The Wandering Widow

Observations, Tips and Reckless Truth Telling on the Road Through Grief



You’re Getting Very Sleepy

A Grief Recovery Project Post

You’ve probably heard about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While many people do indeed experience those emotional stages, they sure as hell aren’t linear.

I told you I would try anything in the Grief Recovery Project, and Hypnotherapy was a surprise hit. I’d only ever seen it in comedy routines or cop dramas on TV. It’s nothing like that. The best way I can describe it is a very deep guided meditation and you are in a very relaxed state. You are awake and aware the entire time, so the only way you can end up quacking like a duck is if you really want to end up quacking like a duck. Like anything on the GRP list, it helps to be open to the experience. I was VERY skeptical as I met with my hypnotherapist the first time, but he came highly recommended by someone I trust and I was desperate to speed up my recovery process.

One of the reasons I went to see Ben was the intense social anxiety that showed up after Dan died. Remember, social anxiety is super common with grief, especially in the months immediately following the loss of your spouse. I would have full blown panic attacks at the thought of going out to see my friends. If I managed to get dressed to go to work, I’d sit in my car hyperventilating til I almost blacked out. I wrote at least a dozen resignation letters for a job I love because the pressure was too great. I “opted out” of the holidays because the thought of being with that many people, even the family kind of people, made me want to vomit. I was being held hostage by my grief. Ben helped me work through the social anxiety very quickly, and in the process uncovered some other issues that were contributing to my general state of post-Dan cray-cray.  

Remember when my grief counselor said that to work through it, I’d have to feel the feelings? Apparently I’d drawn the line for some of those feelings. In my very first hypnotherapy session we uncovered my anger. Up until that day, I would have told you that I wasn’t angry and that maybe I’d skipped that step. That was a convenient lie I told myself. I was angry. So, so angry. But I’d repressed it…that kind of rage isn’t ladylike, and showing it was definitely not accepted in my Asian culture. I also had some really big conflicting emotions since I was raised in a conservative Christian household and the person I was most angry with was God. So @#$%^&* angry at God. And Dan for leaving me. And my Dad for not being there to advise me through this. And Mom for being unavailable to mother me due to her own grief. And the world for not understanding me. And myself. So f@#$%^  angry at myself. I’m a fixer. There is no problem I can’t solve. And now when it mattered most, I had failed to solve two big ones back to back. I couldn’t save my Dad. And no matter what I did I couldn’t save Dan. No wonder I was struggling with anxiety–I HATED both God and myself and felt guilty about it. Angry at the divine and the divine within. Damn.  

Once I acknowledged the anger I was able to move forward with forgiveness. If you hate Frozen, I’m sorry, but I had to Let It Go. Forgiving was hard. I forgave God for all the suffering he rained down on my family and for killing the two men I loved most in the world. I forgave my family and friends for not understanding me or for disappearing after the funeral. I forgave the person who kept manipulating me to get more money. I forgave everyone. It took a long time but, eventually, I even forgave myself. 

So did hypnotherapy work? I’d say so. In combination with my grief counseling and Reiki, I was able to move through things a lot faster. Hypnotherapy helped me bring down my self-constructed barriers to get to the root of the problem, and I’m glad I tried it. And no, I’m not getting sleepy. If anything, I’m more awake than ever before.


The Wandering Widow

P.S. I lucked out with a great personal referral, but if you’re interested in trying it visit the National Board For Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists to research hypnotherapists in your area.

Reiki Me

A Grief Recovery Project Post

So far I’ve explored grief counseling, acupuncture, and massage therapy as part of the Grief Recovery Project. Now we’re on to Reiki as a treatment for grief recovery.

Reiki was the wildcard for me since I’d never tried it before. According to, Reiki is a Japanese practice based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. Yep, now we’re on to Japanese voodoo magic.

I’d heard about it a few years ago from Karl and Angela Robb, Reiki Masters and fellow Parkinson’s advocates. Their research showed that Reiki could help with Parkinson’s symptoms. Color me intrigued, but I didn’t know anyone locally and had some doubts– voodoo magic and all. That changed when hospice sent a Reiki master to help Dan. I got to observe the whole thing. I don’t know what exactly happened as he was working on Dan’s energy, but I watched Dan’s breathing visibly soften and the muscles in his face relax. All without any real physical touch. Dan was already in a coma at this point, so there was no way he was influencing the results. Nikola Tesla had lots to say about energy, and he was one of the smartest people that ever lived. Don’t knock it til you try it.

So I tried it. Each session lasts about an hour. All the Reiki practitioners I’ve met are very normal (whatever that means) people, so if you’re expecting some purple robed or kimono wearing hippie you’re likely to be very disappointed. Reiki studios are a lot like a massage studio, the lights are dimmed for your relaxation and spa music may be playing for the same reason, but it’s clean and modern. Cost for a reiki session is comparable to a massage but may vary depending on the experience of the Reiki practitioner and your location. Every session I’ve had is different but I know I feel like I’ve gained ground after each one. Notice that I didn’t say I feel better, because that’s not always the case, although I never feel worse. It’s more like I skip ahead a few steps on the grief journey without actually moving. Whether that means releasing bad energy like sadness, fear, or anger, or taking on better energy, it has worked wonders for me, helping me feel more relaxed and less anxious.

Just like finding a good acupuncturist or massage therapist, get a referral to a good Reiki practitioner. I lucked out and found Kristin Harwood of In Transition Wellness here in Boise.  This is what she has to has to say about Reiki and grief recovery.

When a person experiences a traumatic or stressful experience, their emotions can be stored in the body creating blocks and disrupting their natural flow of energy. If not dealt with, these emotions can build up over time and start expressing themselves in a physical, emotional or energetic way, affecting our daily lives.

Grief and acceptance operate on their own timetable and people need time to reach a place of peace and acceptance. Reiki and similar healing practices can offer a compassionate and caring approach to assist others in their return to wholeness in body, mind and spirit with grace and gentleness.

Reiki can help those who have lost a loved one, reignite their relationship with themselves and sense of purpose, helping them to regain their sense of personal power. It also helps people manage and release emotions that may feel overwhelming, such as anger, sadness, helplessness and grief. It can help strengthen a person’s resilience and ability to deal with situations and emotions which may feel overwhelming. A peaceful, compassionate environment and a respectful Reiki practitioner can create a place of quiet comfort where grief and sadness can come to rest and release as needed without words or expectations, if that’s preferred.

Have you tried Reiki as part of your grief recovery? I’d love to hear about it. 


The Wandering Widow

After thought for friends and family: If you want to help and are looking for something different than another casserole, just like acupuncture and massage therapy, you can gift Reiki sessions to your W.  

No disrespect to casseroles or their makers. 

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