A Fathers Day Reblog


Homage to Brandy – the most amazing man I never knew

Happy Fathers Day!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections Post

The quick intro

I wrote the following post about a year after my father’s death, honoring what was inarguably a most incredible life.  I just wish I’d known more about it!

Interestingly, I have had reason to refer to this post several times in the past month alone, so I’m taking the nudge to reblog it for anyone else interested.

I’m hoping that it will encourage any of you lucky enough to still be able to speak with your parents to pester them for answers to those questions that still remain.

PARENTS: If your adult children do not really know you
– and you, them – what on earth on you waiting for?


 

My father was born today . . .

Although he was a difficult man to know, and a very tough man to grow up with, I adored him every bit as much as I railed against many of his actions and decisions throughout my life.

And I never doubted for a minute that he loved me very much.

It’s just that he had such an unusual way of showing love – almost as if the most loving thing he believed he could do was to protect those he loved from the cares and responsibilities that he thought were his alone to bear.

And, to Brandy, life itself was a responsibility. So his life seemed always cloaked in secrecy.

He made his world debut on November 20th, in Toledo, Ohio – approximately 90 years before his swan song. He shuffled off his mortal coil in October, 2012, the third loss of someone close to me that I was forced to find some way to deal with in that month.

  • Coming to closure has been a particularly difficult task – for a few reasons besides the grief that most of us experience after the death of our last remaining parent.
  • I’m still attempting to come to grips with the fact that
    I no longer have a shot at ever getting to know the man.

I believe I can now relate to the adoptee urge to locate their birth-parents. We all seem to have an innate yearning to know our roots, and most of us want to know and understand our own personal histories.

  • My sister was into genealogy.
  • I would be more than content to know the truthful and even minimally fleshed-out stories of the members of my immediate family circle.

Since my father’s death, I’m coming to believe that I am nowhere close to fulfilling that desire.

Remembering what I know

“Brandy,” the man who died about a year ago as I write, was a retired military scientist. He may or may not have had undiagnosed, extremely high-functioning Asbergers.

He most certainly was a man who was incredibly gifted intellectually with, shall we say, less than top-notch intimacy and connection skills – even though he was otherwise one of the most universally competent individuals I’ve ever met, and fairly universally liked.

  • His Ph.D. project, under the advisorship of Albert Einstein and Edwin H. Land, was to develop a camera with a lens that had a shutter speed capable of photographing the first atomic bomb flash.
  • At least that’s how the story was told to me.
  • I was also told that somewhere among the photographs I have requested as one of the few things I wanted my brother to send me from my father’s “estate,” is a photo of me as a baby: that particular camera’s first human subject.

Amazing, right?

It was quite an outside-the-box feat of engineering to solve that concentrated flash-of-light problem, given what the intensity of the bomb flash was likely to do to any film stock possible with the technology of the time.

A sequence of rapidly rotating polarized lenses, anyone?

Those who are paying attention have probably also suspected that, even as a Ph.D. candidate, he must have held one of our country’s highest security clearances to know there was going to BE a “first atomic bomb flash.”

He did.

Read more of this post

Homage to Brandy – the most amazing man I never knew


Happy Birthday
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
an addendum to the Grief Series

My father was born today . . .

Although he was a difficult man to know, and a very tough man to grow up with, I adored him every bit as much as I railed against many of his actions and decisions throughout my life.  And I never doubted for a minute that he loved me very much.

It’s just that he had such an unusual way of showing love – almost as if the most loving thing he believed he could do was to protect those he loved from the cares and responsibilities that he thought were his alone to bear.

And, to Brandy, life itself was a responsibility.  So his life seemed always cloaked in secrecy.

He made his world debut on November 20th, in Toledo, Ohio – over 90 years ago. He shuffled off his mortal coil in October, 2012, the third loss I was forced to find some way to deal with in that month.

  • Coming to closure has been a particularly difficult task – for a few reasons besides the grief that most of us experience after the death of our last remaining parent.
  • I’m still attempting to come to grips with the fact that
    I no longer have a shot at ever getting to know the man.

I believe I can now relate to the adoptee urge to locate their birth-parents.  We all seem to have an innate yearning to know our roots, and most of us want to know and understand our own personal histories.

  • My sister was into genealogy.
  • I would be more than content to know the truthful and even minimally fleshed-out stories of the members of my immediate family circle.

Since my father’s death, I’m coming to believe that I am nowhere close to fulfilling that desire.

Remembering what I know

“Brandy,” the man who died about a year ago as I write, was a retired military scientist. He may or may not have had undiagnosed, extremely high-functioning Asbergers.

He most certainly was a man who was incredibly gifted intellectually with, shall we say, less than top-notch intimacy and connection skills – even though he was otherwise one of the most universally competent individuals I’ve ever met, and fairly universally liked.

  • His Ph.D. project, under the advisorship of Albert Einstein and Edwin H. Land, was to develop a camera with a lens that had a shutter speed capable of photographing the first atomic bomb flash.
  • At least that’s how the story was told to me.
  • I was also told that somewhere among the photographs I have requested as one of the few things I wanted my brother to send me from my father’s “estate,” is a photo of me as a baby: that particular camera’s first human subject.

Amazing, right?

It was quite an outside-the-box feat of engineering to solve that concentrated flash-of-light problem, given what the intensity of the bomb flash was likely to do to any film stock possible with the technology of the time.

A sequence of rapidly rotating polarized lenses, anyone?

Those who are paying attention have probably also suspected that, even as a Ph.D. candidate, he must have held one of our country’s highest security clearances to know there was going to BE a “first atomic bomb flash.”

He did.

Read more of this post

Sneaky Grief


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info

the_sneaky_ninja_by_kirilleeWhad’ya Mean Sneaky Grief?

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Grief & Diagnosis Series
– all rights reserved

————————————————————————-
You will get more value out of the articles in this series
if you’ve read Part 1:

The Interplay between Diagnosis and Grief
————————————————————-

occupations_chefOnion

Peeling Grief’s Onion takes the TIME it takes!

Nancy Berns, author of Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us has this to say:

It’s wrong to expect everyone else to follow a
formulaic ‘healing process’ aimed at ‘moving on.’
 . . .
‘You do not need to “close” pain in order to live life again.”

Here, here!  I couldn’t agree more strongly.

We each grieve uniquely, and there are parts of our experience of grieving that will remain in our hearts forever – thank God!

How horrible to think that significant loss might be marked with nothing more dramatic than a nod before moving on forever, thinking no more often about what we have lost than those remnants of a fast-food meal we tossed with last week’s trash.

However, I believe it is equally wrong to avoid handing out a few maps of the territory in our fear of seeming didactic about a process that is one of the most individual of journeys.

  • There are markers that most of us swim by as we navigate the waters of grief, holding our lives above the waterline as best we can.
  • I believe that locating ourselves on our particular pathway is an important first step in our ability to navigate successfully – sometimes at all.

Locating ourselves in the grief process is trickier than it might be otherwise, until we understand the concept I refer to as “sneaky grief.”

Read more of this post

Some HELP for the Grieving


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info

What to DO while we’re peeling the onion

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part 2 of a two-part article in the
Grief & Diagnosis Series
– all rights reserved

————————————————————————-
You will get more value out of the articles in this series
if you’ve read Part 1:

The Interplay between Diagnosis and Grief

Click BELOW for Part ONE of this article:
Onions, Diagnosis, Attention and Grief –
Dealing with Grief is like Peeling an Onion 
————————————————————-

In Part One of this article, we talked about some of the ways in which dealing with grief is like peeling an onion, and we discussed the fact that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish grief from depression.

I encouraged you not to automatically discount the idea of pharmaceuticals if you feel you are not able to cope very well at all, and discouraged the impulsive from self-medicating.

I also encouraged you to trust your instincts about what YOU need while you heal.

I went on to give you a few specifics to help explain what that frequently mentioned “trouble sleeping” during a grief phase might look like in your life.

Following some brief information about the benefits of normalizing, I included a bit of self-disclosure about my own recent struggles with grief, to further help normalize what you may be experiencing. I left you with this:

Peeling grief’s onion takes the time it takes.
There ARE no shortcuts.

While it is certainly true that we cannot shorten the process, there are many things we CAN do to avoid lengthening it. That will be the focus of the remainder of this particular 2-part article in the Grief Series.

Read more of this post

Onions, Diagnosis, Attention and Grief


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info
.

Dealing with Grief is like Peeling an Onion

occupations_chefOnion

Another adorable Phillip Martin graphic

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part 1 of a two-part article in the
Grief & Diagnosis Series
– all rights reserved

————————————————————————-
You will get more value out of the articles in this series
if you’ve read Part 1:

The Interplay between Diagnosis and Grief.
————————————————————-

An article entitled Helpful Tips for Coping with Grief, available on the HealthCommunities Website, asserts that “Grief is a normal response to loss.”

By “normal,” no doubt, they are referring to a state that is to be expected in an emotionally healthy human being.

The ten paragraph, ten part, ten web-pagelet article goes on to say quite a few helpful things about grief, many of which I am going to recontext in this series, along with exploring other assertions about grief and the grieving process that have long been accepted as universally relevant.

Because I think we need to reopen that book!

I’d like to begin by expanding upon the HealthCommunity’s second item today:
Feelings of grief [are] often progress in different stages.
It begins by underscoring an important point
we must all endeavor to keep in mind:
Every person grieves differently. 

“For some people, intense feelings — sometimes called the “throes of grief” — can last quite awhile. People who are grieving may go through 5 stages, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. 

Grief may not involve all of these and they don’t necessarily occur in order.

A number of difficult emotions are associated with grief — from feeling numb, to shock, sorrow, loneliness, fear, guilt and anger.

People who are grieving may be in pain, physically and emotionally, have trouble sleeping, lose interest in eating or activities and have difficulty concentrating and making decisions.”

I especially appreciate their careful use of qualifiers like “often”, “may,” and “don’t necessarily.”

My primary reason for quoting them, however, is to introduce some of my own conclusions about WHY grief seems to involve layers of processing, and WHY we don’t proceed apace from one to the other.

But first, lets talk about that onion for a minute.

Read more of this post

Stages of Grief following Diagnosis


 Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Exploring the Stages of Grief following Diagnosis

(c) Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Grief & Diagnosis Series – all rights reserved

It’s A Process

In the previous article, I introduced some of the predictable stages of grief that we cycle through on the way to a Positive Acceptance of a diagnosis.

I use the term “Positive Acceptance” to refer to the developmental stage where we are able to incorporate a vision of the future that can include our diagnosis without allowing it to define our vision for ourselves and our lives.

We have reached the stage of Positive Acceptance when we are able to embrace our potential for incorporating change as development, affirming that healing and growth can, has and will occur in expected and unexpected ways — and that new opportunities will arise for which we have been uniquely prepared by the process of getting to this stage.

Given the tendency in our community to hyperfocus on rumination, when we are presented with a strong stimulus that triggers the release of adrenalin we tend to agonize!  As I said in the introductory article,  “it is only when we become ‘stuck’ in one of the phases of post-diagnosis grief that most of us take the time to stop to wonder what is going on with us and why we can’t ‘just get on with it.’”

What IS Going On?

One of the “problems” with adrenaline release is that it activates our fight-flight-freeze response, with its attendant shut-down of the prefrontal cortex [PFC] centers essential for what are termed the Executive Function.

Many of us with “alphabet disorders” [ADD, EFD, TBI, ASD] seem to have what I call “hair-trigger startle responses.” As a consequence, we often seem to get stuck far more often than our non-ADD peers.

It is my experience that everyone gets stuck when PFC shutdown occurs, it just happens more often and more dramatically to those of us with deficits in the realms of the attentional spectrum.

That’s the good news as well as the bad news, by the way, but let’s explore some brain-basics before we expand on that idea — and before we explore each of the stages of post-diagnostic grief at the end of this article.  (Stay with me here – it will help things make more sense)

Read more of this post

Back in the Saddle – Beginning Anew


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

NEW BEGINNINGS REDUX
. . . THREE items in an article about grief and recovery — but probably not
in the way
 you were thinking as you read those words
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC

I. FIRST, let me say that I hope that everyone in New York City (and surrounds) who has been impacted by the recent hurricane is safe and warm. I send a second helping of love and white light to my many friends and colleagues whom I know have been without lights, heat, public transportation, gasoline, hot water and hot meals for far too long now.

I hope that you will all be able to remember to be patient with yourselves and each other as you get “back in the saddle.”

I pray that you will be able to allow yourselves to ease back into the lives and businesses that were disrupted — even though the temptation will be great to “hit the ground running” to make up for lost time.

  • It probably wouldn’t help much to give in to that temptation.
  • It is more than likely that ANY additional hurry-up-and-catch-up pressure will only make things worse (thanks to our friend Mr. Amygdala, and what he does to our PFC at the first sign of a threat to our safety and security).

I especially want those of you with TBI and Attentional Spectrum diagnoses to remember that WE DON’T RUSH WELL.

(One of the understatements of the century!)

Counter-intuitive, perhaps (but brain-based), taking the time you need to think through each action will ultimately garner results far greater than slamming yourselves into action with the fervor of many of those around you.

Do your best to remain centered in the days and weeks to come: to keep your energy contained as you keep your brain in gear and your eyes, ears and senses alert.

Practice Extreme Self-Care

Take good care of yourSelves as you move toward putting Hurricane Sandy in the past where she belongs — moving steadily forward to reclaim the lives you recognize as your own once again:

  • Get enough sleep so that you are ABLE to remain cognitively alert as the stakes increase during the rush to recovery;
  • Don’t veg out at day’s end: move your body!
  • Focus on protein (and avoid junk food);
  • Stay well hydrated — give your brain and body more water than you think you need.

Remember to breathe!

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: