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SLP 133: Allow Grief To Change Us with Silke Herwald
07, Dec, 2021
‘There are differences in the relationships but at the same time – it’s grief. It’s the grief of having lost a loved one. And needing to find a way to allow that grief to change us. We can never go back to how things were beforehand. That is utterly impossible. So, it is more about allowing that grief to change us and to find a way that that person can always be a part of us.’
In this very special podcast, you will hear how Silke Herwald teaches us to work alongside of, and with grief. Silke explains how we can all work with grief in a positive way – even in the face of our current world and the things we may have lost over the past few years. Grief after all can be more than the loss of loved ones and it is a natural part of our lives. But do we actually do grief well?
Grief is an unconscious process, and your unconscious is always trying to work for you and help you. The unconscious knows you have lost so much, and it wants to make sure you do not lose more than you have already lost. This is why in grief we usually only remember the last memories of that loss. When, in actual fact, there is so much more to the memory and our life. So, the unconscious keeps replaying this memory and we can get easily overcome by that last memory.
Once we help the unconscious mind to find a better way then we can access the resources spontaneously to better serve us. We seem to think there is only two choices. We either grieve and feel horrible or we move on and let go and forget about our loved one. But this is neither easy or true because the most resourceful part of grieving is actually between the two so we can remember loved ones (or things we have lost) in their entirety with love.
The grieving process is there to help us to remember loved ones with a smile rather than being shackled by the traumas of grief. It is an ongoing connection to all that is when we grieve resourcefully.
Today we talk about having an ability to grieve with gratitude and with re-wiring the mind we all have the ability to do this well. We also discuss common responses to grief including shock, anger, deep sadness and pain. We cannot run away from it or push it down. Or the unconscious will let you know when there is something unresolved.
Silke discusses ways in which we can help ourselves and others in grief. She believes we are not great at doing grief as a whole. It can be difficult for society to help someone in grief. The best thing she says we can do is to just be there. Avoid starting any sentence with ‘at least’. Only the grieving person should be saying this. Just be there, listen to their story and ask, ‘How can I support you?’ Do the shopping, vacuum the floor or bring food. The simple tasks seem so difficult to do at the beginning for someone grappled by grief.
In Silke’s experience most people love it when you remember their loved one. So, keep the conversation going. They feel alone as it is and if no one is talking then it’s as though everyone that person has died all over again. Keep talking.
We discuss the loss of a child and how harrowing this can be, but how the loss of any loved one can be challenging. Grief is not a competition. Everything changes with the loss of a loved one.
The world right now has changed too, and Silke describes our need for a sense of certainty and the fact we like to feel we are in control. But it is all an illusion. We have never really known what is around the corner. What the world has shown us right now is that we do not have that certainty. The changes are happening at an incredibly fast pace. Yet the brain loves familiarity. Whenever there are changes it takes a little while to adjust. And then we adjust to a new reality and the world changes again. A lot of people feel they are constantly on the back foot and this is causing a lot of grief and anxiety. The new reality keeps changing. Planning anything is incredibly difficult at the moment.
There is so much grief around losing life as we once knew it. It comes down to our values and finding a way to live those values no matter what is happening around us. We live our values by doing the things we love to do.
When we cannot express these or live them in the way we are used then there is a huge adjustment phase. Thankfully there are things like zoom but we know it is not really the same as spending time with others.
What we tend to miss the most is just hanging out under the same roof. This has been incredibly challenging in the past few years including the loss of freedom. The most important thing to acknowledge is that change is challenging for us. The brain loves familiarity so honour the unfamiliarity. It is a part of self-love to acknowledge you are struggling and admit it to oneself and these emotions are ok. It’s important to feel them, honour them and not push them down.
Silke says it is important to pay attention to the unconscious objections even though we try to argue the logic away. The unconscious has a way though to object and be heard. She says to lean into these objections. The moment we do, the mind feels heard. It needs us to acknowledge it and notice we are struggling, and to not be ok.
We discuss the 5 stages of grief by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and how Silke does not agree in its entirety.
Anxiety is a learned response says Silke, and we usually learn it from a grown up. As children we copy the behaviour of grown-ups. Perhaps as adults we have molly-coddled our children a little too much making them feel they cannot handle situations as they grow.
We can also learn anxiety through a significant emotional event. And we are not necessarily taught the resources to deal with these scenarios. Yet we have all the resources we need within, sometimes it just needs support to realise that we are incredible resourceful and adaptable as humans. We can deal with so much more than we think we can.
We realise that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The unconscious mind processes through stories, metaphors and symbols. The conscious is the more logic part of us. A beautiful way to heal grief Silke mentions is the ‘book end’ process that is used in hypnotherapy very powerfully.
Her closing statement is about staying curious and being kind. And she believes we can manage the world as it is right now in a much better way if we do.
Silke Herwald is a highly experienced and skilled Grief Specialist, Master Hypnotherapist, Master Practitioner NLP, Supervisor, speaker and accomplished presenter with over 12 years experience. She works with people from all walks of life to deal with grief and anxiety in very resourceful ways.
Silke presented her unique “Grief to Love” framework at the 2019 AHA world conference to an international audience of Psychotherapists, Counsellors, Psychologists and Hypnotherapists. She has mastered the fine art of talking about grief in a light-hearted yet deeply insightful way.
Over 12 years Silke has assisted hundreds of clients through grief and anxiety: Worldwide online, in person and with “Grief to Love” seminars. Silke understood from a start that her clients from all over the world share the same experience. Their heart is broken and not their head.
Silke had mastered the fine art of working with the subconscious processes because logic, rational thinking and conscious work reaches its limits very quickly. Three years ago Silke lost her soul sister to cancer. Silke promised her that she’d do whatever it takes so that one day their parents and her beloved hubby would be able to live life and feel joy again. She had no clue how but Silke managed to keep her promise by developing an even deeper understanding of how subconscious processes work in grief.
Then 2021 hit with a vengeance. First Silke had to help her gentle, loving therapy dog over the rainbow bridge. Her dog had been a huge part and valued member of the clinic team. Only a couple of weeks later Silke completely unexpectedly lost her beloved dad; and her mum her best friend and husband.
Silke knows what it feels like to be on the floor rocked by grief. She also heard her own conscious mind politely say: “sure, I’ll try that…” while every cell inside her body screamed ‘heck no’.
Today Silke not only has the knowledge and skills to help people with grief and all the subconscious objections we have to moving forward or letting go but also the personal and professional experience.
Silke is one of the most down to earth, big hearted, non-judgemental and fun-loving people you could meet. Silke has her clinics in Coolum and Birtinya and she works worldwide online with individuals and groups. Silke lives with her husband and her young Border Collie on the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
Her definition of Self Love is unconditional love. It is about accepting oneself warts’n’all. It’s realising our humanity. Human beings are everything but imperfect. It is a forgiving relationship with self. It’s about honouring our strengths and weaknesses. Treat yourself the way you treat others. Remind yourself your worth is a given. You cannot earn any more worth. Or lose it. You are unique.
Her favourite quote is from Blaise Pascal: The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
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