Mother’s Day, When Grief Gets in the Way

Mother’s Day, When Grief Gets in the Way

Mother’s Day is a celebration of mothers and motherhood. It is a time that I look forward to each year as a mother and daughter; however, I recognize that Mother’s Day can bring mixed emotions to both children and mothers impacted by social distancing and other challenging circumstances related to trauma, grief and loss.
Children who have experienced abuse or neglect at the hands of their mother or mother-figure often struggle as Mother’s Day may trigger painful emotions. For children whose maternal bonds have been disrupted within the early years of life, foster mothers, autines, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, step-mothers may take the role of mother. Adoptive, foster, and kinship mothers play such an important, yet difficult job to help children who may be experiencing grief or displaying  emotional dysregulation or behavioral issues.
Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder to women who struggle with infertility or who have lost children for various reason including miscarriage, stillbirth, termination of pregnancy, loss of parental rights, or custody issues. Rather than experiencing joy, mothers who have lost children may struggle with grief, anger, and loneliness. According to the American Pregnancy Association, Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises for couples.
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”  -Unknown
For children who have experienced the death of a mother, grandmother or mother-figure, it can be difficult to just get through the day with emotions that may come. Loss of significant people in our lives is difficult, especially when the loss is of a parent or child. Caring for someone with chronic illness can also trigger grief reactions ( due to ambiguous loss which is common when a parent is displaying cognitive impairments or anticipatory grief.
While it it normal to experience a variety of emotions with loss, symptoms that indicate that mental health counseling would be beneficial include the following–
  • Persistent feelings of depression
  • Decreased interest and pleasure in normal activities
  • Changes in sleep, appetite, or weight
  • Difficulties concentrating, focusing, or completing tasks
  • Often feeling anxious or often worrying
  • Persistent feelings of anger, irritability, or negativity
  • Feelings of guilt, self-blame, shame, or worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Use of drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional pain
  • Tension in interpersonal relationships
  • Social Isolation and withdrawal from others
This Mother’s Day I encourage you to reach out to someone who may need some extra love and support. Express love and appreciation for the mother in your life. Remind her of your love. Show appreciation in a meaningful way. Continue to carry out traditions, while being creative to make accommodations during a time of social distancing. While this year, you may not be taking mom out to her favorite restaurant, there are still great options with takeout and carry out. We can encourage mom with words of affirmation, express our love and encouragement or send a token of appreciation with a heartfelt gift. We can also still stay connected to mothers and women who symbolize motherhood with phone calls and video chat.
I encourage any women reading this to reach out and seek support if you are struggling. There is hope and healing. Listed is just a sample of some of the excellent support resources available.  Know that you are not alone and that other mothers and professionals are there to help.

Infant & Pregnancy Loss Supports:

Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Inc.
Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Minnesota
Postpartum Support International
Exhale After-Abortion Hotline 1-866-439-4253

Outpatient Clinic (telehealth) Counseling Support for Grief & Loss

Hospital | Clinic Based Grief & Loss Resources

Support group for adoptive, foster or kinship parents

Being a Mother with a Demanding Job

Being a Mother with a Demanding Job

Finding a work-life balance as an attorney can be extremely difficult. Add being a mother into the mix, and it can feel almost impossible! Many moms feel working mom guilt – “I’m a bad mother because I am choosing a career over my child.” Is this true? No! Here are some truths to hold onto when the mom guilt digs in.

  • Create a support network. How hard would it be if there was no support, connection, or strength in numbers to find help in times of need? Surround yourself with strong women who can encourage you and build you up in a society that can break women down.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the mom guilt. It is hard as a parent in today’s society to feel the pressure of being a “perfect” mother. We need to take time to feel okay talking about the hard things – sometimes being good enough IS good enough.
  • Take advantage of playing. Playing is so good for our heart and soul. It can bring a sense of renewal to not only ourselves, but it can create a strong bond and attachment with your child(ren). Give them the reigns to teach you something new about yourself!
  • Give yourself permission. It is okay to leave work early to go to the choir concert or the baseball game. Perform at your high level, inform the people who are  in the need to know roles, and allow yourself the space to do what you need.
  • Focus on why you love your family. Mindfulness is a big buzzword recently, and it is for good reason that we should listen to it. Take time in your day to reflect and be grateful for the family you have – remind yourself why you love them AND why you love working. These things CAN coexist!
    1. Another part of this could also be give yourself permission to miss the things that society pressures you to accomplish. It is okay that you can’t sign up to read a book at school every time they need a volunteer! Talk with your child(ren) about the limitations and model emotional health!

The struggles of being a working mother in a high demand job can be overwhelming. If it is becoming overwhelming for you – it is a great idea to seek out help! Short-term outpatient therapy can help with gaining insight, learning coping skills, and helping with managing the guilt that comes with being a working mother.

Check out the services offered at these highly accessible locations:

CARE Counseling – focused on 1-hour weekly sessions for low acuity; CARE now offers Telehealth, which is very convenient for lunch breaks and busy schedules!

2000 Aldrich Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55405

We’re Here to help

Our wellness experts will be happy to take care of you. You can CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment now or call (612)223-8898.

Meet Clinicians

We’re united by our commitment to providing effective, relevant, and innovative mental health support at all stages of your journey. Click Here to find out more about who we are, where we come from, and how we live out CARE’s mission every day.

The professionals at CARE are actively collecting and creating resources to help with what you need. We’re Here for You.

Comforts of Home for College Students

Comforts of Home for College Students

Last summer, my daughter was thrilled to turn 18 and become an “adult.” Several months later she was off to her first year of college, living in the dorms with her seven roommates and enjoying college life. With COVID-19, staying on campus was no longer an option after the start of all on-campus classes were suspended and all instruction was moving online. Classes were originally planned to resume on Monday, April 6th. Now all classes are online at least through the summer.

Just months after moving into her own space, my daughter and other college students are now living back at home. In addition to college students, young adults have also moved back home for various reasons including lack of temporary housing options, financial reasons, sense of safety and security, or to help combat loneliness. With colleges closed, many students are without housing options during the school year and have moved back home. Young adults sharing spaces with others on a month to month lease basis may suddenly find themselves without a roommate or struggling to pay rent due to rapidly changing situations that may impact financial stability. Being furloughed, having hours cut, or being laid off makes it difficult to maintain housing among other responsibilities during this time of uncertainty.

Safety and security is a major factor that has impacted young adults choice to move back home at the onset of COVID-19. For young adults who are immune-compromised, having access to a parent can be comforting although the decision may have not been easy due to concern of possible exposure to a parent during the transition home. Taking necessary precautions during “shelter in place” and having open conversations about things such as expectations have helped each feel more at ease in a shared space. As a parent, creating a space for privacy and allowing for autonomy while balancing responsibilities as an adult has helped our arrangement work quite well.

While moving back home after college is quite common, estimated at 50% [Source] a majority of parents welcome their children back home and many parents and young adults have found living together at this time to be mutually beneficial in many ways. I know that I have enjoyed my daughter back home and having the accountability as we do daily exercise. In turn, she has enjoyed having someone to talk to and home-cooked meals. Despite some of the jokes in social media about fighting and conflict during quarantine, spending time together during social distancing has brought quite a few families closer together as they re-connect and experience the parent-child relationship through a new lens. 

We’re Here to help

Our wellness experts will be happy to take care of you. You can CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment now or call (612)223-8898.

The professionals at CARE are actively collecting and creating resources to help with what you need. We’re Here for You.

The Graduating Class of 2020

The Graduating Class of 2020

When Minnesota Governor Tim Walz first issued the shelter in place order to stay home on March 27th, many high school seniors remained hopeful to resume activities and connect with friends. For parents, students, educators, and support staff, school was in full swing with academic learning, test prep, sports, arts, and social events. Spring sports training just started, ACT and SAT college prep classes were taking place, and students were busy working on group learning projects. Students involved in the arts were working hard to showcase their talents. Then students took a pause as teachers and educators were busy navigating the transition, switching from classroom to distance learning.
  • First, the COVID-19 stay at home order was extended to at least May 4th. Many of the big anticipated events that were scheduled to take place in the spring were cancelled–like high school prom. No prom?!!
  • Then on April 23rd, Governor Tim Walz announced an executive order that school buildings would stay closed for the remainder of the school year. The reason for the closure was to keep students and families safe and healthy by further slowing the spread of COVID-19. No graduation?!!!
Prior to graduation, there are all the group events that lead up to the big event such as senior pranks, prom, and parties. These are things to look forward to–anticipation that many seniors feel that are missing out on this year. Instead, there may be feelings of disappointment, sense of ambiguous grief, and regret.
High school graduation marks an important milestone in a senior’s life. Walking on stage in front of proud family and friends–being handed their diploma as a token of achievement after years of year work. Feeling the excitement and energy in a group setting among peers, and celebrating in traditions such as throwing graduation caps, taking pictures with family and friends, warm embraces, and shaking hands with those who played an instrumental role in one’s education are commonly associated with graduation.
Group traditions with high school graduation pose quite a dilemma in the time of social distancing. So how can students make meaning of all the uncertainty as they journey into a new chapter in their lives? Parents, students, educators, and support staff are still in the process of figuring this out! There is a question regarding the best way to still honor and celebrate high school (and college) seniors who are about to graduate. Most would agree on the importance of alternative substitutions that still honor the achievements and milestones that are celebrated in a student’s life–whether events be postponed or done in a virtually creative way. Acknowledging the Class of 2020 during this time is so important and schools are working on plans such as holding virtual graduation ceremonies to still celebrate students despite the physical buildings being closed. I am looking forward to how our community will pull together.
Let’s support our seniors as the year of 2020 is truly a memorable and historic year in so many ways.

Weekly Intervention Ideas : April 6th Edition

Weekly Intervention Ideas : April 6th Edition

Kid strategy of the week:

  • Emotions in the body: Have your client draw a basic outline of their body, or draw it together using the screen share function. Ask your client to color in the parts of the body where they feel different emotions.

physical emotional blank image

Physical Emotional Connection in Children

Couples strategy of the week:

Link to take the Love Languages quiz:

Write down the order of your love languages here:

Partner 1 Partner 2
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
4. 4.
5. 5.

Compare your lists. What’s the same? What’s different?

Now I want each of you to make a list of things that would make you feel loved, using your top two love languages. This is a way for you to explore the things that you really value, and it’s a way for your partner to get some ideas for ways to make you feel loved.

Ways that Partner 1 Feels Loved
Top Love Language: Second Love Language:
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
Ways that Partner 2 Feels Loved
Top Love Language: Second Love Language:
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.

Adult strategy of the week:

  • Self-care Wheel: During a pandemic
    • Many of us have used the self-care wheel with clients before in therapy. However, this may be a good time to re-evaluate self-care since people can’t go to the gym, get together with friends, etc. Additionally, there is a lot of pressure to accomplish big goals during this time.
    • Instead, help client identify small, realistic self-care goals focused on this stage of life we’re in. Some examples might be:
      • Facetime friends
      • Take a break from social media/the news
      • Feed myself with the food I have available (without guilt)
      • Taking regular showers
      • Sticking with sleep hygiene or a bedtime routine
      • Reaching out to an elderly relative to help

Self Care Wheel

Mindfulness/Meditation of the week:

Body Scan

Begin by bringing your attention into your body.

You can close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you.

You can notice your body seated wherever you’re seated, feeling the weight of your body on the chair, on the floor.

Take a few deep breaths.

And as you take a deep breath, bring in more oxygen enlivening the body. And as you exhale, have a sense of relaxing more deeply.

You can notice your feet on the floor, notice the sensations of your feet touching the floor. The weight and pressure, vibration, heat.

You can notice your legs against the chair, pressure, pulsing, heaviness, lightness.

Notice your back against the chair.

Bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, let it soften. Take a breath.

Notice your hands. Are your hands tense or tight. See if you can allow them to soften.

Notice your arms. Feel any sensation in your arms. Let your shoulders be soft.

Notice your neck and throat. Let them be soft. Relax.

Soften your jaw. Let your face and facial muscles be soft.

Then notice your whole body present. Take one more breath.

Be aware of your whole body as best you can. Take a breath. And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.

Creating Social Connections through Quarantine

Creating Social Connections through Quarantine

Our need for human connection is so powerful that it is essential to our physical and mental well-being. In fact, there is a neurobiological link in which we are “hard-wired” for connection. Now more than ever we need friendship. Not only does it help deter from social isolation, it helps boost mood, has physical health benefits, aids in positive coping, provides emotional support and encouragement, and can motivate us towards success. 
Many people are finding some creative ways to create social connections through quarantine. Check out these ideas on ways to connect (or-reconnect) with others. 
Ideas to Form New Social Connections
  • Identify areas of interest and possible opportunities for connection. Check out opportunities online or ask others for ideas or invites to existing groups. If no group exists, consider starting your own!
  • Strike up a conversation and develop friendships with fellow online gamers.
  • Join a support connection group. NAMI offers connection groups, LGBTQ+ connection groups, young adult connection groups, and parent groups.
  • Find a way to make a difference in your community by giving back to local businesses. Get to know the names of those you encounter from a safe distance.  
  • Let others you newly “meet” know you listen and care. Pay attention to details of their lives such as children’s names, pet’s names, hobbies, and interests.
Ideas to Maintain Current Social Connections or Reconnect
  • Check in with friends and family, especially those who may be more prone to social isolation through phone calls or virtual meetings.
  • Mail a letter or care package that includes a note of gratitude or personalized gifts such as a handmade craft.
  • Create fun things to share on social media that can help boost mood and provide some comedic relief.
  • Maintain participation in groups such as educational groups, business networking, faith and community-based groups, physical, and social activities in a virtual environment.
  • Set up a virtual coffee hour, lunch hour meeting, date, or happy hour with friends, family, or colleagues. Get creative with virtual backgrounds to create a fun environment that matches the meeting.
  • Arrange to walk at the same place at the same time. Smile and wave at each other from afar while talking on the phone.
  • Go through your contact list. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative to let your friends, family, co-workers, and contacts know that you are thinking of them.
  • Follow up with those who reach out to you.
Ideas to Connect with Others at Home
  • Take advantage of more time at home you may have with family or roommates and invest in those relationships.
  • Develop a deeper emotional bond with your partner by being available and curious about their thoughts and feelings. Share your hopes and dreams.
  • Set aside time in your daily schedule opportunities to connect. Creating fun rituals within mealtime such as “Taco Tuesdays” or a “Family Potluck” where each person draws an item to make (e.g. appetizer, soup, salad, entree, dessert) can make these times feel more fun and encourage interaction.
  • With so many of our connections online, try tech-free options at home to bring others closer without distractions such as family game night or scavenger hunt challenge. Take time to just sit and talk. Laugh together.
Some final thoughts…
Professional counseling help may be beneficial if barriers such as social anxiety/ fear of judgment or decreased interest or pleasure impacted by depression are present and impacting the ability to connect.
For those of you who find yourselves as the person that everyone seeks for support but may be experiencing emotional exhaustion, take time to take care of yourself and create boundaries while balancing home, work/ school, and interpersonal relationships.
If you are enjoying your time on quarantine but feel guilty about this, know that it is OK to hold space for conflicting feelings.
For those of you who struggle with seeking out support or asking for help, now is a good time to practice! Just knowing that we have a need for connection and that many are struggling with social isolation can help.

Talking with Children about COVID-19

Being a parent is an ever-winding ride. Just when you think you have it “all together” (I guess some people feel that, right?), life inevitably twists and you are left trying to figure it out all over again.  The recent coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Many of us parents are trying to figure out how to adjust to the impact on our jobs, school/daycare, social connection, spring break, society, getting essentials (e.g., diapers, milk, mac-n-cheese, etc) and other every day routines. Let alone figuring out if or how to share the news with our children. Many of our first instincts is to protect our children from the frightening news and we worry about increasing fear in our children by sharing information about the virus; however, research demonstrates that the more we keep children out of the loop in these situations, the more they actually worry.  

Our brains are complex meaning making machines working on hyper-speed. They are constantly piecing information together, trying to connect dots, and filling in the blanks to better understand the world around us. When we do not give our brains a word bank (aka context, facts, etc), it automatically fills in the blank on it’s own and often times with things that are even more frightening than reality. Have you ever seen a shadow in your room in the middle of the night and your mind tried to convince you it was a danger, but really it was the laundry you have not put away? That is your brain filling in the blanks. 

Here are some helpful tips and considerations to use when providing that word bank to your children in these challenging times:

  • Manage your own fears and anxiety. Many of us parents have our own emotional reactions to the pandemic. Of course we do, we are humans and these are stressful times. Be mindful of how yours is coming across to those around you. For me, my irritability increases and my patience decreases. When our brains are activated (think fight/flight/freeze), our meaning making machine goes on the fritz and we are not as able to think logically or help our children co-regulate. Try practicing grounding or mindfulness exercises, self-soothe with your 5 senses, use deep breathing. Once you are in a calmer state, then approach the conversation with your child. 
  • Lean into the discomfort and talk about coronavirus. Most children have already heard or seen something regarding the virus. Our instinct might be to avoid talking about it, but that can conversely increase their own worries and reinforce anxiety in the long run. As parents/caregivers, we can act as the filters and provide them with developmentally appropriate information and facts.  This can help them feel informed by someone they trust and reassure them.  Keep the facts short and sweet, as it might be overwhelming for them. Do your best to be honest, clear, and calm. Remember children react not only to what you say, but also how you say it.  You may not know every answer, and that is okay, own it. Having them know you are there for them is what matters most in frightening times. 
  • Follow your child’s lead and cues. Make time to talk and space for your child to share their experience. Follow their lead. Some children might not want to talk too much about it, while others might want to spend longer. Encourage your child to share with you what they have heard about the virus, how they are feeling about it (be careful not to lead them – “Are you worried about coronavirus?”) and any questions they might have. Work to reassure and correct faulty information with facts. Remember our brains are trying to fill in the blanks and often get it wrong, assign incorrect blame, or catastrophize. This is a time to ‘check the facts’.  
  • Focus on what you/they can do to stay safe. Shifting the conversation from what is out of our control to what is in our control can be helpful in these times. Focus on empowering your child to act in ways that keep themselves safe (e.g., washing hands with soap for the ABCs – 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer, covering their coughs (we call them ‘vampire coughs’ in our house), practicing physical distancing from others, and other CDC recommendations). Additionally, you could include their help around the house to set up stations for Kleenex and hand sanitizer.  Giving children a sense of control and input, can help shift the anxiety rather than avoiding and reinforce it. 
  • Keep communication going. Open communication is important, especially in stressful times. Share with children that you will keep sharing important updates as they occur and that they can come to you with their feelings and questions. 

Other helpful resources:  E-story about explaining COVID-19 to young children. Animated video for children about Coronavirus. for specific facts and language about explaining COVID-19 to children.  Parent resource from the National Association of School Nurses.  CDC on helping children cope in a disaster. 

Talking with Children about COVID-19

Stay-at-Home, Work-from-Home: Too Much to Soon?

Stay-at-Home, Work-from-Home: Too Much to Soon?

In my lifetime I’ve had to make many difficult decisions but often had time to think about my options carefully and then make a choice. Like choosing whether to be a stay-at-home parent or a working parent. There are many pros and cons to consider in each scenario. With COVID-19, I did not have to make a choice. The decision was made for me…
As a working parent, my children had their routine and I had mine. We each had a schedule to follow. When to get up in the morning to be ready for school and work… What time to catch the bus and when to leave for the morning commute… Mid-year school year is not any easy time to change. Friendships and activities are established. Important learning is happening, big assignments are due, and testing is taking place.
This year many parents are feeling the pressure as they transition to being a stay-at-home parent while also maintaining other work-related responsibilities and trying to create balance. It can feel like a literal balancing act!
If you are starting to feel alone in the struggle, know that many other parents are there too.
Common experiences include:
  • Demands Balancing Work and Home Responsibilities
  • Feelings of Social Isolation
  • Increased Toll on Physical and Mental Health
One of the things that a lot of parents are navigating right now is how to separate (or integrate) work and home. As a parent, it may seem that you are “always on call” and depending on your outside responsibilities, it can be challenging to find the time, space, and energy to balance multiple roles and responsibilities with the transition to stay-at-home.
Some helpful strategies include:
  • Define parent and child work and school spaces
  • Set boundaries with use of time and space
  • Create a routine together
  • Communicate expectations and enforce limits
  • Reinforce positive behavior
It can also be more challenging to take a break and utilize social and self-care outlets such as getting a coffee with friends, working out at the gym, or getting a massage which can lead to feelings of isolation. If possible, rotate breaks with a co-parent while working together to tackle household tasks. The idea of the “good enough” parent comes to mind as striving to become a good parent while also being kind to yourself (and others) despite a desire for perfection.
Ways to help reduce social isolation include:
  • Schedule a virtual social outing with friends
  • Use apps for physical activities
  • Take breaks throughout the day
  • Engage in meaningful activities and hobbies at home
Finally, as caregivers, we often focus on our children and neglect to care for ourselves. Maintaining good physical and emotional health is so important, especially during times of increased stress. Strategies to keep ourselves and our families healthy and strong such as exercise, eating healthy, and maintaining health and wellness goals are vital. Many ideas can be integrated with children. Ideas include:

How to Respond to Self Harm

Have you ever looked at someone and noticed a series of scars on their wrists? Did you make a face or pass judgement about that person without knowing who they are or what they’re going through? Likely.

Of the many symptoms of mental health conditions, self-harm is one of the least understood and least sympathized. It’s also one of the few physically visible symptoms. Therefore, it’s often responded to in a way that’s derogatory and potentially harmful. For example:

“That’s just teenage angst.”

“Why would anyone do that to themselves?”

“You’re just trying to get attention.”

These reactions grossly undermine how serious self-harm is. Self-Harm is usually a sign that a person is struggling emotionally and isn’t sure how to cope. It’s a sign that a person needs support, understanding and professional help. Most importantly, it’s a sign that shouldn’t be ignored or judged.

Your Initial Response

It can be shocking to notice a person’s self-harm scars. Your instinct may be to stare or immediately express shock. But self-harm is a sensitive topic that should be approached in a certain way.

Whether you know the person or not, it is essential not to display shock or horror even if that’s how you feel. Don’t say anything that could shame them or make them feel judged or foolish. You don’t want to draw attention to their scars, especially in public.

If the person is a close friend or family member, don’t ignore what you’ve seen. Wait until you are with them in private, and then talk to them about what you noticed.

Having A Meaningful Conversation

The most important part of talking to someone about self-harm is to frame the conversation in a supportive and empathetic way. Show concern for their well-being and be persistent if they don’t open up right away. When having a conversation about self-harm, consider the following do’s and don’ts:


  • Show compassion
  • Respect what the person is telling you, even if you don’t understand it
  • Stay emotionally neutral
  • Listen, even if it makes you uncomfortable
  • Encourage them to use their voice, rather than their body as a means of self-expression
  • Encourage them to seek mental health care


  • Pity them
  • Joke about it
  • Guilt them about how their actions affect others
  • Give ultimatums
  • Remind them how it looks or what people will think
  • Make assumptions

Continuing Support

After that first conversation, it’s important to follow-up with your loved one to show your ongoing support. If they have not sought out care, continue to ask about it and offer to help them find a mental health professional.

You can also offer to help identify their self-harm triggers. You can do this by asking questions like: “What were you doing beforehand?” “Was there anything that upset you or stressed you out that day?” If a person is more aware of their triggers, it could help prevent future self-injury. Assisting your loved one find and practice healthier coping mechanisms is also a great way to help.

Self-harm is a serious issue that should be addressed as soon as you find out it’s happening. Keep in mind that one of the best things you can instill in a person who is self-harming is that you are there for them and that you care about them. You can always be helpful to someone even if you don’t understand what they’re going through.