Janine Naus is an internationally recognized Grief and Trauma Relief Specialist, Certified Life, Spiritual and Energetic Coach, a Certified Calm, Accepting, Resilient & Empathetic (CARE) Trauma Practitioner and a #1 International Best Selling Author. Janine works with women who are suffering and stuck in grief due to trauma and supports them on their journey to a fulfilling and joyful life.
Janine’s clients benefit from her decades of experience, her broad range of coaching and support tools and her empathetic nature. Her blog posts have garnered thousands of dedicated followers and is a sought after expert on trauma. Janine lives in Chesapeake Beach, MD.
Hello Janine. It’s such a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for being with us today.
You have a very unique area of expertise, dealing with grief and trauma relief. Tell us how you got into this?
Devi, you are so welcome. I am so happy to be with you today and to be here to share about this topic on dealing with grief and trauma relief because trauma is something so many people suffer with.
I would be happy to share a bit on how I became a Grief and Trauma Relief Specialist. I don’t want to spend a lot of time going deep into my history, but I will share a little about myself so your readers can understand where my expertise stems from.
As you know, my name is Janine Naus. I’m a #1 International best-selling author and an internationally-recognized Grief and Trauma Relief Specialist. My passion and purpose is supporting trauma survivors out of a life of struggle and suffering and guiding them towards a joy-filled life. My life’s work is providing a safe, supportive space where they can go from a place of grief and begin experiencing true healing, eventually coming to a place of peace and fulfillment.
Today, I get to live a life of joy and happiness…but it wasn’t always this way. I am also a survivor of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. For decades I struggled with all of the challenges that resulted from this abuse. I was able to discover a way through and that’s why I am so passionate to share with your readers. I know what it means to be suffering – I was in that horrible emotional space for way too long. I was constantly seeking approval, hiding, yet felt so alone. I felt abandoned, unwanted and just really stuck. I tried so hard to get unstuck and get myself some relief from the grief I was going through due to all the trauma I suffered, but nothing was working.
Truth is, I didn’t want other people to know how I was really feeling inside. When asked, my go-to answer was, “I’m fine.” But I was anything but fine on the inside. I was so weighed down that my life was a mess… I was a mess. Then the day came when I just had enough of all the suffering. I finally decided it was time to take responsibility for my life.
This is the day that changed my life forever.
I hope that today is your reader’s day. That those who are feeling grief due to trauma finally decide to stop suffering and change their life.
I chose to focus on this area professionally because, in my own my personal experience with trauma, I struggled to find the support I needed to overcome it. I sought out mentors and healers and began to educate myself in order to find solutions. After many years of research, I developed a proprietary holistic approach to healing so that others didn’t have to continue to suffer the way I did. That’s why I developed the Stop Suffering Now System. It is my mission to help women who are ready to heal from physical, emotional, sexual or catastrophic trauma so that they can leave the past behind, be fully present for themselves in the moment, and truly live their best lives going forward.
What do you think is the most difficult aspect of dealing with trauma?
Despite the type experienced, being able to recognize how this trauma is impacting your life is one of the most difficult aspects. Here’s why: Your brain and body change the very moment that traumatic event happens. This change is not temporary – it’s forever. As we get older, we may feel that the effects of the trauma have faded. However, it is important to recognize that it’s still an ever-present danger that may seep out from deep places when you are not looking. That means your experience with trauma can find its way into your relationships, parenting style, and the way in which you feel about yourself.
Relationships: It is common for someone who has experienced trauma to be in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship. Engaging in risky sexual behavior, lack of impulse control, feelings of worthlessness, and self-sabotaging are common behaviors. In fact, many trauma survivors don’t feel very deserving, so, either they don’t hold very high standards and attract abusive or subpar relationships, or, when they do engage in a worthy relationship, they might push the person away. This very common attribute is passive-aggressive behavior, which of course can lead to arguments, fights, and you know, a less than optimal relationship. Right? So, why is that?
It’s hard to feel worthy of love from somebody else when we don’t love ourselves, isn’t it? This can be applied to all relationships in your life.
Take a moment and ask yourself these questions: What are my relationships like? What is my relationship like with myself?
Parenting: If you are a parent, then you know that raising children is tough. It is important to remember that nobody ever does everything right every single time. Go ahead and repeat that last sentence to yourself. Trauma may seep into a mother’s eyes and make her feel that she is going to do something wrong. She may lack confidence in her ability as a parent. She may feel that she has to provide a “perfect” childhood for her children.
Life is not perfect. Kids are not perfect. And there is no parent alive who is perfect.
Outside relationships. We have to deal with the outside world to get through life. This includes our friends, extended family, co-workers, etc. But, unless we have voiced our trauma, no one in the outside world knows what we have been through. This can lead to some confusion. For example, what appears a normal situation to one person could cause a flood of emotions to someone with a traumatic past. If those around you aren’t aware of the past event, there are going to be some serious confusion. What seems minor to someone could be life-changing to someone else. Your trauma will seep into the areas of your life that involves everyone around you.
Yourself: It is crucial that you remember that no one else can love us if we don’t love ourselves. And, if we have no sense of self-love, then where does that leave us.?
Trauma can leave your vision of yourself skewed and broken. It can seep into your body so deep that it grabs hold of your heart and your thoughts. But by slowly working on this area you can rebuild yourself and realize the strong, beautiful, and empowered person that you are.
In my program, Stop Suffering Now: A 6-Week Journey into Guided Recovery and Relief, Intuition is such an important factor that we dedicate an entire module to it. We really go deep and talk about the impact of trauma in your life. And, because I hold a safe space for you, we can really explore each area and talk about how to really be able to move through them.
It is in the blending of worthiness and self-love AND intuition that we make our best decisions and are able to live our best lives.
What are the signs of trauma?
Recognizing the signs of trauma can help you respond in the best possible way for the individual. Having awareness of how trauma affects both adults and children is important – especially children.
Signs of Trauma in Children
When a child experiences a traumatic event or the tragic loss of someone, they’re close to it is only natural that parents and teachers will want to do the best they can to help the child cope (whether it is a family member or a classmate from school). Recognizing potential signs of trauma can make a big difference for their future.
Feelings of trauma present themselves differently based on the age of the child. Although, there are a few common signs across all ages, such as significant changes in their sleeping or eating patterns, nightmares, anger or rage, and unreasonably fearful or easily startled.
From birth to age 2:
- Unusually high level of anger, agitation, or tantrums that do not stop within a few minutes.
- Difficulty soothing or comforting the child.
- Terrified of certain sights or sounds.
- New fears.
- Loss of skills, such as toilet training or speech.
- Aggression toward family members or others.
- Avoidance of eye contact and/or physical contact.
- Withdrawal from previously trusted adults.
- Fear of being left alone or away from the usual parent or caregiver.
- Weight loss, loss of appetite, digestion issues.
- Sleepless nights or nightmares.
From age 2 to 5:
- May experience all of the above signs.
- Verbal abuse toward others or be overly bossy or controlling.
- Disruptive behaviors.
- Difficulty learning.
- Poor skills development.
- Imitating the traumatic event.
- Lack of self-confidence.
- Experience loneliness.
- Often clingy.
- May appear wild-eyed when stressed.
From age 6 to 12:
- May experience all of the above signs.
- High level of anger or temper.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Physical symptoms, such as stomach aches or headaches.
- Drug or alcohol use.
- Beyond age-appropriate sexual knowledge.
- Easily overreacts.
- May re-create the traumatic event during play.
- Hoarding of food.
From age 13 to 18:
- May experience all of the above signs.
- Controlling behaviors.
- Difficulty in school.
- Associating with negative peers or even adults.
- Risky behaviors.
- Engaging in risky sexual behaviors.
- Unhealthy romantic relationships.
- Feelings of shame.
- Panic attacks.
- Running away.
- Overly self-reliant.
- Difficulty relating to peers.
- Inability to trust.
- Poor self-esteem.
Signs of Trauma in Adult
The statistics are astounding when it comes to trauma. According to the World Health Organization, 50% of all human beings experienced one or more types of trauma. So, if you look to the left and you look to the right of you, one of you has experienced trauma. And don’t forget that trauma can be sexual, physical, emotional, and catastrophic event.
Data from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, reveal that almost four in 10 women have experienced sexual or physical violence from a partner in their lifetime. Source CNN Health https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/25/health/sexual-harassment-violence-abuse-global-levels/index.html
When someone experiences trauma it is common for one to experience distressing feelings, thoughts and images for days, weeks and even years afterward. These are often common reactions and a sign the body is trying to recover from the trauma.
- Fear of danger to themselves or loved ones.
- Afraid to be alone.
- Fear of being in another frightening situation or similar experience will happen again.
- Easily startled by loud or sudden movements.
- Avoidance of certain situations or thoughts that could be a reminder of the trauma.
- Tense muscles and/or visible signs of trembling or shaking.
- Headaches, sweating, and tiredness.
- Lack of interest in daily activity.
- Loss of appetite and/or interest in sex.
- Feelings of sadness.
- Sleep problems, such as difficulty falling asleep, waking in the middle of the night, nightmares.
- Memory difficulties and difficulty concentrating.
- Preoccupied mind.
- Signs of guilt or self-doubt.
- Anger or irritability.
What are some appropriate ways to talk to someone you know is suffering trauma?
Devi, this is an excellent question. Every survivor has their unique experience with trauma (whether it is sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or trauma as a result of a catastrophic event). It’s important to be aware that no two people respond the same way after trauma. The truth is that it takes a community to help one move through trauma – and the support of family and friends is crucial
Trauma involves the loss of something, whether it is one’s sense of safety, one’s innocence, or even one’s love or marriage. Supporting one who is mourning their loss is important. In fact, I cannot stress enough that the support and help of others is so important in working through trauma.
Here are some important key points about approaching someone you know who is suffering trauma:
- Remember, survivors are obviously sad and are not functioning well. Recognize that some survivors may actually be embarrassed about their grief as they may feel guilty about burdening someone with their pain. This leads to even more feelings of shame. Avoidance of others is common because their sadness brings others down.
- Listening is so important. It is okay that you may not know what to say. If you are the survivor, the family member, or a friend, it is difficult to know what to say. Some people even disappear from the survivor’s life because they don’t know what to say or know what to do. Some people want to try to fix the survivor and realize that didn’t work and simply gave up.
- Think in terms of helping the survivor heal so they can get through because they cannot do it alone.
- Holding space is about offering your presence without judgment. You allow the survivor to be however they need to be even if it makes you uncomfortable. So, try not to give advice or provide solutions. Again, listening is what is so important. So, sit with them in their suffering and listen as you would for a trusted friend.
They are really looking for connection after an event that has dis-connected them emotionally, physically and/or spiritually. Allow them to express and feel whatever it is they need to do. Know that the experience may make you feel uncomfortable, but do your best as holding space for another who is suffering is not easy.
- We may lean toward trying to cheer the person up and tell them what they need to do because we want to help so they don’t feel so bad. It’s important to recognize it may very well be you not wanting to feel so bad or uncomfortable. So, this is why holding space is far better than trying to impress ourselves upon someone to help.
Of course, it can be difficult to help someone through their grief with trauma. Grief is a common experience for all humans. No matter what is the source of grief it does need space. For the survivor, when you hold space for them, they feel seen and heard. You help them feel safe. You are giving them space so they can take the time they need to process their grief.
Important note: No one can help someone heal by trying to take away their pain, cheering them up or trying to fix them. Do your best to put your uncomfortable feelings about their grief as they may suffer for a long time.
Sometimes, we want to really reach out to a person grieving, but it’s really hard because we don’t want to rake up unpleasantness. What is a good way to communicate that we are looking out for them without seeming overreaching?
It is helpful to acknowledge when someone is suffering and is in pain. Listen and acknowledge what it is and just be with them. They may have nothing to say. You could say, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now. Do you what to tell me about this?” or “I’m sorry you are hurting. Can you tell me what it is like for you right now?” This is a far better approach than saying, “I know just how you feel.” or “Try to look on the bright side!”
What are some absolute no-nos while you are in the company of grieving people?
Sometimes we think we know what to expect when we are in the company of grieving people, but there are many misperceptions around grief.
We think the grief will last for a little while and they’ll flow through all of the phases of grief in an orderly fashion, get over it and move on with their life. Grief is different for everybody. One person’s grieving may be experiencing feelings of fear, anxiety, and rage. Another’s may be exhibiting signs of depression, isolation, and confusion. Grief can be far more traumatic, painful and exhausting than the actual event.
It is so important for one to be mindful of what they say and do while with someone who is grieving over a loss. Even though you think you may be trying to be helpful, the suffering individual may find your actions or words upsetting. The most well-meaning statements or actions – despite their positive intentions – cannot provide someone with what is needed when it is needed.
It is very possible for one person’s trauma to affect other people who are close to the individual. For example, one’s partner, kids, family members, friends, etc. This will cause a mixture of different reactions and different ways of dealing with the trauma (even indirectly), causing a very complicated dynamic. So, I like to remind survivors that, as you give YOURSELF grace in how you deal with the fallout, please try to give grace to OTHERS around you as well, as they too need to process it and how it affected them.
Give us recommendations for 5-6 good conversation starters in the company of people with trauma?
It is helpful to acknowledge when someone is suffering and is in pain. Listen and acknowledge what it is. And just be with them. Remember, they may not have anything to say. Sometimes silence is what is needed. But, to start up a conversation, you could try:
“I cannot even imagine what you’re going through right now. Do you what to tell me about this?”
“I’m sorry you are hurting; do you want to tell me what it is like for you right now?”
“I just want to sit here with you. We don’t have to talk. But, if you want to talk about it, I am right here.”
“I wish I knew how to make you feel better, but I don’t. Do you want to talk about how you are feeling?”
“While I cannot imagine what you went through, you are no longer in that terrible space. You are in a safe space now. And I am here for you when you need me. We can sit in silence or we can talk. Either way, I am not going anywhere unless you ask me to.”
How do you typically work with people? What is the best way to reach you?
I’m a Certified Grief and Trauma Relief Specialist and I support women who are in grief due to trauma so that they can stop suffering and be able to more easily navigate the healing process. I typically work with women in group programs or one-on-one. If you’re ready to stop suffering now and start feeling relief from trauma, I’d love to have a chat with you and see if my foundation program, Stop Suffering Now, is your next best step. In the program we spend 6 weeks focusing on what I believe you need to know NOW, today, to be able to really move forward and to start seeing real and sustainable change. Consider it a journey toward recovery and relief and start working towards the life of your dreams, the life that you really want and the life you deserve. The journey takes you through the steps necessary from becoming aware of taking action. And in order to be able to take action, I’ve carefully designed the Stop Suffering Now program, comprised of 4 essential pillars: Insight, Impact, Intuition and Integration which I call ‘The Four I’s’. Insight is about becoming aware of the trauma itself. The Impact is how the trauma is affecting you in your day-to-day life. Intuition is about getting to a place where you can learn to really trust yourself again. Where you can really feel into your answers. And Integration is about taking what you’ve learned and integrating it into your life so that your life changes for the better – that’s the transformation.
Don’t let grief and trauma hold you back from the life you want! Schedule a complimentary call with me, find out more about my Stop Suffering Now Program, and start taking the steps towards having the life you really want on a free 30-minute Healing Discovery Session call. As a gift you can also download my 10-page workbook to discover the 3 secrets to living authentically, accessing your ability to create from your heart, loving full out so that you feel inspired, alive and empowered every day of your life. Click here to schedule your free 30-minute Healing Discovery call and download my free workbook: www.GriefAndTraumaRelief.com/Now.
Anything else you want to tell us?
The truth is, no matter how much you think you have suffered or where you are right now in your life, “You can heal from your trauma…you can stop feeling so frustrated and powerless…you CAN leave that all behind and move towards a new life…a life that you love…” This is the reality and it is absolutely possible for you.
A word on what you like about Kidskintha?
Absolutely, Devi. Kidskintha offers a ton of invaluable information that is different from so many others. Instead of focusing on just the parents or just the kids, Kidskintha is all about the connection of two whole parts, rather than broken pieces. It is easy to find yourself in the role of a parent and put all of your time and energy into your child. Who doesn’t want to do that? But, without focusing on ourselves (and that all-important self-care), we cannot be the parent our kid deserves. Kidskintha connects healthy parents with their healthy kids – creating a healthy bond. Of course, keeping parents informed of the coolest gadgets and events is just a bonus.
Keep doing what you are doing, Kidskintha.