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Aug 2, 2021

#253: Sadness as Celebration, Part 2

In today’s podcast, Rhonda and David present Part 2 of their work with a young woman named Rose who has been struggling with profound feelings of grief since learning of a discouraging update on her father’s struggles with multiple forms of cancer.

A = Assessment of Resistance

At the end of the moving and tearful empathy phase, Rhonda asked Rose if she felt ready to do some work, or needed more time to talk and share her thoughts and feelings.

She said she was ready to do some work, and described her goals for the session:

I know I cannot change the facts, and I would not want to eliminate the grieving, but I would like to dial down the intensity of some of my emotions, particularly when I’m triggered.

Next, we did some Positive Reframing to highlight what was positive about Rose’s feelings. You can click here review the list of positives that we generated.

Rose’s Positive Reframing Table*

Thought or Feeling

List your negative thoughts or feelings, one by one, in this column.

Advantages and Core Values--Ask yourself

  • What are some advantages of this thought or feeling? How might it help, protect, or benefit me?
  • What does this negative thought or feeling show about me that is positive and awesome? How does it reflect my core values?
Sadness, depression Shows my deep love for my dad and honors the contribution and impact he’s made in my life
  Shows the strength of our relationship
Anxiety The anxiety is warranted in this situation, shows that I’m being realistic with the situation
  It shows my love for my dad, being worried is a way of showing care and concern
  It shows that I don’t want him to suffer
  It motivates me to connect with him and to make every moment count
  It makes me vigilant so I explore every possible treatment option
  It motivates us to think about moving to be closer to him
  It has motivated us to schedule another visit again in July
Guilt Shows my connection to our family
  Drives us to visit as much as possible
  Shows that I don’t want to live with regret
Feeling defective Shows that I’m honest about my flaws
  Shows I feel that I’m not doing a good job supporting others, so it means I have high standards in my relationships
  Shows that I’m vulnerable
Lonely Shows my love for my dad and the important role he plays in my children’s life
  Shows how strongly that I value relationships
  Motivates me
Hopelessness Shows I am being realistic
  Prevents me from getting my hopes up too high
  Prepares me for the inevitable
  Makes me value and make each moment count
  Might decide to discontinue the chemo if it causes problems and isn’t helpful
  Makes me more vigilant
Frustration Shows I haven’t given up or thrown in the towel


I will fight and contest this!

Now you can review Rose’s Emotions table at the end of Positive Reframing, showing her goals for each emotion when we used the Magic Dial. The idea is to dial each feeling down to a lower level that would reduce your suffering, while still allowing you to preserve all the awesome things about you!

Emotions %
% After Emotions %
% After
Sad, depressed, down, unhappy 100 50-60   Lonely, alone 80 10  
Anxious, worried, frightened 100 30   Hopeless, discouraged, pessimistic, despairing 90 10  
Guilty 80 15   Defeated 70 20  
Defective 70 10   Angry 80 25  

As you can see, she wanted to dial all of her feelings down to low levels, with the exception of her sadness, which was an expression of her love for her dad.

M = Methods

We used Explain the Distortions, the Double Standard Technique, and the Externalization of Voices, including the CAT (Counter-Attack Technique).

Here’s how Rose challenged Negative Thought #1.

1. He's going to die; we're running out of time.

100 50 No distortions

We’re all going to die, but I can be present on those moments when we are together.


David discussed healthy vs unhealthy grief, and shared some stories of love and loss. He also talked about the concept of sadness as celebration. In this case, a celebration of Rose’s love for her Dad. The impending loss, of course, is tragic, but the wonderful father daughter relationship is beautiful and perhaps somewhat scarce, as so many people have not had such a beautiful relationship with their parents.

At the end, Rose said the session was “incredible and special” You can take a look at her end of session scores on the Daily Mood Log (link).

After the session, Rose sent the following email:

Hello David and Rhonda,

Thank you so much for that amazing session today. I am feeling so much more contentment and gratitude after talking with you both. I even feel lighter and more hopeful.

The key insight for me was realizing how special and precious this relationship is that I have, and rather than focusing on what I won't have. It sounds like a cliché, but it is true for me and seems to have freed up a weight.

I will definitely do my homework, and will can send you the completed DML after listening to the session as that may help. And as for sharing with my dad, I'm going to be calling him to tell him what a wonderful session I had and that when it is published he can listen to it so as to have and share this beautiful experience.

Thank you so much once again!

Rose Markotic

Thank you for listening today!

Rhonda, Rose, and David