Death Awareness / Dying Matters Week

Tomorrow, 13 May, marks the start of Death Awareness / Dying Matters week. I’m passionate about this subject as I feel that many people see death, dying and grief as taboo subjects, making it difficult to talk about these painful, but important areas. This can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, guilt, depression and more.

Benjamin Franklin is famously reported as having said:

Everyone is faced with death at some point in their lives: for example parents, friends and eventually our own. Some of these can feel like part of a natural progression of life, for example the death of an older person, such as a grandparent. Others can feel very ‘wrong’ and deeply disturbing, for example the death of a young child, or the sudden and violent death of a close friend in an accident.

Some losses can feel very isolating because others might not understand the depth of our feelings, for example the loss of an animal. To the owner, they might have felt like family, but to those looking in from the outside, a pet might seem easy to replace.

Miscarriage, too, can be a situation where parents are expected to ‘recover’ and get on with things, whereas they might still be struggling, but also feeling that they can’t talk about it because, to everyone around them, the matter appears closed.

I would love to see a world where people are free to talk about death and dying, and that grief no longer carries any stigma.

There is a movement which aims to support this. Death Cafés are being set up in lots of towns across the country. I’ve been to a couple and, contrary to what you might think, they are fun and uplifting occasions with lots of laughter. There’s also a great sense of openness and connection as fears and concerns are shared and begin to lose their scariness in the light of day and the gentle supportive words of the others in the room.

A lovely networking colleague of mine, Jane Grayer, a Celebrant with Create Ceremonies, facilitates a Death Café in Abergavenny. She and I will be facilitating a workshop on Grief and Grieving next Saturday, 18 May, here at Equenergy. It will be a small group, allowing people to share their stories in a safe space, surrounded by Nature which can be so nurturing for those hurt parts of our being.

The workshop sold out within a couple of days, which just highlights to me the need for this kind of space and opportunity to talk about our experiences around loss. Jane and I are now collecting names to gauge interest for running a similar event(s) in the future, so if you would like your name to be added to this list, please get in touch.

Everyone’s experience of grief is highly personal and is based upon their unique perception of the situation.  Events trigger different reactions in different people and our responses to trauma and emotional shock can vary hugely.  They can also depend on our past experiences, beliefs and values.  In addition they can be influenced by the other things going on in our lives at the time, which can leave us feeling particularly vulnerable or sensitive. 

People vary widely in the way they cope with feelings, and grief affects us in many ways.  Anxiety, fear, agitation, restlessness, anger, blame, resentment, depression, shock and feeling detached are all very normal responses.  As is guilt. 

It can be a time of inner turmoil and we can begin to question our judgement and decisions. 

The phases of dealing with grief are highly individual, and some people also experience physical pain or illness.  It is important to recognise that it is a natural way of processing loss, and that we need to be kind to ourselves and allow time for these emotions to flow.  Often the depth of the pain comes as a shock and can feel completely overwhelming.

If you are struggling with grief, you do not have to do this alone. Firstly, realise that this is a natural process. You are not crazy. You’re not losing your mind, even though it can feel that you are.

Whatever you are feeling, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to experience grief. However, if your feelings are overwhelming, it’s ok to ask for help. Please don’t feel that you have to bottle things up. If you can’t talk to family or friends, there are professionals who will offer you time, support and a non-judgemental, listening ear.

Your GP might be able to help signpost you to support services or groups in your area, and if you’re struggling with sleep or other physical symptoms, they should be able to help with these too.

If you don’t want to go down the route of medication, you might prefer to try natural remedies such as homeopathy, essential oils or Bach Flowers. I would recommend approaching a qualified practitioner to ensure that you get the best remedy for you, but for some self-help options you can read my article on Bereavement and Loss.

If you know someone who is experiencing grief and you want to support them but you’re feeling anxious because you don’t know what to say, please don’t worry. The most important thing is just to be there. Be a listening ear. Offer them the opportunity to talk – and don’t be afraid if they say some things that appear strange. (Trust your gut that you will know if they need further, professional, support.) Generally it’s just the hurting parts of them struggling to process their loss. What they need most is someone who will allow them to talk openly about what they’re feeling as this helps in processing the emotions in order to adjust to their new circumstances. Also, be aware that you might need support for yourself in this situation, and again there are professionals available to offer this for you too.

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Stress Awareness Month – part 3

As this last post of Stress Awareness Month, I thought I’d look at the wisdom that we hold within ourselves.

Our bodies know how to be well, it’s just that often we have disconnected from that wisdom.  If we can find a way to reconnect and re-member that wisdom (as Neale Donald Walsch might say) then we can rediscover our balance and wellbeing.

Every cell of our being holds a blueprint of how it is designed to function and what it needs in order to operate most effectively.  When we can tune in to this and be fully open to allowing it, then the body will naturally find its way back to this pattern.

However, due to stress and the traumas that we experience in our lives (both ‘Big T’ and ‘little t’ traumas – and remember that these are very subjective and don’t always ‘make sense’ to our analytical minds) we can find ourselves not fully able to trust this process and allow our bodies to find the balance they were designed for.

We might have learnt patterns of behaviour which, originally, were put in place to help us feel safe, but over time they have become stifling and restrictive, actually stopping us from growing and becoming the happy, healthy, creative being we were designed to be.

The rules and expectations of our society can also seem to place restrictions and demands on us, limiting our choices or shaping us into a particular role, which might not actually be where our Spirit would choose to be.

So what can you do?  How can you get back to the wellbeing and ‘flow’ that you were made for?

I believe that we can do this through reconnecting to Nature – both the Nature all around us, and to our own true Nature, in all its forms and colours. 

A wonderful and wise woman once shared a song with me that had a great impact on how I saw myself and the life I was living.  Sadly, it was many years ago and I long ago lost the recording and don’t have a copy of the exact lyrics, but it was about how looking at the sunset reminds us that our life is supposed to contain all the colours.  We weren’t designed for a bland, monochrome existence, but for one that is full of bright, vivid colour.  This encompasses all the emotions, both the ‘safe’ and ‘acceptable’ ones, and also the ‘scary’ and ‘ugly’ ones.  We need to embrace them all and learn how to be a good steward of them, so that they don’t end up controlling us on some subconscious level.

I also think that it is very important to pay attention to the messages that we give ourselves, both through our words, and our body language.

One simple example, in regards to vocabulary is this:

And for body language, consider this question:

Often, we think that our body language comes from our feelings – and it does.  But it can also work the other way round. 

Our posture is part of a bio-feedback loop.

When our spine is straight and our shoulders down and back (comfortably, not forced) then our lungs have space and we can breathe more freely. Also, our heart centre is open. 

When we slump, the opposite is true, and this is telling the body that we are not at our best in some way. It can encourage feelings of tiredness, anxiety and stress.

Think of the way that many of us spend our days: slumped in front of a computer screen, or the TV, or staring at our mobile phone…

How much is this contributing to our stress levels?

This is why it’s so beneficial to take a break, stand up, move around, pay attention to your posture and breath, and if possible, spend some time outdoors in natural light. 

So, if you’re in a situation currently where you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, chronic fatigue or dis-ease, then hang in there.  You can still make the journey back to health and wellbeing.  As Anthony William, the Medical Medium, says:

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been sick.  You can heal. 
Always remember that and never forget it.”


Learning to Dance in the Rain

I initially wrote this blog early last week, but then something happened on Thursday which prompted me to write this short edit.  A friend that I deeply respect, told me that she felt I wasn’t being honest with myself about my responsibility in the situation I find myself with Dax, and that I was placing the blame on other people.  I would therefore like to print an apology for anything I’ve said that has come across in this way.  It was not my intention. 

Regarding responsibility, this has made me think of the difference between ‘taking responsibility’ (in an empowering way that leads to action) versus ‘taking the blame’ – which is what, in hindsight, I think I was actually doing, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and generally powerless.  I have recognised that this is something I need to address and so have begun to take steps in this.  This has then enabled me to look more openly and closely at what’s been happening with Dax and to take more constructive action in this too.

And now, back to my blog:

Last week I wrote about how I’ve been learning to bend so that I don’t break.  A further step in this lesson for me is to practice being able to ‘dance in the rain’ – ie, not to wish that there were no storms in life, but rather to celebrate them, knowing that they bring valuable teaching and that even when times are tough, I can still dance and make the most of every moment.  It’s also about being able to be present with whatever is happening in the moment and to be comfortable, even with being uncomfortable.

Getting to this point takes time and practice.  We rarely manage it in any sustainable way the first time!  But, like the baby learning to take its first steps, it’s a matter of getting up, dusting ourselves off and trying again.

After all, that’s what life’s really about, isn’t it – experimenting, trying, finding out what works and what doesn’t, repeating the former and discarding the latter and continually refining and adapting.

When we make decisions and choices, we might think that we’re doing so from a purely logical, rational, analytical perspective but I’ve come to realise that there’s always an emotional element on some level.  This is true for the simplest of choices, such as what we’re going to wear on a particular day, to what’s for dinner, to what car we want to buy.  It’s even more true when we consider our responses to situations.  These are determined by our thoughts and beliefs which are strongly coloured by our past experiences and our emotional state:

In every situation, when we react rather than make a conscious choice, we are doing what we think will make us feel better / safer in that situation.  However, when our perception is coloured by fearful past experiences, these decisions will not help us to move forward.  They can end up being a form of self-sabotage.

This is why, when we want to grow, we need to become curious about what is motivating our choices.  To do this, we need to develop our ‘emotional intelligence’ in order to gain a greater understanding of what’s going on inside.  It can be a real challenge to face up to the things that we don’t like about ourselves – the things that we don’t want others to see – and to be open and honest about them.  But when we can do this with self-forgiveness and self-compassion it can be a very liberating experience!  Not only that, but it enables us to support others in developing the same skills and so allow them to find that same freedom.

Just imagine how wonderful that could feel:

  • to no longer be held by fear
  • to be free to experience the fullness of love, joy and connection
  • to be fully your self, no longer needing to wear any masks
  • to feel fully alive!

Of course, life still has its ups and downs.  It still seems to throw us curve balls to keep us on our toes!  But when we can learn to bend and to dance in the rain, we are much more able to adapt, flex and flow with these ‘plot twists’.  We have greater clarity and insight on our own responses – and after all, these are the only things we have any control over.

It was very difficult for me to face the fact that we’d lost our field shelter when it was destroyed by the recent storms.  There was the financial pain – it had cost about £4,000.00 and we can’t afford to replace it – and the thought of all the wasted time and effort that my wonderful husband had put in to building it and making it – we thought – storm safe.  Not only that, but I worried about the horses: their safety when it went over and what they were now going to do for shelter.

Then I decided to look at the situation from a different angle.  Yes, we’d lost a lot of money, but everyone was safe, and no-one had been injured, which was the most important thing. 

Obviously, we had tried to stand against the force of Nature, rather than go with it, and hadn’t realised how strong the winds could get in that part of the field.  So how might we do things differently?

I looked around at the resources that we have here.  The house is situated on a lower level than the fields and between them there is an area of ‘unused’ land – rough grasses, gorse bushes and some trees.  It had always been my plan to open this up to the horses and as I looked at it with fresh eyes, I realised that there is a lot of natural shelter there, from trees and the contours of the land. 

So now I’m looking into making this area secure so that the horses can access this natural shelter.  It will also provide them with additional, interesting places to explore.

I’ve also ordered some Willow, to see if I can create a living shelter for them.  If it’s successful it will have many benefits, including roots to further stabilise the land and drink up some of the water which makes that part of the field a quagmire in the winter.  It will provide shoots that the horses can nibble on – as long as they don’t eat until there’s nothing left!  Time will tell on that one…

This is what we hope to achieve:

If you’ve ever tried to create something like this, I’d be really interested to hear from you about how it went, and any tips that you can share!

part of the slope down to the house from the fields

If any of this has resonated with you and you’d like to learn more about developing your own emotional intelligence and resilience, and how to feel your way to the choices that are right for you, you might be interested in attending one of my workshops on how to ‘Feel Your Way from Stress into Flow’.  Contact me for further details:

Learning to ‘bend’ so that I don’t break!

I’ve started to write this blog in my head so many times but not yet had the opportunity to ‘put pen to paper’ – or as I do more often these days, put fingertips to keys! 

Each inner draft has seen the content shift and change, reflecting my sense that everything around me is shifting and changing as we move from winter into spring.

This has been very evident in the weather that we’ve been experiencing this month. 

The weekend of the 15th / 16th saw further storms with very strong winds.  Sadly, after all the hard work and care that my wonderful husband put into repairing our field shelter, when the previous storm had put it on its roof, this time the wind took it, twisted it and ripped it apart beyond repair:

The very next day the sun came out and it hasn’t stopped shining since!  We’ve had some truly glorious days and as the external storms have subsided, it has allowed some of the inner unsettled feelings to calm.

One of the factors contributing to my inner turmoil was the fact that my non-horsey husband and Dax had a serious clash, resulting in Tim saying that the horse had to go. 

Tim is nervous around these big animals and Dax, being a typical hand-reared horse, has little sense of boundaries.  When he comes too close, Tim gets nervous and Dax, being a sensitive animal, picks up on this and gets anxious in return.  Sadly, his response to this is to get defensive, which in his case means threatening with teeth.  Tim tried to reinforce his space by pushing Dax away, but Dax is a horse who just pushes back.  This, understandably, left Tim feeling very vulnerable and afraid for his safety. 

I’ve actually found that Dax responds better when the energies around him are kept calm.  If he starts to get a bit over excited, the best way to deal with it is to distract him and to walk away, to give him the space to feel safe again and to calm himself.  This can be challenging though when faced with an apparently very angry horse!

The need to rehome this beautiful boy, who I had hoped would be with us for the rest of his life, and who has taken a huge part of my heart, has hit me hard.  

Unfortunately, his owner is not in a position to take him back and so I’ve been trying to find him a good and understanding home, as otherwise he will have to be put to sleep.  However, I’m finding that this is far from an easy task when the horse in question is a non-ridden 8-year-old gelding with some behavioural issues.  I’ve found it a very depressing and frustrating process as everyone I’ve approached has said that they can’t take him, but Tim is pressing for him to go.

But life goes on, even when sometimes it feels like it’s falling apart, and this wonderful place, with its amazing energy, has been working its healing magic on me.

On Thursday I went to a networking meeting in Monmouth where Patricia Carswell spoke of her journey from working as a barrister in London, through burnout and recovery to recreating herself as a freelance journalist and top-class rower.  She was then diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer but following surgery and chemotherapy, is back and looking amazing.

Listening to her speak, helped to crystallise some thoughts that have been running around in my head and I thought I’d share them here. 

I’m coming to see, with much greater clarity, the value of flexibility.  For many years I was someone who could have been described as a ‘control freak’.  I liked to feel that I had a handle on each situation, and I needed to know where things were going and what was going to happen next.  I definitely didn’t like to feel out of control! 

I thought that being ‘in control’ would be less stressful and give me a greater sense of security.  However, particularly since moving here, I’ve realised that any sense of ‘control’ I had was just an illusion!  Also, that trying to hold on to that control was more stressful and left me feeling more overwhelmed and exhausted.  It must have been very difficult for those around me too!

I’m now coming to appreciate the value of being able to ‘bend’ and ‘flow’ rather than clinging rigidly to the things that I think will keep me safe.  As Confucius said:

It’s funny that I’ve ‘known’ these things for a while in my head, even believed them, but it’s as my wonderful boss from my first job used to say: ‘It’s not until it makes that 10-inch drop from your head to your heart that you really know it’.

I’d like to close with a quote that Patricia Carswell used at the end of her presentation as I thought it was very poignant and ‘on point’:

Some words of inspiration

This week seems to have been overly long and, having got to the weekend, I find myself feeling drained and exhausted.  Much of this is probably down to the fact that we went up to London yesterday for a funeral.  This is the second one in just a few months within the same family (Tim’s cousin and then his uncle) which obviously has quite an impact.

Added to this, the funeral took place in Upminster, which is the far side of London for us, meaning that I got up at 4am to see to the horses before catching a series of 5 trains, followed by a lift to the crematorium for the service at 10.30.  We left again about 1pm and got home about 5 – a long and tiring day!

Funerals, of course, are sobering occasions and, particularly as we get older, they become more and more a time to pause, reflect and consider where we’re going in Life.  Funny how death has a way of making you think more about Life!  It makes us realise how quickly time passes and how temporary and fragile things can be…

I see death as just another part of the natural cycle of things.  To me it’s not an end, just the start of another, different chapter.  As Einstein said:

I believe that since we are energy, death is just a change of form.  We move on to a new state of being, one that, from this life, we can’t see, imagine or understand, but no less real for that.

I also think that it’s a good thing that death makes us reflect…

  • Are we truly living?
  • Or are we merely surviving, struggling through each day..?
  • or existing, drifting along with no purpose, no joy and no hope?

I think that we’re here for the sole purpose of experiencing Life in all its fullness and exploring what it means to be as fully ourselves as we can possibly be.

I don’t think we’re being watched, judged or found wanting – other than, so often, by ourselves.

If we could just find a way to let go of that, and to know that there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, no failure, other than where we choose to apply these labels…

If we could know that our true nature is Love and allow ourselves to align more closely with that, without fear, what a Life we could lead, and what a world this would be.

I know that this is a bit of a simplification of things and that there are many layers and many shades to our existence here in this Life, but I’m all for keeping things simple!  I think that we so often over-complicate things…

I also think that when we see things that we label as ‘bad’ or ‘evil’, this is often due to misunderstanding, a difference of perspective, or deep pain somewhere that has caused things to go so far off track, so far away from the beauty of our true nature, that it has become distorted and hurtful.  Sometimes this has perhaps gone beyond the point of no return, but often, with Love and gentleness, these hurts can be healed, at least in part.

So, for me, this week has been about taking stock.  Where is my life serving me – where is it making me happy, bringing me joy, helping me to grow – and where is it holding me back?

The following quotes appeared on my Instagram feed over the last few days:

They spoke deeply to me and so I thought I would share, in case they might resonate for you too.

As we enter the weekend after another busy week, I wish for you:

  • some time of stillness to rest, recharge and reflect
  • the opportunity to discover what makes your heart sing, and the strength to choose to follow that
  • the courage to face the things that aren’t supporting you in your life, and to make the changes that will align you more with your happiness, freedom and Love

Bereavement and Loss – Part 7 of 7

In this, the last part of the series, I will continue to explore some recommended complementary therapies.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I would be very interested to hear from you about anything which you have found helpful.

 Bach Flower Remedies are a very gentle way of supporting both people and animals.

Below is a list of some of the essences that can be used:

Rescue Remedy – this is a combination of 6 essences that restore clarity and calm, and reduce panic and shock. Rescue is a good choice for survivors whenever death has occurred suddenly and unexpectedly, as well as when the individual has passed after a long, physically and/or emotionally arduous period.

Water Violet –specifically indicated for the processing of grief. This is called for when the person / animal withdraws from company, seeking solace in isolation. It will typically will bring on a short-term release of tears as grief is released and processed.

Honeysuckle –for those who pine away for lost loved ones, living overmuch in the memory of what was. Honeysuckle helps regain normal, healthy remembrance while allowing one to move on and face the present hopefully.

Gorse –when the person seems to have lost hope.

Gentian – the flower essence for setbacks.  Some individuals are prone to taking difficult life events to heart, and losing faith that life is overall good.

Olive –for exhaustion. Olive restores emotional energy, and in doing so, improves the ability to regain physical energy and stamina.

Hornbeam – an excellent choice when grief drains one’s enthusiasm about life.

Star of Bethlehem – the remedy specifically for shock, pain, and numbness brought on by trauma.

Elm –for overwhelm. Indicated when this loss has added yet another strain, and the individual appears hard pressed to handle one more thing. Elm restores stamina.

Mimulus – the remedy for fears, a not uncommon response to loss.  Mimulus increases courage in the face of uncertainty.

Aspen – the essence for anxiety.  Aspen reduces apprehension.

Clematis – the remedy for the drifting, daydream-y, in your own world response that can be an avoidance of painful reality. Clematis restores mental clarity and presence of mind.

Other therapies that can be very beneficial include acupuncture and massage which can help to unblock ‘stuck’ energies helping people and animals to move on through their grief journey.

 

If you are currently experiencing any of these issues and would like to talk, please feel free to get in touch.  There will be no obligation to make a booking, it’s just an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have and to see if what I offer might be a good fit for you.  My contact details are:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

If you would like to take a look at my website, you can find it at:

www.equenergy.com/

 

You can read the whole of this article here

Bereavement and Loss – Part 6 of 7

In this section I will mention some other complementary therapies that can be a very effective support for anyone who is grieving.

One is Homeopathy.  There are several possible grief remedies.  The most appropriate will depend on the person / animal, their symptoms and the situation.

Some options are listed below:

Ignatia – This is the first remedy a Homeopathic Practitioner thinks of when someone has suffered the loss of a loved one.  This remedy often applies when there are symptoms of a lump in the throat, spasms in the body, feelings of disappointment in your life’s dreams, and an overall feeling that you must keep your grief suppressed and under control.

Natrum Muriaticum – This remedy is often indicated in a romantic loss in very introverted people who hold everything in.  They feel the loss as a breaking in half of their own identity.  They will cry horribly while alone, looking at pictures and listening to music, yet dread to show their feelings in public.  This Homeopathic remedy is especially indicated in cases where long term illness progressed from the loss.

Arnica – is a remedy indicated where the loss was perceived as a blow.  Often this is a financial loss such as a job or investment crash.  In this case you would feel hurt, bruised, and tender and not want to engage with the hard world.  The opposite could be the case when you toughen up and engage life in a blunt forceful manner in order to regain what you lost.

Magneseum Muriaticum – This remedy can be indicated after the loss of a care giver where you feel abandoned and forsaken, left on your own and unable to fend for yourself.  This can be accompanied with digestive ailments.

Phosphoric Acid: for those exhausted from grief. They cannot perceive information as well as before. Debility comes from grief, mental shock, unhappy love, homesickness or even bad news. They will give short answers and they dislike talking. They may say that ‘life is useless’ and everything feels ‘dark’. The biggest characteristic of someone needed Phos Acid is indifference to the things that they used to love.

Causticum:  for those suffering a weakened nervous system and connective tissues. There is often a history of slowly progressive debility, stiffness, and even paralysis. The ‘Causticum’ personality is serious, intense and sensitive and often overly sympathetic. This is especially true when hearing of unfortunate people, animals or events.

*I recommend seeking advice from a qualified therapist before taking any remedies.

 

In the last section I will continue my list of recommended complementary therapies.

If you are currently experiencing any of these issues and would like to talk, please feel free to get in touch.  There will be no obligation to make a booking, it’s just an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have and to see if what I offer might be a good fit for you.  My contact details are:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

If you would like to take a look at my website, you can find it at:

www.equenergy.com/

 

You can read the whole of this article here