How I got through the death of my son with Donna Kennedy | POP 748

A photo of Donna Kennedy is captured. Donna Kennedy is a Licenced Clinical Social Worker. Donna Kennedy is featured on Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

What does it take for a family to recover from the death of their child? Why is it important to allow yourself to feel the emotions without suppressing them? Can a family turn grief into a celebration?

In the thirteenth episode of the How I Got Through It series, Joe Sanok speaks with Donna Kennedy about how she got through the death of her son.

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Meet Donna Kennedy

A photo of Donna Kennedy is captured. She is a Licenced Clinical Social Worker and the owner of re: therapy, a synergistic health and wellness center. Donna is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Donna Kennedy is a Licenced Clinical Social Worker and the owner of re: therapy, a synergistic health and wellness center, supporting and emphasizing the inseparable mind-body connection. Donna incorporates lifestyle medicine principles to prioritize and support the overall health and wellness goals of her clients.

She works with individuals, couples and families, with a specialty in addictions, and has professional and personal experience with grief.

Visit re: therapy and connect with Donna on Facebook, LinkedIn, Psychology Today, and Youtube.

See also, Your 1 Degree Shift

In this Podcast:

  • Donna’s son
  • Allow yourself to feel
  • Getting through the grief
  • Donna’s advice to her past self

Donna’s son

Six years ago, Donna and her family went on vacation.

Her son went on a short hiking trip with cousins and friends there and had a tragic fall, not making it back home.

The next few weeks and months that passed after his death went by in a haze. Donna and her partner knew that they wanted to celebrate his life, and organized an ultimate frisbee event with all those who knew and loved him.

We really wanted to celebrate his life so we went into the planning, and that God, with a lot of awesome friends and support [we were] able to put together a beautiful celebration of life. (Donna Kennedy)

Donna’s celebration with friends and loved ones set the tone of gratitude and appreciation for her son in honor of his memory.

Allow yourself to feel

There will be times when the sadness suddenly rises and feels overwhelming. It may last for days or a moment, but when it comes, allow yourself to feel it.

Make space for yourself to feel it until it passes.

Whatever the feeling is, I don’t resist it, because I think the resistance – and the acceptance part of this is what is – when I resist, it will come out some other way. (Donna Kennedy)

When you resist strong emotions, they will find another way out. This could look like:

  • Being short-tempered or snappy
  • Having little patience
  • Becoming frustrated by the small things

Do not be afraid to feel them because it is through feeling them that they are then released.

I always tell people … the waves [of emotion] don’t last forever. They’re going to come in but then they’re going to go back out. (Donna Kennedy)

Getting through the grief

  • Saying his name

For Donna and her family, hearing her son’s name never brought more pain than his death. Instead, it warmed her heart to hear him being spoken about and remembered.

  • Faith

Donna spent time with God in worship and praise.

  • Constant learning

She spent a lot of time learning from people who have gone through similar situations, desiring to learn how to move through the grief in the best way possible.

I make sure that I’m always nourishing my mind with something that is going to help me realize something that I didn’t realize before. (Donna Kennedy)

Donna’s advice to her past self

Take more intentional time for yourself during your work day to check in with yourself. Refill and renew your energy by meditating in the middle of the day, and don’t negotiate with yourself on that.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Useful Links mentioned in this episode:

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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