Moving Through the Process of Grief

Posted by Harriet on

SalmonsahnpainRead my updated and expanded piece to The Grief of Now as published on the amazing and artistic Karen Salmansohn‘s website.

Experiencing, speaking and writing from both my personal self and my professional self.

...As someone who is also on the professional side of this {grief} work – loss, grief, growth– I recommend you work the grief process by beginning here …

Click here to read complete guest post.


What helps you get through?  We love hearing from you so share your thoughts on either site.  Thank you for stopping by.

15 Minutes A Day For You

Posted by Harriet on

care-for-self-e1375729453412So 15 minutes sounds like a lot in the whirlwind of your day?!  From the minute you wake up you’re on that treadmill trying to keep up; otherwise you’ll fall off – and this and that won’t get accomplished.  As it is, you can’t keep up with all that needs to get done.

But I promise you, if you focus on incorporating a brief interlude into your day, you can take a few minutes to do something for you.  We all waste many minutes a day with nothing.  So why not specifically prioritize and make the decision to build in this time for you.

It’s not about finding the time.  It’s about making  the time.  It’s all about priorities, choice and focus.

So figure out when you’re going to grab those few minutes and then decide how you’ll spend it.   And then when you’re spending it, do it with mindfulness.  Really be there with it so that it makes a more lasting impression.  Feel it, breathe it and take notice of it.

If you just go through the quick motions of it, it will feel like one more stress ball added in to your day. Or you won’t even realize you did something, it will go so fast.   And that’s certainly not the point.  A few minutes of reprieve can go a long way to give you that boost you need to continue on.  Sometimes you need that sugar boost; well you certainly need that ‘me’ boost.

Something is always better than nothing. 

The Sorrow of Horror Stories

Posted by Harriet on

IMG_2366Feeling barraged by all this bad news.  One horror story after another.  Devastating.  Penetrating.   Consuming.  Engulfing.  Pick the word – it’s all too much at the same time.

Seven kids in one family dying in a house fire; a plane purposefully set into a downward spiral, crashing into jagged mountains, killing everyone onboard;  fire explosion in Manhattan and discovery of bodies under the rubble; a distant family relation dies suddenly on the tennis court of a heart attack at age 37.

All so sudden.  Life extinguished .  People eating, sleeping, playing, traveling – and then gone!

It’s hard to take in all this bad stuff.   And this is all on the heels of my own mother’s death.  Yes, she had a ‘good’ death, not like these tragic stories.  But still… endings and sadness are heavy.  The weight constricts your chest.

When you keep on hearing one story after another, it’s boom, boom, boom, another slam and pounding into the heart of pain.  Strangers, but yet people.  All of us.  And we realize our vulnerability.  There but by the grace of G-d go I.

The horrors of life are horrendous.

I’m not up to saying what we do with all this.  I’m simply up to feeling it, breathing into it and trying to bear witness to the reality of it all, of this life:  its awesomeness- yes,  its  unpredictability, its horrendousness;  the fact that it and we hang by a string, and that we all live moment to moment.

We all have shock absorbers. 

Grief and Growth- A Therapist’s Perspective

Posted by Harriet on

griefhandsBeing on a grief and growth journey with you is an honor and privilege.  As painful as it is sitting here with you –  grief-stricken, numb, a broken egg shell of a person whose insides are pouring out –  I, your counselor,  hold your pain in all its rawness.   We sit together as your grief oozes out like a tube of toothpaste squeezed to its core with nothing left.

Grief is the part of life we all run from.   We look to avoid pain and sorrow at all costs.  After all, we are pleasure seekers.   But it enters our lives, sometimes slowly and insidiously with a chronicity that we can practically see as it takes hold in our life, or at times totally out of left field as the curve ball hits us smack in our face and knocks us flat out.

Grief is the natural response to many different types of critical life events.  We more often than not begin this journey flattened out.

I did as I entered my therapist’s office 31 years ago after finding out my daughter was not the normal, perfect child I excitedly anticipated.   The balloon burst, the egg cracked; like humpty dumpty, I had to be put back together.   My wobbly legs eventually found some solid ground on which to begin to carve out a new road – that of parenting a child with disabilities.

We must allow ourselves to enter that dark, seemingly closed off cave of despair, tugging and pulling at the cobwebs that threaten to entangle us in their sticky hold of pain. 

Death At Its Best

Posted by Harriet on

IMG_0203A mother brings forth a child into this world; a ‘child’ leads a mother into the next world.   This is my thought as I lay next to my mother watching her die.


My mom passed away peacefully at age 97.   A celebration of life but even more profound for me at the moment is the celebration and gratitude of a death; a death that we all would like when our time of departure arrives.

My mother’s time became apparent last Monday morning when she didn’t open her eyes to her loving aide Clara’s wake-up motions.  “Unresponsive” was the word that shook my hands as I held my phone and heard Clara’s message.

As the cream in the middle of the oreo cookie, I’ve worked at keeping that top layer of elderly parent and bottom layer of grandchildren tightly connected to the middle.  And here I was having to pick up my granddaughter from nursery and drop her off at her home before heading to mom’s house.    Sitting in traffic, the cookie was starting to crumble.

I called my husband to see if he could leave court and get to mom’s house any quicker.  And he did.  And I breathed.

I arrived and so began what was to be the two day vigil as she was in the process of dying.

Sitting by her bedside listening and watching her breathe, the intermittent breathing as she stopped for several seconds and started again with quick and hard breaths, I was actually filled with gratitude.

The Grief of Now

Posted by Harriet on


When you’re in the throes of awfulness you can’t think about tomorrow.  You’re in the powerfully crippling feelings of the moment.  And that needs to be attended to.  For it’s in the going through them that you will come through them to a new phase.  But it takes time, patience and work.   Wounds must begin to close up before the new layer of skin appears.


I couldn’t get myself to take my year-old daughter to the park.  It was too painful for me to see other younger babies with their heads straight and their little hands swiping at the mobile attached to the stroller, while my daughter’s head wobbled, her eyes crossed and her hands lay at her sides.  She was beautifully docile with a smile of ease and contentment and a body that lagged behind in hitting the basic milestones of development.

The balloon burst, the bubble popped, normality was shattered upon hearing the neurologist confirm my fears, that yes, there was something wrong.   She had a rare neurological condition, a fluke of development or lack of, that had occurred in the first trimester in utero.

My intense grief began and my mantra of “why me” reverberated against the walls of my shrink’s office week after week.   Session after session, I poured out my deepest feelings of pain and sadness.  And hour after hour, he held them.   He leaned forward and in his beautifully soft voice, he reassured me over and over how normal it was to feel what I was feeling. 


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