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  • Laina Leigh
  • July 31, 2016 01:29:32 AM
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A Little About Us

I'm the umpteenth Chicago lifestyle blogger. But I’m worse, because my "fashion" sense includes Target t-shirts and my makeup skills involve being as bare-faced as possible. What I am is a twenty-something that is trying to learn all the tips and tricks to living life to the fullest. This blog is a chronicle of the adventures and lessons life throws at me. I grew up in Italy and Spain and moved to Chicago five years ago. I learned how to ride the bus this month and am looking for the perfect falafel. Give me your recommendations and I will let you pet my cat, Tyrion Lannister. My pictures aren't perfectly edited but neither is this story. This is how it feels to be young and confused in Chicago.

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Grief: What It Is, How It Feels, and Why It’s Perfectly Normal To Be Feeling It (Even If You Haven’t Lost a Loved One)

“I sat with my anger long enough, until she told me her real name was Grief.” Let’s chat about grief. Because we have all felt some form of grief in our lives, and we are collectively feeling it right now. Grief is a deep, important emotional response to a great loss. Grief isn’t only...

“I sat with my anger long enough, until she told me her real name was Grief.”


Let’s chat about grief. Because we have all felt some form of grief in our lives, and we are collectively feeling it right now.


Grief is a deep, important emotional response to a great loss.


Grief isn’t only for those who have lost a loved one to death, although that’s what many people think of when they think of the word “grief.” You can grieve the end of, or “death” of, something important to you, whether that’s a stage of life, a relationship, a person, whatever it may be. Your grief is relevant, important, and deserves space to be felt.


It’s safe to say that right now amid this pandemic that we are all feeling some sort of grief. From job losses, having to cancel big plans and family get togethers, loss of our “normals”, loss of connection from family, friends and even random strangers on the streets, loss of loved ones, and the fear of (also known as “anticipatory grief”) economic devastation.


And that’s perfectly normal and deserves the space to be felt.


Grief comes in stages:

Shock/Denial

Anger

Bargaining

Depression

Acceptance


Notice how I didn’t number them because they don’t necessarily go in that order. Up, down, straight, diagonal; there is no right or wrong way to go through the grief cycle. You just might skip a step, go out of order, and/or revisit a few of them. 


I’ve been grieving for 2 years since the initial shock of what happened to my life. Divorce and separation of family is devastating in every single way. I’m grieving every single day. Some days I can almost forget the grief, other days it hits me like a train. I’m pretty sure I’ve hit every stage with what feels like a thousand times. Some days I’ll feel anger and sadness and want to punch my steering wheel and shake my fists in the air, and other days I’m feeling like I’m on cloud 9 and really healing.


Grief is a rollercoaster.


Grief feels like you are living two different lives.  One is where you’re pushing yourself to find joy amidst the chaos in your heart and mind, and the other is where your heart, mind and soul are screaming in pain for answers.


The only true way out of grief, is through it.


In my post “I Believe In Christ” I touched a bit on grief:

“Tears came. Pain came. A little bit of frustration came. And instead of being upset that I was feeling upset, I just allowed myself to feel those emotions, because I know that grief just wants to be heard. So today I listened to my grief, even though it was definitely a damper for some of the day, because I knew that ignoring it would only make it hurt longer and louder.

Grief just doesn’t care. It doesn’t care if you’re alone or surrounded by people. It doesn’t care what day it is, what time it is, what you’re doing, or where you’re at. When it comes, its presence is demanding. The only way to truly heal is to feel it through. So I did.

While at my counseling appointment a few weeks back we discussed trauma and grief a bit more. As I heal from trauma and continue to grieve, sometimes I find myself getting angry that I’m not already done with the grieving. I get angry at myself and think to myself, “Shouldn’t I be over this by now?!?” But it’s not.that.simple. It’s never that simple. Grief has no timeline. It goes up and down and backwards and forwards and out of order, many times. As I’ve really focused on stopping myself from getting angry whenever I start to feel grief, I find myself moving through it more efficiently and effectively due to me actually taking the time to feel it through while reminding myself that it’s more than okay to feel what I’m feeling right now. It’s not easy, but I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.


I recently found an incredible blog post about grief that isn’t related to death, and I want to share a section from it that I feel is so important to touch on:

Many types of losses are capable of causing complicated emotions, difficulties in daily functioning, and impairment in one’s ability to move forward. These losses are often significant enough to require a decent amount of processing and, just like after a death, grievers often view their lives in terms of before and after the loss. Here’s a brief list of events that can evoke feelings of loss and grief:

Illness or Injury
Shift or weakening of the family/support system
Loss of employment or other role
Abuse
Trauma
Exposure to death or trauma
Loss of home
Incarceration
Marital discord
Divorce
Separation
Being the victim of a crime
Mental Illness
Serious illness
Infertility
Empty nest
Substance abuse
Addiction
Rehabilitation
Life transition
Estrangement

These events can have a profound impact on one’s emotional wellbeing. They may cause individuals to experience grief due to loss of security, hopes, dreams, innocence, independence, health and mobility, comfort, community, connection, love, intimacy, immortality, trust, and faith. One may also feel grief due to shifts in their self-perception, identity, purpose, or worldview.

I don’t think anyone can fully understand grief until they expand their definition to be inclusive of all types of loss. Especially because many of these losses occur as secondary losses after a death. And it’s essential to an understanding of how dynamic a person’s situation becomes when they have multiple losses to reconcile. 

Furthermore, new losses can drudge up emotions related to old losses, while old losses can magnify and complicate one’s ability to deal with further losses. And you thought my logic statements were complicated!

Heck, let me complicate things a little further by pointing out that when a person’s losses are minimized, unacknowledged, or disenfranchised, they will likely experience:

– A lack of support from friends, family, and society who don’t understand the significance of the loss
– Uncertainty about whether they have the right to grieve
– Feelings of being misunderstood, unsupported, disenfranchised, etc
-Harmful avoidance and negative coping, etc.

Unfortunately, many of the circumstances that lead to loss are complicated – job loss, divorce, illness – one needs to navigate paying bills, details, legalities, treatments, etc. Keep swimming, stay afloat, who can worry about anything else? 

But we can’t always out swim our losses, and leftover feelings of sadness, anger, regret, guilt, and anxiety loom ominously in the dark and murky water. So we must give ourselves and others the permission to acknowledge and grieve these losses.

“The Grief of Non-Death Losses” by What’s Your Grief


The only way to heal, is to feel. Something I find myself continually having a hard time with is not getting mad at myself for “not getting over it already”. I have to constantly remind myself that my grief is valid and deserves the space to feel and heal.


Let it in, then let it go, over and over if you must. 


What has helped me through my grief is therapy and an amazing support system. When grieving something that has caused trauma in your life, it’s important to surround yourself with people who validate you and allow you the space, time, and love to heal. I’d also say something that is equally important for the healing process is therapy. Going to therapy will change your life for the better. (Go. To. Therapy. Go to therapy!! Seriously. It will open your eyes and change your life! I’ll be coming out with a blogpost in the coming weeks on counseling, resources, and how to find the right one for you, so stay tuned and subscribe for updates for when that comes out). It’s a game changer and will allow you the space to feel, talk, and receive the inspiration your heart longs for. It’s changed my life.


While browsing Pinterest I came across some really incredible affirmations that you can say while grieving a loss. Here are 7 that can be incredibly helpful.

7 Affirmations to Help Through Grief:

I acknowledge I have the right to grieve this loss. My feelings towards the person or thing(s) I’ve lost are real, significant and no less important than anyone else’s.

I acknowledge that my grief and I deserve the time and space needed to process and deal with the loss. I will not let others minimize this need or deprive me of my right to grieve.

I understand there are others who are grieving similar losses. I will be open to the possibility of receiving support from those who have had similar experiences.

I acknowledge I have the right to rituals honoring and remembering my deceased loved ones and other losses.

I choose to be supported by those who validate my loss and support me in my grief. I choose not to engage with those who belittle my grief and emotion.

My loss is real and I must find personal ways to explore and express my grief and emotion.

I’ll take what I’ve learned from my own grief and loss and strive to show sensitivity towards the grief and loss experience of others.


At a time like this, we benefit more from coming together than standing apart. Even if we can’t stand together physically, we can do our part to stand together emotionally and help each other through the chaos and unknowns and turn them into incredible opportunities of love and service for one another.


If you’re grieving right now because of the pandemic, life circumstances outside of it, or both, know this: you are loved, your feelings are valid, and you are never, ever alone!


“Your trauma is valid. Even if other people have experienced “worse.” Even if someone else who went through the same experience doesn’t feel debilitated by it. Even if it “could have been avoided.” Even if it happened a long time ago. Even if no one knows. Your trauma is real and valid and you deserve a space to talk about it. It isn’t desperate or pathetic or attention-seeking. It’s self-care. It’s inconceivably brave. And regardless of the magnitude of your struggle, you’re allowed to take care of yourself by processing and unloading some of the pain you carry. Your pain matters. Your experience matters. And your healing matters. Nothing and no one can take that away.”

-Daniell Koepke


Sending so much healing love your way.


What has helped you through grief? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 👇




I believe in Christ

My head is actually kind of all over the place and stumped right now as I’m trying to figure out how to start this blog post. I did not realize how hard Easter was going to be for me. And, I totally should have. Two years ago today, on Easter, my world crashed and...

My head is actually kind of all over the place and stumped right now as I’m trying to figure out how to start this blog post.


I did not realize how hard Easter was going to be for me.


And, I totally should have. Two years ago today, on Easter, my world crashed and burned right in front of me. Lots of pain, anguish, feelings of so much betrayal, and utter devastation & desperation were felt that day.


It was the day that would quite drastically change the course of my life, forever.


I wish I could tell that Delaina that day that it was going to suck for quite awhile, but it was going to get better.
That I was going to transform and bloom into this version of me that I had always dreamed of.
That I was going to come out on top and have an incredible support system along the way.
That this was going to be the hardest trial I have faced to date, but it’s going to make me one hell of a woman.


Looking back at that day, I feel so many emotions. Grief is just the best way to describe what I have felt today. There have been moments of pure joy, but also moments of pure sadness, pain, and nostalgia.


And quite honestly, I woke up today not even recognizing today was “that” day. I was feeling kind of off as the day progressed, but I couldn’t figure out why. As I tried to figure out what I was really feeling, I realized it was Leo and I’s first Easter without family. That brought on sadness. And then that’s when I remembered that it was Easter two years ago that my world fell apart.


Tears came. Pain came. A little bit of frustration came. And instead of being upset that I was feeling upset, I just allowed myself to feel those emotions, because I know that grief just wants to be heard. So today I listened to my grief, even though it was definitely a damper for some of the day, because I knew that ignoring it would only make it hurt longer and louder.


And ya know, grief just doesn’t care. It doesn’t care if you’re alone or surrounded by people. It doesn’t care what day it is, what time it is, what you’re doing, or where you’re at. When it comes, its presence is demanding. The only way to truly heal is to feel it through. So I did.


While at my counseling appointment a few weeks back we discussed trauma and grief a bit more. As I heal from trauma and continue to grieve, sometimes I find myself getting angry that I’m not already done with the grieving. I get angry at myself and think to myself, “Shouldn’t I be over this by now?!?” But it’s not.that.simple. It’s never that simple. Grief has no timeline. It goes up and down and backwards and forwards and out of order, many times. As I’ve really focused on stopping myself from getting angry whenever I start to feel grief, I find myself moving through it more efficiently and effectively due to me actually taking the time to feel it through while reminding myself that it’s more than okay to feel what I’m feeling right now. It’s not easy, but I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.


Leo and I have a very special human in our life right now. He’s been an incredible help and source of light and joy and love through this tough process. We got to spend Easter with him and it was so great for us. Today before he blessed the sacrament for us in our apartment, we sang the hymn “I Believe In Christ” and I wanted to share a verse that really stuck out to me:

“I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From him I’ll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: “Ye shall obtain.”
I believe in Christ; so come what may,
With him I’ll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again
To rule among the sons of men.”


I’m so beyond grateful for the knowledge I have of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. With His help and love, I’ve been able to withstand and navigate the harshest of storms that could have dragged me down. Because He lives, we can live with the knowledge that we will all once again be with reunited with our loved ones and live with them again. We can live with the knowledge that no pain lasts forever and that sadness, grief, guilt, regret, shame, devastation, and more can be swept away and healed through Christ. By me choosing to let the Lord’s hand be THE guide in my life, I’ve been guided and blessed through this devastating trial in ways I couldn’t have ever thought of. He loves me, He loves you, and He’s cheering for us and extending His love to ALL of us. No matter where you have been, where you are, or where you’re going. He’s there. He loves us. And will be there to catch us when we fall. Again. And again. And again.


To end, I want to share a video that really touches my heart and was the perfect video to watch today on Easter. Leo even asked to watch it again after the first time. It’s a message of hope, light, and everlasting love. I hope it can bring you the peace, comfort, and love that it brings me whenever I watch it. It’s truly so beautiful.


Happy Easter!


Everything is just… weird

Really didn’t think I’d have a 2 year old that’d be half my size already but here we are. Although it’s really not shocking. 😅 Sunday’s have been so… weird. Everything is just so weird. Trying to figure out our new normals and new routines is… weird. I just don’t know what other word...

Really didn’t think I’d have a 2 year old that’d be half my size already but here we are. Although it’s really not shocking. 😅


Sunday’s have been so… weird. Everything is just so weird. Trying to figure out our new normals and new routines is… weird. I just don’t know what other word to use besides weird because it truly has been just… w e i r d 😂 but it’s giving us time to take a look at where we’re at in life and how we can improve.


Sunday’s are different now. And I’m determined to make it a good different while times are.. dare I say… WEIRD 😜


Leo is starting to pick up on what temples are and what they look like and it makes my heart totally swoon. Hearing him say “bye temple!!” while we drive away, and then him asking to see it 😭 there’s nothing greater than seeing your child develop a love for Jesus.


Happy Sunday 🌿


My thoughts on the COVID19 pandemic

“How many of us, at times, try to resolve life’s challenges ourselves, without seeking the intervention of the Lord in our lives? We try to carry the burden alone. As some are faced with trials and afflictions, they say, “Why won’t God help me?” Some have even struggled with doubts about their prayers and...

“How many of us, at times, try to resolve life’s challenges ourselves, without seeking the intervention of the Lord in our lives? We try to carry the burden alone.


As some are faced with trials and afflictions, they say, “Why won’t God help me?” Some have even struggled with doubts about their prayers and their personal worthiness and say, “Perhaps prayer doesn’t work.” Others who have suffered with sickness, discouragement, financial crisis, rejection, disappointment, and even loss of loved ones may say, “Why won’t the Lord heal me or help me with my son? Why didn’t He prevent her death? Does life have to be this unhappy?” Yes, one might even cry out, “O God, where art thou? … How long shall thy hand be stayed?” (D&C 121:1–2.) Jesus taught that we pass through all these trials to refine us “in the furnace of affliction” (1 Ne. 20:10), and that we should not bear them unaided, but “in [the] Redeemer’s name” (D&C 138:13). In spite of our feeling, at times, that He has forgotten us, He testifies, “Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee …


“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” (1 Ne. 21:15–16.) I testify that the Lord, through His grace, can continually assist us in our daily lives and in our physical and mental sickness, pain, transgressions, and even in all of our infirmities. (Mosiah 14:5; Alma 7:11–13; Alma 34:31.)”

-Gene R. Cook


Life is confusing.
It’s hard.
It’s unfair.
It’s so many things.
But it’s also so beyond beautiful.


How blessed are we to be loved so much by our Father in Heaven, who gives us trials that are “more precious than of gold” (1 Peter 1:7)?

Growth cannot come without trials.


I don’t know how this is all going to work out after this pandemic ends. BUT, I know that somehow, it will.


I know that He and His Son will never do anything “save it be for the benefit of the world.” (2 Ne. 26:24.). We will come out of this stronger, wiser, more compassionate, more whole, more of who He needs us to be. And I’m so grateful for a Father in Heaven that gives us exactly what we need to become the best that we can be.


I miss the temple, the House of the Lord, due to its closure. For now, I’ll remember, admire, and pray.

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“How many of us, at times, try to resolve life’s challenges ourselves, without seeking the intervention of the Lord in our lives? We try to carry the burden alone. As some are faced with trials and afflictions, they say, “Why won’t God help me?” Some have even struggled with doubts about their prayers and their personal worthiness and say, “Perhaps prayer doesn’t work.” Others who have suffered with sickness, discouragement, financial crisis, rejection, disappointment, and even loss of loved ones may say, “Why won’t the Lord heal me or help me with my son? Why didn’t He prevent her death? Does life have to be this unhappy?” Yes, one might even cry out, “O God, where art thou? … How long shall thy hand be stayed?” (D&C 121:1–2.) Jesus taught that we pass through all these trials to refine us “in the furnace of affliction” (1 Ne. 20:10), and that we should not bear them unaided, but “in [the] Redeemer’s name” (D&C 138:13). In spite of our feeling, at times, that He has forgotten us, He testifies, “Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee … “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” (1 Ne. 21:15–16.) I testify that the Lord, through His grace, can continually assist us in our daily lives and in our physical and mental sickness, pain, transgressions, and even in all of our infirmities. (Mosiah 14:5; Alma 7:11–13; Alma 34:31.)” -Gene R. Cook Life is confusing. It’s hard. It’s unfair. It’s so many things. But it’s also so beyond beautiful. How blessed are we to be loved so much by our Father in Heaven, who gives us trials that are “more precious than of gold” (1 Peter 1:7)? Growth cannot come without trials. I don’t know how this is all going to work out after this pandemic ends. BUT, I know that somehow, it will. I know that He and His Son will never do anything “save it be for the benefit of the world.” (2 Ne. 26:24.). We will come out of this stronger, wiser, more compassionate, more whole, more of who He needs us to be. And I’m so grateful for a Father in Heaven that gives us exactly what we need to become the best that we can be. I miss the temple, the House of the Lord, due to its closure. For now, I’ll remember, admire, &pray. 🤍

A post shared by DELAINA LEIGH ✨ (@delaina.leigh) on


Earthquake and Saint Patrick’s Day

Throwback to yesterday when it was St.Patty’s Day and 61 degrees and we were blissfully unaware of the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that would hit us the next morning. 🙃😅😂 That was crazy! We’re fine, but what an unexpected wake up alarm 😆 Anyway, my cute momma sent us these matching shirts, and I took...

Throwback to yesterday when it was St.Patty’s Day and 61 degrees and we were blissfully unaware of the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that would hit us the next morning.


🙃😅😂


That was crazy! We’re fine, but what an unexpected wake up alarm 😆


Anyway, my cute momma sent us these matching shirts, and I took full advantage of his cooperation. Straight from Leo’s mouth: “very cool!” 😂😍


Thanks for thinking matching your momma is cool, Leo 💚☘


Motherhood: My most important job

The two phrases I’ve been holding onto so tightly lately are: “The best is yet to come”+“Just do the next right thing” Just do the next right thing, and the best is yet to come. Life has been full of ups + downs and major life decisions + changes. My eyes and heart are...

The two phrases I’ve been holding onto so tightly lately are:


“The best is yet to come”
+
“Just do the next right thing”


Just do the next right thing, and the best is yet to come.


Life has been full of ups + downs and major life decisions + changes. My eyes and heart are really tired. It’s been a long few months.


BUT.


Then I pick this guy up from daycare. And I’m reminded of my “why.” I’m okay with failing. It’s a part of life. But the one thing I absolutely refuse to fail at is being a mother.


At the end of the day, if Leo feels loved, happy, safe, heard, and capable and is in the best environment possible that I can provide him, I know I’m doing my job right.


And in the end, that’s all that really matters.


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