Everyone Looks for Happiness, But What Really Gets You There?

getPart-4Whenever a microphone is placed in front of someone and the question is asked, “What are you looking for in life?”, I am willing to lay down a lot of chips that the answer is usually… HAPPINESS. When you drill down, money, jobs, and things don’t seem to be the solution. These are cushions, diversions and momentary flashes, but they are not the big score. Looking at the facts, how may of the huge lottery winners in recent history have grabbed that ticket and found happiness right along with it? Often what scrambles along behind that winning is something scary, complicated and temporary. Being happy is what we all want right; so are you happy? Does your happy come in an envelope with numbers attached to it, a bank statement, a shiny vehicle, a corner office? Are you waiting for someone to appear at your front door and deliver Happy to you?

I know what makes me happy now. It is defined by and for ME only. And what a hard and terrible lesson this was, as it turns out. When my son Drew took his own life, he had a handsome bank statement, a shiny vehicle and a corner office. It clearly did not bring Happy with it or Drew would still be on earth making me laugh. Are you struggling with trying to attain happiness in the middle of wealth or sadness or fear? If so, maybe I have some thoughts that will help you on your journey toward the real thing.

In my book, Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, I introduce the first, and probably the most substantial of the tools for healing from loss. Intention. An Intention is a simple statement that captures in words what you would like to have, become, achieve or be, in any given situation or condition that you find yourself. It surrounds a positive desire that you are working on and have not yet worked out. It involves your thoughts, emotional input and mindset, not your muscles. To set your Intention, you have to ask yourself some truly serious questions and then accept the honest answers your heart provides.

If you said, “I would like to have a true life partner that desires the same environment and surroundings that I do, and loves me unconditionally”, you are basically setting a standard for your personal happiness. It doesn’t require glossing it up, making it shiny with stuff or positioning of any kind. With this simple statement, you declare what you want to have, become, achieve or be. Most crucial to Intention is this; you are making a commitment, a contract with yourself to settle for nothing less than what you desire. You put your eyes on the outcome and believe in the pure achievement of it. Believe. Unshakable belief. The Universe hears you and that brings you the Happy.

It is no different when reaching for the heights of Happy in the face of tragic loss. In my life, I had to make small positive Intentions following the loss of Drew. Because perceived guilt was my first and most difficult challenge, I set the Intention of becoming happy by being guilt-free for life, but I began with one day at a time. Often it narrowed to hours at a time, but when I achieved hours, I stretched them into days, weeks, months. Every positive score made me a winner. I only made those choices that lighted my path toward Happy. Positive Intention, Vision, Belief, Achieve, Celebrate. Then repeat.

Here are some simple steps to setting an Intention for yourself:

  1. Identify an issue that you see as a trigger and want to change for the positive. Let’s use the life-partner issue from earlier. (example: I have not met anyone who loves me unconditionally and shares my life choices. I am stuck.)
  2. Verbalize your feelings around this issue and state clearly how it relates to you.  (example: I run in the same people circles and activities without expanding my associations with people. I never seem to meet anyone new and different.)
  3. Formulate the response exactly as you would like it to be.  (example: I am going to change how I conduct my activities and explore the possibility of meeting new people in my life.)
  4. Follow through your ideas with actual change. See yourself making the change with conviction and decision-making. (example: I will make appointments and plans surrounding new and different activities and locations that only I enjoy. I will put aside worries and fears involving the unknown. I will follow my intuition.)
  5. Celebrate your success. Any success, no matter how small. (example: I met 3 new people who enjoyed being with me. We shared common ideas and philosophies. It feels different than anything I have done so far, but I feel good about my progress!)

Intention can get you through the next challenging moment or challenging year. It is your lighted pathway; small steps will always lead to bigger ones. Identifying the triggers that make you UN-happy and setting a positive goal for rising above them will inevitably bring the thing you want the most. Now that’s something you can take to the bank.

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, CreateSpace Publishing, $12.87, paperback and ebook available September 2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet

gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

Personal Loss Should Never Have A Pain Rating

lotusLast September, 2015, when my book Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook was published, I was a little unprepared for one of the prominent comments regarding Loss as it related to my book, where suicide loss was the predominant topic. Mind you, it was a positive and enlightening barrage, but surprising in that it was not something I had ever considered. It was this: Loss is loss, and no matter what the origin of the loss, the book’s tools worked for anyone who had sustained personal tragedy of any kind.

My audience had expanded exponentially right before my eyes, and I didn’t even realize it was taking place.

From that moment on, I found a whole new set of terms to be used when I spoke to people and groups about Survivors of Suicide Loss and other losses as well. What are some of these other losses?

  • loss of self-esteem,
  • loss of a friendship or partner you thought would last a lifetime,
  • loss of job or livelihood,
  • loss of health, both acute or chronic,
  • loss of domicile or home,
  • loss of stable mental health,
  • loss of a loved one through accidental death or illness,
  • loss of mobility,
  • loss of independence,
  • loss of youth,
  • loss of memory, on and on.

Who is competent or knowledgeable enough to even think about putting a measuring stick to any pain that someone experiences? My loss is worse than yours? Your tragedy is more intense than mine? I would never do it. I once met a man whose entire world consisted of his job and his two German shepherd dogs. He had no other family near him, or family who included him in their lives. When both beloved dogs died within a short period of time from each other, he was so depressed and lonely, he lost the will to live.

After digesting much of these post-publication discussions, I truly felt the connection between the loss of my son and the many forms of loss that thousands of other people traverse through. As an example, I had one member of the audience come up to me after I finished speaking and say, “I know my loss cannot compare to you losing your son to suicide, but….” I took her hands in mine, looked into her eyes and said that “every loss is personal and deeply internalized to the person experiencing it – there is no measuring stick capable of indicating whose is more painful. It is all tragic.”.  Thus; Personal loss should never have a Pain Rating.

Another measuring stick that is often imposed on the grieving person is: How long is the right amount of time that they should grieve? At my last speaking engagement, an older gentleman asked a question for the group to hear. It followed a discussion surrounding when I decided to write about my experience as a survivor of suicide loss. The question was, “how long was it before you decided to step up and use the tools that would help bring you out of the dark hole of sadness?”. This was a little tricky and my pause was a little longer than usual, but here is (paraphrasing) what I said. The timeline for sadness will probably never end. It is when sadness inhibits you from re-entering and participating in the world of your functioning life that you need to be aware and alert. Sadness is not a bad thing – we are human and we are alive with emotion. Frankly, I will experience sadness with my loss until my last breath. My personal measuring stick for each bout of sadness is that it doesn’t last any longer than it takes to have a happy memory move right up into its place. Setting a timer for how long the sadness hangs in there is something that each one of us can set for ourselves, but I do believe we should set it. The big kahuna is when sadness interferes with getting up, getting out and getting on. My actual answer to this gentleman’s question was somewhere about a year and a half. Interestingly, he and his wife were at the 1 1/2 year mark. He was ready, his wife not quite so much. There is no marker that is good for all.

Finally, please do not let anyone tell you when it is time to get on with “things”. Those that do are probably wanting to make their life more comfortable around you. The critical point to make is that if you are concerned about your mental and physical situation, you should consult your primary care provider and ask them how you are doing? Paralysis or depression in the place of daily life is not a good spot to stay in. A healthy life includes smiling, laughing, socializing, loving, sleeping, creating, adjusting, and yes, being sad. It is not so much about how many weeks and months that it takes to get there, but rather that you are indeed taking steps and making change to get there. THAT is what you measure.

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, CreateSpace Publishing, $12.87, paperback and ebook available September 2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet

gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

Who is The Most Important Person in the World?

Cape Beach SunsetWhen I am talking to a group of people having anything to do with my passion – Survivor Healing after (Suicide) Loss – I will eventually ask the question: “Who is the most important person in the world?” I just wish you could see the looks of my audience as they stare back at me, for what seems like a full minute. Perhaps they don’t really know where I am going with this question, OR, they are not sure what answer I am looking for. Honestly, it isn’t a trick inquiry. I really want to know who that person is, from their perspective. Maybe, since I am making a big deal of it here you are already guessing the answer. YOU are. YOU are the most important person in the world. But then that would mean that My answer is ME – I am the most important person in the world. I am indeed.

In the realm of rankles and irritations, following this question, this is where you will give me every reason why a hundred (or hundreds) of others outrank you when you measure your importance. I will however, stick to what I believe are the facts. If “we” are not the most important person in our world, if we are not placing ourselves first in every category of life, we are probably treading down a long and arduous path that skirts the achievement or healing of anything having to do with us. Let me tell you a true story to prove my point.

Many years ago, my husband was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) and was slowly losing the battle of muscular control over everything in his body; bladder, speech, movement of limbs, vision, swallowing and more. We took each day at its face value, but continually lost ground with the simple tasks of daily living or managing the impact of this disease. Because I was the primary caregiver, I willingly took on gigantic tasks that pushed my body to the limit. All this took place while carrying on a full-time profession and maintaining a home. This was no-one’s fault – none of us wanted or expected this – it just was. I watched My Healthy Self systematically deteriorate as the months and years went by. By virtue of the need for safety, care and nurturing of my loved one, I became last. I was not the most important person in the world – my husband was. And like him, I had a mountainous loss of my independence, health, mental stability and joy. I began to lose something even more vital to survival – my independence and my self-worth. When any friends or family called or spoke with me, the first question out of their mouth was, “How is he?” Never, “how are you?” I don’t blame them, it’s just that I became a means to an end.

On one of the evenings that the visiting nurses were preparing my husband for bed, the RN in charge took me aside to a quiet part of my house, saying, “I want to tell you a true story of one of my other patients. An elderly couple was living with disease such as the one you are familiar with. The wife, who was 70 years of age, did everything for her husband who was unable to care for himself. She moved him from bed to chair, fed him, washed and bathed him in the tub, prepared him for bed and made sure he received all of his medications. One night, they were suddenly faced with a crisis. Her husband had taken a terrible turn for the worse with high fever and decreased ability to respond. An ambulance was called and he was rushed to their local hospital emergency department. His wife followed the ambulance in her car and met them there, along with the physicians and nurses that would care for him. After a short while, it was determined that her husband would be admitted and he was taken to a room on the medical floor. As she joined him in his room, and found him to be resting comfortably, she stood next to him and took his hand in hers. At that very moment, she collapsed and died at his bedside.”

I looked at this nurse, completely perplexed, and asked her honestly – why would you tell me such a horrible story? I can see no happy ending here, anywhere. The nurse replied, “if you don’t make yourself the most important person in the world, this might be you dropping at his bedside as well. I see your needs going unmet and the estimate of your self-worth being pushed aside”.

This became my moment of truth. I wasn’t eating properly, lost sleep every night, I had physically exhausted my muscles and bones by lifting and moving objects far too heavy for me and worried about everything. My personal loss factor was at an all-time high, the future seemed bleak and yet I pushed on moment to moment without stopping to see the damage I was doing to me. I was fast becoming useless to both my husband’s care and myself as a human body with needs of its own. The losses were onerous to both of us.

Loss. There was plenty of it to go around.

He had lost his muscles, ability to walk, ability to apply his professional training, independence, self-esteem, opportunity to help his family in simple daily ways, well-being, sense of happiness and even bathroom privileges. Yet every day he woke up with a smile. I had lost my opportunity to be taken care of, evade moving 2 tons of snow by hand, have a conversation without discussing MS or physical symptoms, park my car in a convenient location, have dinner waiting for me when I came home from work, get a hug in a standing position, do an errand without a day’s planning, have someone bring me a simple glass of water, and ultimately a great chunk of my identity.

So right up until that moment that the visiting nurse took the rug out from under me, I did what many, (or most) of us who experience severe loss would do; I inadvertently embraced yet one more loss – my right to choice. Somewhere along the way I forgot that I was the most important person in the world. I pretty much give away my options, rather than clinging to them and giving them the precious, righteous   acknowledgment that they are.  However, through confrontation and examination of my current state of mind, I finally realized that choices never can be taken away; I could restore my ability to select the abundant pathway, re-discover that good health, happiness and freedom is right in front of me through choices that are right there with me all the time. This didn’t mean that I loved someone else less. It means that I loved myself enough to take care of my mind, body and spirit as it was meant to be cared for.

Restoring our use of options. How do we do that?

We awake each day and ask our glorious self the following question: “What do I need today?” Be honest about the answer. Then – set about meeting that need, whatever it may be. Ask for help, utilize whatever resources you have acquired, find new ones that get you where you need to go or be. Claim it, demand it for yourself by any means possible. You are the most important person in the world and this is your birthright. I am not suggesting your forgo your responsibilities to others, I am stating outright that you will be healthier, more at peace, and feeding the mind-body-spirit of your personal temple if you go the distance for and with YOU in the front of everything. What is good for you today? What will perfectly meet your goals today? What do you want today? Then, and only then, can you truly meet the needs of someone, anyone else!

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, CreateSpace Publishing, $12.87, paperback and ebook available September 2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet

gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

Gabrielle Doucet, April 25, 2016 Article in ConvergenceRI: After Tragic Loss

getPart-4I have been fortunate to have been contacted by ConvergenceRI to supply an article on Loss, particularly Loss After Suicide. Since May is Mental Health Month and the statistics on suicide are rising in the US, it seems to be a timely opportunity to discuss the challenges of dealing with tragic loss. ConvergenceRI is a wonderful digital newsletter, and there is much there to learn. I hope you view their website, and all of the pertinent articles they have to offer.

Click Here to Read the Article in ConvergenceRI

Can You Hear Yourself??

male-cardinalWho are you listening to? Is it everyone, but you?

I try not to watch the television very much. Yes, I need to catch up on the weather, driving conditions, traffic patterns, etc.; the rest of it I can pretty much do without – but that’s me. However, not too long ago I crossed into a channel that had a bride trying to buy her wedding dress. She had all 9 brides maids with her, her future mother-in-law and her own mom in attendance while she tried on dress after dress after dress. (You already see the outcome here, right?) This bride-to-be came home empty handed at the end of the day. Every single person had an opinion and not one of them coincided with someone else’s opinion, especially not hers.  What happened to what she wanted, I ask? It was obviously filed somewhere deep where she couldn’t get her hands on it. The bride seemed to have lost her own choices and now feels rather powerless.  How many of us are doing that every time we have a decision facing us that really truly belongs to only one person – ourselves? Don’t we consider that we have enough information about us to make the correct and perfect choice?

I am not suggesting for one moment that the thoughts and opinions of others are not needed or helpful. Often the expertise we seek can be clearly provided by someone who has the training; however, as our own best resource, we should take the data we arm ourselves with, overlay it on our own good knowledge about who we are and what we want and then go with it. Sincerely – who is the person that will be wearing the wedding dress on the most significant day of her life?

How do we hear ourselves? Do we listen with our physical ears or our heart-voice? One of the best ways I know is to find the quiet time and opportunity to listen to the heart. For those who are unfamiliar with “heart-voice or heart-knowledge” and how it can readily be available to us, clearly it begins by giving the heart knowledge highest  importance. The heart knowledge carries all of the information that matters to you as a being and a soul, and links it with what you desire. Sure, much data exists and is stored in the head, but the heart gives that information relevant to how you want or already do live your life. I, for one, am not ready to give my soul-searching decisions over to someone else’s data points. The heart separates the data from the general collection  and delivers it to you as personal and vital. What will bring you joy? Joy that resonates with you, comes squarely from the heart!

The heart speaks personally, and because it’s language can be somewhat symbolic in nature (the heart vocabulary can be quite different than everyday chit-chat), it requires that you give it time and space to deliver the message. Meditation or still-mind is a perfect opportunity to create an environment for a heart chat. Silence on your part, and the space around you is pretty important for the conversation. Take the time to set up your own space of silence – it is worth every effort. Once you have the degree of silence you need, be clear of other thoughts. Declare to yourself that you are worthy and accomplished in your decision-making skills, then list quietly what you would like to have as an outcome. This is what you Intend. Now wait in anticipation for your heart to give you the answers on how to make it happen.

Let’s briefly return to our TV bride; if she has taken the effort and time to think about her desires and decision-making, her excursion into the bridal shop may have looked very different.

  1. She wants a dress that looks beautiful on her, has all of the details she loves and imagined it would have. (Her Intention).
  2. She will know it when she sees it. It will bring her immediate joy, independent of other opinions of what JOY looks like. (Her Heart-Knowledge).
  3. The final choice will be hers, because her heart tells her what is the right choice. (Her Decision)

When we experience loss of any kind, we are faced with a clear example of who to listen to. In the throes of  loss, our mind, body and emotions can appear to be out of our control. Sadness, fear, and anger all surface in the face of what we are currently without -a person, a precious item, peace – something that seems to have disappeared from our life and perhaps our earth.  We are not helpless.  We have tools to use to get us through to the other side of fear, sadness and indecision. Our healing is just within our reach. We can quiet our environment, our mind, our body and listen to the heart-voice within.  This is not saying we can’t be sad or confused in our loss, which can be extreme in its presence. When I lost my son Drew to suicide several years ago, my loss seemed insurmountable and without end. I still experience days when my loss and sadness at not having him with me, closes around me like a shroud.  When I face the fear of life without Drew, I recognize the hole in my body, acknowledge it, then quiet my world and let my heart speak. It gives me full control of where my emotions go from that moment on, what I decide for my healing and how to return to joy. My heart knowledge will never ever steer me wrong – it has only one priority – my well-being.

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, CreateSpace Publishing, $12.87, paperback and ebook available September 2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet

gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

Workshop Engagement at Natural Living Expo 11/14-11/15

I am excited to tell you about a wonderful expo taking place in just a few days in Marlborough, MA.  This is a grand opportunity for you to visit hundreds of vendors addressing healthy living. Click here for details.

I am one of 90 presenters doing workshops on a myriad of topics – what an opportunity to learn and try new ideas and products for an entire weekend!  My presentation will be on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 10:30 am in the Southborough Room.  The topic: 7 Tools Critical For Survivors Of Suicide Loss. My book will also be available for purchase at Table #18. I would love to meet you, open a discussion about loss and how we are able to deal with tragedy in our lives. Please stop by and at least say hello!

My book; Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, is being received so well on Amazon.com, Kindle and elsewhere.  Surprisingly, it is not about book sales for me – it is all about getting the message to large numbers of people on how best to travel the difficult journey of surviving the loss of someone we love to suicide. We all experience loss. HOW we experience it and what we DO with that experience is what keeps us walking on the healthy side of life and going forward.

Recently I spoke to someone who had read Let Go and Let Love; she is a survivor and wanted to tell me about an verbal conversation she had with someone she barely knew.  This person asked her how many children she had. (She lost her son to suicide shortly after I did). Like me, and as I described in one of my chapters, she was painfully tongue-tied on how to answer the question. In many situations that survivors encounter, our brain does a 360 degree search area in our head about what to say when confronted with the most simple inquiries! She remembered my suggestion in the chapter and replied, “I have two children, a boy and a girl”.  End of discussion.  All is well. This is a perfect example of, Less is More. It is also using Intention, one of the best tools available to us when dealing with daily life in an imperfect world.

If you or a group you know is struggling with tremendous loss, especially suicide loss of someone close, consider contacting me about how I can help serve the needs of the group. This is my mission.

I also hope you can find your way to the Natural Living Expo, November 14 – 15 in Marlborough, MA. It will be a healthy and exciting experience!

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, CreateSpace Publishing, $12.87, paperback and ebook available September 2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet

gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

 

Gratitude and Tragedy: Can they co-exist?

DSCN0043

“Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles

and they can become your blessings.”

—AUTHOR UNKNOWN

In the face of tragedy and loss, I suspect that feeling gratitude and appreciation for many things has sort of left the building for you. Perhaps you are not expecting to really appreciate much of anything now and for some time to come. After all, the impact of intense emotion and grief often removes the ability to recognize gratitude very well. There is no blame here for this cognitive loss, it just happens that way. Coping in any form is difficult. The question is, does it need to remain lost or can it be changed by gaining a different perspective? Within a split second it seems any situation in which we find ourselves can bring to mind our loss, and instantly become painful and unbearable to think about. It can often be the simplest encounter or environmental influence. How can we possibly change our perspective when the conditions of our thoughts are repeatedly inviting anger, guilt and fear? On the other hand, a change in perspective may give you some unexpected relief. Defining gratitude is probably different for everyone. What really constitutes being grateful and to what degree? In my book, Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, grateful is 180 degrees away from angry or negative. It doesn’t seem to me that we can be grateful for something and be pissed off at the same time. You might try to make a case here to the contrary, but I don’t see it as working.

You can however be grateful for your anger; perhaps it is telling you or teaching you something you have heretofore missed. Maybe you are not quite seeing that yet, but your anger can spark change for which you are grateful. Get it? You simply step back and look at your emotional responses and find opportunities for change that you appreciate and are willing to try.

Recently I had the chance to return to my old neighborhood where I grew up, in a state quite far from where I live now. Fifty years had transpired since I had seen it last. Talk about change! And the crazy thing is the streets were still there, with the same names, but many of the residences had altered. I tried to feel my childhood embrace me again, but the newness interfered – the grade school I walked to every day was gone, my old homestead was tiny, the gang of friends was long departed and unable to welcome me back in. A large part of me was sad and actually angry by the changes that had taken place. Nothing I saw would ever be the same again; it was lost to me and I could never go back. I will never have that world exist again for me, ever. I looked around me and said, “Hey, what the hell happened to those days and places I loved so much?” Is this starting to sound familiar?

Because of suicide and loss, we have moved away from a life we knew and were perhaps naively safe in, and are now unwillingly facing a change that we never wanted to make or see. We cannot go back there and find it just the way it was. That life is totally gone from us. Often we feel devastatingly remorseful and thoroughly, permanently pissed off. We have lost a lot.

Back in my neighborhood, I also saw something else. In the middle of the old stuff was some interesting and wonderful new stuff. The school had made way for a beautiful and green walking park and playground; the dumpy building where I bought my first illegal cigarette as a teen — don’t fret, I stopped trying smokes shortly after getting that first one — was now a sweet Mom and Pop market with fresh fruit and household needs. My original church was in the same location, had expanded its buildings and parking areas to accommodate a larger parish, but still kept the old ambiance of the original style.

What are you grateful for, right this minute? I know you want to heal your heart beginning today, so get a pad of paper and pen, or sit yourself down at your computer and initiate a list. Perhaps you can only create a short set of incidences that occurred today, and that is a fine place to start. What happened today to make you grateful even if it only lasted for a few moments? Grateful thinking and action is a learned skill, so be patient with yourself while you observe all things that occur around and toward you. When you need to apply it to the healing journey, gratefulness, abundance and appreciation will come easier to you, simply because you have been practicing.

Buried within the tragedy of our loss there will always be some elements that are 180 degrees away from sadness and negativity that we can recognize and perhaps cling to; something to appreciate and be grateful for. If we are angry and guilt-ridden it is difficult to find them. In any given moment identifying them becomes our challenge and our healing. Are you ready to do that?

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, CreateSpace Publishing, $12.87, paperback and ebook available September 2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet

gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

Writing A Book is a Very Big Thing

121Probably 90 – 95% of the population will never put pen to paper and write a book.  All of us however, at some point will read a book.  Standing back and contemplating those percentages makes me think that it puts a lot of pressure on those of us who have decided to be authors of something.  Authors supply the rest of the world with various-sized-brainstormed-written items to learn from, memorize, laugh at, cry over, review, rejoice and be inspired by.  Why do we (the writers) do it?  Heaven knows becoming an author is not an easy journey; it can take a long time to get up the nerve and the research to even begin writing page one – word one.  Then there is the editing, the publishing, the revisions, the consultants and the sleepless nights of either doing the writing or worrying about the writing.

I wouldn’t change a thing.  It was one of the most magnificent experiences of my life.  Here’s why…

We Write Because:

  • We have something to say that is important to us and it must be said.  Each one of us is unique and has a specific life experience that forges how we think and feel about ourselves and the world around us.  This (these) experience(s) can resonate so deeply that we are convinced it must be shared, even if we are an author of a private journal that will never see the light of day or never be read by someone else’s eyes.  If we don’t follow through with our inner need and put it to velum, we are incomplete in some way.  For an author, it just has to happen.
  • Writing seems to be The best way to express our thoughts.  There are any number of opportunities to make ourselves “heard”.  We can find others that think the way we do about something and perhaps we start discussion groups.  We can travel the country and establish seminars for large numbers of individuals who would like to know more about the topic that inspires us. We can create private journals that document the most personal and intimate ideas that give our minds and hearts reflection on any given day or stand on a corner soapbox and shout it out.  Many people post comments on the internet every minute of every hour without leaving their homes or removing their bunny slippers.  Or, we can write it all in a book – small or large, thick or thin, spine cradled by hand or existing in “the cloud”.

My book was written out of my need to declare and describe how I coped with loss; loss is something we all experience.  Loss could be for an inanimate object such as a rare book or beloved sweater from Grandmother, or in the hardest of circumstances we might be coping with the loss of a loved one from disease or death.  Loss is loss, it’s just that some losses are more complex than others.

Suicide is a very complex loss, one in which there is no easy journey through for those of us left behind.  With the number of suicides per year across the United States and indeed the world rising, and notably escalating within the military for both active and veteran populations, survivors of suicide loss find themselves in a hard place.  Despite the social advancements from the 60’s and 70’s, little has changed on how the population and the media view suicide and manage the topic when it is front and center.  We survivors don’t usually gain much in the way of sympathy or even empathy.  It is just too uncomfortable.  After losing my son Drew to suicide in 2011, I unfortunately became an expert on such things.  Unwanted expertise, but there you are.

Thus, the completion of my manuscript Let Go and Let Love: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook became my passion for being “heard”.  Sharing this writing, not only assisted in making me complete, it has been paramount in my healing as well.  I no longer look for or expect empathy, I am purely self-sustaining in feeling good and acceptable with my loss.  Like many people, I never grew up thinking I was going to be an author of a book, but yet here I am, after all the days (and nights) of writing, researching, stretching my vocabulary, exposing my innermost feelings and experiences, risking all my hard-won self-esteem, then laying this tome in the hands of people I don’t really know and stating, “wrap it up – we’re going to print”.  I am now an author.  I am releasing my passion for being well and healthy in the face of adversity and overwhelming tragedy.

By the way – being an author is rewarding and fun!

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, CreateSpace Publishing, $12.87, paperback and ebook available 09/2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

The Monster In The Closet

Monster Closet Door“Secrecy involves a tension which at the moment of revelation, finds its release.”

Georg Simmel (German sociologist, philosopher and critic, 1858 – 1918)

 

Just recently I finished reading a very good novel: The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde. One of the angles in the story line deals with a cranky woman (Clem) who has lost her daughter to suicide. Among all of the many issues Clem must deal with in her own personality, one of the paralyzing conditions surrounds the inability for her to enter the space where her daughter died. The description the author uses to help you understand what this poor woman faces daily on her own property is so accurate, it brought me to tears. The paragraphs in this section of Ms. Hyde’s book touched me deeply and profoundly. Clem had a monster in her closet, as many of us do. I know what this feels like firsthand – I am a survivor of suicide loss.

Perhaps you are wondering about the quote at the beginning of this blog. Secrecy – really? The facts are that the things and memories that reside in our subconscious mind are quite secret. We don’t bring them out easily and generally can’t get them to stir without some kind of help to do so, especially if they are painful. These secrets just sort of sit there, often for a very long time, years even. At the time they occur, we attach an emotion to them, usually intense in nature, and we seldom predict when the effects of their existence deep within will make themselves known again. If the secret is not one that we would consider desirable or acceptable, we probably chose to leave it alone at all costs, and want to forget it even has residence in there. It often becomes the monster in the closet.

Hidden issues that are associated with intense emotion want to be healed. Meditation is one method that allows for you to re-experience, observe and let go of what you no longer need. If we don’t make time and opportunity to release what is not healthy, it will discover another way to annoy you, or worse, hurt you. Generally, that manifests as something physical or mental. This old emotional junk isn’t doing you and your body any good anyway, so there is virtually no reason to hold on to it. In order to move more smoothly through the process of Release, my good advice is, to let it come before you let it go.

Practicing meditation calms the mind, body and spirit, this is true, but it also does a little stirring and fermenting of the hidden emotional secrets we have suppressed. Often we need a certain amount of guidance to comprehend why emotional reactions are surfacing, and what we should do to make our way through it effectively. This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but it often feels that way when your meditation suddenly makes you feel angry, restless or unhappy. Your inner being knows these feelings need to surface, but your outer being can be quite surprised and confused by it. This is Release just waiting to happen. It’s a good thing actually, a Very good thing.

As survivors, Release is frequently a prescription for deep healing and success. Generally, Release is letting go of that which does not produce positive energy for you any longer.  Releasing can be spontaneous or consciously done.  When it is spontaneous, your inner emotional state of mind just does it for you.  It knows that you need to release and you can feel it happen in your body or heart.  In the instance of spontaneous, it is almost shocking since you really didn’t know it was coming.  Sometimes you actually don’t realize it has come and gone – you simply feel better or even great.  Some people will state that it feels like a huge weight has just been lifted off of their shoulders and mind.  Other folks may feel purged and feather-light.  You have experienced that, we all have.  It’s generally un-named, but appreciated. When you release consciously, you have identified an emotional turmoil, bad feeling or event that is blocking you, and you simply work at some level to LET IT GO.

Examples of this might be a long-associated painful relationship that has plagued you, parental blame, personal blame, things you have done that you regret, hate issues, food issues, money worries and others.  One method is to state it out loud to yourself – “I release this (thing), including all of the energies and feelings that are associated with it!”  At the end of your meditation, before you say thank you, “see” this block as being no longer in your secret hoard of buried stuff.  Set an Intention that you will no longer require the need to hold onto whatever it is.  Visualize your body free of the negative energy.  It is not hard to release, but you have to want to and then believe it gone.  Don’t fret if it takes a couple of times to get it all. Sometimes the monster in the closet becomes nothing more than a vapor when confronted.  The fear you had of it was greater than the actual course of events that set it into secrecy in the first place.

My Confrontation and Release taught me that my monster was really bad and really big, but it lost its power when I took my power back.  It was a place, a piece of real estate, not a cause.  It is nowhere I wish to visit in the future, but I am not afraid of it anymore. There are many wonderful organizations and groups that are established to assist us with our monsters, as we all know. One special program that I found as I researched my book, utilized an intense and unique process called Exposure Therapy.   According to the American Psychological Association, Society of Clinical Psychology, Exposure Therapy can be an effective treatment to help people confront their worst fears. Individuals experiencing long-term grief have a tendency to avoid activities, situations, objects and places associated with the grief itself.

Click here to view article on Exposure Therapy

As survivors of suicide loss, we either are aware of or can imagine much of what would be our greatest fear. With Exposure Therapy a psychologist will create a safe environment where they can gradually expose the client to the things or situations that traumatized them in the first place. The therapy is complex and tailored to the client’s current mental status and the extension of the fear they have been facing. There are many pathways to choose in conducting the therapy appropriately.

Important to note: To avoid unwanted outcomes, this therapy should always be conducted with a therapist who is trained and experienced in all areas of the treatment and the exercises, to prevent the client from being re-traumatized. This is simply good medicine.

Having a monster in the closet does not indicate imperfection or weakness. However, keeping a monster buried deep within is unnecessary and unhealthy, especially when we can take positive steps to let them go. Find your personal way of opening up the doors to hidden secrets and getting them out into the light. Oh, what a relief it is!

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, published by CreateSpace, $12.87, paperback and e-book available 09/2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet gabrielle@survivorhealing.com

A Mindfulness Moment means: BE HERE!

 

Mary Fontes Gemma Day 2 285            “Forever is

composed of nows.”

—Emily Dickinson

There is a type of meditation called Mindfulness, where you are being very present in what you are thinking and feeling, using absolutely no energy whatsoever toward judgment.  Mindfulness should not entertain any thoughts surrounding what has taken place in the past or what might happen in the future.  In this state, we do not worry about how we will feel in 30 minutes, or what we felt emotionally ten days ago.  Mindfulness is one great meditational way to be in the Now Moment. During this experience, we recognize the  feelings and sensations we are having, and we are looking at them as they are occurring in our life, but we accept their existence without reacting.  Most importantly, the Now Moment is not judged as being good or bad, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.  It just is.  I am sure you have heard the term, “Being“; well, that is what you are doing when in the Now Moment.

I found a wonderful article by Erin Lanahan, about being fully present in the moment, entitled “Freedom is Where my Feet Are”.  Click here for article.

The enduring message she describes is that if we feel chaotic or overwhelmed, we can simply focus on our feet.  By doing this simple task, we can start again to be in the present.  I love this!  As my mind churns away with what I have done or left undone, or what I have waiting for me and is looming on the horizon; by seeing my feet, I can return to home base.  My feet are on the grass, they are in my favorite shoes, they are touching warm sand, my toenails are painted bright happy red, my feet are tanned from the sun.  You get it – I am right here, right now and paying attention to my feet.  It stops me from awful-izing, it keeps me on solid ground and rests my crazy chaotic thoughts; it allows me to breathe properly simply from awareness.  It is very, very alive!

We need mindfulness to slow us down from worry, anger, fear, frustration and stress. If you are not into your feet, simply find a nice place to sit and experience what is around you, indoors or out.  Perhaps a blue bird is singing in the tree near you, the sun is setting in front of you and filling the horizon with oranges and hues of red and yellow, your hands or fingers may be touching a stone wall, wooden bench or overstuffed chair and you can feel the roughness, softness and temperature of each surface.  Perhaps there is a book on your lap and you can determine its weight and edges as it rests on your legs without looking at it.  You can’t think back or forward if you are here.

Practice: Feel the Stone, Click the Shutter

Here are some opportunities for being in the Now Moment that you can try as practice.  Don’t be deceived at how simple they may seem.  Only “seeing” what is immediately in front and around you does require some behavior changes, nothing more.

  1. Doing your exercise routine: change to walking outside and do not wear an i-pod or ear buds or cell phone. As you walk, experience what the surface of the path or road feels like and describe it in your mind. Deep Breathe in some air through your nose. What does it smell like? Is someone burning wood or can you pick up on floral, moss or other greenery? Feel the movement of your hips and breath, and get a sense of the rhythm that is created. Look to the left and right of you, what colors are most prominent as you move forward? Look ahead of you and decide if what you see is worthy of a photo; if you see something that you like, click the shutter in your head and put it in your memory. Pick up a chestnut or stone and hold it in your hand. Where are the ridges on it, the smooth sides, what size is it, what hand does it fit best in?
  2. Go to the beach and remove your shoes. Push your feet deep into the sand and feel it squish up between your toes. Is it wet? Is it cool or very warm? Where is the sun in relation to where you are sitting or standing and how is it making contact with your skin? What about the sound of the waves, big, small, loud, quiet? Walk on the part of sand that almost touches the water. Feel the step-push, step-push as you make your way along. Count how many steps it takes to get from one stone marker to the next? Pick up a stone.  See something memorable? Click the shutter.
  3. If you are riding on a train or bus or other transportation, look at people around you. Take this time to put down your phone or tablet and simply be in the same space as those you see. What do you notice? Are they all swaying in the same direction as the car moves? How many are smiling? Describe to yourself the people waiting on the platforms of the stops along the way.  What are the colors they are wearing as you pass by?  Is that last train stop a perfect image of ones that you have often seen in a magazine? Click the shutter.
  4. Start or enter a conversation with someone. Notice their eyes; what color and shape are they? How expressive is this person when they talk to you? Are you close together or far apart? Where are you most relaxed when standing in their presence? What is the topic you are discussing; is it something you know about or are you learning new information? Perhaps you would like to think about it more later; click the shutter. How are you listening, are you listening? Are they listening to you? Where is your focus? Does this interaction feel comfortable like a stone in your palm? Where are the smooth or rough surfaces?

Being mindful is relatively easy, but it does require your full attention.  Once you commit to giving it a try, you pretty much can do it anywhere if you are willing to set the time aside for 10 – 15 minutes.  The hard part is leaving the soothing and stress-less mindfulness time, and returning to the busy-ness that takes up the majority of our lives.

Blessings, Gabrielle

Excerpt from Let GO and Let LOVE: Survivors of Suicide Loss Healing Handbook, published by CreateSpace, $12.87, paperback and e-book available 09/2015.

CONTACT: Gabrielle Doucet gabrielle@survivorhealing.com