Grief Talk w/ Vonne Solis

Ep. 29 Would You Know If Your Teen Was Being Bullied?

March 08, 2023 Vonne Solis/Betty Wedman Season 2 Episode 29
Grief Talk w/ Vonne Solis
Ep. 29 Would You Know If Your Teen Was Being Bullied?
Show Notes Transcript

Do you have a child that is being bullied? Would you even know? Are you an educator or other community support person working with teens in trouble?

This is a frank conversation with my guest and bereaved mom, Betty Wedman, who lost her teen son to suicide in 2008 as a result of bullying. For many years, Betty was a speaker in schools and earned the trust of countless teens, talking to her about what it was like to be bullied.

Now as a Certified Life Coach with training in Cognitive Behaviour and Suicide Prevention, Betty shares her insights into the working minds of teens and what they are struggling with related to bullying and mental health. She also offers tips on what we all can do as a community to better support teens in their mental health struggles and develop life skills for long-term success!

 0:00    Welcome
 0:32    Introduction to Betty
 1:48    Wealth of experience
 3:11    Thoughts impact our well-being
 4:09    Bullying - what teens are thinking - what we missing?
7:49    What are they going to do to me today?
8:20    A thought can be changed
10:21  Are schools dealing with mental health issues?
12:34  What would make kids feel safe?
14:00   Kids don't trust enough to tell
16:54   Positive emotions and gratitude
20:30   What to do with anger and other negative emotions
25:28   Breaking the stigma
28:37   Self-love
31:04   What schools can do to support mental health
34:04   Betty's son bullied
37:37   Connection and community
39:39   When you feel powerless
42:28   Reaching out for support will help change your experience
46:18   Resources for bullying
47:02   Speak up
49:59   Closing

Bullying Helpline    1-888-456-2323  or  call or text 310-1818

Kids Help Phone1-800-668-6868
Kids Help Line Text686868  (ages 5-29 Years)

Family Violence Information Line     310-1818

Addiction and Mental Health Line 24/7780-424-2424
Child and Adolescence Edmonton Zone787-407-1000
5-17 years, 8 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. 

Canadian Mental Health Association Distress Line
Edmonton Region     780-482-4357 (HELP)

Contact Betty:

Brought to you by Vonne Solis
For more resources and books on suicide, grief and child loss 

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Vonne Solis 0:00  
Welcome to another episode of Grief Talk. Everything you want to know about grief and more. I'm your host, Vonne Solis. As an author, life transformation coach, online instructor and bereaved mom since 2005,= I'll be bringing you great content that is informative, inspiring and practical. Whether you have suffered a loss or other adversity, stay tuned and tapped in as I cover a variety of topics to help you get where you want to go on your journey to heal and roll. 

Vonne Solis  0:32  
Today's guest is Betty Wedman. In 2008, Betty's life was changed forever when her teenage son chose to end his life due to bullying and depression. Advocating for mental health since 2008, and as a certified life coach with training in cognitive behaviour, and QPR for suicide prevention, Betty works to support and empower others in their learning, healing and growth. Betty has contributed to Living Hope, a community plan to prevent suicide in Edmonton, Canada, and became part of the peer working group through the E4C Wellness Network. She facilitates classes and helps others by encouraging teens and adults to become aware of their thoughts and feelings and make positive choices for their life. 

Vonne Solis  1:18  
Okay, so welcome to the show. Betty. I am so grateful for you coming on this Grief Talk podcast and sharing any information and wisdom that you can with our audience, because as you and I have talked in the past, it's a little bit rare that that us bereaved folks, and specifically bereaved parents talk so publicly in the open. So really, welcome to the show, Betty.

Betty Wedman  1:43  
Thank you for having me, Vonne. And I'm also very happy and grateful to be here.

Vonne Solis  1:48  
Great. So just to let the audience know up front, what Betty is going to mostly be sharing today, is her wealth of experience in the last 14 plus years, since becoming a bereaved mom, about, you know, strategies for healing. What Betty and I have in common, not only did we lose our children, a teen and a young adult to suicide some years ago, but we've never let it be okay to just sit on our laurels and not try and recover and get better to the best of our ability. And I think Betty, you and I do have that in common. And I'm not saying that other people, and I'm not saying that other parents don't, or any bereaved person doesn't. But as I said, to go public with your vulnerabilities, is another thing entirely. And so, as I said, and I will reiterate throughout this episode, I'm grateful, grateful to you, Betty, and any other bereaved person who comes on my show to share what wisdom they've gained. Because, one, we learn through stories. Two, we learn through information that we open ourselves up to embracing. Not necessarily, you know, initiating it in our life. But once you know something, you can't turn that information off, and then you get to decide what you want to do with it. 

Vonne Solis  3:11  
So on that note, some of the things that we're covering today, and I'm going to be learning from Betty too, as we go along and talk about this stuff, is definitely how thoughts impact our well-being. We're going to be talking about the importance of positive emotions and self love. And we are going to be talking about resources and support. And hopefully, we're going to be able to give the audience some more tips on how to feel more supported in their adversity. In their grief. Whatever you're going through that makes you feel different. So on that note, Betty, I'd love to ask you to just basically explain a little bit about your background. What brought you to the work you do. And then as we go along, we'll expand a little bit more about the work that you do.

Betty Wedman  4:09  
Okay, thanks Vonne. Well, my background as Vonne mentioned, is I became a health and wellness life coach and it was after experiencing the loss of my child. It was basically, part of it was due to bullying and depression. And I learned so much through his friends and my other kids' friends about what they think and feel when they experience things like this. And why our thoughts and feelings are so important that we take care of ourselves so that we can feel good about ourselves.

Vonne Solis  4:48  
Mm hmm. Yeah. So diving into that, first of all, I just want to say, I hope we touch on this and probably will a little bit in this episode Betty. The very fact that, you know, teens, mostly it was teens that came to you. Is that right to explain what they were going through? Like your son's friends?

Betty Wedman  5:10  
Yes. It started off with friends of our children. And then I started doing some presentations in schools on bullying. And I learned so, even so much more from all of them.

Vonne Solis  5:22  
Yeah. And so what we had hoped to do today for the audience is give you a glimpse into what Betty garnered from all that information, or some of that information, at least, to sort of understand. I think, my goal here on the episode and Betty, you and I've talked about this, it's really to bring awareness to parents. And while this episode is not excluded, just, you know, exclusive just for parents, there could be educators. There could be health professionals. There could be concerned aunts, uncles, other family members, friends. And so it's whatever, whatever you relationship you may have to someone you may be concerned about, or even for yourself, if you're feeling a certain way. The invitation is just there to open yourself up to what you're hearing. What you're able to absorb. What we missed. And I never speak for another person. I missed a whole bunch. And so the show is not about what any one of us has missed in looking back who's already lost our child. But I'm telling you, I wished I had this kind of information. And I wish that, you know, 17 years ago, I felt stronger and more courageous to you know, ask my child, my daughter specifically, what she was going through, because young people are going through stuff, right Betty? And on that note, I'll invite you to dive in and share what you can share with us today about what you've learned.

Betty Wedman  6:54  
Okay, thanks, Vonne. But one of the things first that I learned was so much about what the students were thinking while they were going through their challenging times. And this is just basically talking right now in the school environment. So when they were being bullied, they wanted to escape the life at school. They wanted to skip school, or they wanted to keep trying not to interact with those people. They told me they heard the voices of those making fun of them over and over again. They said they had no idea what to do or how to handle it. They started to believe everything that they were called to be true. They said they failed themselves. They failed at life.

Vonne Solis  7:47  

Betty Wedman  7:49  
You know, they asked questions like about what are they going to do to me today? Are they, what are they going to say? Are they going to corner me? And for me when I even heard that statement, it broke my heart because we send our kids to school thinking they are going to be safe. And they shouldn't have to fear or plan their way around the school. Because one girl shared that she strategically had to plan her way around the school in the places that these people were at least likely to be. 

Betty Wedman  8:20  
So when we talk about thoughts and feelings, what I've learned is because I've had my own challenges too, with experiencing all this, is a thought is just something that we keep thinking. So we really have to become aware of what we're thinking. A thought can be changed. And it starts with self awareness. 

Vonne Solis  8:42  

Betty Wedman  8:43  
I call it like garbage, in garbage out. Or it can be like our computers when they don't cooperate with us, we have to do a Ctrl Alt Delete and reboot them. And we have to do that to our minds as well. We can change our thoughts. We can change our mood. Or we can, I always said I, when I grew up, I worked in a theatre. And at that time we had reel to reel. And sometimes that reel in the middle of the movie would break. And sometimes we need to do that with our own thoughts. We have to break them and replace them with something you know, maybe more positive.

Vonne Solis  9:21  
That's a really great visual. I'm just thinking now, I had no idea you were in the theatre, so that's pretty cool. I love the idea of the reel to reel because even as you're saying it and as adults, I just really want to stress here. This isn't about that this is just particular to children and teens. That they're struggling with these things. In fact, it's the things in my opinion that don't get resolved in our younger years that make us have an awful lot of problems as adults. And it takes a lot of self-work and commitment and dedication to wanting to be a better you. You know, for me to be a better me. For you to be a better you, anybody out there you know watching or listening to this. And just, you know and always keep at the lessons and the learning. Because everything you've just described Betty, it almost, it does break my heart. I was gonna say It almost brings me to tears, but I said I'm not crying. 

Vonne Solis  10:21  
It's incredibly painful as a mother who lost her child, to think that some of these things, if not all of these things you talked about, were occurring in her life. And I didn't have a clue. Not a clue. And so, I know we might circle back to this a little bit, but the fact that the, the fact that the young people shared with you, they trusted you. And obviously your compassion and empathy made them feel safe that you were going to be a vessel to listen. So what can and again, I'm not sure that you came upon any positive action in the years that you were speaking at schools, or even your knowledge of them in the education system. This is not dumping on schools, this is all about awareness and you know, sort of incorporating strategies, policies changes, to help these kids. To your knowledge, are schools doing that? Or in the case of the schools that you spoke at, did they hear what, like, did you were you able to sort of relay what the kids were feeling and going through? I mean to have to strategize your way through, you know, getting around the halls and into classrooms and bathrooms? That would take a lot of stress. That's a lot of anxiousness inducing. So do you know if schools are kind of incorporating strategies to deal with these mental health issues?

Betty Wedman  11:59  
You know, Vonne, it was, it's been quite a while since I've been in a school because of COVID. COVID changed a lot. 

Vonne Solis  12:05  

Betty Wedman  12:05  
But I think it's, it varies from school to school. And it varies on the leadership in the schools as well.

Vonne Solis  12:15  

Betty Wedman  12:16  
We have to face it, that a lot of us are uncomfortable with talking about these things because we don't know how to handle them all. And I think that my biggest thing is, we have to start somewhere, even though we don't have all the answers or the best solutions. But we do start to talk about it.

Vonne Solis  12:34  
Right. So I'm just thinking here for kids, does a buddy system work? Like with your experience over the years, and even in the support work you do now, the people that come and we'll talk about that a little bit later. The support group that you're part of. But when people come in younger or older, what kind of a system would make them feel safe? And because we're sort of focusing on teens today, does a buddy system work? Is it all about the trust that they need to have at least one person that they can trust to even tell what they're feeling? How they're feeling? But then believe that something's going to be done to change it? 

Betty Wedman  13:12  
You hit that right on. I certainly believe they need to find one person that they can trust and tell. And you know, whether that can't be somebody within the school system, it has to be a family member, or you know, if they have somebody in their church that they can trust. You know, they do need to find somebody that they can connect with. And most important is, like you said, we have to listen. And we have to believe that they truly are experiencing this.

Vonne Solis  13:41  
Good point. Good point. So does that suggest, not you, but just that, that statement suggests that the teens, our youth, don't trust and believe that other people believe what they're going through?

Betty Wedman  14:00  
I have heard that. Yes. That is, you know, a few comments that I have heard. Or, oh, it's not that serious. You know, let it go. To them, to each person, what may be serious to some, may not be to somebody else. And it's really important to listen and to validate their feelings and what they're going through.

Vonne Solis  14:23  
Yeah. I just want to quickly say here, I did another episode with an educator who worked specifically with teaching social skills, but really and you know, and how to get it into their school system in the Los Angeles area. And so, what you're saying is just so interesting, because my guest works with younger children, but they acknowledged and is aware there's a very large problem with the teens in schools and is reiterating what you're saying. It basically is leadership at the school. It's not a sort of school, um, you know, it's not a state or federal, or in our case provincial policy that you have to do this. And, she was a special educator, and I just want and so what I'm saying here is even from the education side of things, she's reiterating, she reiterated exactly what you're saying. So the kids coming to you in confidence and speaking from that emotional side and her as an educator and witnessing and then going into a structured, creating a structured program to teach kids interdependence and confidence in the way to sort of stand up to bullying and things like that. I'm telling you, you're just confirming everything that she said, and vice versa. 

Vonne Solis  15:38  
So I want the audience to understand that there, and I think actually, people know. I don't think we have to convince anybody that there are issues of isolation and all the things you just talked about Betty. And we need to find a better way to develop communication, community, and trust and safety, so that and, you know, so that when any one of us who feels like we're in some kind of minority group, even for us as bereaved parents. When you don't feel you've got that support there, and that community there that's talkative, and you know, and you can express freely what you're going through, and you can be different and you can be vulnerable, and you can still be in the workforce, and you can still do studies, and you can still participate in what I like to call the mainstream. It's so important we talk about these things so everybody understands one, they are just at risk as a parent. You're just at risk as Betty and I ultimately found out, to go through what we've gone through. But more generally, just to know that, you know, our kids are not always okay, at any age. 

Vonne Solis  16:54  
We  spoke briefly before Betty right, and I said to you, we'll always, we always worry about our kids. This brings me to your work that you do in positive emotions. And, what would you be able to share with the audience, either for someone that is listening to this that needs it for themself Their child? Again, another loved one friend. Whatever. What approach do you take to instill positive emotions?

Vonne Solis  16:54  
Well, I call it we have to know ourselves. We have to know what brings us joy. 

Vonne Solis  17:30  

Betty Wedman  17:32  
Because when we get stuck in something that's very unpleasant, which we all experience. I mean, even us as adults, we have life experiences that aren't always pleasant. And look for people that bring that to you. Whether it be family. Whether it be friends. Laughter. Watch a comedy. Do anything to distract yourself. You know, I mean, it's temporary, but it does bring relief. You know, journal or do some personal writing. Silence. I call that even like my meditation and just sitting in quiet and letting things just be. You know, find things that you're appreciative for or grateful for, so that could be like helping others or serving others. It could be something as volunteering. We know that volunteering is very rewarding. And just find things to be grateful for every day. They say that even if we write down three to five things that we're grateful for, that can really change our life. And it can be somebody held the door open for me or they gave me a smile, because nobody knows what your day is truly grow going, right?

Vonne Solis  18:47  
No. Kindness is really important. I know that, I know that for those of us in bereavement and difficult bereavement, it takes a while to get to the gratitude thing. And I do a little bit of work in that. So that's another topic. But for the again, going back to the younger folks, our teens, our youth, who are really confused, and basically most of them. I mean, okay. There might be the odd one that like feels on track, but for those that are still trying to figure out just like, just trying to figure out you know, Junior High. You know, Senior High and college, university, all that. So, some of these tools, what do you when you're working with teens or in the support group, you know, you see your teens or youth come in, what sort of strategies, if they're really not ready for some of the things that you just mentioned for us to do to, you know, instill positive emotions within us? Are there any, I guess the question is, are there any other strategies directed at younger people who may not really have a grasp on gratitude? Maybe they do, but maybe they don't, you know? And they're just trying to get like focus and you know, you nailed it when you said that when the problem is before us, it's a mountain. It's huge, and to be bullied or to have anything else really impacting their life really negatively, that will more than likely overcome everything else. I don't want to be grateful. I just want to survive the day. So do you have any strategies or tips that you know of that you have used yourself in your coaching? You know, any, in your assistance and support that would be directed at the young folks?

Betty Wedman  20:30  
Um, yes, because I think even for myself on, when I went through all this with losing my son, I had a lot of anger. And we don't like to talk about that. But the thing is, you have to address the anger and know what makes you angry and not be afraid of it. Because I have found that we're afraid to even talk about our emotions. And if I think if we talk about it, and we give name to it, it lessens. And sometimes even just sharing with other people, even though nothing can, they can't help you, just knowing that you've released it, is a step in the right direction.

Vonne Solis  21:10  
Oh, that's so important. So, question, so it's coming to me as I'm thinking about this. So, someone who may be down on their luck. Feeling, you know, a lack of confidence. I'm talking about a younger person here. You know, again, all those things that, you know, isolation. You know, feeling different. The more you hear your failure, I am a failure. I'll never be able to do anything. So what you just said is, for me, I think is a key point. Being able to just express it. The anger. Pain, in my opinion. No, let me rephrase that. Anger is pain. I think every negative emotion is rooted in pain of some sort. And, so but let's not deny the power of anger. And you know what, I agree with you. We don't want to admit when we're angry. I'm not going to say we're angry people, but we're experiencing anger. And when I first when I first lost my daughter, I went to see someone to, you know, help me. And that person said to me, you're very angry. No, I'm not. No, I'm not. But you know, the truth is, I was. And I carried around a lot of anger. But very fortunately for me, I have the kind of personality that can be explosive. Not violent, nothing like that. Just get it out. And then you do feel better. You do feel better. But I think when we stuff our emotions and stuff, the anger, and we're just supposed to, I don't know. What are we supposed to do with it Betty? Just leave it inside us?

Betty Wedman  22:40  
No, absolutely not. And that is one of the things that I've learned through even my journey, is we need to release it. It's like, name it, claim it and let it go. And I know for myself, a lot of times people say let it go. And I would sometimes get angry with that statement. Because it was like, I'm trying to let it go, but it's not leaving me. 

Vonne Solis  23:03  

Betty Wedman  23:03  
I think the biggest thing is just making friends with it and not being, because most people are afraid. When people get angry, we're afraid of that anger.

Vonne Solis  23:13  
I'm just, it's coming to me making friends with our emotions. But I did want to just say to you, and for some of the younger people who maybe can't introspectively center themselves, you know, I'm thinking if sports or some kind of physical activity that lets them punch it out, you know. Like anything that is a constructive, you know, sort of after school or hobby or, you know, something like that. You know, karate and all that. Anyway, I was just thinking about how maybe if we can't internally process stuff, which takes years to master, if you even ever get that point, to that to that point. If you think that some kind of physical exertion can be a substitute say, for I don't like that word, but you know, if they don't want to talk to somebody? You know what I mean? If they can't internalize the positive emotions, I'm just asking, would you know, some kind of activity that they can exert it, would that help?

Betty Wedman  24:21  
I believe it would. I think it all depends on the person. But I mean, you said it very clearly. Like there's things that you can go and kick a soccer ball. You could do a punching bag. You can scream into a pillow to let out that negative energy. I know at one point, I was driving home and I screamed in my car. I have to say it felt good. But then somebody said to me, did you roll down your window to let that energy out?

Vonne Solis  24:51  
Yeah, I had an experience like that too. I'm not a super physical person. And I'm just going to be  honest. In later years here, now I've taken to buying furry pillows. And because I no longer have animals, but that's another thing that I'm just going to suggest maybe people think about and even even our young people, you know, is animals. If you have a pet, you know, man, they can be a source of comfort. And if you don't have a pet, furry pillow works. Just saying. Did I just buy a furry pillow? Yes, I did. 

Betty Wedman  25:25  
And pets gives such unconditional love.

Vonne Solis  25:28  
Yes, yes. Now, that's not to again, we're not talking about having these as substitutes. But we're talking, you know, to actually making changes in school systems. Making changes in society, the more we're talking about mental health, that you know, and in a positive way. And my opinion about this, is that, to just even feel free enough to say, oh, yeah, I've got this disorder. Or yeah, I'm struggling with some limitations, but you know, I'm showing up. Great! Good on ya! Instead of yeah, next! You know, let's see the one that doesn't have any problems. And so I think, I have to believe and I'm thinking that certainly in our North American culture, we're becoming a little bit more open to understanding our vulnerabilities. And perhaps not embracing them, but at least being aware of them and making some accommodation for them. Would you, do you feel that way or do you think something different?

Betty Wedman  26:28  
Um, well, I think we need to break the stigma, because I know that a lot of us are afraid to speak out about what's going on in our lives. I don't think there is, I'm just going to speak from my personal experience and with what I've learned so far. I don't think there is a person on this planet that is not experiencing something. And it may not be now. It might be later in their life. But if we can talk about it and start getting the tools that we need, so that when we do get into tough situations, we're better equipped.

Vonne Solis  27:02  
I 100% agree with you. And sometimes, as the one going through something, I'm just going to throw in, we have to be the one to educate sometimes our medical practitioners. Our employers, our family members, our friends. I've had to do a lot of educating and not making myself feel wrong for that. Which I did for years. Again, personal experience. But when you're vulnerable audience, you tend to in my opinion, and experience, and Betty, I'll ask you, if you feel this as well, you tend to make yourself the problem and take the weight of needing to be better for others. Instead of wait a second here, you guys I need you to embrace this. Support it, just like we would support any other physical affliction that we understand all too well. Illness, diabetes, you know, you name any, any disease or affliction out there that we could all relate to as possibly getting, there is a lot of support for it. When it becomes mental and emotional, it's not quite the same thing, right? We struggle a little bit with because it's for so long, decades, it's been the other person has this affliction. There's such a stigma, as you said, to mental, we don't really talk about emotional health and I think we need to, but there's such a stigma to mental health. 

Vonne Solis  28:37  
And so I want to move into basically, self-love Betty. This was a key part of what you wanted to speak about and I wanted to speak about today. So we're working with the acknowledgement of the struggle. We're working with the positive emotions and doing what we can to center ourselves in positive emotions. Now, and having supports. Having better support systems and understand we're all vulnerable in some way, shape, or form, you know. Let's be a team about this all together. My words. Anyway. Now, the self-love. And this is challenging. Hugely challenging for, I'm going to say pretty much everybody on the planet. So what are your thoughts on self-love? How do we learn to love ourselves Betty?

Betty Wedman  29:27  
Step by step. One step at a time. Because we are all experiencing things in our life. And I think it's just knowing that no matter what's happening in our life, and how difficult things can be, that we're still worthy. That we're still worthy people. 

Vonne Solis  29:45  

Betty Wedman  29:46  
And that we, you know, we're worthy of love or deserving of love. We can give and receive love. And that when tough circumstances happen, that doesn't really define who we are. It's just an experience that we're having. And we need to work our way through it. And that's when we need to reach out to other people. Like we need to have a support system. We need to be able to share with others. And even if others can't help, just the idea of releasing it and having someone listen to us.

Vonne Solis  30:19  
Yeah. I think that, ultimately, my view is that, and I'd like to know, your thoughts on this, is that we're responsible for our own healing and our own well-being. But it's not a journey that we should be expected, nor want to take alone. Would you agree with that?

Betty Wedman  30:42  
Yes, I would. And we are responsible for ourselves. Because I mean, I think in life, quite often, we try to change other people, but we can't. Change only begins with us.

Vonne Solis  30:53  
Yeah, and it's coming to me too, I wanted to just jump back into a really quick moment here, again. Bringing it back to our young people. Our kids. And I even feel this, again, that it's not just exclusive to the, you know, youth and teen years. You know, when they're forming themselves. When they're finishing school. When they're choosing careers. Programs at university or college. Whatever labor force they might want to work in, if they're not, you know, going into higher education. It's coming to me, and I've had this discussion before, where we want our kids so, so badly, you know, to be successful, that it's so easy to overlook the potential vulnerabilities or real vulnerabilities they're living with. The world is a super challenging place. I believe it's the aim and goal should be to make the family the soft, the soft place to fall. And walk in that door, and you know you get to take off your mainstream mask. You just get to be who you are. You get to sit down. Have that cup of tea or whatever, and just talk with with your parents. And wow, this is what this is like what happened today. And can't, like you said earlier, can't do anything about it maybe right at this moment. But at least we're aware. You can't change anything unless you're aware, right? 

Betty Wedman  30:54  

Vonne Solis  31:04  
I'm going to ask you this just and this is not, this is just personal, personal viewpoint, to try and help if there's any educators watching this, or people involved in school settings and so on. Do you think that it is possible to incorporate, I'm not saying what type of strategies, but strategies or policies in school systems to better support mental health, you know, for the students? Because we can, you know, sit here and talk about the problems, but it's still, they still have to be addressed and a space has to be created for real work to be done to change this. To make kids feel safe. And to make you know, to help them. Not make, well make them feel safe and help them want to, you know, seek support. I'll just say one thing here. That episode I talked about earlier on social skills, one of the reasons my guests said that the kids will stop reaching out for support, is that they may have had a really bad experience when they did share what they were feeling within the system.

Betty Wedman  33:37  
I think it's actually vital because that's where our kids spend the majority of their day. And I really feel that they need more health and wellness courses embedded into the curriculum.

Vonne Solis  33:51  
Are you specifically talking like mental, emotional health and well-being? We were going to talk a little bit about the body systems. This is a really great place to sort of bring that up. You want to just explain what body systems are?

Betty Wedman  34:04  
Well, one of the things too, Vonne, is that when my son was going through his bullying in school, he was injured and we had to take him to the hospital. And at that time, all they did was an ultrasound and they dealt with the physical aspect of his injury. But nobody asked him, and this was in hindsight, because somebody asked me that. Did they ask him anything about emotionally, what it did to him when he experienced this? What it did to him mentally? And I had to reflect upon that. But I've learned to because I've had to take courses on healing myself for everything I've been through, that we are more than just our physical body. We have our emotional body, which is our feelings. And we talked a little bit earlier, like we can journal. We can meditate. We can let go of the past. We can forgive and that we all have a range of feelings. You know, we go from anger, to joy to happiness to depression. And I think everybody experiences that at some point in their life. We have a mental body, which is our thoughts, and we talked about that at the very beginning. And if we can think about it, if we are just even standing somewhere in our favourite place, whether we're at the beach or in our backyard, and if we look, I call it looking up to the sky, and just all those little bubble clouds going by. And the kids shared with me that, you know, they were called stupid. Loser. You know, fag, gay, bitch, slut. All those words. But we can also look up and look at the all the other bubbles that are out there. You know, you're worthy. You're lovable. You're, you know, you've got this. You can do it. And it's replacing those negative thoughts with positive thoughts. 

Betty Wedman  35:52  
And we need to teach that. We really do. I think that it's not something you learn through the education system. I know that you do learn it when you go through counselling and things like that. But I think if we were more open about these things, it would be definitely more beneficial to the kids. We also want to, you know, examine our beliefs and attitudes, because sometimes people tell us things and we believe it to be true. You know, I know that I've had students tell me that they've been called stupid. And when you get called stupid over and over and over, you start to believe that that's what you are. And it's not! I's, it's, we all learn differently. And it doesn't mean just because we learn differently, we're stupid. And then we have a spiritual body, which is our connection to our higher self. And our higher self, I say, there's a small self and a higher self. And the small self is the one that says, We can't do this. You know, no, there's, you're not capable of that. And then there's the higher self, that's gonna encourage you to say, yes, you can! You can get beyond this. You've got this. And we have to decide who we're going to listen to. You know, we can make vision boards to where we want to be. We can pray. You know, we can meditate. And even take it, take it one step further, we talked about that in the beginning. There's the social. And that's our connection to others. And now with COVID, for the last few years, a lot of us lost that and the impact that it had on our our own mental health and well-being.

Vonne Solis  37:37  
Which just really, really shows how important connection and community is. And that not one person is better. Anybody watching or listening to this, not one person is better or greater than you. Not one. And Betty, when you talk about High Self. Yes, we were from Source. We are from substance that is so much greater than our human makeup, our physical makeup, that the earlier we can learn to sort of tap into that energy as power. Personal power, the sooner you start to understand that you can create what you want, and you no longer have to experience what you're experiencing in the same way. But that's another episode. I just want to throw it out there. And if you're younger, and watching this trust, trust in that, and believe in that, because there's a lot of a younger generation of people up and coming, and I'm hoping to have a few of them on this show, that are teaching the language of today. I know holding the space is something they talk about. And so it people, it is being the baton is getting passed from older generations to younger generations to learn these lessons. To get in touch with your heart. With your power. With your higher self. Understanding your true true abilities and where you're coming from. And if you if you can delve into that, anybody watching this that hasn't done that yet, I invite you to do it because it really changes your life. Right, Betty?

Betty Wedman  39:25  
Yes. And Vonne if I can even just add to that just following your your intuition.

Vonne Solis  39:30  

Betty Wedman  39:31  
So many times we know things or we, we say, Oh, I had a feeling for this, but to really trust that.

Vonne Solis  39:39  
True. Yeah, yeah. And and I'll just say here again, for the audience, that trust is so much about trusting yourself first. And I'll bet you Betty, you might agree with me on this. When you're a really strong person anyway, and then something happens to you really bad; like, in my case, losing my child absolutely stole all my power. And I had been dedicated to a path of personal power and manifestation and metaphysics and all of that stuff. Living the life. And so I really do understand both sides of the coin when you feel powerless, because of something happening to you. To us. But there are ways back and out of it. It's not simple. But there are ways back and out of it and anything you can tap into to help you, you know, just kickstart it, because one thing always leads to another. Would you agree? Would you agree at that, Betty?

Betty Wedman  40:49  
Yes, I do.

Vonne Solis  40:50  
Right? It's just being strong enough and courageous enough to take that first step. So turning to support, we both wish there was better support for certainly, I'm just going to speak to suicide support here, but for child loss in general and but I would say to a greater extent, maybe mental health. And I know that in Canada, yay! We're getting the 988 number, I think in 2023. That will be the 988 suicide hotline number which is way better than, you know, dialling 10 digits. But because we're just keeping things at a more general level in our episode today, Betty, I was just going to, I wanted to ask you two last things and they're they're related. So the one would be you obviously work and have worked, volunteered or worked otherwise in support. And you have a fabulous support organization in Edmonton, Canada, Living Hope. And you've you've been involved with that for a number of years from what I understand. And so, one, you have a front row access to people who are coming in and asking for help. But you also understand the flip side of that, and what might be preventing somebody age-appropriate from seeking support services. So do you want to speak a little bit to that before we close out here? In my case, it might be feel misunderstood? I don't know what are some of the reasons that people would not reach out for support Betty?

Betty Wedman  42:28  
I think for myself, exactly what you said. The fear of being being misunderstood, being judged. Feeling like nobody will help them because you know, they might have reached out to somebody before, but that person couldn't help. But I want to encourage people to reach out to as many people as possible, because sometimes even ... each and every one of us, we don't have experience in everything. And we're not really equipped to help everybody with every problem. And so reach out to as many people as you can. Don't, don't give up. That's my biggest advice is do not give up! And just keep going at it. I would also encourage people to go to their public library. Read a book. If they have something to you know, if they're looking for something on anger, go read a book on anger. Initiate it yourself and plus reach out to a professional. I mean, there's a lot of wonderful psychologists that can help you move through your pain and suffering.

Vonne Solis  43:36  

Betty Wedman  43:36  
It's important that we share because when we share, we learn and grow. I know that when I was in the school systems, even when I asked questions, a lot of the students would not participate. But when they gave me feedback, they would say, I didn't participate because I was scared but boy did I learn a lot. And to me, that's just opening the doors. They may not be ready now to reach out for help, but with time, and knowing that they see other people talking about it, moving forward, we can change it.

Vonne Solis  44:11  
Oh, that's so powerful to know, Betty that is so powerful. Yeah. I just want to say, I was also thinking about the books. And in my early bereavement, I did books, library support group, talked to people and eventually it just grew and grew and grew and grew and I was terrified too, speak about my experience, because of stigma. You know, there's a stigma with suicide. There's a bit of a stigma with child loss and people don't understand you. And certainly with time and experience, you know, everything, like it, evolves. We evolve and we learn how to handle things differently. But that's really a great suggestion to check library resources, online books. There's lots and lots of people online offering different types of support and so on and so forth. An in-person Support Group can be extremely powerful for the community, and really in your face understanding you're not, you're not alone in what you're going through.

Betty Wedman  45:08  
Not alone.

Vonne Solis  45:10  
But we need more of them. I mean, you're very lucky, there's where you're living, it sounds like there's some decent support. I'm not gonna say maybe great, but decent support. But in a lot of towns and smaller communities, and maybe even just a community, you have to drive quite a distance. Even where I currently live, if I wanted to continue to attend a support group for bereaved parents, which is The Compassionate Friends, it's like a 45 minute drive to get there. And so, you know, I no longer attend support groups, but I'm very dedicated to wanting to establish my own community. Where people can feel supported with any of the resources that I can provide and knowledge and all, you know, on my own website, and through this podcast, with sharing with people, like you, Betty and other guests. So on that note, and as we come to a close, I know that you were going to or are going to provide a list of resources, which I'll be putting a link to those resources in the description below, for the audience. Did you want to just briefly mention what these resources are?

Betty Wedman  46:18  
Absolutely. If you're experiencing bullying, there's Bully Free Alberta. There's the Kids Help Phone. There's the family violence information line. And also there's the addiction and mental health line, which is a 24/7 line that that's most people can reach out to.

Vonne Solis  46:37  
Okay, okay.

Betty Wedman  46:38  
And again, I encourage you, please don't be afraid to reach out for help. Know that you're not alone. Take care of yourself, because everything does start with the self. Balance your four body systems. Just remember that we are more than just our physical body. We need to take care of our emotions and our mental health and our spiritual health.

Vonne Solis  47:01  

Betty Wedman  47:02  
To be aware of your thoughts and your feelings, because that impacts our life immensely. To believe in yourself and to speak up for yourself. I know that I learned a lot that the students were afraid to speak up. And I think we're the only ones that can speak up for ourselves. And remind yourself that taking care of your mental health is investing in your future. And we all want to live a happy, productive life.

Vonne Solis  47:30  
Not only do we want to, we deserve it. So you know, we really do deserve it. And I can't say this for a fact, but I like to think that if you stand up to a bully, it would shock them. And hopefully, whoa. I don't know if it changes it and I'm not an expert, but I am saying, Betty has listed some resources. Certainly some of those might be local to her area. I'll identify those in the resources, but it's enough to know if there's that type of support in one location, look for a similar support in the location that you're living. I'll also put some links to suicide support for both the States and Canada. And again, if you're watching or listening from another country, look into these support systems where you are. Just Google it and see what they have for support. Check it out. If it doesn't help, you know, they may have and should have other resources that that will help you with with these issues. 

Vonne Solis  48:35  
Again, today Betty, was just to give people a more high level, maybe a little bit more than a high level, but some insight into what kids are struggling with in their own words, having spoken to you. And you know, some of the strategies to basically help themselves, you know, through various ways to, as you just said, reiterating everything you said. To get that body system back in balance and understand these are tools that will help anybody through the rest of their life, right? 

Betty Wedman  49:09  

Vonne Solis  49:10  

Betty Wedman  49:11  
Life Skills.

Vonne Solis  49:12  
Life Skills exactly. All right. Well, Betty, thank you so much, again, for coming on the show and sharing, you know, some of what you do. And some of your wisdom. It's wonderful and sharing some of your story. And, of course, you and I both share condolences for each other in our loss and to any other bereaved parent out there or anyone having suffered a loss recently or longer ago. You know, obviously we have compassion and empathy. And that is the work that we're in. We still want you to learn, heal and grow as much as you can so that your loss will not rob you of the life that you deserve. 

Vonne Solis  49:53  
So thanks again Betty. It was wonderful chatting.

Betty Wedman  49:57  
You're most welcome. Take care. 

Vonne Solis  49:59  
Take care.

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