Why Celebrity Death is so hard to deal with.

Like the rest of the world, I am still coming to terms with the sudden death of one of my own personal inspirations, the amazing Robin Williams.¬† From “Mork and Mindy” until his death just days ago, Robin has felt like a part of my life and my children’s lives for decades.

Any time I was ever asked who I would love to have dinner with out of any person, living or dead in the world, Robin Williams was top of my list.

I loved that he was afraid and vulnerable.

I loved that he found a way to laugh at himself and the world.

I loved how brightly he shone and how willing he was to take risks and put himself out there, way, way out there in his own unique way.

A constant source of laughter, talent, vulnerability and courage who struggled like the rest of us to make sense of the world and deal with pain, addiction, loneliness and depression.

I loved that he was brave enough to show the power of how deeply and profoundly you can change and touch peoples lives by having the courage to be yourself.

In fact, Robin’s performance as the wonderfully raw and real therapist in “Good Will Hunting”, was one of my major inspirations to become a therapist myself.

Celebrities seem to live in a different world than us.

A world that we think should keep them safe from being touched by the things that hurt the rest of us with more people and money and resources to help protect them and get them back on track if they do go astray.

A world where they are loved and celebrated and rich and famous so surely they MUST be happy.

Even though we have seen time and time again that being a celebrity does not protect you.

Even though we have seen time and time again that it brings enormous pressure, expectation, constant scrutiny and intrusion that many, many celebrities crack beneath its weight and fall victim to addiction, mental illness and suicide.

Every time a much loved celebrity like Robin Williams dies, especially if the death feels sudden or “preventable” the number of people needing support rises as mass grief, shock and the search for answers begins so that we can understand why.

When the death is by suicide, it feels so much harder to deal with and comprehend because the why can never truly be known.

We want there to be answers and explanations.

We want someone or something to blame.

We want to try to make sense of it all and deal with the shock and the feelings of abandonment and betrayal that can come when someone makes the decision to end their life.

We feel all of the natural reactions to that death including shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and the struggle for acceptance.

But a celebrity death is different because even though the person may have been so seemingly present in our lives through their art and media and performance, our relationship with them is totally one-sided.

We are not part of their inner circle of family, friends, workmates or acquaintances.

We loved them and idolized them and admired them from a distance and constructed our own ideas of who we believed them to be.

We feel like we know them, but the truth is, we don’t. Yet the loss still feels so real and personal.

Unlike the death of someone actually in our lives, we have no seemingly legitimate right to grieve them, no valid reason to feel so shocked, no excuse to feel so overwhelmed ,so deeply saddened by the death of someone who never even knew that we existed.

Which is why the death of a celebrity that you felt connected to feels so difficult to deal with because your pain, your sense of shock, of grief, of denial and anger though incredibly real and valid, is somehow seen as stupid, out of proportion or “silly. ”

Unlike the death of someone we actually know, there is no funeral to attend or ceremony to take part in, where you can share and acknowledge your pain and talk about the loss of the person and what they meant to you and share your memories with except to post on social media.

There is no formal acknowledgement, support or legitimizing of the level of grief you may feel by family, friends or colleagues who may just tell you to “get over it.”

You are not expected  or encouraged to take time off work to deal with your grief and adjust and allow yourself to mourn and heal.

You can even feel guilty or ashamed at how grief stricken you feel because unlike the death of someone you actually know, there is no personal sense that the grief that you feel is valid, real and justified to the rest of the world.

After all, they were “just a celebrity”.

 

So here are some things that you can do to help yourself.

 

  • Give yourself permission to grieve.

Feelings and emotions do not make “logical sense”. Telling yourself that you “shouldn’t feel something” is not helpful and is totally impossible. What you feel is real, regardless of what others may think.

Like any other loss, you will navigate your way through the stages of grief which include Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance as categorized by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and you will find yourself swinging back and forth between them. There is no logical progression.

Cry if you need to and want to.

Tears are profoundly and deeply expressive and healing.

Grief is often like a wave, it comes, overwhelms and is gone only to rise up again. Do the best that you can to ride the waves and be gentle with yourself as you do so.

 

  • Give yourself time and space to grieve.

Take a personal day if you can.

Try to eliminate things from your schedule that you don’t have to do.

Be kind, gentle and supportive of yourself. Remember, your grief, your sense of loss is real to you.

Write or journal about how you feel. It will take time to feel “real”, for the impact of the loss to really sink in.

When a celebrity dies, that feeling of “unreality” or “it can’t be true” can be the most difficult one to deal with so give it time to truly sink in and process.

Remember: Shock is a normal and natural part of grief and bereavement.

 

  • Create your own ritual to honor the person that feels meaningful to you.

One of the key things that attending funerals does, is give us a sense of completion and finality.

A time to pay our last respects and share support, our grief and celebrate the memories and the life of the person who has died with others who knew and loved them.

When a celebrity we loved dies, it is up to us to provide a meaningful ritual of remembrance and celebration of our own.

Some of the ways that people do this is to organize a tribute with other fans or take part in a fan club based remembrance event.

Others ways that people find meaning and honor and respect the celebrity they admired are: getting a tattoo, creating art work, writing blog posts or poetry, planting a specific flower or garden or creating their own ceremony at home.

The beauty of creating your own remembrance or joining with others is that you are taking time to formally recognize and honor what the person meant to you, thanking them for their gifts and talents and saying a final goodbye.

This can be an incredibly healing part of moving forward with your feelings of grief and bereavement.

 

  • Finding Forgiveness.

When anyone that we love dies, we can’t help but play the “what if” game.

What if they had left home sooner?

What if they never got on the plane/in the car/on the trip?

What if they had reached out and called someone?

What if they had only quit smoking/drinking/drugging?

As difficult as it can seem, being angry with and feeling guilt about the person who died is all part of the grieving process and playing the “what if” game is just part of the Denial/Acceptance aspect of dealing with death.

In every death, there will be the need to find forgiveness, both to ourselves and to the person who died in our relationship with each other.

The things left undone, the words left unsaid, the arguments that were never resolved or the reconciliation that never happened.

When the death comes from suicide however, it adds so many more dimensions of “what if” and actively brings in judgement, blame, anger, shame and condemnation.

Suicide is considered one of our “taboo” subjects.

In religious communities, it can mean shame, judgement, not being able to be buried or have a funeral in the faith of that person or community.

It can add an extra layer of pain and grief to people who believe that their loved one is now suffering eternal hell or damnation and to families left behind who feel deprived or denied the love and support of their community and faith because of the “shame” or “sin” of suicide.

It can feel like a selfish, cowardly escape from the world, leaving a mess of guilt, pain, questioning and blame for those left behind as well as investigations, police involvement and legal issues as well as speculation, rumor and gossip.

Suicide can be an incredibly difficult death to accept, understand, process and ultimately to forgive.


Here is my view.

You can never, ever truly know or feel the depth of any other persons struggle, sorrow, challenges or pain.

NEVER!

You can theorize, empathize, sympathize or believe you know but you can’t.

When someone commits suicide we want there to be answers and often, we want someone or something to blame.

At these times, all you can do is accept that you really can’t know, understand that your questions can never be answered and just do your best to make peace with that and find forgiveness if you can.

If you can’t, you can choose to forgive yourself for not being able to forgive.

 

  • Reach out for help.

 

You don’t have to do this alone.

Having just one session with an empathic, experienced counsellor to talk through your feelings of grief, loss and pain with can make a MASSIVE difference to how you deal with celebrity death.

Organizations like our own lifeline here in Australia and around the world, have extra staff and shifts standing ready to help those who want to reach out.

Please, reach out.

The number for lifeline Australia is 13 11 14.

Don’t hesitate to seek out the assistance available to you in your home state or country.

Grief for a celebrity is real.

Honor any grief you are feeling. Talk about it. Be kind and gentle and supportive to yourself.

You don’t need to struggle alone.

Many therapists like myself have sessions available on Skype. If you feel that your grief is not subsiding, if you are struggling to make sense of it all, if you are feeling overwhelmed, feeling suicidal, feeling depressed, alone and in pain please – REACH OUT.

Make the call that could save or change your life.

Grief about the death of a celebrity is not shameful, stupid, silly or deserving of guilt.

It is a normal, natural response to losing someone whom you loved, respected, admired and will miss being physically present in the world.

There is absolutely no shame in that.

Kerry Jeffery

www.lovetransformslc.com

Here is my favorite memory of Robin Williams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYa6gbDcx18

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Why your Stories are Sabotaging your Relationships.

accusation quote kerry

What most of us don’t realize is that we don’t really respond to people. We respond to our stories about people, based on our theory about life and who we are and what we deserve.

Here’s a common example of how this works: You have left your partner at home with the kids while you go off to do something. Hours later when you get home, the house is a mess.

 

The dishes are unwashed, toys and clothes are everywhere and your partner is watching TV.

You walk into the bathroom and there in the empty bath, is a towel that has been obviously used to clean up the floor after someone missed their aim at the toilet bowl and it is clear to you that it has been sitting there for hours.

So here are the facts. Partner at home, house is messy, partner is watching TV and stinky, pee smelling towel is sitting in the empty bath.

Here’s where our stories kick in. See if any of this sounds familiar:

“I can’t believe he hasn’t cleaned any of this up. Bloody typical! He just leaves this stuff for me to clean like he always does. He just takes me for granted and I am so sick of it. He just doesn’t give a damn about me and how I feel. I am so sick of working so hard and trying to do everything on my own.”

Your story about your partner and why you think they do what they do, takes over and you react to that story as if it is true and yet another argument is about to happen, perhaps the same old argument that has been going on for weeks or months or years.

We stop reacting to the facts. We stop reacting to the person. We start reacting to our stories about the person.

We do this because according to our stories, we think we already know.

The only way to truly know what someone is feeling or thinking or why they do what they do is to ask them.

The trouble is, that we don’t.

In that moment when we step into our stories, we lose the ability to ask questions and have a conversation about what is really happening.

Instead of owning our feelings, we accuse other people of “making” us feel something, do something or believe something.

The best way to have a conversation about an issue and step out of your stories, is to talk about the facts and issues and OWN your emotions.

So how does this look?

Instead of you saying something to your partner like:

“You make me so angry when you always leave the mess for me to clean up.”

You say something like:

“When I saw the stinky towel that was left in the bath, I felt like you left it there for me to pick up and I felt taken for granted.”

Notice the difference?

One is an accusation that will most likely get a hurt, defensive response.

The other is your reaction and interpretation of what you are experiencing that the other person can respond to, with what the situation is for them.

The more you step out of your stories, own your feelings and stick with the facts, the more open, honest and real your relationships and communication will be.

Are you stuck in your stories of what might happen or what other people may think? Then book yourself in today for a Complimentary Consult with me today and let’s talk about how to get you unstuck.

Kerry Jeffery

www.lovetransformslc.com

How much are you willing to be loved?

Every now and then, you hear something that really stops you in your tracks and makes you think.

At this years “I Can Do It” conference in Melbourne, Robert Holden gave me one of my most fabulous “Ah-HA!” moments that I have had in quite a while.

Robert had been talking about love and how we all want to be loved and the significance of how your belief (if you have one) in the God of your understanding being an all loving and all forgiving force is so comforting.

He posed the following question:

“On a scale of 1 to 100%, how much to do YOU believe that God loves you?”

Feeling quite smug, I quickly came up with 100%. Yes, the God of my understanding, call him/her/it what you will, loves me 100%. Absolutely. 100%!

Then Robert posed his second question which blew me away.

“On the same scale, 1 to 100%, how much do you ALLOW God to love you?”

This question hit me right between the eyes, especially as a therapist who works with the tools and concepts of self-love, being deserving and worthy.

When I checked in with myself, the percentage of how much I ALLOWED myself to be loved and feel loved did not even make the 50% mark. So I took the question further.

How loved do I allowed myself to feel from everyone else in my life?

As comfortable as I was at GIVING love, telling people I love them, giving affection and support, there were blocks within me, getting in the way of allowing me to fully RECEIVE their love, that I had no idea that I had, until that point in time and that question from Robert.

This was a powerful, transformative moment that set me off to do more work on myself to discover what those blocks were and how to get them out of my way.

Feeling loved is all about feeling DESERVING.

We are taught to give, but we are not taught to truly receive and ALLOW all of the good feelings and gorgeousness that comes from someone expressing to you that YOU matter to them. That they SEE you and acknowledge you and are grateful for who you are.

We do it with strangers when we dismiss a compliment without thought or acknowledgment.

We do it with friends when they want to be there to help us or support us when we feel broken and vulnerable but we don’t ask or tell.

We do it with our children and the people who really love us because, at some level, we don’t really believe that we deserve it or that they don’t really see how flawed and unloveable we are.

So here is YOUR challenge. Answer these questions for yourself:

1. Out of 100% how much do I LOVE the people in my life?

2. Then out of 100%, how much do I allow myself to receive their love?

If the figures are different, ask yourself why?

Do I feel deserving of love and appreciation?

Do I feel that I am loveable and worthwhile?

Then, challenge yourself to truly allow and feel deserving of the love and support and affection and appreciation you are given.

  • Start asking for help, support and reassurance when you need it.
  • When you get hugs, SINK into the hug and the moment and let it fill you up. Relax and truly feel it.
  • Accept compliments with a simple “thank you” and let the compliment in!

Endless giving leaves you feeling empty and depleted, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Truly allowing yourself to feel loved and believing you are worthy and deserving fills you up and recharges your soul.

Need help feeling loved and deserving?

My Signature Heal Your Life Coaching Program will give you all the practical skills and tools you need to really feel worthy and let that love in.

http://www.lovetransformslc.com/heal-your-life-signature-coaching.php

I would love you to leave me a comment about any “Ah-Ha” insights you have about how much you deserve to feel loved.

Kerry

What do you do when the wheels fall off? How to get yourself back on track.

Image

It’s been a while between blogs.

In fact, it’s been a while between doing anything really, except for the basic necessities to keep body, soul, family and sanity together for quite a few weeks around here.

Every now and then, things will happen that will throw you off kilter, challenge your coping skills and lead you down the path of overwhelm.

Too much to do, too much to think about, too many emotions and issues to deal with and it all

just

becomes

too

much.

For me, it’s been a number of cumulative things. Running a business on my own and all that it entails, juggling work, family, study, housework, clients and quite unexpectedly, my Aunt passed away after a very sudden illness that no one imagined would so quickly take her life.

After organizing child care so I could drive interstate mid week to support my father who had just lost his sister, the challenge of a 7 hour drive on unfamiliar roads to a place I have never been before, to meet relatives in grief who I do not really know and the strange situation of staying in my Aunts house which was exactly as it was when she walked out the door to go to hospital and didn’t come back, the wheels of my normal life began to come off.

All of these things combined, sent me on a very gentle, but continuous slide into overwhelm.  Not in a sudden, massive crash but more of a slow deflation of energy, motivation, concentration and commitment.

I felt tired and “foggy” in the head.

I wanted to sleep a lot more than usual and stay in bed.

My regular routines for getting things done dissolved and everything I had been planning to do got stuck in the land of “I’ll get around to it later” and later never arrived.

Once I realized what was happening, I knew that I had to begin honoring my emotions, listening to my body and allowing myself the time that I needed to take the pressure off and slow things down.

I needed to drastically pare back the list of “things to do” to the bare essentials and give myself time to just be and feel and be gentle with myself.

I needed time to talk with trusted friends about my feelings and work through them.

I needed to give myself lots of self love, support and nourishment.

In short, I needed all those tools that I have used over the years and teach my clients to use to overcome the overwhelm in their lives.

Overwhelm is a sign that things in your life are out of balance.

Too much doing and not enough being.

Too much work and not enough play.

Too much giving and not enough receiving.

Too much stress and too many demands and not enough stillness and quiet and peace.

It is easy to change when life is good. It’s only when the wheels fall off that you realise the real power of all the tools and skills that you need to stay balanced, happy and productive, lies in using them.

Not as a theory, not as talking endlessly about the problems and the issues but in assessing your situation, knowing what tools to use, dredging them out of your consciousness and taking the action steps that give them their magic to help.

So how do you overcome overwhelm? What tools do you use to get your life back on track?

  • Cull your “to do” list with extreme prejudice! Do the minimum necessary to keep things ticking over so that you can give yourself more time for self care and self love.
  • Delegate immediately. Start asking for help to share the load at work and at home. Stop trying to be superwoman or superman and start admitting that you are human, you have limits and you can’t do it all! Allow others help you and refuse any feelings of guilt or self criticism. Give those you love the opportunity to step up and give you the help you need.
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Vulnerability, feeling emotionally fragile, tired and overwhelmed is NOT a weakness. Its just a sign that you need some extra TLC or that things are out of balance in your life. Reaching out for help and support when you need it, admitting that you are not coping is a sign of STRENGTH.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. NOW! It’s so easy to look at the surface of other people’s lives and imagine how wonderful their life is. The truth is, you truly do not know what is going on inside. Look at the recent story of Angelina Jolie putting her private ordeal of choosing a double mastectomy to avoid breast cancer out into the public to try to help other women struggling with the same potential issue. Looking at the surface of her life, she seems to have it all, wealth, beauty and Brad Pitt but we can only imagine the pain, stress and emotions she went though to make that difficult choice. When you compare yourself with others, you are only comparing your life against a story you have made up about who they are and how they live. It’s not fair to you and it’s also not fair to them.
  • Give yourself lots and lots of self love and support. In times of overwhelm, your inner critic is always looking for ways to attack you and pull you down a little bit more. Crush your inner critic flat the minute she opens her mouth and refuse to listen. Give yourself lots of praise and kindness, rest and do things that make you feel good and that you enjoy. Treat yourself with tenderness and support the same way you would with anyone else that you love and care for.

Need some self love skills?

Sign up for my newsletter and get immediate access to a FREE, video mini workshop with me, teaching you a powerful tool for self love that you can start using now!

Go to www.lovetransformslc.com and start getting out of your overwhelm and back on track.