#253: Sadness as Celebration, Part 2
In today’s podcast, Rhonda and David present Part 2 of their work with a young woman named Rose who has been struggling with profound feelings of grief since learning of a discouraging update on her father’s struggles with multiple forms of cancer.
A = Assessment of Resistance
At the end of the moving and tearful empathy phase, Rhonda asked Rose if she felt ready to do some work, or needed more time to talk and share her thoughts and feelings.
She said she was ready to do some work, and described her goals for the session:
I know I cannot change the facts, and I would not want to eliminate the grieving, but I would like to dial down the intensity of some of my emotions, particularly when I’m triggered.
Next, we did some Positive Reframing to highlight what was positive about Rose’s feelings. You can click here review the list of positives that we generated.
Rose’s Positive Reframing Table*
Thought or Feeling
List your negative thoughts or feelings, one by one, in this column.
|Advantages and Core Values–Ask yourself
|Sadness, depression||Shows my deep love for my dad and honors the contribution and impact he’s made in my life|
|Shows the strength of our relationship|
|Anxiety||The anxiety is warranted in this situation, shows that I’m being realistic with the situation|
|It shows my love for my dad, being worried is a way of showing care and concern|
|It shows that I don’t want him to suffer|
|It motivates me to connect with him and to make every moment count|
|It makes me vigilant so I explore every possible treatment option|
|It motivates us to think about moving to be closer to him|
|It has motivated us to schedule another visit again in July|
|Guilt||Shows my connection to our family|
|Drives us to visit as much as possible|
|Shows that I don’t want to live with regret|
|Feeling defective||Shows that I’m honest about my flaws|
|Shows I feel that I’m not doing a good job supporting others, so it means I have high standards in my relationships|
|Shows that I’m vulnerable|
|Lonely||Shows my love for my dad and the important role he plays in my children’s life|
|Shows how strongly that I value relationships|
|Hopelessness||Shows I am being realistic|
|Prevents me from getting my hopes up too high|
|Prepares me for the inevitable|
|Makes me value and make each moment count|
|Might decide to discontinue the chemo if it causes problems and isn’t helpful|
|Makes me more vigilant|
|Frustration||Shows I haven’t given up or thrown in the towel|
|I will fight and contest this!|
Now you can review Rose’s Emotions table at the end of Positive Reframing, showing her goals for each emotion when we used the Magic Dial. The idea is to dial each feeling down to a lower level that would reduce your suffering, while still allowing you to preserve all the awesome things about you!
|Sad, depressed, down, unhappy||100||50-60||Lonely, alone||80||10|
|Anxious, worried, frightened||100||30||Hopeless, discouraged, pessimistic, despairing||90||10|
As you can see, she wanted to dial all of her feelings down to low levels, with the exception of her sadness, which was an expression of her love for her dad.
M = Methods
We used Explain the Distortions, the Double Standard Technique, and the Externalization of Voices, including the CAT (Counter-Attack Technique).
Here’s how Rose challenged Negative Thought #1.
1. He’s going to die; we’re running out of time.
We’re all going to die, but I can be present on those moments when we are together.
David discussed healthy vs unhealthy grief, and shared some stories of love and loss. He also talked about the concept of sadness as celebration. In this case, a celebration of Rose’s love for her Dad. The impending loss, of course, is tragic, but the wonderful father daughter relationship is beautiful and perhaps somewhat scarce, as so many people have not had such a beautiful relationship with their parents.
At the end, Rose said the session was “incredible and special.” You can take a look at her end of session scores on the Daily Mood Log.
After the session, Rose sent the following email:
Hello David and Rhonda,
Thank you so much for that amazing session today. I am feeling so much more contentment and gratitude after talking with you both. I even feel lighter and more hopeful.
The key insight for me was realizing how special and precious this relationship is that I have, and rather than focusing on what I won’t have. It sounds like a cliché, but it is true for me and seems to have freed up a weight.
I will definitely do my homework, and will can send you the completed DML after listening to the session as that may help. And as for sharing with my dad, I’m going to be calling him to tell him what a wonderful session I had and that when it is published he can listen to it so as to have and share this beautiful experience.
Thank you so much once again!
Several weeks after the session, I received another fantastic email from Rose:
Hello David and Rhonda,
Thank you once again for what was an incredible experience and gift for me in my grieving process. I found this week I had many more of those joyous tears you mentioned David and later that day I spoke to my dad to share my gratitude for our relationship. This session helped me see this more clearly. I also told him about the session and asked him to listen so he can have an understanding of all this before he passes. I think this is also a unique gift for us!
I am excited for this podcast and at moments I still cannot believe I had this opportunity to do this very meaningful work with you both, it’s such a powerful experience being on the other end. I hope it can be of help for those in the audience listening. Please let me know if there’s anything else you may need of me. Thank you!
And then, she sent these amazing words in an email I just received a few minutes ago:
“Also as an update, since this session I have experienced grief but without the drastic mood fluctuations. When I feel the sadness it comes in a way that honors our relationship, I don’t know how to explain it in words but when I think of him, it is love that outpours in those tears, not the anxiety, fear, and hopelessness I had once felt. That had been so draining for me. I am so grateful to you and Rhonda for this experience, thank you!”
And finally, I received this email from Rose after she listened to Part 1:
Hi Rhonda and David,
I listened to today’s podcast and just loved it!!! I’d wanted to share more about my reaction with you both. I realize now it was important to share this story of grief and it is such an honor to do it with you two and now the community. I feel very close to you both, listening to today’s first episode made it clear how you both were listening and doing a wonderful job empathizing. This helped to bring to light the important aspects of my relationship and circumstance that had been difficult for me to see in those moments.
It is also quite neat to practice TEAM and then sit on the other side of interaction. It helped me see how rapidly the change can happen, that’s the cool thing about TEAM, the set up with testing and empathy really paves the way for the work. It was easier for me to open up and be vulnerable which is something I have difficulty with in public settings and am now doing. To be honest, I had been quite anxious leading up to our meeting. I was worried about how I would sound, or that my story wasn’t important enough and just felt uneasy being the center of attention but right after our session it felt so great and has been since then. None of those worries really mattered. It is an energizing feeling to experience enlightenment firsthand and it translates into other places. I think beyond the grief the work really helped reduce my anxiety in several respects. Thank you for helping me with this.
Again I do think working with you two had a powerful effect on my positive response and recovery. Sorry for I sounding repetitive but I just felt that you got it and listening today helped me see what a great energy there is btwn the two of you that comes out in the dialogue we had together. It really is powerful.
I am excited to share this with my dad and family and am just delighted to have been a guest here so I look forward to the second half.
David I’m sad to hear that you will lose Misty and hope you are able to find a loving warm home for her. Rhonda I hope you enjoy your son’s wedding that is happening soon. Thanks again and pls don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything else you need, wishing you the best!
Thank you for listening today! And thank you, Rose, for your heart and courage, and your amazing generosity in sharing your inner self with all of us. I have no doubt that you’ve contributed to some meaningful learning–and healing–in our podcast fans.
Rhonda, Rose, and David
Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at email@example.com. She is a Level 4 Certified TEAM-CBT therapist and trainer and specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. Check out her new website: www.feelinggreattherapycenter.com.
You can reach Dr. Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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