Marriage and Money

 

This blog is a collaboration of one of our Compassion counselors, Madelyn Murray, and her husband, Christopher Murray.

Money has always terrified me. There never seems to be enough of it…or at least it feels that way.
Money certainly has a way of making you think about something’s value.

There you have it. Two different thoughts when the word money is introduced into a conversation between husband and wife. The wife has a feeling about money, the husband has a thought about money. And people wonder why spouses often argue about money. Mixing emotions and logic rarely ends in a peaceful agreement! So, this blog is going shed some insight into what budgeting has done for the Murray marriage.
As Madelyn’s thought reveals, money evokes a sense of fear! Will there be ENOUGH? And for Christopher, it makes him think deeply about how each dollar is spent. Let’s think about this in the sense of actual spending behaviors. Since Christopher wants to reflect and think about how to spend his well earned dollars, his spending behaviors are often well thought out, researched and planned. Madelyn often is afraid there won’t be the amount of money necessary for the item needed or wanted which creates spending behaviors that can be more prompt and often more risky. So, how has this played out in marriage and creating a household of peace and harmony when it comes to finances?

Real life: Sometimes I still get really anxious when we have big house repairs or big purchases to make, even though I know budgeting has set us up to be able to make those necessary purchases.
Most times when approached about a big expense, my immediate thought is ‘how does this fit into the budget, how can we make this work?’
So if you have not already figured it out by now, Christopher really takes the lead in this marriage when it comes to budgeting and money planning.

I had to take a really hard look at myself and my feelings about money, and recognize, budgeting and financial planning is NOT my strength. It is hard for me to stay calm and think through things enough to plan a stable budget. But Christopher almost gets a rush out of it. Man, was it super hard to relinquish control of my spending and budgeting to him once we got married. I was embarrassed a bit, especially since I do think of myself as a strong, smart, independent woman.

For me, taking over the budget and planning for our family was more of a desire of not wanting to be behind the eight ball. I didn’t want us to start in a bad spot financially so soon in our marriage. Budgeting is kinda like a game to me. I like to crunch the numbers until I can see all our goals being met. We pay our bills, meet our savings and retirement goals, and still have some left over for a little fun each pay period. Once I felt we were in a productive groove, I began to notice Madelyn’s acceptance of my leadership in this aspect of our marriage. It made me feel happy to know that she was at peace, and I felt more confident as a husband.
How did this actually happen? LOTS OF COMMUNICATION, and honestly, a few…arguments…or maybe we should say, heart to hearts (with passion ). So here are our top 10 tips for when one of the spouses in the marriage has a knack for crunching the numbers and the other one, well, doesn’t.

• It is still a team approach: Just because we agreed that Christopher was gonna have the lead, does not mean I do not get a voice in our financial planning. I always ask Madelyn what items we need to plan for about one month in advance. Holidays, birthday presents, social gatherings, vacations, etc.

• Set some goals: I like goals. I could get behind this. I love planning and dreaming with Christopher. So, at the beginning of each year, we set goals. Not all of them are financial. Some of them are spiritual, relational, etc. But the financial ones often center around FUN. I need fun. Again, even though Christopher takes the lead with our budgeting, it is a team approach. Setting goals together will give each spouse a voice in what the year will look like financially. So, we usually set a monthly savings goal, a yearly savings goal (retirement related), and a vacation goal. Another goal to add could be a debt to pay off. We did this early in our marriage and now only have our house payment and my student loans. Those are just gonna take time to knock out. Oh, and don’t forget those home repair or renovation goals. We got a fixer upper, so there is stuff we have to get done! Sometimes we look at all we want to do and recognize that we may have to move some stuff to the next year, and that is OKAY! We aren’t made of money!

• Do your homework: At the beginning of taking over the family finances, I wanted to know what our expenses really were. I wanted to know what exactly our income was. I began to look harder at how we were spending our money by looking at how we were using our credit cards, how much we were spending money on food (I like food), and just other miscellaneous expenses. Both of us had gotten into a bad habit of swiping our cards without really thinking about it. I came back to Madelyn with some numbers and some plans on how we could begin to change some of our spending behaviors. I got my ideas for how to budget, change our spending behaviors, and pay off debt using videos from Dave Ramsey. That guy, he is the real MVP.

• Calendar method: We sat down with a calendar and wrote out each of our bills on the date they were due. This gave us a bird’s eye view of our month and set up good reminders to pay things that can’t be on auto draft. In addition to bills, we also listed out our paydays. Gotta have something to look forward to! We put the calendar in a visible location so it can be seen by everyone in the house at anytime

• Speaking of auto draft: We set up as many bills to be paid via auto draft as possible. We know this method may not be for everyone, but for us, it works really well. Using the calendar method listed above, we are able to anticipate when bills will be coming out of our account

• Be flexible: Flexibility has been harder for me. When I make a plan that I know has worked, I become extremely reliant on said plan. Almost attached. Real talk though, plans change, life happens, and in order to keep peace in my marriage, I have had to learn to be flexible and allow for variation with each month’s budget. Madelyn likes to be spontaneous sometimes, which as you can see, is not one of my strong suits. Apparently allowing her to be spontaneous is a good way to show her I love her. deep breath I can handle that…within reason.

• Set a spending limit: It is not realistic to think that you can check in with your spouse every time you want to spend some money. One of the first “rules” we set up was setting a limit on how much you could spend without having to check in with the other person. Now, I already shared, I get a little anxious about money, so I still often check with Christopher. BUT, we agreed that we can spend up to $50 without having to check in. Examples of this type of spending would be, a lunch out with coworkers, finding a great sale at Macys, or for Christopher, probably something related to new electronics or fitness.

• Open up about money: Seriously. Ask questions to people who have done this money thing well. Talk with trusted friends and family about your plans and questions. We have learned a lot from the most random places. That does not mean we try everything suggested, but it has made this whole money thing a lot less terrifying.

• Be generous to others: This is something I love to do. Once we really started budgeting well, we actually found places we could be generous. Taking a friend to lunch, surprising someone with a special gift, even being able to offer a friend to live with us rent free, because we had the $$ for extra utilities, etc. I have dreams that one day we will really be able to live even more generously. That is something that helps me stay motivated to stick to our budget when I feel the urge to swipe my card.

• Look at your budget more than one time per month: Don’t be afraid to look at your budget multiple times within the month, especially around paydays. Generally, I use paydays as budget setting days for the next pay period. Our pay periods are every two weeks, so normally, we have a new or revised budget by the time that the payday arrives. As the pay period progresses, the budget is being updated to reflect spending and to give us an idea of where we are within our budget before the next payday. I stick to the budget. Sometimes that means saying no, even if I do not want to, but the payoff will be so much better for our family in the long run.

Budgeting takes a lot of patience and even more practice. We certainly do not do everything right every single month when it comes to budgeting. Honestly, we are still pretty young in our marriage and know we have A LOT to learn. What we do know is that once we set up a good budgeting plan for us, the disagreements about money almost vanished. It was not an over night change, it has been an over time change. Learning to listen to one another and respect one another has been key to our success when it comes to budgeting as a married couple.

Smoothing Out the Transition

Staring back to school can be difficult for children. Often the start of a new school year brings anxiety, stress, or a decrease in confidence. Each school year brings about a variety of changes: a new teacher, new schedule, new subjects, new kids in the classroom, maybe even a new school. Think about how you might feel if you were facing this many changes! Do you remember how you felt when you started a new job or moved to a new city? It can be scary and overwhelming.

Your child is likely facing many mixed emotions and may feel unable to handle them. All of these changes and emotions can make for a difficult time after school. If you are like me, the goal is for your children to come home from school, sit down, and start homework before doing anything fun. Get the worst part out of the way right? But is that what you want to do after coming home from a long, hard day at work? Especially if you just started new job? Most likely you need a few minutes to yourself, or some time to sit down and relax.

What if you created a “relax bag” for your child? Maybe even one for yourself. When you get home from school (or work) take a few minutes, even just 5 is helpful, 10-20 is more ideal and just relax! Here’s an idea for what you might put in a child’s relax bag (also check out the image below!):

Calm down bottle • Journal • Stress ball • Pillow • Music • Bubbles • Puzzle
And don’t forget a snack!

And don’t forget a snack!

5 Self-Care Tips for a More Peaceful Existence

By: Amelia Worthen LPC-Intern
Supervised by Meredith Ivey LPC-S, RPT-S

Is your life like a never-ending Bangles song?  One Manic Monday after another with no end in sight?  Then this post is for you.  Stress and poor work/home life balance can cause a lot more harm than just a tension headache, sore muscles, or relationship problems. High stress is linked to heart trouble, stroke, and even early death. YIKES!!

By adding these simple self-care strategies to your daily routine you can lower your stress levels and even possibly prolong your life!

Self-Care Tip #1:  Create distinct boundaries

So many of us continue to answer email, respond to phone calls, and otherwise work for free when we are off the clock. STOP doing this! You are only hurting yourself.  Instead, create good boundaries between your work time and your home life.  Don’t answer those emails or phone calls after hours.  Clearly articulate that you can be reached during work hours only.  Free yourself from any feelings of guilt because you are helping yourself as well as others learn how to treat and respect you.

Self-Care Tip #2:  Exercise

Okay, I personally suck at this one.  I’m just not into running, getting hot, or sweaty even though I know it’s good for me.  I have learned, however, that yoga and Pilates really help me de-stress and unwind.  The deep breathing combined with somewhat less strenuous movement are more relaxing.  Plus the bonus is increasing your flexibility and core strength.  I strongly encourage some type of exercise at least 3 times a week.  Go for a walk in your neighborhood, ride a bike, go to the gym, do yoga at home using YouTube.  There are even great apps that will help you work up to exercising more often or doing short workouts when you can squeeze them into a busy schedule. I like couch to 5K, seven minute workout, and simply Yoga FREE. (Insert links)

Self-Care Tip #3:  Make time to do something you enjoy

This sounds like a no brainer, but a lot of the time we don’t make FUN a priority.  It gets bumped off the list as frivolous to make room for other things that feel more important.  I can promise you, fun is extremely important!  We need this in order to refresh, enjoy life, and remind ourselves why we do all the other stuff.  Make time to do the things you love; go shopping, build something, plant a garden, arrange flowers, go out with friends, attend book club, play video games, cook/bake, watch a movie or tv show, etc.  I know a lot of people probably want to add drinking alcohol to this list.  I don’t blame you at all, but be wary of using alcohol as a self-care method.  It should not be used as one.  Since alcohol is a depressant it will often times leave you feeling worse in the long run than better, healthy, or productive.  I’m not saying you can’t drink of course, just don’t use drinking as self-care.  I personally enjoy watching movies/tv shows, gardening, and shopping.  I also love the spa!!! Hello massage and facials

Self-Care Tip #4: Meditate

It might sound hokey to some, but I believe this can be the key to creating peace in your life.  You can call it whatever you want if Meditation sounds too weird, but crave out 5 to 10 minutes a few times a day to just be.  Use an app like Calm to get started.  This will help you clear your mind, reset yourself, and after consistent use you will definitely feel much more relaxed and at peace with things.  Another benefit of using the Calm app is that you will get access to other helpful tools like sleep stories, sleep sounds, and body scan.  Some of the app is free and others are locked and require you to purchase the app, but either way you still great benefits.  I encourage you to try meditation three times a day; once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening (before bed).  If that is too difficult, try once a day and build up from there.

Self-Care Tip #5: Eat well

Again, I’m not so great at this one but I know the better you eat the better you feel.  I just can’t seem to say no to sweets!  UGH!  Therefore, I go with the moderation approach.  I can have a little bit in small amounts.  I try to be diligent about balancing meals; protein, veggies, fruits, carbs, etc.  About a year ago I severely cut back on my caffeine intake by cutting out most soda.  I drink Green Tea, Sprite, and other low caffeine options plus tons of water.  I can’t really say enough about drinking LOTS of water other than it makes a HUGE difference.  My skin is clearer, I have less headaches, I have more energy, and I sleep better.  All because I drink more water.  I encourage you all to really try it.  I also would recommend you eat something high in protein before doing anything mentally or physically strenuous.  Big tasks require more fuel.  Treat your body well and it will repay you later.

I hope you enjoyed these tips/tricks. Where just one of these could start to change your life; they are much more effective when done together.  Make a few changes, add these to your routine, and enjoy your new peaceful existence.

Reward Your Child In Their Language

By: Meredith Ivey, LPC-S, RPT-S

t’s a good idea to offer your children rewards. Not just for doing their chores or for good grades, but randomly offering a reward when you catch them doing something you appreciate. As parents we give consequences when we catch children misbehaving, yet often fail to offer rewards in the same way. These rewards do not need to be big, just a little thing that reciprocates the good behavior. Offering rewards in this way not only encourages that behavior, but builds the connection between you and your children.

When offering rewards you are able to learn more about your child by paying attention to the rewards they choose. Take note of the rewards your child picks and learn from this so you can continue to show them love in the way they feel it best. This is a sample rewards chart based on Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. This chart is intended for younger children. You may want to make adjustments based on your child’s gender and age. If your children are old enough to participate have them help you make this chart.

Sample Rewards For Each Love Language:

Touch:

• 10 minutes of extra cuddle time before bed
• 5 min foot rub

Words of Affirmation:

• Written compliment
• Mom or Dad will share at the dinner table why they are proud of you.

Gifts:

• Mom or Dad will pick up a surprise for you from the store
• Pick a prize from the prize box

Acts of Service:

• Help with your chore
• Mom will make your bed for you

Quality Time:

• 15 min of one on one time
• Go on a walk with mom or dad

Here is a printable chart you could use to let your children pick their reward.

Some alternatives might be:

Touch: If you have a young girl, you might paint her nails or toes.

Acts of Service: Help your child with a fun project they have been wanting to do. Clean out your child’s car if they drive.

Quality Time: Just sit and watch your child play, be there while he does what he enjoys.

Gifts: This does not have to be expensive, it IS the thought that counts. Buy them their favorite meal for diner, or just a fun new pair of socks.

Words of Affirmation: Send a note in their lunch box, or buy a card and leave it on their bed.

Be creative and have fun finding new ways to show your children how much you love them!

Overuse of Technology

By: Ashley Harmonson, LPC-Intern
Supervised By: Meredith Ivey LPC-S, RPT-S

As I read the articles listed below, I am reminded of times when I use the iPAD and TV with my children in order to get a moment to myself. I have also seen the “too much technology monster” come out in my three year old. Although I am in no way going to eliminate the use of technology in my house, I do feel it is important to limit the time spent using it. A tablet or television cannot even come close to the importance of authentic conversations, imaginary play, and outdoor exercise. Questions to think about when considering if there’s an overuse of technology in your household:

Is it possible that too much technology use is causing brain damage?

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain

Is it possible that the sedentary use of technology is linked to childhood obesity?

http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=379222&resultClick=3&version=meter+at+null&module=meterLinks&pgtype=article&contentId=&mediaId=&referrer=&priority=true&action=click&contentCollection=meter-links-click

 

Better In-Law Relationships

By: Julie Weaver, LPC

We all need some tips and reminders that could help us journey through our in law relationships. I know I do! Here are some ideas:

Show Gratitude    

Through your words Think of something in advance that you appreciate about them and remember to tell them when you meet with them or even when you call to make plans. For example: “I love that potato casserole you make, do you think you could bring that for Thanksgiving dinner?” “I love that you give the children your undivided attention when they talk to you. That’s one thing that makes you an extra special grandparent.“ Think of some of this in advance (be prepared) and then also look for things you appreciate when you are with them as well.

“Gratitude without words translates into rejection.” 
-Stephen Nutt, Pastor of Creekwood Church Mansfield, TX.

People do not know our thoughts unless we tell them.  

 • Through your actions Showing them honor by some form of action shows gratitude. Find something they need done and care for them.   Sincerity Be sincere. Don’t use compliments you do not mean. You want them to be sincere with you so set the example you want. Criticism • Don’t be brutally honest. There will be imperfect things about them, just as with you, but we don’t need to always discuss those, especially during holidays when things may already be tense. There may be times something needs to be said, but analyze your motives and be sure they are pure and not just critical.   Inclusion

  • Include them in as much of the planning as you can. Include them especially when planning a birthday/other event for their son or daughter. They may have their own ideas of how they would like to celebrate that event. If so there could be an additional event if needed or they could be included in your planning. But remember the three questions (from the “In laws and Holidays” blog) so you don’t offer a choice you have decided you cannot live with.

Flexibility

  • You want to prepare yourself to do things at times to fit with your in-law’s family traditions or ideas. At times they may also know your spouse’s favorites better than you would on something. You may be surprised how much you enjoy some of their ideas once you try them.

Grace

  • Give them the same grace you should give yourself. Things do not have to be perfect.

Remember to have fun and relax when with your in-laws.

Play Therapy

By: Ashley Harmonson, LPC-Intern
Supervised by: Meredith Ivey LPC-S, RPT-S

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation.” – Plato

Joining a child’s imaginary world is fascinating. One night when putting my two year old to bed, she introduced me to Trexta. My daughter told me that Trexta, who was right above her bed, wouldn’t come down and go to sleep. Knowing that I am far from the pretending world, she said to me “Do you see her Mommy?” She quickly described an elephant riding a giraffe. Although I wanted to explain that the sheer weight of an elephant would quickly crush a giraffe, I just continued to let her describe her new friend. After saying good night, she continued to speak to Trexta for another 5 to ten minutes on the baby monitor.

That night my husband and I talked about how strange it was that she had an imaginary friend. Little did we know, Trexta would be a frequent visitor, play mate, and friend in need of support. Trexta was often comforted for being afraid of monsters, taught how to do things that were difficult, scolded for not cleaning up toys, and a source of many other things (Trexta is a very naughty elephant). But with more close observation, I noticed that Trexta becomes scared of things that my three year old is scared of and comforted and taught ways to feel better.

Why do I tell this story about my sweet little one? Because unfortunately, I don’t always see that elephant riding a giraffe on my child’s ceiling. Just like I can’t always understand, why sometimes she is defiant, has an outburst, and cries at the top of her lungs. Children live in a world that often feels very much out of their control. They have thoughts and feelings about their ever changing circumstances and do not always know how to express them.

Fortunately, there is an outlet for those feelings. Through play therapy a child can express their feelings without being evaluated or judged. They are free to feel and speak through toys. They control the play and through that control, they become their own counselor, teacher, and parent. Through Child-centered Play Therapy a child can teach herself what to do when afraid and how to be comforted after making a mistake. She teaches herself it’s ok to get angry and then apologize. When a child is hurting, they often act out that hurt and do not always have the words to work through it, but they do know how to play.

As my own child is approaching four, I notice that Trexta is not as common of an occurrence. But when my daughter feels out of control, angry, lonely, and scared I know that we may have a visit from our very own elephant riding a giraffe. I do know that she is a welcomed visitor. I hope that you will let your child have a visit to their own imaginary world and give Compassion Counseling the privilege of being a part of it. Below is a website that contains FAQ about play therapy and links to more information.

compassioncounseling.us/services

 

In-Laws & Holidays

By: Julie Weaver, LPC

Now that summer vacations are over and kids are back in school, fall is beginning, we start to think, ”When is the next vacation?” OK, so maybe that’s just me. Then I have the thought that Holidays will be just around the corner before we know it.

Well, this often brings us to the in-law thoughts. Maybe that’s just me too. There are no perfect in-laws. If you have some, please tell me where you got them, I did not think they existed! Don’t take me wrong though, my in-laws have some very redeeming qualities, but things just not always go perfect. But in reality we are really not all so perfect ourselves, are we? OK, so seriously, here are the questions that run through my head:

Where will the gatherings be? Will there be arguments over where it will be held? Who will get to have the holiday date specifically and who will be pushed to another day? Then my mind races on to “Will things go well?” Will I get things perfect this time?

And all the tenseness of the holidays is quickly back in my memory. We can push the thoughts away, but we will have to go back to holiday planning eventually. So how can we handle all the questions that build up in our minds?

Quick thoughts to ease the tension:

-Things do not have to be perfect.

-You do not have to have it all figured out today.

-You do not have to be the one to make all the decisions.

-Not all occasions have to be traditional/ formal every year?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the unknown. That is most likely my biggest anxiety producer for me. So, I like to think of possible situations and some contingency plans in advance. Let’s face it guys; I want a back-up plan. So, some things I want to be sure of. Maybe you do too.

Three questions to have solidified before making any call extended family to discuss holidays.

  1. What I would really like. (optimally)
  2. What I won’t agree to (absolutely)
  3. What I could live with (negotiable)

Some ideas that could change the face of holidays:

  • Try to negotiate on who to spend each holiday with, i.e., Thanksgiving with your parents, Christmas with your in laws.
  • Remember too that if you children you may want to have a special time just with your children to create some special memories and traditions of your own. Parents remember what that is like and hopefully will want to support that for you as well.

Now on to some suggestions for a better relationship with in laws:

  • Think of something in advance that you appreciate about them and remember to tell them when you meet with them or even when you call to make plans.

For example, “I love that potato casserole you make, do you think you could bring that for Thanksgiving dinner?” “I love that you give the children your undivided attention when they talk to you. That’s one thing that makes you an extra special grandparent. “

Think of some of this in advance (be prepared) and then also look for things you appreciate when you are with them as well.

  • Be sincere. Don’t use complements you do not mean. You want them to be sincere with you so set the example you want.
  • Don’t be brutally honest. There will be imperfect things about them, just as with you, but we don’t need to always discuss those, especially at holidays when things may already be tense.
  • Include them in as much of the planning as you can. But remember the three questions so you don’t offer a choice you have decided you cannot live with.
  • Give them the same grace you should give yourself. Things do not have to be perfect.
  • Remember to have fun.

 

For literature about relationships with in-laws, our counselor recommends books from this list.

Marriage Lesson From a Potato

Over the years I’ve counseled several couples, and sometimes even individuals who want to work on their marriage.  One of the things I seem to hear over and over again is women thinking their husbands aren’t trying hard enough.  Maybe they don’t do enough for the kids, or aren’t helping around the house as much as you’d like.  Often it’s not just that they aren’t trying hard enough, it’s that when they do help, it feels as though it’s not actually helpful.  One thing that often comes to my mind when I hear women saying these things is an image you might have seen, a pot of half peeled potatoes boiling.

There are different quotes about this image, but the one I like says “A man sees his wife busy cooking in the kitchen and says: ‘How can I help?’ She says ‘Grab the potatoes, peel half and then boil them.’”

What woman doesn’t want her husband to come to her in the kitchen and say “How can I help?”!? That statement lets someone know their husband’s intentions.  It’s clear he wants to be helpful.  Now, I understand that 5 minutes later when you turn around and see literally half of each potato peeled you may no feel he intended to be helpful.  It suddenly feels like you have even more work to do.  But let’s try to look at it from his perspective for a moment.  Maybe he just came home from work, or came inside from mowing the lawn.  He sees you hard at work in the kitchen, which may not be his domain, but he thinks, ‘she looks stressed, I’ll help her out’.  Maybe he’s thinking ‘I want to lighten her load, even if I don’t know my way around the kitchen so, I’ll give it a shot for her.’  So he asks how to help and gets to work.  Yet just a few minutes later he’s being shooed out of the kitchen or worse, yelled at for messing up, when he was only trying to help.  He’s not likely to offer his help again anytime soon, and if you ask for it, he’s concerned about messing up and getting “in trouble” again, making him more likely to mess up or scurry away as soon as he thinks he’s finished.  Take a moment to image how you might feel.  Maybe you have free time and your husband is working hard on the car or in the yard.  Maybe neither of those are things you enjoy or know much about but you want to help.  Now if you’re like me and try to help work on a vehicle you can imagine how it might be easy to make things worse.  How would your husband respond to you?  I think my husband might just laugh; he’d help me fix whatever I messed up and teach me something new along the way.  We might actually enjoy the time together.  That’s why I like the picture of the half peeled potatoes.  It makes me laugh.  So why not laugh at that situation?  Why stress over it?  Enjoy the moment, and take the time to encourage your husband in making an effort to help you.   And most importantly before you start thinking how unhelpful he was and how much worse the situation is, remember his intention – to be helpful, let that leave you with a smile.

Tips When Coping with Grief

By: Courtney Johnson, LPC


Photo Courtesy of Pixabay, Creative Commons

As a counselor, we see clients for a variety of reasons. Some come in for depression, others for divorce, and others come in just in hopes to better themselves. Every topic brings unique challenges, but one of my favorite topics to counsel is grief.

I enjoy counseling grief because grief is somewhat paradoxical in that it is universal-we all experience grief at some point in our lives. However, everyone experiences grief differently. Not only that, each person grieves in their own way when different loved ones pass away.

There is not one specific formula on how to grieve and though everyone grieves in their own unique way, I felt it was important to write a blog of tips and things to remember when you or someone you know is grieving.

1. Don’t put a time limit on itGrief evolves and changes over time. Take as much time as you need, or as little as you need. And don’t feel guilty about the amount of time it takes you.

2. Give yourself some graceWhen we lose someone, it throws our routine off track. Family systems may change; work responsibilities change, or friendships are altered. Your brain is coping with change so it may be more difficult to complete ordinary tasks. Don’t make any big decisions. It is easy to be tempted to make big changes right away. I encourage you to take some time, think about it and be sure you are ready to make that change.

3. Practice self care Grieving is emotionally draining. It is so important to incorporate ways to fill yourself back up. Go to a park, take a warm bath, listen to your favorite music, journal, walk the dog, make your favorite meal, etc.

4. Trust your intuitionyou know yourself best. If you feel like you need to go visit the cemetery, go visit the cemetery. If you need to write your loved one a letter with all the things you didn’t get a chance to say, do it. If you feel like something would be a healthy way to express your grief, I encourage you to try it even if it something new you have never tried before such as painting, or writing.

5. Create new traditions– Especially after losing a family member, holidays, birthdays, or events can be difficult or need to change. I encourage you to talk to your family to create new traditions. These new traditions can also help honor your loved one. For example, cook your loved one’s favorite recipe or watch their favorite Christmas movie around the holidays. Don’t be afraid to try something altogether new.

6. You are not a burden, reach out to your support systemWhen people are sad, it is easy for them to withdraw and not ask for help. They feel guilt that they are “bringing down” everyone else. You are not bringing anyone down. Your support system wants to help. They could help in little tasks such as accompanying you on errands, making a meal to keep in the freezer until needed, or just sitting with you for a few minutes.

7.Take care even after time passesAnniversaries and birthdays are hard no matter how much time passes. Grief is never completely gone; it just changes and becomes easier. It is absolutely normal to feel sad on days of significance. On these days, take off work if you are able and practice self -care.

8. They will never be forgotten– This is one of the most important points. So often, people worry that they will lose the person forever or that their memory of them will fade. While their physical body may not be here any more, you have your memories. You will be reminded of these memories at odd moments when you are least expecting it. Your loved one has shaped your life in many ways and because of that, they will never be forgotten.

These are just a few tips and suggestions for those that are experiencing grief. Sometimes, more professional help is needed for the grieving process. I know our practice would love help you.

 

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