When a Child Dies

I’ve received a number of messages today, asking my advice on what to say to the families of the children who died this week.  While I’m not a grief counselor, I am a mom whose child has died and am sharing this advice from that perspective only.

First, be aware of some dynamics that are occurring for the parents. When a child dies, it isn’t only a human spirit that goes missing…it is the story that is attached to that little soul.  You see, from the moment the pregnancy stick turns positive, parents create stories…the first smile, step, word…the first day of kindergarten, first time at bat, first date and that walk across the stage receiving that precious diploma.  There are stories created about other milestones… thewalk down the aisle, the grandchildren that will come…so many stories, so many firsts, so much hope for the future linked to those 10 fingers and toes.

So when a child dies, it isn’t only the missing them that hurts…it is the mourning of each and every story that has suddenly and irreversible been stamped The End, much sooner than expected.  I feel it too, many years later.  My Brennan would be turning 20 this September…the story of that big 2-0 birthday bash is a story I will mourn on that day.  It doesn’t end, but it can be accepted and peace can be found.

It is ok to be sad, I’m crying as I write this.  Sadness is a beautiful emotion that allows us to understand the importance of something that is now gone. So embrace the sadness and do not attempt to resist it…it will knock on your door until you welcome it, it is a persistent little thing.

Now, with that said, here is my advice on how to support grieving families:

  • Do not tell them you know how they feel.  It doesn’t matter if your own child has died; you can never know how they feel in that moment.  Do not make the grief about you…it is about them.  Honor them by simply telling them you love them and are keeping them in your heart and prayers.  That is enough.
  • Do not tell them that their child is in a better place.  In the heart of a parent, no matter their beliefs, the “better place” is with them.  I had a lady say to me once “aren’t you glad she is in heaven?”  When I said “no, I’m not” she began to argue with me on why I should be glad she was in that great place.  I’m still triggered by that memory…don’t “should” on a parent who has lost their child.  They are “shoulding” on themselves quite enough.
  • Allow them to share their stories of their child.  You may instinctively find it uncomfortable to listen, but parents need to share those stories, to get those stories out of their bodies and into the universe.  They need to mourn each and every one of them and giving them the space to do so is a gift.  We are a “fix it” society.  We want them to be better and mistakenly believe we are opening a wound by giving this space.  That is true…you are opening a wound, a wound that will fester and rot if not given that lancing.  Be with them and listen while that “blood” (their stories) flow…the wound will be better for it.
  • Do not try to alleviate the guilt the parents feel.  Guilt is like a great white shark taking giant bites of our soul with every “should” and “should not.” Instead of telling them to not feel guilty for what they perceive they did or didn’t do…grief always is connected with guilt…remind them of what wonderful parents they were, how much their child loved them, how much they loved their child. Did you know that you can flip a shark on its back and it won’t bite, it almost become paralyzed and disabled, is calmed. In that position you could hold it and rub its belly, be in awe of the amazing creature it is.  Same is with grief…don’t run from it or fight it…flip it over and smother it with love.
  • Just be there.  You can’t fix it, speak it away but you can be there and hold a hand, give a hug and listen.
  • Just do it.  With best intentions people ask “what can I do to help” and offer “let me know what you need.”  A grieving brain doesn’t know how to answer those questions; it doesn’t know what it needs.  Instead, do what needs to be done.  Mow their lawn, water their plants, wash the dishes, bring healing and healthy food, lift the cup of water up to their mouth.  Your own gut knows what needs to be done, follow those instincts and do it.

I’m sure there is much more I could add, but right now this feels like enough.  I send my love to the families and friends of this beautiful children.  You will be forever in my heart.

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Decision Making 10:10:10

We have so many decisions to make each and every day…which clothes to wear, which foods to eat are only the beginning.

Listen to internet radio with SavingSuperwoman on Blog Talk Radio

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8 Ways to Boost Your Mood from Blue to Bliss

8 Ways to Boost Your Mood from Blue to Bliss

According to Wikipedia, Cliff Arnel created a calculation including the weather, time to break new year’s resolution, arrival of credit card bills with holiday expenses, and more to determine that the most depressing day of the year is the Monday of the last full week in January. Whether you find this calculation valid or not (and later Arnel admitted that it is not valid), there is still value in realizing that while outside factors can influence your feelings and moods, you CAN CHOOSE how you feel! (unless there is a medical condition involved.) Ready to move from blue to groove? Try some of these:

Allow yourself to feel sad.

Whatever we resist, persists. Rather than spending energy resisting the sadness, just allow it… for a while. Have a good cry, or whatever works for you, and then you will be ready to move on.

Change your self-talk.

One of our favorite questions we use with clients is, “If you speak to your friends the way you speak to yourself, how many friends would you have?” Choose to speak to yourself as kindly as you would to someone you love. Monitor the voice in your head and if it is being self-critical and/or focusing on everything that is wrong or hopeless, press your mental “STOP” button. Next, replace the language with words you would say to a support a friend in your situation. Repeat as needed to shift your perspective.

Check your diet for Omega-3’s and sugars

Research shows people who are feeling depressed have low levels of Omega-3 in their bodies. We know that shortly after eating fast burning carbohydrates and sugars, our blood sugar spikes and then drops reducing our energy. For more on a brain-healthy diet, read Dr. Daniel Amen’s article http://www.ofspirit.com/danielamen1.htm

Get some exercise - move that body.

Being outside is a mental shifter and is even better when done with a friend. If you are on your own with limited time, try a series of ceiling stretches-to-toe-touches. (You might remember “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes” from elementary school…). Or dance! Just pop in your favorite music and shake your booty. Whatever it is, move your body at least 30 minutes each day, six days per week. According to the Journal of Preventive Medicine, several weeks after you establish this regular exercise routine, you’ll begin to feel relief of your depression symptoms on a much more consistent basis.

“Inhale blessings. Exhale gratitude.(C)”

This takes only a minute or two and can create a positive mental state change. During a slow, deep inhale, think about the blessings in your life (we all have some..) and during a slow exhale feel grateful for each of those blessings. Repeat at least three times in a set and notice how you are feeling. This is also helpful to reduce stress and improve the quality of your thinking.

Do something to help someone else.

When we shift our attention to the needs of someone else and take action to make a difference for them, that act of kindness increases the level of serotonin (a brain chemical that causes a feeling of well-being) in our brains. Research shows that even watching someone else doing an act of kindess increases the serotonin level in the observer.

Keep a gratitude journal.

Focus on what you are grateful for in your life by writing about it. Oprah has recommended keeping some type of gratitude journal. Some people list three-five things each day, others write entries in at the start and end of each day, while others challenge themselves to list different things with each entry. Can’t think of a thing to be grateful for? Read through your past entries for a boost of gratitude.

Get some sun.

People with low amounts of Vitamin D are 11 times more likely to be depressed, studies show. That’s why getting outside on sunny days, utilizing a sun lamp when it is cloudy and eating Vitamin D-rich foods is important (or supplementing if necessary). Consult your doctor about your Vitamin D levels as a blood test can determine how much supplementation you may need.

Feeling “blue” versus being depressed.

If you try these strategies and still feel overwhelming waves of sadness and low energy, you may be experiencing clinical depression and we encourage you to see your health care provider.

Not sure if what you are feeling is depression or the ‘blues’, note some of these symptoms of depressions:

  • Drawn-out periods of sadness or not feeling “up to it,”  individuals who are always feeling not in the mood, who’d rather mope around the house and feel sorry for one’s self is the finest example for this symptom of depression.
  • Feels hopeless, pessimist: speaking of feeling sorry for one’s self, a different common symptom of depression is when an individual actually feels like he/she has nothing to look forward to in his or her lifespan. As for being the pessimist, those who exhibit this symptom of depression are commonly really negative about matters; again, the feeling of hopelessness comes in to mind.
  • Guilt-driven, loss of self-worth and helplessness: additional symptoms of depression that may be easily seen on individuals who prefer to mope around all day long are these. Whenever an individual feels so guilty over something, that really makes one a very sad individual who feels like he or she doesn’t deserve to be happy. Thus, the loss of self-worth, if that individual feels like he or she isn’t worthy of being happy or enjoying one’s self then that’s clear revealing symptom of depression.
  • Fatigue, always tired: individuals suffering from depression are actually lacking of physical vitality at all times. A depressed individual might well be on their way to not simply a mental illness but depression may actually be terrible for one’s physical health too.
  • Having trouble centering: an individual who’s suffering from depression has this revealing symptom of depression. Wherein one’s lack of interest with respect to the outside world or for virtually anything for that matter may lead to that individual’s inability to lose track of things and really not be able to remember things that occurred or what others said. Lack of interest really makes depressed individuals very inattentive.

Hear this…depression isn’t something to be embarrassed or ashamed about.  If your bladder was spewing out a toxic infection, you would think nothing of getting it checked out.  Yet, often we resist seeking help when it is our mind spewing out toxic stuff.  Seek support!  You deserve to feel joy and bliss.

Today, on Blue Monday, and every day, choose bliss!


Melanie and Lynette

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Love versus Trust

Love versus Trust

I know this isn’t very Christmas-y, but this is a topic that seems to be season-less.  The inspiration came from one of my clients who is struggling within a relationship.  She has handed over her power and has allowed him to manipulate her in multiple and various ways.  Yet, she has felt helpless to do anything differerent.  Until now…

I celebrate with her today that she has taken back her strings.  She understands now that she was focusing on love and forgetting about trust.  Because her break-thru on this has been so amazing, I wanted to share an email (privacy maintained) I sent her to think about this very important topic.

For those of you struggling in relationship too…read on.


This articles sums up much of what we’ve been discussing, it’s a good read: http://www.divinecaroline.com/22065/35337-wants

I look forward to the day when you feel that you deserve better.

Another thing…

I’ve been thinking about how attached you are to the word ‘love’, how important it is to you.  That’s cool, and right, and good.  But there is another word that is of equal importance that you’ve not been focusing on, and that word is ‘trust’.

You can have trust in a relationship, and not love, and still have a good relationship.
You cannot have love, with no trust, and have a good relationship.  The lack of trust eventually erodes the love.

There are three components to trust:
1.  Sincerity
2.  Competency
3.  Reliability

You must have all three of those components for full trust to exist. Answer these questions about him…

1.  Is he sincere?  From my point of view, yes he is.  He is as sincere in his wanting you as is possible for him.  The secondary question is then: is that enough?  Is his level of sincerity enough?  If you say no, then you have your answer.  If you say yes, then ask yourself why you are willing to undersell yourself.  When will you believe that you deserve better?

2.  Is he competent?  For this process, has he demonstrated himself to be a competent partner to others?  You wouldn’t get on an airplane with a pilot who crashed three planes, yet are you willing to give your heart to a man who has crashed other women’s hearts?  If the answer is no, then you have your answer.  If you say yes, then ask yourself: what do I need?  Not from him.  But what is he representing to you…
Uncertainty…excitement and adrenaline rush of wondering if and when he will call
Power… (I can change him)

3.  Is he reliable? This means, has he demonstrated time and time again to show up, be there, hold your feelings as important?  Has he demonstrated reliability to other women he has been romantically involved in. The past does not define who we are today, but it does provide data that is useful when analyzing reliability. Analyze the data and then decide for yourself if this person is worthy of your trust.

We can talk more about this tonight, if you wish.  I just woke up this morning with trust on my mind and wanted to share this with you while it is still fresh.

Have a really great day!




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Feeling Too Stressed or Upset to Lighten Up? Two Strategies to Help.

Feeling Too Stressed or Upset to Lighten Up? Two Strategies to Help.

When we find ourselves in a state of intense stress or negative emotion, laughing or smiling may seem impossible. Try these two strategies to discover how they can help you find the laughs and smiles to feel, think, and function better.

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Hi, I’m Melanie Hoffner, the Mind Magician team member of Saving Superwoman.

When I am in a stressful situation, I KNOW intellectually that laughter will support me in breaking the stress cycle, and sometimes find it difficult to muster one on cue.  When that happens, I have several memories that almost always lead me to laughter.

Stress Strategy 1:

I recall a situation on a sunny spring morning while making breakfast.  I asked my, then toddler, son to open the front door and let some cool air in. He was used to going to the door to call in our cat with a, “Here kitty, kitty.” I was surprised to hear him calling, “Here cold air. Here cold air.”  I was chuckling and stopped when he came into the kitchen with a very concerned face and tone and said, “Mommy, cold air is not here.” I laugh aloud every time I recall this.

Right now, recall a situation from your life, a scene from a movie, or a funny story that causes you to laugh. After you enjoy the laugh, consciously store this connection in your memory by saying, “When I need to laugh, I think about ________.  Fill in the blank with a key word or words to trigger the memory, e.g. “Here cold air.”

Stress Strategy 2:

Smiling creates a positive emotional shift when the facial nerves used to smile signal to the brain. The brain gets a “smiling” action message and then it changes the chemical mix so you begin to feel happy to match. Smiling truly allows you to fake it until you feel it.

Smiling when we are very upset or angry can be challenging and Lynette Patterson shared this strategy with me. Take a pencil and place it between your back teeth. This forces your mouth into a smile which activates the chemical shift in your brain so you feel better. You might even laugh if you look at yourself in a mirror while clamping on that pencil with your teeth.  Just don’t bare down too hard… you don’t want splinters in your tongue!!


You can most often shift your negative or stressful emotions with laughter and smiles, which help you think more effectively and feel better emotionally and physically. If you have a strategy to add laughter and smiles to your day, please share it. Here’s to more smiles, laughter and ultimately, success.

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