Part III - Cumulative Grief: Learning how to honor the many losses that occur in a brief period of time

June 14, 2024

Cumulative grief, also known as compounded grief, is grief that occurs more than once in a brief period of time. As a person with cancer, a caregiver or professional in this world, we are often met with confronting grief on a frequent basis. So often, we may be unable to process fully the loss that has occurred before we are faced with yet another loss to grieve. In addition to the emotional processing of grief, cumulative grief may come along with additional stressors related to work, legal matters, finances, or familial strain.

Join us and our guest speaker, Kristy Case. She is a licensed clinical social worker and a certified oncology social worker with more than 15 years of experience in helping people and families dealing with cancer. In this session, we will learn about cumulative grief and ways to cope with it. We will also explore methods to heal from this challenging experience.

This workshop will explore how to:

  • further define cumulative grief and identify losses
  • acknowledge and honor the losses of your past and present
  • cultivate awareness, space, and support in your grieving process

Webinar Key Takeaways:

  • Accepting that grief waxes and wanes and it is normal.  It may come and go over a period of time before it is resolved
  • Take time for yourself to pinpoint and process grief.  Show yourself compassion.
  • Cumulative grief is different from prolonged grief. Learning to diminish the focal concerns on grief by placing it in a more manageable category can be beneficial.
00:00:00:09 - 00:00:17:01
Unknown
Hello, everyone. Welcome to part three of our grief series titled Cumulative Grief Learning How to Honor the many losses that occur in a brief period of Time. I'm Kate Viera Pfitzer from the Metastatic Breast Cancer Program at SHARE.

00:00:17:01 - 00:00:43:18
Unknown
So good to see all of you with us today before the presentation begins. I'd like to tell you a little bit about Share. We're a national nonprofit that supports, educates and empowers anyone diagnosed with breast or gynecological cancer and provides outreach to the general public about signs and symptoms because no one should have to face breast, ovarian, uterine, cervical or metastatic breast cancer alone.

00:00:43:20 - 00:00:54:08
Unknown
For more information about upcoming webinars, support groups, podcasts and our helplines, please visit our Web site at Share Cancer Support dot org.

00:00:54:17 - 00:00:58:04
Unknown
Now I'd like to hand it over to Christy to introduce herself.

00:00:58:04 - 00:01:17:04
Unknown
below, everyone. And Kate, thank you so much. I'm really glad to be here. This is the third part of the three part series. So hopefully some of you have been at the first two and if for any reason you couldn't. No need to worry.

00:01:17:06 - 00:01:40:17
Unknown
I think you'll get something really great out of this one, too. So I'm a licensed clinical social worker, and what that means is I have a master's degree in social work and I have done the required training hours and taken the required exams in order to be considered a licensed clinical social worker. I am a certified oncology social worker.

00:01:40:17 - 00:02:07:05
Unknown
What that means is I have done the required amount of hours and engagement in the world of oncology in order to have that certification. And I've been in this field for about 15 years. I am a social worker in my local cancer center, and I also have a private practice where I primarily see women who are diagnosed with cancer for ongoing therapy.

00:02:07:07 - 00:02:36:00
Unknown
I love doing workshops, speaking at conferences. I'm a big fan of trying to teach people any knowledge I have that think could be that I think could be beneficial for them. So I'm really hoping today that you walk away with some useful tools and some useful information to incorporate into your daily life. So I'm probably going to take the screen down and then I will share my screen.

00:02:36:00 - 00:02:40:05
Unknown
So just bear with me a moment while I do that.

00:02:40:05 - 00:03:13:01
Unknown
All right. So today's workshop is cumulative grief learning how to honor the many losses that occur in a brief period of time. Why we're all here today, I would imagine, because every one of you feel some kind of connection to this idea of cumulative grief. Maybe that's because you are a person with cancer. That might be because you are a caregiver, maybe you are a professional that's connected to this topic of cumulative grief.

00:03:13:03 - 00:03:47:12
Unknown
So we're going to talk a bit about, well, what is this exactly? And then what in the world do I do with it if I'm having cumulative grief? So, again, hopefully you'll walk away with some tips and tools. The goals are to define what cumulative grief is and help people here today identify some of those losses to really acknowledge and honor the losses of your past and also the present, and to cultivate some awareness, some space and support in your grieving process.

00:03:47:14 - 00:04:12:10
Unknown
I will say that I don't have an expectation that I will be able to help everyone in the group process and make meaning of all of your losses today, because that's a very tall order. But I do hope that I introduce some ideas and tools so that you can also continue to this healing process, whether that's on your own with others or with professionals.

00:04:12:12 - 00:04:39:01
Unknown
What I always do like to do before I begin a workshop is just take a moment to get settled because one of the things that happens is when we're maybe in a more of a flummoxed state of mind or rushing to get somewhere or had a bit of a hectic morning, the front part of our brain, which processes a lot of this information, is just not as available to us.

00:04:39:02 - 00:05:22:03
Unknown
So having us just sit for a moment and quiet and be open and receptive to learning, growing and healing for the next hour. If anyone is interested in just doing that, I'll be silent for for a brief moment and invite you all to to bring that in.

00:05:22:05 - 00:05:58:07
Unknown
Okay. So what is cumulative grief? So cumulative grief is also known as compounded grief, or maybe more simply frequent grief. And it's basically grief that occurs more than once during a brief period of time. The really, really important takeaway that I want everyone to know that's here today is grief does not always have to be connected to deaths, does not have to be connected to the physical death of another person.

00:05:58:09 - 00:06:36:15
Unknown
Grief can occur in a variety of ways. And you know, anyone that's on this call that has had a diagnosis of cancer or is a caregiver or is a professional that supports people, we all know that grief can be related to a variety of losses from identity to money to legal concerns to workplace and jobs. Because grief is not just related to a physical death, that grief can be related to all parts of our lives, all parts of the body, all parts of our identity.

00:06:36:17 - 00:07:13:07
Unknown
And because cumulative grief is a grief that is very frequent, most people feel very overwhelmed by their grief and they might even feel very, very intense sorrow. And so compounded grief, cumulative grief, frequent grief also means overwhelming grief. So the analogy that I often use is for anyone that's here that's ever been to the ocean before, right? And you walk up to the edge where the water is and, you know, you start to see the waves out in the distance.

00:07:13:07 - 00:07:39:09
Unknown
And maybe they're quite big. Maybe you see some whitecaps over those over those waves. Some of them might kind of come crashing down kind of towards your feet. Some of them might be a little bit more gentle and kind of slowly lap in. But they do always keep coming. And some of them are big, some of them are medium and some of them are small, some of them make you lose your footing a little bit or kind of jostle you around in the ocean.

00:07:39:11 - 00:08:06:06
Unknown
And some of them just kind of slowly wash over you. And that's what cumulative grief is about. It's not just these big, gigantic experiences of grief. Sometimes they are, but oftentimes it's a mixed bag of big grief, medium grief, little grief. But the frequency of it is what makes it overwhelming for people.

00:08:06:08 - 00:08:40:23
Unknown
So something really important that I also actually I'm going to go back for a moment, something really important that I want to highlight is that with cumulative grief, the reason why it feels so overwhelming and compounded and frequent is because very often people are not able to have the time and space to process the first kind of wave of grief without being kind of knocked down or jostled around by the second wave or the third or the fourth or the fifth, or maybe a much higher number.

00:08:41:00 - 00:09:08:20
Unknown
But the reason it is so overwhelming is because there wasn't even space and time to process that first initial grief to begin with, or maybe that second initial grief to begin with. And so it becomes compounded and it becomes frequent and it starts to build in. It starts to weigh on people. Sometimes it weighs on people in a very kind of physical sense where they have tight shoulders and tight jaw and feel ill and feel fatigued and exhausted.

00:09:08:22 - 00:09:42:21
Unknown
And sometimes it weighs on people where their mind can't concentrate. They just feel overwhelmed. There's a consistency of sadness. And so that compounding and that consistent wave of grief that just won't really let up is creating that overwhelm experience because there's really no time to get up and sit down and actually process what's really going on here. And again, what's also happening for anyone that's dealing with cumulative grief is you're still trying to live your life.

00:09:42:21 - 00:10:10:14
Unknown
So if the grief is related to the actual physical death of someone, maybe you're dealing with their estate or you're dealing with lawyers or you're dealing with a court system, if that grief is related to finances, finances, trickle down in all areas, you know, whether that means you know, having to pay medical bills and that being a gigantic grief and constant kind of loss of financial security or financial well-being.

00:10:10:16 - 00:10:32:07
Unknown
So it can also seed out into these other areas of life, because just because you're grieving doesn't mean that the rest of life is not going forward and not moving on. And that the stressors and the bills and all the things that have to happen in order for a person to function are not still simultaneously happen even while you're feeling this tremendous grief.

00:10:32:09 - 00:11:04:07
Unknown
So really, really important. I want to highlight how cumulative grief is, not necessarily what's called prolonged grief. So people that I meet with very often become very kind of scared that what they're experiencing is prolonged grief. So I'm going to go through and just identify what the differences are. It's not to say that someone with cumulative grief can't be experiencing prolonged grief, but often times people are quite afraid that they are experiencing prolonged grief.

00:11:04:07 - 00:11:37:15
Unknown
But what they might actually be experiencing is cumulative grief. So grief is a natural response to the loss of someone or something that had some type of significance. And for most people, grief, it will happen. And over time, the symptoms of grief tend to dissipate a little bit more and more. So maybe that's crying and then crying a little bit less and then eventually not crying much at all, or maybe crying on certain occasions or anniversaries.

00:11:37:17 - 00:12:13:02
Unknown
Maybe that means kind of constantly thinking about something in the beginning where you just kind of can't get it off your mind. And then as the weeks and months go by, it kind of slowly takes a little bit of more of a background seat. So that is a natural response of what happens with grief for most people. But what happens with cumulative grief is it's characterized by this friction and sea of having grief, but it's not necessarily meaning that it's prolonged because in order to have prolonged grief, that requires there has to be severe disruption in your life.

00:12:13:04 - 00:12:52:09
Unknown
Now, I would imagine everyone can argue that having cumulative grief is a severe disruption to your life and your ability to function. But it's a little bit more complicated than that. And so prolonged grief is feeling very intense, grief that consistently just keeps persisting. It never really lets up and the symptoms are become so severe that it can cause you very real problems in your life and stops you from being able to really function and do your daily life activities and so prolong a cumulative grief.

00:12:52:10 - 00:13:16:17
Unknown
You know, people are feeling the intensity of the grief and there is a lot of symptoms related to grief, but it's not necessarily impeding your ability to function and, you know, commit and complete your daily activities. Certainly for some period of time after grief occurs, people are a bit disoriented by that and they aren't able to function in the way that they used to.

00:13:16:19 - 00:13:41:10
Unknown
But as the weeks and months go on, that should eventually start to kind of resolve itself to some degree. However, in prolonged grief, there has to be a variety of things that happen in order to meet those types of requirements. And this is from the DSM, which is what mental health providers use in order to categorize if someone has some type of disorder.

00:13:41:12 - 00:14:07:02
Unknown
So it has to severely disrupt, disrupt daily activities and function, that might mean not being able to get out of bed. That might mean missing work, that might mean not being able to take care of children. That might mean, you know, not being social, not going anywhere, not doing anything, really, not being able to kind of function as humans typically can.

00:14:07:04 - 00:14:35:08
Unknown
It requires an ongoing disbelief of the loss. So if we're thinking about it from a physical death perspective, it's this idea that this person did not die and there is a real denial of this person dying, avoiding reminders of the loss. Certainly for some people that might mean not looking at themselves in the mirror. That might mean never going back for follow up visits to your providers.

00:14:35:10 - 00:15:09:15
Unknown
There can be emotional numbness where it feels just like a real disconnect from your emotions, where people have said to me, like, I've never cried about this. I've never really felt any feelings about this, and we know they're there, but I'm not able to access them. And this detached and dissociated experience where it feels like you can't connect not only to yourself, but really not even to other people in any type of meaningful way, then this has to persist for at least one year for it to be potentially considered prolonged grief.

00:15:09:17 - 00:15:40:16
Unknown
So you have to have a pretty severe, you know, to meet some pretty severe requirements in order for something to be considered prolonged grief. And again, I want to highlight this because cumulative grief is not necessarily a prolonged grief. It can be, but typically the prolonged grief experience, meaning it's happening and I'm grieving for a long period of time because it's so frequent, that doesn't necessarily mean it's prolonged grief in the clinical sense.

00:15:40:22 - 00:16:05:12
Unknown
It might be cumulative grief in the frequent duration and it not really letting up sense. Okay, so here's where we're going to get to like the real nuts and bolts of what we're trying to accomplish today. So a lot of times when I work with people and they bring into me the variety of losses that they're experiencing, I'll give an example.

00:16:05:14 - 00:16:32:21
Unknown
I'm working with someone right now who has had two different types of cancers diagnosed. They've actually three types of cancers diagnosed, very different treatment for all three of them. They also have a very ill family member who is kind of very slowly in their dying process. It's also bringing up a lot of grief related to a family member who died many, many years ago.

00:16:32:23 - 00:17:14:07
Unknown
And this grief, as it relates to their diagnosis of cancer has greatly changed their body, greatly changed their face, greatly changed their relationships, and their life greatly changed their financial circumstance tenses and their employment circumstances. So there's a lot of areas of grief and they feel very overwhelmed by that grief, as they should. And part of what happens is the grief starts to kind of trickle into the conversations and then they start to become very overwhelmed because we've just opened up, you know, seven different areas of grief that they might be experiencing kind of all in this very short period of time of their life.

00:17:14:07 - 00:17:41:00
Unknown
And so they often use this like I just feel like I can't get out of it. You know, I just it just keeps coming, you know, one loss after the other. And so we're going to do an exercise around how people can start to organize their grief. And when I say organize, I don't necessarily mean that it goes perfectly into a nice little box with a bow and you deal with it and then you move on from it and then it just stays there.

00:17:41:02 - 00:18:23:05
Unknown
It's not typically how grief works, but it is trying to attempt to bring a little bit more order to that grief. Because again, with cumulative and frequent grief, I know that people often feel very overwhelmed by it. And so when people feel very overwhelmed, I think bringing some order into this situation can be very helpful. So we're going to do our first exercise and the first exercise is I want to remind people that we are focusing on just for today, okay, We are only on I believe today is June 14th, if I'm remembering correctly, we're only on June 14th.

00:18:23:05 - 00:18:48:00
Unknown
So if if it feels like, you know, well, this grief was from three years ago, that's fine. Bring that in today. but I didn't I forgot about the grief that happened yesterday. That's fine. It can stay where it was. This is an exercise of focusing on what's there for you today. So what I would invite everyone to do is the first part of this exercise.

00:18:48:00 - 00:19:17:13
Unknown
So the first part is to create a list as long as you can for the next 2 minutes of all the things that you're feeling right now that you are experiencing grief over, it might be something as it relates to yourself, to your experience, to your body, to your life. It might be related to grief that you've experienced in the past, grief that you are experiencing right now in this moment on this workshop.

00:19:17:15 - 00:21:24:12
Unknown
But it's just as much grief as you want to put down on some paper or in a notepad on your iPhone. However you want to do it. I'm going to give everyone 2 minutes and you're going to list out as much grief as you can possibly list out right now. Give about 30 more seconds. Okay. So as best as you can, make your your list in 2 minutes, I hope you've been able to accomplish that.

00:21:24:12 - 00:21:45:00
Unknown
If it takes longer, you're more than welcome to do this exercise. After the workshop finishes, you know, to to work on what other any other grief that didn't, you know, come into your mind as we're doing this. So you've created a list as long as you can for 2 minutes about all the things about grief that are on your mind today.

00:21:45:05 - 00:22:12:05
Unknown
Again, we're just here today. All we can do is accomplish what came to your mind today. Now, what I want everyone to do is I want you to review your list and I want you to pick the top 5 to 7 things that feel most intense for you today. That doesn't mean that they have not been the most intense over your life or since the grief occurred.

00:22:12:07 - 00:23:05:09
Unknown
But just for today, what are the ones that feel the most intense So you can list five of them, Seven of them If you want to do a few more, a few less. It's really up to you. I'm not going to be auditing how you do this, but list the ones that feel the most intense from your list today and there's no wrong answer.

00:23:05:09 - 00:23:48:16
Unknown
So whatever feels like is the most intense today. That's what's in your top five or top seven. All right. So from that list of 5 to 7, that you've written down, the most intense for today, what I now want you to do is pick out of those 5 to 7. What are the top three? You don't have to know which one is the top one, two or three.

00:23:48:20 - 00:24:47:03
Unknown
You just have to pick what are the top three out of this list? So we're slowly making order of this long list, how we're going to get it smaller so that it can be more manageable to focus on today. So pick the top three that feel the most intense for today. And then from that list of your top three that feel most intense for today, I want you to pick the one that feels the most intense.

00:24:47:05 - 00:25:22:05
Unknown
What is the number one grief that you are feeling for today? And I just want to acknowledge that that might bring up a lot of stuff. As you do this exercise, you might feel tearful, you might feel angry, you might feel lost and confused. It might feel very fragile and vulnerable to recognize that this number one grief is really intense today.

00:25:22:07 - 00:25:46:02
Unknown
It also might be confusing. The thing about grief is it doesn't always go in this very neat order. So what might feel really intense today might not even be on your list tomorrow. Or it maybe didn't even come to your radar until you sat down to write this list. So whatever is your top one for today is just your top one for today.

00:25:46:04 - 00:26:35:03
Unknown
So we're not adding any judgment or criticism or any pathology to it, just acknowledging what's the one that feels most intense for today. Okay. So second part of this exercise, which this is going to be a little bit more interactive if people would like to put some of this stuff in the chat really up to you, whether or not you feel comfortable sharing.

00:26:35:05 - 00:27:04:08
Unknown
So the first part of the second part of this exercise is I want everyone to just take a moment again, maybe 30 seconds or so, and I just want you to reflect to yourself. What about this grief feels most important or most intense for today? Maybe it's very close to an anniversary of some sort. And so this grief feels very intense today.

00:27:04:10 - 00:27:34:05
Unknown
Maybe you saw or read or heard something today that reminded you of this grief. And so it's the forefront, you know, of your mind today. Again, we're not judging it, just acknowledging what feels like the biggest grief that is present today. If you'd like to put this in the chat, you are more than welcome to, but you're under no pressure to share anything you don't feel comfortable with.

00:27:34:07 - 00:28:21:20
Unknown
Just allow yourself a moment to reflect. What about this feels most intense and most important today. Now, in the grand scheme of life, grief doesn't just fit into a 32nd, you know, reflection where, okay, I reflect on this. Okay, I've made sense of it. It's never really that simple. But I'm walking you through this exercise so that you can use this exercise on your own.

00:28:22:00 - 00:28:56:00
Unknown
And that's a very adaptable tool for people. So second part of this grief, which for anyone that was in the first or second workshop, probably heard a lot about rituals and memorializing things and honoring things in a special way to acknowledge ledge the grief. Part of what happens with cumulative grief is there's not enough space to really process and acknowledge and honor the grief that has come up because something else just, you know, barrels down right afterwards.

00:28:56:02 - 00:29:26:04
Unknown
And so for this grief that feels most intense and most important for today, we'd like for people to identify how they would like to honor and maybe even memorialize this loss and this grief. And I will give some ideas. Maybe some of these will click for you and maybe you have other ideas. So it might mean gathering some photos of this thing that you are grieving and feeling intense grief about today.

00:29:26:06 - 00:29:58:18
Unknown
It might be writing a letter to that person, place or thing or that grief. Specifically. It might be going and gathering a memento that you have that represents this grief. Maybe there is some planting of something or picking of something of clearing out. Maybe there is a candle, a service, a prayer, a mantra, something that either maybe from a religious or spiritual perspective honors this grief.

00:29:58:20 - 00:30:29:03
Unknown
Maybe there is a financial donation or being of service to someone or something that feels connected to this grief or loss. Maybe there is something more artistic, like a scrapbook, crocheting something, making some type of art, and maybe that means going to revisit a special place that is connected to that loss. Listening to special music, that is connected to that loss or that grief.

00:30:29:05 - 00:30:55:14
Unknown
So these are some ideas. So I want everyone to just take a moment and see if there is something that maybe resonates for you of a way in which you would like to honor and recognize and memorialize that loss for today. And if you can't, that's okay too. This is just a practice to give a tool of how this process could work.

00:30:55:16 - 00:31:39:10
Unknown
And if you'd like to put in the chat how you are going to do this or how you would like to do this, you definitely are welcome to do that. And I am looking at the chat. I just want to acknowledge that I may not be able to read every person's if tons of people start putting things in the chair, but I am going to look through it.

00:31:39:12 - 00:32:42:02
Unknown
So a few people have written about the sheer overwhelm of what it's like to experience all this grief, the death of people that have been very important to them. How will oftentimes the feeling of overwhelm just leads to not being able to really function and do much not access creativity, the loss of parts of identity? So if people would like to put in the chat how they would like to consider memorializing or honoring the grief they're experiencing today, please feel free to put that in the chat.

00:32:42:04 - 00:33:20:03
Unknown
Grieving the shame of surviving while others may not be. That's a very big grief for a lot of people. So again, as you do this exercise, if there's something how you want to honor and recognize this grief, there is some type of way in which you do that. You're certainly welcome. You know, and I invite everyone to do that.

00:33:20:05 - 00:33:58:04
Unknown
hugging kids extra tight. That's a really lovely one. So what I'm also now going to do is do a visualization. So I'm sure some of you have heard of these things, of visualization exercise. So what visualization is, is it's bringing to your mind something that you know, will occur in the future that you can use in order to essentially bring yourself through a process.

00:33:58:06 - 00:35:03:07
Unknown
So that doesn't always mean physically going somewhere to visualize something, but it can mean that you bring that that that vision to your mind in order to acknowledge it. So as you're here and you call to mind the grief that feels the most important for today, that number one grief that feels really, really high at the top of the list of all the grief you've been experiencing and as you identify how you might like to honor or ritualized or memorialize this loss, I invite you all to see yourself holding that intense grief in one hand or on one area, and then allowing the other area of the ritual of the memorialization of that loss and

00:35:03:07 - 00:35:55:19
Unknown
allowing both of those things to coexist. And then whatever that tool is that you're going to use to memorialize and honor that loss, start to walk yourself through that process. So that might mean someone mentioned wanting to hug kids a little bit tighter today, right? That might mean imagining yourself walking or moving into a room and the children are in there and you slowly approach them and you put out your arms and you wrap your arms around them.

00:35:55:21 - 00:36:57:24
Unknown
Maybe you say a few words. Maybe you don't. And you just allow yourself in this visualization to feel whatever it is you might like to feel. Maybe that's relief, maybe that's love, maybe that's connection. Maybe that's even the confusion that you're experiencing about this loss or the shame that you're feeling about this loss. But now, as you visualize this experience of honoring and recognizing this loss, be present to whatever feelings might be coming up and just give yourself a moment to sit and acknowledge and be with that visualization of bringing yourself through from this very, very, very long list to a list that got a little shorter, too.

00:36:57:24 - 00:38:03:23
Unknown
A little bit shorter to really specific. And how can you honor that loss as you sit and as you visualize how to honor that loss? And again, this is just an invitation to practice with these tools today. If it doesn't feel like today's the day to do it, that's okay. The good news is, is you can write down these steps if you want to or take a picture of the screen if you want to, or listen to the recording and practice another day, if that feels like possible thing for you.

00:38:04:00 - 00:38:42:06
Unknown
So the most important part of this process, I think, is the last. Number four practicing gentleness and compassion towards your grieving heart. Unfortunately, we often live in a society or in cultures that don't always recognize loss and grief. Sometimes they recognize it from a very quote unquote, obvious perspective of if someone physically dies. But even there in American culture, if you're a working person, you get three days of bereavement, three days.

00:38:42:08 - 00:39:12:09
Unknown
That's not how grief works. And I think everyone in here today knows that. So practicing gentleness and compassion is really important because a lot of the outside world says, move on, get over it. It's no big deal. Just be grateful you're fine. Right? There's all these messages that people so often get that minimize and demoralize and make people feel shame and hurt about their grief.

00:39:12:11 - 00:39:45:21
Unknown
So in order to counterbalance that a little bit, it's really important that you allow yourself to feel gentle and you allow yourself to feel compassion for the grief that you're experiencing. Because sometimes the world around us just doesn't give that opportunity. So I would love for people to put in the chat how they're going to just be a little bit more gentle today, a little bit more compassionate today towards their heart and soul that's grieving.

00:39:45:23 - 00:40:49:14
Unknown
Someone mentioned about the practice of gratitude, which I think is one of the greatest gifts of inviting in some gentleness and compassionate. Not everyone's in a grateful mood, and you certainly don't always have to be. But if it feels possible, the practice of gratitude can be very helpful in these experiences. So anyone that wants to offer how they're going to be a little bit more gentle, a little bit more compassionate towards themselves today today, when I have really challenging sessions or my clients have very challenging sessions, we very often identify what's one small thing you can give yourself today that just might mean You're taking care of yourself.

00:40:49:18 - 00:41:15:14
Unknown
Sometimes it's like a special drink at Starbucks, sometimes it's just going outside and looking at the sky and just taking a deep breath. Sometimes it's I'm going to watch a whole bunch of hours and hours and hours of Netflix. Sometimes it's I'm going to order out some food or I'm going to go call someone that I haven't talked to in a while.

00:41:15:16 - 00:41:43:03
Unknown
There's no right or wrong answer. It's just how do you invite in a little bit more gentleness and a little bit more compassion to your grieving heart today? Because the reality is, is in 20 minutes I just facilitated bringing up a lot of grief for all of you. And unfortunately, we don't have a ton of time for everyone to individually process and unpack it in a in a way that might be more settling for people.

00:41:43:05 - 00:42:13:01
Unknown
So number four is really important because I want people to be able to allow the grief that has just come up for you to be met with a lot of gentleness for the rest of the day. Are so looking at a blooming flower basket that's lovely, comfortable shoes and clothes today. That's a great idea. Six Doing some small kind thing for someone else.

00:42:13:03 - 00:42:45:05
Unknown
Yes. Being of service to other people, that's a really beautiful thing to do. Taking six weeks for recovery instead of the two weeks. that's amazing. Taking time for oneself is really, really helpful. Paint something beautiful. I love these ideas. Okay.

00:42:45:07 - 00:43:14:07
Unknown
All right. So we have a little bit under 15 minutes. I know people might have some questions or some comments. You can put your questions in the Q&A. If you put it in the chat, I'll do my best to track it so that I can answer some questions. But Kate also mentioned that there might even be some questions people already submitted.

00:43:14:09 - 00:43:40:08
Unknown
Yeah, so we did have a lot of press submitted questions, which was just fantastic. But remember, you can still submit those questions in a Q&A. Like Christy had said at the bottom of your screen, We're going to try to get as many questions as we can. And some questions may be similar. So I may combine them to get answers to everyone as much as possible.

00:43:40:10 - 00:44:03:24
Unknown
You know, first, I just want to say I love the definition that you gave us about comparing cumulative grief with the waves, because I think, you know, for me and I hope it'll be helpful to others as well, when we be kind to ourselves and understand that, you know, when the waves are crashing one day, maybe perhaps they'll be a little more gentle tomorrow.

00:44:03:24 - 00:44:36:12
Unknown
And using these visualization visualization techniques and even these techniques that you've kind of you showed us. So that, you know, sometimes we have this just profound sadness and grief during the day and perhaps we can't get to this place where we can write everything down and memorialize. Do you have any any thoughts on how we can get through the day when that happens?

00:44:36:14 - 00:44:58:20
Unknown
So, yes, So the analogy I like to use for this is like, imagine your neighbor knocking on the front door, right? The grief is knocking and you hear it knocking like, I'm starting to maybe feel tears come up. I'm starting to feel angry. I'm starting to remember something about that grief experience that feels really intense for me.

00:44:58:22 - 00:45:26:18
Unknown
That's the equivalent of the neighbor knocking on the door. You might go over and look through the peephole and be like, Ooh, there's there's some stuff out there. I'm not quite sure if I want to open the door on this right now. Maybe it's not the time, but you're not ignoring the knocking on the door. That's the most important part, is you're not ignoring that someone's knocking on the door, but you're not necessarily running over and yanking the door open because it might not be a good time for you.

00:45:26:20 - 00:45:45:17
Unknown
However, you can maybe unlock the door, peek around and say hello to the neighbor. Right? You can do that with grief. You can be like, I see you're here and you're maybe coming to share some message with me. So I'm just going to like peer around the corner and just ask, is it something that has to happen right now?

00:45:45:17 - 00:46:07:19
Unknown
Or can we maybe, like put this on hold and then I can come back to you later? So the point of that analogy is to acknowledge that it's there, but that doesn't necessarily mean you invite it in for 2 hours on your afternoon like you would a neighbor if you're busy and you're occupied by things. So it's acknowledging that it's there and letting it know you will get back to it.

00:46:07:19 - 00:46:29:16
Unknown
But now is not the time that you can do it. And very often that seemingly simple, but can be very difficult tool. It allows you to acknowledge and accept that it's there, but it also acknowledges and accepts that I've got stuff to do. So I'm going to have to get back to you later. The key is, is you got to go back and look at it.

00:46:29:16 - 00:46:51:22
Unknown
You can't just close the door on it forever because that's how it kind of builds and builds and builds and it really takes a toll on people. So you do have to go back and actually open the door at some point. Yeah, so true. So we have a question and this does come up in support groups a lot.

00:46:51:22 - 00:47:33:14
Unknown
I've noticed that, you know, we have and we have our friends who are going through the cancer process and some of them were sort of grieving maybe while they're still alive. So do you can you talk about that and how how we can get through that and be there for them and ourselves as well? And what. Absolutely. You know, grief is not something that is very simple or it's not very tidy and it doesn't always happen at the times.

00:47:33:14 - 00:47:58:04
Unknown
That would be most beneficial, you know, for our heart. And it can be messy and it can be coming from a lot of different directions. So you know, using the tool that we use today, I actually think can be very beneficial, whether that's for yourself or maybe even doing it with a buddy or a group member, Maybe this is even a group exercise you want to bring if you're part of a support group.

00:47:58:05 - 00:48:27:18
Unknown
Right? Because what it allows to people to do is to recognize there is a lot of grief going on, but it also gives people kind of a bit of a container for that grief and an acknowledgment and a ritual around that grief. And so maybe it's something like, you know, we're all just going to sit for a moment and be silent and just hold space for everyone here that might be having some feelings about their grief.

00:48:27:20 - 00:48:49:12
Unknown
Or maybe it's something like when I used to be part of a group of professionals. We would keep a little bin of rocks in a little jar in a room that we would always kind of go back to. And any time we had something that kind of heavy on our hearts, we would pick up a rock. Sometimes we would say some things out loud to other people.

00:48:49:12 - 00:49:11:10
Unknown
Sometimes we would keep it to ourselves and then we would just kind of sit there for however long we needed to. And then eventually we would place the rock in the jar. And that was just our acknowledgment of acknowledging this. I know that it's here and I'm going to hand it over right now because I need to get back to living my life, doing my thing, honoring my responsibilities.

00:49:11:12 - 00:49:39:06
Unknown
So if there's some type of symbol that you can experience of acknowledging something, holding on to something, and then also letting it go again, the ocean is a really great analogy for that. Things come in, things go out, things come in, things go out, but doing it at a pace that also feels reasonable for you and the people around you.

00:49:39:08 - 00:50:24:00
Unknown
So we have a comment and okay, so it seems like cumulative grief has left left me with such emptiness inside. So when that does happen, how do you help someone sort of acknowledge that and move forward with that? Well, I think there's a lot of different approaches that could take, and I think that's more kind of a it's such an open question that I don't know, some specific way a person should specifically do that.

00:50:24:02 - 00:50:48:15
Unknown
But I think there's kind of two things I'm thinking. One thing I'm thinking is, you know, again, participating in some type of way that honors and recognizes that grief. Every culture and every religion does something like that. It's because it's really, really healing. And sometimes doing it in a community of other people is the most healing. But that may not always be possible.

00:50:48:17 - 00:51:15:23
Unknown
So identifying what are the rituals and what are the things that feel helpful for you in order to honor that grief. And then the second part is what is it that I can do to take care of myself today? And maybe for this particular person, the end of that sentence is to feel less empty or to feel more fulfilled and something maybe from childhood that you really love to do.

00:51:16:00 - 00:51:48:05
Unknown
Maybe there's a craft, a hobby, a person, a place, something that when you think about that thing, you're like, that actually does bring my heart a little bit of warmth or a little bit of joy. The goal is not that that thing is going to always sustain you. It's probably going to have to be a variety of different things, but maybe that's where it gets started, is acknowledging and honoring ritualized in the grief and then also making sure there's something else on the other side of that, which is what can I do?

00:51:48:05 - 00:52:14:15
Unknown
Or what would help me feel little bit more fulfilled in my heart today? And again, something that's a really good kind of cue is like, what was something that I loved from my childhood? Maybe it was a stuffed animal. And so you're going to order that stuffed animal if you can find something like that off Amazon, right? Or maybe it was going to a particular place to get an ice cream or a treat, right?

00:52:14:17 - 00:52:41:22
Unknown
So like, be creative. It can be silly, it can seem childlike, it can seem weird, but it's okay. Because if it's going to make you feel a little bit more of a fullness in your heart and a little bit of warmth for that day, that's a starting point. I love that. I love I love that you're acknowledging that and trying to find some joy and finding something that could make you feel a little bit better.

00:52:42:00 - 00:53:06:09
Unknown
I think that's important. And not staying and not keeping that emptiness because both are important, right? They they're both they're both required. There's needs to be time and space for the sorrow, the sadness and the grief. There also needs to be some time for some healing and some joy. And I'm always very hard pressed when people say to me like, there's nothing, there's nothing, there's nothing that brings me joy.

00:53:06:09 - 00:53:28:23
Unknown
I'm like, You wouldn't be alive if there wasn't. There's gotta be something. It might be really small and really minuscule, but there might be something. I have someone right now that I'm working with that she orders these, like, very pens. I'm not quite sure where they're from. And she gets this beautiful stationery. She isn't even always do something with it, but she thinks it's really beautiful and she loves to have it around.

00:53:28:23 - 00:53:54:23
Unknown
And when she sees it, she's like, it's so beautiful. It gives her a little joy in her heart to have it around. So it can be really, really simple. It does not have to be a profound joy. It can be a really, really simple joy. Yeah, Yeah, definitely. So We have so many wonderful questions and unfortunately, we will not have time to to ask them all.

00:53:54:23 - 00:54:30:22
Unknown
So but I do I think this might be important. So I want to end with this one. Do you know of any, any books or any other things that we that you have some resources for people to read about grief and work through grief? that's a fantastic question. I can't say that off the top of my mind that there's something that's like jumping out at me in partly because I know a lot of books on grief often have a spiritual or religious element to them.

00:54:30:24 - 00:54:59:04
Unknown
And so that's always something I always am very, very mindful of, is if someone does not want that as a perspective, that I don't recommend that necessarily. But I do think that, I'm trying to think off the top of my head. I think a really good place to start is looking for some type of grief support group that's connected to that grief.

00:54:59:06 - 00:55:21:04
Unknown
There are grief support groups for pat loss. There are grief support groups that may not be specific to grief, but you might be able to bring the topic of grief up. For example, if you're a person with cancer and you're in a support group and you say, hey, there's something I really want to talk about today, and that can be a topic of conversation.

00:55:21:06 - 00:55:45:23
Unknown
There definitely is a lot of good stuff out there, but there's also a lot of good stuff that focuses on so many different areas. It could be related to a person with cancer, a caregiver to someone with cancer, a death from someone from cancer. It could be related to losing body parts as it relates to an illness or losing identity as it relates to something grief for children.

00:55:46:00 - 00:56:09:00
Unknown
My point is, is there's a lot of areas and so I don't really have a recommendation of like a one size fits all. It would probably be something that I would have to kind of customize and recommend for a person. I think the big answer, and I'm sorry, it's a big answer to it. The good news is, is there is a lot of resource out there on grief, thank goodness, because it's being acknowledged and discussed.

00:56:09:02 - 00:56:35:03
Unknown
But a lot of it is quite kind of specific for people's, you know, very tender and very specific grief. Yeah. So that's understandable. So yeah, I get that. But there is out there. So I do want to encourage that. You know my one of my go to tools is like Google Google and you know, you put the name of the grief and then you put grief and see what happens.

00:56:35:03 - 00:56:59:01
Unknown
Right. So it can answer grief or it could be, you know, grief of a spouse, right? Put some keywords in Google and see what pops up. There's probably stuff for it. Okay. So that's helpful, too, though. People can find what's what's helpful to them with that search. So thank you so much for that. And thank you so much, Kristie, for your thoughtful and thorough answers to these many questions.

00:56:59:01 - 00:57:17:10
Unknown
We have will have a recording of this program available on the website and wanted two weeks. And please make sure to check out our Web site, the Shares website, for upcoming educational programs. We have podcast episodes and support groups and don't forget to follow us on social media as well.

00:57:17:10 - 00:57:31:16
Unknown
This concludes the webinar. Thank again, Kristy, and I hope that everyone has a great weekend. Thank you. Hi everyone.

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