It is true that every family has its …
It is true that every family has its …
I have had a number of different professions over the course of my life experience, and one of them was a funeral celebrant. I agree that it is not one of the more ‘popular’ career choices — you rarely expect your child to come home and announce that he or she wants to make a career of ‘burying dead people’ (and if he or she did, you might be a little anxious about your child’s mental health!)
Being a funeral celebrant was not my life ambition either, but being a minister of religion was. The two roles frequently go hand in hand. (Not that I contemplated that part when I announced at 12 years of age ‘what I wanted to be when I grow up.’)
In my training, I chose to forgo the opportunity to ‘look at a dead body’ during the mandatory visit to a funeral home in Melbourne. The first funeral I conducted, I led the service, played the piano, presented the eulogy and spoke the words of committal at the graveside. All of this was, as one would say, ‘a walk in the park.’ My greatest fear was that the casket would be open during the service. It wasn’t, and I have happily conducted many funerals since.
One of the most significant lessons I learned as I performed this role for people was that grief has many differing faces. Pain, suffering, relief, stoicism, distraction, sobbing, or a blank look — there is no ‘one way to grieve’ because our grief is as unique as our pain.
I have been in recovery for a while now. Most days, I feel pretty good. Most days, I can keep my anxiety from paralyzing me. Most days, I function well.
However, I don’t have to look far to see my pain. All I have to do is think about my parents.
Last night, I was watching a TV show, and a woman was grieving the loss of her mother to cancer. It had been about nine months since her death, but since the woman was planning her wedding, she was particularly upset. I could feel the intolerance building up inside of me. I may have even rolled my eyes.
I thought to myself, “at least you had a mother.” This doesn’t happen every time. My compassion has come a long way. But last night, the feelings were there.
As soon as this article regarding the increase in divorces among baby boomers appeared on my Facebook page, I had to respond.
Actually, I was hooked by the response from a friend of a friend who said “It’s so sad” and recounted her regret over her parents’ divorce when she was a young adult. I retorted that it was neither sad nor laudatory — not that I have any right to tell someone how to feel — but simply reality.
I grew up in the midst of my parents’ bickering and yelling, knowing a powerful, loving bond held them together until my father died at the age of 59 after 25 years of marriage.
And I’ve got two divorces behind me, one after a short-lived and ill-fated early marriage; the other after a long marriage that yielded three children.
It’s not every day your teenage daughter tells you she’s pregnant. That same teenage daughter you thought was only interested in cheerleading and getting good results in school. That same teenage girl who only a few short few weeks ago told you she’s not interested in having a boyfriend.
Hearing such life-changing news can be overwhelming to hear. In this situation, if you’re not excited about this news, it’s very easy for the unhealthy emotion of anger to burst forth. In this situation you can go from calm to angry and shocked in a fraction of a second.
When that happens, rational thinking isn’t easy and you might find yourself reacting rather than responding.
Sometimes, we may cringe from past memories — it’s those moments when we think to ourselves, “Oh wow, did I really do that? Was I that immature? Or insecure? Or a whiny, hormonal, little brat?”
Well, I’m not going to judge you for exhibiting that behavior, or doing X, Y or Z. Because I was a teenager, too, and was going through the same process — one that I’m still going through. We don’t have to be so hard on our past selves.
Melissa Lewis, a trainer, speaker and consultant, discusses our tendency to reflect upon our younger selves in a self-critical light in a 2008 article. Though she coaches individuals to move past their faults and perceived failures in regard to public speaking, I can pinpoint a common theme in a much larger context: forgiveness. I know sometimes people throw that word out there as if it’s the answer to all our problems, but in this instance, I really think it’s sound.
Lewis recommends the following exercise. It inevitably will be corny, but it’s cool to attempt anyway.
You’ve done the test.
You’ve done the test again.
You’ve done the test for a third time and thrown up.
Yep, you’re 16 and pregnant. You didn’t plan it. You thought you’d taken precautions but you’re pregnant. Oh boy, now what?
For some teenagers this may be a happy moment, yet for others it can seem like the world is about to end. The future you thought was unfolding before you comes screeching to a halt.
A multitude of emotions will compete for attention and then you realize there’s one thing you’re going to need to do. A cold blanket of dread envelops you. The words stick in your throat and you want to throw up again.
“How am I going to tell my parents?”
“Breaking up is hard to do.”
~ Neil Sedaka
Every now and then we may find ourselves in a relationship that has just run its course.
Whether it’s a result of a relationship that never should have been or two people growing apart, ending a relationship often can be hard. Before making the leap to the “big breakup,” there are a few things to consider.
It is important to know why you are making the decision that you are making. It is also important to know that you are comfortable with the decision you are making.
In order to do this, you may need to separate yourself from the situation. Ask your partner for some alone time in order to reflect and really think about how you feel.
So your partner left. You’re alone and have to cope on your own with the loss of the relationship.
Not only is your partner physically gone, but you are now left with hurt, anger, grief, frustration, and several other feelings.
How do you cope? How do you move forward? How do you resume a normal life and feel happy again?
Most people have heard the old adage “time heals all wounds.” This is true for the ending of relationships as well. In the moment it may feel like you will never heal, but it gets easier with time.
There also are things you can do to get back on your feet and get back to a healthier and happier you. Here’s a few ideas to begin the healing process.
Depression affects people of all ages; it really doesn’t care if you’re a 17-year-old high school student or a 50-something CEO. Depression is non-discriminating and will take you down like a starving grizzly bear, given half a chance.
There is one age group that often gets overlooked when it comes to depression and that’s the elderly.
In seniors especially, symptoms of depression are sometimes missed or confused with the effects of other illnesses or medication they may be using. Also, the typical symptoms of depression — such as fatigue, lack of appetite and loss of interest in previously loved activities — are often put down to the aging process and not depression. Studies on the number of elderly people experiencing depression varies, but it’s estimated 6.5 million of Americans over 65 are depressed.
Sadly, only about 10 percent of those people actually receive any help.
You’re upset about something that happened to you. It’s not easy for you to get beyond it. It could have happened today or decades ago. It could be what others consider a big thing (a death) or a small thing (a slight). No matter. What happened to you still triggers emotional pain.
Others are sympathetic at first, offering empathy and support. But it’s not long in our fast-paced society until people begin to lose patience with you. “Get over it already!” is their new message.
Not a bad idea, you think. But how do you do this? If you could get over it already, wouldn’t you have done it?
One of the charges leveled against psychiatry’s diagnostic categories is that they are often “politically motivated.” If that were true, the framers of the DSM-5 probably would have retained the so-called “bereavement exclusion” — a DSM-IV rule that instructed clinicians not to diagnose major depressive disorder (MDD) after the recent death of a loved one (bereavement) — even when the patient met the usual MDD criteria. An exception could be made only in certain cases; for example, if the patient were psychotic, suicidal, or severely impaired.
And yet, in the face of fierce criticism from many groups and organizations, the DSM-5 mood disorder experts stuck to the best available science and eliminated this exclusion rule.
The main reason is straightforward: most studies in the past 30 years have shown that depressive syndromes in the context of bereavement aren’t fundamentally different from depressive syndromes after other major losses — or from depression appearing “out of the blue.” (see Zisook et al, 2012, below). At the same time, the DSM-5 takes pains to parse the substantial differences between ordinary grief and major depressive disorder.
Unfortunately, the DSM-5’s decision continues to be misrepresented in the popular media.