How Trauma Affected My Grief Process

Today, I come to you from beautiful San Diego, California to talk about how trauma affected my grief process.

How trauma affected my grief process

My next YouTube video is now LIVE! Simply click on the video above and you will be taken right to it! I have started a segment where I will not only be sharing my story more in depth, but I will do so while hiking in different places around the world.

Today, I come to you from beautiful San Diego, California to talk about how trauma affected my grief process. I wrote a blog about dealing with PTSD after trauma and I couldn’t believe how many people didn’t realize that trauma was also triggering their grief process to be so much worse.

Trauma for me has been just as painful as grief. That is what I am sharing and talking to listeners today in my YouTube video.

Please be sure to share a comment on the video and let me know what you think.

Keep living life.

-Laura

7 Ways to Help A Loved One That is Grieving

I remember 2 years ago if someone died I wouldn’t know what to say to their loved ones. Do I give them an awkward hug? They probably are so flooded with messages they won’t even notice mine. Maybe I’m bothering them. Do I send them something? How do I get their mailing address? What the … Continue reading “7 Ways to Help A Loved One That is Grieving”

I remember 2 years ago if someone died I wouldn’t know what to say to their loved ones. Do I give them an awkward hug? They probably are so flooded with messages they won’t even notice mine. Maybe I’m bothering them. Do I send them something? How do I get their mailing address? What the heck do I even say?

You can be completely confused. I GET IT! I’ve now been on both sides.

Since James died, other people have died around me and guess what, I’ve gone back to being awkward!! How stupid is that? It’s because humans just don’t naturally know what to say. It’s hard to put yourself in that person’s shoes. This past year though I’ve tried to make an effort to reach out to anyone that has had a loved one die.

When James passed away I was flooded with messages, emails, some yummy baked goods, you name it, it was probably there. The thing was, at the time I really didn’t notice. Maybe I thought, oh yum this is good. Or maybe I thought, wow that was a really nice thing to share and didn’t reply. Guess what though, over time I’ve gone back to each and every message and read them all. I still have not replied and don’t intend to. But I sure appreciate the people that reached out even if it was a 2 sentence “I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what you are going through and you are in my prayers.” Hey, check out how easy that was. Do you know what I hated…”Please let me know if I can help.” I’m not sure why it annoyed me. But it did.

Anyone who has lost a loved one understands it’s hard to know what to say. So I have come up with a list of 10 ways to help a loved one grieve. They range from small to larger things, but I hope that if it helps some of you out there.

Share a memory: I love this. I really really love this. I don’t care if it’s something I knew about or something that is a new story to me, it’s like a small gift. It shows they have not forgot about that person. It shows they are thinking about them when, of course you are too.

Offer assistance: Now I do not have children, but I can’t imagine if I did how much a helping hand would be appreciated. I say that not only to people with children, but people going through grief in general. It’s exhausting! They probably are not eating or sleeping, so they do not have a lot of energy. Offer to cook or clean or even check the mail. Maybe even say are you sure? I would love to help. Ask again a few days later and I bet they will take you up on it.

Give them a gift: Now I’ve already talked about baked goods. But anything that would be comforting is a great idea. Maybe a few dinners that can be easily heated up. Maybe a stress relief ball. Maybe even a nice gesture like a picture frame with a picture of your friendship. There are a million little things you can add in a small box.

Quotes: You know I love quotes. At least you should know this about me if you have been following me on Instagram for longer than a few days. Write down your favorite quotes for them. Quotes about hope, about life about love. This may just help to lift their spirits a bit. If you or they are religious you can highlight a few of your favorite Bible versus, especially a few about heaven which will add a special touch.

A card: Aren’t cards great? Some just have the words already picked out for you. All you have to do is sign your name. Guess what, that’s okay and it’s a lovely gesture. Just sign the card and put it in the mail.

Set reminders: This may seem odd, but set reminders on your phone. 1 month anniversary, 2 month, 3 month, 6 month, etc. Guess what, that person that lost their loved one may be counting the exact days they have been without them. They definitely remember these anniversaries. No one may reach out. Since James passed away on New Years everyone remembers mine, but after the 2 month mark, most people stopped messaging me each month anniversary. Send them a quick message letting them know you are thinking of them.

Send a message: I shared earlier how I liked getting messages but I didn’t reply to them always. A simple social media message or text message goes a long way. It doesn’t need to be anything long (although it can be), but let them know you are thinking of them.

If you have another way you loved being helped during your time of grief, I would love for you to comment it below.

Thanks for reading! ❤

-Laura Leanne

It’s Year 2 – Now What?

On my Instagram channel, I talk about almost every topic under the sun. What my bad days look like, what a feeling of relief is like, my fitness goals, my travel, my dog. Let’s be honest – you’ve probably read a lot. Why am I pointing this out? I’m trying to go into a little … Continue reading “It’s Year 2 – Now What?”

On my Instagram channel, I talk about almost every topic under the sun. What my bad days look like, what a feeling of relief is like, my fitness goals, my travel, my dog. Let’s be honest – you’ve probably read a lot. Why am I pointing this out? I’m trying to go into a little more detail of where I am at now.

You have probably read all about the phases of grief. You may be able to relate to them. You may be like me and laugh and think, well that didn’t happen at all like that. So, if you have experienced more of a roller coaster, let me tell you, you are not alone. In fact, I think that’s normally how grief actually is.

My husband, James passed away January 1st, 2017. It is now late September 2018 and like I always say, grief is still there smacking me in the face each day. But it sure has changed from this time last year. Let me go into a little bit more detail…

In 2017, a had a lot of a medium to low feelings. A lot of low feelings of course. And the occasional super high. I figured that’s probably all pretty normal and it’s a lot better than feeling terrible all the time. So yes, pat on the back – progress! 2018 has been odd. It’s this understanding of knowing what has happened and figuring out your life. So, I have actually had so many highs. In fact, probably more highs than I used to have because I’m doing so many things that I now enjoy and have learned that I enjoy. With that said, there’s been so many lows too. So, it’s been more highs and lows and only some mediums. Confusing, huh? I agree! In fact, some weeks when I’m really enjoying myself and having a blast it freaks me out because a low must be following soon.

The point of my words today is to give you a little glimpse of what year 2 has looked like in the life of grief. Grief is full of ups and downs. Anyone that is reading this knows that. I had read that year 2 is actually the hardest and I would have to agree and disagree with that all at the same time. It’s hard because it’s reality. I really understand what is going on in my life and any numbing that I felt in 2017 is all gone. Time though has helped. It has helped me to understand how to help myself, what to do when I don’t feel so great. It has helped me to be able to breathe a little easier.

I would love to hear if you experienced the same type of pattern during your year 2 of grief. Please comment it below or send me a message.

Thanks for following along on my journey! ❤

Laura Leanne

Dealing With PTSD After Trauma

When I think of PTSD I don’t think of grief. At least I didn’t used to. I’m sure most people would agree with me, unless you are one of the unfortunate few that are currently nodding your head. For those of you that have experienced PTSD from a traumatic incident involving grief, I want to … Continue reading “Dealing With PTSD After Trauma”

When I think of PTSD I don’t think of grief. At least I didn’t used to. I’m sure most people would agree with me, unless you are one of the unfortunate few that are currently nodding your head. For those of you that have experienced PTSD from a traumatic incident involving grief, I want to first tell you that this is actually very normal. I hate how I always feel like I must be crazy with some of my emotions. Then I suddenly post it on my Instagram and the comments and messages come flooding in telling me that’s exactly what they are experiencing but either did not know how to put it into words OR they thought they must be crazy so wouldn’t dare say it out loud.

Well guess what, if you experienced seeing a loved one die in front of you, you experienced taking care of them and it was hard on you, you experienced seeing your loved one suffer, you experienced getting a terrible phone call, and a million other ways you see someone you care for deeply pass away, you probably have experienced a very traumatic event which now probably causes you a bit or a lot of PTSD.

So, to go into detail on my specific experience and what I experience. Insert deep breathes…

James was chatting about history one moment and the next moment he was on the ground. There are little moments about that night that I do not remember and really don’t feel like remembering. So, thanks brain for not bringing that back up with me. I remember thinking he must have fainted and started to shake him. I remember medics coming in and suddenly finding it hard to breathe and thinking this is the worlds shittiest dream. And to skip ahead a few hours, I remember the doctor telling me my husband wouldn’t make it as I was kneeling beside James holding his hand.

Little things about my night just come to me. I’ll be walking and SMACK (that wasn’t a door hitting me, although I think it would actually feel better) I remember seeing the monitor and noticing for the first time he had no heartbeat. Things that I hate that make me think of random things about that night…

  • Ambulances
  • Seeing any emergency hospital sign
  • Anyone telling me they had the worst day ever and it is not hard AT ALL.
  • Any kind of surprise good or bad. I’m surprised out, thanks.

A lot more, however those ones seem to be reoccurring and those damn ambulances never seem to go away.

I’m really not writing this blog to give you any kind of advice. Just deep breathes. Although I’m never a fan of time heals all, I really do think these kinds of things decline as time goes on and you simply learn how to deal with them. For example, with an ambulance I just sit there and literally hold my breathe and then you suddenly stop hearing the sirens and then I count to three quickly in my mind slowly and then I’m okay again. Those 25 seconds seem to go on forward, but if you asked me about ambulances 1 year ago I would say I f*cking hate them and they always put me in the worst mood. PROGRESS!

So no, you are not crazy. You have experienced something your brain had a hard time comprehending and it still struggles from time to time.

Have you experienced this? Has it gotten easier over time? Feel free to comment below or send me a message on Instagram (click here).

Where Did the Support Go?

There seems to be three kinds of people during my grief process. People that are judgmental and don’t seem to understand at all The people that may be there if you really needed them, but they don’t reach out. Your support system. During the first month everyone seemed to be in the third group. No … Continue reading “Where Did the Support Go?”

There seems to be three kinds of people during my grief process.

  1. People that are judgmental and don’t seem to understand at all
  2. The people that may be there if you really needed them, but they don’t reach out.
  3. Your support system.

During the first month everyone seemed to be in the third group. No matter who you were, it seemed as though everyone was about to be my cheerleader to say screw you grief. It’s interesting how it shifted so quickly.

“The best thing about the worst time in your life is that you see the TRUE COLORS of everyone.”

I remember only 2-3 weeks after my husband, James passed away I began getting less and less messages. People also started leaving my messages read. Perhaps they did not know what to reply, but the process started. I remember at the one month mark (February 1st, 2017) my inbox was flooded again. Okay, thank goodness I thought. People are back and ready to help! That process continued and continued while fewer and fewer people reached out until it was only a very small select few.

People that are going through grief…we get it, you do have a life. You can’t be at our disposal 24/7. The thing is, the person that I personally lost would have always been there for me 24/7. He was the one that heard my happy stories, my sad stories, my frustration stories and every story in between. Unfortunately, when the support dwindles down, the lack of a support system around you becomes that much clearer. That empty hole becomes that much more evident.

I want to go into detail a little bit more about these three groups that I have found.

Group #1) I was only 26 years old when James passed away. Were we wanting kids? Yes, eventually…but we were in no rush. At his memorial service the pastor talked a lot about never putting things off. I loved that. Afterwards someone came up to me and asked if I then regretted putting off kids. I’m not sure how I stayed so calm. I simply smiled and said nope. Another example is during my travels, people make comments on a daily basis how much money I must have in order to afford such travels. Once again, nope, just smart with my money. People don’t always mean to make these terrible comments to someone that is grieving, but they just happen. I try and laugh most of them off and realize that most people simply don’t understand. That group is large though and the longer the time has passed, the larger it becomes.

“My husband passed away. I don’t need advice. All I need is for you to gently close your mouth, open wide your heart and walk with me until I can see color again.”

Group #2) This is your largest group. In fact, it is filled with people that you thought would be there for you, that simply are not. Group #2 may have been some of your best friends that do not know what to say to you. They are the ones that say “please let me know if you need anything”. It’s always a nice thing to say, but I can never imagine myself reaching out and saying “hey, this is what I need…”. I’m going to ask the people that are in my life on a regular basis to help me with that. This group means no harm, but they also are the ones that move on quickly, they are the ones that don’t realize how lonely it is during the grieving process and they are the ones that think time heals all wounds. I have news for you, after 15 months, time didn’t heal anything.

Group #3) These people somehow get it. They don’t understand what you are going through, but they are there to listen and to help you in any way they can. For anyone going through grief, we understand that these are the people we most rely and that help us get through each day. The interesting thing about my group #3 is that most of the people in this group I would not have been able to predict. If you asked me a week, a month or a year before James passed away, I would have been sure this list would have been longer, I would have been sure of the people in it and I would have been sure there would be an abundance of support. How interesting life can be.

Now what?

One of the best places I have found support is on my Instagram site. It seems as though no matter who someone lost or what age they are, grief is grief. At first when I opened up the account I wondered how I could relate to anyone. I’m so young. That’s been one of the biggest things I’ve learned. It doesn’t matter your age, having someone out there that can relate to you is a beautiful thing. They somehow make you feel normal and that the thoughts inside of your head are not actually crazy at all.

I joined an online support group but to be honest, did not find it very helpful. It was full of young widows but they all seemed SO sad. Although I was sad, that was not my goal. It seemed as though they were all stuck and life had defeated them and they were okay with that. Me on the other hand, I was trying to figure out how to live again. This group wasn’t for me but that doesn’t mean it’s not for everyone. If you’re in a larger town there may be great groups to join. Quickly do a Google search and see if that kind of support there is out there for you.

Growing Group 3

You may not know who your direct support system is, but you know you want to have it there. There are some easy ways to help grow (or at least stabilize) this group. The easiest and probably the hardest is to ask for it. If you know someone who has been through grief before, they are an excellent person to reach out to. If you have a friend or family member that has been there for you and has slowly grown apart, perhaps you can try and notice things going on in their life. Make sure that you are a good friend back to them. A quick thank you to people that have been there for you can go a long way. They may not even realize the impact they are having on your life, but YOU DO.

Like every single thing you have realized through grief, it all changes, including your friends. Appreciate Group #3, give Group #2 the benefit of the doubt, they don’t know any better and ignore Group #1.

Thanks for the support the wonderful people I have met going through grief has given me.

Until next month,

Laura Leanne