You’re here for self-help. But the best help is in person.

Some of you have come here in abject grief, thinking life is unfair. It is unfair, as we all know, but when it is not fair to you, you need someone to help you understand what to do about it. What do you do with all this pain? Share it with a professional. In doing so, you are releasing some of the burden to another who can give you hope and perspective.

Albert Einstein once said you cannot solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it. I hung onto that phrase with all my might in trying and still trying to find out about the death of my brother. I could not act with the same cruelty and unkindness that was shown toward me. I was a professional and I knew that decisions based on grief and fear and never the best ones.

Time and talking with other professionals was what to do with when I didn’t know what to do. Call someone who is a grief professional. I have a friend who is a funeral director, and at his mother’s funeral, he had to lean on others. No matter how many funerals he attended, this one was personal. My grief was unlike any I had heard because it was mine. Yours is yours and it needs to be shared. Though no one grieves alike, no one should grieve alone.

No one knows how badly you hurt but you. Some people may need to get away. Bereavement leave is seldom long enough at most companies. You may have to find a way to work and get help simultaneously.  Some people feel guilty for doing this. Some think they can work through it, get through it and overcome it, but if not processed correctly it will reappear without warning and the ability to self-soothe will get worse in time instead of better.

Trauma, transition and loss cause a body, mind and spirit crisis that is out of your control.

Try to find a counselor or a psychologist who understands neuroscience and the biological aspects of trauma. There are even online counselors now available at any time of day. Those hours when you can’t sleep might be the time to get help.

Your brain tries to move the chaos into order and blunts your emotions. If that shock goes on too long Acute Stress Disorder can turn to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When your friends are back to living their lives and you find it difficult to go on, reach out.

Withdrawal may be what you feel like doing, but it is your brain’s way of protecting you so much it is causing you harm. Get help with someone you can trust.

How do you know who you can trust? You keep trying and you never give up until you find someone who helps you have a feeling and sense of value and does not diminish or try to hurry your grief along to resolution too quickly.

Will the feelings ever go away? Maybe not away, but they can be processed and reprocessed through your life. It is a good time to question the saying “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. It actually can make you weaker physically if you don’t get help emotionally. When you get help, you gain wisdom. Wisdom is a type of healing strength. Sometimes it’s invisible at first but it is there waiting for you to discover what is in you that you learned from what happened to you.

You may feel singled out and and are suffering in silence. We punish people with solitary confinement so don’t listen to the inner feeling that tells you to detach and withdraw. Again, it is a silent enemy that seems comfortable but will keep you stuck.

Talk about your truth with a professional who knows how to listen and I mean really listen to your grief experience. It is profoundly personal.

Listen in return.

There may be guilt, survivor guilt, fear, shame, anger and all of the other false and or painful side effects of being victimized. There is a biology to this. When you have suffered a loss, adrenaline kicks in, norepinephrine, cortisol and all the stress hormones flood your system.

The fight or flight response is so intense when triggered or immediately after trauma that it’s hard to listen to anything but your own inner voice. It is okay to wallow in grief. It is okay to sob and let the silence in a room with a counselor speak to them about the depth of your pain. You can let it out by letting someone in. Your memories can become memorials.

Mary Joye

For the past ten years I have been a private practice Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I'm a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and a Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator. Grief resilience and trauma resolution is a large part of my practice. I was raised on the beach in Florida. My father was a psychiatrist and I worked in his office in my youth. He wanted me to follow in his footsteps. Instead, I chose to become a theatrical design major instead and graduated from the University of Florida in 1979. My first job out of college, KISS employed me as a make-up and wardrobe assistant for three years. It was quite an experience and a good background to study communications. Later in Nashville, I began songwriting, acting and performing professionally and am a member of BMI, ASCAP and a former member of the Country Music Association, Screen Actors Guild and The American Federation of Musicians. That career grew into a 20-year music ministry. I also wrote ad copy for XM radio, Texaco, The Filmhouse and currently write for two publications in Winter Haven, Florida, where I returned to take care of my ill and now deceased parents. I earned an MA in Counseling from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2000. (Photo by Daniel DeCastro)

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