32 ways to be insensitive to someone grieving

Grief, death, loss and mourning are topics kept well under the carpet. So, when someone comes across someone in pain, they can say the wrong thing.

The experiences of insensitivity far outweighs a loving and compassionate reason. I asked people to share the insensitive comments they received. These were actually said and they were experienced by more than one person. These are the top 32 from 325 comments.

Please read how not to do it and at the end, there are some suggestions of what to say. The list is not in any order.

  1. You’ll get over it – People may never get over it or even want to. Grief is the flip side of love. The deeper you love the deeper the grief.
  2. You must be relieved – this has been said to people who are grieving the loss of a parent or child who has been disabled or had a terminal illness. Here’s a further quote showing insensitivity: “ it’s harder for me than it was for your Mum because my son is normal. It’s not like your Mum had a relationship with her disbaled daughter.”
  3. Telling people to ‘stop carrying’ a week after the person they were close too died.
  4. ‘There’s no point being upset, it was all bound to happen at some point.’ 
  5. Said to the partner of someone dying from a heart attack, ‘he said you broke his heart and you really did.’
  6. ‘Your backup option for a husband has now gone.’
  7. ‘You must be relieved that [the person’s name] is dead now.’
  8. You’re so lucky…..’ – this is a popular one when the person grieving has a windfall from the estate.
  9. ‘Well, at least you can have another baby.’ – this is also a popular statement said to women having jus t lost a baby. It seems to be used mostly by health care professionals.
  10. ‘You should have known better to have a baby later in life.’ Really?
  11. ‘At least you know you can get pregnant,’ said to women after they have miscarried.
  12. An onlooker commented to a couple splitting up, ‘you seem like a very nice couple, I don’t know why you are separating.’
  13. Said by the driver who had just killed this person’s dog when she turned up at the house to exchange details, ‘well, at least you have other dogs.’
  14. Go on a dating site now to find someone who will marry you now.’
  15. After one week of grieving her father, she was told ‘that is long enough.’
  16. You look like you’ve lost weight. Grief suits you.’
  17. ‘I was waiting for her to hurry up and die,’ said by a son about his mother.
  18. ‘Your gran would be so disappointed in you. She’ll be turning in her grave over the fact you can’t come back for the funeral.’ Said by a mother to her grown up daughter.
  19. A father died just before Father’s Day, the offspring received a text saying, ‘well, it won’t be expensive now.’
  20. ‘It was for the best as she must have been a burden to you.’
  21. ‘Could you please cry silently or leave the room.’
  22. Don’t worry everything happens for a reason. You’ll have another baby. (A week after my sons funeral).
  23. Her Dad died 6 weeks before the wedding, she was told “at least you still have your Mum to walk you down the aisle.’
  24. After years of failed IVF treatments, this woman was mourning the loss of all the untaken embryos. She was repeatedly told ‘ just relax, it will happen when you least expect it.’
  25. You and I know your father is in a better place now.’
  26. ‘It doesn’t matter because your [relative] was old.’
  27. Her brother committed suicide, she’s been repeatedly asked whether there was any warning. As if that may have made a difference.
  28. Oh! You believe in reincarnation, so it’s so bad for you.’
  29. Asking ‘What happened?’ And ‘how did they die?’ Is particularly challenging for someone mourning.
  30. It’s really time you got over this’ said in relation to marriage breakdown.
  31. If your other children hadn’t died, you wouldn’t have this son now.’
  32. ‘It’s not like you are the only person to ever have lost a father.’

 

Things to say:

There are two camps with this. From people researched only 50% find someone saying ‘I am sorry for your loss’ helpful.

‘I am so sorry. My heart is broken for you.’
Or
‘I cannot imagine what you are going through.’

I know it’s easy to blurt something out when you feel uncomfortable. Remember the other person is in huge pain. Even saying, ‘I don’t know what to say’ is better than being insensitive.

100 year life span

What changes with a 100 year life span?

For this article, we look just at the changes in post work and then see how this has an impact on work and education.

The traditional three life phase approach is as follows

Three life stage model with life expectancy of 75
Three stage model with life expectancy of 100

With a life expectancy, the majority of life is spent working and this funds a retirement of little over 10 years. 

As we live longer lives, something has to happen to the splits between the phases.  

By moving the retirement age just to 70, we move from 60% working to 45% of the time working with the expectation that this less time economically active will not only fund our children’s education, pay for our house, save for a pension that equates for the half the time we worked. 

No generation has done this. Sure there are individuals who have saved all the bonuses, lived frugally throughout their lives to have a large nest egg. What cost has this been? To live frugally for a large part of life on a promise that they will have a cushy retirement. What if one dies early? What if both die early? How have they lived fully with no regrets?

There is the need to reconsider this three stage model into more stages or breaks within the stages. 

First of all, with the world racing through breakthroughs, it is unlikely that education at one time of life will be enough and there will be occasions throughout working life where new skills, new careers will be needed. 

Easier when you have one life long partner

Of course, it would easier for this to happen when there are couples. One partner works while the other studies and visa versa. 

It becomes harder when it is a single person. Even now, the system is geared for people to be married and stayed married to the same person regardless to the fact that the statistics show this not to be the case. 

As we live longer, it puts a strain on partnerships to grow and change whilst remaining together. More will happen to each person the longer they live. 

Consider work extending until, say 80 with periods of sabbatical, training, travel along the way. This changes how we live. Work need not be like it is at 30. We can choose how much or how little we engage. This is the same now. 

With a work span of 60 years, this is still less than those with a life span of 75 years and there is still the need to fund the non-economically active years. 

Even those people who are in their sixties and looking to retirement, the activities of someone with 5-10 years of retirement are very different to those who have the funds and have a life expectancy nearing 100, 35+ years of retirement. Here are some things you can consider to remain active:

Work

You can look to start a lifestyle based business, making a hobby into a small venture, delivering something you are passionate about and/or your gifts lend themselves to this. It doesn’t have to be full on. I suggest business because people, generally, do not value free stuff. 

Education

Was there a time when you thought, if only I could learn [this subject] but…. and all the reasons:

  • why you can’t like can’t afford
  • who would look after the kids
  • I work away a lot or work shifts
  • I don’t have the right secondary education standard to go to university 

and you do nothing. 

These excuses don’t apply now. What would you really like to learn? The beauty is you don’t need to turn it into an income generation activity. 

New friends

Keeping the same age related friends has both benefits and downsides. Let’s look at the downsides, you can become isolated from the rest of society as these groups tend to create a group identity, with a similar perspective on life and have new people who too, have a very similar perspective. This limits the individual and it all feels very comfortable. 

With regards to aging without limits, this is not helpful. There is little stimulation, no challenging the group think, so where does the individual get to learn new ideas, challenge assumptions, see there perspective is only one and there are many. 

Intergenerational friendships, on the other hand, help us to remain alert as we come across different perspectives which may challenge our own and lead us to be more open.

New hobbies/interests

There is plenty of time to realise an old passion for music, writing, photography or whatever. We all have things we did in our early lives that we would like to rekindle. The list is endless

Expanding existing hobbies

Use existing hobbies to extend your skills, learning, friends and joy. 

Travelling

This is more than being on a cruise or visiting many countries in 20 days. Now is the time to travel and take your time. If one place is very interesting, spend more time exploring it. 

There is no need to tick off many cities visited. Cities may not hold it for you now. Cycling along the lanes in many northern European countries brings many delights that would be missed on a coach or water tour. 

I am not saying these are redundant. It is just there are other ways to travel. Being independent give flexibility and an opportunity to go off the well worn tourist track. 

You may decide to do something completely different. 

What is important though, make a decision now. None of us know how long we have on this wonderful planet. 

No point putting stuff off until you have more, something else changes. That something else could be you not being able to enjoy these years. 

What are your plans for this exciting time of life?

Tuning in better

My journey and tuning in better

It is funny how we somehow disassociate our journey from what we are meant to do in this life.

I’ve spent the past four years living the aging without limits model. I know I had made huge changes in my life after my daughter died. I didn’t put the two together until a week or so ago. Doh! 🤨

Even though I started aging without limits journey very soon after my daughter’s sudden death, I didn’t connect that others may also do the same thing.

For me, grief has been a mighty teacher. It’s been a complete rebirth. Sure, I am still fundamentally the same person… BUT

During the grief, I closed down my connection with spirit -God – the universe, because I didn’t want to be caught in no man’s land wanting to connect with my daughter. I didn’t want to live my life searching for the connection that was no more. Boy! Was this hard.

Probably for the first time in my life, I was completely earth bound. I was so grounded and this was perfect for a while.

Over the past six months, I have been re-establishing connection and it’s proven to be a little bit more tricky than I thought. After all, it was so simple to close. No problem reopening, or so I thought!

Little by little, connection has been regained. This morning has been so, so wonderful. I received new copy for my promotional material this week. I am so excited. I have connection.

It’s like tuning the channel of a radio or TV. You know when you’ve got a good picture. For months, there’s been a lot of white noise. This morning, tada perfect picture. 🎉

For the previous two weeks, I’ve been saying to myself:

I am so grateful now that I write compelling copy

throughout the day and night. Well, we’ll see after this week, whether I’ve achieved this.

Copy is a relatively new skill for me too. See, in life before death, I worked b2b and relied on conversations, presentations and meetings to present ideas, pitch and seal the deal. Now, working in the b2c field, new skills are required to gain clients. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy learning. I am sharing why messaging has been such an issue for me.

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Reflections of life, loss and courage

Standing here, now in my 60s, I can see a theme of losses and grief ebbing and flowing through my life. Not sure whether I’ve more or less, that doesn’t matter.

What I have realised is that each loss gives us an opportunity for transformation. It’s an opportunity to take stock and decide how we wish to live now.

This takes courage and perseverance. It requires commitment to see the transformation through to the end.

January this year saw me starting a new chapter in my life. It is most welcome to be starting afresh as a person with some wisdom.

The previous four years has been a journey transversing grief on so many levels. Please, I really am not writing to gain sympathy. I am writing this to celebrate the courage, perseverance and commitment.

With the loss of my daughter, it was so clear that I had not only lost my soul mate, my best friend, also my future as I dreamed it and most mothers dream – mother of the bride, grandchildren, being there to guide the next generation. In a moment, all that had gone.

Then to complicate it all in the short term, I change country – another loss of different dimensions. Loss of the ways I had become accustomed to.

Even though, I wasn’t a native to the country I lived in for 30 years, I found coming back to the country of my birth hard. I found aspects of me that I prized as being Australian, weren’t. They were part of me.

This passage taught me that the way through to wholeness is not straight nor can it be. We need to stay awhile and rest along the way.

While resting though, settling is so seductive.

You look back on the progress and say well done. This is not the time to say, ‘I have arrived’ Yet, it is so seductive. Our egos want to reign supreme and do away with all that change bunkum.

Instead, listen to that deep voice urging you to take a step further, turning the corner and finding a beautiful vista that fills you with gratitude that perseverance paid off.

Even writing this today, I realise I am only at a vista and this too will be left as I continue with courage as my wonderful friend.

We are invincible providing we keep moving. Stop and we have to start all over again renewing our relationship from scratch, building confidence and remembering we travelled together so well.

This is about me, about my life and about life in general. It informs my approach in delivering coaching and training on Aging with Limits. Ageing is an inside job. Make yours as positive as you can.

Effects of stress in just six weeks

The past two months have been hugely stressful and, as a result, my health has suffered. What happened?

In January, I was going to the gym five times a week and had the biggest change in my fitness. Diet was on track. I was eating mostly vegetables combining raw and lightly cooked.

Stuff arrived to change how I felt. In the first couple of weeks, that’s ok. I went to exercise three times a week to fit in the other things, the other stuff. See that stuff became pervasive. It creeped into my mood driving me to search for instant gratification. I know carbohydrates are really not good for me. All I need to do is look at a carb and it is instantly on my hips.

Yet, for the past six weeks, I have slowly reversed my diet away from vegetables to the beige-ness of carbs and processed food. It is so easy to do. What’s more, when the carbs stopped giving the instant hit, I started to have a glass of wine of two. That’s a combination of guilt and like any addiction, you need more to get the same effect. Lord knows, how much my weight has increased.

Let me tell you what has happened to my body. This is not easy to share.

Over the past two months, I switched from an anti-flammatory diet to one that does nothing for my body. Eating beige food aka processed food has very little that is helpful to the body.

Added to that the wine killed off my gut bacteria so, my immune system is now compromised AND the manufacture of the happy hormones – endorphins, dopamine and serotonin have reduced. This means I am less likely to seek pleasure, have coffee with friends. Dangerous, right?

This is in just 6 weeks.

Last week was a doozy for stress levels as I didn’t get the house I wanted even through I had started packing. It was when packing, I developed an injury. The muscle in my left buttock has been strained. This makes being mobile not that easy. I asked the pain what it needed from me to feel better. ‘Go to the gym,’ it answered. I also did a lot of self love and relaxation over the weekend. (I thought I had been looking after myself, obviously not nearly enough.)

This morning I jumped back into going to the gym with my injury. I did 2km on the rowing machine and some bench presses with 7kg weights. That’s 2 kg lighter than in January, just 6 weeks ago.

I am sharing this because it is so easy to succumb to stress and then adopt a lifestyle that is not conducive to aging without limits.

Here is a graphic summarising what is damaging and beneficial. The lure of the items on the damaging side is strong. Yet, it will shave years off your life or worse, there’ll be years of ill health leading to a reduced quality of life.

 

If you, like me, have succumbed to consuming more from the damaging side and would like to have help and accountability to move and stay on the beneficial, please book a Free Fifteen where we find whether we’re a good fit.
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Pain is a cry for help

Pain is our body’s cry for help

I’ve been doing research and found that people in their 40s start to have twinges, creaks and pain when they move.

Despite this being a common phenomenon, it is cause for alarm. Anyone who has creaking, twinges and pain, please take notice.

Our bodies are regenerating organisms. They are built to serve us and they do a magnificent job. They depend upon us to eat the foods that best sustains it and to move around so the joints and muscles are kept in good working order.

Even when we don’t feed it or move, our bodies do the next best thing, it reallocates nutrients stored to a place in most need. The body works in the NOW. It doesn’t look into the future and say ‘Mm, better not move that nutrient from the bones because it will cause damage later on’

Body says, ‘Attention, urgent need for nutrient X in knee for example’ Action is taken immediately so the knee has the resources it needs.

Body will continue like this for as long as it is living. It makes the assumption that new nutrients will arrive. After all, it sends out messages to Brain that things are going awry.

Body continues to send messages to Brain. These messages increase in intensity as time goes by.

Body can’t do anymore. It is on the receiving end of our actions.

Slowly, body succumbs to disease and damage only because no one is listening.
No one is increasing the intake of much needed nutrients.
Body can only process wine, bacon, bread, pasta, cake and red meat for so long without needing to have big helpings of fresh vegetables.

Pain is our bodies cry for help. Listen to body. Listen to the creaks and twinges. These are the first signs that all is not well. Remember, our bodies are designed to last our lifetime without damage and fatigue.

Knowjng what you don’t want is only going give you that

Knowing what we don’t want

There’s nothing new with eating healthy, exercising daily, having people around you for love and support. What is new are the reasons why these things are very important. Research results over and over highlight the significance of taking action to live fully, live long, live well.

Our lifestyle choices, throughout our lives, have a huge impact on how we age, the wellness of our later years and, indeed, whether we reach those later years.

Remember our bodies are magnificent regenerative organisms. It regenerates regardless of the input. Remember the saying – garbage in, garbage out. Our bodies will do it’s best with the ingredients given.

Aging has such a bad reputation. Mostly, we see from those around us how NOT to do it.

We form a mental picture of how we don’t want to be. Sadly, this approach will only bring those thoughts toward us. We’ve all heard of the Law of Attraction – what we think, we manifest.

Today, let’s turn what we are thinking into a picture of how we want to look.

Imagine, you are looking in a mirror of you 30-40 years from now. Who do you see?
A happy person, eyes beaming, lips upturned into a slight smile. Your figure is still gorgeous, although different from now.

Imagine all the people in your life then and how you spend your time.
Are you the centre of a vibrant community where life is still very full and moments seized with the same zing you did in your twenties.

Imagine all the people you’ve helped over your lifetime.
Imagine the legacy you’ve created along the way.

Aging is inevitable. How we do it is up to the individual.

To help you, today, I release the Future You Journalling Meditation.

You can create a picture on who your future self already is and create steps today to meet her again. Use the form below

 

Get the Legals done

Get the legals in place

Your parents may be getting older and still have many years yet. Though, sometimes, we don’t know when illness takes hold and some serious decisions need to be taken. Remember, medical science has increased the longevity and at the expense of health.

The generation in their 70s, 80s and beyond tend to be stubborn in asking or accepting help. If any of the following are not in place, you could be in for a rough ride.

Here are six items to get in place BEFORE you need to use them and they are not in any order.

1. Enduring Power of Attorney or Guardianship

This is not about taking over. It can have a start date depending upon the circumstances. It’s about ensuring the wishes and lifestyle of your loved one is continued. You know your parent’s likes and dislikes, what they like to spend their money on. You can continue the pattern.

The last thing you want is for this to be taken over by social workers who implement legislation.

2. Advanced Care Directive

This details the person’s wishes with regards to medical care. You keep a copy and upload a copy to the person’s online health record. Also, send a copy to all the doctors, your part]ent is a patient with.

This avoids life saving measures undertaken unnecessarily.

3. Last Will and Testaments

I know when I looked at the wills of my parents, they were created many, many years before.

Make sure the Will is in line with their current wishes. Make sure you know where the Will is kept and who the executor is.

If a parent has a brain degenerative disease, then the Will can not be changed.

4. Details of financial documents

Know the account details and passwords of all accounts. If there are any changes ensure these are logged so the record is up to date.

5. Directory of Passwords

You want to be able to close down accounts at the end of life. You will need passwords. There are some accounts where presenting a death certificate will do it. Why add that extra layer when you will already be dealing with so many things?

6. Health Crisis

Where your parent has an episode of poor health and is in need of medical assistance, it is far better to take them to emergency department or the GP rather than calling an ambulance. The ambulance crew’s primary role is to save lives and get the person to hospital. The health directive may not be acted upon at this time. Your relative may have interventions contravening their health directive.

If you can stay in control, honour the wishes of your parent.

This is a complex area and I am expressing my opinion rather than legal opinion.

For Australia, these websites are a good starting point:

End of life in Australia
advancedcarelanning.org.au

It is better to seek advice before an incident or emergency because, you will only need to address this rather than all the legalities at the same time.

Feeling good with laughter

Feeling good with laughter

Laughter feels so good. It releases serotonin and endorphins which helps balance the stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine. Yet, when we are stressed or unhappy, it is one of the last responses we do.

Yet, laughter is essential for us to feel connected with people. It’s a way humans bond together. We are social animals and respond best in the company of others rather than living alone. This is not saying that we have to all be extroverts. The mix of social activity and alone time is according to each individual. I’ve noticed that the older I become the amount of time between social and alone has changed. Although, it is easy to become more alone leading to isolation.

How can we ensure we make the most of laughing?

1. Release all the unresolved loss and grief inside us.

Grieving puts us into a negative space and this is, perhaps, why it is avoided. If we don’t resolve all the losses in our life, they become ever so heavy burdens.

A simple way is to find a buddy who wants to share releasing the loss journey with you. For each loss, write a letter sharing all that you gained from the relationship plus the times you were annoyed and angry. Finish of the letter with ‘Goodbye’ and your name. Set up a time for your buddy to read aloud each others letters. There must be no judgement or discussion about the contents of the letters. Continue in this way until all the losses have been released.

When I mention losses, these can be so varied and include:

  • Friendships that finish abruptly
  • Lovers
  • Marriages
  • Jobs
  • Cars
  • House
  • Change in social status
  • Homelessness
  • Loss of health, even if temporary
  • Pets
  • Grandparents
  • Parents
  • Extended family
  • Partner
  • Child

Grieving releases all the negativity and gives you an opportunity to gain wisdom. You notice a lightness of heart.

2. Start a practice of gratitude or Gratitude Journal

This is complementary to releasing losses. You can become grateful for the losses for the lessons they gave you.

Set a side 10 minutes a day to write down ten things you are grateful for. There are so many things – seeing the sunrise, the sky, rain, a smile, appreciation of what people do for you, remembering the joy you give by doing things for other people, their appreciative acknowledgement of your impact in their lives. There’s gratitude in the bed you sleep, the food you eat, the body you have, the car you drive. This list is endless. Every moment of the day can have something to be grateful for.

Gratitude fills our inner reservoir. It lightens our mood and raises our vibration. I refer to this as our breath of life. As we breathe in Gratitude, the out breathe is that of generosity.

We can also be grateful for how we show up in the world; with what we do with that out breath. This may be acts of kindness, spending time with someone; giving your full attention to another person, giving wonderful hugs full of love. This list is endless too. There is no need to give money, although, in some circumstances, it may be appropriate.

We make the most impact as humans by how we leave people feeling. The easiest way is through love and time.

Now, we are light, full of love and positive energy, let’s start on the external activities

3. Stay/Get Connected

This is also intrinsically linked to Doing Something New and a really great way of increasing the opportunity for humour and laughter.

People who are socially connected laugh more.

This can be anything. Here are some pointers:

  • Starting a new hobby
  • Doing an art class
  • Doing an exercise class
  • Joining a new social group
  • Calling friends you haven’t been in touch with for ages and having a chat and/or arranging to meet up.
  • Take up a new sport whether it’s free or lots of money, it’s the activity, the social activity that’s important.

Start small and build momentum with little wins. Little things to give positive feedback and encourage you to repeat, repeat and repeat some more.

The big thing, here, is not to worry about what people think. Associate yourself with people who like having you around; who show you appreciation (rather than taking you for granted.)

With the inner work, all these outer activities will help you regain the frequency of laughter and maintain your positive vibe. You’ll be in demand. People gravitate to people that leave them feeling fabulous.

The bonus is you feel fabulous too. There’s no limit on how far this positive spiral can take you.

Take action today. A small step each day brings rewards. Faster than you think!

 

 

The Curse of Processed Food

Eating out & eating processed foods taste yummy at the time. Taking the easy road now may lead to years of disease and ill-health later.

Eating out amongst Australians now reaches more than four times a week. This means we are relying upon restaurants and cafes for our daily intake of vegetables and what we get is an overdose of salt.

Sydney’s George Institute for Global Health released an alarming report on the state of the nation with salt intake. Men are consuming more than double the World Health Organisation recommendation amount of five grams a day. Australian women consume more than seven grams every day.

We are trading easy today for long term health problems of heart and kidney disease. These diseases change our quality of life just when we are ready to enjoy the increased leisure time and playing with the grand kids.

Here are some simple things to boost your intake of fresh food:

  • Do something new and prepare a fresh salad with some meat, poultry or fish. This can take the amount of time to prepare at home as it does waiting for your takeaway. The benefits are enormous. You are in control of what is going inside your body.
  • If you want to eat with friends, invite them to yours. Prepare a meal for everyone or ask them to bring the protein. Even have a barbie.
  • Meeting in your home makes the whole event more relaxed and the conversation may go to places you’ve not been to before.
  • Make two meals a day healthy
    Take control of breakfast and one of meal of the day. See breakfast as a way of having vegetables rather than cereal – these are part of the processed foods you are reducing.

I make a vegetable dish of onion, chilli, tomato, mushroom and kale or spinach. It is quick to cook – everything can have a slight crunch. It’s tasty and keeps you going until lunchtime.

For the other meal, you can choose a salad. Be flexible about the ingredients. Combine what you have and add a dressing if you wish. I create a homemade coleslaw looking salad with french dressing rather than mayo.

Start flirting with these lovely vegetables. Your body will soak them up, turning on your detox system, activating your internal anti-aging compounds and generally boosting your energy levels.

After all, we are designed to consume fresh vegetables and protein rather than
Big Mac, fried fish and chips, pizza, noodles and the rest of the easy food we consume.

Remember easy now may mean years of disease and disability later.

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