This coaching episode shows you how to tap into your pain from grief and recognize the support you need for healing at every stage of your grief journey.
0:12 Topics covered
1:09 Survival and the dark side
5:21 Devaluing grief
8:12 Looking within to heal
10:32 Finding support
14:32 Recognizing what you've outgrown in grief
17:19 What the pandemic taught us
Connect with Vonne
Website (Resources, Blog, Books, Online Course)
Get the book:
Lessons in Surviving Suicide, A Letter to My Daughter
Vonne Solis 0:00
Welcome to another Grief Talk Coffee Chat episode. I'm your host, Vonne Solis.
Vonne Solis 0:12
Okay, so welcome to a another Divine Healing coaching episode. Today I'm going to be speaking all about how to know what you need in grief and find the right support. So I'll start right off the bat by saying, knowing what you need in grief and finding the right support is an ongoing challenge for pretty much everyone bereaved. It requires an in-depth understanding of what's going on around you, within you, and sometimes what is ahead of you. And when you're in the midst of any real or potential life crisis, not knowing what's going on within us or around us can pretty much derail us and leave us with effects that last very long term. And when we experience trauma and shock from a loss, that is usually sudden and unexpected, and leaves us with complicated and prolonged grief, there are lots of quote unquote suddens that can happen throughout our grief journey.
Vonne Solis 1:09
And when problems or anything does come along unexpected to further rock your life, unless you are hardwired to stay calm, think rationally and put your emotions aside, the more intensely that you feel your grief, and this largely depends on the relationship that you had to your loved one who has died, the more you will be fuelled by a gut instinct to react to anything that feels uncomfortable, which only amplifies what you're already going through. It also forces you to make irrational decisions a lot of the time.
Vonne Solis 1:42
Anything that is real or feels like a crisis requires us to think and act fast to hold at bay, whatever is threatening to pull us down. We're in survival mode. And while this might sound a bit drastic related to grief, and not something you have considered, especially if you've been living with grief for a while, depending on the intensity of grief that you are feeling, and for however long, the smallest thing can set you off. Where it feels like you are in the throes of a problem that you can't solve or a hardship that you can't escape. And any number of things can make you feel this way, immediately and over a long period of time if you aren't aware of or you're trying to avoid the very thing that is making you react this way. In other words, problems, potential crises, challenges and so on.
Vonne Solis 1:42
For me, and I'll just add quickly, it wasn't until I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2014, that freed me from this type of reactionary living to a more purposeful and discerning type of life that I currently enjoy. Making choices that were best for me on a daily basis or knowing what I wanted to create in my life in the future if I couldn't do it at that moment, were key to putting me on the most authentic healing journey I embarked on in my entire grief. And at that point, I was in it at around the ten year point, 2015.
Vonne Solis 3:14
So I will say that developing a solution-oriented mindset, and feeling confident that you can overcome anything that gets in your way may not seem possible for you right at the moment. And I get it! Because I felt that way for a long time in my early grief after I lost my daughter to suicide in 2005. Life felt scary. Sometimes out of control. To the point that I thought I'd never get out of the dark hole that I was in. Despite my previous two and a half decades of living with a spiritual practice and having a foundation rooted in metaphysics. Basically having the discipline to live a life exactly the opposite to what I was then experiencing as my reality. And to be clear, in looking back, nothing was ever as bad as I thought that it was. But in my traumatized state, I couldn't see that back then. Until I could.
Vonne Solis 4:14
So because wanting to help others be spared some of those hardships that I endured in my first year simply because I didn't understand what was going on within me in my grief, and I had no idea what I did need for support, my passion is to help others avoid this as early as possible in their own grief. I love helping people develop a practical skill set for coping, and a more helpful mindset as early as possible in their grief, rather than the one that is currently trapping them by any number of difficult circumstances. That present as problems and challenges that even the smallest one can seem like a huge mountain to have to climb. And again, this will depend on the intensity of the grief that you are experiencing, where you can lose sight of where you are in your grief, and you don't know how to find your way forward. And trust me, it happens to millions of people. So if you are in this situation, you are not alone.
Vonne Solis 5:21
So here are a few things that I discovered about myself in my grief in my very early years that I came to recognize were not helpful to my own healing progress. Which I was very committed to. So because I am a bereaved parent, with the acknowledgement that my situation of losing one child is not nearly as bad as other situations that we hear about, where people lose multiple children. All of their children or their only child in various ways. So for at least the first three years, as mentioned, of my bereavement after losing Janaya. My daughter, Janaya in 2005, and she did pass by suicide at the age of 22, I largely devalued my own grief by giving these other types of losses more importance than my own. I consoled myself with the fact that I hadn't lost my only child. I did have a surviving son, and that I should be grateful for this and feel gratitude that hadn't happened to me. I had no excuse to pity myself or feel sorry for myself, because life was much worse for other people.
Vonne Solis 6:39
It wasn't until about ten years into my grief and by working with a wonderful therapist who pointed out to me that by having this perspective, and valuing other types of losses as more traumatic and horrible to go through, I was simply devaluing my own loss and grief experience. Which was complicating my overall grief journey, simply not having this awareness for so many years. In fact, to put it simply, I didn't know what I was doing to myself, by ignoring the pain within me. This therapist helped me understand that my loss and grief wasn't any less impacting for me, then it was for those other parents. And so to basically give that the honour, and the respect that it was due, so I could literally start appreciating and valuing the trauma, the shock, and the pain I had actually gone through and was still suffering with. And this as I said was ten years into my grief.
Vonne Solis 7:46
Now, you didn't see it on the outside, because I was living a very full and busy life. But it's the inside that we are talking about here that almost all of us cover up just because the way our culture in North America, for sure, probably the Western world has trained us to silence our most painful experiences, and how they are impacting us.
Vonne Solis 8:12
I also realized that by obsessing with obituaries, and giving more value to people's experiences that were worse than mine, was another way of deferring the inevitable. Which was to look within. To explore all aspects of my grief; earlier and where I was in that moment to understand exactly how it had and was continuing to impact me. And doing this truthfully, and really being honest with myself. Which ultimately led me to write my third book as I put all of my feelings in a very personal format as a letter to my daughter. Which I then ultimately titled the book, Lessons in Surviving Suicide, A Letter to My Daughter. I just poured everything out in that book. And I'll put a link to that book as a helpful resource if you are a newly bereaved parent who has lost a child to suicide. Or you are bereaved from another type of suicide and this information resonates with you. There are many tips in there and lessons well, lessons I have learned as a result of being able to look back over many, many years, and really come to terms with the pain of my loss and my grief and also what I wanted to release to help me move forward.
Vonne Solis 9:40
The point of this coaching episode is to help you understand that to be aware of how you are really being impacted by your loss and by your grief, shorter term or longer term. You're in this for the long haul. Once bereaved, always bereaved; and what you are thinking and feeling and reacting to as a result of your loss, and grief. This is what will help you know what you need for support and put a plan in place to get it. Now I recognize that it's still really difficult to know what you're feeling and what you need for support at many points throughout your grief if you are still in survival mode. Thinking and doing things based only on putting out the next fire to eliminate whatever is threatening you. So here are a few actions that you can take to get started.
Vonne Solis 10:32
Reaching out to a community, either in person or online just to share the craziness of your life. Your mixed emotions. The nightmare of the entire experience can be a great place to start. In fact, I joined a couple of support groups online and in person when I first became bereaved, and they were incredibly helpful. In fact, the people that I connected with and formed a personal relationship with from these groups, starting way back in 2005, years later, we still acknowledge with each other, that we saved each other in those darkest of times in our bereavement.
Vonne Solis 11:16
So while a support group intended for members to share their story and support each other at whatever stage they are in their grief, and where sometimes you can develop a different perspective about your own experience. Where you are in your life based on what others are sharing about their own loss and grief experience. Because you know, you are not alone, ultimately, it becomes more beneficial and especially if you're committed to a healing journey, to join a support community that is focused on healing and personal growth. Which these groups are often led by grief coaches and or healing practitioners committed to working with the bereaved.
Vonne Solis 11:56
I still actually find one of the strangest things in bereavement is the fact that the experience makes us still feel so alone. As I said earlier, we have been culturally conditioned to not share our painful experiences. To not talk too much about our problems or share too much about our pain. So when we find a community that allows us to do this, it's natural to get stuck there with our story on repeat, and how difficult and painful our life has become. And there are plenty of other people there to reciprocate this truth to us because of their own similar life experience. So when I noticed around a year after my bereavement, regularly attending these support groups, or online boards at the time that were dedicated to either bereaved parents or suicide support, when I recognized that no one was offering or actually even wanted to hear about healing and more positive, you know, things that we could create in our lives to lessen some of this burden of the suffering related to certainly my grief, I knew then I'd have to find my own way out of the darkness. And it was pretty early, as I said, in my first year of bereavement. And I was committed to doing this simply because I never wanted Janaya's choice to leave this planet ruin my life essentially. I never made her wrong by the way. I just didn't want her choice to basically ruin my life.
Vonne Solis 13:34
So giving into the pain that quite frankly, we can't do anything about. It's kind of like when you break a bone. It's gonna hurt when you lose someone. We can decide for ourselves in the worst of our suffering, whether or not we want to stay there. And that's another major point of being able to understand what you are going through in your grief, and the type of support that you do need. If you don't know how and why you are hurting, and there are many different areas in our mind, body and soul that hurt in grief, then you don't know what you need to basically heal by way of support. Recognizing this and making a decision to not get stuck, even when you don't exactly know what you need at that moment or going forward, will bring you to the resources that you do need at every stage throughout your grief journey.
Vonne Solis 14:32
By recognizing what you are outgrowing based on what is inspiring and motivating you, will direct you to the next resource that you recognize as being helpful to you in your journey. The same as anything else. We have to recover from mental and emotional pain in grief is no different. We have to recover and heal in stages and as we feel a little bit stronger. Using the broken bone analogy and having to place a cast on that injury to reset and rebuild, by whatever means that you have been protecting yourself from facing your emotional pain and the ramifications of your loss. What its actually done to you, you can think of this as a cast you have applied to yourself to protect you from what is hurting you the most. But that eventually, as time progresses, and you recognize the cast is not serving you as well anymore, you may wish to remove it to eventually reset your broken spirit, mind and body. In other words, your emotions and vulnerability in your pain, the stronger you get.
Vonne Solis 15:48
And you do this by recognizing what does feel nourishing for your body, mind and soul. And this can be an often is from connection with others. Communication. Calming activities. Rest, learning, sharing, and anything else that feels good, encouraging positive, caring, comforting, inspiring, motivating. And you come away from the exchange or the experience feeling just a little bit better. That is support that you're ready for at that stage in your grief.
Vonne Solis 16:22
When something hurts within you in your grief, your heart. And yes, your heart can hurt and other places in your body. Where your spirit feels broken. Your mind feels jumbled. Your emotional self feels defeated and without hope. This is your opportunity to reach in and reach out as you commit to caring for yourself. Loving you for who you are today and even before for all that you have been through. And all the strength you have simply because you are still here and choosing to want something more nourishing and beneficial for the road ahead, this is where you truly understand what you need in grief. Which of course will bring you the opportunities, the resources and overall type of support you recognize as healthy for your recovery and healing.
Vonne Solis 17:19
I will say that support for loss and grief is much better today than it was in 2005. There are more online opportunities and support groups and resources available just by searching for what you're needing online. Also, I would say culturally, we are getting better, at least at not cringing at the painful losses that other people are going through and that we would never want to touch us. And I'm speaking in general terms here. And I think the pandemic has taught us on a global scale, that anything can happen to any one of us at any moment that represents a life crisis, and/or sudden and traumatic loss. Which helps us all become just a little bit more compassionate and forgiving towards each other.
Vonne Solis 18:08
But, it is developing the compassion, forgiveness and tenderness for yourself and asking for help from those people that you love and trust in whatever way you are feeling vulnerable in your grief. And allow yourself to fall into that grace and gentleness, even if just for a short while. That will bring you true awareness of what you need and what you really want as you journey through your grief. And that is what finding the right support is all about.
Vonne Solis 18:40
Remember, you don't have to be your own hero all of the time. I encourage you to be authentic in your vulnerability and committed to your journey to heal in your grief by surrounding yourself with the people, the environments and those things that feel more helpful than hindering to you as you steadily rebuild your life.
Vonne Solis 19:02
Until next time, take care of you and love yourself for who you are. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening.