Having recently experienced an unexpected trauma (and I guess that’s the point, who ever expects this kind of thing), I have learned a thing or two about how others respond to it.  In wanting to talk about the trauma itself, other people get uncomfortable.  It is like no one knows how to handle any real pain any more.  If someone is mourning the loss of a loved one, the advice “Stay strong!” really is not helpful.

Someone I love died.  It is OKAY and NORMAL to be sad he is dead.  He’s not coming back.  It IS a loss.

Let me freaking grieve it.

When someone is grieving, simply say something compassionate like, “I’m sorry for your loss.”  Then take the cue from the grieving individual as to how to proceed.

Say the same kinds of things to them that you would if you saw them at a funeral.  And if they want to talk about it, heck, if they need to talk about it (which everyone does) – LET them.  Don’t tell them to “stay strong” as if feeling your feelings is weak.  It is normal and healthy to process the loss.  What is unhealthy is to continue to act like it doesn’t exist.

Show compassion.  Always.  Even when it’s hard.  Even when you don’t feel like it.  Love one another.  It’s that simple. ❤


A Beautiful Life

My friend hung himself with a black canvas belt in his closet one month ago today.  These are the facts.

In his final moments, he felt he deserved to hang in his closet like a human shirt.

As an *almost* clinical psychologist, I deal with trauma every day.  I never expected to see it firsthand.  That being said, there is something so beautiful in the way his death is bringing all of his friends and family together.  It says a lot about the wonderfully beautiful life that he lived.

I miss him.  Every minute of every day.  I was teaching him the moves to the Cupid Shuffle the night he died.  My in-laws bought a karaoke machine called the Party Rocker for my sister-in-law’s upcoming wedding.  We were out on the deck, dancing side by side and having fun.  R was right up in there, being the little light that he always was.  There were green and red lights dancing up above and I remember thinking in that moment, “This is magical.”

Now I know how magical it truly was.

I will always miss him.  It is unfortunate that in the end, he felt too consumed by the darkness to continue on.

But his death inspires me.  To know better.  To DO better.  All of the things I want to change in the world, well – I’m now ready to start trying.

I love him.  And am thankful for the last four and a half months he gave us.  I hope you are Cupid Shuffling up there in Heaven.  I love you.  “‘Til the day we meet again, in my heart is where I’ll keep you friend.” ❤

What a Difference a Day Can Make

“The mind is everything; What you think you become.” -Buddha

Such a true statement.  Happy mind = happy life.  It really is that simple.

Be present.  Be a friend.  When you’re sad, allow yourself to be sad.  When you’re happy, be happy.  When you’re joyful, well I sure as heck hope you share that joy! Love one another.  What you put out you get back to you tenfold.

“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another.  For love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8


In today’s society, many of us are “busy” rushing from one thing to the next.  When do we ever take time to smell the roses? We have instant access to a wealth of information, good or bad.  But is this healthy?

A current trend in psychotherapy is towards an Eastern/Buddhist approach.  We call it mindfulness.  It is as simple (and as complicated) as fully being in the present moment, no matter how difficult.  When you are driving, drive.  When you are with someone, be with them.  When you are waiting at the doctor’s office, be there and not on your cellphone.  One of the exercises we like to do with the teens is have them eat a piece of Dove chocolate then tell us one thing they notice about the experience.  Things like, it tastes delicious, the way it melts in my mouth, the smoothness of it, etc…

In American society we have glorified the notion of “busy.”  But what if busy meant living a full life? Not one on the internet, texting, or making sure you post every minute on the latest and greatest social network.  Sure, these things have their perks and can be great business tools but balance is necessary.

I see so many clients who seem to have lost their way.  And a big part of this is today’s society.  We are “connecting” with one another instantly.  While part of that is wonderful, I absolutely love getting to connect with other photographers, artists, etc… from all over the globe on Instagram, the flip side is we are missing the moment.  Be present.

We aren’t promised tomorrow today.  Live.  Enjoy the present moment for the gift it is.  You’ll be amazed what can happen when you do.


An Opportunity for Reflection

So, like many of you, Robin Williams’ tragic death took me by surprise.  I never expected to feel compelled to write a blog post but my reaction to his heartbreaking passing took me by surprise.  Robin Williams was/is a truly gifted and beautiful soul who brought light and laughter to all those around him.  I pray that he and his loved ones are able to find some measure of comfort in the public outpouring of compassion in response to his death.

That being said, as an (almost) psychologist, I have seen numerous posts on social media that say “Shame on you.”  Really? Shame on Robin Williams? Who was in so much incredible pain that he saw death as the only option? Why be SO quick to judge?  What a wonderful opportunity to practice kindness and compassion.

Just because suicide is difficult to talk about does not mean it isn’t happening.  Mental illness is like any other illness.  Would you find it appropriate to write “Shame on you” on a cancer patient’s Facebook wall? I doubt it.  Instead of judging someone who already took their life maybe you should examine why your first response is to BLAME the victim.

That’s right.  I said VICTIM.  A person who was suffering from such overwhelming pain that they unfortunately chose death as the means to an end.  We are all HUMAN.  We all have emotions.  In this range of emotions, we all experience: joy, sadness, despair, pain, laughter, happiness, sorrow, grief, impulsivity, worry, impatience, empathy, etc…

We are all beautifully and wonderfully flawed.  It’s part of the human condition.  But don’t forget that KINDNESS MATTERS.  Always.

The next time you see someone who is struggling, do not be so quick to judge. One kind word or five minutes of your time might change that entire person’s day… Or even life.