Craine Counseling and Consulting Group provides counseling services, social work ethics consultations and social work ethics workshops in a variety of settings.

Archive for July, 2014

Men and Women Handle Grief Differently

While men and women all experience grief and the different stages of the grieving process, I do believe that men and women grieve differently. My own experience in this area tells me that women are more on the “emotional” side outwardly and men tend to be more internal with their grief. Some of this is likely due to perceived societal expectations and norms where it is less “cool” for a man to emote his feelings outwardly. Of course, these are just generalizations and I am sure there are some men how grieve just as outwardly as some women and some women who keep their grief stuffed in side. I would be grateful if you would share your experiences personally or based on someone you know on this topic for inclusion in a book that I am writing. I am also interested in hearing from anyone who has become physically ill during a grief experience or fairly close to the completion of a grief experience. All information shared will be kept confidential. Please send your experiences to emcraine@crainemediation.com Thank you, in advance.

Loss and grief when a child is diagnosed with a life threatening illness

When a child is diagnosed with a life threatening illness, like my 11 year old son was diagnosed with lymphoma, it greatly impacts the entire family and impacts everyone differently. There are losses for the sick child: loss of innocence, loss of health, loss of friendships, loss of time, loss of control, etc. There are losses for the parents: loss of seeing the innocence in your child, loss of control, loss of time, loss of friendships, etc. There are losses for siblings: loss of innocence, loss of control, loss of time with parents and the sick sibling, loss of normal activities and rhythms.

These losses result in a grief reaction regardless of whether the illness is terminal or not. The feelings are more intense if the illness is terminal. Regardless, there is sadness, anger, bargaining, denial, shock, disbelief, etc. The feelings do not go away easily or quickly. I am not sure if they ever go away. Acceptance comes on an intellectual level but the emotional part may never come completely.

How does one cope? Some don’t and some figure out how to put one foot in front of the other each day and find some sense of order in each day, one day at a time. Possible coping skills include: meditation, yoga, walking or running, some other sport, therapy, journaling, etc. Please share what helps you cope. Thanks!

Recognizing When Professional Help Is Needed

You should seek help if any of the following are present:

1. You and the children’s other parent are having difficulty communicating with one another.

2. There is abuse of any kind (emotional, physical, verbal, financial, sexual, etc.) between any members of the family.

3. Someone in the family has anxiety or depression that does not lessen with time.

4. Someone in the family struggles with alcohol or other substance abuse.

5. Anyone in the family is unable to talk about their feelings.

6. The other parent is totally uninvolved with your child or children.

7. The other parent, or your child, demonstrates delinquent or self-harming behavior.

8. Your child withdraws from normal everyday contact with others on more days than not.

9. Your child is having problems at school that he/she did not have before.

10. Your child is taking sides between you and the other parent or clearly feels caught in the middle.

To find a therapist check out the following sites:

http://www.helpstartshere.org

http://www.psychologytoday.com

http://www.americanpsychotherapy.com

http://www.theravive.com

http://www.goodtherapy.org

The Rights of Children from Divorced, Divorcing, Separated and Never Married Parents (Regardless of the Parents Sexual Orientation)

All children with divorced, divorcing, separated and never married parents regardless of the parents sexual orientation have the following rights:

1. The right to openly express love for both parents (and all parents if there is a new significant other in one or both parent’s lives).

2. The right to know the address and phone number of both parents.

3. The right to not be blamed for the divorce, separation, or relationship break-up.

4. The right to be cared for properly by all parents in their lives emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

5. The right to be listened to and accepted as a person with feelings and needs by all parents involved.

6. The right to not be placed in the position of “negative message carrier” by all parents involved.

7. The right to not be asked to be the “family spy” by any parent.

8. The right to have a positive relationship with all parents and extended family members.

9. The right to be involved (depending on age) and informed about decisions that effect them and the reasons as to how those decisions were made.

10. The right to honest answers to their questions as best as parents are able, with out blaming the other parent.

11. The right to not be interrogated after a visit with the other parent.

12. The right to not be asked to lie or cover up for a parent (for example, about a dating relationship; drugs or alcohol; etc.).

13. The right to know the details of the parenting time schedule (when the children will spend time with each parent and where, etc.).

14. The right to not be used as a weapon of anger with the other parent.

15. The right to have time and appropriate space to heal properly from the hurt and pain of the parental separation, divorce or relationship break-up.

16. The right to remain active in both parent’s lives.

17. The right to know and understand that parents hurt too.

18. The right to know, understand, and believe that they are still part of a family even though everyone may not be living in the same home any more.

19. THE RIGHT TO BE LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY BY BOTH PARENTS AND ALL EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBERS.

Let me know your thoughts!

What kind of energy do you invest in your relationships?

emcraine

All relationships require us to use energy, either positive or negative.  The kind of energy we invest is likely the energy we will get back.  Talk a look at the energy you put into your relationships and see what comes back.  On the other hand, what happens if you receive negative energy from someone? Do you respond with negative energy through negative words or do you walk away?  or better, yet do you strive to respond with positive energy regardless of the negative that comes your way?  Nobody is perfect! We all are capable of responding with negative energy.  The question is where does it get us and what do we gain or lose in that scenario.  Only you can decide what kind of energy you should invest in your relationships, especially if you are co-parenting with someone.  Nonetheless, it is important to think about the kind of energy we want…

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How do you tell the children about your break-up?

Here are some suggestions for how to tell children about your adult relationship break-up:

1. Whenever possible, both parents should tell the children about the break-up. Use neutral words like “We decided that it is best for everyone if we break-up.” Of course, if one parent is not available for what ever reason, or has agreed to let the other parent do the telling, that is a different story. It is helpful to talk with the other parent ahead of time so you both know who is going to say what but do not sound rehearsed when you actually talk with the children.

3. Be honest about the adult reasons for the break-up or separation but use terms the children can understand. In being honest, do not bad mouth the other parent.

2. Only tell the children after as many issues about them are resolved as possible like where they will live, when and how often will they see the other parent and other family members, where they will go to school, will they have to leave their friends, etc. Develop a calendar with the children that they can help design and decorate that shows when they will be with each parent, etc.

3. Be age appropriate in what you tell the children. If you are not sure what is age appropriate for your children, consult with a mental health professional.

4. Reassure them that both parents love them and what ever the adult issues are both parents support the children having a positive relationship with both parents.

5. Reassure them that money will not be an issue (even if you think as an adult it will be). Children do not need that adult worry!

6. Allow time for the information to sink in and provide time for children to express feelings and thoughts about the separation or break-up.

7. Express your feelings of sadness, disappointment, and pain about the break-up but do not vent or dump your feelings on your children.

8. Prepare your children for the future and the changes that will come as a result of the separation or break-up. Some changes will be positive ones and some will be less positive.

9. If you are not sure what to say in your particular circumstances, consult a mental health professional who is licensed and reputable in your area.

Blessings,

Ellen

Finding Your Way Through the Hurt (Relationship Break-ups)

The hurt is so intense due to the disappointment and sense of betrayal regarding the many losses associated with a relationship break-up of any kind.  Here are some helpful tips to finding your way through the hurt:

1. Remember that your feelings are a normal part of the grieving process. Give yourself time to grieve, on average 13 months,   Allow yourself to have each of the feelings associated with grief including anger, sadness, bargaining, frustration, disappointment, etc.

2. When you find yourself angry with the other person, remember that the anger is a secondary emotion to the disappointment and sense of betrayal you are experiencing. Wait at least 24 – 48 hours before expressing your feelings to the other person.  Try to focus and identify what the exact disappointment is and share these feelings.  When you share your feelings, be sure to use “I” statements and own your feelings: “I feel disappointed that we can’t agree on parenting time” as an example.

3. Remember that you cannot change the other person. You can only change your reaction to them which may or may not facilitate them behaving differently towards you.  At this point, it is about you getting healthier and stronger and learning from your experiences.

4. Try meditation for 5 minutes twice each day. During your “meditation” focus on your breathing solely. Make sure you are breathing in and out through your nose and working towards slowing your breath down with each practice. This will help you feel calmer during the day and allow you to react to others with less raw emotion gradually over time. Eventually, you will have a new coping skill that is second nature.

5. Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings. Use this as a place to vent your frustrations and disappointments instead of blurting them out right away to the other person. Come back to your written words the next day, or even two days later, and document possible resolutions to share with the other person. Try to look at your writing as a third person listening/reading what you wrote to keep it as objective as possible. The original writing/venting was subjective.

I hope this helps. More to come.

Blessings,

Ellen