How to tell if you are grieving & heal your Self from grief

Got Grief? Bereavement, job loss, divorce, break ups, empty nest syndrome, ch cha cha


Changes can cause grief, you know. If you are all mixed up and don’t know what to do, consider whether or not major change has caused you to grieve.


(10) You are considering taxidermy at all. Sure, who doesn’t want a life-size representation of the past? I get it. Don’t though. Please don’t do that.


(9) You have used your own shirt as a Kleenex. I get it. You’ve been wearing that shirt for days anyway. I’ve been there. This will adversely impact your self esteem and exacerbate the pain you are feeling.


(8) You wonder when God is coming to pick you up already. Take you home. You keep looking around for someone to save you. Anyone other than yourself.


(7) You relive the moment over and over again, feeling confused about unrealistic hopes for a totally new outcome despite your best efforts to let it go already. It’s called bargaining and it’s one of the 5 stages of grief. Relax. Bargaining is a natural form of healing from the pain caused by major change.


(6) You feel silently resentful despite your assertion that you are over it. Are you sitting down? Good…Resentment is a part of the anger stage of grief and is evidence that you are healing from major change.


(5) You are constantly being asked “are you ok” like you survived some sort of tragedy, yet you feel nothing at all and wonder what that’s about. Denial is 1/5 of the grieving process and is necessary for healing growth.


(4) You feel mildly startled by the anger inside of you, like you had no idea that much unbridled rage was there and you don’t even know where it came from.


(3) You are struck by the feeling that everything around you is a metaphor for this profound life changing experience—the sound of silence, the uneven blades of grass, the car pulled over on the freeway with the flat tire—everything you see is connected to the major change that has occurred in your life and the epiphanies are visceral.


(2) You have considered the notion that you might have lost your mind based on the VARIETY of emotions you feel about any given circumstance.


(1) You are a human being. Human beings grieve naturally as they grow because growth involves major change.



Mindfulness. Major change triggers the cycle of grief to heal your growing pains. Calendar your feelings of anger, depression, acceptance, denial, and bargaining. There is an app for that. iHeal because iFeel helps you heal grief. You are going to be ok. Meditation is a great way to quickly improve your mood and the exciting thing about the iHeal because iFeel app is that it has 5 meditations specific to healing each stage of grief. It’s not easy to go from bargaining to acceptance to denial to anger and then into depression. The order of your grief cycle does not have to be a mystery, though. Download the iHeal because iFeel app and begin charting your own personal grief cycle today.

download the iHeal because iFeel app on Google Play to heal grief

Get it on Google Play

Heal grief now: download the iHeal because iFeel app on the App Store

Available on the App Store

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 6 (deep breathing)


Of all the healing modalities I experienced on my Sedona Soul Adventure back in January, the one I REALLY must learn to master is deep breathing.




Because my body naturally wants to heal itself in exactly this fashion. When I surrender and finally allow my body to do what it already knows how to do, which apparently is deep breathe, all seven of my chakras spun like seven pinwheels with enough energy to light up NYC forever.


When that happened, I didn’t know what chakras even were (and I still kind of don’t).


Spirituality has always been something that I understand that I don’t understand and I get that. I am the kind of person who will dive headfirst into personal exploration without fear. Role play? Sure. Group improv? No problem. Hypnosis? Why not. I walked into every session on my Sedona Soul Adventure itinerary with a positive, can-do attitude because I really do want to heal and to grow.


Except this one.


Inner Journey With Breath & Sound.


Something about the title…I don’t know…this is the one session I felt little prickles of anxiety about. I had preconceived fears. FEAR? Who invited you?! What could you possibly be afraid of??? You’ll probably just breathe and listen to music, Rachel, you’re going to be fine, cut it out.


First of all, I just want to stop now and proclaim that Penny Elias is incredible. I love her. I wished we were best friends (recently I made her a BFF bracelet and so that is now a done deal). Penny’s home is beautiful, but it was her healing room that spoke to me. Penny hung grape vines wrapped in white twinkle lights around the room up high at the ceiling. It looks like a fairy wonderland.


deep breathing in Sedona


I guess I was afraid to breathe and, since that sounded dumb, I dove in headfirst (smart, right?).


When we practiced the deep breathing for the first time, it only took me five practice breaths before my hands started tingling in a very familiar way. Instantly, I was in that space of: are you having a PTSD episode? I was worried I might faint, I was worried I might cough uncontrollably and I was mostly worried that I was going to freak out and throw up. This is signifiant for ME because, as I mentioned above, I don’t have fear regarding any of the other million self help exercises I’ve ever tried.


Beautiful Penny laid me down on a long cushion, placed heated pillows under my knees, covered me with a blanket and put on some serious tribal music. Loud. The deep breathing feels weird! Because you have to open your mouth, relax your jaw, inhale so that the air hits the back of your throat in a big gulp and then exhale it out fast; at first I was reminded of what it feels like to be out of breath.


Immediately, my body started to tingle–my neck, my mouth, the top of my head, my stomach, my hands, my arms…


I began to think about how this is exactly how it begins when I get “sick” from PTSD, only I have no fear. It begins with this same sort of body tingle. Maybe I’m not sick, but my fear then makes me sick. Maybe my body has been trying to naturally heal itself all along by beginning to deep breathe and I resisted because I didn’t understand, thus preventing the healing my body requires.


At the same time I had that thought, the tingling sensation in my throat, mouth, heart, stomach and the top of my head changed into a spinning feeling–like little circles of energy spinning really fast, really hot and seriously vibrating. At that moment I knew intuitively:


Those are your chakras.


Open your mouth and speak the truth about what hurt you and you will heal.


You will heal if you breathe like this–tell people. Your body already knew how to do this, remember? Everyone told you to “calm down” and “stop breathing like that” because “you’re going to hyperventilate.”


I can’t stop my body, it’s too powerful.


At this point, my legs started to feel tingly like they were going numb. And I forgave everyone who had ever hurt me. Because I knew that I had agreed to it before I was born. And now that I know that, they can’t hurt me anymore. I began to feel like I am Mother Earth.


My son. In my womb. That’s when my body first tried to deep breathe all on its own. That was a gift from my son. He woke me up. He saved my life. Being a Mother is my most important role. I was going down the wrong path without my son; I was living for others to the extent where there was no room for me. My body rebelled against this and I fought hard against my body but my body beat me, my body won.


I’m supposed to deep breathe to heal my pain. All of my pain. Anything can be healed with deep breathing. My God I would love to show people how to do this, it is the secret universal medicine we all are looking for. I fought it as hard as I could to no avail. Deep breathing is in my DNA.


When you open your eyes after a deep breathing session (lasts anywhere from a half hour to ninety minutes depending on how focused you are), Penny Elias is the first person you want to see. Our conversations are deep, meaningful and oh so powerful. Not to mention, we wrapped the whole thing up with a two hour massage.


This one session totally changed me and that was immediately made clear to me. As always, I drove around after my session starving and confused. I thought that because I was wearing sweat pants, had tear-stained glasses, and essential oils all over my body, face and hair, that I would have to settle for Burger King drive thru for dinner. But, honestly, I had not had a decent meal the entire time I was there and could not take it for one more minute. I blew by the Burger King and found myself driving toward what appeared to be a very fancy restaurant as I tried to tell myself: you can’t go in there looking like this.


Oh but I did.


Maybe I should insert a tiny back story here. At that point, I had a history of bizarre dining experiences that usually look something like: I sit for a long time and no one comes to wait on me, so I actually have to get up and leave. I used to joke that I was Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense. Dead. Invisible to everyone except Haley Joel Osment, I guess.




Seriously, everyone LOVED me in that restaurant. I’m not kidding, it was outrageous. The hostess, my server a random bus boy–totally smitten with me. Like this make-up-less, pale-face girl was enchanting them, they could not have made it more clear that I was welcome in their fancy expensive restaurant. Praised for my order of the filet and fries, cheered on for eating every single bite, impressed with my dessert order, smile and eye contact like I’ve never seen before. Each staff person had their own unique statement in furtherance of their desire that I come back again, which I am well aware is very normal, but it was not for me. What’s more, I could FEEL their energy was sincere, they really liked me.


I’m different now. The world looks different to me–more accepting of me. It’s real. I feel it.


Afterwards, I FaceTimed my son to say goodnight to him and our conversation was electric. He loves and misses me so much, he is so articulate for 4 years old, he is so affectionate towards me. He loves me. He told me:


“When you see me, I’m going to be AMAZING!!!”




“Because I love you so much.”


And there you have it. He’s so smart. My son saved my life. Before he was even born yet. He showed me how to heal myself, how to love myself as my number one priority. This will undo a generational cycle of self hate. This will be modeled for my son, thus freeing up space for him to do something great without ever having to do dance with feeling unworthy or unloved. What a time suck.


I am made of love. I will never run out of love.


Deep breathing is worth practicing on a weekly basis. I did when I returned from my Sedona Soul Adventure and the most amazing things happened. There is never a deep breathing session that is less than transformative. It’s the best way to download guidance into your consciousness. There are pages and pages in my journal of deep breathing messages and inspiration. Here is a small excerpt:


Deep breathing causes the Writer within you to creatively awaken–deep breathe before writing if you don’t feel creative. Also, copy your ideas from this journal, they are solid gold.


And they seriously are. I got distracted by reading my deep breathing journal for an hour today, crying for joy at the ideas that have come out of my own soul. Wondering if they’ll ever see the light of day. Right now, I’m smiling huge because at least I finally shared this story.




ps: stay tuned for my final Sedona Soul Adventure Session, it’s HUGE.

pps: to catch up on my other Sedona Soul Adventure Sessions, click here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

First Thing in the Morning Mourning



Have you ever taken a break from FaceBook and then come back to FaceBook…


And then saw a friend of yours tag another friend of yours…


And then thought: hey what’s up with that friend, haven’t seen him in a year…


And then realize he had died.


Russell Ray Slouffman


I cannot tell you how hard I cried this morning scrolling through all the bereft posts on his page. Howled. It’s not over. I’m still crying. I don’t even have to squint, tears are flowing from my resting neutral face and landing on my damp hair and pajamas.

I have to tell you about Russell.

Russell Ray Slouffman


Russell was an angel. Not like the halo-wearing kind, but the kind of angel surrounded by light at all times. He lit up every room he entered. His energy was infectious and I absolutely LOVED being in his presence. He was magical.


Russell Ray Slouffman


Russell was a performer, both onstage and off, entertaining anyone lucky enough to be in proximity to him. He dated a very good friend of mine from college and I got the opportunity to take their headshots together in Red Rock Canyon.


Russell Ray Slouffman


This was such a meaningful experience for me.

I love to combine my strong desire to help my friends and be artistically creative. Russell made this day extraordinarily light and fun. He had this natural ability to simultaneously deliver and enhance; when I wasn’t shooting him, he was using his energy to bring all of our spirits up.


Russell Ray Slouffman


That was just how Russell was…he was always working…but his work was love…and light. He was ALIVE. To be in his presence made you feel more alive, too. We laughed the whole time, my face hurt from smiling so hard and focusing the camera.


Russell Ray Slouffman


When I asked my friend to join me, to dance in the One Billion Rising for V-Day Flash Mob, he said yes and made a point to tell me that Russell was so excited. I cannot tell you how that made my heart swoon—swoon? Yeah, it swooned. When I ask people to volunteer for V-Day, usually I either get a ‘not this time’ or an ‘okayyyyyy’…but Russell was excited…he was so pumped for every single aspect of this.


Russell Ray Slouffman


If you knew Russell, you would know that a Flash Mob is right up his ally. He showed up like he always did, radiating light with this confidence that made you want to be around him forever.


Russell Ray Slouffman

Russell Ray Slouffman


My first time Flash Mob nerves melted into laughter and excitement; Russell helped me get out of my head and into the moment.


Russell Ray Slouffman

Russell Ray Slouffman


Russell showed me what it looks like to be ALIVE.


Russell Ray Slouffman


Before my last Facebook hiatus, I was very closely following Russell and his dream to read every single Stephen King novel. I thought that was so cool. I have read many of those same novels and appreciated his appetite for more books!


This morning, when I saw my friend tag Russell on FaceBook, it reminded me that I hadn’t seen him posting about his novel reading status in a long time and it hit me—you probably didn’t add him as a friend when you rejoined FaceBook—so, I clicked on his name thinking I would add him and get all caught up on what he had been reading…which shows he would be performing in…


I did not expect to see so many people mourning Russell. How could I? How could this happen? I don’t understand. I began to sob instantaneously, thinking about how I was not done…I intended to hug him again…I had plans to be in his presence more…


Russell Ray Slouffman


You don’t understand. Russell was an angel. It was healing to be in his presence. I am crying so hard as I type this out…oh Russell, do you see and feel my grief??? It’s not just me, it’s almost been one whole year since you’ve been gone and there are so many people aching from losing you.


Russell Ray Slouffman


Many people are using this god-picking-flowers analogy for you, Russell…I had never even heard this one before and MANY people are using it to describe what has happened here. I get it. Put Russell in a crowd and he does shine the brightest.


Russell Ray Slouffman


I don’t really pick flowers though, I let them grow.


This is what I will be doing with our relationship from now on, Russell, allowing it to grow. I feel you. I hear you. I will not resist that. It’s okay to cry because I can’t hug you or watch you perform onstage. It’s not okay to convince myself that it all ends here because that is simply not true. Relationships never die.


I’ll hold you in my heart forever and feel so much lighter as a result.


Thank you.




Russell Ray Slouffman