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Top 10 Limiting Beliefs About a Loved One’s Death

Bali Healing Retreat

I was reading an article about Bronnie Ware, a former caregiver for those who were dying, and a blog she wrote entitled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” It caused me to think about the regrets of the bereaved as well. As someone who had caused my own suffering for many years after my mom’s suicide, I reflected on the stories I told myself. (My hunch is that these may resonate with you, too.)

Before we dive into the stories, though, I want to talk to you about clean pain and dirty pain. Clean pain is just that. Pure, flowing energy. Loss of a loved one is clean pain. Clean pain is part of life and part of our human experience. Clean pain needs to be felt and processed in the waves that ebb and flow.

Dirty pain are the stories we tell ourselves about that clean pain. Dirty pain can keep us stuck in a cycle of suffering. Limiting Beliefs are dirty pain.

Top 10 Limiting Beliefs About a Loved One’s Death:

  1. The more I suffer, the more I prove my love.
  2. I should have (actions not taken before their death).
  3. I’m a bad person if I don’t think about (loved one) all the time.
  4. I’m a bad person if I move on.
  5. I should have been a better (role in that relationship).
  6. I shouldn’t dishonor the memory of (loved one) by talking or thinking about their shortcomings.
  7. (Loved one) should be here right now.
  8. If only (different circumstance), they’d still be alive.
  9. I can’t live without (loved one).
  10. I shouldn’t be happy without (loved one).

Any of these sound familiar?

When I believed the above, I suffered deeply. Slowly over time, with grace and professional help, I released these painful thoughts and replaced them with truths.

I realized that everything always happens exactly as it should because that’s reality. There is a greater plan at work and I can’t possibly know the reasons why in my limited capacity as a human. I am not God, and to think I know best is all ego (and a lie).

My mother shouldn’t be here now because she isn’t. I can live (and have lived, obviously) without her.

My mother would never have wanted me to suffer as I did. She loved me and always wanted me to live a happy, loving and fulfilled life. The more I live my best life, the more I honor her. The more I let go and move on, the more I am able to achieve what she tried and failed to do.

If you’re ready to release any and all of the above limiting beliefs, consider joining me and four other master coaches at our Bali Healing Retreat. We’ll dedicate a good portion of our four days together on addressing these beliefs and others. You’ll open up some space in your heart and mind again for forgiveness and self-love.

There’s peace and joy on the other side; I’ve felt it. We all deserve to be happy and live a fulfilled life. It’s time to allow yourself that.

If you’re ready to drop your baggage around loss and grief, join us November 26 to December 1, 2019. Our early bird special pricing ends soon, and we only have limited spaces available, so act quickly! (Plus flights right now are at some of their lowest pricing.)

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It’s Okay to be sad Sometimes

Bimmer the Dog

To feel the full range of emotions is to experience our humanity fully. Yet, as a society, we seem to celebrate the stoic, the even-keel, and the put a happy-face-on-and-push-through-it behaviors while shaming those who are authentically expressive.

I’m here to say it’s ok to feel sad. It’s ok to feel angry. It’s ok to feel fear and doubt. Emotions are simply energy in motion. The more we resist letting these emotions flow, the more that energy stagnates in our body. Over time, that can cause physical ailments. Body, mind and spirit are all connected.

For me, this week, I’m feeling bouts of sadness come and go in waves. I learned a few days ago that my dog I shared with an ex many years ago will be assisted across the rainbow bridge this Saturday. I am grieving this inevitable ending.

I remember picking up Bimmer, a rare grey and tan Chinook, from the breeder in Kirkland, Washington. He was a ten-pound, rolly-polly, fuzzy ball of uncoordinated energy bounding toward me with his sisters and brothers. He had the most beautiful, bright blue eyes that were full of curiosity. I fell in love instantly.

He cried so much in the first twenty-four hours after bringing him home. He had left his pack…his mom and siblings…to go with a stranger. It broke my heart as quickly as his adorableness filled those cracks.

There was potty training followed by obedience training. As he grew, he experienced separation anxiety and we worked on giving him a job to do while we were at work, which greatly alleviated it. He quickly developed into a 110-pound gentle giant with a long tongue that loved to lick anyone within a few feet. It inspired a welcome mat to the house that said, “BEWARE: Dog can’t hold his licker.”

He was my buddy, my constant companion through some really tough times in my life. He eased my broken heart after splitting with my ex. He kept me company, reminding me I had value, when I was laid off from my job and feeling lost and alone. He kept me physically safe by ferociously barking at a man who threatened me and rattled my windows and doors in the middle of the night.

When I foreclosed on my house and couldn’t find a rental that would allow a dog his size, I reluctantly gave him to my ex, who also loved him dearly. It was the right thing to do for Bimmer, who needed space and consistency…even if it broke my heart.

He’s now twelve years old. I have missed the past seven years of his life. Now it’s time to rejoin his brothers and sisters, who wait for him on the other side. I know he’s lived a happy, long life. And still, I am sad. I grieve for myself, who remembers what a joy he was in my life. I grieve for those who know him and his loving spirit. I grieve for the loss of life, even though it’s all part of the circle.

So as I write this tribute to honor Bimmer’s life, I also let the tears flow. I feel the weight in my heavy heart, the pain in my throat, and the hot tears falling from my eyes down my cheeks. I notice where the ripples emanate from and to and let it wash over me.

To Bimmer: Mamma loves you. May your spirit be well. May you rest in peace. May you know you left this world a better place and me a better person for having loved you.

To those graciously reading: May you allow yourself to feel all the feels as they arise. May they flow as naturally as you breathe and your heart beats. May you experience your humanity fully.

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Sometimes the Root of Worry is Grief

Equus Coaching

Grief is a fascinating emotion. It doesn’t follow linear time. Pieces of it hide in dark pockets waiting for a safe space and moment to come out and be seen.

This past weekend I participated in a retreat with small group of my wayfinding peers and mentors. Without a personal agenda, I set the intention to allow whatever came up to be. (For anyone who knows me, giving myself permission to not have a plan to take full advantage of the opportunity to be coached by our master of master wayfinders, Martha Beck, is quite unusual.)

Listening to frogs and crickets while sitting under an expansive net of stars in the rain forests of Cashiers, North Carolina, I realized that I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid big Square 1s* that come barreling out of nowhere to knock me off my feet. My habit of planning and organizing is an attempt to play out innumerable future scenarios in the hopes that I can spot a Square 1 coming. And if I can see it coming, that I could somehow lessen the blow or avoid it altogether. (Spoiler alert, this is impossible.)

My husband summarized this best when he said, “When you don’t have something to worry about, you find something to worry about.” (God bless those who truly see us.)

I’ve noticed that because of this, I have not relaxed into happiness. I simply haven’t trusted it. And thus, I’ve been stuck in my Square 3 Hero’s Journey.

Ok, so now what? I thought. Now that I’ve recognized this energy block, what do I do with it? How do I get unstuck?

Equus Coaching is a perfect opportunity to test your energy. A horse is a mirror, which reflects back physically what you’re doing energetically. As I entered the round pen on Day 2, I set the intention to figure out how to release my fear of Square 1 and embrace the elation of Square 4.*

When I tried to spiritually bypass my fear of Square 1 as “necessary for personal growth” and “will bring me to a better place because it all happens for a reason,” my horse Smokey walked to the opposite end of the pen with his hind quarters to me. This was a sign that I didn’t believe what I was saying – I was out of integrity.

When I admitted that, “Square 1s are F-ing HARD! They SUCK!” Smokey ran back toward me and put his head against my chest. When I broke down crying and shared that I didn’t want to be strong all the time, he stayed while stomping and yawning, which physically releases energy.

The heart knows when it is safe to be vulnerable. There’s something special about the sacred space wayfinders hold. It is a pure, gentle and fully accepting cradle of love. To be held so delicately and seen so fully is a true gift.

Although it has been 20 years since my mother’s suicide, I realized that I have not fully processed the grief and post-traumatic-stress around the details of her death. There were still little pockets that needed releasing (and will again and probably again).

In the safe space of my peers and mentors, I allowed all the emotions I’d thought were long past to surface and flow in aching waves through my core and out of my mouth and eyes.

There is no time limit to grieving. There is no deadline to process it. It isn’t a one and done kind of life experience. So if you’ve lost a loved one, or carry guilt and shame about someone’s suicide, know that it is absolutely okay to return to it when you’re ready to let the last pieces go. Even if 20-plus years have passed, it’s okay.

You don’t have to be strong all the time. Give yourself permission to find a safe and sacred space with someone (or people) you trust and let it flow. It does no good and offers no peace holding it in and shoving it down.

I trust that once I’ve fully processed all the remaining pieces, my constant worry about the future will also dissolve on its own. For years, I’d been trying to solve the symptom of anxiety instead of the root cause of grief. While coaching tools can absolutely help with reducing anxiety and managing stress, sometimes it’s a sign that there’s more underneath to explore.

If you, too, constantly worry about the future, I invite you to think about what long-past loss you may have suffered that might need some tender, loving care.


If you don’t have a safe and sacred space to let your grief flow, I’d be honored to hold it for you. Let’s talk.

*Squares 1-4 are Martha Beck terms used in Steering by Starlight and is a framework for identifying coaching tools that might be most useful for a client. Square 1 represents the phase of life where we have the destruction of one identity (or role) before a new one forms. It’s a state of dissolving that can be created by any catalytic life event, such as the death of a loved one.