Distraction techniques

Throughout life most of us at one time or another will be in a position with either those we love and/or those we work with are in need of a positive distraction.

Even the most positive of souls can feel flat and I count myself in that category. At times we may be missing people, those who are no longer with us and even those who may have just moved away perhaps to university, or because of a job or home relocation.

Today would have been my own mentor’s birthday so I send out a happy birthday wish mum out into the universe. I will distract myself with work and meeting up with positive colleagues.

Working with dementia clients they too have their days when they feel ‘out of sorts’ and there are many ways in which we  can help either as counsellors or family members to help focus them on something they either enjoy or at least can be a positive interaction activity.

Similarly, distraction techniques work well with children, I know my mother practised this parenting skill with us as children. I utilised this myself recently when helping a family with small children –one is always mindful that when parents leave the house the children need to feel, happy safe and of course engaged.  A simple game of cards including all children soon brought an opportunity to engage, have fun and for me to get to know the children’s individual characters. (If I am honest working with younger children this week helped me with my own feelings relating to empty nest!)

As with adults, children will become sad at times…using being bored as an excuse when really what they crave it not just your loving attention but engagement.

Keeping occupied helps prevents those flat moments from taking over…and finally of course, laughter the best therapy of all.

Keep smiling fellow bloggers and followers.


Bereavement support in schools

Whatever the bereavement situation our children may find themselves in there will always be a ripple effect on their behaviour and relationships. It may be that they have lost somebody close within the family unit and/or been touched perhaps by the loss of a friend or neighbour. These feelings may levae them feeling isolated and fearful.

Children often find it difficult to vocabularise their emotions and therefore it is vital that they are given the opportunity to discuss how they are feeling. As ever I always recommend that their school are kept in the loop about anything which may affect their wellbeing and possibly their school work.

Please read my piece on Innovate My School’s website:-



Coping with grief?

The title of my blog today many would say is a contradiction in terms, and, of course it is. The British way is to appear to cope when really the journey through bereavment is a struggle and supressing those feelings only adds to the pain.

For those who may have nursed a loved one through cancer, to a certain degree the bereavement process has already started as we see our loved ones slip away.

As I frequently write we keep our loved ones alive in our heart and our mind and the TV Dr Hilary on the Lorraine programme echoed that fact today. He also agreed how it is far better to let our grief out and share and talk about our feelings.

My own personal experiences have made me determined to talk to the bereaved rather than avoid them or talking about their loss. As always it is kinder to give them the opportunity to talk, cry and realise you probably won’t have the right words. However, listening and checking they are OK is a start…and not just the week of the funeral it is the weeks, months and even years that they need your friendship and continued support.

Nobody copes…we may feel anger, sad, guilt, depressed along with a whole host of feelings which are beyond our control hour by hour in those initial weeks..but coping probably isn’t one of them.

There are of course great support charities around and steering somebody towards them and/or a counsellor if appropriate would be the act of a true friend.

Looking for the best

I am a great believer in giving the other guy the benefit of the doubt and trying to look for the best, but appreciate that with some individuals this is not so easy.

As a child I remember my mother asking us to even make allowances for the bullies as after all they were basically unhappy children.  Some truth in that of course and my regular followers know that anti-bullying is a subject of frequent posts.

In life it is often about changing our own attitudes which makes us stronger.

To quote Mahatma Ghandi:-

‘Before we expect to see our desired qualities in others, we should assimilate them in ouselves. We are all wonderful and extremely beautiful from the inside and the more we see the same thing in others, we shall get the same in return.’

Even in business this is true and from an early age I was encouraged to ‘kill customers with kindness‘ backed up by great training films featuring John Cleese on how not to treat them!

Keep smiling.

Being mindful and listening

During the course of both business and social meetings this week friends and colleagues have all mentioned the value of being listened to in both personal and business environments.

Whatever age we have arrived at in life, and, whatever journey we have travelled to get there we will have times when we need support..although we may fight against admitting it.

During my early morning dog walk (before being glued to the laptop) a colleague and I not only covered many steps but many topics. Both professionals in pastoral and practice mindfulness but ‘mindful’ that our maturity and qualifications enable us to do so whereas others are struggling particularly today’s teenagers/students.

We both discussed the rewards we get when we have a break-through with somebody we are trying to support and how the use of eye-contact, or rather its avoidance, plays such an important part. We have many senses and our hearing being our best gift for those that need to talk and not be judged. Sitting next to somebody, respecting their space and not intimidating them takes patience and consideration..but it’s easier than we think. That’s all part of mindfulness…slowing down and using our intellect rather than our emotions will always be fruitful.

Over the weekend find time to be ‘that friend’ who listens. Please give those you love the platform and opportunity to talk, but moreover the chance for someone to listen.


We can all remember where we were when the news broke on 9/11 and the emotional effect that had once the reality of what happened unfolded.

I can hardly believe it is 16 years since the world watched in disbelief as loved ones waited to hear knews. I was working for a client and a team member’s son escaped losing his life, he was hungover and didn’t go into his twin towers office that fateful morning. As my brother and I discussed last week we never know what life holds in store.

As I reflect today of those who did lose loved ones and/or were affected emotionally by what they witnessed I remember the weeks that followed. My mother was in her last week’s fighting her battle with cancer and we sat looking at the newspapers discussing what had happened. She was grateful for somebody to talk about anything other than the fact she was dying. Always somebody to think of others she expressed her concerns for the world my daughter (then aged four) would be growing up into.

As ever tell those you love that you love them and show kindness where possible to those that maybe you don’t!


Bereavement support within schools

The best advice often offered when a child loses a family member or close friend is to give them as much support as possible, but also try to maintain some routine in their life. As with any emotional hurdle your child may need to overcome it is always a good idea to keep their school informed so they too can support your child.

Please read my article on Innovate My School’s website which gives advice on returning to school, seeking help from their school pastoral and counselling. Link follows:-


Bereavement…making a difference

Today is not the first time I have congratulated our amazing Princes William and Harry on my blog. I know like many I am behind them in their desire to help with awareness and consideration for anyone going through bereavement, especially children, and, of course, their excellent work in supporting mental health issues.

Listening to these younger members of the Royal family talk in recent interviews and documentaries it is apparrent they intend to continue to make their beloved mother proud by ‘doing something and making a difference‘.

My lovely regular followers will know that I often write about bereavement; the acceptance of death and the shock and bewilderment that bereavement brings to a child is both painful and something that often sticks with them forever.

I will end today’s blog in reminding those coping with recent bereavement that we really do keep our loved ones alive in our minds and heart and talking about them rather than denying their existence is the best way forward.  If you wish to support somebody in their personal journey give them the opportunity to talk, and, cry if they need to.



Kindness and understanding

One time when people need both kindness and understanding is when a loved one is dying and they find themselves perhaps in unknown territory of feeling lost and sadder than they ever thought possible. As I frequently write; just acknowledging their sadness rather than avoiding making contact is all one needs to do, a touch of a hand and a few words expressing empathy, if you do know how they feel.

This weekend I found myself in such a situation and reminded those in need that it does get easier, to remember their loved one before their deterioration of health and to keep them alive in their heart. I also reminded a younger relative that their parent would wish them to go on living life to the full and making every day count.

There are not many families that are not touched by cancer and seeing a loved one suffer and disappear is truly a difficult time and one which takes time to move on from. When we know in advance that a special person is dying, we can at least have time to say goodbye, though this period affects the grieving process..to which there is no quick route.

As ever, tell those you love that you love them on a regular basis and as my wonderful mum would say ‘The time to be good to people is when they are here!’ 

Support for eating disorders

Recently watched the Panorama programme dedicated to eating disorders in men and boys presented by Nigel Owens the Rugby referee. Worrying stats were revealed of young men being affected by eating disorders with 42% increase in referrals over the last two years.

As with most mental illnesses intervention early really does aid success for recovery. Sadly youngsters wait far too long for referrals for support help and often are turned down because of shortage of staff and a variety of other factors.

We all keep hearing how the government are investing billions into this area with aims to see children within four weeks, one week for real emergencies! In reality this will be impossible to achieve meanwhile a lot of male youngsters suffer in silence.

The documentary covered various cases demonstrating the devestating affects on the body and mind with 13 -17 most at high risk. It revealed facts from support agencies; Beat charity receive 20,000 calls a year. Often eating disorders are viewed as ‘female illnesses’ when this is clearly no longer the case – even so this ‘assumption’ can make it harder for parents and GP’s to recognise/diagnose.

As ever modern media plays its part in making youngsters concerned about their visual appearance and so it starts. Often eating disorders are associated with boys who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality too.

Nigel closed the episode by saying it is a strength to admit one has a problem not a weakness, and advising viewers not to be like him still suffering some 27 years on. Get help and stay one step a head and have a chance of recovering.