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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Navigating Parental Grief: Faith and Healing Through the Loss of a Child

Thursday, May 23, 2024 @ 6:04 PM

Losing a child is an experience that transcends words; it's a journey through profound pain, uncharted emotional depths, and an altered reality that reshapes the very fabric of life. For parents facing this unimaginable loss, navigating the path of grief can feel overwhelming and isolating. However, integrating principles from psychological theories and Christian faith can provide a framework for healing and resilience.

Preserving Connections

John Bowlby's attachment theory highlights the importance of maintaining bonds with the deceased. This does not mean clinging to the past, but rather preserving a connection that allows the parent to feel that their child remains a part of their lives in some way. This could be through cherished memories, photos, or personal rituals that honor the child's memory. These connections can offer comfort and a sense of continuity in the midst of profound change.

Allowing Time to Grieve

Grief is a deeply personal process that requires time and space to fully experience. It is crucial for parents to allow themselves to feel the breadth of their emotions—anger, sadness, confusion, and even moments of peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 reminds us that there is "a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Acknowledging and embracing the full spectrum of grief helps in moving toward healing.

Reworking Life

One of the significant challenges in parental grief is reworking life to accommodate the loss. Rather than aiming to return to a pre-loss state, parents must learn to integrate the loss into their ongoing lives. This involves creating a new normal where the memory of the child is woven into the fabric of daily living. This process is about adaptation and finding new ways to live meaningfully despite the loss.

Reaching Out for Support

In times of profound grief, reaching out for support is vital. This includes seeking the comfort and strength offered by God, as well as the support of family, friends, and professional counselors. The Bible encourages believers to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2), emphasizing the importance of community and mutual support. Sharing grief with others can lighten the emotional load and provide much-needed comfort.

Finding a New Purpose

Finding a new reason to get up each day is a powerful step in the healing journey. This might involve discovering new passions, engaging in meaningful activities, or simply appreciating the small blessings in each day. Trusting in God's plan, as articulated in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future," can provide a profound sense of hope and purpose.

Balancing Grief and Healing

It is important to strike a balance between times of grieving and times of respite. Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 speaks to the natural rhythms of life, including both mourning and healing. Parents should allow themselves to take breaks from grief, engaging in activities that bring joy and peace. These moments of respite are not a betrayal of the lost child but are essential for sustaining the long journey of grief.

In conclusion, navigating the grief of losing a child is an arduous journey that requires time, support, and a deep well of faith. By preserving connections with the deceased, allowing time to experience grief fully, reworking life to include the loss, reaching out for support, finding new purpose, and balancing moments of grief with moments of healing, parents can find a pathway to resilience. Rooted in Christian faith and biblical wisdom, this holistic approach provides a compassionate and hopeful framework for those enduring the unimaginable.

Into the Mourning: A Handbook (and Workbook) for a Grieving Parent

Thursday, May 23, 2024 @ 5:35 PM

Losing a child is an experience that transcends words; it's a journey through profound pain, uncharted emotional depths, and an altered reality that reshapes the very fabric of life. To support parents navigating this challenging terrain, Dr. Kelly authored Into the Mourning: A Handbook for a Grieving Parent along with its companion grief workbook Into the Mourning, A Workbook for a Grieving Parent. The carefully crafted handbook and workbook acknowledge the complexities of parental grief and introduces the P.A.R.E.N.T. Model of Grief, a unique framework designed to offer support, understanding, and a pathway toward healing. The model respects the individual journey of each grieving parent, emphasizing that grief is unique, circular, fluid, distressing, and a lifetime event, while providing the encouragement and hope that there is no wrong or right way to grieve. Embrace one or both compassionate guides to find solace and resilience amidst the unfathomable loss.

The handbook offers a deep dive into the complexities of grief after losing a child, cultural and spiritual impacts on grief, and a historical context of how death is viewed and experienced, as well as the P.A.R.E.N.T. Model of Grief that normalizes the distress and often confusing thoughts and feelings from an attachment perspective. The workbook offers daily practices, journaling exercises, prayers, meditations, and support to help you navigate grief after child loss, and learn how to live with the loss.

Both can be purchased on Amazon.com.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09W13S26H
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CPDR86VM

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The Telltale Signs of a Dysregulated Nervous System in Mothers

Tuesday, May 14, 2024 @ 12:59 PM

Motherhood is often romanticized as a joyous and fulfilling experience. However, behind the smiles and adorable baby photos, there is a hidden reality that many mothers face – a dysregulated nervous system. While it may not be immediately visible, the signs of a dysregulated nervous system can manifest in various ways.

In this blog, we will unmask the invisible struggle that mothers with a dysregulated nervous system often face. From chronic fatigue and irritability to difficulty in concentrating and anxiety, the effects of a dysregulated nervous system can be debilitating. These symptoms can not only affect a mother's well-being but can also impact her ability to care for her child.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of a dysregulated nervous system is essential for both mothers and those who support them. By recognizing these telltale signs, mothers can seek appropriate help and support to regain balance and improve their overall well-being.

The impact of dysregulation on mothers

1. Emotional Volatility
Dysregulation turns your emotions into a wild carnival. One minute, you’re laughing at a toddler’s knock-knock joke; the next, you’re crying over mom guilt.

Your fuse shortens, and patience becomes a rare gem. Your toddler’s innocent question? Cue a surge of all the emotions as they run through your body. You’re a tightly coiled spring, ready to snap at the slightest provocation.

2. Physical Toll
Chronic dysregulation takes a toll on your body. Imagine your nervous system as a grumpy roommate – it messes with your sleep, digestion, and overall well-being.

Headaches, backaches, and mysterious twinges become your companions.

3. Sensory Overload
Lights are too bright, sounds too loud? Your nervous system cranks up the volume on everything. Ever need to turn down the volume on the radio to help navigate the road? Yeah, just like that!

You’re like a human antenna, picking up signals from every corner. Even the dog barking is too much.

4. Sleep Drama
Sleep becomes a high-stakes game. You’re either a night owl, binge-watching Netflix till 2 AM, or a daytime zombie, stumbling through life.

Your brain, fueled by insomnia, feels like a squirrel on espresso – darting from one thought to another. “Did I pay the water bill? What do I need from the store?”

5. Attention Whirlwind
Concentration? Ha! Your brain juggles thoughts like a circus performer with flaming torches.

You start a task, get distracted by another task, and end up organizing the sock drawer.

6. Appetite Roller Coaster
Your relationship with food is another roller coaster ride. One day, you devour a family-sized pizza; the next, you forget to eat altogether.

Your nervous system messes with your hunger cues. “Didn’t I just eat? I’m so bloated I feel full! I just want carbs and sweets!”

7. Immune System Tango
Dysregulation messes with your internal GPS. Suddenly, stress-induced colds and hormonal imbalances waltz into your life.

8. Social Acrobatics
Social situations become tightropes. You’re balancing between “I need alone time” and “I miss adult conversation.”

Your nervous system toggles between “hermit crab” and “social butterfly.” Sometimes, you’re both at the same party.


The Role of Stress in Dysregulation

Stress – that pesky gremlin – loves to poke our nervous system. Chronic stress, also known as toxic stress, is like an uninvited guest who overstays their welcome. Here’s how it wreaks havoc:

1. Activation and Dysregulation: Chronic stress activates our stress response systems repeatedly and excessively. Imagine your nervous system as a car alarm that never stops blaring. It’s not adaptive; it’s downright annoying.

2. Cardiovascular Drama: Chronic stress is associated with cardiovascular diseases. Your heart races like it’s in a sprint, even when you’re just reading a grocery list. It’s like your heart’s auditioning for an action movie.

3. Insulin Resistance: Stress messes with your body’s sugar management. Suddenly, insulin – that diligent traffic cop – starts waving cars in all directions.

4. Cognitive Decline: Chronic stress turns your brain into a tangled web of thoughts. Concentration? Rational decisions? Nope. You’re juggling mental post-it notes in a windstorm.

5. Mood Disorders: Bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and anhedonia (the joy-sucking ghost) are part of the landscape. Stress assumes a hidden role, and mental health disorders are actively present.

6. The Bear That Isn’t There: Your stress response gears up for a bear attack. But guess what? There’s no bear – just a pile of unfolded laundry. Your nervous system needs new glasses.


The importance of self-care for mothers with a dysregulated nervous system

As moms, we often find ourselves juggling flaming torches (metaphorically, of course) while riding the unicycle of motherhood on a tightrope. But amidst the chaos, self-care becomes our secret weapon – the oxygen mask we need before assisting others.

Why Self-Care Matters for Moms

1. Replenishing the Well:
Imagine your well-being as a well... When you constantly draw water (energy, patience, love) from it without replenishing, it runs dry. Self-care refills that well.

Moms infuse those around them with their own energy. By taking care of ourselves, we can give more to others – our kids, partners, and everyone else in our orbit.

2. Stress Management:
Motherhood can be a stormy sea. Self-care is our life raft. It helps manage stress, prevent burnout, and keep our emotional ship afloat.

When we practice self-care, we build practical coping skills to weather the tempests. It’s like having a sturdy anchor when the waves get rough.

3. Physical and Mental Health:
Self-care reduces the risk of future medical issues. A healthier mom means a healthier family.

It safeguards our mental health too. As we practice self-care, we learn to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety.

4. Modeling for Our Kids:
Children mimic their parents. When they see Mom prioritizing self-care, they learn its value.

We’re not just teaching them how to tie shoelaces; we’re showing them how to tie emotional knots too.


Strategies for Regulating the Nervous System

As moms, we’re like circuit breakers – handling surges of emotions, responsibilities, and the occasional toddler meltdown. Here’s our toolkit for smoother functioning:

1. Breathe: Inhale Courage, Exhale Chaos
Deep breaths are our secret weapon. They activate the parasympathetic system – our chill pill. Imagine inhaling courage and exhaling chaos.

Try this: Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4, exhale for 6. Repeat until you feel it in your body.

2. Move: Shake Off Stress Like a Wet Dog
Dance, walk, or do yoga – anything to shake off stress. Picture yourself as a wet dog, vigorously shaking off water after a bath.

Movement releases endorphins – our natural mood boosters. Plus, it’s a legit excuse to dance like nobody’s watching.

3. Connect: Hug Your Kids, Call a Friend, Pet a Dog
Connection soothes frazzled nerves. Hug your kids – their giggles are like mini therapy sessions.

Call a friend. Vent, laugh, or discuss the latest embarrassing thing you did or that mom guilt you feel. Friends are like emotional vitamins.

4. Sleep: Prioritize Those Zzz’s
Your nervous system craves sleep like a toddler craves cookies. Prioritize those Zzz’s.

Create a bedtime ritual: dim lights, cozy blankets, and a cup of chamomile tea. Your brain will thank you.

5. Seek Professional Help: Emotional GPS
Therapists, coaches, and support groups are our emotional GPS. They guide us through the labyrinth of feelings.

It’s okay to ask for directions. Sometimes, we need a detour to find our way back to calm.


Seeking Professional Help for Nervous System Dysregulation

If you’re grappling with a dysregulated nervous system, seeking professional help is a crucial step toward healing. As moms, we often carry the weight of the world on our shoulders – juggling responsibilities, emotions, and the occasional Lego underfoot. But remember, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) navigate this alone.

Understanding the Struggle
Long after a traumatic event has passed, our nervous system can remain on high alert, like a car stuck in “go” mode while simultaneously trying to minimize internal chaos. It’s as if we’re pressing both the accelerator and the brake pedal, desperately seeking equilibrium. Childhood trauma, chronic stress, and emotional overload can all contribute to this dysregulation.

Breaking Free with Mom Coaching
That’s where I come in. I’m Kelly, a mom coach with a master’s degree in counseling and a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. As a once anxiety-ridden mom of four, I’ve turned my pain into purpose. My personalized one-on-one coaching is designed to fit seamlessly into your jam-packed schedule. No more stressing about weekly sessions – we communicate through a secure app, leaving voice, video, or text messages whenever you need support.

Think of me as your continuous cheerleader while you kick guilt to the curb!



Conclusion: Empowering mothers to heal and thrive

Dear mom, you’re more resilient than you realize. Peel off that invisible mask, embrace your nervous system’s quirks, and know that healing begins with compassion – for yourself and every other mom riding this rollercoaster. Let’s thrive together, one deep breath at a time.

Key Takeaways:
You’re Not Alone: The invisible struggle is real, but so is your strength. Other moms are navigating similar waters – sometimes with leaky boats and mismatched oars.

Self-Care Is Survival: Prioritize self-care; it’s not selfish. Delegate tasks, say no, and schedule “me time.” A well-regulated mom is a superhero in disguise.

Regulate and Recalibrate: Use strategies like deep breathing, movement, and seeking professional help. You’re not just a frazzled wire; you’re a conductor weaving chaos into a beautiful melody.

Remember, you’re not just a mom and you’re not just your dysregulated symptoms. There is purpose, passion and JOY in your life and I would love to help guide you to find it all again….maybe it’s re-defined now at this chapter, but you deserve all of it!!!!

With Love and Imperfection,
Kelly

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Can Different Parenting Styles Influence Emotional Bonds with Children?

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 @ 9:16 AM

To establish a clearly defined frame of reference for various aspects and nuances associated with the concept of attachment, it is imperative to first conceptualize a working definition of attachment. “Attachment style or organization is a concept that derives from John Bowlby’s attachment theory and refers to a person’s characteristic ways of relating in intimate caregiving and receiving relationships with “attachment figures,” often one’s parents, children, and romantic partners” (Levy et al., 2010, p. 193). Feldman (2011) in addressing relationship formation asserts, “Attachment is a positive emotional bond that develops between a child and a particular, special individual” (p. 178). Contextually, as it relates specifically to parent-child relationship, the emotional aspects during the social development of children may result in pleasure or distress (Feldman, 2011). Moreover, some researchers contend that the nature of the infantile attachment has subsequent consequences on adulthood interpersonal relationships. Minnis, et al. (2009) add further speculation to current level of understanding of attachment disorder, “Despite more than 30 years in the psychiatric nomenclature, reactive attachment disorder remains a poorly understood phenotype” (p. 931).

Attachment Disorder and its Relationship to Emotional Sensitivity and Safety

Conceptually, attachment is intricately connected to the nuances of sensitivity and safety. The concept of attachment is rooted in one’s confidence or lack of confidence in the attachment figure, particularly in the context of security. The maternal role is intimately connected to developing appropriate personal sensitivity, while discerning the safety of her offspring. Feldman (2011) convincingly articulates this relationship, “The research showing the correspondence between mothers’ sensitivity to their infants and the security of the infants’ attachment is consistent with Ainsworth’s arguments that attachment depends on how mothers react to their infants’ emotional cues” (p. 181). In other words, infants that feel a sense of security are more inclined to freely explore their immediate world. Moreover, the sense of an established and safe haven builds the infant’s confidence that parental support, protection, comfort exist in times of distress.

The Father’s Parental perspective

Any discussion on parenting styles and attachment theory would be incomplete in the absence of sharing insight from the father’s parental perspective. Guided by the social norms and traditions of his day, it can be argued that John Bowlby’s research was skewed by his distinct worldview. However, given the parental roles that many fathers now assume due to various macro-environmental factors, it would be prudent to redress this issue. “Although infants are fully capable of forming attachments to both mother and father- as well as other individuals – the nature of the attachment between infants and mothers, on the one hand, and infants and fathers, on the other hand, is not identical” (Feldman, 2011, p. 182). At the corpus of the distinctive attachments is the qualitative nature of their individual relationships. Traditionally, the maternal relationship is primarily nurturing, whereas the paternal relationship involves more play, particularly physical and contact sporting activities. However, as previously alluded to, cultural, social, and economic factors significantly impinge on previously held views of distinctive paternal and maternal stereotypical roles.

Continuing Attachment Disorder Research Needed

A plethora of research continues in an effort to gain a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of attachment disorder. There appears to be no clear scientific links between reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and attachment insecurity (Minnis, et al., 2009). On the surface, there appears to be some interactions among attachment styles, safety, confidence, and exploration. Levy, et al. (2010) explicate the importance of exploration in the context of interpersonal relationships, “Exploration of the world includes not only the physical world but also relationships with other people and reflection on one’s internal experience” (p. 193). Hypothetically, the context of future research bears the solutions. Minnis et al. (2009) succinctly conclude, “An important task of future research will be to gain a better understanding of attachment in the context of RAD, including the possibility that there may be differences in behavior even with the ‘secure’ category” (p. 939).

References

Feldman, R. S. (2011). Development across the life span. New Jersey: Pearson.

Levy, K. N., Ellison, W.D., Scott, L. N., & Bernecker, S. L. (2010). Attachment style. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67(2), 193-203.

Minnis, H., Green, J., O’Connor, T. G., Liew, A., Glaser, D., Taylor, E., Follan, M., Young, D., Barnes, J., Gillberg, C., Pelosi, A., Arthur, J., Burston, A., Connolly, B., & Sadiq, F. A.). (2009). An exploratory study of the association between reactive attachment disorder and attachment narratives in early school-age children. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 50(8), 931- 942.