Grief and Loss: Part 5 Total Eclipse of the What?

solar eclipseIn just a few hours the total solar eclipse of 2017 will happen. My glasses are purchased and my swing is positioned for maximum viewing. I plan to take my break at 2:15, grab a sandwich and saunter outside for 2 minutes and 30 seconds of ooh and aah! Then I’ll return to my day job and the fantastic will be over.

It seems the things we look forward to pass so quickly, while the things we dread or battle through linger. Grief is that way. It’s a total eclipse of joy that doesn’t pass in 2 minutes and 30 seconds, 2 hours and 30 minutes, or even 2 years and 30 days. It takes a long time for the shadow of loss to clear our hearts and let joy shine brightly once again. Sometimes we have to camp out in the shadow and give ourselves time to process the grief.

The important thing to remember is that grief IS temporary. We shouldn’t build log cabins with all the creature comforts in the shadow of grief. We shouldn’t plan to stay. It is just a camp out. Gradually, day by day we can inch our way through the stages of grief and let joy back into our lives.

Emotive Educational Activity

Speak: I will take a step toward joy, today.

Write: Make a list. Write down 5 hobbies, activities, or sports that you once took great pleasure from. Maybe you once loved to make (eat) brownies, or go to the movies, or paint with watercolors. Choose 5 of your once and future favorite things to do.

Activity: Chances are there are still remnants of those activities in your home. Choose one thing on your list to revisit. Go dust off the golf clubs, read the brownie recipe, or check the movie listings. Take a baby step toward the joy you once experienced so vividly. If (when) you find that you are able, take another step toward that activity. The joy may not be there right away. Don’t let that deter you. Joy will return. The important things is to try, move forward. Take a small step toward reclaiming joy.

Warning: There may be a good cry accompanying this exercise. Bringing up memories that you’ve protected yourself from is going to sting. But BE BRAVE! Embrace the pain. Remember from Part 4, despair is a step in the right direction. You must go through despair before healing and acceptance will come to stay.

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LaDonna Cole, Author is a Psychiatric Nurse and Anger Management Therapist. She specializes in story therapy, creative connections, and writing books and stories that encourage recovery. Check out her books here.


Grief and Loss: Part 4 Let It Go

Photo Credit: <a href="">EMP Museum</a> via <a href="">Compfight</a> <a href="">cc</a>No, I’m not going to break out in a Disney tune. But the premise is the same.

“Auuuuuuugggggg!!!!” Can be a powerful tool. Part of the damage that grief, loss, and especially anger is allowed to do, is because we have bottled it up. We don’t want others to see us lose our composure, so we resort to short periods of leakage. We seep our way through the grieving process because people are around to be supportive and we don’t want them to see how deeply we are grieving. We try to protect ourselves from a negative reputation or protect them from witnessing the depth of our despair. How backwards is that? The very people who are there to hold us up end up being a hindrance to the grieving process. Tears moisten our lashes while we blink furiously and turn our faces away. Anger builds pressure in our chests and we release tiny spurts of it as we snap at the people we love the most.

It’s time to go nuclear.

Emotive Educational Activity #4 Go nuclear!

Speak: This one is going to be fun. No words required. Just fill your lungs with air and scream.


Write: Throw your pencil down.


Action: This works best if you have a place far away from others. Drive into the country. Bring a trusted friend if you need to. If you can’t get out to open empty fields, find a big fluffy pillow.  Fill your lungs with air and SCREAM!  Scream loud and long. Scream high and low. Dig that scream up from your toes and LET IT GO!  Scream until the ridiculousness of it all breaks through, then let yourself laugh and scream some more.

Now go pick up that pencil.

Write: How did the scream make you feel? Did some pressure come off your chest? Did you feel silly? Will you do it again?

Remember the exercise you were supposed to think about a few weeks ago? Put it in place. Start walking, running, playing tennis, Tai Chi, whatever your activity was, it is time to put the plan into literal motion. Find time today to start exercising. You will be amazed at how well this works at ridding your body of the toxins of grief. Don’t forget to hydrate!

Grief and Loss: Not So Pretty Little Liars


As writers, we often deal with what Steven Pressfield, in the War of Art, called resistance. Basically, it is our own self-sabotaging behaviors that keep us from getting the Work-in-Progress finished. Whether you are an artist, a writer, a dancer or any form of creative expressionist, as a sensitive soul you are subject to this foe.

Whether you are a sensitive soul or not, if you have experienced a major loss you will enter the stages of grief. Resistance exists in those stages.


Grief has a form of resistance called denial. It is smart. Grief knows the minute we start to accept loss, that despair will take over. Since despair sounds like such a horrible thing, we resist it with everything we have. The truth is that despair is the first sign you are moving toward acceptance and healing. We don’t need to fear it.

Ah, but resistance in the form of denial doesn’t know that. Grief and Loss have adopted denial as the major weapon against despair. And it’s a sadistic weapon that turns on you, jabbing you in the most vulnerable places. Every lie you’ve every believed about yourself will emerge.

Some common lies that grief uses.8342876469_93541f5610_b

“I deserve this loss.”

“I’m a bad person.”

“I don’t deserve happiness.”

“There is something wrong with me.”

“I’m not good enough.”

“It’s all my fault.”

“I can’t cope.”

“I’m too weak, frail, fragile…”


Recognizing the lies is hard when your thoughts are clouded by pain, questions, and confusion. But these lies will lead you down the path of depression where ruts are formed in your psyche. Once you fall into the ruts, it’s very hard to climb back out. NOT IMPOSSIBLE, but difficult.


If you find you are already there, stuck in a cycle of self-deprecation, you can take steps to end the cycle. If you are just entering the stages of grief, these steps can help you recovery more quickly.

Start here.

Emotive Educational Activity: 3 Confront Lies


“I can’t do this.”

Grief crawls out of the shadows and pokes at you. Often it will lie to you and make you feel the situation is too big. Try to recognize the lies for what they are.

Speak: I will recognize lies. I will not be deceived.

Write: Make your own list of lies you have heard from loss and denial over the last few days. Beside them, write the truth.


Action: Today we are going to shop. Find something tangible to represent the loss. Choose an object that will fit into your palm or that you can wear or place in a pocket. Some ideas: an inexpensive bracelet or ring, a coin for your pocket, a lock of hair, a dried flower petal, a cheap locket. Make it something you will not mind losing, but also not mind having on your person. It will be with you for a while. You can shop around your house, Macy’s is not required. Once you locate your memorandum, associate it with a good memory. (For me it was a glass beaded bracelet on elastic. I associated it with fishing trips I had taken with my dad.) Now, put it on, pocket it. Every time a lie assaults you, touch the memorandum and let the beautiful memory remind you of the truth~ Joy is real and mine for the taking.

Grief meme

LaDonna Cole RN BSM CART is an RN Psych Nurse, specializing in Grief Recovery. She writes therapeutic stories to motivate readers through the journey of grief to recover joy. See more of this Grief and Loss series here.

Grief and Loss: @!*D$&%@!!!!! Anger Management

Anger swings to the forefront of your grief process. What do you do with the build up of adrenaline that churns at your gut, or broils in your chest, or clamps your teeth like a vice?  If your loss affects the whole family, you will see your children react with energy bursts in their hands, feet and mouth. It’s important to give these energy bursts an outlet before they build pressure and start to have a negative effect on your body, or leak out to hurt people you love.

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Adults need to embrace exercise now more than ever. When you are feeling loss, your instinct may be to shut down, sleep, and just sit on the couch. It is important that you find time to peel yourself off the sofa and move your body. Go for a walk, a bike ride, to the gym. Do something to sweat out the toxins that grief and anger dump in your system. Sweat and tears are your friend right now. They carry away the poison of loss. Stay hydrated and go sweat.

Children need to be given permission to release the wiggles.

  • They will have a burst of energy and begin to scream or shout. The worst thing to do is tell them to be quiet. That will just cause more anger. Give them a pillow to scream into. Encourage them to scream it out into the pillow any time they feel the urge. After a family loss, I took my kids out into the country, far from people and we had a scream. We bellowed loud and long into the empty field and ended up falling on the ground, laughing at the silliness of it all.Photo Credit: <a href="">CROWLEY PHOTOGRAPHY</a> via <a href="">Compfight</a> <a href="">cc</a>
  • Children will pinch, hit, slap, push. Explain that it is inappropriate to hurt people or animals, but you understand they need to express with their hands the anger inside of them. Give them something to do with their hands. Put on boxing gloves and give them a bean bag to punch. Take them to a tennis wall or racquetball court. Let them hit balls against a wall for as long as they need to. A volleyball against the side of the house, a batting cage, find an age appropriate way for them to expend the energy in their hands. (Hey, join in, you probably need this too!)
  • Another place that energy builds up for kids is their feet. They may kick, stomp, run in Photo Credit: <a href="">CrazyCarrot1</a> via <a href="">Compfight</a> <a href="">cc</a>place or jump up and down. When you see this, introduce opportunities for them to expel energy. Jogging, running, dancing, karate lessons, trampoline, dog walks. They need to know what they are feeling is normal and have permission to move their feet appropriately. After my divorce, I bought a trampoline for my kids. We all used it. It was great therapy.





Emotive Educational Activity: 2 Taking Control

“She left me to deal with this mess!”

In those moments when denial is asleep and the reality of it all comes crashing through, you may experience great anger at the situation. This is normal. It is part of the process and cannot be skipped and should not be ignored.


Speak: I am angry at (name the loss).

 Write:  Write a short note to your loss expressing your anger. “Dear Absence of ____, you frickin’ idiot! How dare you leave me at this time when I needed you most!”  Use your own words and express the anger broiling in your chest.

Action: It’s about to get physical up in here. Make a mental list of physical activities that you can do. Identify something you can do that is physical to deal with the adrenalin that anger releases into your system. Today is not about actually getting off the couch, it’s just about thinking about physical activities. What are some things you can do? Walk, yoga, hit some balls, run, beat up a pillow. Of course we’re not going take frustration out on another person or animal, but you need to release the toxins that have built up in your body. List three physical activities that you used to enjoy or that you’ve always considered.


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LaDonna Cole, Author is a Psychiatric Nurse and Anger Management Therapist. She specializes in story therapy, writing books and stories that encourage recovery. Check out her books here.

Grief and Loss: Part 1 Breathe

Photo Credit: <a href="">milkandblue</a> via <a href="">Compfight</a> <a href="">cc</a>Loss. It has a way of ripping us apart inside. Whether the loss is a loved one, a family unit, a sense of wellbeing, or a way of life, loss changes the landscape of our future. It leaves us in a foreign and unfriendly land, fighting our way back to any semblance of normalcy, all the while wrapping us in a wet blanket sinking to the bottom of the ocean in this foreign and inhospitable place.

It is an unfair foe. Not only does it leave you feeling misplaced and alone, but it strikes from the shadows. It hides beneath the surface and attacks suddenly at the most unpredictable times. If ignored, grief can lead to depression and even physical illness. It just sits in the shadows, poisoning you.

It’s time to do something about it. Take control of your life. Kill the poisonous and insidious creature lurking in your soul. Together we can find our way back to wholeness.

The stages of grief are not set in stone. No matter where this blog finds you in your grieving process it can help put some order back into your life. If you find yourself in depression but don’t know why, try to identify the moment of loss that pushed you over the edge. Was it a thought that wouldn’t leave you? A phrase spoken hastily by a loved one, that echoed in your mind until it changed your own perceptions? What point was something precious ripped away from you?

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Emotive Educational Activity 1 Breathe

“Your daddy passed away last night.”


It is the first thought after bad news. “No! It just can’t be.” Even after reality sets in, you will find yourself saying “It just doesn’t seem real.” That is your psyche trying to protect you from a dump of reality. It doles out the pain of loss in increments of reality, then steps back intermittently. Giving you time to process the vacuum, it releases small increments of oxygen, called denial.

Loss is unfathomable.

Today, give yourself permission to breathe. Dance with denial for a few moments, it’s okay. It is a great protector at this point in the process.


Speak: I give myself permission to breathe.


Write: Put into words. What would this moment look like if I had not had this loss? What would I be doing right now, if the loss never happened?  (Example: If dad were alive today, we would have coffee at Starbucks and talk about his last fishing trip.)

Connect with a professional mental health provider in your area. They will help you walk through the process of recovery. Let me know if you need help finding someone.

Can you recall a moment in your life when a loss stole your breath? What did you do about it?

LaDonna Cole RN BS CART, writes wild adventurous stories that pierce the heart with their themes aimed toward grief recovery. Find her published works and contact here.

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Face Lift

A teen girl takes a wrong turn after her parents divorce and finds herself in a recovery center that uses quantum jumps as grief recovery.

Twelve weeks of fun focus sessions where kids and teens play their way through the stages of grief recovery.

A middle school foster kid connects with a family who walk with him through recovery from loss.

Sammy has a secret and he carries it with him through every moment of his life.

What do you get when you mix a monkey and an elephant? You get an elephonkey. Children learn about blended families.



It doesn’t matter what I write, the theme of grief recovery comes through loud and clear, so this blog is getting a face lift. We are going to concentrate on the stages of grief and how to write a better story for  ourselves and our loved ones.  We’ll take excerpts from stories and curriculum to start a conversation. We’ll discuss the stages of grief, symptoms to be aware of, and how they affect different age groups. We’ll even hear Excerpts from the Experts.

Grief is temporary. It is a state that fills the vacuum left by loss. It passes. Joy never dies. It is the state of your immortal soul. This blog provides windows of escape, stories of passage, portals from temporary grief-stained moments to the immortal staying well of Joy.

Welcome to Immortal Portals.

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Stages of Grief

1. Anger and Denial: I clump these two together because they are waltzing partners. About the time you realize you are well entrenched in one, the other takes the lead and spins you around in 3/4 time.

2. Bargaining:This stage takes a different face depending on your age and circumstance. We will explore all the ways that children, teens, and adults bargain their way through loss.

3. Despair: The crash, the burn, the lowest of lows. Don’t let this one destroy you. It is actually significant. It tells you that you are just about done. You’ve stopped blaming and playing games. You are ready to heal.

4. Acceptance: You are ready to step through the portal into your natural state of being; Joyful.

5. Staying Well: I add this one as the fifth stage of grief because it takes awhile before the portal you’ve stepped through stops trying to suck you back to the side of sadness. It is important to anchor yourself firmly through active staying-well activities.


Taking Back My Immortality

So today, I leave you with an Emotive Educational Activity. This is something you can do for yourself. No matter where you are in your recovery from loss, this EEA will help you.

Get a pen and paper. Think of the last time you felt real cheek-burning-soul-swelling-sparkle-bubbly JOY. Write down the experience. Describe the feels it gave you. Where were you? What was happening? Write down as much detail as you can. Conjure up the feelings, relive the moment.

When you get to the peak of that feeling, send out into the universe the thought “I’m taking back my immortal joy.”

Try to repeat this activity every day for as many joyful memories as you can evoke. Don’t forget the last step. At the peak of your remembering, speak, think, grab a hold of “I’m taking back my immortal joy.” Call it to you.

Until next time, friends.

Immortal Joy