Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Overcoming the Loss of a Loved One





Photo Credit: Upsplash

Today, I have the pleasure to share a guest blog with you from Jennifer Scott.  Jennifer has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager. With that, she shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder.

Welcome, Jennifer.  Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us all.


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Overcoming the Loss of a Loved One: The importance of self-care amid your grief

Finding the strength to cope with the loss of someone you love is one of the greatest challenges life has to offer. The process takes time, and there’s no exact road map for which reactions or feelings you might have along the way. Everyone copes in their own unique way, and will need their own time to do so. You can, however, make the conscious effort to make self-care a priority during this particularly difficult time. 

What is self-care? Exactly what it sounds like: making the conscious effort to take care of your own needs. It comes in many forms, but it can be anything from reading a chapter of your favorite book each night to getting regular exercise to meditating every morning. And during this incredibly stressful time in your life, it’s more important than ever to do those little things that keep you balanced and help you recharge. Make time for yourself every single day, even if it’s only for an hour, to do something that makes you happy and brings you solace. 

Another important aspect of self-care in these circumstances is taking steps to help yourself grieve. Again, everyone handles death in their own way, so you might be feeling emotions like shock, guilt, depression, anger, disbelief—or maybe even all of the above. However you’re feeling, allow yourself the opportunity to work through it. It might be therapeutic to write down your thoughts in a journal. Or, you might try art therapy. Taking a class can provide a creative outlet to express yourself, giving you something exciting to look forward to as well as being an enjoyable new challenge. Don’t push your feelings aside, but give yourself a regular opportunity to address and deal with them. 

Just as it’s important to find healthy ways to grieve, a crucial part of self-care is steering clear of dangerous coping mechanisms. As a general rule, avoid overindulgence. You’re going through enough without overloading yourself in one area, so don’t throw yourself into three major work projects as a distraction or load up on high-calorie snacks when you’re feeling low. You’ll also want to be extremely careful about your drug and alcohol habits while you’re grieving. Falling prey to an addiction can exacerbate your feelings of hopelessness and despair, not to mention create new problems. You don’t have to give up the glass of wine you have a couple nights a week, but be mindful of how often alcohol enters your regular routine and don’t be afraid to reach out for support if you need it. 

Perhaps the most important part of self-care while you’re grieving is making sure you always have the support you need, whether it’s from your children, your friends, or your family. Many people benefit from seeking professional grief counseling or joining a local support group. It’s often helpful to have an unbiased listening ear to vent to, especially if other members of your family are grieving, as well. Support groups are especially helpful because you get to meet others who completely understand your pain and can offer advice on how they’ve coped. Additionally, service animals can help give you the unconditional love and support you need—and they’re always there. 

Allow yourself as much time as you need to work through your emotions following your loved one’s passing. The road ahead is rocky, so be patient and kind to yourself. Maintain the everyday habits that give you peace and consistency, engage in healthy coping techniques, avoid dangerous behavior, and above all, ask for help if you need it.

Other helpful links:

Meditation - http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/everything-beginners-need-know-meditation/

Art Therapy - http://www.psychreg.org/can-benefit-art-therapy/

Grief - http://www.niu.edu/facdev/resources/crisis/whathelpsgrief.shtml

Support Group - http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/find-support-groups

Service Animals - https://www.caninejournal.com/psychiatric-service-dog/



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Freedom Isn't Free

Signing of Armistice Aboard the USS Hyman
Off the Coast of Pohnpei

Photo Credit: (c) 1945 John H. Neas, Jr. 

Over 70 years ago, my father stood aboard his ship as World War II ended. He and his shipmates had liberated the island of Pohnpei. There was a story he told about the landing that still rings in my ears each time talk turns to the ideals of freedom, liberty and justice for all.

On the island, the Japanese controlled everything.  The Etscheit's, who owned a coconut grove, were placed into an internment camp. Carlos and Simmone Etscheit had three daughters, Yvette, Renee and Monique. In the evenings, the Simmone sewed scraps of material together in what appeared to be patchwork quilts.

On the day that the USS Hyman liberated the island, the three sisters ran to the beach with their mother and father waving their mother's handiwork. Under the noses of their guards, Simmone had sewn together a US and Belgian flag. She believed with all her heart that one day, the allies would liberate the island. Her faith was realized.

On the 50th anniversary of the liberation, my father had the opportunity to return to the island with some of his shipmates. During the different gatherings and celebrations, the flag that was sewn by Simmone and brought in joy to the sailors by Monique,  was unveiled once more. The islanders had framed it, a reminder of fearless faith.


Pohnpei Sunset 1995
Photo Credit: (c) 1995 John H. Neas, Jr.

During these days of turmoil, I think of Dad and of how he not only survived Normandy but also the war in the South Pacific.  I think or howe, but for a split second in time, he would have been killed by a kamikaze during one of the attacks in the South Pacific on the Hyman. I think of how he raised me to believe that his time in the Navy was a gift to me and to all those who live free, today. I think of how angry he would be to see the rights that he fought for being trampled on and the Constitution being ignored.  "Freedom isn't free," he would say.

With all this on my mind, I must continue to be fearless, like Simmone Etscheit and her daughters. I must continue to be tenacious, like the many who have struggled to bring us the rights and privileges we enjoy. I must continue to believe that we CAN make a difference. 

Blessings to all!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I'm with Her

Public Domain


Through the ages, poets have kept hope alive by fearlessly recording in verse the histories of people and events. They have put into words the pain and glory of cultures. Their words singing in the annals of time.

As a child, I learned more history from poetry than I did from history books. Something about a poem made the facts come alive for me. Verses from poems like Paul Revere's Ride and Old Ironsides stuck in my head.

For my children and my children's children, I write these words, inspired by signs I saw on January 21, 2017 at the Women's March in Washington, DC (and around the world):

I'M WITH HER

From the four winds, they called us
to rise from our sleep and comfort,
to rise from our work and pain.

Mother Liberty and Mother Justice called to us
to raise our voices against iniquity,
to raise our voices for freedom for all.

From the four directions, they called us
to come together, hand in hand,
to come together in peace.

Mother Justice called to us
to march for those oppressed,
to march for those without a voice.

From every continent, they called us
to lift up signs of protest,
to lift up signs of hope.

Mother Liberty called to us
to open our arms to our brothers and sisters,
to open our minds and hearts.

From every corner, they called us,
Liberty and Justice for all.
United we stand, divided we fall.

© 2017 Linda M. Rhinehart Neas