Grief and Loss

How Emotional Trauma Affects Everyday Interactions: Sudden Loss

How Emotional Trauma Affects Everyday Interactions: Sudden Loss

This week, we have been discussing the subject of trauma-- Not the obvious kind of trauma that occurs due to a natural disaster or global catastrophic event, but the more subtle kinds of trauma that often go unrecognized.  These subtle forms of trauma impact our lives emotionally, though we often times might not recognize that is what we are experiencing. 

Grief & Loss Part 4

Grief & Loss Part 4

This week we have been walking you through the stages of Grief and Loss. The next stage is very difficult but very important. Denial, anger, and bargaining have all come and gone and you are left with....sadness and depression.  This is the 4th stage in the grieving process and can be the hardest stage to move through.

Grief & Loss Part 1

Grief & Loss Part 1

You can't go through life without experiencing some sort of loss. Loss can come in varying forms, such as loss of a job, a loved one, your relationship, a friend moving away, your kids growing up, and loss of your dreams and expectations, etc. Even though you may experience pain from a loss in a different way from another person, you may go through the same stages of the grieving process.

Psychology and TV Families Starring "The Brady Bunch"

Psychology and TV Families Starring "The Brady Bunch"

At Imagine Hope we help many blended families.  I am currently in a blended family and I come from a blended family.  Perhaps that is why my sister Natalie (who I never refer to as my step sister) and I loved to watch the reruns of The Brady Bunch.  Since our “group had somehow formed a family”, Natalie and I would pretend to be Marcia and Jan when we were little.  We probably watched every episode multiple times.  I am sure we wondered, “why can’t our older brother be as nice as Greg?” or “why can’t we have a live-in maid as nice as Alice?” 

Ways to Handle Change Better: Be Optimistic

Ways to Handle Change Better: Be Optimistic

New Year's Resolutions. Have you given up yet?? We hope not. Change is hard and takes real intention. That's why many people give up on it and don't follow through. They don't plan the intentions. Hopefully this week you are finding some ways to handle change and stick with it.

Accept Uncertainty and Be Optimistic

How to Forgive: Symbolism

How to Forgive: Symbolism

As Natalie discussed yesterday in Part 4 of our blog series on forgiveness, it's important to try and hang onto forgiveness, once you have gone through the steps of the process.  While she discussed some different ways you can make the commitment to forgiveness, what happens if you are struggling with this, and the memories continue to come back?

What are Risks for Teen Suicide? Part 2

What are Risks for Teen Suicide? Part 2

Yesterday's blog talked about statistics and facts and today we're going to address a few risk factors for teens. There are times in a teen's life where certain things can cause them to be more at risk for, or vulnerable to suicide. Some of these include:

Teen Depression

Basic Human Needs Part 3

Basic Human Needs Part 3

"Lean on me!  When you're not strong, I'll be your friend.  I'll help you carry on". You know the Bill Withers song...  We do all need somebody to lean on!  A basic human need is support.  When we are children, we need support and encouragement to develop.  As adults we need support to grow and flourish and live to our full potential.

Infertility Part 2

Infertility Part 2

If you are experiencing infertility currently, please know our hearts go out to you. There are many different emotions that will be experienced throughout an infertility process. Infertility can trigger depression and anxiety when you may have never experienced these emotions before. This can begin to affect your marriage in hurtful ways.

How to Process Survivor’s Guilt-2

As Christy explained yesterday, Survivor's Guilt is the struggle within ourselves that we're thankful we survived a traumatic event, while others perhaps did not survive. This week we not only want to explain Survivor's Guilt, but how to process and work through it. Recognize The Strengths You've Used in The Past

After a crisis or extremely stressful time, it's normal and common to feel emotionally fragile. It's times such as this when it's beneficial to recall how you've overcome other times of crisis and stress. What strengths got you through those times? Keep in mind those qualities will once again help you be resilient this time too.

Whenever I'm facing a stressful time, I recall the year my father passed away. I remember the strength, prayer and support from others (we'll talk more about that on Friday!) it took to help me survive that time. I always remind myself, "If I could get through that, I can get through this."

Please check back in as we'll give more ways to cope with Survivor's Guilt over the rest of this week. Thank you for reading.

Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

How to Process Survivor’s Guilt-1

Survivor’s guilt (or survivor’s remorse), is a term when someone feels they have done something wrong because they survived a traumatic event and others did not. This can occur in a variety of situations, including car accidents, robberies, an act of violence or terrorism, war, natural disasters, medical emergencies, etc. It’s the conflict of being thankful you’re still living while not understanding why you survived and others did not. Survivor’s guilt is often characterized by intense feelings of guilt, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, mood swings, loss of motivation, intense grief, obsessing over the incident, flashbacks, and nightmares. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can be present as well.

If you find yourself reading this week and identifying with any of the feelings or issues we discuss, we encourage you to seek professional help. No one should go through this alone!

Talk about it

After you experience a traumatic event, your first instinct may be to shut down and isolate. Trauma has a way of making you feel very alone in the world—and it changes the way you view your life and your priorities. What was important yesterday no longer matters today. Instead of withdrawing, you have to engage. Talk about what happened and tell your story to people who are safe—therapists, clergy, family/friends. It’s ok to tell your story multiple times, if it means you are processing through it. Fight the urge to shut down!

Find a sense of normalcy

Trauma takes your normal and turns it upside down in an instant. Fight to establish some normalcy as quickly as you can. Start exercising, working, and doing household chores as you can. It’s amazing how the brain is wired to crave routine. Don’t push yourself but slowly ease back into it. Things that you once enjoyed may not bring you as much pleasure now, but it doesn’t mean that the joy is forever gone. As time passes, you will once again feel glimpses of happiness and joy. Regain your power as you can and have patience for yourself.

Please check back this week as we discuss more issues related to survivor's guilt.

Written by Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW

Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Christy enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Christy also provides family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

Negative Thinking Patterns Alternatives Part 4

Here are the last 4 alternate ways of thinking that are healthier and less destructive: 12.  Fallacy of Change:  You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough.  You need to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

Alternate:  Recognizing that no one can "change" another person is  good start to healthier thinking.  Also, recognizing that each of us are responsible for our own happiness.  It is unfair to put that expectation on another person-- to do so is setting up the situation to be disappointing for you, and can feel overwhelming to the other person and create resentment in them (who wants to feel responsible for someone else's happiness??!).  Instead of pressuring a person to change, learn to set boundaries about what you will and will not allow.  The difference is that with boundaries, YOU are the person who makes changes... those changes can in turn influence change in others around you.

13.  Global Labeling:  You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgement.

Alternative:  Recognize the "all or nothing", "black and white" thinking pattern, and ask yourself if there is an exception to the generalization you are making.  Learn to challenge your labels by trying to see the "grey" area, and ask yourself "where is the evidence to support this label?".  Be open to learning more about whatever the subject of this label might be, which will help in challenging your thinking.

14.  Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct.  Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness. (We see this one quite frequently in marriage counseling).

Alternative:  Being wrong is inevitable and is part of a safe and humble relationship.  Remind yourself that if you are constantly trying to prove how "right" you are, and can't admit when you are wrong, you are only pushing people away and destroying intimacy in the process.

15.  Heaven's Reward Fallacy:  You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score.  You feel bitter when the reward doesn't come.

Alternative:  Each of us is an active participant in our lives, which includes choices-- even if it is a choice to do nothing. We also reap either the rewards or the consequences of our choices.  If we choose to sacrifice, that was our choice-- no one else can be responsible for that.  Changing our expectations to embrace that sometimes (often times), we don't get the outcomes we had hoped to get, and recognize that disappointment is part of life.  Inevitably, regardless of the circumstances, we are each responsible to cope with our feelings-- no one else can do that for us!

Check back next week... the therapists at Imagine Hope will be discussing perfectionism!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Forgiveness Tips 2

  • The alternative to forgiveness is resentment.  Resentment is one of the most toxic things to relationships, and can often times cause irreparable damage.  Resentment can grow and become so large that it blocks a person's ability to have deep connections and intimacy.  This resentment spreads to relationships and people that have nothing to do with the core wound.  It can filter into our relationships with friends, co-workers, spouses, and family. Often times, resentment can become even larger than the original wound itself.  It can also cause health problems from holding in toxic feelings.  As Teri mentioned, forgiveness is for YOU, not them.  Choose to forgive, in order to let go of resentment and the impact it can have on your life.


  • Forgiving someone is giving up hope you can change the past.  It's easy to get stuck in the past if we allow it.  Getting to a place of acceptance of what has happened to us is a large part of forgiveness.  One thing we help clients with daily is guiding them towards seeing their hurt as an opportunity to grow and change.  When we can find meaning in our wounds, it takes the power away from our past, as well as the things we can't control (e.g., other people, the past, etc.).

Check back for more tips on forgiveness this week!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Grief and Loss part 4

So far, we have explained the first 4 stages of grief and loss:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression. Remember that everyone grieves in their own way, and there is no "right" way of grieving.  The fifth stage of grief and loss is another important one to the process, and that is acceptance. Acceptance doesn't mean that you no longer have sadness or pain.  It means that you come to a place of peace and understanding in your heart, and realize that it's going to be okay.  For some, acceptance means that they can finally get to a place of seeing the loss as an opportunity to grow and learn, recognizing the ways the loss has made them a stronger and wiser person.  It may mean they get to a place where they can reach out to others who are going through a similar struggle and connect with them in a supportive way.  Though sometimes, the acceptance stage for some people can create an intense need to be alone while they process through the heaviness of coming to terms with the loss.  Generally speaking, many times an individual going through acceptance comes to a place where their anger, sadness, and shock move into a place of peace, though it is not uncommon for an individual to move from Acceptance back into another stage of grief and loss from time to time (especially at the initial stages of loss).  Again, remember that everyone grieves differently, and there is no right or wrong way to go through the stages of grief.  The most important part is that you allow yourself to embrace the strong feelings that accompany a loss, and to seek professional help if you feel you are "stuck" in your grieving process, or if you feel too overwhelmed to get through it alone.  A good support system is of great importance during this process, so you do not feel alone in your pain.

Imagine Hope Counseling has some great resources and articles on grief and loss.  Feel free to check them out at .  If you are grieving a loss and need direction, inspiration and hope, don't hesitate to call us!  Our therapists are all trained in helping clients through such a difficult time.

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Remembering 911

This is a repost from 2011 but the content is still relevent. There is nothing that makes evil more angry than to make beauty from ashes. I absolutely LOVE that September 11th is now the National Day of Service. Although I know there will be a lot of grief, some so deep it will feel overwhelming. But what better way to honor those who died and gave their lives than to serve others. Originally, I had thought I would be glued to the TV on this day, reliving and crying. But now I actually feel hope for the day. My family is excited to be a part of the KLOVE Million Lives. I encourage you to join us!

Natalie’s Thoughts-

I was walking my dog. It was a BEAUTIFUL day- I remember looking at the sky and noticing how blue it was. However, on the inside I was having a pity party for myself. I had just come home from a long weekend at a friend’s wedding. I was feeling sorry for myself that the weekend was over and I was heading into a job that I didn’t enjoy or get much fulfillment from. I was trying to talk myself into it but landing in the pit of my own negative thinking. Until that moment.. My neighbor asked me if I knew what was happening and filled me in.

I remember thinking about how at the moment I was feeling bad for myself, people were trapped in a building that was starting to crumble. People were on a plane that they knew was going to crash. That morning, they probably woke up, took their kids to daycare or walked their dog- just like I had been doing, got a cup of coffee, maybe even mumbled to the man at the elevator. They had no idea what was going to happen to them. It hit me that everything- EVERYTHING can change in an instant.

Because of that day, when I start my grumbling in my head, I always remember there is someone who would do anything to have my problems. They may have it so much worse. I also remember that each day truly is a gift and we must leave our loved ones with the thought of “If this is the last time I see them, would I be at peace with how I left?” I know we can’t linger on and on in the morning with long good-byes, but do you actually kiss your spouse and say you love them or mumble a good bye while you have your head in the refrigerator, looking for the OJ? Do you love on your kids or do you just walk out the door? I’m sure many people who lost their family members would do anything to change how they left that morning. Make every kiss, hug, or love you count. This is what I have learned and changed from 9/11.

Written by Natalie Chandler

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville