Mind levees and grief

Transforming Grief – When I Lost My Only Child | Phil Cohen | TEDxYoungCirclePark

Lorraine Cleeton is a US based grief coach, co-author and bereaved mother who uses a ‘levees of the mind’ model to assist clients to understand themselves better.

We caught up with Lorraine to talk about grief, her own loss and the levees of the mind.

Can you share your own experience of loss and how that impacted your career?

‘Our daughter transitioned during the summer of 2020 when she was working as middle manager at a restaurant.

‘She had degrees in psychology and counselling, was a lucid writer and created caricatures of animals.

‘She had been overworked and suffered from anxiety and depression. 

‘She was given a pill by a co-worker and it proved to be laced with fentanyl.’

This brought about a change in my career and led me to my current work as a grief moderator in ‘Tender Hearts’ a community for grievers founded by David Kessler.

Image supplied by Gilbert Cleeton, Ph.D. and Lorraine Cleeton, Ph.D. Meredith Jenna Cleeton the much loved daughter of Mr and Mrs Cleeton.

In your experience what is grief?

‘Grief is the natural reaction to loss.

‘Grief is both a universal and a personal experience.

‘Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss.

‘Some examples of loss include the death of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, job loss, loss through theft or the loss of independence through disability.

In therapy why do you use imagery such as levee banks when talking about our minds?

‘Everyone grieves differently and therefore, some individuals will be eclectic and gain a wide knowledge about grief through reading, but may find that they are not focusing on how they might synthesize the many facts they have acquired. 

‘For example, some individuals are verbalizers and can remember words, but some are imagers and remember pictures.

‘When an individual experiences grief they might be trying to comprehend what has happened to them on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. 

Three levee models

Image supplied by Gilbert Cleeton, Ph.D. and Lorraine Cleeton, Ph.D. Model One: The ideal levee

‘The ‘ideal levee’ is a model of healing that even those who have not experienced grief may never attain.

‘I hope that people can picture and control the levee of their mind to achieve this mind model, or, better still, that with practice in visualizing mind models they will develop models of their own.

‘The duration of the ‘holding area’ can range from a few hours, for example in replying to an email, to a few minutes in deciding what to say next, to a millisecond flash-back to a pleasant event in childhood, or to a microsecond to make a decision.

‘For example the advantage of teaching an online course is that the teacher has time to reflect before giving feedback to students, but it is not always an advantage to have a long holding time – in the book ‘Blink’, the author Malcolm Gladwell shows the merits of some fast decision-making – of what he calls ‘thinking without thinking’.

‘So it might be advantageous for people to cultivate flexible levees – thin ones, fat ones, levees with equal slopes, or perhaps levees with a fast attack and a slow decay, or sliding levees which alter the proportions of operation of your conscious and subconscious minds.’

Image supplied by Gilbert Cleeton, Ph.D. and Lorraine Cleeton, Ph.D. Model Two: the pendulum model of grief

Individuals in grief might be experiencing a different model when going through grief as noted in levees of the mind Model 2 and Model 3.

Image supplied by Gilbert Cleeton, Ph.D. and Lorraine Cleeton, Ph.D. Model Three: the chaotic pendulum model of grief

Mrs. Leeton’s book about the levees of the mind is co-authored with her husband Gilbert Cleeton.

“Levees of your mind” includes specific vignettes, specifically for differently abled readers and shows how to strengthen one’s mind by adjusting one’s levees.

The pendulum model and the chaotic pendulum model were added after the loss of their daughter Meredith Jenna Cleeton.

If you’d like to read more on how to cope with grief jump into these articles:

Beyond casseroles: A widower’s guide to moving forward.

Podcasts to help with grief.

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