5 ways to slay the Dementor

Remember when grief and sadness last had their grip on you?

When it felt like the Dementor from Harry Potter had drained all the peace, hope, and happiness from you leaving only the dark?

When you felt powerless and you couldn’t imagine the light let alone see it.

Remember when this feeling came over you without warning, one minute you were okay and the next the darkness came, spreading right through you. And you thought it would never end.

Oh my goodness, me too.

This was how I felt 12 weeks ago when my Father died.

I’ve grieved before. I grieved each time we failed at IVF, I grieved when my lovely Mum died, when my father-in-law died and when I realised that I would never be a mother.

And this time it was different.

Because this time I grieved with full awareness of all the techniques I’ve learned in the past few years.

And this time I’ve healed so much quicker so here are five ways I’ve learned to slay my Dementor and let the light back into my life.

1. Be aware of the dark.

The darkness of the Dementor can have a powerful hold and it wants you to stay in it BUT staying is the path to more darkness and it’s not where you’re meant to be is it?

darkness cannot drive out darknessThis great quote sums up the best thing to do.

To get the light in, you need to take positive action to invite it. Start by noticing the difference between when you’re in the dark and when you’re not and then do what brings your light in.

I noticed that my darkness came when I was on my own, and inside.

Light came in when both my mind and body were occupied and my favourite was to go for a brisk walk whilst listening to uplifting music. Giving myself easy, practical tasks such as clearing out my office made me feel very positive.

Doing something, anything to distract your mind and get your endorphins moving will bring back your light.

2. Re-connect with who you are.

When you go through loss your identity changes and it takes time to work out who you are NOW.

Losing both parents has changed who I am.

Not being able to be a mother changed who I am.

After Dad died I carried on doing. It was necessary because there was a lot to do (people to notify, funeral to arrange etc) and if I’d stopped then I probably wouldn’t have started again.

When we got back home I stopped for a while and gave myself time to regroup.

As my identity has shifted, so have my core values and taking time to re-connect with them reminds me of who I am really and what’s important to me.

Giving yourself time and space to re-examine your values is a powerful and positive way of reminding you of who you are.

3. Be kind to yourself.

The thing about grief is that we all feel it differently and it works to no set timescale.

I don’t know about you, but from time to time my head was filled with all sorts of sentences starting with phrases like…. ‘you should ..’ or ‘you ought to .’ And all this did was to take me further into the dark.

The most common suggestion I received was to be kind to myself, and in the past I had no idea what that meant.

Luckily I do now.

Being kind to myself means doing what feels right, it means taking positive steps to bring the light back in. It also means dealing with those negative voices and replacing them with more positive phrases such as ‘this will pass’ or what will help me in this moment?

4. People are doing their best and they don’t know what to say

As you know, most people don’t know what to say, they don’t want to upset you, and they’re worried. So they don’t say anything.

One thing I learned in NLP is that people are doing their best. I find that hard to accept sometimes, but I do believe it to be true. It’s certainly true for me so why shouldn’t it be true for everyone else?

Think about it, be honest with yourself;

Have you ever sidestepped someone’s grief?

Have you ever minimised someone’s loss?

empathy 4I cringe when I think back at what I’ve said or done or not said and done and I hope now I’ll be more empathic (you have my permission to remind me of this if I trip up).

It can be hard to know what to say and I’ve learned that honesty is the best policy and in my view saying ‘I don’t know what to say’ is a good start.

And if saying anything is hard, take Brené Brown’s advice that ‘sometimes silence and a hug is the most profound act of empathy.’

5. Know when it’s time to get help

Grief is a process, time is a great healer AND sometimes it’s not enough.

I thought I could heal on my own and it was only when I learned the TimeLine techniques that I realised how much the unresolved grief of childlessness and my Mum’s death was still affecting and controlling me.

Not only did TimeLine heal my grief last time, doing that work in the past enabled me to get back on my feet so much quicker this time.

Over to you

Is this your experience? Or have you learned other ways to slay your Dementor?

Please share your thoughts below (using your name or any other you like)

And if you don’t know about Dementors and Harry Potter, find out here.

24 thoughts on “5 ways to slay the Dementor”

  1. Such a moving post. Thank you for sharing. I can relate to the waves of grief you describe and I’m particularly touched by point 4. People simply don’t know what to say. I still struggle to find words when a loved one is grieving. A hug indeed. A home-cooked meal with a note on the doorstep also works wonders I find. Thank you for your honesty, vulnerability and integrity, Lesley. Your wisdom and empathy will bring comfort to many.
    Lisa Barber recently posted…The reason nice people hate MarketingMy Profile

    • Thanks Lisa, I appreciate your support, both now and a few weeks ago when I was in the dark. Like everything, when we’re in the dark ourselves it’s always helpful to speak to someone in the light & our conversation made a big difference to me.

  2. It is great to read that these techniques are helping you move through your grief Lesley. So much advice is focused on telling us to be positive and get on with things, when really what we do need is to be kind to ourselves and listen to what we need moment by moment. Takes courage to share and be honest about the dark days. x
    Melanie Mackie recently posted…Are You Ready to Flourish With Me?My Profile

    • Thanks Melanie, you’re so right, it is so important to be kind and not to rush into being positive. So a big Yay to self-kindness!

  3. Such an honest post, Lesley, and wonderful that you have the courage to share your journey so openly, and to make what you’ve learned along the way available to others.

    We all experience loss at some point in our lives and it’s good to know there are ways of moving through it and support is there when we need it.
    Linda Anderson recently posted…Tapping audio to stretch timeMy Profile

  4. This is the most beautiful post about grief and how to move through it. Sharing what happened for you, your vulnerability and your words, all are truly moving, touching and I would say also poetic.

    You give us much permission and spaciousness for going through the process of grief and loss, which escapes no one, and your wisdom shines through.
    Miriam Linderman recently posted…Showing Up For Life, WorksMy Profile

    • Thanks Jo,
      I believe it’s an important point. Every time we lose something we change in some way and it takes time (and sometimes help) to adjust to how we are now.

    • Thank you Karen, yes you make perfect sense!
      And to add that when you set aside time for us to just talk it was a gift that I’ll treasure. L x

  5. Thank you Lesley, your post is very timely. My mum is very poorly and I’m caring for her at the moment but I fully expect that I’ll lose her this year. It could be in a few weeks, or months. Had a scare last week and had to come to terms with the reality of the potential loss. We all know that we should outlive our parents and so we will have to deal with the loss, but although you know that your whole life, it just never seems real, and the reality hits like a kick to the stomach. If just the knowledge that it’s going to happen makes me feel like that then when it does I know that the pain will be terrible. I took such heart from reading your words and feel like I’ve now got something in the armoury to help me when it does happen. I do hope that you start to come out the other side and spend more time in the light. In the meantime I’m sending you a virtual hug ( ) . Thank you for sharing x

    • Thanks so much for your comment Lyn, I’m so sorry to hear what you’re going through and pleased that my words have helped.
      As you say, the reality of losing a parent is tough, and you will get through it.
      Perhaps you can also take comfort from Karen’s comment that ‘Loss is part of life and I’ve found grief to be the most difficult & challenging emotion I’ve ever experienced and yet ultimately one of the most precious’.
      Sending a virtual hug to you too x

  6. Thank you for this Lesley. I’ve lost both my parents over the past year (my Mum fairly recently) and so the Dementors sometimes show up, but your post was a timely reminder of the power of the Petronus Spell (yes, I do watch too much Harry Potter) by bringing in the light. Today I was sitting in the dark, and you reminded me to take note of what I was doing (sitting inside on my own brooding) and change it (went for a walk outside and then did some sorting/clearing; felt MUCH better afterwards). Also interesting to note your comments about how loss changes our identities – which is something that hadn’t occurred to me. And then there’s the question of some friends who, frankly, have disappeared during the past year – am finding it difficult to be more forgiving of their “abandonment” but know that it is better for us all if I can (as you say, we are all just doing the best we can).

    • Thanks for your comment Caroline and for your support.
      That’s so true about friends, times of difficulty certainly challenge our relationships. I’ve found it helpful to consider which relationships help me and which don’t, for example when we first became childless there were some friends we had to say goodbye to as they were just too hurtful.
      And on the plus side, there are other friends I’ve become closer to, (like yourself) and for me that certainly makes up for those that I’ve lost.


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