Finding hope in difficult times

We live in a time where the current “trend” is positivity. It’s all about self-care, mindfulness and happiness which I completely support as it’s good for the soul. However, when you stop to look at the state of the world and the events that are happening, it’s not hard to understand why so many have a problem embracing positivity.

It seems that each and every day, there are more stories on the news of terrorist attacks, the planet which as a race we are killing more and more by the day and the latest kerfuffle that our governments are facing. What is also alarming, is the number of families falling below the poverty line and the number of homeless people dramatically rising. It’s enough to make anyone forget positivity.

However, these may be difficult times, but it’s important we look for the hope or as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell once said, just one happy thought.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” “So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!” J.M. Barrie

This may be part of a fairytale but J.M. Barrie had the right concept. So how do we stay positive and find that spark of hope we sometimes need to get us through the day?

  • Gratitude – Start a gratitude journal or jar. Each day, for a year, write down one thing you’re grateful for. It could be the money for a takeaway, it could simply be the hug from your little one. Look for the positive and you’ll find it.
  • Listen – Listen to some upbeat, happy tunes. Music has a great power within it, so use it to help fill your mind and body with happiness and soul. Perhaps you could even have a little dance!
  • Smile – It’s so simple. Just smile. Smiling can be so infectious…smile and the world will smile with you.
  • Passion – None of us know how long we have on this earth, so don’t waste a second. Do something you’re passionate about and live each moment to the fullest. This doesn’t have to be as your work but perhaps a hobby such as walking or painting.

If you look for it there is always hope to be found. If you’re struggling then please do reach out and find someone to talk to be it the Samaritans, your doctor or myself. There will always be someone there to listen and of course try and help you find the positive.

Feeling bad about feeling good

When we experience deep sorrow for whatever reason, one of the hardest things that follows can be feeling good once again.  A moment of happiness can fill us with remorse, guilt and all sorts of other things – isn’t it ironic that a feeling of happiness can make us feel so bad.

It is incredibly hard when you have experienced great sadness or loss to trust that things may finally be looking up. However, when things do start to finally head on the right path, the guilt we experience can often set us back.

Why do we feel this way? Perhaps because a feeling of happiness or even just feeling okay can make us feel like we’re okay with what has happened and that we’re ready to move on, which of course we might not be ready to do. It feels simply wrong.

What you should remember is that this is all perfectly normal and whilst it might feel like you’re the only one experiencing these feelings, you’re really not alone. Mistakenly, people think that their grief needs to end and be complete before they can once again be free to enjoy happiness and good things.

Coping with the feelings that come with grief is a complicated matter.  Someone asking, ‘how are you?’ can be very innocent on their part but open such a complex can of worms for you. You may not want to admit you’re struggling but find it equally difficult to answer that you’re okay, meaning there is no actual answer you can give.

What we need to understand is that we don’t just feel one emotion at any given time. According to Google we can have anywhere between 50,000-80,000 thoughts per day and our emotions, which are very closely tied to our thoughts, also tend to change with them.

The whole “If I am happy then I can’t be sad anymore” logic simply isn’t true. Not all 80,000 thoughts we experience in a day are going to be happy or all sad. There will be a mix of everything depending on where we are, what we are doing and what we are experiencing.

If you have recently experienced a loss, don’t be afraid to smile or even laugh. A moment of happiness should be a welcome moment of respite from the overwhelmingness that can be grief. Equally, if you’re at a good time in your life when everything is going well, don’t feel bad if you feel a little down. We can’t be happy, sunshine people all the time.

We will never eradicate the feeling of guilt for feeling happy when we are in fact sad, but know that it’s okay and you aren’t alone.

How To Help Those That Are Grieving


One of the worst experiences we are faced with in life is loss and bereavement. Some people will be fortunate to have never experienced any kind of grief and unfortunately others are all too familiar with the feelings of loss and bereavement.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines grief as “intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.” This is as good a description as any, though I’m unsure any words can truly describe the feelings of grief.

We all deal with it in our own ways whether it be to talk about it or to hide away from the world until we’re forced back into society. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief though there are perhaps methods that are better in some respects. The trouble comes when you are not the person experiencing the grief but the one trying to support the bereaved through their loss.

What should you say? What should you do? Will anything you say or do actually be what they need? All one can do is try.

Here are a few ideas on how to help:

  • Never avoid someone who has been bereaved. It’s confusing and hurtful. Texts, emails and letters are all acceptable – it’s the contact that matters. Grief can make you feel scared and alone. Saying “I’m sorry” is enough if you can’t think of anything else.
  • Never tell someone how they’re feeling, because grief is incredibly individual. Just be there to support them.
  • Don’t stop someone crying. Even saying “don’t cry”, meant helpfully, can seem as if you are shutting them down. It’s OK to be silent while someone sobs, just give them a reassuring, gentle touch to let them know you are there.
  • Save the flowers for three months after the bereavement, when everyone else has fallen away and it seems everyone has forgotten. The bereaved person will still be grieving. It’s getting back to ordinary life that can hurt the most.
  • Don’t be afraid to mention the person who has died. Often people will avoid mentioning them or their name because they don’t know what to say or feel awkward, however this can often be more painful than a stroll down memory lane to remember the good and happy times.

Let the grieving person guide you. If you are there to be a support, allow their grief to guide you along the correct path of comfort.

If you need any help or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Grief and its Power


There’s no escaping it. When grief arrives in our lives in its various forms there is no hiding from it, though some may try. At its worst it can be all consuming and feel as if we will never escape from it and for others, it can make them feel empty and a shell of their former selves.

There are many definitions of grief as the word can encompass so many things. Whatever the situation, grief is a normal emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. It can also be the conflicting feelings caused by the end or change of something familiar.

Obviously, the most common cause of grief is the loss of a loved one. The primary emotion caused during this time is tremendous sadness as well as sometimes relief that perhaps a long-suffering family member is no longer in pain or perhaps anger that someone was taken too soon.

Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Some will welcome help and comfort and some will shy away from it. But, how do you begin to even cope with grief?

Acceptance

One of the first and most difficult things that must happen is the acknowledgement and acceptance of the feelings that you have. Many people will try and avoid them because they don’t feel comfortable with them, but this can lead to further psychological problems later on. You need to find a safe place be that alone or with someone, find what works for you, sit down and acknowledge how you are feeling.

Talking

It may sound like a cliché but talking does help. It will either provide an outlet for the feelings that you have or remind you that just because someone has passed it doesn’t mean they cannot live on through their memories. Find someone you trust or perhaps an outsider you feel comfortable with like a counsellor or support group and push yourself to go. Struggling to cope alone is never the best option but find what works for you, the best tools to help you deal with the emotions that come hand in hand with grief. Don’t push people away – take some space for yourself but don’t sit alone forever.

Time

Give yourself time. There is no set time for grieving. It is different for each person. You will perhaps try and fill the space or void that you are feeling but unless you have accepted the feelings of grief, it will be impossible to fill as it once was. Techniques such as practising mindfulness may help as they teach you how to focus on the positive thoughts you have and pop the negative ones like bubbles floating on a breeze. The most important thing to do is move forward but at a pace you’re happy with and before too long, you’ll start to feel the sunshine on your face once more.

If you’re suffering through grief and loss and would like someone to talk to, please do get in touch and I’d be happy to talk and help you through the difficult time you are having.