Tag Archives: therapy

On Children and Grief

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On Children and Grief

Hi there!

As usual, it’s been a minute since I have posted.  I could tell you any number of excuses why, but, I’ll spare you and just thank you for reading today.

Many things have happened in the last seven months.  A quick recap: I got my tonsils out, I went on a trip to New Mexico, I’ve even been to visit my brother in the Bay thrice since then.  I’m still in grad school working toward my master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis on grief, expressive art therapy and play therapy.  I still love it.

That’s why I’m writing today, actually.  If you’ve read my blog, spoken to me, or seen me in the last three and a half years, you probably know that I’m a nanny.  It is also very likely you know that princess buttercup and mr. butterbean’s mom died (October 24, 2014).  Having been through the death of my own mother, combined with experiencing life with the kiddos I nanny leading up to, during and after the death of their mom is what motivated me to seek a career in counseling.

Why though?  Well. Losing a parent sucks.  Regardless of the circumstances, it is profoundly distressing on so many different levels- some of which take years to understand- and I’m speaking of this happening during adulthood.  As a child, it’s profoundly distressing on many different levels, for many years and at each new stage of development and for each major life event after the loss.

Kids are resilient, however, that’s a lot of emotions to process over and over for the rest of a lifetime.  Especially if the adult(s) in the family are dealing with their own grief, role changes, financial stress and/or all the other stressors that come along with the death of a loved one.  The kids could easily be overlooked, or due to misinformation, not even acknowledged as a grieving person.

Everyone who  is capable of loving is capable of grieving and everyone-especially the youngest of humans- deserves to have their feelings about the death acknowledged.  It’s hard for kids to articulate what they are feeling, they simply don’t have the language. As a result, sometimes their actions are not easily recognized as being grief related.

Children who experience the death of someone they love need to have a safe space or trusted person to explore those overwhelming and confusing feelings.  This Thursday, November 17th is National Children’s Grief Awareness Day.
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Please join me in acknowledging and furthering a cause that I feel so strongly about that I have dedicated the majority of my current life to be that trusted person not only for the littles that I nanny, but for other children in need, including the kiddos at the organization for which I volunteer- Journey of Hope.

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Newbie training/Orientation in August

You can support the cause and let thousands of grieving children know that you’re on their side by simply wearing blue on Thursday.

If you have a child or work with children, you can print a butterfly for them to decorate and tell them they can hold it up when or if they don’t have the words to say that they’re hurting.  By responding with extra love, attention and empathy, we empower their little souls by helping them recognize that we care and  will do whatever it takes to guide them safely through one of the toughest parts of the human experience.  We can help them learn that in pain, there is strength.

Thank you for reading and I hope you help me will spread awareness of this important day.

Donate to Journey of Hope here

Donate to the National Alliance for Grieving Children here

Read more about what grief looks like in children here and  here

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Year in Review 2012 pt. 2

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Hello friends.  Hope you’re all caught up to what happened in the first three months of 2012 from part one of my year in review.  I’m going to jump right in to part two, which begins  in April.

I knew April wouldn’t be easy.  My mom’s birthday is April 15 and her not being here for it was strange.  I knew she wouldn’t want me to be sad, but it was impossible not to be.  I popped open a bottle of champagne that day, made a nice dinner, and toasted to her.

here’s to you, mom.

What really meant the world to me,  was seeing my mom’s friends gather to celebrate her birthday in Chicago.  Those are real friends, ones who will get together even after you’re gone to celebrate you.

true friends

Four days later was the first anniversary of her passing.   I remember going to dance that morning and wearing a white flower in my hair for her. Some of my new fitness friends learned what I was going through by reading my blog and were extremely sympathetic. They offered up hugs and words of encouragement and support, but also kept me company all morning at coffee and lunch.  I laughed a lot, and my spirits were way higher all around than I ever thought could be possible on such a sad day.

That day also brought my most viewed blog post of all time.  I wrote about my mom and what she meant to me, and how my life changed in the year  since losing her.

I miss her everyday

I miss her everyday

April wasn’t all sad though, my brother came to visit, my old friend Michelle, who I’ve known since middle school took me to a Mav”s game and I participated in my second flash mob.

May is generally my favorite month of the year.  April is over, the weather is AMAZING, and all the fun summer activities begin.  This May I went to Kentucky to watch my cousin graduate from Berea College.  It was pretty fun, I went with my dad and it’s always good to spend time with him.  I’m proud of my cousin, I remember helping her learn how to read one summer and here she is, graduating from college.  Crazy!

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pretty sky on the way to kentucky, who knows where i put the rest of the pics!

May also brought me a “graduation” of my own, from therapy.  I went for nine months to get help coping with my trauma and grief.  I wouldn’t have made nearly as much progress, nearly as quickly without my awesome therapist. Additionally, she challenged me to look inside myself, move forward and face my fears.  I continue to work on all of those things to this day.  It’s definitely been a journey, but an interesting one!  Graduating from therapy was one big milestone in my journey to self discovery this year, but it wasn’t the only one.  I’ll share the other with you a little later on.

holls and I at taste of addison in may

Another major highlight of May was getting to go see Drake!  I know a lot of people don’t openly admit to liking rap music, but I will! I like good beats and light subject matter.  I  love me some Drizzy so when he came through Dallas I had to go see him.  It was really fun.  I will share with you that never, have I ever, in all my years of going to shows and concerts, seen one man have such a dynamic effect on so many women.  Women, grown women were literally stripping, crying and acting a fool at the mere  sight of him.  Before he even started singing.   It was a little baffling, but even more entertaining and hilarious!

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YOLO

Well, almost halfway done with the year!  In the next post I’ll talk about throwing my first baby shower, my trip to California and more!  Til then!

Year in Review 2012 pt. 1

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Hello All! Hope all is well during this holiday season. I can’t believe it’s already Christmas, the years really fly by as I get older. That being said it’s time again for my year in review! I know Facebook does a cute little year in review but I think it’s more fun to write about it!  This year was not nearly as exiting as last year, but I’m very thankful for that.   I’ll try and keep it as interesting as possible though because I learned a lot and made some marked lifestyle changes and it all started last January.

I didn’t necessarily have a new year’s resolution to get more fit and active this year, but starting Danceaton kind of set off the whole thing! I actually started having a great time working out and, maybe more importantly, it gave me a reason to get up in the morning.  Dance was something I always looked forward to, even if there were only 12 hours between the class I just finished and the next one starting.

My confidence grew, and eventually I danced in the front of the class. It probably would’ve taken me a lot longer to do that had I not met my amazing friends in that class.  They were so encouraging and supportive and accepting, not only of me, but of each other!

brunch with the fun bunch!

before we danced on a morning show and became wildly famous…or was it infamous?

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after my first 5k the rave run!

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t-shirt cutting partaaay! it’s exactly what it sounds like.

They were the ones who encouraged me to get on the stage at dance, invited me to coffee after, shared their fitness goals with me and let me into their lives. Life has been a lot less lonely ever since! I can’t say for sure what my year would’ve been like without them but I know for certain it was better with my new friends in it!

Overall my lifestyle has gotten more active, healthier and I have actually grown to love a hard workout.  I never, ever thought I’d hear myself say that and  I don’t think I ever would have said that even a year ago.  I think I’m growing.

strong arms! and, is that a dog barking in the background?

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by the end of the year I took on boxing, of all things. and love it!

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll recall that I made a decision at the beginning of this year to find a new job.  I decided that I wanted to nanny, because I really am happiest when I’m around kids.  By March, I was hired on at Mom’s Best Friend and I’ve been happily employed by them ever since. It accounts for half of my income, I choose my own jobs/hours for the most part, and I have had the fortune of being requested time and time again watching some great kids! I’m lucky because when I need extra money I can pick up extra jobs and when I need time off I can take it. What I really love about my job though, are, of course, the kids.

It’s so funny, the consistencies between children. I take jobs with toddlers, mostly. I feel like we understand each other. And even more so than I previously thought just because of what I’ve learned about myself this year. I’ve learned and accepted that I like to know what to expect and I need consistency in my schedule to stay sane and mentally prepared. I have a hard time with change and it takes me a while to adjust.

Now, I’ve pretty much just described every 2-4 year old I’ve ever met. Every time I go over to watch a kid that I’ve watched before, they want me to do EXACTLY the same thing with them as the first time I went over there. I find it hilarious. Every Monday at lunch, the three year old wants me to arrange his lunch in a smiley face.  He always reminds me.

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“Ms. Kasey, I want a smile with my lunch because I love smiles.”

Every time I watch the two year old little girl she wants me to find her hiding in the exact same spot she hid in all the previous times, over and over. Even a six year old wanted to play the exact same, weird, cat figurine game. I had no idea she had so much fun until her mom and dad told me that’s all she talked about for days. While I have to admit, sometimes I get bored with doing the same things over and over and over with these kids, I always do it because I can understand why they like it. That’s what they associate with Ms. Kasey. I like to make associations too, it makes the world much less scary when you have a reference point to base a new experience on.

It’s little realizations like those that make me feel just a little more connected to the kids I take care of.   I spent so much of this year getting to know myself, trying to find out who I really am and why I feel the way I feel and make the decisions that I do.  I can’t imagine putting together the unconscious  similarities between myself and the kids I watch if I didn’t know myself so well.  It’s been really eye-opening.  Moving forward has been a big theme of my year and will continue to be a big theme in my life.

In the next installment, I’ll write about my second quarter of 2012.  I’ll discuss how I dealt with the first anniversary of my mom’s death, celebrating her birthday for the first time without her, graduating from therapy, welcoming new life, and more!  Until then, Merry Christmas!

Hope Returns

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I think we can all agree that there’s something to be said about people in our lives that can see us.  Of course I don’t mean they see us in the physical sense. I mean they see past surface level and have a genuine understanding of who we are on the inside.  They “get” us, regardless of if we want to be gotten.

Not unlike a lot of people, my first defense against pain is laughter.  Might as well laugh about it  so I don’t cry, right?  Damn right.

So needless to say, my  walls of defense were at their peak one year ago. The problem I encountered with having such high walls is that it caused a lot of cognitive dissonance.  Continuing to joke about or completely ignore what hurt me on the outside was eating me alive inside.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I can deal with guilt, I can deal with anger, I can deal with sadness, I can even deal with regret, but the one feeling that I cannot deal with is hopelessness.

When I started to feel hopeless on top of guilty, on top of sad, on top of angry, on top of whatever else was going on inside me I decided that I needed someone to help me work all of this out.  I needed someone to talk to who wasn’t emotionally invested in me, wasn’t familiar with my family and most importantly, someone who wasn’t judgy.  I needed a therapist.

When I first started, of course I didn’t know what to expect and that scared the hell out of me.  My therapist seemed nice enough.  She asked me why I was there and  I told her that it was mostly for grief counseling but also to work on some other issues.  I think I met with her when I was back and forth between cities about six times.

I had my reservations about her, she was a grad student.  I couldn’t really hold that against her though,  my only option was students because that’s all I could afford.  The first red flag came when  said she would follow up with me once, then never did.  Then, once I got a hold of her again the same thing happened.  As someone who was struggling with abandonment issues anyway,  I couldn’t open up to someone I didn’t trust.  I decided to switch to a different student. And I am so glad that I did.

So at the beginning of the post I discussed certain people who are able to “see” us.  My new therapist saw me.  She called me out for laughing about my pain and encouraged me to deal with what was really bothering me.  I didn’t even realize I was upset about some of the stuff I was upset about.

She challenged me to move forward.  She challenged me to  challenge myself, realize my self worth, and expect nothing less than what I deserve.  This was not easy, years and years hurt can’t be fixed overnight.  Week after week, she challenged me and helped me realize that I could be better, I was better, I deserve better.

For nine months, brick by metaphorical brick,  I worked to tear down the walls I had been building for eight years.  So by the time I walked into my last session, one week ago, I felt light.  I was no longer weighed down by my past, but looking toward the future.  I had hope.  I knew I  was ready, and so did she.  She put it so kindly:

“When you first walked in here, I saw a strong woman on the outside who was completely broken on the inside.  Since then, I’ve watched you fight to put yourself back together.  And that, to me is inspiration.  That, to me, is true strength.”

With that, I  am done writing about the past.  It’s been a long story, it’s been a sad story, it’s been a story that shaped who I am becoming as a person.  I was happy to share it with anyone who it may have helped.  Thanks for reading, til next time!