a relationship with one will find this helpful.  Let me know if you agree!

It’s hard to understand it, isn’t it? If you’re not one of the ten to fifteen percent of the population with dyslexia, it’s really hard to understand what it’s like.

It’s easy to think that it’s a bit of a scam. That if people with dyslexia worked harder, and really applied themselves, they could “get over it.” But that’s not the case.

Life is actually much more difficult for people with dyslexia. They have brilliant minds, but they’re hard to focus.

Dyslexia is a gift—the gift of being able to see things from lots of different points of view, all at once. But the gift comes with a curse, and the curse is that it’s hard to prioritize, or make sense of, all those perspectives.

People with dyslexia can be hard to live with, and hard to love, because their brains work so differently to ours. Even if you love someone with dyslexia, the day-to-day living with it can drive you insane. Because they can forget things, believe they’ve said or done things they haven’t, be incredibly messy and disorganized, and be less socially aware than other people.

The best thing you can do is to understand more about dyslexia, so you’re less exasperated and more sympathetic.

This is an insight into how their minds work.

1. They have lifestyle challenges.

Dyslexia is much more than just having difficulty reading, writing, and using numbers. They see the world in a completely different way, communicate differently, and have trouble organizing things.

Some people describe it as a lifestyle challenge, others as a lifestyle curse, because it affects almost all aspects of their lives.

2. They can seem weird.

Despite their high intelligence, and because they see so many different perspectives at once, they can appear incoherent in conversation. They can come out with strange ideas, and lack the ability to check if their thoughts are suitable for conversation. They can seem almost autistic because they’re often unaware of social rules.

3. They find details exhausting.

Because their brain is less efficient at processing letters and sounds, it has to work harder—much harder. So any time spent reading, using numbers, or focusing on details is really, really exhausting.

4. They function differently on different days.

Some days they seem to function better than others, and can appear to be improving. Other days, it’s like everything is getting worse. There’s no reason, and no pattern. It just is.

5. They are highly creative.

Their ability to view the world from all perspectives makes them highly creative. They can come up with wildly creative ideas, partly because they’re not constrained by the laws of physics, mathematical logic, or the impossible.

6. They see things that others don’t.

Like words moving on the page, or even off the page, and letters flipping about. You know how challenging it can be to read letters and numbers in captcha? Imagine reading a whole book like that. Or reading a book through a magnifying lens that a child is holding, and moving about.

They can even see the word cat more than 40 different ways.

7. They get overwhelmed by what they see.

They see so many possibilities that their thoughts can become garbled and distorted. It’s hard to sort through all that information and work out what’s important or appropriate. Without the ability to filter, this special gift becomes a tragic, confusing, disability.

8. They are more likely to have ADD.

People with dyslexia are more likely to have ADD. About 40% of people with dyslexia have ADD, and 60% of people with ADD have dyslexia.

9. They can experience thoughts as reality.

They can fully believe they’ve told you something, that they haven’t, or swear that you haven’t told them something that you have.

Often they express themselves in such a unique way that their message hasn’t come across coherently. And they may not realize that this aspect of their communication is part of their dyslexia.

10. They may not know they have dyslexia.

According to the Mayo Clinic, dyslexia can go undiagnosed for years, and may not be recognized until adulthood. This is one reason why it’s hard to calculate the number of people with dyslexia. And, unfortunately, people with undiagnosed dyslexia often label themselves as stupid or slow.

11. They think in pictures instead of words.

Not surprisingly, they tend to be highly visual, think in pictures, and utilize visual aids to help them plan and organize their lives. Rather than using self-talk, their thought processes are more subliminal. Most people with dyslexia are not even aware that they do this.

12. They will always have dyslexia.

They can learn to read and spell, but they will always have dyslexia. To make life easier, a font and a dictionary specifically for people with dyslexia are on the way.

The font is designed to avoid confusion, and add clarity, while the dictionary will favor meaning over alphabetical order.

13. They use their brain differently.

People with dyslexia don’t use their brain the same way that most of us do. Their brain under-utilizes the left hemisphere—the area required for reading—and the bridge of tissue between the two sides of the brain (the corpus callosum) doesn’t function in the same way. So, their brain doesn’t always direct information to the correct place for processing.

14. They get it from their family.

Dyslexia is inherited, and most people with dyslexia have an aunt or uncle, or a parent or grandparent with dyslexia. Scientists have discovered that the DCD2 appears to be a dyslexia gene.

15. They often have low self-esteem.

People with dyslexia are just as intelligent as the rest of us. And they’re fully aware that other people can read and write much more easily than they can. So they feel stupid compared to other people.

As Albert Einstein said:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life thinking it’s stupid.”

16. They have different symptoms.

Dyslexia is a tricky thing, because no two people have the exact same symptoms. Some lose things, or have poor organization skills. Some are slow at reading or have poor comprehension. Some may have difficulty organizing ideas to write, or have difficulty processing auditory information. Some also have difficulty sequencing the days of the week, or months of the year.

17. They are full of contradictions.

They may be highly aware of their environment, but appear lost. They may recognize, or read, a word on one page but be unable to recognize it on the next. Their brains are often very fast, but they appear slow, because they’re filtering through all the possibilities that they see.

18. They have great strengths.

People with dyslexia are often very good at reading people, and have great people skills. They usually have fantastic memories, and rely on them. They’re often good at spoken language, and frequently spatially talented (think architects, engineers, artist and craftspeople). They are highly intelligent, and intuitive, with vivid imaginations.

19. They can be incredibly successful.

People with dyslexia can be incredibly successful, often because of their dyslexia.

Famous people with dyslexia include entertainers like Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, Henry Winkler, Danny Glover and Cher. As well as artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Tommy Hilfiger, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso.

Carole Grieder and Baruj Benacerraf utilized their dyslexia to become Nobel prize-winning scientists. People with dyslexia also go on to be writers and journalists like Scott Adams (of Dilbert), Agatha Christie, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Fannie Flagg (the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café).

20. They can change the world.

People with dyslexia can, and have changed the world. People like George Washington, Richard Branson, Henry Ford and Stephen Spielberg have changed, and continue to change, the world we live in.

People with dyslexia are kind, creative, highly intelligent beings who are just as frustrated at their inabilities as you are. They just can’t take a break from the way their minds work.

Instead they rely on the people that love them to help them interpret the world, and to help them function in a world that’s not adjusted to their needs.

Yes, they can be frustrating to love at times, but they have incredible, unique, world-changing gifts.

With your help, maybe the person you love can change the world too.

If you have found this article helpful and feel you would like further support, please contact me. Details of How to get in touch with me is found in the drop-down menu on my home page.

Thank you for visiting me here, and I see you in my next blog post!

Paula Rose Parish

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📚Nothing Good about Grief: Path to recovery with Psalm 23 after COVID-19 & other losses  

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Dyslexic and Proud

I have travelled the world and had three major careers, all of which I studied and worked hard for. I struggled through it all and wondered why my peers didn’t have the difficulties that I experienced. I didn’t know I was dyslexic until I was in my late forties. I was determined to get a Masters and attended Westminster College in Cambridge, England. The tutor spotted that may be dyslexic and asked me what I thought. I replied I never heard of the word Dyslexia, and asked, ‘what on earth is it???

undefinedDyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems and with reading, writing and spelling and other things.

Unlike a learning disability, intelligence isn’t affected.

It’s estimated up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of Dyslexia. In many people, it appears to be hereditary. It is undoubtedly misunderstood, and I have had my fair share of nasty comments and shunning and told to ‘don’t tell anybody’ from well-meaning friends and colleagues.

Dyslexia is a lifelong problem, we are born with it. It can present challenges daily, but support is available to improve reading, writing and coping skills to help you to be successful at school and work.

What are the signs of Dyslexia?

Signs of Dyslexia usually become apparent when a child starts school and begins to focus more on learning how to read and write.

A person with Dyslexia may:

  • read and write very slowly
  • confuse the order of letters in words
  • put letters the wrong way round (such as writing “b” instead of “d”)
  • have weak or inconsistent spelling
  • bad handwriting 
  • understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
  • find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
  • struggle with planning and organisation

But people with Dyslexia often have excellent skills in other areas, such as creative thinking and problem-solving. These are only some of the symptoms, and you may one or two or more.

Getting help

If you think you or your child may have Dyslexia, the first step is to speak to their teacher or their school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) about your concerns. If you as an Adult, the dyslexia association will help advise you.

Support for people with Dyslexia

If your child has Dyslexia, they’ll probably need extra educational support from their school.

With appropriate support, there’s usually no reason your child can’t go to a mainstream school, although a small number of children may benefit from attending a specialist school.

Universities also have specialist staff who can support young people with Dyslexia in higher education. I received help after I was assessed as an upper percentile dyslexic. I could not have gotten through my university studies without this remail help. My dissertation scored a distinction which was a massive achievement for me!

Technology such as word processors and electronic organisers, speech to text software ware can be useful for adults, too. Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to help people with Dyslexia, such as allowing extra time for specific tasks.

Support groups

As well as national dyslexia charities such as the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), there are several local dyslexia associations (LDAs).

These are independently registered charities that run workshops and help to provide local support and access to information. I know the emotional trauma a dyslexic can go through and so I also counsel dyslexic Adult so feel to contact me if you need help.

What causes Dyslexia?

People with Dyslexia find it challenging to recognise the different sounds that makeup words and relate these to letters. Dyslexia isn’t associated with a person’s general level of intelligence. Children and adults of all intellectual abilities can be affected by Dyslexia.

The exact cause of Dyslexia is unknown, but it often appears to run in families. It’s thought specific genes inherited from your parents may act together in a way that affects how some parts of the Brain develop during early life.

We cant change being dyslexic, but we can change how we manage it and embrace it as a big advantage.

Brock, L, E. Etal. (2011) The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the dyslexic Brain. Hay House.UK.

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