As a grief & loss counselor, coach and educator, I have come to understand the profound misconceptions of loss. As a formal funeral director, I specialized in loss that is present with death. I grew increasingly troubled to work in an industry that profited from death, yet offered little if any support for grieving families. The funeral home I worked in did not offer any after support or care. Idecided to return to school in 2009 to become an expert in grief, loss and healing. As the summer of 2010 was coming to a close, I finally had to address some long term health issues that had plagued me. It was during my treatment a tumor was found on my pancreas. After addition testing I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I can't even express the fear and overwhelming dread that filled my mind and the sadness that filled my heart. That Saturday afternoon, I began the process of thinking about my death.
I tried to keep my secret, not to burden my children or family, but realized every minute I kept the secret, was a minute of love and support I lost. Time became both my enemy and friend. It took me weeks to be able to look in the mirror and say, "I have cancer". I knew pancreatic cancer was fast moving, deadly and my time could be short. I had taken care of many wonderful people in my community that did not survive. It was this revelation that provided an opportunity for me to evaluate my life, history of loss and unresolved issues of grief. While I prepared for surgery, my head was wrapped around the losses my death would bring, not thinking about my children, family or friends. As a single parent, I couldn't imagine the loss of not being present for my children. I could not comprehend living without their unconditional love, daily hugs, big kisses and the infinite joy they brought me. How could I miss their future marriages, grandchildren, milestones, laughter and memories? It wasn't the fear of death that I thought about.. It was the immeasurable losses.
My journey back to restored health has been filled with good days, hard days, tears, pain and a renewed sense of profound gratitude for life, loss and suffering. In every sense I have become a different (changed) person. I can't help but think of the dear families I had the opportunity to serve when death called. At the time I wasn't aware of the other significant losses and issues of unresolved grief in their lives. The cemetery became a hallowed ground for people trying to express what they couldn't say in life. Loss is a universal experience. Some will lose trust, others will lose their innocence, families will lose beloved pets, relationships end, families are broken. In reality these compounded losses are equally as painful and in many cases more complicated by addictions with drugs, alcohol, self-medicating, eating disorders, food and sex. It's time to acknowledge the damage caused by compounded losses and unresolved grief throughout a lifetime. Death is not the only loss, but it is the final loss.
Today, I have a master's degree in social work and gently guide people through their darkness (loss) helping them acknowledge, resolve and heal their grief. I believe loss is a universal experience and grief is the profoundly personal expression of your journey. #personaljourney #lfechanging #survivor#healer