“I lost that person that I was, before all this.”
These words describe the impact of a non-death loss.
We encounter so many losses throughout our lives, yet very few are actually acknowledged. Often, we may dismiss our own feelings about the loss because there seem to be more important, serious, or ‘real’ deaths happening that require our attention. In reality, it is just as important to acknowledge the non-death losses when we feel their impact. Sometimes grief related to a non-death loss or transition could be mislabeled as depression. Giving ourselves time to identify what has been lost is a good way to get started. Some non-death losses could be related to: mobility, loss of an ability, infertility/loss of being a parent, our sense of identity, a significant role, or even our previously held beliefs about the world and what we imagined life would be.
If you have experienced a recent loss or change in your life, I want you to know that it is okay to grieve even the ‘small’ losses.
It’s down to the bitter end, and yet the cold temperatures and overall rainy days might be really testing you at this point! There is another option: Get Creative! Draw, dance, drum, write, sculpt, sew, knit, collage, chisel, hammer, glue, paint, play pretend, prepare for Spring. Look for new sources of inspiration from your own experiences and from the winter landscape. Or, go to an local pottery or painting studio, or check out a local maker’s space. This article proposes that there is a special link between creating with our hands and pushing away depression, check it out:
Although I am not usually a big fan of turnips, I recently discovered how tasty they can be in a slow cooker soup with butternut squash, potato, onion and pear. Yes, I said pear! We have learned more and more that there is a strong connection between our physical health and our mental well-being. Nourishing yourself with fresh healthy foods, including a variety of vegetables, grains and lean protein is a great way to combat the winter blues. If you enjoy cooking, take this opportunity to try a new recipe with a winter vegetable. Even if you don’t enjoy cooking…look for easy ways to get a variety of vegetables into your meals.
Check out this article for more on the connection between nutrition and mental health:
Colder and shorter days mean it may be more difficult to find time to exercise. But, don’t let the drop in the temperature stop you from getting your weekly dose of endorphins, a natural mood booster. Try a new gym membership…winter may be the perfect time to perfect your swimming stroke at an indoor pool. Learn to rock climb at one of Atlanta’s rock climbing gyms. Or, embrace the winter sports and find an ice skating rink! It doesn’t have to be complicated or pricey, bundle up and take a walk in your own neighborhood, or pop in one of those old-school workout DVD’s with your rainbow leg warmers and get your endorphins flowing from the comfort of your own home. If it has been a long time since you were active, check with your doctor about any new exercise routine!
Some more info on how exercise can reduce depression:
you who are living
restore us, renew us.
Speak for our silence.
Continue our work.
Bless the breath of life.
Sing of the hidden patterns.
Weave the web of peace.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good costume and some mini chocolate bars, but the spooky costumes and sweet candy of Halloween are just one aspect of this special time of year. This is also a time when multiple traditions acknowledge the connection between ourselves and those who have gone before us. Regardless of your faith tradition or cultural background, this can be an opportunity to re-member those who have died recently, in years past, or even distant ancestors who paved the way for us.
Why do I use a ‘dash’ in re-membering?
The process of thinking about those who have died is a way of recreating their place as a member of our circle. In re-membering, we are keeping a space for them at the table, we create a place for them in our life story, we allow the important aspects of their lives to influence our lives again and again. Re-membering is an active process, not just thinking about the past, but bringing the lives of our most important people into the present.
How do you create a space for re-membering?
Pictures, special items belonging to your loved one, or symbols of what they stood for, can be used to focus your attention on the important impact of your person. You might make a special point to share memories of the person, highlighting the characteristics you hope to re-member and carry forward. You might consider doing something in your community to honor a special cause your loved one supported, or simply visit one of their favorite places. Doing something they taught you, or something that they always wanted to do can also be great ways of re-membering. The most important, is that you re-member in the way that feels right for you and is consistent with your person’s personality….quirks, flaws and all!
For more on Re-Membering check out this article on the Pixar movie “Coco” from the ladies at What’s Your Grief?
For those who have known me from Metropolitan Counseling Services, I am proud to announce that I have moved to a new office space and my own practice, Lifespan Counseling of Atlanta:
1924 Clairmont Road Suite 40
Decatur, GA 30033
Look out for upcoming groups and workshops!
Starting in March we will have an LGBTQ Pre-Marital Workshop at Metropolitan Counseling Services. This workshop is meant to provide a space for couples to discuss common issues that arise within any relationship as well as LGBTQ-specific concerns. It is a 6 hour workshop split over three Thursday evenings. Successful completion of the workshop will qualify participants for discounted marriage licence in Metro-Atlanta counties. Click here for: More Information