Archive for May, 2014

Losing A Loved One: Grief Stages And Adaptations

Friday, May 30th, 2014

 

JOHN J. STATHAS, Ph.D., LMFT

Many of you have lost someone special to you. The following addresses the grieving process and, hopefully, helps soothe such pain.

The death of a loved one probably is the most painful experience that a person can have. To lose a person close to you such as a spouse, child, parent, or other person that has found a place in your heart is a challenging transition. Many people find it helpful to know the different phases that a person who has suffered such a loss goes through.

In 1969 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a book entitled ON DEATH AND DYING. Her description of a person’s responses to terminal illness has been the most utilized paradigm in addressing such a catastrophic event in a person’s life.  Her five phases of grieving are DENIAL, ANGER, BARGAINING, DEPRESSION, and ACCEPTANCE. They are worth understanding by those faced with such a situation.

I came across another perspective in an article written by Paula Spencer.  She quotes Professor Robert Neimeyer who states, “It is more accurate to think about phases of adaptation rather than stages of grief. And they overlap rather than fall in sequence. ” Ms. Spencer adds, “What all survivors share: Death presents challenges from processing the loss and coping with grief symptoms through reformulating a relationship with the loved one –tasks that can take months and years to work through. Such tasks, according to Ms. Spencer include:

  1. ACKNOWLEDGING THE REALITY: The finality of death is always a shock, even after a known terminal illness. Accepting that the death is real and absorbing the truth of what has happened can be difficult. This can be tied in with Kubler-Ross stage of Denial.
  2. WEATHERING THE STRESS OF SEPARATION: Mourning brings many physical and emotional hallmarks: crying, unable to cry, sleeplessness, not eating, numbness, feeling forlorn, withdrawing socially, anger, and so on. This phase and its idiosyncratic expression varies from person to person, but experienced by all.
  3. ADJUSTING TO ABSENCE: Getting on with “everyday life” can be very challenging. Often there is intense yearning for the person who has died, along with stress and depression. Unresolved issues that may have been present get magnified.  Some feel alone and isolated.
  4. REVISING YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE DECEASED: The relationship with the deceased does not end, it changes. The goal of grieving is not to let go but to find a way to hold on with less pain. Reframing is a method used to do that. How can the deceased be held in memory, rituals, and conversation that is manageable, even comforting, rather than painful.
  5. REWRITING THE STORYLINE OF ONE’S LIFE:  “Grief is more than an emotion; it’s a process of reconstructing a world of meaning that’s been challenged by loss” says Neimeyer.  An important part of grieving is to gain a perspective on the meaning of the loss and to reconstruct a world in which you can live effectively afterward.

It is important to understand that whether you experience and process grief through the five  stages of Kubler-Ross and/or the five phases presented here, grief is a transition that will never be completed.  The experience will vary according to the grieving person and the particular relationship with the deceased. If you loved a person, you will always grieve them. It just changes over time.

Professor Niemeyer says that this adaptation process of grieving can be positive: “Being able to revisit earlier losses and their implications for us can enrich our lives and make our narrative more coherent about who we are and how we got to be who we are.” What has been the affect on us of that loved one and the consequent loss?

A final thought on this subject from Kahlil Gibran in the PROPHET:  “Your capacity for joy will be determined by the space that pain has hollowed out.”

(On a personal note, I have counseled people through their grieving process for many years, both as a priest and as a therapist. It has been a privilege to offer that service.  I have been blessed and enriched in that interaction)

“The unexamined life is not worth living”       Socrates

My Story: Why I Take Shaklee Supplements!

Monday, May 26th, 2014

I want a full life with good health! Who doesn’t? To have this desired life I try my best to eat well, exercise, think positive thoughts, and add supplements to my regimen.

Why supplements you may ask? I want to know that I have covered my bases, to the extent possible. The target areas that I am covering are heart, bone and joint, immune system, brain cognition, vision, digestion and energy. Yes, I want to cover it all!

Food cannot meet all these needs. Thus, supplements are my “health insurance”. They give me an extra boost of confidence that I am doing everything I can to ensure good health.

Shaklee supplements are my choice. Why?  I want the best and have researched thoroughly. In order for supplements to be effective four factors need to be optimal.

  1. Composition:  The nutrients are in the most effective combinations and dosage amounts.
  2. Bioavailability: These minerals and vitamins are maximally absorbable.
  3. Synergistic effect: The vitamins and minerals work together in proper proportion for best results.
  4. Potency: The supplements are the most potent available.

Multivitamin Guide did an exhaustive six year study and found that Shaklee was number two out of over one hundred brands. If you are taking any supplement product look up where you brand sits on this list.  I was amazed at where my store brand stood. Other independent research has found Shaklee to be superior. Over the counter brands are much less effective. “You learn something new every day”!

My wife and daughter also have chosen Shaklee with beneficial results. Shaklee is our choice for various supplements.  Recently we have “gone green” and are now exclusively using Shaklee products that are not toxic in our home environment.

Please take my card and look at my web site: drstathas.myshaklee.com. I think you will be surprised at the many relevant products there for you and your health. Feel free to buy and try!

P.S. Upon using and enjoying the benefits derived from Shaklee products you may even decide to be a distributor and make a little cash on the side!

Supplements: Do You Take Them? If So, What Kind? Some Are Better Than Others!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

 

No matter where you look you are probably bombarded by media and product pushers to take a variety of supplements. Some of these are “snake oil” sales people looking to con you into spending your precious money for dubious results. Others are well meaning people who believe a particular supplement is a “miracle cure” for problem X, Y, or Z. And, there are other sources of supplement pushers.

TIME magazine had an interesting cover story article showing a sick bed and a title that said “How not to end up here”. Their article stated that “It’s all about prevention … and here’s what it takes.” A couple of key points that they made were:

  1. There are trillions of reasons why you should supplement. Your body contains trillions of cells. Billions of new cells are created every day. Each cell is like a high performance engine. It needs high quality raw materials (nutrients) to function properly. The quantity and quality of nutrients you ingest affects every system of your body. … In other words, how you look, feel, and performs is directly affected by your daily nutrient intake.
  2. Your body can’t manufacture all the nutrients it needs on its own. Scientists define a vitamin as a compound essential for life. And since your body cannot manufacture most these vitamins on its own, they can come only from the food you eat and the supplements you take every day.
  3. Proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle can prevent many major diseases 60-90% of the time. Studies show that if you don’t eat right, get to a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and supplement your diet with proper nutrients, you increase your risk of developing certain diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Eating right isn’t as easy as it seems. 98% of Americans do not eat the recommended seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. … Also, the nutritional value of our produce isn’t what it used to be. A study of 43 crops showed a decline in the nutrient content of up to 38% over the past 50 years.
  5. The proven benefits of nutritional supplementation. Landmark studies continually correlate long term supplement use with better overall health. Doctors from Harvard, Stanford, and Yale, and researchers from the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Cancer Society can’t all be wrong. If you want to improve your health, be sure to get some of the most important nutrients your body and your brain need to function optimally: a multivitamin, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics.

Personally, I believe in supplements and have been using my selective research to learn about various supplements to slow the aging process, eliminate various aches and pains, and facilitate brain cell growth. Thus, over the years, using my hit and miss methodology, I have gone through many a bottle of supplements. What I have done a poor job of has been to rate the various suppliers of the supplements. One example area would be in the area of a multivitamin. All brands, even those having the same ingredients, are not created equal! For example, an independent rating agency evaluated the absorption rate and impact of various brands. I found out that the very well known brand I was using was fiftieth out of one hundred companies. Therefore, I have quit taking this brand of multivitamin and switched to the number two rated brand.

WebMD had a very interesting article on “How to evaluate Vitamins and Supplements”. Their questions:

  1. What health benefit does this supplement offer me?
  2. Is there any research supporting the use of this supplement?
  3. Do I need this supplement for my health, either to treat a medical condition or help prevent disease?
  4. What is the recommended dose for this supplement?
  5. When and for how long do I need to take this supplement?
  6. Which is the most appropriate and effective for me – a pill, powder, or liquid?
  7. Which form of the vitamin (vitamin D2 or D3, for instance) is the best?
  8. Does this supplement or vitamin have any side effects?
  9. What are the best brands of this supplement in terms of quality, safety, and researched effectiveness?
  10. Does this supplement interact with any medications or foods?
  11. Will I have to stop taking this supplement or vitamin if I have to undergo surgery?

I am very impressed with these questions and have gone through each one of them to make my decision. Not all supplement brands are equal! The quality of supplements varies greatly as well as the absorption rate. Where the supplement comes from and what kind of consistent testing it goes through is important. It is amazing the difference. One example is fish oil. You would be surprised at the difference in quality that exists in this supplement based on the oil origin.

As part of my research I found an independent non proprietary site on the internet that did an evaluation of over one hundred brand products. It’s name is Multivitamin guide. In their six years of research they evaluated the brands on four factors:

  1. Composition: Your body needs 13 types of vitamins and many other types of minerals in order to function properly. This criterion has to do with how closely the dosage of vitamins and minerals in each product follow the Optimal Daily Intake Index. Optimal composition means you receive the nutrients in the most effective combinations and dosage amounts.
  2. Bioavailability: Bioavailable nutrients are easily and efficiently absorbed by the body. Does the product contain vitamins and minerals in their most absorbable forms, such as organic acid complexes, mixed carotenoids, or amino acid chelates.
  3. Synergistic effect: Vitamins and minerals work together to improve your health, but they must be in proper proportion to each other for the best results. … Are the vitamin and mineral nutrient qualities in the product set in such a way as to intensify their combined effect and absorption by the body?
  4. Potency: Does the potency of the ingredients found in the product meet or exceed the potency levels outlined in the Optimal Daily Intake Index? Store brand supplements often contain low-quality forms of nutrients, which are not as potent as higher-quality nutrients.

From these four criteria we calculate an Effectiveness Score. A score near 10 represents a supplement with the characteristics for optimal nutrition. Conversely, a score near 0 represents a product possessing few, if any, of the characteristics for optimal nutrition.

Personally, I have found this objective research meaningful and, thus, I have made a decision. Instead of taking my hodge podge variety of supplements I have decided on one highly researched product from a particular company, which was second of the hundred plus companies evaluated, with a 9.4 score. I have added two others for different purposes. This choice was made quite easy when I read a landmark study done by the University of California, Berleley, School of Public Health. The researchers gathered a group on supplementers of my chosen brand with a group of non supplementers over a period  of twenty years. The differences they found were startling. The supplement users had 33% lower triglycerides, 36% lower homocysteine, 59% lower C-reactive protein levels, along with 11% lower cholesterol to HDL ratio when compared to non supplement users. Supplement users also had a 39% lower risk of high blood pressure, 73% lower risk of diabetes, and multiple measures of cardiovascular risk were directionally better with supplementation.

My wife, Sherry, has joined me in this switch to a particular regimen, for women, offered by our product choice. So far, we are very impressed with the impact this choice has made on our overall health and energy. I encourage you to do the same research or contact me for the results that I have gleaned.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

“Idiots” Compatability Quiz: A Good Fit?

Monday, May 12th, 2014

While doing my periodic perusal of Barnes and Noble I came across a book that caught my eye.  It is called THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP (not sure if it was the “idiot” or “healthy relationship” words that beckoned me).  Dr. Judy Kurianski is the author. The book is a good one with much valuable information for creating a solid and loving relationship.  One chapter in particular invited me to go into greater detail. It is about compatability.

The chapter, “Are we compatible?” is excellent.  I find this compelling because I am continually seeing people in my office who clearly are NOT compatible.  I wish, for starters, that they had taken the “compatability quiz”!

The “compatability quiz” addresses twelve areas with sixty questions requesting an answer of “unimportant”, “desirable but not crucial”, and “essential”. The twelve areas, each having five clarifying questions, are: Physicality, Intellect, Emotions, Finances, Individualism/Independence, Spirituality, Work, Socialability, Communication, Sex, Life Habits, Family.

The book invites each person to answer the questions, add up the score, and then share the score and answers with his or her partner.  Preferably this is done BEFORE marriage.  If you are already married the quiz can still be useful in helping each person know his or her thoughts on these subjects. Such awareness is an excellent segue to further communication and understanding between you and your partner. This knowledge and attempts at communication may well lead to the realization that the relationship has significant troubling issues within in.

Perhaps, couples therapy would be the next step. Dr. Kurianski suggests that professional assistance is called for when:

  1. You are arguing more often than keeping the peace.
  2. One of you is unhappy most of the time.
  3. The two of you are not communicating well.
  4. You complain a great deal about each other to other people.
  5. The stress between the two of you if affecting other areas of your life.
  6. The problem between both of you has been going on for three months.
  7. You feel “stuck” or unable to change by yourselves.
  8. Other people point out that your relationship is in trouble.

This book has much more to constructively offer individuals and couples who want to expand their knowledge to help create a loving, enduring, and healthy relationship. All of us have a bit of “idiot” in us and would benefit from a book that helps us with one of the most important aspects of our life – our marriage!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Where Did The Celebration Of Mother’s Day Come From?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Do you know where the celebration of Mother’s Day came from?  Just as so many other wonderful people and ideas have come from the Greeks, so, too, is the origin of Mother’s Day.  AncientGreecehad a spring celebration in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.

In theUnited StatesMother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace.  In 1907 Ana Jarvis began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it an official national holiday.

To all of you good and nurturing mothers, including you step mothers who have stepped into a need, you deserve your day for you have given much. To any of you who may have failed to be a good mother, may you apologize to your children and work to get it right while you still have time.  Everybody needs a good mama!  To you mothers-to-be, know that it is a sacred and fortunate role.  It is crucial to the development of a physically and psychologically healthy child.  Do it right!

To children of good and nurturing mothers, honor her and thank her for her love and sacrifice which has made you such a wonderful person!  To children whose mothers were clueless, tell her where she screwed up and vow to do better for your kids.

To husbands of mothers, thank your wife for giving you the privilege of being a father and being a partner in raising your children.  Give her a personalized card, flowers, and make the bed!

Those of you who read this column with regularity know that one of my central tenets and concerns is how a child’s brain is formed (wired) in early childhood by the parents – especially the mother.  The following poem by Turlough O’Carolan speaks well as to the influence of a loving and welcoming mother.

 

A mother’s love determines how

We love ourselves and others.

There is no sky we’ll ever see

Not lit by that first love.

 

Stripped of love, the universe

Would drive us mad with pain;

But we are born into a world

That greets our cries with joy.

How much I owe you for the kiss

That told me who I was!

The greatest gift – a love of life-

Lay laughing in your eyes.

 

Because of you my world still has

The soft grace of your smile;

And every wind of fortune bears

The scent of your caress.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ALL YOU WONDERFUL MOTHERS – ESPECIALLY MY MOTHER, BETTY; MY WIFE, SHERRY; HER MOTHER, ANN; OUR DAUGHTER BRITTANY; AND OUR DAUGHTER IN LAW, CARA!!