How to take your pain and move towards healing
My name is Jennifer R. Levin, PhD and I am a traumatic grief expert, clinician, educator, and coach. I am also a recognized Fellow in Thanatology, the study of death, dying, and bereavement. I have been privileged to work in the field of death, dying, and grief for over 30 years and I am passionate about helping people, like you, survive and grow after a sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one.
I understand what it is like to have your world shattered without notice and the resulting turmoil that takes over your life. I know the impact this has on your ability to function and interact with the world. The physical toll you are experiencing is enormous. I know that at this point in your life you may feel exhausted by your grief and trauma. You no longer feel capable of carrying on or even know how to start. I have combined my personal and clinical experiences, my education, expertise, and the methods I use with a countless number of clients so that I can guide you in your healing, decrease your daily pain and help you feel connected to the person you love.
When you lose someone you love without warning your grief needs are different. These challenges are unique to what you might experience after an anticipated death because...
When there is unexpected loss there is no chance to say good bye. With a sudden loss, there are many times last interactions occur as arguments, texts, or mundane conversations that end up haunting grievers for a long time after the death occurs.
Sudden and unexpected losses are surrounded with unanswered questions and uncertainty. Many of these losses unfortunately involve law enforcement, court cases or investigations which in time, hopefully, provide clarity and information. However, more often than not, you are left living in the unknown, your mind filled with uncertainty and often running away with made up stories often worse than the truth.
We live our life with a set of unspoken expectations about how things work. We expect the life we have created for ourself to be generally safe with more good than bad, most people have good intentions and can be trusted, and that our life makes sense and follows a sense of order. Once we experience a loss like this we realize if this can happen to someone we love at anytime, we are vulnerable and it can be debilitating.
You’ve known that death is part of life’s continuum, but you probably never expected to lose a loved one in a sudden, unexpected manner.
Consequently, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the intensity of your feelings, the rush of memories, and the never ending daily tasks. The permanence of your loss is too enormous to absorb. You may also be experiencing nightmares, flashbacks, trouble sleeping and/or difficulty functioning. Your world, as you knew it, has been turned upside down. Everything you understood to be real, your past as well as your plans for your future, feels shattered because of the tragic events that changed your life. It may be hard to imagine going on with life without your loved one or holding hope for your future.
You may not be in a space to believe that you can and will get through this right now. You may not feel the desire to be happy again after your sudden and unexpected loss. I hear you and I get it. Please believe me and my experiences with countless other people just like you – you won’t always feel this way.
According to the theory of continuing bonds, there are ways to continue to develop and maintain relationships with your loved after their death. Although the relationship is no longer physical in nature you can strengthen this relationship in its new form. Similarly, one of the goals of modern grief therapy is to integrate your loved one's essence within as you move forward in life.
Unfortunately your life is not going to return to the way it was but you can create a new normal. You can make shifts and changes in your priorities to now that everything has changed. Yes, it is going to be very difficult without your loved one. But it can be done. And with patience and intention you can allow yourself to hope for a future with purpose, meaning, and give yourself permission to be happy again. There is hope.
You are here for a reason. The pain associated with a sudden and unexpected loss has become too much to bear. You are tired of being tired. You are tired of going through the motions of each day, without meaning, without purpose without investment in your life or your future. You are ready to start feeling better.
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I didn’t think I was ever going to get over this. I thought I was going to be like this for the rest of my life and then at a certain point I started to know that I was getting better. I wasn’t ruminating on it all the time. I came to the conclusion that this happened for a purpose and I think that in horrific things in life there are silver linings.
I learned that there was nothing wrong with me, that my feelings were normal. I did not know that I could stop and ask myself if thinking about certain things would be helpful or harmful. I discovered that I just needed to trust in the process. I did not know there were specific tools I could use in the moment to get through tough times and that they would pass. This was kind of a surprise because I felt like my life was just over.
Growing After Traumatic Loss is an online, self-help course designed to move you towards healing from traumatic grief, at your own pace & timeline. The program combines informational videos, growing exercises, and tips sheets to help you cope, process emotions and feelings, and experience positive shifts in your grieving.
When you enroll you will have immediate access to Module one. Every other week you will receive access to the next module in the eight module series, exploring different topics related to a sudden death. Within each module, there are three short, informational videos, growing exercises, and tip sheets.
The videos I present offer information about traumatic loss and are supported by research and case studies. Videos also demonstrate and teach new skills and tools in a compassionate manner that are easy to understand. Growing exercises provide you an opportunity to deepen your learning with hands-on writing exercises, development of personalized coping skills, and assessments for tracking your progress. Finally, tip sheets are provided as reference documents allowing you to easily refer back to information presented in the videos.
Module one includes a detailed description of all program and supporting materials so you can get a feel for the different resources included in your course. The remaining modules include a description of the module goals and growing exercises.
Goals – To orient you to the program, provide an understanding of why and how traumatic grief is different and establish your roots in order to ground yourself prior to beginning grief and trauma work.
Week 1 Videos
Growing exercises will include assessments to document where you are at the beginning of this program and will be available to track progress and thoughts throughout your program. Additional exercises will provide opportunities to create safety and structure and establish routines to strengthen day to day wellness and functioning. You will also learn how to use grief thermometers to monitor feelings and emotions, as well as pleasant event scheduling to provide brief distractions from your pain.
Tips Sheet Titles
Growing Exercise Titles
Goals: To identify where you are in your traumatic grief and who you are right now. To identify what needs to be grieved, honored and shared.
Growing exercises will focus on what has been lost, left and unfinished in both your life and the life of the loved one you have lost. Additional exercises will provide prompts and guidance to narrate your loved one’s story without focusing on the manner of death and help you engage in optional legacy projects to commemorate his or her life.
Goals: To address the isolation associated with grief, the necessity of self-care and challenges that arise when you have to care for others or attend to professional obligations while living with traumatic grief.
Growing exercises will assist you in identifying the people, activities, and boundaries you will require to thrive. Exercises will also provide you with tools to establish boundaries and protect yourself from empathy overload, highlight how to develop a self-care plan tailored to your needs and how to help others help you.
Goals: To learn about contemporary grief and trauma models used to guide treatment and utilize skills to manage cognitive and emotional grief and trauma symptoms to improve functioning and quality of life.
Growing exercises will help you identify important grief tasks toward healing, cope with diverse emotions, regulate your emotions, and build an individualized toolbox to manage grief and trauma symptoms.
Goals: To create a new sense of normality without your loved one while still finding a way to feel united with their presence. To learn how to handle difficult interactions with others and important life milestones in the absence of your loved one.
Growing exercises will focus on how to use new tools to help contain grief when faced with daily tasks and challenges, and techniques to cope with triggers and grief attacks. Exercises will also identify ways to feel united with your loved one throughout the day, encourage the use of a gratitude practice to shift your energy, and reframe daily thoughts about grief.
Goals: To focus on discovering the changes and growth within and commit to your “why for living” while creating an enduring connection without the physical presence of your loved one. To strengthen strategies for living with grief as it changes and further embeds itself within your daily existence.
Growing exercises will help you identify your why for living, your core values, and the person you would like to become. Exercises will also assist you in managing grief in your everyday existence and identifying ways to incorporate your loved one into future experiences.
Goals: To develop a long-term relationship with your grief, honor the needs of your grief and create a new relationship with your loved one. To generate continued growth, develop a personal meaning of closure and learn how to live with uncertainty.
Growing exercises will help you create rituals for remembrance, guide you in writing a narrative for the unknown, and create a sustainable relationship between you and the essence or spirit of your loved one.
Goals: To reflect on your grieving experience so far, contemplate the perceived meaning of your experiences and connect with future possibilities for yourself.
Growing exercises will help you conceptualize what it means to move forward in your life without moving on and envision future possibilities that may be possible from your growth.
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Things are going to suck for a while. There is no way out but through. It is going to feel literally painful, physically painful. Grief is a form of love or praise. It is going to hurt a lot and one day it will hurt less, and you won’t know when and you will just think 'oh, it just doesn’t hurt as bad'.
Select which payment method you prefer below to begin your enrollment
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If you have the intention to heal, you will. I know that it looks impossible and you have no idea how it is going to happen. As long as you take the step forward and you are open to the possibility of it happening, it will.
Click the questions to open the responses.
In one sense all loss and associated grief is traumatic. No matter how prepared you may feel or how much you understand the circle of life, the loss of a loved one is a traumatic experience. A traumatic loss USUALLY involves a loss that is sudden and unexpected. However, what really matters is how you perceive the loss and how you are reacting to the loss. If your loss feels traumatic, if the experiences described in this program resonate with you or the course curriculum sounds like a good fit, then you are in the right place.
One of the hallmark features of traumatic grief is feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Because grief and trauma have no timeline, you have no time limit to complete program materials. Take your time. Pace yourself. The program was designed to make you feel less overwhelmed and to break things down into small pieces. You can make it manageable for yourself.
I am so glad you are receiving professional support to help you through this difficult time. In an ideal world, everyone who enrolls in this course would integrate the content and process the growing exercises with their therapist! This program is not meant to replace professional mental health services and it is a perfect complement to your therapeutic work. The program, however, is available for individuals who do not have access to mental health services or individuals who are not interested in pursuing therapy at this time.
Absolutely, grief is a unique journey with no time line. Some people begin working with traumatic grief days after a loss has occurred and others wait years before they are ready. It does not matter how soon or how long you wait to start the program. The exercises are tailored to your experience and where you are right now in your grieving process.
Even when you have an amazing support network, grief can be an isolating experience. Friends and family are well meaning but often do not understand the different needs of a traumatic loss. I developed Growing After Traumatic Loss as an experienced traumatic grief expert to teach you the skills and tools you need to move toward healing.