Thursday, November 28, 2013

Knocked Up Blogger Week 19 - Five Things to be Grateful for During Pregnancy

Here is what I am thankful for today on this Thanksgiving Day and during pregnancy!  Check it out on my post for Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine by clicking here.  Happy Thanksgiving!


This month, as Thanksgiving approached I had set a personal goal of cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” and to notice each day what I was thankful for, be it my husband or comfy pair of socks. The one thing that I am truly grateful for this year is to be pregnant again, no matter how challenging being expecting again after a loss might be. I’m so appreciative to be caring life inside me once more and the more I think about it, the more I realize there are things about pregnancy that I’m SO grateful to experience that I think I might have took for granted in my last pregnancy. So, today in celebrating the holiday of giving thanks, here are five reasons I’m thankful during pregnancy.

Ultrasounds and Dopplers: Our next ultrasound is next week! I’m so scared and anxious, but very grateful for the medical technology that helps me connect and create memories of my baby before he or she is even born. Ultrasounds and the Doppler allow me (and daddy too) to bond with the little one through all the stages of pregnancy, from hearing the heartbeat for the first time to seeing the little one grow from a bean into a tiny person inside me, all the while creating memories along the way. I also get PICTURES!!! I love pictures.
Movement: Oh, how I LOVE movement! But the little pokes, jabs, and rolls are complicated experience for me as I remember back to my last pregnancy and how I could always feel my daughter move every day, until one day, I didn’t anymore. Feeling this little bean’s movement is scary because for me it means that one day it might stop, but to stay sane I just focus on how every day this baby’s kicks get stronger and with each new kick I smile as I am SO grateful for the life these movements signify. I felt this baby move for the first time while sitting in a meeting at work.  The bonk, bonk, from the inside brought tears to my eyes as I was over joyed and thankful to feel life inside my womb once again.
Being able to get pregnant: The ability to get pregnant has been fairly easy (so far) for my husband and I and I realize this isn’t always the case for some people.  I’ve met many beautiful, deserving, and caring woman in the loss community who have tried for years to get pregnant and then when they finally get the “plus sign” only down the road, experience the loss of their precious child. My heartaches for those who struggle for years to get pregnant only to experience loss, so today I am grateful for being able to get pregnant.
A beautiful belly: A pregnant woman’s silhouette is so stunning. It’s a powerful site if you really think about it. Your body is making room for life, budding and expanding as needed to bring your precious baby into this world. This pregnancy, more than the last, I have learned to embrace my emergent belly as a sign that existence is taking form within me. There is so much beauty in this and where there is beauty I find gratitude for it.
A chance at parenting again: Even after the loss of a child you still parent your baby you are missing only now you must parent their memory. Wanting to parent a living child is not a desire to replace my daughter, as she is irreplaceable and I will always miss her and wonder who she might have been. However, with being pregnant again I hold hope for one day parenting a child that I can hold in my arms and not only in my heart. I’m grateful for that hope, and that chance.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Interview with Tova Gold - Why Muchness Matters in Grief

For the month of November I have been focusing on having an attitude and gratitude to help soften my grief.  I know my grief will always be with me, but I also want to find joy in life again.  For my grief project this month, I decided to focus my mind on the possibilities and the positives in life to help lift some of the darkness.  So far it’s working, but I’m always up for more advice.
 
So today to help us learn more about how our attitude can affect our ability to find healing and joy again we welcome Tova Gold a fellow bereaved mother, author, and creator of the concept of “Finding Your Muchness.”




Lindsey: Welcome Tova! Let’s get started.  What is muchness for those who don’t know?

Tova: Muchness is the light that lives inside you. It is the unique voice of joy and quirkiness and confidence that we are all born with.

Lindsey: How did you first decide to find your muchness?

Tova: Well, I suppose I decided to find it before I knew the word for it. I'd felt lost for a long time. I felt disconnected from myself, and like the talk in my head was all negative. I felt invisible and like I was just going through the motions of life.

Lindsey: How did finding your muchness affect your grief after the death of your twin daughters?

Tova: After my daughters died I was brought to the darkest place I'd ever known. As I sank into my grief I started to realize that in order to cope with that loss, I also had to find myself. I made the decision to start wearing happy, sparkly clothes. It was a way for me to create moments of joy even in the midst of the grief. It was then that I first heard the word Muchness and realized that the sparkle was helping me tap into a light inside me. Pulling that light out and sharing it with others ultimately reintroduced me to my creativity, my confidence, and ultimately, it became my purpose. To share the knowledge that we ALL have Muchness and it lives inside of us.

Lindsey: Why do you think there is so much power in muchness?

Tova: I think it resonates with people because it is really a word for that indescribable 'thing' - that thing that lives in our gut that we know, and yet we so often lose sight of. When we are not expressing our Muchness we are living in a shadow of who we are meant to be, and somewhere inside us, we know this. Knowing that your Muchness exists and having a name for it--- it's almost like being granted permission to let your Muchness shine.

Lindsey: Is my muchness the same as yours?

Tova: It depends how you mean "Muchness." - I refer to sequins and sparkle as my Muchness, because that is a tool I use to help me connect to my inner light and creativity. In that sense, I imagine no, your Muchness is different. (Though, for the record, sparkle and sequins is a good tool to help anyone tap into their Muchness…. at least initially) However- that feeling of expressing your Muchness, I believe is the same for everyone. It is that decision to  live from the inside out, authentically, happily and celebrating life's little joyous moments.

Lindsey: Can you point us in the right direction to help us find our muchness please?

Tova: I always tell people to start with their #MuchnessMoments. Those moments when you are ignited, inspired or invigorated just for a tiny moment. When you grasp onto those moments, celebrate them, document them, you'll start to feel rhythyms and see patterns - and then proactively create more Muchness Moments! It's really incredible what taking stock of your Muchness Moments can lead you to discover…. and it starts tiny.


Lindsey: Tova, it has been an honor to have you here today on the blog.  I am inspired by everything you do and look forward to your upcoming TEDx Hoboken Women talk where we can learn more about how to find our muchness. I’m also extremely grateful you thought of me as a contributor for your first book,  Finding Your Muchness FUNBook that will be coming out hopefully by the beginning of December.

Tova: I am so excited to have you in the book! Although we've met our fundraising goal, we are still looking to meet our stretch goals and deliver additional goodies with the book. Thank you Lindsey for being a  part of it and for having me on your site! I'm truly honored!


Tova Gold is a mother, fashion designer turned recent author, inspirational speaker, and leading muchness finder.  She is hard at work spreading her beautiful message about the power of muchness along with sparkles around the world.  You can learn more about Tova’s story by visiting her website Finding My Muchness or by liking her Facebook page.  If you like the idea of finding your muchness then consider purchasing Tova’s new book Finding Your Muchness FUNBOOK or tuning in for her TEDx Hoboken Women Talk.  Tova is also a monthly contributor to Still Standing Magazine.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Knocked Up Blogger Week 18: Hormones, grief and joy, oh my!

I'm writing about the confusion of pregnancy after loss over at Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine today.  Check it out by clicking here.

Lately, I have been extremely hormonal. I don’t like it when hormones get blamed for a woman’s slight change of behavior once a month or when a woman, seven months pregnant, cries in the aisle of the grocery store because she can’t decide between chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I think that’s stereotypical and just plain judgmental, but I do have to admit that recently my pregnancy hormones have intensified my tears.
One thing to note is that before I became a parent and before experiencing pregnancy loss, I was not a crier. You would be hard pressed to see my eyes moisten at a sappy movie or during special occasions, but grief and parenthood, I believe, crack you wide open and allow a world of vulnerability and tenderness to settle into your heart and take up residence there for what seems to be until it decides to one day stop pumping.
Combining the natural hormonal ups and downs of pregnancy with grief has proven to be a bumpy ride as of late. I notice in this pregnancy I cry ALL the time now. I get moved to tears by moments of sorrow, such as this morning when I was brushing my hair and missing my daughter as I thought about how she should be soon approaching her first birthday and wearing silly pink tutu’s, but then realizing that this will never be.
At other times tears happen more out of frustration than they did in the past, with traffic jams and deadlines that once used to be manageable, now seem insurmountable and the only course of action I appear to have to take is to weep. Then, at other times, my eyes get sopping wet while watching cheerful moments in Sunday afternoon made for T.V. movies when the couple in love kiss for the first time or the under-dog team wins the game. It’s as if during pregnancy my eyes are always puffy and wet from the most recent moment of grief or joy that so easily captured my heart, and then breaks me open to the tragedy and beauty of the world.
I don’t know. It’s just all so confusing, having to experience sorrow, happiness, and hormones all at once. Maybe my tears are just a result of the wacky pregnancy hormones or maybe it’s learning how to hold the grief of a child lost and joy of the potential promise of a new one in the same space, with a heart that is broken but oh so full of love for them both. Maybe, it’s just being a parent, or maybe, for me and for those who have experienced pregnancy after a loss, it’s just how it is.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Knocked Up Blogger Week 17 - The Doppler debate

It's Thursday again and time for another update about baby #2.  To read more about my rainbow pregnancy check out my Knocked Up Blogger post at Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine by clicking here.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Doppler debate?

Flub, flub, flub.  Hearing the heartbeat calms my nerves for a few seconds, as the nurse lets the Doppler linger a little longer than what I believe is normal on my small but swollen belly. At 17 weeks I’m at a scary stage where the morning sickness has subsided but I can’t really tell if I’ve felt the baby move yet.  I mean I feel flutters, but they could be gas or stomach gurgles for all I know. I’m still nervous about getting my hopes up that it might actually be a baby moving inside me. So hearing flub, flub, flub, provides me with a few minutes of relief from the fear of not knowing.
It’s not always this smooth.  The seconds or minutes in the space between putting the blue goo on my belly and the nurse or doctor being able to decipher between my heartbeat, and finding the babies is still terrifying.  Each time I catch myself holding my breath until the 160 beat per minute flub, flub, flub, musical sound echoes of the silent exam room walls.  My doctor reassures me I can come in and hear the heartbeat at any time and I remember when I took her up on this offer earlier in my pregnancy.
I went in at 12 weeks to hear the baby’s heart beat and was only re-traumatized as the nurse could not find it and fumbled around awkwardly as I started having flashbacks to 9 months ago when this similar situation broke my heart.  The nurse finally had to call a doctor in to do an ultrasound.  Twenty minutes later, I was reassured that baby was fine by seeing the little bean bouncing around on the black and white screen, but the minutes leading up to that moment where torture.
A friend recently asked me at dinner if I would get an at home Doppler during this pregnancy. In the recent days after my loss I would have said YES!!!  I thought my anxiety would be calmed by having a home Doppler—after hearing those awful words in the delivery room that no mother wants to hear, “No heartbeat”—but even after reassuring appointments, and some somewhat terrifying ones, I’m unsure of my answer.  It seems as if I am finding excuses to run to the doctor for an appointment to hear the baby’s heart beat if more than a week has gone by since my last visit. One would think that I would want an at home Doppler, but I fear that it would become more of an obsession.  Also, I think about if I couldn’t find the heartbeat out of operator error like the nurse at my 12-week appointment. If this happened I believe it would just be adding extra anxiety and trauma to my life.
After talking with other expecting moms after a loss, I see that there is a debate about having an at home Doppler.  Some moms who have experienced a loss find it reassuring and say, “Totally worth it! It calmed my nerves.  Whenever I was anxious I used it.”  While others have had unnecessarily unnerving experiences and panic when everything was actually okay, but the Doppler could not pick up the heartbeat for whatever reason.
I’m not so sure I’m ready to take that chance.  For now, I think I will just take my doctor up on the office visits to use the Doppler and hear the baby’s heartbeat in the clinic.  But, my choice isn’t for everyone and who knows, maybe I will change my mind further down the road.  In the meantime, what’s your take on the Doppler debate?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grief Project: A No Complaining Day



So for November I have been focusing on power of the attitude of gratitude when it comes to helping me enjoy life while still experiencing grief.  It's been really helpful for me so far.  I have to reiterate that I don't think I would have been ready for this thought process early on in my grief.  I believe it has taken me awhile to get to a place where I can invite true gratefulness and joy back into my life.  But a part of me remembers in the early days of grief, those darkened days when life seemed so pointless, so empty, so scary, gratitude helped me even then.

You see a part of me was overwhelmed with how much love and support we received from family and friends.  Even though Nora was no longer in our lives, even though her love and cuddles were missing, love poured in and encompassed Nick and I in this soft blanket of caring and support. We were grateful for this.  This outpouring of love is what kept us alive and was like a rope out of the dark hole we had been slung into by life, and noticing my gratitude for all my family and friends is what really started my path to healing.  I reached out to these beloved earthly angels through a letter I wrote a few weeks after Nora passed as token of my gratitude. Here is the letter from the early days of my grief but also from my gratitude.  

That letter was the start to me wanting to use gratitude to help heal my grief.  I just didn't know it yet.  Now, months later, I see the importance of gratitude and my attitude about my pain and sorrow.  They are like opposite ends of a compass, both must co-exist for balance to occur.

No Complaining Day

Yesterday I practiced gratitude all day by challenging myself to a NO COMPLAINING DAY!  It was HARD.  I did great in the morning, when I was getting ready for work and by myself, but the minute I said hi to the receptionist at work on my way to my office I did what every Midwesterner does.  I made small talk about the weather and guess what, in Minnesota it's COLD right now, so my first complaint came out of my mouth.

Then later in the day I noticed myself while with a client, having all these judgements and thoughts about checking in with a coworker and complaining about my session with this client.  Then I realized I was planning in my mind to COMPLAIN ON PURPOSE!!! What is that?  So, I was proud of myself when I didn't and was mindful of how that could impact my mood.

Throughout the day it got easier and the less I complained, the more I focused on the positive through not focusing on the negative by complaining, I became happier.  By the time I went home from work, I was in a GREAT MOOD!!! It was awesome. I felt lighter, more content, and overall like a better person for choosing the high ground.

I think  all and all I complained 8 times yesterday, but no one's perfect.  Let's get this straight, I'm not complaining about complaining. :)

I know it's hard to have a positive attitude and be grateful for things when life has stacked the deck against you, but sometimes a simple act of not complaining can make your day a little easier, if you feel ready to accept the challenge. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Knocked Up Blogger - Week 16 The Anxiety During Pregnancy After Loss

Today is Thursday!  Which means another post about pregnancy after loss.  Take a trip over to Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine and check out my article as their Knocked Up Blogger by clicking here


“How are you feeling today?” The nurse asked me this past Wednesday, as she closed the door to the tiny exam room for my 16 week checkup.  Those words apparently were all I needed to hear to release the pent up anxiety hiding inside me behind a fa├žade of calm and collectedness.  Alligator tears came pouring out of my eyes.  As I sobbed, “I said fine.”  This was obviously NOT the case.
I know anxiety is common, even normal during pregnancy. I remember having the typical concerns during my first pregnancy: Will this baby be healthy? Is that food safe to eat?  Will I be a good mom?  All these worries, and more, ran through my head on a daily basis, sometimes more than once a day.  I mean, it’s a BIG responsibility growing a new life inside you and it’s scary.
My fretfulness during this pregnancy has been 10 times worse as anxiety is now my constant companion.  I expected to feel more anxious with baby No. 2 after losing baby No. 1, but I never thought worry would be as persistent as it is.  Living with anxiety during a pregnancy after a loss is like walking on a tight rope for nine months, with no safety net below, just waiting in fear that I will slip and fall.
Even the littlest things can send me into a nervous spiral, an ache from round ligament pain, a cramp from constipation, and silence from the ultrasound tech, all of these increasing the already overwhelming amount of worries asking the question, “Will baby be OK?”  This past week one of those anxiety whirlwinds hit when I remembered that I had not heard back from my doctor about my most recent lab work to test for birth defects.  The nurse informed me that I should have the results back within twenty-four hours from my appointment.  As I thought about this sitting on the couch after work, I realized it was 5:30 p.m. on Friday!!!  My mind immediately spun in all directions conjuring up every negative possibility that could be WHY I didn’t hear back from the doctor on time.  “This must mean something is wrong.” My mind wouldn’t even comprehend that it could just be a clerical error, no; it decided to do fearful summersaults, over and over again until I was dizzy.
I sat on the couch in dread as there was no one to talk to, my husband wasn’t home yet, and the clinic was closed.  Not knowing what to do, I cried.  Tears of fear emptied out of me as I succumbed to being powerless and anxiety stricken.  Out of desperation I called the afterhours nurse’s line in hopes that someone there might have an answer.  Luckily, the kind angel on the other end of the line was able to calm my fears and reassure me that my test result came back negative.  Baby was fine.  I was fine.  Relief set in and I cried all over again.
Overwhelming anxiety can be a real concern if left untreated in pregnancy. I have come up with a list of ways to manage my anxiety for the next 6 months that work for me and that I have discussed with my doctor and therapist.  I share in hopes that you too might find a strategy below helpful, if you also struggle from anxiety after loss or just typical worries that come from creating a life for 9 months:
  • Practice Self-Care: Going to bed early, giving myself permission to do less housework, and spending time relaxing with my husband and little dog.
  • Use the “What If Question” to My Advantage: “What if (insert negative thought here) happens?”  Then I envision myself coming up with a solution or possible future action.  It usually ends with, “Even if the WORST happens, I can handle it.”
  • Avoid Google: I know I do it.  As soon as there is a concern I turn to Google for help.  As if it’s a magic eight ball that will solve my problems.  When in reality, I usually walk away more fretful about my most recent worry than I did before.  I no longer Google concerns, I call the nurse.
  • Talk to a Supportive Loved One:  Talking to my husband, therapist, doctor, nurse, and other pregnant friends, has been extremely helpful in reducing my anxiety.  Surrounding myself with supportive loved ones has been some of the best medicine to help me through anxious moments of both pregnancies.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Grief Project: 35 Songs for Mourning Your Child


The other night I was in a down mood.  My sadness had found me as I was cooking dinner before Nick got home.  I usually cook with music on so I decided to turn the song up.  It was a song I listened to when Nora was alive called, "The Big White Gate" by Grace Potter and The Nocturnals.  It's a song about being on your death bed and contemplating life here and after.  I love it.  It resonates with me.  So in that moment I turned it up and starting belting out tunes at the top of my lungs.

Now, if you know me, you would know I can't carry a tune to save my life.  I'm such a bad singer my mother even told me never to sing.  Now that's awful.  But with no one around and for the sake of my soul, I sang anyways.  I think no matter what our ability is to hit the right pitch or not, there is something releasing about singing.  Something, harmonious (and not just the notes) about music.  It's connection to the soul opens a special passage way to healing.

Music Therapy is a a clinical and evidenced-based practice of using musical intervention to attend to one's mental health.  The idea of using music to help the bereaved heal from grief is to help the bereaved person "tell and retell their story both as orators and listeners" Joy S. Berger states in her article Playing with Playlists in Techniques of Grief Therapy. Here she talks about how using musical playlists helps the bereaved continue to create bonds through music they associate with the deceased.  Ultimately, as Berger states, "orientating (the bereaved) to both loss and restoration." 


Inspired by Carly Marie's #CaptureYourGrief October photo a day challenge, Day 9 - Music, I created a play list of 35 songs bereaved mothers identified that reminds them of their children.  Even before creating this larger list, I had created my own that helped me get through grief after the death of Nora. The first 7 are from my playlist.  The rest I gathered from other bereaved moms.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you have a song to add, just leave it in a comment at the bottom of the post.  I would love to know about it.

35 Songs for Mourning Your Child
  1. Stars by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
  2. Halleluiah by The Coverband (Original version by Alexandra Burke)
  3. Ave Maria by Beyonce 
  4. A Mother's Prayer by Celine Dion
  5. Just Give Me A Reason by Pink
  6. Lullaby by The Dixie Chicks
  7. I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables
  8. See You Again By Carrie Underwood
  9. Beautiful Boy by John Lennon 
  10. Baby of Mine by Alison Krauss
  11. Angel by Beverly Mitchell
  12. Truly, Madly, Deeply, by Savage Garden
  13. Fly by Celine Dion
  14. Small Bump by Ed Sheeran
  15. Holes by Passanger
  16. In the Arms of an Angel by Sarah Mclachlan
  17. Slipped Away by Avril Lavigne
  18. Baby Blue by Dave Matthews Band
  19. Sweet Baby James by James Taylor
  20. I Will Cary You by Selah
  21. Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel (IZ)
  22. Home by Philip Phillips 
  23. Who You'd Be Today by Kenny Chesney
  24. Here Comes Goodbye by Rascal Flatts
  25. I'll Be Missing You by Faith Evans & Puff Daddy
  26. Far Away by Nickel Back
  27. Let It Be by The Beattles
  28. Real Love by Regina Spektor
  29. I Will Follow You Into The Dark by Death Cab for Cutie
  30. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
  31. Lullaby by Billy Joel
  32. Gone Too Soon by Daughtry
  33. Hey Ho by the Luminers
  34. Elizabeth, You Were Born to Play That Part by Ryan Adams
  35. The Sun Goes Down, The Stars Come Out by The Wanted


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Inspirational Bereaved Parent - Guest Post from Andy's Mom Audra

Today I am honored to welcome Andy's Mom, Audra. Audra's Son Andy sadly passed away in 2009 at five months old due to spinal muscular atrophy.  From his short little life Audra has created a beautiful legacy of love by writing about her struggles with grief from the loss of a child due to a fatal illness as well as by educating others about spinal muscular atrophy and providing them with helpful resources.

This is Andy and Audra's story.  I hope you are as INSPIRED by her love for Andy as I am. 


Our firstborn son, Andy, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), an often-fatal degenerative neuromuscular disease, when he was just nine weeks old. While little known, SMA is the number one genetic killer of children under the age of two years. At the time of his diagnosis, Andy’s doctors told us that we would be lucky if he lived for another six months.

While my husband and I were heartbroken, we pushed our pain aside to learn all we could about SMA and to help Andy fight it. He endured countless visits to specialists, therapy sessions, and medications to combat the progression of the disease. But, with no treatment or cure available, SMA still caused his muscles to weaken a little more each day, eventually impacting his ability to suck, swallow, and breathe. The disease took Andy’s life on June 4, 2009, just four days shy of his five month birthday.

Although our sweet baby boy was physically weak, he was amazingly strong in spirit. Andy’s body was paralyzed, but his eyes danced. He taught us to smile in the face of grief and proved the power of laughter. He showed us how important it was not to take time or family for granted. He was so very brave. And, with his passing, he gave us – and me specifically – a purpose. I left my full-time job to dedicate myself to making a difference in the fight against SMA in his name and to provide a support network for other families facing the disease. I joined the local executive board of a national SMA organization, but soon found that I needed to do more – I was compelled to create a lasting legacy for my son.

I had been writing about my journey through grief as a way to cope personally, but realized that my words might benefit others dealing with the loss of a child if I made them public. So, I launched a website called “Andy’s Army” at www.andysarmy.com in 2010. The first post was a letter to Andy on what should have been his first birthday. Since then, posts have chronicled my fight with anxiety and depression, our efforts to have healthy children, and our struggles to heal as a family. I also include facts about SMA and community events on the site, as well as more disease-related resources for newly diagnosed families. My hope is that families can find comfort and assistance through Andy’s Army – and that Andy will always be remembered as the brave heart that he was.



Audra Butler is a writer, philanthropist, and, most importantly, a proud mother of three beautiful children – two in her arms and one in heaven.  You can follow Audra's story at Andy's Army where you can find resources and education about spinal muscular atrophy and child loss. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

November's Grief Project - Attitude of Gratitude

Welcome November!  With the new month comes a new project to help soothe my grief.  For November I decided I would focus on the Attitude of Gratitude, or how to focus on the positive in order to see beauty and joy in the world, even while grief still lives with me.  I know that not everyone might be ready for this step, that is why for me, I planned it later in my grief journey.  But, I think there is something healing in the power of being thankful and so does science.



Michael Craig Miller M.D. from Harvard Medical School who writes for InteliHealth.com states that "Researchers who study gratitude find that it is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness" and that "Gratitude helps people: feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships."  all which would help ease feelings of sorrow and depression brought on by grief.

Not satisfied with that answer?  Then check out this video from Soul Pancake for proof that happiness increases with the use of gratitude (and therefore hopefully help balance feelings of grief). 



Wow!  Wasn't that cool!  Point proven (I hope).  In Dr. Miller's article, The Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude, he also goes on to give examples of how one can cultivate gratitude for a happier life, with reduction of mental health or in our case, grief symptoms.  Dr. Miller lists the following as ideas to help bring my gratitude, thereby joy into your life.
  1. Write Thank You Notes
  2. Thank Someone Mentally
  3. Keep A "Gratitude Journal"
  4. Pray & Mediate
He writes that in order to cultivate gratitude for happiness we need to make it a daily habit, not just once or during a certain time of year.  So for the month of November I thought I would give it a try to help soften my grief, or at least find bright spots in the day again.  Below is a list of ideas and techniques I plan on using throughout this month.  I will post about them as we go.

8 Attitude of Gratitude Ideas & Techniques
  1. Day of "Thank You" Universe
  2. Affirmations
  3. Day of NOT Complaining, NOT Even Once
  4. Gratitude Journals
  5. Thank Someone Mentally
  6. Send Thank You Cards
  7. Negative Thought Stopping Techniques
  8. Meditate
  9. Gratitude for Grief Photo Challenge 
(If you have anymore, just let me know.  I would love to add it to the list and try it out.  I'm always open to new ideas.)

Oh, and if you are wondering what happened to some of the techniques I mentioned using in other months but haven't posted about yet, I promise I will post them.  I have already done them all.  It is just so hard to fit everything in. 

Anyways, I look forward to this month and hope that by focusing on cultivating an attitude of gratitude for 30 days I will find some happiness even in a life after loss.  I mean, that is all we can really hope for, right?
 
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