Loss: Chronic Illness

Cee and I have uncovered a lot of new ideas as we’ve been doing our Grief Recovery work.  We’ve had some huge “Aha!” moments.  But we haven’t started doing a deep dive into the “elephant in the room”, her journey through Lyme disease and the impact it has had on our lives.  That is going to be an epic saga, I think.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done a lot of processing of it through the years.  We couldn’t be the happy, sane, caring people we are if we hadn’t.  But chronic illness has huge ramifications, with many layers of losses.

So what is a chronic illness?  A chronic illness is a health condition or disease that is persistent in its effects or a disease that comes with time. The term chronic is often used if the condition lasts longer than 3 months.  Examples of chronic illnesses are:  heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, COPD (lungs), lupus, MS, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and our not-so-favorite, Lyme disease.  These conditions are just the tip of an ever growing iceberg, and often bring with them depression, anxiety, insomnia and a host of related problems.

Chronic illness affects the person with the illness, and also the family members who provide care or live with them.  In general, here are some of the most common losses:

  • mental and emotional wellbeing
  • physical comfort
  • a clear mind, because brain fog is normal with chronic illness
  • personal dignity and physical privacy, as people are always examining you
  • control over your body
  • financial stability
  • the feeling of having a future.  When it’s a struggle to make it through today, tomorrow doesn’t matter any more.
  • friends, as they give up on someone who is always cancelling on them at the last minute
  • independence
  • happiness, as pain and physical struggles replace it in life
  • fitting in, as you park in the handicap spot, or need a walker, or have visible scars on your body, or wear a head scarf to cover your bald head
  • the security of having loved ones in your life.  If you suffer from illness, there is the chance your spouse/child/parent will give up and walk out.  If you care for someone with an illness, there is the fear of death of your loved one, sometimes coupled with the guilt at hoping the end will come peacefully and quickly.

Cee will be applying the new techniques we have learned with the Grief Recovery Method to resolve some of these losses.  I will be working on my related ones as a caregiver at the same time.  We’ll be talking about how it feels, and what it means to get some resolution around these losses.

It’s going to be an interesting adventure.  If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic illness, please join this blog and participate in the discussions we’ll be having.  Feel free to share your own story in the comments below, but please be safe when you do so.  Remember that you are sharing with a lot of people, almost all of whom you don’t know.  Or email us privately.  We will never disclose any communication we have from you without your prior consent.  We treat your privacy as a sacred trust.

Much love and very gentle virtual hugs to all of you,

Chris and Cee



Loss: Daylight Saving Time

For most of us in the United States, today is the day we “spring forward” into Daylight Saving Time, and I’m sticking it on our Loss List.

Am I being ridiculous?  Is this too petty?  Maybe, but I’m doing it to prove a point.

How many of you are going to be feeling it all week as you deal with trying to get crabby kids off to school?  Or putting up with equally crabby co-workers, customers and bosses?

How many of you are going to be feeling it all week as your body adjusts?

And what about the annoyance of resetting all those stupid clocks?  What about the ones, like in my old car or on my stove, where I can’t remember where I put the instructions?  Major annoyance!

But what really, really bugs me is that my precious cat, Charlie, always seems to know when we have sprung forward.  He is up and pacing on top of me, demanding his breakfast at the new time. It’s 5:30 in the morning by the clock (yes, I’m an early riser) but it’s 4:30 by my body clock and it should be by his, too.  But, no, here he is, standing on me and yelling in my ear.

Time is a human construct.  We invented it, just like the number zero.  Yet it rules our lives with an iron fist.

Ask yourself this, if losing an hour of sleep once a year can upset you for a week, what are all the REAL losses in your life doing to you?  How are you adjusting to them and how long is that adjustment taking?  And what happiness are you missing out on during that time?

Springing forward doesn’t seem like such a petty thing now, does it?

Enjoy the sunshine today!

Smiles and virtual hugs,



Loss: Death of a Less-Than-Loved One

My mother was a mentally unstable person who inflicted a lot of abuse on her children.  I could find some way to sugar coat that, but I won’t.  It’s the truth.

But, wait, isn’t there a rule that we don’t speak ill of the dead?

That idea has caused so much pain to those who are trying to come to terms with the death of a less-than-loved one.  We need to throw that idea out and allow people to own their feelings.  Just because someone has died is no reason to elevate them to sainthood.  They were here.  They are gone.  They did some good things in life.  They did some bad things in life.

I know when my mom died, and I told my manager at work about it, she immediately sent this gorgeous bouquet of flowers.  I felt like a hypocrite accepting them because I wasn’t grieving the passing of my mother.  I thought grieving was about being sad someone was gone, and missing them, and that wasn’t me.  But I was grieving.  I just didn’t recognize it at the time.

What I did feel at first was a feeling of safety.  I felt like I had my life back.  Even though I had not spoken to her for many, many years, I still carried the emotional weight of her on my shoulders.  I heard her voice in my head.

What amazed me, though, was that the tears came months before she actually died, while she was on the decline.  My brother had called to say that she had another stroke and they thought the end was coming.  I got off the phone and suddenly started crying, and the crying felt like it was never going to end.  I asked myself what was going on, and discovered that I was grieving the mother I never had, the mother she could never be to me.

Grief is the reaction to loss, and in this case it was the loss of my hopes, dreams and expectations that I could have a loving mother.  She never, ever said she loved me.  She wasn’t capable of that.  I was finally adult enough to recognize it, and the anger I felt toward her was gone, but inside I was still that vulnerable child longing for love.

Here is some more information about dealing with the death of a less-than-loved one from the Grief Recovery Institute.

As always, you are welcome to share your experiences, tell your stories, or just ask questions.

Thank you for being here today, and for caring.

Blessings and hugs,



Can You Say Yes?

How many of these can you answer yes to?  These are a sample of the 47 or so types of losses we experience in a lifetime, and those losses often have deep running currents that influence the rest of our lives.  Pretty scary when you stop to think about it.




  • Did you move more than twice before the age of 10?
  • Did you ever have a pet die?
  • Did you have early childhood religious training?
  • Have you experienced a major change in financial conditions? (Positive or negative)
  • Have you ever quit a job?  Have you ever been fired?
  • Have you ever been married or divorced?
  • Did you graduate from high school? …from college?
  • Have you ever experienced the death of a close family member?
  • Have you ever experienced the death of a distant family member?
  • Were you physically abused during childhood? …adulthood?
  • Were you sexually abused during childhood? …adulthood?
  • Have you ever been involved with a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion?
  • Do you have a strained or painful relationship with a living parent, spouse, or friend?
  • Have you ever experienced the loss of the use or function of any part of your body?
  • Have ever experienced the death of a spouse?
  • Are there long stretches of your childhood that you cannot remember?
  • Have you experienced a series of illnesses or accidents?
  • Have you been in a long series of unsuccessful relationships?

Feeling Stuck?      Heartbroken?      Confused?

These are some of the normal reactions to losses we have had in our lives if we never find a way to resolve or complete them.  All those feeling are grief.  Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss.  We grieve for everything.  And unresolved loss is cumulative,  and negatively cumulative.  It drains us of energy and robs us of choices.

You may have been told to believe that:

  • You have to bury sad feelings
  • Time heals all wounds.
  • You should be strong for others.
  • You have to keep busy.
  • It was just God’s will.

Yet the clichés listed above, and the hundreds of other not listed, may have caused you to cover up your normal and natural responses to loss.  The simple truth is that you may not have much helpful information with which to grieve and complete the losses that have occurred in your life.  Consequently, you may have spent, and continue to spend, an inordinate amount of time and energy covering up the painful feelings associated with loss.

This doesn’t have to be!  Join us in workshops designed to help you heal yourself.

Workshops Offered

In our workshops, we create a safe and supportive group setting.  Individual one-on-one classes are also available.

  • Moving Beyond Loss – How to move beyond all types of loss.
  • Moving Beyond Divorce – How to dump your relationship baggage and make room for the love of your life.
  • When Children Grieve – For adults wanting to help children deal with divorce, moving or other losses.
  • The Loss of a Pet – Helping you get over the loss of your cherished pet.

Chris Donner                                           Cee Neuner

503-278-6324                                         503-964-1921

Email:  Chris@Cee-Chris.com             Email:  Cee@Cee-Chris.com

Website and Blog:  http://www.Cee-Chris.com

Serving the Central Willamette Valley and the Greater Portland Area in Oregon

Discover Cee

Just in case you think we’re all about grief and loss and yucky stuff like that, I want to remind you that we have a more normal side to our lives, too. Cee was just interviewed by WordPress as an example of how to create a thriving online community through blogging.  Her photography blog is very popular, and is rapidly approaching 1 million views.

You can read the interview or bop on over to check out Cee’s photography blog, or do both!

Congratulations Cee!

Loss and Clutter

There are so many, many ways that loss and grief stay active in our lives.  One of those ways is to mirror the clutter inside our hearts and heads with clutter in our homes.  I found a wonderful example of this on Marty Walden’s blog, Marty’s Musings.  She says…

“We are imprisoned by the weight of our grief and the clutter we can’t seem to part with.  What do we do with things that hold an emotional attachment while keeping the cherished memories?”

Keep reading her fascinating account of how she has dealt with the grief in her own life.




Loss: Moving as a Child

I wanted to do a post about moving.  One of the losses on our list is this:  Did you move more than twice by the age of 10?  I did.

I got distracted while writing this, because I wanted to find pictures of where I lived.  And I did!  So then I had to send them to my sister Beth.  And then we had to a little remembering.

So back to this post …

We moved a bunch when I was still to young to remember.  I was born in Idaho, then we moved Washington, then Oregon, and then North Dakota all before age four.

The log house I lived in in Minnesota.

The first move I remember was to Minnesota when I was 4 or 5 years old.  My dad was a forest ranger and we lived in a really great log cabin that was built in 1935 out of 16-18″ diameter logs.  We lived in the middle of nowhere on the boundary waters between Canada and the US.  I went to a tiny school with only 12 students per class.  We had to walk to school through the woods and during deer hunting season we were bused or had to wear safety vests so the city slickers wouldn’t shoot us.   The garbage dump was the most exciting place around because tourists from the city would get out of their cars with a small bag of marshmallows and feed them to the black bears who were looking for food.  They didn’t understand not to mess with wild animals that weigh a couple hundred pounds more than they do.

We moved suddenly to Chicago when I had just turned 9 years old.  My dad had quit his job and dumped us (my mom, sister and myself) at his parents’ house in the middle of winter.  This is a period of time my family really never talked about much.  We referred to it as “dad’s mental breakdown”. He travelled south through Texas and finally ended up finding a job in Southern California and he supposedly figured out what he wanted in life.  So until then we were stuck with my grandparents who hated my mother.

When we went to school in Chicago we were told to lie about this being temporary, because my mother was afraid they would not accept us in school.  So I spent my time trying to stay low and be quiet and not add to the stress.  The school I went to in Chicago was huge.  It was three stories high and the classes must have had well over 30 kids in them.

I lived upstairs in back. This was a four-plex apartment building.

Six weeks later, and the week before Christmas, I found myself enrolled in a school in Southern California, which was our new home.  We now lived in an apartment.  My mother had to go to work almost right away to help support the family.

All that moving as a child forced me to withdraw, stay quiet and taught me not to make friends.  I learned to stay away from my parents and I felt alone.  It also taught me to rely on myself, which isn’t a bad thing, but I should not have had to do so at age 9.



Email:  cee@cee-chris.com

Still Stuck!

(Note:  I’m trying something new, and adding a podcast to this post.  The audio content is different from the written content, so I hope that you will enjoy both.  Please give me some feedback!)

Here is a link to my original Feeling Stuck post.

m4a type of file- if the won’t play for you, try the mp3 version

mp3 type of file

A friend of mine is going through a divorce, something I would imagine many of you can identify with, unfortunately.  She has a little boy in elementary school and is worried about the effect this will have on him.  She’s also worried about being able to keep the house they’ve been living in.  It’s too large for just the two of them, and a bit more money than she feels comfortable with spending every month.  That’s also something that I’m sure many of you can identify with.  What if they have to move?  What if he has to change schools?

Let’s count up this little boy’s losses:

  • loss of a constant father figure
  • loss of a loving, cohesive family
  • loss of a home, if they have to move
  • loss of friends, if they have to move
  • loss of school, if they have to move
  • loss of a comfortable and familiar routine (due to shared custody, lots of sleeping in Dad’s new place, etc.)
  • maybe even loss of grandparents, if they get too involved in choosing sides
  • loss of a healthy image of Mom, maybe blaming Mom for what happened
  • loss of a healthy image of Dad, maybe putting Dad on a pedestal
  • loss of self-worth since so many children of divorce, in trying to understand what happened, blame themselves for what the adults in their lives do
  • loss of safety, due in part with Dad not being there to protect them, and in part due to the anger and stress that is always in the air.
  • loss of Mom, who is into her own grief about the loss of her husband, her anger, regret and fear of the future.

I’m sure there are others I’m not thinking of, but you’re getting the idea, I’m sure.

And since Mom is in her own grief, no matter how much she tries to shield her son from that, he still feels that something has changed.  He probably won’t really understand what has changed, but his mother feels different to him.  Children can’t rationally think through these difficult issues.  They just feel funny in their bodies, like having a stomach ache.

Can you see how the losses build and feed into each other?  You might think I’m nitpicking, but I’m not.  And the sad thing is that Mom has probably never been taught any effective way of dealing with all of this, and is completely unprepared to help her son.

What does he take out of it?  Not to trust parents?  That he’s so bad his dad didn’t want to be around him any more?  That marriage stinks and he never wants to get married?  Or have kids?

Wow.  Do you see the chain reactions, and the ricochets?  Like a giant, crazy pinball game.

Still more to come….