Bereaved But Still Me

Beyond the Five Stages of Grief

January 02, 2020 Carole Sanek Season 4 Episode 1
Bereaved But Still Me
Beyond the Five Stages of Grief
Show Notes Transcript

This episode is “Beyond the Five Stages of Grief” and our guest is Carole Sanek. Carole tells us about the trauma of her husband's death following his stroke.  She also tells us what Complicated Grief is and how ART (Accelerated Resolution Therapy) has helped her and how EMDR therapy can help PTSD victims.  Carole also explains how healing the trauma part of the brain can help you become motivated to help others and have a purpose in your life.

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spk_0:   0:00
there were so many things that I wasn't I didn't know who the heck I waas

spk_2:   0:04
Way fourth Season of Heart to Heart with Michael, the program for the brief community. Our purpose is to empower members of our community this season. We're looking at grief in its various forms, and we'll be looking at the role of trauma as it effects grief. Today's program is beyond the five stages of grief. Our guest today is Carol Sanick. Carol Sanick wants people to know that she can be better. She feels it's important for people to know that life is short and that we waste too much time ignoring things that we should be dealing with. She's found it's important to share feelings with others. She's a Facebook live streamer, freelance writer, content marketing writer, CEO of Butterfly Boom Productions, published author, winner of three Best breast cancer blog's public speaker and breast cancer survivor of over 27 years. She's a mother, and a great friend in the first segment will learn about her husband, Larry. In the second segment, Cattle will tell us about accelerated resolution therapy, and in the final segment, cattle will tell us about the stages of grief that people don't talk about and why Carol Fuels. We need to start talking about Carol. Thank you

spk_3:   1:13
so much for coming to heart to heart.

spk_0:   1:15
I'm so happy to be here.

spk_3:   1:17
Let's start with you telling us about your husband, Larry.

spk_0:   1:19
He was a great guy. He was my rock, my best friend, everything in the world to me. And we met online through an online dating service. But 21 years ago and we had a really great life. We were in Chicago having a ow Just an amazing marriage. I mean, sure, they're up. There were downs there were you? No in betweens. But all in all, he just waas everything that I ever wanted and needed in a husband because he supported me emotionally and I had Well, I had not had that in some previous relationships. So he got older, I got older, and as we all got older and started to have some heart issues, we had to rush him to the emergency room twice. And both times he required having a stent placed. The second time, his cardiologists told us that he could not completely stent the artery because there was a bifurcation in it and where it split off, he couldn't reach that area. And he told us that if Larry had any more angina, we would need bypass surgery. Larry decided to be proactive, and he went to a cardiovascular surgeon and he had a double bypass done through March of 2017. It wasn't the results we were looking for because he had an emergency procedure that needed to be done immediately. He was bleeding internally, so they had to take him back into surgery a second time. And when he came home, he was in congestive heart failure, which was not something he had when he went in. And for those of you who know what an ejection fraction is, when Larry went into the hospital, he had an ejection fraction of 65%. When he came home, he had one of 30. So

spk_3:   3:09
the surgery, those of us who don't know what that means, what's a good number?

spk_0:   3:13
60 60 is a really good number, Mind 72. I had a really good injection fraction. That's the amount of blood that leaves your ventricle, your left ventricle. With every heartbeat. It's the percentage of the amount of blood you're never gonna totally empty your heart. It's, you know, but you want to have quite a bit of that blood flowing out of that man trick. Oh, so obviously, at with a ejection, fraction of 30% his heart wasn't pumping effectively. And he went into heart failure and has had been in heart failure ever since that time. So we did everything we possibly could, and we did it right. He did everything with diet and exercise and losing weight. And then one night, you know, he went outside to take care of our rose bushes. Told me he'd be back in, have another glass of wine with me. He walked in the door. His speech was garbled. I realized he had his bottle of nitro in his hand. I flew out of my chair literally. He tried to speak again, and I knew he was stroking. That was it. He died in my arms that night. The only thing that kept very alive for the next 13 days was mechanical machinery.

spk_3:   4:20
I'm really sorry you had to get through that. Did you find that grieving Larry brought earlier traumatic experiences to the surface

spk_0:   4:25
have to explain it this way. When Larry died, I also within a period of several months lost three pets. So I had so much grief going on and so much loss going on. Larry's dog never recovered from losing his master, and I had to put him down in the 17 years old and we had two birds that we had picked up along the way. All of our animals were rescue animals. I feel sorry for something and I bring it home. So over four months I lost three pets and a husband, so I didn't have time. In order for me to answer your question correctly, I didn't have time to have to think about, you know, previous traumatic events. I was dealing with four losses and I wasn't doing very well at the time. That's for certain.

spk_3:   5:16
Well, let me ask you in a slightly different version of the same question, a lot of time to talk about a traumatic experience, calling up previous traumatic experiences, which is why I asked you that. But here you had several, all at the same time. So how did you find a way through to deal with them in some kind of orderly fashion, or could you make order out of that chaos?

spk_0:   5:35
When he first died, I was so busy doing everything that had to be done, I had to close a real estate company down. When the state only gives you two weeks to do that, I had to close an office. I had to clean out an office. Lord, I had to clean out the garage. I had to clean out so much stuff. I didn't really have a lot of time to think about how grief was affecting me. And then one day I realized I had nothing left to do and they didn't know where to turn. And I remembered that hospice had told me they have free bereavement counselling. So I contacted them and I started going to bereavement counselling Weekly. I tried group. It didn't work for me. It was too soon for me to listen to other people's grief. I'm better when I do one on one talk therapy. Yeah, so that's where I started finding some some salvation, you know, in my life, some some way to find out. What am I gonna be now? Who am I now? Because When you lose your spouse, you lose part of your identity. You know, suddenly I wasn't a wife anymore, and I wasn't Mrs. You know, I wasn't Larry's wife anymore, and I wasn't his real state associate anymore. There were so many things that I wasn't I didn't know who the heck awas and what that left me with. So obviously it made great sense to me to look for answers. And unfortunately, I know that many people don't. They're afraid to go to therapy. Um, I don't know why I haven't figured that one out because to say that when it's free Oh, it's something maybe you should take advantage of. And, you know, I want to make it a point to say right here now that many hospice organizations will allow people to come in for counseling even if their loved one didn't die in hospice, they offered to communities. And so when I have people who tell me why can't afford therapy, I said, Have you looked at the fact that maybe your hospice organization your local one offers it for free to the community might be group, but at least you're getting some kind of help I want to

spk_3:   7:52
ask you about that. The difference in group in one on one because we hear one of one of our catchphrase is here all the time. Is grief shared? Is grief lightened? Can you share the same way one on one of your camera group? Or is it different? Because I would think that group therapy, I guess it's not for everybody. But the idea of sharing is a real big lightning.

spk_0:   8:13
Hi. Find comfort in talking with other people who are grieving of my choice. When I went to group therapy, there was a man there who did nothing but cry. I couldn't handle that. That was just not something that I wanted. You have to go and sit through every time we met. It was too much for me, you know. It just was. It was too much for me and I just Everybody's

spk_1:   8:39
story was too much for me. I was too new, you know. I was too new. I was I wasn't ready for it. Maybe in another 3 to 6 months I might be. But I'm still not there yet forever by the Baby Blue Sound collective. I think what I love so much about this CD is that some of the songs were inspired by the patient's

spk_2:   9:09
many listeners will understand many of the different songs and what they've been inspired. Our new album will be available on iTunes. Amazon dot com. Spotify.

spk_1:   9:19
I love the fact that the proceeds from this CD are actually going to help those with heart defects.

spk_2:   9:26
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spk_1:   9:27
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spk_5:   9:33
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spk_1:   10:05
You are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on Michael's program, please email him at Michael at heart to heart with michael dot com. Now back to our program.

spk_3:   10:20
Carol we were talking about how you were in therapy before the break. Can you tell us about accelerated resolution therapy and why you want to take part in this kind of therapy?

spk_0:   10:29
Oh, yeah, that was a no brainer. I had been had a session with my bereavement counselor, and she said to me that the university itself Florida had been doing accelerated resolution therapy with victims of PTSD for eight years working with veterans and that they'd had great success. And they had received a grant to work with people who are grieving. So they had approached hospice and asked if they had anybody in mind who might be having complicated grief. And my therapist was a little bit concerned that I might be leaning towards complicated grief, which is grief that goes beyond a year. And a lot of times it just cannot be resolved because I was stuck. I was stuck on that PTSD moment in my life with Larry, which was the moment when he went outside, came back in and died in my arms. You don't expect that that was such a big shock, and every time that I thought about it or tried to talk about it. I would break down and I would be just a mess. I'd be a puddle on the floor. I couldn't talk about it. I couldn't deal with it. That was my PTSD moment. So when I got the diagnosis of PTSD from another license mental health care worker when I had gone on a retreat in New Mexico, I knew that I might be perfect for this program when she brought it up. So I went out and I took some tests and, you know, I asked a lot of questions, and because it's a medical study, I had to have an e e g. While they were talking to me. I could find one baseline E E g and it. He's four sessions long. If you look up accelerated resolution therapy, you will find that many people get results like I did in one session. Good results in one session. Some people take for some people, take six. It is the most amazing therapy, and what they're doing now is they're looking at it for all kinds of different disorders, including depression. It's covered by a lot of insurance. It's a valid therapy. Um, it's actually I know how you quantify or qualify therapy. It's being affordable. But my therapist charges $100 session privately. So if you're looking at 172 sessions, four sessions, that could be very affordable for a lot of people, especially if your insurance would help out, even if it was only 50% pay. So I was very excited about this because for me, it's free on dhe. Yeah, I know the very far end of the very first session I had again, I had to be hooked up to an E J. And I had to visualize that entire traumatic experience. But that meant I had to go from the night that he stroked and died in my arms to the next 13 days. You know, in the hospital the tests, the emery's to cat skins, the doctor's opinion See everything that I went through. I had to visualize while we did e M D R. And don't ask me, please on the aspirin with that stands for, because there's a whole bunch. It's It's the one. It's the therapy that the use of PTSD where you're using rapid eye movement, right? Yes, it's eye movement de something or other I you'd have to lift it up. I'm sorry, but for you

spk_3:   14:04
it's a whole bunch of letters. It's that's fine,

spk_0:   14:05
but a whole bunch of lies.

spk_3:   14:06
I want to go back before you continue to far away from it. I want you touched on complicated grief. One of the things that we like to talk about here is that there is no right way or time that you should expect grief to end. So I'm a little taken aback that somebody has decided that it's complicated. After a year, either grief is always complicated or timing really shouldn't be that important.

spk_0:   14:31
You know that psychological diagnosis book isn't Actually, it's a psychological diagnosis because when you don't deal with complicated grief, they have found that there are people who have committed suicide. If they haven't come out of complicated grief. It has nothing to do with an exact timeline, and I do understand that everybody grieves differently. But because their medical, you know the cycle, there's psychologists and psychiatrists. They put the timeline on there. They were started. They did the studies. They were looking at people who were grieving beyond a year. And when I say grieving. I'm talking about like I was grieving on the floor in a puddle, unable to work, unable to do anything, not eating, not sleeping. All of that. That's complicated grief.

spk_3:   15:17
Okay, now that brings you into the therapy.

spk_0:   15:20
So I in my first session, I came home and I was unable to trigger myself, and that's when I knew it had worked. No, it's very difficult to explain. You know, you're doing the rapid eye movement for about 60 seconds with a therapist, where she's using her hand much like a metro gnome in front of your face on. Then they bring you out of it and they ask you to take a cleansing breath, and then you assess what you feel in your body, and if you have any kind of pain or discomfort or anxiety, then you go back into the MDR and you do it again. And now you're only paying attention to the paying the anxiety, the the physical feelings that you were feeling until they are relieved. Then you go back to telling your story again. The ending of the session is when you go back in and you rewrite your story, you rewrite your trauma with that positive. I don't want to use the word happy ending, but that's what comes to me. Happy ending and you change your memory and I knowthis. Sounds like way out there does. But that's what your brain is doing. When your eyes are going back and forth with this eye movement, you are changing that memory in the trauma section of your brain. It's amazing therapy. I listen to a veteran tell how he was ready to put. He had a gun to his head when he changed his memory and still himself. Having a birthday party for a young boy in Afghanistan and giving him execrable as a birthday gift only just never happened. It never happened. That was the story he created so that you can go back and you call on that memory when you're feeling terrible and suddenly you're feeling a lot better. You can't trick yourself. It's amazing how it works and it lasts. I asked that question. It lasts

spk_3:   17:17
when you say trick yourself that you like, you test yourself. You go in there and you get you Think about Larry. You think about this terrible days and and you're still standing and that's that's not triggering it.

spk_0:   17:28
I came home and tried to bring myself to that point. I said out loud. I cannot believe that Larry died The way he died, nothing happened. And then I felt guilty cause I didn't feel anything.

spk_3:   17:43
Well, that's my next question. What have we done? So

spk_0:   17:46
I did. I know I had to deal with that. Oh, no, I still cry and I still grieve. I mean, that's all. Still there on still stand. It's Christmas juice preached. You know it's Christmas. Of course, I'm saying I'm having a terrible time getting through this season, but at least I'm not a puddle on the floor anymore. And I can function and I can eat, you know, and I sleep well.

spk_3:   18:10
Well, that's that's truly amazing. Uh, I think so many people I know different stages of grief

spk_2:   18:17
could really use that. Use that therapy a za boost.

spk_5:   18:23
I was five hours old when I get my first surgery.

spk_1:   18:26
The only advice I could really give someone like that is to be there for your family.

spk_5:   18:31
This is life, and you have to live it or you sit in a corner and cry.

spk_1:   18:36
I am in a Gorski and the host of Heart to Heart With Anna. Join us on Tuesdays at noon, Eastern time on Speaker R Block Talk radio. We'll cover topics of importance for the congenital heart defect community. Remember, my friends, you are not alone.

spk_2:   18:52
If you've enjoyed listening to this program, please visit our website hearts. Unite theglobe dot or GE and make a contribution. This program is a presentation of hearts. Unite the globe and it's part of the Hug Podcast Network Heart. Tonight The Globe is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing resource is to the congenital heart defect community to educate and power and enrich the lives of our community members. If you would like access to free resource is pertaining to the C H C community. Please visit our website at congenital Heart defects dot com for information about CHD hospitals that treat CHD survivors summer camps for CHD families and much, much

spk_1:   19:28
more. You are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you have a question or comment that you would like a dressed on our program, please send an email to Michael even at Michael at heart to heart with michael dot com. Now back toe heart to heart with Michael

spk_3:   19:48
Carol We've talked about this before, and you've told me that grief goes beyond the stage is that Elizabeth Kubler Ross made popular Tell us about this stage of grief that deals with cooking and eating and tell us also how that relates to the need to feel needed.

spk_0:   20:03
Yeah, When I was first going through this, I didn't even realize I wasn't eating. And I wasn't cooking mainly because Larry had torn my kitchen apart the weekend before he died, he told me, catching apart down to the studs So the kitchen wasn't even functioning kitchen. But beyond that, I had no appetite. So before I knew it, I had lost 25 times and people people were starting to say things to me like you please eat some pizza. I was getting concerned that I would continue to lose weight, and that's when I saw an article online that had appeared in The New York Times that talked about the the fact that some people are starting grief support groups where they cook together, And I thought, Point is, that makes sense because we have suddenly gone from cooking for two or more. Two not wanting to cook it all. Larry was my sou chef. He was next to me in the kitchen every night from 4 30 to 7 30 That with our time. That was the time where we made down where we had the glasses of wine where we left and we joked, and we talked about the day on Dhe. We'd sit and enjoy a meal in. You know, I'm in Florida, so we enjoyed our meals outside quite often. And, you know, all of a sudden this was go on and I didn't want to cook anymore. I mean, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I didn't have anybody to cook for. I I'm one of those people who wants to cook for somebody rather than just cook for myself. And I thought, This makes perfect sense to have support groups that get together several times a month and they cook together. I thought, Wow, what a great idea. And then, you know when you talk about feeling needed, I think that's another stage that we don't talk about enough because suddenly you don't feel needed anymore, and it's such a wake up call to realize that people have forgotten about you. Maybe, you know that kind of feeling. Like you're stops ringing. E mails don't open in. You know all those things that happen after a certain period of time. You know, you often see people write about how everybody is there for you through the three days of funeral on morning, and then they go home and and you have casseroles in the freezer. But, you know, it's like everything comes to a a quick stop.

spk_3:   22:22
You know, it's I can absolutely relate that in the Jewish faith, we have seven days of mourning and we're completely surrounded by friends and family who do all the cooking for us. And like you said, So there's tons of frozen food and the freezer waiting for you, and people would sometimes asked me How you doing during that week? And I'd say, asked me on Day eight, when there's nobody here, then I'll tell you how

spk_0:   22:45
exactly exactly. And then one day, you know, I woke up and I said, I just don't feel needed. And when I when I realized that that was a turning point for me, because that's when I said, Darn it, I'm going to do something and I'm gonna make myself needed by people on Dhe. That's when I started coming to the other side. That's when all my therapies started toe work. That's when the healing started toe happen.

spk_3:   23:10
Being needed again or feeling being needed again is what brought everything into focus. That was the trigger that made everything work.

spk_0:   23:18
I made it happen. I made it happen. I realized it had to happen. You know how you say that? Everybody grieves differently. Not everybody's gonna want to make it happen. I just happened, Happened, happened, happened so many times when it happened here. I just be one of those people who said Enough already. I want my life. I want to know my why I want a purpose and I want to feel needed again And you have sudden it's happening.

spk_3:   23:49
You know, that fits in so well. With last season, we talked about a lot about post traumatic growth that after the stress, not everybody gets it. But comes a moment where you power forward into all kinds of new fields in new areas and things that you find strength that you never had. And that is it's the flipside of post traumatic stress that people don't talk about was that part of your therapy was to lead you towards a post trying to growth like that?

spk_0:   24:16
I think what happened is that when I started in this therapy, which I started back in November, when I started doing the A R T. And I started reading about it and started learning about Cmdr. From a psychiatrist who's written a book on it, and it started all makes sense to me. I started to have these ideas would form in my brain. And I asked my therapist about that today because I had a session today and she said, Oh, yeah, Once you heal the trauma area of your brain, things start to happen used. It accelerates and you want to do more and you want to be a better person and you want to have purpose and you want to help people.

spk_3:   24:56
Yeah, that's what I am. That's example, huh? Let's talk about some of the other stages of grief because clearly you're telling me they're more than five. How many have you gotten? Where do you go with them.

spk_0:   25:08
Oh, goodness. I no longer have anger. Okay? I was furious with Larry for leaving me.

spk_3:   25:15
Yeah, sure.

spk_0:   25:17
Absolutely furious. Um, I'm went into Mexico to retreat to a healing retreat, and I was able to leave my anger out there. I did a lot of work in the Native American medicine circle, which is a wonderful place to sit and think, you know, and meditate I did. A lot of meditation I found in meditation has helped me greatly so that the anger dissipated. I'm not angry with him anymore. I tell him every morning how much I love him. You know him how happy I truly am that he was ever in my life therapist. You know, my therapist even said to me, You know, he's always with you always, and he is because he's in my heart. He lives in my heart. He lives in my head. He was in my gut, you know, he's everywhere. He said I see him leaning against a wall. Looking at me, I see him sitting in a chair, looking me. I had the most incredible visions of him because I love them in. I welcome them and I want them in my life. Sure yourself. The anger is gone. I would say acceptance followed that one pretty close because once I was no longer angry with him. You know, I could accept the fact that this wasn't going to be reversed. This is the way it is. You know he's died. I'll tell you one thing I don't allow anybody to say to me is I don't allow anybody to say When did you lose your husband? I didn't lose him. He's not wandering in the woods somewhere. You can't find him. I look, I know I looked at them and I say, I didn't lose my husband. My husband died and I correct them and they're kind of taken back by that. And then I explain why I said We have to use the word people. We're not using the word enough.

spk_3:   26:57
I've always had trouble with that word. I've always had trouble. I said she passed. She's gone. She left us. But the truth is that if you listen to all the things that I've been saying for the last seven years, she hasn't left me. I take her wherever I go and I see things. Former and with her I go to all kinds of things and experience and experiences that I have for her or with her or threw me for her. Thanks. And I think it's beautiful. It's very, very healthy and very healthy attitude in I suppose. I mean, we all think we've invented the wheel. I suppose that, um, everybody gets there at some point.

spk_0:   27:38
I hope so.

spk_3:   27:39
Well, I do, too, just because I believe everyone should find peace and find healing. And there are ways to do it that enable you to go on with your loved one with you, no matter what happens. But I I was curious. Um, you talk about other stages. How many are there? You know, tell me about won't One or two of them.

spk_0:   27:59
We were talking about Cuba, Russ. I mean, you know, bargaining in denial were not part of anything for me because there was nothing to bargain. And over there are barely anything to bargain over because I looked at them awry. I'm an RN. I knew that this was not a case that he was going to return from. I could see it. I could see the location of the infarct in his brain stem. I knew where the dead tissue waas I knew how large it waas. I knew this was a hopeless case. So bargaining and denial just didn't didn't really happen for me. We could shake him. We could apply sternal pressure and he would wake up to the responded the pain. He would stay awake for maybe a minute or two. And I'll tell you something else that he did that I will always be so very grateful for. I crawled into bed with him. One day I put on the music from our wedding. The nurse put his arm around me because he was paralyzed on his right side from the stroke. He put his arm around me. Larry managed to put his hand into my hair and caressed my head while he was listening to the music. And I know that was his way of apologizing, that we couldn't bring him back this time, that he just didn't have the strength to do it.

spk_3:   29:20
Carol, thank you so much for being with us that concludes this episode of heart to heart with Michael. I want to thank Carol Sanick for sharing her stories. Your experiences and so much more with us.

spk_2:   29:34
Please join us at the beginning of the month for a brand new podcast. I'll talk with you soon. Until then, please remember, moving forward is not moving away.

spk_1:   29:43
Thank you again for joining us. We hope you have gained strength from listening to our program. Heart to heart with Michael can be heard every Thursday at noon Eastern time. We'll talk again next time when we'll share more stories.