Posts tagged death

This Wasn’t Supposed To Happen!!


Anastasia lost her job. Bonnie received a cancer diagnosis. Conrad became a victim of an apartment robbery. When we encounter turns of fate that are unfavorable and unexpected, we confront emotional distress. However we interpret the experience and whatever emotional material it evokes, we cannot avoid the reality of the situation.


Faced with loss, illness, hardship, injustice, the ability to respond effectively may seem impossible. But we can gain insight into our process of making sense out of difficulties when we observe the process of GRIEF. A theory that I find useful in coping with the death of safety and security proposes five stages set forth by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her treatise entitled On Death And Dying:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

These stages are not discretely linear. Stages may overlap, and prior stages may be revisited in the course of healing.


Given the benefit of this knowledge, we can work with GRIEF, allowing ourselves to feel the emotions that come up and giving ourselves permission to be patient with our particular process. We can proactively cope with our reaction by journaling, by talking with a trusted friend or counselor, by joining a support group, by relying on or building a support network, and even by engaging in recreation, e.g., exercising, and by serving others.


Many times we do not have control over losses, illnesses, hardships, or injustices, but we do have control over our attitudes and behaviors in response to them. Why not take control where we have it!? Approach the process of GRIEF with permission and intention. We will then shape our emotional landscape, exercising the STRENGTH and POWER to move forward, and regaining the FLEXIBILITY to be at ease again.


If you desire a way to better address crises and grief, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will guide you in making attitudinal and behavioral changes for the better.

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Pigeon Under A Microscope

My housemate annoys me. She seems cordial at times and then just as randomly she ignores me for lengths of time. There exists no cause for animosity and yet she usually engages me only when she has a problem with me. Since our rapport is meager at other times, I do not feel warmly toward her. I also notice that she is quite critical of the world. To me, she appears as a cold-hearted woman. However, she carries herself as beloved by family, friends, and students.

My view of “Melody” pigeon-holes her even when my initial impression meets evidence to the contrary, which I perceive as exceptions to the rule. What if she experiences life with great sensitivity and her coldness is compensation for that? For example, she lost a daughter–her first-born child–to a disease that was not understood until the body sustained too much damage. Surely, Melody carries that heartache and quietly so regarding me.

I deliberately behave with all manner of courtesy around Melody, and it neither endears me to her nor allows rapport to develop. My fear is that I am always one small step away from her discontent and that she will be more concerned with her interests than with negotiating a peaceable or win-win scenario.

In an effort to remove Melody from the pigeon hole, I must give credence to the relationships in which she enjoys rapport and mutual support even though I am not privy to such benefits. Melody may or may not like me. Nevertheless, it has been months since any problem his arisen between us. Finding the GRACE to clarify her presence with good will and making my attitude toward her more favorable allows me to change my perspective on Melody.

If you are caught in a relationship where your microscopic view of another person limits your perspective on that person, please Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will guide you in shifting your approach to the person in question.

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Freedom from Death

Emotional hurts have a way of making a lasting impression while all the big and little daily happiness-es can run like water through a fist.

I have been faced with hurts that have been difficult to clean up. One in particular was the loss of one of the great loves of my life. Losing my bearings and stalling on my life course, I became vigilant about preventing such vulnerability from happening again. So, I asked myself, “Self, if you found a loving partner and he leaves, would you regret allowing this person close enough to hurt you?” And Self hesitated.

Would anybody ever be worth that kind of power over me? The more interested I would be, the less willing I would be to take the risk. I would have my heart and mind trained to receive familiar signs of impending danger–red flags. However, with my heart and mind trained to notice every red flag, every possible joy would figure less prominently through that lens. That orientation would only lead me entertain the affections of someone whose hurtfulness would not mean much. This is a position of resiliency impairment, defeating the whole purpose of being in a relationship with someone whom I could love deeply and and who could love me deeply in return.

My only recourse from defeating my wish for another great love involved grieving the original loss and regaining my strength, or courage… and deliberately so. To grieve deliberately requires that I allow the thoughts and feelings where I resist letting go (grasp) to be expressed–thoughts, feelings, and physical discharge (crying, yelling, hitting pillows, etc.). To facilitate this, I need to allow someone else to witness my expression without judgment or personal commentary.

One way that I find helpful to guide the grief process involved Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ model from her book, On Death And Dying–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. By focusing my attention on each stage, I have my say; whereas I had not had my say in the death of the great love. One way to gain perspective on the situation was to view it as a story: I called it “the loss of one of the great loves of my life.” I explained it as “he left me.” I described it as “heartbreaking,” saying “I absorbed the blow.” How else could I tell the story? The result of the call to grieve deliberately enabled me to release my resistance to the death of a dream.

Every grief is different between one person and the next and, for the same person, between one situation and the next. The time required to diminish the pain of grief likewise varies. If you are enduring a grief for a longer period than you would like, I can help. Contact me, Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation–Resiliency Coaching–and I will accompany you along the way.

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What Makes a Resilient Person Think Well

When, at times, a person asks me what makes me resilient despite an upbringing and youth that was so damaging, I first think about how I was no different than anyone else. I feel the self that is me and feel ordinary in my extraordinari-ness. I believe anyone else in my situation could have responded as I did. But the inquiring person tends toward doubtfulness. Then I consider what made me rise above my circumstances.

First, I knew instinctively that the way I was being treated at home and later at school was wrong. It was not loving and supportive. It was abusive. It disconfirmed my humanity. The way I was treated felt awful, and so I decided that such behavior was the opposite of how I would treat others. I learned a lot by doing the opposite, and it prevented a good deal of heartache on my part. For example, I stayed away from drugs and gangs, vandalism and crime, truancy, and pregnancy. A few key exemplary figures demonstrated kindness, appreciation, and compassion and these influences shaped my principles and values.

Second, I noticed that many people around me insisted that their way of life was correct and anything different was wrong. History is littered with examples of this type of human defensiveness and the wars that breed from such narrow perspectives. As it happens, I became the “identified patient” to my mother, and she did plenty to make me think that I was crazy. She achieved her aim in part as my emotional woundedness prompted me to see myself as flawed. This perspective enabled me to get help to determine out what WAS wrong with me, and this willingness to get help early made it possible for me to address my problems.

Third, I had a great affinity for stories of heroic figures in history. The lives of Helen Keller, Anne Frank, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were among those that spoke to my own desire to embody strength, endurance, power, and other resiliency competencies. Given the challenges, hardships, and adversities that I faced in my youth and young adulthood, I had to leverage my wherewithal to cope with pain; and I often felt that I was not resilient because my lack of ease over-shadowed the ease that ultimately characterize people who are resilient. Now I believe differently: Resiliency is the process that moves us through stages of coping–impairment, succumbing, languishing, synthesis, and thriving.

I have visited all the stages of resiliency according to the H.E.R.O.E.S. model. The challenge is to keep our resiliency status evolving, moving ever upward toward thriving. We all have the native potential to thrive, regardless of how difficult the process. The opportunity for resiliency always exists, and we must find it. And we must know that we are each extraordinary. We are born of free will so that we may be our own HEROES.

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