This weekend and especially Sunday will be difficult for women I know both personally and professionally of all ages and backgrounds.
My post here is not to take away the pleasure and joy of this holiday for people who genuinely enjoy it, but rather to give voice to the alternative experiences. This is my alternative experience. This Sunday and every day I remind myself of all the women who have in many ways been maternal figures to be throughout my life. Not just my own mom.
The Mother's Day narrative that is pushed into reality as a Hallmark holiday isn't everyone's story. And recognizing other people's grief does not and will not take away from your joy. There are many people out there who are eager to have their own Mother's Day stories witnessed and acknowledged. This post is for you.
To those who are celebrating on Sunday please have your nice things! Delight in your parade. Savor them. And remember what you are experiencing is not a given.
In recent news, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Dak Prescott had the courage to speak openly about his depression and grief. A sports columnist openly dismissed Presscott's vulnerability, going as far to say it weakens his leadership qualities. ESPN anchor, Scott Van Pelt responded to the remarks by using his voice to acknowledge the person behind the helmet who spoke openly and bravely about his mental health and emotional pain. Van Pelt also took the opportunity to use his platform to validate and empower athletes to speak openly about his or her mental health. Thank you Scott Van Pelt for saying what needed to be said. We must continue to build a culture within sports where we can drop the veil of shame in speaking openly about mental health. There is NO shame in mental health.
As a therapist specializing in grief therapy, I want to hear about the person who brought joy, purpose, and love to the life of my client. I am a firm advocate of applying a non-violent approach to my therapy practice. That being said, one of the most violent acts a therapist can do is try to help and "fix the pain". To clarify, a violent act is not a punch to the face. A violent act in therapy is the therapist taking over a client's organic process of feeling, healing, and grieving by trying to offer "expertise" on how to fix something. So how does one "fix" grief? You can't.
I am not here to take over the process of grieving for my clients. I strive to create a space where my clients can grieve but also feel connected to their loved ones. Talking about a loved one, talking out loud to a loved one, and speaking the name of a loved one out loud in conversation are all normal processes of grief. There is no "right" way to grieve.
"While grief may look like an expression of pain that serves no purpose, it is actually the soul's acknowledgment of what we value most"
One thing you need to know about grief: We never move on from grief. If anyone ever tells you that you will move on after someone has died, please tell that person to go sit down somewhere and leave you alone with that poor advice. We learn to move forward carrying the love and eternal memory of the person with us.
I am so excited to share the news of this freshly released podcast episode with you!
I recently sat down for a conversation with Jacksonville local, Kacie Main, who is both the author of her book "I Gave Up Men for Lent" and host of "The Better You" podcast.
Kacie beams with joy and she is clearly passionate about learning and inspiring others. During our conversation, Kacie (with permission of course) picked my brain about my most favorite topics in mental health, including EMDR therapy, the neurobiology of trauma, and mindfulness!
Click here for the link to Episode 7 of my conversation with Kacie for Apple
Click here for the link for Episode 7 of my conversation with Kacie for Stitcher
This community continues to surprise me in the most incredible ways and I am so thrilled to be here in Ponte Vedra Beach knowing people like Kacie are here shaping the world into a better place. I know I for sure look forward to hearing more from Kacie. Something leads me to believe she is on to something special with the work she is doing.
If you have not done so yet, please give a follow to the incredible Kacie Main Instagram account @kaciemain_writes and of course, tune into and give a follow to the podcast @thebetteryoupodcast.
I am a huge advocate for using a strengths-based perspective. So when I meet with someone for session, I am going to ask "what's strong in you?" rather than "what's wrong in you?"
When I would have resident physicians shadow me as a therapist in Tallahassee, I would often get asked questions that focused on finding connection with adolescents and finding ways to get to the roots of presenting mental health issues.
I will never forget a specific conversation I had with a resident one day. He told me that during his rotation in the emergency room, he said he had seen an adolescent patient who attempted suicide by slitting his/her wrists and didn't know where to begin or how to begin talking to the teenager. I encouraged him to start where the patient is.
Through his lens, it would have been expected of the resident to look at the physical cuts to the wrists and begin treatment there. But I invited him to acknowledge that patient, that person's pain. Yes, physical pain is obvious, but clearly that person was in a kind of pain that modern medicine, no matter how advanced, could not directly touch.
That kind of pain can be more significant than any physical pain you or I can experience considering we can find refuge in knowing a blood test, IV infusion, or over the counter prescription can locate the root of the issue and give us relief.
Healing begins the moment we feel heard. So why are we not making greater efforts to listen?
Grief is not a linear process. Grief changes the various ways we make sense of our world with one less important person in it. When I encounter things such as these John Lennon stamps, I don't think back to the Beatles themselves. My thoughts take me back to warm memories of a beloved best friend and our connection that was founded on the Beatles and their music and I am so grateful for receiving this random yet powerful reminder of her. Find what soothes you and connect to that. Find refuse in your memories.
Do not let fear steer the wheel of your life decisions. You can accomplish a lot more looking at things through the lens of love rather than the lens of fear. Once we can acknowledge we are saying no with love instead of saying yes with fear, setting boundaries could become a lot less painful for some. Have a great start to your week!
Generally speaking, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) works by breaking down the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes and how these processes relate to how a person behaves (and emotionally responds).
Let’s look at this model from a different lens, or a somatic lens: you experience an event your BODY responds with a feeling (e.g danger, fear, excitement, happiness, pain) feeling gets translated into thought/opinion/memory (e.g Is it safe? Is it going to be painful? Can I get hurt from it? Maybe I should post that selfie to show my ex how I’m thriving) you respond and go from there (aka your behavior)
What’s my point? I hear A LOT of horror stories of folks having their feelings invalidated. Your feelings are so important. YOU are important. And when you are able to identify what you FEEL you can identify the thought and if you can do that, you can do ANYTHING.
Amy Pope-Latham, LCSW is a board certified mental health professional in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.