Tag Archives: #whyblog #mentalhealth

Parental Grief from my Perspective

I’m going to tell my bereavement journey over the past 5 years. It’s what it’s like as a grieving parent from my perspective.

I’m going to preface this with a few things..it doesn’t matter the age of your child, nor the type of relationship you had, nor how the child passed, you will experience some, if not all of these things that I have over the last 5 years.

When you lose a child, you will have a big internal battle to fight for your sanity. The sheer pain of this loss is completely unimaginable and hopefully foreign to the majority of people. There is literally nothing in this world that anyone can do or say to prepare you for this piece. Not someone that’s experienced it, not having time to adjust to losing your child during a terminal long term illness, nothing. It’s a process that only time will be able to assist with, alongside, whatever treatment methods work for you.

Now when I refer to treatment methods, I’m talking about counselling, journaling, blogging, talking to friends, changes to belief systems, attending peer therapy sessions, going for walks, medication if you need that…all of this. What I have found in joining the club that nobody should ever join is that there is no so called silver bullet. This is a process you will work through, with trial and error and the prescription will absolutely change along the way to healing.

When I say along the way to healing, make no doubt about this: you will NEVER be fully healed. That is impossible and not a realistic expectation for you or anyone else to place upon you. This is never going to feel right. This will always be painful. But, there is still hope…because, your perspectives will shift and you will get to a place of quiet acceptance, embracing those horrible scars and morphing from this awful cocoon a changed person, and, if you’ve found your prescription that works, that person will be new and amazing version of that old self, “before”.

When you start out on this difficult road, you will indeed go through all of the stages of grief, but what nobody will tell you is that these stages don’t go in order and once you’re “through” a stage, you may return to it down the road.

Expect to feel anger. Anger that this happened to your child, to you, to your family and friends. Anger at other people that still have their kids there with them. Anger at people in your kid’s age range that are still here, doing all the things. Anger at everything and everyone. Blinding fucking rage. Anger that takes on an animalistic nature, the kind that makes you hit things(even if you’re not a violent person) the anger that makes you scream at the top of your lungs, into a pillow, in your car. That is the anger I am talking about. It creeps in on you. I had so much anger at people that were pregnant and had so much trouble being around them in the beginning due to how we lost Kayla. I had anger at people who lost their pets and equated it as the same thing I was going through.

Speaking of the pet thing, I totally get it, grief is born of loss- any kind, pets, people, jobs, relationships. But, what I have learned, is that nobody’s experience is the same as the next person. Please do not compare. Do not say you understand, even if you have lost a child. We can relate, but we don’t understand because like I said, nobody’s experience is the same.

Expect people to say some really stupid things. The stupidest thing someone said to me, and I shit you not was Thank God you have another daughter. I don’t know how I didn’t punch them in the face and let out that rage I spoke of earlier. I have come to realize that people say stupid things because they don’t know what to say. We are raised in a society where silence is awkward so we will do anything to fill in that gap. So, to all you people that have put that foot in your mouth at some point, here is my advice..sure say you’re sorry for our loss..and then follow that with, how can I best support you right now? Please.

Expect to question everything and bargain..bring them back, take me…take my ex (kidding), take anyone, just give my baby back. The questioning is normal but it makes the process hard: Why my kid and not her kid? Why? Did I do something in my life to deserve this?

Expect to look at pictures of yourself “before” and ache for that innocence of your face, with less bags, and wrinkles and without that knowledge of how fucking awful life can be at times in your eyes. This was so hard for me. I would see a picture and just close my eyes as though if I wished for it hard enough, I would be transported back to that time and place and this never ever happened.

Expect to start to see life without the haze of disappointment and anger and worry and awfulness. Expect to start to feel moments of happiness and feel incredibly guilty for it.

Expect to have days/weeks and even months where you’re fine, and then you see something so small that takes you back to where you came from and it cuts you at the knees and you feel yourself right back to day 1 (D Day).

Expect to not know how to respond when someone asks if you have kids. You will struggle with it. I used to answer that I had 2 girls and then what would happen is there would be follow up questions and I would not know what to say. People naturally ask how old? Etc etc…which gets awkward. Then I felt the need to explain, again, very awkwardly that Kayla passed away. With the inevitable response from this poor innocent person, I’m so sorry and the fear and pain in their eyes. Now, I rip off the bandaid. I say, I have 2 daughters. My youngest Kristina is xx years old and my daughter Kayla passed away x number of years ago at age 26 from HELLP syndrome, a severe form of preeclampsia. And then I wait for the response and see where to go from there. I used to worry that I was “bringing people down” but now I see it as an opportunity to educate on HELLP syndrome as well as make talking to bereaved parents a little less intimidating and awkward and let’s face it, less horrible.

Your belief systems will be challenged. You will lose friends. You will have family members that are alienated from you. It’s not anyone’s fault. You are changed irrevocably and these people are scared of catching your grief or just can no longer relate to the new you. That’s ok, because you will gain friends and build relationships in the weirdest places with people you never expected it from.

You will find new beliefs or grow stronger in your existing ones.

You will realize just how incredibly strong you are, how precious life is, and become even more compassionate than you ever were before.

You will be indelibly changed but you will be ok.

Patti
xo

5 years

I’ll be honest. I never thought I would be able to live beyond the heartache of losing my daughter. I really didn’t think I would ever get to the level of peace and ok-ness that I am at either.

In many ways, 5 years seems like yesterday and yet it’s also a lifetime. There has been anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, hope, hatred, peace, love..you name it, it’s all happened. Screaming, crying, laughing til it hurts.

Nothing can ever prepare you for a loss of this magnitude. Nothing. But I do attribute getting through this the way I have to a number of things:

  • The mindset and attitude I had pre loss
  • My belief system
  • The unbelievable support of my family and friends
  • Getting outside
  • Letting my emotions out
  • Talking about my loss
  • Writing in all formats
  • Taking care of me on all levels
  • Research
  • Counselling

Finally after 5 years, I see light. I feel lighter. I feel ready to live. I am ready to be me again with no guilt about that (believe me there was a ton of it; more on that in another post)

That’s me. I feel like I am in a really good place at this point. I still cry and have my moments, but it’s different. It’s like a reset button.

I still miss Kayla’s smile and laugh and sense of humor. I miss her stunning beauty. I wish she got to raise her beautiful daughter and see how much she resembles her. I miss her swearing. I miss her farting and laughing hysterically about it. I miss everything about her. I wish it was different but I have accepted that it’s not. This is the reality and I am still here. I cannot waste this opportunity called life. Kayla passed…I did not.

All of this is my reflection at the 5 years of loss point. I write as I hope it will give someone else hope. There is light at the end of the long twisted and very dark tunnel. Keep Wending your Way.

Patti

Xo

Still Wending

It’s been a bit! I have not been in the best writing space lately. Alot has been contributing to this..the ongoing uncertainty of this pandemic is the big one. I have been letting some great practices slide, becoming complacent in my mindset.

Took this in my physical happy place 😍

The last few weeks I have been growing increasingly fatigued and frustrated with the way people are treating each other. We are living in a very divided society and I’m sure these shitty times will be well documented for our future generations to shake their heads at.

There are many different opinions- I am refusing to acknowledge”sides” because that to me seems like I’m ok with it. And I’m not.

I’m not here to change anyone’s opinions or mind on any of it. I know that no matter what, I will not convinced you that my opinion is the way to go, just like I know that you can’t sway me from mine. That’s called respecting others.

What I would like to suggest is a truce. A place where we mutually respect each other and just carry on. Where we can actually co-exist in peace!

Until that happens, here is my plan: I’m committed to living in my own universe. My own reality where none of these ugly words are happening.

Yep. I’m ignoring it all. You can call me naive if you’d like. I really don’t mind.

I used to very blissfully exist in my own reality where everyone had the best of intentions for everyone and everything and honestly I was good with it. If it meant people took advantage of my kindness, oh well.

My ex husband made me feel like it wasn’t ok to think like that. He would tell me I lived in my own little world in disgust. I should have known then that relationship was doomed but I didn’t.

Well, I’m older and wiser now. And isn’t it funny that I’ve had to read books and do activities to come back to something that is naturally how I exist?

You can choose to live like this. It doesn’t mean you don’t pay attention to what’s happening in the world. It means you remain neutral unless there is really something that needs action for your personal wellbeing. It means shutting out the noise and formulating your own way out of this mess. It means respecting people’s privacy and comfort levels.

I know many of you are with me.

So off I go, to wend my way blissfully into the calm world where peace and love exist. Come with me, it’s wonderful here.

Xo

Patti

I love myself enough

I’ve been absent from the blog for a few weeks now…life’s been really busy, my mindset has not been in the best space to focus on writing. Today though, I had a bit of an epiphany.

Today’s post is not as much about my grief journey as it is about mindset and about loving yourself enough to put yourself first.

I’m not talking about saying no to everything and everyone, nor am I saying it’s ok to be selfish. Because, loving yourself is only about you, and doesn’t depend on anyone else.

It’s not selfish because of this. Its internal and personal and I felt it was something to discuss today because I struggle with this.

I found over the past few days, I have not been honest with myself..thanks to a beautiful group I am in with an amazing person leading. Sure, I’ve been doing all the things: meditation, journalling, blogging about mindset and selfcare and all the other “buzzwords” you can think of.

And yes, I have come a LONG way from the person I was, but, I’m slowly and painfully realizing that I have so much more work to do.

I am saying yes to things I want to say no to. I am doing things that don’t support me. I’m dimming my light in order to keep peace and not make others uncomfortable.

This morning, as I was drying my hair, I really looked in that mirror with only love and compassion. It sounds cheesey af, but I said to myself “I love you enough to put you first”. And I meant it.

We need to be our own number one priority. If we aren’t, then we can’t be our genuine selves and our loved ones, our friends and coworkers, people we see on the street..they deserve to see our beautiful light.

We are all here for a reason. I really believe it’s a path to enlightenment: whatever that means for you.

My authentic self is someone that just loves the world and sees the light in the dark. That is just who I am. I smile at strangers, I help others when they need it. I love life.

Please put yourself first. I want to see your brilliant light.

Patti

Xo

Gut Check

Check in….how are you feeling?

Things are starting to change again in the world at a rapid pace. Businesses are reopening, people are getting vaccinated, less people are sick and workplaces are preparing for employees to come back to work in person.

All of this is long awaited and for many, very exciting. We all need to be around other humans and have that social interaction, but let’s face it..for most of us it’s been quite some time and we have changed our lives to match being solitary!

So now what? How do we prepare ourselves to reintegrate into society? What if I am anxious about it? What to do?

Here are my thoughts, and they are just that…they are not medical opinions by any stretch of the imagination.

Now is the time to really embrace our mindsets and make sure we are practicing our self care the most!

There is alot going on and it is ok to feel anxious about it, I know that I am myself. 

Let’s chat quickly about some of this stuff. The vaccination debate is really divisive. People have super strong opinions about it. It is perfectly ok to have your own ideas! Let’s just start there. It is NOT ok to push your beliefs/ideas on someone else. Whatever side of the discussion  you are on, my advice is to keep it to yourself. No matter what YOUR belief is, other people will continue with theirs NO MATTER what you tell them. There is way too much emotion involved in this debate for you to sway anyone in either direction and it is not up to you to change that. 

If you believe in vaccination and you don’t want to be around people that aren’t, that is up to you. Just calmly inform those people that you will be keeping to people that are vaccinated and leave it at that. No discussion. That’s all. The same goes if you don’t believe in vaccination. You do you, and keep your opinions to yourself. 

There doesn’t need to be conflict or debate or arguing or even violence! We can agree to disagree and go with whatever path we are personally comfortable with. I’m seeing so much debate and division among families and that makes me sad. I really hope that we can find some common ground along the way.

So that addresses one thing. Let’s talk about the anxiety levels and what you can do to alleviate them.

You know I’m going to say meditation! Obviously. It is the BEST way to alleviate anxiety and work out what is happening in your brain. You need other self care too. Enjoy time outside, go for a walk, read a book on your patio, do a puzzle, knit-whatever makes you happy and calm.

When it comes to reintegration to society–yes I am calling it that because that is really what it is, I have some ideas. 

So many of you have made a lot of really positive changes over the past year and a half. There are also some habits that are not so positive that have developed. My plan for myself is to write it all down and decide what I want to keep and what needs to go away. Then, create an action plan to make sure this happens. 

The other idea, is to go slow. Baby step it back to seeing people. Go with your comfort level and be ok with saying NO. If there is a situation you are not quite ready for yet, decline politely. You don’t need to offer an explanation. Just no thanks or not today. That’s it. If your people don’t respect that, get new people.

This is a change and it has potential to be overwhelming and overstimulating. Make sure you’re building that reset time into your schedules. Most of all, ENJOY! Get a little social, wear your mask and be present. 

Patti

xo

The Side Effects of Grief

There is no doubt that loss changes us. That fact is indisputable. The loss and resulting grief is and always will be there. And that is the same for every person in this world. No matter who you are, where you live, or what you believe, you will lose someone at some point in your life that is important to you. This is something we all share as humans. 

What is different is the WAY in which it impacts us. The side effects of that loss so to speak. 

Grief is such a profoundly personal experience that I truly don’t feel there is anyone that can truly understand anyone else’s loss. I can only speak to my experience and how my losses have impacted me.

I have had some significant losses in my life and to tally them up, well it is just too much to think about. Some of these losses had minor impacts and those were impacts that were fleeting. 

Others, especially the loss of my daughter, shaped how I view the world. It brought to the surface beliefs that were long buried (the side effect of losing my dad). 

It has given me severe anxiety at the mere thought of something happening to my surviving daughter, grandchildren and spouse. Thankfully, I have my tools to help me with this.

These are what I refer to as side effects of grief and loss. Some good, some amazing, some awful. 

I had noticed another personal side effect and really started to be more aware of it recently.

I feel other people’s pain and suffering for loss stronger than I ever did. I mean, I feel it physically and emotionally. I feel like I am looking straight into people’s heart and soul. I unintentionally take it as my own. 

This happens with people I know and complete strangers.

I see mothers crying for lost children on the news and I cry for them, feeling a fraction of their pain.

I hear a child crying at the loss of a parent and want to hold them.

I see something online about mass deaths and I worry for their friends and family.

A friend loses a parent. I see their pain and I know I can’t make them better. 

Someone loses a pet and I know they are hurting just as much as if it were a human child.

These are all situations that are personal to them, and their grief will be different from one person to the next, but the pain is not really different. I am not saying that I know how they feel, I just know that I can see it and I know the sheer depth of it. 

So, my side effect of grief is empathy and compassion to the extreme. And I am good with it. It’s turning me into the kind of person I always wanted to be and really was on the inside. It’s made me more inclined to give people grace, It has made me far less judgemental and made me take a few steps back to try to understand where others are coming from. And to me, this is a blessing in spite of tragedy.

What is your grief side effect?

Until next time,

Patti

Xo

Your words and thoughts create your reality

I did a post this week on my social media after I had a big epiphany and I thought we should talk about it here because it was so incredibly powerful.

I have been doing alot of self reflection type of work and working on loosening my grip on trying to be in control of literally everything and for a bit, it had me upside down and sideways in my mindset.

The biggest self discovery happened this week:

I figured out that turning 50 messed with me more than I thought it did. 

When I was close to that magic number, my body was suddenly against me, or so I thought. I was gaining weight “for no reason” I “needed’ to move to lower impact workouts because well you know, “I’m getting older and I need to accept that’s where I’m at”. Looking back and reflecting on that, I mind fucked myself. I know that now. I believed that to be true, I said the words and that is the shit I manifested for myself. Wow. Mind blown. LIke seriously?

I found myself eating things that I KNEW my body hated, because what was the point? I’m getting older and you only live once so eat the cake. And yes, eat the cake is a thing that you should do, just not the WHOLE cake.

In the midst of all this shiz, I started doing the Unlimited workbook that I spoke about last week on the blog. Every morning, you read a few pages of information, then you say an affirmation, meditate and you write what you’re grateful for. You also write 3 things you want the universe to achieve for you and then you let that go. This workbook goes for a 40 day period.

Doing this every day really gets you digging in your heart of hearts. You start to see where you are working against yourself simply by thinking or saying things a certain way. 

This was the start of my epiphany. 

Then, I listened to an audio lesson on mindful eating. There are meditations you do to understand why you want to eat and helps you to determine if you really are hungry or if that’s just because you’re programmed that way. There is an exercise to write down how food makes you feel. By the way–mindful eating is really just that, it’s paying attention to your body and your food. It’s still ok to eat a certain way if it makes you feel good or you’re trying to achieve a specific goal. 

This got me thinking about life in general and what makes me happiest. Then, I made a list. I sat there at 5 am and wrote a giant list about what I practice when I am at my best. 

This simple task, showed me in black and white, what I needed to do in order to pick myself fully back up. It’s a few days later and I am back to eating the food that best fuels my body, working out pretty hard core, I’m organized and focused at work and in my personal life and I’m HAPPY! Like so happy. I encourage you to do this activity for yourself and let me know how you feel afterward. 

Patti

xo

Back at it! Sweating it out like a champ!
Yummy fuel!

Someone out there loves you

This week, I want to cover something that happened this week that was absolutely awful. 

Trigger warning: this post talks about suicide and mental health.

I’m part of many awesome online communities of strong women. Safe places where we can lift each other up in mental health, fitness, nutrition, all sorts of things. You end up meeting lots of individuals. Over the past week, in one of the smaller communities, we discovered that a very active participant had lost her battle with mental health, and took her own life. I don’t actually know her, never met her face to face but have seen her pictures and messages she posted. And when things like this happen, you look for past signs. Did we in the group miss something? You ask yourself, could I have been the one to have saved her? 

To me, the answer is a resounding no. And there’s a reason for this and you may agree and you may not. You see, I’ve been through so many losses like this and I’ve examined every single one under the strongest microscope you could possibly find, and the answer is always no. If I were the one to save that person, the one that made that difference that day, it would have happened. Those people would still be here today. It was not meant to be. 

I have mixed feelings about suicide. When it’s someone that is terminally ill, and in pain..I am on board for the most part. Now this is where the inner conflict gets me….what about mentally in pain? For these precious individuals they are in pain that is so unbearable, there is no other way out. No light at the end of their dark mental tunnel. And to me, that is tragic in itself. It’s almost mentally unbearable to me to think that someone would or could ever feel that way. It is also a scary feeling to understand that they would feel that way.  

The other side of the coin for me has happened since I lost Kayla. When it’s a young person and they take their life, part of me gets ANGRY. Like blood boiling, How dare they give up their life, when I know she would have done anything to stay here? It’s hard to let those bitter feelings go. That’s where I loop back to my empathy and compassion for the person and how dark a place they would need to be in. And those feelings win. I hate to think of how dark a storm must be for them to do this, because, with all the darkness I have seen and in the lowest moments of my life, never have I felt that level of despair that I even contemplated this. 

I am putting this out to all of you that read my blog: Please, I beg of you, if you are in that dark, black terrible hole and you’re even getting an inkling of feeling that suicide is your only option, talk to someone, ANYONE. It doesn’t have to be me. It doesn’t have to even be someone you know. It can be the person beside you in the grocery store, I don’t care who,..just talk to them. We want your magnificent light to continue to shine. There is always hope even in that dark tunnel. We got you. You are loved now more than ever, in your imperfection. 

You can click this link to access help and to understand warning signs of suicide.

Let’s all hold each other up in love and peace.

Patti

xo

Shifting Perspectives–Change your Mindset

Why does everything always happen to me?

How does the above statement make you feel? It brings me down and makes me sad. It makes me feel or it implies that all bad things happen to this person and there is no escaping from it. It sounds dismal and negative. It sounds like a punishment that never ends. I immediately feel sorry for this person that is saying this.

Now, take that same statement but change one word: Why does everything always happen for me?

This sounds like revelation. It sounds like self discovery. Like nothing but good things happen for this person. It sounds like the universe, or God or Angels or whatever you believe in is doing this person a FAVOR.

See how easily you can shift things with a very simple shift in your perspective? That was a change of 2 very short 2 and 3 letter words. Crazy but true.

I have been practicing this mindset shift (at least doing my best at it anyway) and it is life altering to say the least. I am in a better mood, and my outlook on life is genuinely more positive and hopeful.

When something happens that we feel is a negative…rather than asking why it’s happening TO us, let’s start asking why it’s happening FOR us. Ask what doors will this open up for me? How does this event or thing change the path I am on? What lesson is this teaching me?

Life is so full of potential with this simple shift. It’s helped me see light in tragedy, and altered my overall view on life, and in turn, my beliefs.

I’d love to see you give this a try yourself. In the coming days/weeks or even months, when a challenging situation arises, or something “negative” happens to you, shift the view to why it’s happening FOR you and see where that takes you.

I bet it’s somewhere awesome.

Patti

xo

What a year!

This week marks the one year anniversary that a global pandemic was announced. We were sent home from work “for a few weeks” and we really thought it would all be over then. Here we are..the world indelibly changed: How we shop, how we work, how we socialize and even celebrate. Looking back, I didn’t see even a twinkle of this coming. So what have I been able to learn and observe this past year personally? Turns out, alot. 

What I learned about myself during a global pandemic:

  1. I was in complete denial about where I was in my grief journey. I honestly thought I was doing well and functioning, which I was, however, life was crazy and we were always doing things so it was easy to bury what was really going on. Getting into a lockdown, with nowhere to go, forced me to deal with the emotions that were right there under the surface. With the use of my mindset tools I have to say I’m in a way better spot than I have been in my entire life.
  2. I am not quite as social as I thought I was. As much as I love people, I enjoyed not having to attend social functions and just being able to slow things down. 
  3. I am super attached to my family. I mean, I knew I was, but now I REALLY KNOW. Being away from them during the lockdowns has been absolute torture. I’m just happy and thankful that between lockdown periods we’ve been able to be together.
  4. I found some hobbies. I love birds and I love photography (and the combination of the two)and I really love writing. Both of these hobbies have been a fantastic creative outlet for me and have been incredibly therapeutic.
  5. I am more productive working from home and I love working from home.
  6. I love shopping online, even for groceries. I would have everything delivered if I could. (we are almost there).
  7. I’m a pet person.
  8. I have awesome cooking and baking skills which have served me well, especially when bread was scarce and everything was closed (no takeout)
  9. I don’t need a gym to get in shape
  10. I am very open to a power greater than myself.

Cool and Awesome byproducts of the pandemic for me:

  1. I started this blog!
  2. I got really dialled in with nutrition and exercise
  3. I got out way more in nature
  4. I got really consistent with meditation
  5. I took long breaks from drinking
  6. I started coaching for Beachbody
  7. I discovered Epicure
  8. I got to spend tons of time with Mike
  9. I appreciate my family WAY more
  10. I get to work from home 
  11. I can identify a lot more birds now
  12. I got a nice camera and I’m getting better at using it
  13. I did multiple puzzles
  14. We did a few road trips and had fun exploring
  15. I reconnected with old friends and found friendship with people that I didn’t realize I would.
  16. I got a new grandson!

The pandemic has been awful in so many ways. So many lives lost. So many businesses lost. So many people are struggling with mental health. Kids not being able to be normal kids. I am not making light. I know that I am so incredibly fortunate to be able to work and be safe and healthy here at home.

 I have been up and down mentally but I chose to write about the positives today because that is what I am choosing to do from a mindset perspective. Let’s focus on the positive so that is what we continue to attract to ourselves.

Is there anything you learned about yourself during the past year? Did you develop a new skill or hobby? Comment and let me know!!

Patti

xo