5 Reasons to Scream and Let It All Out

How much has to be explored and discarded before reaching the naked flesh of feeling. ~
Claude Debussy, French composer, 1862-1918
The Scream
(Chapter One, an excerpt from the Amazon Best Seller, Walking the Journey Together … Alone)
“I stood up, braced my knees, clasped my fists, closed my eyes, and screamed. And screamed. I screamed so loud I thought my neighbours would hear me and call the police. I was fearful it sounded like I was being attacked. In some ways it was an attack but it wasn’t criminal. The intense emotions of grief, anger, and sadness assaulted my soul and my heart, and The Scream fought back. It was natural.
Twenty months after the death of my husband I finally started releasing the grief and the pain. I needed to release the sorrowful thoughts, the feelings of despair and sadness, and restore balance to my core essence. The world called me a widow, and that was a role I played. It was time to write a new chapter in my life.
The Scream was different from any other moments of crying and sobbing. Before The Scream, my crying sessions were about sadness, anger, frustration, and loneliness. They often came out of nowhere and frightened me. Many times I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop crying. Up until now it was the suddenness of the tears and heartache that frightened me. The Scream was different. It was an explosion. The intensity and depth of The Scream was frightening.”
Step by step we travel through our lives. Sometimes there are sunshine moments, and sometimes there are stormy ones. Over the years there is usually a balance of good times and bad times. Until the balance runs out.
Some of us run into mountains upon mountains of despair, sadness and stress as we face critical family illness, disease and disability. Oh yes, most of us do things like focus on the positive, believe in a better tomorrow and have endless thoughts of hope. What happens to the emotions we push from our hearts and minds so we can focus on the positive?
The reality is these negative thoughts and emotions don’t disappear. They get stuffed. We bury them. When we are handling issues, like caring for a loved one, there is no time, and no energy, to be honest with these emotions. So they find a place, or several places, in our bodies to hide. They wait there, quiet and unassuming. And when they see a crack in the armour, they pounce. It might look like frustration at a co-worker, impatience in line at the grocery store, or crying at a sad song. When we continually stuff these emotions, the places they take up in our bodies get full and we might start to see them pop out in more negative, and maybe hurtful, ways. We might yell at our children, kick the dog and have road rage.
Think of it this way. Imagine these emotions are a beach ball and stuffing them is like trying to hold the beach ball under water. It works for a while, but every now and then it breaks free and pops up to the surface. That is what is happening with our emotions. And it takes a lot of energy to keep them down.
I was often commended for being so strong while I cared for Callum. It would have served me better if I had taken a few moments, on a regular basis, to be honest with my fears, anger and sadness and work at releasing them. Screaming would have helped. Here are some great reasons for devoting a few minutes, once or twice a week, to screaming:
1) Screaming releases negative energy and helps to relieve the stress, which causes all sorts of issues in our bodies.
2) Releasing the negative energy also makes room for good, positive energy, so we can look after ourselves better and be more productive at work, home and caring for our loved one.
3) There is no special training or course to take to learn how to scream. It is as easy as opening your mouth and making noise. Over and over.
4) To maximize releasing negative emotions, screaming can be done at the same time you stomp your feet, punch a pillow, pound a hammer, throw bales – you get the idea.
5) It’s free!

4 Caregiving Strategies to Get You Through the Doctor Visits


Caregiving comes in many shapes and forms.  There are family caregivers of aging parents, spouses and children with chronic illness or disease, and many care for someone with a disability.  The one thing we have in common is the shock that happened the day we found out we were suddenly thrust into the role of caregiver.

In my book,   Walking the Journey Together … Alone I talk about feeling like I had a suit of armour suddenly cover me to protect my brain, and my heart. The devastating news of my husband’s cancer diagnosis took hours to process.  I heard the words. I said them over and over in my mind. Yet, it was only when the armour loosened its grip that the seriousness of the situation would sink in.

I’ve heard professionals say that often the patient only hears about 30 % of what is said when first told they have cancer and at the next few appointments when discussing treatment options.  Your role as a caregiver is vitally important in helping your loved one, and you, get the most out of the doctor visits.  During the six years I cared for Callum I found a few things that really helped me become more effective and efficient at making the best use of our time with the doctor and nurse.

1)  Research:  Spend some time finding out as much as possible about the illness/disease/disability of your loved one.  Be sure to use only credible websites. Sometimes you will learn about new drugs and treatments and can be ready to ask the doctor where they fit into the treatment plan of your loved one.  Be careful –  this can be a double edged sword.  Beware of spending too much time browsing the internet for things that don’t matter or aren’t true.  I found most doctors willing to discuss the research as long as they weren’t being second-guessed.

2)  Sometimes I would have questions that Callum didn’t think of, and some of them he wouldn’t initially approve.  What I found worked really well is when I made a list of my questions, and discussed them with Callum a day or two before the appointment. He didn’t like being caught by surprise in a doctor’s appointment when I’d ask questions he didn’t know I’d ask. What usually happened is that he ended up asking many of the questions on his own.

3) When we would have a list of questions that I think the nurse or doctor might need to review before we met, I would type them up, print them and give a copy to the nurse when we met with her before the doctor came into the exam room.  It would give them some time to check into things like test results, rescheduling chemotherapy so we could take a holiday, etc.

4)   Write down as much as you can about what the doctor says to your loved one. If they are talking to you because you are caring for a child, have someone else with you to take notes.  This is not a time to try multi-tasking.  More then once my nearly verbatim notes settled arguments between Callum and I.

There is a lot to process when you find out a loved one is seriously ill or disabled.  Your brain will protect you and it’s important to know that you might not fully hear or comprehend all that is said in a doctor appointment.  The best thing you can do is be prepared.  It will help your concentration and build a better relationship with the person for whom you are caring.  In the long run, it decreases your stress and might even save you some time.

Lorna M. Scott is the author of the best selling book, Walking the Journey Together…Alone.  Find more tips in the book Click here to order the book

The Caregiver Lighthouse – From Resistance to Resources

I am excited to be sitting here, writing the inaugural Caregiver Lighthouse blog. I wish I could say that getting to this point has been stress free. But then I’d be lying which is not who I am. It’s taken persistence, encouragement and the support of my family and many of my friends to get me here. I learned a lot about one of the most important things I teach family caregivers – ask for help. I didn’t – and couldn’t – have done this on my own. I am deeply grateful for all the help I had. So, why did I go through all the ups and downs of starting this new part of my business?

Everywhere I turned there were messages and signs telling me this is the path I needed to take. Someone would show up on my doorstep to buy a book, I’d randomly run into a caregiver and be able to help them through a situation, or I’d get a phone call to do a presentation on how to help family caregivers. I had to start paying attention.

When I was desperate for information on how to survive being a family caregiver, and find a place where I could talk about my fears and worries without being embarrassed or feeling ashamed, there was none to be found. I found myself being the ears for other caregivers and helped them find solutions to the overwhelm they were feeling. I guess it’s no wonder that I am where I am now – ready to help you.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’ve thought I had a good poker face but it seems I don’t hide my true feelings and opinions very well. Sometimes you might find what I say very inspirational and useful. Other times you may disagree with what I am sharing. That is what will make this a powerful community. If we always agreed with each other, life would be boring!

Over the years, the one thing that has pulled me from depths of despair and brought me more joy than one can imagine, is that I learned I am 100% for my life, my thoughts and my actions. I can’t control everything (believe me, I’ve tried!). I can choose happiness. I can choose peace. I couldn’t choose or control the cancer that overtook Callum’s body. I could – and did – choose to help both of us live while he was dying. Did I do everything right? Absolutely not. Do I regret any of it? Not a bit. Well, OK. Maybe a little bit. My health and stress got out of control and I never paid attention to any of the signs that I was heading for caregiver burnout. My “happy caregiver” face was with me wherever I went and it fooled pretty much everyone. If they only knew my body was running on adrenaline and the stress sucked out any sense of reason from my brain. Heck, if I only knew!

That is why I am here. My service is to you. I was given the gift of calmly listening to people who are facing troubling times in their life and have to make life-changing decisions. I help them cut through the fog that takes over their thoughts, overcome their fears, and help them find solutions for their most stressful worries. The lighthouse brings safety from the storm, provides respite for your weary soul and body, and gets your plan in place with the confidence to carry on. Welcome to our community.

Gratitude – How a Family Caregiver Can Get Calm in Less 10 seconds or less.

As a family caregiver, you are often faced with situations that seem hopeless and sometimes sadness, regret and anger start to boil up inside. When you start to feel powerless and hope seems out of reach, gratitude goes a long way. Of all the things you can do to feel better, this one is immediate, requires no special equipment – and it’s free.

Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, conducted a study on gratitude. They formed three groups who each kept diaries: one group wrote about anything they wanted about the day; the second group wrote about unpleasant things that happened that day; and the third group wrote about things for which they were grateful. The results showed the daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

Asking yourself, “For what am I grateful?”,   can quickly get you back on track and be better able to cope.

Gratitude Tips

  1. Start a gratitude journal. Every day, write at least five things you are grateful for on that day.
  2. Appreciation game: At the end of the day, take a few minutes to tell your loved one(s) what you appreciate about them. Have them do the same for you.
  3. During the tough times, when it can be hard to find gratitude, set a timer for 2–3 minutes and do a “gratitude blast.” In that length of time, write down everything you can think of that you are grateful for.

Honour your courage, strength and love. Find gratitude. I am grateful for building a stronger and more loving relationship with my husband. I’ll admit, I would have preferred I didn’t have to learn those lessons for many years. I could make the best of the situation and be grateful for learning to accept reality, never losing hope, and loving like I never knew I could.

5 Quick Tips Every Family Caregiver Must Know

I wonder if you have had days like I had. You know, those days that never seem to go right. It starts with spilling your coffee all over your white shirt, and then finding out that was the last clean shirt – at least the last clean one with all the buttons! You end up late for work on the day the owner makes a surprise visit to see you. And you forgot your lunch – and your wallet. And you haven’t even yet had to deal with the calls to the doctor and other errand for the one you are caring for. You are absolutely frazzled and likely to blow up at the next person that tells you to chill out, relax and take a bubble bath. Some days there are not even enough minutes to catch your breath. You can catch your breath – and the answer to how to do that might surprise you. The way to catch up and get more done is to slow down. It’s true. Sometimes you need to slow down to accomplish more.

Here are 5 ways you can take just a few minutes to slow down. These tips are great for anywhere, anytime.

1) Sit down for 5 – 10 minutes, close your eyes, and concentrate on your breath – paying attention to the rise and fall of your chest.
2) Be thankful/have gratitude. For about 3 – 5 minutes, write down as many things as possible for what you are thankful. It can start with feeling grateful you woke up in the morning, or having a car or other way to get to work. You can be thankful for the flowers, grass, snow, or water from your tap. You can also be thankful for your spouse, and their love. You can be thankful you have time to be thankful.
3) Take 3 – 5 deep breaths – in through your nose, to a count of 5, out to a count of 5. Three deep breaths is enough to change the physiology of your body and you will feel more calm and peaceful afterwards.
4) Take a walk around the block/walk up and down stairs
5) Phone a supportive family member or friend.

So you don’t have to let the day control you. Get back on track in 10 minutes or less. Let me know which one you like best and what other things you have tried that you’d suggest to others.

May you find peace, hope, and joy in every day.