Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Grief & Loss and the Holidays

The holidays are upon us again. The US also celebrates Thanksgiving at this time of year, after which the big focus will be Christmas and New Years. Holidays are always difficult for persons in Grief.

The loss of someone important to us comes boldly to the fore at this time.  We feel their absence more intensely than at any other time of the year.  The tendency is to want to withdraw from all the merry making and  celebrating when we are feeling so low about our loved one.

It is necessary to push at times like these. And be prepared to cry more than usual. This would be a good time to write a letter to your loved one, letting them know how much you miss them and whatever else you're feeling at the moment. This is for you, to help reduce the stress, to acknowledge how much you miss them and how it hurts to be without them. This is not a permanent condition. It too will pass.

For those of you engaged in the How to Cope with Grief and Loss strategies, you will be turning to your journal more often at this time. It's been working for you so far so just ramp it up as much as you need.  Listen to the relaxation program. Read and listen to your favorite passages in the book. And let yourself feel. Although this may be intense, when you come out the other side, you will be greatly relieved and your recovery process will have taken a giant leap forward.

For those of you struggling without guidance, we wish you well. Your tendency as already mentioned will be to distance yourself from activity in order to try and avoid what you're feeling. That'll just make it worse. Be with friends and family at this time, especially if you are sharing this
loss with others. There should be some comfort there for you.

Feeling Connected

Sometimes when we are feeling lost and alone we don’t know which way to

turn to possibly renew a friendship.

That pal we had so long ago is lost to us now. They have faded away like

so many things from our earlier life.

Are we to believe that we can no longer sustain such relationships? Are we

to let go of all those sources of comfort that once enjoined us and caused
us great pride.

Our affections for others are what keep us alive. That is, our connection

to each other invites us to live again, to breathe, and to satisfy those
cravings for friendship we once carried around and dismissed.

It’s not true that we have to let go of all this as time marches on. It
is true however, that we have a greater need for each other as the years
speed on by.

When we’re alone, we’re alone, but not in the factual sense. We are

alone because we feel alone. And we are together because we feel connected.

Connected means enjoined. It means we are happy to be in the service of

the Lord. He/She is our Creator and Guide. She/He is our Source of constant
comfort. Without the Creator we wouldn’t have each other, given that we all
sprang from the same “Source.”

Now we are ready to move on, to join with each other once again and to

share what we know and cherish. The twilight of life is a better place if
our lessons to this point have taught us about the value of having good
companions while marching on this pilgrimage toward home.

Home is where the heart is, and that is where we are all joined together,

isn’t it?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Navigating the Stages of Grief and Loss

Kindle Edition =

When Angels Call: Coping With Grief and Loss

The stages of Death and Dying evolved by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross are often mis-identified as The Stages of Grief Recovery. In her schema, she came up with 1) denial, 2) anger, 3) bargaining, 4) depression and 5) acceptance as reactions to a diagnosis of terminal illness. Her stages only make sense when considered against that backdrop. As such, this configuration has nothing to do with the stages of grief recovery.

Looking back over my 25 years of therapeutic experience dealing with hundreds of individuals and families going through grief and loss and a review of the currently available data I have come up with 4 stages of Grief Recovery. Kubler-Ross' stages do not fit this paradigm even though they are often mistaken as the quintessential guideline. For those of you seeking grief recovery the following stages are what you can expect.

1) Numbness and Shock: - We hear the news about the death of a loved one and our mind goes into shock. The news is too unbelievable, too hard to digest in one sitting. Numbness enters the picture because our mind is still reeling from the news as our body goes into a state of emotional numbness. We try desperately to process this terrible news. Simple tasks now feel overwhelming. Feelings of disorientation and displacement are common. Some have described this as a dreamlike state where you feel disconnected from events and people around you. Funeral arrangements and other issues are accomplished mechanically.

Stage 2 - Disintegration and Disorientation: The initial shock of losing a loved one begins to settle down and we are now faced with the deeper feelings of grief and bereavement. Emotional disintegration, which feels like "falling apart" enters the picture as the reality of the loss hits us hard. Physical reactions such as sleeplessness and loss of appetite are not uncommon and need to be taken up with your family doctor. On the emotional side, feelings of confusion, anxiety, anger and depression may now begin to surface. These deeper reactions are your body and mind's way of trying to release stress. Grief recovery means working through these reactions over time.

Stage 3) Bereavement and Grief Recovery - Once you are past the shock and have started to come out of disorganization, bereavement and grief recovery can begin in earnest. You can now make full use of your grief recovery resources including books, audio books, healing music and grief counseling. These days, you can be part of an online support group where sharing is the by-word and all persons there are eager and ready to listen and help each other recover. You are not alone, unless you choose to be. And you are not a victim, unless you choose that as well!

Stage 4 - Coming Back Together / Reintegration - You've been following an action plan laid out in your favored grief resources. A good book, counselor or support group has provided a set of guidelines to follow and you realize this journey of recovery is manageable. Books, audio resources, counseling and support groups provided the framework to recovery you've been looking for. Your action steps bear fruit. You notice a little less emotional tenderness with each passing day and more of your old self returning. Your life has changed. You've lost a valued loved one. The pain at times felt unbearable. But you are past that now and your grief recovery is near the end.

These are the stages of grief recovery as I have come to know them after 25 years of helping hundreds of individuals, couples and families come to terms with Murder Grief, Suicide Grief, Relationship Grief, Loss of a Parent, Loss of a Child and Loss of a Spouse. I have also dealt with many losses in my own life including a best friend, mother, favorite brother-in-law, special uncle and other family members and acquaintances.

For a successful grief recovery I recommend the following: 1) Acquire a good reading and/or audio book resource that you can access whenever you want and need to, something that will provide support and guidance as you work your way through the necessary grief recovery action steps. 2) Check out any support groups in your area. This will help eliminate the feeling that you are alone and will normalize your recovery experience.

3) Sometimes local groups are not available. Not to worry because online Grief Support Networks are plentiful. Just do a search for "Grief Support Online" and numerous choices will be available to you. Again, the main benefit is community and a sense of belonging. There is no need to go through grief alone or suffer for an extended period of time. Share your story with others and listen to theirs. This helps you both. 4) If necessary see a therapist. Some of your early experiences may be too overwhelming or confusing. See an expert. He or she will help you get on track with a tailor made grief recovery program.

Paperback =

When Angels Call: Coping With Grief and Loss

Friday, September 22, 2017

When Angels Call - Coping with Grief and Loss - 3rd edition

Just published the 3rd edition of this volume on Amazon.com  Completely revamped, re-edited and includes new chapters with references to specific losses such as Murder Grief, Suicide Grief, Relationship Grief and Loss of a Child Grief.

Dr. Maurice Turmel reaches out a helping hand to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one in this collection of reflections, stories, parables and poems coupled with sound advice garnered from 25 years of professional practice. 

This is both a practical and spiritual approach to what is for many the most difficult task we must face as humans on this earth. With simple guidance, illustrative stories and reflective pauses, the reader is taken through the ups and downs that constitute this universal experience and given tools to help navigate this most difficult of tasks. 

Utilizing both psychology and spirituality as guides, the reader is encouraged to look within, seek help when necessary and reflect on this unique experience that holds the potential for growth regardless of the facts and circumstances surrounding one's lost loved one. "We are the ones experiencing grief and loss, not the Dearly Departed. And we are the ones who need healing during this trying time and must, by necessity, open our hearts to receive the comforting gestures pouring our way. Only in this manner can genuine healing proceed." 

A Treasure Trove of Wonderful Material! 
“Thank you so much for this Dr. Turmel. I love how you write; so down to earth. Not all that mumbo jumbo we mere mortals have trouble digesting. I’ll be sharing these stories and insights with readers of my Grieving Behind the Badge Newsletter - Many HUGS” 
Peggy Sweeney - The Sweeney Alliance - Kerrville, TX 

Different Kinds of Loss 
We must go through the stages of grieving to heal our hearts.  In this book on Coping with Grief and Loss, Dr. Turmel opens the door to the heart with his amazing way of delivering stories that put us on the path to healing. His way of explaining and guiding us on the path of grief is a blessing that must have come from Angels and God. When Angels Call is a true gift for anyone who's heart is grieving and looking to heal." 
Carol Guy, Angelic Counselor and Author 

Appeals to Persons of Many Faiths 
Even though references to God are Christian in tone ‘When Angels Call - Coping with Grief and Loss’ will appeal to persons of many faiths suffering the experience of loss. The stories are simple and hold interest, offering much comfort, insight and motivation to share one’s Grief, that being essential to the healing process.  
Father Gilbert Gariepy, Chaplain Services - Health Sciences Centre, Wpg., MB. 

An Exceptionally Inspiring Book 
"Dr. Maurice Turmel has written an exceptionally inspiring book for those experiencing the grieving process, and for the general reader as well.  Filled with inspirational stories, poetry, and reflections, “When Angels Call - Coping with Grief and Loss" is more than just a book: it is an interactive experience that will raise your spirits. Dr. Turmel has the knack of hitting just the right note at just the right time.  I have to say that I truly enjoyed this work.  It's a gem that you can refer back to again and again when you're feeling low, or when you just need a spiritual lift.” 
Kenneth MacLean, Author of "The Vibrational Universe"

When Angels Call - Coping with Grief and Loss

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Wonderland of Grief & Loss


The Wonderland of Grief and Loss

Maurice Turmel PhD

The land of Grief and Loss is not a particularly favorable destination but one that we cross paths with on a regular basis throughout our lifetime.  We are rarely ready for this. In our culture, so much has gone into the Denial of Death that we find ourselves at a loss when the real thing comes along.

Let's take a closer look, shall we.

When a death occurs in our sphere of influence, we, the bereaved of the world, find ourselves in some kind of wonderland that we can't explain. This is a special place, an unusual place, outside the mainstream of our regular day to day existence.

We've been thrown into this land called Grief & Loss by the sudden and/or unexpected death of a loved one.  Unexpected here means unprepared, unwitting and most assuredly, unwanted.

We are lost and afraid.  We don't know our way around this territory.  It feels strange.  It feels almost Hollywood like in the same sense that it seems so surreal.

When we land here, unexpectedly, and usually suddenly, we are told by others what to expect, what could happen, and what one might feel under the circumstances.

At the funeral home there are people who travel this road regularly because its their business.  They usually look pale and sad, almost zombie like, because that's the nature of this environment.  The clothes they wear are as dark as the mood they convey. These caretakers of the dead and of us in grief know this journey all too well. They are always quite respectful of we, the uninitiated.  In their world, death and grieving are a straightforward circumstance that they see every day.

To all of us, now in the throes of grief, this death and dying business is an aberration, like falling off a cliff emotionally speaking, something we don't encounter on a regular basis, and therefore, alien to our usual life circumstances. The experience of death and grieving is also something we are often repelled by and dragged into kicking and screaming regardless that it is a mainstay of our collective destiny.

So here we are in this Wonderland called Grief & Loss feeling things we don't want to feel, experiencing emotions that are quite powerful and overwhelming and far outside our usual array of daily life experiences. We are forced by these circumstances to gather in places we don't want to be in, talk about emotions we don't want to discuss, while checking our watches to pinpoint the right moment for our exit.  We are face to face with a deceased loved one, a friend, a partner, a relationship that is now terminally broken.

We will never see this person again.  We will not speak with them, receive emails from them, or connect again in any fashion we had become used to over the course of our lives.  A big hole has opened up inside and it is filling with grief emotions we can't seem to control.

What do we do with ourselves now?  Initially at least we appear to sleepwalk through the process.  These are early days of grief and loss where the emotions are powerful and the mood is dark.  We are surrounded with mists of doubt, feelings of abandonment, self-admonishment perhaps – a whole host of pejoratives that we're busy conjuring up to try and make sense of this reality we now face.

Guilt, shame, sadness and weeping are all part of this process, this wonderland experience.  It is at such times where we find out things about ourselves we'd rather not admit to, things about the deceased we were never privy to, a whole host of revelations that might have remained buried were this person still with us now. The ground underneath us is shaking and continues to move.

Welcome to the Wonderland of Grief & Loss. This place is vastly different from your regular life circumstances and you shall remain here for some time to come.

Time heals all?  Not True!

Time heals if we do the work of acknowledging our feelings and working through them. These powerful emotions are extremes in the feeling range of life and they are upon us like a large dark cloud which has settled in for some time to come, whatever may be the duration of this process.

These extremes of emotional experiencing will pass eventually because all healing processes have beginnings and endings that are somewhat predictable.  As the grieving work is accomplished the dark cloud eventually breaks up and then dissipates.  This is the Wonderland of Grief & Loss.

Your stay in this valley of experience may be brief or long, depending on whom was lost and your attachment to that individual. Such events are always memorable even when filed away in the psychological closets we prefer not to visit. For those open to the experience and willing to embrace what needs to be done, there are lessons here that can deliver growth experiences unattainable anywhere else.

For those of you willing to do the work, make sure you say your prayers, whatever they may be and ask for the guidance and support you truly deserve. That will be forthcoming in whatever form suits you best.

Talk about the loss with your friends.  See a therapist if that's required. Join a grief recovery group. Give yourself every benefit that's readily available.  And this too shall pass. You will survive and you'll grow stronger as a result of having done the work.

That's the message here, dear friends.  The work has to be done or you will drag these ill effects with you far into the future, tainting every aspect of your life experience with this unattended sadness and remorse that simply begs for acknowledgment and release.

If you're still feeling stuck, ask yourself this:

“What would my deceased family member / loved one want for me in this circumstance? How would they want me to proceed?"  Or, if the tables were turned and you were looking at them while they were grieving you, what would you urge them to do for themselves?  Then govern yourself accordingly.

Its an alien place at first, this Wonderland of Grief & Loss – but only at first. Soon we realize that this experience  comes and goes like the seasons and we will pass here many times throughout our life journey before we come to our own final goodbye.

Give yourself what you need and you'll manage it all quite well. Then you'll be surprised at how quickly the grieving recedes once you've undertaken the healing process as a whole.  The smiles will be back.  The joy of living will return. Even your lost loved one will come to be viewed as an asset in the winding journey of your life, a person now easily called to memory with fondness and love. Win Win!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Grief and Loss Overview

Grief and Loss Overview

Maurice Turmel PhD

An overview of grief and loss shows us that this is a broad category of life experience. We usually associate it with death and dying, but it can include losing your employment and broken relationships as additional categories that generate the grief experience. Grief and loss comes in a multiplicity of dimensions that affect our daily lives.

Losing a loved one is what we typically associate with grief and loss. But losses of many types can also generate powerful grief reactions. We include here broken relationships, loss of a pet and loss of employment. When the loss experience strikes we immediately want relief and begin seeking some kind of recovery help.

Today we can see grief and loss associated with divorce, relationship breakup, pet grief and loss of employment. We can also see associations with the loss of ones home, place of business and career aspirations as some hopes and dreams never materialize. We tend not to see these as grief and loss categories, but in fact they are losses that affect us in similar ways as losing a loved one.

The main point of this article is that dealing with grief and loss has a lot of common dimensions over all of its related categories. We mourn the loss of a loved one. We grieve the loss of a pet. We agonize over a broken relationship. We become depressed at the loss of our job.

What is the central point here? Why do we examine grief and loss from all these points of view? Because at the heart of every crisis is an emotional wound. We feel hurt, depressed and sad. We feel lost and afraid. Something we valued has been taken away. We feel pain associated with any loss and that usually elicits anger as a first response. These reactions are typical in every type of grief and loss experience.

Grief and loss, as a life experience, emerges in many aspects of our lives. Learning to relieve ourselves of stress via relevant grief recovery programs can have far reaching benefits. Recovering our usual bounce and drive is a worthy goal and significant benefit in grief recovery. Whatever we learn about dealing with grief and loss can be applied across its many dimensions and occurences.

Growing, expanding and losing are part of the life cycle. A snake crawls into the tall grass in order to shed its old skin. Why? Because the new underneath is pressing for release. Each cyle of our life presents circumstances in which we lose something to gain something better. Letting go is a tough life lesson, but essential to our growth. The old must die so that the new can be born.

Losing a loved one is a powerful and devastating experience and one we never solicit consciously. This is the most difficult of all losses and we acknowledge that it is hard to see any benefit in it. But losing and gaining are with us everyday in a great variety of forms. Learning to cope with all types of loss will help us when the big losses strike. Finding the right resources is essential to managing our grief and loss experience.

Dealing with our emotions is central to the recovery process, no matter what type of loss you encounter. Turning to each other for comfort and solace can bring peace and new found friendships. All times of trial have their secret benefits. That is the main lesson from grief and loss. Life does go on.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Counseling and Grief Recovery

When I was in private practice I saw a lot of individuals who were grieving the loss of a loved one, whether that was a child, a spouse, a parent or a close friend. On a few occasions I saw couples where one of them had been diagnosed with a terminal condition and had less than 6 months to live. These situations were particularly traumatic for the persons involved, especially for the spouse who was not ill.

These couples, with the terminally ill partner, needed to work through feelings about their situation and the practical steps necessary to prepare for the inevitable. The terminally ill partner seemed to have an easier time with the process once they had accepted the reality of their death. When my brother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I witnessed the same effects taking place for he and my sister. Broadly speaking, it was always the surviving partner that had the toughest time.

With counselling of any sort, the goal is to LISTEN! Not just the hear the words an individual was speaking, but to identify the Feelings behind them. When I would reflect back to the individual I always began with sounds like youre feeling " sad, angry, scared, anxious, depressed " whatever it was they were conveying. I would then ask them to check in to see if what I said was accurate. It usually was.

Then I would instruct them to pay attention to that particular feeling and tell me more about it. They would then describe their feelings in detail along with whatever physical reactions might be attached to it. Tears would begin to flow as they related the physical and emotional reactions they were experiencing. This was the essence of my counselling approach for persons in grief, no matter what the precipitating circumstances.

It was not unusual for clients to ask about Stages of Grief and/or some theory they had heard about in their research on the matter. As interesting as this might be, I would point out that anything that distracted them from their feelings was a waste of their recovery efforts. In contrast, anything that helped them focus on feelings would always be the most beneficial. After a few challenging sessions, where painful feelings were addressed and released, the client would realize that this was the path to recovery. Not only that, but learning to identify, describe and release feelings as a general practice, would have benefits far beyond their successful grief recovery.

We are programmed toward externals by our various sources of news that like to talk about charts, graphs, theories and stages. These tantalizing tidbits are geared toward boosting ratings or adding another "Top Ten Ways to Heal Grief" book to the self-help section of bookstores. A helpful grief recovery resource will focus on Internals, such as feelings and emotions, because that's always where the hurt lies. Our Heart and Feeling Center determines the quality of our life and tells us when we are hurting. By focusing inward we identify and release feelings, along with the associated pain. Writing in a journal, listening to good music, reading heart-centered poetry will put you in touch with Your Heart because that's where healing actually happens.

A well written grief recovery book can become an excellent counselling companion as long as it is designed to put you in touch with your feelings. A fully narrated grief resource can take you even further. Since the feelings associated with grief and bereavement are so intense, youre practically there. Just a little push and the guidance counselling resource book and youre on your way. For most of us, all we need is Permission to Feel. Our heart and soul will take it from there because we have engaged our body and feeling natures innate healing capability.

With any recovery process there can be many distractions along the way. In the case of grief recovery these can come in the form of stages, charts and graphs that are intellectually interesting but have no value in terms of your grief recovery. Most religions, even though well-intentioned, fall short on this matter as well. A good grief resource, counselor or support group can help you focus on the heart of the matter which is your feeling nature. Externals, even when interesting, can detract you from the task at hand - healing your broken heart.

You now have what you need to heal your grief. You will recover from this tragedy and great loss. You will become intimately acquainted with your Heart and Feeling Centre. You will come to a point where you can think about your loved one and smile. Because when the hurt is finally healed, what remains with you is the love you carry in your heart, and that is forever.