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Hello and Welcome ...

Thanks for stopping by. It’s a Wonderful Wednesday. Yes, I am moving into the next phase of retirement, yet so grateful that my brain is still moving at a 24-hour pace of thought. I usually do not read lengthy blog posts, messages, sales letters, and the like, so I won’t give you what I don’t do myself. I do hope that these bite-sized thought nuggets are enough to make you ponder, yet inspiring enough to make you find gratitude on this Wonderful Wednesday. Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Ever consider becoming a grief coach? Work through any personal unresolved grief while learning to support others with an ICF-accredited grief coach certification program.  Find out more here.

Grief is the journey. Gratitude is the destination.®


Dads Deserve it Too

June 14, 2023

Did you know that Father’s Day only became an official national holiday fifty years after the first Mother’s Day was celebrated? Celebrated initially in 1910, Father’s Day is attributed to Sonora Smart Dodd, who her father raised after her mother’s death during childbirth. After several failed attempts by Congress to formally recognize Father’s Day as a holiday, in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. 

Sources: Library of Congress/Wise Guide and Wikipedia


Father’s Day can be challenging for those grieving the loss of their fathers, whether this year or many years ago. Although the physical body cannot be replaced, finding meaningful ways to celebrate the life lived can keep his memory alive. Here are a few suggestions:


• Do something that you and your father enjoyed doing together, such as playing or watching football, cooking on the grill, golfing, fishing, family trips, etc.

• Have brunch or dinner at dad’s favorite restaurant. Eat alone or invite family members to join you.

• Plan a family gathering to share photos, videos, scrapbooks, music, or stories.

• Visit the memorial or gravesite to pay tribute. Leave a bouquet or release balloons or butterflies. You might even have a private conversation with dad.

• Write a thank you letter journaling your thoughts and feelings. This exercise can help relieve any anxiety and sadness.

• Donate to your favorite charity in your dad’s memory or an organization that has meaning to your dad.

• Plant a flower, garden, or tree in his honor.

• Visit a long-term care facility (if allowed) to share love with a father who has no one to visit him.

• Create a short video in dad’s memory and share it with your social media network. Encourage others to do the same.

• Participate in an online grief support group to share with others grieving a loss.


Excerpt from Dads Deserve it Too by Dora Carpenter and Contributing Authors.


Take a Grief Lesson from the Bamboo Tree

May 31, 2023

I am fascinated by the phenomenal growth process of the Chinese bamboo tree in the Far East. Unlike most trees, this tree doesn’t break through the ground for the first four years. However, in the fifth year, this bamboo tree can grow to a height of 90 feet in just five weeks! The growers of bamboo trees have unwavering faith as they keep watering, fertilizing, and caring for the ground. They have no doubt that the seeds planted will yield a fully grown bamboo tree.

I parallel this tree to how life and grief sometimes work. You might spiral down in the deep dark fog of grief, or work hard on your goals and dreams, for weeks, months, or even years, seemingly with no results; then, all of a sudden, miracles happen. You are your own bamboo tree. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t self-doubt. Don’t walk away from your bamboo tree. Water, fertilize, and nurture your bamboo tree with faith, tenacity, love, confidence, patience, and commitment. Keep watering your bamboo tree and it will grow in magical ways.

Growing My Grief Bamboo Tree. You have to choose to take responsibility for a renewed life, a different life.

1. What is the life you can now have without your loved one’s physical presence?

2.If you were to take only five percent more responsibility for your life going forward, what would that be? What would it look like? How would it feel?

3.List two action steps that you will take today to begin nurturing your grief bamboo tree.

What Role Does the “F” Factor Play in Your Grief Journey?

June 7, 2023

What about the fear of the future without your loved one? Fear and uncertainty can bring on increased emotions of anxiety and stress. You might be familiar with the Serenity Prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.


The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to

accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can,

and wisdom to know the difference.


I enjoyed teaching Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.’s work based on her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Susan Jeffers’ five truths about fear:


1. Not only are you afraid when facing the unknown, so is everyone else!

2. The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow!

3. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and… do it!

4. The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and… do it!

5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness!



Truth number five is my favorite once suffering from severe panic attacks and being temporarily housebound and on medication. Pushing through the panic disorder was less frightening (although quite a challenge) than the feeling of being unable to be the best wife, mother, and business owner that I needed to be.


What about forgiveness? This can sometimes create a roadblock to moving beyond your grief. Forgiveness frees you from emotional suffering. Letting go of hurts or perceived wrongdoings opens one up to receive the abundance of life. Don’t let unforgiveness hold you hostage to your happiness. Unforgiveness paralyzes, causing adverse effects on emotional and physical wellbeing.


It is important to forgive everyone, including yourself, for everything associated with the loss. Yes, this includes everyone... the medical staff who might have done 

more, family members, yourself because you weren’t at home or didn’t get to say goodbye, yourself because you woke up still angry from the night before and didn’t say I love you, the deceased for not sharing their health condition or illness with you, the neighbor for not calling for medical help, the person who caused the tragic accident, your sibling or caretaker for not taking better care of your loved one, the loved one for ending their own life, etc.


The antidote to unforgiveness is love. As much of a challenge as it might be during this time, love dissolves resentment, regret, and unforgiveness and brings about peace, happiness, and joy.


Here’s an affirmation for you: I am willing to forgive myself and anyone else for everything.


What role does faith play in the grieving process? One might question their faith 

during this time, even blaming and being angry at God. Remember, no judgment here! In contrast, one might become deeper in their faith as they rely on it for peace, hope, and strength.



Your belief system is the catalyst that fuels your thoughts and gives you inner peace. What does your faith say about death, grief, or the afterlife? What is your religious or spiritual belief system regarding hope, strength, and courage?

I suggest that you include a daily practice of meditation, prayer, or whatever ritual works to connect you with God, your Source, or your Higher Power.


Also, very important is your faith in yourself. This loss experience allows one to grow their faith in themselves as they move from pain to peace, heartbreak to happiness, and grief to gratitude. Think of any adversities, setbacks, or challenges you’ve overcome in the past. What was most helpful to you during those times?



Excerpt taken from Grief Talk Revolution: It's Time to Talk About the Elephant in the Room by Dora Carpenter



Celebrating Mother's Day is Not Always a Happy Occasion

May 10, 2023

As many prepare for honoring, celebrating, and remembering mothers, let’s not forget those who may not see this as a joyful day of celebration. For some, emotions are triggered by reasons that can invoke internal conflict.

Abandonment | Childless | Motherless | Childhood Trauma | Imprisonment | Widowed | Infertility | Miscarriage |  Stillbirth | Physical or Mental Abuse | Substance Abuse | Bereaved | Adoption | Unhoused |Alienation | Custody … and more.

If you know someone who might go inward on this day while observing the joy of others, stop and share with them. Share a smile. Share a message of love and support. Let them know that you care. Let them know that they are special. Let them know that their life has meaning.

You never know what others are going through or feeling. Watch for the signs and show your love and support.

From my heart to yours,

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Cost of Journaling is Free.  The Benefits are Priceless.

April 26, 2023

During the time of loss it can be challenging to share your true, authentic feelings with others. You don’t want to have to reply, “I’m fine” to the question, “How are you?“ It can be difficult to share how you are really doing, so you bury those feelings and harbor them in silence. This is not healthy and can lead to unresolved grief, affecting your emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing.

Although journaling might seem elementary and initially might intensify the pain, the effects are beneficial to coping with your grief. It doesn’t matter whether you simply use free flow writing or journaling prompts.

Here are just a few of the benefits of journaling:

•Relieves stress, anxiety, and tension.

•Creates a sense of wellbeing.

•Provides a safe, judgment-free space.

•Allows expression of personal feelings, struggles, and thoughts.

•Grants freedom to write when you feel like it.

•Provokes self-reflection and awareness of emotions.

•Improves self-discipline and notes accomplishments.

How do you get started?

1.Download your free My Grief Coach Journal here

2.Pick up a pen or pencil.

3.Start writing!!!!!

Exploring Your Emotions and Feelings

April 5, 2023

Grief can be an overwhelming and confusing experience. It is important to allow yourself to feel and process your emotions. This week I’m sharing nine prompts for you to journal your feelings related to the loss. These prompts will help you to identify and express your feelings, whether they are positive or negative.

1.What are you feeling today?

2.What emotions come up when you think about your loved one?

3.How has your loss affected your emotions?

4.How do you deal with difficult emotions?

5.What are the things that trigger your emotions?

6.How has your life changed emotionally since the loss?

7.Write about a time when you felt at peace with your loss.

8.What are the emotions you wish you could feel?

9.What are the emotions you wish you could avoid?

Remember that these emotions can change rapidly so be patient with yourself.

Grief Must be Faced Relentlessly

March 30, 2023

I want to share from a research study conducted following the 1942 fire in a Boston famous nightclub, the Coconut Grove, that caused over 400 deaths and over six hundred burn victims. Many of these patients had suffered the loss of family and friends in the fire. In the hospital, identical methods of treatment were used, but some patients’ burns healed and others did not. Research from this incident and research overall shows that emotional and mental attitudes affect the healing, or grieving, process. I interject that this is applicable to not only emotional healing such as grief, but physical healing as well.

Psychiatrist Dr. Erich Lindemann’s research showed that there was a direct correlation between the expression of grief and the successful healing of physical wounds. The patients who were healing successfully were the ones who were facing their grief openly. They shed tears, talked about their loss and hurt, and expressed guilt over surviving when others had not. They allowed themselves to think and talk about their lost loved ones, recalling happy memories of the love and happiness they had shared together. On the other hand, the patients whose burns were not healing were the ones who refused to talk about the tragedy. They pretended it had never happened or said it was too painful for them to think or talk about. They rarely cried. They put up a brave front, keeping their emotions locked inside. They had no hope that they would ever recover or feel better. Many showed signs of depression, anger, bitterness, and resentment.

Dr. Lindemann concluded this, as from one of his publications, “Grief must be faced relentlessly, no matter how painful, to enable emotional wounds to heal. It is necessary to feel the hurt, the loneliness, and the anguish until it becomes thoroughly familiar. Then, and only then, can it be accepted as part of life. At that time, it can be used as a starting point to reorganize a new life. This process is considered successful grief work, approaching the point where life can be started anew.” 


Exciting News Coming Soon. Watch for the launch of the My Grief Coach Membership Program!

This is why we do what we do at IOPGC.  Making a difference in the grief space for all of humanity.

March 23, 2023

Meet Naila Francis, founder of This Hallowed Wilderness. Naila shares her story of leaving her journalism career to serve individuals and communities as a grief coach and end-of-life doula.

From quitting her journalist job and taking risks along the way, Naila now wears many hats as writer and poet, interfaith minister, podcast co-host, grief coach, and end-of-life doula. She is also the founder of an interdisciplinary collective called Salt Trails that offers free community grief rituals to the public to help grievers feel less alone and work toward destigmatizing the very normal experience that is grief. Naila’s grief practice offers one-on-one coaching sessions, customized rituals and grief walks, workshops, classes, and presentations.

We are proud that Naila is part of our From Grief to Gratitude Coaches Community. Read more about Naila at Meet Naila Francis - CanvasRebel Magazine.


Ever consider becoming a grief coach?  Work through any personal unresolved grief while learning to support others.  Take 35% off our grief coach certifications programs now through April 1, 2023.

When Will the Pain Go Away?

March 15, 2023

A common question asked is, “When will the pain go away?” There is no set timeframe for your unique grief journey, but I hope this quick video this week will help. Remember to be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself along the way.

3 Tips for Supporting Someone Who is Grieving

March 8, 2023

Today’s blog post is short and to the point. I just finished an interview and was asked to close with three tips to support someone who is grieving. Here they are:

1.Be present. Be there for support. Provide that safe space to allow them to grieve, share what they are feeling, express their emotions in their own way.

2.Listen without fixing. This is so hard to do as we want to help by sharing our stories and experiences with loss. It isn’t about you at this time. Don’t try to fix them as they are not broken. They are grieving the normal and natural responses to loss.

3.Don’t judge. Their grief is not your grief. Although meaning well, understand that each person’s grief is unique to them. What worked for you might not work for them. You might not condone the situation or responses to their loss, but it isn’t the time to judge. Ouch!

Taking Responsibility for a Renewed Life

March 1, 2023

It’s a new month and March signals the beginning of a new season. We will soon spring forward and change our clocks (in my region). The birds are chirping, the buds are peeping, and winter clothing is loosening.

There’s a saying that “there’s a time and a season for everything.” Is there a time and season for grief?

In my grief coach certification program, we cover ‘Taking Responsibility for a Renewed Life.” As you are transitioning from pain to peace, heartbreak to happiness, and grief to gratitude, I encourage you to acknowledge ways in which your life has changed and what will be necessary steps (even baby steps) to a renewed life.

Today, I’d like for you to take time to ponder this question and journal your response: If you were to take 5% more responsibility for your life, what would you do?

Each Day Matters

February 22, 2023

While working in the cemetery on a blistery freezing morning, I took hot chocolate to the grounds crew. They were manually digging a grave for an interment scheduled later that day. I asked, “How do you do this on such a below freezing day?” I’ll never forget the response from one of the workers. With a big warm, magnetic smile, he replied, “Dora, every morning that I get up, come to work, and dig a grave that is not for me, it is a great day!”

I hope that as you navigate your grief journey, you find strength and courage to find gratitude in each day because life is precious and each day matters.

Your life matters. Each day counts.

Here are 12 affirmations taken from Dora Carpenter’s Wisdom Nuggets Series.

Day 1

Today is a new day and I am choosing to be happy.

Day 2

I celebrate me today.

Day 3

I greet today with love and gratitude.

Day 4

Abundance is within my reach.

Day 5

I see others for who they can become.

Day 6

The power within me is limitless.

Day 7

I honor and celebrate those who have sacrificed and gone before me.

Day 8

Everything is happening perfectly. One of Dora Carpenter’s Favorites

Day 9

I am thankful for those who have shared their knowledge and wisdom with me.

Day 10

Much gratitude is given to our country’s military personnel.

Day 11

When things get tough, I get tougher.

Day 12

I practice persistence and reach my goals.   

Benefits of Self-Compassion

February 15, 2023

Today’s blog post is a bit lengthy. During this “Month of Love” we hear the words love, compassion, happiness, etc., so I decided to share a chapter from Grief Talk Revolution: It’s Time to Talk About the Elephant in the Room  on the benefits of self-compassion.

Self-compassion is the practice of making choices that will reduce suffering and improve the quality of your life. It goes beyond creating the healthy habits mentioned earlier and is especially beneficial to those moving through grief.

Carlton Carpenter, Director of Compassion, Institute of Professional Grief Coaching, says, “Compassion literally means to ‘suffer with.’ When you feel compassion for someone, you feel their hurt or sorrow, and your heart goes out to them. You have that need to help. Self-compassion is the same thing; however, you now have to turn that inward. In a nutshell, Self-compassion is really not different from having compassion for others.”

I asked Mr. Carpenter to elaborate on this topic further:

When you experience compassion for others, you must notice that they are suffering, and you can’t ignore it. Your heart responds to their pain. When you feel compassion, you feel warm, caring, and a desire to help in some way.

When you are having a difficult time, fail or notice something you don’t like about yourself, that’s when you turn the compassion inward. Instead of ignoring your pain, you stop to tell yourself: “This is really difficult right now; how can I comfort and care for me in this moment?”

Self-compassion means you are kind to yourself and understand when confronted with personal failings. Remember, we aren’t perfect.

The way some of us are wired, it’s hard to practice self-compassion because we are so competitive by nature. Thus, it’s important to distinguish self-esteem from its close cousin, self-compassion.

In our culture, self-esteem requires standing out in the crowd, being the “Goat” (greatest of all times), special, and above average. The issue with that is that it’s impossible to be above average at the same time. Someone is always going to do better or be better. That’s when our self-esteem kicks in. We start to think of ourselves as not good enough or not worthy.

Self-esteem is a rollercoaster ride. When you feel like you are the “goat,” the best or better than the next, it boosts your self-esteem. On the flip side, when you’re up against someone more successful, stronger, or prettier, that self-esteem drops. Our self-esteem evaluates our self-worth.

Self-compassion isn’t a judgment or evaluation at all; it’s a way of relating to our ever-changing world of who we are with kindness and acceptance, especially when we fail or feel inadequate. Self-esteem requires feeling better than others. Self-compassion requires acknowledging that we are all imperfect.

Self-esteem is that fair-weather friend we all have. When things are looking good or going your way, it’s there. However, when you make a mistake, fail, or make a complete fool of yourself, it deserts you.

Self-compassion is always there for us. It supports us when our world crumbles with love and kindness. Yes, it still hurts, but life happens, and we keep moving forward with self-compassion.

It doesn’t feel good or okay to be average for most people. Who likes it when people outperform them? That’s the limitation of self-esteem. It constantly compares us to others. That makes our self-esteem bounce around like a ball, depending on our latest successes or failures.

When we feel that our self-esteem is causing us problems, it’s time to practice another way of relating to ourselves, and that’s with self-compassion. Research studies have demonstrated that people who practice self-compassion experience greater wellbeing, including mental and physical health benefits.

Less: Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Shame

More: Happiness, Life Satisfaction, Self-Confidence, Physical Health

Often, we have misgivings about whether it’s a good idea to be self-compassionate or whether we can be too self-compassionate. And certainly, our culture doesn’t promote self-compassionate as a virtue. These misgivings often block our ability to be self-compassionate and may block our self-compassionate abilities. Awareness is the first step to starting to take down these barriers. In other words, our misconceptions are generally unfounded.

For example: Doesn’t self-compassion just mean throwing a pity party for poor me?

Many of us fear that self-compassion is just a form of self-pity. Self-compassion is the fix. While self-pity says, “poor me,” self-compassion recognizes that life is hard for everyone. Rather than focusing on their own issues and distress, people who practice self-compassion are more likely to engage in perspective talking. Self-compassion is not a “woe is me” attitude, but it’s remembering that everyone suffers from time to time. It’s part of the human experience.

Another big fear is that self-compassion will make us weak and vulnerable. “I have to be tough and strong to get through my life.” In fact, self-compassion is a reliable source of inner strength that enhances resilience and courage when faced with difficulties.

A common thought is, “I need to think more about others, and not myself. Being self-compassionate is way too selfish and self-focused.”

Some worry that by being self-compassionate rather than just being compassionate to others, they will become self-centered or selfish. However, giving compassion to ourselves actually enables us to give more to others.

Some may say, “Self-compassion will make me lazy.” While some of us fear that self-compassion means being self-indulgent, it’s actually just the opposite. Self-compassion leads us to long-term healthier lifestyles and wellbeing, not short-term pleasure, eating better, exercising, and seeing the doctor more.

Also, another fear is that self-compassion is really a form of making excuses for bad behavior. “If I’m compassionate to myself, I’ll let myself get away with murder. I need to be hard on myself when I mess up to make sure I don’t hurt other people.”

Actually, self-compassion provides the safety needed to admit mistakes rather than blame someone else for them. Research shows that self-compassionate people take greater personal responsibility for their actions and are more likely to apologize if they offend someone.

The most common misgiving people have is that self-compassion might undermine their motivation to achieve. “I will never get to where I want in life if I let up on my harsh self-criticism for even a moment. It’s what drives me to succeed. Self-compassion may be fine for others, but I have high standards and goals that I want to achieve.”

Many people believe self-criticism is an effective motivator. Self-criticism tends to undermine self-confidence and leads to fear of failure. If we are self-compassionate, we will still be motivated to reach goals not because we are inadequate but because we care about ourselves and want to reach our full potential. This will lead to less fear of failure and more likely to try again and be more persistent in our efforts if we fail.

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all? Fair in terms of treating yourself fairly, compassionately, and lovingly. Who should be fairer to yourself than you? Remember, this way of thinking, this new behavior, will not go away overnight because we have been accustomed to treating ourselves this way. This is a practice we have to recognize in ourselves. Be in the moment and change that inner conversation.

Self-compassion is a practice. Practice makes what? Permanent. Nothing is perfect.   

Love After Loss is an Inside Job

February 8, 2023

A coaching client once asked, “How long after losing my spouse should I wait before dating?” Here we are again with the uniqueness of our grief journeys, the uniqueness of ourselves. Just as there is no specific timeframe to grieve, or no right or wrong way to grieve, there is no set time or path to moving through the “finding love after loss” destination.

However, that isn’t what this blog post is about. Finding genuine, true, authentic love after losing someone you love begins with finding love of yourself. Yes, that heart-centered love that might be lost, forgotten, or even stolen or kidnapped following a loss. Who are you now? Who is the person you now see in the mirror? Is that image reflecting self-pity, unloved, less than deserving? Does that image reveal darkness where a smile, happiness, and joy once resided? If so, it is okay to acknowledge this. Now, what’s next?

This week I would like you to focus on loving YOU! What does “loving me” mean to you? What does it look like? How does it feel? As Liz Gilbert said in an article in People Magazine after losing her partner, “What is the life that you can only have without your loved one?”

Right now you can’t avoid the pink and red hearts of the upcoming Valentine’s Day. What activity will you do to show love to and for yourself? Is it self-care, a spa treatment, shopping, going for a walk, having lunch with a friend, taking a long drive, packing a weekend bag with no specific destination planned, dancing, seeing a movie or play, buying yourself flowers, showing love to someone who might be feeling low … you get the idea. Don’t you deserve to love yourself?

Life is here. It is now. It is waiting for you.

After your self-love activity, go back and look in the mirror again and see what the image reflects. Have fun and Happy Valentine’s Day!

We Grieve Because We Loved

February 1, 2023

Why do we experience such painful emotions after the death of someone we love? Are we being selfish in doing so? No. Should we not wear these emotions on the outside of our sleeve but keep them locked inside? No. Should be “man up” and be so strong to not cry tears of sadness? No. Should we pretend that all is well while suffering in silence? No.

Let’s get to the heart of the matter and answer the question, “Why do we grieve anyway when it really hits that our loved one isn’t coming back to this life?” We grieve because we loved.

“We do not grieve without first loving. We do not love without gaining more than we could ever lose.” Unknown

If you are grieving a loss during this February (the month of love), cherish the love and memories that remind you of why you might feel sad, lonely, or empty without your loved one.

Stay in touch with me this month as we focus on “Grief is An Act of Love,” “Love After Loss is an Inside Job,” and more.

Love and light,


If you missed my recent video, It’s Time to Talk About the Elephant in the Room, see it here.

Crafting a New Narrative After Loss

January 24, 2023

On this Wonderful Wednesday, I want to acknowledge the IOPGC’s From Grief to Gratitude team, trainers, coaches, and students for the phenomenal work they do to make a difference in the world.

On January 24, The Los Angeles Times published an article by Angela Jamison, journalist and coach. Angela shares her authentic inspiring story of her grief walk after losing her Dad and says, “But one thing I know for sure: I am crafting a new narrative about the life I shared with my father, one of love, conflict, perseverance, healing — and gratitude. That’s the story I hope will inspire others as I step into my new purpose as a grief coach.”

Kudos to one of our trainers, Christina Stiverson, for reminding us in the article that “Everyone’s grief process is different and is completely unique.” Read Angela’s article here.

Doing the grief work is a choice, but as grief coaches we encourage you to take even baby steps, or crawl if you must. You don’t have to wait on time alone. You don’t have to suffer alone or in silence. You can craft a new narrative after loss.

Name Your Emotions

January 18, 2023

I recently read a business article entitled, “It Takes Courage to Name Your Mice” which referenced talking about emotions (aka, mice) being seen as a sign of weakness.

I thought of how this also relates to individuals grieving a loss. Are you locking your emotions inside for fear of judgment or perception from others who “just don’t get it?” Have you been told “you’re being selfish, you shouldn’t feel a certain way, or it’s time to let go?” Are you afraid to share your emotions because the response might be “let’s talk about happy things instead, be strong don’t cry, God wanted an angel, it was just his time to go, or maybe at least you got to say goodbye?”

It’s not our fault that we do and say many things that don’t help one who is grieving. We don’t know what we don’t know (smile).

Today, I want you to have the courage to shut the door on the outside noise and allow yourself to name your emotions! In other words, give yourself permission to feel. Give yourself permission to grieve. Your feelings are your feelings, unique only to you. No one can tell you how to grieve, or how not to grieve.

Once you do that you will release that locked in, possibly unresolved grief and feel better about moving through your grief journey. You don’t have to remain in that deep, dark, lonely fog of grief forever. Reach out and share your emotions with someone. Maybe a non-judgmental friend, spiritual advisor, coach, counselor, or mental health professional. You deserve to lighten the burden of grief!

Ask a Grief Coach

January 11, 2023

Dora Carpenter shares and answers your questions in an Ask a Grief Coach episode

A Message of Hope

January 4, 2023

I offer my condolences on the loss of your dear loved one. Your heart is broken. Your hopes, dreams, and expectations have been shattered. Life as you once knew it has been forever changed. You have been given membership in a club that you never asked to join. This dreaded date and event has placed itself on your calendar and you can’t change, postpone, or delete it.

The days ahead will escort you into a new reality. One filled with many emotions, questions, conflicting thoughts, concerns, and maybe even fears. Do you feel alone as everyone else has returned to their daily routines and seemingly forgotten all about you and your loss? Does it seem that others expect you to bounce back as if you just hit a small bump in the road? What do you do now? Will the pain ever go away? What does life look like ahead? Is there hope? Is there help? Can anyone even understand? Is there even a glimmer of light after such darkness and despair?

No one can tell you how to grieve because no one knows the intimate relationship that you shared with your loved one. There is no rulebook or standard operating procedure for coping with loss. While others mean well and try to help and console, they often say all the wrong things, such as “I understand how you feel,” or “It just takes time. Time heals all wounds.”

As you navigate this wilderness of grief, please know that there will be some crooked paths, wrong turns, and seemingly dead ends along the way. I encourage you to be kind, gentle, and patient with yourself as you journey from pain to peace, heartbreak to happiness, and grief to gratitude in the shortest time possible.

Empathy Never Begins with "At Least"

December 21, 2022

It’s the holiday season and so many are grieving various losses. We are ending the year with heavy hearts from loss of loved ones, health conditions, inflation, extreme weather conditions, gun violence, and so many issues that extinguish our happiness during a season of peace and joy.

Meaning well and wanting one to feel better, we often say things that are not helpful to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. Today, I share with you two words that do not help – “at least.” Empathy never begins with “at least.”

Here are just a few examples:

•To a mother who just lost her son. At least you have other children.

•To a widow. At least you are young and can marry again.

•To a widower. At least you were married to her for 45 years.

•To a student whose roommate was instantly killed in a car accident. At least he didn’t suffer.

•To a daughter whose mother has Alzheimer’s (not a physical death, but disenfranchised grief). At least she is still here, even though she doesn’t remember your name.

•To a coworker who received a call from the emergency room. At least you got the chance to say goodbye.

If you’ve said any of these things, don’t beat yourself up. There are so many things that we say and do with good intent but are not helpful to a grieving individual. We must do more in the area of grief education… the subject that no one wants to talk about, but everyone needs to hear.

Happy Holidays!

Each Day Matters

December 14, 2022

While working in the cemetery on a blistery freezing morning, I took hot chocolate to the grounds crew. They were manually digging a grave for an interment scheduled later that day. I asked, “How do you do this on such a below freezing day?” I’ll never forget the response from one of the workers. With a big warm, magnetic smile, he replied, “Dora, every morning that I get up, come to work, and dig a grave that is not for me, it is a great day!”

I hope that as you navigate your grief journey, you find strength and courage to find gratitude in each day because life is precious and each day matters.

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Taken from Each Day Matters: 365 Affirmations for Celebrating Life Beyond Loss, Wisdom Nuggets By Dora Series by Dora Carpenter

Day 1

Today is a new day and I am choosing to be happy.

Day 2

I celebrate me today.

Day 3

I greet today with love and gratitude.

Day 4

Abundance is within my reach.

Day 5

I see others for who they can become.

Day 6

The power within me is limitless.

Day 7

I honor and celebrate those who have sacrificed and gone before me.

Day 8

Everything is happening perfectly. One of Dora Carpenter’s favorites.

Day 9

I am thankful for those who have shared their knowledge and wisdom with me.

Day 10

Much gratitude is given to our country’s military personnel.

Five Tips for Coping with Holiday Grief

December 7, 2022

How do you cope with the "happy" holiday season when your heart is broken?  While you are drowning in tears of sadness, it might seem that everyone else has forgotten about your loss.  The reality hits that the holidays you once treasured are no longer.  I hope these tips give you hope for peace and comfort during this season and beyond.

1.Give yourself permission to grieve.

An integral part of the grief process is acknowledging our feelings of loss, so give yourself permission to grieve. Choose to make this holiday season a special time to remember your loved one. As you do so, focus on your loved one’s life and not the death. Listen to your heart as you find joy in the tears. Smile and remember the good times shared.

2.Remember to honor the life and legacy of your loved one.

Of course we remember the lives of our loved ones, but how can we honor them? In what way can you make someone else’s life better in honor of your loved one? What legacy did your loved one leave that you can share? What lessons have you learned as a result of your loved one’s death that you can incorporate into your own life?

3.Incorporate new traditions into old traditions.

You can keep some holiday traditions alive in ways to comfort you as you accept your new reality. Begin to incorporate new traditions into the holiday season. You might purchase a new ornament and place it on the holiday tree next to a favorite ornament of your loved one.

4.Embrace meaning and gratitude in your new life going forward.

You have been extended membership in a club that you never asked to join, and your life will never be the same again; however, your life can be meaningful. You have an obligation to live your life for the rest of your life. What are you grateful for today? What legacy will you leave your loved ones?

5.Fear, forgiveness, and faith.

What are you afraid of? Yes, you know that life continues and that you must move on; but, what about fear of the future without your dear loved one? Fear and uncertainty of your future can bring on increased emotions of anxiety and stress.

The Serenity Prayer reads: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

What about forgiveness? Forgiveness frees you from emotional suffering. Letting go of hurts or perceived wrong doings opens you to allow and receive the abundance of life that is available to you. Unforgiveness can paralyze you and have adverse effects on your emotional and physical wellbeing. This holiday season forgive everyone, including yourself, for everything associated with the loss.

What role does faith play in the grief process? Although one might question their faith during this time, grief can oftentimes deepen one’s faith when relying on it for peace, hope, and strength. Begin each day with prayer, meditation, or whatever ritual works to connect you with your Source. Be open to allow and receive the abundance of love that is available to you. You might also focus on the true meaning of this time of year. Your belief system can be the catalyst that gives you the courage to move forward and seize new possibilities. 

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

The Holidays Can be Complicated

November 30, 2022

The holidays are a vulnerable time for individuals grieving the loss of a loved one. Those complicated and conflicting feelings of what you should or should not do, how you should or should not feel, what others think or do not think, and that uninvited guest named “grief.” Grief for what was supposed to be and is no longer.

Please don’t beat up on yourself. What you are experiencing and feeling is normal and natural for one who is missing a loved one, whether the loss was this year or many years ago. Grieving the loss of a loved one is a complex experience to navigate at any time but is heightened during the holidays. This week I would like for you to shift a bit with me for only five minutes.

Take a break from whatever you are doing and thinking about. Grab pen, pencil, 

coffee, tea, or your favorite beverage. Find a comfortable chair, or even sit on the floor (my favorite), and let’s go to work with an exercise we use in our coaching program, the 50 Smiles Project.

For the next five minutes, list 50 things that make you smile. This can be a word, phrase, sentence, whatever comes to mind. Don’t forget the simple things that we often overlook and take for granted. I smile as I type this for the gratitude in simply being able to share this message with you… smile.

Go easy on yourself this holiday season and allow all feelings to coexist. Give yourself permission to feel those painful emotions. Also, look for smiles in the love you shared, the memories you made, the continued bond you share. Make space to honor your emotions, while allowing room for joy, smiles, and gratitude.

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Treat Yourself to a Thanksgiving Timeout

November 23, 2022

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. You are probably busy traveling or preparing for this day and might miss this week’s blog post. If not, I’m glad you are here because I want to interrupt your busyness.

Take a few minutes to go deeper into the Oneness of who you are today. I know that’s pretty deep right? Either before you retire for the evening, in the morning, or even a bathroom break during the day. Give thanks beyond the daily gratitude expressions for health, finances, family, etc. Don’t forget those of course!

Close your eyes. Imagine an endless open space, i.e., nature, water, etc. No one is there but you. Connect with only you. Oneness. Stillness. Inner peace. Connect with who you really are. Your being. Your greatness. Your presence. Smile and allow all of it. Find gratitude in simply the Being of You. Don’t try to fix or change anything. Just be. Now, go wherever and however this feeling takes you. Have fun.

I remember being at a shopping mall many years ago when an older gentleman gave me a compliment. I replied, “thank you” and he responded, “Don’t thank me. Thank your parents.” That response took me on another path of thought. Did he see something deeper than the physical presence? Who am I anyway? Why am I anyway? How am I anyway? I went really deep after that moment and carry that memory still today. I am not my business. I am not my home. I am not my finances. You get the picture.

I invite you to take some time to honor and celebrate who you really are this Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Missing Someone During the Holidays

November 16, 2022

Whether you have experienced the loss of a loved one this year, or many years ago, the holidays always heighten the memories, as well as the emptiness. This is the season of happiness, joy, family togetherness, and family traditions. For those who have lost loved ones, it might be a time of sadness loneliness, and despair. The sights, sounds, smells of the holiday season can’t be avoided and many feel that others have even forgotten about their loss.

You miss the booming laughter and special moments spent. There’s an empty chair at the table for Thanksgiving. You won’t have those warm hugs on Christmas morning. You might feel lonely on New Year’s Eve. You have to spend Hanukkah without your loved one. It might seem daunting to light the seven candles during Kwanzaa. You might even paste a smile on your face while feeling dreed inside. It is okay and even normal to feel like breaking down during this time, so please don’t consider your tears and emotions an indication of weakness.

What you are experiencing is simply called grief. Only those can feel this pain who have been through this type of heartache. Even though you might feel like crumbling, let the warmth of cherished memories fill and lift your spirits this holiday season. Find gratitude for those times shared.

I hope that you feel empowered to be compassionate and loving towards yourself as you navigate the feelings of loss this holiday season and beyond. I promised only nuggets here, so if you want to dive deeper into the pitfalls of holiday grief, listen to a previously recorded holiday grief webinar here.

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward. 

Riding the Wave of Grief

November 9, 2022

One day a client called me from her car during an immense period of panic. A traffic detour forced her to drive through a street she had not taken since her husband died two years ago. She was terrified. She couldn’t force herself to drive by the park where they used to sit on the same bench and enjoy lunch together. I could hear other car horns in the background beeping for her to move, but she was emotionally frozen and refused to drive through that street. Unfortunately, there was no way for her to turn the car around.

Feeling grateful that I was available to take her call, I talked her through this consuming grief burst as she slowly made her way through the detour. Grief bursts? What are they? Grief bursts, sometimes referred to as grief attacks, are those sudden outbursts of sadness, crying, or any normal and natural response to loss. They can be triggered by a sight, sound, smell, familiar object or place; or, they might have no trigger at all. The only thing predictable about grief bursts is that they are usually unpredictable with no trigger at all.

Now that you know what they are and that you are not going crazy, give yourself permission to ride the wave of this grief experience. Calm down. Take three deep mindful breaths. Close your eyes, open your heart, and remember the smile of your loved one. Embrace the journey and ride the wave of cherished memories.

p.s. My client was later able to return to that park and occasionally have lunch on that same bench.

Enjoy your day and keep moving forward!

Dora's First Grief Nugget Blog Post... Enjoy

November 2, 2022

When I worked in the cemetery, each day at a gravesite I would hear so many expressions such as “Life is so fragile. I just saw him yesterday.” “Life is so fragile, I’ve been meaning to call, but I’ve just been so busy.” “Life is so fragile. I didn’t even know she was sick.” “Life is so fragile. I can’t believe this has happened.” “Life is so fragile. If only I had known…” “Life is so fragile. I had the family on my mind last week, but…” “Life is so fragile. She wasn’t even sick.“ “Life is so fragile. We were just texting each other last week.” “Life is so fragile. His life seemed so perfect.” “Life is so fragile.” “Life is so fragile.” “Life is so fragile.”

Merriam-Webster defines fragile as easily broken or destroyed; flimsy or insubstantial; not strong or sturdy; delicate and vulnerable.

Many have thought and said it and usually at a time when life has thrown a curve ball of change that leaves us in the depth of despair. Upon notification of a death, the fragility of life stares you in the face and you stare back with questions of how and why. You not only question the death, but your own existence and the impermanence of life itself. Whether you acknowledge this fact or avoid facing the reality of same, the non-negotiable occurrence of death is inevitable. It will directly or indirectly affect each of us at some point and place itself on our calendar without permission, leaving us heartbroken.

If the delicate order of birth is death and life is really fragile, what is within our immediate control? Right now as you read this, in this present moment, on this Wonderful Wednesday, ponder these questions. What might you do today that you’ve put off until later for whatever reason? Who might you call or visit? Who might you forgive? To whom might you express feelings of care, concern, or love? How might you rearrange your busy schedule to make an avoided action a priority today? Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Life is here. It is now. It is waiting for you! Enjoy your day and keep moving forward.

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