Be kind – you’ve no idea how someone is dealing with grief

I met a friend today who I hadn’t seen for a few years. We lost touch when I was struggling dealing with my grief from losing Mum, and her husband died.

Whilst I sent her a sympathy card, what I really wanted to do was go and hug her and be with her. I couldn’t. My own depression took over, and life went on for both of us. Late last year I got in touch with her last known place of employment, who very kindly passed my message on, and today we met. It was so lovely.

You’ve no idea who someone is dealing with grief

shooting starWe all deal with grief in a different way. We respond differently. I’ve just finished a lovely book, Christmas Under the Stars, by Karen Swan, which dealt with how 3 friends dealt with their bereavement of a friend. Each of them didn’t understand how the other was really feeling, and had their own ways of dealing with their grief.

When Mum died, in 2009, I felt I was doing OK. She’d had cancer for 10 years, and we were blessed to have had that time with her. My brother and Dad dealt with their grief in different ways. However, for me, I think the following few years, and different series of events led me to a depression which was never diagnosed, but had me unable to communicate with others very well. It was during this ‘dark time’, when my friend’s partner died.

Speaking to her today, she told me of her experience of being totally unprepared for the death of her long term partner. She said she’d “coped and been fine with”, the deaths of her parents and her mother in law. She never knew her father in law. She told me how she totally went to pieces, and it’s taken her years to come to terms with her grief. I was amazed, as she’s always been such a strong lady, with a deep Christian faith. It shocked me that she’d suffered so much too, even though I appreciate the relationship is very different from losing a parent.

She’s now in a happy place, although she did say that despite having loving friends and family, that she’s lonely. She told me how there are other ladies in her circle who have similar feelings. They’re going to start having regular luncheons, and share their experiences.

Be kind – We often grieve before death happens

A very close friend of mine’s Dad died last week too, so this is a pertinent topic for me this week. He’d been in and out of hospital, quite a lot of it in intensive care, for the last six months. It wasn’t a surprise, but it’s still not easy to deal with. She’s another strong character, and was very close to her Dad.

She has been driving alternate weekends halfway across the country, to visit her parents. They’ve had a hard time, and it’s been difficult to cope with the massive changes that have occured. She talked at the weekend of how ‘friends’ have told her Mum to ask if she needs anything. But they haven’t been ‘around’ these last 6 months, when her Mum really could have done with some love / care / food parcels / dinner with friends / respite / other people to visit. From my own experience, both in the past and most recent with my father in law, the hospital visiting and changes during life are often harder to cope with than the final act of death itself.

I’ve told my friend who is recently bereaved that it’s horrid. I’m not going to lie. All I know is that it does get easier, and we all have to do what we need to do to cope, and get on with our lives in a way that’s right for us. We don’t know what that means until it happens. I’ve told her to call me, or ask for help from whoever she needs at a particular time.

However strong we believe we are, grief can be a very dark and lonely place. It may last years. We may learn how to cope, but we all need love from others. That’s what makes us human. Whether we have a faith, or none, we all have lives to lead and often children, or siblings to support.

Please listen to those around you. Listen really well, and be there for people. Keep offering your support, even if it’s rejected. You may not have experienced grief yet. You may not know what you’ll need when your time comes.

Be kind. Listen. Love.

How drinking aloe vera has changed my life

Ok, so that’s a very dramatic statement, I know, “How drinking aloe vera has changed my life”. It happens to be true, and I simply want to share it with others. Some of you will be aware of my passion to support others with their health and wellbeing. This is a direct result of my recent health turnaround. So, I thought I’d share this snippet with you.

Aloe vera drink

My Mother in Law introduced me to aloe vera drink summer 2015, when she started drinking it for her IBS. I quickly noticed that her moods were smoothed, (hormonal), and she also told me her blood sugars had stabilised, (she’s a diabetic, so very aware of this).

top 10 reasons to drink aloe vera gel

I’d been plagued with virus after virus for years, and some periods of depression. I kept going to the doctor, and kept having blood tests, to see if there were any underlying issues. Nothing. So, when I researched aloe vera drink, and found that aloe vera helped boost the immune system, I was very interested. It has other benefits too, but I wasn’t as bothered about them. I felt I had nothing to lose by trying it, to try and rid me from whatever was causing viruses to come and go over the year. With a money back guarantee, I felt the investment was worth a go. (What price do you put on your health? – a post for another day maybe).

I started my first bottle of aloe vera gel at end September 2015. I didn’t mind the taste or texture, but I know some people aren’t keen on it. However, I had the end goal of no more viruses in mind, so was happy to try anything to help improve my immune system!

After 4 days of having the aloe vera drink, I was amazed to discover I slept through the night, without any night sweats. (I’m at that age of peri-menopause). Wow! Was it really the aloe vera which had caused this? I kept drinking, every morning 60ml of aloe vera gel.

Over the next month or so, I found I felt more healthy, and my skin was brighter. I just felt good. In the run up to Christmas, a usual favourite time for viruses, I had none. The aloe vera gel was doing what I wanted it to do for me.

So, I’ve kept on with the Forever Living Products aloe vera drink, for the past year, and I feel the best I’ve felt in almost 15 years. I had one weekend of feeling pretty rotten, and a short spell of sickness just before Christmas, along with the rest of the country it seems, but apart from that, feeling brilliant. I’ve done other things to help, along the way this year, however, the basis of my new found lease of life, I truly believe, is the aloe vera drink I use.

Do you think aloe vera drink may help you stay fit and healthy too? Get in touch and let’s have a chat about how something like this may help you..

N.B. There’s a 60 day money back guarantee on all Forever Living Products, which is why I knew there was nothing to lose by trying aloe vera drink. As I liked the products so much, I joined the business. Well, why not? I may as well get my product cheaper!




Are you listening?

Are you listening?

I’ve always felt I was good at listening. People often told me so too. I’ve had friends, colleagues, and acquaintances seek me out, so I can listen to them, so they can help resolve some issue they have. However, since I did some focused training around Listening skills, I realise that I was listening, but not really well.

How do you listen?

When your child says to you, “Mummy, can I tell you something?”, do you always listen really hard to what they have to say? Or do you sort of listen whilst you carry on preparing tea/sorting clothes/driving the car/another task you need your brain for? When they’re just ‘telling’ us something, they’re not asking for a response are they. They simply want to share their story.

When a friend asks to meet up, do we think, “Great! I get to have lovely coffee & cake with friend today”? Do we really focus on what they say, and watch their body language, which is all part of listening?

I used to listen with half a mind, whilst processing other things, or carrying out other tasks. I was obviously quite good at this, but I’ve learnt to become better.

Listening to others helps listen to yourself

I’ve successfully completed a Listening course, and tutor training programme, with Acorn, having been asked to get involved to support a Listening Service in Preston. I was amazed that by following a simple method of Active Reflective Listening, I was able to help others to find their own way forward. I didn’t say a word. Simply reflected back what they’d said, in their own words. That was it!

This technique, whilst not new, was certainly new to me, has helped me to listen to my own thoughts in the same way. I was helped through the courses, when we practiced, when I brought situations to ‘talk through’. However, my greatest learning was in using this process by myself, in reflecting on my thoughts, and finding new ways of looking at things. Simply by spending time reflecting, and listening to myself, I’m now a better listener to others.

Can you listen better?

Since the courses, even though my family make fun of me, I deal with listening at home in a different way. If one of the boys asks for some time, and it’s not convenient, I tell them that. I’ll say, “let me finish this, then I can listen to you”. When my husband wants to talk, and share his day, or a conversation with me, I’ll stop other things so I can just listen. I can give my undivided attention to what he’s saying. I usually don’t need to respond. He’s simply getting things off his chest by sharing.

Being a good listener, I believe, is about the time you give to someone, without judgement or advice. It’s allowing the other person to share what they want, and need, to tell you, so they can listen to themselves and work out their next steps. Freeing yourself up to listen, just like we do when a child first starts to read, and we need to ‘listen’ to them at home, is a gift to those who seek you out. They may not think to thank you for your time, but they will have been helped in whatever it is they wanted to share.

If you’d like to learn more about Acorn Training courses, or the One2One Listening project, please feel free to contact me.

When have you listened really well to someone else? What did you learn from the listening experience? Let me know below.

If you’d like some mentoring support, to help you move something forward, get in touch, and let’s book a date in the diary.


Being part of a team is important

Some of you know that I only started running 3 years ago. I’ve been going out by myself, setting myself goals and achieving them. As with all things in my life, there’s been ups and downs.

Since April when I completed my first public 5km run I’ve had back & leg problems and haven’t run so much. I lost my confidence. As with a lot of things, one small knock and it sets us back a long way. So, I decided to join in the coaching sessions at the local athletic club that the boys go to, Chorley Athletic & Triathlon Club.

Primary team marathon runners

Chorley marathon team runners

I’m loving it! If someone had told me a few months ago that I’d enjoy running up and down steps for fun, I’d have laughed at them! But that’s just it! I’m slower than all the 6 year olds, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone is there to have a good time and get fitter and stronger in their own way. Yes, there are some better athletes who go, and a lot of them compete, but I’ve been welcomed in to enjoy this activity in my own way.

I guess I’ve welcomed being part of a team and having other people encourage me, even my family. They have helped me regain my confidence. I’m still not running as many times a week as I was, but I’m spending time strengthening other parts of my body that have been neglected these past few years.

I still have some goals, but they’re no longer as important as enjoying the Tuesday night coaching sessions. Adults and Juniors train at the same place, and sometimes I join the seniors, sometimes the juniors. I do what I feel able to, whilst still challenging myself. I ache today, but I’m chuffed with my session last night. I know I’ve got people I can ask questions of if I’m unsure about something. A specialist in their field. A coach.

I had a business coach for a short time in my business life, and it was great. It helped me focus and develop areas I wasn’t confident in. I love working with the Bra Lady team as we all support each other to develop our businesses. I love being part of a family unit where we learn and develop together, and share experiences. So why has it taken me so long to get a supportive team around me in my activities? No idea!

We’ve heard a lot recently about TeamGB, and the support Olympic athletes get from being part of a bigger organisation. We wish all our athletes well for London 2012.

Have you selected your support team, or has it just happened? What other support do you need to achieve your goals?

I’m not ready, but not sure I would ever be!

Tomorrow is a big day for me. But I’m not ready for it.

I’ve known about it since January when I set my personal goals for the year. It’s been in my diary since then, and I’ve sort of being preparing for it. But I haven’t done enough.

These last few weeks I’ve been wondering whether to put it off, not do it. What would that

Are we ever ready for the next step?

achieve though? (more…)

What a difference a week makes

Some of you will know I’ve had a tough week. I’ve stopped hiding when life is tough, but often ask for support from online friends. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts.

This Monday is so different to last week! Last week saw my boys back at school (first day), husband in bed with awful toothache & infection, and me on a treadmill trying to make sure all my jobs, and his jobs were completed. It was very task orientated. The family certainly came first – eating, clothes, activities, and getting hubby well again. The business had to be put on hold. Which isn’t great when you’re a customer facing company!

Today, it’s been a delight. Hard work, and running around in Mum’s taxi tonight to school sportshall competition, then onto their club athletics. But I’ve made it, and feel OK. Tired, but OK.

Our main ‘problem’ this last week has been supporting someone in the family, who lives 100 miles away. The Friday before school started we all dropped what we were doing and took to action stations to support him and his partner. It’s been an emotional roller coaster. We’re not through the worst yet, but this week we’re able to plan our support (and my husband is not in pain, so is able to function within the household).

There’s all sorts of extended family implications with this illness. There’s already been back biting, but hopefully, there’s a plan in place to get through the next few important weeks. Information has been sought, (but not always shared with the right people); plans have been put in place, (but not always seeking help and advice from people who have knowledge or skill); actions are starting to happen. Emotions and tempers amongst close family members have been pushed to the limits.

Even though we should all have seen this coming, whose responsibility is it to check up on someone? Or ask the partner if everything’s OK if you’re concerned about a loved one? Do you check with friends and family about their mental health as well as physical health? How do you ask “do you need professional help?” ? I’d like to know!

I’m sure some of the emergency could have been taken out of our situation with more of the right communication between family members. But I also know that this family is not the best at talking in the right way about the right things. Things have to blow up into a real drama before something is taken seriously, or action is taken. It’s not my way, or the way I’m used to. But it’s A way. I’ve come to understand this is how some people work, even though I can’t affect it, or be effective within this environment.

So, whilst we’re not on red alert right now, we’re probably on amber, waiting for code red to be implemented again. It’s not the easiest state to be in. But, with the right information, right planning and communication of ALL the facts between ALL parties, we’re in a stronger position to help the main parties this week.

A week makes a difference only if you use that time effectively. Depression is a tough illness to deal with and explain to children. Especially at crisis points when code red is what we have to act upon.

Any advice, gratefully received! 😉