09/01/2013 04:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Bereavement Boot Camp Week #4: I Turn To... Who?

Welcome to Week Four of Bereavement Boot Camp. We are now at the halfway point, which is when people will usually do one of two things; either give up out of frustration or dig in with even more determination. Now is not the time to quit!

Take a quick moment and look back over the last four weeks. Have you completed (or at least attempted) any one or all of your challenges? Have you been reading (and re-reading) your affirmations? What are your results so far? How are you feeling? Do you feel like you have made any progress at all? Are you feeling even a little bit more empowered and proactive? If you have done so much as use your affirmations or tried out a challenge (or three), congratulations -- and keep going! If you feel like you are having difficulty with any one or all of your challenges, hold onto them and give it another try in a week or two. Continue to use your affirmations every single day as positive reinforcement that you are taking steps forward on your Healing Journey, no matter how small you think those steps may be.

Speaking of positivity, this week may be a bit tough for you. Actually, it may be a lot tough for you. This week, I am calling on you to jettison negativity -- and that is a tough assignment that I hope you will not only accept -- but embrace as well.

We are constantly surrounded by negativity. Don't believe me? All you need to do is turn on the television and I am not even talking about the evening news. It seems like for the past few years, most television programming promotes, encourages and reinforces negativity, be it through despicable behavior, deplorable schemes designed to humiliate or deliberately setting out to hurt others by word or deed... ostensibly in the name of "entertainment". In fact, when one reality star was recently questioned about the behavior that takes place regularly on her show (using the terms "reality" and "star" begrudgingly and oh-so-loosely), she shrugged nonchalantly, laughed and replied, "It's entertaining".


It is therefore hardly a surprise that given the current cultural environment, combined with society's overall reluctance to deal with or even discuss loss or life challenge, you may be met with less than enthusiastic support on your Healing Journey.

Has anyone ever made any one (or more) of the following statements to you (or comparable sentiments that would take far too long to list):

** "You should be 'over it' already" [whatever your "it" is and no matter when "it" happened].
** "You can't possibly...[date again, remain on your own, sell your house, keep your house or otherwise decide to do something that you wish to do].
** You should have closure by now".
** "You think you have it bad?" [Note that this statement will be immediately followed by a tale of woe that they will find comparable to your situation].
** It's been long enough. You need to snap out of it".
** "Aren't you afraid of what people will say [or think] if you... [fill in the blank with something else that you want to do that is being met with disapproval or judgment].

If you have ever been the recipient of these or similar statements or attitudes, it is my job as Boot Camp Master to gently point out to you that:

You are talking to the wrong people!

These are not people who are interested in your life, let alone your loss or your challenges. These are not people who are going to support your Healing Journey. These are not people who are going to lift you up, encourage you or otherwise provide you with anything other than:


I am the first to acknowledge that you cannot completely eliminate any and all negativity in your life; anymore than you can eliminate any and all stress. It's impossible. I constantly wax poetic about Energy Drainers, but I also realize that everyone has these people in their lives, myself included. You might work with them, they might be a part of your social circle... you might even be related to them. While Energy Drainers may indeed be a part of your life, they do not need to be integrally involved in your life; especially where your Healing Journey concerned. Why would you deliberately choose to share the trials and triumphs; the valleys and peaks and the twists-and-turns of a healing journey with someone who can't be bothered to even attempt to be supportive?

Stop it.

Right now.

Just stop it.

To be clear, the Energy Drainers in your life do not necessarily want to hurt you... but they definitely do not want to help you either. They are not positive, they are not going to be encouraging and they are not going to be supportive. They will instead say things like, "Support groups don't work" or "What help do you expect to find in a book?" or "Bereavement Boot Camp? That sounds stupid".

(Actual quotes folks.)

The reality is that Energy Drainers do not want you to succeed because they have chosen to be unsuccessful. Energy Drainers do not want you to be happy because they have chosen to be unhappy. They want you to decide the same way that they have decided and their decision is to remain miserable. They are trying to design your destiny and if you let them, they will succeed. You cannot allow that to happen. You must always remember that you cannot share a 16 x 20 vision of your Healing Journey and your life's design with someone who has a 3 x 5 mind.

Your time wasted traveling down Negativity Highway with the citizens of Bittertown and Angryville has just come to an end. It's finished. It's over with. You are done. The nature of loss and life challenge in and of itself is a negative experience; and while there is nothing we can do about the experience itself, we are in control of our reactions to the experience. This includes the people who we invite into -- or dismiss from -- our lives.

Understand that eliminating negativity does not mean that you paste a smile on your face every single day and jazz around singing, "Walking on Sunshine" whether you feel like it or not. It simply requires you to make every effort to surround yourself with the people who understand what it is that you have been through, that from which you are recovering and are willing to stand by you with ready shoulders (to lean on); open hearts (used when listening honestly and lovingly) and open arms (to give the hug for which every single one of us yearns). These are not "yes" people, for those who love you will also be honest with you if they feel that you might be behaving in a manner that could be detrimental to your health and welfare. However, they will approach you in a warm, loving and non-judgmental manner.

You do not have time, energy or necessity for anyone who is any less than a strong source of support in your life and if those "less-than" people do exist in your life, they are no longer part of your Healing Journey. Period. Energy Drainers may be a part of your life out of necessity or obligation, but that does not mean that they are entitled to be an intimate part of one of the most important journeys of your life you will ever experience -- your Healing Journey.

Here is your fourth, halfway-point Boot Camp Affirmation. Keep it in front of you all week:

"I will limit (or eliminate altogether if possible), any time spent with Energy Drainers and instead seek out and welcome those who contribute to my life in positive ways. I am open to meeting new people; especially those who directly relate to and understand what I have experienced and what I am going through now. On my difficult days or during those difficult periods of time when I feel that the faith I have in myself and in my Healing Journey is wavering, I will turn only to those who will breathe belief into me; rather than turn to those who might bring me down, will eventually bring me down or already ARE bringing me down."

BOOT CAMP CHALLENGE:You are going to make two lists. The first list will be comprised of at least five people to whom you are already turning or will turn to for your positive support, encouragement and reinforcement. Tell them about your participation in Boot Camp and why you have selected them as one of your "five" (because if nothing else, we sometimes forget to say "thank you" to the people who get us through the "getting-through"). Now, make a second list of five people who you consider to be Energy Drainers for whatever reason(s) you have. List their names, list why you consider them to be Energy Drainers (so you are really, acutely aware of why they are on your list)...and then re-read the above affirmation as you are tearing up the list. Keep the torn-up pieces where you can see them -- in a small bowl on your bathroom or kitchen counter; in a box next to your bed... anywhere that you will constantly see that shredded list. Those torn-up pieces represent what Energy Drainers are capable of doing to you and to your Healing Journey and for that reason, they are no longer permitted to be part of your Healing Journey. Remember that... and journey forward.

Next Monday: Bereavement Boot Camp Week #5: Never Mind the Rest of the World...What do YOU Think of You?

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Carole's latest book, "Happily Even After..." has won the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit

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