Making Space for Grief

by Lydia Minear, LPC

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

Everyone will know seasons of loss and grief. Some of these endings we can see approaching months or years ahead of time. A person we love receives a frightening diagnosis. A beloved family member or friend ages into their late years. With time we try to brace ourselves for such a death, riding the roller coaster of emotions as we attempt to gradually accept. Yet, nothing can completely prepare us for the hole this person will leave.

Other times, death is a shock. Unexpected and devastating, we could never imagine having to say goodbye so soon to someone we hold dear. Desperately, we try to keep our heads above the waters as confusion, anger, and sadness take hold.

Grieving the loss of someone we love is a process with no clear map. Just as each relationship is unique, each loss is unique. Our hearts, minds, and bodies need space to grieve. Often, individuals fear getting close to these deep places in oneself. Many people come from families where tears were uncommon and emotions were rarely shared. Death is not a topic openly discussed in our current culture either. For instance, most work places offer a mere three bereavement days for employees. This is quite different from previous times in history when mourning traditions involved weeks of grieving as a community together in and around the deceased’s family’s home. In reality, grieving continues long past the time when the calls, texts, casseroles, and cards stop coming. It is therefore common to feel alone in your experience.

Honoring the multitude of feelings we may experience often means resisting the message to “pull myself together”. Making space for tears means listening to our hearts and bodies carefully and giving ourselves what we need.   Needing coffee and a hug with a friend, tears in the shower, walks with your dog, time in nature, journaling, music, time alone, time with others, a funny movie, and even diving into work or something creative are all examples of needs you may have. You may also need to reach out for support from a grief group or therapist to process the pain. The needs change from day to day and moment to moment. Rather than compare your grief experience to that of others, it is important to be compassionate to yourself and hold respect for your own journey. It will not look exactly like anyone else’s.

As Irving says in the quote above, tears are sacred. Your grief is sacred as well. It is a reflection of the deep meaning this person had in your life and you in theirs. If you believe that counseling is a route you would like to consider in your own process, please feel free to contact any of the therapists here at Foundation Counseling.  We wish those in the midst of such a loss, strength and courage along the way.

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Lydia is a Licensed Professional Counselor who enjoys working with individuals, teens, and families in the Marietta & Kennesaw area.  Learn more about her and other therapists at Foundation Counseling here.

Courage Despite Social Anxiety

by Lydia Minear, LPC

The definition of courage is “strength in the face of pain or grief.”  Often, the words courageous & brave conjure images of powerful characters who appear fearless, with endless confidence.  However, this does not align with the true meaning of courage.

Real courage means not having all the answers, yet proceeding forward anyway.  Courage asks us to accept our emotions such as fear, nervousness, and self-doubt while trying something difficult.  Living with courage involves accepting imperfections as a normal part of growth and a normal part of being human.

For individuals with social anxiety specifically, daily life can present with a need for courage.  Social anxiety is a fear of judgment and rejection.  A person with social anxiety feels in some way inadequate.  Many people have social fears.  To show up and be seen by others is not always easy.  Being excluded from a group and feeling different can instill pain that makes us afraid to be seen.  Hiding, which is a way of protecting oneself from potential judgement, keeps us on the outside looking in.  The consequence is loneliness and missing out.  Working through social anxiety is a process, one which involves exploring and undserstanding feelings and fears while moving towards greater self-acceptance and love for oneself.  Along the way, we can take steps to being seen.  The poem I have written below is inspired by the brave and beautiful journeys of individuals, clients and friends, who experience social anxiety yet live and grow despite their fears.

Courage: A Poem

Standing on the sidelines,

a spectator peering in.

Distant, safe, hidden and tame,

Yet inside an untapped flame.

An option lands before me.

Timid, I look down.

Sensing my heartbeat racing,

the question floats here now.

To remain still, the pull is strong,

tempted to stay warm here in my hole.

Yet, Courage, you nudge me, winking,

whispering desires within my soul.

Two steps forward, I am moving,

fear, uncertainty by my side.

Shaky legs and sweaty fingers,

nervous, in the scope of others’ sight.

Discovering purpose, I reach closer,

making room they let me in.

Blood pumping, I feel bolder.

Richly alive, I am seen.

Retreating – once an option,

now seems further from my mind.

Curiosity and excitement leading,

pushing me past the shy divide.

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Lydia is a Licensed Professional Counselor who enjoys working with individuals, teens, and families in the Marietta & Kennesaw area. She has a special passion for helping those suffering from social anxiety and issues with self-esteem.  Learn more about her and other therapists at Foundation Counseling here. Continue reading

On Feeling Stuck & How Therapy Helps

by Lydia Minear, MA, LPC 

In my time meeting with new clients, I often hear some variation of this shared: “I don’t know…I just feel stuck.” This experience of feeling stuck leads many people to consider and potentially try therapy.  I have a hunch that at some point most people find themselves in such a place…

But what does it mean? This stuck-ness, what is it? And is it as vague as it sounds?

imageSometimes, yes it is. Unlike other times when a very clear obstacle or event causes pain, feeling stuck can mean finding oneself in a more general, emotionally undesired and familiar place. This place may involve a mixture of feelings – of frustration, anxiety, loneliness, envy, and sadness. Like wandering through a forest, hoping to find a clearing, yet winding back to the same ‘ole stump, it may feel like you have traveled in circles.
Perhaps you and the stump look a bit different now and the surrounding landscape has changed some too. However, the underlying ground and root issues remain, bringing forth similar tension each time.

If we dig a bit deeper and put names to these often-vague yet familiar places of being stuck, the following may serve as examples:

• Stunted…restrained by self-doubt, fear, and lack of confidence
• Lack of closeness and authenticity in relationships
• General boredom & apathy
• Unclear boundaries with others & people-pleasing behaviors
• Avoidance of emotions (i.e. “pushing down feelings”)
• Unsatisfied and frustrated by school, career, or overall life direction

…just to name a few.

How Therapy Helps:

In response to feeling stuck, I find that it is important to seek understanding. We need to understand what keeps us coming back to our familiar places in order to ultimately head in a new direction…

Therapy invites you to take intentional time for this. It involves a commitment to self – a decision to pause amidst the chaos and choose awareness. In doing so, we can begin to gain insight into the patterns and tendencies which continue to re-emerge. By taking this step we also learn more about how heartache, rejection, and how other painful parts of our individual stories have impacted us. Due to this, therapy includes a leaning-in to the discomfort of our vulnerable feelings to know what our emotions are telling us. It also entails asking important questions such as who am I, what causes me pain, and what do I hope for?

Finally, therapy is a brave step in the journey of healing. In the presence of a caring and focused counselor, therapy offers us a chance to go – at our own pace – into the hurting places of our hearts with purposes of being understood, seeking clarity, and finding new possibility. Along the way…perhaps we discover why we tend to return to “the stump” and with greater knowledge and comfort, find that we can move forward in a new way.

As a helping professional, I feel grateful for the chance to walk with people as they set aside the time to invest in their wellbeing and explore the depth of themselves in the hopes of growth.

 

Lydia is a Licensed Professional Counselor who enjoys working with individuals and families in the Marietta & Kennesaw area. Learn more about her and other therapists at Foundation Counseling here.