Special Report: Finding “The New Normal” After the Loss of a Loved One

FOX 21's Brett Scott Examines the Landscape When it Comes to Getting Through a Tough Time of Loss

DULUTH, Minn. – Moving on after the loss of a loved one can be a very tough experience.

Many choose to keep quiet, dealing with emotions alone instead of reaching out for support and guidance when moving forward.

It’s been just over three months since FOX 21’s Brett Scott lost his mother.

She battled cancer with grace and courage for 11 months and four days.

Death is a reality no one wants to go through, but it’s a chapter in the book of life we don’t get to write ourselves.

So as Brett learns to grieve, cope, and move forward, he’s hoping to help others by sharing his personal experience in adapting to “The New Normal.”

There’s a variety of ways that people can be supported in the midst of the most difficult time in their life,” said Gina Dixon, Program Manager for Essentia Health Grief Support Services.

More than 2.5 million people in the United States die every year. Family and friends, left to process each loss and try to progress forward.

“I would say most of us feel really awkward about even using the word dead or dying or death,” said Dixon.

It’s a fact of life, but many of us choose not to discuss it openly.

“The beautiful thing about grief is that in my way of thinking about it, it’s learning a new language of love,” said Dixon.

Learning a language during a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs.

“I think generally speaking, society has this idea of closure that grief is over in a certain amount of time. We don’t stop loving the person,” said Dixon. “We have a person–to–person peer program that connects newly bereaved people.”

Dixon is passionate about helping others put one foot in front of the other.

“For people who have never been to a support group, it can be kind of scary not knowing what to expect,” said Dixon. “Grief can be really exhausting.”

The constant urge to process and mourn, often keeping people from seeking help.

“People feel awkward and are afraid of saying the wrong thing,” said Dixon.

At Essentia Health, support is offered on a personal level as well as group settings, family therapy, and school crisis services.

“What I always tell people is that they can make it what they want it to be. Everything they share is private and confidential,” said Dixon.

Dixon advises everyone having a hard time dealing with the death of a loved one to seek support.

“Some people who are coming to the group, their grief might be raw and fresh, they don’t have words yet, but they’re comforted by seeing other survivors,” said Dixon.

She says it’s a chance to let loose, expressing emotions perhaps never felt before.

“Grief can make us sick if we’re so sad that we’re not practicing wellness,” said Dixon.

Dixon oversees 14 leaders who are experienced in guiding support groups. She encourages bereaved people to give it a chance.

“If someone chooses to share their story of why they’re there, they can. If they’re not ready to talk they can pass,” said Dixon. “For most people, having some time and space to talk about what’s hard, actually helps them concentrate better in the in between time.”

Health professionals say grief often gets in the way of our concentration, affecting work, school, and daily functions.

“While we’re on that journey of connection, we also need to take breaks from our grief. It’s not possible to grieve 24/7 and show up for work, and make our kids mac and cheese,” said Dixon.

Conversation and communication are key in the process of grieving, whether in a group setting, or on the other side of a crystal ball.

“I read people on the brink of despair,” said Medium Lady Ocalat.

Lady Ocalat helps relay messages to those experiencing grief by using energies from the spiritual sphere.

“I do read a lot of people in their grief; I am an investigator of the paranormal as well. You have to be very careful when you’re dealing in this realm. It’s not a show. I’m not putting on an act,” said Lady Ocalat.

Dozens of grief support seekers, reaching out on a weekly basis after the loss of a loved one.

“What I do is real and I honor it, it’s a very sensitive area. You have this person’s soul in our hands, I’m no medical professional,” said Lady Ocalat. “Everyone that comes to see me leaves with, how did you know that?”

Many are skeptical of this method for grief support. However, it’s an option the medium doesn’t pay much attention to.

“No one grieves the same as another, and some will grieve forever,” said Lady Ocalat.

She points out many religions simply don’t allow individuals to believe in life after death.

“That’s another whole roadblock for grief as well because you might seek out a person that would say, well they’re worm food. This is because their religion or their faith does not permit them to understand that the soul can recycle, the soul can live on,” said Lady Ocalat.

For her clients, she provides hope resulting in happiness when adapting to the new normal.

“It’s a reassurance that they’re not annihilated, they just changed form,” said Lady Ocalat. “The soul moves on very quickly, and you won’t see them as a standing apparition.”

Lady Ocalat says many bereaved people wish for signs from their loved one that are simply beyond reality. Instead, she helps people open their mind, helping pick up on subtle gestures from the spiritual realm.

“When someone dies, everything that we are, if we’ve loved them, comes out on the table to. How we loved them, whether we loved them enough,” said Lady Ocalat.

As part of the grief process, many also go through a personal reflection.

“You have to keep an eye on people that say they are fine, they might not be,” said Lady Ocalat.

According to the medium, we might even start doing things our loved ones used to do.

“It takes a brave person to face their grief, because it’s not easy,” said Lady Ocalat. “The best thing to do in the grief process is not tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do, it’s to listen.”

She takes time during her sessions to ask questions and listen before revealing what she feels from surrounding energies.

Although both professionals practice different methods of grief support, Dixon and Lady Ocalat agree on the common core of moving forward – open conversation.

“Don’t be afraid to ask how I can be most helpful,” said Dixon. “It’s an opportunity for mutual support.”

“What should never happen in the grief process is telling someone that there times up when grieving,” said Lady Ocalat.

Both say this is a common occurrence in today’s society – the thought of death and despair, leaving many speechless, uncomfortable, and unable to move forward in a health conscious way.

“I believe death should be taught in school,” said Lady Ocalat. “Kids are not prepared for death. They don’t know that it’s a fact of life, and even grownups sometimes are not prepared.”

This bold concept is something Lady Ocalat feels strongly about – creating conversations no matter your age as one day we will all be searing for “The New Normal.”

Click here for more information regarding Grief Support Services at Essenita Health.

Medium Lady Ocalat can be reached at her store located at 31 West Superior Street, Suite 304, Duluth, Minnesota, or by calling 218-722-2240.

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