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Addiction

To Everything There Is a Season: Can Time of Year Impact Our Perspective on Death?

Recently I was speaking with a couple whose adult son died two months ago of a drug overdose. These parents adored him and knew he was dealing with emotional challenges. They did what they could to let him know he was loved and they were with him come what may. They attempted to get him help. He was surrounded by a multi-generational family who thought the world of him.

As we processed their experience and they openly shared their grief, they said something that in all my years as a therapist, I had not considered. They both acknowledged that as we approached the threshold between summer and autumn, they were experiencing a heightened sense of loss.
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Depression

Suicide Awareness: The Family Secret

When I was 8 years old my uncle died by suicide.

I remember sitting in my family living room with my twin brother during a hot summer day watching a cartoon about rabbits, when I heard the phone ring and then the most heart-wrenching wail I have ever heard come out of my mother. My father immediately came into the room in a stoic and serious manner and told us that our uncle had died. He said not to do anything or say anything to my mother, and quickly left the room.
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Ethics & Morality

In Times of Tragedy — How Do We Cope?

While I try to keep up with current events in the United States and the world, I am the first to admit I often stay away from the news -- especially these days. If I pay too much attention to our country's problems and issues, it affects me to the point where I can't function well. And then what good am I to anybody? So I have chosen to pay attention to the news -- just enough to be informed, but not enough to interfere with living a good, productive life.

But lately I find myself glued to the television news reports about the disaster in Texas. I've never seen anything like it in my life -- flooding beyond belief -- with so many people displaced and in need of help. Devastation on so many levels.
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General

Beyond Life’s Disappointments

When life does not head in the direction we imagined, and we come to a place of great uncertainty, it is time to expand our consciousness. That means a time to be open to what is possible, beyond what we expected.

Michael, a 65 year-old attorney, feared death because he was overcome with regrets. When I asked him what exactly he feared, he said, “I didn’t achieve my potential. I thought I’d be much more successful. I don’t think I have enough time left to make it happen and I’m not really driven to make it happen either.”
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Aging

Thoughts on Time Versus Money

If someone gave you five hundred dollars to spend on something that makes you happy, what would you buy?

Some new clothes? Gifts for friends and family? Or perhaps you’d donate the money to one of your favorite charities -- after all, what could make you happier than that?

Well, there is something that makes most people happier, but we rarely consider it to be something we can buy: Time.
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Grief and Loss

You Won or Lost: Here’s How to Get Over It and Move On

“Winning and losing are both very temporary things. Having done one or the other, you move on. Gloating over a victory or sulking over a loss is a good way to stand still.” – Chuck Knox
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being stuck. When something goes wrong -- meaning, I’ve made a mistake -- it’s a personal setback, to be sure. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to dwell on it any longer than necessary.

Similarly, once I’ve attained a
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Grief and Loss

How to Get Back Your Joy After Loss

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” – Jalaluddin Rumi
My belief is that you invest joy in yourself. No one can take it with them when they leave.

When you live in joy, finding appreciation in the seemingly trivial things in life, the quiet moments you share with others, in your accomplishments, pursuing your dreams, making full use of your talents and abilities, you grow your self-confidence, boost your self-esteem, and realize that you are whole and complete as you are.
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Depression

Therapist Grief

As a therapist, many people come in with issues with grief. For years I have tried to help clients figure out the well know Elisabeth Kubler Ross Stages of Grief and what stage in their grief they are in: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It has been sad to watch clients suffer and deal with grief. I have wished many times that I could...
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Anxiety and Panic

Speak the Evil

See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

And in case you were wondering, the proverbial “evil” would be my dormant mental health issues.  

Growing up in an upper-class family in Des Moines, Iowa, mental health was an afterthought -- sandwiched in between tennis matches, gawky Homecoming dance photos, and college football Saturdays. While I struggled with perfectionism (presaging a later struggle with OCD), my mother glossed over my mental rigidity.  

“You just have high standards, Matthew,” she soothingly reassured to me and -- perhaps -- herself.
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General

What to Do When You Feel Lonely

You feel so lonely.

You are home on a Friday night without any plans. Or you’re sitting in a restaurant with a group of friends, and yet you still feel lonely.

Or you’re sitting on the subway, on your way to work, and the feeling of loneliness sneaks into that space, too. Or you’re perusing social media, looking at photos of glistening faces, of glistening lives. And the ache of loneliness surges. Or you think you’re the only one who gets panicked at the grocery store, the only one who still mourns a loved one’s loss 30 years later, the only one who doesn’t speak to their family, the only one who feels lost.
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