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Coaching Through Grief _Final

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>> Are you familiar with the stages of grief? This universal process of coping through a loss is a psychological phenomenon that extends across all cultures and all types of people. Likely, you've heard of it and perhaps even experienced it yourself. But have you ever thought of it in the context of coaching your clients? Unfortunately, loss is something that affects us all at one point or another. So it's inevitable that we'll have clients who are dealing with the pain of losing a loved one or even a cherished pet. Now with that, I'd like to point out that you can work with someone who's struggling with loss, but grief should never be the primary reason a client signs with you. In other words, if someone is seeking help for their mental health because of grief, it would be out of your scope of practice to take this person on as a client. There are counselors and therapists for this, and those are the advisors you should be referring them to. However, it may be appropriate to take on a client who is experiencing grief but they're seeking coaching because it's impacted their wellness. They're not coming to you because they want you to help them with their depression or anxiety, but they're coming to you because of their experience of low energy, poor sleep, weight gain, or some other kind of health issue as a result of their bereavement, and they want help getting back on track with wellness. Providing a safe and supportive environment, as a Health Coach, for this client who's going through loss is totally okay. As a Health Coach, it's appropriate to ask questions and hold space for them to process their loss because this is part of the holistic picture of who they are and what's going on with them. But you're not providing grief counseling or trying to remedy their grief, and you're clear about what you're doing. Can you see the distinction here? Taking on the mental health issues of a person who is impacted psychologically by grief is not within our scope. But providing a listening ear and a supportive environment for someone who is experiencing grief to help them get back on track with their wellness goals is a coachable situation. With that said, it's helpful to understand how humans tend to operate through grief so you can understand what's going on for your clients who are in mourning. In this lecture, I'll share with you the five stages of grief so that you can learn how to be most supportive to your clients from within your scope of practice. Let's start by talking about the principles underlying the five stages of grief. This model was proposed by Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross in 1969 and has evolved over time. The stages of grief are considered to be universal, but this doesn't mean that one person experiences loss exactly the same way as the next. Everyone grieves differently because no person is the same and no loss is the same. The five stages are not linear rather they're common elements that all people go through to some degree at some point while grieving a loss. Two people may be grieving the same person and experiencing death in profoundly different ways. One might be stuck in one phase for a year and then go rapidly through the rest whereas the other might balance back and forth cycling between different stages. Neither is grieving appropriately or inappropriately because there is no right or wrong way to respond to a loss. Simply put, they are going through their own healing process in a way that works for them. It's like bio-individuality for grief. Another key element to remember is that you can't coach your clients out of grief, but you can coach them through grief. Your client's process must be respected and never rushed. When dealing with bereavement, it's especially crucial that you meet your clients where they're at and allow them to lead. Have you ever lost someone to be told they're in a better place or this too shall pass? People say these things with good intentions, but they invalidate the feelings of grief. Telling your clients how they should feel or normalizing the experience is not helpful. So now let's look at what these stages actually are. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Now let's talk about what each one means. Are you ready? Let's go. The first is denial. Denial is a temporary response that helps buffer us through the immediate shock and pain of loss. It's normal and adaptive to try to rationalize extreme emotions because such intensity can hit like a tidal wave. As a result, people in denial feel numb and everything around them may feel like a blur. It can feel like walking around in a dream. Have you ever experienced this? A client in the stage of denial might feel like they're using all of their energy just to make it through each day. It's common for people to isolate during this stage, so your client may cancel appointments or have a hard time opening up. A client in the denial stage may backslide on whatever they've been working on, their priorities have changed, understandably, and so you can shift yours to meet them where they're at and focus your work on how they can cope and make sense of the loss. But as an advocate for your client's well-being and self-care, you don't want to sit back and watch them self-sabotage or develop unhealthy habits. So while providing gentle understanding and a space to breathe, you'll still want to lovingly challenge your clients to take care of themselves during a difficult time. It's a delicate balance as a Health Coach to give your clients the space they need and respect their time to grieve while also lovingly holding them accountable for their self-care and their commitment to show up. Use your best discretion and best judgment for how to proceed in these situations. Some people who are in denial act like everything's fine and insist that they're doing okay. Sometimes this is done to keep up appearances, but often people in this stage truly do feel like they're okay even when they know they're not because the reality of the situation just hasn't hit them yet. This can be puzzling and even guilt-provoking. A client in this stage might say things like, "I don't understand why I can't cry." Don't be alarmed if you have a client in denial, they won't stay there forever. While denial, in general, can be maladaptive, in this circumstance, they're trying to wrap their heads around one of the biggest mysteries of life as it has just personally affected them. Sit with them and just hear them out. Trying to set someone straight or shock them out of denial can be more harmful than helpful. If your client knows he or she has a supportive safe coach to open up to, they will when it's time. But until it's time, they just might not have the vocabulary or the understanding, and that's okay. The second stage is anger. Once denial starts to wear off, the pain starts to set in, but the person is still not ready to accept what's happened. This often comes out as anger, and this anger can emerge in many different forms. It can be targeted at oneself, others, or even the person who is lost. Sometimes, it's all of these. The rational mind and the emotional mind are not working together. This is a time where resentments emerge. Sometimes, it's a resentment of an unresolved conflict or issue with a loved one who passed. Sometimes, it's self-directed. Maybe they regret some of their interactions with this person or didn't get a chance to say something that they wanted to tell them. They may start to form resentments towards the people around them for how they're handling or not handling the situation. This is a stage marked by sensitivity and volatility. The anger stage may seem selfish, destructive, or even frivolous, but it's a necessary part of the process. Your client might feel guilty for lashing out at this time and making the situation even harder to tolerate. Often, feeling guilty about being angry can make a person even more angry. What's important, when a client is going through this stage, is that you just reassure them that the anger is part of the process and that they have a safe space to let it out when they're with you. Encourage them to find safe outlets to channel their anger such as exercise, punching a pillow or a punching bag, listening to loud angry music, or screaming. Your clients need to feel their anger because the more they suppress it, the longer it will take for them to emerge out of this stage. Bottled up anger is unhealthy to the mind, body, and spirit. Encourage your clients to rage safely and non-violently, not to "get it together." A lot of people in their lives may be telling them or expecting them to buck up. Be that one support for them who gives them permission to be vulnerable and release their anger. The third stage is bargaining. Bargaining occurs when the denial is gone and the anger has been rationalized away. So all that's left is the pure pain and the reality of loss. Confronted head-on with loss, they're met with desperation. This is when people start to reason. Reason with God, or their higher power, or reason with themselves. They try to rationalize and make sense of this situation to find some way, any way it could've been avoided as if it could somehow bring their loved one back. Have you noticed how, at the brink of an impending crisis or loss, people who ordinarily don't pray or have an established connection with the higher power may suddenly start praying for things to be okay? We're all beings of spirit. Some of us are religious or spiritual, and some not at all. But when things get really bad, when we want more than anything in the world to protect or bring a loved one back or to repair an otherwise broken situation, we become desperate. And only in desperation, do we become open to the idea that anything is possible, that we'd do anything or be open to any possibility that could make things better. This stage is marked by statements that start with what if and if only. "If only we'd gotten a second opinion from that other vet." "What if I had just cancelled that meeting and then I would've been home and would've been able to save her." "If only I hadn't been so selfish, he wouldn't have left that night." It's not uncommon for people to try to make a pact with a higher power or make a personal treaty to dedicate their lives to the cause at hand. To try to get one last shed of power over a situation that's completely out of their hands. Often, they'll blame themselves as if that could somehow rectify the situation. It may be helpful to remind your clients who are stuck in blaming, bargaining, and rationalizing that it's not their fault, that things unfolded how they were meant to. But you need to not try to convince them of this. This may be where they're at right now and they may not be ready to leave. Your client may need to hear that it's not their fault. You definitely don't want to side with them that it is their fault. But this shouldn't turn into a circular conversation. Their guilt which is causing them to find fault with themselves may just be a way to distract. If they're stuck in this phase, help them channel this tension in a positive direction such as becoming more spiritual, writing poetry, or getting involved in a cause. The fourth stage is depression. This is when reality has fully set in. Their loved one is gone, and they're not coming back, there's nothing they can do. Your client is now in the present. In the present, there's a void. A hole where the loved one used to be, and so now they're feeling emptiness. The pain takes on depth and it feels like depression. Now there's depression that happens as mental illness, a chemical imbalance that causes a person to feel these intensely sad and empty feelings for no circumstantial reason, and then there's being situationally depressed. And while these two may feel the same and they both affect one's mental health, they're different because it's a totally normal response to feel depressed when something sad and tragic happens in your life. It's not a mental illness. In this case, it's emotional processing. So you'll want to remind your client that it's normal for them to feel the way that they do and that they're entitled to take the time and space they need to get back on their feet again. You shouldn't try to fix your client or make them cheer up, just sit with them. Sometimes, what a person in this stage needs most is someone loving to literally just sit with them. Only your client knows what he or she needs so just ask them. What you do want to be mindful of, in this stage, is that your client is not headed toward or engaging in self-harm. This can include drug and alcohol abuse, cutting or suicidal ideation. If you suspect any of these things, you'll want to immediately refer them to someone in their community or a hotline that has people equipped to handle these types of issues. If you have a client you suspect is self-harming, approach them lovingly with gentle curiosity. If they suspect judgment or that you'll reprimand them or in some way get them in trouble, they won't open up. The best stand to take with someone who is self-harming is that you understand their pain and that you care, not that they're wrong and that everything's fine. The fifth and final stage is acceptance. Acceptance doesn't mean that they've become okay with what happened or that suddenly everything's fine. Acceptance just means that a person has come to terms with the fact that their loved one is gone. Most people don't ever feel okay or good about losing a loved one. It just means that the blanket of sadness is lifted and the person begins to be able to move on with their life as the feeling of sadness comes and goes. Simply put, it becomes manageable. It's common for people to resist acceptance. They feel as if by accepting the loss, they're approving of it. This is what's going on when you see a loved one's room being kept perfectly intact as if they're still living in it or posting on their Facebook wall as if they could read the message. Eventually your clients will realize that the past no longer fits in the present and they can't keep it intact. They may start to reach out again to others to date again or to resume their coaching goals. It's important to champion your clients as they gain acceptance but also to be realistic. As I've mentioned, these phases are not always linear, and so acceptance may come and go. Your client may slip right back into depression, and it's important to not make them feel as if they failed or undone their progress. Instead explain to them that moving backwards is part of moving forward. So now let's recap. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The most important to thing to remember about this process is that it differs from person to person and is not linear. A person could literally cycle through all of the phases in one day, someone may stay in denial for a weekend and anger for a month. So the stages of grief model isn't a way of tidying up and labeling how people react to loss. It's a framework for understanding the different feelings and reactions that come up for all people in the process of bereavement. Knowing a bit about how this model and how clients might act in each stage is helpful because it informs us how to respond appropriately as coaches from within our scope of practice. Have you ever experienced the loss of a loved one or a cherished pet? Did you find yourself going through these stages? What did the grief process look like for you? Share your experiences on the Facebook group page, and remember, be supportive of one another. This can be a sensitive and triggering topic. Thank you so much for tuning in. I'll see you soon.

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Duration: 15 minutes and 55 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: integrativenutrition on Jul 10, 2018

Coaching Through Grief _Final

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