When I first became bereaved in 2005, after the suicide of my daughter, I felt confused and distrustful of everything. My entire world had fallen apart. I had no idea how I would ever live without my child and was terrified something else really bad would happen to my family. I couldn’t imagine what I could ever do again that would feel worthwhile. I felt isolated and different from everyone else and in pain so extreme, I didn’t think I could survive it. I felt powerless. There was no relief in sight.

But I did survive. More importantly, I’m starting to truly live again through a healing process I can’t wait to share with others.

Being a bereaved parent (and there are many of us) gives us a bird’s eye view into the pain of just about anyone else. And, while our experiences may be different, pain is pain. Most of us deep down, want to heal from our hurtful experiences, even if we don’t have access to the right healing method or know what we need to heal.


When I discovered the power of relief a few years ago after being forced into a work disability from my then job, though I couldn’t yet make the bigger changes for my life that I desperately needed, I began to experience freedom in my healing that I hadn’t felt before. Finding relief rather than aiming for big results helped me recognize just how much I had been pushing myself to do more than I really could, and start implementing smaller changes in my life to recover from all that had driven me to go on disability in the first place.

Anyone who wants to heal from pain knows it requires making changes to our life. Which means letting go of something in exchange for something else that is better for us. However, we can’t always be making big changes to our life. The timing may not be right. We may be afraid and not ready for change. We may have responsibilities we can’t get out of or the impact of our changes may be hard on our loved ones. Worst case, we may have to wait for change because we are afraid to let go of the pain we’ve become used to. Anyone grieving difficult loss knows all about this.

When we can’t be always making the bigger life changes we are certain will bring us the money, happiness, better job, new relationship or whatever else we are looking for, it’s more practical to focus on what would bring us the greatest relief and start making the changes that are within our ability to make.


Anything that feels distressing in any of our environments or with our relationships is our mind and body’s way of telling us what needs to change. When you feel uncertain about what would bring you relief, check in with your heart! The heart never lies. It will tell you what you really need and want in any given moment, even if you don’t like the answer. Which is why sometimes, we must wait for things to happen.

When you are feeling frustrated or stressed because change isn’t happening as quickly as you’d like or when you don’t think it’s even possible, think about what is in your power to change in your life right now that would bring you the most comfort.

The level of relief you feel thinking about your different options will be the best indicator about the change you really need, even when the steps you can take today seem only temporary.


Relief feels freeing. It will give you respite from any situation that feels unpleasant or distressing. Relief can come to us in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it’s more time. Less responsibility. More humour. A good friend to talk to.

More often though, there are very real problems we must endure that can make us feel like our life is spinning out of control. While there are too many things to list here about what can bring anyone the greatest relief, the point is that knowing the type of environment, friends and activities you enjoy; what you need in your relationships to feel loved and supported, and the lifestyle that feels the most “you”, will help you start reimagining your life; sometimes in ways you didn’t think possible.


We all feel stuck sometimes in a rut we can’t get out of. However, most of our challenges are necessary for what we may do in the future. They give us insight into what we need and want to change and an opportunity to learn.

Setting your sights on what you want now or in the future will help your changes to happen. The key is knowing when and how to take any action that is needed.

As an exercise, think about or write down one thing that feels unpleasant in your life right now. What would bring you the most relief? Write down one thing you could do right now to make even a little change. (This could be a change of thought, making a physical adjustment to your environment, asking someone for help.)

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Feature Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash; Plant Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash; Hourglass Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash; Scrabble Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash


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