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Grief and Loss

Invaluable Lessons Loss Can Teach

“Sometimes the best gain is to lose.” – Herbert

Nobody really likes to lose. It’s often painful, a kind of self-rebuke, nothing that you want to tell others about and certainly nothing you want to revisit. But everybody loses at one time or another. Sometimes loss is more prevalent than a win. Still, there are invaluable lessons to be learned in every loss -- if you take the time to reflect on what has happened, what you did and what you could have done differently. The only thing that makes a loss permanent and permanently does damage is if you fail to see and understand the lesson that loss teaches.
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Aging

Surprising Losses that Need to Be Grieved

We think that the only time we grieve is when a loved one passes away. But it’s important to grieve all sorts of losses. Moving. Graduating. Retiring. Ending a relationship (even if you’re the one who ended it). Being diagnosed with an illness. Recovering from that illness. Starting a new job or even being promoted.

In short, a loss can be anything, negative or positive. As marriage and family therapist Cheryl Beatrice said, “If we can be connected to it -- whatever ‘it’ is -- then we can grieve its loss.”
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Anger

Surrounded by Tragedy: Empathy, Blame, or Can’t Be Bothered?

Recently, many natural disasters as well as mass murders have happened in our country. If you have not been in the midst of one, you're lucky. You’re safe; not in danger; not vulnerable -- at least not right now.

As you learned what was happening to the people in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Napa Valley, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs -- what was your reaction? How did you feel? Were you empathetic, blaming or simply can't be bothered?
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Depression

Looking for Hope in 195 Places


I'm not sure about you, but I've felt hopeless plenty of times in my life. Like really, really hopeless. Enough for a suicide attempt in my early 20's, and enough so that I made a firm commitment to figure out what, exactly, creates a hopeful mindset, and what I can do to foster and grow it in my life and the others around me.

It is through our deepest pain we find our brightest light.
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Depression

Avoiding the Holiday Blues

For many, the holiday season is a happy time associated with family and friends, good food and celebration. But for others, the holidays are marked with feelings of anxiety and depression, commonly referred to as the Holiday Blues.

The Holiday Blues are defined as temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays, and though they differ from clinical anxiety or depression, they should still be taken seriously as they can lead to long-term mental health conditions. 
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Grief and Loss

How Gratitude and Mindfulness Go Hand in Hand

Think of someone with whom you have shared happy moments or someone who has supported you and been there for you. Write them a thank you letter and deliver it to them. In your letter describe to the receiver why you are grateful to have them in your life and explain how their presence has given you growth and happiness. In a 2009 study, when researchers asked participants to do a similar exercise, they found that those who wrote thank you letters and delivered them reported an increase in their level of happiness that lasted for up to two months. Expressing gratitude significantly improved their well being.1

If you prefer to experience gratitude without having to express it to others, you can keep a gratitude journal. Every day before going to bed, write down three things that you are grateful for. A 2005 study found that research participants who wrote about three good things in their lives every night for one week reported an increase in happiness that lasted for six months.2
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Caregivers

Bouncing Back: Resilient Thrivers Tell Their Stories

This is the first in a series of articles about people who have survived life challenges that they never anticipated. For each of them, the unexpected brought lessons and skills that have helped them to move from victim to survivor to thriver.

Albert Borris is a 58-year-old man who lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Moorestown, New Jersey. For three decades, he worked as a Student Assistance Counselor in a high school setting, guiding young people who were facing psychological and addiction oriented challenges. According to his colleagues and those whose lives he touched -- likely thousands over the years -- he was superb at his job. He is the father of three children; two young sons and a daughter who is following in her father’s footsteps professionally, now in graduate school earning her Masters of Social Work.
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General

Helping Others Can Heal the Brain

The greatest show in Las Vegas history must be the recent outpouring of the best of humanity. The courage shown by professional rescuers and regular citizens reaching out to help, and even risking their lives to do so, leaves many of us wondering what would we do and what can we do to help others.
Making a positive difference in someone’s life doesn’t take a life-threatening effort. Simple kindnesses can go a long way for someone struggling. I was lucky enough to receive such help this summer.
I blew out my ankle. Really blew it out. As I enjoyed a walk with my husband, on slightly uneven pavement my foot slid off the side of my two-inch platform sandal. Three bones broke and the ankle dislocated.
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General

Finding Hope: How to Turn Disappointments into Strengths

Disappointments can be deeply painful, crush our self-esteem, and shake our world.

Disappointment is defined as “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the unfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.” So, naturally, disappointments leave us feeling sad, regretful, dismayed and sorrowful. And given the current news today, from the numerous worldwide natural disasters to the country’s political instability, many people are experiencing an array of emotions associated with disappointment.

When we are disappointed, we tend to focus on the outcome that caused our feelings of disappointment. We may feel paralyzed to do anything to make our circumstances or ourselves feel better, and we focus only on the feelings of loss surrounding our un-actualized dream or goal.

With this information in mind, one can spot the similarities between feeling disappointment and mourning. This is because mourning is part of disappointment.
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Anxiety and Panic

Screening Your Sanity

“Do you not give a damn about your father?” my Dad growled into the phone.

The truth is I cared -- probably too much. And for my own health and well-being, I had to step back from my Dad’s snark-filled comments and Mt. Vesuvius rage.

Family -- or at least the idealized notion of family -- is sacrosanct to me. I cherish my relationships with my beloved aunties and uncles. When they aren’t teasing me for the latest Mattism (losing my keys, wallet, or mind), they are prodding me about my latest love interest or travel escapade. And as for my late mother, she was equal parts mentor and matriarch. From joyfully recalling the day’s events to lunching with her and her tennis girlfriends to Thanksgiving bowl-a-thons, I smile -- ruefully -- at the fond memories. There is a tinge of sadness too as I recall our family’s joyfulness.
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Grief and Loss

Four Benefits of Counterfactual Thinking

Three days ago my husband was told he didn’t get the promotion he wanted and had almost been promised by his boss. He has been angry (and sad and frustrated and going through Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ stages of grief) and he has lost sleep the last over the situation. His reaction and behavior has reminded me of friends and family members who have received potentially devastating health news. But bad business news and bad health news are both areas where counterfactual thinking can help if one does it in the mindset of brainstorming, instead of that of regret.

Counterfactual thinking is defined as "
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General

When You Don’t Feel Like Yourself

Lately, you haven’t felt like yourself. Maybe you’re feeling extra anxious, a nervousness that’s taken up residence inside your stomach. Maybe you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. Maybe you’re experiencing a deep self-doubt, which you’ve never felt before. Maybe you feel disconnected from yourself.

Maybe you can’t pinpoint it. (Yet.) But all you know is that you feel off.*

Many people stop feeling like themselves after experiencing a major life event or major role change, said Dezryelle Arcieri, LMFT, a psychotherapist and yoga instructor in Seattle. Maybe you recently moved or started a new job. Maybe you just ended a relationship or got married. Maybe you had a baby or are grieving the loss of a loved one.
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