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 

What helpers like you need to know about burnout

What helpers like you need to know about burnout (3)

 

Helpers and first responders often believe that they can push through irritation and emotional pain. You soldier on despite multiple systems in your body screaming out for you to stop. Some of these warning signs are unending fatigue, sleep difficulties, appetite changes, concentration problems, anxiety, depression, increased illnesses and anger.

As an empathic helper, you are going to experience work or help related stress due to caring so much. When that stress is combined with a lack of self- care and a lack of support more serious stress reactions can occur such as burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatization.

Compassion fatigue and burnout arises from too much work, or as many people say burning the candle at both ends. Empathic helpers often absorb other’s pain and take it with them into their home life. Too much sympathy or working with empathy without proper boundaries drains helpers of energy and leads to burnout. In a study of 216 hospice care nurses from 22 hospices across the state of Florida it was found that, “Trauma, anxiety, life demands, and excessive empathy (leading to blurred professional boundaries) were key determinants of compassion fatigue risk in the multiple regression model that accounted for 91 % (P< .001) of the variance in compassion fatigue risk.” (Abendroth & Flannery 2006).

Vicarious traumatization can happen when you absorb the psychological material of your client who has experienced trauma. You feel the trauma in your own energetic system as PTSD symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, irritability and startle responses. This is why it is important to hold the energetic boundaries and seek supervision or your own counseling. If you are experiencing increased anxiety, startle responses or irritation, after your work with a client ask yourself; is this my trauma or yours?

What can a compassionate helper do?

  • You need to limit your use of empathy. Yes, there can be too much of a good thing.  Empathy is one tool a helper uses in combination with other techniques to ensure client growth. At times you may need to use more directive or instructional types of methods rather than an all-out holding of the space for another.
  •  Be aware and recognize that trauma and stress are running the show. When you notice a change in your mood and thoughts, review your day and think about who you were with and what was discussed.
  • Self- Care. All empathic helpers need a self-care regime that refills and recharges your energy. Relaxation and energy increasing activities will balance out the fatigue you are experiencing. Grounding through the use of mindfulness can keep your focus in the present moment.
  • Seek psychotherapy with an empathic therapist who can help you with burnout and trauma. Going to a therapist who knows trauma, work stress and energy work can make a world of difference for yourself and your clients.
  •  Get this workbook for yourself and your clients. I have found this to be a valuable resource that I use with my clients: The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms Workbook Edition by Mary Beth Williams (Author), Soili Poijula (Author) Some of the chapters include: Before Doing the Work: Safety, Security and Intention and Helping Yourself When You Re-experience a Trauma. (As an amazon affiliate I receive a small portion of the sale when you buy after clicking the above link, without any addition cost to you. Thank you for choosing this method of purchasing.) 

References:

Abendroth, M., & Flannery, J. (2006). Predicting the risk of compassion fatigue: A study of hospice nurses. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, 8(6), 346-356.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who feel drained after their helping efforts, refill and recharge their energy with intuitive counseling and angel card readings. For more information visit her website at www.lisahutchison.net, while you are there take advantage of the free gift 8 Simple Things that Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

Why compassionate people have lost their empathy for others

 

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2016 was a heavy year for people collectively from celebrity deaths to the US election. Many clients have told me about their personal losses, anxiety and disappointments. When you are in your own emotional pain feeling another’s emotional pain overwhelms you. I am here to reassure you, you are not alone it was a rough ride for many people, including myself.

If you are a sensitive person you may wonder why you suddenly lack compassion and patience for others. Anger, fear and numbness block the connection to your heart. When you feel contempt, judgment, or fear towards others you lose that mirroring of empathic response and feeling. You disconnect yourself out of a fear of being hurt again, yet, empathic response and experience require connection which means risk and vulnerability.

After a trauma or period of intense stress you can experience a sensation of being shell-shocked and reactive. When a person’s nervous system becomes overstimulated it goes into the fight (anger), flight (anxiety) or freeze (shuts down into numbness) response. In psychological terms this could be an adjustment disorder, acute stress reaction or post-traumatic stress. For an accurate diagnosis and treatment, go to a licensed professional rather than the internet.

Why don’t I feel better yet?

It is a new year and a new energy, although energy does not merely change with a flip of a calendar page, it is a process. Wait a good 3 months to give the energy a chance to build and move collectively. Individually, you are not damaged or broken. A disconnection has occurred and it has happened to many of us. Now the power is in your hands, what are you going to do about it?

What you can do:

My number 1 recommendation is to find an empathic psychotherapist to work with you. Yes, even therapists, healers and coaches need their own healers. Here is a little secret, the best ones do! I had a session in January to release much energy around 2016 in order to help others like you do the same with the work I offer.

You need someone who understands sensitive people, grief/loss issues and trauma reactions. This person will help you process the issues that trigger you so you can release them and connect again to your natural empathy for others.

While you are waiting for an appointment or in between sessions

(a) Practice mindfulness -Become aware of the present moment and that is all. This relaxes your mind, body and soul allowing you to reconnect to your empathic response.

(b) Engage in a meditation practice- Focus on your breath, it trains your nervous system to slow down and teaches you to become the witness to your thoughts. When you observe your thoughts and sensations you can choose a more empathic response or perhaps a non- response.

(c)For helpers- remember it is not your job to fix others. The best way to help others is to work on your own healing and to hold the space for others. Read How To Maintain Your Energy When Helping Others for how to do this practice.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is currently accepting new clients for her empathic psychotherapy practice, certified angel card reading and writing coaching sessions. Sessions are offered in person and by phone. Visit http://www.lisahutchison.net and help yourself to a copy of 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

10 Ways to Support Your Favorite Creative

O N E  D R O P

Creativity does not get the same validation in society as other professions.  Where would you be without beautiful works of art to decorate your home, music that reaches in and soothes your soul after a long hard day or the inspirational words of your favorite writer giving you the encouragement to reach for your dreams?  Let’s face it, the creative arts keep us all going in tough times often expressing an inner yearning that we can not yet reach through our own words and expressions. In order to honor those who have given so much, here are ten ways to acknowledge and support those who work in creativity.

  • Buy her products, artwork, books, classes and articles

Money is an energy that you can use to support your favorite creative.  This world is a material one and your creative will need cash flow in order to continue the work that you and she loves.

  • Leave a kick ass review/testimonial

Putting your appreciation into words is a great gift.  When you write a review state what product you bought and how it has changed your life in a positive way.  One way to do this is to describe a before and after scenario.

  • Like/Share and Comment in Facebook posts about her blogs, business & products

Social media works great when others like, comment and share.  If a post has no likes, comments or shares it will not last long in the news feed.  Likes are wonderful, consider also leaving a comment which makes a more personal connection. Facebook places items with lots of attention into the news feed for more people to feast upon.

  • Tweet!

Use your 140 words or less and give a shout out to your creative.  Tweet about their products, blogs or ask others to follow especially on Fridays with #FF.

  • Pray & send her positive blessings

Your thoughts are a powerful energy.  When you send up prayers for your creative and her business it make a difference and is greatly appreciated.

  • Comment on an actual blog post

When you comment on the actual blog post, others who are bloggers on that same system will get an opportunity to read it and follow future blogs.  This helps your creative get noticed and build a loyal base of followers.

  • Become a benefactor/make a donation to her

If you have the money and want to donate to a good cause, consider the creative in your life.  Most creatives are not classified as non –profits, your money most likely would not be tax-deductible.  Although, you could support a mission or cause that you believe in on a deeper level.

  • Send her a thank you note or card for service well done

Thank you notes and cards are original ways to connect with your creative and give them a boost of encouragement.  This becomes a keepsake for the creative who can look back and read these positive messages on those dark days.

  • Refer your friends and family to her

There is no bigger compliment than telling others that you trust and like a certain creative’s products.  You may not realize that one of the best ways to boost a business is through word of mouth like yours.  You have a power, go out and use it for good.

  • Encourage her when she feels down

Be a kind ear and motivator.  It is tough work being a creative.  She has to learn how to ride the biggest waves of success and the lowest points of no responses or rejections.  There are many times your creative will want to give up, don’t let her!

In the next 3 months, I am asking you to commit to supporting your favorite creative even more.  This could mean adding in a couple of new ways to help that you have not tried before or doing what you are currently doing on a deeper level.  As a creative, I thank you.  For what you do to help one creative helps us all.

If you enjoyed this blog, I invite you to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

http://www.lisahutchison.net

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