Grief, Therapy, And Transformation: Learning Effective Tools For Managing Grief With Brad Taylor

WRT 31 | Managing Grief

 

Through therapy and self-care, we can transform the pain of grief into the power to heal, rediscover joy, and embrace life again. In this compelling episode, Brad Taylor discusses the effective tools for managing grief. Drawing from his extensive experience in therapy, he sheds light on the challenges faced by individuals dealing with profound sadness and grief. In this compassionate exchange, Brad and host Tina debunk common misconceptions surrounding mental health and explore the complexities of navigating the grieving process. Grief is a unique journey for each person. Tune in as Tina and Brad shed light on the journey through grief and offers guidance and hope to those who may be experiencing loss. Take a step towards healing and discover the transformative power of therapy, self-care, and embracing life again.

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others. 

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide

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Grief, Therapy, And Transformation: Learning Effective Tools For Managing Grief With Brad Taylor

My guest in this episode is Brad Taylor, who is a Clinical Director. He is going to allow us to see this depression, grief, and journey from a professional perspective. He brings information where, outside of the hood that I have given you personally, your hood can extend to the professionals that are assisting you, whether it is someone who encourages you, a therapist, a counselor, or a professional coach to be able to heal what other people can do to be part of your hood to help you along your journey in missing the person that you love. Let’s get right into the conversation.

 

WRT 31 | Managing Grief

 

My guest in this episode is Mr. Brad Taylor, the Clinical Director of the New Life Counseling Center. Welcome, Brad.

Thank you. I’m honored to be here.

Thank you. I am glad to have this opportunity. Up until this point, our conversations have been with my friend and my family, which is my hood. Also, in a broader scope of the hood, I’ve mentioned that I have spent time with a therapist, and most of that time was when I was in Pennsylvania. I’m unable to travel all the way there, but I was connected with Mr. Brad Taylor. It is being able to have him come to this forum, share what that conversation would look like, provide also a spectrum outside of grief that I’m familiar with, and be able to bring that in a different way. I’m glad to have you here.

Thank you. I’m excited to be here, Tina.

Brad, tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Brad Taylor. I am the owner of the New Life Counseling Center. We are an outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment center in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We were established in 2006. We provide services to citizens of Virginia Beach and the surrounding localities. Those services include everything from substance abuse counseling to mental health counseling and pretty much anything that may be connected to those types of services.

I know that this show is dealing with grief and, unfortunately, dealing with substance abuse addictions, specifically. I often come across clients who are experiencing some type of grief due to overdose and higher rates of suicide by either family members or people that they know. Unfortunately, it has become a common occurrence for us to have clients that we provide services to who are experiencing grief. I’m excited to be able to talk about this subject because I’m certain that it’s going to be able to resonate and help so many people who may be going through it, struggling, and looking for some way to move forward in their lives.

If I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying that people that come to you, the original part may be because of substance abuse, but as you start unpacking their situation, you find out that the origin of that may have been from their grief.

It’s very normal. Unfortunately, I have to keep saying that word because it’s not something that we want any of our clients to experience in their lives. We do an assessment of everyone coming in. It amazes me the number of people that when we are asking about past traumas and things that may be relevant to why they have the diagnosis or why they are having the struggles in life that they have, that’s a very common experience that many of them had. They may have had some type of loss in their life, and a lot of them turn to drugs to cope with that loss as a way of dealing with the emotional pain that comes with losing somebody in your life.

It’s not only that in a vacuum because a lot of these clients also have a lot of other things that, in many ways, complicate grief. Some of them may come in organically with some mental health things that get exacerbated when they have the loss. You throw the substance use and addictions on there, and then that makes the grief and these other issues more intense.

Often, unfortunately as well, a lot of them have gotten themselves in some type of legal trouble. Here at New Life, I would say 90% of our referrals and clients are people who are mandated. It means they’re on probation or parole. They may be linked up with Child Protective Services, have been court-ordered to be here, an employer might have sent them here, or along those lines.

When they come to our services, we do a thorough evaluation. We try to treat the whole person. Unfortunately, as part of us gathering that information, we find a lot of loss, trauma, and emotional pain that is present in their lives. We certainly use that when it comes down to the treatment plans that we develop. Yes, we can educate them on mental health issues, substance abuse, and addictions. However, getting to those root causes, helping them to heal from those losses, and helping them to recognize how that grief is playing into their mental health and their substance use is important in seeing them progress and get better.

 

 

You said we. Tell us about your staff. Who’s the we here?

I started out as a little small agency back in 2006. It was just me. My wife was very supportive in helping me get this off the ground and being in the field, I started out as a probation officer and parole officer in the city of Virginia Beach. I did that for a number of years. I decided that it wasn’t providing me the job satisfaction that I was looking for. I started thinking about other things I was interested in, and I knew that, at my core, I liked helping people.

Being a probation officer allowed me to do that, but not at the level that I wanted to do it. I went back to school and got trained in providing substance abuse counseling. Ultimately, I got that credential and started doing that part-time while I was a probation officer. I found that I enjoyed that. I got an opportunity to live on probation and parole and do it full-time, which I did in 2010. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Over the course of that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of coworkers and colleagues who go back to the 1990s and early 2000s who serve in these same fields that I networked with. They came in a part-time role to help New Life grow to what it is now where we are very well known, specifically in Virginia Beach for providing the services that we provide.

How does it extend any assistance to the military?

As part of the insurance side of things, we are credentialed to accept TRICARE. Now, we have quite a few active duty members here as clients as well as their dependents. You all may not be familiar with it, but the military is inundated now, like the regular society or civilian world, with the need for psychiatric and mental health care. It’s backlogged and it’s taken some people months to be able to get an appointment.

It’s very common for people to call and find that their practices are not taking new patients. It’s frustrating when people are finally at that stage where they’re ready to take that step and get the help only to have someone tell them, “We’re not taking new patients.” Sometimes, they leave a voicemail and no one calls them back. Those are the types of things that are going on now.

The military is the same, meaning, because their active duty psychiatrists and mental health professionals are so inundated that they’ve started giving waivers to people to go out in the civilian world and see private practice providers such as myself. We are seeing active duty members as well. On the subject of grief and loss, suicide rates are high now among the military. A lot of active-duty service members who came to me had coworkers who took their lives. We’re dealing with that grief and loss that they have around that as well.

With the shortage, and we are still in a place, in the world of COVID, do you offer virtual or is it only in-person? How are your services provided?

We are still offering virtual sessions, but we give our clients the option of which one they prefer. What we found with virtual services is that they’re convenient. People can get home after a long day of work and go into their office or where they have their set up. They relax and make an attendance. People are engaging in much more at a higher rate than it was with in-person sessions.

It’s a little bit more. The in-person sessions are for the people who are invested. Their attendance rate is high as well, and some people like that personal touch. They like to feel that energy between them and the therapist. They want to come here because they feel it’s more of an environment conducive to doing therapy or counseling as opposed to being at their home and sitting in front of a tablet, phone, or computer screen.

If I’m in a place and I’m thinking about finding a therapist or a counselor, what are those different terms and what do they mean? How would that work?

For the layperson, you could consider them both one and the same. It’s about semantics in terms of counselors being seen as someone who is providing a short-term service. They’re helping somebody get from point A to point B in a shorter period of time. Whereas therapists are generally seen as a process that takes place over time and more of a longer process. With counseling, maybe a person comes to counseling because they have some type of crisis or have some type of problem and the counselor is trying to help them establish some goals and move them to a better place.

Therapists do the same thing, but therapy tends to be something that’s more of a longer-term process, where counseling can be as short as 8 weeks or 4 sessions whereas therapy can tend to be lifelong if the client or the patient continues to benefit. It is standard practice for most therapists and counselors. I consider myself both because I have some clients that I work with for a specific length the time. I help them achieve a goal and then they discharge themselves.

I also have some that I’ve been working with for years. Initially, we may start out seeing each other more frequently like once a week or twice a week for some of them. In time, once they get to a good place, we put more distance between those sessions every other week to monthly. As I said, I have a caseload of clients that I see now once a month and have been seeing them once a month for years. They always have that ability where should life happen and they need or want to see me more frequently, then they ask. We’ll then get back to seeing each other weekly or more frequently. When they get back to a good place again, then we go back to that once a month.

If a person’s looking for a counselor or therapist help, what are some things you think they should consider?

Rapport is ultimately the number one predictor of how well the services are going to go. Initially, it’s about the client or patient given that therapists interview themselves and get a feel of whether or not it’s somebody they can generally connect with or somebody they feel comfortable with. Once you get that good rapport, that’s certainly a good predictive outcome.

It’s important that they find somebody that they can be comfortable with. That’s probably the most important thing. Right up there is also somebody who’s competent and good at what they do. There are a lot of therapists out there, and I often have clients who have shared with me that they’ve gone and seen other therapists and didn’t have a good experience.

As a result of that, they gave up on it and stopped seeking the services. Eventually, if they have some issues there and no longer are working on those issues, the problems that come with that arise back in their life. Many of them have then decided it’s time for them to try again. Fortunately, they are able to connect with me and other clinicians we have here. I like to say we are proud to say that we do a good job of providing good services.

We have good competent counselors here who have demonstrated their ability to connect with clients to show that they care. The clients give surveys when they leave or even accolades while they’re still in here about how great this program is and how many other programs they’ve gone through and thought it was useless, or they didn’t get anything out of it. This was the first program that they had where they felt that we cared and that they felt like it was beneficial to them.

The term they often use is this-is-a-real-program type of thing. That’s important. I hope that if you do try therapy or counseling, you don’t just set the standard for it being a one-time-and-I’m-done thing. I say a good four weeks is a good timeframe for that relationship to be established, or at least for the client to have a reasonable feel for whether or not it’s going to be a good connection or not. I have had clients that came to me once and the vibe wasn’t right. The energy wasn’t right.

If you do try therapy or counseling, don't just set the standard for it just being a one-time and I'm a done thing. Share on X

Even though they told me when they left that day that they were going to continue to see me, they would counsel and not follow through, and that’s okay. Maybe I wasn’t the right fit for them. Sticking with someone long enough to get a sense of who they are and see if that vibe, chemistry, connection, and alliance is there, it’s impossible or unrealistic for somebody to expect that to happen in their very first service.

I say whatever services you seek, don’t give up. That’s probably the most important message I can give you, whatever therapist or counselor you pursue, or an opportunity to connect and see if that chemistry can build. Two, if that doesn’t work out, try somewhere else. Along those lines, to fully answer your question, talk to other people that you know who might be in service. A lot of times, they can give you some suggestions. If they had a good experience or know somebody who had a good experience, they can also maybe get you connected with somebody who might have had a good experience via that process as well.

The idea of grief, which we’ve talked about up until this point, has been strictly related to the death of a significant loved one. What are some other areas of grief that you assist people in dealing with? I know you won’t list them all, but it’s those that come to mind.

Grief can come from not only a loss of a loved one, but the loss of a marriage, loss of a job, loss of a dream, or loss of pets. We get people who had a pet like a dog that had been in their life. As you hear some people say, their pets are their children. I’ve had many clients who struggled with the loss of animals. A person can grieve any type of loss that was a significant person or event in their life that can cause them to experience grief-like symptoms and behaviors.

People can grieve any type of loss that was a significant person or event in their life that can cause them to experience grief-like symptoms and behaviors. Share on X

When we experience grief, what are some things that you think prevent people from wanting to seek someone professional to help them?

Unfortunately, the stigma of therapy is still being someone or something that only crazy people, psychotic, or lost their minds do. A lot of people are embarrassed or ashamed to seek the services because they don’t want to be associated with being crazy. That’s sad because a lot of those people are suffering in silence. They’re going through life, and because they don’t seek professional services, they turn to maladaptive unhealthy ways of coping. That’s where you get the alcohol use and all kinds of unhealthy behaviors that people try to get into as a way of disconnecting from that pain, even if it’s only for a day, a night, or a couple of hours.

Probably the biggest is the stigma that is there, and not so much in recent times as insurance. There was a lot of population of people who couldn’t afford insurance. The Affordable Care Act came along and you are finding that a lot more people do have insurance now. Because they have that insurance, they are able to get into these types of services.

That’s made a huge difference in their ability to connect with these services. It’s been awesome that you have now people with the resources to connect with these services that traditionally hadn’t been able to do that. That’s a great change that’s come about in recent times that you find people with Medicaid and zero copay. That’s nice.

There’s no reason for someone not to seek these services because even with HMOs, there’s usually still some type of copay like $25 or $30. For some people, that’s a lot of money when you have bills and you’re trying to feed kids and gas. Medicaid has been a big help in aiding people who traditionally would not be able to access services now to be able to do.

I like to share a little bit about my personal side as far as therapy. Over this conversation, you’ve heard a lot of people say, “Tina, I think you’re really strong,” or, “You’re one of the strongest people I know.” I hear those questions, and then at the same time when I tell people, “I see a therapist,” they’re shocked. They go, “You seem so strong.” That is why I am strong because it is having the ability to recognize my incapacity to manage it all mentally and to realize I need a safe space. I need someone who is a professional.

It takes strength to recognize your incapacity, manage it all mentally, and realize you need a safe space. Share on X

I think about the idea that if I cut off my arm and I was walking around, you would see that my arm was cut off and everyone would try to assist me. If I was trying to pick up a bag or something, there would be more people helping me because they could see the apparent missing arm. However, I have found that for me, the things that have happened in between these two ears, the grief, the dealing with the breast cancer, the loss, trauma, and difficulty at work, all those things piling on top of each other, I was going to crumble.

The other thing I’ve learned is grief and pain are going to come out one way or another. I needed a way that I could continue to live healthy for myself. Having a therapist in my life is like having a general practitioner. If I’m going to have a dentist, I’m going to have a therapist because life is going to keep piling on top of me and I don’t want to get to a place where I can no longer manage that.

From my African-American audience and our community, there is that whole idea that we don’t do that and that we rough it and tough it out. There are some things that you may be roughing and toughing out and there may be other ethnicities that are dealing with that or that stigma. Consider your well-being and look to see what things are there that can help you. It’s because you may be talking to a friend, a girlfriend, or a parent, they don’t have that non-biased position or that professional background to maybe give you some guidance. I’m sharing my experience as you’re considering it for yourself and how it’s been helpful for me.

I appreciate you sharing that Tina. I’d have some experience or knowledge of your journey, and it is inspiring. That’s why when I heard that you were going to be starting this show and the focus of it was going to be to support people who are going through grief, I thought you’d be a great person for it because you are a textbook ideal story of how successful someone can go from having something that was so traumatic in their life, yet still going on to find love, meaning in life, and purpose again. That’s what it’s all about.

It’s great when we have a good supporting cast of loved ones, family members, and friends who come by and give us hugs and tell us it’s going to be okay. You may not feel okay. Just because they say it, it doesn’t mean that the pain, the loss, the profound sadness, or the thoughts are gone. They continue to persist. People who don’t get the professional help that they should get, oftentimes go from something that could have been more of a temporal thing, which means going through the grief process and returning to normal functioning to something that becomes more pathological. Also, it turns into some type of depression or anxiety.

People start to have trouble beyond those things that maybe initially were associated with their loss and they could start to have a lot more serious repercussions in their life. As I said, people who turn to alcoholism or drug abuse start because they lose a loved one, have some type of loss, or lose their job. The pain of losing that job and all of the consequences that come from that can be overwhelming to them emotionally.

The idea of wanting to feel better and using alcohol or something along those lines to feel better is a choice some of them make and then that develops into its own problem, where if more people were willing to connect with therapists, they could get through that process in a much healthier way. You are a perfect example and demonstration of that. Every time I think about your story, it’s inspiring. I want to thank you for starting this show.

 

 

I said this to you. When you pitch the idea to me that I think you’re going to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives and, hopefully, start to break down the brick and that wall of resistance of people seeking out services for therapy, it does help. I like the analogy that you use that we live in a world where if somebody breaks their leg or arm and they go to a doctor, nobody shames them. “You’re weak. Your arm would’ve healed on its own. Why do have a cast on your arm?” That doesn’t happen.

The minute you say you’re seeing a psychiatrist or a therapist, people start looking side-eyed at you like you’re going to lose control and do something bizarre. That’s not the case. Certainly, there are people who have some serious mental illnesses that can sometimes lead to some behaviors that you recognize that maybe they lost touch with reality and things of that nature. However, the reality is more than not, people who have serious mental illnesses are more victims of things that happened than they are perpetrators.

 

WRT 31 | Managing Grief

 

Grief and serious mental illness are two different beasts. Both of them are ones who should seek services in therapy to avoid some of the harsh consequences that come from that. I’m glad you pointed that out. I hope that if there’s one thing they take from this, is that therapy is an excellent option to consider in helping them work through any grief or loss experiences that they may find themselves dealing with.

There is one thing I’d like to go back or unpack. You mentioned anxiety and depression. I like to throw sadness in there. Can you give a little bit about some of those and maybe some other terms that people use when I’m a person and thinking, “Am I sad, depressed, or dealing with anxiety?”

When we start talking about medical conditions that are diagnosed, insurance companies, a lot of times, want people such as myself to diagnose people for the sake of being able to bill and those types of things.

Let me say it as a generic overall term. Not that someone’s going to take this and go check and check but to give you an idea of what those things mean.

A lot of times with grief, you can expect somebody to have profound sadness, but that doesn’t mean that they’re depressed, even though they meet the definition of clinical depression, even though the way they may be presenting to people who know them that they are because they are showing up for work and they don’t have the same energy that they had prior to that loss. They have a certain effect, and I look about them that clearly somebody who knows them could see they’re going through something.

It’s not that they’re clinically depressed necessarily. It’s what profound sadness can do. You can also expect their emotions to be a rollercoaster. It means that some days, they may be sad and missing the person and down. The next day, they may be all over the place. The anxiety kicks in and they start worrying about so many different things that may be partly due to that loss. Now, they want to try to mitigate all of those things to try to avoid some of the consequences that come.

It’s a process that people go through. There’s no one way to go through it. Some people experience sadness. Some people experience anxiety and sadness. Some people allow all of that to manifest into something that could be more clinical or medical such as depression and the level of services that those folks will. It all varies. The first line of approach should be therapy. It’s always a good line of approach. Along with that, joining support groups and getting involved with other people who can identify with what you’re going through and can support you with working through the grief process. It can be very helpful.

Therapy can be very helpful in combating progression to being something more medical or clinical. However, if it does manifest to that place, there are treatments for that up and including medication and so forth along with the therapy, which when you start getting to these mental health diagnoses, the best outcomes come from people who are willing to do both. When you talk about that, especially in the African-American community, that’s another one of the stigmas.

Not only do we have this stigma about therapy, but we have equally as much, if not higher, stigmas about mental health medications and not being open to going on those medications for whatever cultural beliefs or lack of education about what they are. Oftentimes, we hear people talk about they don’t want to feel like a zombie and things of this nature.

I get it and I respect that. Because they harbor or hold to those beliefs about therapy or medication, nobody wants to seek those services. Unfortunately, they could be benefiting and getting to a healthier place if they were more willing to do so. I hope that this reaches some people who may be going through some loss, grief, or any type of mental health challenge that’s having such a negative impact on their lives. If they consider doing therapy and seeking support from others who may be going through it, whatever they’re going through, and if it leads to them needing to be on medication, that’s always a good option as well.

I’m glad you mentioned medication. I forgot about that part. When I was going through breast cancer, it was hard. It was very difficult to balance the treatment and the amount of time I needed to try to do life things. I had a massive hysterectomy in November of 2016. My late husband, Mark, passed away in March 2017 unexpectedly. I could not sleep. My therapist, the first thing that we talked about was me not sleeping.

I was very apprehensive like, “Here comes the medication thing. What is this going to be?” I wasn’t doing well, and there was no oxygen going to my brain. I wasn’t having a turn-off time. We started looking at what was helpful for me was some melatonin just to be able to turn my brain off. That was the first step in the conversation to see how that would help me to be able to do better. That was what I needed to be able to get some rest to give the brain some shutoff time because it’s spinning. The mind is going.

For those who don’t know about melatonin, that’s something that our body naturally produces anyway that makes us fall asleep. Now, they sell it and you can take it. It’s already something naturally the body makes and it can benefit people’s sleep. I’m glad you brought it up. It’s because when we start looking at trying to move a person to a healthier place, one of the first things that oftentimes go or people let go in their life are the basic things that they need to be rallying to make sure they do well, such as eating, sleeping, exercising, and staying connected to friends.

If you start looking at the symptoms or the behaviors associated with grief or any type of loss or a difficult period that somebody goes through in life, those are the first thing that shows up. They’re not sleeping well. They start skipping meals. They start eating too much or comfort eating. That would be the one I would choose. I’d probably be the one to eat too much versus not eating. “Ice cream, here we come.”

At the same time, those things are so vital to us being well. The body needs good nutrition and food and things to function at its best. It needs to shut down so you need good sleep so the brain can recharge, re-energize, and refresh. Unfortunately, for people going through that, those are the things they start to have challenges. Yes, that is a good therapy for some therapists to focus on what a client or a patient seems like minimum, “I want to talk about this. I want to talk about that.”

The therapists understand those things are important, but they also understand maybe more so a lot of times than people who are going through it the importance of them doing good self-care and making sure they are trying to stick to some of those healthy routines that they had in their life. That makes the recovery time or the process go a lot more effective than when you are going through those things but you also are not sleeping or eating.

You start getting sick more commonly and your immune system gets lower because you’re not sleeping or eating. Your stress is up. All these things play into how we function. The therapist that you met with advised you to focus on getting good sleep, it was good sound advice. Melatonin is one of the ways that can do it, but there are so many other products out there. There are teas. When you want to get away from substances that you take, there are other therapies for that. People meditate. Meditation is good in terms of if you can learn how to do it effectively. It quiets the mind and causes people to relax.

The brain can quiet down and get some good quality rest. Yoga is known to be very helpful in helping people relax and decrease stress, which leads to improved sleep and improved mood. There are different therapies and techniques and things that people can do who are against medications that can help them maintain good habits and some of those daily functioning things that have such a huge impact on how well we do, such as sleeping and eating.

What I’m hearing also is that it’s important to connect with a professional who can help you unpack and get you on the right path to your recovery. You mentioned people feeling like the therapist is not talking about what they want to talk about. Can you unpack that a little bit and what that looks like?

 

WRT 31 | Managing Grief

 

Probably one of the most challenging things with other therapists is that we recognize the importance of nuances from the perspective of the client or the patient sitting across from us. These things are so insignificant, like sleep, eating, support system, and working out. However, we understand the importance of that. Oftentimes, the clients want to get right down to, “Give me a reason why or when I’m going to feel better.” “This person passed two months ago and I still cry every day.”

I get it. We want to get to that. We going to look at how we can help you to start to have better days, and eventually be able to get through whole days. It’s a process, but in order to help you get there more efficiently, we still need to address these things that may seem insignificant to you, but as trained professionals, we know how important they are that people get that sleeping and eating.

People come to therapy with a lot of their own preconceived ideas of what that experience is going to be like. A lot of times, they think that they can come in here and there’s going to be a few conversations and they’re going to be well. You can probably speak to that better than me in terms of, “It’s a process.” Everybody’s journey is different. One person may come in with a loss or seeking some grief counseling, and in a matter of 1 month or 2, they’re back to almost pre-death or pre-loss functioning.

For other people, it may be years and they’re still having profound sadness and struggling to get back to where they were mentally and emotionally prior to that loss. It’s about doing the work. As I said, and I’ll say it again, I know your story. You did the work. When you do the work, the results come. Doing the work is seeking therapy. It’s going to support groups. It’s staying connected with people. It is giving yourself permission to live again.

Many people experience a lot of guilt because they feel like, “Is it too sharp for them to be happy again? Is it too sharp for me to date somebody again? Is it too quick for me to sell the house? Is it too quick for me to get rid of their belongings?” There’s no correct answer to that. You do it when you’re ready and comfortable and when it’s beneficial for you to do it. Those are some of the challenges people find themselves faced with.

When you get in with a good therapist, they can help you look at that from a different perspective that can help you make some choices that are right for you and not allow some of these things you’ve heard or things other people are saying to have such an impact that continues to allow for you to not be experiencing life at the fullest no longer than you need to be.

You said a lot of great things there. I’m making a note trying to figure it out. You said about giving yourself permission to live. That says so much. Also, the part about it being a process and understanding my timeline doesn’t look like someone else’s timeline. This grief process is not something I compare to my late husband who died. This person is doing that and I’m only doing this. That is so important because we low-key assess our situation to somebody else’s situation. Now, we’re putting additional pressure on top of what we’re already dealing with.

I know for myself and other therapists, one of the goals that we have in mind and we hope that the clients are because we certainly are along for the ride. They’re steering the ship that they get to a place where they give themselves permission and know that it’s okay for them to be happy again, to date again, to laugh again, and no longer have to define that loss and demonstrate how difficult the emotion or impact is. In many ways, they can even equate it to being a sign of how much that person meant to them.

If I no longer am sick or if I’m continually living my life, does that equal, “I don’t still miss that person?” Does that equal, “I didn’t love them if I continued to live?”

I say not because you can love the person that you lost just as much at 6 months or 3 months as you loved them and cared about them two years later. It’s a matter of you deciding that you’re ready to move on emotionally and reengage in life, trying to find purpose, trying to find meaning, giving yourself permission to do that, seeking happiness, and dealing with what we would call irrational thoughts that tell you, “That’s wrong. You shouldn’t be doing that. It hasn’t been long enough. What would people think of you?”

You need to decide that you're ready to move on emotionally and reengage in life, to find purpose, to find meaning. Share on X

This type of irrational thinking keeps people in their pain. It is helping them to look at these things from the perspective of, “It’s okay. I’m a spiritual person. Only God can judge me. You have to do what’s right in your heart.” To me, it’s more about emotionally being ready to move on. I do agree that sometimes people maybe move on too quickly because they have that loss and they’re trying to fill a void.

Sometimes when they haven’t gotten in and seen a therapist and done that work, they try to rush to fill that void and things don’t work out. It doesn’t work out because, a lot of times, you’ll find that there’s a lot of projection comparison going on. People are trying to find somebody to fill the shoes of the person they lost. Those may be some shoes that can never be filled. They find themselves in these relationships that didn’t work and a lot of them give up on dating.

I hear it all the time that, “He was irreplaceable.” I say, “Stop trying to replace him. You have the ability to go back out and try to set new standards and meet somebody who has the characteristics, the values, and all the other things that you find attractive in a person and give your heart to somebody else and retry to gain happiness and love again.”

Those are the grief and loss stories that have the healthiest outcomes, the ones that go from being at a place in life where life itself is in question to being in love and happy again in many ways at the same level they did with the person that they lost. It takes a lot of work for a lot of people to do that, and it’s a process, but it is a process that if you are willing to invest in and to put that work in, it’s achievable.

That process is about being happy. You may have been with the love of your life in marriage, and dating is not on the box of happiness, but how is it learning how to be happy with yourself? You start identifying what makes you happy now in this new season of your life.

Specifically, in regards to dating, people often got married and things of that nature because they wanted somebody to spend their life with. They appreciated that about life and they would like to have that feeling of again that comes with having somebody to share life with.

They don’t want to get married again. They only want to be happy with them. They don’t want to go about that process. Getting remarried may not be on everybody’s list of success. This person I’ve been with is gone. How do I now start looking at myself and find out what makes me happy in living that part of mine and take joy in that?

That’s where I was going. When the folks are trying to remarry or date again and they’re finding these failures or things are not working out, the strategies that I try to help them to understand is maybe let’s get you well, work on you, and get happy, and maybe that process goes a little better for you. We start with the process of what that looks like.

It’s a process because when you are enmeshed emotionally and financially in so many ways with somebody else, and that person’s just learning to live again independently, it can be a challenge learning what that looks like. As you can certainly demonstrate, there’s no playbook for it. It’s figuring it out. A lot of folks have their daily obligations and responsibilities. Even then or sometimes, that’s questionable as to whether I want to continue doing what I’m doing either as a career.

Some people find those crossroads in their lives where they’re ready to even make changes, but let’s say we’re dealing with and managing our daily things in life. We have the luxury, if you look at it as the glass half full, of being able to explore life in a new way now and find out or reintroduce ourselves or discover new things that we find enjoyable that we think will make us happy. In many ways, it is trial and error.

You need to explore life in a new way now and discover new things that we find enjoyable. Share on X

Certainly, you can look at some of the things that you know you enjoy and have passion about, and those will certainly be the suggestions that I would make to, “Try this or try that since you like this and that.” It’s likely that you’ll find that those things are on the job and they bring meaning and happiness to your life. Therapists can help folks going through that to try to figure that process out.

There are so many components that you take into consideration like the spiritual. I know you’re a spiritual person. I am. Sometimes, that’s lacking. A person either redefined or has that spiritual awakening and reconnects on that level. We look at the model of what happiness may look like for them in theory, and then let’s pursue it. Let’s see if the evidence bears the truth that, if these certain things happen in your life, are you able to look yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m happy.” For that, it’s very subjective. For everybody, that’s something different.

As you’re saying, for one person, it may be finding love in marriage again. For the next person, it may be being able to find peace after that loss. It doesn’t necessarily mean whether they have a significant other or spouse, but going from a place where they’re questioning why things happened. It’s unfortunate to say that there’s a high rate of people who take their own lives after the loss of a significant other. Life can be that overwhelming. To go from that place to be able to find a reason to live again and find joy in life alone without necessarily having a significant other is a huge accomplishment, journey, and goal for a lot of people.

To circle back, it’s important for someone going through it. I focus a lot of my examples around women who’ve had a loss, but this certainly applies to men as well. It’s important that we do that individual work and try to get back to a good place individually where we’re happy and then find somebody who can complement that.

I could go all day with Brad, but he started this conversation by saying they are very popular and he has a very busy schedule. We’re getting to the place where we do need to wrap this up, but I can tell we will have more conversations with Brad along this journey. Before we go, any closing comments and things you feel like we wanted to hit on or share?

First of all, I want to say thank you for inviting me for this opportunity. This is the first time I took part in this. Hopefully, it won’t be the last. As you said, there are a lot of things that went unsaid in such a short period of time. We get into this. This is my passion. If you want to have me back, I’d be more than happy to come back at a future day. Anybody who reads this and finds themselves resonating with some of the things me and Tina talked about, please seek the services.

You could certainly give our office here a call and we’ll get you scheduled to come in or, at the very least, assist you with connecting with somebody if that’s what you know you choose to do. My takeaway would be that I hope that we’ve reached people who may be experiencing this or know somebody who’s experiencing this and advocates and supports them with getting that help. It’s because if you’re willing to do the work and invest in yourself, the reward, the payoff, or the return on that investment is huge in terms of getting back to your happy place.

In the beginning, I believe you said that you’re located here in Virginia. Do you work with people outside of the state?

For insurance purposes, the military, because of their unique situations, TRICARE allows you to cross state lines, but for the licenses that I have, I’d have to work with Virginia residents only. I am in the process of getting a Florida license so I will be able to work with people who are residents of Florida. Anybody that resides in the state of Virginia, we can work with. We do have out-of-pocket slide and scale fees for the paid services that if we’re not using the insurance, then we have the ability to provide services outside of the state area as long as we’re not using insurance.

If I didn’t have the means to pay for it out of pocket, you could help me work to find someone else in my area.

Absolutely. Virginia has an established public mental health system where most counties and cities have what’s called a community service board. They provide mental health services for people who are indigent or citizens of their city or county who don’t have insurance or maybe can’t afford it. You can certainly connect with your local community service board and have some free mental health services from faith-based or nonprofits. That’s a good avenue to go in terms of being able to get services that are inexpensive. A lot of times, they don’t have to have all of the regulations that for-profit agencies like New Life have.

There are ways for people to be able to connect in and out of state. We do provide virtual services as well. Some folks don’t have a means of transportation. Certainly, in the city of Virginia Beach, public transportation is not what it is in the bigger cities. That virtual has been huge for people who can go into a bedroom, close the door, get in a private space, hit a button, and their therapist is right there. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Thank you for being here with us.

That was a great conversation. I’m so glad that Brad accepted the invitation to be here, to take this conversation, and to expand what our hood is. Yes, it is our family. Yes, it is our friends, but we also have the ability to leverage professionals to be part of our hood to assist us in this immense journey that we are going through.

I am sorry for the loved one that you have lost that has brought you to this conversation, but I’m extremely glad to be able to introduce to you and have a conversation on a professional level with Mr. Taylor as far as how to deal with grief and what that can look like. For him to be able to unpack depression, anxiety, and sadness, and to talk about some of those phobias that people consider when thinking about searching out a professional, all of these things are helpful for us to know.

Hopefully, these are questions that you may have wondered to be able to ask somebody. I hope this will encourage you to think, “This could maybe help me manage what I’m dealing with. This could be positive for me as I look to find what my joy and my life look like as I’m trying to identify who I am in this journey of my life.” Thank you for being here with us. I look forward to seeing you soon. Have a good day.

 

Important Links

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide