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MANAGING THE FESTIVE SEASON – PART 4: GRIEF & LOSS

MANAGING THE FESTIVE SEASON – PART 4: GRIEF & LOSS

This is the transcript of Live the 8Wise™ Way Podcast.

Episode Thirty:

Managing the Festive Season – Part 4: Grief & Loss

Welcome everybody to the Live the 8WiseTM Way podcast with me, Kim Rutherford, Psychotherapist, author and creator of the 8WiseTM method for better mental health and wellbeing. How are you all doing? How are things? The weeks are slipping by, we’re getting closer and closer and closer towards the end of 2022 and this episode, can you believe it, we’re at episode 30 already.

It feels like only yesterday when I started doing the podcast and putting episode one out there and being so scared, so scared, of putting it out there and people not liking it and people hating it and I cannot believe that we’re 30 episodes later and it’s going really well. It’s been listened to by lots of people from all over the world, it’s fantastic. So, thank you so much if you are listening, thank you so much if you’ve joined me from episode one and have listened to every single one of my episodes, I know so many of you get in touch and tell me that you have. And if this is the first time that you have joined as well, thank you. Thank you for finding us on the waves. You’ve got so many podcasts to choose and I’m genuinely, genuinely touched that you’ve chosen to listen to this one.

But don’t stop there, obviously subscribe, don’t miss another one. Keep on because in 2023 we are going to bring you Living the 8WiseTM Way and I’m going to take you through the personal development process and the mental wellbeing process and talk you through all the things that can help you make 2023 a brilliant year and, more importantly, I’ve got some amazing, amazing guests coming on to help 2023 be the best year yet and they’re going to be sharing their top tips on how you can Live the 8WiseTM Way using their specialisms that they have in their life, and I will tell you a little bit more about that in the episodes to come.

But today, if you listened to my previous episode, we talked all about this time of year, it’s fun for a lot of people, it’s joyous and I love this time of year, I really, really do. But not everybody does, and the holidays can ignite some really serious levels of joy, but some really, really low levels of depression and low mood caused by lots of things. And one of the biggest things that causes problems for people this year and really starts to make them feel rubbish is grief, holiday traditions, crikey, they can remind us so much of those people that are no longer with us. And it becomes really hard sometimes to celebrate this joyous occasion, this fun, when we feel so bad that we’ve lost some of these really, really special people from our lives. It’s been tough. As a therapist, people say to you “what’s the hardest part of being a therapist?” And I hear so many tragedies. and I hear about so many traumas and there’s always a reality that I can’t change the past, but I can help to make someone’s future a bit better, a bit happier.

But the one area that probably touches me more than all the others, is when somebody is grieving and they’ve lost someone. Very important because there’s a reality factor that, with so many other things in our lives, although the pain of it and the trauma of it can stay with us and stay very, very strong, we can reduce it. And as we move forward, we can move further away from it, we can start living really, really amazing lives and heal from those past situations and we never forget, we don’t forget, but we can heal. But when it comes to grief and loss, there’s no healing process really. I know there’s probably a lot of therapists who do grief counselling saying “what are you talking about, of course you heal from it” and I’m like, you don’t, because when you’ve lost somebody that is so important to you, you’ve lost them and the waves of emotion that can come from that, there’s no routine to it. There’s no strategy to it. They come when they come and for me, as a therapist, I always find that really difficult to work with sometimes and that’s not why I won’t work with people who are going through grief and loss, of course I do, but for me, I came into the work that I do because I wanted help people heal and I know that the process for getting some peace after losing someone that you love is difficult.

There’s a lot of pain that comes with that process and I guess I dedicated my life to trying to prevent people from feeling psychological pain and when it comes to grief and loss, I can’t prevent that. I can give tools and tips and ideas on how to manage it and how to manage the emotions as they come through and I can sit with someone and let them talk and talk and talk until they feel a little bit better but there’s that reality of, I can never really take away the pain. And so, for me, it’s the one topic that touches me an awful lot.

For many people, this time of year can be really, really difficult, especially if they’re struggling with the loss of a loved one. Now, I lost my own grandma, or step-grandma, we called her mama, this time last year and that was hard and I wasn’t as close to her as I am other people in my life but she was a huge part of my life and a lot of my solid Christmas memories were from her. So Christmas was quite strange last year for that reason. It was that reality of “oh, she’s not going to be here anymore”. And my aunties, who are wonderful, wonderful women who were very, very close to her, oh the pain I felt for them because I knew how much pain they were in was really quite overwhelming. A few years back, one of my closest, dearest, beautiful friends. I talk about her a lot on this podcast, she’s been such an important part of my life, Jane, she lost her mum, and her mum was such an important part in all of our lives. I mean, I remember every single Christmas I would make her these wonderful chocolate truffles, homemade chocolate truffles, and I’d make them, and she would make me a Dundee cake and every Christmas Eve, that’s what we would swap. And it was such a beautiful memory and it happened for so many Christmases and she was a huge part of my life, but she was obviously a huge part of my dear friend Jane’s life and so, for this time of year, it brings an awful lot up with for her as well.

Recently, I became very, very aware of a major tragedy for somebody that I know and someone that I care about and they lost their husband. They lost their husband and I’m not getting into the details of it, but they lost their husband and they’re very, very young so we’re talking about people who are in their thirties with a very young family, and it happens so quickly. And I think that’s the reality of grief and loss. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to know it’s going to happen and therefore you get the chance to say goodbye, and other times it just happens when it shouldn’t, not that it ever really should, but when somebody hasn’t lived a life yet and just taken so quickly, and I’ve spent a lot of time in these last couple of weeks working with clients who are experiencing a new wave of grief or loss, some who have recently lost somebody very, very close to them, very, very dear to them and others who this time of year just retriggers that nostalgia, retriggers those memories and that wave of grief and loss comes back as strong and as solid as it ever has. And that’s the thing I guess about grief and loss is the waves of it remain as strong as ever, and I think it’s important that we try to support those who might be experiencing it this Christmas.

So, what I wanted to do for this episode of Live the 8WiseTM Way is talk about this from two different angles. If you have people in your life right now who you know are grieving, I want to give you some tips on how you can help them, and if you are struggling yourself with grief and loss right now, then I just want to give you some tips on how you might be able to support yourself through this process so that you don’t feel completely and utterly on your own in what will be a very difficult time.

There are a few ways that you can help someone if they are experiencing grief. Number one, reach out to them. Simply connecting with them can offer them that level of care, that feeling that somebody cares for them and supports them. It can completely validate their feelings. It makes it very clear that you are clear that you are looking after them. I went to see the very lovely Richard E. Grant recently. He’s got his book out, which I highly recommend to anybody, and he was talking about the loss of his beautiful, beautiful wife and he was saying you remember very clearly the people who stood by you in that moment and the people who didn’t, and some people don’t know what to do. They don’t know what to say, so they stay away. But he was saying the people that just sent the silly messages, would just turn up on the doorstep with food, they don’t want to talk about it, they just want you to know that it’s a difficult time for you and they’re aware of it. And he talked through grief, and he talked through loss in such a beautiful way but what he said was the people reaching out really does mean so much. Just reaching out, showing that you care, making it clear that you do care, offering to spend time with them, offering to support them, offering to help them. A lot of us just say “if you need anything, let me know” but when you are at your lowest, when you’re at your worst, when you are feeling that the last thing, you’re going to do is reach out to somebody, so sometimes you have to be the person.

If you are the person who cares about the other person who might be experiencing this, try and reach out, put yourself in front of them. Don’t make them do all the hard work when they’re already going through something that is absolutely horrific as it is, you do the work, reach out to them, show them that you care, invite them to things with you. A lot of people, as I said, they start to step away, especially when somebody’s only just lost somebody because they don’t know what to do, they don’t know what to say, they don’t know what the right thing is, and so they stay away. But actually don’t, invite people to come with you, include them in your holiday plans so that you can ensure that they don’t feel isolated, that they don’t feel alone, and yet they might not enjoy every element of being with you, but being with you, connecting to other people, will be better for them than being isolated and alone at home, overwhelmed by all those thoughts, overwhelmed by all those emotions that can possibly lead to depression and worse.

So definitely reach out to people and invite them to things and don’t be scared to discuss it again. It can feel grief itself is like this big, ugly, fat elephant sat in the room that we, again, we want to avoid it. It is healthy to discuss our feelings. It’s healthy to discuss our feelings about grief and to talk about the person who is no longer there. Just because they are no longer there doesn’t mean they weren’t there and there’s one thing that somebody who can’t be there ever again, but to completely ignore that they existed, that is painful. So, discuss it, bring them up, chat about them, have your favourite memories. Don’t make it as if they never existed. Then be patient. Be patient with those friends and those family members and those colleagues that are working through their grief. There is no right way to do it, there is no wrong way to do it. They are going to feel a plethora of emotions. Those emotions are going to trigger a wide range of different behaviours. Some of them you will like, some of them you will not. Some of them you will understand, some of them you will not, but it is important that they get to experience all of them because that stops them from suppressing them. That stops them from holding it all in and pretending that everything’s okay when it’s not. And when we don’t get the chance to share our thoughts and feelings and just be our true selves whilst going through this grief process, if we don’t get the chance to do that, we can’t really heal from the pain that we’re feeling in that moment. Like I said, we may never heal from the loss. A loss is a loss, but it can become easier on us. It becomes less all-consuming if we’re allowed to release it. Be patient with them to work through their grief their way, their pace. It’s time for you to stop, to listen and be compassionate towards them and so just stop and be patient.

So, if you are helping other people, that’s what I’d say you focus on. Reach out to them, invite them to do things, don’t be scared of the elephant in the room. Discuss the person who’s no longer with us and be patient with your friend or your family member, whoever has experienced that grief and loss on such a level, what they’re going through is horrific and nobody knows how it’s going to hit them. There is no right way to do it. You genuinely do not know how you are going to experience it until you’re in their shoes, and as you’re never really ever going to be in their shoes, you will never really know. So be empathetic towards them and be patient and let them work through their grief with you right by their side. Knowing that you care, knowing that you’re there to support them, and knowing that you’re there to bring the laughs and the giggles once again in their life when they’re ready to experience that.

If you are the person who’s currently going through any form of grief and any form of loss, then my heart goes out to you. It really, really does. It may feel there is nothing you can do to get out of the moment when that grief takes over but number one, this is the one thing I want you to do, I want you to remember the person and celebrate them. Keep their spirit alive through this holiday season and remember them and celebrate who they were, what they did. Celebrate the person that is no longer with you. Share stories about them. Use their name in conversations. Carry on the traditions that you set up with them, do them now in their loving memory. Place their picture in your house, make their favourite dish, light your candles in memory and play their favourite song. Living doesn’t have to be just in physical form, you can keep that beautiful memory alive by continuing to do the things that you used to do with them only now you do it in celebration of them and make it special in a different way.

Another thing that I really do recommend that you do, and sometimes people don’t because they just want to hide away from it but acknowledge your grief. Working through grief, it’s not linear, it’s absolutely not linear, there’s no black and white, there’s no straight line. Crikey, I wish there was for you, I really do but it’s not linear. So you have to be aware of when those waves, and I call them waves because that’s what they’re like, they’re like the ocean, they’re huge, they’re vast, and sometimes the waves will really, really hit you hard as if you’re in surf time and other times they’ll be really small and they won’t be affecting you, but they’re always there. They’re always there.

It’s important for you to work through your grief, knowing it’s not a linear path, knowing that these waves are going to be at different sizes and different shapes and different paces, and they’re going to come at you at different times. Learn to acknowledge when they hit you and allow yourself to reflect, to cry, to be angry, and do whatever you need to do to manage that particular wave. I’m always going to recommend that you choose self-care and healthy options to manage that wave rather than go down the more dysfunctional routes of things that are actually going to cause you problems like drink, the drugs, the unhealthy stuff, the stuff that could really lead to bigger issues for you mentally and physically. But remember, work through things at your pace. Allow yourself to feel what you’re going to feel and be incredibly compassionate with yourself whilst you’re feeling these complex feelings. Absolutely be compassionate about yourself. There’s nothing wrong in crying. There’s nothing wrong in screaming. There’s nothing wrong in feeling all of those wide emotions and I know sometimes it can lead to feelings of guilt because you feel these types of emotions or you have these types of thoughts, but you need to have them. You need to feel them. You need to process them in order to be able to move away from them or move forward from them so that you get to that stage where you are content with enjoying the memory.

Now another big one, and I’ve talked about this in the previous episodes as well and I’ve talked about it many times when it comes to our social wellness, loneliness is dangerous. Loneliness is incredibly dangerous and when we’re going through grief and loss, it’s very attractive to pull ourselves away from people and just spend time in our own little safe space and our own little safe world. But what we’re really doing is isolating ourselves and it’s really important that, while spending time alone to reflect is important for your wellbeing whilst going through this, you need to try to find that really clear balance. Spending time with others, especially around this time, it’s really important that you spend time with your friends, with your family, the people who care about you, the people who might be sharing some of this grief with you so you can go through it together and then you won’t feel alone in the same way, and then all of you can go through it together and not feel as alone. And I appreciate also, especially if it’s more recent, when you may have lost somebody recently, there’s a lot of politics around the end of someone’s life and it could be difficult to spend time but, if you can, do share those memories, share the joy of having that person in your life.

Then my final one really is reach out, and I would say this to anybody. Allow yourself to learn to lean on people and learn from how you’re feeling and how you’re experiencing things, and knowing when you can’t control it, you can’t cope with it yourself on your own anymore. Learn that and then lean on others. Go and get in touch with somebody. There are so many amazing therapists out there who specifically deal with grief. To let you know, I am not one of those therapists. I do not specialize in grief counselling at all. The reason I do work with grief is ultimately because I’m usually working with people who are experiencing other things in their lives and I’m working with them in other things and obviously death is sadly a norm in our lives. So, I can be working with other people on things and then grief can be popping up at any time and again, I had a client literally this week whose grief came back as a new wave for them, and the person that they lost is over nearly 20 years ago. And so sometimes I’m working with somebody, and it could be for a completely different reason that they’re coming to see me, it could be work related stress, but at the period of time that we’re working on it, it’s Christmas time for example, when you know we are in that nostalgic space of thinking about the people that we love and who aren’t with us anymore, that will come up. And on those days, I will do my very best to support somebody through that. But if you know that your grief is overwhelming you and is actually becoming problematic for you in your life, then please do reach out. There are some amazing specialists out there who focus on this specific issue.

It is a difficult time. If this is something that you are going through, and as I said, my heart goes out to you if you have lost someone recently, my heart goes out to you. If this is a period of time that does remind you of the amazing people that you’ve had in your life and who you’ve lost. It triggers not just sometimes, just not even the person, it’s the options that we had, especially if we’ve had relationships with people who are no longer with us, but we never got the chance to resolve situations. That in itself can cause a lot of issues. It’s not just about how much we loved somebody, it can also be about the loss of the future we had with somebody, the dreams we had, the plans we made, the aspirations we thought we were going to have together. When that’s gone, we don’t just grieve the person, we grieve the life we were going to have. And then there’s also those situations where, as I said, family members or friends may have gone, and you never got the chance to say goodbye. You never got the chance to say sorry, you never got the chances to resolve things. All of these have different waves of emotions and thoughts attached to them and again, it’s perfectly normal.

It’s perfectly okay to feel every single one of those emotions and have every single one of those thoughts. You are not bad, you are not wrong. I know it’s very easy to fall into the guilt trap on all of this stuff but know this, how you feel is how you feel, don’t be ashamed of it. It’s okay to feel how you feel. It’s okay not to feel brilliant. It’s okay if you feel relieved. It’s okay if you feel angry. It’s okay if you feel sad. Whatever it is you feel, it’s okay. However you feel that’s making you think about things, it’s okay. Self-care is crucial right now. Look after yourself, look after your mind. Do things that help you rest. Do things that help you relax. Make sure that you are connecting with other people.

So when it comes to grief and loss, emotional wellness, trying to manage your stress levels through really good self-care, allowing yourself to emotionally regulate by accepting how you feel, accepting how you think, and allowing yourself to do it, self-reflection in those moments, and allow the energy from those feelings to burn off naturally and move you forward. If you do that, that will lead to better physical health. You won’t be feeling as lethargic maybe, or those physical pains that you get when you’re in high levels of stress or high levels of mental pain. If you can keep reaching out to people, that’s going to be fantastic for your social wellness. Build those relationships, stay connected to those people, keep connected for yourself. We want to stay away from loneliness as much as we can. And also think about really taking care of yourself. This is a time to self-reflect and ponder on who you are and what you want in your life, and how you want your life to move forward. This is a huge element of spiritual wellness and connecting to yourself on a new level as you go through this process and don’t be scared to do that. Look at how you can use the 8WiseTM model to help you manage this process, the rollercoaster of grief and loss and how you can look after yourself and move forward from this even though you are taking the deep, deep love or the deep connection, whether that be good, bad, or ugly, with that person with you.

So this is Christmas time. I appreciate it might not be the best time for you if you are grieving. As I said, my heart goes out to you, I wish you well and I hope you find some joy this season and like I said, if you’re not, and if it’s overwhelming, then please do reach out to those people who are specialists in helping you move forward in a way that is healthier and happier for your own mind.

So thank you very much for joining me today. This is episode 30 of Live the 8WiseTM Way podcast. If you’ve been with me all 30 episodes, I really appreciate it. I hope that you have found some really useful content in here to help you move forward in your life, to help you balance your own mental health and wellbeing and create your own healthier, happier mind, and hopefully improve your own quality of life.

We’ve got so much more coming to you for 2023, so please don’t disappear. Please, with this episode, like it, comment on it, share it, but most importantly, it would be great if you can subscribe if you’ve not subscribed already so you don’t miss out on anything and see how you can make 2023 the year that you Live the 8WiseTM Way by listening to the podcast, maybe booking in for a one-to-one, coming onto some of our amazing training courses that are going to be happening.

If you haven’t bought the book yet, or the journal yet, the book, the journal, the planner, or even the little pocketbook, they are amazing stocking filler gifts for you. You can even get yourself a gift card if you want, ask someone else to get you all the stuff that you want to help you Live the 8WiseTM Way, but the books are available from everywhere you can buy books. So, the usual places, your Amazon, your Waterstone. You can get them from me directly at www.8wise.co.uk and if you have got any questions or queries, I’d love to hear from you. So please feel free to email me directly at kim.rutherford@daltonwise.co.uk or check out the website www.8wise.co.uk.

So my lovelies, I will speak to you very, very soon. I believe this is probably our last episode before Christmas, can you believe that? So, if this is the episode before Christmas, then I wish you all a very, very merry, merry Christmas. I hope you try and find joy in this festive period, whether it be with people that you care and love, or with new people that you are meeting.

Enjoy the festive period and I look forward to catching up with you very soon. Take care and see you on the other side. Take care. Bye for now.

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