Ambiguous Loss and Covid 19

Hello Friends.

Life has changed so much since I last posted and there are daily changes.

About two weeks ago, I noticed that I feel sad and overwhelmed when I wake up and then I thought “things are still the same, it’s not a bad dream”. This feeling is similar to the time that my son died and many years ago when my dad died.

I remember waking up (during both these events/timelines) and being hit with a wave of sadness and feeling overwhelmed and discouraged (similar to how I feel now) and not knowing when the feeling would end or if it would end.

I think many people have feelings like this now with Covid 19. It’s terribly difficult wading through an emotionally painful, difficult experience and not knowing when or if it will end. I recently discovered this is called “Ambiguous Loss”, coined by Pauline Boss, Ph.D., and Emeritus Professor and Clinical Supervisor of Marriage and Family Therapy, at University of Minnesota.

I was part of a webinar training based on her book about a week ago and I wanted to share some newfound insights. Ambiguous loss is described as “An unclear loss that defies closure…often times it does not have validation or clarification or resolution”. Boss’ research includes information from POW experiencing crisis from Vietnam, 911 families, military deployment, and families of loved ones with dementia. Most every person right now has experienced some type of ambiguous loss-losing connections with loved ones who are physically absent but emotionally present whether they are sick or well, people experiencing job loss or co worker relationship loss, and healthcare providers going into a situation where they can be at high risk.

There are physical symptoms of ambiguous loss including depression, anxiety, family discord, confusion, grieving, hope, hopelessness, shock but it’s important to remember all these symptoms are NORMAL. She identified the ways all of us can shift from experiencing despair to hope and I will list them below with an example of what I am doing.

  1. Finding Meaning- I realize that my family relationships are very important to me (how are we pulling together?) and connecting in some way helps me distract from the world.
  2. Tempering (Adjusting) Mastery-learn to hold two opposing ideas at the same time-I have a lot of anxiety listening to the news about Covid 19 AND I feel peace when I don’t listen to the news and connect with others or reach out to help someone else (be cautious to blame oneself or others).
  3. Reconstructing Identity-try to recognize how my roles have changed before, during, and after Covid 19 (separate myself from Covid 19 and don’t stay in a role that doesn’t work-working from home and doing therapy by video-“no shoulds”)
  4. Normalizing Ambivalence-and I love this one because my webinar had a quote “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Tolkien   Try to acknowledge yours and others feelings, try not to judge yourself or others, and listen to each other. It’s actually kinda cool to think I’m sort of like Frodo and this is an adventure (I choose the word adventure instead of tragedy) I have never experienced.  Here’s another example:I want to see my family and friends, but I don’t want to get sick or get them sick.
  5. Revising Attachment-try to acknowledge how difficult it is separating social ties through social distancing and try to do new ways to strengthen or create other attachments, maybe through Facetime or Zoom or Marco Polo.
  6. Discovering Hope-I also love this one because Hope is increased through strengthening our connection spirituality. Whether you have a Higher Power or believe in God, discovering hope is huge and can comfort us. I know I feel comfort and peace when I connect with God by reading my scriptures, or praying, or listening to a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints General Conference talk. I have found life is so much less stressful when I connect with God.

 

I hope this information is helpful for all of you to manage this stressful time in our world which is new for all of us.

My hopes and prayers go with all of you my friends.

 

 

Isolating Together

Hello friends!

I haven’t posted for some time as I’ve been dealing with some pretty terrible neck pain along with our continually changing world.

The last couple of months I’ve had two sets (six shots each) of “diagnostic” shots in my neck to determine if “therapeutic shots”-shots of electricity to burn my nerves in the bulging discs of my neck will decrease my pain.

The last two weeks I’ve had these therapeutic shots and isolated at home on my bed because of the pain but I know not everyone is comfortable or ok in isolation.

I have many mental health clients that struggle mightily with depression; and isolation makes this worse. One thing that helps somewhat: everyone is going through this right now. If you struggle with depression or suicide thoughts, you are not alone-many people in our country or world right now are struggling with isolation and we can support each other.

Here are some ideas to stay connected during this time:

Join an online book club, watch live Facebook comedy shows, FaceTime your friends or family, get outside and go for a walk or a bike ride (isolation does not mean don’t go outside), read a good book-libraries have online resources too, visit a museum online, take an online course, learn how to speak a new language-there are many apps to discover, take a virtual national park tour, learn how to cook, learn how to sew, finish those crafts that you never had time, write your life story ( I wrote mine at 18 years old-there’s more to update!) scrapbook your photo memories, do some family history research online, call a relative you haven’t spoke to for a long time, and there are lots more ideas of things to stay busy and emotionally healthy.

I am adding a few ideas I have found online:

Details Are Important!

Hello friends! Happy Sunday!

I am not a detail oriented person. Ask my husband; he builds spreadsheets to share information about our budget, retirement, and investments-and it’s too much detail for me! I get overwhelmed and ask him to just give it to me in a summary.

Details might be important. I’ve tripped over things I might should notice on the floor, I’ve ran into walls I forgot we’re there. Yesterday I ran into a STOP sign.

Yes

An actual STOP sign.

My husband asked me, “did you run into it with your car or physically “? Yes-physically. With my head. It super hurt.

You may ask, how on earth did this happen??

Well -I was walking into the mall with my mom and sister-we crosses the street entrance on foot because the parking lot was full. There was a line of trees separating the street from parking and I walked next to the trees so I wasn’t on the street. A stop sign is positioned right next to the last tree with branches overhanging into the street.

I never saw the sign coming and walked headfirst into that metal sign. Have you heard that saying about an immovable object meeting an unstoppable force? Well I actually did stop when I met the immovable object! That sign did not move and I have a lump on my head and was sobbing in the parking lot BUT no blood.

Seriously! It hurt so bad but no blood at all. No stitches. No proof at all I was injured unless amazingly you saw me run into the sign! There is a red scrape on my head under the hair I actually have and a bump but that’s it.

You’d think that kind of disregard for details would be more serious!

Interestingly enough, the bottom of stop signs are my height 😂

I’ll try to be more aware of “signs” in my future. The sign in question is close to this entrance below

Wig Mistaken Identity

Hello friends and happy Sunday!

Since I’ve been wearing wigs, I’ve become more comfortable changing the color, length, and style of wigs I wear which is really fun for me although sometimes difficult for others 😂

Today before I left for church (I like to be early and hubs doesn’t mind arriving 5 minutes late-so we drive separate) hubs yelled at me “hey come back” (I was headed out the door) and I entered our living room he remarked “I just had to see what you look like so I know what hair to look for; I can’t find you if I didn’t see what hair you are wearing”!

I thought about this and yes I guess I put friends/family through mental gymnastics trying to find me in a crowd if I’m wearing different hair. I guess that’s one complication of wearing wigs! 😂🤣

Taken by Surprise

Hello Friends! I hope you’ve had a great weekend!

A week ago when on vacation I had some odd-wig and then shaved head moments. Let me share them with you:

Our travel agent (Sharon) accompanied 9 of us on this trip that included her husband, daughter, and new SIL.

When we arrived at Ft Lauderdale airport, it’s 4am and a little chilly- I had flown the red eye wig less and make up less so as soon as we de planed, I spent a quick 15 minutes putting on makeup.

The whole group saw me during the flight-rosacea does not like me to wear makeup for 12+ hours so I was being gentle on my skin. But as soon as we arrived, I wanted to see Miami with makeup AND hair.

Outside the airport I rifled through my luggage to grab my wig, Sharon thought I was getting a coat- and appeared startled as I popped my wig on in front of her.

Several times on our trip I was either wearing my shaved head or my wig so it was pretty obvious.

At the end of the trip Sharon mentioned to me “it’s ok if you don’t wear your hair, you look great without it”- but I told her I liked my wig and sometimes I like my own head. I think maybe other people feel they need to give me permission to be myself. Another of our group members said my shaved head was “spunky, I really like it” although no one seemed curious enough to ask me why I wore a wig. Maybe they thought that too personal? Maybe people felt uncomfortable inquiring about my hair?

I don’t mind questions. I don’t however, wear a wig or my shaved head to make anyone else comfortable. I do it to make myself happy in my own situation.

I will continue to wear wigs or shave my head just for me to feel comfortable with me and my hair loss ❤️

Wig Travels

Hello Friends! I went on vacation last week and my wig joined me! I thought you would like to hear of “her” vacation and cruise!

Flying into Miami, Marion (by Jon Renau-my wig) spent the flight in a cozy place in her lady’s luggage, wrapped and tucked in a special box. Her lady traveled a red eye with no makeup and hair; but at 4am in the baggage claim-lady put on her makeup with the treasures in carry on baggage. Waiting for a bus outside the Ft Lauderdale airport Lady is chilled with some wind and Marion popped on her head with several human beings watching. Marion pretends to be a hat sometimes, she keeps Lady’s head warm.

Marion got her picture taken in front of Hard Rock Stadium hours before Super Bowl. Other wigs are impressed. She toured the amazing mansion of Vizcaya in Miami and looks fresh and bouncy as if she had not flown a red eye.

Marion got her picture taken previous to boarding a huge cruise ship as she did not look like Lady’s other hair.

Marion’s lovely locks waved in the breeze as the ship left the pier and did a big U turn in the harbor to maneuver in the right direction.

Marion toured the big ship and waved in the breeze as Lady sunned on deck with a bathing suit and hat (that fits lady’s head even with a wig!)

Marion spend the next morning relaxing in the room as Lady got a facial but she joined the ship for a great burger lunch and then after more exploring, dinner and a fun comedy show that night.

The next day in Jamaica, Marion stayed on the ship as Lady was horseback riding and didn’t want to lose her to island living but back on the ship, she rejoins Lady for dinner and another entertaining musical show.

The next day in Grand Cayman, Marion stays back because Lady is riding a wave runner and swimming with stingrays and for sure would stay in this lovely haven. But back on the ship, Marion and makeup join Lady for dinner and a comedy show.

Here’s another day at another island Cozumel; Marion relaxes in the room as Lady will be snorkeling and exploring a Cenote. Marion doesn’t mind staying back because she is happy with her new owner 🙂 and the Cenote has bats that poop so Marion is a little afraid of bat dung staining her locks.

The last day on the ship, Marion spends a lot of time with Lady because the skies are cloudy and somewhat rainy/windy and is not the time to stay on deck. Marion gets to see two movies along with eating a yummy lunch and early dinner. She watches karoke which sometimes is good/bad depending on the singer LOL- but Marion never looks bad.

Today as Marion gets off ship with Lady, she anticipates a fun outing to Everglades National Park -Marion finally gets to tag along!-Lady quickly tucks her in a pink backpack for safety during an airboat tour but she is back in place afterwards. She finally went on an exciting excursion!

Many people observed Marion’s on and off adventures and wonder what it all means but Lady loves Marion and they get along so well that they don’t care what others think.

 

Mindful Eating

Hello friends!

It’s that time of year when nearly everyone I know talks about diets and losing weight. I don’t know what that’s the main focus in life, it might be due to media influences but diet companies are big business and spend $$$$ to advertise in lots of different ways-showing us we need to look a certain way to be attractive or accepted.

I’m tired of this particular scam. I also have a few years education in eating disorder arena. A month ago, I participated in a webinar comparing intermittent fasting/diets as usual with mindful eating.

Mindful eating has the most long term health benefits of any popular “diet” or intermittent fasting. Most people on diets lose weight but (I think it’s almost 95% of the time) gain all the weight back + more.

Mindful eating involves a lifestyle change-eating when you are hungry, don’t eat while doing something else, don’t eat while watching tv, and taking time to savor each bite. You can’t charge a lot of money for this nutrition style but over the long run far outweigh any diets or fads (there is nothing that guarantees weight loss although sometimes happens as we listen to what our body needs).

It’s takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to send a message to the brain that it’s full. I mindfully ate a gummy bear yesterday-spent about 5 minutes smelling, touching, seeing, and then tasting in my mouth before chomping down -I noticed several artificial smells-tastes that were NOT appealing and I only ate one.

Let’s all jump on the mindful eating bandwagon and make “health” not weight a focus of our lives-not just a January resolution.