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Hello and Welcome ...

Thanks for stopping by. It’s a Wonderful Wednesday. Yes, I am moving into the next phase of retirement, yet so grateful that my brain is still moving at a 24-hour pace of thought. I usually do not read lengthy blog posts, messages, sales letters, and the like, so I won’t give you what I don’t do myself. I do hope that these bite-sized thought nuggets are enough to make you ponder, yet inspiring enough to make you find gratitude on this Wonderful Wednesday. Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Dora Carpenter, CPC

Founder, Institute of Professional Grief Coaching

Ever consider becoming a grief coach? Work through any personal unresolved grief while learning to support others with an ICF-accredited grief coach certification program.  Find out more here.

Grief is the journey. Gratitude is the destination.®

Crafting a New Narrative After Loss

January 24, 2023

On this Wonderful Wednesday, I want to acknowledge the IOPGC’s From Grief to Gratitude team, trainers, coaches, and students for the phenomenal work they do to make a difference in the world.

On January 24, The Los Angeles Times published an article by Angela Jamison, journalist and coach. Angela shares her authentic inspiring story of her grief walk after losing her Dad and says, “But one thing I know for sure: I am crafting a new narrative about the life I shared with my father, one of love, conflict, perseverance, healing — and gratitude. That’s the story I hope will inspire others as I step into my new purpose as a grief coach.”

Kudos to one of our trainers, Christina Stiverson, for reminding us in the article that “Everyone’s grief process is different and is completely unique.” Read Angela’s article here.

Doing the grief work is a choice, but as grief coaches we encourage you to take even baby steps, or crawl if you must. You don’t have to wait on time alone. You don’t have to suffer alone or in silence. You can craft a new narrative after loss.

Name Your Emotions

January 18, 2023

I recently read a business article entitled, “It Takes Courage to Name Your Mice” which referenced talking about emotions (aka, mice) being seen as a sign of weakness.

I thought of how this also relates to individuals grieving a loss. Are you locking your emotions inside for fear of judgment or perception from others who “just don’t get it?” Have you been told “you’re being selfish, you shouldn’t feel a certain way, or it’s time to let go?” Are you afraid to share your emotions because the response might be “let’s talk about happy things instead, be strong don’t cry, God wanted an angel, it was just his time to go, or maybe at least you got to say goodbye?”

It’s not our fault that we do and say many things that don’t help one who is grieving. We don’t know what we don’t know (smile).

Today, I want you to have the courage to shut the door on the outside noise and allow yourself to name your emotions! In other words, give yourself permission to feel. Give yourself permission to grieve. Your feelings are your feelings, unique only to you. No one can tell you how to grieve, or how not to grieve.

Once you do that you will release that locked in, possibly unresolved grief and feel better about moving through your grief journey. You don’t have to remain in that deep, dark, lonely fog of grief forever. Reach out and share your emotions with someone. Maybe a non-judgmental friend, spiritual advisor, coach, counselor, or mental health professional. You deserve to lighten the burden of grief!

Ask a Grief Coach

January 11, 2023

Dora Carpenter shares and answers your questions in an Ask a Grief Coach episode

A Message of Hope

January 4, 2023

I offer my condolences on the loss of your dear loved one. Your heart is broken. Your hopes, dreams, and expectations have been shattered. Life as you once knew it has been forever changed. You have been given membership in a club that you never asked to join. This dreaded date and event has placed itself on your calendar and you can’t change, postpone, or delete it.

The days ahead will escort you into a new reality. One filled with many emotions, questions, conflicting thoughts, concerns, and maybe even fears. Do you feel alone as everyone else has returned to their daily routines and seemingly forgotten all about you and your loss? Does it seem that others expect you to bounce back as if you just hit a small bump in the road? What do you do now? Will the pain ever go away? What does life look like ahead? Is there hope? Is there help? Can anyone even understand? Is there even a glimmer of light after such darkness and despair?

No one can tell you how to grieve because no one knows the intimate relationship that you shared with your loved one. There is no rulebook or standard operating procedure for coping with loss. While others mean well and try to help and console, they often say all the wrong things, such as “I understand how you feel,” or “It just takes time. Time heals all wounds.”

As you navigate this wilderness of grief, please know that there will be some crooked paths, wrong turns, and seemingly dead ends along the way. I encourage you to be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself as you journey from pain to peace, heartbreak to happiness, and grief to gratitude in the shortest time possible.

Empathy Never Begins with "At Least"

December 21, 2022

It’s the holiday season and so many are grieving various losses. We are ending the year with heavy hearts from loss of loved ones, health conditions, inflation, extreme weather conditions, gun violence, and so many issues that extinguish our happiness during a season of peace and joy.

Meaning well and wanting one to feel better, we often say things that are not helpful to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. Today, I share with you two words that do not help – “at least.” Empathy never begins with “at least.”

Here are just a few examples:

• To a mother who just lost her son. At least you have other children.

• To a widow. At least you are young and can marry again.

• To a widower. At least you were married to her for 45 years.

• To a student whose roommate was instantly killed in a car accident. At least he didn’t suffer.

• To a daughter whose mother has Alzheimer’s (not a physical death, but disenfranchised grief). At least she is still here, even though she doesn’t remember your name.

• To a coworker who received a call from the emergency room. At least you got the chance to say goodbye.

If you’ve said any of these things, don’t beat yourself up. There are so many things that we say and do with good intent but are not helpful to a grieving individual. We must do more in the area of grief education… the subject that no one wants to talk about, but everyone needs to hear.

Happy Holidays!

Each Day Matters

December 14, 2022

While working in the cemetery on a blistery freezing morning, I took hot chocolate to the grounds crew. They were manually digging a grave for an interment scheduled later that day. I asked, “How do you do this on such a below freezing day?” I’ll never forget the response from one of the workers. With a big warm, magnetic smile, he replied, “Dora, every morning that I get up, come to work, and dig a grave that is not for me, it is a great day!”

I hope that as you navigate your grief journey, you find strength and courage to find gratitude in each day because life is precious and each day matters.

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Taken from Each Day Matters: 365 Affirmations for Celebrating Life Beyond Loss, Wisdom Nuggets By Dora Series by Dora Carpenter

Day 1

Today is a new day and I am choosing to be happy.

Day 2

I celebrate me today.

Day 3

I greet today with love and gratitude.

Day 4

Abundance is within my reach.

Day 5

I see others for who they can become.

Day 6

The power within me is limitless.

Day 7

I honor and celebrate those who have sacrificed and gone before me.

Day 8

Everything is happening perfectly. One of Dora Carpenter’s favorites.

Day 9

I am thankful for those who have shared their knowledge and wisdom with me.

Day 10

Much gratitude is given to our country’s military personnel.

Five Tips for Coping with Holiday Grief

December 7, 2022

How do you cope with the "happy" holiday season when your heart is broken?  While you are drowning in tears of sadness, it might seem that everyone else has forgotten about your loss.  The reality hits that the holidays you once treasured are no longer.  I hope these tips give you hope for peace and comfort during this season and beyond.

1. Give yourself permission to grieve.

An integral part of the grief process is acknowledging our feelings of loss, so give yourself permission to grieve. Choose to make this holiday season a special time to remember your loved one. As you do so, focus on your loved one’s life and not the death. Listen to your heart as you find joy in the tears. Smile and remember the good times shared.

2. Remember to honor the life and legacy of your loved one.

Of course we remember the lives of our loved ones, but how can we honor them? In what way can you make someone else’s life better in honor of your loved one? What legacy did your loved one leave that you can share? What lessons have you learned as a result of your loved one’s death that you can incorporate into your own life?

3. Incorporate new traditions into old traditions.

You can keep some holiday traditions alive in ways to comfort you as you accept your new reality. Begin to incorporate new traditions into the holiday season. You might purchase a new ornament and place it on the holiday tree next to a favorite ornament of your loved one.

4. Embrace meaning and gratitude in your new life going forward.

You have been extended membership in a club that you never asked to join, and your life will never be the same again; however, your life can be meaningful. You have an obligation to live your life for the rest of your life. What are you grateful for today? What legacy will you leave your loved ones?

5. Fear, forgiveness, and faith.

What are you afraid of? Yes, you know that life continues and that you must move on; but, what about fear of the future without your dear loved one? Fear and uncertainty of your future can bring on increased emotions of anxiety and stress.

The Serenity Prayer reads: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

What about forgiveness? Forgiveness frees you from emotional suffering. Letting go of hurts or perceived wrong doings opens you to allow and receive the abundance of life that is available to you. Unforgiveness can paralyze you and have adverse effects on your emotional and physical wellbeing. This holiday season forgive everyone, including yourself, for everything associated with the loss.

What role does faith play in the grief process? Although one might question their faith during this time, grief can oftentimes deepen one’s faith when relying on it for peace, hope, and strength. Begin each day with prayer, meditation, or whatever ritual works to connect you with your Source. Be open to allow and receive the abundance of love that is available to you. You might also focus on the true meaning of this time of year. Your belief system can be the catalyst that gives you the courage to move forward and seize new possibilities. 

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

The Holidays Can be Complicated

November 30, 2022

The holidays are a vulnerable time for individuals grieving the loss of a loved one. Those complicated and conflicting feelings of what you should or should not do, how you should or should not feel, what others think or do not think, and that uninvited guest named “grief.” Grief for what was supposed to be and is no longer.

Please don’t beat up on yourself. What you are experiencing and feeling is normal and natural for one who is missing a loved one, whether the loss was this year or many years ago. Grieving the loss of a loved one is a complex experience to navigate at any time but is heightened during the holidays. This week I would like for you to shift a bit with me for only five minutes.

Take a break from whatever you are doing and thinking about. Grab pen, pencil, 

coffee, tea, or your favorite beverage. Find a comfortable chair, or even sit on the floor (my favorite), and let’s go to work with an exercise we use in our coaching program, the 50 Smiles Project.

For the next five minutes, list 50 things that make you smile. This can be a word, phrase, sentence, whatever comes to mind. Don’t forget the simple things that we often overlook and take for granted. I smile as I type this for the gratitude in simply being able to share this message with you… smile.

Go easy on yourself this holiday season and allow all feelings to coexist. Give yourself permission to feel those painful emotions. Also, look for smiles in the love you shared, the memories you made, the continued bond you share. Make space to honor your emotions, while allowing room for joy, smiles, and gratitude.

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Treat Yourself to a Thanksgiving Timeout

November 23, 2022

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. You are probably busy traveling or preparing for this day and might miss this week’s blog post. If not, I’m glad you are here because I want to interrupt your busyness.

Take a few minutes to go deeper into the Oneness of who you are today. I know that’s pretty deep right? Either before you retire for the evening, in the morning, or even a bathroom break during the day. Give thanks beyond the daily gratitude expressions for health, finances, family, etc. Don’t forget those of course!

Close your eyes. Imagine an endless open space, i.e., nature, water, etc. No one is there but you. Connect with only you. Oneness. Stillness. Inner peace. Connect with who you really are. Your being. Your greatness. Your presence. Smile and allow all of it. Find gratitude in simply the Being of You. Don’t try to fix or change anything. Just be. Now, go wherever and however this feeling takes you. Have fun.

I remember being at a shopping mall many years ago when an older gentleman gave me a compliment. I replied, “thank you” and he responded, “Don’t thank me. Thank your parents.” That response took me on another path of thought. Did he see something deeper than the physical presence? Who am I anyway? Why am I anyway? How am I anyway? I went really deep after that moment and carry that memory still today. I am not my business. I am not my home. I am not my finances. You get the picture.

I invite you to take some time to honor and celebrate who you really are this Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Missing Someone During the Holidays

November 16, 2022

Whether you have experienced the loss of a loved one this year, or many years ago, the holidays always heighten the memories, as well as the emptiness. This is the season of happiness, joy, family togetherness, and family traditions. For those who have lost loved ones, it might be a time of sadness loneliness, and despair. The sights, sounds, smells of the holiday season can’t be avoided and many feel that others have even forgotten about their loss.

You miss the booming laughter and special moments spent. There’s an empty chair at the table for Thanksgiving. You won’t have those warm hugs on Christmas morning. You might feel lonely on New Year’s Eve. You have to spend Hanukkah without your loved one. It might seem daunting to light the seven candles during Kwanzaa. You might even paste a smile on your face while feeling dreed inside. It is okay and even normal to feel like breaking down during this time, so please don’t consider your tears and emotions an indication of weakness.

What you are experiencing is simply called grief. Only those can feel this pain who have been through this type of heartache. Even though you might feel like crumbling, let the warmth of cherished memories fill and lift your spirits this holiday season. Find gratitude for those times shared.

I hope that you feel empowered to be compassionate and loving towards yourself as you navigate the feelings of loss this holiday season and beyond. I promised only nuggets here, so if you want to dive deeper into the pitfalls of holiday grief, listen to a previously recorded holiday grief webinar here.

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward. 

Riding the Wave of Grief

November 9, 2022

One day a client called me from her car during an immense period of panic. A traffic detour forced her to drive through a street she had not taken since her husband died two years ago. She was terrified. She couldn’t force herself to drive by the park where they used to sit on the same bench and enjoy lunch together. I could hear other car horns in the background beeping for her to move, but she was emotionally frozen and refused to drive through that street. Unfortunately, there was no way for her to turn the car around.

Feeling grateful that I was available to take her call, I talked her through this consuming grief burst as she slowly made her way through the detour. Grief bursts? What are they? Grief bursts, sometimes referred to as grief attacks, are those sudden outbursts of sadness, crying, or any normal and natural response to loss. They can be triggered by a sight, sound, smell, familiar object or place; or, they might have no trigger at all. The only thing predictable about grief bursts is that they are usually unpredictable with no trigger at all.

Now that you know what they are and that you are not going crazy, give yourself permission to ride the wave of this grief experience. Calm down. Take three deep mindful breaths. Close your eyes, open your heart, and remember the smile of your loved one. Embrace the journey and ride the wave of cherished memories.

p.s. My client was later able to return to that park and occasionally have lunch on that same bench.

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Dora's First Grief Nugget Blog Post... Enjoy

November 2, 2022

When I worked in the cemetery, each day at a gravesite I would hear so many expressions such as “Life is so fragile. I just saw him yesterday.” “Life is so fragile, I’ve been meaning to call, but I’ve just been so busy.” “Life is so fragile. I didn’t even know she was sick.” “Life is so fragile. I can’t believe this has happened.” “Life is so fragile. If only I had known…” “Life is so fragile. I had the family on my mind last week, but…” “Life is so fragile. She wasn’t even sick.“ “Life is so fragile. We were just texting each other last week.” “Life is so fragile. His life seemed so perfect.” “Life is so fragile.” “Life is so fragile.” “Life is so fragile.”

Merriam-Webster defines fragile as easily broken or destroyed; flimsy or insubstantial; not strong or sturdy; delicate and vulnerable.

Many have thought and said it and usually at a time when life has thrown a curve ball of change that leaves us in the depth of despair. Upon notification of a death, the fragility of life stares you in the face and you stare back with questions of how and why. You not only question the death, but your own existence and the impermanence of life itself. Whether you acknowledge this fact or avoid facing the reality of same, the non-negotiable occurrence of death is inevitable. It will directly or indirectly affect each of us at some point and place itself on our calendar without permission, leaving us heartbroken.

If the delicate order of birth is death and life is really fragile, what is within our immediate control? Right now as you read this, in this present moment, on this Wonderful Wednesday, ponder these questions. What might you do today that you’ve put off until later for whatever reason? Who might you call or visit? Who might you forgive? To whom might you express feelings of care, concern, or love? How might you rearrange your busy schedule to make an avoided action a priority today? Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Life is here. It is now. It is waiting for you! Enjoy your day and keep moving forward.