Questions and Answers About Grief - Demystifying the Process

In this culture, grief is a taboo. We don’t talk about death and dying and we don’t talk about grief. So I’ve noticed over my years offering therapy and grief counseling that people find grief mystifying, confusing and often frightening.

A lot of my work as a grief counselor has been to help people demystify their experiece, to help people recognize that grief is a normal response to loss, intense though it may be, and to find a way back to a balanced life. To that end, I’ve put together this Q&A on grief for anyone who needs it. Feel free to pass it on. You can also download a copy here.

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Breathe Easy for PTSD and Stress Relief

During a meditation retreat I attended, one of the teachers read a teaching in which the Buddha reminded us to "breathe easy."

It's easy to forget about our breathing. In fact most of us never think about it at all, unless we're having trouble with it. But if you pay attention to your breath, you may be surprised by how much it changes as your state of mind changes. You might also notice that you can change your state of mind by changing the way you breathe.

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Addiction and Grief - Hand-in-Hand - an Opportunity for Healing

Dave had been clean and sober for 17 years when his father died of alcoholism. He’d been through addiction counseling and psychotherapy. He regularly attended meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, stayed in touch with his AA sponsor and diligently took the necessary steps to stay sober. In fact, it had been more than ten years since Dave had felt the urge to drink or use drugs.

Dave's father was a maintenance alcoholic. He lived alone in a one-room apartment with a bed, a chair, a television and his collection of empty bottles. He drank himself to oblivion every day. Eventually, he drank himself to death.

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It's Okay to Talk About It

My old friend Chris Primesberger posed an interesting question recently in a post on Facebook:

“Not a big deal,” Chris wrote, “but why can't we say someone died anymore? Passing is what someone does to overtake a slower driver on the freeway.”

I’ve actually pondered this question quite a bit. I’m a grief counselor, and I rarely hear people say someone has died. It’s usually that someone has “passed,” or “transitioned,” or “crossed over.” It seems that in this culture, we’ll do almost anything to avoid using the “d” word, like a name that must not be spoken.

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