Coping with the unexpected death of a friend

Coping with the unexpected death of a friend

Death has a deep effect upon an empathic soul. The more you are attached to someone, the stronger your grief reaction will be. As an empath, your energy becomes enmeshed with those close to you. When a death occurs, it is a process of letting go of those physical connections and establishing a new connection that is only at a spiritual level.

Grief can become more complex when a death is unexpected or sudden. The state of shock you first experience cushions you in the initial days. It is also exhausting and draining because you are carrying the emotional pain of your loss, which has yet to be expressed. Some people experience trauma symptoms similar to PTSD after an intense loss, this is known as complicated grief.

Helpful Suggestions in Your Grief

1.) Acknowledge grief is work and it takes its toll physically, emotionally and spiritually when it is ignored. In order to heal, you need to feel. Make time for grief. If it pops up at inconvenient times, write about it at night or on the weekends.

2.) Feel the pain of the loss. This is the most difficult part of grief, without it there is no moving forward. At this point in the healing process, you may need to reach out to an empathic therapist who has expertise in grief/loss issues.

3.) Keep your routine. Structure will give you a sense of stability and control when emotions feel intense or come out of the blue.

2 friends, 6 months

One of my best friend’s died from cancer, last October. It was a month from the diagnosis to his death. Six months later on the exact date, I found out that a friend of mine that I met on Facebook and talked to by phone, died suddenly on her 54th birthday.

Sharon and I were both co-authors in 365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul and 365 Life Shifts books. I often visited her Facebook page when I didn’t see her posts in my newsfeed because there would be a variety of positive and uplifting messages. She felt this was something she needed and wanted to do every day for others. I am grateful she listened to that voice within that I often encourage others to do. I know many days, I was helped by her posts.

I read about her death when I visited her Facebook page the day after her birthday. At first, I was in complete shock and disbelief seeing a couple of posts from others that spoke about her death. I hoped it was a cruel joke, but it wasn’t. I felt angry and questioned God, why her? I reasoned saying that others could have been taken off this Earth instead. I also cried over the loss realizing that there will be no other phone calls or positive posts left by her on her page anymore. These feelings of denial, confusion, anger, shock, bargaining and sadness are all normal parts of the grieving process.

Here are some of her recent posts that inspired me, perhaps they will inspire you also. She often wrote one word to empathize the post which I have included here:

Inspire

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Courage

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Faith

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Some Days

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Practices I learned from early loss and death in my own life. 

1.) Shine your light. The Divine gave you this light for a reason. Go out there and be your best self without apology.

2.) Value your connections. Enjoy every moment of this journey called Life and everyone who is in it. Acknowledge and give others attentive love, you never know when you or the other will be called home.

This blog has been dedicated to those who have suffered sudden losses and to my friend Sharon Rothstein. I know you are shining your light down on us from heaven. xx

Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who feel drained after their helping efforts, refill and recharge their energy with counseling and angel card reading sessions. As a licensed mental health counselor and intuitive psychotherapist she helps you work through all stages of grief. http://www.lisahutchison.net 

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How to Stop Falling into the Social Media Habit

I had a problem and yet I knew that I was not the only one. I went into Facebook to send a message to someone. Instead of sending the message, I was in the news feed for a good 15 minutes to then log out, realizing that I did not do what I originally intended to do. I was shocked at how easy it is to go unconscious on social media. I logged in again, accomplishing my mission by completing that message and sending it off.

I noticed an increase in social media use after my cat’s death. This distraction was normal and okay for a short amount of time because it helped me cope. It was a good way to numb out the intense feelings of loss and grief. As an empath, I feel a lot and deeply. Perhaps you can begin to see that this type of social media checking is not all bad because it would be too overwhelming to process grief/loss all at once.

There comes a time when you and I need to face the music; meaning we need to sit with the feelings, deal and heal. When is that time? The time is when you or others become aware of what you are doing and are no longer comfortable with it. If you do not notice your over usage, you may hear comments from family or friends. Not only can it cause problems in relationships, the longer you avoid your feelings, the more disconnected you become to your own soul and that of the Divine.

Social Media Boundaries

I am not here to tell you what the proper boundaries are for you concerning social media. I believe that you as much as I already know that answer. Trust your instincts, get off social media and do something else. What I will do is share some definite warning signs to be aware of. Many of these can be applied to abuse and addictions behaviors of all kinds.

  • If you spend more time with your nose in your phone than talking to your significant other or family.
  • If you need to check social media first thing in the morning, all throughout the day and last thing before bed.
  • When your friends’ social media responses or lack thereof starts affecting your mood in negative ways; anger, depression and sadness.

 

The Psychology Behind this Habit or in Some Cases this Addiction

When any habit gets rewarded, it increases the likelihood of you doing it again. Every notification, like, reaction and share reinforces our social media checking behavior. Guess what? When you are stressed you rely more on your habit system as a way to feel in control. It is understandable why during times of high stress; grief, loss, unemployment or illness an increase can be found with social media use. Even positive stress can trigger an increase in usage such as a move to a new home, new job or a book release.

Here is the kicker, the reward does not even have to feel pleasurable in order to repeat it.  This is what happens in all addictions. Clients tell me I don’t even enjoy using yet I can’t stop; why is this happening? When you repeat a behavior, the brain gets rewarded with a release of a chemical called dopamine. This dopamine sends a signal within your brain that says whatever you just did, do it again regardless of whether it has a positive or negative outcome. This creates a compulsion to repeat that behavior.

How do you get out of this behavorial loop? You need to slow your brain down in order to give yourself a chance to pause, think and then respond. Now you have the power to choose what you want to do next. For some it is shutting off notifications, deleting the app from your phone or taking days off from social media. If you continue to have difficulty, there is no shame in seeking professional psychotherapy.

The move from Mindless to Mindful Usage

Sit down and pick a goal for your social media use. Is it for fun, business or connecting with friends? Yes, it can be different each time you log in. Think before you post; what is the purpose of this sharing? Does it fit with my overall goal of social media use?

Notice your mood prior to logging in and stay aware of how it shifts and changes. Do you log in when you feel bored, alone, empty or to calm your nerves? When you feel stressed, aggravated or numb that is the time to log off. If you are using it to boost your self -esteem, remember the real work is within. Social media is a place to express not to impress. If you are trying to feed your ego, it is time to sign off.

When you are in the present moment, you are awake to what you are doing and what is happening. Anytime you notice your distraction, like I did in the opening paragraph, use it as a reminder to get back into your body and connect. After all, that is what we are truly searching for when we go online, an authentic connection. When you don’t find it online, make time to connect in more direct ways through meditation, prayer, phone calls or in person meetings.

More about Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empaths who want to recharge and refill their depleted energies in order to heal themselves and others. As an intuitive psychotherapist and certified angel car reader she helps her clients find realistic life solutions that work whether it is health concerns, work or relationships. To get her FREE 10 page E- book, 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos Now visit www.lisahutchison.net

 

5 Powerful Ways of Finding Freedom from Empathic Guilt

Being a seasoned, licensed psychotherapist did not prevent me from feeling the heavy burden of guilt, the rage, the unending sadness following my beloved cat, Simba’s passing. I found myself stuck in an obsessive loop of what if’s and the negative. I have heard it countless times myself from being on the other side of the couch, it is common to blame oneself and say I should have ______________ after the death of a loved one. The brain loves to focus on regret after a loss of any kind.

Guilt as a gift

Guilt is a gift that shows us that we have crossed a boundary and hurt another being. It signals us to go back and assess our behavior in order to make amends. Guilt allows us to be compassionate and caring towards other people. For these reasons, you do not want to block or repress guilt feelings.

A normal part of grief or loss

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”
Leo Tolstoy

Guilt is a natural part of the grieving process, don’t beat yourself up when it happens to you. Perhaps there are lessons you could learn, maybe not. Many times you have given all you could and it still is not enough. This is a reflection of the imperfect world that we live in rather than a human failing on your part. When you experience a loss of any kind, fixating upon thoughts of guilt only hurts yourself.

It is important for empaths to remember that when you grieve, you are vulnerable to any and all negative thoughts from yourself and others. When others project their negativity onto you, it is not personal but rather a reflection of where they are in their growth/healing. Please work to not take what others say to heart, remember to set boundaries and protect those precious healing energies of yours.

Guilt as a burden

As an empath, you often feel responsible for events and actions that are not yours to own. You feel the world’s suffering by witnessing wars and abuses of power. Closer to home, you feel responsible when relationships end or change. You have a deep desire to want to heal or fix things.

I classically took on too much responsibility in my younger years; whether it was accepting blame about abuse done towards me, feeling that I didn’t give enough when a relationship shifted or working too much. I changed these dynamics by setting boundaries and protecting my energies. This is why I am passionate about helping other empaths find freedom from guilt.

Empaths can get stuck in the pain and suffering of those we love even after the normal grieving process. If you are struggling and can not move forward, reach out for professional help. What I had to re-remember is not to give the guilt too much focus after the initial 3 weeks. Also, coping with a pet’s death can be more intense than a human’s because of their dependence on us and ability to give unconditional love.

A little bit about Simba

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Simba was a true fighter. He was given a terminal diagnosis over three and a half years ago, to live a few weeks to a month. We pulled out all the stops in the healing arena; steroid treatments, flower essences, reiki healings, prayer etc. Simba was stoic and gave it his all. It was hard to believe that he had a tumor on his voice box when he was racing through our yard climbing trees with glee and meowing. He taught us to live our life with every ounce of joy.

We became accustomed to miracles as he had numerous setbacks over these three years and bounced back to the astonishment of everyone. I wrote a story about him which was published in I love Cats, winter 2015, entitled An Unexpected Gift, detailing many parts of our healing journey with him. Today, he is with me in spirit as I write these words.

5 Powerful Ways to Find Freedom from Empathic Guilt

  1. Increased self -care– Slow down, be gentle with yourself. Say no to projects or activities that do not support your healing and use your protective boundaries.
  2. Empathic supports– People who are not supportive prior to your loss do not magically become supportive. Seek out empathic friends and an empathic psychotherapist to discuss guilt feelings whether they are from loss or being an empath.
  3. Be aware- Remember it is normal to experience guilt as it is part of the grief process.  Read about and learn what the normal stages of grieving are. Remember your empathic qualities and honor/protect them. As an empath, you are more susceptible to feeling guilt due to your sensitivity and caring nature. People who are sociopaths do not experience guilt.
  4. Make a list of what happened, just the facts- Leave the judgments behind. No should have’s, could have’s or would have’s on this list. When these words appear cross them out. Take on only the responsibility that is yours. These are your areas of growth, learn from them and then you are free to let it all go.
  5. Forgive yourself, forgive others, forgive the Divine- Behind guilt and anger is blame. Anger, a normal process of loss, is useful because it gives you the energy to do the work of grief. It is hard work! Long-term anger, as in long term guilt, will harm your physical body and spirit.

More about Lisa Hutchison:  As a licensed mental health counselor with over 14 years of experience, Lisa offers therapy sessions in person and by phone to empathic helpers and artists. She understands grief and loss from her own personal experiences and years of therapy training, offering you the space to express your inner thoughts and feelings while showing you specific ways to get unstuck. Lisa is also an international bestselling author and certified angel card reader. Get 10 Ways to Connect with Spirit FREE at http://www.lisahutchison.net