I’m Ashley Jones, and I lost my daughter to a terminal illness in 2011. I was lost in my grief - struggling to find guidance and tangible tools to help me heal. One of the things that helped me were the photos I had of Skylar (our daughter) and of my husband and I with her.

Those photos created a physical safe space to grieve however I needed to grieve (ugly crying, talking to her, just sitting still, etc) without any judgement or expectation. I had the freedom to be and permission to feel when I sat and held those photos. They also gave me a way to hold her when she wasn’t here to hold.

This led me to want to do that for others, so I started [Love Not Lost ](www.lovenotlost.org) . We have expanded beyond providing professional portrait sessions to those facing a terminal diagnosis to include offering free support tools like HowCanILoveYouBetter.com. We will be launching a grief and empathy course in 2021 for corporate leaders to bring a culture of caring to the workplace.

I gave aTEDx Talk in November and want to normalize grief and help people heal. We all go through it, and it’s about time we had some better education and support for everyone involved.

Please, Ask Me Anything!

Photo proof here

Edit to add links

Comments: 288 • Responses: 93  • Date: 

flyonthewindshield303 karma

How do we process grief when there’s so much else that always needs done? For example, my great aunt passed in early 2019. She was my closest family member but I barely had time to cry when I found out because I was solely tasked with her funeral arrangements and cleaning out her house. By the time that was taken care of, I felt like my allotted grief time had passed and no one was sympathetic or would put up with me needing to take a personal day weeks after the fact. Then I became engaged later that same year and in December my fiancé—out of nowhere—ended it. Absolutely taken aback but, again, didn’t have time to grieve because I was busy finding a new place to live and moving and then COVID hit. So I’ve had two major deaths—one physical, one emotional—and I feel like I’ve almost become numb to it because life has to move on so quickly without any resolution. It seems like we are so inundated with loss and death that the solution is just to “suck it up” and move on since everyone is sad and depressed lately.

ashleyLNL142 karma

This is such a good question and one I think many people can relate to.

First, I’m so sorry for the loss you’ve been through. That is really freaking tough.

Having safe people - whether it’s a therapist, close friends, mentors, or family - to talk to and process emotions and be able to ask for help is really critical.

There is a rise of a new industry right now in death planning (think wedding planner but for funerals) for the very reason you mentioned. It’s so challenging to be the one to shoulder all of the planning and responsibility when you yourself are grieving and not functioning at full capacity.

You have to take care of you, and if you’re struggling, please ask for help. And if you don’t get help from the people you are asking, find new people to ask. Reach out to an organization that provides support. Read books to help guide you through (this is what I did when I couldn’t afford good therapy). Find a sub Reddit or another community to listen. Here’s another website called Option B with addition resources that Sheryl Sandberg created.

I hope you can prioritize time for yourself to feel the emotions that were passed over and let them out. Sending you so much love as you heal.

my_key_vee58 karma

I am a pre arrangement counselor at a funeral home and I can confirm making even the most basic plans ahead of time helps IMMENSELY.

Best example is when you have a family that argues over the arrangements because nothing was decided ahead of time.. emotions are high and it can tear a family apart.

ashleyLNL26 karma

Thank you for sharing and adding to the conversation 🙏

Vosje1115 karma

What else can you do instead of talking about it with friends or looking for help? Methods that will help me grief alone.

ashleyLNL25 karma

There are a lot of things you can do... grief can often present symptoms physically as well as emotionally so movement or body therapy can be really helpful: exercise, massage, yoga, running, walking, biking, swimming, etc. You can also help support yourself through mindfulness and meditation practices.

I think the most important thing is to cultivate self-awareness and listen to your body. As you hear what your body needs, then you can choose those things. For example, if you’re body is letting you know it’s exhausted - maybe you choose a nap instead of an energy drink. If you are overwhelmed with emotion and need a release, maybe you watch a sad movie so you can have a good cry. Hopefully you get the idea.

There are many therapies that can be helpful as well as creative outlets. Writing, art, journaling, building, etc.

I hope that helps!

LeftHeadOfZaphod59 karma

We lost a close family member after a ten year struggle and though we began our grieving process years ago, they died during the pandemic and we haven’t had the opportunity to be with rest of our family. The pandemic has presented new problems in the grieving process. Do you have any tips to overcome that hurdle?

blue214853 karma

Hey, hospice/palliative care social worker here. I have so many families struggling with the same thing. With COVID it limits our “closure” in having a formal goodbye. I have been working with families to find ways to do this with social distancing. I had a patient die who loved the outdoors- so the family picked a Saturday and they all went hiking near the city they lived in. Everyone started at the same time and sent pictures and each scattered ashes (that had been mailed). I had another family that all agreed to one night where they sat down and watched the same movie (patient favorite) and ate pizza- a lot of them in the same zoom room laughing together. See if there is something meaningful you can all do on the same day if there’s something that makes sense to your family. Sorry, rambling ha.

ashleyLNL8 karma

Love this idea - thanks so much for joining the conversation and sharing!

ashleyLNL51 karma

Man, my heart hurts for you. I’m so sorry. Losing someone in the pandemic is an extra level of hard because we are without the physical support we are often used to in the grieving process.

It is not the same at all, but I have heard really meaningful moments happening over zoom and other virtual spaces to gather collectively.

I would also like to share that physical distancing doesn’t have to mean relational distancing. We can still call our loved ones as often as we want - even with video - and have conversations and intentional discussions about loss, how we are feeling, and stuff going on in our lives.

I love to think creatively and find random weird ideas to help overcome the physical limitations... is there a journal you could send around to every family member and have each person write their favorite story and keep sending it around until you can meet in person again?

There are ways to connect through grief - it just won’t look the same for a while. I hope that helps ♥️ sending you and your family lots of love during this season.

NervousRect45 karma

Do you have any tips for active listening when it comes to comforting a grieving loved one? How does one comfort others when it comes to regrets?

ashleyLNL77 karma

Amazing questions!

Tips for comforting a person in grief: show up, be present, and sit with them in love. Don’t make it about you. Don’t try to fix them. Don’t try to take away their pain. Don’t let your fear cause you to check out or avoid things either.

Their pain is actually good. It’s helping them feel and heal. Trying to minimize pain or encouraging someone to avoid it can be harmful. Shame and guilt are not helpful either. I believe love heals.

Let them feel their feelings and continue to provide unconditional love throughout their grief. If you get triggered, do what you need to do to support your own self in healing before offering more support.

NervousRect16 karma

This is very helpful. Thank you so much

ashleyLNL14 karma

You’re welcome! Happy holidays ♥️

ashleyLNL30 karma

As far as regrets, that is so tough. The feelings of guilt and shame are often associated with regrets, which causes us to want to avoid the root of those feelings. I’m not sure there are words that can be a comfort - a lot depends on the moment and the delivery.

I’m not a counselor or a therapist, so if there is one here, I would love for them to jump in.

One thing I have seen in my own personal experience is that people have to come to the decision to forgive themselves. That journey is unique for everyone - it can be a result of a conversation, watching an inspirational talk, seeing a movie that triggers something, meditation, EMDR therapy, or something else completely different.

When you can model forgiveness, acceptance, and self-love in your own life, it can help show others it’s possible. Hope that helps 🙏 thanks for the great questions.

throwinitallawai22 karma

To add to this, regret and guilt I think can be part of coping. (Granted, they can turn very maladaptive.)

I say this after the loss of a 21 year partnership that happened very suddenly and unexpectedly while I was concurrently hobbled by burnout at work. It created severe grief for me, and my partner took my already enhanced feelings of inadequacy at handling my professional life and turned them on me about my personal life.

It later took a therapist to point out that my going through a hard time, in a loving relationship, was a time for them to reach out and try to help, not to bail. How many times have we all reacted to friends in hard spots with more love and compassion, not leaving?

So I had taken so much more of the focus and responsibility and guilt about our relationship ending than was reasonable, when I was willing to work on things as soon as they were pointed out, etc.

But I heard a piece on NPR by a mother of a terminally ill child who spoke about how much guilt she had about the illness her child had, and how in a way, it was her trying to maintain control.

It was easier to hate herself than to admit the world isn’t fair and we do not control what happens around us most of the time.

I really think that is how the feeling of regret helped me. It did help in the ways of really trying to see what I needed to do differently moving forward.

But also, it was “training wheels” to the larger existential truth of loss of the illusion of control that I needed to face when I was ready.

ashleyLNL3 karma

Thank you for sharing ♥️

Lifeaftercollege10 karma

I see so many people throw around these words, but nobody ever seem to be able to offer a concrete idea of what that actually looks like or what that actually means. What if you've done things you have no desire to forgive yourself for? Things you wouldn't forgive someone else for? Are we not made better people through our actions by understanding we're capable of causing harm that cannot be forgiven and cannot be righted in any way? Why the ever loving fuck should any of us even begin to think we have the right to forgive ourselves for harms done to other people? That seems like such arrogant selfishness. None of us have the right to free ourselves from the natural consequences of our actions, and it's real actual consequences that not everything can be forgiven.

I don't know. I'm increasingly apathetic with the modern take on mental health care and about one millimeter away from full on Thanos level nihilism. All of this shit seems so selfish and superficial and like glossing over the reality that there's not a single thing in this life joyful enough to even begin to approach the depths of pain that exist.

ashleyLNL4 karma

I hear you. I think a lot of people throw around words because it’s easy to say, but much harder to actually do. And it’s easy to become cynical, angry, and bitter.

I think we all have good and evil within us and we get to choose what we act on... everyone is capable of atrocious things. But then that begs the question why any of us should even begin to think that we have the power to say who is forgivable and who isn’t. That to me is a similar arrogance to what you speak of.

I’m not sure what your beliefs are, because that definitely shapes how you view the world. I actually do believe there are things joyful enough to approach the depths of pain - at least experienced on a personal level. I’m not sure we’ve been able to experience it collectively, but I believe it’s possible. I think that’s a big reason why I am committed to helping people heal in grief. I think experiencing the depths of pain (certainly in loss) can open up capacity to experience the depths of love and joy as well.

I really appreciate your thoughts and always respect an honest wrestle with hard things. Thank you.

comicsandpoppunk36 karma

I'm probably too late to get a reply but, what do you suggest to get other people to talk to you about your grief with making you sound like a grief-filled monster?

My dad died this year, and I've found that everyone is too repressed and awkward about talking about death to acknowledge the fact he's died.

I don't want to have a big profound conversation, just want people to stop pretending it didn't happen. What can you say to open up that conversation without also making it the only thing they think you want to talk about?

ashleyLNL38 karma

Not too late - I’ll be around all day - and I think this is a really important question, so thank you for asking it.

I’m so sorry you’re now without your dad in this world. It’s incredible tough when people don’t talk about it and pretend like it didn’t happen.

I will say that from my experience in speaking with lots of people in different situations, more often than not, people stay silent because of fear. They’re afraid that bringing him up will make you sad. They’re afraid they might make you cry. They’re afraid they’ll say the wrong thing. And the sad part about their fear is that it leaves you feeling unloved, unsupported, or alone in your grief - when it’s highly likely they do care and want to be there for you.

So my advice is to be upfront and honest with those you feel safe having conversations with. Saying something to communicate what’s okay, what you hope for, and what is okay - for example, “hey, I know my dad died earlier this year and not many people know how to talk about it, but I would really appreciate you asking me about him every now and then. It’s okay to say his name, ask how I am feeling on a particular day, or even sharing a story with me about him. You don’t have to do it all the time, but I would love the chance to talk about him every now and then.”

Make it your own, but hopefully you get the idea. Most people will appreciate the honesty and direction from you and will do their best to honor your request. If they don’t, it’s okay to have another conversation or understand they may not have the capacity to support you in your grief. Best wishes to you ♥️

bradynelise37 karma

Yes! I lost my dad a couple years ago. When people find out, they say, “ Oh, I’m so sorry.” My response, lately, has been, “Thank you for letting me bring him up - he’s one of my favorite people to talk about!”

ashleyLNL12 karma

This is soooo awesome! Thank you for sharing. That’s a fantastic response to encourage people to continue good behavior!

comicsandpoppunk9 karma

Thanks for taking the time to write this out. I find myself bringing him up all the time (or at least alluding mentioning how my horrible year has been different to a lot of other peoples) and some people are receptive but a lot of them just respond with awkward silences.

Recently I've found myself complaining about how repressed people are about death and possibly bullying people into asking me about him. Maybe I should give your approach a try instead though.

ashleyLNL6 karma

The bullying and shaming approach, although it can feel good in the moment, often leads to the opposite of what we actually want, which is genuine connection. Best wishes to you.

ImgurianForever6 karma

This is a really fantastic response

ashleyLNL5 karma

Thank you 🙏

lucky_ducker21 karma

Most people freak out about death, and don't want to hear you talk about it.

When my wife died in her mid-50s, exactly two people gave me safe space to talk, both of them friends at the church where we had worshipped for many years: a fellow choir member, and a friend who is a medical doctor. The latter definitely sought me out and encouraged me to talk, it was incredibly cathartic even though she only listened and made appropriate touches. Her compassionate approach made me think she is a truly amazing doctor to her patients.

ashleyLNL4 karma

Thank you for sharing and joining the conversation. So grateful those people showed up to support you.

riskitforbiscuit1318 karma

I lost my mom a month ago suddenly. A few weeks before that, my uncle passed away suddenly. Weeks after my mom passed away, my cousin died. What are practical tips for processing these deaths healthily? And not having that feeling like I’m constantly surrounded by doom and death. Also, whenever I think of my mom or she comes to mind, I start tearing up or crying in front of people, even strangers. Even though a second ago I might seem really cheerful. How do I stop that? Also how do I reconcile the fact that I’m scared if I stop thinking of her in that way... her memory will die. And she invested most of her life in her children. If I stop caring that she passed away, no one else will ... and then I will truly feel that she is gone. I don’t want her presence or memory to be erased. Looking for practical tips.

ashleyLNL21 karma

Thank you for sharing and for your questions. My heart is with you.

Practical tips for grieving healthy:

  • Try to feel things as much as you can in safe places to let the emotions out and process them

  • If you catch yourself getting emotional in public when you don’t want to, it’s okay to leave the situation. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but giving one would probably be welcome and might lend to some loving support.

  • If there was trauma (emotional or otherwise) involved, seek out body work professionals like an EMDR therapist, craniosacral therapist (CST), or other forms of support.

  • If you’re lacking a good support system, please find a good therapist you trust and can confide in. It can really make a huge difference and is an investment in yourself.

  • Creativity and movement can be really helpful. Exercise, building things, writing, etc. Whatever is your interest, make space to pursue it for a time and see what comes out.

  • There are some great books that can serve as a guide too. We have a small library of grief book suggestions on our website and are continually adding more as I read through them and make sure they’re actually helpful.

  • Don’t be afraid to voice your needs and ask for help. If you need someone to bring you dinner, put it out into your community. If you want someone to bring you a bottle of wine and sit with you to talk about your mom, just ask them! Most people want to help but are stuck doing nothing because they don’t know what to do to support you.

  • Self-care is critical. Listen to your body. If you’re tired, give yourself a nap instead of pounding coffee. If you feel your body is carrying a lot of stress, maybe you could go for a run or get a massage. Listen to what you’re feeling and try to respond accordingly.

I could add more, and if you want me to, just say so, but I think that is enough to start with...

riskitforbiscuit133 karma

Thank you for the advice. And I appreciate the kind words so much. I’ll definitely implement the tips and share them with my family. I had been talking to a therapist but they didn’t really say anything useful.

ashleyLNL6 karma

Don’t let one unhelpful therapist keep you from finding another. I went through several before I found the one I have now. And even then, different people can have different seasons to help you ♥️🙌

ashleyLNL12 karma

As far as the specific questions related to your mom and memories, her loss is still really raw. Tearing up when thinking of her is completely normal and something I don’t know you can stop. Something that might be helpful is sitting with her memory as much as you can - not only to prevent her memory from being erased, but also to give yourself permission to feel whatever feeling comes up and stay present with it.

Your mom’s memory will always be with those who love her. I personally believe that our loved ones can continue to love us from the other side too.

Her presence or memory can never be erased. She exists in stories, hopefully in photos and videos too. She lives on in your heart and no one can take that away from you. A practical tip might be compiling stories, photos, and videos from everyone in the family to build a memory book of her ♥️ sending you all so much love this season of grief. I hope that is helpful.

flowabout16 karma


ashleyLNL10 karma

Ugh - I am so sorry and I get it. It’s been almost ten years for me and I hate that so many of my memories seem to be fading. That’s a big reason I started the nonprofit, because I do feel that photos help me keep those memories close. They’re like an external hard drive and I only wish I had more of them.

I think the videos will help trigger some of your memories. You might lose some of the memories that weren’t captured on video or in photos, but as her mom, you’ll never forget all of them.

Sometimes I will try to close my eyes and go back to a feeling. The feeling of her little peach fuzz of a head next to my cheek or her little sweaty palms in my hand... of the feeling of shock and awe the first time she squealed with joy. Sometimes starting with the feelings can be a really powerful way to connect with the emotions that trigger memories. Another thing that can be helpful is to ask other people to send you photos they have or stories they remember.

All that to say, you’re “normal” and my heart is with you.

mr_alt_alt12 karma

What would be your advice for someone who is trying to prepare for potential grief?

Specifically, my wife is pregnant but there have been some complications. At the moment, we don't know if our unborn daughter will survive or not, or if she'll have any permanent disabilities. We're waiting for some test but as you can imagine it's pretty hard. We've both spent days crying, both together and alone (when my wife was in the hospital for a few days).

On one hand, we still want to keep hope that maybe things will be OK. But we're also afraid and trying to prepare ourselves emotionally for the worst (and even this we're not sure of what 'worst' is exactly - death? now or in 2, 3, 4 years?).

So far we're doing pretty well, because of the lockdown we at least spend a lot of time together, cooking together, watching TV, etc, and we also have good friends and family we can count on... aaaand I think I've just answered my own question, to be honest.

Thank you for doing this, I've already saved the links you've given.

ashleyLNL10 karma

That is so tough - and you’re right, the unknowing is sometimes the hardest. We went through that with the diagnosis of our daughter - knowing something was wrong but not knowing how bad. How can you plan for what you don’t know?

I want to encourage you to not let your fear of the future rob you of the present. There can still be joy, laughter, and love in the midst of anticipatory grief, which it sounds like you are experiencing with the lockdown.

You’re dealing with tough stuff - it could be helpful to seek out a counselor right now to guide you in whatever is to come.

Sending you so much love in the waiting of the unknown and hoping for the absolute best for you and your wife and baby ♥️

Both-Baker12 karma

Hi Ashley thanks for making this post.

Do you have any advice for those grieving on how to recognise it for what it is?

For example my cousins recently lost their father, and one of them has a new baby. So in the middle of the pandemic with anxieties already high, newborn baby causing stress and sleep deprivation, add to that the loss of a parent, how can they distinguish their grief from other stresses etc?

I guess I ask because I think (correct me if I’m wrong!) it’s probably important to recognise one’s grief and be mindful of it and accept it as a means to move forward.

ashleyLNL11 karma

Yes - such a good point.

A healthy person has capacity to respond to stress inputs with thoughtful intention. Getting cut off in traffic, having someone mess up their order or shipment, having someone give them an attitude, a baby screaming - those are all stressors, but they can be processed without reacting while maintaining a level of calm and clarity.

In grief, I think many of us go into survival mode for a period of time. Because of this, we are not operating from a place in our brain that can think rationally - we are just trying to function. As a result, we often react to situations as if they are high threats because we are at a max capacity for handling any additional stressors. And to distinguish those feelings from grief is challenging.

It’s so important to have grace for ourselves and for others who seem like they are struggling emotionally or have been through a loss. I think it’s okay to look at our lives and say, “this is hard. I am grieving...” and know that with grief comes a whole bunch of emotions - anger, joy, relief, sadness, love, and so much more.

Even if you can’t distinguish it, my husband and I found it helpful to acknowledge, “we are doing the best we can and it’s still not good enough. This is a season and it will pass.” And then ask for help where we needed it.

Both-Baker4 karma

Thanks for such a thoughtful reply. I especially love your last paragraphs about being kind to yourself and acknowledging you’re doing the best you can.

I just wish there were more we could do to support our families right now when we can’t actually be with them and spend time with them :(

ashleyLNL4 karma

I agree - this time is creating an extra level of hard, but it can also force us to get creative on how to spend time together not in-person. Snail mail, zoom, drive-by hellos, special deliveries, etc.

BenneroniAndCheese11 karma

What would it take for a photographer to get involved with this? What is the experience like for them?

ashleyLNL17 karma

Great questions! (Edit to add link and fix typos)

We are currently accepting photographers in the state of Georgia. There is an application process on our website. We are working to expand our photography program to a national level as we get more funding.

Our volunteer photographers are amazing. Due to the nature of our work, and possibly taking the last photo of someone, we make sure that all of our photographers are highly skilled in taking beautiful photos. However, we know that our sessions can come with a lot of emotional weight, so we take all of our photographers through a retreat before they ever step foot in front of a family. We go through an intense weekend training to share what to do with your own emotions, how to handle the grief of others, how to have empathy without burnout, and so much more. We also address how to photograph people well if they are limited to a bed or have lots of tubes and wires around them.

Another thing we do to provide an amazing experience for both photographers and the families we serve is sending out our photographers in pairs. There is always a lead photographer and a helper photographer. The lead photographer can focus on capturing the emotion in the photograph and “getting the shot”, while the helper can help with gear, be a second set of eyes/hands to help get the best results, and be emotional support and engage relationally with everyone.

Every single session is so different. But no matter what, they are all meaningful.

photoengineer2 karma

It sounds like a wonderful service but I have to ask, why not pay the photographers? Asking with the assumption that others in your organization get paid and I saw sponsors listed on your page.

ashleyLNL7 karma

Our hope is to scale to a national level. We have two paid staff members right now - myself and our Key Relations Manager who leads the photographer program (manages family applications, scheduling, partnerships with hospitals and hospices, etc.).

There are a few reasons we chose the volunteer model. The first is that creatives often want an outlet to give back and don’t have an organized way to do so and be a part of a community. We want to offer that as there is value in giving of your time and talent - especially when you may not have funds to make the impact you desire in the world.

Secondly, with our vision to scale to a national level, the fundraising requirements would make it incredibly difficult to pay our photographers. We currently get 70% of our funding from individuals and 30% from sponsors/grants and our biggest sponsor gift is $30,000 - which is incredible, but barely enough to cover one salary of our staff. Our hope is to have thousands of photographer volunteers in every state so you can do that math... if you know of a fundraising expert who can help us, please let me know!

And last but certainly not least, we want to ensure that we never have to charge the families we serve. When facing a terminal diagnosis, you never know what insurance will or won’t cover - how much a funeral is going to be - or other unexpected expenses. We want to make sure photographs and the albums we provide are true gifts and don’t add to the financial concern of the families we serve.

92JMFL10 karma

How are you supposed to keep moving forward? I don’t know if I’m still grieving but I don’t think I can do it much longer. What is the secret to remaining happy enough to keep breathing? Sorry about your daughter. I can’t imagine the pain.

ashleyLNL7 karma

For me, it was the understanding that happiness is not the reason we exist - it’s not what I am seeking to live for - and it doesn’t keep us alive. Love does.

I had to learn to love myself in all of my pain - to care for myself, to be the one to kick my own ass out of bed (or get a pet to help with this), to forgive, to have grace, to know that each day is a new day and I have the choice to respond however I choose.

When I learned that emotions didn’t have to control me, that was really freeing.

I also realized that everyone around me is hurting too - and yet we are all connected through love. Love is the greatest investment.

I would highly recommend a therapist or counselor to process through if you’re feeling depressed or hopeless. They can dive into things deeper with you to get to the root of why you’re feeling the way you are and determine what could best support you based on the uniqueness of who you are and your circumstances.

Sending you lots of love as you work through the grief and healing process.

infertiles_turtles9 karma

This might sound unusual, but how does someone grieve for something they never had? When the option for something people take for granted as something they will attain but then that option is taken away.

Is there any healing or way of processing this without closure?

ashleyLNL8 karma

This is a great question that I think many people face throughout their life. Self-awareness is important to listen to your body and your feelings surrounding the loss and it sounds like you already have the awareness.

A good grief therapist can be extremely helpful to process those losses and feelings. That grief is valid and it’s important to feel and let it out.

Often times I think people hold that grief in because it isn’t a tangible loss. There is a possibility to have judgement surrounding it if shared with others or a number of other things that keep us silent in grief.

One thing that has helped me personally is writing. Writing out what I wanted, hoped for, or dreamed of and the feelings I have swirling around inside after realizing that’s not going to happen... allowing those feelings to be present without trying to fix them, judge them, or make them go away. Just allowing them to be. Then usually, they dissipate. Sometimes it takes me asking “why do I feel angry about this” or “am I believing something that might not be true?”

Regardless, I hope you find support or the methods that work for you.

plapdaddy9 karma

what is grief ? why does grief exist ? in your utopian world can grief be eradicated ?

ashleyLNL26 karma

Thanks wiki bot. I agree that grief is a natural and normal response to the loss of something we love. I believe it’s our body inviting us to heal in the pain of the loss.

In the world I see, no, grief won’t be eradicated because there will always be loss. However, what I hope for is a world where any time someone experiences loss, there will be healthy and whole individuals ready to love and support them.

I believe we can get to a place where we can grieve, feel whatever it is we are feeling without shame or judgement, and heal. And as we heal individually, we can heal collectively.

Thank you for the great questions!

Chaos350z8 karma

How do you even begin to grieve when at every turn you just get more and more numb to the loss and failure?

I'm not gunna burden the full details of my story, but for the last 6 years every December I've lost a close family member/loved one. The one year It didn't happen, I myself got hospitalized leaving me with a permanent immunodeficiency/health issues. I keep walking into December more and more numb each year because I just expect at some point, something bad is going to happen. Just today I was told my last grandparent has hours left to live out of nowhere. Just woke up to it and all I did was laugh. Reading peoples posts/responses have been nice, but I feel pretty much no shock or sadness anymore. I just expect things to continue to go wrong because nothing has for years. I haven't grieved for the loss of my Mum, her father who died the exact same day as her 5 years later. My other grandfather, grandmother, or my own health. Not to even mention my fiancee left me a year ago leaving me with no support network at all. I don't feel anything, so how do I even start grieving?

ashleyLNL5 karma

You’re right. That is so much loss and I’m sorry. It is hard to process your feelings when you have compounding grief that keeps adding up loss after loss.

I would highly recommend a therapist, but you might also consider someone who does body work. Once we become numb and disconnect from our hearts, the work to be done is the reconnection. EMDR therapy, Craniosacral therapy, reiki, etc. could be a place to start.

I have a friend who is a medium and reiki specialist (Natalie Clare Healing) and sometimes her work is just helping people cry again.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Your body is in this with you and wants to help you heal. We have to listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us, often times through emotion or physical signs. Meditation and mindfulness practices can be extremely helpful to start listening and feeling again. Self-care is an important part of the healing journey as well to support your body in what it needs as you navigate the grief and loss.

I believe you can process your grief - no matter how deep and endless it feels - to become a whole and healthy person. If I can answer anything else, please ask.

Sending you so much love this December to you and everyone grieving your grandparent.

sephstorm7 karma

Have you thought of working with the Order of the Good Death?

ashleyLNL7 karma

Never heard of it - what is it all about?

sephstorm13 karma

The Order of the Good Death is a death acceptance organization founded in 2011 by mortician and author Caitlin Doughty. The group advocates for natural burial and embracing human mortality.

I think your goals would match up well. Death and Grief are linked and you probably have a perspective members would like to hear.

ashleyLNL9 karma

This is really awesome - I am on the Order of a Good Death website now and it reminds me so much of Caleb Wilde and his book Confessions of a Funeral Director. His website.

Thank you so much for sharing this 🙏♥️

ashleyLNL5 karma

That’s awesome. Thank you! I will check it out. My husband and I chose a natural burial for our daughter.

LHandrel6 karma

We just lost my little brother to suicide less than a month ago. He was struggling to find happiness and was hurting after the end of a relationship, but we never expected him to take his life. He shot himself in the master bathroom of my parents' home.

My mother is understandably traumatized, but she also is often asking the why and what-if questions. Whether she was a good mother, if she could have changed things, what she might have done differently that morning. Lots of questions that, frankly, we will probably never know the answer to.

The issue is, these questions keep her in a state of mind that doesn't allow her to move forward. And she's trapped herself in a mindset which resulted in inpatient treatment for severe anxiety in the past worrying herself to death.

How can I nudge her away from that place and those questions? How do I help her grieve in a way that helps her heal and begin to move forward?

ashleyLNL6 karma

This is definitely a scenario where I am going to beg you to get a therapist involved asap - preferably one who specializes in trauma. There are so many layers of grief and trauma you and your parents have been through. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface in a comment. A good therapist will be able to dive into your story, learn more about each of you, your history, your character, your communication styles, and more to help give you specific guidance through the days and months ahead.

I am so sorry. My heart is broken for your family. My chest hurt reading this. One of my good friends lost her sibling to suicide earlier this year and it’s devastating.

If you’re a reader, one of my favorite books on trauma is The Body Keeps The Score, which offers insight on healing from trauma. I truly am sending so much love to you and hope you can find the right support to help you and your mom with her anxiety and fear.

LHandrel3 karma

My parents are speaking to counselors and participating in support groups, yes. I just wanted to know if there was anything I could do, personally, to help her accept that she's not to blame.

Thank you.

ashleyLNL2 karma

I’m so glad to hear you have counseling support and hope that trauma support is a part of that.

As far as personal support, I go with my gut and my heart for moments of support... Sometimes my heart will guide me to say something specific. Other times I will feel like I am supposed to stay quiet and just be present. I think a big part of support is being able to see the other person’s state of being and know how to best love them wherever they are.

So much of support is loving - and so much of loving is knowing. Because I don’t know your mom, I don’t feel like I can really help with specifics. But maybe you can start by asking her, “how can I love you best right now?” That’s usually where I start...

Mo0may5 karma

My sister is in the final stages of bone cancer. She is in her 40s with young children. Our entire family is grieving and so is my sister. Her life will be cut short and all of it feels massively unfair. Do you have any suggestions on ways to help her as she attempts to cope with her grief? She doesn’t have much time left. I just want to be there for her in any way possible.

ashleyLNL4 karma

I am so sorry. Bone cancer is awful and facing your own death is incredibly challenging. I walked a friend through stage 4 lung cancer and he was in his 50s.

One way that I helped him is that I would bring him anti-inflammatory foods and tea, I would sit with him alone in the house when he was resting just so he would have company or someone to call if he needed help, and I was also willing to ask him hard questions, like, “are you afraid to die?”

We would sit and cry together. He had some religious questions but wasn’t able to get out of the house hardly, so I asked a pastor to come over and talk with him. I would make it known that he and his partner could call on me any time day or night and I would be there. I did my best to create a safe space for him to share anything he needed to share and just to let him know he was loved and not alone.

I know you don’t have a lot of time left, but one thing you might want to look into is Saga to help your sister record some memories to preserve so your family can listen to them after she’s gone.

IAreAEngineer5 karma

The grief and empathy course sounds good -- any more details you can share? How long is it, etc.

ashleyLNL17 karma

We originally designed it as an in-person workshop and launched it March 6th, lol. As you can imagine, that went over real well with Covid.

We (Ruth Cochran, a psychotherapist and C-level executive coach and myself) have recorded all of the content into modules to create the online course and are finalizing the branding next month. It is called “Heart At Work” and I’m really excited about it.

We have modules of what to say, what not to say, but more importantly we share WHY... Why it’s not okay to tell someone “God just needed another angel” or “your loved one wouldn’t want to see you like this” or a number of other poor cliches.

We will have specific discussions around what changes can lead to grief in the workplace outside of death that might not be so obvious - a lost promotion, a change in salary, moving offices, a change in team, etc. We also dive into work culture, leadership, and more.

We will announce the launch on our website, in our newsletter, and across our social channels @lovenotlostorg in 2021!

Edit to fix typos :)

IAreAEngineer6 karma

Thanks! I've bookmarked the site and may want to bring it up at my workplace.

ashleyLNL5 karma

Awesome - I love your user name! Thanks for joining the conversation. Happy holidays ♥️

nonailsnodrag5 karma

how would this work for losing an early term pregnancy? You don't get pictures of the baby. Not to mention society as a whole does not recognize or acknowledge that type of loss

ashleyLNL1 karma

I agree that society doesn’t do a good job in recognizing early pregnancy loss, and I hope that’s changing as more people (celebrities included) are sharing their miscarriage stories. We will continue working to normalize loss and grief of all kinds so that support is always available to those who need it.

Our goal at Love Not Lost with our portrait sessions is to celebrate life and preserve memories of love. If there is enough time with an early term pregnancy loss, we would offer a maternity session. We’ve done this for several families - middle to late term - who knew they were going to lose their baby.

We had a mom share that the photos bring her so much joy now because she was able to feel the baby move during the session and those photos bring her back to those moments. We’ve had another mom share the photos validated her as a mother as she sat in an empty nursery on Mother’s Day.

I hope that answers your question about how it works - I made the assumption you were talking about the photo sessions since you mentioned pictures. Feel free to ask a follow up if I missed anything!

nonailsnodrag2 karma

well that would not help me as my losses were at 5 and 8 weeks out of nowhere and I was of course not showing yet. You might want to think about a way to do something for those people like me. Some of those women don't even have an ultrasound pic at that point. You seemed to think having a picture helped but I was pointing out a situation of grief and loss where they are no pictures. So what the heck would someone like me do?

ashleyLNL2 karma

Do you have any suggestions? We would totally be open to hearing ideas!

nonailsnodrag2 karma

No, not really. But that grief is just as real and serious and they often go completely ignored. I know I was.

ashleyLNL1 karma

I completely agree with you and am sorry that was your experience. If anything comes to you, reach out any time.

manybookslesstime233 karma

I lost my grandmother 6 months ago. My father blames himself that he couldn't do much to save her. How do I help my dad through this guilt?

ashleyLNL3 karma

Oh man, my heart hurts for you and your dad. It’s so hard when people blame themselves. I would consult a counselor or therapist for support. They’ll be able to get more of a backstory, understand who your dad is and how he communicates, learn who you are and how you communicate, and guide you through the process of those interactions. A good therapist can be such a treasure in the healing journey.

If you don’t have the funds, the most important thing for anyone is to feel unconditionally loved. From my personal experience, it can be helpful to hear that you don’t blame him for her death, that you love him and know he did everything he could in each moment he had.

It is easy to look back and say, “I should’ve done more...” or “I could’ve done this and that would’ve made the difference...” but looking at the past is so easy to judge and think differently. I believe in each moment in the present, we are doing the best we can with the tools and information we have.

Again, a counselor could guide you on what to say specifically and the proper timing to best work with your dad to encourage helpful and healing conversations.

TheWord_Love3 karma

Any tips on recovering from suicide grief? I’ve lost loved ones naturally before, but my beloved cousin’s suicide was over 3 years ago, and I’m still stuck in my grief with no end in sight. This grief is so utterly different than grief I had experienced prior, and I just can’t find my “acceptance”.

ashleyLNL2 karma

I think my questions would be - how is it different for you? What has you stuck? Why is that?

I made a comment earlier today about the 5 stages of grief and how they shouldn’t be applied to grief in general. Please don’t hold yourself to the 5 stages because they are specifically designed for people facing their own death. Grief in losing a loved one is complex, messy, and it doesn’t end. It doesn’t always have to be painful, but just as your love for someone doesn’t go away, your grief won’t either.

GalaxyBarbie3 karma

I lost my first baby 3 months ago and never got to hold her. The only pictures are of her in the hospital and covered in tubes and wires. When I see them or the few videos we were able to get, I am almost crippled by the grief. I have lost up to 3 hours after just breaking down and sitting and spacing out. There are no therapy options near me and my pcp already has me on meds. I don't know what else to do but I can't get past it. She was only 3 weeks old and I don't know what to do. I can't stand to see other people's kids or hear the word mama... I feel like a body just waiting to die. What do I do?

ashleyLNL1 karma

I am so sorry and want to acknowledge that what you went through is not only a painful loss but also traumatic. And your body’s response to hearing mama or seeing other’s kids sounds like it could be a trauma response.

As I’ve said before in other comments - I’m not a counselor or a therapist, and highly recommend you find one. I found a good EMDR therapist and a Craniosacral Therapist (CST) and it was transformational in my healing journey. The great thing about the pandemic is that a lot more therapists are willing to see people virtually. Don’t give up on the search for the right healing path and guide to help you.

I hope you find the support you need ♥️ my mom heart grieves with yours

bighappychappy3 karma

What would be your ideas to help with grief that came after a breakdown in the relationship?

I completely relate to your founding story, in regards to not being able to find the tools in facilitating healing. We had a stillborn death 3 months after discovering my wife had an affair the year previous. We have had a very different journey to healing, and whilst communication has been there, it hasn't always been led in to effective action to meet our needs.

More specifically, I've found it difficult to be there as her support and I've wanted to grieve more privately. This has been exacerbated by the pandemic and breakdown in trust.

ashleyLNL2 karma

I’m so sorry - the loss of a baby at birth is so much more than the loss of life. And that can be extra hard if the trust with your partner is on the rocks.

My husband and I grieved very differently. He wanted the alone time (introvert). I wanted to talk about it (verbal processor and social person). I honestly considered divorce but thankfully I could take a step back and see that it was just our grief going in two different directions and not necessarily our marriage. We didn’t have any trust issues but we weren’t the best at our communication. We struggled so hard for a couple of years and it was rough, but we fought through it.

I had a friend lose two sons and her and her husband ended up getting divorced. They had some trust issues and that is the route they chose to move forward with.

Your situation is unique to the two of you and your willingness to fight together (be on the same team) or fight against each other. There are so many complex layers to relationships - family influence, past trauma, unresolved hurts within the existing relationship, grief, etc. I honestly think counseling is one of the best ways forward.

Our counselor sat us down and asked us what our vision for our marriage was... where did we see ourselves in 10 years. Honestly, I was exhausted and rather hopeless at that point. I didn’t have much to say, but my husband jumped in. He painted this really beautiful vision for our marriage that had me in tears. I had no idea that was what he was hoping for in the future and I was all for it.

Having that common vision helped me through the tough times. When I wanted to scream and give up, I held onto that vision and reminded myself that’s what we are both working towards. We are Team Jones and we’re going to make it.

Funny thing is I brought up the vision to my husband a year later and he forgot what he said, haha. But it didn’t matter because I knew what he said was true of his heart and it got me through the times I needed it to.

I know that doesn’t directly answer your question outside of getting a counselor, but I hope that helps!

everyones_mama3 karma

I have dealt with a lot of guilt in feeling grief. When my biological father died, I felt guilty for grieving because we weren't super close throughout my life (though I was with him when he passed). My oldest sister (his daughter from a previous marriage) just died on December 4th and I have been grieving so much for her even though we never met in person...and because of this I feel incredibly guilty and like I don't deserve to grieve. What would you suggest to help people with that feeling of guilt to be able to allow themselves that needed period of grief?

ashleyLNL3 karma

I first want to acknowledge that you experienced a loss and your grief is valid in both scenarios. You absolutely deserve to grieve and if you’re body is grieving, it’s working with you to feel those feeling and heal.

Do you feel guilty because of judgement coming from within or because of judgement from others? Regardless, it’s important to realize that not all voices you hear are voices you should listen to.

Listen to your body, give yourself permission to feel without judgement, and let yourself grieve ♥️

everyones_mama2 karma

I'm feeling the judgement from within. Everyone I'm close to has kind of just forgotten about it I guess (especially my sister's death) because I've only grieved in private and have thrown myself into being busy and working hard to keep it at bay.

Thank you for your sentiments and advice. ❤️

ashleyLNL2 karma

You’re welcome. And you may not be alone. A lot of people grieve in private because they think it’s not acceptable to talk about. So you may think others have moved on, when in reality they may actually be processing still in private too...

lonesomememer3 karma

Grief sucks. This is crazy i was just thinkign about grief. I miss my dad. I miss my grandma, she was like my mom because she literally was.. Its just so fucked up. Sometimes you wont have any emotion around the death of ur loved one, then itll hit you like a fucking plane. Im only 15 bruhbut these emotions are intense.

MY grandpa i live with is coughing 24/7, hes sleeping more, and eating less, and his grammar is more poor. Hes already had multiple srtokes. My dad overdosed and died earlier this year on july. My grandma died when i was 10. I mean seomtimes I just stop giving a fuck and look up to god and try and just let him control because last time I did he didnt do me wrong... but.. Its just missing the feeling you had when you were with that person..

Missing the way you used to view the world when they were still alive.. Missing the way you used to think, operate, and how different things were when they were alive. Then you consider that they if they were depresesd as fuck, or if they were ur parent, they prolly went through what you went through when they were your age, which just makes it worse. But the hardest part? Accepting thtat they arent coming back... Coping with that god awful "empty" feeling of pain in your chest.... Because they really arent coming back.. You cant hug them, talk to them, ask for advice, create/ new memories, and thinking about old memories becomes hard because of the emotion it brings, especially if you have some sort of mental issues such as depression or bipolar or stuff around that spectrum..

I just think in my head... Is heaven real? I think it is personally but if it is... IS my grandma talking to her son (my dad) up there? ITs so sad. I hope that my dad can rejoice and get the happiness he never could, and talk to my grandma... I really do hope so. I just want him to hvae a conversation with my grandma, bceause Im sure that he missed his mom more than anything while he was still alive. Its the shit like this that creates a drug dealer/gang-banger/prisoner/serial killer. Im just worried for my future... Im alreaedy failing high shcool... Fuck dude..

Why am I dealing with these emotions at this age. .Why? Why am i put through this. I really love the lord jesus christ. I love him. I would die for him if he vividily and as clear as he ever could told me that I had to die to prove I love him. Please. Every christian, and catholic here, pray for my grandpa. Please. Yall can already imagine how I feel.

How... Just how do I accept my dads death.. It just aint fucking right. Its not. NOt one fuckin bit.

ashleyLNL3 karma

To be 15 and going through what you are going through, I have mad respect for you that you’re here and wanting to heal. I’m sorry for the many losses you’ve experienced in such a short time. Your words “coping with that golf awful ‘empty’ feeling in your chest” resonate with me - that feeling is so real!

Do any of your teachers know what you’ve gone through or what you’re currently dealing with at home? I lost my aunt, who I was extremely close with, while I was in college. In my personal experience, any time I would go to a teacher I trusted to share my struggles, they were understanding and cut me some slack - some even offered to help with resources or connections. I believe most teachers are good humans with big hearts - they’re certainly not there for the money.

Your school might also have a counselor on site that you can talk to for free if that interests you... If not, they might be able to help you find someone.

As far as your belief in Jesus, I asked some similar questions when my 21 months old daughter died in my arms at the age of 27. I don’t know if this will help in any way, but some answers that I landed on is that Jesus’ life was full of suffering. A Christian isn’t promised an easy life full of happiness, in fact, it’s almost the opposite. And it was actually in the suffering (as my daughter’s illness progressed and she became closer to death) that I felt closest to God. That didn’t make it any easier - it still sucked and was the worst pain I’ve ever felt. And I do find comfort that my daughter is with my aunts, grandparents, and other relatives on the other side. I also believe that they can still love us from the other side.

I’m happy to share more if you want to hear it or stay connected outside of this Reddit if you want to talk more. Your future isn’t doomed and you’re not alone. There is hope and I am happy to help you as much as I can.

lonesomememer3 karma

first&foremost DM me so I can keep contact. But its just kinda hard knowing that if they are up there (i beleive that they are tho) and watching over me, they saw all the gross stuff ive done, eman stuff, illegal stuff, and etc... I mean I hang with gang members, if i was caught i couldve been a felon more tiems I can count, im failing in life... They aint proud. I want to have the strength to have the will to do schoolwork, i rly do. You ever think about them wtaching over u doing all ur stuff they wouldnt be proud of, and then kidna.. cringe to say the least

ashleyLNL2 karma

Sent a DM 👍

PeeLong3 karma

Hi and thank you for this.

Most people’s concept of grief is based on media, and how “you’ll get over it and move on.” Or “cmon- it’s been a year. It’s time to move on”

Something I’ve learned after losing my father at age 17 (almost 20 years ago) is that the concept of loss, and grief, is forever. You’ll always miss that person. You’ll always have a hole in your heart for them.

An absolutely amazing tool in my healing was an HBO documentary called “Dead Mothers Club”. It’s about all these powerful women in media and Hollywood and how they all lost their mothers at a young age. I learned that if someone like Jane Fonda can live her life with every resource and surround herself with the best people, and she still grieves and mourns 60 years later... maybe that’s normal. Maybe I shouldn’t be ashamed of my grief.

As for a question, how do you feel we can normalize mourning and grief in our culture, and not have it be something to hide away or feel ashamed of?

ashleyLNL2 karma

Thanks for sharing your story. I think the more we can make it public, the better - like the documentary you watched. When people realize loss is something everyone goes through, isn’t something to be ashamed of, and grief is to be expected when experiencing loss, it can “normalize” it on a societal level and create more openness and vulnerability in sharing on a personal level.

Honestly, it’s a big reason I do AMAs. I did one several years ago on this sub reddit and did one on the smaller AMA two weeks ago. It’s also a big motivation on applying to speak at TEDx. I try to book as many speaking gigs, podcast interviews, magazine features as my schedule will allow so that we can open up more conversations and invite as many people to join in as possible. The media plays a critical role and I hope more and more outlets and publications will help break the stigma around grief and loss. The more we talk about it and hear other people’s stories, the less scary it will be.

If anyone reading this has connections, please help us open up more conversations!

MrMulligan3193 karma

I know you’re likely off this ama, but I’m just very interested in the topic of grief. My question is: how can I make others understand that my anticipatory grief at the impending loss of my dog is a valid grief? In the U.S. anyway, bereavement leave from work is a sham that varies from place to place and state to state, but never seems to last longer than a week. And for pets or best friends, those losses aren’t considered under paid bereavement leave. But when my dog dies, I honestly can’t imagine functioning again for a very long time. However, it seems like others (or workplaces, at least) do not validate that loss as grief.

ashleyLNL5 karma

Still here! I’ve been touching base all day so thanks for your question - it’s a really important topic and grief policies are something we are working on as a part of our corporate care program. Bereavement leave on average is three paid days... which means that if I lost my daughter on a Monday, I would be expected back at work on Friday. THAT IS INSANE.

As far as pets, I also agree that those losses are not taken seriously, even though many of us view our pets as family members. I had a dog from age 5 to 21 - she was like a sister growing up and helped me through my parents divorce. I was a mess when she died and I totally understand your concern.

Have you had any conversations with your boss? Do you have any PTO time you can take if you don’t get bereavement leave?

angrath2 karma

How easy is it to lecture on a Tedx talk? I’ve seen some real stinkers and have heard that there is very little vetting process taking place.

ashleyLNL2 karma

Each TEDx is independently operated so I believe that each one is unique and different based on the organizers and volunteers.

With that said, I was under the impression that more would be offered by TED as a whole and they are pretty much removed from it.

necro_sodomi2 karma

I have lost loved ones suddenenly and I found the thing that heals this loss is time. As time passes the sadness lessens and the joy of cherished memories takes it's place. You can't speed this up or mask it with something. Don't you think the passage of time is the best way to heal?

ashleyLNL4 karma

I think time + intention + presence = healing

Time allows us the space to heal, but if we are avoiding the pain and checking out every day, the healing won’t just happen. It takes intention and a willingness to be present in all of the emotions to listen, feel, grieve, and heal.

That’s my own personal belief.

churcarrot2 karma


ashleyLNL1 karma

No - I have worked with credentialed people to bring some of our trainings to life, but am not a medical professional. Just a personal professional with lots of experience in grief.

churcarrot2 karma


ashleyLNL1 karma

You bet - thanks for joining the conversation!

pickmez2 karma

I wouldn't go into my own Griefs there's been a lot. Sudden and unexpected or awful Deaths, loves, sick people, a lot of things

I just wanted to say its really good you're making strides with how to process grief.

In my case I poured it into my work and extracurriculars (I write emotionally heavy bdsm erotica)

But I was just wondering how do you deal with living grief?

This is something I have very difficult time with.

Agony basically.

How do you deal with emotional grief that just lingers and lingers and festers and makes your anxiety and stress so intense you can hear your own heartbeat in your ears and neck sometimes?

How do you deal with feelings of responsibility to be sensible to be good to somehow be functional when you're awash with the emotion of despair ?


A feeling like you weren't the right person or the best person but you're the person here.

How do you move from feeling like you cant move backwards or forwards or left or right and time is passing and you're letting people down by not being "ok"?

How do you move from grieving for someone that's still living but that person also having been so emotionally abusive to you that makes it even harder to emotionally reconcile ?

How do you hurt less and focus on yourself instead of just sitting in that sea of just feeling like there is no time there is no space there is no future there's just existing and waiting ?

Ive had nearly a decade of this and by far the last year has been the worst even prior to the global stuff going on now.

So I'm just thankful to guys like you existing and I'm also not sure what to do to move on from this emotion.

I express through my writing but I'm more anxious and more in the throes of it this year than ever.

ashleyLNL1 karma

“Hear your own heartbeat in your ears and neck” - Damn, I can totally relate to that.

You have a lot of questions buried in here so I will do my best to address the ones I can. I think a person’s spiritual beliefs direct much of the perspective you talk about.

If I didn’t believe in anything after this life, I’m honestly not sure I’d still be here. I felt such despair in holding my daughter as she took her last breath and her heart stopped in my hand. I thought my chest would split in two and I would combust... but somehow through the pain, my heart kept beating. I would breathe in. And then out. And literally moment by moment - breath by breath I survived the worst pain I’ve ever known.

And that made me question - why did my heart keep beating when hers stopped? Why am I still here? What purpose do I have?

I personally believe that we are all here because of love. We’re wired for love. We need it. We are all connected through it. I believe it’s the foundational spiritual element of creation. So when my love for Skylar (my daughter) was wrecked and shattered, I felt so lost.

What I didn’t realize was that my love was just going through a transformation. It was like a supernova. I felt this internal collapse as if I were getting sucked into a black hole of grief and despair. And then the boundaries of that unconditional love that was specifically for her broke free when her spirit did. So then that love and creation energy was free to expand into the world around me and can help other people. It doesn’t always have to transform to help others, but the possibility is there and that’s just how it played out in my own life.

So to your question of hurting less and focus on yourself instead of sitting in hopelessness, I think you do just that - focus on yourself to listen to what your body is telling you. It is designed to heal and wants to help you in the grieving and healing, but we must be active participants. Self-care is critical. Community is important. Creating a safe space for you to feel the depths of your feelings so they can pass through you instead of staying trapped in your nervous system. A good therapist can help you do this. Mindfulness and meditation can also be really helpful.

I’m so sorry the last year has been the worst for you. I’m glad writing helps, but sometimes grief and trauma is stored in the body, so body therapies are really necessary for healing. EMDR therapy, Craniosacral Therapy (CST), and others can be really helpful. Even reiki, massage, acupuncture, sensory deprivation float tanks, sound baths, and other methods can speak to parts of the body words or writing can’t reach.

I know this sounds so cliche, but it’s okay that you’re not okay. You’re not letting anyone down by not being “ok” - and if you are, those people aren’t healthy and they need help. Most people who love you just want you to heal and become a whole and healthy person. Instead of judges or critics on the sideline, I like to think of my community as cheerleaders and teammates who are on the field with me. Sometimes our beliefs of what others think or limiting beliefs we have in our own heads are what’s keeping us stuck - sometimes we just need a perspective shift or someone to speak some truth to bust through the lies we’ve believed.

If you’re a reader, I could suggest some books. One of my new favorites is “Permission to Feel” by Marc Brackett.

I think I answered your questions but if I missed any, please jump in with a reply and let me know.

Q-nicorn2 karma

My husband and I and currently going through a miscarriage of our first pregnancy after years of trying. I'm having trouble being happy about anything. I'll laugh and smile but inside, under the surface there's a horrible current pulling me under. How can I find happiness again? I feel like I'll never be able to be actually happy again. Fuck 2020.

ashleyLNL1 karma

That pain is so intense and horrific. I am so sorry. I’ve walked with several friends along that journey and I hope you know you don’t have to be happy. You lost a baby after years of trying. There was so much hope tied to that loss and dreams for the future too - that fucking sucks.

First, you’re not alone. Do you have any other friends who have gone through a miscarriage you can talk to? If not, there are lots of support groups and grief support specifically for miscarriages if you think that’s something that would be helpful for you. If you’d like, I can do some searching and send you some links if you’re struggling to find resources.

Second, the happiness will come naturally. It may not feel like it for a while, but happiness is circumstantial. It will come and go as things change and new things happen in your life. Joy is internal, and that’s something we have more control over. Not say it’s easy by any means, but if you focus on anything, I hope you choose joy over happiness.

Grief can feel like a current pulling you under and the raw grief can be super intense in the months after a loss. Please know what you’re feeling is “normal” and there is nothing wrong with you. You’re not broken. Your body may feel that way, but it’s not. There might be voices that try and convince you otherwise, but I hope you can shut them out and listen to positive voices around you. We have to be intentional about our healing and part of that is controlling our thoughts and what we are consuming in our minds.

Please message me if you want to talk more or reply here. I’m so sorry and my heart is with you and your husband. I hope he has a good support too - men are often neglected in a miscarriage loss by the community - not on purpose, but just because the mom suffered the physical loss. Sending love to you both.

queerinquisitive2 karma

Do you have any tips on how to function with anticipatory grief? My Mom was very unexpectedly diagnosed with stage iv cancer about a month ago. While I will not give up hope that she can overcome or live a long time with this disease, I still feel like I am in the midst of grief. I am grieving the loss of her role in my life, grieving her health, and grieving the ideas I had for my future with her.

ashleyLNL2 karma

Hey - just curious, would you be willing to share what state you’re in?

Functioning with anticipatory grief is definitely a challenge, and if you’re able, I would highly recommend a counselor that you can confide in throughout the journey. They’ll be able to guide you through the day to day challenges that will arise and support you through specific stressors that are hard to give general advice for...

From my own personal experience with my daughter’s illness and death, it’s hard. My heart is with you on this one. It was such a struggle not to let fear of death and the future rob me of the joy and life in the present. It helped me to set intentions to choose love each day, to breathe into the present moment every time I got anxious, and remind myself of all of the things I still had.

Writing really helped me. I kept a weekly blog - sometimes daily - throughout my journey on blogspot (lol, that sounds so dated - it was 10 years ago). Grief broke me wide open and allowed me to expand so much as an individual.

I hope you can find what helps you. It’s a tough road ahead, but one that is so rich too.

HereForTheGifs98762 karma

How do we process the grief that comes with infidelity?

My girlfriend of four years ended things abruptly and shortly after found you she was reconnecting with an old fling while I dealt with depression and left me to pursue him. Detailing it online on Reddit and having to see it has left me heartbroken and I can’t imagine getting through the holidays with composure.

ashleyLNL1 karma

Oh man, I am so sorry. Who said you have to get through the holidays with composure? Dude, that sucks and it’s okay if your holidays aren’t full of cheer.

If you’re going to be spending time with people, it could be helpful to set the expectation that this is going to be a tough season for you and you’d appreciate some grace and understanding if you need alone time or aren’t in the best of spirits. If you have healthy relationships with them, the more you can communicate might be helpful. Do you know what you like or don’t like? What you want people to say vs not want them to say... If you want people to talk about it or not... If you can be clear up front, it can prevent a lot of awkwardness in the future with people being afraid of the unknown (your reactions).

Again, I’m so sorry you are going through this. A counselor might be a really good investment to help guide you through the emotions, help you release anger in a healthy way, etc. if you can afford it.

Kizzychii2 karma

Do you have any suggestions on dealing with the sadness that comes along with memories of lost loved ones?

My mom passed away on my 22nd birthday 2 years ago. She was the only close family I had. Now it's hard to celebrate my birthday without that grief creeping up. Her birthday was on Christmas Eve too, which also make the holidays tough. I loved my mom endlessly, and still do. But I'm 24 and I don't want to spend all these moments that should be filled with joy crying.

Are there also any affordable services that deal with grief that you could recommend? I'm a college student with very unstable finances. I have yet to talk to a professional about what has happened, but would very much like to.

ashleyLNL2 karma

First, I am so sorry. Having those dates fall on celebratory occasions can be extra challenging. Have you looked into what your school provides? Some colleges have programs or counseling offerings that are free for students. I would definitely start there. I’m glad you’re open to talking to a professional and hope you find someone who you work well with as you process everything.

There are also free mindfulness and meditation practices that you could cultivate (a simple google search on grief meditations will pull up a bunch - they’re not all good, but you can sort through them). I’m not sure if you’re a reader or like to listen to podcasts, but that’s an option too. Check out our library page that has some podcasts listed as well as some books if that’s your thing as a place to start.

I would also encourage you to think of ways to flip the script. Instead of thinking of it as a day to be miserable and sad, is there a way you could honor your mom instead? For example, if she loved flowers, you could plant a flowering plant somewhere every year to remember her and spread joy to everyone who sees it. Did she do anything for you on birthdays past that you would want to repeat in her memory? What would you gift her on her birthday and could you find a single person in a nursing home or someone living by themselves to give something to in honor of her?

For my daughter’s birthday, I was miserable for the first 4 years after she died. I literally spent the first birthday without her in her empty bed eating brownies - it was bad. Each year was different -some worse than others. But on what would’ve been her 6th birthday, I launched Love Not Lost. I invited 30 of our closest friends and family members to share my vision with and asked them to help me raise $6,000 in honor of her 6th birthday. Everyone came together to help me meet the goal and we launched our website and promo video as a result.

I hope that helps. My heart is with you!

MomSaysNo2 karma

Tomorrow I have to tell my small children that the father of their best friends has passed away. My kids loved him. He was a very fun parent. They are going to be crushed. Do you have any tips for supporting young children through their grief?

ashleyLNL1 karma

I am so sorry. I would highly encourage you to get a counselor involved if you can - even just a one hour consult with the right person could be incredibly helpful for guidance. I’m not sure what your kids’ ages are, but that makes a difference... are they young, pre-teen, college?

MomSaysNo2 karma

Elementary school age.

ashleyLNL2 karma

So if there are any child psychotherapists reading this, please jump in and help. I’m not a licensed therapist by any means, but I have witnessed parents going through similar situations. The best results I’ve seen have been when parents are really honest in the most age-appropriate way, but still relying on science and facts to share information and create space for questions.

With kids, it’s easy to want to use metaphors like, “they went to sleep and they won’t be coming back” which sounds nice as a parent who understand death, but to a kid it might sound like going to sleep is the way to death and they could develop anxiety about everyone going to sleep and disappearing forever.

I’ve also seen some incredible kids navigate horrible loss through play therapy. I just recently interviewed kids who are now 7 and 9, but I photographed them with their dad while he was fighting cancer and he died shortly after (when the kids were 3 and 5 I think). They shared that what’s helped them in their grief the most is creating. The little girl loves to paint (she used to finger paint with her dad and remembers that so that helps her feel connected to him) while the little boy builds legos and robots. Each of them shared that creating things helps them feel things and express themselves.

For some encouragement, your kids just want to feel loved and safe. It might be helpful to check in with them specifically about their emotions, their fears, and ask what you can do to make them feel loved. You might be surprised by the answers.

I hope this helps and I also hope someone else can jump in and offer some support as well. Sending you love as you navigate the conversation tomorrow and the grief ahead.

MomSaysNo2 karma

Thank you so much. This is very helpful. Your work is very important. No one wants to think about loss. So when it happens we are so unprepared to deal with it “correctly.” Not that any one way is correct or anything, but it help to know what has worked for others and that we’re not alone in our fumblings.

ashleyLNL2 karma

Absolutely ❤️ I am glad you found it helpful. And you are definitely not alone in the imperfections!

sallgood922 karma

My fiance lost his brother suddenly 2 months ago. They didn’t have a great relationship however were mending fences and trying to reconnect. Unfortunately the brother’s time ran out due to an overdose. The sudden death and loss has left him with not only guilt, questions, and sadness but also crippling anxiety. He never had anxiety before but now he gets triggered randomly and finds himself unable to breath, think rationally, and function almost daily.

Do you have any insight on why he suddenly suffers from anxiety attacks? Or perhaps what I can do as his partner?

Also, we planned on getting married in July however I’m worried it may be too soon. He insists he’ll be fine by then but I’m scared wedding stress might make him have an anxiety attack on the day of. I keep telling him we should postpone another year but he doesn’t agree. I desperately want to give him all the time he needs to grieve and allow the anxiety to go away however he seems to be opposed.

ashleyLNL2 karma

I am so sorry - is he open to going to counseling? Or does he already have a good therapist? Have you seen a therapist together?

It sounds like there are a lot of layers there. I’m not sure I can be extremely helpful, but I know a good therapist would be able to dive into this with you and help him with his anxiety and possibly help guide you as a couple (and help him think rationally about his anxiety, wedding pressures, etc.). Is that something you can afford or would consider?

sallgood923 karma

Thanks for replying!

He will begin receiving medical insurance from his job in January so he plans on seeking help then when it is covered.

We were in Mexico earlier this week and he went to see a therapist since it’s cheap out there. It was only one session however he shared with me that he found it helpful. Apparently the therapist dived into why he’s feeling anxiety and together they identified alcohol as a trigger. For context, the day before we had visited a vineyard and did a tasting. Later that night he got anxiety while walking around the beach. Anyways Since the session my fiancé has decided to stop drinking for some time to see if it helps stop the anxiety.

ashleyLNL3 karma

That’s awesome. I hope the anxiety solution is as simple as stop drinking. I am pretty sensitive to caffeine and don’t drink coffee or soda often because it can cause increased anxiety for me.

If he’s open to it, I think a couples counselor would be incredibly helpful if you can find a good one. You have so many big life changes/decisions coming up and it can be hard to navigate those even in the best of circumstances. Regardless, I am rooting for you and hope you are able to communicate safely with one another and build trust through the process.

calaan2 karma

I’m a high school teacher whose students must work from home. How can I help them deal with this stress?

ashleyLNL2 karma

I hope other teachers comment on things they’ve done or ideas they’ve seen others use... I can share some ideas, but again, I would love to hear from other teachers on this!

I have several teacher friends and one thing that has made a tremendous impact in one of the classes is the teacher starts every day with a check in. Every student gets to speak and share how they are doing. Sometimes it’s a “one a scale of 1-10, how are you feeling today” with short answers and other days it’s a longer prompt that encourages students to share more.

I think it’s really powerful when a teacher can create a safe space (making rules and culture standards if needed) for students to share their feelings and allow them to feel seen and heard.

hard-check2 karma

after having a lengthy conversation with a friend about how most non profit organizations do actually make money (paying board of directors and people like you) can you give some insight on this? After really just discovering this I feel a little weird considering how much money some nonprofits make. But all in all, every single one does help people so I dont have a major issue other than the misleading direction that the name Non profit has become associated with. Thank you so much for what you do!

ashleyLNL2 karma

Yes - so there is a huge misconception that nonprofits should operate on zero costs, which some have the capability to do that with volunteers and connections. However, most nonprofits are set up to operate like a business - but instead of “profits” going to shareholders and individuals, it is held by the nonprofit and invested in future projects, staff, etc. We actually don’t pay our board members a penny. They are a volunteer board and actually give money to Love Not Lost to help us grow. We have two full times staff members (myself being one of them) and desperately need more to reach the capacity we want to hit, but we’re working on fundraising for that in 2021.

Just like any industry, there are good ones and there are bad ones. The lack of transparency in the nonprofit industry of the history of its existence has been a huge disappointment. Love Not Lost is 5 years old and we’ve talked with so many people who have trust issues with nonprofits in general and we get it. We’ve worked hard to earn trust from our community and show our impact and stewardship.

Education is so important and we’re grateful for people like Dan Pallotta - check out his TED talk here.. He’s written books and facilitated workshops that are pretty fantastic to encourage more entrepreneurial thinking and have more efficiency in operations. You might find his stuff interesting.

Thanks for the question and for joining the conversation. Happy holidays!

boobs_are_rad2 karma

Why do you intend to get this culture of compassion past the institutional treason of capitalism? I’m all for anything that would work on a collective organizational level.

ashleyLNL2 karma

The why is because people are suffering at work and I believe we can do something about it.

I was serving a family - the mom was caring for the dad who was on hospice, and they had twin girls. She told me she was let go and didn’t know how she would pay the mortgage as she was the bread winner. Her job also carried the health insurance. Her husband died weeks later.

That was it for me. I wanted to stand in front of every leader and tell them what it’s like to be a full time employee while also being a full time caregiver and the sole provider for a family. I wanted to take her story and show how heartless her bosses were as the example of what not to do.

I also would hear from different executives that they wanted to help employees who had lost loved ones or even team members who had died but didn’t know what to do.

So we are here to help.

Human-trampoline1 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA. I have a friend that has been grieving one thing or another since the day we met, 6 years ago: the death of her mother, an abusive relationship, her cancer and subsequent hysterectomy, ending another toxic relationship, and most recently, the death of her grandmother. She has been through a lot- more than most, perhaps- but I don’t know how to be there for her anymore. What do you suggest for those who are exhausted from years of emotional support of one who has been grieving for so long?

ashleyLNL2 karma

This is so challenging. Emotional support burnout is real. And it sucks because your friend still needs support but you must take care of yourself too.

Does your friend have enough support that you would feel okay stepping away for a break? Do you have other people in the community you could engage to fill your place?

It’s critical to communicate to your friend that you still love her and want to be there for her, but are going through things yourself and might not be as available as you once were. Setting expectations is really important in any relationship, but especially in grief.

I would step away, take some time to love and care for yourself, and when you feel like you can support her again, offer your support. In my opinion, the best case scenario is that there are other community members to support her in your absence who can step up, you get a break to rest and re-charge, and then step back in to support when you’re ready.

I hope that helps!

CrassostreaVirginica1 karma

Hi ashleyLNL, your post has been removed because:

Your post has been removed because it lacks adequate proof.

Unfortunately, the links or photos you've posted could have been posted by anyone, and they don't prove that you are the person doing the AMA. Your proof needs to be something that connects the fact that you're doing an AMA with your identity. This could be something like a photo of you showing what you're doing the AMA about with a sign that has your username and the date. It could also be documents (partially redacted if desired) with a note that has the username and the date.

Here's a link to the section of our wiki that discusses proof.

Please let us know when the proof has been added by replying here and we'll put the post back up. Cheers!

Please contact the mods if you need further assistance

ashleyLNL1 karma

My photo has the date and my user name and my company t-shirt on our official company Instagram account. I’m not sure what other evidence I have outside of my drivers license and passport for a photo ID...

CrassostreaVirginica2 karma

The proof link shows as 'Sorry, this page isn't available. The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed.' to me.

ashleyLNL2 karma

Thank you! I fixed it - it’s our Instagram account. I tried to link to the exact photo, but it didn’t work, but the proof is the first picture. I am happy to change it to meet the proof standards.

CrassostreaVirginica2 karma

The link is working for me now and your proof is sufficient, so the post is reinstated.

ashleyLNL2 karma

Thank you!!!

cat9tail1 karma

How do we handle grief when our loved one is still physically present? I'm anticipating a very difficult road ahead as my beloved father is losing his cognitive presence to (possibly) Alzheimers. I'm watching my mother deal with the loss of her relationship with her lifelong partner as he changes before her eyes, but the expectation of him is still there because he is still physically healthy. How do we deal with a slow transition of our loved ones knowing the relationship we once had is gone forever?

ashleyLNL2 karma

Oh man, that is tough. My heart is with you and your family and the grieving journey that lies ahead.

You will have losses you grieve as they happen (loss of memories, loss of function, loss of recognition, etc) and then the anticipatory grief of those yet to come.

Even though your loved one is still here, it’s important to feel those losses and let them have space to breathe and be felt.

It will be important to cultivate practices of mindfulness, self-care, and meditation as your journey will likely not be short and will take endurance and healing as you go.

One thing that might help is having a regular check in with your mom so you two can talk about the things of the week and process together if you have a healthy relationship.

Something else that could help us getting a counselor or a therapist if you can afford it now. They can help you with specific circumstances and situations as they arise and guide you through it.

While he’s still here, please check out Saga to help preserve his memories. It’s an awesome free service (you can say Love Not Lost sent you when you sign up) and could be really cool to have.

Please let me know if I didn’t answer anything fully. I am sending you and your mom so much love ♥️

cat9tail3 karma

Thank you so much for this response!! I will absolutely check out Saga, and our family is very close, so we've all been checking in on my mother to be sure she's doing OK. Mom is in counseling, and she's getting out twice a week to go to an art studio and paint, so she's embracing self-care. I'll likely be taking much time off in the next year to visit and hang out with my father, and support my mom. We are Zooming every Friday since they are in their 80s and we don't want to expose them, and Dad has been a trooper to sit and try to figure out the conversation. He recognizes us still, even if he forgets our names (so we're sure to have them on our Zoom video for him.)

Thank you for the Saga link - I will definitely check that out!

ashleyLNL2 karma

Awesome! Much love to you over the holidays ♥️

StargazingPNW2 karma

First, thank you for sharing and staying curious around grief. It’s coming for my family well before our loved one is physically gone too and it’s been a panic to get memories recorded before they slip through our fingers. That said I CANNOT recommend Saga enough. It’s free, requires no physical writing, you get the app. Setup your “channel” , pick your questions, your loved one presses record and they speak their answers. So much faster, so much more personal than words on a page. To hear them TELL it in their own words is priceless. They have lots of pre-loaded decks to get the wheels turning but you can also write your own personalized questions. You can all gather together for a big recording sesh this holiday and go from there. And you can add other families to your podcast “channel” too and ask any of their questions too. It’s magic.

ashleyLNL1 karma

So awesome - thanks for sharing your experience!

Bibbidi_Bobbidi_Boob1 karma

How does one grieve someone they lost after many years, but who is stil alive? Is this even considered as grief?

ashleyLNL1 karma

I think divorces are a really common example of this - or someone you love losing cognitive ability even though they’re still physically alive.

It is absolutely grief. Some call it ambiguous grief. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings, give space to feel them free of judgement, and grieve your loss. Your grief is valid.

mrssamuelvimes1 karma

My friend just lost his mom. She’d been sick for quite a while now and had quite a few close calls so he thought he was prepared for it but I think it’s hit him harder that he expected. He also wants to be strong for his kids.

I don’t live super close to him but we speak on the phone/WhatsApp every day. I dropped off a meal and some groceries for him the day before she passed and I do check in on him. What else can I do to help?

We’re both in our 40s but I’ve still got both my parents .

ashleyLNL2 karma

This is amazing. Thank you for being the type of person who wants to support people in grief. It makes a difference!

It’s hard to make suggestions without knowing him. It sounds like you live close by. How old are his kids? Could you offer to take them for a day and do something fun with them?

Sometimes it’s easiest just to ask him directly what would be most helpful. You can use our free support tool to do this easily.

If you’re financially able, gifting door dash or other delivery services for food can be incredibly helpful. Gas, grocery, Amazon gift cards all cover the basic needs...

Feel free to share more or message me if you want more specifics! Thanks again for the question and for helping ♥️

lightninhopkins1 karma

Your sales pitch is "revolutionizing grief"? That is dark and cynical.

ashleyLNL1 karma

No - it’s revolutionizing the way we heal in grief - that’s very different than revolutionizing grief itself.

xanthopants1 karma

How can we help others who are grieving when we aren’t their closest friends. For example my god mother lost her husband recently. We are good friends but not regularly in contact and even less in covid times. I also live in another country. Is there anything I could do to encourage her in her grief?

ashleyLNL2 karma

Yes! Such a good question and thank you for being the type of person who wants to support people in their grief ♥️ it matters!

One thing someone who lived far away did for us which really stood out was they sent us a card once a month. It seems so simple, but it was really meaningful to let us know she hadn’t forgotten and really cared about us. She did it for over 6 months, which provided support after much of the initial support had faded.

Whatever works for you in your relationship with her... and don’t be afraid to get creative. Even the littlest efforts can carry significant impact.

I hope that helps!

McPorkums1 karma

Do you feel the DABDA process is still valid? Would you add/remove/change it at all?

ashleyLNL1 karma

Are you referring to the 5 stages of grief or something else? I’m not familiar with DABDA or what that stands for...

OmNomNico1 karma

Our emergency department doesn't have resources for those who come in with grief, other than offering them enrollment in a psychiatric program / admitting them to the behavioral health floor. Any recommendations on resources we can provide to patients and their families?

ashleyLNL1 karma

Do you mind me asking what state you live in?

Biddybo1 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! Do you have any suggestions for finding balance in grief? Specifically in this unique pandemic environment? My grandmother lost her husband a couple months ago. With the pandemic she’s now mostly alone. She very socially active normally so this is a huge change. Some of her social groups are now on zoom, but she has trouble navigating the technology. I feel like she needs space to grieve but also space to live. I’m not sure how to help her do that right now.

ashleyLNL1 karma

Yes! I think that’s a challenge we are facing with the elder community - helping them become tech savvy. I just taught my grandma (who has lost almost everyone in her family and lives in Indiana) how to FaceTime from her iPad and she’s elated that she can connect with my dad and me in that way.

Do you live close to your grandma? If you can’t visit, could you send her a card once a week in the snail mail?

I wish I had the answer to help the older communities feel connected. My grandparents on my husband’s side of the family are in a community and feel very isolated. It’s so tough. But I think snail mail is one way that they appreciate connection and is an easy thing we can do to help people feel remembered, loved, and cared for.

As far as the balance in grief, I don’t know that there is a balance. It’s like work and life - there is no balance to achieve. It’s all one human experience as we prioritize what matters. Sometimes that looks different in different seasons. In Covid, my priority of self-care is at the top...

I hope that helps ♥️

DANNYonPC1 karma

What is your favorite simpsons episode?

ashleyLNL1 karma

I can’t think of a single one right now, but the Simpsons did make me laugh a lot! Do you have a favorite?

DeejOne1 karma

Would you consider the loss of a non-material thing (a dream for example) to cause the same kind of emotional reactions as typical grief/loss of a person? And as such, do the same recovery methods help in the same way?

ashleyLNL1 karma

Great question! The short answer is yes and no...

Losing something non tangible (a dream, opportunity, or other) - can absolutely cause grief, but each instance of grief is unique. So it could be similar to a loss of a person or it may not be.

Regardless, I think similar approaches could still be helpful: Feeling the grief and emotions to their completeness, taking care of yourself in the process, and staying present and connected to yourself in the healing journey... (that’s simply stated of course)

I think a therapist can be helpful in these moments and would encourage anyone going through loss to invest in a good one. They can help dive into the specific feelings, unique circumstances, and individual qualities that can be helpful in processing and healing.

redditor9305301 karma

What are your thoughts on grieving for people who are still living (if that even makes sense)?I have terrible bereavement anxiety due to a couple of sudden deaths in my family and losing three grandparents in less than a year. A counsellor I went to once told me I was actively grieving for my parents and sister who are still here because I’m constantly thinking about the what-ifs and what life will be like. My dad just got diagnosed with terminal cancer so it’s worse at the moment.

ashleyLNL1 karma

I am so sorry. Anticipatory grief is real. I experienced it with the terminal diagnosis of my daughter. I’m sure it doesn’t help with your anxiety either. I would highly encourage a good therapist to help you through the journey ahead.

It will be a challenge to manage the fear of the future and what-ifs and not let it rob you of the joy and moments you have in the present, but it can be done.

I hope you have a good community around you and feel supported ♥️ sending lots of love to you!

Vez_day1 karma

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 7 years ago. Since I am the youngest of four and a caregiver as a career, my siblings thought it was best she move closest to me (none of us lived close to our home town). My eldest sister (12 years older) tried for a year or so to care for mom, but dementia is a hard disease to manage if you don’t have the skills. So, we moved Mom close to me. I was very happy. I found a place 2 miles away. A lovely adult care home with 4 other adults with similar cognitive disorders. Things seemed like they were really going great and mom settled in. The day after Thanksgiving in 2019, the operator told the families they had 30 days to find a new place for their loved ones. She had been there almost three years at this point. We were all in shock. It was the holidays and we had to move?! First of all, moving a person with dementia means their routine gets up ended and they have to start over somewhere new. This takes time and lots of emotional support. Long story shorter, I had to move my mom to a facility with more than 45 residents. It was much louder and much more sterile than the cottage she was forced out of. It would take me hours to leave my visits with her because I felt so guilty. A couple of months went by and mom started to fall back into place. I would drive to see her whenever I could outside of work. This place was 15 miles away. Then COVID hit. All of the sudden I couldn’t see my mom. I couldn’t hold her hand and reassure her. I couldn’t joke with her and her friends. I lost the little bit of control I had to make sure she was safe. I was completely fearful she would lose her memory of me. I was so overcome with this department of grief, I called The Alzheimer’s Association for counseling. With the help of a sweet lady, I decided I would write my feelings down every day. Then I thought, I will write a blog and the caregivers can read it to her. Complete with daily photos of what was going on in my life. Two hundred and twenty-nine consecutive posts. Never a miss. We also were able to do weekly video chats, but screens and dementia do not work well. I was thrilled she could hear my voice regardless. Then COVID made its way into the building. Mom’s roommate acquired the virus then mom did. My letters went unread and there were no more video chats. The facility was doing their absolute best to deal with the illness and keep families informed, but it had been days since we had talked or that I’d seen her. She passed away on Thanksgiving and we buried her back home on her birthday. I am so completely lost in grief while trying to maintain a job as a caregiver for people with dementia and I feel consumed. I’m not quite sure how I compartmentalize and work, but I do. The only time I have to grieve is on a weeknight/weekend. It’s all so raw. I lost my dad in 2003 from Alzheimer’s, as well. No living grandparents, aunts, or uncles. I do have a partner with two living parents, but I don’t even know how to interact well outside of my work persona anymore. She does the best to console me and gives me space. I have an extremely supportive best friend of over 35 years that is my rock. I don’t even know what my question is except how do I put the pieces back together to feel normalcy? I do have some peaks, but so many things become a reminder or memory of mom and then I sink again. Thank you for doing this AMA❤️

ashleyLNL1 karma

Thank you for sharing. I have physical pain in my chest reading your story and the loss you’ve been through in the midst of Covid - and the trauma/grief you face every day. I’m so sorry.

The raw grief is hard and can feel as if you’ll never feel “normal” again... but I want to encourage you that the goal isn’t return to who you were before the loss. You’ll never be able to go back... but your loss doesn’t always have to be painful and something that feels empty, although it likely will feel that way for a time. The grieving is a healing process. And healing isn’t typically easy or pain free.

It is okay and “normal” to feel sad, depressed, sorrowful, and the other low-energy emotions that can come from loss. Its also normal to feel joy, experience laughter and love too. If we can feel our feelings to their completeness and give them space to breathe and be present without judgement, often times they will dissipate.

I’m not a grief counselor, and I would encourage to to seek counsel from a good one. They can help through the process of staying present through the discomfort and releasing emotions and limiting beliefs to heal.

I’m glad you have a supportive spouse and friend. Do you have anyone at work as a support? Have you been able to take any time off to care for yourself? Do you have things that help you when you do give yourself space to grieve on evenings and weekends?

Sending you lots of love this holiday season.

acommunistchair0 karma

u mean like mincraft griefing?

ashleyLNL2 karma

Is Minecraft griefing a thing? Tell me more...

Cfeezable-1 karma


ashleyLNL2 karma

Is that actually possible? Can you suck yours?

Zootropic-5 karma


ashleyLNL1 karma

I actually don’t like bull shit. I prefer to have fun with the bull. Do you have fun with bullshit?