Relationship Help~3 Tips for Solving Any Problem You Face

When you face a challenging relationship problem or are in a difficult situation, what do you do?

Do you try to work things out by yourself. Do you stay stuck in a rut? Do you withdraw?

Do you run from the problems by seeking various escapes, eating, drinking, work, pleasure, additions?

These responses will keep you stuck in stress and rob you of opportunities to grow and overcome your relationship challenges. Be a responsible person and instead, seek solutions and answers. If you do this, you’ll be rewarded with peace.

3 Tips to Find Solutions For Solving Relationship Problems

1. Admit and face the problem. When you do this, the problem loses its power over you. Once you take responsibility for it, you can work through it and come out stronger on the other side. When you own your own truth, you have taken the first step to freedom.

2. Reach out to friends and family you can trust. Talk to people who love you, have your best interest at heart and are safe people. Choose people who won’t simply agree and commiserate with you but ones who will speak the truth and challenge you to grow.

3. Seek counsel. Seek the counsel of knowledgeable people who have wisdom and understanding and those who seek truth. Seek God for wisdom. Seek the counsel of God’s Word. The Bible is full of wisdom for relationships.

Sometimes we believe that we are supposed to be able to figure out everything on our own and even feel shame to admit we have a need. Truth is you don’t have to do things on your own or be ashamed of your needs. We all need help and we all need each other.

When you seek help, you don’t necessary have to do everything others say. The final decision is your responsibility. Sift through the advice and find out what works for you and decide on the wisest course of action.

The advantage of seeking the counsel of others is differing perspectives. Each person has their own well of wisdom. They may offer you ideas and perspective you haven’t thought of or they may reinforce what you already think and know.

Seeking wise counsel gives you the wisdom and courage to move forward into a positive solution.

“Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7 (NIV)

What has been your experience? Let us know in the comments below. What questions do you have?  How can I support you in resolving your relationship issues?


Posted in Conflicts, Confrontations, Relationship Help | 6 Comments

When You Say Goodbye, It’s Okay to Cry

“I’m happy we made it this far but I feel sad because this is the last game I’ll play with the seniors. I’ve played soccer with them ever since I started.” My daughter’s soccer team had just won second in the state championship. I had complimented her on the win after she came to sit with me. While she celebrated their win, she also grieved her loss. She experienced a normal sadness to leave this season of her life.

“My daughter is going overseas for a summer program and then off to college in the fall. The house feels so empty without her. I miss her so much. Things will never be the same,” my friend lamented.

I personally feel sad this year because we’re saying goodbye to two couples on staff in our church.  They’ve touched my life deeply in various ways and I will miss them greatly.

I also feel sad to say goodbye to another woman I’ve known since she was sixteen. For years we sent Christmas cards and then eight years ago, in her mid-life, she moved to my city.

I’ve watched her blossom and grow and have enjoyed her friendship and wisdom over the course of those years. Now her husband got a job in another state. I’m happy for them but my heart grieves to have to say goodbye.

In our culture sometimes we want to think we’re independent but the truth is we depend on each other. We receive love, support, wisdom and care from the people in our lives.

When someone leaves, we grieve and sometimes we cry and it’s okay. If they didn’t mean anything to us, we wouldn’t feel sad. Grieving is a normal part of the transition.

5 Tips for a Healthy Goodbye

1. Let yourself have your feelings. Allow yourself to have sadness and tears. We have a tendency to say to people, “Don’t cry. It will be okay.” This is the worst thing you can say or have someone say to you. You need to cry.  Crying is healthy for you. Tears release hormones which help you feel better. Crying is a normal part of loss especially if the people leaving meant a lot to you.

If you’re the person leaving, feeling sad about what you leave behind is normal. This is a healthy part of getting ready to move to the next chapter in your life. Again, let yourself have your feelings of sadness as you think of those you left behind and all which is familiar to you.

2. Take time to let people know what you appreciate about them. Be specific. You can say, “I appreciate the way you’ve encouraged me, listened to me, been there for me. I admire your courage, perseverance, your faith.” Let them know specifically the qualities you appreciated.

For example, I told my friend, “Your faith has stirred, strengthened and encouraged mine many times.” Another time I told her, “I appreciate the way you seek wisdom and share your insights with me.”

I told our worship pastor, “Your worship and teaching have given me a whole new level of understanding of who God is and how to know Him in a more intimate way.  I will always treasure the wisdom and understanding you gave me.” I told his wife, “Your music has such a healing touch and has meant so much to me.”

3. Write them a note. The beauty of something written is that the person can read it again and be encouraged by it. I wrote a note to one of the young couples to let them know, “I feel richer in my life because of my friendship with both of you.”  I mentioned some specific things they did and character qualities I admired as well as expressing my love for them.

4. Spend some time with them. I met my friend, who I’ve known since she was sixteen, for tea. We spent a couple of hours talking and enjoying each other.

A friend who lived 90 miles from me got ready to move out of the area. I drove over and stayed with her for a couple of days so we could enjoy some time together.

5. Speak a blessing over them. Think of a verse, a prayer or an inspirational saying you can speak over them. Words have the power to bless. After our church service, our pastor invited people to come and pray or to share a verse and to speak blessings to the couples who were leaving.

Take the time to follow these tips. They will help you process your emotions so you can let go of this season of your life and  move into the next.

When you take the time to write or express your thoughts, you make a deposit in another person’s life. Your words will strengthen, encourage and empower them.

The more you give, the more you receive. You cannot give something positive to another person without it strengthening and encouraging you as well. So take the time to express your thoughts and feelings. You and they will both benefit and grow.

“The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)

Posted in Communication, Grief-How to Grieve a Loss, Letting Go, Power of Words, Relationship Building, Relationship Investment | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Words Plant Seeds

Do you sometimes feel like the people in your life don’t listen to you?

Do you think you might as well be speaking to the wall as I’ve heard some people say?

Do you watch people make mistakes and then think, “If they’d just listened to me. . .”

I wrote my sister recently, “Today, I thought about some advice you gave me years ago. As I reflected on this advice, I thought about what a good idea it was and also remembered how you modeled the advice you gave.”

Sometimes my sister didn’t think that people didn’t listen to the advice she gave. Sometimes I’ve felt the same way with my children or others in my life

You may not think people listen to you but good words are like seeds you plant. You never know when they are going to bring forth a harvest.

So don’t be discouraged.

Keep speaking truth and good words and let God bring about the results in due season.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9, 10 (ESV)

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Make Someone’s Day Better ~ Express gratitude

When I visited my sister in San Diego, CA, I shopped at a large grocery store. My eyes landed on a tall black security guard scanning the store by the elevator. His towering frame looked intimidating but it also gave me a sense of protection. On my way out I said, “Thank you for guarding us.” His serious face broke into a smile as he turned to me, “Thank you very much.”

At the same store one of the store clerks took me to two different places. I turned to him, “Thank you so much. I appreciate someone who takes the time to know their store.” He immediately broke into a wide grin and later went out of his way again to help me.

A few days later at an art fair, I saw a young man walking with a cane. He paused at a booth and I overhead him tell the sales clerk he arrived in the States two days ago from his military assignment overseas. “You can’t even imagine how happy I am to be on American soil.” I stood in the shade to avoid the heat of the day. As he limped by me I smiled at him. “Thank you much for protecting our freedoms.”

I do my best to make a habit to notice and affirm people because words encourage people in their good deeds and acts of service. As we express appreciation we model for our children and grandchildren how to be considerate and thoughtful. (tweet that if you like)

The other day, I took my twelve year old granddaughter out to celebrate her birthday. The waiter took a photo of us, helped me find my glasses when they fell and interacted with us in other caring ways.

As we paid for our dinner, I thanked him for being a caring and considerate waiter. Then I intentionally shared with my granddaughter on the way to the car, the importance of affirming people when they do good and helpful things. I told her, “When I see someone cleaning the public bathrooms, I try to remember to thank them.

Think about it. Our culture has a tendency to look down on those who work in those jobs but where would we be if we didn’t have people to clean the bathrooms, carry away the garbage and all those things we don’t like to do?

Often in the service industry, we take those who serve us for granted. These people don’t receive appreciation and yet they are an integral part of our society.

What can you do to make more of an effort to intentionally thank those who serve you? What have you done? Share with us what you think in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Let Go of the Toxic People in Your Life

Do you have someone in your life who makes destructive choices and refuses to change? Do their actions or words create a toxic emotional environment for you? Do you feel pressure to remain in a relationship because they are a family member?

Sometimes you’re the one putting forth all the effort and the other person remains the same. No matter how hard you try, nothing changes. You can become resentful if you’re the one who mainly takes responsibility and does all the caring.

There is a time to work things out with people and there is a time to let go. When you continue to take the majority of the responsibility, you end up enabling them to stay stuck and even hinder their growth.

You can interrupt the law of sowing and reaping by not allowing them to experience the consequences of their choices.  The classic book, “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud has some good insight on this principle. By the way, “Boundaries” is full of insight in relationships and I highly recommend it.

In healthy relationships, mutual caring and giving is the norm. When that isn’t happening, the relationship needs to be re-evaluated. Sometimes, you need to put some distance either physically or emotionally between you and that person. This is especially true if there is abuse. You may still be able stay connected but simply not trust them in the areas they’ve broken your trust.

At other times you need to pull away and take care of yourself. You may need to separate from the person for a season while you heal and later resume the relationship with healthier boundaries. In some situations, the relationship is too toxic for you and needs to be cut off.

This may be difficult for you and perhaps some other family members will protest or try to get you to change your mind but you need to consider your own health. You are not going to be any good to them or others in your life if the person’s poor choices and the way they treat you is destructive to you.

Think of it this way, if you lived in a house with black mold, it would make you sick and you can even die from it. Would you stay in an environment or go into an environment which is toxic for your health? The same principle applies to emotional toxicity.

You can’t change another person. You can only change yourself and sometimes the best choice you can make is to withdraw. This is not always easy and you may go through a grieving process while you accept things the way they are instead of the way you want them to be.

You may also have to work through some anger as well. Forgiveness may be a process for you and that is okay and normal. Sometimes you have to forgive over and over. Make a commitment to go on that journey because forgiveness is important for your own health. Also you can forgive without resuming the relationship.

Even if the separation is painful, be assured that what is best for you is also best for the other person. You’re allowing them the opportunity to make their own choices with the consequences. They will either choose to grow and change or they’ll stay the same. You give them the dignity of living with their choices. They will experience the results of not listening to advice and rebuke and will eat the fruit of having their own way as Proverbs 1 tells us below.

As for yourself, look for opportunities to grow through the experience. Be careful not to stay stuck in anger and resentment because then you create an internal toxic environment you carry with you. Work through your anger. Learn to forgive and look for the lessons learned.

Because they hated knowledge and
did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30 would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices. Proverbs 1:29-31

Posted in Conflicts, Confrontations, Difficult Relationships, Letting Go, Relationship Help | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Complaining Is Bad For Your Brain ~ 5 Tips To Overcome

Did you know that complaining actually impairs your brain? Even listening to extended complaining can cause the problem solving part of your brain to shut down.

You may have had this experience as I have. You’re enjoying your work or life and having a good day. Then you talk to someone and all they can do is complain about someone or something and suddenly you can’t think straight anymore. Your mood sinks and your energy is gone.

Minda Zetlin in a blog post at Inc.com, “Listening to Complainers is Bad for Your Brain,” interviewed Trevor Blake, author of “Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life.”  In the book, Blake shared research done by neuroscientists stating that being exposed to too much complaining can actually make you dumb.

Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity–including viewing such material on TV–actually peels away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus. That’s the part of your brain you need for problem solving.” Blake says. “Basically, it turns your brain to mush.” After you finish this post, you can read his advice about how to handle complainers.

We all have issues with complaining from time to time. Perhaps you have a relationship problem at work or at home and it’s an ongoing frustration to you. You find yourself complaining a lot about that relationship.

However, when you stay focused on complaining, you actually empower the negative rather than the positive. Whatever you focus on expands and dominates. Continuing to complain about a situation or person actually robs you of a solution and keeps you locked in a negative place.

So what is the healthy way to deal with the things which frustrate you? How do you avoid staying stuck in complaining which shuts off the problem solving part of your brain? How do you avoid focusing on complaining?

5 Tips To Overcome Complaining

1. Let yourself have your feelings.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the negative things which happen to you and how they affect you. Acknowledge your frustration or anger about the situation or person or whatever triggered your complaint.

2. Determine to look for solutions. If you stay focused on what is wrong, you will hinder your growth and keep the solutions from coming to you. Seek relationship advice and ask for relationship help. Ask God for wisdom. James tells us that God gives wisdom to anyone who asks.

3. Change your view of problem. Problem situations and people give you an opportunity to grow. After you finish reading this blog post, read, “Does the person who irritates you have a purpose?”  to gain perspective on how you can grow from something which irritates you.

4. Give yourself some space. Walk away. Go and do something else more positive that will help get your brain back into the creative problem solving mode.

5. Keep a gratitude journal. You can list or write about the things you are thankful for each day. Focusing on what you’re grateful for can help get your mind off your complaining. Gratitude can also re-energize your brain by reversing the negativity of complaining.

Sometimes when you grow in understanding of yourself and the other person, the relationship problem clears up and you find positive ways to handle it.

When you choose these positive responses to the negativity in the world, you’ll feel better and grow in maturity and strength.  Not only will you come up with solutions for yourself but you will be able to help others as well. The people in your life will take note and give you favor at work and at home.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

What do you think about this post? Do these tips help you? Do you have any other ideas? Share with us in the comments below.

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Conflict Resolution–How to Resolve Conflict Quickly

When tempers flare or an offense is taken, do you resolve your conflicts quickly?

Roselyn made a communication mistake. Instead of using an “I” message when she talked with her adult daughter, Lily about a sensitive issue, she used the accusatory “you.” Lily immediately took offense and started to walk away.

Even though Roselyn felt she was right about the issue, she didn’t to be alienated from her daughter.  She swallowed her pride and stepped up to Lily before she could get in the car, “Wait, let’s talk about this, ” she pleaded. Lily paused and turned to her mother and began to share her perspective.

Lily’s explanations helped Roselyn to see some things differently. “I understand what you were thinking,” Roselyn reassured her daughter.

Then Lily admitted, “I agree with you about one of your points but I didn’t like when you said___” Roselyn then had the chance to explain further her reasons for saying what she did only this time she remembered to use “I” messages and dropped the accusatory tone.

Lily said, “I understand Mom and it won’t happen again.”

Roselyn and Lily kissed each other on the cheek. Then Lily opened her car door and left. Roselyn breathed a sigh of relief. The conflict didn’t have to ruin the afternoon for both of them. They were at peace with each other.

5 Key Communication Principles To Quickly Resolve Conflict

1. Knowledge in communication principles. They knew how to work through conflict. Roselyn taught her daughter when she was younger and then Lily adopted the value for herself.

2. Value the relationship. They valued the relationship enough to talk through the issues so they could be at peace with each other.

3. Let each other speak. They knew the importance of letting the other person speak with the intent to understand each other.

4. Willingness to quickly deal with the conflict. They knew the importance of speedily resolving the issue so it didn’t linger between them.

5. Love is the bridge between two hearts. They reaffirmed their love for each other with reassurances that they loved each other.

What about you and your family and friends? What can you do to learn good communication principles and ways to resolve conflicts? Bookmark this blog and return to often to find tons of useful tips. Even if other family members or friends are not willing, you still can learn and model for them what to do.

If you feel the need for a little more personal input, check out the help and support offered here. If you need more insight on how to handle relationship mistakes when they are nor resolved quickly, you’ll find more insight in other posts on this site.

How about you? Do you know how to resolve conflict? What action are you going to take on what you’ve learned from this blog post?

23  So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23, 24

*names have been changed

Posted in Apology, Arguments, Communication, Conflicts, Confrontations, Keys to Reconciliation, Offenses | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Not to Talk Things Out–3 Tips

One of the challenges in relationship communication is getting people to talk things out with each other to achieve better understanding of each other. Is there ever a time not to talk things out?

Roselyn and Joyce talked on the phone and toward the end of the conversation, Roselyn said something that Joyce took offense at and she snapped at Roselyn. Roselyn realized Joyce was wrong as well as misunderstanding her good intentions.  Roselyn tried to explain but Joyce started saying things to discount her. Roselyn sensed the conversation could turn ugly if it continued so she suggested, “I don’t think this conversation is going in a good direction. I believe there has been a misunderstanding so let’s either talk about this later or let it go.”

Joyce paused a while and then said, “Some things you need to talk out and other things you just need to let go. I think this is one of them. Can we just erase the last couple of minutes?”

Roselyn chuckled, “Yes, this reminds me of what I used to so with my son. Sometimes we’d say, “Shall we just hit the alt ctrl delete keys like when we reboot the computer and start over?”

Fortunately for these sisters they had knowledge of good communication skills and knew when to talk and when to let things go.

There are times when rehashing things or talking things out can only make things worse and cause an unnecessary argument over who is right and who is wrong. How do you know when to let something go? This takes discernment.

3 Tips to Know When Not to Talk Things Out

  1. Is it something relative minor? You need to choose your battles and some things are simply not worth the fight. One mother and daughter used to battle over on how to hold the knife when you cut up food. They would argue and argue about this petty issue. Really in the larger scheme of things, this simply does not matter. There are more than one way to hold a knife.
  2. Is it a touchy area which has caused fights before. Christy and Rose agreed not to talk about their political differences because their arguments only caused them to be alienated from each other.
  3. Are you hungry or tired or angry about something else? Brenda confessed to Lynn, “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I’m hungry and tired and when I get like that, I’m a grumpy bear.” Joe admitted, “I know that I’m taking my frustration out on Dave over little things because I’m angry about what is going on in my life at work.”

How about you? Are there some things you can simply let go of to get along better? You don’t always have to set the record straight by showing where the other person is wrong especially about minor issues.

Take responsibility for your own grumpiness rather than take it out on others. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did. Know when to address issues and when not to. You’ll learn from your mistakes which issues are best to let go of rather than fight over. Sometimes in the interest of the relationship, it’s better to let those little go.

What about you? What has been your experience?

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Relationship Help–Allow Someone to Struggle to Get Strong

“You can’t help them, can you?” I observed to my friend as we gazed at an egg incubator with about two dozen eggs. We watched one baby chick struggle as it pecked its way out of the eggshell.

“No, they get stronger as they peck at the shell. If you broke it, they wouldn’t have the strength they need to survive.”

I watched the baby chick chip at the shell until finally, it flung its body out of the shell and flopped. It tried to get up and fell, tried to get up and fell again, over and over.  It flapped its little wet wings and tried to walk on its huge webbed feet but couldn’t. It was hard to watch except that I knew that the best thing to do was to let it struggle.

Slowly after getting up and falling down and flapping its little wings, it began to get stronger and stronger. His feathers dried and began to fluff out. After twenty four hours, it was up on its feet and ready to eat and drink and hang out with the other chicks who had already been through the process.

As I reflected on this, I thought about how many times we have a tendency to help someone too much because we don’t like to see them struggle. Whether it’s our kids, spouses, friends or co-workers, it’s a natural tendency to want to help them. There is definitely a time to help but there are other times when we need to simply watch and let them figure out on their own what to do.

I know of a situation where a mother consistently solved her daughter’s problems. Every time her daughter got in trouble or had difficulties, the mother would “fix it.” When the daughter grew up, she didn’t know how to deal with life’s problems. Rather than face her difficulties and work through them, she had a tendency to escape through the use of alcohol.

Finally she found a good recovery support group who helped her grow up and begin to take responsibility little by little. Now she’s a very responsible person.

When you see someone struggle who needs to, what can you do instead of doing it for them?

1. Provide a warm, supportive environment. My friend warmed a box with a heating lamp for the chicks and gave them room to struggle while they got on their feet.

You can do the same by providing a supportive emotional environment. When the person shares their struggles and frustrations, listen to them. Let them cry, vent their anger and share their frustrations.

2. Acknowledge their feelings. For example, you might say something like, “I’m sure that must be scary for you.” Or “I can understand why you are angry.” Or if they cry, let them, without telling them to stop. Crying is a healthy release of stress, sadness and frustration.

You don’t have to give them solutions. Be sure and let them express their other feelings without interrupting. Often, by being able to freely share their feelings, they’ll come up with ideas of how to solve their problems on their own.

3. Express confidence in them. After they’ve finished sharing, let them know you believe they will figure it out. Encourage them by pointing out the good qualities you see in them.

4. Show an interest in their journey. Check in with them and ask how they are doing. Let them know you care and support them.

5. Celebrate progress. Acknowledge how far they’ve come. Applaud even small steps. Progress, not perfection, is what you want to affirm.

As you do this, you will not only help your friend, you will grow too. When you watch them and what they do, you will learn from them and find encouragement for your own challenges.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another . . .” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

Posted in Letting Go, Mistakes, Relationship Help | 6 Comments

How to Grieve A Loss or Transition–5 Secrets to Healthy Grieving

Tears spilled from my friend’s eyes and mine joined her as we talked about her mother, one of my best friends of eighteen years. She’d recently died of a lung disease and my heart broke to lose such a faithful friend.

After my sister’s house burned down, daily she’d try to focus on what she was grateful for and write down ten things. “Sometimes I felt so bad I could only be grateful I had ten toes.”

“We just found out our little girl has leukemia and our hearts are broken for what she’s going to have to go through,” a friend shared about their four year old daughter.

A friend who deals with a spouse who suffers from ongoing depression told me, “I apologize for not returning your email asking about him. I get tired of telling people nothing has changed. He’s still struggling with depression.”

When she was seventeen, a car accident threw a friend of mine up against a windshield and put her in a wheelchair. Accidents or health challenges can permanently change your life and there is a normal grief process which goes with those huge losses and life adjustments.

Learning how to grieve is one of life’s most important skills. If you want some tips on how to grieve, you’ll find them here as you read on.

Grief comes to us all at some time in our lives over big and smaller events. If we do not learn how to grieve well, it can cause health problems emotionally and physically.

Don’t discount some of the other everyday losses you experience. They may not affect you as deeply but they do affect you all the same.

One time at work, I saw a sign on a colleague’s cubicle. He wrote,”No, I am not doing well. This is my daughter’s first day at kindergarten.”

After the death of her little dog, a friend posted on Facebook, “We’ve got a hole in our heart right now. We feel lost without her.”

I saw another friend in the grocery store and she shared, “I’m busy the next two weeks. I’m moving my mom to a retirement home. She’s having a sale to get rid of her things. Though she made the decision, she’s sad as she leaves this part of her life behind. My mother and I are very close and so it’s sad for me too because a realization comes that I may only have another ten years with my mother here on earth. It’s the end of an era.

Another friend lamented, “I used to be so close to my friend but now she’s pulled way from me. She won’t return my calls. I don’t know what to do.”

“I miss my community of friends so much ever since we moved. I especially miss the holiday celebrations,” my friend posted on facebook.

Maybe you too feel sad over the loss of a friend or a family member, a pet, a financial reversal or the loss of health or experience loss in a transition such as a son or daughter leaving home or moving. Or maybe you have to be separated from a loved one for an extended period of time or maybe your marriage did not work out the way you’d hoped.

As a member of a nation, you grieve too when there’s a national tragedy or senseless shootings. Or you could be affected by a fire or robbery and some other attack. Perhaps you’ve experienced a devastation from nature, an earthquake, tornado or hurricane or some other natural disaster. Sometimes even if you’re not personally affected, you live in an area which is and you’re affected by it.

Life brings us many losses to deal with personally and in community.

Your loss may have been a long time ago or maybe it’s been recent. Either way you feel sad. You go through a normal grieving process when you lose someone or something you value or you have to be separated from them.  Or when you experience the loss of property or an attack which robbed you of something you value.

The depth of your grieving depends on the significance of the loss. Some situations you work through more quickly and others take a long time.

Some losses are gradual and some are sudden. Sometimes you have time to process the loss and sometimes it’s a total shock. During my mid and late twenties my parents sudden death devastated me, first my father and four years later, my mother. When one of my best friends died, we were able to walk through it for two years.

Whether the loss is sudden or gradual,  you can either go through it or you can grow through it, depending on how you respond to the situation.

If you don’t deal with grief in a healthy way, your emotional wound can fester just like an untreated physical wound. You may experience negative effects physically and emotionally so it’s important to learn how to grieve. I developed fibromyalgia symptoms for years until I was finally able to grieve the death of my father. Once I was able to get in touch with those feelings of grief, cry and process them, the symptoms went away. I realized then that grieving is one of life’s most important skills.

Everyone is unique and goes about grieving in their own way so take what applies to you and discover what works for you. You don’t have to fit into someone’s idea of what you should do or feel. Do be willing though to try something that may uncomfortable to see if it might help.

How do you find healthy ways to grieve?

5 Secrets to Healthy Grieving

1. Allow yourself to have sadness and tears. We have a tendency to say to people, “Don’t cry. It will be okay.” This is the worst thing you can say or have someone say to you. You need to cry.  During times of deep grief, sometimes I’ve had a hard time crying. I’d prayed for God to orchestrate times for me to cry. Crying is healthy for you. Tears release hormones which help you feel better.

2. Let yourself have your other feelings as well. Depending on the situation, you may feel anger, despair or depression. These are a normal part of the grief process. After my mother’s untimely death, the depth of my anger surprised and scared me. A friend said to me, “Of course you’re angry. Let yourself have that anger.”  You’ll find other blog posts on this website which help you deal with your anger in healthy ways. You don’t need to medicate your strong emotions. Allow yourself to feel them.

3. Recognize that things may be chaotic for you. When I went through a season of deep grief, I couldn’t seem to focus and get things done. My sleep was fitful and I felt emotionally unsettled. Emotional and physical is normal especially at first and if the loss impacted you in a significant way. You may not be able to sleep. You may have more trouble focusing and remembering things. You may be irritable and have some physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches and other physical and emotional symptoms.

4. Talk about your feelings with someone you trust. Make a conscious effort to connect with those who have shared the loss or an empathetic friend. Talk about your feelings and memories. Reminisce, cry and laugh. If you don’t have others who have shared in your loss, talk to an empathetic person. During a devastating loss, a friend simply listened to me on a regular basis helped me tremendously to work through the grief I felt.

5. Write about your feelings. Process all of them, good and bad. Vent on paper. This can be very healing and you can gain insight into yourself and the situation. Sometimes during my times of grieving, I’d wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. unable to sleep. I couldn’t call someone in the middle of the night so I’d sit down and write about how I felt. Usually after I poured out my feelings on paper I would be able to go back to sleep.

They say time heals all wounds. Time does helps but you can heal faster and better if you are intentional about grieving. As you can actively cleanse a physical wound with medicine, there are things you can do to cleanse and heal your emotions.

Tippy, my dog had been a faithful friend and comfort to me for nearly fourteen years. When he died, I sat right down and wrote for four hours straight to process the feelings of grief I felt.

A friend who lost her young daughter to cancer shared, “I would chose an afternoon when I had some free time and get out all the photos and letters. I’d look at them and go over them and allow myself to cry. I did this over and over to be intentional about taking time to grief.”

Grieving is an important to your emotional and physical health. Grieving is work and it takes time. If you learn how and take time to grieve your losses, you will be a healthier person in every way.

Intentional grieving  is worth setting aside time to do because if you get stuck in grief, it can stunt your growth and keep you from contributing all you have to give. There is a time to grieve and then a time to move on.

When you’re finished reading this post, read this story about one man who found himself stuck in grief and then found a way to say goodbye. He found a whole new identify when he discovered an honoring way to say goodbye to his mother and move forward.

God is the God of all comfort. He says that He will not leave us comfortless so you can ask the Comforter to come and comfort you. God is the best source of comfort because He knows and understands you so well and knows how to comfort you the best.

Anne Peterson, a friend of mine shares comforting spiritual insights in this post about how God walks through our grief with us. Another friend, Shelia Kimball shares her thoughts about how God never leaves us or forsakes us in this post.

There is much written on this subject and you can read further online or in books about the five stages of grief and other helpful insights to help you grieve. These are some tips which have helped me and I trust they will help you as well. One of the most helpful books I’ve read is a small book called “Good Grief: A Constructive Approach to the Problem of Loss” by Granger Westborg. Another one which helped me tremendously is “The Grief Recovery Handbook” by John J. James and Russell Friedman.

Another insightful blog post on grieving points out the emotional work of grieving and includes the encouragement to to eat, sleep and exercise during your grieving time.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 (NIV)

How about you? Share in the comments below what has helped you deal with loss?

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Relationship Help–How to Say Goodbye To A Group

Have you ever had to leave an online or offline group or class? Or have you had someone leave and you are still in the group? Things have changed with the loose structure of some groups today and with the internet. Sometimes people come and go without your knowing and you are left without a sense of being able to process the change or say goodbye. How do you get some closure for yourself and others?

Let me give you a couple of examples. A couple of years ago, I belonged to a group for people who were unemployed. The group offered support and up to date information needed to re-enter the market place. Though I was self-employed as a freelance writer, I enjoyed the cutting edge speakers and information about the business world.

I made a special connection with the leader and we visited from time to time. I had missed a few meetings because of other commitments and one day when I came, he was gone. I was shocked and disappointed that I did not get a chance to say goodbye and to thank him for his positive impact on my life.

In another situation I belong to an online Facebook group and felt bonded to the members who had been in it for a year. Suddenly one of the members was no longer there. Again, I was shocked and disappointed. I felt a sense of loss about her absence.

Later I received an email from her that said,”I had no clue it would be so difficult to leave the group. I feel like I have lost my best friend(s) in the world. I never thought about grieving in the sense of leaving a group, but that sure is what happens.”

In the internet world and in general, it seems that people come and go. We bond and depend on them and then they are gone. How can you get closure if you leave a group or someone leaves a group you are in?

3 Tips to Process the Transition

1.      Share with an empathetic friend what you miss about that person. Express your feelings. At the time of the leader’s departure, I shared my sadness with another member in the group.

2.      Find a way to contact them if you can. Maybe you can get an address or email. If you don’t know how to find them, contact a mutual friend or the head of the group.

3.      Write a note to them letting them know you miss them. Be specific about what you miss. For example, I found the leader who left my group through LinkedIn. I sent him an email to share some specific things I appreciated about him.

If you are the one leaving and you miss your group there are healthy ways to deal with your feelings.

5 Tips to Leave a Group in an Emotionally Healthy Way

1.      Let people know you are going. In my Facebook group, one of the members told us they were leaving. This gave all of us an opportunity to respond and to say goodbye. Other friends, who take breaks from Facebook for a while, will post it on their wall so others know.

2.      Let yourself have your feelings. Whenever you don’t have something that you value, you will feel a sense of loss even if you made the choice to leave.

3.      Share your sense of loss with someone or write about it. If you left without saying goodbye and you feel sad about leaving a group, it helps you to share your feelings with someone.

4.      Write the people in the group who you miss and tell them what you appreciated about them.

5.      Talk to someone about what you miss about the group or write to process your feelings.

Think through how you are going to replace the support you had. You don’t always have to replace the support. Some relationships and groups are for a season and then that season comes to an end and that is okay.

Do take time though to process your thoughts and feelings and to seek closure for yourself whether it’s you are the one left behind or you are the one choosing to leave. You will be emotionally healthier and you will keep your relationships strong.

What about you? What has been your experience? Share with us in the comments below.

Posted in Communication, Letting Go, Relationship Help, Relationship Investment, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments