404 Compassionate Coaching | Stephen Garrett

The Language of Choice

The Language of Choice – How to determine where you are speaking from.

The Power of Choice Wheel can help you recognize what quadrant you are speaking from by simply listening to the language you are using.  I have broken down some of the key points for the two most common quadrants – Reactive and Fear-based, and Creative and Free.

 

Reactive and Fear-based

Past or future tense

Scarcity and lack

Judgmental

Critical

Blaming

You will notice almost immediately which approach you are taking by noticing what tense your verbs are – past tense looking back at history and future tense looking forward to the yet to be created is the simple way.  You can also listen to hear if you are blaming others – their actions have power over you or whether you are judging or criticizing others.

All these communication habits will let you know if you are in your own personal power or if you are giving your power away to others.  In other words powerful or powerless.

Creative and Free

Present tense – the now moment

Abundance

Acceptance

Self-responsible

Acknowledging

When you are in your personal power – powerful – you will automatically be speaking in the now moment, the present.  You will approach issues as opportunities not problems.  You will be accepting of what is really going on looking for ways you can take action to bring solutions forward.  You will accept responsibility for your actions.  You will also be coming from an attitude of abundance and gratitude.  There is no finger pointing when you are in your personal power.

Others respond differently, they do not get defensive as they do in an environment that is fear-based and reactive.  They tend to join in and raise their level of communication to match yours.  Even if they do not the typical make wrong fighting doesn’t go on because you are not doing it!

Taking Care of Yourself – It is Not Selfish!

I was a passenger on an airplane the other week and for the first time in a while paid attention to the pre-flight safety demonstration.  I noticed the part when the oxygen masks dropped down and the instruction was to put your own mask on first, then the mask for your children.  What a great life lesson!

It highlighted for me the need to take good care of yourself especially in times of emotional, physical, and spiritual stress.  Times like the loss of a loved one.  So I created this section to remind you of some of the self-care things you can do for you.  By taking great care of you, you will be much more able to take care of those you love!

Physical Care

Make sure you get some exercise, some out door time, some physical movement.  There is a lot going on around you, many details to handle, lots of people to be with and many emotional conversations to have.  It can be draining physically.  Be sure to drink plenty of water, get rest and take catnaps when you can.  Get plenty of sleep and eat well even if your appetite is low.  Remember to honor your own physical limitations when you can carry on and need a rest say so.

Emotional Care

Find some support for yourself, a friend or family member who can be there for you.  Local hospice societies provide volunteers who are well trained in grief and loss so take advantage of that service if it is available.  Remember you too have the right to your own unique expression of grief and the fullness of your own emotions.

Mental Care

There will be lots of thoughts going through the minds of family and friends some understandable and some confusing and unclear.  Their thoughts may trigger your own thoughts.  It is fine to have thoughts as you do your best to make sense of the death, to understand it all and to put it into to paradigm that makes sense to you.  Using a journal could help you organize and collect your thoughts.  Remember it is ok to have your own personal thoughts about the loss.

Spiritual Care

Death often brings up the issue of spirituality.  Who am I?  Who was my loved one?  What is life?  What is the point of it all?  These questions are deeply spiritual and well worth asking.  It is perfectly fine if you are inspired to use ceremony and ritual to help you through your own grief journey.  These rituals help and also bring other people close to you for added support.  Remember ritual and ceremony is a personal choice which you have the right to make.

Much Love

Stephen Garrett

As Life Winds Down – Out and About No More

It is indeed a journey from the moment you learn that you are dying until the instant you pass on.  Sometimes it is as the Beatles once sang, a long and winding road, other times it is short and bumpy, other times in between and smooth.  There is no one way that a prognosis moves from being identified to it being fulfilled.  Each person’s path is totally unique.

There are, however, some common stages that we all move through much like a travel itinerary.  The exact details may differ yet the day-to-day road map is similar.  In palliative care the doctors and nursing staff have identified the following stages that a person can often go through.  I thought it worthwhile that you have this information too.  Understanding the flow from identifying a terminal illness to death can literally be life saving for those of us saying good-bye.

I have listed the six key stages and noticed the impact each has on the person initially, and secondly on family and friends.  It is common that everyone reacts differently to similar news and it is important to recognize these different reactions if we are to take good care of each other.

1) In the Beginning – The Diagnosis

Patient  When you first hear the news of a terminal illness there can be many reactions.  Common amongst patients are denial, disbelief, a feeling of uncertainty, confusion, and fear.

Family and Friends  People will react differently depending on whom they hear the news from.  If it is from the ill family member they may not hear the whole story, so there may be confusion and lots of questions.  There may be some conflict as each friend or family member may have different beliefs and ideas, and therefore interpret the facts from their own personal perspective.

2) It is for Real

Patient  At this stage there may be fatigue as normal activities become tougher to complete.  There may be some grief surrounding the loss of some faculties like mobility or perhaps sight. The person may begin to doubt the treatments.  Thoughts about death may occur and the individual may begin to feel isolated and lonely.

Family and Friends  Family and friends may start to look and sound like cheerleaders as they notice the changes and want to inspire and give hope to their loved one.  They might start looking for alternative treatments and they could begin to look towards imminent death.  They may also get back to their own life and create some distance between them self and their loved one.  This could be the result of avoidance or fear.

3) Shifting to Pain Management

Patient  At this point the one dying will likely be losing some more mobility and control of their body.  They could be more fatigued, weak, and less active mentally and physically.  Your loved one may be more confused and looking towards prayer, hope for a spiritual healing, and sometimes even death just to get some comfort.  They may have feelings of shame and guilt for ‘letting’ their loved ones down.

Family and Friends  After living with uncertainty for sometime now family and friends may look for other solutions especially as care demands increase.  Family and friends often look for ways to find some stability and control in their own lives and their resentment do to high levels of care giving may be building

4) Care Demands Increase

Patient  Your loved one now is mostly bed ridden and will need help with personal care.  Their appetite and thirst will be lessening.  When coupled with increased medications due to more complex health needs you may find them drowsy.  The one dying will likely be trying to make meaning of it all and be preparing for death.  Their world is shrinking and their energy is diminishing, care must be taken to spread out visits and activity.

Family and Friends  At this point you may be wondering how much longer it will go on.  Can we continue to do this?  You may get so focused on giving care that you forget to take good care of yourself.  There may be even more demands of you as visitors come by more often to say their final good-byes.

5) Final Steps

Patient  The body and mind will be changing rapidly and these can be profound.  They may not eat or drink and may slip into a coma.  Your loved one could be restless, even more confused and they not have much mental clarity.

Family and Friends  At this point as death nears, family and friends may be going in many directions, some ready for death to come, some holding on for dear life.  Feeling such as anger, guilt, sadness, and hopeless could surface.  Others may be relieved, thankful and peaceful.  It will likely be difficult to communicate with your loved one at this point and simply sitting and holding hands may be the extent of your communications. However, lots of uncertainty will be in the air as family and friends start to let go of giving care.

6) Death

Patient  Your loved one may go quietly and calmly or they may be restless and the death could be dramatic.  Either way death comes.

Family and Friends  Though it has been a journey and the expected destination has always been death, it may still be a shock when it happens.  Panic and fear, relief and peacefulness can all emerge.  Some family and friends could withdraw, while others may be expressive.  Some folks could leave and others stay closer by.  It is usually a time for family to stay close together.

 

Much Love

Stephen Garrett

What is Wrong with Me? – Am I Depressed?

After giving birth, some mothers may fall into a period of postpartum depression resulting from a change of body chemistry caused by birth.  Though there are significant differences between birth and death, understand that there can be a bout of depression following the loss of a loved one.  It is important to be aware of this potential health care issue.

Here are some signs and signals to keep a look out for as you moving along your own journey of grief.  It is also supportive to watch out for these same signs in your family and close friends who have suffered a loss.  The ten or so items I mention here are by no means an inclusive list they are the more common ones.

If you have a number of these signs and they occur regularly it would be a good idea to make a visit to your family doctor or therapist and get some professional advice and an informed opinion.

1) Sleep  You are sleeping more than normal and have trouble getting out of bed or you are not sleeping much at all and are getting fatigued.

2) Aches, pains and illness  You may find your body is more achy and painful than usual.  You may be having more colds or illnesses than you normally do.

3) Excessive use of drugs or alcohol  In order to get some relief from your feelings, or in order to hid your deeper emotions you may resort to the excessive use of alcohol that is very common with people suffering from depression. You may choose illicit or prescription drugs to help numb the emotions that so often accompany grief.

4) Weight change  You may find that your weight drops noticeably as your appetite vanishes or you may use food to suppress your feelings and emotions and gain a noticeable amount of weight.

5) Work  You could find that you are regularly absent from work or late, you might also notice you are not as productive as you were before the loss.   You may have trouble concentrating.  The opposite is also possible, over working and over achieving as a way to keep you busy and distracted.

6) General lack of motivation  You may notice that you just are not motivated to do anything, even hobbies that you once loved.  It might even show up in a lack of sex drive or no sexual appetite at all.

7) Anxiousness  You may experience a level of anxiousness you haven’t experienced before.  This anxiousness may not have a basis to it and may even turn into a type of panic.

8)Emotions  You may have a low-grade sense of irritability and edginess that from time to time shows up as anger.  Anger is often an outward sign of fear or hurt.

9) Thoughts of death or suicide  You could experiences thoughts of taking your own life and become preoccupied with thoughts of death, both yours, and others.

I was once asked what the opposite of depression was.  I had to ponder it deeply and avoid my initial reaction to blurt out the word joy.  As I looked at the question more fully it came to me that the opposite of depression is expression.

Some of us who are depressed often times feel flat, lifeless, and dead in a way.  When we look more deeply we notice a caldron of emotions lying just underneath the surface of our flatness.  Sometimes dropping into the sea of emotions and expressing them can be a healing and also freeing event – an event that may also help lift the depression.

 

Much Love

Stephen Garrett