Mother’s Day is here. Again

by Karla Helbert, LPC

Picture caption: Mother to a daughter. And a baby son lost to a brain tumor.

I wish people knew that this day, now over-commercialized, over-sentimentalized, overblown and over-filled with spending, obligation, and long waits at any brunch-worthy restaurant, was first created by and for bereaved mothers who shared it with all other mothers.

They started it not to elevate to superiority the mother and her role in family and society, or even to simply honor motherhood.

Did you know that the women who started Mother’s Day were actively working to help lower infant mortality rates? That … Read more...

Did my child die because I lacked faith?

by Karla Helbert

This topic is important and praying people, especially Christian people, please note.

I saw a post on social media from a bereaved parent friend yesterday about a movie opening soon called “Breakthrough.” I had heard about this in passing, understanding it to be one of those movies that has an overtly religious, specifically Christian, message.

I generally stay away from those finding them to be trite, or too simplistic, to really address what I think are deep theological and/or social issues. Also, they are generally about pushing their own agenda for conversion. I am not down with … Read more...

Breathing strategies to quiet anxiety or manage grief

By Karla Helbert

Breathing strategies to quiet anxiety or manage grief
breathing exercises

We breathe all the time, right?  So, what’s the big deal?

Most of us are not breathing properly for optimum health and well-being.  We have poor posture, we sit for long periods of time, stare at screens, and move very little.  Many grieving, anxious, or traumatized people have the sensation of being unable to breathe fully. Sometimes you might unconsciously hold your breath until you find yourself gasping for air, not even realizing you weren’t breathing.

If we have been hurt, are grieving or have experienced trauma, we may feel like we want to be … Read more...

Day #12 of the 12 Days of Coping with Christmas

by Karla Helbert

Day 12 of the 12 Days of Coping with Christmas

The twelfth coping strategy is “Something Nice for Someone Else”

For many people in grief, doing acts of kindness, volunteering, doing something to bring comfort, a smile, or some love to another person is a way that we can find a bit of peace within our own pain.

Research shows that volunteerism and altruistic acts to benefit others have long term physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. Doing things for others can result in increased feelings of well-being. It brings a sense of purpose and helps us create meaning when life makes no sense. Studies also show … Read more...

Day #9 of the 12 Days of Coping with Christmas

by Karla Helbert

The ninth coping strategy is “Make Something”

It doesn’t matter whether you think you are creative or not. You are.

When you’re living with heart-crushing grief, just figuring out how to get out of bed is a creative endeavor. I talk to people a lot about being creative in grief and how helpful it can be. When I teach workshops or do retreats, we do all sorts of creative things in our grief. And people always say, “I’m just not creative,” or “I’m not an artist,” or “I can only draw stick figures.” Stick figures can do … Read more...

Day #7 of the 12 Days of Coping with Christmas

by Karla Helbert

The seventh coping strategy is “yoga.”

Just as grief is not one way, or one thing, neither is yoga. There are multiple yogic paths but all paths of yoga lead to the same place. The word itself means “union” and the goal of yoga is to help us see all the various pieces and parts of ourselves as unified, recognizing that we were never really separate in the first place. It helps us to remember (and to re-member) those parts of us that we forgot were One. This includes our beloved dead.

Grief impacts every aspect of our …

Day #5 of the 12 Days of Coping with Christmas

by Karla Helbert

The fifth coping strategy is “meditation”

You’re probably also familiar with the term “mindfulness.” Mindfulness the practice of being as present as possible in this moment, with as much compassion and as little judgment as possible.

Meditation is a mindfulness practice. Learning to do this can be a huge gift to yourself in grief. It’s not easy, but it has big payoffs. and There’s a guided meditation for you to try at the end of this post.

Most people who believe they can’t meditate usually say something like, “I just can’t quiet my mind!” If we approach meditation … Read more...

Day #3 of the 12 Days of Coping with Christmas

by Karla Helbert

The third coping strategy is “Make a Plan”

For those of us in grief, the holidays are most definitely not the most wonderful time of the year. No matter how long it has been since your beloved died.

It has been nearly 13 years since my son, Theo, died of a brain tumor when he was just a baby and the holidays continue to be a struggle for me in many ways. If you are in early grief—and by early, I mean the first year, second year, third year, sometimes further in—the holidays can be excruciating.

Thank …