Thursday, July 26, 2012



If you choose to put your hand on a hot stove your get burned.  There is an immediate reinforcer not to do this.  If you use drugs the immediate reinforcer is generally positive.  You feel a sense of peace, euphoria, well being or just numb from the world.  Once your hooked then the negative consequences set in but your too hooked to care.  In fact, you start to believe that the negative consequences are not so bad and until a bottom is hit (sometimes it takes hitting the bottom over and over) change will not occur.

There are many daily decisions that can fit into this category.  Pornography, food, sex, alcohol, language, attitude, attire... the list could go on.  If there were immediate negative consequences to these behaviors then people would not do them.

When an adult contracts AIDS for the most part and informed choice was made.  A risk was taken and consequences resulted.  The spread of AIDS is sad and those who have HIV deserve treatment.  However, how do we measure how much attention and money is given to a particular disease?  When the government gives $254 million to AIDS research from a finite budget that is getting smaller and only gives $26 to ALL pediatric cancers, what message is that sending?  I believe it is sending the message that children are not our priority.  Children and their disease are not worth looking into.  Did any child ever make an informed choice to get cancer?  Did risky behavior result in a child being diagnosed with cancer?  Did a child's risky behavior or lifestyle cause him/her to be diagnosed with cancer.

Every day 46 people die from AIDS and everyday 4 kids die from cancer in the United States.  I guess that is how the National Cancer Institute (NCI) makes there funding decisions.  

A few comments and questions:  AIDS is not a cancer but money is taken from a budget designated just for cancer research.  No new drugs have been developed for pediatric cancers for around 20 years.  Funding for pediatric cancers have gone down every year since 2003.  Is an innocent child's life less important than an adults who made and informed decision?

I say instead of relying on statistics to decide funding for diseases lets rely more on our heart.  This may upset people, but I believe those who have made informed choices and get diseases deserve less funding than those who are innocent victims.  As we look to fund research for disease part of the equation needs to be related to lifestyle and choices.  There are natural consequences to things and this would be a natural consequence to making wrong choices.  What do you think?      

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

10 Myths About Grief and Loss

10 Myths about Grieving
Myth 1 “Get over it” as quickly as possible
“You should be done grieving within a few months to a year and an half.”  If you have been told this, you have been set up to be frustrated.  It’s like telling someone not to miss their loved one anymore. 
Myth 2 Sadness for a few months after a death is okay but beyond that…
Are you crying again? Why are you so irritable?  You’re not over it yet?  There is no reason to feel guilty?  What is wrong with you today?  These may be questions from people who don’t understand that any feeling is okay as long as it doesn’t consume you.  There is no wrong or right way to grieve.  

Myth 3 There are predictable stages you will go through after a loss
In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler Ross developed the stages of grief.  I believe this came about as a result of people wanting to know what was ahead after a loss.  Similar to when we have surgery, we want to know how long our recovery will be.  This is a dangerous mind set when it comes to loss.  Everyone is different and we can’t put feelings or thoughts into averages and find a middle feeling or thought that everyone should have.

Myth 4 If you don’t talk about your feelings there will be negative consequences
Some may feel the loss very deeply others may not.  Some people need to express their feelings and run the risk if they don’t, they will end up with physical and emotional problems.  We are not sure yet why unexpressed feelings can cause problems for some and not for others.

Myth 5 If you have feelings of grief years later there is something wrong with
It is ironic that we accept the grieving that takes place every year on 9/11, but if someone else is having a hard time with a loss, years later, then society tells them to move on or there is something wrong with them.

Myth 6 If someone is smiling and happy it means they are “over it”
Just below the surface there still may be pain.  For many the pain seemingly comes out of nowhere.  There can be certain smells, thoughts, places, people that trigger very intense emotional pain.

Myth 7 There are predictable coping skills that are a for sure bet
What helps one person may not help another.  Experiment with what works for you and write down your what seems to help.

Myth 8 All losses create similar grief reactions
The loss of my wife was very different than the loss of my child. Suicide, accidents, natural disasters, death of a friend, co-worker can produce very different grief responses from person to person.

Myth 9  If you talk to someone about their loved one who has passed and they start to cry it means you have made them feel worse and ruined their day

I still love it when people share memories with me of Emmalee, my daughter, or tell me that they were remembering her.  I cried during some of these interactions, but it did not mean I didn’t want to hear what they had to say or that it made me depressed.

Myth 10 If I grieve properly I won’t miss them any longer
Missing someone you lost is just part of death and may still exist the rest of your life.  Birthdays, holidays, family gatherings, certain music, the anniversary of their death, certain objects and even certain food are among a few of the things that might cause you to miss them.  This type of reaction does not mean there is something wrong with you.

Steve Havertz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been in the field for 21 years.  He has experienced the loss of his wife and daughter.  He is the author of Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee, an inspirational speaker, and helps individuals and groups work through their own grief.