Living After Loss

In March 2014,  wrote an article about loss and grief. When we experience loss we can race in various ways. She asks:

“What drives these people forward? What holds the others back? And why do some mourners recover from grief quickly—much more quickly—than others? Psychologists who study these questions note that there is no single factor that predicts who copes well and who does not. Many variables, from your personality to your social world to your levels of stress before the loss, play distinct roles.”

Loss and the grief it creates comes to us in many forms but we all go through it. I believe Brené Brown said everyone has a story that will make you cry and many have a story that will overwhelm you with grief.

How have you coped with loss? Do you recover quickly or do you need more time?


Do you plan and implement events or programs? You might want to check yourself for these possible cognitive distortions.

All-or-nothing thinking
I can’t possibly know all the necessary information to run this program.

We’ve never done anything like this – these kinds of programs don’t work in our town.

Mental filter
There are too many untried and unproved things for me to teach.

Disqualifying the positive
Even though a lot of people were helped, we made some really big mistakes in running the program.

Mind reading
That person on the phone probably doesn’t like the program and wants to drop.

Fortune teller error
Nobody is going to be helped by the program.

Magnification or minimization
Gloria said some really mean things about the program last night – everybody must have thought the same thing.

Emotional reasoning
I feel really inadequate to deal with all the emotional problems of the participants, therefore I am worthless.

Labeling and mislabeling
I’m so stupid for having forgotten to make a name tag for the new participant.

I am a failure because some participants gave poor reviews of the program.

Should statements
I should have divided the groups differently; then everybody would be happy.

You can address these thoughts using the acronym SWIM.

State the feels – name what you are feeling and where is it coming from.
Wonder if it’s true – fact check your feelings; argue with yourself.
Involve others for a fresh perspective – get out of your head and listen to other’s feedback.
Make peace with the truth – the truth is you are probably very capable, did a good job, had a positive impact, and should keep working the program, making improvements as you go!

Gossip Detox

Dealing with Toxic Gossip at Work

Have you encountered gossip? Hopefully, you were bothered by it and wanted to stop it but you probably didn’t know what to do. David Maxfield wrote an article about this for Crucial Skills. He says:

“In these situations, silence isn’t golden. It’s agreement. When we don’t speak up, we show our support for the people doing the badmouthing. We’re helping to throw the person under the bus.

It’s this kind of poisonous conversation that causes bad morale to spread across a team or organization. It begins with a seemingly innocuous joke, which is really the leading edge of an attack. Instead of saying something like, “I see it differently,” others in the conversation remain silent or add to the wisecrack, amplifying the attack.

The group is creating a villain story at someone’s expense, without stopping to question the story’s truth or giving the person a chance to respond. As the story is repeated and grows unchallenged, it becomes full of what the comedian Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness.” It may be several steps away from the facts, but it feels true. And it poisons the workplace.”

Click the link for the rest of this great article.

Domestic Violence Warning Signs

These highlights are from an article called, “Domestic Violence Warning Signs for the Workplace” at Make It Our Business. The full article is available as a PDF – Download the PDF

Here are some indications a person close to you may be experiencing abuse:

  • Change in job performance: poor concentration, errors, slowness,
  • Strong reactions or avoidance of calls/text messages from partner,
  • Disruptive personal visits to workplace by present or former partner or spouse,
  • Absenteeism or lateness for work,
  • Reluctance to leave work,
  • Obvious injuries that are often attributed to “falls,” “being clumsy,” or “accidents,”
  • Clothing that is inappropriate for the season, such as long sleeves and turtlenecks,
  • Minimization or denial of harassment or injuries,
  • Isolation; unusually quiet and keeping away from others,
  • Signs of anxiety and fear,
  • Lack of access to money.

Often it can take a person up to 7 attempts to leave an abusive relationship. If you are giving support this can seem frustrating. It’s important to be patient, listen, and encourage seeking help.

Disbelieving Victims


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This article is must reading. Then it’s a must stop doing. In this article by Mike published on the blog, the author relates tragic stories of how churches tend to disbelieve victims of abuse by pastoral leaders. Please be careful of triggers in this post and in the article at the link.

“The teacher knew she was a mandated reporter, but decided to report it to the school instead of the police. She told one of the vice-principals. He was also a mandated reporter. But he decided to tell the elders of the church about the accusation. They told the Senior Pastor and the investigation was on…

They had not handled it correctly. They should have gone to the police.”

Why are churches slow to believe the survivors of abuse? Why do they often protect abusers?  The author suggests the following reasons. Please read the article for the full details.

  • Familiarity Bias – congregations assume they really know a leader.
  • Over reliance on Personal Experience – the vast majority of people in a church have never known the pastor/principal/worship leader to abuse them.
  • A Theology of Leadership Protection – members feel no compulsion to abstain from criticizing him privately, but as soon as someone brings the criticism into the public eye, everyone becomes his defender.
  • He Who Controls the Microphone, Controls the Direction of the Discussion – When the Senior Pastor is an abuser, he is also the one who controls the narrative…
    Retroactive Reality – church members fear their own spiritual formation is tainted as a result.
  • Doubling Down – It has been proven that once people have taken a position, whether voting for a candidate or choosing a particular story to believe, they are more likely to keep holding onto that story even when evidence suggests they are wrong.
  • Maximum vs. Minimum Harm Concept – most people will choose the path of least harm time and time again.
  • Misapplication of Grace and Sin-Leveling – It is easy to see our own faults and think that we would want people to overlook our mistakes. But abuse is not a mistake.

I encourage you to read the full article and apply what you learn in your faith community. There is a spirit of murder against the women and children of this world and it’s time we start fighting back.

Listen Carefully

He was the principal of the Christian school which met at the church. His dad was the Senior Pastor. He had four years of teacher training and all the obligatory certifications, internships, and education needed. He added a Masters Degree in Theology and another Masters in Educational Administration. He was fully qualified to do the job he was doing.

During the five years he had been principal, his dad’s church had grown from 200 members to almost 1500. In that medium-sized town, the church dwarfed all the others. The main draw for newcomers was the Christian school.

And that’s when the accusations started.

One 8th grade girl told her teacher she wasn’t going to detention any longer. (Note: The school practiced corporal punishment and a very difficult regimen of consequences for even the smallest infractions. Detention often meant at least an hour of menial labor, supervised by a teacher or…

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You Become

‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Chew On This


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A while back, I was in a board meeting as I had been many times before. It was fairly routine. When the second last item came up, the person presenting – not a fan of me and quietly hostile for the last several months – took the opportunity to tear me apart in front of everyone. Needless to say the entire tone of the meeting changed. During his rant, I was accused of fraud, being inappropriate with a person I care about, even racist. Those that knew me and/or knew the situation stayed mostly silent or spoke in a way that gave my accuser more fuel for his fire. Talk about being slain the house of my friends!

I spoke quietly to the two main accusations – fraud and being inappropriate which were both completely false (afterwards I was provided written statements by those involved that denied the accusations).  I clarified a few other details. I tried to be as gracious as possible. I even apologized for things I felt I could have done better. At that point the person started screaming, “He’s a liar, he’s a liar.”

That one left a pretty big wound. Even writing this is difficult and brings me distress. I can’t drive past that person’s neighbourhood without having a mild anxiety episode.

One of the dangers of having a distressing experience like that is that as the days go by, we can fall into ruminating. I did and I have to catch myself before it gets bad.

Do you know why ruminating is a problem? According to Dr. Guy Winch, in his book Emotional First Aid and in an article specifically on this topic, “Rumination is when we bring up emotional distress and “chew on it” repeatedly… When we don’t have resolution, ruminating goes wrong when we play the same distressing scenes in our head over and over.”  Here are some key points Dr. Winch notes about rumination.

Rumination is maladaptive – it doesn’t help us find resolution and amplifies our distress.

Rumination is addictive – the more we ruminate, the more compelled we feel to continue doing so.

Rumination increases risk of becoming depressed and it can prolong the duration of depressive episodes.

Rumination can increase substance and food abuse as we try to manage or numb out the distressing emotions we feel.

Rumination focuses on the negative which tends to spread to seeing other aspects of our lives too negatively.

Rumination impairs problem solving.

Rumination increases our stress responses and that increases our risk of cardiovascular disease.

To break the the rumination habit, Dr. Winch recommends going cold turkey – making a decision to avoid it and striving to stick with it. What can help through this process is distraction. When you feel rumination coming on, try a movie, exercise, puzzles, Angry Birds (is that still a thing?), really anything that requires concentration. This tends to break the pattern and bring us back to a calmer state. This will take practice so don’t give up. Your rumination patterns will fade with time.

Do you struggle with rumination? What are you doing to reduce it?




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Is it fair to say we idolize caffeine? We put in all sorts of beverages, foods, lotions and potions. It’s the most widely used legal stimulant on the planet. There are some good reasons why you may want to consider clearing this drug out of your system. One is that the impact it has on our brains can actually aggravate depression. Another is that you may simply want to get off the up and down rollercoaster caffeine use creates.

Regardless of the reason, let’s say you want to get free of caffeine, how can you do it? Here’s what I’ve found helpful which might get you through the process.

  1. In the morning, consume your usual dose of caffeine. Then that’s it.
  2. Be prepared for a wicked headache during the late evening/night. I use Naproxen or Ibuprofen to get through it. Drink lots of water.
  3. The headache might persist through the next day but it will pass.
  4. Hang on through the brain fog and lethargy that will last a few days until your brain and body adjust to not being on a drug. Exercise and naps help.

About 4 days after that last dose, the drug will be cleared out of your system. From there it’s the habit you have to change. Finding healthy replacements and distractions – new habits – will help you maintain your new lifestyle.

5 Myths Exposed

Recently, I shared highlights from an article concerning the myth of the free ride – post-secondary education funding and First Nations people. Here are another 5 myths about indigenous peoples. These are from an article by Chelsea Vowel.

  1. Indigenous peoples do not pay taxes. The effect of this myth is seeing First Nations people as lazy, socially parasitic and less than.
  2. Indigenous peoples receive free housing. While there may be some funding for social housing this isn’t unique to First Nations people.
  3. Alcohol abuse is a cultural trait or Indigenous peoples cannot metabolize alcohol. First Nations people metabolize and react to alcohol the same way everyone else does. More Indigenous people abstain from alcohol than in the general Canadian population.
  4. Indigenous peoples have legitimate grievances stemming from awful things that were done in the past, the advent of a modern democracy means we are now all equal and have equal access to the same rights.There is no break between the past and present and that equality does not mean “the same.”
  5. Things are inevitably getting better. The truth is, racism towards First Nations people is pervasive across all our institutions. Generational trauma and repressive polices have significant impact on First Nations communities.

We must stop perpetuating these myths if we are end the racism that undermines the healing needed by First Nations peoples.