Don't cry that it is over; smile that it happened.
It seems impossible right now, but you can move forward from the tremendous pain of loss to finding a different way to incorporate your loved one into your daily life. It takes a choice, a present-moment awareness and an open mind. It is so much more rewarding than what we’ve been taught about death.
We will never get over grief, instead we will spend the rest of our life going through it. But it is possible to live a different way of life with our loved one. A unique kind of path that through my own experience has brought me significant joy in between the bouts of deep pain and grief.
I am on my own journey from bone-crushing grief – losing both my son and my husband to suicide within one year – to a comforting place of not only being grateful for what I had with them but also creating a new way in which to live with both. My approach is different and provides a wonderful lightness and peace.
Who am I?
It wasn’t until after the suicide deaths of my beautiful 20-year-old son and then a year later the suicide death of my beautiful second husband, lover, and soul mate that I found out who I really was. Before, I was simply a cumulation of the labels and roles which I allowed to define me:
- College Graduate
- Mother of two
- Successful Fortune 500 business woman
- 20-year career in biopharmaceuticals
- Survivor of my oldest son’s suicide
- Widow at the age of 52
I have chosen to not be defined by these roles, but by what I have learned and how I have grown from each.
People continually ask me, ‘how can you be doing so well, and living so joyously when most who’ve experienced such loss would curl up in the fetal position until they die themselves?’
The joy I’ve been able to find in life, despite living with such loss, is the reason that I feel I have been called to share my own experiences and how I have navigated through each.
I see so many people paralyzed, just surviving day-to-day in fear, guilt, shame, and loss, existing only to please others; parents, friends, family, religion, teachers, etc. There were certain periods of my life when I too experienced the same, finding myself very alone, judged, ridiculed, and completely abandoned. It was only through significant loss that I learned to stop giving away my power in this way.
To become who I am, I had to let go of everything I thought I was.
My life's work is to not only share my story but to be an example to others to live each day as if it is our last. Live each day as if our loved one will be gone, because they just might. For we are only guaranteed this single breath.
Although I lost significantly, I feel that I showed each and every single day how much I loved them and how important they were to me, so that when they did choose to leave this earth, I did not feel regret, guilt, or shame.
This path that I have chosen has not been an easy journey. It has been laden with hurt, sorrow, and pain; more tears than I can count.
It wasn't until I began living my truth that I began to experience pure and simple joy. Not only in life but also in the face of death.
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How can you work with me?
Have you lost someone and are you still moving through the five stages of grief: anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance? Are you curious and willing to keep a very open mind? Are you ready to move beyond the grief and not get sucked back into the sometimes addictive cycle of anger, denial, bargaining, and depression?
There is another way.
It is very different, and I promise you will never view death in the same light.
I bring humor and a sense of lightness to working with grief. I do not judge the journey. I give people permission to cry and feel their intimate pain, rather than self-medicate to avoid it.
My background working in bio pharmaceuticals first made me a skeptic. I’m used to statistical analysis, weighing the numbers and arguments and looking for evidence to support claims. However, my experiences have taught me that it is necessary to utilize both sides of our brains, the analytical left-brain as well as the intuitive and creative right-brain.
Through my own experiences, I wish to change the current self-limiting beliefs, taboo and stigma of death to one of acceptance, understanding, and ultimately joy in this aspect of our lives as well. I continue to share my experiences and those of others and how they have helped me live death in a very different light.
Death can either kidnap us where we will join the walking dead, or it can be the catalyst for significant change in our life. It is ultimately a choice.
When we begin to live in the present moment, and not care what others think of us our mindset changes. We create a new way of thinking not only about death but life as well.
We are given evidenced-based proof and not just wishful thinking. When we open our mind, body, and spirit to all of the senses we've been given we learn to feel our new relationship. We will feel cold, breezes, goosebumps, hot flashes. We might smell a favorite perfume or cigar smoke when there is no source to be found.
We learn to stop rationalizing away our experiences and simply be grateful for their presence.
It is in keeping a child-like curiousity and a very open mind to appreciate that our loved ones are knocking at our door. They are waiting for us to invite them in. At first it might be difficult. We simply don't recognize them without their earthly skin suits.
In the space of a year, I survived the suicides of two of the people closest to me: my older son and my second husband. I could have easily chosen to curl up in the fetal position and die myself, yet I have chosen to be an example, to show there is another way, a different way in which to move forward.
The pain of grief and loss is an intense, intimate, and human emotion. One that promises to bury us with our loved ones if we aren’t careful. Suffering, however, is a choice.
My purpose is to share my own experiences to show that through choice, present moment-awareness, and most of all keeping an open mind that anything is possible; even in death.