Photo credit: kondition from

~ Dedicated to Kareem and also Becky~

~Rest in Everlasting Peace. ~

When experiencing loss and grief, we may ask many questions yet never receive answers:

  • Why take them from us so young?
  • What could have been done to prevent this from happening? Or to help?
  • Was I not a good enough influence or foster better choices?
  • Will I get over this pain?
  • How can I be there for my family when I can barely be there for myself?
  • Is this fair?

We may toss and turn trying to find answers to these questions. We may question our faith and our reality, pondering what we truly are living for. When such tragedy strikes our families and friends, what good can come out of it?

It is very normal to have these questions, to worry, to be concerned. Feelings of helplessness, fear, anxiety, and sadness can become overwhelming. During our time of grief, coping with simple life tasks can be difficult. Take your time. Don’t rush into the hustle and bustle of life’s demands. Find comfort through loved ones who are also grieving, and accept support from those friends and others who want to extend care to you during this difficult time.

Prayer. For those who place faith in God, praying for strength, and sometimes just praying for survival can provide comfort and peace during the grieving process. When we question God’s plans, the best source to turn to is God Himself, reading time-tested and true ancient wisdom. Through prayer and scripture, we may not find the answers we are looking for, however we may find serenity, and regain our strength, hope and possibly even confidence in God’s plan for all of us.

Questions of faith and uncertainty can be addressed in counselling. Incorporating spirituality might just restore the hope that is essential to life and death.  Call us today.


Grieving the Loss of a Romantic Relationship ?

How did you find out? Did she change her status on Facebook? Did he say he’s headed off to work and never return? Did she email or tweet her goodbye? Maybe he said; “It’s not you… I just need to figure me out” or she said something like; “I‘m just not in love anymore”.

Either way it hurts and hurts a lot! When someone we love and cherish bails, gives up, and then chooses to do so in a cowardly way, such betrayal causes severe grief.

“Grief combines overwhelming sadness with a feeling of despair,” (Fisher & Alberti, 2000).

When recovering after a relationship loss, grieving is an important element. Everyone copes with and responds to loss differently. Thoughts and actions associated with grief often vary greatly from one individual to another. This can make it quite difficult for loved ones to understand and help one another. We may think we are not handling things well, we are powerless to overcome this loss or we may think our lives are hopeless. We may place blame on ourselves, and others, for the pain resulting from the broken relationship.

It can be very difficult to cope well when we are consumed by these thoughts and feelings, seemingly every moment of every day. They are especially strong when the break in a relationship is recent. Many people find comfort in the guidance and support received from family and friends yet, for some this is not the case. Some can also find support through their church fellowship, prayer and other spiritual resources. This may also be a good time to seek a consultation with a registered, professional counsellor who is experienced in assisting with the healthy recovery processes.

Crisis intervention, stress management combined with cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) help people not only cope but also adjust following a significant loss. CBT helps the grieving person(s) develop an increased understanding about thoughts, feelings and behaviours related to loss and grief.  Along with feelings of despair and helplessness, those grieving may also experience intense sadness/depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, grief, disappointment, anger and a severe sense of aloneness or isolation. Strangely enough some may experience relief as well.

With these rising and falling waves of emotions and thought, day-to-day living becomes a struggle which can further disrupt functioning. Loss of sleep and poorer eating add to the already distressful situation. These feelings and related stressful events may even foster destructive behaviours such as increased arguments, substance abuse, disordered eating habits, refusal to engage in daily routines, isolation from family and friends and recklessness.

It is important to have the support of another at this difficult time. Talk to someone to vent and find solutions to better cope with the discouraging thoughts and feelings. When we have effective support, and maybe even professional counselling, the grieving process can foster improvements in ourselves we may never have believed possible. With counselling we can heal wounds, recover and rebuild. Developing healthy and appropriate ways to cope help us have more peace and comfort with the grieving process, opening up new opportunities and possibilities for growth.

Book an appointment with us today!


or… Post-Traumatic Stress “Reaction” (PTSR)

“The anger, the rage, the hurt, and the cold loneliness that separates you from your family, friends, and society’s normal daily routine are so powerful that the option of destroying yourself is both real and attractive….It appears, it grows, it invades and it overpowers you….You cannot put these things behind you…And the more people advise you to do so, the more you get mad because you know these things will not disappear. Time does not help,” (from Lt-Gen. Dallaire; Davison, Neale, Blankstein & Flett, 2002, p. 197).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is commonly known to be experienced by those who have fought in wars and experienced combat stress; however, it may also occur to individuals exposed to prolonged abuse, trauma, and victimization at home, school, work and in other social situations. Personal tragedy, natural disasters, or overwhelming life experiences also contribute to suffering and potentially being diagnosed with PTSD. The term “reaction” has been used increasingly over more recent years with symptoms following after trauma.

When we are exposed to difficult situations, it can sometimes feel unbearable to cope with. Excessive memory loss, increased doubt and insecurity, thoughts that bad things are inevitable, trouble sleeping and eating are just a few symptoms of excessive stress. At times, our family and friends may develop unrealistic expectations that we are “strong enough” to overcome life’s challenges. This may inhibit sufferers of PTSD from seeking help and being able to move forward. Living with untreated or under-treated PTSD, people may subsequently, over time, “experience problems with anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, substance abuse (as a means of self-medicating), marital problems, poor physical health, and occupational impairment” (Blankstein, et al.).

Feeling stuck in this dark place, as Lt-Gen. Dallaire describes above, can make us feel like there is no way out. We may be reliving traumatic experiences on a daily basis and not realize that there are ways to overcome the situation differently—ways to cope, ways to feel loved and supported (not shameful or guilty).

One-to-one therapy can help address the specific needs of an individual with PTSD. Group therapy may create a space of support for those also suffering with PTSD; being in the “same boat” with others who are able to relate to similar symptoms and experiences. Together, both individual counselling and support groups can help individuals overcome the symptoms and impact of severe trauma and regain a positive perspective on life. Call us today for an appointment and additional resources to assist you.

Discover How To Play It Well

Receiving the confirmation of the diagnosis that our child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder brings with it a wide array of emotional and cognitive upheaval.  There may be initial shock, disbelief and even denial, often quickly followed by the common stages of grief and grieving.  Moving through the initial stages of grieving, parents may then shift, with intentional effort, to discover the possibilities and opportunities that children with Autism can have and offer… yes offer.

Parenting a child who follow the “normal” or most common developmental pathway versus one with developmental difficulties is a significantly different experience, one that many parents who have a child with ASD can attest to. Focus, attention, and time investments are higher for parents caring effectively for children with Autism (e.g. parents report it feels a lot like “24 hours a day, 7 days a week”… even into the teen and young adult years).

Government funded programs have become filled to capacity and the waiting list is often not months but years long. Some families have to secure second or third mortgages for private therapy. When this resource is not financially or practically possible, the responsibility lies with parents to train, teach, and implement every aspect of social and life skills for their children. Finding coaching for themselves, the resources and materials to assist their work with the children becomes another challenge tapping into parents’ energy stores.

So it is a different ball game! This struggle can become overwhelming; at times, exhausting and consistently stressful for the entire family. As much as there are resources to help children with autism (i.e., personal support workers, weekend relief programs, and some daycare services), there are few programs that help and support parents sufficiently.

At Jeff Packer MSW & Associates, we can help parents;

(1)   find new and creative ways to not just cope with life difficulties, but to excel at the game

(2)   by coaching you to design and practise a winning family relationship strategy, and

(3)   develop and maintain your essential support systems

To secure guidance and support for your parenting plan, Call us today … YOU ARE NOT ALONE!


…three words to show our remembrance of those who have fought and died fighting for our freedom. It means we will NEVER forget.

On November 11th, we Canadians are brought together to remember the battle in 1813 that is sometimes referred to as the war that saved Canada. We are also brought to reflect on the wars and modern-day conflicts that have existed since and still exist today.

The sacrifices that our Canadian troops have made all these years are nothing but outstanding. We are triggered on this date to take time to reflect and show the utmost gratitude. Share with us how you celebrate this day.

While we celebrate and honour this day, we are currently aware of the devastation in the Philippines. Just as we have seen the battle grounds during World War I, we now view the destruction and eradicated lands of the Philippines.

How do we Canadians pay it forward? Not just to the veterans who sacrificed their lives for us but also for those who are less fortunate than we. Displaying an attitude of gratitude often involves helping those around us.

Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

It is proven that there are many health benefits associated with helping others:

  • It increases our social and relationship skills.
  • Volunteering helps us make new connections and friendships.
  • Helping others combats against depression, stress, and illness.
  • It brings fun and fulfillment into our lives and increases our life expectancy.

It is the divine within us that motivates us to show gratitude for those who have fought for us many years ago and those who choose to do so today.

On this Remembrance Day, we also extend our thoughts, prayers, and efforts to those in the Philippines who have lost so much in this recent tragedy. We hope that each and every one of us can show gratitude for what we have by helping others in need the best way we can.

Accusation or Acceptance?  Anguish or Forgiveness?

How many times in our lives have we expected something to happen or someone to come through on a promise or commitment. Maybe we have expected to be recognized for having done something a little special? When this doesn’t happen, how do we respond? I know I’ve been upset, let down and even angry on many of these occasions. Of course, with heightened emotions our behaviour can also become less than optimal making a frustrating situation even worse.

We have the whole wide range of emotions for a reason. There are no “bad feelings” like I thought growing up. It is, rather, how we choose to express our emotions can either be helpful or hurtful.

And what about the expectations we have for ourselves? All too frequently the goals, aspirations and targets we set can be thwarted, unreached or underachieved. Perhaps we fail to put in the required effort or decide the goal was too lofty or not worth the effort? At those times, negative thoughts can easily arise in the back of our mind, contributing to excessive emotions and negative behaviours. Some of us over/under eat, others over/under talk and still others turn to addictive habits (e.g. smoking, drugs, sex, exercise etc.).

As we learn, grow and mature, I like to think our expression of feelings and reactions improve.  The advanced ability to address upset with humility and grace, however, is not an automatic right of passage or a quality one develops by aging.  Through reading, education and practice we stand the best chance to improve. How we think about ourselves and others, when expectations are unmet, is central to both our emotional and behavioural response. When disappointment and upset surface, we can adopt positive attitudes that foster empathetic reactions.

“We are all human and are learning all the time”… “How can I do better next time?” “Some goals you reach… focus on those”

The next time you don’t reach a goal you set or someone you placed confidence in doesn’t follow through, dig deep inside your mind for an attitude or acceptance that fosters a balanced emotional state, and subsequently, wise and healthy behavioural choices. Additionally, it is important to take ownership for letting ourselves or others down, finding creative ways to reconcile the relationship.

Let us remember, healthy relationships are constructed, built up, maintained and enhanced over time. When efforts don’t match expectations we can still be polite and respectful.

Guess what… struggling is normal. For years, the Maid of the Mist fought against the current, carrying thousands of passengers into the mist of Niagara Falls, Ontario. The excitement, nervousness and uncertainty all part of the ride; all part of the motivation for going on this tour in the first place.

Think about how your life would be if you had no problems; no conflicts between family, friends, or co-workers; no challenges to face; and no obstacles to overcome. What would that look like for you? Some may say peaceful or amazing. Some may jump for joy and yell, “FINALLY!”

I say….BORING! To live without struggle is to live without development and growth. A life without conflict would result in a lack of learning skills like how to develop effective communication, negotiation, assertiveness and problem-solving skills. Well, after years of service, it seems the Niagara company grew complacent. Never facing any real competition or pressure, the Maid of the Mist just kept providing service until a few years ago when the company’s contract ran out and another firm surprisingly won the bid to take over.

And what about goals? Should we not strive to achieve things that don’t actually come easy to us? A life without struggle may actually be suggesting a life without achievement. Maslow’s humanistic approach to psychology encourages the notion that we all strive to achieve certain needs; he identified a hierarchy or needs. When those needs are met, we then attempt to fulfill another, then another. These needs, according to Maslow, provide us with the ultimate goal of reaching self-actualization (our highest and greatest potential).

We may not know now what our greatest potential looks like, however, the steps we take to get there are the building blocks of healthy growth and development. It takes patience, time, and practice to accept struggles and conflict as a normal positive aspect of our lives.

We are constantly learning how to do this; over time coping better with situations of grief, loss and all kinds of unforeseen challenges and changes we are facing. If you want assistance developing life skills faster, contact our registered, Oshawa-based counsellors and Let us help!