Dad’s Binoculars


I’m not sure how I ended up with them; it could be that he still had them in his pile of things when he passed away, or he may have left them at the house when he moved out and my parents finally split up for good. I was seventeen. That was a bad day.

They are mine, now, and occasionally I take them out and look through them. When I was a little girl, we took them with us on trips to Waterton National Park in Alberta. We’d drive the three hours or so up there and wander around Red Rock Canyon and Waterton Lake. My parents used to feed the deer, potato chips. It was the 70’s and people thought that was okay, back then.

They are Tasco Model # 318 (the binoculars, not the deer) and they’re 7 x 35 zoom. They’re big, kinda clunky and I can get something a whole lot better and smaller for pretty cheap, today, but these are special. They hold memories that can’t be replaced; those that I keep sacred in my heart.

I still have the little plastic cups for the eye pieces and the lenses. I think, somewhere on this metal and plastic relic, my dad’s fingerprints might even be buried beneath years of mine, my mom’s and possibly my two siblings. Dad’s been gone for twenty-seven years, now. That’s a lot of finger grease.

Today the fading evening sun was tracing a lovely orange-pink outline on cotton candy clouds. They were in the distance and I wanted to see them better. I love clouds…rows and flows of angel hair, right?

So I got out my dad’s binoculars and went to it. I wasn’t disappointed. Fiery apricot sunbeams lit up the sky with sheets of warmth embedded in the indigo of this afternoons rain. It was magical.

Time is a funny thing. I know it was so long ago that he held them in his hands and I remember he got them, one year, for his birthday. Yet…I can still hear his laugh as if it were yesterday and I can see him squinting into the lenses of the eye holes, lit pipe in-between his teeth as he smiled into the distance. He loved this gift and we took them with us, every vacation.

I wonder if dad every looked at clouds through this spyglass. I wonder what he saw if he did…

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Dealing With Grief 101 – AKA Things Your Psychologist/Shrink/Counsellor – May Not Mention


I’ve been thinking a lot about the US’s recent election (I’m Canadian) and thought I should write about that. Then, I realized that I really needed to figure out the next step in my career (which is to help heal those in grief through Life Coaching and other healing modalities).

Oddly enough, the two collide as I watch my Southern neighbour come to grips with who their next leader really is. I see many in grief.

So this might be apropos; but let’s stick to the topic…

Some of the things you need to know and that I’d cover off in sessions are (I’ll start with 5):

  1. It’s okay to grieve. Whatever society (by that I mean religion, upbringing, culture, etc.) says to you, It’s OKAY to feel bad when you’re going through a shitty time. Whether it’s something incredibly traumatic like a suicide or something immediately life altering, like losing your job, you need to grieve. It’s not only healthy, it’s necessary.

In fact, you can’t NOT grieve as even if you stuff your emotions deep down inside yourself, they’ll come bubbling up in a violent torrent and (trust me on this one) it will be much worse than just letting it happen right from the start.

  1. Grief comes in a nice variety of forms. From tears to rage to quiet depression and everything you can think of, in-between. It’s a hell of a ride. It can haunt you in your dreams, prevent you from sleeping, cause you to overeat, under eat and wreak havoc on your immune system so you’re more vulnerable to getting ill. The message? Take care – EXTRA care of yourself and know that your behavior will be anything from normal. Again…it’s okay.
  1. Grief is going to change you. This change starts from the moment that bad thing (whatever it was) happened. This change is ongoing and could move within you for sometime. Where you’ll land is undetermined but while you’re changing, it may be helpful to be cognizant of it, at least.

This will help you a great deal when it comes to determining the changes you want to make in your life. It could be something small or, in my case, it could completely change who you are and what your prime focus becomes.

  1. Not every one is going to be understanding of your pain. Even if your child is taken away from you prematurely, there still may be some asshole who says something ‘not’ empathetic like: Well, at least he died peacefully… Know this: when life takes a turn for the worst, you learn who supports you and who doesn’t. If you encounter someone who brushes your pain off, tells you to ‘suck it up, buttercup’, or just plain avoids you, let them out of your life.

I’m not saying you need to be mean, but you’ll be doing yourself a favour by lovingly letting these people go. They are not in alignment with you and vice versa. Keep those around you who don’t judge, don’t give you their opinions, and most of all, are there to LISTEN to you or just be with you when you’re on your knees or curled up in a little ball of heart wrenching tears.

  1. Get lots of rest and take as much time off as you can. When Brian took his life, I took all of 4 days off work. He died on a Monday. The next Monday I was off on a plane to visit a client in the interior of BC for meetings and presentations.

The amount of effort it took for me to a) stay on track, b) NOT burst into sobs and c) be coherent – was incredible. I think it took every ounce of will within me to keep sane. People told me to ‘just get back into it’ and that I’d feel better.

They were wrong. Keep yourself busy! My boss told me. I wanted to shimmy under my bed and hide from the world for an eternity. Sometimes it was so overwhelming and confusing, I wanted to die. Not take my own life, but I literally prayed for death. It was so much more than I ever could have imagined: more terrible, more heart breaking, more surreal, more painful, more of everything.

So, take all the time you need and don’t short change yourself.

Stay tuned and don’t touch that dial…there’s more comin’ your way.

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Conversations with My Dead Boyfriend


Yep; thought that title would grab your attention.

As an out of the closet Intuitive Medium, I chat with Bri on a regular basis. It’s healing when you’re going through a shit-ton of grief. It doesn’t matter that I have a new man in my life whom I adore and it doesn’t matter that it’s been a year and a half. The ache, the pain, it’s all still there and I need consoling.

So yeah, he knows when I’m in tears and when I have doubts and when I’m heading towards the darkness of depression. He’s been there, you see, so he totally gets it. Having someone he thought he’d spend the rest of his life with suddenly walk out on him and tell him to never bother her again, was devastating to him.

Having a man you’re completely in love with take their life over that is equally devastating. I have some bad days. In fact, I have many bad days where I feel like I’m drowning but somehow I manage to tread water long enough to get to the next day…and the next.

So what does he tell me? He tells me to hang in there. He tells me I’ll be okay; sometimes I don’t believe him but I listen, anyway. He tells me he loves me. I sometimes don’t believe that, either, but that’s just me playing the ‘hurt’ card. I know, in my heart, he does.

He tells me to do it for him and that he’s here for me like I was for him. He thanks me for being so patient with him and never giving up hope. He has high hopes for me. At times, he’s playful (he always did have a stupendous sense of humour!) and sweet. Other times, he’s serious and gets frustrated with me constantly questioning his feelings. He wants me to know, quite adamantly, that he loved me then, loves me now, and will continue to do so.

But sometimes I can be a little shit and I go through the ‘I’m mad at you’ feelings and I slink down into unworthiness and guilt; those are SO much fun to deal with. I loop back around to compare myself to HER – and I can’t because I’m not 13-years younger with a perfect yoga bod with long blonde perfect hair and a perfect pretty face. I’m 50 for God’s sake. Although I think I’ve held up well…

I feel that I wasn’t ENOUGH for him but I know the truth. He wasn’t enough for himself. He wasn’t leaving ME, or HER – he was trying to break up with himself. As he found out, this cannot be done but I assure you the unbearable pain he encircled himself with is long gone. He’s fine – regretful, but fine.

He hangs around, patiently, while I move through self-deprecating emotions and waits until I come to the same conclusion, every time. That I was enough for him and that I DID have what he was looking for in a relationship, and then some. If I can quote him: “A relationship can’t survive, or be of any measurable substance, if there’s no depth. A pretty face and nice body is not depth.”

I have depth in abundance.

What you need to know is…they are around you.

Talk to them. You know who I mean, the one you lost and loved. They are near you a LOT. They see your tears and can hear you just as plain as day. Speak to them out loud and look for signs; they will send them. They are OKAY; they are with Spirit and GOD/Source whatever you want to call IT.

They are alive! They are without hurts and afflictions, they are whole and healthy and happy. And possibly the thing you need to know the most:

They Miss you. They Love you. And they do these things, constantly, as much as you do.

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You Will Never Be the Same Again


One of the things I was never told in my counselling sessions since Brian passed away, is the fact that I was in the process of changing and would continue to change. In essence, I am becoming a different version of myself.

Now, many things trigger changes within ourselves but suicide is pretty major. I can only tell you my personal experience with this but I know it’s the same for every person going through suicide bereavement. We just don’t look at the world the same, ever again.

In fact, I don’t even look at my friends and family the same or life, in general. Every person’s suicide survivor story is unique to them, as are the changes that occur.

One of the services I wish to offer, in future as a Life Coach, is to help determine what those changes are and how we can best use them to our greatest and highest good. I had to learn to put my life back together, by myself. It was hard because my family and many of my friends didn’t want to discuss it and wished I’d just get on with my life and forget about the whole thing. After all, I’d only known Brian for all of 3-months, didn’t I?  How come I was still so upset?

Well, we know that love doesn’t come attached to a time frame and because I was smack in the middle of the infatuation/honeymoon part of the relationship, I got kind of stuck there. Being still “in love” with a man who took his life is very complicated – specifically seeing as the ‘trigger’ event was another woman. As you can imagine, this comes with its own assortment of interesting issues.  I had to sort through that, myself, too.

I suspect having help with this from someone who can understand what it’s like to move through the pain and sorrow, could and would be helpful.

I’d like to put together a program of healing and movement. What I mean by that is:

  • Acknowledging feelings and moving through them over time with the goal to be able to express them in a helpful and healing way. I started colouring! It helped me relax my brain and stop the constant chatter that was going on in there.
  • Determining next steps in your life and identifying the changes that are taking place in your beliefs, relationships, spiritual understanding etc. I broke up with a few friends and reinforced a bond with another.
  • Set up goals and touchpoints (to make sure we’re on track) and align them with our core desires. I discovered that I didn’t want to do my day-job any longer so I started taking steps towards something more fulfilling.I’m not there, yet, but I’ve started the process.

I could go on, but you get the point. What worked for me may not work for others but there is something out there that WILL help. The new YOU may or may not be similar to the old YOU and one needs to prepare for that. I think my family is finally starting to see the differences in me, little by little. And, not all changes are that positive so we have to be mindful. You may find yourself not as tolerant or patient, for example, but these are things, once recognized, that you can work on.

I’m embracing the new me but she’s not done transforming. It will be interesting, in the next few years, to see where she lands and I’m rather excited about it.

So, if you’ve been touched by suicide and all of this actually makes sense, know that you’re going to change and that it’s perfectly okay to do so. How or if you choose to help the process is your choice but be aware that these changes will take place through time and if you can identify them, along the way, it could help you through the process.

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Feelings and Whatnot


As I’m meandering my way through my Life Coaching Course, I’m learning a few new things and validating others that I already knew. Not ever being a fan of sympathy, I was happy to learn that empathy trumps it (NOT the Donald) every time.

Do you know the difference? I could write an entire chapter on this but simply put: sympathy is pity; empathy is understanding.

It’s always a better scenario to have someone ‘understand’ your feelings rather than feel sorry for them. Why? Because that’s how we relate to one anther – by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

It’s a pretty basic thing…but I will never give a ‘Sympathy’ card out to someone who has lost a loved one, again. I don’t want to pity them, but empathize with what they’re going through. I think we should rename those cards: Empathy cards. Sympathy is the weaker/annoying cousin to empathy – you know…the cousin whom you haven’t seen for a decade that shows up for dinner, one night, expecting you to entertain them.  They are just not up to snuff when it comes to hard core feelings such as grief, like empathy is, who will show up only when you need them and want them, but also take you out for a nice meal and throw in a few glasses of wine, to boot.

Empathy listens without judgment. Sympathy interrupts with platitudes and then possibly makes it all about them.

So the next time someone comes to you for a shoulder, listen with empathy. Don’t judge them and let them know they were heard and you’re there for them.

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World Suicide Prevention Day


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I think it no coincidence that today is the day I end up taking Brian’s ashes to scatter them on a beach he played on, as a child. I was supposed to go, last week, but seeing as it was the Saturday before the last long weekend before School is back in, my sister and I thought better of it. Long and busy ferry lineups are not our thing.

I didn’t even clue in that we’d re-worked our plans for THIS day. There are no coincidences…this was meant to be.

I miss him. Every day, I miss him.

For new readers, my late boyfriend, Brian, took his life on May 11th, 2015. It is a day that I’ll never forget and one that changed me for the remainder of this life.

Every blog post I read about those who have lost someone that they love, to suicide, tells a similar story. Gut wrenching pain and all too stupid and insensitive comments; platitudes that are tossed out there to us like left over scraps thrown towards a starving street dog.

I’ve heard it all and if you’ve gone through it, so have you.

Mental illness is not treated like other diseases and can you imagine if someone came up to you and said: “Well that was very selfish of him to die of cancer that way!”

That’s the trash we get from friends, family, people who should know better as well as strangers.

One of my all time favourites: “Why aren’t you over it, yet?”

They don’t know any better. We’ve been taught to be uncomfortable around the word: SUICIDE. Why? Because, in our culture, it’s an unacceptable way to die. We’re not supposed to choose to leave on our own. If we spoke about this out in the open, discussed it with our children and loved ones, early on, so it wasn’t a taboo and unholy subject, I believe less people would die.

For those who are battling depression, anxiety and have ever thought of taking their life or who have attempted it, ignorance and societal judgments, as well as, misunderstandings are just the norm. It’s sad and it makes everything SO much worse and I dare say contributes to the rising rate of suicide and suicide attempts.

Those that are so desperate to end their emotional pain that they are willing to end their lives are treated like criminals and outcasts, and that is the worst crime of all.

Let me share this: what suicide attempt survivors wish you to know.

I’ve met others who’ve had a brush with suicidal thoughts; it’s far more common than you think. I know a suicide attempt survivor who is a good friend of mine. One thing that was said was: “thoughts of ending your life never leave you, they are always at the back of your mind. I’d decided that if I ever needed to attempt it, again, that this time I was going to get it right.”

Brian’s story isn’t new. His isn’t unique although his reasons and pain are unique to HIM. How many other people out there are suffering in silence, afraid to ask for help because we criminalize their pain, lock them up like a common killer, and take away every shred of their dignity and all of the things that make them feel human and provide a sense of belonging?

We can do a better job and we have to. In a future blog post I’ll describe the initial PAU (psychiatric assessment unit) that Brian was put into. I will say, now, that it was frightening and he was very scared. I would be too. I’m sure there is a way to fund some sort of community temporary home that allows safe personal items as well as protects people from themselves in a more loving environment. I strongly suspect that family would be willing to help. I would have been.

One issue that is brought to our attention is that our youth are greatly at risk. One in 5 teens have considered suicide, last year according to this article.

One.

In, Five, teenagers…children, for God’s sake.

What is it going to take for us to be comfortable to talk about this in the open? When are we going to let suicide out of it’s closet, because it’s bloody well banging on the door.

Take your religion out of the picture. Take your presumptuous thoughts and set them aside. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. It could be your best friend, your spouse, your daughter or your dad. It could be your uncle, your cousin, someone you work with, someone you go to school or the gym with. You could save a life. We could all saves lives if we brought this out into the open and just talked about it.

It could be you. You need to know that it’s safe to talk about.

So, let’s do it. Right here. Open up the door and let it out because if you don’t, it could destroy you.

My goal is to help, to council and to coach. My path is to assist in your healing and guide you to your next steps on your journey. Remember, your soul wants to be here. You chose to be here and everyone has everything to live for.

; None of our life stories are over, yet.

 

 

 

 

September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month


Chances are you know someone or know someone who knows someone who has been touched by suicide. You may not even be aware of it but I’m betting that this is the case.

You see – people don’t talk about it. But, they should for so many reasons and I’ve written about them here.

Please be aware of the signs. Sometimes there are no obvious signs; had I not been warned by one of my Guides, I wouldn’t have been prepared at all. As it was, Brian showed no outward signs that he was suicidal. He kept his pain very well hidden. In the end, only his ex-wife and I knew what was going on. Often it’s a very well kept secret that the person who is suffering, is embarrassed by and they’re afraid to talk about it because our Western Culture shames them and criminalizes mental illness.

Don’t be afraid to call 911 if you think someone is in danger of harming them selves.

September 10th is World Prevention Suicide Day. I’ll be posting my future intentions as a Metaphysical Life Coach, Grief Counsellor and Healer.

Stay tuned and don’t touch that dial.