101 Best Personal Development bloggers

101 Best Personal Development bloggers

We are thrilled to announce that Guided Mind has named WatersedgeCounselling as one of the 101 Best Personal Development and Self Help bloggers of 2016!

As part of their Best and Most Inspiring Personal Blog Awards for the year, we have been named alongside New York Times best selling author Michael Hyatt, as well as Marie Forleo, a personal and professional development writer chosen by Oprah as a thought leader for a new generation.

Guided Mind ColleenListed at #96, Watersedge is described as a ‘blog to [help] you stay mentally healthy, addiction free, happy, good in relationships and stress relieved.’

You can see the complete list of Guided Mind 101 best personal development and self help bloggers here. The list is ordered randomly, and as Guided Mind say ‘some of the best bloggers can be found at near the very bottom of the list,’ so take your time browsing.

Do you want to learn how to take better care of your mental health? Would you like to discuss your own personal development?  Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

How Paying Attention to your Emotional Energy Can Improve your Relationships

How-Paying-Attention-to-your-Emotional-Energy-Can-Improve-your-Relationships

Did you know the heart has an electromagnetic field that goes way beyond our physical body? In this infographic by The Heartmath Institute, we learn about how the heart and brain work together, affecting our emotional and physical health.

The Heartmath Institute talk about ‘emotional coherence’, which is the practice of focusing our positive emotion on the heart. This in turn sends positive signals to the brain and our entire magnetic field, and explains why couples, parents and children are so emotionally sensitive and frequently reactive to one another.

When you practice emotional coherence, it has positive implications on your personal health and wellbeing, your close relationships and ultimately the world around you. Take a look at the infographic below and find out how emotionally healthy your heart is.

the-mysteries-of-the-heart

Are you affected by the emotions and energy of your loved ones? Would you like to know more about emotional coherence? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

14 Myths About Couple Relationships

14-Myths-of-Couple-Relationships

The early stages of love come with the assumption that everything will always be good. As time passes, cynicism can develop which makes us jaded and causes tension within couple relationships. Here are 14 myths you might believe that could be harming your relationship.

  1. If we love each other, we should be happy at all times.

Once you get past the early puppy-love stages of a relationship, love is not rosy and perfect. In fact, it actually makes life more complicated because it pushes the focus onto another person and is not self-serving. This just goes to show that love does not equate with immediate gratification, and comes with both difficult and happy moments.

  1. We should be completely honest with each other at all times, regardless of the impact on our partners.

A healthy relationship is built on open communication and honesty, but over-sharing or divulging information in a way that harms your loved one is another issue all together. This is not a licence to lie to your partner, or keep fundamental information from them, but is a reminder to be mindful of your partner’s well being and consider this before talking to them just to get something off your chest.

  1. We should be together at all times and be unselfish with our time.

It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, spending 100% of your time together will do more harm to your relationship than good. A healthy couple relationship needs time set-aside solely for it, but both members of the partnership are still individuals and they need room and independence to celebrate this.

  1. We should agree on all issues to support each other.

If you see your partner behaving in a way that harms you, your loved ones or other people, and they are unwilling to change, you do not have to support them in this. You are allowed to speak to your partner when you have a disagreement and are not expected to share the same opinion on everything.

  1. If we have a problem, we must decide who is to blame.

Pushing the blame on to one another will result in a constant cycle of guilt and resentment. Instead of ‘figuring out’ who is at fault, choose to work together to find a resolution.

  1. We should know what the other is thinking, so we do not need to communicate.

Whether you’ve been together for a month or 50 years, you will never be able to read each other’s minds. If you need something, don’t assume your partner just knows, communicate this with them.

  1. Good relationships just happen and do not need to be worked at.

Every relationship goes through ups and downs. A healthy relationship requires a commitment from both sides to work at it for the benefit of each other.

  1. If we create joint activities we will be close forever.

Being together and participating in joint activities can be useful for a couple if they genuinely enjoy the activity and are taking other steps to build their relationships, but people change and so do their interests. Joint activities are less about being together, and more about making an intentional effort to connect with your partner. Be willing to alter how you spend time together as you both grow and change.

  1. We do not need friends or family as long as we have each other.

Don’t alienate your friends, family or colleagues in a bid to dedicate yourself to your loved one. Sure, you and your partner need each other, but this does not diminish the fact you both have other people in your lives that you value and trust. Continue to spend time with these people and it can help your own couple relationship to grow.

  1. Good relationships are quid pro quo

A healthy relationship is not an exchange of goods, services or time.  In fact, the best ones are often the most sacrificial and are built on a mutual respect for one another and are motivated by love.

  1. Avoiding conflict will ruin your relationship.

It doesn’t matter how much you love each other, you will not always agree with your partner, and that is okay. A healthy relationship is less about avoiding conflict, and rather about working through it together.

  1. Affairs are the root of divorce.

An affair doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship. With support, commitment and time, a relationship can be repaired and divorce may not occur. Divorce can occur due to a range of other issues not involving an extra person as well, which is why it remains important for a couple to consistently work on their relationship.

  1. Men are not built for monogamous relationships.

This is simply not true. Men and women are able to have a healthy, thriving relationship with one other person. A gender or sex stereotype does not give anyone permission to break the trust of such a relationship by becoming involved with another person at the same time.

  1. Men and women are from different planets.

Men and women think differently and can be motivated by different things, but we are not so unlike each other. Using this phrase alienates your loved one and causes tension. Choose to see your partner as your equal, and speak to them this way.

Do you believe any of these myths about your own couple relationship? Would you like the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship with a significant other? Contact Watersedge on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment, click BOOK ONLINE NOW and you will be taken to our online appointment calendar by following the prompts.

The Impact of Separation on Children – A Case Study

The-Impact-of-Separation-on-Children

Heather* knew her son’s life would change drastically when she and her husband went through a separation. In this case study shared** with Colleen and published in the autumn edition of Living Magazine, Heather talks about the impact separation had on her child, and the strategies we can use to protect children through this difficult time.

I will never forget the look on our son’s face when we told him we were separating—the disappointment, hurt, bottom lip quivering and the tears. Both Dad and I sat down with our son and explained that we were going to go our separate ways. Our son was left feeling shocked, angry, anxious, hurt and scared.

This came out in many ways—through words, emotions, behavioural issues and separation anxiety. Our priority as parents was to make the best of a bad situation. We worked through the issues as best we could and came across many hurdles on both sides through a conflict in beliefs, personality, strategies and parenting styles, and this affected our judgement in working through some of the issues. Through the conflicts, it came down to the bottom line of ‘It is a child’s right to see a parent, not a parent’s right to see a child.’ This assisted us in focusing on the child’s needs and what was best for our son.

Things that helped were reading stories and brochures around separation, providing an explanation of why we as parents had separated, putting no blame on our son and making sure he understood that it was not his fault.

Through counselling we were made aware that we had to be careful of what we said. Words can easily be interpreted wrongly in a young child’s mind. For example “I moved into another bedroom to be closer to you could be read as “It’s all my fault”. It is also important to never put the other parent down or speak harshly of them to the child.

Play therapy, using toys and colouring-in, provided opportunities within the safe environment of the counsellor’s room, for our son to give expression to how he was feeling. Teaching him strategies such as the use of a visual thermometer to identify the level of anger he was feeling at any given time and ways to help the anger to dissipate gave him a sense of feeling more in control and allowed him to settle.

Children need lots of attention, affection and must know that their world is still safe. Lessons learnt from my experience—don’t move out of the family home—this just adds to the change and routine breakdown. It would be beneficial for the main care giver to remain in the family home. Children need to feel safe in their environment and even more so after a separation. There’s already a lot going on without them having to re-adjust to a new home. It also puts more blame on the parent moving out.

Try and make the rules/boundaries the same at both households, ensure they have their own things —toys, clothes, etc. at both houses. Allow extended families to visit them at both houses—this assists in their new normal. We found it beneficial to have a calendar to show what days will be spent where so there were no surprises and our son knew what was happening when. This will depend on the age of the child. We found that any small changes in routine caused a lot of confusion and anxiety and therefore tried to keep what we could the same. For example, Dad always did the pick-up and at the same time.

Sometimes children cannot express what they are feeling by using words, and this comes out in behavioural issues. In times like this we turned to books written by Tracey Moroney When I’m feeling angry, When I’m feeling scared and others in the collection. These were very beneficial as they were written in a way that children can relate to and understand. We also found the Kasey Chambers, Pappa Bill and the Little Hillbillies CD very beneficial, as it has songs and lyrics that were applicable but partly sung by children.

It’s important for any parent to take care of themselves. As a single parent, you are dealing with the challenge of your life being turned upside down and the feelings around failure and separation—but you now have the feelings of another person to address as number one to your own inner turmoil. It is important you get plenty of sleep, have some alone time when you can, social interaction when you need it and try and find a balance between closing yourself off to the world and being a part of it. You need time to yourself to reflect and feel your own emotions and grief caused by the separation, but it’s just as important to be around positive and like-minded people. I found that when I was better, my son was better.

We have been faced with many challenges and emotions throughout this journey and have learnt many lessons, some positive and some negative. We have decided to focus on the positive as we cannot change the past. Number one tip for any parent going through a separation—ensure that the child feels loved, safe and secure and this will make it easier for them to accept all other changes.

*Name changed for confidentiality reasons.
**This case study has been published with permission of the client.

Are you going through a separation? Do you want to protect your children through this transition? Here’s what you need to do: Contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

How Movie Therapy Can Save Your Relationship

Movie Therapy

Can watching a romantic movie with your partner potentially save your marriage? That was the question that motivated Professor Ron Rogge, a Clinical Psychologist at the University of Rochester, to pursue research about the effectiveness of ‘movie therapy’. The results were published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Ron had observed that in America, 50% of marriages end in divorce, and he wanted to find an effective and relatively cost free solution to this troubling and rapidly escalating statistic. He went about his task by recruiting 174 engaged or newly married couples who he found attending bridal showers in the Los Angeles area. The couples were randomly assigned to one of three categories:

  1. No treatment
  2. Movie intervention
  3. Marriage preparation classes in a workshop situation focusing on a couple’s relationship skills

The couples were followed for three years.

Now before you go home and tell your partner that all you need to do to fix your relationship is watch a romantic movie together, there were some requirements that participants in this category were expected to follow. Having picked 5 movies from the suggestions provided, each couple were expected to watch the movie with a particular focus on the following questions:

  • What main problems did this couple face?
  • Are any of these problems similar to the problems you have faced?
  • How did the couple handle arguments or difference of opinion?
  • How did the couple in the movie handle their hurt feelings?

It turned out that the Movie Therapy was equally effective as the Marriage Preparation classes, and over the period of three years, the divorce rate for these 2 groups of couples was halved.

As I said, it is not the movie in itself that was effective for many of these couples, but the conversations that ensued from it. These movies sparked conversations between couples because they could identity with the characters portrayed, observe and reflect upon how their strategies were beneficial or otherwise to the relationship. By using these key questions, couples were able to have an intentional dialogue around issues that frequently trip us up in our relationships.

If you would like to use Movie Therapy to enhance or repair your relationship, here are a few suggestions:

  • Couple’s Retreat
  • Four Christmases
  • Terms of Endearment
  • When a Man Loves a Woman
  • Funny Girls
  • Two for the Road
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Your, Mine and Ours

If none of these inspire you, there are plenty more movies about relationships out there. For instance ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ shows a fighting couple and is also a great action movie. We would love to hear your suggestions to add to our list—just comment below.

By the way, you will notice that I didn’t mention how the ‘no treatment’ fared. Predictably when we do nothing to nurture and support our relationships, it will only survive at best and at its worst, it will end in divorce.

Are you have relationship issues? Do you want to strengthen your marriage? Here’s what you need to do: Contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Your Year in Review

Your Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, I have received Facebook notifications inviting me to see my year in review. Whilst it was very brief (I’m not practiced at taking selfies), it was enjoyable and interesting to revisit both the highs and lows of 2015. I guess the personal highlight of this year would be the relocation of Watersedge Counselling to a larger, more spacious and inviting location. It symbolises the notion of change and growth, values that I pursue personally and professionally.

It appears that the need to reminisce at this time of year is typical of a majority of people, given the number of friend’s posts that invite me to witness their year in review also. In the majority of instances, their year looks interesting, happy and even enviable as I study their smiling faces and those holiday backdrops of blue oceans, golden sand and scenic mountain ranges. There may even be shots of them with their partner happily holding hands, enjoying a coffee together or off on another vacation together. However it would be naïve of me to assume that holidays and happiness was the sum total of my friend’s experiences, because life like the ocean, changes from day to day and season to season. The majority of us are careful to tell the happy story, leaving out the parts where life seemingly falls apart, where we feel afraid or depressed or enraged.

If you did include the parts of 2015 that have been ‘edited out’ what would the full story of your Facebook year look like? Mine would reveal weeks of exhaustion, anxiety about my ageing parents, the grief of saying goodbye to a sister who relocated and heightening frustration as I struggled to communicate effectively to my husband. These are not the moments I choose to reveal because they hold pain and distress however they exist.

What do you do with the bits that you have edited out of your story? There was a time when I would ignore the parts I didn’t like or caused me deep emotional pain. I would tell myself that I would feel better the next day, which worked quite well for many years. Another great way to edit the bad stuff out was to avoid the situation in an effort to minimise any negative experiences or even ‘cut –off’ certain people who I felt uncomfortable around. And of course, chocolate has always worked for me!

How do you edit out the negative stuff of your life? Perhaps you use alcohol to edit out a relationship marked by physical or emotional abuse or the grief of losing a loved one. You might be choosing work to edit out the sadness of a marriage that is marked by sarcasm and criticism. Perhaps you choose to live a life of pretence, bravely putting on ‘a mask’ each day to edit out the hopelessness that threatens to swallow you whole if you remove it. Many people use food as a way of editing out the tough stuff. The challenge with all of these strategies is that they have to be repeated time and again to ensure that our ‘edited material’ doesn’t make a come-back; so you eat more, drink more, pretend more and work more.

So how is that working for you?

I discovered that my strategies of forgetting or avoidance eventually produced a depression that completely debilitated me for a number of years. I may have convinced myself that I was editing out the distressing things, but the reality was that I was stuffing them down into the fabric of my psych where they waited until depression called my attention to them. It was by talking about and acknowledging my fears and my emotional pain that I eventually recovered, learning the value of talking with a trusted friend or counsellor. 2015 has been a tough year for me in many aspects of my life, but these days instead of editing them out, I choose to talk with a trusted mentor about the challenges I face and ways more positive to cope with them. This practice has proved to ensure that I remain resilient and optimistic about life as I experience it.

How have you dealt with the emotionally distressing times of 2015? Walking into a New Year is a great opportunity to re-write your story; a story that is honest about the hard and challenging times and yet equally hopeful and optimistic about the future.

Do you want to re-write your story in 2016? At Watersedge Counselling, Colleen is available to individuals and couples on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation to discuss your personal situation and how we can help you. Duncan is available to individuals and can be contact on 0434 331 243. Rachel Morris is now available to work with youth and young adults. If you are ready to make an appointment, you can go to out book online now and follow the prompts to make your booking.

10 Fun Ideas for the Holidays

holidays banner

While Christmas is often called the ‘Happiest time of the year,’ for many people who are doing the holiday season alone, it actually leaves them feeling isolated and lonely. Maybe you don’t have any friends or family to celebrate with, you may not celebrate Christmas, or perhaps the stress of the season is all getting a bit too much? We thought we'd put together a list of 10 great ideas and activities that you might be interested in. Hopefully this will make the coming weeks all the more enjoyable, and something you’ll remember for years to come.

  1. Join in the SANE for their Virtual Christmas

If you love Christmas dinner but don’t have anyone to share it with, then check out SANE’s Virtual Christmas as they invite people to sit down with their own meal, and join in a festive online chat so they can share the experience with other people. SANE holds a weekly Friday Feast online, so this is something to pencil in for the New Year as well. Visit the official SANE website here for more details.

  1. Volunteer

There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer over the holiday season. If you’re lonely, go and help people and not only will you be in community, but you’ll feel great as well! If you just want a shake up or feel like you’ve lost the true meaning of the season, then contact your local church, charity or community centre and ask them if you can help out with a food drive, community dinner, or other activity.

  1. Become a tourist in your hometown

Mix up your day and become a tourist in your hometown. Go and see the major attractions, visit a shopping hot spot, take a historical tour or splurge and go on a coffee crawl for the day. You’ll distract yourself and have a wonderful time becoming reacquainted with your own city.

  1. Go to a carols service or New Years Party

If you’d like to feel festive on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, going along to a community carols event is the perfect solution! Listen to your community radio station, read your local newspaper or call a near by church and see what they have on offer. There may also be New Years’ festivities open to the public that are being advertised. Check out what’s available and get along to see the fireworks.

  1. Call an old friend

This time of year is perfect for becoming reacquainted with old friends and making peace with those you’ve had a falling out with. Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while and wish them a Merry Christmas. Ask them about their year, their family and what 2016 holds.

  1. Visit your local library, museum or art gallery

If you’re bored, head out and create an adventure for yourself by visiting the library, museum or art gallery. Take your time and enjoy the experience by visiting each section and appreciating what it has to offer. If there’s a café attached, bring a good book or buy one there and allow yourself to become engulfed in the environment after you’ve looked around for a few hours. 

  1. Make a Happy Box

The folks at Resilient App have come up with the great idea of putting together a Happy Box to soothe you when you are feeling down. Selecting objects like hand cream, a good book, M&M’s, bubble wrap (because who doesn’t like to pop bubbles?) or a scented candle and putting them in a box are all useful when you are feeling low or stressed. Make yourself a Happy Box over the holiday period and enjoy the long-term benefits of it in 2016.

  1. Treat yourself

Treat yourself to a nice meal and a movie. Sometime it’s more fun going and doing these activities by yourself, so go and choose a restaurant you’ve been bursting to eat at and see a movie you know you’ll love. It could be a chick flick, or it could be Star Wars- it doesn’t matter. Just treat yourself to an evening of pampering.

  1. Have coffee with a friend

We’re all busy this time of year, but you’ll find people are happy to catch up for an hour over coffee. Choose a near by café and take the chance to catch up with your friend while enjoying some yummy food. You’ll leave feeling happy and contented knowing you’ve truly invested in an important relationship.

  1. Learn something new

Pick up that cross stitch you gave up on, research a course you can join in the new year, or watch YouTube tutorials on how to become a photographer. The sky is the limit when it comes to learning something new, so take the time to read, watch, learn and practice a new skill. In the New Year you’ll blow everyone away with your brilliant new talent!

Are you lonely? Do you feel down? Here’s what you need to do: Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

Check Out This Great New Website for the LBGTI Community

LBGTI

It can be difficult to find specific and compassionate advice for the LBGTI (Lesbian, Bi, Gay, Trans, Intersex) community, especially around drugs, alcohol and sex. If you’re a part of it, the difficulty of finding a comprehensive and understanding resource is very real. And if you have a friend or a family member who needs support, finding them a great website, let alone a counsellor who can help them out, can be as difficult as moving a mountain. The good news is that this last week VAC just launched the terrific website Touchbase, which is completely dedicated to informing and supporting LBGTI people of all ages. We’re really excited about Touchbase at Watersedge, and wanted to share some details about it with you.

ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

With details about drugs ranging from alcohol to Viagra and GHB, Touchbase gives you comprehensive coverage of what substances contain, how they affect you in the moment, and the long-term consequences of their use. Giving some insight to safe use of substances, and how to avoid mixing them, it also details how use of each substance affects people living with HIV.

MENTAL HEALTH

People who are LBGTI are at a higher risk of suicide (Beyond Blue), so the need for specific and honest details around mental health for this community is fundamentally needed. On Touchbase, you are given details ranging from the affects of drugs on the brain, coping strategies to take care of yourself if you’re feeling ‘shaky’ and how to find help and support.

SEXUAL HEALTH

While we often shy away from it, the sexual health of anyone is integral to a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Touchbase is straight up in addressing these issues, tackling HIV, STD’s, the facts around safe sex, risk prevention and how sex and drugs mix.

PRACTICAL ADVICE

Aside from informing you with details about substances, mental health and sex, Touchbase also provides you with a ‘Toolkit’ so you can implement them in your everyday life. We’re talking self-assessments to measure your substance use, tools to help you party safely, details about treatment, and how to reduce use of alcohol and drugs. This is a great section when you need to take another step and actively practice self care in your own life, or want to help a friend out.

STORIES

While this area of Touchbase is still in development, the opportunity to share your own story with the LBGTI community is available so other people can be inspired by your honesty and journey. Once this area is developed, you will also be able to find stories on there from like-minded teens and adults. Not only is this a healing tool for both the storytellers and readers, it is also integral in the overall wellbeing of the LBGTI community, minimising isolation and raising awareness.

Are you a member of the LBGTI community, in a same sex relationship, or want to support a friend seeking help? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

The 8 Faces of Grief

The-8-Faces-of-Grief

There is no one-way to grieve. If you think back to a time when you have grieved the loss of a loved one, you might notice that you reacted very differently to another family member or friend. In this article Colleen wrote for PsychCentral, she talks about the 8 faces of grief, and how they may appear in your own life. Whether you have experienced abbreviated grief from a need to ‘move on’, a chronic grief that causes you ongoing pain, or a delayed grief, each experience is valid and needs to be acknowledged. You can read the article here.

Are you grieving a loss? Do you know someone who is grieving a loss and you don’t know how to help them? Talking to a Counselling Professional about your experience in a safe and nurturing space may be the support you need to navigate your grief experience. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or press book now to book on the online diary.

Rewriting The Rules of Grief

Rewriting-The-Rules-on-Grief

In 2012, Jim Stynes, the Melbourne Aussie Rules footballer, lost his 2 I/2 year battle with cancer. Upon his death, there was an outpouring of public affection for this Irishman, described as ‘a true gentleman of the game,’ an ‘inspirational man’ who was ‘loved by the people,’ ‘a true champion both on and off the field’, ‘ always humble and genuine in his passion to help others,’ and a ‘wonderful family man with a rare ability to inspire all those around him.’

Jim Stynes had achieved more than most of us dream in his 45 years; AFL consecutive games record holder, a Brownlow Medallist, youth leader, Victorian of the Year, OAM and Melbourne Football Club president. He was also a father to 2 children and husband to wife Sam, who is the true subject of this blog.

How does a partner ‘move on’ when their loss feels like a freight train has irreverently rampaged its way through your heart, leaving a gaping void? How does a partner ‘move on’ when their loved one has risen to such dizzying heights of public adoration? I really have no idea, but I imagine that it is a moment at a time, an hour at a time, a day at a time; living in the enormous shadow that their loved one cast in life and now, in death. It has got to be one of the most challenging tasks this life presents, to keep on living and make sense of their new reality. It is a lonely and isolating journey that rarely needs or even welcomes the commentary of well-meaning family and friends. Grief only asks for the other to be present, to listen, to companion.

So it was with some sadness when, just over a week ago, I read the headline:

Jim Stynes widow, Sam Ludbey, opens up about re-marriage backlash

Sam revealed on radio that she had remarried in April 2015, but had withheld the information from the public out of respect. In spite of Sam’s desire to consider others, she still faced criticism from friends, feeling that she had to ‘defend her choice to move on.’

I am sad that Sam felt she had to celebrate her engagement in secrecy.

I am sad that Sam felt that she had to keep her marriage a secret.

I am sad that she had to bear the pain of recrimination from friends and strangers.

I ask myself, who made these rules about when it is okay to ‘move on’ anyway? Is there a book of indelible rules that no one has informed me about? Does Australia Post send me a copy of the rules in the event of the loss of a loved one? Or are these rules internalised in our psychic; informed by the society we live in, our parents & friends, media and teachers? When we internalise these rules, they largely lay in our unconscious self, un-critiqued until we are confronted by our own great loss. Suddenly those unspoken rules take on an authority wielding a power that can devastate the already fragile, vulnerable, grieving heart.

When we observe our friend ‘not moving on’ we get anxious, perhaps frustrated or impatient with them. Perhaps ‘our’ rules inform us that it is not okay to leave their loved ones clothes hanging in the closet long after they are gone? We wonder how normal it is to continue to set a place at the table for dad months after he has died, or suspect there is something very wrong when a bereaved parent leaves their dead child’s room untouched long after they’re gone. Yes, it is confronting, but confronting for whom? May be there is no ‘normal,’ and your loved one is just trying to navigate their daily life and find a different way to maintain a connection with their loved one.

On the other hand, when a person apparently does ‘move on’ (as it appears to be in Sam’s case), we feel offended – it is ‘to soon’, ‘on the rebound’, or ‘disrespectful to their loved one,’ are familiar phrases. Our internalised rules declare how inappropriate that person is behaving.

Who made those rules? Why do we feel the need or believe we have the right to dictate the rules around grief when it isn’t even our journey?

Recent research into how we grieve has moved quite profoundly from the old notion of doing ‘stages of grief’ (Elizabeth Kubler-Ross), to a more dynamic notion where the person who is grieving interacts with the loss experience. People move between their overwhelming loss and the new life they must attend to, oscillating between the two (M.S.Stoebe & Shut 1999). Their task is not so much to ‘let go’ or to ‘move on,’ as it is to work out a way to interact with their loved one even though they are physically absent. We can ‘move with’ rather than ‘moving on’ from grief and the relationship with the person we grieve (Klass, Silverman & Nickman 1996).

After all, there is no right or wrong way to grieve – we just do the best we know how at the time, forging a different, but no less significant connection, with the deceased while at the same time, continuing the task of living and forming new attachments. That is what Sam Ludbey is doing, as we all must do when confronted by our own great loss.

Are you grieving a loss? Do you know someone who is grieving a loss and you don’t know how to help them? Talking to a Counselling Professional about your experience in a safe and nurturing space may be the support you need to navigate your grief experience. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or press book now to book on the online diary.