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!

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.

YOU MIGHT BE STRUGGLING WITH GRIEF IF:

(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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

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HOW TO HEAL FROM GRIEF:

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

How To Beat the Holiday Blues

 

Happy Holidays! Yes, I had the holiday blues and yes I still have a reason to smile. HUGE.

 

First of all, I made it. It has now been one full year since my last PTSD-related Emergency Room visit for dehydration due to cyclical vomiting. Let’s take a look at how I did it:

HOW I BEAT THE HOLIDAY BLUES:

(1) I cried a lot. This is not a new thing. I usually want to cry the whole time and do cry most of the time. The difference this year? When I felt like I wanted to cry, I didn’t judge that feeling or conclude that I was an asshole for wanting to cry. Instead, I would get up and go find a quiet space to cry into until I was done and then I would simply rejoin my family.

 

(2) I went out of town just days before the holiday. We took our son to LegoLand to make this Christmas extra magical and it totally worked. The two days we spent in the car was WAY better than spending two days anticipating my annual holiday blues.

 

(3) Activism. I am wearing a dress every day in December as part of the #Dressember movement to raise awareness and funds for survivors of human trafficking. As part of the campaign, I post a photo of me in my dress online and this has forced me to get dressed up every day of a month that I normally spend exclusively in my pajamas. (To check out my campaign, click here).

 

(4) Activism. I am the official organizer for the V-Day Las Vegas 2017 campaign to benefit Refuge for Women Las Vegas, an aftercare program for the trafficked and sexually exploited. This campaign will produce a benefit production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on February 4 and I am the Director of the show. This means I have to talk to people and participate in life.

 

There are times when I have thought about quitting. For sure. I didn’t particularly enjoy Christmas shopping this year and often experienced feelings of “what’s the point?” Also, I miss wearing my overalls and thought about blowing off my Dressember obligation like every other day. Furthermore, I ran into an incomprehensible amount of difficulty securing a beneficiary for my V-Day campaign and wondered if I was supposed to just give up.

 

Then I think about how I’m glad I don’t live in a box under some sicko’s bed right now. I’m glad I didn’t get stolen from my family and forced into prostitution. As much as PTSD, anxiety, and grief can feel like a prison in your own mind, at least I’m not really in some prison unable to get out. I value my freedom. I express gratitude for my freedom through activism and this heals me.

 

activism or volunteerism is a great way to beat the holiday blues

Activism Heals

 

XO,

Rachel

THE BEST MEDITATION OF ALL TIME!!!

Guided meditation is an excellent way to heal dark feelings. Have you ever felt so angry or so sad you could burst?

 

I think the worst part about grief is the feeling you get when you tell yourself:

 

We can’t be together anymore. Ever.

 

Or:

 

I will never hold them in my arms again.

 

These statements cause tremendous pain inside, right around your heart and your gut. The pain is uncomfortable and can lead to anger or resentment.

 

Instead of replaying agonizing statements in your mind that cause you to feel pain, listen to this:

 

You can meditate a heart to heart hug with any one at any time.

 

I do it all the time.

 

It feels AMAZING.

 

It works so well, I have to share it with everyone.

 

Click here to experience the best 15 minute healing meditation of all time.

 

You don’t have to suffer from estrangement, loss, divorce, death or any other major change. Mindfulness about grief heals grief. If you want to feel better right now, then press play on this video:

 

 

We can all heal through mindfulness.

XO,

Rachel

p.s.: For more of my grief-healing meditations and tools, check out my grief healing app, iHeal because iFeel, available on Google Play and the App Store:

meditation heals and this app has 5 guided meditations specific to healing each stage of grief

iHeal because iFeel is a grief healing app available for iPhone and iPad on the App Store

Meditation heals. This app contains 5 guided meditations specific to healing each stage of grief.

iHeal because iFeel is a grief healing app that you can get on Google Play for Android devices

 

 

RachelVanKoughnet

June 21, 2016

 

I did it!

 

It took me about 6 months, but I invented my first app.

 

The iHeal because iFeel helps organize and heal grief symptoms.

 

grief healing app

 

First, select which of the 5 stages of grief you are experiencing from the menu. You will then be asked to indicate the intensity level that particular symptom invokes. These answers will all be auto populated into the handy calendar, together with the specific healing activities you have completed.

 

grief healing app

 

What’s really cool: I made 5 meditations specific to the 5 stages of grief. As in, I wrote, read and professionally recorded them.

 

grief healing app

 

That’s MY art work! Do you LOVE it?

 

grief healing app

 

The point of the app is to encourage you to feel your feelings. To bury your feelings is to bury your Self alive, a form of suicide. Feel the feelings, organize your healing techniques and heal your Self.

 

grief healing app

 

The point is: go out there and make rainbows. Feel it all. Heal it all. Yes cry, yes get angry, yes use that big old brain to bargain and find acceptance and above all else: enjoy sweet blissful denial, nature’s reset button. You can heal your own grief, your body knows how, you just have to stop fighting it.

 

Download this grief healing app on Google Play or the App Store:

iHeal because iFeel is a grief healing app

Get it on google play

grief healing app

iHeal because iFeel is available on the App Store

 

Thank you for your support!!!

 

XO,

Rachel

Cleaning Out My Closet

Have you ever heard of closet grief?

 

I read this clothing article recently that has totally blown my mind.

 

Here is the link (click here).

 

Article highlights: this yoga pants wearing mom got rid of her entire wardrobe in exchange for like 37 articles of clothing she feels really good about resulting in optimal coordination and closet organization. Seriously read this article, it has changed my life.

 

Within hours of reading it, I had collected 4 garbage bags full of clothing to donate to charity.

 

closet grief

 

Plus I went all Joan Crawford in there…

 

closet grief

 

And I got rid of an overflowing garbage bag of undesirable hangers.

 

closet grief

 

Not to mention the overflowing bag of clothing I am mailing to my goddaughter and the medium bag of clothing that I am mailing to my best friend. I made a SERIOUS dent in my closet.

 

closet grief

 

I have never been able to thumb through the clothing in my closet and really see the items before. As though they might be giving away awards for having “the most” clothes, my closet was packed so tight, many plastic hangers snapped in the process of weeding out the most tired pieces. I found a dress in here that I don’t remember ever even seeing before. (YES!!!)

 

closet grief

 

This is just the beginning, I am far from whittling down to only 37 pieces of clothing. I can’t believe I am even doing this. Getting rid of dresses is a BIG deal for me…that and sentimental tee shirts, old tank tops, hoodies and shoes (I’ll just come clean here and admit: I hoard clothes).

 

My closet has always been open to my friends and family for shopping. Hence all the extra gear that looks terrible on me and my tendency to mail boxes of clothing to my closest friends semi-annually.

 

One of my greatest memories of my cousin Kelly is how we used to shop in each other’s closets. Being six years younger, I was always ridiculously grateful for the opportunity to peek through her jam packed closet. I could borrow whatever I wanted! It was the experience of a life time. Seriously. I remember everything about it, the poor lighting, the danger of the shoe boxes that always seemed about to come crashing down on your head from the top shelf, her smell, the piles and piles of 90’s clothes.

 

When I got to be like 16/17, that’s when Kelly started to take an interest in some of my clothes. The pride I felt. To this day.

 

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That’s Kelly on the right wearing my dress! With a cowboy hat!!  She is standing with her best friend, that’s why their smiles are so radiant; they love each other like I love my best friend. If you have one best friend like this in your lifetime, consider yourself blessed, be grateful.

 

This is so hard to write.

 

Our bodies remember the anniversaries of traumatic events even if our amazing brain chooses to give us a break from the details.

 

I am the kind of person who always wants to know WHY. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what my body is trying to tell me that my brain does not want to talk about.

 

It was 15 years ago that I lost my cousin, Kelly.

 

That was so fucking hard to write. Damn you, closet grief.

 

I actually had to take a break to scream cry and spill huge tears down my cheeks…

 

…And then I gave myself a hug.

 

Kelly was my hero. She was the kind of woman I was certain I could never be. Bold. Independent. Strong. Desired. Fearless. Beautiful.

 

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When she smiled, she looked exactly like Brooke Shields and when she was angry, she reminded me of Julia Roberts.

 

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From 13-18 Kelly’s prom calendar was full. She was always getting ready to go to a dance. I remember this one time I stood in the middle of her photo shoot with her date, so confident that my shorts and tee shirt ensemble was not a problem, holding hands and smiling like I was supposed to be there with them, too. She was my Disney Princess.

 

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Blonde with green eyes, the most voluptuous figure and the most fun to be around. Honestly. You were lucky to know her. She was more fun than anyone, always looking for adventure.

 

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Confident and cool, my cousin Kelly was the opposite of me. I never even got asked to go to one of my own school dances, let alone some other school’s dances. I would not consider my teen self to be fun-loving so much as safety-loving.

 

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Kelly liked to jump out of planes. She loved the water; being out on a boat fishing, even all by herself, would make her happiest. She loved to hike and camp, anything outdoors. She also loved beer and swore like a sailor. She was so bad ass.

 

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I never even went camping until I was 18 years old, already in college. It was almost 2 months after losing her. Camping was what my best friend wanted to do for her 19th Birthday and it was the perfect way for me to honor my cousin and my grief. Whenever I go hiking or camping, Kelly is right there with me. Kelly is always with me.

 

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When she left this Earth, I wished it was me instead. For years. I wore this gold heart ring she had given me for Christmas all the time for the first year. I spent a lot of time trying to negotiate that trade.

 

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I cherish every single memory that I have of my Kelly. My chest is super tight as I try to breathe through the steady stream of tears that have stained and rendered my glasses almost useless.

 

I have a million things I want to say. I stop because I fear I won’t be able to explain properly.

 

The sun used to shine on Kelly. It just did. It was obvious if you were there, but you weren’t so you’ll have to just take my word for it.

 

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She is my angel hero.

 

XO

~Rachel

 

PS–In conclusion, cleaning out your closet may cause closet grief.

closet grief

A Day In The Life: PTSD Healing

After I made my PTSD Healing video 9 months ago (click here to watch), I was asked to give a break down of what a day in the life would look like.

 

Yesterday was an awesome day for me, healing wise, so today I am sharing the highlights…

 

Highlights make more sense when you start low. Yesterday began for me at 4 a.m. when my husband and I both jumped out of bed horrified to hear our cat was peeing on the carpet.

 

How did we hear it?

 

It was super loud for some reason because she backed herself up against the wall and her urine was ricocheting off of the wall and onto the carpet. A waterfall of cat pee.

 

CAT PEE!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Don’t judge. My cat has never done this before and she is recovering from major surgery. My 10 year old kitty had 4 stones removed from her bladder! Honestly though, I think she peed on the floor because of the stupid cone…

 

Bebe Meme

 

Anyway…I sat on the floor in a daze watching my awesome husband scrub the carpet, then I got a bucket of water and started to scrub the soap out and by the time it was over, I decided not to go back to bed.

 

Sigh.

 

I did not get enough rest, which has been happening for like the last 3 weeks, so I felt discouraged. I made myself a really fancy bubble bath with special salts and essential oils. I turned on my salt rock lamp and stared at my plants. It was difficult to keep my eyes open.  So tired…

 

PTSD Healing

 

Just the night before, I had decided not to go back to sleep if I found myself awake in the very early morning hours due to the horrific nightmares I found myself experiencing after going back to sleep.

 

Being awake at this time, taught me something fascinating: my brain is on fire between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m.  Everything is intense, asleep or not. I must say, being in the bathtub at this hour really helped me to process many complex emotional concepts; it was like lucid dreaming.

 

You’ll have to take my word for it, as I don’t remember any details from my awesome bathtub experience, only that I was totally brilliant and had a lot of answers. I may have had all the answers. This girl was on fire. Next time, I’m writing that all down…

 

When the water in the tub cooled down, I transitioned right to the shower to heat things back up. It’s not everyday that I am awake before my son, AKA the Rooster, but of course, this is the one day that he sleeps in and will therefore not be needing any nap today, thank you.

 

I used my shower time wisely, plotting out the next few hours with my son, using my awake brain for once. I wanted needed him to take a nap later on so I could get some rest too. I got our breakfast all ready and suggested a bike ride. Luckily, he went for it.

 

This was only our second time ever riding together, usually I walk alongside him as he slowly and rather randomly pedals toward the next stick he would like to pick up and bring with us. Oh, training wheels…

 

Did I mention that I LOVE MY BIKE?!

 

PTSD Healing

 

The weather was perfect yesterday. Upper 70’s, sun shining, blue skies with really cool clouds that looked like Ocean waves. It was by far the longest bike ride my 3 year old has ever been on.

 

Oh and now it’s like 8:30 in the morning…I have a long way to go…

 

Grocery shopping is a must, but I am not looking forward to that so I enhance the trip by bringing the artwork I had recently finished and was gifting to my best friend, so I could ship it to her.

 

PTSD Healing

 

Gift giving feels amazing, especially if I make the gift.  This piece of art is really special. I made it with my precious hands, it has six real orchid blooms “glued” in (with Gel Gloss Medium) and a real lego flag. This is the home I built for my Haiku and it is remarkable (#selflove). I cannot wait until my BFF receives her gift and tells me all these things.

 

When we got back, I noticed that I had missed a few texts and calls on my phone and one of them was from my son’s Nana, just checking up on me. I texted her back immediately asking her if she wanted to come over for a few hours this afternoon to babysit while I took a nap and SHE SAID YES!!!

 

This news enabled me to have a 45 minute sword fight with my son. I felt like everything was going to be okay. I was going to make it. Actually, we were having the time of our lives.

 

And then…I got my nap. It was awesome. It was more of a focused meditation of positive thoughts than actual sleeping, but it was amazing to be by myself to fill back up.

 

rachel introvert meme haiku

 

I took the time to journal my gratitude and then I took my second fancy bubble bath of the day. I cannot tell you how amazing the first 45 seconds of a bubble bath feel, it’s like some awesome chemicals are being released throughout my body. This helps me deal with the fact that carpet cleaners will be at my house in a half hour and I have to move all the furniture off the carpets (see cat pee incident from above).

 

Moving all your furniture around feels super weird to me. More like, having huge household items obviously not where they belong causes anxiety within me. Where should I sit? Should I just stand? My husband came home from work early and took our son over to run an errand and I decided to NOT be awkward about the situation. I decided to get out my laptop and complete a chapter in my online screenwriting course. By the time my guys returned, the carpets were done being cleaned and I had a 100% on my online quiz.

 

This makes dinner preparation easier, but I am still feeling kind of confused about why all my furniture is piled up on the tile; my brain does not like the chaos. So I repotted some plants:

 

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I emptied out the huge green pot and put the remaining strand from my elephant plant into this much more appropriately sized pink pot. I’m pretty excited about the prospect of getting a new plant for the big green pot.

 

While I was working on my plants, I had an idea for another piece of art that I had been working on, so I went for it:

 

PTSD Healing

 

Ahhhhhhhh. This feels so good–not only do I have a home for my awesome Haiku, but now I have a home for the 5 orchid blooms that fell in the past week (resulting in me repotting the plants). YES!!! Everything has it’s place.

 

Just kidding. We can’t put the furniture back until the morning when the carpet is dry. That’s okay, my husband and I ended our night with some serious jig saw puzzling and my third bubble bath of the day.

 

PTSD Healing

 

Yesterday was an awesome PTSD healing day.

Here is a recap of why:

  1. Bubble Bath
  2. Shower
  3. Bike Ride
  4. Gift Giving
  5. Play Time
  6. Meditation/Nap
  7. Bubble Bath
  8. Journaling
  9. Screenwriting Class Quiz Success!
  10. Repot 3 Plants
  11. Make Art
  12. Jigsaw Puzzle
  13. Bubble Bath

 

This list is not all inclusive; as in, I did not tell you about everything that happened yesterday, I got a lot of work done that does not apply to this story and I also got a lot of joy and healing out of the other experiences in my day that are simply not applicable herein.  The above list includes healing exercises that are specific to me, these are things that I like to do because they make me feel good.

 

I would love to know what your healing exercises are; please share with me by leaving a comment below.

 

XO

~Rachel