Grief, the unexpected gift

Grief, the unexpected gift –

Having spent many hours working with families and individuals dealing with devastating loss and pain, I am constantly reminded of the gift of grief. That’s right, a gift.  We spend so much time and effort trying to keep ourselves from feeling pain, grief, anger, or sadness, that we truly miss out on what these emotions can lead us toward.

“With each loss I turned toward grief instead of away from it…grief broke my denial, restoring me. Where fear closed my heart grief opened it. “

Sophie Sabbage (terminal cancer patient)

The work of uncovering injuries of the present or past is sometimes complex and overlooked. Yet over and over again I have seen many find this unexpected gift when allowing themselves to grieve and be comforted.

Here are some things you might find helpful with dealing with grief:

  • Take time to understand what you are feeling
  • Accept your feelings, don’t just stuff them
  • Take care of yourself and your family
  • Talk about how you are feeing with your loved ones and or close friends
  • Take time to remember and be thankful (journaling)
  • Reach out and help others dealing with loss/grief

How can counselors help?

Sometimes grief will not go away, and can debilitate, and interfere with everyday life. Counselors are trained to help people better cope with guilt, fear, and anxiety associated with loss and grief. They can help develop strategies if you need help dealing with your grief. And with a variety of evidence-based treatments, they can help people improve their lives.

If you or someone you know is having trouble understanding or getting through a loss, ask for help. Sometimes it takes asking for help to move forward.

If you have questions or need more information about taking a step forward, get in touch with me today.

Brian Hall

Mindfulness: 5 tips for improving your mental health

Can you relate to any of the following?

  • Juggling several priorities at one time?
  • Running from one thing to the next?
  • Sitting in an important meeting, but thinking about something that happened yesterday or concerned about a future event?
  • Driving in a very familiar area, and passing the street or exit because you were thinking about something else?

In our fast paced lives, it can be difficult to control stress, anxiety, or fearfulness. Numerous people suffer from a variety of mental and physical issues because of “stress”. We may not be able to get rid of our kids, quit our job, or ship our spouse or boss off to a far away place, but we can choose how we process these and many other pieces of our lives. This can go a long way in improving your mental and physical health.

Important for mental and physical health

Mindfulness, or “the act of paying attention in a particular way”, on purpose, and in the present moment, is important for mental and physical health. In the process of mindfulness we are telling our body, muscles, organs, and brain to take it down a notch.  The next time you are driving your car on the freeway, pay attention to your body, instead of the place you just left, where you are going, or replaying the last conversation. You might be surprised to notice how wound up you are, and your body is experiencing stress.

5 things you could try on your own:

  1. Give yourself a few extra moments in-between activities to mentally and physically “change hats”, from what you were doing before, to the next task.
  2. Practice deep breathing for 10-30 seconds before eating a meal. Then, focus on what is on your plate and how the food tastes.
  3. Arrive early for each appointment. With the extra time, don’t answer emails or return calls, think about who you’re going to be with, why you are there, and intentionally be all there.
  4. Try not to multi task when possible. Set aside a specific time for one thing and then move on to the next.  You might find it is more productive if you give yourself a time limit to get one task done. Think about setting a timer to keep you on track.
  5. Give your phone break. Turn it off or put it away for times such as meals or coffee with a friend.

Mindfulness techniques can help with many issues including a variety of clinical conditions.

Depression, anger management, and anxiety are just a few of the conditions that I have experience in working with clients using Mindfulness, and there are applications for both children and adults.

Sometimes we get stuck, and need help changing our thinking. We can get overwhelmed with every day life and find it hard to hit the reset button.

Let me know if I can help


(425) 359-4588

Name That Emotion!

Name That Tune Emotion!

Sometimes, it’s just difficult to say what you feel.

Years ago, there was a television game show called, “Name That Tune”. Contestants were challenged to name a song when presented with only a few notes from the song. Many were unable to name the song because there were not enough notes to guess the song.

One of the greatest works done in counseling is getting people to uncover what they really feel. Even when that Dr. Phil-ish question, “How does that make you feel?” is asked, some answer with a mask of religious jargon or clichés such, “good”, “fine”, “I know that God will work it out”, or, “I’m a submissive wife, so I know what I should do”, or other phrases, that are in and of themselves true (or not), but do not describe the true feelings of the heart.

We need “permission” to be honest about how we really feel about our situations. What would happen if we said, “I hate what he did to me”, or, “I don’t know if I could ever forgive her”, or, “I can’t stand to be in his presence anymore because I am so hurt”? “Naming That Emotion” can become the starting point to honesty, and it is from this point that truth enters and healing begins. However, not every situation allows us the luxury to say what we really feel. The point is not to make others feel bad, but rather to understand our own heart.

One of the tools that can help facilitate honesty with our feelings, and in a safe way, is journaling. In addition journaling has been shown to be cathartic. What is that you may ask? The simplest way to explain this is, it is something you do externally that brings internal relief.

There are many different reasons that people have difficulty “Naming That Emotion”, and for some, counseling is needed to help uncover those reasons. Don’t be afraid to be honest.

SeedSoil Family Counseling is a safe place to start the process of uncovering heart issues. It may be time to ask for help.

Some Things Never Change…Or Do They??

Some Things Never Change…Or Do They??

Have you ever felt like no matter what you do, some things never change?

Our symptoms are not the problem.

We often focus on the symptoms and not the issues. As a result, healing or change is superficial.

The symptoms can however be used as signs that lead us to the real issues.

Here are some common symptoms:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Can’t concentrate
  • Loss of temper/blow up easily
  • Crying often
  • Lonely
  • Hard to find motivation
  • Anxious and fearful most of the time

Sometimes it takes time to get to the core issues.

Much like physical medicine, our mental or heart condition can be helped by looking deeper.

Symptoms are just what they sound like: indicators of a problem. Sometimes we need help from someone who will ask the hard questions.

The first step is to be honest with yourself that there is something going on. Some issues are temporary or can be addressed on your own. But in some cases it is good to ask for help. Talking with a trusted friend can help you decide if you need more help.

Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. We all need it from time to time.

Successful Independence

Successful Independence

I recently had a wonderful weekend away with my youngest son, and we had fun learning different aspects of becoming a man. One of the lessons had to do with some tips on becoming successfully independent from his parents. Interestingly enough, this lesson could be applicable in other areas of life.

We heard two stories-one illustrated independence that was not successful; the other was. Following are brief summaries of the stories:

The first story was about a young man who hiked into a wilderness area in Alaska, by himself, with the goal of living totally off the land. After living there for some time, a nearby river arose to the point of being impassable, and without being able to cross it to get necessary food and supplies, over time, he starved to death.

He had never been in this area before. He didn’t have a map.

No one knew where he was or how to find him.

Sometime afterwards, his body was discovered. Sadly, some research of the area showed a bridge over the river a relatively short distance away.

The second story was about 3 teens who wanted to cross Lake Michigan on paddleboards for a charitable endeavor. At first, their parents were very skeptical, but after several conversations, their parents consented.

They came up with a plan,

and had a huge outpouring of community support.

As planned, the three alternated on the paddleboard as they crossed the lake, while parents and members of their community rode alongside in boats to offer support and encouragement. At one point, the teens wanted to give up due to rough and turbulent waters, but their community urged them on and they were able to make it all the way across the lake safely!

Many people, in the name of being independent, try to navigate through life alone, and when faced with wilderness experiences, or situations that are seemingly impassable,  give up or experience devastating consequences.

Life is designed to be experienced within the context of a community.

Being independent does not mean going at it alone.

No one has to go at it alone!

There are many ways to find community, support, and create a healthy roadmap. If you or someone you know, needs help coming up with a “roadmap” for life, or needs help finding where to get some support, give me a call. I would love to help.


Leadership within the Family

Practical Tips for Leadership within the Family

Each year, I pray and ask God for His direction for my life for the upcoming year. This year, I received from God something that He didn’t clearly define at the time, however, I am learning more and more about this as the year progresses. The impression that I received was that I was to LEAD. I shared this with my family on January 1, and today, on May 29, the day that I am writing this, I have learned some practical tips for leadership within the context of family that I’d like to share with you.

Near the end of 2015, one of our parents came to live with us. For those of you who are caretakers, or if you have moved in with your family for various reasons, you understand the adjustments that both sides have to go through. After a few months, it seemed evident that the new member of the family might not be feeling included in some aspects of the life of the family.

Like many of you, we have a lot of activities and issues including work, health, school, etc. that keep us seemingly running in several directions simultaneously. So, with an already busy life, how do we intentionally include everyone in all aspects of our family life in ways that are meaningful?

A book that I read during my graduate program came to mind which addresses these kinds of issues, “Taking Care of Aging Family Members: A Practical Guide”, by Wendy Lustbader and Nancy R. Hooyman. In their book, they mention the use of family meetings as a way to help facilitate the process of family members working cooperatively in taking care of a parent or another relative.

A family meeting sounds simple enough, right? But getting everyone to the table, or on the couch can take a little coercing. So…in the spirit of leading my family, I got everyone together to have our first “official” family meeting (well not first, but first of this kind).

Before we began I set some very simple ground rules, such as respect and how to participate, and I limited the agenda to two main topics. I am happy to say, we completed our family meeting successfully, and most importantly, came up with some solutions that helped everyone feel included.
And in the midst of it all, I learned a valuable lesson on the importance of leading the way.

Leadership Tip:
When I Lead my family successfully, all family members feel included.

Focus on the Family: Nothing to Hide

It can feel as if you will never trust again when Betrayal happens.

Here is a resource from Focus On The Family that can help start you on the road to healing.