Emotional Rollercoaster

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I talk about my grief journey as my swimming in the ocean, struggling to get to the beach. Now I want to talk about what happens when I finally get to Grief Beach. Along with all the hot sand, sharp rocks, quicksand, and dangerous cliffs…there is a Rollercoaster ahead that I must ride.

emotional rollercoaster

It is called the Emotional Roller Coaster. It takes up an entire section of the beach, and I can’t get around it, I have to go through it. It has deep shark infested water on one side, and high cliffs on the other side. But beyond it is a shady beach with calm waters called peaceful acceptance. It is where I want to be. It is from there that I can watch the sunrises and sunsets.

So I get on the Rollercoaster, I am afraid, there has been so much pain, and I know there will be more to come. I want to go back to where it was safe, but an Emotional Storm came in and washed that part of my life away. Some of the turns are not so bad, the loops are tiny, but then there are the big ones, they are so steep, and make me go so fast…sometimes I just fall off! But when I get back to the starting gate, I am wiser, I know that turn that dumped me off, and I can prepare for it. I can take a deep breath, and hold on tighter, and lean into it instead of away from it.

I tried holding my breath and closing my eyes at the top of the coaster, but I went so fast I missed the gate to the beach, and had to go around again. When I was brave enough to come off the top, knowing that it might hurt, but not as badly as it hurt being drug across the rocks at the bottom of the ocean, with my eyes and heart wide open, breathing deeply, I made it to the beach again!

The lesson is that even though it is frightening, we must move on through this Emotional Roller Coaster of Grief. And each time we go through a situation, we grow. Sometimes we do not get the outcome we were hoping for, and are thankful the day came to an end. How we ride that coaster is totally up to us. No one can “tell” us how to grieve, although many will try. We each have to find our own way, sometimes we need help to guide us along, and sometimes we just need the space to put our own footprints in the sand. Sometimes we need both of these things at the same time.

Emotions are truly energy in motion. We guide that energy with each breath we take. We can release energy through tears. I think of them as washing the sand off my face from the beach I just got dumped on. And some days it takes a lot of tears to get that sand off. But some days I need no tears, and the wind alone blows the sand off.

We all need balance in our lives, for every sharp jagged rock on the beach; there are the most beautiful colored rocks and sea shells lying right beside it.

When my first son died, I had no balance, just a huge hole in my heart where it had been ripped in two. I was 21 years old, I didn’t know who I was let alone what grief was. I floundered in that ocean for a very long time, my guilt told me to stay there, I deserved to be slammed into every rock, and stung by every jellyfish that passed by. I kept my daughter afloat in the sailboat, but I was drowning in the ocean right beside her. When I finally made it to Grief Beach, I needed a hand, as I was too tired to pull myself out of the water. I saw that Emotional Roller Coaster  looming on the beach, and I was too exhausted to approach it myself. My friend gave me a yank, spun me around and said you can do this, you deserve to be free of all this guilt, fear, and deep pain, I am right beside you, walk this way.

So when I am not on Grief Beach, how do I gain control over my emotions? I face them head on. Like the children’s song, you can’t go around them; you have to go thru them. When you are grieving, the emotional triggers are everywhere. I plan for them. I know certain things will get to me. I have developed the MINI ANGEL HUG as a coping device to stop tears. I can take a deep breath, and turn away to regain my composure. Then I can respond to painful comments with the confidence that it will only hurt me if I allow it to. In my journey I have had it all said to me at some time…and I have responded in all ways, tears, anger, and disbelief that they actually said that to me??

Angel Hugs ~ Take those empty arms, open them wide, open your hands, and then bring them in and cross your heart. As you do this, close your eyes and feel the love of your departed. Don’t just think of them, feel the love coming into your whole being, like a white light swirling down from above. Feel the energy pulsating into your soul. When you open your eyes you will feel amazing. I can now do a “mini hug” when something triggers that emotion, I can reach up with one hand and hold it over my heart for a second and feel the love helping me through my day. 

Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which one to surf. Choose the ones that will bring you all the way onto the beach. And ride the Emotional Roller Coaster with your head held high, and arms across your heart, and get thru it to the shady side of the beach! I will be waiting there for you, lets watch the sunsets together!

Below are Sandy’s videos about her emotional rollercoaster ride thru her grief.

Categories: Emotional Storms

Controlling Emotions

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Grief CPR Series

Emotion = Energy in Motion


Visualizations to help gain control over emotions!

Practical Ways That Work to Gain Control Over Your Thoughts & Emotions!

What you put out into the universe, and focus on, comes back all the time, no matter what. Some call this Karma, some call it the boomerang effect. I just call it life.

There can be overwhelming emotions surrounding a death of a loved one. Holding onto the pain associated with those feelings keeps you in a circular pattern with no way out. You must learn to let the pain go and focus on the love. Working through your rage and fear and pain that comes with grief will give you your life back


By acknowledging the pain, and then letting it go. Don’t let yourself fall back into the pain, lean forwards to pull away from the pain. Self talk is very important, you must tell yourself that you have felt this pain, and now it is time to release it, as you no longer have a need to feel it.

Change your thoughts,

change your life!

Instead of saying “This hurts so bad I don’t think I can take it anymore, tell yourself this hurts, but I am getting stronger every day, I am choosing to remember only the good memories.

I had nightmares, I would see my son’s head hit the guardrail, and wake up screaming, but the screaming was only in my head. I wasn’t making a physical sound. I would sit up out of breath, tears rolling down my face. I could not just peacefully drift back to sleep. I really didn’t sleep much at all, knowing as soon as I fell asleep the nightmares would come again. I needed help, and the drugs were not a good choice for me.

grief tears

I searched for someone to help me stop the cycle. I tried hypnosis, that guy said you have so much trauma to deal with, they will not stop until you let the trauma in your soul out… well that was not helpful. He did not tell me how to work thru it, just to do it. I finally found a woman to help me, not a DR, but a intuitive person who said you don’t need drugs, you need to fix yourself, I will show you how. She taught me how to visualize, which was hard for me at first. But it changed my life! I stopped the nightmares and blocked the ugliness. It is still there in depths of my brain, but does not come up on it’s own.

Visualization Exercise #1

waterfall cleanse

Sit in a chair or on the ground, so that you are connecting to the earth (called grounding). Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. In your mind think of a waterfall, and place yourself into the waterfall, so the water is flowing over you and going downstream. Now imagine that as the water flows over you it is pulling out all the negative feelings and emotions, give them a color, (I use black) and watch the water pull all the black out of you starting at your head and working downwards, until all the black is gone from you. Then open your eyes and take a deep cleansing breath. Tell yourself the negative emotions are gone from me now I will go in peace today.

Do this as often as you need. I also do it in the shower, and watch the negativity go down the drain.

You define your own life. Don’t let other people tell you how to grieve. It is ok to be sad; the tears have to come to wash away the deep, raw pain. It takes as long as it takes.

human meltdown

Visualization Exercise #2

To help me with the night terrors. I was taught to say this: 

The ugly details of the death have no power over the present!

Only I can give the memories the power to hurt me!

Again self-talk is so very important. Our sub-conscious mind is listening to every word we say. If we tell ourselves we are going to be sad all day and unable to deal with the grief, your sub-conscious mind will do just that for you.

I was taught to do this many years ago, when all we had was a TV for an example. She taught me to tell myself, every time a memory of the crash came into my head, to tell myself to put a peaceful, happy memory in its place and block that awful memory. To imagine my memory as a TV screen, and see the channel change to a good memory. She told me to keep doing it until the bad memories were no more.

So I did this over and over, it took a long time, but finally I was free of the nightmares and the horror of watching my son die.

I had sought out help because I was afraid to sleep, as I would wake up seeing my sons head hit the guardrail over and over like my brain was stuck in replay mode. I would be trying to carry on with life, and an image of me holding his shattered body in my arms at the side of the road would just pop in my head. I needed a way to stop the pain. I needed to learn how to control my own emotions, and stop the bad memories.

How well did it work?

When it came time to rewrite “Love & Courage” I had to go back to those painful memories, and re-live them once again, and they were truly blocked, I had to give myself permission to remember them again.

Don’t get stuck in the pain! You push the pain out with loving peaceful memories every time it comes back.

When people hurt you with their own fears and terror that it could be them, take a breath. Rise above the pain, and forgive their ignorance.

Worrying is wasted time & energy. Use the same energy for doing something about whatever worries you.

Change your thoughts,

change your life!

Love the ones who are still here, and LET them love you.

Categories: Emotional Storms

Moving Forward With Grief!


Grief CPR Series

Emotion = Energy in Motion


No moregoing thru the motions” Get un-stuck!

I am a mother – daughter – wife – sister – granddaughter. I love my family deeply, so when I lose a member of my family or a close friend, how do I move forward in my grief? I am being specific when I say with or in my grief, as I will never move through it, move on, or get over it as some imply. It is a part of my being, of who I am, I did however need to learn how to control my self talk and thoughts. This allows me to live with it, and keep my pain in my past and not bring it into my daily life as uncontrollable pain.

I share my thoughts with you as a woman who has lost loves. 2 children in very different ways, my mother, grandparents, and close friends. Some of you may have lost more people in your lives and some less. It is not how many people in your life you have lost, but in how you react to their loss. I will talk more in another blog about them only being lost in the human form. They are not “gone forever” to me.

Some people try to soften the impact of the loss with words, such as they passed away, passed on, were laid to rest, slipped away…my children died. It was not a gentle passing, it was raw, and deep, and with great suffering on my part as well as my family. At some time in our lives we will all have to deal with grief on a very personal level. We as a society do not like to talk about or deal with death openly. Not many of us have the emotional tools to deal with grief. When we are suddenly thrown into the deep pain of loss, we are so overwhelmed. I know I was. I was so young, only 21 years old when my first son died in a car accident. I was driving. I had deep guilt, along with empty arms. My grief consumed me for 4 long years. I could not move forward, I merely existed in the pain from day to day.

Terry in front pak

Since that first loss I have lost another child, my mother, my grandparents, and close friends. When someone asks how I have moved through my grief, I can only say I live with my grief one day at a time. I lived so long in the darkness of depression, I do not want to go there ever again, it’s ugly. When someone comments to me “I never knew” I know I have succeeded in moving forward in my grief. I say this because I choose to live my life day to day in the present, not the past. I would give anything, especially my own life, to bring my children back, but I can’t do that. So I choose to go on and see the joy life can bring to my daily life. I can choose to be sad and cry and withdraw from life, or choose to find happiness in what my life is now.

So how do I move forward with my own grief? The answer, although painful, is really quite simple. I had to become bigger than my own pain. How did I do that, and how do I continue to do that? Good question. Simple answer ~ baby steps. Some days were breath by breath it seemed.

Grieving is a process of moving through the pain. I had to accept that feeling the hurt was necessary, and OK. The hardest part was to allow myself to let the pain flow back out of my being. I was afraid to let go of the pain and feel nothing. I felt that if I was feeling the pain, I was doing what I was supposed to do. The pain became a part of me, and when it was time to let it go, I was afraid of letting it go, afraid of the unknown. Who was I without pain? It had been my constant companion for so long that letting it go was frightening. How do I move forward without pain? Can I?

I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “ok now I am done with the pain.” I chose to quit feeling sorry for myself basically. It took a wise person asking me who I truly was feeling sorry for? Was I feeling sorry for my children who were gone and no longer suffering, or was I feeling sorry for myself? Was I feeling sorry for my surviving children who will never know their brothers, yes. Was I causing my children more pain by being stuck in my grief and being so sad, yes.

Mindy and Billy

This picture was taken 2 months after Brandon died. They needed a me to heal.

Could I change that, YES!

So as I reflected upon my life and surviving the deaths of my children, I vowed to become bigger than my pain to become the mother, daughter, wife and sister the rest of my family loved and missed so dearly.

I have learned over the years that self talk and thought, defines who we are.

I learned what a self-defeating attitude truly is. I lived that way in the depths of my grief, feeling helpless, and not knowing how to over come the pain. My life had been ripped apart literally right before me eyes. I watched my son die in the car accident. I could not get that image out of my head. I had to be taught how to block the ugliness in my life. I needed to take control of my own thoughts, and no longer be a prisoner to my pain.

To do that, I studied about how our sub-conscious works. It is quite obedient to our mental demands upon it. If I said this is too hard, I can’t do this without bursting out in tears (common in grief) my brain would work very diligently to make sure that happened. But when I would tell myself both in thoughts and spoken words that this is going to be tough but I can get through it without the emotional outburst, that my brain would make that work too.

Taking control is about being aware of every thought we have. If we focus on the pain, be it physical or mental, then our brain will bring it to us. If we focus on healing, and positive reactions, our brain/sub conscious will bring that to us also. I am not talking about the spiritual aspect (a whole different subject) but the daily working of our mind-body connection. I had times in public that had been triggers to completely unravel me, and I learned to tell myself, not now, this is not the time and place to feel this emotion, it serves no purpose to me, stop. And it would indeed stop, it was like a 100 pound weight lifted off my shoulders, I could breath again. I had gained control.

A common mistake made by a grieving person is pre-planning for pain! Without even realizing it, they will think about the upcoming holidays or birthdays or anniversary, and tell themselves that they will be sad or out of control on those days. I had what I called Hell Week, it lasted 2 weeks actually. In those 2 weeks were the birthday of Terry my first born, and his day of his death 2 weeks after his birthday. Then in the middle of that was the birth of Billy. So in the middle of my sadness there was the joy of a birthday party for my one son I have who is on earth. What an emotional roller coaster! Then there was my birthday, followed in 4 days by Brandon’s birthday, and he died on Halloween. So yeah I had some bad dates on my calendar. Before I learned to control my thoughts, without realizing it I was pre-planning my pain. I learned to focus on the love. I would instead pre-plan eating their favorite foods and remembering them happy, and celebrate Halloween doing fun things that the kids would love.

The hardest part was allowing myself to love deeply again, without fear. Not such an easy task. I quit holding back and got involved in life again. I allowed myself to find joy in the simple things with my children, we played together again, and I found peace from within. I could sit in the swing on my mothers back porch with her and watch the sunset and enjoy it, versus crying because my son was not sitting with us. I would take walks along the river with my husband, and watch the kids and dog play, and smile with my heart and face.

So what at first was hard became easy. I was able to move forward in my grief by living my life one day at a time. Some days I would not move forward, even a little backward, but I did grow stronger each day. As time went by the good days started outnumbering the bad days. I am moving forward (WITH NOT THROUGH) my grief, on a daily basis, by just living my life in the present.

If you put your emotions into something positive, like a flower garden, picture collages, memory books/boxes, or other types of memorials, it helps you to remember with positive energy, not just the pain of the loss. We made a quilt out of my friends husbands flannel shirts so she could wrap up in his love when needed. I made a video for Terry on his birthday one time. It really was only for me, but I will share it with you to give you ideas. I move forwards by choosing to do positive things, and that is truly what my children would want me to do.

I recently got an email from my friend, Sunny Dawn Johnston, who is a special person in my life, and I am going to quote her below because I became stuck in my grief and lived years just going thru the motions until I FIXED ME and gained control!

“Until we make the deliberate choice of pursuing self-love and begin playing an active role in our own lives (instead of merely going through the motions), nothing will ever change!

Change comes with consistent connection to Source, inner strength, confidence, focus, and the help of a supportive community to remind you of the light you possess when you may temporarily forget it yourself!

Remember this friend-


you are WORTHY

and you are NOT ALONE

Affirm this at all times!

Sending light and love,


Sunny Dawn Johnston


This is not a paid link, just a sharing of a loving heart from me to you if you want to learn more about her. She is real person, not a fake or flake, living her life’s purpose to help others.


Categories: Emotional Storms