It’s important that you understand what grief is and how it may play out differently for individuals. When people think of grief, they often associate it only with death; however, grief is a natural response to any type of Dramatic Loss or Life Change.
The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.
Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.
How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?
In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Oddesty K Langham.
Oddesty K Langham is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Therapist and published author who specializing in helping women become the BOSS of their lives by addressing their mental health and life concerns. Aside from helping others heal and get well, Langham is no stranger to the process of therapy and the experience of significant loss. Oddesty is dedicated to making a difference in the world by helping one woman at a time. You can learn more about the work that Oddesty is doing by visiting her website: www.Oddestyk.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in the small town of Decatur, Alabama, but spent most of my childhood in Georgia. I come from a family that values our faith, hard work, love, and education. Most of who I am is because of who my family is and always has been in my life. Specifically, my mother, raised me and my siblings to be ambitious, empathetic, resilient, and goal oriented. As kids, we had fun, but we were also expected to do well academically and behave well. These values have stuck with me and have paved the way for me to become the Mental Health Therapist that I am today.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I actually just recently heard this quote put into these words, but it’s what I have lived by for so long. “There are many good people in the world, but in case you don’t find one today, be one.” — Michelle Evans
I have always been taught to love people and treat people well. I believe that the most significant thing that I can be in this world, is someone who genuinely cares for others. I believe that this is what makes me the most effective in my work as a mental health therapist and in my personal life.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
My attention to detail and ability to recognize things that others may not see or consider has helped me to focus my work on critical areas within my community. While there are many doing good works, it’s important to be able to identify areas that are lacking, and working to fill those gaps has brought me great success.
Having a genuine heart for people has also been helpful in my accomplishments. You don’t go into this work if you don’t truly care for people and their well being and likewise, when people see that you truly care they will tell others about you. Many people will come to you for help after hearing how you were able to care for others.
An additional top quality that I possess would be that I see no limits. I believe that if I can imagine it, I can find a way to make it happen. Even when that means late nights and early mornings. I have seen this be beneficial in accomplishing things that others said may be too hard to do, such as being a published author, building my own private practice and even obtaining my degrees in the time frame in which I did.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.
- It’s important that you understand what grief is and how it may play out differently for individuals. When people think of grief, they often associate it only with death; however, grief is a natural response to any type of Dramatic Loss or Life Change. Education of Grief and the stages of grief can help individuals understand what it is they are experiencing and can help normalize the process of getting through it. For example, a new mother may experience grief related to becoming a mom. Changes in freedom, day-to-day responsibilities and the stressors of the new experience can lead to deep feelings of sorrow. Without understanding that grief is even possible in such situation a person may take the wrong approach in trying to heal or manage their feelings.
- Develop a strong support system. You need people who will walk through these difficult life circumstances with you. Your support system may include family, friends, significant others, co-workers or even a therapist. Whatever that support system looks like, it will be very important during times of loss or life change. You need people who can uplift you, be honest with you and be empathetic. Without a support system you may feel like you are alone. Being alone or feeling that you are during times of loss or life change can make the experience even more difficult to manage.
- Take care of yourself and your needs. It’s so easy to try and avoid what we feel during times of loss or life change by staying busy or focusing on the needs and wants of others. It’s so important that we take the time to focus on what we need. That may look like rest, therapy, some time alone, more time with others, intentional planning to ensure we are tending to our basic needs like taking a shower and eating, or simply doing something you love. Loss and life change can take a major toll on the mind and body. Self-care helps to restore us, rejuvenate us and position us to function in a healthier way.
- Acknowledge what you feel and seek help when necessary. Sometimes loss or life change can be so significant that it interrupts our daily functioning. It’s important to be able to acknowledge when you are having difficulty completing tasks, handling responsibilities, or regulating your emotions. Seeking help from a therapist or other mental health clinician can help you to learn ways to cope and heal from the loss or life change.
- Find a positive mean of expression. Being able to express what you feel and release unwanted feelings are great methods to help get through difficult times after a loss or life change. You may enjoy things like, working out, art, music, crafting, building or other things that give you peace and allow you to express yourself. These things can help you to feel well when life does not seem so well.
Let’s discuss this in more specific terms. After the dust settles, what coping mechanisms would you suggest to deal with the pain of the loss or change?
After significant loss or life change, there is healing that can take place, but life as you knew it, will never be the same. It’s important to not suppress what you feel, but rather face it. As you face your feelings and acknowledge them, you decrease the risk of unresolved grief leading to more challenges such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse issues. Journaling about what you feel, writing a letter of things you never got to say, meditation, mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, physical exercise, maintaining hobbies, and planning ahead for times or situations that may trigger you (example: Plan to be with friends or family instead of being alone on holidays, anniversaries or other days that may bring up strong feelings associated with the loss) are all healthy coping mechanisms that can be used to deal with the pain of the loss or change.
How can one learn to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?
One way to heal from the negative aspects of a situation is to focus on the positives. Think about the good times, find the good in it, celebrate the person’s life, focus on what is presently good and what will be good in the future. For example, you can create traditions that honor a lost loved one or you can focus on becoming the best version of yourself to help you push through to your future.
Aside from letting go, what can one do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?
Find the healthy and safe thing that gives you the most peace and do that often. When we identify our happy place and the things that bring us joy and we engage in those things, we create an atmosphere of positivity for ourselves. The more positivity that is in our lives, the more likely we are to feel better and be better daily.
How can one eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation?
Reframing consequences can be a difficult task. In therapy one can learn about and engage in Cognitive behavioral therapy, a modality created by Dr. Aaron Beck that focuses on how our thoughts, feelings and behaviors are intermingled. What we find is that, as we identify, challenge, and reframe our negative thoughts, we see a shift in our feelings which lead to more positive behaviors. An example of this, as it is related to loss or life change, could be when one is experiencing a divorce or broken relationship after infidelity. Negative thinking may tell you that the divorce or breakup happened because you were not good enough or pretty/handsome enough.
Identifying what is factual and what is not can be helpful in turning not so good situations into more positive ones. Infidelity is a decision one makes, and another person cannot be blamed for the actions of another. Reminding yourself of that truth can help you to view situations more logically instead of emotionally. As it relates to death, one may consider all the good that filled a person’s life. Reflect on the value the person added to your life, what you gained from it, what you were able to add to their life and ultimately, how you can go forward knowing they played a significant role in your life.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would inspire a movement that focused on unconditional respect, genuine kindness, and love for all people. There is so much evil in the world, but there is also so much good. Calling out injustice, holding people accountable, treating all people the way you would like to be treated and working to be a light in any dark place are all things I believe we should all focus more on doing and being.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
While there are so many amazing people, I would have to say, Michelle Obama. I have been inspired by her work, advocacy for well-being and the way that she carried herself as First Lady of the United States and continues to carry herself to this day. As I pour into others daily in my work, I think that it is important for me to see the lives of others who are more seasoned in doing good works and be inspired to continue along my journey knowing that there are no limits and that I can achieve what I desire if I work hard and continue to do right by others.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers can stay in the know and follow my work by joining my email list on my website: OddestyK.Com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank You for this opportunity to share and be a part of this.